There’s a pull under his breastbone. A tugging, but it’s not - it’s not coming from him, but it doesn’t feel foreign either. Derek concentrates on the sensation, the feeling, trying to pinpoint how and why and where this is coming from.
Thinking, he realizes that this isn’t the first time he’s felt this sort of phantom feeling. A phantom (At this point it can’t be defined as phantom for how clear it feels. It’s been getting sharper for a while…) feeling that’s never felt intrusive. The first time it happened - he doesn’t remember how long ago - it was a warming sensation in his abdomen, a gentle comfort somehow. It was odd, not because he was clearly feeling something that didn’t originate from him, but because it felt - it felt good. It felt right.
And that was that, really. It didn’t even happen often, nor did there seem to be a pattern behind what he felt, what he experienced. It was kind of random… Random.
Derek blinks and looks up at the nearly full moon that’s casting silver light through the canopy of trees in the preserve. He breathes in deep, letting the cool air pass through and clear his thoughts. Of course. Of course.
Derek’s known that Stiles has been, is his anchor and has been for some time now. He wasn’t surprised either, not with everything they’ve been through. Even when they couldn’t stand each other, they always came back didn’t they? Stiles always came back for him. Always.
It was so easy to accept Stiles as his anchor. If Derek’s being honest with himself, this is probably the strongest connection he’s ever felt, but for reasons he’s never quite allowed himself to fully analyze. And it seems he’s not the only one.
Derek remembers growing up being able to feel flashes and flickers of emotions from his pack, his first anchor. His mother had told him when he’d asked about it, that when there are strong feelings on both ends, a bond is formed. That made sense to Derek because his family is his pack, but. But shouldn’t he feel more than fleeting emotions, something more solid? His mother had just smiled, an understanding tilt to her lips, a mischievous glint to her eyes. “Yes, when you find the right one.”
“The right one, what?”
At 16, Derek thought he’d found his mate in a much older woman, despite never feeling any sort connection he’d grown up knowing, what his mother had taught him. But if he believed hard enough, waited, that could change couldn’t it? It had to because she loved him, didn’t she? Oh, she loved, but her love was a saturated hate that was only sated through death. Only humans could live in her world. There was no room for something more.
Derek clenches his jaw and blows out a sharp breath through his nose. The leaves barely crunch underneath his feet, quick and light, weaving through familiar trees. He continues running, just focusing on his breathing for a few minutes.
…Even at their first encounter, Derek had felt something, a pull towards Stiles, which he’d largely ignored, too caught up in new and old grief, anger that was so consuming for so long.
Now, Derek can’t even pinpoint when he’d let Stiles in. Perhaps he’d already had, that day in the woods without realizing it. Stiles, he has a way of getting under peoples skin without always meaning to.
At the start, Derek would have sneered at the idea of feeling anything for a flailing, spastic, too honest boy that’s always there. A boy that hasn’t been a boy in a long time, for many reasons. Stiles is - Stiles makes sense to him, as crazy as that may sound to others. Stiles is comforting and damnit, Stiles is home.
Derek puffs out a breath of laughter, at himself and at Stiles. They’ve been circling, circling, circling for so long and it’s ridiculous at this point. For a while, they just weren’t ready and that’s okay. They’ve both grown, needed to grow for themselves and for others; family, friends, pack. But now?
Derek has seen the side glances, the too long eye contact, the idle rubbing of long fingers on a pale collarbone, in the same spot Derek felt tonight. And Stiles is too smart to not figure it out as well, he’s too observant, always has been.
Through the peak of trees, Derek can see a faint light from a second floor bedroom window. Stiles is either still up or has fallen asleep in some uncomfortable position God knows where. Without thinking about it, Derek had been heading in that direction, an unconscious thought. And how long has he been doing that? Always pointed north isn’t he, always pointed towards his anchor.