Stiles ate a lot of candy. It was impossible not to notice when you had a Super Sniffer for a nose and ears that could hear a leaf fall in the woods ten miles away. At any rate, the evidence was on his breath and in his heart rate, and, at the moment, spilling over the floor of the loft. Stiles himself was putting Derek's bed to good use, zonked out after his sugar high, sugary drool making a pool on Derek's pillow.
Derek sighed and helped himself to some candy. He unwrapped the shiny foil and set the little square of dark chocolate on his tongue. Creamy, not too bitter, low cacao content for his taste, but it wasn’t bad. And then he saw it.
Happiness looks great on you.
Derek scowled. If that was the case, he had looked like shit for years. Thanks, candy wrapper. He crumpled it into a ball and flicked it at Stiles, who jerked in his sleep, flailing and falling to the floor in a cascade of brightly wrapped sugar.
"The celery stalks at midnight," he mumbled, squinting up at Derek.
He couldn’t help it. Derek laughed.
Three days after the Exercising Diaphragm Incident, as Stiles called it in a tone of wonder, Derek was sitting in the Camaro on a stakeout with Stiles. The man who lived at 124 Hopalong Way could be a warlock. Or he could be a lonely old man, ground down to the bitter dregs of his once-shining youth, friendless, hopeless, helpless, wallowing forever in freakish misery. And guilt. Derek projected sometimes.
At any rate.
Stiles had been talking for the last twenty minutes. Their mark was ensconced on his couch, watching a scintillating episode of "America's Got Talent." As far as Derek could see and hear, America had no talent to speak of.
"Candy?" Stiles asked.
Derek glanced across at him. The interior of the car was blessedly silent for a full thirty seconds, just long enough for the woman on screen in the potential warlock's house to drop her baton and run crying from the stage. Then Stiles shook the bag. They were the same foiled-wrapped chocolates from before.
"It's just candy, dude. You know you want some chocolate processed with alkali," Stiles said.
Derek snorted, but reached for one anyway. Stiles grinned at him.
"I once got one that said I was special and unique. I unwrapped the entire bag, and six others were special and unique. It was so depressing, kind of like that time..." Stiles kept going while Derek ate his chocolate and tried to ignore him.
Take a moment for yourself.
And just how to do that? Clearly, the makers of Dove chocolates had never spent much time around Stiles Stilinski.
"...so what'd you get?"
"It says you should shut up and leave me alone."
Stiles' face fell. It was only in his imagination, but it seemed to Derek like the temperature in the car dropped several degrees. Shit. It was a joke; they had this joking quasi-friendship going! Stiles said crap all the time, but when Derek snapped back...
124 Hopalong Way exploded in a ball of purple smoke. Well, then. Derek was out of the car before he even thought about it, and nearly gagged on the smell. He took one step towards the house and the next thing he knew, he was waking up in the passenger seat. The Camaro was parked outside his loft, Stiles on the driver's side, absentmindedly drumming the steering wheel.
"Deaton said you'd come to in a few minutes, just had to get away from there," Stiles announced. "And now I'm going home."
"Whaaah?" Derek asked.
"I'm going to shut up and leave you alone," Stiles said. "Have fun with the stairs, big guy."
His hand went to the door handle. Derek lunged across to stop him, his aim wide, and accidentally knocked Stiles' backpack over. Candies spilled out into the footwell.
"So. Hand-eye coordination still in my range, I take it." Stiles sighed and settle back into the seat. "Guess you'll have to put up with me for a little while longer."
Derek rolled his eyes. Stiles was taking this thing a little too far. Derek scooped up another candy and fumbled it open. He already had more feeling back in his fingers. Good. A few more minutes, and Stiles and his bad mood could just slink off toward home. He looked down at the wrapper.
Your smile lights up the room.
He looked at Stiles, still angrily chewing his lip. Derek must have really touched a nerve. He looked back down at the wrapper. There was no way this wasn't going to blow up in his face. He sighed.
"Here," he said, holding it out to Stiles. "This one should be yours."
He only mumbled it a little. It was time to escape the car and put his bed to good use, but he waited a moment for Stiles to read it, and what did you know, Stiles' smile really did light up the room. Or the Camaro.
He pretended he didn’t see Stiles carefully folding it up and taking the wrapper home with him when he left.
"Keep your arms up, Scott! Do you want an Alpha to rip out your throat?"
Scott glared at him, ruining the effect by blinking sweat out of his eyes. Derek's nostrils flared. Scott stunk from exertion, but Derek preferred that to the general sour milk smell Scott got whenever he thought Derek was being a dick. The two scents together made for a particularly foul stench.
"I think it's safe to say that no one actively wants to get their throat ripped out," Stiles said lightly, idly flipping a page in his book. One of the old, musty ones he got from Deaton, and Derek really wished Stiles wouldn't wave its dust all over his bed. Stiles settled back more firmly into Derek's pillows. "Huh, found an exception..." he trailed off, muttering, eyes glued to the page.
"Again," Derek said, turning his back on the bed and advancing on Scott. They sparred for a few more minutes until Scott paused. Isaac was approaching the loft, which was no reason to stop. Derek swept Scott's legs out from under him as a lesson.
“What the hell?” Scott protested, twisting on the ground to scowl up at Derek.
“You were distracted,” Derek replied. “Don’t be.”
“Hey, guys,” Isaac said, pausing uncertainly in the doorway. His eyes darted from Scott to Derek and back again.
“We were just leaving,” Scott said, pushing himself up off the floor. “You want to study with us?”
“Sure!” Isaac brightened considerably. Of course he did. Derek never made anyone brighten considerably. He stalked over to the battered dresser he’d salvaged from the side of the road and yanked out a clean shirt.
“Stiles, come on,” Scott called out, already at the door.
Derek looked over at him, his sweaty shirt in one hand and the clean one in the other. Stiles had sounded casual enough, but his heels were dug into the mattress.
“You’re not letting him borrow the books?” Scott asked Derek, and really. What were they, five? Yes, they were. Scott made Derek act like a five-year-old. His lips curled back as he prepared to sling an immature taunt back in Scott’s face, but Stiles cut him off.
“A, this book is Deaton’s, and B, it’s older than dirt. I’m not moving it any more than I have to. Besides, I’m all out of good hiding places in my room.”
“You sure you’ll be okay?” Scott asked. Derek snorted.
“Unless he rips off his face to reveal an Alpha, I think we can get through one afternoon without your supervision.”
Stiles made a choking sound and turned a page, his lips twitching.
“Come on, Isaac,” Scott muttered.
“I’ll see you tonight!” Stiles yelled after them. “Don’t eat all the Doritos!”
Stiles was asleep in five minutes, arms wrapped tight around Derek’s pillow and snoring softly. Derek looked down at him, clenching and unclenching his fists. What the hell was Stiles still doing there? Not that he didn’t appreciate ‘winning’ the dubious honor of Stiles’ company for the afternoon – or more accurately, making Scott lose it – but what was in this for Stiles? Derek sighed, rescued the old book before it could fall off the bed and break its binding, and filched a candy out of Stiles’ backpack.
Chocolate loves unconditionally.
Ah, so that was what he’d been doing wrong.
Derek woke up the next morning to snow – the wet, slushy kind that turned into slick ice before melting and made the world into one giant mud puddle. He had been planning to go for a run, and though his footing was still sure in the crappy weather, it was also still snowing. He turned to the coffee machine instead.
It was new. Ish. Derek was already addicted to it and never wanted it to leave him. He even hummed a bit, off-key and too nasal, as he ground the beans.
And then his new coffee maker betrayed him. There was coffee all across the counter instead of in his mouth.
Derek bit back a few choice swears and headed to the shower instead.
It was clogged, the drain blocked with what was clearly Isaac’s curls. Give Derek blood. Dead woodland creatures. Rotten fruit and moldy cheese. Anything but a blocked drain. There was nothing more gross than sticking one’s finger into another person’s damp dead hair and pubes.
Derek closed his eyes and took care of business, promising himself a long hot shower for a reward.
There was no hot water.
When he got out of his two-minute shower, he slipped on the tile and brained himself on the bathroom sink. It was while he was lying on his face on the cold, wet floor that he saw it: a candy wrapper next to the wastebasket, as if Stiles missed it in a game of trash basketball.
The only certainty in life is smooth chocolate.
We are all so fucked.
Peter was an asshole. When Derek was a kid, Peter’s antics had been amusing -- sarcastic and witty but always with an undercurrent of bright affection. Now, however—
“That’s an inspired idea, Derek. Straight from the Peter Sellers handbook.”
Derek flushed. It wasn’t the words so much as it was the tone. Stiles had said worse to him on numerous occasions, but now Stiles was scowling at Peter.
“Who’s Peter Sellers?” Scott asked.
“The world’s most bumbling detective,” Peter replied.
“He played the Pink Panther. The man was a comic genius,” Stiles said hotly.
“Now there’s a thought. We can just have Derek tell jokes to the Alpha Pack until they laugh to death. I certainly find my nephew amusing.”
“Enough,” Derek snarled.
“Oh, are we going to discuss real plans now? I must admit, that would be a rather novel approach for Derek Hale and the Boxcar Children.”
The real kicker was that Derek didn’t have a plan. He had no idea how to fight the Alphas, or if Erica and Boyd would ever come back. His life sucked. His pack’s life sucked. And there was no way for it to not suck less.
“He lives in a loft now, Einstein,” Stiles muttered. Scott and Isaac exchanged a look; Scott because he’d never heard of the Boxcar Children and Isaac because he had a policy of staying quiet around Peter.
Derek couldn’t tell if Stiles defended him just because Stiles hated Peter more than he hated anyone ever, or if they were becoming something like friends. It had been… a long time since he had a friend.
“We’re getting nowhere tonight. Everyone, go home and get some rest,” Derek said gruffly.
“If by ‘home’ you mean the burnt shell of a house I lived in with my wife and child and everyone I loved, then I think I’ll pass,” Peter said. “Likewise to the drafty loft you live in with your jailbait orphan.”
Scott growled low in his throat at the insult to his new bosom buddy. Derek kept his face smooth. Peter was family, Peter was pack, but that didn’t give him the right to needle Isaac.
“I don’t care where you go, Peter, just get the hell out of my sight for a night,” Derek said, at the same time Stiles protested, “Hey, the loft is practically the Ritz.”
“Well, if you two want to put the bed to good use, be my guest¬,” Peter sniped, “but you might want to put a sock on the door if you don’t want Oliver here to come begging.”
“Out!” Derek thundered, bodily lifting Peter and tossing him out the door.
He turned to find Stiles red-faced, and all three teenagers smelling of anger to some extent. For once, though, he didn’t think it was directed at him.
“Peter’s a prick,” Scott said decisively. “I mean, he can’t even get Isaac’s name right, and you and Stiles – that’s just crazy.”
“I think Oliver’s a play,” Isaac muttered. “Can I stay at your house tonight?” he asked, addressing Scott.
“Oh. Yeah, sure,” Scott answered, flushing. “Stiles, you ready?”
Stiles was even more twitchy than normal, his heart beat skittering. Derek wasn’t an idiot; he knew Stiles was attracted to him, but this wasn’t Stiles’ usual aroused smell. Or at least, not completely. He took a step towards the door, then hesitated, turning around.
“Good night, Derek,” he said, a little too loud. His face was going to be permanently red, Derek thought, bemused, as Stiles reached out and pressed something into his hand before slipping between Scott and Isaac. “You guys coming?”
“I’m so confused,” Scott muttered, following him out. Isaac threw a smile at Derek over his shoulder, and then he was alone again. Naturally.
At least he had Stiles’ chocolate. Today’s bon mot told him:
Don't settle for a spark... light a fire instead.
He almost choked. No way Stiles could have known it would say that.
“So what you’re saying is, they’re like Dementors?” Scott yelled. His voice came through tinny to Derek’s ears. He couldn’t hear Stiles’ response at all, but Derek had read the Harry Potter books. Whatever these creatures were, Dementors were a good enough description for him.
Derek’s own heartbeat pounded in his ears. The room was full of smoke, stinging his eyes and filling his nostrils. It obscured his senses just as surely as it wormed its insidious way into his emotions. He needed to be calm and in control in order to get his pack and Scott’s to safety. He couldn’t afford succumbing to ghosts. Not like Peter.
He stumbled over an ankle – Peter’s – and caught himself, claws digging into the wall. Peter huddled in the corner of the room, his eyes darting constantly left to right as he screamed noiselessly. Derek didn’t want to know what he was seeing.
He’d seen his little sister in the smoke first.
Derek dug his claws into Peter’s collar, not caring that he scraped skin and drew blood, and dragged him towards Scott’s voice. He kept his eyes down and didn’t see Isaac until he’d run into him.
Isaac’s eyes were even wider than usual and he flinched back as if Derek had attacked him.
“I’m sorry!” Isaac croaked, voice hoarse with smoke. Derek shook his head. There was nothing for Isaac to be sorry for.
“Isaac! Derek!” Unlike the rest of them, Scott sounded angry. “I can’t find Stiles!”
Derek closed his eyes. Shit.
“Take him,” he told Isaac, picking up the teenager’s hand to replace his own in Peter’s collar. “I’ll get Stiles.”
“What?” Scott protested. “No, Derek, you can’t even walk; Stiles is my best friend—“
“I don’t need to walk.” He’d be safer as the wolf, they all would be. “You’re the only one clear-headed enough to stop these things.”
And get Derek’s pack out.
“Derek—“ Scott started, but Derek was already turning away, already feeling his muscles shift.
The smoky, ghost-like Dementor-wannabes didn’t have as much of an effect on him in wolf form, perhaps because his emotions were so basic. Ideas like guilt and shame were so complex, but the drive to protect his pack – that went to his very core, long before Laura’s death or the fire changed him.
He could feel Isaac most strongly, the beta he had made, moving somewhere on his right. Isaac was heading towards an exit, being pulled by Scott, Peter faintly with them. Somewhere beyond them, a familiar heartbeat was moving towards the building, matched in the opposite direction by one he recognized with a flare of surprise. Perhaps Scott would get help, after all.
Still in the warehouse, though, was Stiles’ heartbeat. Derek bounded over piles of debris, following the sound as it grew more and more erratic. He could smell Stiles, too, overlaid with the pungent scent of fear. It spiked when Derek leapt through the mist, belatedly realizing how terrifying he probably looked as a dark wolf with glowing red eyes. However bad it was, though, he had to have been better than whatever ghosts were plaguing Stiles because after only a moment’s hesitation, Stiles dug his fingers into the fur around Derek’s neck.
The smoky wraiths were growing agitated, more and more crowding around them. Derek nosed at Stiles’ chest, urging him to get up. Stiles gave a sob and squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head and muttering about fire. Derek growled low in frustration, which didn’t help matters in the slightest. The shadows trailed clammy hands across Stiles’ shoulders, smelling of rot and decay and… lighter fluid. Derek pawed at the ground. A lighter. Stiles had dropped a lighter. No use to Derek in his current form, but if he could steel his resolve and hold tight to his control, he could use it when he shifted. Which would have to be now, before he lost his nerve.
Stiles yelped, rocking back in shock as the fur beneath his fingers became smooth skin. Derek could feel and hear his confusion, fear and arousal, but Derek ignored it and reached for the lighter. The apparitions attacked immediately.
Kate floated towards him, heedless of the bloody ruin of her neck, her ghostly laughter filling the air. Derek flicked the lighter in her face and she reared back, dissipating at the edges. So. That was what Stiles had been trying to tell Scott. These things, and Derek still didn’t have a proper name for them, were hesitant around fire. Derek held the lighter aloft in his left hand and half-knelt to gather Stiles up and toss him over his right shoulder. If Stiles had been more lucid, Derek was sure he’d have been treated to some color commentary on the state of his nakedness.
A bright burst of orange flame beckoned on the edge of his vision, and he turned to it, pushing through his cousin Maria’s burnt face, shrugging off the smoky hands that tried to grip his ankles. He had the fire now, and Stiles, though freaked out and semi-conscious, unknowingly leant him strength just by virtue of being a quasi-pack member. The pack was always stronger together, even more so for the Alpha.
It wasn’t long before Derek could hear Scott’s voice breaking through the susurrations of the shadow creatures.
“Stiles! Stiles! Derek! Holy crap, you’re naked!”
“Then get him some pants and move out of our way,” a tart voice commanded him. Lydia Martin swung her torch in a wide arc, and Scott leaped back to avoid the flame. His own torch looked like a branch with some burning cloth at one end, but Lydia’s torch was finely carved wood.
“With me, if you would, Ms. Martin,” Deaton said, stepping up with his matching torch and reaching for her hand. They walked calmly into the smoky building.
“Is Stiles okay?” Scott demanded. “Come on, they know what they’re doing. You can put Stiles down over here and, um, get some pants,” Scott finished, flushing.
Derek followed him over to where Isaac and Peter were still on the ground. Peter’s eyes and mouth were closed now, at least, and his heartbeat was slow and regular. Asleep. Isaac looked up as they approached.
“I have my sweats in my backpack,” he said. He sounded exhausted, but one thousand times better than he’d been inside the building.
“Thanks,” Derek grunted. It didn’t bother him to walk around naked, but Scott smelled agitated and once Stiles was with it again, he’d be embarrassed and turned on, and resentful that everyone else could tell. He set Stiles carefully on the ground and pulled Isaac’s backpack over. The sweatpants smelled like Isaac, of course, and the boys’ locker room; lacrosse pads, sweat, grass and notes of all the other players, but most predominately Scott and Stiles.
Stiles groaned, and Scott immediately knelt down at his side.
“Hey, man, how you feeling?”
Stiles cracked an eye open. “Was Derek naked-carrying me?” he asked.
“I don’t think you can call it that if you weren’t also naked,” Scott said, his lips twitching. Derek snorted.
“Oh my God, is he right behind me?”
“He’s wearing my pants,” Isaac told him.
“Oh my God, Isaac’s not wearing any pants!” Stiles cried, squeezing his eyes shut again.
The banter was soothing. Scott had already calmed considerably and Isaac was definitely less anxious now, and proud that he’d been able to help with the pants. Stiles, on the other hand, was still a jittery tangle of fear and grief even as he tried to get the other two to laugh. Derek sighed.
“Come here,” he said, sitting beside Stiles on the ground.
“Um, where?” Stiles asked cautiously, blinking his eyes. Derek pulled him into his lap and Stiles let out a loud squawk. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m cuddling you,” Derek said drily. “It will make you feel better.”
Isaac laughed, but Scott gave him a disturbingly perceptive look.
“I’m going to make sure Lydia and Dr. Deaton are cool,” he said, rising up from his crouch. “You guys cuddle.”
Isaac laughed again and scooted closer to Derek. It was… really nice, being so close. Stiles squirmed around until he was comfortable, and Isaac leaned against his other shoulder. They watched Lydia’s and Deaton’s reassuringly solid forms join Scott’s at the entrance of the warehouse and turn to watch flames consume the shadows within.
“Is anyone else worried about my dad showing up?” Stiles asked. Derek raised his eyebrows. “I mean about the fire, not about our half-naked group cuddle,” he clarified.
“Do you feel any heat?” Derek asked him, rolling his eyes at Stiles’ expression. The exasperation was a welcome relief. “From the fire.”
“I don’t think anyone else can see this. Your lighter, Scott’s torch – those were real. But whatever Deaton pulled out of his bag of tricks, it’s not real fire.”
“I want to see up close,” Isaac decided and scrambled to his feet. Lydia took him by the arm and pointed something out when he joined them, her voice too low to hear over the fake bonfire.
“Shadow wraiths that make you relive your worst memories, and he wants to see up close?” Stiles shivered. “I’ll be brave from over here.”
“You were brave,” Derek told him. “You had your lighter out; it just wasn’t the right kind of fire. It helped, though.”
Stiles squirmed again in his lap. Despite all the times he declared himself to be awesome and amazing, he wasn’t very good at taking compliments.
“When you—“ Stiles started and stopped, glancing over at Peter’s recumbent form. “Your wolf self was way cooler than Peter.”
“Was it?” Derek asked.
“Yeah. Wait, didn’t you know that?”
“Left my mirror in my other pants.”
Stiles snorted and laughed at the same time, the sound coming out in a funny little gurgle. “That was pretty lame.”
“You really need to listen to your own jokes sometimes.”
Stiles made the same noise. “I’m offended,” he said, poking Derek in the chest with one long finger. “Just for that you have to be my body pillow for ten more minutes.”
“I don’t mind,” he said honestly. A somewhat awkward silence fell on them. Scott was doing karate poses, backlit by the fire. He looked like a particularly vicious shadow puppet bunny.
“What we need is some Honeydukes chocolate,” Stiles said, breaking the silence. “Cure-all for Dementors.”
Derek pulled Isaac’s backpack closer. “Smells like he has some in here.”
He settled his arms back around Stiles while Stiles rooted through the bag, wrinkling his nose at a random sock and pawing through scraps of paper before letting out a crow of triumph.
“Remember these?” he asked, unwrapping his chocolate and stuffing it in his mouth. “You don’t have to tell me what yours says this time,” he said, mouth full of chocolate.
Derek unwrapped his one-handed. He didn’t look at the wrapper. The little asinine promises had hit a bit too close to home in the past. He really didn’t need to see what it told him after he’d spent a night being tormented by the ghosts of his past mistakes. Forget about the past, loser. Or maybe Chocolate heals all heart break. No, not tonight.
“Mine’s a load of crap,” Stiles said, looking down at the shiny foil in his own hands. Derek looked over his shoulder.
It's okay to be fabulous AND flawed!
Derek began to laugh.
“Oh my God, no fair! You’re laughing at me?” Stiles wriggled around until they were face to face. “This means war!”
War to Stiles was apparently a tickle attack, and one that Derek could beat him at, hands-down. At least until Scott and Isaac whooped and came running over, all three of them tickling him and laughing. The last time Derek had been tickled, all the ghosts burning up in Deaton’s and Lydia’s fire had been alive and leading the attack. If there was an edge of grief to the sound of his laughter, no one living was going to comment on it. Derek hadn’t been the only one faced with ghosts of family dead and gone, after all.
He found his wrapper stuck to the bottom of his foot later that night, before he tumbled, emotionally drained and exhausted, into his bed.
You don't need an excuse. You just need a moment.
Two days after the Dementors, Derek returned to the loft to find Stiles putting his bed to good use with a mid-day nap. Sometimes he thought Stiles slept in that bed more than he did. Just when his scent was fading, he was back, napping or reading on it or, on one memorial occasion, using it as his pirate ship.
Derek sniffed the air as he put his jars of spaghetti sauce and boxes of pasta away. Stiles smelled like lacrosse practice, and a shower afterwards thankfully, and antiseptic, dogs and Lydia’s perfume. So he’d been to see Deaton with Lydia. Derek frowned. He couldn’t parse how that made him feel.
“Sorry I stole your bed,” Stiles mumbled into the pillow.
“No you’re not.”
“I’m not,” Stiles admitted. “It’s a really comfortable bed. I was just going to stay for a second, but the voices in my head told me I should make myself at home, so, what’re you going to do, am I right?”
He finally cracked open his eyes and looked up at Derek.
“Do the voices in your head pick your clothes each day?” Derek asked.
“Laugh it up, furball. Flannel is manly.”
“Did Lydia tell you that?”
“Hardly. She said – never mind; it wasn’t very flattering.”
Derek smiled as he folded his canvas grocery bags. He liked to make them into perfect squares.
“You have a nice smile,” Stiles blurted out. Derek froze. “Oh my God, I didn’t mean to say that.”
“Did you mean to say I had a hideous smile?” Derek asked, his brain resetting and his body coming back online. He moved towards the bed, half-saunter and half-stalk, and Stiles’ eyes grew larger and larger.
“No-oo,” he squeaked out. Derek paused at the side of the bed, one knee on the mattress. Stiles’ heartbeat was galloping loudly, the sound filling his ears as the sticky-sweet scent of arousal filled his nose, but Stiles’ eyes met his own, and they weren’t too scared or too horny to focus.
“You’re in my bed,” Derek said quietly.
“Kind of hoping I could stay here,” Stiles answered.
“Then shove over and let me in.”
Stiles’ hand was barely shaking as he lifted the blankets and it had stilled completely by the time Derek took it in his own hand and closed the distance between them.
The first kiss was a little clumsy, the second involved too many teeth, the third was overly wet. But the fourth time was the charm, and Stiles relaxed completely against him.
Derek got up an hour later to start the pasta, his lips were swollen and a pleasant buzz suffused his entire body. He was grinning like a fool when his heel connected with a slippery scrap of foil and his world tilted on its axis. Stiles shot up in bed.
“Derek? Did you just fall?” He scrambled out of bed and joined Derek on the floor. “Do you need me to kiss your ass and make it feel better?”
“Yeah, get right on that, would you?” Derek mumbled, sliding his arms around Stiles’ waist and absently mouthing at his neck. Where was that stupid wrapper? There—
You are exactly where you are supposed to be.