Panels of glorious afternoon light painted themselves across the smooth dark surface of the wooden table. The light growing warmer and more brilliantly bright for a few moments before dimming slightly through the filter of thin clouds in the richly stained sky outside. Heavy, sweet-smelling vapors rose from the steaming mug of tea on the table, the inner lip of the cup ringed by a faint brown stain from the countless previous cups of tea sipped from Stiles' favorite mug.
He wrapped his long fingers around the warm handle and brought the mug up to his face, sparing a moment to breathe in a lung-full of honey and tea-sweet steam before taking the first sip. Setting the cup down, Stiles wrapped his fingers around the soft cuffs of his sweater sleeves and pulled his legs up into the plush armchair he was sat in to curl up more comfortably as he gazed out the window at the approaching sunset.
He has waited many years to see this sunset in particular. . .
Stiles smiled, took another sip of his tea, and reflected on all the wonderful years that had brought him here.
After the Omega attack, Stiles had taken to the bite almost ridiculously fast. With his rocky past, even if they didn't know the details, everyone had expected him to struggle worse than most pups with control over his shift and abilities. However, it seemed that Stiles didn't lose control for even a moment. Not even that he held such tight reigns over his wolf, it was more like he never had a reason to try to contain it. His wolf was calm, quiet, and just as intuitive as him.
Derek had been almost irrationally proud of his mate—that is, after he'd finally settled down and overcame almost losing Stiles that night. Derek had soon rediscovered his excitement and eagerly taught Stiles how to beta and full shift. The event had sort of been sobered fairly quickly when Stiles beta-shifted for the first time and discovered his eyes were a dreaded ice-blue instead of gold and all he could think about was the times when another had occupied his body and forced his hand. Derek had been quick to reassure Stiles that it was alright, Derek understood what had happened, it wasn't his fault, and Stiles was still the most beautiful creature he'd ever laid eyes on—'cheesy brat'—and kissed him until the clouds of doubt and self-loathing disappeared.
When Stiles full shifted for the first time and turned into a lean, slender wolf with very thick and soft fur the color of cream with honey-colored eyes, Derek had spent the whole rest of the day in a daze of droopy eyes, wide grins, and practically with hearts in his eyes. Laura had cut in to say he looked like a marshmallow with his thick creamy coat. Derek couldn't be down trodden, though. That night, Stiles had been praised and kissed from his ankles to the crown of his head. Not much sleeping had taken place that evening. It was worth it though.
After that, Talia was able to acquire the last of his paperwork and Stiles started taking online classes. He also put to use his knowledge of the future to make a few hasty investments that had a quick and rather fruitful turnout. Well . . . even though it wasn't what he'd gone to the past for and wasn't exactly morally sound, Stiles had never claimed to be a saint. Besides, he'd done a lot of thinking about his future, and there were things he had planned and needed the funds to do some of it.
One thing, however, couldn't wait for him to make substantial money of his own. He'd seen someone he used to know at the supermarket one day and realized his timing had been skewed and there was someone who needed his help now. So, Stiles approached Talia, sat her down, and had a long talk about what he wanted to do. The Alpha had been on board immediately and provided him with more money than he could ever need and used her own contacts and resources to put everything into motion.
Not even a week later, he had walked up to the Lahey house, knocked on the door and asked to talk with the disheveled man who had answered. Firstly, Stiles handed over the forms to relinquish custody of one Isaac Lahey and asked the man to sign over custody to Talia Hale so that someone fit to provide for his son could do so. The man had nearly spit in his face and crudely told Stiles that the "little shit" just needed a bit of discipline and was useful when he behaved so he wasn't giving him up. That was the first time since the bite that Stiles struggled to control his anger.
Stiles gave up on pleasantries then and handed the disgusting man a check for an abhorrent amount of money and suggested the man sign the papers and take the money before he got the authorities involved and had him thrown in jail. Kindly reminding him that Talia Hale was a powerful woman indeed and the court room was the last place one wanted to encounter the fearsome CEO.
Not even ten minutes later, Stiles had gone up to the small room belonging to the broken and abused nine-year-old and gently coaxed the tiny little thing out of the corner of his closet. It had taken a while, but Stiles was a well of patience and had been able to soften himself enough in front of the frightened child to convince Isaac he wasn't a threat so he could take the child into his arms. Holding him up with one hand, small arms secured around his neck, Stiles packed a bag for Isaac with the other hand and left with the boy that very day. It usually didn't work like that, but he and Talia were cutting through mounds of red tape to bring the boy home to the pack as soon as possible.
That night, Isaac and Stiles stayed up in his room—occasionally visited by the bright-eyed Derek—the whole day and night. Mostly they had been silent, but Isaac didn't stray from his side.
Isaac was traumatized and almost as closed-off as Stiles had been when he'd first arrived. It took him a long time to warm up to anyone, though, no one was really surprised when the first person he warmed up to after Stiles was Derek. Still, the boy seemed to prefer Stiles to anyone else.
Isaac had been told all about their world fairly soon into him coming to live with them. Instead of being terrified, the kid had been reassured that 'his Stiles' was stronger than anyone else out there and would always be able to protect him.
Talia had taken on temporary guardianship of Isaac, but Stiles acted as his main caretaker. With every night spent curled up in the same bed, with every warm bubble bath he gave the little whip, with all the times Isaac sought him out immediately after lessons with the other pups to take his hand and not let go for hours, it seemed like the space in Stiles' heart grew impossibly bigger to fit the little boy inside.
Two days after Stiles had turned eighteen and legally became an adult, Talia had given him the best gift he could have ever asked for and handed him a thick stack of papers. Adoption papers. It was the first time he'd cried in front of someone who wasn't Derek in more than a year. The day Isaac had officially and legally become his son, Stiles finally understood just how bottomless and endless his capacity to love was. Nobody even blinked an eye at his age and Isaac had nearly hugged the life out him when he'd been told.
He still had nightmares and night terrors some nights, but they were growing fewer and further in between the long nights of restful and pleasant dreams. Isaac had nightmares too and had told Stiles one day that they were the best at comforting each other when they happened because they both understood it so well.
Derek had promptly taken up the mantel of co-parent with Stiles—even though he couldn't take up joint-custody of Isaac until he came of age as well. Derek had almost immediately started calling Isaac his son—no matter how strange it seemed for someone so young to be saying such things—oddly, it fit.
There wasn't a day that went by that Stiles didn't wish his old pack could see him then, with his wonderful mate and son. However, it became less of a horrible aching longing and more of just wistful thinking when he was alone.
As his second spring in this time came rolling on in on green storm clouds and warm rain and flourishing flowers, Stiles found himself confronting another part of his past and bringing about a welcome—though unexpected—outcome. That previous fall, Claudia Stilinski had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Her and her husband had spent months looking for treatments to start, but by spring, their last hopes were dashed by one blunt neurologist explaining to them in no unclear terms that it was too advanced, she wouldn't have more than a few years left, and that the debilitating symptoms would set in very soon.
Even if she technically wasn't his mom anymore, even if just the thought of seeing her was painful, even if it effected the timeline wildly, Stiles just couldn't let her go so easily. His first thought was to get Talia to give her the bite. He knew the Alpha would gladly do anything for her son's mate—who she sometimes loved more than her own son—and his mom was a good enough person that the Alpha wouldn't have any problems with bringing the woman into her pack.
However, Stiles knew he just wouldn't be able to handle having to see his mother almost every single day, not when she wasn't his mom anymore. He wanted to save her, but he couldn't withstand being around her or his dad. He didn't want to cut off access to them completely, and maybe one day he would be able to be around them and not constantly think about them being his parents and all that he had lost between them, but that day was very, very far off.
It took a while, but he finally came to a decision. Working with Talia again, Stiles was able to find a happy medium and approached a pack just half an hour away—they were small, not very close-knit, but were on very good terms with the Hale Pack—and pointed them in the direction of his mother. She was a perfect candidate for the bite. Morally sound, resilient, kind, and very slow to anger. She was also terminally ill and had a small, undeveloped spark inside that was passed down in her family.
After initially meeting the pack, they took over from there and approached the Stilinski's on their own. It took some time for them to mull it over, but eventually they agreed and just like her not-son, Claudia took immediately to the bite. The pack was even lax enough that the pair didn't have to move out of Beacon Hills to be closer to them.
If Talia found it strange that Stiles would do so much for people he didn't appear to have any connection to, she never said anything—except maybe one offhanded comment about how secretly soft-hearted he was as they drove back home after the meeting with the other pack.
A year later, Stiles finished up his education, received his diploma right around the same time that Derek did. They were both accepted into a fairly prestigious college in California. They moved their little family unit to just outside campus—Isaac started going to public school for the first time since they'd taken him in and had adjusted surprisingly well. The independence and anonymity of college education had suited Stiles quite well and he truly began to flourish in his studies.
They always went home every chance they got—every weekend and holiday break—since the college was only about an hour and a half away from Beacon Hills. They of course moved back in for summer break.
Isaac started middle school and not long after, Stiles finished his undergrad early and started graduate school. Derek boasted and teased him endlessly about him secretly being some sort of genius or prodigy or something. All the while, Stiles' investments grew and he was happy to be able to support himself and his family all on his own, while also having plenty left over to anonymously transfer funds into Melissa McCall's bank account each month. Nothing astronomical, but he remembered how much the woman had struggled after leaving her alcoholic husband and if nothing else, Stiles wanted her to be able to be there for Scott now that he no longer could. He didn't want her to skip meals and take on too many shifts with no sleep just so she had enough to pay for Scott's inhaler medicine.
It wasn't very clever or subtle, but Stiles felt like he needed to do it.
Once, Derek had asked him out of curiosity, why he did it—all of it.
"I mean, did they save you in some past life or something?" He joked, watching with fondness exuding from every pore as his incredibly kind-hearted mate came back home from the bank after making yet another transfer. Stiles had told him before that he'd discovered the woman's situation a while back and felt like, since he more than had the means to do it, it was only right to help her. He also remembered Stiles helping that poor couple after the woman had gotten sick. It seemed like Stiles was a magnet for strays and unfortunate souls—and honestly, it sort of just made Derek love him more to see how much his otherwise very impassive and sometimes cold-eyed mate could care.
Huffing a little chuckle, Stiles smiled up at Derek before thinking about his question for a moment. It was kind of true, wasn't it?
"Maybe." He said, playing along. "Maybe I owe them some sort of debt from a past life." His smile turned sly and mischievous. "Or maybe your mother's suspicions about me are just true and I really am full of marshmallow filling on the inside!" He teased, pulling delighted fit of laughter from his mate.
By the time Derek finished his Masters in social work, Stiles had finished graduate school and had started up his own tech company. And perhaps Stiles had a head start by knowing very well exactly what kind of leaps and advancements would take place over the next half-decade, but he never promised to play fair. It was still in its beginning stages but had garnered quite a bit of support quite quickly.
They then moved back to Beacon Hills then. Though, they didn't move back into the main house, deciding to instead continue living on their own in a smaller but still very comfortable home in the preserve on Hale private property that had made an appearance while they were still in college and had conveniently remained empty until they returned home and the Alpha just so happened to know of the perfect place for them—knowing they would want a home for themselves to grow their family and settle fully into their lives.
Isaac started high school along with Cora and though those two seemed to only really be able to stand each other—bonding over their mutual affection for a certain honey-eyed wolf—it only took a few months before Isaac came home with a few friends Stiles recognized immediately and felt his chest fill with something indescribable as Isaac proudly introduced his new friends to his dad. Scott had innocently asked how his dad could look so young while the pretty brunette with familiarly endearing dimples blushed scarlet and the tactful and tenacious redhead jabbed an elbow into the boy's ribs.
Stiles had teasingly quipped that he fed off the youth of others. Scott had turned pale for a moment before the other's laughed and he realized Stiles was joking—though, he supposed it wasn't very easy to tell with how serious and calmly Stiles had said it. When Derek came home later from the store, he was relieved to have his last little bit of worry slipping away when Derek was introduced as Isaac's other dad and no one blinked an eye. He knew none of them were prejudiced from his own time with them, but teenagers could be stupid. It happened.
Time went on, Stiles fell more in love with his mate and adored his son more each day that passed. The other shoe never dropped and it took a while to realize it was already secured on his foot. He healed slowly and truly enjoyed his life and his growing family.
Stiles watched the last strip of bright light slip off of the table before him like silk as the sun finally dropped past the horizon. Over nine years ago, he'd left this morning in order to go back in time to save others, and ultimately, himself. Stiles took another sip of his cooling tea. It had taken nearly a decade to get to this sunset and they had been some of the best years of his life. He's happy. His life is full, as is his heart.
He didn't know what tomorrow would bring, but unlike the last time he'd lived this very day, he had faith that tomorrow would be yet another gift.
Stiles set his empty mug down on the table, the lingering sweetness on his tongue a kiss of honey and tea. He slid languidly from his seat, the sound of his family calling him away from his memories.
In the echoing heat of sunset, he already couldn't wait for daybreak once more.
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