Stiles has his first accidental jump when he’s four. He wakes up in the middle of the night from a nightmare he can't remember and before he can get up to find his mom he’s in a dark, black tunnel and he’s terrified. He just runs as fast as his short kid legs can carry him and he finds himself in a town with dirty, slumping buildings. The roads are dirt and there aren’t any cars, but there are quite a few horses.
He wanders around for a while. There are whole lot less people, less buildings and more trees, but it’s still Beacon Hills. It's a sleepy town that doesn't really change.
He’s back in his bed after he finds the tunnel again. It’s still night but Stiles can’t really tell time yet so he isn’t sure if time had passed. He assumes it’s a nightmare and goes to find his mom.
He starts to realize two things about this when he’s eight. First is that they aren’t nightmares, they’re real, and he can do it on demand. (Though his ADHD sure isn’t helped with the ability to go back in time and come back with nothing changing.) The second is that nobody else can do what he can. He’s talked to Scott about it without right out saying what he can do, stuff like “Wouldn’t it be cool if time travel existed?” and by Scott’s reaction of that being “Really cool!” Stiles has to assume that Scott has never been on a tunnel trip himself, and since Scott is the normal to end all normal (in a good, nice way) Stiles has to assume this applies to everyone.
He does experiments. He can’t go to anything in his own lifetime. He can’t go into the future until eighty years have passed, which he assumes is when he dies or couple years before or after. (He doesn’t like going into the future. It gives him a headache and there’s a lot of pollution.) He can’t go back before late ancient Greece. He can travel from country to country. He doesn’t age in the modern world. (He’s spent six months in late eighteenth century America and he grew two inches there, but when he got back he was still twelve, still short, and still in seventh grade English.) He can take things back and forth, but people can’t see things like technology when he takes it back. He can keep things in the tunnel. (Which is where he keeps old money that he gets from doing small jobs in the past and selling things that were expensive back then but cheap-ish now, like salt, spices, lace and silk/fake silk.)
He learns everything he can about History to the point that everything in school is boring and he never has to study. He thinks that everybody would have a hundred in History if they had the hands on experience he did. He learns to avoid wars and plagues, because then he’s tempted to save a life, and while that doesn’t affect him, it’s rule he has because that can fuck some shit up. He gets a really plain shirt and pants that he wears when he doesn’t have clothes from that time period.
His mom dies when he’s thirteen, and when she tells him “I love you,” for what, deep down, he knows is the last time, he jumps so he can stall. He’s goes to early early twentieth century England, before World War I starts, and he stays there for five years. Because in those five years his mother is still alive.
He comes back when he turns eighteen, and he’s still in the body of a thirteen year old. His mother is nodding off into death and his father has one soft grip on her hand and one death grip on his own.
Stiles hates himself for not being able to travel within his own lifetime.
People say he’s grown up a lot after his mother death. They have no idea. He’s mentally an adult, if a spastic one. Sometimes he has to force himself to do stupid young teen boy things. Just to keep himself from going mad. He’s still a kid, but he’s an adult, and if that doesn’t make him confused he doesn’t know what does.
Stiles wonders if he’ll live forever, or functionally so. If, when he’s reaching his forties, he’ll start going back in time for decades, then comes back as he’s just about to die, decades younger. It seems like cheating the system, but Stiles knows that it's something he would do.
He considers starting early, but he decides after a while that going back in time for a few weeks makes it pretty hard to remember what going on in school. By freshman year he decides that he can’t tunnel trip during school (unless he takes his papers back to cram for a test for a few hours, or do homework he was too lazy to do before) and he can’t stay there for more than a day unless it’s the weekend.
God, he’s getting old.
When he’s fifteen (physically, he hasn’t even kept track of mentally in a long time, it scares him), he meets his first set of witches in 19th century France. They surround him and say that he’s got a pretty spark about him, that he’s got so many life threads hanging around him it’s irregular. He hangs out with them for awhile. They joke about normal people. He tells him crazy stories about televisions and him fucking around with Nikola Tesla. They teach him runes, which work, but he can’t master spells. They say they can transfer his power of time into magic, and he considers it. It might be better. He’d be stronger. But he says no, because this is his entire world now. It always has been.
They tell him about trolls, goblins, ghouls, werewolves and the fey. After himself, it’s not that hard to believe. He’s glad that he isn’t a freak, or if he is, he has plenty of company.
They part ways and tell him to visit, but he goes back two weeks later, ten years for them, and he can’t find them. They’ve vanished. Not burned at the stake, but just gone. He writes a note and hands it to their neighbor, and says if he sees them to give it to them. The man nods, since Stiles gave him half a fortune for the times, but he looks confused himself and Stiles wonders if the witches mastered tunnel jumping, or possibly inter-dimensional travel. Which Stiles hasn’t tried, and he really doesn’t want to.
He doesn’t try again for a long time.
(At this point Stiles can speak a few too many languages, though poorly, but if he’s going to be around France all the time, he has to speak the language. English, especially in France, is by no means universal.)
(Stiles may not keep track of how mentally old he is but he never loses track of the people he’s seen die of illness, or killed.)
Stiles starts to write everything down two months before Scott enters the world of freaky with him. It’s his own personal manifesto and at this point it’s practically writing itself. There are just so many things to say. So he starts with the five years between his mother's last two breaths.
(He’s almost to a hundred thousand words by the time Scott gets bitten. Stiles breaks his rule, and during lunch on the second day of school Stiles time jumps until he find a pack of werewolves and just tries to get as much information he can. It’s the sixties, and they’re more hippy than any hippy of the times. They are so intertwined with nature Stiles just learns from them. They call themselves the Hale pack, and they’re strong and huge.)
(It breaks his heart when he comes back home and realizes that they’re all dead.)
(He considers breaking another rule. Save their lives. Just stop that fire from ever happening. He stays up the entire night that night and makes a Pros & Cons list. The result is inconclusive.)
Apparently his scent, like his age, doesn’t cross over from the past to the future. That, or people try and ignore that he smells like sixteenth century Spain on Sundays.
Stiles stops tunnel jumping for awhile. He still goes once a week, but it’s a trip, not a month or two. He’s too preoccupied. When he finds out the Peter is the one who killed all those people, Stiles considers going back in time and killing him. There wouldn’t be any evidence, how could Stiles kill someone before being born? Stiles wonders if killing would count in his ‘no saving lives’ rule.
But then there’s that philosophy of something worse happening instead of what actually happened if those things hadn’t happened at all.
(The Pros & Cons list is again inconclusive. So he just avoids Peter Hale whenever he goes back in semi-recent times, because hell Stiles might go crazy if he sees not-yet-crazy Peter.)
(He switches favorite time periods and places like some people change favorite colors and numbers. He feels really guilty when he switches from Paris, France to Verona, Italy.)
By the time the Alpha Pack comes along, Stiles has met with more dangerous foes in both modern day and past, but mostly past. Stiles has dangerous friends in old places. But the Alpha Pack becomes a worse and worse threat the more he learns about them.
Stiles practices things. Jumping back in time and then landing in a different place than he first started. Same age, different area. It’s four feet at the best and he has to nearly break a blood vessel, but hell if he doesn’t know it’ll be useful. It’s literal teleportation, and if he gets stuck in a sticky situation he can grab a sword, wolfsbane or mountain ash from his tunnel and badass it up.
The pack doesn’t know what he can do. Stiles doesn’t want to tell them. It’s weird, it makes him feel gross inside when he thinks about the people he could have saved (The Hales, for one) or the people he couldn’t (his mother.) He can’t do anything with it, hardly, except get in perfect condition antiques that he sells instead of getting a job.
He has to pay for his Macy’s Lydia budget somehow, but that drops suddenly Junior year when he and Lydia become friends. Actual friends, no pining involved towards the other. Stiles knows why he loved Lydia, she was smart and beautiful and amazingly badass, but he doesn’t know why he loved her like that. When he gets to know her it’s more platonic than anything he has ever felt, except for concerning Scott. She’s his sister now, and sometimes he brings her back vintage Dior trinkets and she just stares and him and he shrugs.
(They joke a lot about how they should be sworn enemies because Stiles is a History buff and Lydia is a Math genius so by nature they are at opposite sides of the spectrum.)
(Eventually Stiles thinks - oh - the witches did find a way to travel in time. They found a way to be reborn. Because while Lydia may not remember, Stiles does, the head of the coven that looked nothing like Lydia but was just as amazing. And Stiles understands why he fell in love with Lydia. It makes his mind hurt. Lydia isn’t a witch now, but she knows how to bend the chemicals and equations of the universe to her own gain, and is Stiles’ opinion, that’s pure magic.)
Then comes Senior year, and everything has nearly settled after a lot of pain. Nobody knows that Stiles can do what he does. He still doesn’t want them to know. While he loves being able to do this, compared to supernatural speed, strength, hearing and smell, it’s lame as all fuck. And this is still his thing. It’s been his thing for a lifetime, a literal lifetime. He still doesn’t keep track of how many years he’s lived mentally.
(When he’s eighteen and still in high school his tunnel jumping manifesto is professionally published as a novel, and it hits the New York Times bestseller list. It’s under his first two real initials and his mother’s maiden name as his last. The names are changed and Stiles messes around with the genders, Scott is a girl in it, and physiology of most of the supernatural beings, but all of the rest stays the same. There isn’t a picture of him in the back of the book, and he doesn’t go in for television interviews, because he’s slightly exposed the supernatural to the world and he knows he won’t get off scot-free if some angry supernaturals find out who he is.)
When it’s all said and done, Stiles is set to go to Yale and Lydia is headed for MIT. Lydia and he are tied in GPA, but she’s Valedictorian because her SAT score was slightly higher. (Again, History buff and Math nerd.) At Yale Stiles plans to double major in Criminology and Psychology. (He would Major in History, but it would bore him to death. Stiles has seen history unbiased by History books. Classes on it now make him want to vomit.) Jackson is way below them with a 4.0, but he’s rich, werewolf athletic and going to Harvard to be with Lydia. After all these years they’re still sickeningly together and, while Stiles doesn’t hate Jackson nearly as much, Stiles tries to avoid it as much as possible.
Scott is set to go to California State, because while Scott finished with a C- average and a terrible SAT score, his athletic skills saved him from Community colleges laughing in his face. Allison is going with him, because they are totally the type that are going to end up eloping right after graduation. The rest of the pack (except Derek) have a bet going on. He says five hours at most, because while he hates going in the future he does, and he’s totally checked out their marriage records.
(Easy money. Though the future still makes him vomit.)
Erica isn’t going to college, because she’s planning to buy a small boutique once she saves up enough, so she can have a store full of black, badass clothes. Boyd is going to go to a liberal arts college with no more than one thousand students and a great arts program. (He’s planning on becoming an art teacher. No wonder he and Erica work well together. They’re both really creative.)
Isaac is going Pre-Med at California state, because as he grows as a person he just wants to take pains away from the world. He and Danny click better than two people ever could, and they start dating two weeks into Senior year. Danny was going to go to Berkeley with a Computer Science major, but he was recruited by the CIA due to his skills in technology.
(Stiles is never going to tell Danny that eighty years from now Mahealani Tech is pretty much going to be a world power when it comes to technology. Danny is nice and all, but no one would be able to handle an ego boost the big. It might end up with an aneurysm.)
(He’s seen one hundred and four people die now. And not all of them are from the past.)
The pack graduation party is cozy if nothing else. Stiles is going to be separated from everyone now. Scott has Isaac and Allison. Jackson and Lydia have each other. Boyd has Erica. Stiles has to wonder if this is a friendship thing, a pack thing or a love thing. Stiles is going it alone. He’s been going it alone for awhile now. At this point there should be no secrets among the pack, but there are.
It isn’t that Stiles thinks that they will all hate him after this. They might get angry that he never told them, but they won’t hate him exactly. Stiles doesn’t know why he’s so reluctant to tell people. He’s never told anyone in this time period before outside of a fiction series that’s being optioned for a movie.
Not his mother. Not his father. Not Scott, and not even Lydia.
So Pack graduation night. That the night he plans on telling for two months ahead, even before the date is set.
Stiles stopped drinking when he was seventeen because really he was courting with alcoholism concerning how his father and grandparents treat the substance. But he thinks about taking a swig of whiskey before opening his big mouth and blurting out everything he’s kept locked up and hidden for years and year (decades, Stiles is pretty sure at this point. But he still tried not to think about it. He knows he over twenty, knows that he turned eighteen when he was thirteen. But he tries to ignore it as much as possible.) But Lydia would stop him from drinking. She’s that kind of good friend who tells you what you don’t want to hear, and Stiles is lucky that almost all of his friends are like that.
“So,” Stiles starts conversationally, “What do you all think about time travel?”
And everybody just groans.
“Seriously,” Jackson says, “Can we go one day without one of your pointless rants,”
Stiles considers just not telling them out of spite, but he’s known them for too long to keep lying about who he is. Because time travel isn’t a hobby he has on weekends. It’s his entire identity, well, along with werewolves and curly fries.
“So, friends of mine, werewolves, humans and hunters, I would like to divulge a secret upon all of you for which you shall never look at-”
“Stiles, stop stalling,” Lydia says, but she looks as worried as any Lydia can.
“I can time travel?” He says it all in one rush of breath, but they’re used to nervous Stiles, and they know how to decipher anything that comes out of his mouth by this point. Everyone just looks at him. They glare (Derek) or they’re shocked beyond belief.
“Tell me he’s lying,” Allison stage-whispers to Scott, but Scott shakes his head.
“Well,” Stiles says, and he considers going to twelfth century something for eight years, just to delay the backlash.
“What do you mean?” Derek asks, and everybody else looks generally confused.
“Are we talking, Doctor Who here?” Lydia asks, and bless her heart for that being the first thing she thinks of, “Did you create a machine?”
“I was born with it, sort of?” Stiles says, laughing nervously, “It started when I was four, or at least that’s when I first remember. Any of you read A Manifesto of Tunnel Jumping?” Stiles asks, and Isaac, Erica, Boyd, Lydia, Danny and Allison nod while the rest look confused.
“Stiles,” Lydia knows immediately, “Please tell me that scary-accurate book isn’t your life story.”
“It has the whole cheesy warning about the story being true and everything at the beginning,” Stiles laughs, and runs a hand over his now-long-ish hair.
“You wrote a best selling teenage novel for girls,” Allison laughs, and Stiles just shrugs.
“They’re for both genders equally,”
“You had a gay affair with a French nobleman?” Erica shrieks, and Stiles rubs a hand over his face.
“I made out with the dude four times. Honestly I have no idea why it has made it into half the fanfiction,”
“Why are Scott and I lesbian lovers?” Allison groans, “Seriously I was shipping us like mad and now it’s just personal.”
“He knows why,” Stiles looks pointedly at Scott.
“OK,” Derek sighs, “Can we stop obsessing over a book series and figure out why Stiles can travel through time?”
“Your grandparents are really huge hippies by the way,” Stiles then winces and says, “I’m sorry. Uh, I have a no changing or saving people’s lives rule? I can’t travel within my own lifetime. I age when I travel but when I come back I look the same. Lydia is a reborn witch. I knew about werewolves a year before Scott became one. Young Peter is even more creepy than now. Laura says hi?”
“What?” Derek sounds confused.
“What?” Peter walks in despite not being invited and sounds insulted.
“I’m a reborn witch?” Lydia asks, “From where?”
“France, we hung out for a year, I came back and tried to visit you ten years later and you were gone. Seriously, I was heartbroken.” Stiles false swoons, “You taught me runes and everything. Said I could change my time travelling abilities into magic and join you all in your quest for victory. I thought about it.”
“I was the coven leader?” She asks and thumps Stiles on the head, “For God’s sakes, I was a seductive french woman?”
“What? You were! Also, main character isn’t even attracted to her. Her sexuality does not define her as a person! She was the most powerful woman in France!”
Lydia seems satisfied. Nobody else does.
“Why didn’t you tell me, man?”
“It was my thing, Scott,” Stiles said, and Stiles can’t really think of a proper metaphor so he just says, “It would be like me trying to date Allison the same time you were,”
Scott growls and grabs Allison around her shoulders. So Stiles counts it as a success.
“I still don’t know why you didn’t tell me,” Scott whines, “We’re best friends!”
“It was kind of lame after the whole werewolf thing. Time travel. Also, I thought I might be crazy?” Stiles knows he’s not crazy, but that’s exactly what a crazy person would say.
“You aren’t crazy,” Derek grunts like the sour wolf he is, “My grandparents always told stories about a boy from the future who would complain to them about me,”
And Stiles is like, what, because that hasn’t happened. So Stiles knows now that technically everything he’s done in the past has already happened so if he changes the way things happen he isn’t changing anything.
What the fuck.
“Do you want to see you parents?” Stiles blurts out and yeah, the look on Derek’s face is worth it. It isn’t smiling, Derek only half-smirks on the best of days, but there is just pure, unadulterated joy. Stiles can imagine, because Stiles hasn’t built up enough guts to see his mother yet, but if he does he wouldn’t be able to understand the happiness in the moment. Derek is like a kid trying not to act too excited about a toy because he’s afraid somebody will take it away from him.
“I can take object back,” Stiles says, “I could try you, and you’d be able to understand it better. Though you can’t go back to the time after you’re born. So...”
Derek drags him into the kitchen, and he’s pretty hyper aware that Derek’s hands are on his, rough even if they’re the relative same size. They’re in the kitchen alone and Stiles just grabs Derek’s hands and tries to focus. Really, it’s not harder than Stiles un-focusing his eyes then refocusing them again, but it’s twenty times harder with another person, made a hundred times harder by Derek tracing circles into Stiles’ hand.
Then they hit the tunnel, and Derek let out a sound surprise. It’s twenty feet long, ribbed on the sides, and dark with an almost purple tinge to it. There are stacks of junk from year of travel. There’s a lot of money, a lot of antiques, a lot of things that don’t matter, and a lot of things that do more than anything.
Then the two of them are at the Hale house. It’s big, and not burnt to the ground.Stiles looks at him nervously,
“You can’t tell them about the fire,”
Derek is hardly listening, Stiles can tell. Because now Derek can smell his family alive, not buried and rotting. Stiles knock on the door and Mrs. Hale opens it with a big smiling face.
“Oh, Stiles!” She says happily, “It’s been, what, seven years? Just around when Laura was born. Come in, come in,”
She pulls the two of them in and looks Derek up and down.
“This is Derek?” She asks, and when Stiles nods she says, “You need to shave,”
Derek is, oh God, Derek is smiling like he knows this is what his mother would say if, well, if she were alive. Mrs. Hale pats both their cheeks.
“It’s almost dinner,” She says and laughs, “Why don’t you set the table? I’ll go get Laura.”
They do, and Derek is the happiest Stiles has ever seen him. There’s an underlying sadness, and the underlying guilt Stiles know Derek feels that he doesn’t deserve. They eat dinner, and to be honest Mrs. Hale is a pretty bad cook for a werewolf, but Derek eats everything. He and Laura talk for hours. She giggles and laughs and punches him saying how she’s going to be the Alpha someday, and Derek just looks at her like she’s a magical fairy princess.
(Which Laura is, and Stiles hates being unable to meet the older Laura, because she must be amazing.)
(When they go home five hours later, Derek kisses Stiles in the tunnel, and it’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened to him during a trip.)
(Time can wait for one man.)