Sterek Week Day One: Alpha and Emissary
Title: Marked by Fate
Scott gets bit by a werewolf, and Stiles drives two towns over to get his first official tattoo. When he gets back, a bandage wrapped around the upper part of his arm, his dad sighs a little like he knows what’s coming and pours his son a cup of tea. Stiles appreciates that he doesn’t ask any questions. He already has to deal with Scott ‘but-werewolves-aren’t-real’ McCall.
The thing is, Stiles already knows what’s going on with his best friend. As soon as Scott showed up at the school ranting on about being bit by a wolf, only for the mark to disappear underneath the bandage, Stiles knew what had really happened. He’s known about werewolves for a very long time. After all, his fate had been inexplicably tied to a pack of them when he was just a kid.
When he was six years old, Stiles received his emissary mark, a looping E worn like a brand on the inside of his wrist that matched his mother’s. He was younger than many emissaries are when their power awakens, younger than even his mother was when she was marked, but Claudia took it in stride, began his training, and introduced him officially to the Hales.
He knew them in passing of course, had seen Talia Hale around town and even sitting in his living room (after all, his mother had been Talia’s emissary). But he had never met her officially, emissary-in-training to alpha werewolf. And he had never really had the chance to meet her family.
Laura was introduced to him first. As the oldest Hale child, she would eventually take over as the Hale pack alpha. And while nothing had been set in stone at that point, and even though it never would have been required of him, it was expected that Stiles would become Laura’s emissary after their parents stepped down. He had liked the idea of working with the same pack as his mother, and he got along with Laura’s funny and mischievous personality. As the years wore on, Stiles spent more and more time at the Hale house in the preserve, learning about an emissary’s role in a pack, and bonding with Laura and her younger brother Derek (who he looked up to and followed around like a puppy most of the time).
But then his mother died, and the Hale family burned in a fire. Stiles pushed his training to one side to deal with his grief, Laura and Derek left Beacon Hills, and that was the end of it.
Until Scott gets bit while they’re out in the woods looking for a body.
Even though it’s been years since Stiles has even thought about emissaries and magick, years since he’s covered his mark with a red wrist band, he knows without a doubt that he’ll do anything he can to help Scott. That’s what the tattoo is for, a physical embodiment of the Spark within him. Permanently inking the phases of the moon on the inside of his upper arm feels like the first step to finally moving on. It makes him feel whole after years in a void.
And practicing magick again in the mornings before school feels so natural, like finally being able to breathe after being trapped underwater. It reminds him of his mother, but in the best of ways, and he feels ready to face anything.
What he doesn’t expect is to come face to face with Derek Hale again. He is nothing like Stiles remembers. Whereas he used to be a quiet kid with a big heart, who laughed with his head thrown back and blushed easily when teased, now Derek is all edge. There’s a sharpness to him that is unnerving, and he acts like he’s never met Stiles at all. What’s worse is that Laura doesn’t seem to be with him. Stiles doesn’t have to dig around for the body to guess that she’s gone too.
Scott doesn’t want to work with Derek to hunt down the alpha who bit him. Hell, he hardly wants to deal with being a werewolf at all. But Derek knows more than either than them about what they’re facing. And Stiles doesn’t want to leave him alone.
He starts hanging around Stiles’ house instead of staying at the burned out shell that was once his family’s home. At first he shows up under the pretense of doing research but soon enough the nights start ending with them sitting side by side on the couch or in Stiles’ bedroom, finding an unnamed comfort in each other’s presence. They don’t talk about their past, but more than once Stiles catches Derek staring at his emissary mark, fingers twitching like he wants to reach out and trace the letter in the same way he used to when they were kids. Stiles likes those nights, likes knowing that in spite of everything Derek still seems to trust him, maybe not enough to address everything that’s happened, but enough to relax around him. And to Stiles, that means something big.
The first time John comes home to see Derek sitting at his dining table, he sighs, fixes the werewolf a peanut butter sandwich, and leaves them alone with a pat on the back and a prayer to Claudia to give him strength. It’s the first time that Stiles sees Derek smile, small and genuine. It’s reckless and it doesn’t make any sense, but the next day he gets his second tattoo, keeping the mark a secret from everyone but his father. John’s eyes get sad when he sees the ink, but then he smiles like he’s so proud, and Stiles thinks that everything will be alright after all.
It’s not until after everything with Peter and Kate is finished, after Derek becomes the alpha he was never supposed to be, that he talks to Stiles about the history they share.
They’re sitting side by side on the floor of his new loft, tired from painting all day, and tired from trying to brainstorm ways to get Scott to trust Derek as his alpha.
Derek gets quietl suddenly. Stiles presses their shoulders together. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Without responding, Derek reaches out a shaking hand and pulls Stiles’ wrist into his lap. He traces his emissary mark with the tip of his finger in reverence before looking up to meet Stiles’ bewildered gaze.
“Laura always expected to come back here,” he says softly between them. “She said that Beacon Hills was our home in spite of everything that had happened. She said there were things here that were ours to care for.” He looks down again to where his finger is skating over Stiles’ skin. “I’m sorry. For acting like I didn’t remember you. I-. When I first saw you, I saw everything that we had lost, everything that I wanted to avoid thinking about. So I tried to ignore you. That wasn’t fair to you though, and I’m sorry.”
He wants to say that it’s okay, but both of them would know that would be a lie. Instead Stiles says, “I understand,” which he does. As much as he wanted Derek to recognize him, he understands why he closed himself off from everything. Especially after Laura was killed.
They sit in silence for a long moment before Derek speaks again. “I always liked this mark. I liked how it looked on your skin, liked what it stood for. One of the earliest lessons we were taught was about how special emissaries are. I remember how proud my mom was when she told us that you had been marked. Laura was excited about it too. She was excited about what it might mean for her and the pack.”
Stiles turns his hand so that his fingers tangle together with Derek’s. Resting his thumb against Derek’s wrist, Siles can feel how quickly his heart is beating. “It was what I always wanted,” he says, watching how their hands clench together. “Mom used to joke, say that that was why I received my mark so early. She said that I wished it into being.”
Derek smiles. It’s a little sad, but the small quirk of his lips is genuine. “That sounds like something you would do.”
“And I liked the idea of being Laura’s emissary.” Derek flinches a little at the statement, but Stiles barrels on. It needs to be said, especially now that Derek is the alpha, now that they’re moving forward instead of hiding away. “I wanted to be a part of the Hale pack the same way my mother was. Even though I didn’t understand everything then, I knew that that was what I wanted.”
Ducking his head, Derek sighs out an apology. “I’m sorry. For everything that happened. For leaving after the fire even though you were hurting too.”
Stiles turns into him, gently knocking their heads together until Derek looks up. “You had to go,” he says. Really, it’s always been that simple. “It wasn’t a good idea that you stayed in Beacon Hills after everything had happened. I understood that, and I was never upset at you for it.”
Derek seems to relax after Stiles says that. He ducks his head again to stare at their hands. Stiles lets the silence drag out for a moment. It’s not uncomfortable, and as much as he doesn’t want to break it, there is something else that needs to be said. “Derek. I-. There’s something I would like to show you.”
When the werewolf nods, Stiles stands up and pulls Derek to his feet. Dropping his hand, Stiles takes a step back and plays with the hem of his shirt. “I got this before we figured out that it was Peter who bit Scott. It was true then, and it’s true now.”
Before Derek can ask any questions, Stiles pulls his shirt over his head. He hears Derek gasp in surprise, then watches as he steps forward, reaching out a shaking hand to hover over the tattoo inked over Stiles’ heart.
The triskelion looks sharp against Stiles’ pale skin. Derek gives in to the urge to touch it, running his fingers over each spiral. “Stiles.” His name is breath.
“I didn’t know that you were going to end up being the alpha, but it didn’t matter. Eleven years ago I got my emissary mark and bound myself to you and Laura. I was always meant to be the Hale emissary. Even if you were only ever going to be a beta, I knew that I was bound to you all the same.”
Derek’s fingers clench uselessly against Stiles’ chest. “I was never supposed to be the alpha, Stiles. I’m not-. I don’t know how to do this.”
He shrugs, lifts his hand, and curls their fingers together again. “We’ll figure it out. Alpha, beta, omega, it’s all a cycle. At the heart of it though, the werewolf is the same.” He squeezes Derek’s fingers. “You’re the same.”
“Alpha, beta, omega.” He pauses, meets Stiles’ gaze, eyes glowing red. “Past, present, future.”
Stiles smiles, his own eyes flare purple in response. “Yes. Exactly. We’re going to figure this out, Derek. Together.”
Finally, Derek smiles, big and bright, no hesitation. There is so much between them, so much unsaid. But what matters is just this. “Together.”
It sounds like a promise.