They met in San Francisco.
The Bay had been drained for nearly two years, and the regional government had capitalized upon the rich, fertile soil of the former bay. Stiles had lived in a farming encampment near the Golden Gate, and made frequent trips to the actual city. Sometimes, just for the Hell of it, he'd volunteer to patrol the city borders and welcome survivors coming to safety. That was where he met Derek.
The Bay was a huge area, and many camps dotted the land. Stiles’ camp handled the mouth of the Bay, but Derek's was responsible for the Alameda/Oakland area. They, by random chance, were assigned together on a night patrol, and, when they talked, they were both stunned to learn they had both, indirectly, known each other prior.
The Hales were the oldest family in Beacon Hills, and Sheriff Stilinski was Stiles’ father. Now, the Hales were hopefully safe in New York. Claudia Stilinski had been in Seattle on that fateful July day in 2076 when the first of those terraformation bombs fell, dropped from the Russian space station Mir II. So, when his wife, alongside a city of 2.2 million people were left at the bottom of a new lake, John Stilinski joined the US Army. He’d entrusted his only son to the care of Melissa McCall, and she, alongside her son Scott, were in a grave Stiles had dug in the Preserve after they died of dysentery when the water became contaminated after the Russian invasion in 2080. John had been deployed as part of the invasion force into India, and since the subcontinent had become a massive island chain in 2079, there'd been no word from him. Stiles expected the worst.
He and Derek had bonded over shared teachers, including the wrath of Harris, and reminisced of noted people about town, few of whom were accounted for at that point in time. They agreed to meet for lunch in Chinatown the next day, and hit it off from there.
The caravan heading north was recruiting when Derek heard of it. Upon finding out that the ultimate destination was New York City, he'd sprinted to Stiles, nearly begging him to agree to come with him, saying that they would have a better life with the Hales in New York. Seeing the desperation to see his family in Derek's eyes, he agreed almost instantly.
In the early dawn hours of a mid July day, the caravan of four buses, thirty cars, seventeen motorcycles and overall 236 people departed for the North Coast, with an ultimate destination of New York City. They'd cross the equator that runs along what was once the one hundredth western parallel, over the Central Jungles, the Vazquez Stretch and fight off the raiders, cannibals and who knew what else in an effort to reach safety.
For two days things went well, until they reached the outskirts of Cañon City, Colorado. Raiders based out of the city were on an expedition for supplies, and a caravan of survivors was easy pickings for the savages that the War created. It was then that Stiles learned how Derek had lived as long as he had on his own.
When a raider put a bullet right into Derek's gut, all he did was morph into something horrific. His eyes flashed golden, be grew fangs and claws, hair burst down his face and his ears drew to points. Finally, the creature once called Derek Hale rampaged, massacring the raiders, leaving fifty two traumatized survivors of the attack. Stiles had chosen to breach the topic of what Derek was later, so he found a pale blue Jeep and urged Derek to hop in.
The explanation was short, Derek was a werewolf, so was his family, they won't hurt him, and nothing was gonna happen to them. The other fifty survivors decided to head back to San Francisco, but Derek and Stiles would head on. The Vasquez Stretch, so named for the huge rock formations which were similar to those in Vasquez National Park, stretched from Utah to central Kansas, and the two were only halfway through. Then, they had to cross the Central Jungles. The highways were dangerous, so a state that could be crossed in a matter of eight hours was going to take a day, at least.
The Jungles sucked, HARD. Between life that was hostile to anything that so much as twitched and the well adapted and well camouflaged raiders, Derek dared not shift back to his human form, and instead chose to ride atop the vehicle so he could directly attack any threats. All the while, Stiles missed the convenience of hovercars. If they’d had even a halfway decent flitter, they could have flown over the treetops in a matter of two or three hours, been to New York in less than eighteen. But no, the damn Russians had to make everything personal and destroy pretty much everything that was Old World, so they were left with shitty land cars that had to be charged every few hours. Those were the worst, the stops to change out the dead fuel cells. Constant vigilance in an environment where something can be three feet from you and you wouldn’t know it was hard.
Finally, just as suddenly as the treeline had risen up back in Kansas, it broke in Missouri. There was nothing but the old Great Plains, suddenly recognizable once more. If he forgot the whole ‘apocalyptic war’ thing, it was easy for Stiles to imagine it was just a road trip, no running for their lives from cannibals and psychotic raiders. Just the wide empty road, and him and Derek.
That would come to an end. Stiles had grabbed a weapon, a Russian plasma, and it caught the eye of a desperate loner. As Stiles set it down to take a leak while Derek scouted a few hundred feet away, the raider put a shard of glass directly into Stiles' side and ran with the gun.
Upon hearing Stiles gasp in pain, Derek turned and sprinted headlong for the attacker, easily ripping his throat out, and then he returned to Stiles. Stiles, who had frothy blood foaming from his mouth as he choked and gasped. Derek wasn't an alpha, and he couldn't turn Stiles, but there was an option. They'd narrowly avoided a Pack in Overland Park, and Derek had sighted the alpha. So, even as he urged Stiles to hang on, Derek loaded them into the vehicle and drove at dangerous speeds, praying Stiles would make it.
“De- Derek.” Stiles choked out.
“Don’t speak, just keep pressure on the wound, we’re gonna be okay, I promise, just keep holding the cut you’ll be okay, I swear baby we’re-”
“Shut up, you’re getting hysterical. Why are we-” He was cut off by a wracking cough that served only to produce more blood. “Why are we turning around?” He asked faintly.
“There was a pack maybe 20 miles ago, I’m hoping the alpha can help you.” Derek answered as he swerved to avoid an overgrown bus. The sudden jolt only caused Stiles to cough up more blood.
“I think he got my, my lung.” He stuttered out.
“Don’t speak, just keep pressure on the wound.” Derek ordered, accelerating to the limits of what the battered Old World fuel cells could take. He was pulling nearly 120, and the wall of jungle was rapidly approaching once again. They’d be in Overland Park in another ten minutes, max. Stiles would be fine.
Gazing out the window, the wounded man noted a massive mesa to the north of them, with buildings that seemed to be in somewhat good condition on top of it. His knowledge of geography kicked in, and Stiles realized that Kansas City now sat atop a 500 foot high, perfectly circular, mesa. That would’ve been fun to visit, he mused to himself.
Derek still drove at absurd speeds, and, finally, he reached what he had assumed was the local pack’s den, a sprawling modern high school, with a sign that proudly proclaimed ‘Blue Valley Southwest High School, Home of the Timberwolves!’ . The irony was palpable. Almost instantly, Derek could see three pairs of golden eyes perched on the roof of a the massive, glass-walled cafeteria. Ignoring them, he killed the Jeep’s engine and gathered Stiles from the passenger seat. Shortly after sighting Kansas City, Stiles had slipped into unconsciousness, and Derek carried him bridal style to a few feet ahead of the Jeep, and flashed his own eyes.
“Please, we don’t any trouble. My mate is hurt and he needs the bite, badly.” Even Derek could hear the desperation in his voice.
The three betas narrowed their eyes, watching his biosignatures for any hint of a lie, and, upon hearing none, jumped down.
The three women couldn't have been much more than sixteen, yet they carried themselves with the authority of the oldest wolves. One, a blonde with curly hair, jerked her head in a signal to follow. Upon entering, she raised her voice.
“Lights!” And in an instant, the entire campus’ lights came up. Dozens of curious humans poked their heads out of the classrooms, and the girl once again spoke, command evident in her voice. “They’re friendly, you can come out.” And come out people did.
The deafening silence of the school was swamped by the overwhelming sound of hundreds of humans suddenly resuming their evening routines, many looking curiously at the new arrivals, and aghast at the state of Stiles.
The alpha had settled himself into the offices of the principle, and was a younger, charismatic man who called himself Dillon.
“Please, he needs the bite.” Derek had pleaded to the alpha.
“He’s very weak, it could kill him. We have a huge medical center and plenty of medical staff, this place was a field hospital during the War, we could try patching him up.” He proposed.
The blonde beta, Brittany, spoke up then. “We don’t have the supplies needed for this kinda trauma, he’ll bleed out if we try.” She interrupted. “He needs the bite, Dil.”
“Swear on your pack you won’t blame me if he doesn’t make it.” Dillon commanded, flashing the red eyes of an alpha.
Derek fought against the pressing weight of the order before capitulating, remembering Stiles’ life was at risk. He nodded. “I swear it.” Derek pressed a kiss to Stiles’ forehead, and whispered to him. “I’m so sorry. I never wanted this for you.”
Dillon crouched, taking the wounded teenager’s wrist in hand, letting his teeth flash, and bit down, hard .
Instantly, Stiles gasped, the sound muddled by the blood filling his lung. His eyes flew open flashed a glowing gold for a moment, and he slumped back onto the couch he’d been placed on, unconscious once more. Derek held him, cradling his head in his lap, and he waited for the end result. All night he held the younger man in his arms, waiting for his eyes to shed blacked tears, or for onyx vomit to force its way up Stiles’ throat, but it never did. As the sun rose over the campus, Derek was beyond relieved to see that the jagged uneven wound had shrunk to a discolored scar that grew lighter and more uniform with each passing moment.
Dillon came in somewhere around seven with a cup of coffee and an offer.
“You could stay, you know? We need people like you, people who will risk their lives to protect others. There’s thirty wolves to protect seven hundred humans, but we still have security issues. We have solar panels, dermal regenerators and replicators, we’re a massive target. You walked into a pack’s territory, not knowing if we would kill you on sight, and you begged us for help. That’s ballsy, and we need ballsy.” He said.
Derek sighed, and repositioned himself to better hold Stiles. “It’s a generous offer, really, and I’m grateful, but we’ve made our way from San Francisco all the way here, and we need to reach New York. My, no our , pack is waiting there. I have to reach my family.”
Dillon looked disappointed but understanding. “If you get there, and they aren’t, feel free to come back. You’ll be welcomed.” He promised, and Derek could hear his heart, and it was sincere. As gut-wrenching as the thought of his family being gone was, it was a bare comfort to know they had somewhere safe to come back to.
“Thank you.” He said simply.
Stiles took to life as a werewolf like a fish to water. He and Derek had stayed in Overland Park for a few days, being given supplies including food, water, fuel cells and weaponry, before heading north towards New York. The plan was to head across Missouri into Illinois before going through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, carefully avoiding the major cities until they’d before forced in Newark and Jersey city, but, if New York was still standing and civilized, as it had been at Christmas of 2080, a week before whatever the hell happened happened , then Derek expected they’d have no problem with the area.
As they crossed the Mississippi, it wasn’t long before the landscape, however deserted, appeared normal. Vehicles no longer cluttered the roads, nor did machines of war, terraformation sites or bodies. Just empty roads and abandoned towns. They met the first actual town in central Ohio, a small city called Zanesville, and it had no power, though water came from an artesian well. The military, the actual goddamn military, protected the town. A sergeant told them that their last contact from the Military High Command in New York was on January 5, 2081 at 1147hrs EST, with orders to protect the nearest large settlement and wait until the completion of a mysterious order called ‘ Operation Terminus’ , on which no greater details were given. Then, only hours later, all distance communication, including HAM radio and even the Internet itself went down, just as the sky seemed to catch fire.
In reality, Operation Terminus was what had set the North Pole in Central Africa and the Equator in Texas. The sky on fire was the planet’s magnetosphere having a meltdown of epic proportions, causing global aurora visible twenty four hours a day for three months straight. As the new orientation of the planet was settled into, the magnetosphere settled down and things like GPS and radio started working again. However, for three months, everyone on Earth saw the sky dancing, day and night.
As the two men made their journey northward, they met more and more civilized areas. Finally, in northern Pennsylvania, they reached a city that had been in recent contact with people from New York. It was still there, still safe. That night, in an empty house in town, Derek had waited for his breakdown, but it came. He cried tears of joy, and Stiles held him and let him, just uttering soft words of acceptance and encouragement to let it out. When the sobs died down, Derek kissed him, and, the next morning, woke up, his naked body pressed flush against Stiles and his equally nude form. Their first time since Stiles turned had been a brilliant display of tender passion countered by sheer animalism.
They were on the final leg of their journey. Less than thirty miles from the boundary of New Jersey, they packed up eagerly and began to head out just past eight o’clock in the morning on an early August day.
Although signs of civilization in Pennsylvania were plentiful, New Jersey was another story. The extreme terraforming of the South showed up with a vengeance again. The rock formations, gorges and thick forests were constant, and the roads were clogged with debris. It was hellish. It took them more than a day to find a navigable route to New York, and, much to their horror, they found Newark a dense forest, one that reminded Derek all too much of the Preserve back in Beacon Hills.
There were hints of a city once occupying the space. The bays and rivers were dried away, replaced by towering redwoods and alpine spruce, but the burnt out shells of buildings, vehicles and roads and bridges still towered. The two even heard several human heartbeats from a ruined skyscraper, along with the dull roar of conversation. Eventually, they found a beaten down dirt road, so recent they could still smell the people who had used it last. For maybe twenty minutes they followed it until, as they went along a sharp turn, their world was illuminated with color and light and sound. The dirt road morphed into pavement, the forest broke to reveal sloping, bright green fields stretching from the Hudson to the treeline, going as far as either werewolf could see. Directly ahead of them, a bridge, and beyond that, New York in all its glory.
Stiles first noticed the World Trade Center, still dominating Downtown, but dwarfed by the 250+ story buildings of Midtown, and the rush of boats and flitters around the city. Derek, however, noticed the military blockade halfway up the West 33rd Street Bridge, which was build in the 2030’s to alleviate traffic issues with Newark. Pulling to a stop a safe hundred or so feet back, the two wolves exited the Jeep with their hands in the air, despite Stiles’ urge to wolf out and run.
“We’re looking for people in the city.” Derek called to the soldiers pointing some very big plasma weapons at them.
“Walk forward slowly, and keep your hands up. We’ll scan you, and talk from there.” The commander responded. Derek and Stiles complied.
Once cleared of weapons, they were brought to a checking area, where a brunette woman asked them ‘the standard questions’, which included ‘ Are you now, or were you ever part of a tribe of cannibals, raiders or cultists?’ and ‘ Did you spot any unusual creatures that did not appear to be of natural origin? If so, did they attempt to harm you?’ There was also ‘ Are you a Spark, were-creature or other supernatural being?’ , which shocked the Hell out of both men, as they were under the impression that, despite the world ending, the secret was still kept. Apparently not.
“Now, can you tell me the names of the people you are looking for and their place of origin or last known address?” She asked them.
“Talia Hale, from Beacon Hills, California.” Derek responded.
“I see she has one person expected, can you tell me that name and some personal information?” The interviewer asked.
“Derek Stephen Hale, born September 2, 2064, sisters Laura, and Cora, and a brother, Darren. Mother, Talia Marie Hale, father, Evan Anthony Hale, neé Collins.” Derek said easily.
“There is one more question. What was your nickname during childhood?” The interviewer asked.
Derek blushed, and looked like he was contemplating refusing to answer, but he ground out the word quickly, with the same distaste a Mormon might have felt cursing. “ Sourwolf .” He whispered harshly
Stiles began to laugh his ass off.
“That is correct, Mr. Hale. Your family is residing at apartment number 233 in the complex at the corner of West 40th Street and Fifth Avenue. This sticker will allow you to drive in the city, but it expires in two weeks. You’ll need to get an appointment with the DMV to register it with New York plates, as well as visit City Hall to register as a city resident. Welcome back to civilization, gentlemen.” The woman said, shaking each of their hands.
Apparently, Talia Hale still had a shitton of money to throw around, as apartment 233 was the penthouse of a skyscraper that was actually built out of a building from the 20th century, with a classical base that had a large, modern skyscraper emerging from it. There wasn’t any security at the front desk, and the elevators needed no keys. Derek pushed the button labeled ‘ Penthouse’ , and nervously took Stiles’ hand.
“Hey, you’re gonna be fine.” He assured Derek. “They’re gonna be so happy to see you.”
“I know, it’s just, well, it’s been almost two years. What if they gave up on me or something?” Derek asked.
“They won’t have. I know the odds are my dad is at the bottom of one of the Indian Straights, but I still plan on trying to find him. Families never give up hope.” He assured him.
“You’re right. I love you.” Derek said.
For a moment, Stiles’ heart skipped, but he took a breath and replied. “I love you, too.”
The elevator dinged.
Walking through the foyer, it was silent, so someone must have magically soundproofed the entire space. For a moment, Derek let his raised fist hover parallel to the door, but an impatient Stiles reached across grabbed his mate’s hand, and made him knock.
There was a moment of pause, before the door handle twisted and opened. Both Stiles and Derek’s wolves felt an instant feeling of home wash over them as the unmistakable scent of safety, family and pack invaded their nostrils. Talia Hale stood in the doorframe, her husband and children peering curiously around her, struck dumb by the sight of her third child. Then, her face cut in the most radiant smile either man had ever seen.
“We knew you’d make it back.” She breathed, pulling her son into a tight hug. “We knew it.” She paused to look at Stiles, and raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“Mom, this is Stiles Stilinski, my… mate.” Derek said, voice thick with emotion.
“Hello, ma’am.” He said, humbly.
“Welcome home. Both of you, welcome home."
And with that, she ushered them inside.