Eleven had been a pretty bad year for Stiles. His mother's cancer came out of remission with a vengeance, in her blood by the time they pulled her in for tests. By his next birthday, she was gone. And, as though that hadn't been enough punishment for the Stilinski household, the shock of his mother's death triggered panic attacks on top of Stiles' already slightly manic concentration and behavioral issues.
By the time his tests were complete, Stiles was the youngest Guide-adept in Beacon Hills' history. The knowledge -- particularly the bit about potentially being ripped from his father for the benefit of some faceless stranger should his "talents" further develop -- did nothing to help with the panic attacks, though the drugs they put him on to regulate his empathic predisposition were admittedly twice as effective as Adderall had ever been. The Stilinski men never talked about it, but they both lived in fear of Stiles' sixteenth birthday, when his formal training was slated to begin.
Until then, the mandatory silvered chain about his neck would mark him as a bit of a freak, an untouchable link to a world most people only encountered a handful of times in their lives. If it hadn't been for Scott, Stiles wouldn't have had a single non-relative at his twelfth birthday party. By his thirteenth, Stiles decided that he had grown out of birthdays.
Derek Hale was done with Guides. Laura could bitch all she wanted, but Derek had been doing just fine without one for all these years and the last thing he wanted was someone else crawling around in his head, stealing all his secrets, manipulating his feelings, weakening all his defenses, and making a fool of him. Never again.
A few years in the out-patient Sentinel Rehabilitation Center in New York weren't going to change the fact that a Guide had nearly gotten his whole family killed. That his own stupidity had put his little sisters, his uncle, his mother in the hospital for second and third-degree burns and smoke inhalation and shock. If it hadn't been for his father's early empathic warning, the zones that had riveted his family in place while the house burned down around them would have rendered Derek and Laura orphans.
Perhaps other people could recover from Guide-drop, could bond again -- but Derek wasn't some middle-aged widower or divorcee. He'd been suckered into a false bond with a Guide who wanted him and everyone he loved dead, just for being what they were: Sentinels. There was no recovering from that kind of fuck up. There shouldn't be. There wasn't.
Derek wasn't Alpha material anyway. He'd gotten along just fine, hardly a single zone to speak of, with only his family Guides to work with. There wasn't a pamphlet or shrink on Earth who could convince him life would be better if he bought into the fairy tale of mystical bonds and perfect control and destined mates.
No, Derek Hale was done with Guides.
The Jeep was a present for his sixteenth birthday, but more than that, the Jeep was a promise. Father to son, Stilinski to Stilinski.
Stiles would always be able to come home.
Guide-adept training was due to scoop him up from high school in two short weeks, but Stiles could take the Jeep with him. Perhaps that was only the flimsiest of veneers of independence, but Stiles knew what his dad was trying to say.
They may have manfully hugged it out in the driveway for a few minutes after the big reveal, but Stiles wasn't about to admit to it without photographic proof.
He wasn't the only Guide-adept from his class, but Stiles was one of only two guys to have shown Guide potential. The other being Danny Mahealani, which was just grossly unfair of the universe. Still, there was at least one upshot of being towed off to Guide Camp (Stiles liked to think of it like Space Camp, only vastly suckier): being reunited with Lydia Martin. Sure, their epic non-starter of a one-sided romance for the ages was doomed to failure almost from the beginning, what with the very strong likelihood that at least one of them had a very possessive Sentinel bond-mate in their future, but Stiles was nothing if not a believer in substituting one’s own reality where fate fell down on the job.
Fate, it turned out, was more of a very loud, very active backseat driver. A mere three days before his departure to Guide-a-palooza and its requisite training montage, Stiles and his Jeep were broadsided by a shiny, black Camaro.
The zone that changed Derek’s life started forty yards before an intersection, just as he’d started to slow down for the stop. A red light brightly gleamed under its yellow hood, the smell of motor oil and the grime of the road seeping through the A/C vents and choking him where it settled on the back of his tongue. And underneath and woven through it all was the faintest rhythmic thudding of a heartbeat approaching.
His control defied him, hearing locking on to the persistent sound to the neglect of everything else. Not even the sudden spike in its tempo, the sharp acidic bite of terror and adrenaline overwhelming the stench of the road and gutters, could break his utter transfixion.
The Camaro rammed into the Jeep, thankfully at only 30 miles an hour or Stiles was sure Betty would have been forced into a roll. As it was, her back end skidded violently across the blacktop, the car forced parallel to the oncoming Camaro. Airbags deployed, tires squealed unhappily, and Stiles jostled violently back and forth in the restraint of his seat belt.
The world had gone real around all its edges, with the adrenaline pumping through Stiles’ veins. He sat there for several seconds, breathing hard and gripping the steering wheel in tight fists. His foot had fully depressed the brake, the whole line of his body straining with the effort of slamming the pedal down to the floor. The sound of the radio, merrily tinkling out the latest top-40 hits around the sound of honking and the overwhelming thuds of his own heartbeat in his ears, finally got him to move. He slapped ineffectually at the radio until it was muted, then managed to put the Jeep in park and turned the engine off with trembling hands. He unclasped the seat belt as another driver, a woman in her thirties with a cell phone up to one ear, knocked on his window to draw his attention.
“Are you all right?” she shouted through the thin glass.
“Y-yeah!” Stiles worked out, his voice cracking as he tried to exude a sense of calm.
He pawed the deflated air bag out of his way and tumbled out of the car, his shaky legs uninterested in supporting his weight at first. The woman caught his elbow as he steadied himself.
“The boy in the Jeep seems okay. A little shocky. What’s your name, hon?” the woman asked him, tilting the the phone away from her mouth.
“Stiles. Stiles Stilinski. My dad’s the sheriff.”
The woman’s eyes widened a bit, but she went back to the phone. “Did you get that? Stilinski. The sheriff’s boy.” Her eyes caught on the chain dangling over Stiles’ undershirt. “A Guide, too.”
Other motorists had pulled to a stop nearby, all on their phones, and in the distance, Stiles’ swore he could hear a siren heading their way. The woman moved toward the Camaro, still talking to the dispatch, and Stiles stumbled forward with her. No movement had come from the other car in the minutes after the wreck, after all.
The Camaro had rolled to a stop at the far curb after striking Stiles’ Jeep, the engine rumbling unhappily as it idled where it couldn’t get itself over the rise of concrete. Its front end was demolished and Stiles didn’t want to know how much of his Betty’s side was scraped raw and gutted. A little smoke trickled up from under the hood and the airbag within had clearly blown, but no motion from the driver.
Stiles got to the driver’s door first, somehow, and operating from within his tunnel vision, he pulled the door open to get at the man inside.
“Hey, you okay?”
The man didn’t move, his eyes wide and unblinking, his fingers twitching idly where they had been blown back from the airbag’s explosive opening. Stiles’ eye was drawn to the man’s left hand, where the knuckles had impacted with the window and been burst open from the force of the blow. Slowly -- so, so slowly -- Stiles watched the skin begin to knit itself back together. He took another look at the man’s face and yeah, his eyes were glowing a bright, unnatural blue.
Leaning back out of the car cautiously, overtaken by a sudden sense of foreboding and dread, Stiles flagged the woman on the phone down from where she was giving the address to dispatch over the phone.
“What is it, honey? Is he all right?”
“No,” Stiles said shakily. “No, he’s a Sentinel. I think he’s in a zone. They need to get a Guide down here.”
The woman’s eyes widened again and she took a few more steps away, whispering the news urgently into the phone. Stiles began to follow her when a hand like a vice gripped his wrist, jerking him back to the side of the Camaro.
Stiles looked into the cab to see two icy blue eyes fixed on him, a mouth full of sharp teeth moving awkwardly as it tried to form words.
“My Guide,” the man said. “Mine.”
Stiles was not entirely successful in swallowing his panicked meep of terror.