They weren't really able to tell how or when it happened, but they were pretty sure it was at some point between the Sheriff dying during a call at work and Stiles leaving for college.
It all started when Stiles woke in the middle of the night to someone knocking on the front door. It turned out to be Parrish, who told him that his dad had been attacked by some wild animal while on duty. He had died of blood loss before the ambulance could reach him.
That was one month before graduation and Stiles hadn't spoken a single word ever since.
He had just stopped.
Stopped attending pack meetings.
Stopped answering the texts his concerned pack sent him everyday.
He would just go to school, stare at his table and ignore everyone who tried to talk to him.
He didn't even react when Coach Finstock had enough of his behavior and yelled at him to get his ass to the principle.
He just got up and left.
He didn't even attend his own graduation. He sat at home, with the door and windows lined with mountain ash and retrieved his diploma the next day.
Lydia had been there because she forgot something in her locker at school and she didn't know she would be the last person to see him in Beacon Hills for the next three years.
It had been three hard years for the pack. It felt like a part of them was missing.
No one knew where Stiles was. All they knew was that he had left his jeep at Derek’s loft and put the house up for sale before he left for college.
Wherever that might have been.
Three years had passed.
The pack, they were...coping. Some better than others.
It took months until Scott stopped ringing the doorbell at Stiles' old house only to find a stranger opening the door. After the third time it happened they only looked at him with pity and closed the door again.
Isaac still randomly stopped in the middle of the street because he thought he'd caught Stiles' scent. But it was always someone else.
Derek had sold the loft after rebuilding the old Hale house in the preserve the year after Stiles left. The pack thought he was over Stiles leaving but only Lydia knew the truth.
She knew Derek had a room in the house filled with everything Stiles hadn't taken with him. Clothes, books, even his All Time Low poster hung on a wall.
Lydia only knew how much Derek actually missed Stiles because she once walked in on him sitting on a windowsill in that room, Stiles favorite pillow pressed to his chest and reading and old, worn copy of the first Harry Potter book.
When she knocked on the door frame the alpha had looked up surprised, like he hadn't noticed the girl standing in the doorway at all.
After sitting down next to him, Derek had slowly started to explain how sitting there surrounded by his things and reading his old books made the pain of Stiles leaving them all behind a little bit more bearable. How it hurt a little less to smell the faint scent that still clung to his things.
From then Lydia came over a lot, just to talk about Stiles.
Because that's what helped her coping.
It was one of these days when Isaac burst through the door, a haunted look on his face. Derek was instantly on his feet, his claws out to fight any possible danger.
But Isaac only shook his head, panting like he had run all the way to the house and could hardly get a few words out. But these few words sparked hope in all of them.
“I smelled his scent.”
And for the first time in three years Isaac had turned out to be right.
After being told exactly where the beta had caught the scent, Derek drove out to the parking lot of a motel where Stiles scent hit him before he even left his Camaro.
He had parked next to a blue Ford Focus that reeked of the missing boy like he had actually lived in there.
It was unmistakable although it was overlapping with the scent of leather, cigarettes and something he couldn't really define.
It was Stiles.
He was back in Beacon Hills.
The alpha followed Stiles scent all the way from the car over to the door of the motel room where it was the strongest and where he could clearly hear the boy's heartbeat.
After hesitating for a few minutes and taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, Derek finally knocked on the door, ready to turn around and leave in case it actually wasn't Stiles to open.
But the second the door crept open he knew it.
He was almost overwhelmed with the wave of pure Stiles that hit him.
But it were the eyes that took his breath away.
They were still the same, warm whiskey colored eyes framed with long, dark lashes that looked first confused, a second later angry.
“Oh for fucks sake! I've been in town for what? An hour? What has a guy to do to get some fucking sleep in this town?!”
Searching for words Derek just stared that the boy...no, cross that, the man leaning against the door frame.
Stiles had...grown up.
He had grown out of graphic tees and layers. Instead he was standing there in tight, black skinny jeans and a well fitting, grey henley that accented the lean muscles in his arms and his broad shoulders.
From where the sleeves were rolled up he could see parts of more than just one tattoo.
Stiles' hair, wet from a shower, stuck to his forehead but it seemed longer than Derek remembered.
“I...can we talk? Please?”
It was all he could get out after another moment of staring.
With an annoyed sigh Stiles nodded his head inside and moved from the door so Derek could follow him into the small room.
Next to the bed, the sheets still untouched, were a duffle bag and a suitcase with some clothes strewn on the floor and a pack of cigarettes and an ashtray, already holding two cigarette butts, on the nightstand.
Stiles stood in front of the window, arms crossed and one of his bare feet tapping on the floor.
“You wanted to talk, so talk. I don't have all day.”
Derek had to swallow a few times in order to find his words.
“Stiles I...we... where have you been? We haven't heard from you in three years. Three years!”
Derek started pacing the room and running his hands through his hair over and over in distress.
The other man only chuckled.
“I've been to college. Where else would I have been. I worked my ass off, got my degree and now I'm here for some unfinished business.”
“What do you mean? Unfinished business?” Derek wasn't quite sure, what the other man was talking about.
“Oh please, you don't really believe my dad was killed by a mountain lion, do you? I've hacked the databases, I've seen all the evidence pictures. That was not a mountain lion, that was definitely a werewolf.”
Stiles had toyed with a lighter while speaking and was now putting the flame to the tip of another cigarette, inhaled the smoke and blew it out in circles.
Derek was impressed.
“And what are you going to do, when you find that werewolf? Or whoever it was?”
Stiles raised an eyebrow and smirked in his direction before blowing another bout of smoke-rings.
“That's pretty easy. I am going to kill him. It will be painful and he's going to regret that he even took a look at my father let alone that he put his dirty claws against his skin.”
Derek was stunned. This was so not the boy he remembered from three years ago. This man was ruthless and apparently wouldn't hesitate to use violence against those who hurt the people close to him.
Although he wondered, was there even anyone left Stiles felt close to?
Anyone he cared about enough to kill someone?
“Was that all? I only have this room for tonight and I'd love to get some sleep in a real bed for a change.”, Stiles said while stubbing his cigarette into the ashtray and walking over to the bed where he pulled the covers back and sat down.
“No, just, why don't you stay here longer? Or are you leaving tomorrow?”
“Hah, no. One night was all I could pay for. I'm literally one pack of smokes from broke. Not that you would get the reference.” Stiles was laughing about his own joke while pointedly moving his eyes from Derek to the door. It was obviously a hint that he wanted to go to sleep now, so Derek nodded his head, mumbled a “Bye, see you around...” and closed the door behind him.
“Isaac was right.”
The whole pack was assembled inside the living room of the Hale house.
Scott and Allison sat on the love seat, Isaac in front of them, leaning his back against Scott's legs while Lydia sat in the armchair.
They all had perked up when Derek opened the door and looked hopeful at their alpha.
The only one who hadn't moved all that much was Cora, who had returned about six months ago, after hearing about her big brother being alive. But since she hadn't met Stiles she didn't really get what was so special about him.
“Have you seen him?”
“Did you talk to him? What did he say?”
“Is he going to stay?”
They all asked at once and Derek could barely understand them.
“I can't understand any of you if you keep talking like that.”, he shut them up.
“Yes, I saw him and yes we talked. He told me he finished his degree and now he's back here to find and kill the werewolf who killed his father. He didn't say if he's going to stay here afterwards.” Derek hoped he would, but the Stiles he met back at the motel was so different from the one he once thought he knew.
“And what are going to do now?”, Isaac asked while nervously wringing his hands.
“I don't know...”, Derek answered, running a soothing hand through Isaac's blonde curls. “I really don't know.”
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FUCK YEAH I DID IT! No seriously, I'm sorry for taking so long! I'm moving out from my parents and I still have so much to do. (Do you know how fucking expensive it is when you need everything new?!)
BUT I already started Chapter 3 so it shouldn't take me so long to update again!
Also thank you to everyone who left comments and kudos! <3
And thank you to Mimi for beta-reading this!
He was really impressed that the pack had actually managed to find him only two hours after he passed the “Welcome to Beacon Hills” sign.
Stiles just had enough time to enjoy his first long, hot shower in weeks, when Derek had showed up and started questioning him.
Stupid werewolves with their stupid enhanced sense of smell and their stupid thumb-hole-sweaters and their stubble and ugh.
His stupid brain that couldn't remember that they were over their feelings for hot, broody werewolf alphas.
He should have used a spell to hide his smell.
It was useless now, their wolfy noses had found him, so he could just as well use them to get closer to his goal.
But first: Sleep.
The next morning after he had breakfast at the motel (it was cold, slimy scrambled eggs, burnt toast and tasteless cereal), Stiles packed his things back into his car and drove into town.
First things first he went to the library to use their WiFi. He hadn't been joking when he said he was broke.
Back in High School Stiles had started a little business of selling essays online. Whenever he went on a research binge he would end up writing about whatever caught his interest. And as is turned out a lot of people were willing to pay some money just so they didn't have to do their work.
From time to time Stiles even took requests, but only if the subject was something he wanted to research anyway. And why not make money out of it?
It seemed to be his lucky day. He had three mails regarding essays and two of them were easy work because he only had to make some changes to papers he had sold a few times before.
Stiles loved easy money.
Two hours later Stiles left the library after sending out his work and reminding his customers that if they didn't transfer the money to his bank-account within 24 hours, he would let their teachers know who wrote their homework.
So far the threat had always worked.
Pleased with himself Stiles stretched his sore muscles outside in the sun before moving over to his car and getting in.
Drumming his hands on the steering wheel he considered where to go next.
Before Stiles could decide on anything he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out to check who called although he knew only one person that always called instead of texting.
Stella used to be his roommate at college.
“STILES! How's the wolf search coming along? Found any furry beasts yet?”
Oh. And Stella was a witch. On their first day as roommates she sensed his spark and taught him how to use it.
It took her only three weeks to get Stiles to spill everything. The pack, being possessed by the nogitsune, how his father had died and of course his plans to get revenge.
“I didn't find them, they found me. I was just about to sleep, SLEEP Stella, in a real bed! Not in the back of my car or on your couch. A BED.”
“Oh my! A real bed Stiles?”, Stella snickered on the other end of the line. Stiles just rolled his eyes.
“Oh shut up! Anyways, I was just about to go to bed when I sensed someone outside, and knock knock, who's there? Mr. Scowly-Brows. Started asking me where I've been, why I hadn't called yadda yadda. God he's so annoying. I hate him.”
“Ohhh, you sure hate him. Did his hair still look 'sooo soft, like silk! I tell you Stella, his hair's made of silk'?”
Stiles started to bang his head against the steering wheel until a woman on the sidewalk knocked on his window and asked it he needed help. He politely declined and went back to his phone conversation.
“Would you please stop? How many times do I have to tell you. I. Was. Drunk. I don't fucking care about his hair.”
“Sure you don't. Anyways. What are you gonna do now? You still staying at the motel?”
Stiles closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“No, don't have any money left. But I just sold two essays so I should have that money tomorrow. I'm not really sure where to go next.”
Stiles could hear Stella's deep sigh and could imagine her look of annoyance.
“If you wouldn't spend so much money on cigarettes, your life would be so much easier.”
“I know Stel, but what can you do? It's still cheaper and more effective than Adderall. I think I'm gonna visit Deaton, stock up on mountain ash and wolfsbane, you know? Never know how much you might need.”
“You're an idiot, Stiles. Be careful okay?”
Stiles could perfectly imagine her, sitting in front of her big living room window and nervously playing with the brakes of her wheelchair. It was what she always did while thinking too much about other peoples well-being.
“Love you too, Stella. I'll try my best. Gotta go now, bye!”
“Bye Stiles, love you.”, Stella laughed and disconnected the call. God he loved that girl. She really was like the sister he never had but always wanted.