[ Art: here ]
Derek wakes up in the middle of the night, and the stars are gone.
And his brain just shuts down for a minute, because it’s not something with claws or fangs or anything he can fight. The stars are just fucking gone.
When he finally gets his shit together, the text messages are already pouring in. Because, apparently, everyone else processed it faster then he did. Also, they all seem to have woken up at the same time, which was ‘probably related to whatever this is’, Lydia says in a text, while Isaac is caps locking and misspelling things from France because ‘I’M ACCROSS THE GLOBEE AND ITS HAPPENING THERE TOO?!?!?’
Derek doesn’t notice that there’s no messages from Stiles until Scott calls him, and his voice has that frightened pitch to it that Derek hasn’t heard since Stiles was possessed.
“Stiles isn’t answering his phone!”
Ah, that’s why. Derek tries to keep calm. “Scott, he’s probably still asleep.”
“But everyone else is awake!”
Derek sighs, and kindly reminds Scott that Stiles is a human, while everyone else is not. There’s a pause where Derek can just feel Scott freaking out, before Scott tells him he’s going to go check, and hangs up. Derek doesn’t try to stop him, they’ll probably need Stiles’ help for this, anyway.
Meanwhile, Derek’s been standing outside the loft for at least twenty minutes, and the chill of asphalt is starting to make his feet numb. Or maybe he’s just numb because the sky is really creeping him out right now and it’s global and that means some big, bad magic.
Maybe he’s numb because the alternative is to be fucking terrified, and he doesn’t have time for that.
especially with the texts that keep coming.
Lydia: I’m driving. Where to?
Kira: Parents won’t let me leave. Says too dangerous. Someone tell me what’s going on!!
Lydia: Something big. See if you can convince them to join us. Need old knowledge.
Isaac: GUYS THEY TURNED ON THE AIR RAID ALARM!
Kira: Join you where?
Derek sighs, because he knows it’s going to be his place as usual, and tries to figure out who to respond to first. Lydia and Kira seem to be figuring it out themselves, so he shoots a text to Isaac in hopes of calming him down. The caps lock doesn’t stop until Derek’s phone rings.
“Isaac, calm down, it's—”
Derek frowns, because he can hear the siren in the background, and if it’s that loud for him, Isaac is probably—
“I put some earplugs in him and made him sit down,” Chris says, sounding as calm as ever. Some things never change.
“Thanks,” Derek says, because Chris did what Isaac needed and what Derek couldn’t do. Like he has been for a few months now. “Any idea what this is?”
“None whatsoever. Got any Intel on your end?”
“Waiting on Stiles, maybe Noshiko. Probably not Deaton.”
“You’d think a 900 year-old fox and an Emissary would know better than a 17 year old kid.”
Derek snorts, and says, “It’s like you don’t know them at all.”
He hears Isaac yelling something about howls in the background, and the alarms go silent. It’s in that small moment quiet that Derek remembers that he’s still standing outside with nothing on but a pair of sweatpants. If all the teens are going to invade his loft again, he should at least get dressed.
And maybe hang up the phone. “Yeah?”
“The packs here are howling,” Chris says, and now Derek can hear that hint of fear in his voice. The howls are faint over the phone, but they sound scared, too. Derek wishes he knew what to tell him, but he’s got no answers, not yet.
He tells Chris he’ll get back to him, once he hears from the 900 year-old fox and a 17 year-old kid.
Everyone arrives except the people they’re all waiting for, and no one’s surprised when Deaton doesn’t show up. Scott and Stiles are worryingly absent, though, and Kira sends one last text that explains her absence. Her parents won’t leave the house with her. Something about The Sky is Falling.
The people who are here are awkward and silent. Malia is looking twitchy by the window, staring out at the sky like its betrayed her. Derek wonders, vaguely, why he doesn’t smell a lot of concern on her, mostly just anger.
Lydia is making herself comfortable on Derek’s couch, while Peter lurks somewhere on the spiral staircase. He’s staring, and it’s creepy, but at least he’s being quiet. Maybe the lack of stars is the one thing that actually scares his uncle enough to shut him up.
Somehow, that doesn’t actually seem like a good thing.
The door slides open explosively, and Derek’s glad he put proper clothes on because the Sherif is standing there with Scott, looking ready to shoot everything.
“Stiles is missing,” is the first thing Scott says, and suddenly, the stars seem unimportant.
Derek growls, “What do you mean ’missing?”
But he doesn’t get an answer, because everyone starts talking at once. Because the last time this happened, people died. Because the last time Stiles went missing, he was the one doing the killing.
“When did you last see him?”
“—right before we left school, and he wasn’t acting—”
“—not going to wait around until he—”
“We should have killed him when we had the chance!” That was Peter, of course, and the last straw for Derek.
Everyone finally shuts up, and glares at him. He’ll take what he can.
“Stiles is missing the same night the sky goes dark?” he begins, glaring right back. “Not a coincidence, obviously. And we need to get out there and find him, also obviously.”
Scott shifts from one foot to the other, his eyes darting between the Sherif and Derek. God, sometimes Derek actually forgets he’s just a kid—that they’re all kids.
“What if it’s…?” And he can’t even finish the sentence. Derek finds that he can’t finish it, either. Everyone’s been trying not to say its name since it happened.
“It’s not,” he says instead, and focuses on Stiles’ dad. “Were you the last one to see him?”
“I said goodnight to him a couple hours ago, went to bed myself.”
“And he seemed normal?”
There’s a subtle shift in the man’s eyes, the scent of guilt and stress in the air, and a slight tightening in his jaw that means his next words were either a lie, or a hard admission.
“As normal as he can be.”
Derek doesn’t really have time question what he means, but he actually kind of already knows.
Stiles has been different since the Nogitsune. You could look at him, and think: It’s nothing major, he hasn’t really changed.
But it’s all the little changes—the ones you you really have to pay attention to—that add up into something bigger. For one thing, his personality has gone flat since the possession, like his energy has been pressed out of him. Of course, he tries to hide it behind jokes and nicknames and a metal bat, but Derek’s not the only one who’s noticed his stale scent and the way his smile doesn’t reach his eyes.
He also moves more, which is kind of a relief in a way, because it’s no where near that unnatural stillness the Nogitsune had, but it’s also a problem. Because Stiles uses it to cover up the way his hands shake almost all the time now. He’s hiding it, which means he thinks has a reason to hide it.
That’s usually not a good thing.
There’s other things, too, like the nightmares Derek’s heard him wake up screaming from when he makes his rounds to check on the pack. Or the constant checking of his hands that no one quite understands, and he refuses to explain. Or the fact that he throws himself into danger now like he can’t die, like he doesn’t care if he does. Derek’s got between him and a quick death at least four times in the past few months. Neither of them say anything, but Stiles knows that Derek’s figured it out. He must, because every time Derek ends up standing over him, bleeding from some wound that would have killed the kid, he looks guilty.
But… it’s fine. It’s not normal, but Derek knows there’s no going back once something like that happens. He’ll never find that person he was before the fire, before Peter killed his sister, before Kate. That person is gone, just like that version of Stiles is gone. Which doesn’t really help with the current situation, because no one else seems to understand that. They immediately jump to the wrong conclusion.
That something is critically wrong with Stiles, something they need to fight, rather than learning to adjust to the new Stiles.
Derek doesn’t scream at them—and oh, he wants to—instead, he calmly organizes search groups with the help of the Sherif. It takes longer than it shoulder, because Peter’s an asshole and Scott’s being stubborn as ever. The only one really working with him to expedite this is the Sherif.
“You’re not calling it in?” Derek asks as Scott disappears to call Kira. Their voices are soft, touching, and Derek tunes them out immediately.
“Not yet,” the Sherif answers. “Not after everything that’s happened. I don’t want them to start getting ideas about my son that aren’t true.”
“They don’t know, though,” Derek argues, pulling on his jacket and frowning at the man. “You didn’t tell your deputies everything, did you?”
The man gives Derek an impressive ‘Are you an Idiot?’ look. Now Derek knows where Stiles got it from.
“What? That my son was possessed by a demon fox and that’s who killed several of their fellow officers, along with all those civilians? No, Derek, I don’t think that would go over well.”
“Then why do you think they’ll ‘get ideas’?”
“Because they were there we he went missing the first time.” He pauses, his jaw tightening again. Hard admissions. “We found him in the dirt, looking half dead and screaming his head off. I don’t want that happening again. They don’t know it was some supernatural thing, to them, it’s probably drugs. I don’t want them thinking that kind of stuff about my son. He’s a good kid.”
Derek really wants to say something—really wants to agree—but the words would come out too soft, too touching. So he just nods, and looks away.
It’s pitch black out in the woods, and Derek doesn’t know if the moon has gone the way of the stars, or if it was simply a new moon tonight. He should know, being a werewolf and all that, but he’s been distracted for the past few weeks with Peter lurking about, and reoccurring nightmares about Kate. New nightmares about Kate, which are more distressing than the old ones because there shouldn’t be newanything about Kate. She’s dead and gone, the end.
So he has no idea what’s up with the moon, but the woods are dark, and strangely silent. The only sounds he’s picking up are the people he brought with him, shuffling over leaves, muttering curses at loose roots, phones vibrating with probably more caps-lock messages of panic from Issac, and the particularly loud breathing of the Sherif.
So far, there’s been no shouts of recognition, no calls of Stiles’ name, no screams from Lydia—thank god. But all that means Stiles is probably not out here, which means they’ll need to meet up again, and start working their way through the city instead.
Ten minutes of silent searching later, Scott gets called home by his mother, because apparently his dad is there, flipping out and yelling ‘Why is our son outside in the middle of the night?!’ What Derek wants to know what that man is doing at their house in the middle of the night, but it’s not his place to ask. Scott doesn’t like to talk about.
So Derek stands there and listens to Malissa try to simultaneously ask Scott to come home without alluding to why he’s out here in the first place, while trying to shut his dad up. It’s when the guy starts threatening legal action against her for being a neglectful parent that Scott leaves with his eyes glowing red, and a mumbled promise to try not to kill the man.
It all falls apart after that, because their carefully planned out search grind is now down to Derek, the Sherif, Malia—who’s not listening to anyone’s instructions and has disappeared in the woods somewhere—and Lydia, who refuses to go anywhere alone and is basically doing nothing more than slowing the Sherif down. They would have more, but Peter refused to leave the loft, fear hidden under a sneer of distain Stiles. And the Sherif is sticking to his promise to hold off on an official search party. Derek thinks he gets it, but they’re kind of stretched thin here.
“Can’t you just… smell him?” the man asks, starting to look strained and exhausted. They’ve only been out here for an hour at the most, but everyone’s already losing their patience.
“Sort of… but there’s usually too many scents out here to… catch…” Derek trails off, turning his head towards the Western edge of the preserve. It wasn’t that he was lying, tracking someone has its difficulties, especially with the woods full of people Stiles has been in contact with. He can smell hints of Stiles from almost everyone except Malia. Which… is a little strange, since he was pretty sure they were dating. Didn’t Scott say something about them dating? Maybe he’s wrong… Derek closes his eyes, and forces himself to focus on just the scent.
Now that he’s paying attention, there is one path that’s stronger than the others.
It’s all Stiles, his usual scent is mixed with the stench of fear.
Derek takes off running before the Sherif can even ask what’s wrong.
The path doesn’t meander, like Stiles usually does, it goes directly through the woods towards the ravine. A spike of panic goes through Derek’s chest, and he puts on a burst of speed.
What would he want with the ravine? Why was he out here? Unless he’s… unless he’s going for the rocky cliff edge. He launches himself over a fallen log, and nearly flies off the rock ledge when he realizes he’s already there.
There’s no reply, but something still feels off. It’s brighter over here, brighter than anywhere else in the woods tonight.
Derek scrambles down the rocks, using his claws to keep him from slipping down the cliff-side too quickly. It’s getting brighter the closer he gets, and he just knows. He knows he’s found what he’s looking for.
And there he is, sitting in the middle of the gully, looking up at the stars. Because there are stars here, everywhere, floating around the rocks, hovering over the stream, bouncing into one another. The sky is here, and Stiles is in the middle of it all, as usual.
He turns sharply when Derek hits the ground, looking ready to bolt. But Derek can see the recognition in his eyes a second later.
“Derek…” he says, sounding breathless. Not scared, though. He doesn’t smell scared anymore.
Derek throws himself down the last bit of incline, and starts working his way through the glowing orbs. They’re not overly threatening, but he still has a feeling he shouldn’t touch them.
“Stiles, what the fuck is going on?”
“You want to long version or the short one?”
“I want the accurate one.”
Stiles turns away again, and Derek can smell a faint burst of hurt inflicted by his words, but now really isn’t the time to get into this. That, and he should probably text the Sherif to tell him he’s found his son.
He doesn’t. There’s no reason not to, not really, but Derek can’t bring himself to do it just yet. Something needs to hold, like a breath.
“I don’t sleep,” Stiles blurts out, and it’s a statement of a fact, not a complaint. When he says nothing else, Derek sits down next to him, just close enough for their shoulders to brush. He kind of needs to know that Stiles is real, and not about to turn around and smile that dead-eyed creepy smile at him before chaos begins all over again.
Nothing happens, except that Stiles leans into him and sighs—and while that’s new, it’s not completely un-Stiles-like. Derek can handle new.
“I don’t sleep, and I swear to god I’ve read every Wikipedia page in existence, and I can’t stand being in my room half the time because I still see the strings and I don’t want to worry my dad—”
“You’re worrying him right now.”
Stiles scowls, but doesn’t take his eyes off the stars. “Believe it or not, this was not my fault. Or—it is, I think, but it was an accident.”
“You did this?” Derek asks, following his gaze. For some reason, Derek had been under the assumption that this was something being done to Stiles, not by Stiles. It makes sense, in some weird way, because suddenly, they’re beautiful, instead of dangerous.
And what, exactly, does that say about him?
“They started filling up my room, so I had to get out,” Stiles explains, a faint smile forming on his lips. It actually reaches his eyes, and Derek’s still holding that breath, keeping this moment going for as long as he can.
“How did they even… I don’t know, how did they leave the sky?”
“Okay… But stars are gas giants and these aren’t gas giants,” he says, glancing around them. One of the stars is bouncing across the water like a skipping stone. “They aren’t, right?”
“As far as I can tell, they’re like…” Stiles waves his hand around, struggling to find the words. “I guess, visual representations of stars?”
“But they’re tangible.”
“So why aren’t the real ones still in the sky?”
Stiles looks at him again—he finally really looks at him and it’s to glare. Of course it is.
“You think I have any idea how this works? Dude, it just happened. I don’t know how it happened, or why, or how to get them back, or what that makes me…”
“A Fairy Princess?” Derek offers, and gets a punch in the arm. Stiles grumbles and rubs his hand, and Derek forces himself not to smile. “We’ll ask Deaton when we get back.”
“I’m not 100% sure I trust Deaton,” Stiles says slowly as a star drifts past his head.
“Are you ever 100% sure of anything?”
“I was 100% sure you were a murder,” he shoots back, flashing a wicked little grin that makes Derek want to… do things to remove it from his lips. Which is wildly inappropriate, and you need to shut up right now, brain.
“Yeah, and now you’re 100% sure i’m not a murder,” Derek says, narrowing his eyes when Stiles looks like he’s considering it. “You know i’m not!”
“Not 100% sure, dude.”
And that… that hurts, a little. It’s not like he’s expected much, but he thought they’d made it pretty clear that they could trust each other. It hurts, and it actually, he’s kind of pissed off now.
Derek snaps, “You really don’t trust anyone, do you?” which makes something change in Stiles’ scent. He’s not sure what it is, though.
“I trust Scott 100%,” he declares, and Derek says nothing when he hears Stiles’ heart skip over the lie. He knows there’s been tension, he knows Scott has let Stiles down a lot—He’s been there for some of those—and it’s pretty obvious Stiles feels like he ruined everything between them. Derek has no idea if this is true, if Scott’s holding on to his anger over Allison, if Scott blames him for her death, so he says nothing. It’s not like anything he could say would help, anyway.
And they just sit there for a while. The stars wiggle and bounce around the ravine, and Stiles starts to relax next to him, and Derek starts to relax a little too. It’s nice, regardless of the possible danger the possibly-tangible stars impose. It’s nice, and Derek doesn’t think about all the shit they’ve been through, or all the shit they’ll have to go through again.
It’s just… nice.
A moment. A nice moment.
Then, Stiles lets out a soft sound of surprise, and Derek turns just in time to see one of the stars blink once, twice, and disappear.
“Shit, is that a good thing or a bad thing?” he whispers, as though he might disturb them with his voice.
“You think I have any idea how this works?” Derek parrots back at him, and Stiles smacks his arm. It hurts him more than it hurts Derek, again. He’ll never learn.
After the first one goes, the rest slowly follow, each one drifting to a stop before blinking out. He has no idea how long it’s been since he found Stiles, but the gully is steadily growing dimmer with each disappearance. It takes Derek a while to realize why it never returns to full darkness. The sky is lighter—the sun’s coming up.
Which is when Stiles quietly says, “I do trust you. I… yeah. I do.”
There’s no blip in his heartbeat.
Derek lets out that breath that he’s been holding, and dials up the sheriff to let him know he’s found Stiles and that everything’s alright.
The moment’s gone, but something feels different.
It’s not just the fact that Stiles is more than the small Spark Deaton originally thought he was. Or the fact that the next time the sun goes down, the sky is filled with stars again. Or the way Stiles’ dad seems to be less wary around him now, more confident, happier. Or the fact that Stiles can smile again, and it’s not always fake.
It’s also the little things, like how Stiles is around all the time now. He stays after pack meetings and they somehow manage to talk, he convinces Scott and Kira to come train with him, and spends the entire time mocking them, or blasting Eye of Tiger on his phone. He’s justthere, and it’s new, but not bad.
He still wakes up screaming, and sometimes Derek drops in through his window to distract him, and sometimes he just waits until he hears Stiles turn his computer on before going to check on the rest of the pack. He still counts his fingers—which Derek learns is to make sure this is reality, and it’s been incredibly helpful for all the nightmares Derek’s been having, himself. And Stiles still throws himself into danger, but it’s different now. Derek doesn’t always end up bleeding, but they somehow always end up fighting side-by-side.
He’s not 100% okay, or ‘normal’, or the same Stiles they used to know, but that’s fine. Derek can handle this new Stiles just fine.