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Stiles has known since he was young that he’s special. One of his first memories is from when he was four years old – he’s sitting in front of a large desk in an office that he thinks is a doctor’s office, in front of bald man with grey eyes and pale features, between his mom and dad. The man is peering down at him, brow furrowed, and nodding.

“Yes, sparks are incredibly rare.”

Those are the only words Stiles remembers for sure, everything else a mumbling mess around the memory, but it’s certainly true. He is a spark and it’s fantastically rare.

Maybe because sparks are so sporadic; their entire existence is culminated by being extremely powerful and extremely volatile. In general they weren’t more likely to be evil than the next person, but if they weren’t grounded with a good support system, could have a tough time controlling their powers.

Stiles supposes he’s lucky, with his parents and then, when he meets the boy in second grade, Scott. Except there’s also the whole –

“He’ll be better off in the long run if he has a pack,” a different doctor tells his parents when he’s nine. It’s hard to say what plays into what, between his ADHD and his spark, but probably they both feed into each other and make everything harder. But they do learn that sparks tend to do well when they’re in packs, and vice versa as well, and since sparks are super rare –

He’s fourteen when all the local packs start vying for him. Vying, that’s the word his mom uses, but Stiles starts saying seducing because it’s almost like that, except not sexual at all.

There’s the Suarezs, who’re based in Beacon Valley about a half hour away, but Alpha Suarez is always so friendly so they’re a real chance. The Feltner pack is very small, only five of them in the entire pack, but they’re also the closest only a few miles away from the Stilinski residence. The Corazzini pack is the youngest out of all of them, both in average age of the members and also actual age of the pack, so Stiles will probably fit in with them the easiest.

There’s also the Hales, who are the biggest and oldest pack in the area. Stiles has only met Alpha Hale, Laura, and Cora; the first two because they’re the ones who come to talk to him, and Cora because she’s a grade below him in school. He and Laura get on pretty well and Alpha Hale makes the best brownies Stiles has ever had, and they’re pretty solidly leading the pack (ha).

And then Stiles is seventeen and quickly sliding up to eighteen and he has to pick a pack before he’s eighteen, because as powerful as he is now when he hits eighteen his powers will ratchet up another dozen notches, and if he doesn’t have a pack to help ground him, he could very well become explosive, and that’s not an exaggeration; sparks have literally been known to occasionally blow up on their eighteenth birthday.

It’s significantly rarer an occurrence than even sparks themselves, but it happens, and with Stiles’ issues with hyperactivity on top of it all, it’s more likely to happen to him than another spark. Because fuck his life.

And exactly along that same trail, in May and less than a month before school let out for the summer, Stiles convinces Scott to go out to the Preserve with him to practice some spells. He’s got less than six months to his eighteenth birthday, is close but not close enough to choosing a pack, and being in the Preserve always helps him feel at touch with himself and nature.

Because his luck always sucks, though, Scott has to go and get bitten by a rogue alpha.

It’s a blur to Stiles as he thinks about it later; one moment Scott is throwing rocks in the pond about ten feet away while Stiles meditates, and in the next Scott is screaming and Stiles goes to defense and there’s a massive, slobbering monster charging him and he throws up a shield but without his full powers the pure muscle of the alpha hitting the shield knocks him back into a tree, knocking him out.

He comes to in a living room he’s been in all of once before and it takes a moment for him to orient himself before Laura’s suddenly there, looking over him with brows drawn.

“How do you feel?” she asks, and oh, right, the Hales. Stiles blinks, staring up at the ceiling. He’s achy, but not overly so, and he’s got a headache, but it could be worse. Laura’s hand is on his arm, and –

Oh. She’s doing her pain sucky thing.

“What happened?” he inquires instead of answering, and Laura shrugs, scrunching up her face.

“Rogue alpha came at you. Not sure his name or where he’s from yet, but.” Pause, and Laura’s making a face. “Scott got bit.”

That has Stiles sitting up, much too fast by the way all the blood suddenly rushes to his head and he’s seeing white spots.

“Where is he?”

“In the other room,” Laura tells him, hand still in place on his arm, probably partially to help balance him but also to keep him in place, “You can see him in a minute. But first, you should know something.”

Stiles blinks at her, glancing toward a doorway where Scott might be – the worst thing about being a spark versus a ‘wolf, no extra senses.

“Stiles…he’s in our pack.”

And Stiles blinks some more, staring at her, confused.

“Mom killed the rogue, so. He’s our beta now.”

And – okay, well. Stiles knows why she’s telling him this now, why she thinks it so important, and he nods.

“Guess I am too, then.”

The smirk on her face is very Laura-esque, even if it’s totally not the right time for this.

Life goes on; Scott gets used to be a ‘wolf, trains regularly with the Hales, and Stiles makes his pack affiliation official. Nobody’s really surprised; the Hales were miles ahead long before Scott got bit. Stiles gets to meet the rest of the pack, minus one of Alpha Hale’s sons who’s getting his Bachelors in New York, and Scott and Stiles fit right in.

Senior year starts well, Stiles turns eighteen, grows into all his powers, and thankfully doesn’t explode, his extra abilities actually helping him control it all better.

And then the holidays come. Stiles loves the holidays, okay? His mom’s always been big on decorations, and their house is decked out in lights and holly and garland the day after Thanksgiving, and the Christmas tree is up the next day after that. They actually get a light dusting of snow on December 16, and the next day after that he and Scott go to the Hales’ for their weekly pack meeting.

Scott’s the first into the house, failing at not laughing at a dumb pun Stiles’ has just told him, and Stiles shuts the door behind him, turning to call out that they’re here when he sees a man he’s never seen before standing in the living room and –

It’s almost like slow motion, because all Stiles does is see him, and sure, he’s attractive, but this level – Stiles stops in the midst of the entryway, staring, eyes fading into deep purple and he feels shaky with energy like he hasn’t in a long, long time. To be fair, he seems to be having the same problem, still as a statue and his head slightly cocked, eyes turning bright amber the longer he stares – werewolf.

“Scott! Stiles!” Laura’s come in from the kitchen, but Stiles can’t drag his eyes away from the man, “This is my brother, Derek, and – oh.”

“Stiles?” Stiles vaguely hears Scott saying from his left, but he can’t – wow.

He thinks Laura calls for her mom, then, but he barely hears, too caught up –

And Stiles is eighteen when he learns for the first time about soulmates and how they’re real (“Not really,” Talia tries to tell him, “More like there are just people who are more suited for you than others, and sparks have the ability to select them out of everyone. Derek happens to be one of yours.”

“Derek’s a ‘wolf, though,” Stiles points out, because Derek’s obviously as affected as he is.

“The other party can usually tell, too, if they’re supernatural.”)

And Stiles has known since he was young that he’s special, but that day (because of course he and Derek are excused from pack day, too involved in each other to contribute much to the rest of the pack, anyway) he realizes that he’s never really felt super special. But Derek? Derek does that. And while his first memory might be being told he’s a spark, this – this is his new favorite memory.