Stiles grabbed onto college as a way to get out of the supernatural. He loved Scott and the pack. He did.
He didn’t love the constant danger. When it all had started, it seemed like an adventure. Sort of. It obviously had gotten real very quickly. He’d thrown himself into it because he needed to be there for Scott.
Because it was the right thing to do.
He’d spent his last years of high school fighting. Fighting to save people. Fighting to do the right thing.
He was exhausted. He was traumatized and couldn’t even claim to have PTSD because it was never over. Stiles was also feeling the cumulative impact of years of fighting on his poor, human body.
Turns out that human bodies simply weren’t meant for that level of sustained abuse. He knew he was strong. He no longer had anything to prove. He could and would do what was necessary.
Stiles also knew that there was something wrong about being eighteen and having chronic pain in your left shoulder and your knees because you’d been beaten up too many times. Or how his doctor had very seriously warned him that his next concussion could result in permanent brain damage.
There’d been too much.
Three things were the main reasons why he wanted out of the supernatural world: the nogitsune, that mess with Scott and Theo, and the Wild Hunt.
(Stiles refused to think about the fourth and biggest reason… that gaping hole left by Derek. Who obviously couldn’t leave the supernatural but had at least escaped Beacon Hills.)
Before he wouldn’t have wanted to leave his dad. Would’ve stayed close to Beacon Hills.
But he was finally learning that if he didn’t start putting himself first, he’d burn himself out and die for other people who never seemed to prioritize him.
He was tired of taking care of other people. Tired of having to nag his dad about his diet. Tired of trying to talk reason into Scott and the pack.
It’d take him a while to figure out where to go for college. He couldn’t decide what kind of place would give him the best chance at a normal life.
Did he pick a big city where nature-loving werewolves were unlikely to be? Derek and Laura had run and hid in New York, after all.
Did he pick a smaller college town where a small population might decrease the chances of the supernatural? This didn’t seem to hold true for Beacon Hills.
Ultimately, he decided to follow Derek and Laura’s steps. There must’ve been a reason why they chose New York to escape the hunters.
So he was off to NYU.
His first semester was good. He met people. He didn’t get drunk and party like a freshman.
Stiles just… couldn’t. He couldn’t stand feeling out of control of his body. Not after the nogitsune. He also couldn’t drop his guard around strangers. Yeah, hyper-vigilance. He supposed he could claim PTSD now that the trauma was over.
Well, okay, he’d had to since his screaming nightmares had driven three roommates out of his dorm. Seeing a campus psychologist hadn’t been fun but he’d needed the student disability centre anyway to get accommodations for his ADHD.
So, yeah. Stiles figured that he had no chance at a ‘normal’ life. Probably hadn’t since his mom died. But he could live a life without the supernatural.
Turned out that he was wrong about that too.
The problem was: the supernatural world was the real world. You couldn’t actually escape it.
Knowledge gained can’t be lost. The world most people lived in was an illusion.
Because the real world had humans. And werewolves. And banshees. And all other manner of supernatural beings.
Sure, you could try to ignore it once you knew about it. Try to pretend like you didn’t notice that the girl who sat three rows away from you in English was a werewolf.
You could try.
Except that did little good when you found out that you had a reputation in the supernatural world. That certain people would hear the name ‘Stiles’ and know exactly who you were and where you were from.
It lead to the girl who sat three rows away, Sally, giving you shy smiles. Eventually working up her courage to talk to you.
You could try to leave the supernatural world but it didn’t mean the supernatural would leave you.
But, god, he tried.
As with so many things in Stiles’ life, his good intentions died in the face of Derek Hale.
Derek who’d apparently moved to New York after leaving Beacon Hills. Derek who was standing in front of him at the bakery where he worked.
Derek who was giving him a startlingly bright and open smile. Stiles dropped the muffins he was in the middle of baking. No, it wasn’t from seeing Derek. Such was their history that seeing Derek in strange and unexpected places was pretty normal. No, it was that bright and open smile.
Stiles had only seen the fake version of this smile once when Derek had been flirting to distract a deputy.
This was not the fake version.
It was beautiful, unexpected, and aimed directly at him. So, yeah, he dropped his fucking muffins. He challenges any single person on this planet to stand firm under the force of Derek’s ‘I’m a beam of sunshine’ smile. He certainly couldn’t.
“D-Derek?” He stammered out.
“Stiles!” and, yeah, okay, he was being pulled into a very firm and very warm hug, “It’s so good to see you. I can’t believe you’re here.”
Stiles, at this point, was about 150% certain that Derek had been possessed. Because they didn’t have the kind of relationship that involved effusive hugs in public. Or really hugs at all.
Which was a shame because this hug? Was epic. Easily in his top five. 10/10 would recommend.
“Is hugging a thing we do now? Are you possessed? Because I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy to see me. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy. Like, ever. Are you okay?” Stiles couldn’t stop the torrent of words.
Derek laughed. He laughed, “I’m not possessed. I’m just really happy to see you. I’ve just been working at getting better. When do you get off work? Because I think your supervisor is glaring at me.”
Stiles craned his neck and, yeah, his supervisor was glaring, “I’m off in a few hours–”
“Great! I’ll pick you up. See you soon,” Derek said and pressed a kiss on Stiles’ mouth.
Stiles stood there, dazed, until his supervisor barked at him to clean up his mess.
Derek came around ten minutes before he was off shift. Stiles brought him the cupcake he’d baked especially for Derek. He plunked in front of Derek and walked away blushing.
Stiles had no idea what he was doing or what was going on.
At this point, all he knew was that Derek had beamed at him, giving him a truly deluxe hug, and kissed him. It felt like a cupcake was warranted.
When he was finally done, he found himself pulled into another epic hug. This time he felt his eyes sting a little with tears.
Because he’s happy to see Derek.
If he couldn’t actually escape the supernatural and live a ‘normal’ life, then he was happy that he had Derek back in his life. New York didn’t seem to be a shitshow like Beacon Hills, or if it was, other people were handling it. But Derek made him feel safe.
“It’s okay, Stiles. I missed you too. I’m so happy to see you,” Derek whispered into his hair as he nuzzled Stiles, “Come to my place for dinner and we can talk.”
Stiles just nodded and let Derek take his hand. Let himself get carried along.
He had no idea what any of this means or what’s going to happen.
For once, his uncertain future seemed full of possibilities instead of vague horrors.