It had taken the pack longer than Stiles thought it would for them to figure out he wasn't human.
Their reaction was exactly what he expected to be.
They were afraid. They were nervous. They were angry.
How could Stiles keep something like that from them? How could he not tell them what he was and how could he have kept his power from them?
It had taken a month to get Scott to speak to him again. Two for Lydia, three for Erica and Isaac, four for Boyd and Jackson and half a year for Derek.
Allison would never be completely comfortable around him again. She was a hunter, after all.
Eventually they all got over it. They got over the fact that Stiles had been lying to them for the duration of their friendships. (Stiles had been lying his whole life to Scott but that's splitting hairs, really.)
They got over the fact that the Sheriff would never know that his only son was a demon. Not a born half-dead, mutant, anti-Christ... Thing. Stiles was an actual demon, possessing the long-since dead shell of the Stilinski child.
No one had ever spoken to the real Stiles Stilinski because he'd died before he learned how to talk. It was an advantage for this Stiles but sometimes it made him just a tad sad. Over the years of being stuck in a skinny, sarcastic, fleshy body, he came to develop... Feelings for the people around him. Almost like a real person.
Almost... But not quite.
Unlike Pinocchio, Stiles didn't have a funny little cricket and a fairy godmother to make him a real boy. But he'd learned to live with it.
(Just like he'd learned to live with apologizing to the Sheriff every night after he fell asleep. For keeping his son alive and not being his son. For being unable to save his wife. For being such a... Disappointment. For being a creature of Hell and a fraud.)
Despite Derek's initial aversion to Stiles' own supernatural predilection, the two slowly but surely grew into something more than acquaintances. They were friends but... It had a tinge of something more. A tension that was so thick sometimes that Stiles wanted to reach out with a forked tongue and taste the way the air coiled in tight, ready to explode out into something... Terrifyingly beautiful.
Stiles had toed the boundary once or twice, pressing a feather light and seemingly innocently-intentioned kiss to Derek's lips. Derek - predictably - remained stoic the first time, then gave a hint of reciprocation the next few times. (So maybe it was more than once or twice. Maybe it was a regular occurrence.)
They fought together with the pack. They bled together with the pack. But they comforted only each other. With touches and whispers and sometimes even promises.
Stiles used his power to keep his pack - his family - safe and out of harm whenever he could, even if that meant he got a shot of rock salt in he chest or a splash of holy water in the face.
The tables slowly turned. The pack grew from being the protectors to the protectees and then to the back-up.
They grew into one another.
Lydia and Jackson married early - as soon as Derek would permit them to. Marriages made the pack stronger, but its members weaker. It took a long time for him to agree - a long time full of battles and blood and glory.
Erica and Boyd broke up but remained on pleasant terms with one another. Secretly, Derek was relieved for that and Stiles was amused on his behalf.
Isaac surprised everyone when he chose Danny. Not because he had chosen a man, but because he'd chosen a human. Because Isaac had grown out of his trauma and into a man who wanted the same thing everyone else did - love. A family. Safety.
Neither Stiles nor Derek ever officially chose one another but they never chose anybody else either. No one asked because they knew words couldn't describe the kind of bond they had. It was entirely their own.
Scott and Allison got engaged, then married, and then had a beautiful baby girl they named Laura.
Laura McCall was the pride and joy of the Beacon Hills Pack. Cute as a button, just like her dad, but feisty and strong like her mother - even as an infant. She was the first child born to the pack - the first cub since Derek and his litter. She was to be celebrated and loved and she was. So much.
Stiles (ironically) and Derek were named her godparents.
Derek loved Laura like he was her own daughter. He volunteered to baby sit, protected her above all others, and spoke to her in hushed tones when he thought no one was looking.
Stiles was always looking, though. Always watching Derek and Laura - arguably the two most important people in his life next to his father.
Stiles saw the look of awe and open love and affection when Laura smiled up at Derek from his arms. He saw the way Derek would smile back at her, unguarded and for just a few minutes, unafraid. It was the same smile Derek would give Stiles when they were alone and curled around one another. (They never had sex, though. No, their bond was much more intimate than that.)
When he witnessed those private and admittedly heart-breaking moments between Derek and his goddaughter, Stiles vowed to protect them. To keep their happiness bright and alive no matter what. To keep them whole.
As she grew, Laura bloomed. She had the dimples both of her parents possessed, her skin a beautifully olive color. Her eyes were green and her hair black and sometimes Derek would think he was looking at the spitting image of his sister.
She smiled every day, a smile that was all gums and then all teeth and all too infectious. Her laugh was high and melodic, like Allison's. Her sincerity and capacity to love were all Scott's. (Amazingly - even at 4 - she managed to inherit some of Stiles' witty rhetoric.)
Sometimes Laura was so bright that Stiles was afraid she would burn him right out of his skin. A thing like him shouldn't taint a thing like her.
Sometimes Derek had those same feelings.
Everything was amazing. The pack was whole and healthy and there was a child to love and nurture and raise. No one was unhappy. Bad things still struck but it was nothing this group of beings who loved so deeply and intensely couldn't handle. They were together.
As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
And an abrupt end it is.
Werewolves were not infallible to illness. Not the way Derek made it seem. They were impervious to human sickness, yes. But there were sicknesses specifically tailored to wolves. Sicknesses that hid hard and fast and killed.
Derek had thought nothing of it because his old pack never got sick. He believed them to be legends and myths, made to scare pups into behaving.
When Laura McCall fell ill, Derek knew he was horribly, horribly wrong. They weren't legends or myths. They were real. They were devastating. And one of them was here to take his family. It was one thing to fight against something real - something tangible. It was a whole other entity to try and fight against something invisible and crushing.
She was six. It started off with a fever. It grew and morphed into something ugly and painful that caused fainting spells when she stood, kept her from shifting, made her ache down to the core of what she was.
The books called it "Moon Chill" and it was similar to human cancer only the cells didn't multiply. Instead, they withered and died, slow enough that the innate werewolf ability to heal didn't detect any malicious goings on within the body. Nerve cells, muscle cells, blood cells... It was killing her and it was killing her at a snail's pace.
Derek sat at her bedside day in and day out while her parents and pack traveled to the ends of the Earth to find something to cure their sweet, beloved child. (Stiles knew there was nothing out there - nothing they would find, at least.)
Stiles watched Laura and Derek wither away. Laura from the sickness and Derek from his own mind and heart. Stiles watched as Derek sobbed, clutching a tiny hand to his chest and begging for her to just hang on because they would make her better. They would fix her. They would make her whole and happy.
Stiles heard Derek's howls of agony and pain while the demon made tea to soothe the poor girl's fever.
It's an old belief of Christians that self-sacrifice is a guaranteed ticket to Saint Peter's Pearly Gates. The act of giving yourself for another is the ultimate sacrifice, worthy of His attention.
Stiles knew that the only way he was getting into Heaven was when Lucifer finally broke down God's reinforcements.
It was a warm night in June when Stiles made his decision. His final decision. With a heavy heart and a hopeful mind, Stiles inched the door to Laura's room open. Derek was planting a kiss on her knuckles, soothing her fitful and unpleasant sleep.
"Derek...," Stiles had whispered, a calm smile on his face. Derek looked confused as he rose to meet Stiles in the center of the room. Something told the werewolf that this was a conversation he wouldn't soon forget.
"What is it? Have they found something?" Even in a whisper, Derek's voice was intense with the emotions it projected. Stiles would miss how intensely Derek felt - if he remembered anything at all.
Stiles shook his head slowly. "No. But I did. And... They won't find anything. This is the only shot we've got. It'll work," he assured the wolf, putting a hand to his chest.
"What is it? What do we need? What can I do?" Derek was practically vibrating with nervous energy.
"Nothing. Just... Let me work. But I need you to do me a few favors," Stiles said, taking a deep breath as Derek nodded, eager to help. "I need you to call the pack. Not with a howl. On their cells. Tell them... I'm sorry. Tell them I love them and that I'm not coming back this time." Stiles spoke softly as Derek's eyes got gradually larger. Comprehension dawned all at once and Stiles found himself pressed up against a muscular chest. Derek's grip was so tight... Like all he wanted was to hold Stiles there and together. Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek and squeezed back, eyes clenching tight against the deluge of tears that threatened to spill over.
Derek was shaking. Pleading with Stiles. Asking him not to leave. Not to leave like Laura did and was...
Stiles pulled back to look him in the eyes, hands framing Derek's face. "You've lost your whole family. You've had more pain and suffering and guilt in your life than most people will ever know. But I have never seen you as happy and whole as I have when you're with Laura. She keeps you all together. She's glued you all into one big ball of fur and love. And if the glue disappears, the ball falls apart. I won't watch you have to go through this all over again."
Stiles pulled Derek's head down so that his forehead would meet Stiles' lips. Derek was crying and so was Stiles but they would say nothing about it. Derek would say nothing at all. Not even the three words Stiles was almost just hoping he would hear once in his lifetime. But... he knew. Derek was too broken for that. Stiles didn't mind.
With that, Stiles walked over to the frail form lying helpless in a princess themed bed. (Because she was their princess, after all.) He sat down next to her and took the hand Derek had kissed. His other hand smoothed her hair back as he spoke softly to her.
"Wake up, it's time. Little princess, wake up. All the best of what we've done is yet to come. I promise. Wake up. It's time for you to come back, Laura. Just remember who I am in the morning, okay sunshine?" Stiles kept his voice soft and low as his black eyes met her beautiful green ones - hazy with fever and delirium.
"Are you an angel?" Her hoarse voice crackled out.
"Yes, baby girl. I'm an angel. Here to make you all better," Stiles smiled. He heard Derek choke off a sob behind him and that smile wavered, ever so slightly.
Then Stiles began to do what he'd never done - no demon had ever done - before. He prayed.
Hey up there big guy. I know we don't really see eye to eye on anything and I'm sure you're probably not even listening right now but please. Turn off the ESPN and tune into Stilinski Sound. Please. I'm not asking to be let into your good graces or anything. But I've watched this pack grow and change into something I never thought they could be. They're beautiful. They love and are loved by each other and by others.
They're so very broken but that was your point, right? Look, I just need to cash in this one favor. If you don't want to do it for me, do it for her. Do it for Derek. Let's face it, you owe him a miracle. A big one. So please... I know you can do it. Burn me out. Send Michael with his sword and strike me down. Take my wickedness and give her life. Don't take her. Not from them. Not yet. I willingly and knowingly give my life, my essence, and my right to be for Laura McCall.
And just like that, in a flash of bright and holy light that caused Derek to cover his eyes with both arms, Laura was healthy. She was sleeping but her color was back and she was breathing normally... She wasn't sweating anymore.
Stiles... Was gone. His body laid flat on the hardwood floor, arms and legs laying by his sides. His eyes were golden amber and still open, seeing everything even in death. Scorch marks adorned his chest in a fine starburst pattern and all Derek could think was 'no not again not like this'. But then his eye caught something on the floor. Spread out in an intricate filigree underneath Stiles were the burned in outlines of wings. Wide, dark, magnificently feathered wings.
Derek sank to his knees and pulled Stiles' body to his chest.
The pack could hear their Alpha's howl of despair around the world and in that instant, they just knew. Their world wasn't theirs anymore. It wouldn't ever be whole again. Not without him. Not without Stiles.
They held the funeral on the following Monday. Laura was dressed in a somber black dress, being held tightly between her parents. Stiles Stilinski's body was buried beside his father who died of a heart attack at age fifty-two and his mother who died of cancer at age thirty-one. His official age was listed as being twenty-five. The whole family died young. There were no more Stilinskis.
Derek gave a speech at the small and private ceremony. It wasn't to the crowd. It was to Stiles. That stupid son of a bitch. "I would have died. I would have loved you all my life. I will love you all my life."
After that, Derek didn't speak for almost two months, unless it was to Laura.
Months passed. The pack grieved - each in their own way but always together. Laura didn't understand what had happened - just that she had been sick, now she was better, and Uncle Stiles had gone away with the angels.
Slowly, they got over Stiles' death. They moved on. Kept living. Soon it was as if he had never died. They were happy and smiling.
All except Derek.
Derek would never forget Stiles. He would never forget his laugh and his warmth. His smile and his humor... His hyperactivity and his love. His unconditional loyalty and trust.
Derek would never love another the way that he loved Stiles Stilinski.
Sitting on the mantelpiece in the Hale-McCall-Whittemore-Lahey-Reyes-Boyd house's living room is a picture of a man with short brown hair and eyes the color of honey. The man isn't doing anything extraordinary, just sitting on a window seat poring over some old book or another.
The light catches his eyes just right and one looks darker than the other - almost black. He's curled up with a content smile on his face. He doesn't know the photo's being taken.
Laura doesn't know who he is or why Uncle Derek talks to the picture every day or touches it in some way. She knows he took it. She knows he's from a while ago - she's seventeen now, after all and that picture's been there forever - and that he's familiar. But she can't remember who he is or why he's important.
Maybe she'll remember in the morning.