The sensation woke Derek. He found himself looking up at a ceiling that was definitely not the one in his bedroom. He blinked a few times and decided that no, he wasn’t dreaming, and that yes it had finally happened. His Mate had finally reached the Age of Wisdom. He hoped that in the case of the person he’d likely be bound to for the rest of his life that the whole Wisdom thing was an actuality, not just a platitude.
He should probably do the right thing and take himself someplace to make their Awakening easier. Instead, heavy with sleep and the idea that his life was about to be irrevocably changed, even if it was likely for the better, he shut his eyes and hoped for a little more rest.
Stiles liked working with his father, usually. Today, though, today it simply meant that hiding what he was trying to hide was that much more difficult.
At five-twenty seven that morning he’d felt the buzz that everyone said happened when your soul connection Awakened. He’d heard the stories over and over again from his friends; calling it one’s Age of Wisdom really was, in Stiles’ opinion, a stupidly absurd misnomer. He had classmates who’d Buzzed, sorry, Awakened, when they were in Junior High. He was the last to experience it. Well, excluding Kira. But, she was going to live several hundred years and it made sense that her SoulHalf might not even be alive yet.
He breathed in to focus himself back on the task at hand — the pile of folded To-The-Householder notices wouldn’t make it into envelopes on their own — and wondered who the hell had sprung for decent coffee. He turned his head, but no one he could see had anything but regular, old station mugs on their desks. Stiles could smell caramel and coconut though, as well as rich, dark coffee and chocolate. He shook his head. The whole Age of Wisdom thing was obviously preying on his mind a little more than he’d thought it might.
It was ten past ten in the morning, that meant that his Awakening had been happening for nearly five hours. He was still to catch sight of anything from his SoulHalf, though. He’d worried that the person was blind, but a quick Google told him that he’d still experience whatever was coming into their retinas, or in cases where there was nothing to get that far, he’d have patches of what he’d consider complete darkness. He hadn't experienced either of those things. Google confirmed that the rest of his symptoms — elevated heart rate, a buzzing in the back of his head that didn’t want to go away, the desire to eat anything and everything that he could get his hands on — were all textbook examples of the Awakening.
There was only one logical conclusion: Stiles Stilinski, twenty-three years old and the latest bloomer he’d ever heard of, was not only tardy, but also defective.
He looked back at the pile of upside-down envelopes and tried very hard not to seem as if his world was cracking and crumbling from the inside out.
Paperwork wasn’t Stiles’ favorite thing in the world, but he didn’t hate it as much as Michaels or Parrish did, so he often managed to swap out things he’d rather avoid for their share. Requisition orders were the driest of the dry. He was very, very glad today to have arranged to avoid manning the speed-trap in favor of riding a desk, though.
The desk was stable and safe and even if he didn’t want to attract his dad’s attention, it was nice to know that he was on the other side of the wall. Stiles hadn’t had a panic attack for several years, and he no longer carried Xanax just in case. His dad’s arms wrapped around his torso would be pretty much the best medication he could muster at this point, if needs be.
His stomach growled. It was his turn to buy lunch, and he thought about springing for a burger and milkshake for him and his dad, but presenting his old man with a heart-attack-to-go would just draw attention to the fact that there was something going on. Subway was boring, but they had vaguely healthy options so it would have to do. He stood up and grabbed his jacket and patted his pockets for his wallet. He pulled out his phone to look at his texts as he walked. He smiled at a photo Alison had sent — Scott on his back on the floor of their apartment, in Beta-shift with claws and fangs and sideburns, being bested in combat by the five kittens they were currently fostering.
Stiles looked up to make sure he didn’t collide with anyone going through the front door of the station, and suddenly had an urge to go back and grab his car-keys so he could head over to get lunch from the Tandoori Palace over on 6th. His dad, despite the original protests he’d made, had decided that Indian food was something that should happen more often, and Stiles was the one who’d pushed him into it, so it wasn’t as if they wouldn’t both enjoy it. But, and Stiles shook his head at himself as he walked down the steps. He didn’t even know if they were open for lunch.
He waved at Parrish through the back window of the cruiser as he and Michaels pulled in, and wondered again at his own state of mind. He wanted curry so bad he could almost smell it. But, he’d go to Subway, get his dad something almost wholesome, himself something decadent like a pizza-sub, and a big bag of cookies for everyone else. Even if his day was shit, it didn’t mean everyone else’s had to be too.
The cookies were a hit mostly because they were portable. Everyone but Stiles dropped everything and rushed off to deal with the six car pile up out on the highway just after he got back. His dad swallowed his turkey and salad sub in two or three bites and cursed the fact that they didn’t have any coffee fresh for his flask.
Stiles sat behind the counter, answering the phones and finally managing to get the last of the report done on the string of plant-thefts they’d solved the week before. He opened the little drawer to get the date stamp and ink pad and almost fell off the stool because of the wave of Christmas-Roses-Vanilla-Pina colada-Patchouli that assaulted his nose.
Yeah, okay. That wasn’t normal.
He situated himself on his two feet, off the stool just in case, and bent down to look inside the drawer.
Date stamp. Ink pad. A handful of out of date food-delivery brochures. Four rubber bands, one snapped. A mostly empty pack of throat lozenges with the blister pierced on the last remaining one so the candy inside was soft and icky.
Nothing that smelled like the inside of a… He had no idea what he’d just smelled. He closed his eyes and hoped that he hadn’t Googled the wrong thing that morning. Perhaps it wasn’t his SoulHalf’s body that he should have been worried about. Brain tumors could cause olfactory hallucinations, couldn’t they?
Stiles pulled the stool back over to him and just as he put his butt on the seat… That was apples and cinnamon he could smell. He was alone, though, so there was no way to waive it off as something someone was eating. He took another breath and it was gone.
He sat and counted all his fingers and toes three times over, and resisted picking up the radio, or his phone, to call his dad.
Closing the draw smelled like next-door’s jasmine on a hot summer night. Picking up the draft roster for the following two weeks smelled like Mrs Jacob’s gardenias. Standing up and turning to walk out to the back room so he could have his break down without passers-by noticing smelled like chocolate.
He leaned up against the back of the wall behind the counter and rolled himself so he had one cheek pressed into the brickwork, which smelled like… It didn’t smell like actual vanilla, just like the chocolate hadn't smelled like actual chocolate. The difference was so obvious now that he focused on it. The scents were more like lip gloss or room-sprays or freaking candles.
The air went out of his lungs and he managed to twist just in time to make sure he slid down the upright against his back instead of his face. He traced the edge of the star of the old Beacon County Sheriff’s Crest on the far wall with his eyes to help him focus.
He stuck his hand in his pocket and struggled with his phone and swore and kicked and was very, very glad there was no one in the place to see him flopping about on the floor like a fish as he tried to not rip his pants to extract the handset.
Stiles opened the phone and hovered his finger just before he pressed dial for Scott. But, Scott got bitten months and months after he Buzzed for Alison; he wouldn’t know the answer to this. Stiles scrolled up and found the entry for Ito in his contacts and breathed in — Banana Cream Pie, the candle-scent half the girls in his and Scott’s graduating class stank like after long study sessions — and hit call.
“Mr Stilinski, good afternoon.”
“Good afternoon, Alpha Ito. I was wondering if I could ask you a question? It seems a little strange to me, but I’m hoping it’s perfectly normal to you.”
“Itsumo omoshiroi. Of course, Stiles, but please, call me Satomi.”
He ignored the Japanese comment, nodded to himself and got a nose full of something that was definitely no longer from inside Yankee Candle. It smelled more like Macdonalds.
“Yes, Satomi. I.” He huffed out and hoped she wasn’t offended by his exasperation. “When a Werewolf goes through their Awakening, is sight the sense that they share with their SoulHalf? Or is it something more…” Stiles swallowed the phrase wolfy, and hoped Satomi didn’t hear it in his tone anyway.
There was a pause, quite possibly she’d covered the receiver so that she could swear at him or laugh at him in private, and then she said, voice warmer than he’d ever heard it, “Congratulations, Stiles. You’re scenting what your SoulHalf if experiencing, I assume?”
Stiles’ shoulders suddenly felt far less like metal beams. “They had curry for lunch and are currently trying to find a present for someone at Yankee Candle.”
The old Alpha chuckled. “Your Mate isn’t shopping, Stiles, they’re trying to show you where they are. Unless another one has opened in the last month or two, I’m fairly sure there is only one Indian restaurant in a fifty mile radius of us. Tell me, if you were trying to signpost your SoulMatch you’d go to a local landmark, would you not?” Stiles made an agreeing noise and nodded, even though Satomi couldn’t see him. “It would be somewhere you could meet the person on fairly equal ground, but in public, so it’s not all too much, too soon. Your Mate is doing the same. They know you are human because they’re getting flashes of sight, and they’re trying to call you out to meet them, in the most obviously or obnoxiously scented spots they can imagine. We do tend to underestimate your sense of smell, after all.”
Stiles breathed in and out and all there was right now was what he should be able to smell while sitting on the floor in a small town Sheriff’s Station. “I. I can’t smell any of that right now, though. Do you think,” it was an absurd idea, people didn't just walk away from their SoulHalf, but, “do think I pissed them off by being slow to understand and they’ve given up?”
Satomi’s Alpha tone was evident on the phone in the way that Scott’s never managed to be. “You are worthy, Stiles. They have been waiting for you, and they will be happy with you. Born ‘Wolves live longer than humans, so we generally reach our Age of Wisdom later. You’ve aligned with them because you are their Mate. I had my suspicions about you being matched with someone not quite human, and I’m glad I was correct. You finding out about the supernatural was not just about Scott.” The front door-chime sounded on the Station and Stiles managed to stand up with his phone to his ear and without doing anything that would bruise him. “You should get back to work, Mr Stilinski. Breathe slowly, and don’t forget what I just told you.”
Stiles meant to say thank you, but when he turned around he was face to face with the most beautiful person he’d ever seen. The man’s eyes glowed red, and Stiles wondered if the guy realized he was flashing his not-humanness to the world. The ‘wolf’s gaze flicked down to Stiles’ name tag and then back up to his face, via his neck.
Well, that would certainly clear the supernatural-elephant out of the room pretty quickly. Stiles smiled and tipped his head sideways and then there was an Alpha ‘wolf, his very own Alpha ‘wolf, pressing his face into Stiles’ throat and dragging long, full breaths into his lungs.
Stiles wanted to ask what the guy’s name was, but decided it could wait; the Buzz was gone and he could enjoy this quite happily.