Title: Where the Spirit Leads
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Teen Wolf AU (Human, Sentinel fusion)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All recognizable characters are the property of their respective creators.
Warnings: None really. Is unbearable cuteness a warning?
Beta: Thank you, Naelany!
Summary: On a trip to San Francisco, Stiles’ adventurous spirit guide leads him right where he’s supposed to be.
Word Count: 1600
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Stiles stared out of the bus window dreading the day ahead. Normally, a class trip into San Francisco? Bonus. But since he came online three months ago, many outings were cringe-worthy events. It wasn’t even that he was a new guide, still struggling a little with blocking out people’s emotions. No, the real problem was his spirit guide.
He loved Mulan, his panda spirit guide, but did she have to be a baby panda? It was a walking advertisement that he was a new soul, and caused sentinel, guide, and mundane alike to treat Stiles like he was some sort of handheld adorable they needed to fawn over.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Mulan wasn’t visible. All. The. Damn. Time. Most spirit guides only revealed themselves to those beyond their human on rare occasions. Not Mulan. Not only was she always there, she was always running ahead of Stiles, inquisitively exploring the world. He’d spent the last three months chasing his spirit guide all over Beacon Hills. Most people were very careful not to touch Mulan, though some accidents had happened, but she was a constant distraction for everyone in the vicinity. Mostly because she was so damned cute. Though he rather perversely enjoyed how upset she made Harris.
He’d started spending so much time at home, his dad had insisted he go on the senior class trip to the San Francisco art exhibit featuring art by sentinels and guides around the country. He knew from experience that she’d let him carry her for a little while, but eventually she’d just disappear from his arms and toddle on ahead of him. Maybe he’d get lucky, for the first time in three months, and she’d let him carry her all day. He had very little hope of that.
“Stiles,” Scott whispered, nudging him.
Looking away from the fascinating view out the window, Stiles glanced at his best friend. “What?”
Scott was fighting back a grin and jerked his chin towards the front of the bus. “Look.”
Stiles leaned around Scott and spied Mulan engaged in one of her favorite activities; staring intently at Jackson. Stiles had initially been horrified at how intrigued his spirit guide was with Whittemore, but Jackson’s pure discomfort over her attention had quickly morphed Stiles’ horror into perverse amusement.
Smirking, he climbed over Scott and went to retrieve his spirit guide. Jackson was staring fixedly toward the front and didn’t even acknowledge Stiles as he picked up Mulan. Jackson had bitched about Mulan the first few times she’d sat down and stared at him, but then he just got quiet and awkward looking every time the little panda visited. Stiles had actually become grateful for the classes he shared with Jackson, because Mulan would be too occupied staring at Jackson to get into trouble.
Stiles made a point of not reading people at school if he could help it; teenage emotions gave him a headache. He’d tried once with Jackson and the tumultuous and conflicted emotions had made him swear to never do it again. Still, he was sorely tempted to try it again when Jackson had that particular look of constipation on his face.
Stiles returned Mulan to the back of the bus and hoped she’d not run right back to Jackson. Normally he’d hold her, but if he held her too much now, he’d have no chance once they were on foot in San Francisco.
He retook his seat and immediately sighed as Mulan hotfooted it back to the front of the bus.
Scott snickered, and Stiles elbowed him in the ribs for it, but he just snickered harder.
Twenty minutes later, they were let off in the arts district and broken up into groups who would each visit the museums in a different order to prevent overcrowding. Stiles was in the group with Scott and six others, being chaperoned by Coach Finstock. He was just grateful Jackson wasn’t in his group and that Harris wasn’t on this trip at all.
Stiles had Mulan in his arms and was half paying attention as Coach passed out the list of galleries they’d be visiting and in which order. He took the sheet, but stuffed it in his pocket so he could keep up with his guide. Scott would let him know where to go.
Coach shot him a look. Yes, they all knew Mulan was going to be an issue for their group. Stiles just shrugged. Coach shook his head and made sure Scott and Stiles had his cell phone number in case the group got separated.
In truth, all Stiles had to do to corral Mulan was just not follow. She wouldn’t ever get too far from him, no more than thirty or forty feet, unless Stiles were in some kind of trouble, but it was just too difficult to see her moving away from him. So he always went after her. And usually, Scott came after Stiles. It had become a thing the people of Beacon Hills had become accustomed to; first, Mulan, then Stiles, and bringing up the rear would be Scott.
“All right. Move it,” Finstock waved them all forwards. “We’re starting right there… get inside and act like you’re normal human beings.”
Rolling his eyes, Stiles fell in next to Scott and they followed the others into the gallery. Within minutes, he realized what the biggest downside of this trip would be for him; after all it was art by sentinels and guides. And they were all interested in little Mulan and Stiles.
Stiles kept hold of his spirit guide, who was starting to fidget, and endured some degree of attention at every place he stopped in the gallery. A particularly maternal 50’ish guide who had a large exhibit wrapped an arm around his shoulders and led him through her work. The sentinels tended to watch him, but would never dream of touching him, for which he was insanely grateful.
This day was going to kill Stiles, he just knew it. He was supposed to be making notes of some kind about what he’d seen, and Scott had offered to help with it, but he just couldn’t focus on the art. Between the unwanted attention on him and worries about Mulan taking off, the day promised to be torture.
He was painfully relieved when Finstock rounded them all up to go to the next gallery.
Scott was looking at their list as they exited the gallery. “Next one should be a little better,” he muttered.
“In what way could it possibly be better?” Stiles groused.
“It’s an all sentinel exhibit.”
Stiles reluctantly conceded that all-sentinel would probably be better. At least there’d be no fawning.
Suddenly, Mulan disappeared from his arms and reappeared far enough ahead that she was past the front of the group and tearing down the sidewalk at speed.
“Hey!” Finstock yelped from behind Stiles. “Get her back, Stilinski!”
“On it,” Stiles muttered as he darted around his classmates and took off after his spirit guide. He was almost caught up to her when she went into a gallery.
“Oddly enough,” Scott panted beside him, “this is the next one on the list.”
Stiles barely paid attention as he dashed into the gallery, looking around for Mulan. He caught sight of her moving determinedly toward the back wall of the gallery, dodging around the few people in her path, getting a few exclamations of shock as she went.
“Sorry,” he muttered as he tore after her, not quite as fast because he didn’t seem to dodge people as well as his little panda spirit. He was surprised at her speed, because usually she was just curious and nosing about ahead of him or wandering around. This was a little odd.
Things happened so quickly, it took Stiles a moment to process. A sentinel near the rear-most exhibit stepped into view, brow furrowed as he took in the commotion. Stiles’ main impression of the man was too hot to be real, and then Mulan crashed into the unknown sentinel’s legs and looked like she was trying to climb him.
Stiles staggered to a stop and gaped. Mulan never deliberately touched anyone other than his dad. Stiles watched in astonishment as mister hotness of the crazy eyebrows slowly leaned down and picked up Stiles’ Mulan!
In the next moment, Stiles felt like he’d been gut punched. The guide in him shifted and stirred and yearned. There was a roaring in Stiles’ ears and he couldn’t even make out what Scott was saying as the sentinel now holding Mulan looked at him with naked longing.
Stiles was frozen as the sentinel took slow measured steps to close the gap between them. When there was just about a foot of space remaining, the sentinel stopped. Stiles took a ragged breath and stared into his sentinel’s green eyes, which seemed almost pained and not a little worried.
“Guide,” the sentinel cuddling Mulan murmured softly. With the sentinel touching Stiles’ spirit guide, Stiles couldn’t help but feel the sentinel in every part of his soul, and he had no reservations about taking the next step.
He stepped forward so there were just a few scant inches between them, then reached out and laid his hand over his sentinel’s where it was holding Mulan. “Sentinel,” he returned softly, and felt the preliminary bond form between them.
The sentinel’s eyes seemed to lighten and his lips turned up faintly. He made no attempt to touch Stiles further.
“I’m Derek,” he finally said as Mulan rested trustingly against his shoulder.
Stiles couldn’t stop his grin.
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AN: I generally wouldn’t even consider a human AU of Teen Wolf, because the shifter element is the draw for me. But I’ll do Sentinel fusion with anything… The little black dress of fandom strikes again!
This was inspired by scene prompt by Serena in the farmbunnies group on Facebook.
Serena’s original bunny as posted on Facebook (I didn’t take a completely literal spin on it, but close): TW Sentinel AU : Stiles a Guide in training has a baby spirit animal, a Panda, named Mulan likes to wander around ahead of Stiles whenever Stiles enters a new place. This is how he met Derek, his Sentinel, at an Art Gallery in San Francisco during a school trip in his Senior year. Mulan as usual barreled ahead of him, nearly tripping in her excitement of a new place to explore……. And crashed into the legs of one of the Sentinel Artists who work was being displayed…. Cringing in embrassed horror Stiles rushes up to apologize just as Derek picks her up, their eyes meet in surprise and that was that.