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Hunting Pains

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“And that’s a wrap, ladies and gentlemen!” Stiles said, bowing theatrically. A mix of good-natured eyerolls, huffs of laughter and whistles followed him as he reached for the paper crown he had painstakingly begged a particularly bored fast food worker to give him. He took it off as if it was the biggest treasure in the world and walked over to the man a few years his senior but still just as many inches shorter and gently laid it on his head. “The burden is now yours, chief. Don’t let the power go over your head.”

“Fuck off, Finstock,” the stocky man said gruffly amidst all the clapping. “And give me back my sandwich.”

“I told you, I lost it!”

“I bet you twenty he’s lying!” one half of the resident redheaded leprechauns yelled. His brother snorted.

“That’s a sucker’s bet, Mike. No one’s going to take you up on that, not even in Vegas.”

The one called Mike crossed his arms. “Well now they won’t. Good going, Ned.”

The paper crowned man sighed and rubbed the skin between his eyes. Thirty years old and frown lines deeper than the Grand Canyon. Stiles almost pitied the man. Almost. “Michael. Edward.”

The leprechauns saluted him. “Yes sir, Calavera sir!” they chorused.

Javier, Araya’s younger cousin, winced at their loud tone. He sent a pleading glance at Stiles. “Please tell me you are staying for at least the next two weeks.”

“Nope,” Stiles popped gleefully. “My watch has ended. They are all yours now. Which means,” he raised his voice, turning back to the odd amalgam of human and supernatural. He was rather proud of how far they had come in the past two years. Wolves, druids, witches, hunters, and many more were sitting side by side, working to stabilise the supernatural front of the North America. They could now even count the legendary Canadian sasquatch, who preferred to be known as Dave instead of ‘Old Yellow Top’, to be on their side. “That all of you now need to answer to good ol’ Havi here. I won’t be bailing you out of jail anymore and he’s probably not as kind as I was.”

Stiles pointed to Kevin Hale, the reluctant representative of Alpha Hale until Samantha was done with her maternity leave. “And by that, I mean you. No more barfights, got it?”

The dark glower he got as his answer was worth every moment spent as this glorified cover girl of the operation. “You know as well as I do that the vampire was asking for it.”

“He was hitting on you, you dolt, not hitting you.”

“You should know by now that he’s as romantically blind as a bat,” Francine said. The witch popped the gum she had blown into impressive proportions. With her skirt and jacket, all hot pink, she was the image of that one girl empowerment movie protagonist with the little dog and all… if the protagonist was twenty years older and not a wannabe lawyer.

“You are stereotyping again,” Noshiko said, coming in without knocking. A smirk played on her lips when she added, “It wasn’t the vampire’s fault his kind suffers from bad sight.”

Kevin gave her the finger. Javier slapped it down.

“Mrs. Yukimura!” he exclaimed, sounding almost relieved. The woman was famous of her no-nonsense demeanour. “You are here!”

“How could I not when I was requested so kindly?” she said dryly, glancing at Stiles. He wiggled his fingers at her behind Javier’s back while the older man’s brows knitted together.

“You were?” he questioned. Stiles pressed his finger against his lips and winked before walking past them all.

“Wait, where are you going? Stiles?” Javier called after him. “Stiles!”

Stiles didn’t turn around at the sound of his name, merely raised his hand in a wave and let his cheer fill his very soul as he located the warm presence that had led Noshiko here to help the others adjust to their new responsibilities. Each step took him closer and closer to that sweet taste of freedom he had been denied for so, so long. He had done his duty, fixed what he could, and kicked them off the ground. Now they had to learn how to fly on their own, like good little ugly ducklings.

He was no one’s mother, after all. Thank fuck for that.

Stiles pressed his hands against the door and pushed it open, walking into the light.

***

“Peter!” Stiles said, loud and dramatic, as he collapsed into Peter’s arms as if he was swooning. “I have missed you dearly, my love!”

The wolf in question wrinkled his nose and made a move to drop Stiles like a hot potato. Stiles only clung harder, knowing that it may and may not have been a joke and he’d only find out when he was sprawling on the ground.

“Making a scene in front of the busiest street in Beacon Hills,” Peter said, taking on a longsuffering tone. “Why am I not surprised?”

Stiles shrugged. “Because you know and love me?”

“Who has told you such lies?”

The offended gasp was all a game and the amusement that bounced between them only heightened their good humour. Stiles snuggled closer, ignoring the looks they were gathering.

“Where are Kate and Julia?” he asked. “I thought they’d be here to celebrate this monumental moment.”

Peter rolled his eyes. He forced Stiles into a proper standing position and started to drag him towards where he had parked their car, long since upgraded to something spacious yet not as eye-catching as Bobby’s Mystery Machine 2.0. Stiles had hoped it’d have found its place in the car cemetery, but Bobby was still driving it around the continent. Apparently Jerry really liked the disgust people looked at it with or something… and Bobby was just all around crazy as always even if he hadn’t been under the influence for just about year now.

Small joys in life and all that.

Which reminds him…

“Did Bobby call?” Stiles asked. “I told him last week that I was going to be at the meeting during our date.”

“I don’t think you’d appreciate being the third wheel in that,” Peter commented. Stiles gagged and stuck his tongue at him. “But he did. They are in Colombia right now and if all things go as he’s seen then they’ll catch up with us around April.”

“So basically we’ll just wait until they burst in wherever and pull us into another crazy scheme?”

“Basically. Lena said hi too.”

Stiles scratched his chin. “Still can’t believe she took off with him when he asked. How does her husband like her gallivanting around the world with a seer and his pet?”

“Jerry will eat all your chocolate again if you keep calling him that,” Peter said. He dodged a bullet disguised as a child that almost ran him through. “And since he’s the one following Garcia around, I don’t think he has much to complain about. Talia did mention they call each other every other night; I think the distance has done them good.”

“Sometimes it be like that,” Stiles shrugged. Then he considered it and poked Peter’s lovely arm. “Just so you know, this doesn’t mean I want you out of my sight for that long. The last time you went to Japan with Julia for those long three weeks I couldn’t sleep. If only the East-West gathering hadn’t been when it was—”

“It did get her out of the wheelchair,” Peter pointed out. Their temporal solution to the ‘earth-no-touchy’ hadn’t been the most elegant but at least it had given Julia back some of her independence. Seeing her step out of the plane with her own two feet again…

Stiles wasn’t ashamed to say he had cried like a little bitch.

“I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it. I’m saying that, from now on, we’ll be able to meet all these milestones together. Forever.” He twined their fingers together and squeezed them lightly. “It’s over.”

“It’s never over,” Peter corrected, the killjoy. He squeezed his hand back. “I do, however, like the sound of that.”

“Good. Because that’s the rest of your life talking. You, me, always.”

“Mmm. Keep talking.”

“Are we interrupting?”

Stiles turned around and flashed his brightest grin at Claudia. “Not at all!” he said cheerfully. When they had exchanged the required pleasantries for appearance’s sake, he let go of Peter and kneeled down, coming face-to-face with little Stiles. “And how are you doing, champ?”

The boy grinned. “I learned how to listen to birds!”

“Oh?” Stiles glanced at Claudia who just shrugged sheepishly. “And what do you say?”

“A lot about their nest, something about seeds and a lot about ‘mine, mine, mine, best, mine’,” little Stiles said matter-of-factly. His smile morphed into a pout. “It was far less interesting than I thought.”

“That’s still very good,” he said seriously. “I would never have been able to do anything like that. Consider yourself the best Stiles out of all the Stileses.”

The boy frowned. “But there are only two of us.”

Stiles ruffled his hair. “Exactly.”

“Now now, it’s not a competition,” Claudia said. When little Stiles scrambled away from Stiles’ hands, she carefully arranged his hair back to its more usual mess instead of the bird’s nest it currently was. “You are both talented, I’m sure of that.”

Well, if she said it… Stiles shrugged. He had long since stopped questioning the wacky belief system they had going on. Little Stiles’ new Disney princess abilities, Claudia’s illness that never started surfacing, all the small things that just went right when they had to…

He was glad he never managed to look through Deaton’s books. He wondered if he might have dug himself into a hole and never gotten out of it again, unable to make even a candle burn. Which he still didn’t know how but he did know how to start a forest fire. It was weird.

He blinked. Oh.

“Did I ever return Deaton’s books to him?”

Peter hid a snort. Badly. “I think he’s still wondering where he placed them,” he said. Stiles grimaced.

“Yikes. Do you think if I sneaked them in that he would notice?”

“Possibly.”

“Ugh.” Stiles turned to Claudia. “You don’t think you could give them to Noah and say you found them in a dumpster or something?” He glanced at little Stiles and added, “Stealing is not the answer, just so you know.”

“I’m not stealing anything!” the kid argued and then grinned. “I borrow them permanently.”

“Stiles,” Claudia said sternly and both versions of Stiles straightened immediately. Her frown turned impish. “Not where people can hear.”

“This from a policeman’s wife,” Peter said, amused. “Even worse, a teacher of the younger generation. Shame on you.”

Claudia pressed her finger over her mouth and shushed him.

“Is Noah working?” Stiles asked.

“We are just about to go get him.” Claudia motioned towards her bags. “His shift at the station is ending in half an hour.”

“We are going ice-skating!” little Stiles said brightly. “Mom made hot chocolate!”

“Well, who am I to keep you?” Stiles bowed and slipped back to Peter’s side. “Tell him I said—”

“Excuse me?”

All four of them turned to where a woman Claudia’s age with brown curls and sweet, tired eyes smiled at them. Next to her, a boy with the same dark curls clung to her hand. Stiles’ heart skipped a beat. “I couldn’t help but hear but do you know where the Sheriff’s station is?”

“Why, yes I do!” Claudia said, extending her hand. “My husband works there. Claudia Stilinski.”

“Melissa McCall,” the woman, Melissa, said, shaking it. “The former colleague of my own husband works there too.”

“He’s not with you?”

Melissa hid her grimace better than Peter had his earlier amusement but it was still there. “He got called in to work. We are thinking about relocating from the San Francisco area and Davidson mentioned Beacon Hills.”

“Not old Reggie?” Claudia clapped her hands. “He never mentions where he’s from! San Francisco, eh? With his accent, I would’ve guessed east coast.”

“We started from that area too, yes,” Melissa said and almost reluctantly elaborated, “We moved to California a year ago but… the city wasn’t for us. When Davidson mentioned Beacon Hills, my husband thought it a… good idea to check out.” She didn’t sound too enthusiastic about it, as if she wasn’t all that pleased with Rafe’s ‘brilliant’ ideas. Stiles could relate. However…

“I’m sure the town will win you over,” he said. “We all love each other, really.”

Peter snorted again and Stiles could hear him mumble ‘now’ to himself. He slammed his elbow into his side. The bastard didn’t even have the grace to wince.

Melissa smiled wanly. “I’m sure. For now we are just going to look around—”

Suddenly Stiles’ sight was distracted by an enthusiastically waving hand. His younger counterpart was eagerly chatting at Scott who was looking more and more overwhelmed by the minute. “…and then there’s the Black Widow! She’s so cool. Almost as cool as Batman. Which reminds me, Batman or Spiderman?”

Scott blinked owlishly. “What?”

“Which do you like better?” little Stiles insisted. “Batman or Spiderman?”

Scott blinked and then answered, a little cautious, “Both?”

Stiles grinned, the gap between his teeth showing.

“You are my new best friend!”

Scott’s expression went blank for a second before he beamed so bright and hopeful Stiles himself felt like he was blinded.

“Well,” Melissa said dryly but the look she aimed at Scott was soft and filled with quiet joy. “Guess the decision’s been made for us.”

Stiles and Peter excused themselves soon after and waved the four of them off towards the station. The moment they sat in their car, Stiles slumped on his seat and wiped his eyes. They stung with unshed tears.

“You did well,” Peter said. His hand was a warm pressure against Stiles’ thigh.

“They are all alright,” he murmured, a little choked. “Oh my god, they are all alright.”

“You knew that already.”

“I know.” Stiles aggressively wiped his eyes on his sleeve and turned to Peter, smile wavering but bright. “But seeing it…”

Peter squeezed his leg once and then started the car. “There is a lot of other things for you to see too. Kate and Julia are waiting for us.”

“Uh-huh,” Stiles bobbed his head. He took a napkin from his pocket and blew his nose. “At the Hale house?”

“Talia insisted. She wanted to see you too before we leave tomorrow.”

“Right. Because she hasn’t had enough of me these past couple of weeks.”

“You’ve grown on her.” He paused. “Like mold.”

“Rude! I’m a weed at the very least.”

Peter took a left turn. He waved at the impatient honker that sped past them with his middle finger. “Considering your ability to flourish in a dumpster fire, I stand corrected.”

“As you should,” Stiles said with the snottiest tone he could muster. They sat there for a moment, quiet, driving amongst the slow lull of traffic now that they were past the immediate centre. The New Year’s Eve had made many of the residents stay at home instead of going for a drive so they were enjoying the peace. Stiles rolled down the window, breathing in the crispy air, before he closed it before the cold could steal away the heat inside.

“It was always Scott’s dream,” Stiles said, finally, breaking the silence. He stared out at the forest getting ever thicker as they turned towards the preserve. “To have peace. For everyone to be, you know, happy. He was willing to do anything for that.”

“Not anything,” Peter pointed out. Stiles snorted, the melancholy breaking a bit.

“Yeah, he didn’t want to kill,” he said. “He got over it somewhat before the end, even if his first instincts were always to negotiate and give leeway where he probably shouldn’t have. But… Sometimes I still wonder…”

“Second guessing never does anything good.” They entered the forest road now, streetlights leaving them for a more natural lighting. With the thinnest coat of snow, their surroundings looked magical. “But I think he would be happy with what you’ve accomplished.”

“Thank you,” Stiles said, smiling. The warmth he felt echoed with the memories etched into his mindscape. He thought of the red eyed wide grin he saw whenever his melancholy threw him into it.

“I like to think so too.”

***

Stiles jumped the last few steps and hugged Kate close. He ruffled her pixie cut, messing the carefully arranged fringe. She swatted at his hands but her attempt at dislocating him was half-hearted at best. “I’ve missed you!” he exclaimed, squeezing her tight. This time she did end up struggling to free herself, one well-placed stab in his stomach causing him to trip back. He’d have fallen without Peter’s reflexes. “Kate!”

The girl ignored his whine as she crossed her arms. “You just saw me four days ago.” Four days was a long time when she spent them in another state, helping out Victoria, but he didn’t manage to voice this before she turned her glare at Peter. “And you!”

Peter smiled kindly at her. It only caused Kate to bristle more. “Me.”

“You are too early!” she barked. “Go away!”

Stiles gasped, laying a hand over his chest. “She doesn’t love me anymore. Peter! Our little girl hates us!”

Julia stepped forward and pressed a hand on Kate’s shoulder. Immediately the girl sagged and rubbed her cheek which, now that Stiles’ attention was brought to it, looked pink and sticky. The reproachful look Julia sent their way made Stiles immediately feel ten times more guilty despite not knowing the reason why.

“I’m sorry,” he still said. “I didn’t mean to… come early?”

“There is medication for that,” Peter said. For some reason he didn’t seem as cowed as Stiles felt. Julia’s hands fell on her hips, making her seem even more disapproving. Stiles wilted but Peter still kept his composure. “And I never said I agreed.”

“It was supposed to be a surprise!” Kate waved his hand at him. Her cheek really was smeared pink. “Now it’s all ruined!”

Peter didn’t let up. “I think we’ve had enough surprises to last a lifetime,” his tone grew stern. “Especially now.”

“But this is different!”

“Is it?”

Julia sighed. Ever the peacekeeper, she pulled Kate with her. “In that case they can help.”

“But Juliaaaa,” Kate whined. Julia only shook her head.

“The element of surprise is already gone. You can’t expect Stiles to go away quietly anymore.”

Stiles, who was itching to go peek from the slightly open doorway, froze on his tiptoes. He sheepishly fell back. “Sorry.”

Kate groaned. She pointed at Peter. “You won’t get any of the cake tonight,” she threatened him. “Not after this stunt.”

“Kate!” Laura called from the inside. “You done yet?”

With one last glare, she shook her fist at Peter and stomped inside. From the way the door creaked on its hinges after hitting the wall, Stiles suspected there would be a mark to commemorate the occasion. He peeked in.

“Well…” he said, eyeing the ‘Happy Semi-Retirement Day!’ banner that hung from the ceiling, just under the ’Happy New Year’s’. “This is certainly better than the ‘We Still Need You For A Year’ party Camila and Araya held for me. The fact that Satomi backed them instead of me still smarts.”

“Any party is better than what Garcia and Calavera can make up,” Talia said from where she was hanging out decorations with Elsa. Peter’s cousin smiled at them and threw tinsel in their direction. The ice queen had finally melted, accepting Stiles and the rest as part of the family. He was pretty happy about that because underneath all that cold and scowl was a truly warm person.

Rather like her namesake. Her hair was even on a similar braid, the only difference being the rich chocolate shade of it instead of the pure platinum from the movie. He couldn’t wait until he could tease her about it.

“Where are the kids?” Peter asked. He obediently tied the tinsel over the doorframe.

“Derek and Samantha took them to the park while Jared and Felicity visit the store.”

“Derek left the house with Julia here?” Stiles piped up. It still amused him how the boy trailed after her like a puppy. Talia clicked her tongue at him.

“Oh shush, let the boy be. He’ll grow out of it.”

Stiles snorted. “Like Ennis?”

The image of the hulking wolf following Julia around like he was a lost puppy was both hilarious and off-putting. The pained look on Talia’s face was worth the displeasure the situation brought him.

“Stop it,” Julia admonished. Stiles startled, her now cat-like silent steps having made him forget she was within hearing distance.

“Sorry,” he said, rubbing the back of his head. She rolled her eyes at him before poking his nose.

“It’s not polite joking about others’ feelings.”

“Sorry, he repeated. Speaking of Ennis— “Have you heard of Kali lately?”

Julia shook her head, no longer surprised at his abrupt subject changes, a small smile playing on her lips. “She’s busy dealing with the death of her aunt. Half the pack thinks she killed her.”

“Didn’t she?” Peter asked dryly. “I thought feeding her turkey drenched in mistletoe and wolfsbane was enough of a clue.”

Julia shrugged. “She was visiting Deucalion in Texas when that happened. Plausible deniability even if she orchestrated it.”

“There was enough dissent that I doubt they’ll look further,” Stiles said, remembering the last time he saw Georgia Steele. She had looked tired and like the bad mood she was in was etched onto her face and never left. They had all heard of the hell Kali had raised when Georgia had refused to join their closest allies at the conference, yelling at her trying to isolate them and weaken their pack because of her bullheadedness. Surprisingly, it was also she who managed to convince Deucalion to give them a second chance. He still had no idea how.

It was a shame that she never did regain her memories of Julia and now probably never would. Still, thanks to the therapy she had gotten and the tentative friendship she had started with the now new Alpha Steele, Julia was in a much better place. She still loved her, that was evident, but there was no longer a bitter edge to it. It rather reminded Stiles of the way he had looked at most of their current friends and allies with, the ‘I know you, you walked with me once upon a dream’ kind of way except far less Disney and romantic.

Except for, well—

“Hey,” Stiles said. “I was also wondering—”

A hand slapped over his mouth and muffled the rest of his sentence. “Let’s get you changed, you little menace,” Peter said. A rogue piece of tinsel was stuck on his shoulder. Stiles took it off and removed Peter’s hand.

“Aye, aye, sir!” he saluted him with the bit of tinsel and let Peter tug him towards the room they were staying at. On their way they saw Kate and Laura decorating what looked like a three or four-tiered cake and shooting frosting at each other while at it. The ensued giggles clearly wiped out Kate’s bad mood. The last thing Stiles saw before he lost sight of them was the flash of longing across Laura’s face.

When they made it to their bedroom and the door closed behind them, Stiles turned towards Peter. In a low voice, just in case, he asked, “Does Kate still have no idea that Laura’s in love with her?”

“It seems to be a theme,” Peter said, shaking his head. “Marcus was the same until Talia hit him with her feelings. She likes to crow on how like a deer caught in the headlights he looked on that day.”

“But it’s been over a year!”

Peter gave him a look. “And how long would it have taken you had you not had help?”

Stiles pouted. “Uncalled for.”

“Let them sort it out themselves. Either Laura will confess or maybe Kate will finally get the hints she’s missed out on. Maybe they will just grow out of it. Who knows?” Peter pulled a pair of black form-fitting jeans and one of the finer shirts from his closet. “Here, put these on.”

“Yes, love,” Stiles sighed. He had given up on trying to dress himself on most celebrations. If he found clothes waiting for him, he had already resigned himself into wearing them instead of the comfortable plaid he still, after all these years, loved. “But thanks. After all this, I… the surprise—”

“I know.” Peter handed him the tie. “That’s why I took you here and not out to eat as they wanted me to. We can go to the kitchen and snag some of the leftovers.”

“Romantic,” Stiles mocked even as he tied it around his neck. “When is the party scheduled to start?”

“In a couple of hours.”

Stiles halted, the knot loose in his hand. “Then why am I getting dressed already?”

“Because I want to see you wear these before I make my decision.” Peter tightened the knot and gave him a once-over. “No, not that shirt. Take it off and try the red one instead.”

“But this is red!”

“It’s the wrong shade. Try the brighter one.”

Stiles looked down at the colour that looked bright enough to him and the almost identical shade Peter held in his hand. He sighed.

“Yes, dear.”

***

The party was at full swing when Stiles made his way to the porch a little drunkenly. He sat down on the steps, groaning at how damp his butt felt immediately. Not long after Peter sat down next to him. Immediately Stiles leaned against him and pressed his head on his shoulder.

“How did you like it?” Peter murmured softly. Stiles sighed, lifting his fourth, fifth? glass of champagne. The punch had probably been a mistake though.

“I love it. I love you. I love life. And freedom. And you. And champagne. And you. Did I say that already? Because I really do love you a lot.”

Peter laughed quietly. It was more a rumble than anything else but it made Stiles relax even more against him. “I love you too.”

They heard a groan behind them, and Kate flopped against the railing. “Hey, Peter, will you do me the honour of becoming my mentor-slash-pseudo-brother-in-law?”

Julia, who had followed Kate out, let out a startled little giggle. Stiles stared at her while Peter snorted.

“Did you just propose to Stiles for me?”

Kate huffed. “Well, someone had to!” she said, crossing her arm. A bit of the punch sloshed on the floor when her glass dipped. “I mean, come on, you are basically married already. Just make it official!”

“Kate!” Julia hissed, embarrassment flushing on her cheeks. “Sorry,” she told them. “I tried to talk her out of it.”

Stiles wanted to laugh it off but he couldn’t make his mouth move from the gape it was in. He felt a hand snap his lax mouth close and turn him towards its owner. Peter’s eyes sparkled with amusement.

“Well?” he said. Stiles spluttered.

“Well?!” he demanded. “Is that supposed to be my proposal? And here I thought—!”

Peter silenced him with a kiss. Stiles heard Kate groan again, only it was cut off quickly with a quiet smack. He felt something being slid on his finger and, when they parted, he saw a simple silver band on his left ring finger.

“I was waiting for the perfect timing,” Peter said sardonically. “But at this point I don’t think it would ever have happened.” Peter moved Stiles’ hand that he still held and raised it to kiss the ring. Stiles stared, transfixed. “Stiles, you know me, past and present. Will you share the future with me too?”

It was simple. For others, it may have sounded too plain to have ever come out from Peter’s mouth. Yet, unlike the rest, Stiles knew the meaning behind the words and there was only one way he could ever answer to that.

“Yes.”

He twined their fingers together as Kate and Julia started cheering, the Hales inside hollering and whistling with them. Stiles felt heat climb on his cheeks but he waved it off with a laugh of his own.

“So,” Stiles grinned. “Now that Peter and I are out of the game, who is next? Kate? Anyone you are fancying?”

“No. Shut up,” Kate said. There was a definite blush on her cheeks that was more than the alcohol she had drunk. His brows raised.

“Oh. I think someone doth protest too much.”

“You don’t know me. You don’t know my life.”

Stiles mockingly raised his glass at her and took a sip. She stuck her tongue at him and downed the rest of hers. The phone in his pocket beeped.

And then it was time.

“Fourteen!” he yelled after hearing someone yell ‘fifteen’ on the inside. Julia stumbled a little in surprise but laughed cheerfully.

“Thirteen!” she answered as Stiles checked his message, laughing at Bobby’s message of ‘Twelve!’ which he delivered for them.

“Eleven!” Kate continued.

And down they counted, one by one, until mere five seconds were left of the old millennia. Peter pulled Stiles closer and he grinned softly in return. When the clock struck midnight and the fireworks crackled and exploded in the sky in many gorgeous arrangements, their mouths found each other, and they kissed one another into the new age.

It wasn’t how Stiles had imagined his life would turn. He barely remembered the first time the century changed yet here he was, seeing it happen again. He hadn’t expected to find a family or love again, not after everything, but he had.

It made his heart soar with how happy he was.

They parted when the cheers faded away and stared at each other. The soft look Stiles saw in Peter’s eyes, he just knew it was reflected in his own as well.

“Come on!” Kate complained behind them. Her arms were on her hips, the image of disapproval, but the delight in which she shone told tales of how high spirits the eighteen-year-old was in, free from the shackles of her family's legacy and the world open for her to explore.

Just like for the rest of them.

Stiles let his gaze wander. In his mind he saw Bobby leaning on the railing, content and peaceful, staring towards the future, his brother’s ghost in the form of a nogitsune next to him. Returning to the present, he noticed Julia smiling back at him, gentle as always; their gaze broke when Kate tugged on Julia's sleeve, excitedly pointing at the sky when a particularly huge flower bloomed in it.

Peter squeezed Stiles hand. Stiles squeezed back.

The rest of his life started now. There was a lot to see, even more to do. The supernatural world was still in the middle of change and their pack would have to start touring more intensely to resolve the lingering conflicts now that his direct responsibilities with the Council had ended and they were all together again. He doubted he would have a peaceful moment until he found himself in his grave; yet he found that he didn’t mind the idea at all.

After all, he was home.