“This is crazy,” said Stiles, looking at the extravagantly decorated gym with slight bafflement. “This place is still standing.”
“Did you seriously think it would magically no longer be here?” asked him Jackson, one raised eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure this school is the oldest building still standing in Beacon Hills.”
“No, that’s actually the bakery in front of Greenberg’s house,” he corrected, still looking around him. “And I’m not sure if I’m impressed, awed or shocked that not only this place is still standing, but it has also not changed in the slightest in the past ten years. It’s insane.”
“Beacon Hills shall keep on Beacon Hills-ing, I guess,” said Isaac, shrugging slightly. “Are we just going to stand here like weirdos while everyone gawks at us? I’m starting to feel self conscious.”
“You? Self conscious? Give me a break,” said Stiles, rolling his eyes.
“I don’t know if it’s the high school rays reflecting on me, but I’m starting to get an urge to find Danny and ditch you two losers,” announced Jackson, smirking at the offended looks they shot him. “But seriously, are we just gonna stand here?”
“Hey guys,” came a voice, and all three men looked up at the voice. “Wow. Haven’t seen you guys in like ten years.”
Jackson and Isaac just stared at him blankly, but Stiles grinned, recalling who he was. “Jared, right? How are you doing?”
“Oh good, you do remember me,” he said, earning amused nods from the two blonds who absolutely did not remember him. “Wow, where have you guys been? And have to say, Stilinski, you look good.”
“Thank you,” preened the brunet, mentally rolling his eyes when he felt Jackson’s possessive arm immediately thrown over his shoulders. “And uh, I ended up going to study abroad. Junior year was... interesting.”
Jared nodded, looking somber. “So many deaths...” He shook his head. “Beacon Hills calmed down a little with the human deaths but the animal deaths remain as weird as they have been. I personally went to...”
Stiles zoned out as he pretended to listed to Jared blabbering on and on about what he had been up to these past decade. Isaac had walked off at some point, though he was most likely still keeping an ear out, and Jackson’s protectiveness meant that he was now stuck ‘listening’ to Jared as well.
It was crazy to think that Stiles had not stepped foot in Beacon Hills for a decade and yet had returned for this reunion thing.
But after Allison’s death... it had been too much. Things had been fucked up since Erica, Heather and Boyd died, but Allison had been the nail on the coffin. Stiles had been unable to take it any longer, and had taken off, not informing anyone of his plans, not even his father.
He had not made it very far before Derek had tracked him down, and while at the time he had been mad, crazed and a little offended, now he was glad for it.
“Drinks?” called out Isaac, interrupting Jared in the middle of his description of what had to be the most boring office job Stiles had ever heard of. “Got the good stuff.”
“Thanks,” said Stiles, only to get his hand batted away when he reached for the orange one that looked fancy. “Hey!”
“Alcoholic,” explained the blond beta, instead handing Stiles a pink one.
Stiles eyed the drink distrustfully. “Was this the only non alcoholic drink present?”
Isaac just smiled at him, handing Jackson the alcoholic drink. “Why are you questioning me with that face? I’d never do something mean to you, Stiles my dear.”
“So...” said Jared, who was, for some reason, still there. Seriously, the entirety of their year group was present, why did he feel the need to stay around them? They barely spoke in high school. “Are you guys together?”
Oh. Now Stiles saw why he felt the need to be around them.
“Nope,” said Isaac, but while his tone was light, and his expression amused, he stood closer to Jackson, who’s arm was still around Stiles’ shoulders. Which was quite useless, considering Stiles was a half head taller than Jackson himself.
Jared looked past Isaac and Jackson and locked eyes with Stiles. “So you’re single?”
It was, quite honestly, an ego booster. Even though he was not the awkward ugly duckling he had been in high school, it was still odd for him to hear someone dismiss Jackson or any of his packmates and ask him out. The werewolves he met no longer did it, but the humans did not have the same senses.
“Married, actually,” said Stiles, waving his right hand, that up until then had been hidden in his pocket, in Jared’s face.
The other’s eyes widened, eyebrows going all the way up to his hairline. “Oh, wow. That’s- I wouldn’t- Congratulations!” he said, and he even sounded genuine. Stiles almost felt bad about how little he had been listening to him as he talked. “Do I know them?”
Stiles cocked his head to the side. “Possibly. But he did not go to school with us.”
“Is it that kind of creepy dude in a leather jacket that was always around you guys?” he asked, innocently enough. It still made Isaac choke on his drink and Jackson snort loudly, finally releasing Stiles’ shoulder.
Stiles wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be offended or laugh at that.
“Derek, yes,” he settled for, shaking his head slightly as he patted Isaac’s back, the werewolf still choking on his drink, and snickered. “Dude. Don’t die on me.”
“It’s just hilarious,” said Jackson, taking Isaac’s drink. The werewolf was really trying hard not to laugh. “Derek was really creepy back then, wasn’t he?”
“He was going through a hard time!” protested Stiles, but his lips were twitching slightly. “He was a kind hearted sweetheart all along, we just couldn’t see it.”
“Derek?” asked Stiles, eyes widened in shock when he walked out of the bathroom of the cafe and found the werewolf just sitting at a table, two mugs of hot drinks in his hands.
Stiles might have considered leaving without drawing attention to himself, but Derek had positioned himself so that he was facing the outside door of the bathroom, and had clearly been waiting for him.
If Stiles ran, Derek would follow. And perhaps some few good Samaritans would try to get between the sad teenager and the slightly older man going after him, but it would have drawn more attention than Stiles wanted on himself at the point.
Derek’s eyebrow rose in silent invitation, and Stiles shook his head, defeated, before dropping on the opposite side of him. The cafe lady seemed completely unaware of them for the time being.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, once he was sat down.
“Tracking you down,” said Derek, as if it was obvious.
It was not. “What for? Well, I don’t actually care. You found me, I’m fine. You can go back now.”
Derek frowned at him as if he thought him stupid. “I’m not going anywhere without you.” He pushed the drink towards him. “Drink.”
Stiles pushed it back, despite how inviting the hot coffee looked. Derek had seemingly managed to order his favourite too, which was impressive. “What the hell do you mean you’re not going away without me? Did dad not get my letter?”
“He did,” said Derek, his face making a complicated expression at that. “At first we thought it was a suicide note, so good job with that.” Stiles cringed, but refused to back down. “Then we realised what it meant, and I came after you.”
“I’m not going back, Derek,” said Stiles, his hold on the table tightening. “I don’t care what you say or think, I’m just not going back. I’m done with Beacon Hills and Scott and him being a true alpha and all of that shit. I’m not going back.”
Derek’s eyebrows were still screaming ‘are you dumb’ at him. “When exactly have I said that I’m taking you back there?”
Stiles stopped for a second. He blinked. “Didn’t... didn’t you just say that you’re not leaving unless I come with you.”
He sighed like Stiles was the one being confusing. “I said I’m not going anywhere without you. I did not say I’m taking you back, or forcing you to come with me. I’m just coming with you.”
Again, Stiles was confused. “You’re... coming with me?” When Derek nodded, slowly, as if Stiles was being slow, he frowned. “I don’t understand. Why would you do that? I didn’t ask you to do that.”
“Do you remember last summer? After Erica and Boyd went missing?”
Did he remember the summer when he realised his vague attraction to Derek had developed into a crush? Yes, he remembered it quite vividly. “What about it?”
“Scott had betrayed me,” Stiles looked away, “And 2 of my betas were missing. I was living with my crazy uncle and a sullen beta who thought the sun shined out of McCall’s ass. And then you came.” Derek tapped his nails on the counter, looking out of the window. “I had no one, and was ready to be as alone as I had been before biting those three again, and you gave me a chance. You refused to let me be alone when I was at one of the lowest points of my life. You were my... anchor.” His face spasmed slightly at those words, and then he turned to Stiles. “Let me be your anchor.”
Stiles wanted to put on a fight, to at least pretend as if he did not immediately buy Derek’s words and take them as face value, but he couldn’t.
If there was one thing Stiles did, it was trusting Derek. Even when he had no reason to, he trusted Derek.
And it had been three days of sleeping in his car and showering in communal restrooms and he had barely made it into Oregon with his jeep.
“I don’t want to go back,” he repeated.
Derek paused for a moment before he moved. He pushed the glass in Stiles’ hand, and pressing his hands around his for a moment. “Then we don’t go back,” he said, as if it would be that easy. “We go forward.”
“Oh, tramezzini,” said Stiles, eyes lighting up at the sandwiches on the food table. Jared had left after a couple more questions were exchanged, leaving the three of them to their devices once more. “What do we have?” he asked, turning to the two betas still around him.
Jackson glared at him. “I feel like this is some form of slavery,” he muttered, even if he took a whiff. “Tuna, egg and olives first tray, prosciutto and cantaulope, cucumber and herb, caprese-”
“Caprese,” immediately said Stiles, reaching out for the small finger sandwich and picking up several. “What do you guys want?”
“We can pick up our own sandwiches,” said Isaac, though he was blushing a little as he did so.
Stiles of course took that as a chance to tease him further. “You know how it is, I’m so used to it at this point. After packing your lunches for so long-”
“It was just the final year, and shut up!” hissed Isaac, while Jackson sneered.
“It was also first year of college, actually-”
“That wasn’t by choice, he put it in my bag before I even noticed!”
“Then why did you eat it? You could have just don't eaten it and then asked him to stop.”
“It would have broken his heart and then Derek would have killed me. Do you want Derek to kill me, Whittemore?”
“I don’t know, might be interesting. Why don’t we try?”
“Children,” huffed Stiles, once he had swallowed a bite of the sandwich. “Can you two relax? Being back in high school doesn’t mean act like high schoolers.”
“And being in your condition doesn’t mean acting like a nagging mom,” said Isaac, which immediately earned him a punch he did not even feel on his shoulder.
“Condition? You are such a prude, just say-”
“Jackson?” came a sudden voice, and both werewolves straightened up at his sides. Stiles felt himself stiffening slightly even as he looked up and made eye contact with one Lydia Martin. “Stiles?!”
She looked a little different from the last time he had seen her. Her hair had been cut short, almost at bob length. She still had that ethereal quality about her that captured so many’s hearts in high school, but it was dulled, somehow. Stiles wouldn’t say she looked worn out, but there was definitely some stress in her that he did not recall it being there.
It was the first time he saw her, since that night.
“What do you want me to say, Stiles?” asked Lydia, staring at him with a hateful look in her eyes.
It was so different from what she always used to look to him like. First, she looked at him like he did not exist. Then, after Scott was bit, she looked at him like he was a daring insect, or a strange puzzle she wasn't sure she was up to starting.
But they had been friends, in the last few months. Real friends. She had been his anchor, while he was looking for a way to save his father. And now she looked at him like she wanted him dead.
His shoulders slumped. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “I just. I’m sorry.”
“I know you are,” she said, and there were tears in her eyes. “But all I see when I look at you is Aiden dying. All I hear when I look at you, is my own scream when Allison died. It was wearing your face. Your face, Stiles.”
“I’m sorry,” he repeated and she shook her head.
“I can’t be around you, Stilinski. Just... please, just go.”
It was weird, seeing her again.
“Lydia,” said Jackson, not smiling at all at his ex-girlfriend.
She looked at Stiles and Isaac, before facing him once more. “I... I didn’t know you were coming back, today.”
Jackson shrugged. “Did not see why I would need to tell you.”
She looked taken aback by his tone and general attitude, and then gave him a pained smile. “I... I guess so.”
Part of Stiles, the part that would always care for Lydia Martin, felt sad at the clear pain in her eyes. The rest of him could not care any less. She had made her stance clear back then, and nothing had truly changed since then except that Stiles had grown up some.
“You guys came together?” she guessed, and this time the question was for Stiles.
Isaac put his arm around Stiles, an action Lydia’s eyes tracked, analysing. “Yes. Problem?”
“You should have asked Scott.”
She actually seemed to believe her own words. Stiles snorted, giving her a look. “If you are Scott’s emissary, then I feel kind of bad for you guys. This is Hale land, Martin.”
“Scott is the Alpha,” she insisted. “Derek lost his Alpha spark and Scott had his, which means the land and Beacon Hills is now his.”
“Yeah, that’s not how any of this work,” drawled Isaac, rolling his eyes at her confused expression. “Beacon Hills will remain Hale land so long as a member of the Hale clan lives on it. Peter never moved away and, like it or not, Malia is Hale blood.”
“They are in Scott’s pack,” she offered, but even she sounded unsure of her own words.
“Deaton has the deet. It says Hale blood, not Hale pack, so it doesn’t matter what pack Malia is part off. And just what makes you think Peter is part of your pack? He doesn’t even like y’all,” scoffed Jackson. “He’s always bitching about you guys whenever we text.”
“Scott told him he was either in the pack or he had to leave Beacon Hills.”
This time it was Stiles who scoffed. “And Scott is the one to go to when talking about how to incorporate a werewolf in your pack isn’t he? Do you even feel a pack bond with Peter?”
Lydia blinked. “A what?”
“Dear god,” said Jackson, looking disappointed. He turned to Stiles. “I am so gad you made it out of this mess.”
“Stiles,” came a sudden voice, and suddenly, it felt as if the entire gym fell silent as Scott appeared in the room, flanked by Kira and Malia.
Stiles climbed out of his car, ignoring the rain as he rushed towards the door of Scott’s house. He did not even have a chance to knock at the door before his mother was opening the door, looking startled when she saw him.
A look that morphed in pity when she realised who he was. “Stiles, honey... hi. I didn’t expect you here.”
Stiles hated the pity in her voice. The way she looked at him, like he was a ticking bomb she was being particularly careful with, for the time being.
He forced a smile that he did not feel on his lips. “Is Scott home?”
She nodded. “Just upstairs.”
The brunet offered her another fleeting smile before he walked inside, climbing back up the stairs and ignoring the still worried look on her face. He didn’t not need her worry.
He just wanted to speak to Scott before he did what he had to do. Before he left. Before he caused any more pain.
Scott would probably try to stop him but Stiles had-
The boy’s greeting fell from his lips when he opened the door of Scott’s room and found four members of the lacrosse team sitting there with him. Scott was in the middle of them with earphones on, but he noticed when everyone looked up and found Stiles standing in the doorway. There was a fleeting look of guilt and wariness on his face, before it was replaced with steadiness.
“Stilinski,” said one of the guys in the room, Rodriguez. “Didn’t know you were coming as well. Did you bring something to drink?”
“No,” said both Scott and Stiles at the same time, and the human of the two pretended his eyes did not immediately start stinging at the assertiveness in Scott’s voice.
The werewolf gave the lacrosse players a quick grin, as he stood up. “He just brought me a thing. Be right back guys.”
Stiles felt a little numb as Scott pulled him away from the door and closed it carefully behind them, but he was still the first to speak. “You said you didn’t have time to talk to me when I called.”
Scott huffed. “Look, Stiles, I was busy, okay? The guys noticed I wasn’t at my best after the whole... you thing, and the Allison thing, and have been cheering me up.”
The whole ‘you thing’.
“You could have told me,” said Stiles, but his voice came out hollow. “I just wanted to speak to you about-”
“I know what you want to speak to me about, but honestly, Stiles? What do you expect me to do?” He looked frustrated. “You did not kill Allison but you basically did. You stabbed me, even though you didn’t. I can’t be around you.”
“Just go,” said the other boy, sighing. “I just can’t deal with you, on top of everything. I can’t be your friend, and I can’t be your best friend in particular. Give me some breathing room, dude.”
Stiles felt the tears growing in his eyes, but what had he really expected? Of course Scott couldn’t deal with him. Of course Scott did not want him around.
If Stiles had just thought of leaving before, had been even the slightest unsure, he was sure now.
There was no place for him in Beacon Hills.
Especially if Scott, werewolf Alpha extraordinaire, could smell his emotions and his heartbreak and his pain, and still did not stop him as Stiles quietly turned around and climbed back down the stairs.
Even his father would be better off without him.
“Stiles,” repeated Scott, when Stiles just looked at him. “You’re back.”
Stiles could feel everyone in the gym watching, waiting, expecting.
All their lives, Scott and Stiles had been that duo. They were inseparable, brothers, best friend or boyfriends, depending who around the school you asked.
Then Sophomore year, and then Junior Year, and suddenly, from the point of view of everyone else, something fell apart. Suddenly it was no longer Scott & Stiles. Suddenly Scott’s ex girlfriend was dead, and Stiles had disappeared for days. Suddenly Lydia was avoiding him like the plague, and Malia and Kira went with the redhead - though they did not shun him. Suddenly Ethan looked like he wanted Stiles dead all the time, and Scott?
Scott no longer spoke to him. No longer sat beside him. Ignored him as best as he could. Suddenly there was Scott (and all of his friends). And then there was Stiles.
No one had known what had happened for sure, but there had been whispers. About Stiles going psycho and killing Allison. About Lydia, Scott and that whole group seeing the crime. About Stiles avoiding jail time by being the son of the Sheriff.
And now, for the first time in years, they were once more face to face and looking at each other in the eye.
Obviously no one wanted to miss that.
“You’re back,” said Scott, offering him a smile.
Stiles did not smile back, and he knew it had to be jarring.
While he still looked like Stiles, he had clearly changed in the past decade. His hair was just a tad longer than it had been back then. He had slightly filled out, his limbs no longer lanky and gangly around him. He was just a bit taller.
He was also dressed pretty sharply, in a black on black shirt and trousers combo. He was not wearing a tie like Jackson, but he still looked pretty expensive. And the red pendant around his neck perfectly matched the ruby tie Jackson was wearing and the cufflinks and earring combo Isaac was wearing.
So yes, it was Stiles. But an older and slightly more intimidating version of the boy they had known since Middle school.
Scott’s smile faltered. “Uh... You okay?”
“You know, I wondered,” said Stiles eventually. “For a while, when I decided to come here, I wondered how it would go. And this is exactly how I thought it would go.” He turned to Jackson, who was glaring at Scott as if he wanted to jump him. “Cora was right. This is boring. Let’s go.”
Both werewolves moved as one, ignoring the splutter of surprise and indignation coming from the other pack.
They had just made it outside and were walking towards the cars when Scott - and the three girls - caught up with them.
“Hold on!” shouted the werewolf, and Stiles sighed as loudly and aggravatedly as possible before turning around.
“What’s your problem, dude?” asked Scott, looking irritated. “You’re the one who left and now suddenly come back smelling weird with two other weres who left. I’m the one who should be mad!”
“Are you serious?” asked Isaac, taking one step towards him.
Scott looked equally surprised at Isaac’s anger as he had been at Stiles’... everything.
“Isaac, what is your problem?” demanded Scott. “Why are you so mad at me?”
“Isaac-” tried Stiles, but the blond had moved towards Scott, not even cowering at Malia’s low threatening growl.
“My problem is, McCall, is that you have some fucking balls after everything you did, to act as if nothing is a problem,” he said, eyes angry but not flashing. “You have some guts, I have to say, acting like you’re god’s gift to Earth after all the bridges you have burned.”
“Stiles and Derek had been at your side since the fucking beginning,” he said. “That’s something no one will argue with because it’s literally the truth. Since the beginning those two have been at your side, protecting you and making the hard choices so that you didn’t have to. You used Derek, used his body as if it was nothing, stole something from him that he treasured - the bite in case you were confused - just to act all mighty and say that you aren’t his pack. After everything he did to protect you when Peter was hunting you down.”
He wasn’t speaking loudly enough for the humans who were at the windows to hear him, but even they could tell he was very mad.
“He told you about his family burning to death because of the Argents and all your self absorbed ass could say was that ‘maybe they did something to warrant it’ just because you loved Allison.”
“You loved her too!” said Scott, and Isaac sneered.
“I had a crush on her, and then I got over it. She might have become a better huntress and a better person, but she wasn’t an angel and I can admit it. Can you?"
Scott reared back as if slapped.
“But let’s not forget Stiles. Stiles who was the best friend you could have asked for. Who protected you from yourself when you became a werewolf, who lied for you to his father for an entire year to cover for your secret, who nearly lost his relationship with his father because of how much he cared for you.
“Who you let down over and over, and still, he wouldn't leave you. He supported you. And then when he was at his lowest - a lowest you did not even fucking notice - when a demon took over him and almost killed him, you kicked him out of the pack. You blamed him for Allison’s death even though you knew, you knew, he had not done it on purpose. When you thought you had killed that bus driver, Stiles was at your side, ready to prove to you that it wasn’t true, that you’d never. And when it came to him, boom, suddenly it’s apples and oranges.
“My problem with you Scott fucking McCall, is that you had everything. You could have had it all, but instead you threw it all away and for what. For what?” He shook his head, disgusted. “You could have had it all, and instead look at you. You’re a nobody.”
“I’m a true alpha!” shouted Scott, eyes flashing red.
Isaac’s eyes remained their natural colour, not at all intimidated by the show of power. “You are an alpha without a land who is not even able to feel the pack bonds to his supposed pack. Even at the beginning, when Derek was the shittiest alpha in existence, we knew about pack bonds and could feel it with him.”
“Shittiest alpha in existence?” asked a voice, and they all turned around to see Derek walking towards them, Cora at his side. Peter strolled casually behind him, a small something in his arms. “Is this what you say about me when I’m not around?”
“Derek!” said Scott, looking shocked. Then he glared. “What are you doing here? This is no longer your land.”
Derek stared at him before turning to Stiles. “Is he for real?”
“Apparently Lydia is not quite as smart as she think she is,” said Jackson, rolling his eyes. “And apparently he thought Peter was in his pack just because he said yes to the question.”
Peter shrugged when everyone turned to him, shifting the weight in his arms. “He literally just said “if you’re not in my pack, you’ll have to leave my territory”. I said okay, and never heard anything more about it since.” He moved towards Stiles. “Here.”
The brunet immediately lit up, carefully balancing the little girl in his arm. “Since when is she asleep?” he asked, sparing no attention to the gaping pack - and the other ex students at the window.
Derek checked his watch. “About half an hour. She was looking for you, so I just kept going around the block.”
“Aw, my baby,” he cooed, patting the sleeping girl’s cheek. She shifted slightly and nuzzled against his chest but didn’t wake. “Okay, let’s go, this thing was boring as hell.”
“What? Wait, who even is that?!” demanded Scott. He took a step forward and suddenly there was a wall of growling wolves between him and Stiles, with Derek in front eyes flashing red for a second.
Scott took several steps back, shocked by the animosity, and Malia’s bared her neck without even seeming to realise it. Kira and Lydia remained wary behind him.
“Do not even think for a second to go anywhere near my mate or my daughter,” said Derek, eyes intense despite having returned to their natural colour. “Or I will rip your throat out, McCall.”
The true alpha gaped. “Mate?”
This time it was Lydia who spoke. “Stiles was not really hiding that ring on his finger,” she said. “And even I can sense their bond. Use your werewolf senses.”
“Ring- You’re married?!”
“Jesus, will you keep your voice down?” hissed Stiles. He could handle himself without all the werewolves, of course, but it was sweet of them of getting in the middle. Useless. But sweet. “She wakes up and I will your throat with my bare hands myself, I swear.”
“He’s not a werewolf, but I am pretty sure he could do it,” added Peter, looking at him thoughtfully.
“And you let Peter handle your... your daughter?” he sounded disgusted, and no one missed the glare Malia sent him for that.
Cora scoffed. “I’d trust Peter and Deaton together with my niece before I trust you or anyone in your pack.” She tilted her head slightly. “Except for Kira. Derek thinks she’s pretty nifty.”
“Nifty?” asked Stiles, earning a glare from his husband.
“Shut up?!” gasped Stiles, keeping his voice low. “Iz, Jax, Corrie, did you hear what he said to me? Are you gonna let him get away with that?”
“Oh hell no, last time I took a side in you guys’ war, I didn’t get breakfast for a week,” scoffed Isaac, moving towards Cora. “Come on, let’s go. I’ll order, Derek’s paying.”
“Get a pack, they said. It will be fun, they said. They’ll listen to you, they said,” complained Derek, giving his back to Scott and putting an arm around Stiles.
“You’re wrong, they listen to me. Does that make me the real Alpha?”
“Unquestionably,” said Peter, snickering at the look Derek shot him.
“Wait, Stiles!” called out Scott, as he became aware of everyone walking away from his and his pack.
Malia grabbed his arm before he could go after them, though, shaking her head. “You think they’re joking? Stiles is the Luna, the Alpha’s mate. He’s holding and carrying the Alpha’s baby. They will literally dismember you if they think you pose a threat to Stiles.”
Scott was confused enough by her words that he didn’t give chase.
Instead he stared after them, a little lost.
Stiles did not once look back.
Stiles was happy. He had a beautiful husband, a delightful daughter and a bun in the oven. He had a loving pack around him, and his father alongside him.
He did not need anything else.