When Stiles is six years old, his mom takes him to school for the first time. He doesn’t understand why he can’t continue staying at home and learning from his mom, so he clings to her hand tightly as she guides him through the crowd of parents and students. Mrs. Henderson, his neighbor, is standing in the room and handing out cookies and books to kids. Stiles looks up at his mom as she smiles down at him, expectantly. He tightens his grip on her hand.
“Buddy, I can’t go with you.” Mom says, and Stiles’ heart beats faster. “You’ll be okay, I promise. You know Mrs. Henderson, she lives next door.”
Stiles’ lip wobbles, and his mom’s smile falters. She kneels, and he puts his arms around her neck. “Oh honey, don’t cry. I’ll be back to pick you up a little after lunch.”
“You promise?” Stiles asks, face muffled in his mom’s shoulder.
“I promise.” His mom pulls away. “You’ll love school. Don’t you want to go in there and make friends?”
Stiles nods and wipes the tears. He hitches his backpack, higher up on his back and walks towards the nearest table. There’s a boy at the table with big puppy-dog eyes who looks just as lost as Stiles feels. He turns and smiles tentatively at his mom who is talking to Mrs. Henderson. She grins at him with a thumbs-up.
“Hi, I’m Stiles. Do you want to be my friend?” Stiles asks, sticking out his hand to the sad boy.
“’M Scott.” He says, “My mom’s a healer at the hospital.”
“Oh cool, my mama, is one too. Maybe they will become friends like us.” Stiles grins, and Scott grins back.
As the day progresses, Stiles has so much fun in class. His favorite part is when Mrs. Henderson tells them stories about The Revolution. How the supernatural creatures revealed themselves. How the mundane and supernatural forces fought for a long time before they found a way to co-exist. Stiles knows most of what Mrs. Henderson tells them. His dad is the Sheriff of Beacon Hills, he and the Alpha work together to keep the peace. He hasn’t really met the Alpha, but he knows that Alpha Hale is kind and loves every one of her citizens – his dad said so.
At lunch however, a kid named Jackson tries to take a mousey blonde girl’s pudding cup from her. Stiles smacks his hand and tells him he can’t. Jackson pushes Stiles, and he falls hard on the concrete floor. Mrs. Henderson breaks the fight apart, but Stiles has to go to the nurse because he scraped his knee. Sometimes Stiles hates that he’s mundane. His mom is a powerful healer, but he’s a mundane like his dad. He wishes he could make lights in the air like his mom does on his parents’ wedding anniversary, and he wishes he could heal people like she can when they get hurt. Nurse Lahey is sweet and patches him up with a bandage and lets him choose a lollipop from a big jar of colorful candy.
By the time he gets back to his classroom, they’re doing counting. So, Stiles joins Scott’s table and picks up from where they are at.
Parents come in one by one, to pick up their kids until just Scott and Stiles are left. His mom comes in like a whirlwind.
“I’m sorry I’m late. I’m sorry.” She says breathlessly, before her eyes hone in on the bandage on Stiles’ knee. “What happened?”
Stiles is eight when he breaks the “don’t leave the house without an adult” rule. He swears he knows the way to Scott’s house and his mom is sleeping and his dad is at the station, so he lets himself out the door, and turns left at the gate. He’s been walking for forever when he realizes he must be lost.
He knocks on a bizarre orange door, and a bald man opens it. Stiles recognizes him, but he doesn’t know the man’s name. Stiles knows he shouldn’t talk to strangers, but most people around town know Stiles as Deputy Stilinski’s son and Stiles is sure he has seen his mother greet this man warmly the few times they had bumped into each other. So, he isn’t really a stranger.
“Hi,” says Stiles.
“What can I do for you, young man?” The bald man asks.
“Do you know how to get to Scott’s house, mister?” Stiles asks.
“I’m not sure. But I do know where you live. I can take you home, Mr. Stilinski.” The man says, and Stiles giggles at the silly way he talks before agreeing to be taken home. He thanks the man as he jumps out of the car when it pulls up to the curb in front of his house.
He waves the man goodbye before he lets himself into the house. He tiptoes to the living room and would have gone up to his room if it weren’t for the body lying on the living room floor. He runs to his mom and shakes her shoulder.
“MAMA!” He yells, trying to wake her up, but she doesn’t move.
He grabs the phone of the hook, panicking, and calls the emergency number that his dad drilled into his head. The lady on the phone is nice. She talks to Stiles while he waits for the doctors to come and take his mom to the hospital.
The medics try to stop him when he tries to get into the van once his mom’s gurney is in, but he just cries and tells them there’s nobody home and he can’t stay alone, so they let him ride along to the hospital. Stiles stares at his mother’s limp body and blames himself for having broken the rules.
The hospital is cold, and Stiles shivers as he huddles into his jacket. The hospital had tried to call his dad, but that was hours ago. The nurses ply him with hot cocoa and bring him blankets as he waits for his dad. It’s almost nine when the emergency room doors burst open and the smell of smoke wafts in with it. There are two soot covered bodies being wheeled into the room. The first body smells terrible. There are blisters all over the person’s body, and the other is just a boy who probably isn’t much older than Stiles. The raven-haired boy cries and screams hysterically, reeking of smoke and despair, green eyes flashing red. Stiles watches helplessly as the doctors inject him with a sedative.
“Dad!” Stiles yells out when he catches sight of his dad’s haggard appearance as he follows the bodies in.
“Stiles?” His dad asks, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “What are you doing here? Where is Mom?”
Stiles’ breath hitches on a sob. “She fainted and wouldn’t wake up, so I called 911. The hospital said they tried calling you. What took you so long?”
“Oh? Kiddo. I’m so sorry. Is mom ok?” Dad asks, Stiles shrugs. “I’ll go see what’s going on. I am so sorry I didn’t get the messages. But I’m here now. I promise. I need to do some cop things, but I’m here now, ok?”
Stiles learns later that night, after his dad has spread out his case files over the dining table, that almost the entire Alpha family had died in a house fire. There were only two survivors, Peter Hale and Derek Hale. It was ridiculously hard for werewolves to die, but even they weren’t invincible, but the fire didn’t make sense. The community loved Alpha Hale and her family. He had met Alpha Hale only once, but she was kind and patient. She didn’t get angry with all of Stiles’ questions, she just smiled sweetly at him and answered all his questions. He even met the future Alpha, Laura. She was supposed to start her Alpha training after she graduated from College. But the fifteen-year-old boy Stiles had seen was the Alpha now, an orphan who now had the responsibility of the entire pack on his shoulders. Stiles couldn’t imagine having to protect a whole town when he’s not even a full grown up, and his heart aches for the boy.
Stiles notices a golden Thread wrapped around his wrist the next day. He doesn’t know what it is, but he follows it to the door of the house. He’s not allowed outside, and the last time he broke that rule, his mother fell sick. Although he is excited to explore this fascinating new thing, he is also wary of breaking the rules again.
When his dad takes Stiles to the hospital to check on mom, she’s awake. She looks tired and Stiles crawls up into her bed and cuddles into her as a doctor tells his dad that his mom has something in her brain. When his dad leaves for his shift, he stays behind.
“Why can’t they heal you with magic,” Stiles asks, softly.
“It’s complicated, Stiles.” His mom says, tiredly.
“You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“Why can’t you explain it to me now?”
“Stiles, what do we know about magic.” His mom asks him, patiently.
“It works on faith and belief.” Stiles says.
“And…” his mom prompts him.
“The bigger the task, the most energy it uses?” He watches as his mom nods with her eyebrows raised. “And there’s always a price?”
“Yes. And the most life-threatening the injury, the more life-threatening the price. Small cuts and bruises are nothing. Reversing magical injuries just considers the magic the sacrifice. But you know that we try our best to avoid using magic to heal normal injuries as much as possible. Most of the diseases that mundanes and magic users deal with have been in existence for thousands of years. There are non-magical treatments.”
“Why is there a price to save a life?” Stiles asks.
“I don’t know, baby, I wish there wasn’t, but those are the rules. There’s only one group of people who don’t have to pay the price, but they’re a myth.” His mom closes her eyes, and Stiles climbs out of his chair and into bed with his mom.
“Mom?” Stiles asks, tentatively.
“Hmm, honey?” His mom nods, “I’m listening.”
“What is this?” His mom opens her eyes and looks at where he’s holding his hand up.
“What is what, baby?”
“This…” He pulls the Thread closer and holds it out to her.
His mom sits up quickly. “I can’t see it, honey, is it a Golden Thread?”
“Mmhmm,” Stiles nods.
“Oh, baby,” His mom cries, pulling him into a hug. “I’m so happy for you.”
He wants to ask her why, but before he can, he feels her aura change. There’s a beeping coming from the machines behind them, and his mom is shaking weirdly in his arms. Nurses swarm into the room, and pull Stiles away from his mom, and Stiles watches in horror as they inject her with things he cannot pronounce or recollect the names of.
His mom is sedated, and Stiles sits on the chair by her bedside before his dad comes to pick him up.
News of Peter Hales death rocks the whole town, Stiles hears about it at school, and he watches his dad’s unshaven face grow wearier as the day of the funeral grows closer.
The whole town mourns the Hales. Stiles had only ever met Alpha Talia and Laura. His father rallies the town around to hold a small memorial service, but Stiles doesn’t know why it’s his dad’s responsibility. He can hear whispers run through the crowd, the pack is disappointed that the new Alpha isn’t in town anymore. His father steps up and calms everyone’s concerns.
“He’ll be back, he’s gone to the Yukimura pack in New York. He will finish High School remotely and go to college and train with Alpha Noshiko. Hopefully he will visit, but I know he’d want the town to help each other in this time of difficulty.” Even though his dad is just mundane, he steps up as a temporary Alpha for the town and nobody challenges him. Stiles’ dad has always been good at listening to people’s problems and providing them with solutions, and he’s always had the air of authority.
That night he tells his dad about the Thread. They’re sitting and staring blankly at whatever movie is playing on TV. Mom is still at the hospital, but they’re both sad and he wants his dad to smile like his mom had when he showed her.
With a furrowed brow, Stiles’ dad asks him where the Thread leads to, and Stiles honestly answers that he doesn’t know. But he’s curious too, so he holds his dad’s hand and they follow the Thread all the way to the “Welcome to Beacon Hills” sign on the outskirts of town. His dad sighs, and Stiles wonders why his dad isn’t happy like his mom was. He and his dad aren’t close, his mom is the one he goes to with everything and his dad is always so tired because of his responsibilities to the town. Stiles knows he’s loud and hyper, and he knows his dad works hard and gets tired easily, but he doesn’t know how to be better. He hates that he is just another burden for his dad.
When Stiles is ten, his mother dies. It’s not fair. Stiles screams as they roll her away from him at the hospital, his breath catches in his throat, and his vision goes blurry. He doesn’t know why, but he thinks of Derek and how the dark-haired boy had screamed and screamed until he’d been sedated.
When he wakes up, the doctors are talking to his dad. He can only catch a few words -- “Panic Attack…. It’s not unusual… high stress... observation.”
Stiles doesn’t understand why he can’t go home. He isn’t sick. He doesn’t have anything in his brain like mom. But there is an uncomfortable itch beneath his skin and a dizziness that leaves him feeling out of sorts. He looks at his dad through the glass panel in the door and watches him playing with something around his wrist. Stiles looks down at his own wrist and stares at the golden rope that seemingly leads nowhere.
If the doctors thought there was something wrong with Stiles, they don’t mention anything when he’s allowed to leave. Stiles has always been a little odd. Sometimes, Deaton will look at Stiles funny, though, and mutter cryptically about how he has got a spark – whatever that means.
His mouth often gets him into trouble, but it also gets him out of it. He can talk circles around the best of them, and he can get people so twisted around that they forget what they were mad about in the first place. But when it comes to the kids his age, Stiles can’t help but dig the hole he’s in deeper because it doesn’t help that Stiles is smarter than at least 90% of his peers. He can’t help it when they get in his face with misinformation; he just has to correct them. But, it just serves to make the bullies angrier, and insulting his bully’s intelligence is not the way to get them to stop bullying him.
But after his mom dies, Stiles becomes quiet. He isn’t calm, and his mind goes a mile a minute but at school he doesn’t speak unless spoken to. At recess, Jackson and Matt tell everyone that if they play with Stiles they’d be cast out as well. Stiles doesn’t care. The one person who loved him more than life itself is gone. Scott, faithfully sits next to Stiles. Scott isn’t magical, nor is he a werecreature. Scott is mundane despite his father being a werejaguar, and his mother a druid healer. It was another thing that made Stiles and Scott drift towards each other as children – neither of them inherited their parents’ supernatural abilities.
Stiles’ free time is spent at the library. He goes through books like he wants to know everything. But this is a double-edged sword because even though he learns so many things, his teachers don’t like it when he interrupts them with the correct facts.
Stiles is fourteen when they start learning more about sex and mating. The history of ancient reproduction was fascinating to Stiles once upon a time. Thousands of years ago, no male couldn’t get pregnant. After the Revolution, once a compromise was made and communities started forming, it was clear there weren’t enough women to build the population. So many had been lost to the war and so many women had become infertile due to malnutrition, stress and physical trauma. The druids were the ones who found the solution, but the mundanes resisted the change for a long time because they believed it was unnatural and against the will of their God. The supernatural embraced the cure because their God only provided solutions not obstacles. After a couple of centuries of a thriving Supernatural population and a diminishing Mundane one, the Mundane population gave into the cure. The cure, allowed the child of any pregnant female to procreate regardless of the child’s gender. Learning about a world where men couldn’t have babies, and women couldn’t fertilize their partners was bizarre to Stiles. But then again, human anatomy had changed so much since the Revolution, it was almost like the ancestors were a whole different species. But Stiles studied all this years ago and loses interest when the teacher misquotes certain texts.
But then the teacher starts talking about soul-bonds, and that catches Stiles’ attention. ‘Threads of Fate,’ as the teacher calls it, are the strings that lead out into the world connecting soulmates together. Any two people can mate, but mates connected by the Thread are mates whose souls are incomplete without each other. Two sides of the same coin. Two halves of a whole. He stares at his Thread, as the teacher tells them that the chances of them ever having a soul-bond are close to nil.
The golden ‘Thread of Fate’ forms the first-time the soul-bonded lay eyes on each other and it turns black and “breaks” when one half of the bond dies. The bond cements into the bright mate-red once the bond has been consummated. Some people have only one soul-bond in their entire lifetime, but there was a case study where one woman who had four soul-bonds over the course of her lifetime. Each new bond established itself after the death of her previous bond-mate. The teacher cautions them that even though soul-bonds sound romantic, they can be equally tragic, because the bond is so consuming it can make people crazy and possessive.
The teacher tells them that the Thread is rare amongst pairs that have supernatural abilities, but it is almost extinct in mundane pairs. But even if it is true that mundanes can’t form Soul-Bonds Stiles knows deep in his heart that his parents were soul-bonded even though they never told him so explicitly, at first perhaps it was because of how complex a concept it was for his young mind, but afterwards, it was probably just too hard for his dad. Stiles still remembers the way his Dad picked at something only the sheriff could see, in the days following his mother’s death.
He wonders if that means his soulmate is a supernatural creature. Sometimes, when Stiles is feeling especially vulnerable, he looks at his own string-tied wrist and wonders if his soulmate would love him despite being so odd. He’s already such a disappointment to his father if the chatter around town is to be believed, he doesn’t want to disappoint his mate too. He wonders if, perhaps, his soulmate saw their bond and left because his mate was Stiles. It doesn’t help the loneliness that haunts him. He doesn’t know who his soulmate is, or where they are. But in his dreams his mate has raven-black hair and piercing green eyes with central heterochromia.
When Stiles is sixteen, Isaac comes to class with a black eye one day. Jackson ignores Isaac and there’s something in the way it’s so purposeful. Scott just looks like he wants to cocoon Isaac from the world. Isaac’s mother had died two years ago, and his brother had left to join the Army. Last week, the Lahey family received the notification of Camden’s death.
When Stiles goes to his customary place near the farthest tree during lunch, he expects Scott to follow him, but instead he sees Scott talking to Isaac, both their heads down as they whisper quietly. He watches sadly, as Scott hugs Isaac and pulls him by the elbow to an empty table.
“Oooh, is your boyfriend dumping you for Isaac?” Matt teases from behind him.
Stiles grimaces and pointedly ignores Matt.
“What? Cat got your tongue, Stilinski?” Matt says before he grabs Stiles’ book out of his hands.
“Give it back.” Stiles growls, hands balled into fists at his side.
“Or what?” Matt asks. Stiles refuses to rise to the bait. He bites his tongue. “What is this? Are you reading about shifter anatomy? Want to take a knot, Stilinski? Be bred?” Matt mocks him.
“Give. Me. My book back.” Stiles says through clenched teeth.
Matt laughs cruelly. “Doesn’t matter anyways, it’s not like anybody would want your skinny ass,” Matt says, dropping the book to the ground and stepping on it.
Stiles charges at Matt.
Boyd is coming out of the Principal’s office when Stiles reaches it. The icepack Nurse Blake gave him is warm and doesn’t really help him with the bruised cheek and cut lip.
Matt comes in behind him, sullen.
“What’s going on boys?” The principal asks.
Stiles folds his arms across his chest and glares out the window.
“Stilinski is a maniac. He just attacked me without reason.” Matt says, and Stiles can hear the fake whine in his voice.
“You stomped on my book.” He bites out.
“I did not. You threw the book at me and then attacked me!” Matt says, his lip wobbles and he looks at the principal pleadingly.
“You fucking asshole!” Stiles yells, jumping up in anger.
“Sit down, Mr. Stilinski!” the Principal says sternly. “I have heard enough. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards violence, and I should expel you Mr. Stilinski. But you’ve never behaved this way before, so I’m letting you off with a warning. But if this ever happens again, you’re going to be expelled. Am I understood?”
“You may leave. Mr. Daehler, please stay behind.” Matt’s smirk, as Stiles leaves the principal’s office, makes Stiles’ blood boil.
Stiles wishes he had never let Matt get under his skin. He should have tuned him out like he usually does, because once Matt tells everyone that Stiles will be expelled if he ever so much as smack’s someone’s hand, the silent avoidance will turn into a contest of who will make Stiles Stilinski break and get expelled.
The lewd comments about his choice of reading material don’t bother him as much as the sabotage to Stiles’ education. Stiles wonders what he ever did to deserve this level of disdain from his peers because he tries so hard to stay under everybody’s radar. Someone breaks into his locker and tears out whole sections of his textbook. His car gets vandalized in the parking lot. Someone steals his clothes during gym class when he’s in the shower. And on and on and on. It is so frustrating, and Stiles doesn’t want to burden his father. He can’t tell the principal because then he’ll be called a narc. So, he just shuts himself off further.
He knows Matt is behind some of it, but Jackson’s smirk when someone tags his car with a giant spray-painted dick gives him away as well. He hates it. He hates them. He hates school. He just wants to be done already. Scott doesn’t even notice because he hasn’t been sitting with Stiles lately. He’s been sitting with Isaac. Scott doesn’t even notice when someone throws an open banana pudding cup at Stiles and then trips him into upending his lunch tray all over himself. Stiles starts eating in the bathroom after that.
It is Stiles’ final year of high school. He’s eighteen and he can’t wait to for school to end. If Stiles wasn’t the only thing in his dad’s life keeping him alive, he would have been inclined to move as far away from Beacon Hills as physically possible. But Stiles, can’t leave his dad alone in Beacon Hills — his dad would resort to eating burgers and fries for all his meals and give himself a heart attack. So, Stiles decides to apply to UC Berkeley’s distance learning program that has online classes so that he can get the best of both worlds —his degree and his dad’s wellbeing. He hopes most of his peers will move on to out of state colleges and establish themselves in new packs, like most teenagers do.
He is surprised when one day, there’s a knock on his bathroom stall. “Stiles?”
“Yeah, it’s me, Isaac.”
“I need to get a scholarship for college because I can’t ask Mrs. McCall to pay for my education. They’ve already done so much to help me.”
“I don’t give out scholarships, Isaac.”
“I know. But you can help me get better grades.”
Stiles unlocks his bathroom stall and peeks out. “What?”
“Stiles, everyone might ignore you or play horrid pranks on you, but we all know that you’re the smartest guy in class. Even Scott is always talking about how you’re a genius mastermind.” Stiles laughs cruelly at the reminder of his former friend. “I know you hate me for stealing Scott, but I swear that wasn’t my intention.”
“I don’t hate you, Isaac.” Stiles says, softly. “Scott’s his own person he can do whatever he likes.”
“He misses you, you know?” Isaac says softly.
“Well I’m here, I’ve always been here.” Stiles says tiredly. “And if you’re willing to put up with the social blowback of hanging out with me, then I’m willing to help you.”
“Oh my God, really?” Isaac smiles at him so radiantly, it makes Stiles heart clench.
“Yeah. Of course.”
When Erica plops down in the chair across from him in the library Stiles raises his eyebrow at her.
“Tutor me,” She says.
“Have you been talking to Isaac?” Stiles asks.
“Well, duh.” She pulls at the sleeves of her overgrown sweater and tucks in a piece of her wild hair. “When the Alpha comes back to Beacon Hills I’m going to petition him for the bite. I know that it’s not a cure for epilepsy, but it might cure the more fatal side-effects. But, I want to be a useful part of the pack. I miss a lot of school because of my episodes, and the assholes like Harris don’t let me retake stuff I missed so my grades suffer because I’m only mediocre at the stuff I do manage to turn in because I’ve missed so much. I need to do well to get into a good college.”
“I don’t know, Erica.” Stiles hesitates.
“I remember the first day of first grade.” Erica says.
“What?” Stiles’ eyes widen because he doesn’t remember what happened on the first day of first grade. All he remembers are his mom’s smile, cookies and meeting Scott.
“You stood up to Jackson for me.” Erica says, her eyes are wide and earnest.
“Well, Jackson’s a douchebag.” Stiles says, angrily.
“Agreed,” Erica says, nodding. “But I know you, Stiles. Even though you stopped speaking. Even though you hide away. I know you. You’re fierce and brave. And you would never let your packmate suffer.”
“Fuck you.” Stiles says, but there’s not bite in his insult, and Erica is grinning like she’s already won. “Fine.”
Erica smacks a kiss to his cheek and skips away.
Boyd is nothing like Stiles. He wasn’t bullied into silence, but he’s just silent by nature. He sits by himself in class, and he sits alone at lunch. Nobody approaches him because he’s big and doesn’t talk a lot, nobody bullies Boyd.
“No.” Stiles says, when Boyd taps him on the shoulder as he searches for his keys.
“You don’t even know—”
“I don’t, but whatever it is, no.” Stiles says as his key slides into the lock.
“Okay.” Boyd says, voice small and resigned.
“What just like that? You aren’t going to challenge that?” Stiles ask, whirling around on Boyd. Boyd’s eyes widen. For a werebear he’s so timid it blows Stiles’ mind. “At least present your case.”
“I need help with math.” Boyd says, softly.
“Who spilled the beans?” Stiles asks and smiles at the way Boyd flushes. “Erica, really?”
“As the only two members of the Lonely Loners Club, Erica’s words not mine, we talk a lot. We would have tried to recruit you but you’re always so angry, we were scared.”
“I’m not angry.”
“It looks like you are.”
“I act like I am hoping people will back off.” Stiles says.
“So, will you help me?” Boyd asks.
“Yes, but only if you let me join the Club.” Stiles says, and his eyes widen in shock as the large man pulls him into a bear hug.
It boggled Stiles mind how he went so many years without friends, and he suddenly has three new friends and a returned best-friend. It makes Jackson and Matt’s pranks bearable, because he had people who keep spare clothes for him, and share their textbooks, and let him cry.
When he’s at school he’s the same broody, silent guy. But when he’s with his friends, he can let the goof ball with the abundance of energy and unending quantities of trivia out. It’s like Stiles is making up for all the years he didn’t talk.
At the November town meeting, the former emissary, Dr. Deaton, announces that the Alpha is finished with his training and will be returning to Beacon Hills. After that, the town is abuzz with excitement. Anywhere Stiles goes, all anyone talks about is Alpha Hale’s return to Beacon Hill. There are some rumors that say he is supposedly claiming his rightful place as the head of the pack, others that say he’s coming to select a mate, and about a hundred others that contradict each other.
Stiles is sick of hearing how Mrs. Carlisle’s daughter is so perfect for the new Alpha because of her perfect bone structure, or how Mr. Olivier’s grandson grows the best flowers and would be able to provide the Alpha with a robust garden that can cater to his every need. It’s like they’re preparing to parade their sons and daughters in front of the Alpha. Just yesterday, he saw Lydia Martin in the shop on Main Street for the third time, trying on elaborate dresses that show off her cleavage -- no he wasn’t following her, but the shop is on the way to the comic book store and Lydia’s fiery hair is hard to miss.
The rumors put Stiles on edge, because the people spreading them barely know the guy and they’re already trying to weasel their way into his life for whatever reason – fortune, fame, power, notoriety and who knows why else. Maybe, it’s because Stiles still remembers Derek’s face twisted in pain over the death of his family that he feels so protective of him.
Stiles welcomes winter break with open arms because it’s a reprieve from the pranks and the Alpha chatter constantly filling the halls. He even manages to convince Scott and Isaac to go to the preserve with him to celebrate the wonderfulness of it all with a bottle of Jack that Stiles steals from his dad’s liquor cabinet. It’s all fun and games until a loud howl sends them scampering through the woods in opposite directions, scared out of their minds.
Stiles texts Scott once he reaches home, and frets while he waits for a reply, falling asleep with the phone still in his hand. Stiles wakes up when his phone rings loudly in his face. It hurts.
“I think I was bitten,” Scott panicked voice hyperventilates in his ear.
“What?” Stiles asks, brain struggling to catch up with the conversation.
“I was bitten, Stiles!” Scott yells. Which – Ouch!
“Like a love bite?” Stiles asks, giggling. How much had he had to drink last night? Oh My God. Last Night. Stiles sits up straighter and slaps himself to wake up. If Scott was bitten he could be turning rabid if it was a wild animal, or…
“I know my asthma is a hindrance. But I don’t want to be like my dad, Stiles!” Scott panics hardcore.
“Buddy. We don’t even know if it was a supernatural creature.” Stiles says, placatingly. “Plus, there is only one supe that doesn’t need to be a pack alpha to turn mundanes, and there are no werecoyotes in Beacon Hills.”
“What if a vagrant was travelling through town, Stiles!” Scott sounds like he’s about to burst into tears. “OH MY GOD! What if it wasn’t? I don’t want five painful rabies injections! Stiles!”
“Oh my God, Scott!” Stiles cries, exasperated. “Go check the bite. I’m coming over and we can go check with Deaton, ok?”
By the time Stiles gets Scott to Deaton’s office, the bite is mostly healed. Scott goes into a bit of a panic. He raves madly about the Alpha abusing power until Deaton tells him that the Alpha was still in Nevada and wouldn’t be back until next week unless he gets done with his work early.
Two days later, Scott bangs on Stiles’ door.
“What’s your damage, dude?” Stiles asks when he opens the door.
“My inhaler,” Scott says.
“Yeah. I know, you don’t need it anymore.” Stiles says, as he heads to the kitchen to grab himself a glass of Orange Juice. “You want anything from the fridge?”
“No, Stiles! My mom will kill me if she finds out I lost it!”
“Why? What’s the big deal. It’s not like you need it.” Stiles pauses, sets the bottle of OJ on the table and sighs. “Please tell me you told her.”
“No! Of course not, Stiles! She’ll kill me.” Scott panics.
“She won’t kill you, you idiot.”
“She will when she finds out you got me drunk in the preserve!” Scott yells, moving forward. “Oh my God! She’ll kill you too!”
“Scott, buddy, calm down.” Stiles says, a little scared by the way he’s backed up against the wall, and Scott’s eyes are flashing. “We’ll go to the preserve and look for it, ok? Now take a deep breath in”
Scott closes his eyes and breathes in deeply, and his shoulders relax from their tensed position.
“Now, let me grab my car keys and we can head out, ok?” He slips out from under Scott’s arm, the one braced against the wall.
Scott nods, and rests his head against the wall Stiles was just backed up against. Taking huge gulping breaths.
“I feel like I should have worn a thicker coat.” Stiles grumbles as they try to trace Scott’s steps around the preserve.
“You’re wearing four layers.” Scott says.
“And I’m still freezing my butt off. Not all of us run hot, y’know. Some of us are human.”
Stiles feels the Thread around his wrist tighten, fractionally, and he’s suddenly aware of the new presence around them. He freezes in place at the glare leveled towards them, and grabs Scott by the arm.
“What are you doing here? This is private property.” The owner of the aforementioned glare says, scowling at Scott.
“Uh — Sorry, man. We didn’t know. My friend lost his inhaler.” Stiles gestures vaguely to Scott, lifting his Threaded hand. He sees the way it travels across to the man and wraps around his wrist, but he doesn’t seem to see it.
“Yeah, we were just looking for — Uh, forget it.” Scott says, whining slightly. The man throws something at Scott and Scott reflexively catches it. Scott’s inhaler. “Sorry. Uhm. All right, come on, I’ve got to get to work, Stiles.” Scott says, tugging at Stiles.
“That’s Derek Hale.” Stiles whispers, as Scott pulls him along.
“The Alpha?” Scott asks, confused. “I thought he wasn’t coming back till next week.”
“Yeah, but I guess he got here early. I mean he was just in Nevada two days ago, doesn’t take a week to get here from Nevada.” Stiles says absently, while his mind whirs. Derek wasn’t affected by the Thread, and Stiles doesn’t know why. It’s clear to Stiles that Derek is his soulmate, but does Derek not see the Thread? And if he doesn’t what does that mean? Does it mean he isn’t Derek’s soulmate? Can that even be a thing?
“Tell me about the Thread of Fate and Soulmates,” Stiles says once he lets himself into the Vet’s office.
“Hello, Mr. Stilinski. How did you get in?” Dr. Deaton asks, one eyebrow raised and all the judgement in the world levelled towards Stiles.
“Umm, Scott left his keys out. I made a copy for safe keeping in case he loses his?” Stiles grins, at Dr. Deaton.
“You’re going to cost that boy his job.”
“You wouldn’t fire him because I’m an asshole, would you?”
“No, I’d fire him for giving you the opportunity to steal his keys when he knows you so well.”
“Well, the dude needs all the help he can get, Doc.” Stiles says flippantly and pulls a chair up to where Deaton’s making notes in his journal.
Deaton sighs. “Why don’t you ask your teachers at School, Stiles? Or your father?”
“Well, my teachers wouldn’t know, and… I can’t really talk to my dad about this stuff. Come on, Doc. Don’t leave me hanging.”
“What do you want to know?”
“There isn’t that much known information, humans document things, yes, but it’s often biased. There is no scientific way to study the Thread. All we know is hearsay, but I can share what information I do have.”
“Start at the beginning then. Formation to decomposition.”
“It’s called le noircissement. The blackening, there’s no decomposition and unlike popular belief there’s no breaking of the bond, the bond is eternal, it’s just that the other half is no longer on this plane of existence, so it blackens and appears broken.”
“Right, but then how can a person have more than one soul-bond?”
Deaton smiles, “Everyone has more than one soulmate, Stiles, it’s the one we meet first that changes everything. It’s only when one partner dies, that another Thread can form.”
“Is it possible for only one party to have the Thread?” Stiles asks. “I mean, what if one person forms the bond, and the other doesn’t? Does that mean they can form a bond with someone else?”
Deaton gives him a strange look. “No. That can’t happen.”
“No?” Stiles asks, confused because right now it’s true for him.
“Stiles, Threaded mates are rare. So rare that a Thread forming one sided is even more rare, but if…” Deaton pauses, forehead wrinkled.
“But if, what?” Stiles says, testily.
“But that would take…” Deaton looks at Stiles, eyes bright. “I think you might be onto something. I hypothesize that a Thread can form one sided, Stiles, if one party noticed their bond-mate, but the other was too… distracted to register the bond.” Deaton rests a finger on his lip, deep in thought. “I suppose it could be possible. But just because the bond can be formed one-sided, and one party doesn’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But…”
That means, If Derek had looked at Stiles at the hospital and didn’t register the formation of the bond in his hysterics, the visibility of the string could have been formed one-sided. Stiles startled when Deaton lays a comforting hand on Stiles’ shoulder,
“Stiles. It doesn’t mean you aren’t their mate,” Deaton says, eyes serious. Stiles nods, but he feels numb. “That first meeting can never be recreated, and the Thread won’t form upon a second meeting. But there isn’t enough recorded to know if there is something that could trigger the Thread.”
Stiles can hear Deaton, but all his brain is telling him is that he isn’t worthy of a mate, let alone a mate who is the Alpha. Of course, it bothers Stiles that his mate string is one-sided, but at the same time Stiles doesn’t want the Alpha for a mate. I mean the town hates Stiles. The Alpha couldn’t mate with him if his whole pack hates Stiles, right? And the Alpha would probably have expectations. And Stiles is just a clumsy mess who talks too much, allows himself to get bullied and got his best-friend bitten by a vagrant werecoyote. All Stiles had ever wanted was someone who would care about him like his parents cared for each other.
He doesn’t remember saying goodbye to Deaton, but when he gets home the key to the Vet’s office is no longer on his keychain.
Stiles’ favorite place in the world is a small cafe downtown called The Cosmic Cafe. They have mismatched furniture and cozy nooks. There is a “library” in the back with comfy couches and donation bins. Stiles loves to curl up with a hot chocolate, and a good book. It’s also where he tutors Erica, Isaac and Boyd. The Cosmic Cafe has never been very popular. It’s popular enough to stay afloat (the daily orders from the Sheriff’s station don’t hurt), but the more commercial java joints took over a long time. So, Stiles meets Erica, Isaac and Boyd in the Cafe because it’s quiet and has a constant supply of caffeine. No matter how many Starbucks’ or Caribou Coffees open around town, Stiles will always find himself back in The Cosmic Cafe library. Today, he’s sprawled out on the floor because Boyd was supposed to meet him here, but his Grandma had asked him to run some errands and he couldn’t make it. Stiles switches things up and plans to do three math sets and write his Chemistry lab report for Harris’ class instead. Stiles knows for a fact that Harris is trying to flunk him. He once compared a test that he and Scott took, and not only Stiles’ test was different, but it was also at a much higher difficulty level. Stiles is tempted to report Mr. Harris, but he knows that if he goes to the principal, he’s the only one who will get in trouble -- being the school know-it-all, who has a problem with authority, and mouths off more than he probably should doesn’t help his case. He learned over time to just be ahead of everyone in the class.
There’s a warmth that radiates from the Thread and curls up towards his heart, when Stiles hears Derek’s voice filter through to the back of the cafe, Stiles is surprised, because even though the café is buzzing with energy and noise, he can still here Derek’s voice clearly. It is not a hardship to focus on the soft lilt of Derek’s voice, the rhythmic cadence of it as he talks to Judy about working there, he doesn’t mean to, but Stiles can’t help but eavesdrop. He wanders over to the counter and orders another hot chocolate and a slice of the lemon-poppy seed loaf and lingers close to Derek as he waits for his order. Derek looks at Stiles surprised by his presence, and Stiles’ heart beats so loud and fast that he can’t help but give Derek a random Poppy fact — “Did you know that Persian literature cites red corn poppies as the flower of love”. His hands sweat as Derek just stares blankly at Stiles, and Stiles holds his gaze, awkwardly scuffing the toe of his black converse against the floor until Moe calls his name.
Derek is at The Cosmic Cafe almost as often as Stiles is. He doesn’t really talk much, even as Stiles takes to sitting at the tables in the front, unless he’s tutoring one of his new friends, just so he can watch Derek grind coffee and make sandwiches and other goodies. Stiles always leaves a bigger tip when Derek serves him, and if Derek notices, he doesn’t say anything. The tiny, locally-owned cafe has also started getting a lot more crowded now that Derek works there. There’s always some girl or guy trying to hit on Derek, and Stiles just scowls when Derek smiles at them, small and genuine. He doesn’t know what Derek does with all the numbers he gets every day, but Stiles can’t imagine he burns them all. I mean, after all, even though Stiles knows he has soulmate, Derek doesn’t, and Derek is hot. He has the most beautiful smile. He’s so kind, even as he turns down his potential suitors.
Sometime during the second week of break, the Jeep stalls and refuses to start back up (Stiles suspects that Matt had something to do with it, but there’s no proof) so he can’t really get around as easily as he used to. His dad drops him off at The Cosmic Cafe on his way to work and Stiles’ work shift at the bookstore around the corner usually ends at five. It’s Christmas-eve. and his dad is working a triple shift, so that his deputies can get more time with their families. Usually, the cafe would be closed for the three days around Christmas, but Stiles had overheard Derek volunteering to keep it open for the latter half of the day and give away free coffee and cookies to the homeless people who are passing through. Stiles is glad that it isn’t as gaudily decorated as most of the town is. Ever since his Mom passed away, it’s been the Stilinski tradition to ignore Christmas as much as possible -- it used to be their favorite holiday.
Stiles is sitting on one of the stools by the counter, and Derek’s sitting nearby, reading a book. And Stiles is finding it hard to concentrate on anything because there’s a smirk playing on Derek’s lips, and his eyes are shining in mirth. He doesn’t realize he’s pulled away too far until the coffee mug he was drinking from is shattered across the floor.
“Oh. My. God.” Stiles cries, heart beating loudly in his chest. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to — but you were just — I mean — I don’t know — I think I — Oh, God!”
“Calm down,” Derek says, softly, and as quickly as Stiles’ panic had built up it receded. Derek disappears, probably to go get a dustpan and broom, and Stiles bends down and starts picking up the ceramic shards.
“What are you doing?” Derek huffs, and turns the corner of the counter and sees Stiles picking up jagged pieces of ceramic. “You’re going to —”
“Ow!” Stiles whimpers when he fumbles a piece and ends up cutting himself.
“Hurt yourself. Jesus! You’re like a walking, talking warning sign. Here, come with me.” Derek says, grabbing Stiles’ elbow to pull him up and drag him to the employee’s restroom.
Derek pulls out a first-aid kit from below the sink. The disinfectant stings, and tears spring forth into Stiles’ eyes. Derek inspects the cut, before he brandishes a band-aid. “It’s not too deep, but I think the band-aid will help, after all we don’t want a bloodbath in the cafe.” He winks at Stiles and Stiles’ feels the blush rising from the collar of his sweater. Derek turns Stiles’ hands back and forth to see if he got the cut covered, and when he’s satisfied he looks down at Stiles. “You’re mundane, right?”
“Yeah. Well, Deaton says I have a spark, whatever that means. But, I’m no special snowflake, no.” Stiles says disparagingly.
“Don’t underestimate yourself.” Derek says, smiling down at Stiles, leaving Stiles breathless and tongue-tied.
Stiles doesn’t make it to The Cosmic Cafe again until Spring Break because his car is in the garage until he can scrape up the money to pay for repairs. Stiles could take the school bus, but Matt takes the bus that Stiles would have to get on, and Stiles really doesn’t want to give him any more excuses to come after him. The Sheriff tries the whole pick-up-and-drop-off thing, but they decide that it’s easiest for them both if Stiles sits at the Station after school. It means they eat a lot of take-out, but Stiles doesn’t want to inconvenience his dad by needing to be chauffeured around town. It also allows both, Father and Son, to spend time together and still get as much rest as possible. Plus, if it gets late, Stiles can always sleep on the couch in the Sheriff’s office, it’s a comfortable couch.
So, the next time Stiles bumps into Derek, it’s at the movies.
Scott and Stiles are eager to go see the new Marvel movie, and they manage to wrangle the last two tickets to the show -- the Thread has been an itchy thing all afternoon and Stiles is hyper-aware of it. Stiles notices Derek is standing at the popcorn counter, and rushes towards him under the pretense of not wanting to miss the previews. He slips on a particularly waxy spot on the floor and goes careening into Derek.
“Woah there, you ok?” Derek exclaims, holding onto Stiles’ arms so that they don’t fall.
“I’m fine!” Stiles replies blushing to the roots of his hair as he finds his footing and steps away from Derek. Derek looks so put together in comparison to Stiles’ plaid and converse. He’s holding a giant bag of popcorn, and there’s a two-drink holder with two drinks in it. Stiles blinks, unsure how to feel.
“Hot date?” Stiles asks, grimacing as the words leave his mouth, unbidden. The Thread tightens.
“Erm —” Derek starts, but suddenly there’s a blond bombshell hanging off his arm.
“Alice, this is…” Derek starts.
“Stiles,” Stiles introduces, holding out his hand for a handshake. But Alice looks at his outstretched hand like it’s covered in Smallpox, so Stiles pulls his hand back and wipes it along the side of his pants.
“I was just going to invite them to sit with us.” Derek says, nonchalantly.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Alice asks pointedly.
“Of course, he’s a good friend.” Derek say, clearly not giving a fuck that it pissed Alice off.
“You didn’t even know his name, Alpha Hale.” Alice says, narrowing her eyes suspiciously and scowling at Stiles.
Stiles shrugs at her, angelic look on his face, just as Scott returns and hands Stiles his soda and popcorn.
“Oh, it’s like a double-date!” Alice says, face brightening up.
“Er — we’re not dating.” Scott says indignantly, “Not that Stiles isn’t date worthy it’s just that he’s like my brother, and I’m dating Isaac.”
“It’s ok, buddy. No hard feelings.” Stiles says, grinning brightly as Derek throws an arm around him and pulls him along. Derek’s arm is heavy and warm around him. It makes Stiles think of curling up near the fireplace with a great book -- even Alice’s icy stare does nothing to dissipate the smile on Stiles’ face and the warmth in his heart.
Derek spends the whole movie fending off Alice’s advances, shooting pitiful glances at Stiles and the only reason Stiles knows is because he is hyper-aware of Derek’s every move. He is honestly confused by the way Derek is treating him tonight. After all, he’s only really had two interactions of note with Derek, it isn’t like they’re great friends or anything. Stiles really wants to watch this movie, but with Derek sitting next to him leaning into him to get away from Alice, leg pressed up against his, it’s difficult.
Stiles is also hyper-aware of the golden string that’s tightened around his wrist and is pulled taut between them. It doesn’t hurt. Not really. It’s more like the bond is asking Stiles to nip whatever Alice and Derek are doing in the bud. And Stiles agrees. Alice is probably a nice girl, but her desperation is showing. He hasn’t seen Alice in town before and he doesn’t recognize her. It’s possible she was passing through, took a look at Alpha Hale and decided, huh, I want me a piece of that pie (and man, does that pie look delicious). That’s really the only thing Stiles can think of. But, Derek doesn’t seem like he’s on this date out of choice. And doesn’t Derek asking him and Scott to join make it less “date-like” and more “friendly casual”? Stiles cannot figure out what the deal is.
He’s kind of surprised when the end-credits start. Alice stands up, to start heading out, but Scott and Stiles are resolutely waiting for the end-credit scenes. Derek looks at her and shrugs, settling down in his seat. Alice huffs, and grumpily sits down in her previously vacated seat.
After they’ve made their way out of the cinema, Stiles turns to Derek.
“Thanks for the invitation to join you guys. That was sweet of you. Have a good night.” Stiles says, boldly raises his hand and squeezes Derek’s shoulder. Behind Derek, he can hear Alice scoff.
“Thanks for joining us.” Derek says, thanking him silently with his eyes, and reaching to circle Stiles wrist with a gentle, reassuring squeeze.
Scott is looking at them wide-eyed and confused when Stiles turns back to him. And when they start walking away he sees Derek absentmindedly rubbing the wrist with the gold Thread wrapped around it as he talks to Alice.
Alice does not look happy.
It all comes to a head two weeks after school starts. Stiles is heading to The Cosmic Cafe, when Matt, Jackson and some of their friends attack him. Let it be put on record, that Stiles Stilinski, son of Valentine Stilinski, Sheriff of Beacon Hills, is no wimp. It starts with them calling him all sorts of names “knot-whore”, “cum-slut”, “broodmare”. Stiles is not impressed by their lack of creativity. They’re calling him names based on a book he read two years ago. He is outnumbered Five to One. His odds don’t look so good. School usually has a ton of distractions, so keeping quiet is easy. But here in this alleyway there’s no distraction to keep him from mouthing off. Jackson throws the first punch, Stiles ducks it and kicks him in the gut.
Somehow, that gives Matt and the three Stooges a reason to attack him all at once. And while Stiles, is Bad-Ass, of course he is, he cannot fend of five dudes who are all bigger and stronger than him, especially cornered as he is. It hurts, it really, really hurts. Stiles curls up into himself as the other boys rain down fists on him. He’s barely conscious when he hears the “Hey!” being shouted down the alley.
He’s aware of being encompassed in warm arms as a soothing voice tells him, “It’ll be alright. You’re okay. You’re safe. I’ve got you. Shh, you’re going to be just fine.”
He can hear the sirens in the distance. He feels cold and panicky when he’s lifted out of his safe place, and he whines. He can feel the jerk of the gurney as he’s lifted into the bright ambulance, and the reassuring warm hand situating itself against his cold palm.
Stiles wakes up disoriented. He doesn’t know where he is, and he panics, until he sees his dad asleep, head cradled in his arms, against the mattress of Stiles’ bed.
He takes in the smells of the hospital and the steady beeping of the machines around him. He puts his hand on his dad’s head, and his dad jerks up.
“Stiles! You’re awake.” He says, rubbing the heel of his palm into his eyes.
“Dad. What happened?” Stiles mumbles.
“Just get some rest, son. We’ll talk when you’re feeling better. I’ll just go get Melissa, she asked to be alerted once you’re awake.” The Sheriff says, standing up and heading to the door.
Melissa comes in, behind his dad and checks his vitals. She says he seems to be doing well and pours him a cup of water, puts in a straw and tells him to sip it slowly. Once she’s out of the room. Stiles notices that his dad has tears streaming down his face.
“Dad, I’m okay. It’s just a flesh wound.” Stiles jokes, shrugging and then grimacing in pain.
“Can you please tell me what happened?” Stiles says, pulling the straw into his mouth to sip his water. He tries to recall what happened. He remembers going to school, he remembers having to stay late for detention with Harris. He remembers heading to The Cosmic Cafe. Jackson. Oh. But that’s not what his dad says.
“When were you going to tell me that the Alpha, that Derek Hale, was your soulmate?” Stiles chokes on his water, and coughs.
“What?” Stiles says, stupidly.
“I know you knew it was him. You have probably known for as long as he’s been back. But, why didn’t you tell me?” His dad smiles at him sadly.
“Even Derek doesn’t know! I have the Thread, but Derek doesn’t. He can’t see it in any case. Deaton tried to explain it to me when I asked him about it.” Stiles says, voice high and flustered.
“You told Deaton?” The Sheriff asks hurt filtering into his voice.
“No, I didn’t tell him. I just asked him about the Thread. You know – how does it form? Can it be one-sided? Can someone be your soulmate, and you not be theirs? That sort of stuff.” Stiles rambles.
“You’ve had the Thread since you were eight. It formed the day after the fire didn’t it.” His dad asks softer than Stiles has ever heard his dad speak.
“Yeah. I told mom about it, but I was scared to tell you. I don’t remember when I told you, but when I did, you looked so disappointed.” Stiles says, playing with the hospital id tags around his wrist.
“I wasn’t disappointed.” His dad says.
“Really?” Stiles asks skeptically, eyes narrowing.
“Yes really. I was worried. The bond doesn’t form till you’re like fifteen or sixteen or something, and even then, it is so rare. And here you are, eight years old, defying all known convention and bound to someone who is probably much older than you. I knew it couldn’t be someone your own age, so it had to be someone older. You were just a kid, my little boy, and you were already someone else’s before I’d gotten to know you. Honestly, I didn’t expect your mate to have waited so long to come get you, but it all makes a lot more sense now,” His dad sounds exasperated and runs a hand through his greying dirty-blond hair.
“Well, there was no need to worry about that. It’s not like there was a chance of that happening when he was in New York training, or attending university, but also because he’s him and I’m me and he doesn’t have the Thread.” Stiles whispers, feeling smaller than he ever has.
“You’re awesome kiddo. I don’t know who made you feel like you’re not, but once I find out, they’re going to rue the day they were born.” His dad says, and Stiles can’t help but laugh at his dad’s fierce protectiveness. His dad smiles at him indulgently before dropping the real bombshell, “Anyways, I don’t know about before, but he has the Thread now.”
“Wait, What?” Stiles yells. “How?”
“I don’t know. I think it’d be better if you spoke to him yourself.” His dad says.
“That’s no fun.” Stiles says, annoyed at not having all the fact right now.
It turns out Derek’s been sitting outside the hospital window. Stiles almost screams bloody murder when Derek creeps into the room once the Sheriff has left. But Derek is fast and clamps a hand over Stiles’ mouth.
“Don’t yell, okay? I promise not to hurt you.” Derek whispers, waiting for Stiles to nod before he lifts his hand off his mouth.
“Did you know?” Derek asks, face more open and vulnerable than Stiles would expect. Stiles doesn’t want to lie. He feels like he should, but he doesn’t want to.
“Yes.” Stiles says softly, guiltily clutching the blanket. “It’s not that I didn’t want you to know. It's just that you didn’t seem to acknowledge it, and that hurt. And then I thought that even though you are my soulmate, maybe I’m not yours, y’know? But Deaton said it doesn’t have to mean that I’m not your soulmate, and there’s really no way to prove the Thread exists if you’re not seeing it. And I didn’t want to be yet another asshole throwing themselves at you. You deserve better, you deserve more. I just… I didn’t think you’d want me.” Stiles word-vomits all around them, and Derek frowns at that. “It’s just that you’re the Alpha. You are charged with the protection of the town. People revere you. They hate me. All my life I’ve been told I’m odd. I talk too much. Or I talk too little. I’m too belligerent and angry. I’ve been told I’m ugly and that nobody would ever want me. And I’ve known I was soul-bonded, but my mate never came. And I’d wondered if maybe they left because I was their mate and I wasn’t good enough. I thought you hated me. But you came home. And even though you are grumpy as hell and tried to run Scott and me off the preserve, I saw how kind you were, and how hard you work even though you have like a bazillion dollars in the bank, and I saw how you never yelled, or said bad things. And it was hard not to like you. You suffer through all the indecent proposals like such a champ. And then you had that date with Alice. And I was kind of upset, but I felt that if you didn’t fall for me, and just wanted me because of the stupid Thread, I didn’t want that. I wanted you to fall in love with the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. Can you please make me shut up now? Like seriously. This is embarrass—”
“I already did.” Derek says, honestly.
“What?” Stiles asks, confused because he doesn’t know what Derek already did and it’s not like he has any idea what he was saying a minute ago because fuck his mind and mouth run faster than his brain can process. It’s a real curse, sometimes.
“I already fell in love with the person I intend to spend the rest of my life with.” Derek says, like it's an unwilling confession.
“Oh,” Stiles says. He can’t help the pang of pain he feels at that, but he pastes on a fake smile anyways even though he can feel the tears pricking his eyes. “Well, congratulations. I’d like to go to sleep now.” Stiles nods hoping it doesn’t seem as forced as it is. He can’t bear the forlorn look Derek is throwing him. “Please go.” Stiles whispers and waits for Derek to nod and walk out the door.
He groans in pain as he turns around and clutches the corner of his pillow as his tears fall, the pain in his heart so much deeper than the pain in his body.
“No, you know what--” Derek says, pushing the door open again and Stiles startles around with a pained whimper. Derek is staring at him, taking in the red of his nose and dampness in his eyes. His eyes widen in realization and he smiles sheepishly at Stiles before he shrugs and walks closer, pulling Stiles hand into his own, and his hand is so warm. He cups Stiles’ face with his other hand and brushes away the tears that track his face with a gentle swipe of his thumb, and Stiles’ breath catches in his throat.
“What are you doing?” Stiles asks, breathlessly.
“I just realized you think I mean someone else, so I’m trying to think, but you’re so damned distracting.” Derek says, before he leans down to kiss Stiles’ cheek.
“You don’t mean —”
“But you’re —”
“That day in the preserve I thought something was wrong. Something felt off, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I got the job at the Cafe because I needed something to do and the others were always so crowded.” Derek says.
“When you sauntered in from the reading nook, I thought you were going to hit on me, and I was steeling myself against that, but somehow I didn’t think I wanted to stop you. But you didn’t. You never hit on me, and I didn’t know what to think. Judy and Moe said you hardly ever hung around in the front, but you were always there when I was around. I loved watching you study. The little crease you get between your eyebrows or the way you try to curl your pencil in your hair even though your hair is so short, you were always so distracting. But then the cafe started getting more and more crowded, and I hated it, but it was the only time I ever got to be around you. I loved how kind you were — so patient with Scott or that epileptic girl, the way you’d press yourself against that curly haired boy who seemed to be so touch-starved, or the big guy who doesn’t talk much.”
Stiles blushes. Stiles loved his friends, but he also loved tutoring them. Even though Stiles was prone to going off on random tangents, they were always just as patient with him as he was with them. He didn’t think Derek had even noticed he was in the cafe let alone the fact that he tutored people.
“You’re wonderful. But when Alpha Ito from the pack up in Washington told me her daughter was coming to Beacon Hills to see if she’d want me to court her, I couldn’t exactly say no. Alice was nice, but she realized I wasn’t into her.” Derek laughed when Stiles scowled at the mention of Alice.
“On Thursday, something just felt so wrong. My core felt weak and achy I couldn’t throw off the feeling that I had to be somewhere. I had to ask Moe to cover my shift. I ran to the alleyway. Fuck, Stiles. I thought I was going to die when I saw those boys attacking you. They ran away, and I have no idea who they were, but I was torn between running after them and taking care of you. But when you curled yourself into my arms it just felt so right. When the paramedics tried to pull you away from me, that’s when I noticed this —” Derek lifts his hand up, voice going shaky and eyes looking suspiciously shiny.
“I couldn’t let them take you away from me. I told them you were my mate and rode along in the ambulance. I was so scared.”
“Oh, that was you?” Stiles asks reverently, grip tightening around Derek’s hand.
“I won’t be a kept man.” Stiles says adamantly, and Derek laughs in surprise.
“I wouldn’t expect you to be.” He agrees, heartbeat steady.
“And I don’t want to be mated.” Stiles says, and Derek’s smile falters, but he nods. “At least until I get my degree, and no kids until I’m at LEAST twenty-eight so that I can establish my career.”
Derek smiles so brightly it’s hard for Stiles not to smile back. “You should kiss me now.” And Derek does just that.
It’s winter break at UC Berkeley so Stiles doesn’t have any online classes. Derek hasn’t seen Stiles in over two months because he’s been in Italy learning about the coffee trade from the best Coffee makers in the world. He decides to make a trip home because his 29th birthday is in a week and he wants to celebrate it with Stiles. Derek pulls into Stiles’ driveway only to have Stiles pounce on him the minute he walks through the doors. Derek’s carrying a packet of Chinese food, but he doesn’t really remember much of dinner, other than the slide of Stiles’ shoes against his calf, and the warmth of his skin as they played footsie under the table. He doesn’t remember moving to the couch. But he’s got Stiles straddled across his lap and both their shirts are off. It’s a good thing the Sheriff’s away at conference in Seattle.
“Oh, fuck!” Stiles whimpers, grinding down against Derek.
“Stile—” Stiles presses his hand below Derek’s neck and Derek shudders under him.
“I love you so much,” Stiles says, before bending down to kiss Derek’s reply out of his mouth.
“Fuck!” He whimpers. “I need to take off your pants, okay, babe?” and Derek just nods along.
He can feel Stiles fumbling with the belt and button of his own pants before reaching down to open Derek’s, but he’s loathed to do anything about it. Stiles’ hands grip him tight and he whines.
“I want it.” Stiles whispers into Derek’s mouth, and Derek can’t help but buck up into Stiles’ grip. He already has tenuous control of his shift at the moment, and when Stiles pulls his hand to suck on his fingers as he grinds his boxer covered bottom against his unclothed dick, his eyes flash.
“If I ask nicely, will you give it to me?” Stiles asks, and Derek pushes his saliva-wet hand into Stiles’ boxers. Stiles’ whimper as Derek trails his fingers down Stiles’ crack and traces his hole is better than anything Derek had ever dreamed.
“Fuck, Derek. Do it.” Stiles goads, and keens in pleasure when Derek presses a lube-covered finger against his hole. “Oh God, it’s so much better with your fingers. Fuuuuuck!”
One becomes two, and two becomes three. And Derek is so fucking hard. His knot hurts with the ache of wanting to be buried deep inside Stiles, and then Stiles is pulling his hand away and gripping his cock so masterfully. When the head of his cock breaches Stiles, he gasps. “Stiles, wait.” He whimpers urgently. They’ve done a lot of things, explored each other in so many ways, but Stiles had wanted to wait until he was twenty-eight before they mated, so this wasn’t something they had done. They’d get close and Stiles would pull away, or Derek would stop them from taking that step. But in the dark of night, alone in their own beds they’d dream of this, of how they’d feel.
“Mmmm.” Stiles says, slipping lower, the tight clutch of Stiles’ body making Derek forget himself for a second.
“You said — You said —” Derek says unintelligently, as Stiles seats himself in Derek’s lap.
“Babe.” Stiles whispers right in Derek’s ear, shuddering as his hips swivel and get an angle that is so fucking delicious.
“Fuck, Stiles!” Derek growls, unable to help the aborted thrusts his own hips make against Stiles.
“Give it to me.” Stiles says as he lays back on the couch, pulling Derek forward and he falls back.
“Unh—” Derek groans, as he settles on top of Stiles, dick somehow nestled deeper inside Stiles than it had been a minute ago.
“Fuck, been wanting this. Been dreaming about this.” Stiles says, locking his knees around Derek’s hip and pulling him still deeper. “And I know I said later but, fuck, I can’t wait. Don’t want to wait. Waited twelve years already.”
Stiles uses his grip on Derek’s hips to get a slow grind going, but Stiles’ words make Derek’s blood burn. His hips withdraw and push forward to the rhythm of Stiles’ heartbeat pulling beautiful sounds from Stiles.
“Oh, Derek!” Stiles moans, trying to meet Derek thrust for thrust as he comes with Derek seated deep inside him. He locks his ankles together and holds Derek tight inside his body, whining as his orgasm shudders through him. Derek’s knot is so sore inside Stiles. And Derek knows that if he nuts, there’s no way he’s going to be able to stop himself from knotting Stiles. It’s funny how Stiles’ orgasm brings Derek some mental clarity.
As Stiles catches his breath, Derek smooths Stiles’ sweaty hair back. He’s on the razor’s edge of orgasm, and he’s trying to control his breathing because the slight pressure it puts on his bladder feels so good. “Baby, sweetheart,” Derek whispers trying to get Stiles’ to focus on him.
“Unh,” Stiles says as he furrows his brow. But then he clenches and unclenches. And FUCK!
“No -- wait!” Derek pleads. “You don’t want this.” As much as Derek wants to knot Stiles, fill him with come, love and his cubs, he had promised Stiles they wouldn’t Mate until he was done with College, that they wouldn’t have children until Stiles was twenty-eight.
“But I do,” Stiles says, opening his eyes. His eyes are so clear and bright, and Derek loses himself in their golden amber. Stiles rolls his body against Derek’s.
“Oh, Derek,” he moans. “I want your knot so bad. I want it to lock inside me. I want your come, hot and virile. I want it to fill me up, and I want you to lick it up and do it all over again till nobody can ever wonder whose mate I am.” Derek shudders, helpless against Stiles.
“There’s still time, if you just let go.” And Stiles’ glares at him.
Stiles’ knees tighten their grip on his hips, “I want your knot, I want to writhe on it, I want to know just how devoted you are to me. I want to ache today, tomorrow, the day after, knowing you’ve carved a space for yourself inside my body, just as you have in my heart. I want to be yours, like I know you’re mine. I’ve dreamed about this for so long. And Derek, it's so much better. I can feel you throbbing right here” Stiles says as his fingers press his own taint, causing his inner muscles to ripple. “Derek, I’m going to come again, Fuck!”
“Fuuuck! I want to feel your come fill me, it’s going to be so much, and it’s going to be so great. It’ll be so beautiful. Don’t you want that, Derek? Don’t you want to knot me up, fill me so good, breeeed me?” And Derek can’t help it, he comes so hard sees stars, his hips shudder in aborted thrust, filling Stiles, knot expanded and sore where Stiles is convulsing around it in the throes of his own orgasm, reciting Derek’s name like a prayer. He can feel the Thread burning its brilliant mate-red, and he presses a smile into Stiles’ neck as he drifts off to sleep.
There’s no doubt in his mind that two weeks from today, the home-pregnancy test they buy tomorrow will come back positive. He has no doubt in his mind that Stiles will be just as ecstatic as, if not more than, Derek will be at the news. The Sheriff will be angry that they consummated the bond without a mating ceremony, and they’ll probably have to have the mating ceremony as soon as possible, and he knows that it isn’t quite the deal he’d made with Stiles, but that won’t matter because the thrum of their bond and the echo of satisfaction and pure unadulterated contentedness reassures him. But all that worry is for another time.
Stiles is at Derek’s Coffee Shop talking to Boyd, the newest Hot as Hale Brews barista. He’s eight months pregnant, looks ready to pop, and just wants his daily hit of Mexican Hot Chocolate.
“So, someone finally did you good, huh? I guess those textbooks really helped you out.”
Stiles turns around to tell the person off to see Jackson smirking down at him.
“Fuck off, Jackson.” Stiles says, waving him off and heading to his table.
“Don’t talk to me, that way, knot-chaser.” Jackson spits, frothing at the mouth and following him to his nook in the corner.
“Lay off, Jackson. We aren’t in high school anymore. I won’t get expelled if I punch you for being an asshole.” Jackson snarls and flips over the pages of Stiles’ thesis.
“Seriously?” Stiles looks at Jackson bewildered.
“I want to see you try to punch me.” Jackson’s frothing at the mouth.
Stiles collects the pages of his thesis and calmly sits down in his seat, ignoring Jackson’s tantrum. Jackson bangs the table.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Stiles looks up, annoyed to see Derek at the door of the cafe, staring Jackson down.
“Seriously? I can handle this, Derek.” Stiles says and rolls his eyes as Derek crosses his arms across his chest waiting for Jackson’s reply.
“Alpha. I was just settling an old score.” Jackson says, pouting petulantly.
“Really? Because I feel like you’re harassing a pregnant person, Jackson. A pregnant person who wants nothing to do with you.” Stiles glares at Jackson.
“Somebody finally managed to put you in your place, and you’re still mouthing off, Stilinski? I should kick the shit out of you for ta-- Woah!” Derek’s got Jackson pushed against the wall.
“How do you not know?” Stiles says, incredulously.
“What did you just say?” Derek says simultaneously. His voice is low and threatening, and it is working for Stiles.
Stiles turns and sighs as he watches Derek flash his eyes at Jackson.
“I recognize you. You were there. You were the one who beat Stiles up.” Derek says, eyes widening.
“Put him in place, more like --” Derek slams his fist into the wall beside Jackson’s head.
“Derek, let him go.” Stiles says, calmly.
“Let him go? He almost killed you Stiles.” Derek says, swiveling his head around to look at Stiles incredulously.
“It was years ago. And while university has done nothing to make sure Jackson’s grown up, I think I’d much prefer him alive than watch my mate get hauled in for assault.” Stiles says, coming around the table and placing a comforting hand on Derek’s bicep.
“Mate?” Jackson asks confused.
“Again, how do you not know? We’ve been together for three years, and officially mated for less than a year.” Stiles says, incredulously.
“I heard the Alpha got mated to a Mischeifslaw, or something. I didn’t think it was you!”
“Mieczysław,” Stiles corrects. “Did you think my parents named me ‘Stiles Stilinski’?”
Derek closes his eyes and bends his head, before he lets go of Jackson’s shirt. “You are no longer welcome in Beacon Hills, find a new pack.” He says, taking a deep breath through his nose.
“I want the names of all the bastards who almost killed my mate. If you give them to me, you may petition to return for family visitations after five years.” Derek continues.
“Alpha please, I didn’t know. Nobody told me. Please. Don’t--” Jackson pleads, eyes wide and scared.
“So, you would only treat Stiles with respect if you knew he was the Alpha’s mate?” Derek asks, eyes red and commanding.
“No -- I’m sorry -- I -- “
Jackson looks at Stiles, pleadingly. Stiles rolls his eyes. “Do you seriously expect me to take your side, Jackson?”
“You know I didn’t mean any of it!” Jackson yells.
“Do I? Because I remember waking up in the hospital after having been in a coma. I didn’t remember most of the night of the attack,” Stiles says anger building at Jackson’s defense of his actions. “The doctors told me I could have died. And why? Because I was smarter than you? Because I didn’t put up with your shit or bow to you for being the lacrosse god? I had months of physical therapy to recover Jackson. I had to do summer school because the school wouldn’t allow me to retake all the test and assignments I missed while I was in the hospital. You’ve been away for the last few years, so let me make one thing very clear. You ignored me for a long time when we were kids, and I appreciated that, but when you found out I could do nothing to retaliate, you bullied me for years. But we’re not kids anymore. If I feel like you are putting my life or the lives of the people I love at risk -- I will make it so you can never hurt anyone ever again. Your parents ignored the abuse you inflicted on others-- on me -- but they’ve also helped Derek establish himself in the community. So, their place in the pack is secure if they want it. If they want to follow you, that is their choice. I’ve already stopped Derek from beating the shit out of you -- you owe me your life, and you know what? It’s a debt I don’t want, so as long as you get out and stay out, we won’t have a problem.”
“Stiles…” Jackson says, shoulders hunched and insecure.
“You heard him. This pack is a family, and family doesn’t hurt each other the way you hurt him. You have two days to give me the names of the people who beat my husband up, and you have till the end of the week to get your affairs in order,” Derek snarls.
Stiles packs his stuff up and waits for Boyd to hand him his Mexican Hot Chocolate in his travel mug. He was supposed to stick around the cafe, but he just wants to go home and sleep in his mate’s arms.