It's been a while. This story...it started out as a deliberately angry & angsty one-shot. Then I didn't feel right about leaving it there. It needed resolution, even if it wasn't easily obtained. So I kept writing. And then finishing it was difficult just because of my own weird brain.
I had once thought it would take a few more chapters to finish. But that's not really fair to those of you who enjoyed this story, because I couldn't guarantee I'd update consistently. So I decided to wrap it up more efficiently. The thing is, while there's less dialogue than I originally intended, the story is complete in a way that feels right to me. Hopefully you feel the same way.
It takes five months and a nest of harpies before Stiles is ready for a relationship.
He works steadily with his dad at self-defense. Stiles had always known that his dad knew martial arts, but he learns quickly that that's putting it mildly. John insists that he practice defensive techniques mostly. The few offensive strategies he learns are more for giving him a few extra moments to run than for an actual fight.
Stiles argues with his dad on that at first. He needs to be able to fight. John's tone is gentle when he points out that a sixty-five year old human was able to beat Stiles. It's unlikely he'd be able to win against any supernatural creature. A human yes, but there are smarter ways to end a fight than with a fist.
One of the deputies at the station is the one who works with Stiles on meditation and calming strategies before he gets to be taught techniques to escape a kidnapping or imprisonment.
Stiles panics a lot at first. He's prone to panic attacks of course, but it's more than that. His mind tends to run through every possible scenario and outcome and the onslaught of information is what overwhelms him. Add to that the stress and fear of a kidnapping situation and it's little wonder that he usually ends up panicking and unable to escape. Alex—the deputy—teaches Stiles to memorize a couple calming routines. Then he works with Stiles to learn how to isolate his thought patterns. Stiles knows he's never actually going to stop himself from thinking about a hundred things at once.
But he learns how to prioritize and force his mind to work through small steps.
He has to work at it for several months, but eventually he can be put in a simulated kidnapping situation and not panic. He focuses on cataloguing where he is, then on steps like how to get a hand free, then another hand, then assess the escape options. There's no guarantee that he won't still panic in an actual kidnapping, but he knows how to keep it from taking over.
Stiles visits the gun range a couple times a week, as well as in the woods every Sunday with Chris, Allison, and his dad. He's never going to be an expert marksman or sniper, but he displays more affinity with a handgun and is soon able to hit his chosen targets with about 95% accuracy.
John refuses to let Stiles carry a gun on a normal basis, citing that it shouldn't be a first choice. Chris ends up talking with John and working out a better solution. Stiles is given an Argent modified weapon, a small handgun that takes tranquilizer darts, and he's given a varied supply. Some are for humans, some have wolfsbane, some vervain, and others iron. It protects Stiles without forcing him to kill anyone.
Lydia and Danny request one for themselves. Allison of course has her collapsible crossbow.
Training with the pack isn't the easiest thing in the world—not at first—but they get there.
They all have to find a balance between training hard enough that it will be useful against enemies and not actually causing the humans physical pain.
Stiles loses his temper a lot in the first couple months, getting frustrated at himself for failing to succeed.
Jackson picks fights with Stiles a lot during those days. It takes a little while for Scott and Derek to realize that Jackson's doing it on purpose, letting Stiles lash out at him instead of seeing Stiles' self-confidence plummet again.
Derek knows there's probably a better way to deal with it, but he doesn't stop Jackson. Its working and Jackson seems happier knowing he's contributing to the pack dynamic.
But the changes outside of training are what ultimately make the biggest difference with the pack. Boyd, Erica, and Isaac start scheduling regular pack activities. The non-lacrosse playing members sit together and cheer at the games. They have movie or game nights on the weekends. And while no one really schedules specific study buddies, it becomes a rare day to not see at least a couple people sitting at the kitchen table in the house Derek purchases that fall, books cracked open and junk food strewn across it.
They get to know each other beyond the survival instincts or unavoidable basic pack bonds.
Stiles was right when he yelled at everyone. They didn't know who he was. But he starts realizing that he doesn't really know any of them either. Some of his perceptions were misguided as well. There's no small amount of fights as they all work through their frustrations, but they do work through them and new friendships form.
Luckily, at least in Stiles' opinion, he and Derek really are able to stay friends during this time. For all Derek's assurances, Stiles wasn't completely convinced, but Derek proves himself.
John invites Derek to dinners at the house and when Stiles is having a particularly bad day that Scott or Lydia or his dad can't fix, Derek stays the night. He's careful in his touch, but still comforting and that's all Stiles needs.
They spend long hours talking and getting to know each other better. Stiles learns about Kate and Laura and Talia and the rest of the Hales. In turn, he takes Derek to the cemetery and tells him about his mother.
A few supernatural issues and one brief hunter problem come into play, but it's early in March when the harpies strike.
No one has much luck in figuring out why the harpies picked Beacon Hills, or what they really want, but Stiles is taken while they're out tracking them, and Jackson—who was with him—is badly beaten. Stiles' training kicks in, better than he could have imagined, and he uses the rowan ash in his pocket to seal the harpies in their nest. The rest of the battle and subsequent cleanup he leaves to Derek and Allison.
But the event is enough to assure Stiles that he is ready to try again with Derek. He's been feeling ready for a few weeks, but scared that if something happened, he'd want to back out again. That wouldn't be healthy and it wouldn't be fair to Derek. So he'd waited.
His brief kidnapping assures him he's not a defenseless victim anymore. And he realizes that putting off happiness out of fear—because that's all that's left now—is foolish.
In an ironic callback to the moment he told Derek he needed to wait, Boyd, Erica, and Isaac are tossing a football around in the yard, enjoying a rare warm spring day when he arrives. They wave at him as he exits his jeep.
"Wanna play?" offers Boyd.
Stiles shakes his head. "I kinda need to talk with Derek."
"I think he's out back," says Isaac.
"Thanks. Hey can you guys watch the werewolf hearing and not listen in?" he asks. "I know you don't do it on purpose but this is important to me."
Erica tosses the ball towards the garage. "Do you need us to leave?"
"You wouldn't mind."
"Nah," she shrugs. "We need some groceries anyway."
Stiles once again shares his keys and makes his way into the house. Derek is sitting on the porch, lounging in a way that suits him and yet seems completely foreign at the same time. His eyes are attentive though, so Stiles knows Derek is aware that this isn't a casual visit. He sits in one of the reclining chairs next to Derek.
"Hi." Derek smiles softly at him. "What's on your mind?"
"I think I've figured it out," he begins. Derek doesn't say anything, just waits for Stiles to continue. "I'm Kaidan. The kid who loves his mom and dad and comic books and sees magic in the world around him. I'm a nameless teen that doesn't know where he belongs because his anchor's gone. That's the kid who learned that even Harry Potter had Voldemort, and magic doesn't mean life is easy. I'm a spark, whatever that means. But I'm also Stiles. And Stiles is a survivor. I have more friends than I would have thought possible a year ago. Some days I think Jackson might be the closest thing to a brother I'll ever have, while Scott and I will always be platonic soul mates."
Stiles sits up a little straighter, turning more towards Derek. "I'm a son who worries too much about his dad and yet still wants to be a kid. Someday I'll be Sheriff just like he was. I know who I am now and I know how I feel and I'm not scared of that anymore."
"And how do you feel?" asks Derek quietly.
Stiles reaches out and takes Derek's hand in his, linking their fingers together. Derek's fingers wrap tightly around his, an ever steady presence.
"Who I am is a lot of different things. One of them is a man in love with you."