Stiles has always been curious. He had gotten into more trouble than he’d like to admit, because of it. It started when he was still a toddler and he hadn’t grown out of it over the years.
As a kid, he’d go into the woods behind the house, get scrapes and cuts because he didn’t watch were he went. His mom had been calling out to him, but he didn’t listen, because he had seen a fox and he wanted to see where it went.
On Saturdays, his mom would go to the library with him and he’d get lost in books about aircraft and space and science for hours. His mom was the same, though. She had left him to his own devices, and went through books by herself. In the evenings, they would talk about the thing they found out and read that day. This was why Saturdays had been his favorite.
Everything changed when his mother died.
He started to hate Saturdays. He couldn’t go to the library anymore, without being painfully reminded of his loss.
After weeks he spent locked in his room, Saturdays became Scott-days. His dad would bring him over to Scott’s. Melissa would cook for them, and they’d play video games.
Stiles didn’t read many books anymore. He still soaked up information as he went along, and peaked into his textbooks a couple of times more than any other student would. But it wasn’t the same.
Over the years, it got easier again, to go to the library, to read and understand things. He still preferred to stay away from the library. When he got a computer, it was a world opening up in front of him. It was relieving and relaxing in a way he would never had expected.
The ADHD wasn’t easy on him, but researching had always relaxed him, and now he had a chance to look up anything he wanted, there was so much he could learn. And he started to research the weirdest things, just for the sake of it.
One day, he’d see a stork and wonder where all these stories about babies and storks came from. So he researched it. One day, when he watched a movie, he wondered if these car explosions could really happen this sudden, after a slightly smoking wreck was displayed for minutes. So he researched engines, oil and fuel distribution in cars and everything car explosions entailed.
Then, Scott got bitten by a werewolf.
And Stiles found something to research. Werewolves. Kanimas. The bestiaries of Allison’s dad and Deaton were more helpful than the internet most of the time. But he learned to check for the right signs to find valid and useful information online.
He looked up anything related to werewolves and other creatures that could potentially help them to survive. It took him months, to put together files with important information. He had a binder full of sheets with scrabbles about wolfsbane alone.
Stiles definitely blamed the supernatural for the amount of time it cost him to put together all the files — not the daily supernatural he had to put up with, like Derek being grumpy or Scott being a puppy, but the actual threatening supernatural like Deucalion. Stiles could live without those threats, thank you very much.
But there were times, that there weren’t any apparent threats. It made Stiles giddy, always expecting the worst, always being guarded. He didn’t have to learn the hard way, that letting your guard down was a huge mistake when you lived in Beacon Hills. He only needed to look at Derek, to know it was a bad idea. Letting your guard down meant bad stuff would happen — to you or to your family.
But still, in those times, where Stiles didn’t have to worry about an Alpha pack, or a stupid crazy high school student — why was it always high school students anyway? — he got restless. About the information he was lacking. Namely, the anatomy of werewolves.
Stiles understood anatomy. He read two textbooks about epigenetics and molecular genetics.
But he just couldn’t figure out werewolves. Not even the bestiaries provided anything useful.
What was bugging him, apart from the obvious (how can your bones transform into the bones of a giant wolf within a minute?) he was mostly concerned about the changing eye color. Because, yes, with age the eye color might change a little, because like hair, the color of a person’s eyes is determined by the amount of melanin in the cells.
But how was it supposed to work that Derek’s eyes were yellow colored (a contradiction in itself) as a beta but red and blue at other times.
Stiles spent weeks on end researching the changing anatomy and phenotypic changes of werewolves. There wasn’t much and he couldn’t get his head around the thing he found with.
The only answer Stiles came up with was, simply put, magic.
So he got into it. He had been able to put up the mountain ash line. He didn’t know how he did it. He had been told to ‘believe’ which should have been the main problem.
For some reason, it had worked and Stiles didn’t know why because belief never had been his strong suit. He was always questioning things, so how could he believe that this would work without proper explanations on how it worked? Surprisingly it did, and for his own sake, Stiles chose not to pounder on it.
Until he came back to magic. Because werewolves.
And so he trained himself, trying to believe that there was magic in himself, that he would get to it eventually (because that was Deaton’s advice. Why did Stiles even listen to him?).
It took him another two weeks, but then, suddenly he could feel it searing and buzzing under his skin.
It was there but it also wasn’t. It wasn’t anything he could grasp but the firm tug of awareness of his abilities.
Stiles wouldn’t be Stiles, though, if the awareness didn’t make him crazy because he still couldn’t understand.
He practiced and researched. The research was fruitless but the practice wasn’t, even though it seemed like it.
* * *
They were having a movie night at Derek’s. It was good until Scott and Derek were at each others throats again. Stiles imagined how his eyes turned red like an Alpha’s and grumbled. Only that the grumble came out as a warning growl. It shocked Stiles a little and apparently it threw off Derek and Scott enough that they both turned to him with matching annoyed glanced. Only that they both took a step back and their eyes widened in fear.
“What?” Stiles asked. Because this attention was a uncalled for — he only growled a little.
“Your-” Scott started, helplessly, and gestured at Stiles’ face. “eyes.”
“What about them? Dude, you saw my eyes before, what?”
“Stiles”, Derek interrupted. “Your eyes were red. They just turned back to brown but they were red.”
And now Stiles’ mind was racing. He had been looking at the mirror, willing his eyes to look blue or red or anything but brown for hours. And he’d been aware, the magic had been there, like a tickling in his eyes but he hadn’t seen any red. There was just the usual brown even though he had been staring into his own eyes for so long, they barely seemed brown anymore.
Was it possible, that the magic did work?
Everyone was staring at him now. Erica moved next to Derek and cocked his head.
Turn blue, Stiles told his eyes. Erica gaped. Derek snarled. All the others gasped.
“Oh my god, did it really work, guys? Did my eyes turn blue?”
“Yes”, Boyd said in an even but fascinated voice. “How’d you do that?”
“Magic”, Stiles answered simply, but to himself he thought, illusion.
* * *
So Stiles practiced some more. But he started to ask Derek to come over, when he did.
Because it’s illusions and not magic. He saw right through it, but apparently the wolves didn’t.
So Stiles willed his teeth to turn into fangs. He asked Derek if he saw the difference. Derek laughed at him, because apparently Stiles spoke as if he just had a major dental surgery. Stiles didn’t even feel his teeth change.
He turned his eyes pitch black, without any white around it left and Derek shut up.
He made his smell turn dead, then let it vanish completely. Derek didn’t take that one well. He freaked out told Stiles to stop that and got into his space, huddled in close and scent marked him.
Stiles kissed apologies on Derek’s hair and held him tight, chiding himself. He hadn’t thought about it, he just wanted to know if he could do it. But he hadn’t thought about what it could mean for Derek — another one of his loved ones smelling like death.
It was the first time, Derek stayed over.
Stiles learned not only to control it, but also feel if it worked or not. It was only illusions but after weeks he could feel if he got it right or not. He got questions, though. Did it only affect wolves? Or also human? Would it affect Lydia?
He called Lydia and Allison, asked them to come over to the next pack meeting.
He changed the color of his eyes while watching them closely. Allison’s hand was over her mouth a second later. Lydia smiled, proudly and Stiles beamed back.
There were things he had talked about with Derek, thing he could try. But he never had. Now, that his family — his pack — was surrounding him, he did.
He closed his eyes and imagined a condor. Narrowing his mind in on its large majestic wings with perfect black feathers, Stiles felt the magic buzzing under his skin, let the illusion come to life. This time, even he could hear the rustling and rush of the air, as his imaginary wings cut through the air.
There were a series of surprised and shocked noises around the room and Stiles opened his eyes with a small smile playing on his lips.
Derek was looking at him with so much awe and love in his eyes, it made Stiles wanna jump his bones right then and there and hold him close, keep him safe. He didn’t, because his pack was here.
Lydia got up and moved closer. She inspected the wings, and put up her fingers to touch it. Stiles couldn’t feel a thing, but Lydia’s fingers hit a resistance.
Apparently, his illusions were not only optical but also physical. Good to know.
* * *
It turned out that Stiles could also put illusions on his whole house. Derek stood on the pavement, staring at it while Stiles stood on the lawn. Derek’s eyes were on the window to Stiles’ room until there wasn’t anything there to look at but Stiles standing on grass in front of void.
* * *
Stiles became a great asset to the pack. Whenever a big bad decided to come to Beacon Hills, Stiles created new illusions. He made sure that the ones that got away would have horror stories to tell, so that others would stay away.
He got a little in over his head, the time that he made up a dragon and let it loose over some poor bastard. After that, he kept to black or white eyes for a while.
Everyone always tells Stiles that it’s magic, that he cannot keep up the crazy shit he does or he’ll destroy the town. Stiles isn't so sure, though. There might be some magic involved, especially in the epigenetics (which he still didn’t figure out; he’s gonna get a tissue and blood sample of the next bad werewolf that comes into town and test it himself!), but the magic in him? It would always stay illusions build up for others. He couldn’t fool himself with it.