It was a cold night. From inside the burnt Hale house, Stiles saw Lydia shivering from one of the windows. It felt like a horrible dickish move to ask her to do this. Making her come back to this place after what had happened here was just one part of it. The far more horrible step had already taken place: Using her to contact Peter through the unfortunate connection they shared.
All Stiles could think about was that no matter what Scott thought about her, Lydia was not as cold hearted as she might seem at first. Despite the trauma and everything Peter had put her through, she didn’t hesitate to try for them. Since Lydia had accepted that she was something else, a banshee as it had turned out, she wanted to use her abilities to help them.
Right now, they needed all the help they could get.
They weren’t that many to begin with. Not anymore, it had come down to Stiles, Lydia and Isaac. Derek and Cora had bailed out of this town right after they had stopped the Alpha pack and the Darach. The twins had been gone a while already, looking for Deucalion, and frankly Stiles wasn’t going to shed a tear about them. They were volatile, dangerous and way too powerful.
Sure, Cora and Derek were not the stablest people in the world either, but they would have helped. Without any strings attached, while the Twins were not even that sure whether they wanted to be all that close with them. They were happy tapping Danny and Lydia but Stiles never saw much indication that they were eager to join a new pack. It was probably just as well, after all what they said about too many cooks in the kitchen had proven true with the alpha pack. Hence, Stiles was thinking good riddance.
At least until people began disappearing in Beacon Hills. A new supernatural shitstorm had hit town and it was most likely their fault. They had been the ones to put their town on the crazy map, while looking for their parents. However, if necessary Stiles would have no problem pointing out, the all too many ways, where Derek can still be at fault here, if it meant Derek came running back to help.
With Scott was gone, they needed all the help they could get. It was terrible enough, when after seven people disappeared, Allison was the next one to go poof. And poof was the best way Stiles could label what happened to Allison. She had been right there, only left alone for a moment, and then - nothing - not even a scent for Scott to bloodhound his way to her.
Whatever was making people disappear, Scott’s Emissary, Deaton - the mysterious - had been absolutely clueless. Only hinting that maybe the Argent’s bestiary might hold some clues. Lydia, goddess that she was with her Latin skillz, browsed through it, finding nothing. Deaton’s second suggestion was to maybe consult the records kept by the Hale pack - which were in Peter’s hands or rather on his Macbook.
He was the last person Stiles would ever come to ask for help but he had ran out of other sources. So with Deaton’s guidance Lydia had attempted to go into Peter’s dreams and ask him to meet her at the Hale House. They always seemed to come back here, ground zero for all werewolfy problems. If possible Stiles would have chosen a less isolated spot. Lydia’s Inception trip had a greater chance at succeeding if they stuck to a location of significance for both of them. Since it was here where she had brought Peter back to life that had been the obvious choice.
Stiles watched Lydia as they waited; from time to time he glanced at Isaac to see how he was doing. Isaac didn’t seem too happy about the whole plan, but Stiles knew he’d protect the last of Scott’s pack. Anything for his new Alpha.
Isaac’s position let him use wolf-vision to see part of the woods in the dark. Which left Stiles on watch Lydia duty. The last thing either of them needed was to have Peter creep up on them. Not that Stiles could do that much against Peter; even though he had brought a baseball bat - one that Stiles had carefully laced with wolfsbane. You never know with Peter Hale.
Watching Lydia he wondered if she was still shivering from the cold, or the memory of that icy bath. What was it anyway with Deaton and their need to dose them under icy waters? It was like Deaton was keeping score trying to get them all under before the year was over. Maybe it was just as well that Derek and Cora had ditched town or else they might be next on the list. Worst of all, this seemed to be all for nothing: Peter was not showing up.
Lydia was standing in front of the Hale house, waiting in her pretty outfit: knee high boots, a skirt and a long coat to ward of the night. Although Stiles had to admit, when he had held her in his arms earlier today, shivering, wet and mostly naked, seeking his body heat, that almost had made the exercise worthwhile. Stiles sighed, causing Isaac to look over to him.
“Well, I bet it worked, the creep just doesn’t give a shit about anyone else,” Isaac said not hiding his dislike for Peter.
Stiles was on the same page. Working with Peter might sometimes be a necessary evil but just remembering Lydia lying on the lacrosse field, blood covering her dress seeping out of the gash at her side, he would never like or forgive Peter. If someone were to put him back into the ground where he had come from, Stiles would sent out congratulation cards. Yet, right now, he really needed Peter to show up.
Stiles did not know what else to do in order to get Scott back. They needed to stop more people from disappearing as well. Since it seemed they might be partially responsible this time around, Stiles felt a strong need to put an end to it.
Deaton’s substitute sacrificial ritual had made his bad dreams already significantly worse. That was with him already sleeping badly after all the grisly deaths that kept happening around them. Most of them being people Stiles had known for years, some he had cared for like Heather or Tara, others like Harris maybe not so much. Still, people being sacrificed was not okay.
“I know, but I thought given that it’s Lydia who is calling, he might ..” Stiles sighed again, not wanting to finish the sentence.
“.. bite?” Isaac replied amused. “Not everyone drops everything just to be with Lydia.”
Lately, Isaac had begun to drift back into pre-summer levels of nastiness. Stiles shouldn’t be surprised though, since unlike himself, Isaac still felt jilted over Lydia’s rejection. At least Isaac has moved passed his ‘claw her open’ phase and moved onto ‘lip curl disgust’ since they all started working together. Stiles thought he could move onto ‘eyed narrowing scorn’ from his every lessening disparaging comments to Stiles about his friendship to Lydia.
What Isaac did not understand was, that while he still liked her in that dreamy hopeful way, Stiles also had grown to like her as a friend. He felt protective about her, in a way that was similar to how Scott felt about Allison, just less possessive. If Lydia did not want to date him, he could live with that. He valued her friendship too much to destroy it with teenage rom-com movie moves.
“We need help,” he whispered more to himself than to the grumpy beta at the other side of the room who just shrugged in reponse.
They had discussed it endlessly but neither of them had an idea how to find Peter. A apartment downtown was not that much to go on. Even his father had not been able to find anything. Which made sense, if you lived in the same town as did the family who had burned down your previous residence, you were bound to hide - unless you were Derek and couldn’t be bothered with such safety precautions. But Peter was much more vigilant and elusive than his moody nephew.
Just as Stiles had given up, he heard Lydia gasp loudly startled by something or more likely someone. When he turned to look out of the window, Peter had shown up and already had his grabby paws on her. Without thinking he grabbed his trusted, especially prepared aluminum bat and ran downstairs and out of the house. Isaac who looked somewhat startled, followed him.
“Damnit, let go of her,” Stiles yelled at Peter the moment he had made it out of the front door.
Bat raised and Isaac with glowing yellow eyes at his side, he felt not nearly as scared as the situation warranted. Stiles was more scared that, in an attempt to help him, Lydia will be hurt by Peter - again. The former alpha was not the least bit concerned, he just tilted his head to his side and smugly smiled at him. He had not gone into full werewolf mode but his claws were out.
“I think Lydia could use a bit of warming up,” Peter said in a suggestive manner.
Peter pulled her close in a tight grip. He might keep her warm, but his clawed fingers were also two taps from her neck. They knew with an easy move of his hand he could dig his claws into Lydia’s throat.
It was Lydia who spoke up: “We need your help.”
Stiles had to admire how calm she was given this Mexican standoff. Her chest moved rather noticeably as she was taking deep breaths but she was far from panicking. Peter was neither surprised by her statement nor especially worried about them. He had the trump card and in a way that was why they had sent Lydia outside. Since Peter was not as strong as he used to be, he was that much more careful.
Slowly, against his better judgement Stiles lowered his bat. “We’re just here to talk.”
“Well, then let’s talk.” Very smugly he added. “I believe, I’ve mentioned it before. My hearing works quite well.”
Isaac whom that comment was clearly direct at unwolfed himself and then said with a nasty tone. “Afraid we bury you here again?”
“No, not particularly,” Peter said dismissively. “You might have noticed that my strength has been returning. Two humans and one beta with little fighting experience, I’m not the one who’s going to end up in the ground.”
There was such a nasty smirk on his face that Stiles just knew that something was up with him. Peter was not the type to bluff with at least some trump up his sleeve.
“Then let her go,” Stiles asked noticing how imploring he sounded. “Please, if you need someone to hide behind, take me.”
“Scott’s rubbing off on you, “ he said amused as his fingernails assumed their normal non-werewolfish shape. “I knew all that moralizing was contagious.”
For a moment, it almost looked like the trade would happen, but all Peter did, was move his hand away from her neck. “Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to hurt Lydia, just making sure you two didn’t have something stupid planned. So tell me, Stiles, what are we doing here?”
“Okay,” Stiles knew that discussing with Peter was useless. Knowing Peter, he was channeling his inner Loki with sixteen different power grabbing backup plans and a few good speeches to deter you from his real scheme. And he wouldn’t stay dead either.
Which sucked because they had not even one plan and run out of ideas or places to turn to. They needed him. While Peter could easily walk away. “Something is making people disappear into thin air. We asked Deaton but he has no clue.”
“Has no clue or did not want to share ideas?” Peter said, not bothering to hide what he thought of his sister’s old Emissary.
Deaton could be all secretive, but now that Scott was missing, Stiles had no doubt that they were given all the help by him that he could offer. The good doc believed in Scott too much for him to hide things that might save his life.
“He suggested we look up info from two sources,” Lydia said sounding still a bit uneasy. “One was the Argent’s bestiary - but there was nothing in it.”
“The other one are my family's records.” Peter sounded very pleased about this development. Then he said more in direction of Lydia. “You weren’t kidding, you do need my help.”
“Yes, we do,” Stiles confirmed while Isaac contributed an entirely unhelpful acknowledgement that he did not like the plan.
Stiles saw her rolling her eyes, which was ever so productive. Right now he needed Lydia to get away. Then they could talk. With Peter, holding the upper, thankfully no longer clawed, hand Stiles waited for him to dictate the terms.
“I’ll make you a suggestion, we meet at the diner at Oak Street, then we can talk about this.”
A public place certainly beat the remote house in the woods location miles from where anyone could hear them scream. Peter’s hold on Lydia, was revealing enough. He wanted to keep her to make sure they were not setting a trap. Paranoid as always.
“Fine, the three of us are going to wait for you there.”
Peter smiled. “No, since you will be changing a tire on your Jeep, Lydia and I will be waiting for you.”
Stiles turned around to look in the direction where he had parked his car. They had stopped a mile away so Peter would not know they had also come. He had discovered it anyway. Stiles could picture the slashed up tire. “Oh, damnit. What’s with you wolves and going after my helpless car? What did the car ever do to you? Okay, Jackson maybe.”
With either feigned or real annoyance, Peter clearly did not take Stiles’ little outburst to heart. Mostly likely because he was utterly lacking one.
“You’re not leaving with her,” Isaac said firmly.
The confidence in his voice was betrayed by his body language. Whether he doubted that he could win or if this situation was not going to be resolved this way in the first place was anyone’s guess. Without Scott’s guidance or a clear target, Isaac had grown a lot more careful. Stiles wondered if almost wrongly killing Lydia for being the kanima had anything to do with it. Then again it could also just Scott being a much better role model than Derek.
If Derek was destined for a role, it was more for a mug shot for the cover of the Gothic Beauty magazine. Or maybe an article about how to never smile or the art of brooding. Given that Peter held the ultimate trump card, there was little that either Scott or Derek could do, even if they had not disappeared.
“It’s fine,” Lydia suddenly said. Stiles saw Peter’s gloating look. His favourite banshee was not done yet. “Look, I’m tired of standing around in the cold. How about we put an end to this useless discussion?”
“She’s of course right,” Peter agreed.
As much as he loved to take his bat to that smug face, Stiles knew that even without Lydia in the mix his chances were slim. Besides, a violent confrontation would not get them the answers they sought. All Stiles could do was once again volunteer to trade places.
“Stiles, don’t be annoying,” he found himself lectured by Peter. “Honestly, between the needy nerd and the beautiful banshee whom would you pick?” Then he shook his head, emphasising how absurd the suggestion was.
Looking to Isaac, who was not really sure what to do either, Stiles found he was running out of arguments to make. He was left to watch Peter turned with Lydia in his arm. She was certainly brave and did not flinch one bit. “Lydia.”
Calling out her name happened almost without thinking. She stopped briefly and turned her head to the side. Peter kept walking and she had no choice to keep up.
“See you, soon,” Lydia said softly.
Exhaling into the cold night air, his breath fogged. Both he and Isaac were watching the spot in the woods where Peter and Lydia had disappeared. While he was just gaping with his mouth mostly open, Isaac had an annoyed sneer on his lips. “Well, that worked out nice,” Isaac commented clearly in his aggressive ass mode. “Now, after Allison and Scott, Lydia is gone, too. Great plan.”
“We at least know where she’ll be,” Stiles replied nervously. The result of his idea was anything but desirable. “So let’s go.”
Enthusiastically, he walzed off toward his Jeep. Following him closely, Isaac clearly was not done being unhelpfully critical. The beta might very well be the only person who disliked Peter almost as much as Stiles. Derek being a runner up for third position. “You really think, he is going to the diner?”
There was this latent fear that Peter might indeed not do that. Stiles did not want to dwell on it, so when Isaac pointed out on their way to the Jeep that with all the people disappearing, nobody would be the wiser if Peter let Lydia disappear, Stiles gave him a death glare. His mind was racing too much to make a proper counter argument. He just walked faster, tumbling over a couple of roots every now and then.
When it went as far as commenting on Stiles obviously not being the only one who had a hopeless thing for Lydia, he did not tumble. Instead he fell. Tripped right over some stupid tree root, smashing another huge above ground root into his face. Isaac pulled him up. His left cheek burned like hell and from the smirk on Isaac’s face Stiles imagined what it looked like.
“This isn’t the time to lie down.”
“But plenty of time for different fifty ways of saying ‘I’ve told you so’, is that it?” Stiles complained having had enough of unhelpful stabs into his already sore side.
It was like Isaac was trying out his asshole wings once more to compete for the shittiest remark at an unsuitable time award. Stiles figured that Isaacs efforts to impress Scott with doing the right thing, left him bereft of something to channel his dark side. Either way, they needed to get to the car. A throbbing cheek was not going to stop Stiles. He was getting sadly used to this.
Relief washed over Stiles when his trusty Jeep came into sight. The tires looked okay, at the least the three he could see. As they came close enough, Stiles could see that it was the rear on the driver’s side that had slumped down a bit.
“I need an insurance policy that covers werewolf related damages,” he complained as he tried to find the car-jack. “It’s like hundreds of dollars in damages already. It’s insane. Why do you guys always need to target my car? What has she ever done to you?”
Isaac just gave him a raised eyebrow and eventually asked. “When did you last see it?”
“See what?” he asked back, then realised what he meant. “Damn, can’t remember.”
That was the fucking beauty of this clusterfuck: A shredded tire and while he found the tire iron, he had obviously misplaced the carjack. “Okay, it’s gone. What are we doing now? We need something to lift the car with.”
“Let me see what I can do,” Isaac went over to the Jeep. There was no need to ask what he was doing.
“So what, you’re going to lift the Jeep?” Just as Stiles said it, Isaac tilted his head bend his knees and lifted the car over the ground. “Okay, so you’re just going to hold it then?”
Putting it down again, he turned and said: “You get ready and I’ll hold it long enough till you got the spare tire in place.”
“Oh, yeah that will work, I guess,”
It sort of did, Isaac needed to loosen the nuts from the tire as well, since they were way too tight. The tire exchange went smoothly and Isaac finished off by tightening everything. Looking at his watch, Stiles realised that they had already lost forty minutes. Quickly placing the slashed tire and the iron in the back, they sped towards the main road.
Stiles had no intention of leaving Lydia alone with Peter longer than necessary. Even though Isaac pointed out again, that they might not be there waiting after all.
“Don’t be so negative,” Stiles finally said. “Chances are he likes that we need him. Creep probably gets off on making us beg.”
Isaac just gave him a nod that showed Stiles he had an argument. That was really holding him together, the alternative was just too awful. If Peter was to disappear with Lydia, now that he knew that almost everyone who could stop him was out of town, Stiles would never forgive himself. He did not even bother to park properly. Even though he knew that a ticket was the least of his problems. His dad would chew him out, which would be worse but paled in comparison to everything right now.
His gaze went over the windows looking at the people sitting by those seats. With every seat that was not occupied by Lydia or Peter, Stiles walked faster and almost crashed into a patron that had just left the place. With Isaac by his side, Stiles pushed open the door of the diner. He quickly looked around and saw no sign of his favourite strawberry-blonde genius.
Stiles felt the pad on his shoulder. A loud sigh escaped him. This had been his idea, he should have known. Cold dread grabbed him, then Isaac said: “Guess, I was wrong.”
A waitress strolled down the far aisle and looking behind her, Stiles saw Lydia sitting in the corner by the window facing them. Next to her with an outlook over the entire place was Peter. In front of them was his laptop. Lydia had not seen them yet, as she was staring at the screen and occasionally sipping on a cup with hot steam coming up from it.
It was Peter who noticed them first. Maybe he had done so right away. His left hand was next to his laptop but the other one was suspiciously under the table. Giving his best glare, which only made Peter grin wider, Stiles approached the table. Apart from causing an unhelpful scene there was little he and Isaac could do but sit down on the opposite bench.
“What happened to your face?” Lydia asked him concerned.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Stiles said and shrugged it off. The tree encounter had been considerably less violent than the one with Gerard’s fists. Going by the reflection in the rear mirror it looked just as bad though. To distract from that he told Peter angrily: “You owe me a new tire!”
“I think one tire is nothing compared to my consultant fee.”
“Wait, what?” Stiles asked back almost as if he heard wrong. “Are you serious?”
“Maybe.” Another smile. One thing was sure, Peter was enjoying this.
Stiles certainly did not. Isaac did not look too thrilled either but he was going through this situation with a lot more apathy. Most likely because he was not worried sick about Lydia. Isaac did a good job of sounding both bored and annoyed. “Have you found anything useful yet?”
Peter shook his head a bit, then began to explain: “From what Lydia told me, we got something that can make people disappear into thin air. No sound, no scent or anything left behind to gives you any clue, least alone a warning before hand.”
“Yes, that’s about right,” Stiles said and tried to focus on what they had come to do. “Allison stayed behind to call her father, while Scott and I had turned around the corner. No more like we wanted to turn around the corner, then Scott looked back,” Stiles signaled a poof with his hand, “and she was gone.”
“Interesting,” Peter chuckled. “And how did Scott disappear?”
Stiles should not be surprised that Allison’s disappearance was a source of delight for Peter, but he could be less obvious about it. Scott not being there was the real problem. He might be a new Alpha, but with Derek gone nobody was better equipped to dealing with Peter. Stiles was certain, that Peter would not act so glib and condescending if Scott was here to put him back into his place.
Stiles grinned, as he would consider that to be Peter’s grave, and they all knew Scott was way too good for such pragmatic measures.
“Lydia was the last one to see him,” Isaac replied instead.
“Apparently,” she replied with a sour face, before turning from Isaac to Peter. “He came by with something that belonged to her, hoping that I could use my psychic abilities or whatever and just figure out where she is.”
Stiles knew why she sounded so unhappy about it. She was not able to switch it on and off. If Lydia could find Allison she would have done so. Being pressured about it, her old persona broke through and she became all defensive and snippish about it. Scott showing up the way he did troubled her enough. Isaac being irrational upset at her for being the last person to see Scott, was just making it worse.
“He was rather one-track minded, said he wanted to head to Deaton’s to see if he had come up with another ritual.” And now Lydia was also sour when it came to Deaton. Stiles could practically see her shiver all over again, just mentioning him and the word ritual in the same sentence.
“Scott literally lost his mind when she was gone. He’d been unable to sleep, just walking around, looking everywhere, searching the internet for clues,” Stiles sighed, it had not been a pretty sight.
“I can imagine,” Peter said scrolling through something on his laptop. “What time did they both disappear?”
“Is that important?” Isaac wondered.
“Might be or not. Every little detail could help.” Peter shrugged but it seemed to give Isaac food for thought, “I’ve got most of the records archived by keywords - so far nothing has come up.”
“Allison disappeared in the morning and Scott was at my place in the later afternoon,” Lydia said then she looked up at Stiles. “At what time, did Allison disappear exactly?”
“It was pretty early, shortly before seven?” he was honestly not that sure. He had slept, thanks to his medication. Not that it had spared him the nightmares but at least he had gotten some rest. Unlike Scott.
Lydia nodded. “Which means it was dawn. Scott disappeared around dusk. Stephanie Harrison was woken by her mother for school and right after leaving the house at dawn nobody has seen her. And according to Scott’s mum, Eleanor Walters appeared shortly after the end of her shift.”
“Yeah, that was around dawn, too, “ Stiles feverishly rubbed his forehead. “Shawn Miller and Eddie Spencer were also seen last around 4 pm.”
It seemed liked they had stumbled onto something, he liked the idea with the dawn and dusk parallels.
It was Isaac who had another clue. “Allison has barely been sleeping either. Ever since that ritual, she’s having the worst nightmares and did her best not to sleep.”
“Two people with sleep problems does not equal a pattern,” Lydia said and she was unfortunately right about that.
“Let’s assume, it’s relevant,” Peter suggested. “Given that you’ve plastered your Homecoming dance posters everywhere, it’s not hard to conclude that some teens would sleep badly. This Eleanor is a nurse? That’s not too far fetched either.”
Peter had a point about that, it could not hurt to assume. If it did not turn anything up, then they could drop that idea. Stiles had been right with his virgin sacrifice theory to a degree, even though not about the little dog owner part. In the end, sometimes leaning out of the window did reveal useful info. Other times you got a broken arm after falling out of it.
“Eddie was seeing Ms Morell for some reason,” Lydia said thoughtfully.
“You’re still seeing her?” Stiles said worried. “I thought you don’t have any bad dreams anymore.”
She shrugged purposefully not looking at Peter. “I don’t, but I still have to see her once a month to get bored out of my mind.”
While Peter continued to look something up, he did look over to her curious, when she answered his question. “So, did anything useful turn up?”
He and Isaac basically stared holes into him, while Lydia suddenly leaned closer looking at the laptop screen.
“That looks creepy.”
“Well, some of our ancestors seem to have a knack for illustration,” Peter appeared to agree with her.
“What is it?” Stiles had the feeling he was not going to like it either.
“There is a reference to a being referred to as the Diliculum Noctuae, some form of latin,” Peter began and then Lydia jumped in. “It means Twilight Owl.”
“Yes, that’s one way to translate it,” Peter agreed, while focusing on the screen. “According to this, it makes vulnerable people disappear in the early and late hours of the day. Without ever being seen, it picks up people from its place in the spirit world and transports them there. They are never seen again. The entry also mentions that the natives called it the Saphpoa.”
“If it’s never been seen, how do they know it’s an owl? What kind of owl are we talking about? Like the eagles in the Lord of the Rings? Only far less helpful.” Stiles wondered if the person who wrote that entry had been high on something.
“No, the author of the entry, followed it into the world beyond with two of his pack to recover a member that had been taken by the spirit,” Peter said in a way that Stiles could only interpret as devious. “The other pack members stayed put at the Nemeton to re-open the portal regularly to allow them to come back. They always made it a point to stay in groups of at least two - because the spirit could only steal those who were worn down and alone.”
“Can I see?” Stiles asked finally, finding it hard to believe that Peter had actually found the answer.
Peter turned the laptop around, revealing a scanned page from an old book, underlined with a script that provided tags for abilities, victimology and traits. As he scrolled up, three pages the file revealed a really creepy drawing of a demon like creature, with dark blue-ish skin and grey-blue feathers, a gigantic beak and arm and wings. It was not quite humanoid and not quite bird. It was positively grotesque. Maybe not Darach levels of fucked up, but pretty awful nonetheless. It’s eyes reminded Stiles a lot of the kanima so it was not exactly encouraging.
As for the text, it was hard to decipher, it was written down in some old English letter style where an s locked more like an f. “Just how far do those records go back?” Stiles asked.
“All the alphas usually kept a diary with threats and potential allies they encountered. Some of them downright distrusted their Emissaries and rather relied on what information they could gather,” Peter had to know that he struck a nerve with that. “Instead of hoping that the druid assigned to them would reveal the information in time.”
“Maybe some alphas were simply untrustworthy,” Stiles shot back. While he knew Deaton could be secretive, defending him against Peter felt like his solemn duty.
“Untrustworthy - you mean like Derek?” Peter said. “Yeah, I’m sure my sister is totally satisfied with how Deaton fulfilled his promise to look after him. All that good advice Deaton has given my nephew. Oh wait, he didn’t.”
“It’s not like Derek is even listening to advice,” Stiles said thinking about all those times when they had the right idea and Derek would not listen. It sort of occurred to him that sometimes Derek had agreed to their plans - but that was neglectable.
“I wouldn’t say never, occasionally you get through to him,” Peter insisted. “As much as everything else, learning to take advice is a process and I’ve not yet given up on Derek.”
Stiles really disliked the sanctimonious tone Peter was using. But he saw little reason agitating as long as they still might need his help. From what he could decipher here on those pages, it certainly looked that way.
“So wait, the pack just opened a door to the other side, walked over, found their pack member and then fought off the Dilicu Nocta something thing without effort?” Stiles said sure that he had misread the text.
Isaac who was hanging over his shoulder, but clearly had more problems with figuring out the old letters shrugged and said: “Well that sounds good, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, you’ve read right,” Peter replied with that certain look that said this wouldn’t be quite as easy. “What Isaac is overlooking here is that they had a functioning pack. Even if we could count him as now belonging to Scott, that still would make no difference.”
“Stiles certainly belongs to the pack,” Isaac defended him. “Derek often enough said so.”
Peter just rolled his eyes. “If you look at it from a sentimental point of view. Fact is, Stiles is not a werewolf. The bond that exists between an actual pack is nothing either of you have experienced. But luckily we might work around that.”
With that he gave a Lydia a meaningful look.
“Oh, whatever it is, you’re leaving her out of it!” Stiles snapped at Peter before he even thought about it.
Lydia sighed. “He hasn’t even said what it is.”
“I can live just as happily without either Scott or Allison or whom else might sleep bad at night in this town,” he let out an evil grin, that made it seem to Stiles like Peter knew about his problems with the nightmares as well, “I’d really think you should be nicer to me since you need my help.”
“What do you want?” Isaac said annoyed. “A place in Scott’s pack? I’m sure unlike Derek he’s not willing to tolerate you at all.” If that had offended Peter he was not showing it.
“Well, maybe if he actually helped to save Allison,” Stiles suggested. Even he realised that antagonising Peter further was contra-productive. Afterwards they could always tease him about what a stupid idea that had been.
Instead the waitress was showing up again. “Can I get you anything?”
“No, we’re good,” Stiles said hoping that Lydia having a drink was enough for them not to get kicked out. “Maybe after we figured this out.”
“Okay,” the waitress said clearly not looking at him but smiling at Peter.
“Oh, please,” Isaac said after she had gone.
Lydia was ignoring them. “So what are you suggesting?”
“Back in the days, the pack was able to walk in and out so easily because they all shared a bond. The demon could not influence or distract them. If we go inside, we’ll be more vulnerable and even if we find the others, we’re still four people without any connection. We could never find our way back to this world. But, “he paused and smiled at Lydia. “We share a bond. You can stay behind and when we need to cross back over, I can find my way back to you.”
“Well, that sounds a lot less sinister than I had anticipated,” Stiles admitted but he was not comfortable yet with the thought, “So she stays here, being safe, while the three of us go over there and find the others?”
“Not quite,” Peter began and explained that in order to open the portal, they needed to go to the Nemeton and that would be were Lydia needed to wait. To protect her, one of them would have to stay behind. As a lone person, even a banshee, would be in danger. “Given that Stiles, underwent the same ritual as Scott and - Allison, it might help locating them.”
Isaac frowned. “So, you want me to stay behind and have an eye on her?” he said and managed to sound quite affronted by that.
“I’m not sure I like the idea, either. How do we know, you won’t double-cross us?” Stiles tried to figure out how this might benefit Peter. If it really was just that he needed a pack to hide behind. He seemed to clever to count on Scott taking him in.
“You won’t, might as well be a scheme to dispose of all of you ….” Peter leaned back.
For a moment nobody seemed to know what to say. Then Stiles brushed it off. “Yeah, right.”
He knew Peter well enough to know that there was little wiggle room, they had a limited set of options. Just like their substitute sacrifices had been the only way to find their parents in time. There was also the fact that he remembered all too well what Peter had told him about how much stronger werewolves were as a pack. He just had to hope that this was the reason he would keep helping them.
What worried Stiles was that Peter had for the most part avoided serious fights. Now, he wanted to face off against the owl demon with just him as backup? Something was not quite right.
“Wouldn’t it be better if Isaac came with you?” Stiles suggested “He’d be a lot more helpful in a fight.”
“True.” Peter said. “He has also a lot more issues that would get in the way of reaching the demon.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Isaac leaned forward, sounding aggressive and probably rightfully insulted.
“Let’s say if I draw a picture, I would start with a freezer.”
Stiles felt almost jealous, that Isaac seemed to have made it to the top of the list of people that annoyed Peter. He was sure if they were going together he had a chance to earn that back. As he really did not want to get along with the zombie wolf.
“What has that to do with anything?” Lydia wondered.
“If you look on the last page, the alpha describes how the captured pack member spoke about how the Saphpoa played mind tricks on him. When we reach it’s world, it will use the bad experiences, our fears - against us.”
Stiles shrugged. “We all got our bad experiences, a lot of them thanks to you.” He sighed, “So why does that matter?”
There had to be more to it. Thankfully, Peter liked to hear himself talk. “It’s more like how we cope with those bad events and believe me, you’re doing a lot better than our self-esteem deprived beta over here.”
Feeling that Isaac was about to get up and do something stupid, Stiles placed his hand on his thigh, not even realising how awkward that was until Isaac looked at him. “Dude, chill.”
That was all Stiles could say as he withdrew his hand. It worked: Isaac was grinding his teeth but remained in his seat.
“Why are you helping us anyway?” Stiles asked.
It might be a dumb question and he was not expecting an honest answer but Stiles hoped that whatever spin Peter would put on it, would give him something. He wanted to help Scott, but he also did not want to run into a trap blindly. There was this distinct feeling that working with Peter was just a bad idea.
“Why not?” Peter shrugged. “I’ve told you already, I’m not the bad guy.”
“Yeah right,” Isaac scoffed. “That’s why you tried to kill Allison and her family.”
“You mean the same Allison that nearly killed you, when she stabbed you a dozen times with her dagger right after shooting you full of arrows?” Peter gave Isaac the same look Stiles’ father reserved for little kids that didn’t quite understand why throwing rocks at a police car was wrong. “Wherever I could have gotten the idea from to go after her and her lovely family. Tell me has her father already threatened to blow your head off or does he just disapprove of Scott?”
This conversation was skating at the edge of total disaster. Stiles wondered how Peter found these things out. Isaac shifted in his seat, dug his fingers into the table and one more push and the claws were going to come out running the waterproof coating on the diner table. “Okay, let’s all calm down a bit.”
“How does he know these things?” Isaac wanted to know.
“Because he isn’t blind?” Lydia said looking pretty grouchy. Of course, she was right. That something was going on between Allison and Isaac was pretty easy to see. “Seriously, could you stop this pointless arguing? The last time I looked we didn’t have a whole lot of options, so either we’re doing this or I’m going home to get a good night’s sleep as I don’t plan on being taken next.”
Rubbing over his right eye, Stiles knew that she was right. They were gambling but they had not much else to bet on. It was either taking the chance or losing Scott and Allison and possibly more.
“OK, we’re doing this!” Stiles decided and neither Isaac nor Lydia contradicted him.
“Great, meet me at the Nemeton, an hour before dawn.” Peter shut the laptop and then picked it up as he rose. “I also suggest, you come alone, if I get a whiff of anyone else, you’re on your own.”
With those words, Peter walked out of the diner, carrying the laptop casually while the three of them looked after him.
“You shouldn’t have agreed, there is something fishy about him,” Isaac complained.
“What would you have me do?” Stiles protested. “I hate asking him, if there was any other way, I’d use that first.” Tapping on the table he continued. “I totally expect he’ll try to screw us somehow. He isn’t doing this to be nice. He wants something. Let’s just hope that it does not end up with us being dead.”
“I don’t think so,” Lydia says. “I’ve got a feeling he much rather rub our noses in how he saved Scott and we couldn’t have done it without him. But I agree there is something else he wants. Did you notice the look on his face, when he read about where the Saphopoa had taken them?”
Stiles had not paid that close attention to Peter’s face, mostly because he liked to plant his bat there. Hearing him talk was sometimes irritating enough. Isaac obviously agreed with him, as he shot him a look, as if Lydia looking that closely at Peter was the bizarrest thing ever.
“Why are you even looking at him?” Stiles asked her.
Rolling her eyes, Lydia leaned back in the seat. “Seriously, guys, I thought we’re trying to figure out why he is helping us and what to watch out for.”
“But it does not tell us anything!” Isaac said with a bitter tone.
Lydia shrugged and moved across the bench to get up. When Stiles asked her what she was doing, she replied that she would get some sleep. “Since Stiles has to drive me to my place, and we could all use some rest, I suggest, you two stay over. We’ve got enough guest rooms.”
Isaac had not liked the idea much and complained a lot until Lydia put him up in a room. Stiles took all the complaining with an eyeroll. One bad dream later he was shaken awake by his shoulder. When he turned around, Lydia sat there, wearing a blue robe and night gown with lace surrounding her cleavage. Only she could act if that was no big deal. Maybe it was not, he was certainly not as smitten whenever Scott had woken him after a sleepover. But even with a lace top Scott would never look as ravishing as Lydia.
Neither of them was particularly chatty, they got dressed, they ate a quick breakfast and then gathered some snacks and blankets. It had occurred to Stiles that when Isaac and Lydia were waiting for them, they probably could use something warmer. Even Lydia had decided on a thicker outfit, that was not quite her usual look. Isaac was of course covered with his coat and scarf, but Stiles felt seriously underdressed.
He had not felt that cold last night but who knew what would await him on the other side. It was certainly not fair to think that at least Isaac and Lydia could in theory sit close. Stiles hated to think how close those two might end up despite their layers of clothing. All Stiles would have over there was Peter and he was sure he’d rather freeze to death.
Neither of them had slept very well it seems. Even in the car, Lydia and Isaac were not saying much. Stiles was too preoccupied with whatever would await him and how he could possibly do anything against Peter if he should decide to double cross them. Isaac might have a chance, which was probably the real reason why Peter preferred Stiles’ company. Yet, the argument given by Peter for picking him also made a lot of sense.
That was the whole infuriating thing about Peter, if you thought about it rationally, the former alpha always a solid basis for an argument. It was just when common decency and actually giving a shit about others came into play that those points started to stink worse than tuna after three days in the sun during the hottest week of the year.
“I’m just wondering,” Lydia finally broke the ice on their drive to the Nemeton. “How can Peter meet us there, if he has no idea where the Nemeton is?”
“Damn,” Stiles slammed his hand on the wheel and stopped the car. “Why do you think of that only now?”
“I don’t know,” Lydia replied with a drawn out voice. “Why didn’t you think of it?”
Isaac smiled nastily from the backseat, “Told you.”
That was exactly the smarmy attitude that Stiles did not need right now. It should have occurred to them, especially to him. The whole reason why they had done that ritual was because Peter and Derek said they had the Nemeton’s location taken from their memory. While Peter could have lied about it, that was too much of a jackass move even for Derek.
“Shit, what do we do now?” Stiles asked with a hint of desperation in his voice.
“Got to the Nemeton, anyway.” Lydia decided. “I’ll have the feeling he’ll show up - but I can’t help but wonder how he found it again. I wasn’t implying he intends to stand us up.”
“Of course, he’s not standing you up,” Isaac replied. “He’s not one of your boyfriends after all.”
More surprised than angry Lydia spun around from the co-driver’s seat: “What’s that’s supposed to mean?”
Stiles started the car again. “Can you please keep it civil? We don’t have a chaperone to spare.”
“Trust me, there’s no need for one,” Lydia said firmly and he could hear the hurt in her voice, especially when she added: “Not ever.”
That was the last thing she said for a while, despite Isaac making a few more remarks, that seemed tamer compared to his jab about Jackson dumping her and Aiden going to pursue Deucalion at this unfortunate time. The good thing was that this time, Stiles managed to find a better place to park the Jeep. One that was closer and did not result in any more bruises to his forehead. The mark from last night was already providing enough color.
“So here, we are - again.” Stiles said as he swung open the door and jumped out of the jeep. It occurred to him that Lydia has never been here, when he turned she was still sitting there and staring ahead. “Lydia?” he asked and then louder again. Finally, she turned to him and concerned he asked her if she was okay.
“Yes - no,” she said with a pained expression. “There is so much …”
Then she fell silent again, giving Stiles the chills, because that never meant anything good. “What?”
“Death,” she said with a tear filled voice. “It’s like there is death everywhere.”
Checking with Isaac Stiles could see from the look on his face, that he wasn’t the only one who was crept out and ready to shit his pants. A year ago, he might have not hold much stock to this - but Lydia was not just psychic or something: she was some sort of Geiger counter for dead. Her self description still rang true, despite them having discovered a name for what she was: a banshee. Which said even less about her than the Geiger thing.
“Maybe there has been some massive squirrel epidemic,” Stiles tried to offer helpfully while the others got their backpacks, then got another idea. “You know it might the echo of the people Jennifer killed. Then again, as said, not necessarily human death - maybe some people went hunting, maybe a pack of lemmings got lost here …”
“It’s the Nemeton connecting this place with the other side,” Peter said creeping out of nowhere.
Ever the predator he had snuck up on them: not even Isaac had heard or sensed him. “Are you trying to give us a heart-attack?” Stiles yelled.
It was pure exaggeration but he hated being startled. Stiles wasn’t able to see that well given how dark it still was and Peter had gone back to his dark leather look for this. Just instead of a long coat and red shirt, it was a jacket, dark jeans and a dark green sweater. It worked reasonably well as camouflage. Lydia was on the edge as well, she certainly did not need this imagery on top of having some death vibes washing over her from that damn tree stump.
“No, but I could try - if you ask nicely,” Peter smirked at him.
The mention of death, the other side or any of their comfort was clearly not affecting him at all. Stiles looked at Isaac who shrugged almost unnoticeable at him. Whether it was a meant as a ‘go ahead’ or not, he took it at such and turned to Lydia. “Are you doing okay?”
“I really don’t like the woods,” she replied and stepped bravely forward with her chin held high. Her backpack swinging from her right hand.
Stiles felt proud of her, it was a definite signal that she had no intention of letting Peter scare her. After he had picked up his bat and locked the Jeep, he followed her example. Peter was heading straight towards the Nemeton. Lydia was right to wonder how he knew where it was. “So have been here lately?”
“Not since the eclipse,” he answered.
“You’ve been here, too?” Isaac asked surprised, then he turned angry. “Yeah, probably watching as we had the earth dropping on our heads.”
“Believe it or not,” came the ominous reply, “I’ve had all your backs that night.”
Stiles doubted that very much. “Yeah? How?
However, the way Peter upped the pace, made it clear he was not going to elaborate anymore. Which was odd, given that it seemed like if he did something for them, he would be eager to rub it into their faces. Or maybe he just preferred to go all mysterious - in which case a leather coat might have served the image better. They did their best to keep up with him and when the Nemeton stump came into sight, they all paused.
Or maybe it was Lydia pausing, as she looked extremely pale and unwell. Stiles stepped closer to her when he noticed that Peter turned towards her. After a second of hesitation he took her arm. “So this is it, then?” she said and Stiles saw that she rather be anywhere else. Shaking her head, she looked at Peter. “So what now?”
“I’ve set up the necessary elements to allow for us to cross over,” he said and as he pointed over to the Nemeton, they saw that a bunch of stones were spread around the tree as well as some lines drawn around it.
“What happens if it rains or the weather goes bad?” Stiles wondered. “I’m assuming Lydia needs this set up to open the door again, doesn’t she?”
Peter nodded, “Yes, but once the ritual has been completed, the lines will be semi-permanent.”
“Oh,” Lydia blinked. “When we open this, it will weaken the barrier even further.”
That was the catch. Stiles felt like he should have known. It had to be something bad if Peter was involved, if he was willing to help. While he had no idea what would be the consequences, it had to be awful. After all, the last suggestion made by Deaton had been horrendous, if it this came from Peter it just had to be even worse.
“What does that even mean?” Isaac asked.
Which was a really good question, now that Stiles thought of it. He felt compelled to share his ideas. “Maybe the ghosts of christmas past, present and future will come.” That was silly of course. He dreaded to think of the real problem. “Welcome to Beacon Hills. A Beacon inviting creatures from all other states and since today, also from the beyond.”
Peter rolled his eyes. As if their concerns were nothing. Stiles hated that so much about him. Instead of backing down, it edged him on even further. “When did you thought to mention this?”
“I didn’t thought I needed to it’s kind of obvious. People get taken to the other side, we need to get over - thus we need to make door and open it. What you think? Playing with dark forces always has consequences. But you either make your decisions, and live - or in my case die by them - or you get out of the way.” Peter took a deep breath. “Mind I remind you, that you’ve set this in motion?”
“When we establish the doorway, how bad will it be?” Lydia interrupted their argument.
“Think of it as a wound that scars. Once made it’ll always be there. However, as the wound heals it will seal itself, eventually, it will be almost as hard to breach as before.” Stiles wondered how she got a straight reply from Peter, then it occurred to him, that maybe that had to do with her asking and listening to the answer. The creeper’s voice almost reached a comforting tone. “If something comes through, here - at least we’ll notice. Especially you. I don’t think you’ve a shortage of people looking out for you.”
Lydia looked doubtful. Within a few seconds Stiles, knew what Peter was signalling beneath those words. “That won’t be you, you’re days of looking at her are so over.”
“So are we going to do this then?” Isaac asked.
Derek’s only surviving disciple stood with a face that would put his old alpha to honours and watched the three of them talk. This was indeed what they needed to decide.
“How do we know you’re telling us the truth?” Stiles felt like grilling Peter further. He preferred to do that with more than words but he did not want to be repetitive. “For all we know, the sapopaa,” he began.
“Saphpoa or Diliculum Noctuae,” Lydia offered helpfully.
“Let’s stick to using Saphpoa,” Stiles said and then turned to Peter. “Yeah, anyway, how do we know you don’t just plan on feeding us to it.”
“Tempting thought.” Peter smirked at him.
Stiles ignored the jab and then shook his head. “We can’t risk it, we need to find out more.”
“We might not have more time,” Lydia said. “In the book it said all the other people taken had already been dead. We can’t be sure but it seems there is a time limit until people can be pulled out.”
That was dreadful enough but Stiles felt fidgety about trusting Peter. Whatever he said, he was the bad guy and he’d taken advantage of him doing everything for Scott before. He did not want to be played by him again. “But trusting him, he probably made friends over there or something and …”
Peter sighed and rolled his eyes even more prominently. “Well if you feel like this, then by all means, let Scott die. I certainly don’t care about .. Allison,” Peter said. “Let’s just call it quits, we all get restful sleep and hope that this thing continues to not pick us. Who knows it might even be full after swallowing up a couple more restless teens.”
“That would be so you,” Stiles said hurt and frustrated that he had no options. That it was risk this or lose his best friend. “Not giving a damn and standing by when innocent people die or suffer.”
“The last time, I’ve watched innocent people suffer, I’ve killed every single person responsible,” Peter shot back . “Then I got killed for it.”
“You got killed because you’ve went after Allison,” Stiles was not going to let that stand. “She was not even here when it happened and eleven years old. So don’t give me that going after the responsible ones speech again.”
“So, I was a bit over enthusiastic,” Peter shrugged it off. “I’d think you of all people could relate to that. That need to bury someone just because you don’t like what they stand for.”
A chill went through Stiles’ spine. That was not true, if so only a little bit, but this was not the time to self-reflect. If it came from Peter the best approach was anyway to ignore it. If it was not a mean spirited pseudo psychological attack, then Stiles would eat his trainers.
“Guys, it’s cold out here - can we either do this or not do this?” Lydia asked. She had put on her backpack so she could hug herself and rub her arms. Of course he was right: it was too cold to stand here and debate.
Isaac sighed. “How about we vote, then?”
“Good idea,” Peter immediately jumped at this, “everyone who wants to wait a bit longer and risk Scott actually dying instead of doing this now, raise their hands.”
Stiles realised it was good he was standing so far away, because he had this itch to use his bat. However, of course putting it like this, nobody raised their hands.
“Fine, we do this!” Stiles agreed. “But if you trick us - I swear, I’ll use my wolfsbane bat and make sure you’ll stay on the other site.”
Peter looked at him in the most discomforting way: the ‘I-kind-of-like-you’ way. What could be scarier than that, Stiles felt much safer as long as Peter spoke about knocking him unconscious. Especially since this look came up with the same topic every time. “You know, I still think you’d make a good werewolf - but you’ll also make an adorable puppy.”
“He’s right, you’re sort of cute, when you’re getting to the point.”
There was the possibility that Lydia was just saying that so they get on with this. Stiles found himself thinking whether or not her seeing him in that light was something he liked or not.
“Now, that we’re in agreement, let me show how to kick in a door to the other side.” Pulling out a rather nasty looking dagger, one that had an ornate hilt shaped a bit like a dragon wolf demon creature, the dagger was curved slightly and had little carvings on the top of the blade. It looked very, very sharp.
Stiles frowned. “I hope that does not mean, we’re going to sacrifice a rabbit something.”
“Did you bring one?” Peter tilted his head. “This tree demands a sacrifice but in this case just a tiny bit of life force will be enough. There are seven stones, which need to be activated in the proper sequence.”
Curiosity got the better of Stiles. “What else we do? Say Klaatu Verata Nikto?”
“Actually, you don’t need to say anything. But you can if that helps to get you in the mood. Not that I think that Lydia needs a mnemonic device to remember the correct order of seven stones.”
That could not be argued, so far he had left out the most pressing issue and Lydia needed to know. “What exactly is the sacrifice going to be?”
“Just a bit of blood,” Peter flashed the dagger, “don’t worry, it need not be yours. Isaac can be the gentlemen and donate the amount of blood.”
Looking at the grouchy beta, Lydia was obviously not convinced that she was getting out of the blood part but ruffled by her gaze, Isaac stepped up to the plate. “Sure, but if I can open the door with my blood, why drag her into this.”
“Because, we don’t want to leave the door open all the time or open it randomly, do we?” Peter stepped around the Nemeton. “When Stiles and I are gone, it is best to immediately close the door by sprinkling water on the stones in the opposite direction. That will function as a band-aid - if we keep up the wound metaphors. Once it is time to go back, I’m going to give Lydia a shout out. Then you’ll open the door again.”
It sounded almost too reasonable, too considerate of the possible dangers for Peter. He had no choice, again he hated Peter for being the one with the answers and knowledge while they might not even be able to overpower him to keep him in line. There was something else.
“You’re sure that it’ll work?” Stiles asked. “That Lydia will hear you?”
“Given that the last time I was over there, I’ve made myself heard pretty thoroughly,” he explained while playing with the dagger. “I’m a bit out of practice but as I don’t need to relate an entire plan, that won’t be a problem.”
Lydia nodded. It was a lot to ask of her to have Peter communicate with her again in this manner but she was still on board. Getting Scott and Allison back was clearly more important to her than her own discomfort. Stiles was proud of her and he could not wait for Scott to be back to rub it in how totally wrong he was about Lydia. While Stiles could say he had always know that she was the best - well, the best boyhood crush one could have that eventually turn into a hopefully lasting friendship.
Provided he was getting back out of this alive. “Okay, so - go ahead - open the box of the Pandora.”
“How dramatic,” Peter remarked and walked over to the first stone. He sliced with the dagger through part of his palm and blood dripped down. They all heard the slight splash on the stone. At lest, the sight of blood was not making Stiles as queasy as it used to. Chances of fainting were going down toward zero.
Without wasting more words, Peter paced along the lines dropping blood on each stone while making sure not to disturb the lines. They all watched him closely - waiting for something to happen. The thing was, there was nothing going on. No smoke sizzled when the blood hit the stone, there was no unholy glow or anything that showed that this was actually working.
“Are you sure, you don’t need a magic phrase?” Stiles asked amused by the display. He liked the idea that Peter was doing this and it would be utterly and deliciously humiliatingly useless.
Peter gave him the ‘please shut up’ look. “This is not Harry Potter.”
The tension grew and when he finally let the blood drop on the final stone, completing the heptagram, nothing changed after all. The cut healed now that Peter took his claw out of his open wound and that was it.
“Well, that was a splendid success,” Stiles grinned.
Isaac cleared his throat and the way Peter kept staring next to him, made him finally aware of Lydia. She was ashen white in the face and looked like she had just strolled naked into the school cafeteria during lunch break.
“I think it worked.” Peter walked over to them. “Now, just to make this absolutely sure. Stiles and I will step onto the tree, then after we disappear, you use water on the stones. Then you got to wait.”
“We just step on the tree?” Stiles stood up straight. “It’s that easy?”
Apparently it was. Peter clearly was ready to go. Pulling his jacket straight, more for gesture than effect as it crawled right up, he turned to Isaac. “Be nice to Lydia, for me?”
“Oh,” Isaac shook his head slowly as if to say he was thinking it over. “For Scott and Allison.”
“It’s always good to know where you’re standing with someone,” Peter said looking at Lydia. “Sorry about all this,” Stiles wasn’t sure what else to tell her. To his amazement she suddenly hugged him.
“Be careful, I’ll be reasonably safe here.”
Then she stepped back and turned to Peter. “Please, bring him back.”
“If it’s reasonably possible, I certainly will.”
A comment that Stiles immediately translated to rule of the pirate code: Every man that falls behind is left behind. That sounded about right, he would have to make sure it did not came to that. Holding onto his bat, he walked up to Peter, staring him right in the face. “Let’s go then.”
“Here, you’ll need this.” Peter held out the dagger to Lydia who took it like he handed her a poisonous spider.
Stiles was nervous. The thought that Peter was risking this must mean it was either reasonably safe or that he was planning something really big and it was just worth the risk to him. Everything was a cost benefit analysis with Derek’s uncle. It was almost as if losing physical strength had made him even more dangerous.
Taking one last deep breath, Stiles stepped forward over the lines and onto the surface of the cut down tree. He saw Peter do the same and then felt the resistance. He was straining to raise his remaining foot to walk onto the Nemeton. A firm, painful grasp took hold of his arm and Peter dragged him through the invisible barrier.
The moment they had passed it the were tossed forward and once more Stiles’ face made contact with a root. They were still in a forest but the ground was different: the leaves glowed in bright pink and green tones. The tree trunks were in a reddish brown and the higher Stiles looked the more this turned into a pale blue.
It was neither night nor day. Next to him Peter was already on his feet while he scrambled to get up, reluctantly taking the hand offered to him. “What a trip,” Stiles said looking around. “Wonder if this is like being on acid.”
His voice fell as he saw the massive age-old monster of a tree that was the Nemeton. They were definitely not in Kansas anymore: in this place the tree was still present as if it was never cut down. The vegetation as different in colour, the trees looked a bit fuller but it was otherwise that same location.
Peter was also taking in their surroundings but with more than just his eyes as he silently moved about and listened. Trying to make another comment he was shushed and with something between a groan and a sigh, he did keep his mouth still for like a minute or so. “So that’s what the other side looks like? No wonder you were in a hurry to get back.”
“You can’t shut up for like five minutes, can you?” Annoyed, Peter walked back to him causing Stiles to hold a bit closer to his bat.
Shrugging he replied. “Where do we go?”
“Last time, I didn’t exactly come with a set of eyes, given that my burned body was interred under my old house.” Instead of doing anything Peter just walked past him, “I suggest going towards where Beacon Hills is - or at least is in our world.”
“So the plan is checking out where Scott or Allison vanished and then sniff your way from there?” Stiles said carefully following in Peter’s path. “Is that the plan?”
“I doubt very much that we can find those spots. Even if, I don’t think I can track them. This whole place is, I don’t know,” Peter paused, “doing something to my senses. Like the colours, it twists around my sense of where sounds are coming from and your scent is so warped, that I could not follow it, yet alone recognize Scott’s.”
“But then how do we find them?” Stiles just realised that he had somehow counted on Peter leading him straight to his friends. Given that he was the predator with the great senses - now he remembered that there was a reason why Peter wanted to have him along.
“We keep our our eyes and ears open,” Peter suggested irked. “If you stopped blabbering, we might pick up something.”
Not wanting to admit that just maybe his so much disliked travelling companion had a point, Stiles opted for thinking about what Peter had said again about him coming along. That way him not saying anything was just a by product and not him actually giving in.
Stiles really hoped that Scott would appreciate what he was doing here. It seemed lately it was more up to him to play the hero. Even though he was lacking the physical make-up; or at least compared to his supernatural spiced up friends. Fact was, while he was still falling on his face a lot - quite literally at that, he was a far cry from the same scrawny nerd that ran through the woods with his asthma afflicted best bud. Keeping up with werewolves, banshees and dark druids was a nice follow up to the usual a lacrosse practice. So his face might be hurting but he could run a long while before getting any stitches.
It was not just that bond of friendship that Peter had mentioned to help and find them, it was that sacrificial ritual they had undergone. If only he knew how that connection was going to bring them closer. Then there was still the matter of the Saphpoa. If it was half as scary here as in the picture Stiles felt doubtful that they were able to do that much against it.
Peter had obviously regained some strength but he was not an alpha anymore, which was bad in this case for this particular fight. He was not even sure how much use an aluminium bat with wolfsbane coating was going to work against that thing. He much rather had Isaac along or even the twins. And Stiled wasn’t too fond of them, but there was strength in numbers.
“How do I do it?” Stiles finally asked. An exasperated sigh later, Peter wanted to know what Stiles was talking about. “How do I use my connection with Scott to find him?”
“I’ve no clue - but thinking it through isn’t going to help here. This is a matter of the heart, of instinct,” Peter explained. “If you feel like going into a particular direction - go there.”
“I knew there was another catch to this,” Stiles complained.
He’d preferred more a helpful tool, like a treasure map that had the Nemeton and some other landmarks on it with a treasure trail leading to a huge x. That would be the lair or whatever the owl demon was using to hold the people it had kidnapped. He’d even do with breadcrumbs, they certainly would fit right into this surreal forest. There were no birds or other animals to snatch them up.
Apart from their steps and the wind rustling through the trees it was eerily peaceful. The fact that their steps seem to approach them rather than come from them, made this not one bit better. He did not want this whole finding Scott and Allison to rest solely on his shoulders.
“What about you?” Stiles asked. “Can’t you find him, too? After all you’re the one who bit him.”
“The connection has thinned out a bit. With the whole bit where I died and Scott became a true alpha. But who knows?”
As casual as the subject was brushed off, Stiles could still sense that Scott being the alpha bugged the hell out of his shady companion. It filled the dark little corner of Stiles’ heart with glee. It only seemed appropriate that after everything he had done he had to accept his former beta as pack leader, if he did not want to remain the lone omega. A prime example of poetic justice if Stiles ever heard one.
“What makes you so happy?” Peter interrupted his thought.
“Nothing, I’ve just thought about that one time when,” Stiles fumbled. This was like getting caught reaching for the cookie jar and pretending it he wanted to get the cooking pot next to it from the shelf. “We came looking for Lydia, when she was running around,” he sighed realizing his attempt to explain the smug look on his face away was not working. “Come on, it’s funny that now you need Scott as your alpha.”
“Do I?” Peter said with a tone that was the acoustic version of a sucker punch. This whole time they had assumed that Derek’s uncle was helping because he needed a new alpha, given how he always spoke about how important having a pack was. The mere idea seemed to only amuse him.
“You’re going after Scott’s powers.” Stiles could slap his head thinking how obvious that should have been. The demon that took Scott had probably already weakened him and as soon as they found him, he could slash Scott’s throat and take the alpha power.
It happened so fast. Once the realisation hit home for Stiles, he noticed Peter stopped. Without thinking he grabbed the bat tighter and swung it with all his might; but he was not fast enough. A sharp pain went through his wrist and made him go to his knees. The bat dropped uselessly to the ground while Peter held him down with one hand. Stiles’ wrist was ready to break with the smallest movement in the wrong direction.
“Go ahead, then,” Stiles looked up. “I’m not going to help you find him.” If Peter expected him to beg for mercy he was not going to. Gritting his teeth he stared into the almost bored expression of a suspiciously unwerewolf-like looking Peter. There were no fangs and he had not even bothered to dig out the claws.
“For all your cleverness, you can be exceedingly dumb sometimes.” A smile appeared on Peter’s face. “I’ve told you once before I can be very persuasive. You know what else I’ve told you?”
“You’ve told me you’re not the bad guy.”
It popped to mind immediately. The most blatant lie ever told by Peter Hale, and Stiles could only hope the persuasive part would be just as false. Stiles was not going to give up his friend, even though the ongoing wincing made that seem probably a little doubtful from an outsider’s perspective.
“Exactly,” Peter said and let go of his wrist. Complaining noisily about the pain, Stiles felt it was not broken after all. He did not move and kept staring in frustration at Peter’s boots.
“I know, what you’re doing,” he said keeping calm. “You act as if you don’t so I’ll lead you to Scott after all. But I won’t fall for it.”
“Between the two of us, I’m most likely to succeed on my own. If I leave you here, to look for Scott all by myself, you’ll die,” Peter pointed out ever so helpfully. “Just as always, Stiles, you just don’t have a choice. I’ll find Scott with or without you and wouldn’t Scott stand a better chance with you coming with me?”
Shooting Peter a hatefilled glare, Stiles slowly rose using his good hand to support himself. “I will not let you kill Scott.”
“I’ve no intention to kill Scott or you.” Shaking his head Peter stepped back. “The only person here, constantly screaming for people to be put into the ground is you. Now, pick up your bat - or else you don’t have a chance to find out whether I intend to kill Scott or not.”
“You’ll almost broke my wrist,” Stiles complained as he bend down to swoop up the bat. It hurt holding it with both hands.
Peter rolled his eyes and then simply kept on walking. “Next time, I just might.”
Stiles waited until Peter had gotten a few steps ahead before adding: “For someone trying to act as if he’s not the bad guy, you’re doing a great job at impersonating one!”
His witty reply was not even acknowledged but he resigned and followed Peter. If only to be there for Scott in the critical moment, even if that meant just distracting Peter long enough for Scott to stop him. Which seemed like a lose lose situation: If Scott was killed he would lose his powers and if he killed Peter the result would be the same.
“Hmm, I assume that you not wanting to join Scott’s pack means you finally realised that nobody wants you anyway?”
“No, it means, I value staying alive.” Peter looked briefly over his shoulder. “As long as Scott, you and the other stumble around haplessly in Beacon Hills, a discrete lone wolf like myself is safe enough.”
“I’m not falling for it.” There was little else to say on the matter, when Peter suddenly stopped. Stiles followed the example and yet he could hear their footsteps. Or rather someone else’s footsteps that sounded like theirs would sound if they were still in the real world.
Looking around Stiles didn’t see anyone approaching them.
In the corner of his eyes, it was almost as if he saw something move: something like the flash of a light. Staring around some more Stiles was almost ready to believe that he was just imagining it, because those damn colours were getting to him; but he saw it again. Maybe two feet ahead from Peter was this shimmering, foggy presence.
It was barely anything and yet Stiles knew if it felt like a ghost, looked like a ghost, floated on the ground like a ghost - then it was probably a ghost or a sign that he was going nuts. They were in the beyond so, it had to be a ghost. Oddly, enough that made the most sense.
Peter looked at the apparition and then went to sidestep it, as if it was nothing more than a pedestrian blocking his way on the sidewalk. Unlike the werewolf, Stiles was curious about the ghostly figure. When he came closer he heard whispers and then recognized some vaguely female features.
The figure floated next to Peter and even got in his way at one point, causing him to just step through her. Which even Stiles had to admit was sort of badass. The ghost had a different opinion, it was berating and even trying to belittle Peter. Having closed in, he was finally able to make out the words or maybe he was just getting used to the weird hushed voice the ghost used.
“Run down and weak,” she called him and Stiles was sure the words, “having gained all that power for nothing.”
At this point it occurred to him whose ghost this was. He had seen her face before: buried in a whole in the ground with the lower part of her body cut off; then once more in the morgue: The ghost was nobody else but Laura Hale. She was not yet done laying into Peter, which in any other situation Stiles could have easily enjoyed with a whole bucket full of popcorn.
“You’re still broken and alone,” Laura’s voice whispered from the wrong direction. “Thought getting your own pack would finally get you some company? We both know nobody likes you.”
Stiles wanted to ask her something. They never really knew how Peter had gotten along with the rest of family before the fire and this seemed a good chance to get some answers. Derek was not telling; Stiles had tried to bring up the Page incident to find out just how full of shit Peter had been when it had come to his version of events. He never had dropped a subject as fast when Derek had looked at him then. However, Laura’s ghost seemed more than willing to spill the beans.
“Hey, Stiles,” a familiar voice came from behind him then.
Forgotten was Laura, as Stiles turned to the empty air behind him. He still hadn’t gotten used to the sound displacement. ‘Damn,’ he thought feeling something appear in his back. Facing back to the direction that Peter was walking while ignoring Laura hovering around him, he saw Matt. For a moment, all he could do was think about the fact that after all these years Matt had died his worst nightmare. Given how pale and puffy his ghostly face looked, that was unavoidable. “Matt,” Stiles wearily acknowledged the ghost’s presence.
“Fancy, seeing you here, and still so alive,” his creepy ghost voice still brought across the psycho tone from that night at the police station. It reminded Stiles of one thing: How helpless he had felt when Matt had struck down his father. Gone was the previous thought. This guy had butchered tons of people using Jackson, he had almost gotten Lydia killed and he was in his way.
“Sorry, Matt, don’t have time to chat,” Stiles said and took a step forward. He was ready to go through him, when he opted out in the last minute to sidestep Matt.
“Think you can save your friends, Stiles?” The ghost began mocking him. “You couldn’t even stop me. You really think you can stop or even distract Peter?”
Matt hit all the right fear buttons proving that even in death he was still competing for the Beacon Hill’s most psychotic killer trophy: he had some steep competition. But Stiles was not willing to take notes, but he was deciding that maybe he should make a list.
“We both know you’ll like to see him in the ground - but unlike me, you don’t have the will to follow through,” Matt continued.
“Unlike you - I’m not a psychopath,” Stiles protested. He was nothing like Matt. If the ghost thought his unwillingness to murder dozens of people and then some more for a stupid mistake they did years ago was him lacking will, Matt was welcome to that view.
“Aren’t you? You were perfectly willing to let Derek die, left him in the hands of the very person who murdered most of his family - and for what?” Matt gloated. “Does that make you a good person - or just a cowardly psycho?”
“Stiles,” Peter’s voice suddenly mixed in with Matt’s accusations. “Don’t engage it - just keep walking. They’ll go away soon enough.”
“Oh, is that what you want?” Laura’s ghost voice was filled with fake sympathy. “I thought you’d be glad to see me again? We’re family after all.”
Those ghosts were both nasty, maybe dying just made them mean, but they certainly would not help or give them information. It was hard to ignore them. At least Stiles, was not able to stop thinking about what Matt kept saying. “You’re cruel and vindictive.”
“I’m not,” Stiles said before he could stop himself.
“Oh aren’t you?” the ghost taunted him. “At least I’ve killed my victims quickly - you’ve burned yours alive, didn’t you?” With that last bit Matt’s ghostly apparition stared over to Peter. “You think, he’s forgotten that?”
“Of course, he hasn’t,” Laura’s ghost chips in ever so unhelpful.
Their words pull him all over the place, it’s like they knew all those thoughts he never shared with anyone, not even Ms Morrell. He had talked with her about Matt, he might have shared his experience that night when they effectively had helped Derek murder Peter as well.
It had not seemed that much of an issue. It had been self defence after all, yet the experience had an effect. Once Peter had risen from the dead, it was just too easy to act the same way he had: Like nothing serious had happened that night. But that was just not the case. Stiles had always worried that maybe Peter was eventually out for some payback. Stiles also wondered what it said about him that he seemed so indifferent to his own actions.
“They are not real,” Peter scolded him. “They only have as much power over you as you give them.”
“How can you be sure, they’re not real?” Stiles wanted to know. It seemed more likely that Peter just clung to that thought so he would not have to face the niece he murdered. The other option was of course that being a total psycho Peter simply did not care at all. As a matter of fact, he kept just on walking, while Laura told him that he was doomed to die all over.
“Here we’re having the great alpha, tugging his tail and fleeing from a mere memory.”
Stiles groaned. “Oh shit,” he knew that voice too well. Figured that the looney toons dark druid could not miss out when they were obviously having a fucked up persons convention. One that Stiles wasn’t even so sure, he was wrongly attending. Even though he was in the company of people who in between them had butchered probably three dozen people. But there was also Laura with no body count attached to her: it just happened so that her last name was Hale.
Jennifer Blake was ignored, very much like Laura, she nonetheless kept charging on with words, probably hoping she could find a soft spot in the seemingly impregnable armour of Peter’s ability not to give a shit. “Just to think, that if you had not failed so badly in the past, the other’s might actually have listened to your advice. But here we are.”
Stiles bit his lips not say anything but he just had to listen. Whatever Jennifer was getting at, it seemed important. Maybe that was why Peter could ignore whatever was said: he did not care what the ghosts thought of him and he cared even less about Stiles’ problems.
“No safe place to go - needing a bunch of teenagers to hide behind,” Jennifer’s ghost laughed in a very unsettling soft and yet maniacal manner. “Still nobody is listening to you - nobody takes you serious.”
For the first time Stiles realised that this was not entirely true. They had been listening to Peter. They were taking him very seriously. So what was Jennifer going at? Unless, these ghosts were not making observations at all: If Matt revealed Stiles’ fears so easily, maybe Laura and Jennifer’s ghosts did the same to Peter?
If that was true, did that meant that Peter suffered from feeling underappreciated? That he actually saw himself as someone they could ask for advice? Stiles was totally ready to believe that he felt weak, seeing how the Twins had swept the floor with him. Even after all this time being back from the dead, Peter had barely been able to stand on his feet when Scott had brought him to the ambulance.
It had not been that long ago, either. Stiles wondered why Peter seemed to be so much stronger again.
“Tell me, Stiles,” Jennifer’s apparition finally turned towards him. “Are you following in Scott’s footsteps? Instead of stopping the psychopath you’re going to join him?”
“No, he used Deucalion to stop another psycho - you!” Stiles yelled at her. He just wanted them to shut up. Instead, the others whispered their agreement, wanting to know if he really meant to team up with Peter.
Jennifer in her batshit insane delusions was neither stopping nor making sense. “This time around you might have to make a few sacrifices yourself.”
“Will you be able to kill to save your best friend in the world?” Matt simpered along.
Laura hit upon another sore issue. “If only you had taken the bite - then you might have actually a chance now. Wouldn’t that be ironic?” The ghostly figure looked to her uncle who kept looking back at Stiles who trailed behind his steps.
“Yes, a sacrifice to be made,” Jennifer’s ghost voice sounded almost shrill as she kept close to Peter.
Uncertain of Peter’s true intentions and all too aware that Peter had no qualms with killing if it serves a purpose their insistence that Peter needed to die if Scott was to life was falling on fertile soil. However, Stiles was neither convinced that this was the only way, but he was sure that Peter’s increasingly disapproving looks towards him were not a good sign.
“If I knew where to find Scott,” Stiles began hoping that if those ghost were edging them on for a confrontation they were willing to lend a guiding hand to the place where that was likely to happen.
“Stop talking to them,” Peter told him once more. “They do not know anything.”
“Oh yes, ignore me,” Jennifer said hovering in front of Stiles. “You know what can happen if you overlook the wrong person.”
In a blink she was gone, her voice closer to Stiles while her foggy ectoplasma had gone back to pestering Peter. “You didn’t - but they don’t know just how observant you are.”
“What does that mean?” Stiles said, taking a faster stride forward. His answer was being grabbed by Peter. Yelling as the claws scratch his chest, Stiles’ jacket and shirt were tightly held in Peter’s fist as Stiles found himself drawn closer to the angry werewolf. “Focus on finding Scott.”
With that Peter walked on and Stiles had a problem keeping up. At least for a moment the ghosts shut up but the joy over that did not last long. After less than two minutes of blissful but angry silence, they see a body slumping from a tree. Stiles thought, someone had tied that person to the trunk and that said person was hopefully just unconscious. When he came closer, Stiles almost hoped this person was not still alive.
There was no rope or liana that bound the body to the tree: the body had grown into the tree. The legs were almost completely molten into the thick trunk with only the tips of the young teenagers sneakers sticking out. The arms hung to the side but the elbows were also embedded inside the tree.
“Holy shit,” Stiles said and feeling a wave of nausea rushing over him. He had seen a lot of fucked up things but that was straight up nightmare fuel. That trumped what had already haunted him since the ritual or even ever since the supernatural had crept into his life.
Knowing he should look away was not the same as being able to and when he recognised that this was the body of Eddie Spencer Stiles threw up. They had not been close, but he had seen that boy every day in high school for the past years. Apart from the horrifying way his body was immobilized, there was such agony on his face. What skin Stiles saw had begun turning to tree bark.
He heard Peter give an unsympathetic groan at him retching but Stiles could care less. “Please, tell me he is dead.”
Hearing those words come out of his mouth, did seem a bit callous, but in that situation, Stiles would rather be dead. He had no idea how to save Eddie - even worse what if the same thing was happening right now to Scott?
“No heartbeat,” Peter said and that at least was something.
Stiles waited until the content of his breakfast were completely gone from his stomach before he stood up straight. Wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket he turned to see Peter taking a closer look at the body. “He has been gone for how long?”
Between wanting to point out how fucked up Peter’s non-reaction to this was and thinking about the answer, Stiles felt his brain powering back up. Eddie had been gone the longest, what had happened to him might not have yet happened to Scott or Allison. “I think it’s been ten days now?”
“Let’s hope he hasn’t been dead long, then,” Peter said, making Stiles’ chin drop.
“Oh yes, let’s hope he’s been withering away growing into a tree for days on end.”
His outrage was met by Peter tilting his head, ignoring him for the moment. Calm and collected he said: “It’s bad we’re too late for this kid, but the longer this takes the greater the chances are that Scott is still alive.”
“What if,” Stiles began feeling his breathing quicken, “we find Scott like this?”
“Then I’ll suppose, I’d have to put him out of his misery, won’t I?” as he spoke he leaned forward and touched Eddie Spencer’s cheek with the tip of his finger. A small crack appeared and within seconds it began stretching over the side of his face, ran between his eyes and across his mouth to the other side. The parts of Eddie still outside the tree crumbled into a heap of dust.
Peter waved some of the dust away from his face and sneezed. “Drained of all life force.”
Was this the reason why Peter was so eager to go along? He expected this to happen, hoped that Stiles would have no choice but to ask him spare Scott the agony of dying like this? At this point everything seemed possible.
“Yes, Stiles that is the question isn’t it? Can Scott still be saved?” Jennifer’s ghost was back, like a bloodhound who had smelled an open wound. “If you can’t save Scott, will you let Peter become an alpha again?”
“What do you think would be worse?” Laura chimed back in, “Having no alpha to stand between your friends and whatever creatures come to Beacon Hills or having Peter be that creature?”
Matt tops it off with the completely superfluous remark that Peter is holding back information. Stiles tries to ignore the ghost by looking at Peter who signals him with a shoulder movement to get going.
“The thing is, Stiles,” Peter began explaining. “Scott should last longer than any of the others, because he is an alpha. He has great healing powers.”
“So you’re saying he is still alive?” Stiles asked, while the ghost trifecta simpers on about not trusting Peter and him needing to make a life and death decision.
“Yes, I’m quite certain.” It was obvious that Peter had taken this path through the trees for a specific reason. There was much determination behind his steps and it gave Stiles the energy to ward of the ghost’s voices by focusing on how well he could hold the bat with two hands. His wrist still hurt but if necessary he was sure he could put the pain aside for a blow.
“Do you know what actually dying feels like?” The ghostly voice that asked him this was a new one: Despite how unreal the hushed ghost sounded Stiles recognized it. He was not unable to ignore this one: Not Heather. His first instinct was to just hide his face and wishing it wasn’t her but there she was: directly in their path and looking so pale and tragic that it drove the point of her question home even further.
“I was so scared, I’d hope you’d come back,” Heather’s ghost continued to hammer the nails in. “I thought at least when you saw I was gone, you’d tell someone. They could have saved me.”
Stiles hated to think what Jennifer had done to her. As the darach she had not just murdered the people she had chosen - chosen them because they had been close to him, Scott and the others- like a true psychopath Jennifer had terrorized them and then ended their life in a gruesome example of overkill.
“But I suppose I should be glad I didn’t suffer that long ,” Heather’s ghost mused as she pulled off the graveyard melancholy in her voice with chilling precision. “Or else you might have felt compelled to end my suffering.”
“What? No!” Stiles could not believe she would think that. “If I’d only known, I thought you changed your mind, that maybe you …”
“Stiles, this is not the girl,” Peter tried to remind him. “If you must bore someone with your regrets, talk to me - after all I’ve suffered through worse.”
Even in this situation Peter could still be such an uncaring asshole. Stiles felt his anger flare up. When Jennifer began teasing him about how much Heather begged and pleaded for her life, it only made him more angry. He kept thinking about those victims tied to the trees, about Eddie and how he had not been able to do anything at all. He had not even known that Heather was gone until his father had questioned him about her disappearance.
“Are you really going to trust Scott’s life to Peter? Someone who murders his own family for power?” Laura reminded him.
“Stiles you’re letting them feed of you.” Peter warned him and the added. “I think we both already established that you don’t trust me.”
“That is exactly it, I’m stuck here in the fuckig fuchsia forest,” Stiles yelled back. “Stuck with a murderous fiend who is hoping my best friend will be too far gone, so he can take his powers with my blessing.”
“Will I end if Scott’s life if he’s too far gone?” Peter asked giving Stiles a moment to take it in before stating that he absolutely would. “Do I expect your thanks or a medal for it? Certainly not. Do I count on taking another innocent life? No, I’d rather not.”
Near the end Stiles, heard Peter’s voice crack a tiny bit. His cynical side wondered if this was an act but he did not want to exclude another possibility.
“Of course, he would!” Jennifer’s ghost added. “He’s only ever looking out for himself.”
That seemed to be the truth, Stiles knew nothing could distract himself from that. It was the big divide and it made him step further away from Peter. “Where are you leading us?”
“To a place I recognize, if you’ve a different path to suggest, by all means, go ahead.” Feeling the scrutiny of Peter’s gaze, Stiles realised that he had not idea where to go. He had been way too glad that Peter had decided on a more specific route.
“You’ve planning to go this way since we came here - you’re just looking out for your own interests.” Stiles felt he was not saying anything new but it had gotten a more expanded meaning. Especially with all the talk about sacrifice.
“Yes, I am,” Peter wasn’t even denying it. “Just because I’m doing this for myself - doesn’t preclude that you’ll stand to benefit as well.”
“Oh, are you planning to offer me the bite again?” Stiles scoffed unable to believe that Peter might think he’d consider that a remotely acceptable trade off. “If you recall I don’t consider getting turned into a total psycho a benefit.”
“Of course not - in hindsight, I’ve come to realise that having the two of you in my pack is entirely too annoying,” Peter sighed.
Stiles did not had the luxury to believe that those words were meant honestly but they certainly came across that way. While Peter had kept his motives in the dark, he had not once alluded that he was out to actual kill Scott from the get go.
“As if that was ever going to happen under any circumstances,” he stated. “One reason why Isaac accepted Scott was because Scott is trustworthy, you’re not.”
“How do you know that? I’ve never broke a promise and I think I always made it clear where I was standing.” Peter shook his head.
Almost as if he believed his own press but Stiles knew better, he had carefully observed him as he spun his tale about Paige and Derek’s tragic romance and was sure he had been lying through his teeth. There was earlier proof of Peter’s dishonesty to be had as well.
“How about that time when you told Scott that if he helped you, you would spare Allison - which you clearly did not! Hmm?” Stiles felt particularly proud of that point. He crossed his arms and stopped but Peter kept on walking and made Stiles having to catch up again.
“You are aware that Scott did not take me up on this offer?” Peter pointed out once Stiles was closer.
But Stiles was not done yet: “Yeah you told me that you only go after the guilty ones. That certainly did not include Allison!”
Overly enthusiastic he had poked Peter in the shoulder which caused him to stop and stare at him disapprovingly. “Guilty by association. Her family burned down mine - including the children. Since Allison seemed like a younger Kate ...” Then he shrugged it off. “Well, I wasn’t at my best then. You didn’t notice me trying to kill her lately, did you?”
“But you’ve also been avoiding her at all cost,” Stiles pointed out.
“Given that I ripped her aunt’s throat out and she’d shown she is perfectly willing to kill her classmates who have never harmed anyone at all - I’d rather be cautious.”
Stiles own view of Allison was not as sugar coated as Scott’s and he had realised that in certain times she could be rather unstable but Allison had moved past that. At least that what it seemed like. Maybe the same could be said about Peter. “But she hasn’t killed anyone yet, that is a very important difference.”
“Have you ever truly hated someone so much that you thought that taking them down was the single most important thing you could ever do?” Peter looked at him for once apparently giving a damn about a true answer. Those Stiles had not problem providing.
“Not yet, but if Jennifer had killed my dad,” Stiles nodded affirmatively, “I’ve found her and I would have taken her down.”
“I’ve done something far worse to Allison - I’ve not just taken her beloved aunt from her: I’ve shown her Kate’s true face. Believe me that moment, when Allison saw Kate for what she really was - that’s what she really hates me for,” Peter smiled thought as if he took weird amusement out of this.
Scott had told him that Allison had followed Peter and Kate into the house, Stiles hated to think what that must have been like. Chris had already shown up confronting Kate at this point but hearing it and realising that this was the truth was an entirely different animal.
“Heh what happened to the ghosts?”
Their comments had been in the background and then suddenly their voices had gone away. Stiles was not even sure when it had happened. The forest around him seemed also changed: the fuchsia leaves seem to have tilted more towards the green spectrum in some places.
Peter looked rather smugly. “See, I’ve told you - they’re not real. Just an attempt to distract you.”
“How did you knew they’re not real?” Stiles wondered.
“If those were really the ghosts of these people and they tried to stir up more distrust - believe me, “ Peter gave him an amused nod, “They would have mentioned other things.”
“Like what?” Stiles asked. It seemed unlikely Peter was going to answer but he was curious, this had been occupying his mind the whole time. But a mischievous smile was all what he got before Peter kept on walking.
“I don’t think you’re ready to hear it,” Peter eventually said. “But unlike Scott, I think you might eventually break out of that black and white mold. You’d rather take a life if you believe that would save another life. You got the right instincts.”
“We sort of killed you, didn’t we?”
Stiles realised he felt absolutely comfortable saying that, because Peter’s reaction was not outrage - he was more amused than anything else. Given that they talked about him getting burned alive, he was sounding way too relaxed to be holding a grudge. Even psychopath did not take these slights against them lightly. “See, you and I aren’t that different, after all.”
“I’m nothing like you.” Even though he felt Peter was baiting him, Stiles had to protest such an tremendous insult.
“I think you are,” Peter kept going. “Face it Stiles, you can be pretty nasty. I think that is the real reason you did reject the bite. Because if you had the power, you’d use it.”
Even though Stiles pretty childish about the reply, he said it nonetheless. “Would not!”
Peter was not going for a ‘would do - wouldn’t do’ exchange, he was laying into the point he had set up with this line of argument. “Yet, you’re were hoping that the Argents would use Derek to find me and then kill the both of us, just so that Derek wouldn’t be in the way. That makes me even feel a bit proud of you. Such a level of narcism. This whole werewolf thing got in between you and Scott. Suddenly you were not feeling like you could keep up and with Derek out of the picture as well - Scott had nowhere to turn but to you.”
Even though in hindsight Stiles was not feeling proud about his actions, what Peter threw at his head was hitting a nerve. He had no idea why it had been so easy to leave Derek in the clutches of the enemy, why he had not bothered to mention his cell phone theory to Scott. He had been so eager to support Scott crashing the prom and yet when it came to a life being in danger he had turned a blind eye.
Scott had found Derek but not after the hunters had tortured him.
“Derek just had lured Jackson to the house to kill him,” Stiles said instead. “Someone had to protect Scott from his own goodness. ”
If Peter was disappointed at his deflection he wasn’t showing it and he wasn’t giving up either. “By letting Derek be killed, even though Jackson not being dead, should exhonerate him from that intention and thus make you willing to let a person die just because you didn’t like them.”
“That’s splitting hairs,” Stiles grumbled as he was not sure what else to say. The ghostly figures had berated and poked him until all the uncomfortable thoughts had risen to the surface. Peter only made it worse by poking right into the heart of the worst problem: he could be such an asshole. His knee-jerk reaction back then had only made things worse.
Stiles kept thinking - at least every now and then - about what might have happened if he had helped Scott finding Derek. If they had rescued Derek before the prom, Lydia would have never been drawn into this. Or at least that was one possibility. Peter might insist that he had planned this all, but Stiles believed he had just been lucky that Lydia has been immune.
Which would mean that indeed everything fell all back to Stiles’ refusal to lend Derek a hand when he really needed help. Stiles shook his head. He refused to see it that way, he might have messed up a tiny, but Peter was the psycho. And maybe in all fairness Kate, too. Those two were at fault and that was it.
“Even if that remotely the case, which it is not,” Stiles insisted. “I don’t dislike Derek at all, well maybe a little when he tends to mess things up again.”
Apparently Peter felt charitable today as he said. “If any person was ever too messed up to be the alpha, I’d nominate Derek.”
“That’s rich coming from you,” Stiles gave Peter a side-eye.
“Temporarily - maybe one could argue - I was doing worse for moment or two,” he nodded. “But I’ve come around. Derek just spirals down further with every bad decision he’s made. Honestly, I feel bad, I should’ve been there.”
“Yeah, because of all the people to listen to Derek would chose the one who tore his sister’s throat out.” Then Stiles shook his head and rolled his eyes, as he realised that yes, again and again, that is exactly what happened. Peter was the one person Derek seemed to listen to. Even more than Scott and that was only because both had this need for sudden heroic actions. Usually not well thought out ones, if Stiles was honest.
Most of the time Derek was not listening at all, but when he was chances were good that he was listening to his uncle.
“He might not like me but he knows he’s better off listening to me.”
Peter titled his head briefly to one side, “He just needs to accept that you can’t be the hero all the time and not have those attached to you suffer for it.”
“Better than being the bad guy and intentionally making others suffer,” Stiles said, thinking about whether it was a good or bad thing to continue this conversation. Keeping the focus on each other seemed to drown out the ghosts or whatever they were, but Peter’s jabs were not that pleasant either.
“Aside from killing the people who murdered my family, whom I’ve made intentionally suffer?” Peter said with puzzled confusion that anyone not knowing him might have been taken as genuine. “I’m not saying that I’ve never made anyone suffer - but I can’t recall going out with the intention to make anyone suffer.”
Stiles couldn’t not think of an example right away, so just stated flately. “No, just set out to murder them.” Picking up the pace he added: “Or just look the other way and let people suffer. That night on the full moon, you didn’t even help out when you found out it was Cora! So much for family values. And how is using Lydia like that not making her suffer intentionally?”
Very pleased with that final blow, even though Peter would of course insist the intention was not the suffering but getting him to cooperate.
Peter looked at him, while still walking with ease, almost a bit too long, as if he was trying to figure something out. After a long moment, in which Stiles nearly toppled over uneven ground trying to stare back, Peter spoke.
“You are aware that if that night, Derek had listened to my advice - Cora and Boyd would have killed Jennifer. Three healers would not have died, the three warriors - not that I’m too unhappy about Harris finally biting the dust - and most of all you’ll never would have to do that ritual that screwed the three of you for life.”
Stiles frowned, really hard, with each ongoing word that came out of Peter’s mouth. It was a brutal truth paired with convenient wishful thinking. Probably the main reason why Derek had left: even though he had not knowingly done anything wrong all his best efforts had just made things spiral down from bad to worse. He had failed on every level - except of course at the end when he had saved Cora. One could wonder, if he had not let the darach into his bed and flat - who knew if Cora even been poisoned in the first place.
But Stiles wasn’t going to give Peter the satisfaction of agreeing with that. “What’s your beef with Harris anyway? Derek said you’ve come after him yourself before.”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“Should it be? I mean the guy was an asshole - but I thought that might endear him more to you than anything else,” he really had not liked his old teacher, who always had it out for him, especially after the werewolf thing had started but he could not imagine what his grievance with Peter was. Harris was way too young to have been around when Peter was going to Beacon Hills high school.
Peter made a soft noise, almost as if he was disappointed with him not knowing and it bugged Stiles. Not that he wanted Peter’s appreciation but he did want to be the clever one, the one to see the pattern. From all he knew, what could their chemistry teacher have to do with Peter, especially after he had just come out of the coma. “Heh, wait,” Stiles stopped as he said this almost unbelieving. “Are you telling me, that Harris had something to do with the fire?”
“You think a bunch of low grade arsonist and a chick that excels at shooting arrows and seducing underaged boys, know how to lie a fire that precise and devastating?”
Stiles was stunned by that, taking in the new information. Harris was a bad man but that he was that awful? It made a lot of sense though. “So he is the one that gave my dad the description of Kate’s pendant.”
“Yes, indeed,” Peter said with some loathing. “But I’m no longer upset that your father let him get away with arson.” A nasty smile appeared on his face. “Had Harris been in prison - he’d still be alive.”
The fact that Peter was so gleeful about how this had turned out was not the part that got to Stiles, it was the fact that he could relate. He had no idea why Harris would help with planning an arson, it hardly mattered in hindsight - what occurred to Stiles is that Harris was an even bigger piece of garbage than he had thought. He should have known. All that military honour code was just pretense anyway. This man had no honour.
Harris got away scott free with not only assisting in the murder of eight people but covering it up for years. Even if Mr. Righteous had not meant for them to use his knowledge to start an actual house fire, he had not even dropped an anonymous hint to the authorities. So much for cadets shall not lie and steal.
“That hypocrite!” Stiles burst out. “That’s why he kept sticking me in detention all the time.”
That was the real kicker. His dad hadn’t pressed charges - why that was Stiles had no idea. Instead of being grateful Harris started picking on Stiles even worse than usual. That was so unbelievable assholish.
“Well, bad tidings can’t hit the wrong people all the time,” Peter said.
Stiles did not feel like agreeing. Harris deserved some punishment but nobody deserved to be strangled, hit over the head and have their throat slashed. Even an obvious lying scumbag like Harris had a right to his miserable life. He frowned and looked at Peter.
“Why didn’t you leave with Derek?”
That seemed like a good question. Derek might not exactly like him but they had a weird connection going on and Peter had helped him save Cora. He had even actively encouraged Derek to avoid fighting Kali and went out of his way to warn him about how Jennifer had been playing hin.
“Why would I leave? Besides, Derek is running not just from this location but also the reminders of his failures. Like again, not heading my warning on something very important.”
“What warning?” Stiles felt confused, Peter had not figured out Jennifer either unless there was something he had missed. “I mean, it was pretty obvious that Ms Blake was playing him. It’s not like you figured her out in advance.”
“Not her, no - but I did warn him what happens if he lets older women take him for a ride.” Peter cracked his head to the side. “But even I couldn’t have guess how badly that would turn out again.”
Connecting the dots was just a matter of seconds but it took Stiles a while to get out all the “Oh boy” when the whole picture formed itself. It was not a pretty one. “Kate and Derek?”
That was almost more nauseating than imagining him doing it with the darach. That explained so much about Derek. The total lack of trust he showed everyone made so much sense. But at the same time, Stiles felt like kicking Derek for being such a macho wolf about it. After all he could have told them something more useful, maybe a little thing and then they could have trusted him enough, so they had a chance to earn Derek’s trust.
“Going out with a hunter is never a good idea, it’s such a shame Paige didn’t make it, she would have kept Derek out of so much trouble,” Peter said with an almost solemn voice.
Stiles almost believed he truly regretted it. He was sure Peter did. Stiles was just not convinced that it had been Derek who insisted on turning her. “So what are we doing on this particular path? I mean, didn’t we want to head to Beacon Hills?”
“You might find going to Beacon Hills disappointing.” Peter said as he stopped and spread his arms pointing to the trees around him. “Don’t you realise where we are?”
“We’re in the woods?” Stiles threw up his hands. How should he know where they were? It surprised him that with all the colour and sound issues Peter still seemed to have a clue about anything. “Seriously, I’ve got no idea where exactly we are.”
Peter ignored him, he took a few steps listening and feeling the surroundings, then he turned to Stiles. “I give you a hint: You’ve been here multiple times, but it looks different because, something is missing.”
He was not in the mood to play guessing games with Peter. Despite the relative benign situation Stiles felt this pricking on his back, as if his hairs wanted to stand up on edge but were not quite sufficiently triggered to do so. It was instinct telling him that something was going on that he was overlooking.
“Should we really be playing games, when we got limited time to find Scott and Allison?”
“You think, that’s what I’m doing?” Peter turned his back to him and nodded ahead. Apart from a bunch of trees with weirdly coloured trunks and too much pink in the underbrush Stiles did not notice anything, let alone any that should be there.
“Yeah, I’m thinking you know exactly where we’ll find Scott but you want to wait, until he is too weak to fight back.”
Turning his head Peter gave him an insulted look. “Back to that topic again.”
“Well, you’re always scheming - you never stick your neck out unless you hope to gain something. When was the last time you ever did anything for someone else? I mean just for them? Not as a byproduct to advance your own agenda.”
“I let some giant Alphawolf duo beat me all over the hospital to buy you time to get my niece out,” Peter said slowly approaching him, every step showing that he was still a dangerous predator.
Stiles was standing his ground. “Okay, one example. Next one. Because one event doesn’t make a pattern. Especially not if there are so much many more where you were in it just for your sake.”
“So what? Even if others benefit just as a byproduct of me looking out for myself,” Peter shrugged. “Isn’t the outcome the same for the others. They benefit just as I do.” He sighed. “I’m sure you’ve heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, Derek and Scott have been paving. You might feel inspired and safe with them, because they would do anything for you: like get themselves killed in a heartbeat.”
Stiles gulped, Peter was way too close and as much as he wanted to get away or simply not listen to him smearing Derek and Scott, he kept listening.
“Fact is Stiles, you’d be so much safer with me as the alpha. Because unlike some, I’m neither unwilling nor unable to lead.”
“Lead us where? Take out every hunter in town - you think you’d have fared better against the alpha pack?” Stiles knew that he could not win the argument by pointing to Derek’s excellent leader skills. Unlike Peter he thought Scott was doing a good job as their leader. He was not the boss, he was just there and they made the decisions together. Somehow he doubted there was room for that with Peter.
“I’ve made a few mistakes but I certainly would not have made sure every hunter in town knew who my new betas were before they even went through their first full moon. I’d never would have given the bite to Jackson or the others. You don’t give the bite to someone who is clearly maladjusted.”
“You randomly bit Scott in the woods,” Stiles pointed out.
“As I said, not at my best,” Peter said, remaining uncomfortably close when he leaned forward a bit. “Despite your recent problems, I still think you’d make a good candidate. You’ve survived the sacrificial ritual, I’m sure you’ll survive the bite.”
Stiles shook his head. “If you think I let you kill my best friend for the measly promise of something I don’t want anyway, you’re more insane than I thought.”
Peter laughed and finally backed off a bit. “I’ve told you, Scott is much more valuable alive. With everything that is going on, I can use him, you and your friends to take care of the mess you’ve created. Nobody, including me, will be safe in Beacon Hills unless someone stops whatever will keep coming. If I were to kill you, I’d have to do everything by myself.”
“It’s a good sales pitch but I’m not buying.” Stiles said, feeling proud how firm and unimpressed his voice sounded.
“I know I can’t convince you to trust me on this,” Peter admitted, “however I can tell you, that you will not find Scott unless you really want to.”
“Of course, I want to find him. I’ve come this far, with you on this crazy scheme,” Stiles yelled frustrated. “Despite knowing you’ll likely screw us over, because I’m that desperate to find him.”
Peter frowned. “My point exactly. You want to find Scott but you don’t want to find him with me. Since we can’t split up, because you wouldn’t last five minutes if left alone to these fake ghost, you have to want to take me to Scott.”
“You’re really enjoying yourself here? Aren’t you?” Stiles glared at him.
“Actually, it’s tiresome listening to your antiques again and again. Thinking that Scott might die because you’ve convinced yourself I’m out to kill him,” Peter laughed. “That would be an ironic turnout.”
“What can I do?” Stiles said, feeling like he had no choice but to risk it. Peter was right about that, he was slipping as much wrongness in there, but he always skated the truth long enough to make sense. In this case, the message was, he had no choice. It was just like being back on the football field or in the garage. Not doing this wasn’t an option. That was why he found it even harder to trust Peter: Since he instilled this feeling of helplessness in him.
Finding Scott might result in Scott and him getting killed but if he wasn’t going to reach him in time, Scott would be dead either way. He just had to hope that while Peter was still morally corrupt, he had been serious about the cost of killing someone innocent. Or maybe through some miracle he could stop Peter with his trusty bat.
“Think about Scott - then just follow your instinct,” Peter said as if that was the easiest thing. As if focusing on any one thing came to Stiles naturally. His mind was constantly pulled in all kinds of directions. He knew he needed to work with Peter to make this succeed, he also knew he was likely to get clawed in the back. That time was running out and if he did not watch out he might run into a trap.
He did pace around frantically mumbling “I’m trying” secretly cursing the fact that Peter was calmly watching him. That was what he was good at, observing and then striking.
But he needed to find Scott, so where to go? He thought about just pointing into a direction and say ‘This way!’ but when tried it felt wrong. Taking a deep breath, Stiles forced himself to calm down and looked around him, turning very slowly to see if a particular direction seemed more suitable. That was when he saw it. The eerie blue tone painting the tree tops almost hid the blueish light but in the distance between the trees he saw something flicker: a blue light that seem to move towards the trees. “What is that?” Stiles asked.
A new sense of dread filled him, especially when he did not get a response from Peter. His travel companion was just staring into that direction and then suddenly turned with a look of panic. Stiles had never seen that look on Peter’s face.
“We need to hurry.”
Without wasting any explanation, Peter ran past him. Stiles stared a moment, then he followed suit. At least that was what he tried to do, while Peter was gaining on him. Then abruptly the sprint stopped, allowing him to catch up only to see Peter looking around even more hectic than before.
It was almost as if he was trapped by something and could not figure the right way out. Unfortunately for them, it was not just Peter losing it to some vision akin to the spectral figures they had encountered: Stiles saw it as well. The pale blue sky was getting brighter all around them. The intensity of the blue light increased and finally he was able to see what Peter had recognized from the distance: The forest was on fire.
The blue light in front and behind them were flames closing in on them. Without thinking about it, Peter had taken the direction that had not been cut off by flames but that had changed. The two lines of fire were like two sicles closing in slowly: he and Peter were at the center. Or rather they had run from the center to the edge to find that this was not the way out.
“We’re trapped!” Stiles yelled, feeling ever so helpful.
“I know!” Peter backed off, still not quite sure where to go from here. His breath was going fast and Stiles saw his adam’s apple bob up and down.
“Can’t we just run through it?” The question seemed ludicrous but what other way was there?
“Only if you care to find out what being burned alive feels like,” Peter said darkly.
Stiles couldn’t help think ‘three times is a charm’, but he had not desire to rub it in. Not just because he was threatened by a fiery death as well. This prospect was beyond horrifying and made him wonder how Peter could have possibly being so forgiving for that one time when they did intentionally burned him to a crispy critter.
The thought of this about to happen to him was making him pissed enough that if the Saphpoa had anything to do with it, he vowed to pluck out all it’s feathers and then tar and feather it with them. “Is it the owl demon?” Stiles decided to ask, if only not to give into panic.
“Yes,” Peter said flatly and added: “I thought that was obvious.” But it lacked the bite to be a proper insult. Stiles realised that it took Peter every last shred willpower not to lose his head.
“Is there a body of water or something?” Stiles asked, realising that there had to be something that got them out of here. He recalled reading a few things about fires but wasn’t sure how to deal with intentionally sent magic blue demon fire.
“Yes, there is the river”, Peter sounded as if he was not to sure about where it was or whether they could reach it. “We need to get back and the fire might already be there.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Stiles said, hoping that Peter was still there enough to find the right path. “We can’t stay here, the fire is getting too close.”
He kept looking out for the smoke but strangely enough did not saw any. It could be the offset colouring of this place but as his lungs still felt fine, he hoped they had lucked out in that regard. Not that the choice between burning fully conscious and passing out then being burned seemed like it made that much of a difference in the end.
Staying away as far as possible from both sides of the fire, they ran back to exactly the same location where they had started out. The place that Peter had sought out. He stopped and got his bearings and then let out a disappointed groan. “The river is in that direction,” Peter said and pointed.
Stiles followed the outstretched arm and saw the blue flames already being very close. They might have reached it earlier but now that was next to impossible. “Why didn’t you go there first?”
“Because the fire was there in the distance,” Peter growled at him, before angrily as he gestured towards where they had just ran from. “There was no fire!”
“Okay, okay, we’re surrounded by fire, but there is no smoke. That has to count for something,” Stiles began rambling on and saw that the news struck a cord. “Yes, no smoke inhalation, got to give us some time to figure a way out. Is there any other source of water, underground tunnels, areas without trees?”
“No, not on this side,” Peter said pacing around him.
He reminded Stiles a bit of a caged tiger strolling around in the confines of his cell. Only here the place was open and Stiles was sure any moment, Peter might try to bolt.
Stiles stepped into Peter’s path not caring if he upset him. He had it with this mystery. “What do you mean by this side, what is here?”
“My old house,” was the unexpected answer.
Of course, he had been here but with the house gone, Stiles had not recognised it. It also made him realise something else.
“There are no buildings, this side is untouched by human influence, so there is no Beacon Hills and you knew this the whole time,” Stiles poked him again.
“What difference does it make?” Peter hissed at him.
“If it does make no difference, why keep it a secret?”
“Maybe I was curious to see how fast you’d figure it out - but you’re clearly not as smart as you think you are.”
“Yeah, which dumb ass ran into the open forest instead towards the body of water! Every kid knows better.”
Then Stiles felt the firm grip of a clawed hand around his throat, Peter wasn’t even looking at him, he kept his eyes closed and Stiles could imagine the cold, steel blue glow, knowing it was probably the last thing he was ever going to see. Damn him and his mouth, that was not the smartest thing to agitate the already severely stressed out psycho.
“You were saying?” Peter asked with a low growl.
The claws did pierce partially into Stiles’ skin, making him wonder how long it took to die if someone ripped one’s throat out. Peter had not gone through with it and it gave Stiles a few seconds to notice something before he was violently shoved to the ground.
“The fire,” Stiles said, groaning in pain from where his ass had hit the ground unpleasantly and the backpack bore into his spine. “I know, it has gotten a lot closer,” Peter’s voice was still full of the werewolf growl but he seemed almost resigned.
Stiles could sense that Peter wanted to find a solution, he had lashed out at him but clearly his homicidal urges had been rated a bit higher on their radar than they actually were. But Peter was also immobilized by a slowly creeping fear, if Stiles knew anything about that, he was aware that the block that set into his body had taken hold in Peter’s mind as well.
So he needed to think them out of here, rolling to his side to get up without sitting on his bruised butt in the process, Stiles saw that the ground was on fire in a different way: a fuchsia fueled nightmare. It seemed even worse than when they first came here. The only other time he had noticed a change in the colours had been after the ghosts had gone away.
It was maybe a theory to test, that if they just treated the flames as they did the ghosts: with utterly discriminating non-attention, that they also might disappear as a result. The problem was that while Stiles had fed the ghosts by not being able to shut out their words for the longest time, Peter had been almost completely immune against those attempts. They both had already given close attention to them and even made them come at them that much faster.
“Heh, wait,” Stiles said, realising that there was something not right about his analysis. He had not been paying attention at all to the flames when they had suddenly closed in one big leap. “The flames only got really bad and close, once we started to argue. They stopped once we stopped.”
Peter looked at him and Stiles realised he was beginning to hit on something. It was slowly dawning on Peter, as well. He just needed to give it more thought, then maybe something would spark, something about the way these attacks worked. The last time talking about it had helped, so he needed to get Peter to do that again.
“So the ghosts and the fire - it’s that Saphpoa knowing we’re looking for our friends. Right?”
“He needs to keep us away,” Peter agreed.
“Why?” Stiles needed to know. “It’s a big demon, can’t it just take us, too? If it can make people grow into trees?”
Peter shook his head. “No, I’ve told you, it can only get people on their own, even without a pack, we should be able to fend it off fairly easy.”
He did not even need to add the ‘if we ever get out of this and find it’. Stiles thought that this had to mean something. “So when the ghosts went away, it was after we began talking about stuff. You told me something personal or at least hinted at it. Then I said something as well and voila the ghost were gone!”
“Are suggesting talking the fire to death?” Peter said in disbelief.
“I don’t know, maybe - it’s a magical fire, isn’t it? We might not like each other or be in pack but we both want to reach Scott,” Stiles wondered what might get them to start a dialogue that was drastic enough to end this forest fire. “Besides, if it comes to talking things to death - I’m better armed than most.”
“Really? You’re going to share some sad stories from your past”, Peter said in a mocking tone. “And then I bore you with things about me you clearly couldn’t care less about?”
Put this way it did sound pretty stupid, but it was at least an idea. He was not keen on hearing more excuses from Peter about his past and he did not care about what other problems he might have had. It was after all so much easier to dismiss him without knowing more. Only in this case his life might depend on it. If them working together more closely or something along those lines had helped before, he was willing to listen to Peter no matter how much bullshit he’d come up with to make him seem more likeable. After all that was the idea.
“We’ve got to try something, since you don’t have any ideas, which I sincerely hope you’ll come up with any moment,” Stiles admitted, “we might as well try. At least the flames have not come closer yet.”
Peter looked around them, becoming calmer and if Stiles interpreted that look he was scheming at full force. It helped, that the nearest line of fire was maybe a mile away and had been this way ever since they’ve stopped arguing. “It’s no use, talking alone won’t do it. That much bad blood can’t be talked away.”
“It worked before,” Stiles protested, but he also saw that there was something else on Peter’s mind. “What would work?”
At this point Stiles was ready for almost any crazy idea. Peter was clearly considering something as he looked him up and down, but then he shook his head and said: “Nevermind.”
“What do you mean nevermind?” he thought he was hearing wrong. “If there is any chance, we should take it.”
“I think we should try and reach the river. See if we can get close enough.”
Whatever it was, Stiles could see the futility of that plan. The line of fire was definitely between them and the river if they were in the general area of the Hale house. “Peter, what is it? How much worse can it possibly be?”
Peter stepped closer leaned in: “We could form a temporary, intensive bond that would most likely make these attacks ineffective.”
“Okay, is it a magic ritual, does it involve blood? Because I’m not doing too good with blood.”
There was this slight hint of amusement on another-wise unreadable face. “If done right, then there won’t be any blood.”
“And you know how to do it?” Stiles wondered, thinking about all the times Isaac complained about Peter doing his memory retrieval by claw ritual.
“Yes, I know how to do it, Stiles.”
“Is there some joke I’m not getting? Because we don’t have time for that.”
He did not want to start of an argument but this was not the moment for being mysterious or witty or otherwise annoying. He knew Peter liked to keep them guessing to then make a statement as if that should have been obvious just to point out how clever was but this was not the time. He was in no way prepared for what Peter said in the driest way possible.
“Sex, Stiles, I’m talking about having sex.”
Stiles jaw dropped: right to the floor or so it felt. Then he pinched himself, before walking straight past Peter. “Yes, let’s find the river.”
“It’s that way,” Peter said and pointed in a slightly different direction.
They weren’t going fast, they walked maybe ten feet before they both stopped. The wall of fire between them and the river was not going to get away just because they once agreed on something. “Well, if it doesn’t work, I at least won’t die a virgin.”
“You should’ve taken the bite,” Peter teased him.
“Thank you, but I don’t need werewolf powers to get laid.” Stiles said proudly. “I mean I would’ve if Jennifer hadn’t …”
The thought still pained him, Heather dying like that, him actually thinking she had just changed her mind, wanted to find someone better, but Heather had chosen him. For whatever reason he really had not needed any bad boy werewolf charm. As ill advised as the circumstance and the location seemed in hindsight, Heater would have been a great mutual first time partner. She was sweet and he’d always liked her.
“Damn,” Stiles cursed looking less than pleased at Peter.
When it came between dying in the fire or having to do it with Peter, it was no contest. That was clearly something they could agree on but Peter was like the last person he wanted to give it up to. Even though, technically, there was not anything to give up to. It still was wrong on so many levels.
“You misunderstood me,” Peter clarified. “With the bite there would have been a bond that we could have used.”
“Or I might be dead,” Stiles pointed out. “Either way, it’s too late now isn’t it? Besides I think I rather chose the less temporary bonding solution.”
As he said so, Peter put his hand over his chest. “Hmm, I wish there weren’t a dozen reasons your heart was racing.”
“Yeah, throws off the lie detector, doesn’t it?” Stiles grinned, while also using this opportunity to get used to Peter touching him. He assumed that maybe Peter was doing something similar. So far their contact had been mostly hitting and shoving and Stiles had been at the receiving end of most of it.
“Are you sure, you’re okay with this?” Peter asked with what could pass as genuine concern. “Because it won’t work if you resent it too much.”
Of course, that was where the concern came in. Stiles sighed, sometimes Peter was hard to see through but in a way, he at least knew where he was standing with him on this issue. He did not need to wonder if he’d hurt his feelings because this would be strictly business.
“You’ve really done this before?” Stiles felt stupid asking and seeing that insulted look on Peter’s face, he quickly added. “I mean with another guy?”
There was after all no denying that he had gone after Scott’s mum and repeatedly stated that he thought she was gorgeous.
“My teenage years were a lot wilder than yours or Derek’s.”
That was immediately opening another can of worms. How would they do it? Stiles had done research on the subject, after all he had a computer with an internet connection in his bedroom. For him porn had always been porn, wether the participants were of the opposing or same gender. Which is why he considered himself good with the theory.
So he ran through the basics, how would he feel about a blowjob? Frankly, he did not want Peter’s mouth and those nasty fangs anywhere near his dick. That was totally out of the way and the other way around bothered him because if this was going to be his first time, he did want the ability to comment on it.
“Well, how intense does this have to be, for it to bond us - temporarily but sufficiently?” Stiles asked just to take that into account.
“I’ve no idea,” Peter said and moved his hand from Stiles’ chest further to his side. “I think enjoying it would be the key.”
“They say first times tend to suck,” Stiles deflected as he felt not quite ready for this. How could anyone even think about enjoying it in such a moment with someone they’re barely able to tolerate?
Yet, Stiles was strangely enough not totally put off. He just never had thought about Peter in that way. There had been guys that had crossed his mind before, especially another Hale but not the creepy uncle. While it bordered on the surreal and absurd two times over, the thought of doing it with Peter was something he could live with. Actually, it was probably the only way he could live.
“It’s up to you,” Peter said, “I know what I’d like to do - but I think I’m more flexible.”
“Let me guess? You do it doggy-style?”
Peter shook his head amused. “I rather see the person I’m pleasuring, makes it easier to tell what works.”
Stiles bet he would, he might be vain and self centered but Stiles could totally see him making sure that he got whomever he was bedding off good. Just so they knew how awesome he was. That was fitting nicely into his image of Peter. He could not help not wanting to be on that list.
Stiles knew that he did not want to have to look into Peter’s face when he came the first time by the hand of someone else. “Well, I think I’d like to.”
“So?” Peter said and tugged on the strap of his backpack.
“We’re really going to do this, aren’t we?” Stiles had the feeling that he was the only one who really had to get this through his head. “You were never serious about heading for the river just now?”
Peter’s slight tip of the head answered his question fully, of course he was not. The moment Stiles had pointed him into that direction, Peter would make this happen. Since he could not force the issue, he had to make him see that it was the only way.
“It’s not like you screwing me, is something entirely new,” Stiles said with a bitter tone. He put his bat on the ground and slipped out of his backpack. His complains would doubtlessly fall on very acute but uncaring ears. It would annoy Peter at least, making this slightly less fun for him.
“You make it seem like I’ve set this all up for this specific purpose,” Peter was casually slipping out of his leather jacket. “It’s kind of flattering - self-flattering, too.”
“What, you’re telling me, you’ve not been daydreaming about me?” Stiles found himself joking back.
“Damn, you caught me,” Peter said poking him playfully in the side.
“What?” Stiles felt flabbergasted, thrown off by the mere idea that Peter might actually have had previous interest. “Really?” Had this been the reason why Peter had wanted to give him the bite? That was almost more inconceivable and hard to imagine. That might mean this wouldn’t be a one time thing, he had flashes of waking up at night and finding Peter staring at him.
“Yes, really - I’ve been daydreaming - on occasion, “ Peter gave it a meaningful pause and sighed. “You know strangling or punching you.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. He should have know, Peter loved to lead him on. “No, thanks, I’m definitely not into that.”
He looked around to see if by some miracle them pulling themselves together had already done the job. If anything it had just stopped the flames coming closer. That only told Stiles that this plan might just work. He just needed to be more comfortable with the whole process.
“Okay, let’s make one thing clear: no biting, no claws and if I need you to stop, you stop,” he felt silly he saw he was holding up his finger to Peter’s face but it had to be said.
“Of course, we do it at your speed,” Peter assured him. Stiles believed it, because Peter was such a calculating bastard. Because ever since he had pointed him towards this solution Peter had been staying calm, despite the threat of incineration. This would work and in order for it to work, Peter would have to make him as okay with it was possible.
Throwing his jacket to the ground, he was surprised to see that Peter put his next to it. It still looked like a miserable spot to lose one’s virginity but it showed a medicum of caring. There was one more thing: Crouching down, Stiles went through his backpack, ignoring Peter’s impatient sigh, and then handed part of his “just-there-in-case” outdoor emergency pack: a handful of condoms.
“I see you’ve decided to embody the practical part of the boy scouts: Always be prepared.”
Stiles did not bother to get up, he just shrugged and looked up. “If I had been prepared that night - Heather would still be alive.”
Peter clearly fought against making an observation. Maybe he wanted to point out how conveniently selfish this excuse to always have condoms with him was. Stiles wanted to tell him to get on with it, that he had no intention to undress more than necessary. Instead Peter said: “It’s also what tipped you off about Jennifer’s pattern - thus maybe saving more lives down the line.”
Stiles suddenly got a weird vibe thinking about just how much different it would have been if they had gone to the hotel without realising that someone was murdering people in three. That it was a dark druid and if that meant Scott might have died, if they had lost Ethan and if that meant Lydia and others would have kicked the bucket down the line.
“This couldn’t be any less cheerful, could it?” Stiles said and ran his fingers through his hair.
“We’re in the world beyond, surrounded by a magic fire and watched by some dream demon who at this very moment is feeding off the life force of your best friend, ” Peter pointed out. “No, I don’t think it could be any less cheerful, Stiles.”
Whether Peter just voiced his annoyance at him stalling the inevitable or if he had meant to be supportive in his own weirdly psychotic way, it actually helped.
“Well, that was more rhetorical but now that you put it this way,” Stiles said, smiling up at Peter. “This is like a badass scenario to lose one’s virginity.”
An appreciative nod came from Peter, he probably did not want to admit that his first time could not compare to that. “Yet, I’ve got the feeling you won’t be bragging home about it.”
“You’re only jealous,” Stiles commented satisfied. “Oh very well, let’s do this then.”
Not bothering to get up again, Stiles knelt on the jackets and began opening his belt buckle. He glanced at Peter from the corner of his eye, so he could see him but not really see him.
“Your enthusiasm is overwhelming,” Peter told him.
“In case you’re wondering,” Stiles made a dramatic pause while fiddling with his zipper. “It is you!”
Nervousness was spreading through him, his fingers just did not seem to be able to hold on tight enough to pull the little bastard down. He tried to steady his hand, when he suddenly felt Peter behind him: Pressing his chest so tightly against his back that Stiles felt Peter’s muscles through their clothes. Peter used only one arm to establish a hold but even there his hand was way too low on Stiles’ body. With the other one, Peter took a hold of his zipper.
Stiles’ breathing came much faster and he felt his mouth dry out. He thought about protesting and telling Peter he’d said he was going to set the pace. Since that would also involve detailing what would be done next, he decided against it. As much as he liked talking he did not want narrate this.
Peter was not that overbearing, he knew better than to rush too fast to the finishing line. Although he was doing this creepy thing where Stiles could feel him practically sniffing and listening to his body. Stiles hated it on principle, because sometimes not being entirely honest went a long way. In this case, it seemed to help Peter to find just the right speed.
“So this does stay between us, won’t it?”
“Of course,” Peter said sounding as honest to Stiles’ ears as he could.
Stiles did not want any of his friends to ever find out, mostly because if his friends were to express how awful this must have been, he couldn’t keep a straight face. Not with those damn werewolves and their ears tuned into everyone’s heartbeat. Awful wasn’t the word to describe this at all.
The inherent wrongness of this also made this exciting. Besides who said the bad boy charm thing worked only on the cheerleaders of the world? Stiles tried to see this as the surprise opportunity to get laid with someone he just had not thought about before and would normally not think about.
Peter was for once not a total ass about it. Stiles felt reasonable safe and gradually turned on. With some skill Peter had moved Stiles’ jeans down to his knees. It did not allow for much room to move but Stiles was not feeling the need to be particularly active. Instead he just focused on warm hands moving over his body.
The first few times when Peter’s hand came in touching distance with his dick Stiles tensed up. Nonetheless, he felt aroused and even before Stiles allowed the actual touch to happen, his erection was growing quite noticeably. Peter also moved his greedy hands over another part of his body in a surprisingly possessive manner: Stiles liked the firm touch on his butt.
“You have been working out,” Peter said at one point, then leaning close to his ear. “Trying to keep up with Scott?”
“I’m keeping up just fine, besides there is no need to butter me up, I’ve already said yes.”
“Hm.” Peter made a noise and brushed with his fingers over his butt crack. “I beg to differ.”
Stiles frowned, there was distinctive lack of lube, now that he thought about it. At this point, there was no use to lament that fact. “You’re a great source of comfort, you know that?”
His reply was Peter holding one of the condoms up in front of him. It took him a moment to register it but apparently it came pre-lubed. “Never leave home without them,” Stiles said proudly, even though he totally had not paid attention to what type of condoms he had been buying.
He heard one being unwrapped and just as he wanted to ask why Peter was not undressing he felt, the warm, moist surface of a latex covered finger. Peter’s other arm holding him in an embrace while his hand rubbed against Stiles’ erection.
If Stiles said it felt bad, he would be lying. There was this brief moment when he held his breath as Peter’s finger invaded him. A moan escaped his lips as he felt it circle inside him.
The whole concept had always appealed to him at some level but actually getting the treatment was that much better. Stiles wanted more and only the fact that he had some sense of dignity left made him shut up and not ask. Not that had he had to wait for long, with his body relaxing so much under the touch, Peter kept going.
There was still this small logistic problem of Peter needing to peel himself out of his pants but he obviously had practice doing it one handed. At least, for the longest time his fingers stayed inside him with Stiles sometimes almost too eagerly pressing against them.
He knew he was too eager when Peter teased him about it. “Just tell me when I’m going to slow.”
“Nope, no complains,” Stiles said far too quickly.
“I know, I never had any,” Peter replied with his usual modesty. But Stiles had to admit, he knew what he was doing. Even if the fire was going to go out with one big poof, he would want to keep going. Not that Stiles would ever tell anyone that. It was bad enough that Peter certainly had noticed that jump in his heartbeat when he felt Peter becoming hard against butt.
“Can we get this over with?” he tried to keep it cool. Even though the frequent moans that escaped him made that a lord harder.
But Peter was still enough of a douche to not move on quickly. He stayed pressed close to him but removed his fingers. Preparing another condom by open it careful and thus extra slowly, Stiles was wiggling in anticipation. The feel of their naked skin rubbing against each other made him almost regret that they had removed only the bare minimum of their clothes.
It took forever, or so Stiles believed, when Peter leaned back and the skin contact disappeared. Of course he needed space to suit up but even then it was not happening fast enough. Peter gave him a feel but gave no sign to actually go on with this.
Patience was not exactly Stiles’ strongest suit: “What are you waiting for? An invitation?”
“Yes, of course I am.” Peter’s voice was so much of enjoyment, that Stiles considered giving him the elbow.
“You’re such an ass,” Stiles declared. It had to be said again.
“Why because I’m making sure my partner is enthusiastically consenting to the sex?”
It was official, Peter was the worst. “You could make escorting an old lady over the street to her church the most traumatic event in her 99 year old life.” Stiles ranted in frustration. “Okay, fine if you need this spelled out: For this one occasion, and only once, the answer is - YES.”
That was enough teasing fun for Peter it would seem, as he was getting more hands on again: one arm pressed against his chest Peter held him hand on Stiles’ shoulder. Using the other to guide himself toward his eager opening. Finally, feeling the large head poke against it was making Stiles glad he was on his knees because they felt a bit weak.
He could not help feeling it was not right to want this so much but that was forgotten when he was stretched open. This just was too good to be wrong. It did not even hurt but it was intense. Stiles was sure he was not ever going to forget one second of Peter’s dick forcing itself deeper inside him.
“That feels like a yes,” Peter was still in a teasing mood. He was not breathing that calmly anymore either but he certainly was now in his game. “Who says virgins are always such a hassle?”
Peter was getting under Stiles’ skin, in addition to be buried fully in his ass.
“Could we do more fucking and less talking?” Stiles suggested, not entirely convinced he really wanted Peter to shut up, but he did want to feel Peter’s dick move inside him. He got his wish, when Peter aimed a few thrusts that left Stiles panting and reeling with total sensory overload.
“Oh fuck,” was all he was able to say.
“Too rough?” Peter leaned forward and Stiles wondered if it was to listen to his heartbeat. Not that it should tell him anything as his it was already racing on its way to a possible coronary. Stiles shook his head, it was not, it was just intense and made him feel everything that much more.
Peter was not quite done showing him what he was capable of doing. As he kept on going, he was not just testing Stiles reaction to the speed and depth, no the bastard was of course looking for the perfect angle. Even though he had never had anyone stimulate his prostate, he knew it was happening when Peter’s dick brushed against it.
Stils went with it, thinking that maybe Allison moving onto another werewolf made sense after all. Stiles could barely take it being the one doing nothing and Peter was not slowing down. He even went as far to grab Stiles’ dick in such a way that when Stiles felt like he was about to come it did not happen.
Stiles felt he was going out of his mind, because he was brimming with arousal, like a pot that had build up so much steam that the lid was about to fly off. Yet, he was too overcome to urge Peter to let him come already. Stiles didn’t had to ask for it. Peter had just stalled him long enough so they would come together. At least almost, Stiles felt what he believed to be Peter going first and when Stiles finally climaxed seconds later he blacked out for a couple of seconds.
Panting like crazy, Stiles slowly took inventory of the world around him. His own body was an absolute mess, so he ignored that in favour of spying on the fireline. Then he laughed. “It worked.”
The forest was not just not burning anymore, it was like the fire had never been there in first place. There was no fuchsia left either. The colours were still a little bit off but at least they were now mostly green with undertones of unholy blue.
“That was good thinking on your part,” Peter said quite smugly, kneeling close to him.
“Before you say anything else, might I remind you, that I still go the bat?” Stiles pointed out even though so far had it been utterly useless against him.
Peter stood up and Stiles heard him getting dressed. There really was not much to say. They had done the bonding thing and it worked. Stiles had to get used to the idea that he had lost his virginity to Peter Hale. At least, he could not deny that it had been a damn awesome first time.
Even though with every move he felt this not exactly painful but very noticeable sting going through him. Stiles knew he was likely going to be sore for a bit. He had it worse, so he pressed his lips together and move to pull up his underwear and jeans. Still feeling a bit shaky on his legs, Stiles rose as well to properly zip up. When he went to pick up his jacket, he saw that there was a noticeable stain on the inside. “Aw, that’s just great,” Stiles said ignoring Peter’s snickering.
He got the toilet paper from the backpack and wiped it off as well as he could.
“At least, it’s where nobody can see it,” Peter said while picking up his jacket. All Peter had to do was shake off the leaves and dirt.
Stiles knew that would not be good enough. “Yeah, but they can still smell it, can’t they?”
“I would not worry too much, neither of the turned wolves have been that good at using their senses,” Peter shrugged. “It’d be more concerned if Derek was still around.”
Stiles bet that he would be. For some reason, Stiles knew that Derek would be livid about this. He would have rather sought to escape through the flames - then again for Derek sex never had turned out that well. Stiles took out a bottle of water. It was piss warm but it did the job. Before putting it away, he thought differently and offered Peter some.
“No, thanks, I’m good, ” Peter declined.
Stiles shrugged and put the bottle away, while Peter started to look around. With a sigh Stiles put on his jacket and the backpack.
With the bat finally back in hand. He test swung it a bit. “Well, then let’s go after that damn Saphpoa and free Scott and Allison.”
“If we have to.”
“Yes, we have to free Allison as well,” Stiles was looking around.
If the bonding thing worked against the demon then it might as well help him finding Scott. He kept looking around, pretty much like Peter did, but instead of listening or hearing or smelling their surroundings, he just kept an open mind. That did not do anything. He saw something purple glitter in the far distance.
“Do you see that?” Stiles pointed towards it.
It took a moment, then Peter replied: “Yeah, now I do. I think that is where the High school would be.”
“Then what are we waiting for?”
Stiles wanted to sprint into the direction but stopped as he felt pain shoot from his ass up his spine. He winced a bit and avoided looking at Peter.
“Maybe try taking it a bit slower.”
Grinding his teeth, Stiles decided to ignore this suggestion. Walking as fast as he could until he was comfortable at moving at a relatively fast pace. This mission was going hand in hand with entirely too much distance.
“Do you think that this is it - or is that another trick?” Stiles said after a few minutes of uneasy silence.
“The noises are coming from the right direction, the colour is a bit bleak but normal - I don’t think it has the power left to mess with our senses.”
One might call that a thorough success and it would explain why in the book the pack did not report any problem of this nature. It was just crossing over, confronting the demon and then back with their abducted pack member.
“In other words, that thing has been laying into us since we got here.”
Peter nodded. “I think it started even before that. The ritual made you vulnerable to it.”
Stiles couldn’t agree more when it came to that stupid ritual but he heard something else in those words. “That’s why you’re interested in confronting it. Whatever has been going on - you’ve felt it coming after you.”
Stiles had the odd thought that maybe if they would hang out more with Peter they would know these things about him. Whatever was going on with him, he was still having very obvious human weaknesses on top of the lack of strength phase. He would make a note of telling Scott that maybe they should keep an eye on him.
This whole keep your friends close but your enemies even closer philosophie. He did not need to elaborate on wanting to figure out more about Peter. Stiles knew he was good at hiding his motives but he was pretty clever and he wanted to stay a step ahead of him in the future. It was his only reason, Stiles was certain about that.
“I like to eliminate potential threats before they grow”, Peter stated in a way that made clear he was not going to say anymore on the matter.
Stiles tried to ask him more about the nature of the Saphpoa in hopes that Peter might shed some light as to how he had noticed the creatures presence. The most he got out of him, was the affirmation of the suspicion he had already held: It had something to do with Peter already having been dead. There was more to that.
He had asked all kinds of questions about that to Deaton and Derek but they had not known or said much; It came at a price and they all knew Peter was not nearly as strong as an ordinary beta. The thing he had done to Lydia from beyond the grave, that gave him serious pause.
At first, Stiles worried it was the wrong direction that they were lead astray but the closer they came the more convinced he felt that they were going to find Scott there. It was like Stiles could feel his presence ahead.
What made this trip so aggravating was that it was just forest. While Peter seemed to have a general idea where they were to Stiles everything looked about the same. He needed to watch out where he was going, as there was no path either: only roots and brushes. Stiles was never longing so much for an actual concrete surface as after half an hour of straight march through this forest.
Stiles’ muscles started to hurt, but he was not willing to stop, at least not until Peter was. Being a werewolf he was walking with great strides and no sign of actually slowing down. When Peter suddenly touched his shoulder and did signal him to stop, Stiles was obliging him instantly.
“What?” Stiles asked panting almost as badly as before.
Peter just laid a finger on his lips and pointed ahead. They had almost reached the spot. The trees in front of them obscured part of the light but it was very near. Peter signalled that he wanted to ahead but Stiles was still not trusting enough to let him go on his own. Putting his backpack down, he kept close to Peter as he advanced forward.
Beyond the line of trees they had facing was a small clearing. While everything consisted of natural growth like trees and bushes, it looked disturbingly unnatural. The purple glow came from a group of trees that had grown to resemble a sort of shrine. The crowns formed a roof over what was a half circle of evenly shaped trunks arranged in a half circle. Most of those trunks were occupied with bodies. Not grown into them but tied to by vines - the arms propped up by branches that had grow in the same fashion on each of them.
There everyone who had gone missing was, even Eddie. Stiles heart both leapt and fell when he saw Scott’s face: he looked so pale and fragile. None of the people stirred. They were completely motionless and some of them were clearly more than just unconscious, as their skin was grey and decayed looking.
Clasping a hand over his mouth Stiles, tried to keep himself still. There was no sign of the Saphpoa. He and Peter exchanged looks and then they decided to move forward onto the clearing in front of the sacrificial shrine. They had crossed about half the distance when a huge shadow dropped in between them and their destination.
A chill ran down Stiles’ spine: the Saphpoa had looked horrible in the drawing but here in life and unnatural colour, it was a definite runner up to the darach. Maybe even more so since it was actually bigger with a very sharp looking beak. Its claws looked a lot more vicious than the ones the werewolves could whip out. On top of that it had these huge talons that could grab a human arm with ease.
It was flapping its massive wings even after landing on fallen tree right in front of the shrine. Shrieking in their direction, priming its beak at them as if it dared them to come closer and take its prey away.
“That thing is twice as big as we are,” Stiles gulped as he brought up the bat.
“Three times, I’d say,” Peter said calmly.
Stiles tried to take that as a good sign, but all he could think about was something Peter had said earlier: “Didn’t you say it wasn’t going to put up a fight?”
“Not much of one, anyway,” Peter smiled darkly, then with one move his claws grew out.
“You’re actually going to fight that thing?” Stiles could hardly believe that.
“I might avoid pointless fights: like those I know I can’t win but this,” Peter chuckled, enjoying the look of astonishment on Stiles’ face. “This is winnable. When I’ve engaged it and you see an opportunity, go get Scott.”
Stiles was actually too speechless to say anything, he just nodded. Peter was way too concerned about himself to second guess if this was a wise decision. It turned out he was actually helping and being very useful about it. Whatever Peter got out of it was hardly of importance at this point.
“Well, good luck,” Stiles said and prepared himself.
Stepping forward, Peter’s whole mannerism challenging the Saphpoa to gain its attention. It was shrieking in protest and moving it’s massive wings while simultaneously using the arms to extent the claws in defensive position. Then it rose up in the air, the wings sending the branches behind Stiles shaking.
For a moment, he wondered if Peter’s real strategy might be to pretend to want and fight the owl demon and instead just offering Stiles up on platter. Then the winged creatures darted towards Peter. With considerable speed, Peter moved, avoiding not only the deadly claws but in doing so he jumped and shredded through part of its right wing. Nightblue feathers were flying everywhere.
The demon was not giving up, it tried a different approach, keeping its wings out of reach and striking with the talons. As impressive as the massive wings were, it was not fast enough to follow Peter’s moves who kept dodging each attack. The Saphpoa was getting frustrated: it circled and Stiles was prepared for it darting towards him being the easier target.
Instead, it got more vicious in its attempt to shred Peter. Only Peter was not keeping up the dodging, at one point, the owl demon sought to strike and instead of evading the attack, Peter jumped up. He smashed into the body avoiding the talons and at then clawed into its wing.
Stiles heard the shriek of pain and knew Peter got it good. It was time to move. He ignored the pain when he sprinted as he had wasted enough time already. When he looked behind him, the Saphpoa shakily pacing on the ground, the right wing not only missing vital feathers but also leaking blue blood from the top of the wing. He could not see Peter but assumed that he was somewhere behind the huge figure.
When he finally reached Scott and touched his face, it was so cold that he almost thought, he was too late but then Scott’s eyes opened. “Stiles,” Scott said sounding weaker than after one of his long forgotten asthma attacks.
“Let me get you out of here,” Stiles tugged at the vines but found them to be unbelievable sturdy.
“Allison,” Scott said next and looked to the third pot beside him.
“We get her out, too,” Stiles assured him, but if he was honest, he was not sure if they would get her out of here alive. She was beyond pale and most of the other people were dead. Stiles saw it on their faces, even he could smell the decay.
Stiles also could not help to look behind him, where the fight was still ongoing. He was wrestling with a vine around Scott’s chest: putting both feet on the trunk he pulled with all his might. It broke and he fell on his ass and used the moment of lying there to check how it was going on the battle ground.
The owl slashed in Peter’s direction with little success. When the Saphpoa turned and showed its spotted chest it was dark with blue blood. Now, that he looked closer he saw dark spots on Peter’s shirt as well. They were not all blue, there was a distinctive red patch. Thinking how long and deadly the Saphpoa’s claws looked Stiles wondered how many hits of those Peter could withstand.
Stiles kept thinking if Peter went down, he wouldn’t be able to fight off that thing with just a a bat. Even if it was aluminum, that thing was likely to use it as a toothpick or whatever birds used to clean their beaks. He might even a tiny bit worried about Peter beyond his own safety.
He forced himself up again, needing to get more vines from Scott before he could get him down from the branches.
“Is that Peter?” Scott asked Stiles as he tugged on another vine.
“Yeah, he’s lending a helping claw or two,” Stiles saw Scott breathing faster and moving his head. “I know, let’s focus on getting you down.”
He was not making good progress and the battle noise behind him was hard to ignore but when the Saphpoa let out a particular loud and long shriek, Stiles could not help but turn around and look.
They literally had their claws into each other. Blood dripped from Peter’s side where the owl demon had pierced him. At the same time, Peter was stopping the other claw from digging into his throat by holding its wrist with his own claws. Despite this looking really bad, the demon had it worse: Peter’s hand was buried deep inside its chest.
Stiles just stared utterly reminded of how Deucalion had spoken about absorbing his packs power: Peter was breathing way too slowly, his head was slightly back and his eyes closed. This was not just a surgical strike, whatever Peter was doing, he was taking something from the Saphpoa.
In a sudden move, Peter pushed it backwards, his hand covered in blue gooey substance holding pieces that might have functioned as a heart. Then when Peter opened his eyes, Stiles saw that they were bright red. He was looking directly at Stiles, having this triumphant glow all over his face.
Carelessly, Peter proceeded to drop the owl demon’s remains on the ground before slipping out of his jacket and the green sweater. Underneath was a white shirt that was stained red. Peter lifted it and Stiles saw the wounds the demon’s claws had left were nearly healed.
Then he used the sweater and cleaned off most of the bloo. Disgusted by the carnage and horrified for an entirely different set of reasons, Stiles turned back to Scott and pulled frantically at the vines. It was slowly beginning to dawn on him, just how much Peter had played them. He had withheld just the right kind of information to make Stiles think in the wrong direction. There was no way to tell about what else Peter had been untruthful, but when he came closer Stiles reached for the bat.
“Oh come on Stiles,” Peter said, stepping closer and causing Stiles to step back as a result. “You know, this is pointless.”
A tame growl came from Scott, who morphed into his werewolf self and only helped underlining the point Peter was making: Scott’s eyes were golden again. Stiles sighed, he should have known that Peter was playing them. He bet his Jeep on Peter having known that by draining Scott the demon was taking the alpha power as well and by killing the demon, Peter had once again become the alpha.
That was why he was risking the fight against the Saphpoa: he stood to gain so much from that.
“Now, you got what you want,” Stiles said when he really meant to ask if that meant they were all expandable.
“Almost,” Peter looked almost benevolent at him, then he lifted his hand showing off his claws. Gulping Stiles watched, ready to defend him and Scott but something stopped him. He hated to admit it but he just knew he was overreacting, Peter was not going to kill them.
Peter had deceived him about his motives and what he stood to gain but he had not lied about everything. Stiles lowered the bat and with a quick move, Peter shredded the vines that held Scott in place.
Together they lifted him down from the branches that held his arms in place.
“Allison,” Scott whined fully aware that he could not protect her.
“Ah,” Peter rolled his eyes, “well since you helped saving Cora and I’m in a particular good mood today. “ That much said, he walked over to where Allison was hanging and looked at her.
Stiles watched him, not being sure about how Peter felt about saving her, when Scott pulled on his pants. “Is she?”
“Still alive,” Peter confirmed, sounding somewhat disappointed. Then he cut her vines. Taking her down, he put her next to Scott, who slowly moved his hand to touch her cheek.
“She’s so cold,” Scott leaned closer until his head rested on her chest and moaned with relief.
“The others are all dead, are they?” Stiles looked around.
Peter nodded and leaned against the now empty tree trunk. “Drained of every last bit of their life force.”
They took a moment to rest, when Scott finally spoke again. “What now?”
“Oh shit, now we need to walk all the way back to the Nemeton.” Stiles hit himself with his palm right on the forehead.
It was a considerable distance and he was already feeling exhausted. Then there was Scott who did not look like he could stand on his own and Allison was completely out of it.
“I can walk,” Scott insisted and tried to scramble to his feet. He was doing a lousy job, he lacked balance and energy to even make it onto his knees.
“Maybe we need to rest a bit, Allison might come around and Scott will probably recover fast being a werewolf and all that,” Stiles wondered if Scott had noticed that his alpha powers were gone. If not that would be bad news that could wait until they were safe and sound.
“She won’t,” Peter said. “We’re in the beyond, you don’t regenerate life force here - you just lose it.”
“Then what do we do?” Stiles said, looking at Peter. “We can’t leave them here.”
“Well, I could,” he smiled and then added. “Ah don’t worry, I’m not going to. Rest a bit, when you feel up to it, you’re going to support Scott and I’ll carry Allison.” Peter sounded particularly displeased and added after a moment. “Then you really owe me.”
Reaching the Nemeton turned out to be more exhausting than the whole round trip to finding Scott and Allison. Scott did his best to stay conscious and upright but he was heavy and Stiles needed to regrasp his friend several time when Scott drifted towards unconsciousness and his weight pulled him out of Stiles’ hands.
If Peter hadn’t agreed to carry Allison, there would have been no way, they’d make it to the tree by themselves. Stiles could tell that Peter had been inclined to leave her there and just make it back on his own: he considered her a danger that in the end it would come back to bite him. Or more likely, shoot him full of arrows.
Maybe he was right and Allison would flip out when she woke up to find out that it was Peter of all people who saved her life and carried her all the way. Even though it did seem to come easy to him. His strength had come back entirely, Stiles was sure he had not been mistaken when he had seen Peter’s eye glow red again.
When the Nemeton finally came into sight, Stiles felt relief and then confusion as to how they were going to get back, as there was no platform to step on. “What now?” he asked exhausted.
Peter looked back. “We’ll hope that Lydia got my message and they open the door.”
So he had already called to Lydia, without either of them noticing. Stiles had almost feared it might come that easy to Peter to bother Lydia’s peace of mind.
“But how, do we get through it?” Stiles said, panting rather awfully.
“You don’t know how to get back?” Scott asked weakly.
“Of course, I do,” Peter said firmly. “Once open the tree becomes a doorway, we just walk into it. Think of it as going to Platform 9 ¾.”
After all he had seen on their little quest in the beyond, Stiles was ready to believe that this was how it would work. Yet, he could not resist to point out the obvious. “So you’re asking us to walk straight into a tree?”
“Ah, the power I’ve gained,” Peter said, getting a rather exhausted and not too amused look by Scott, but Stiles did see it for what it and allowed himself to smile back. It was not like they were ready to jump off a cliff on Peter’s say so.
Peter had not exactly double crossed him. He might have come here to get his powers back but even afterwards he had not left them behind. Which told Stiles he was serious about needing them with all the supernatural things that still might come to Beacon Hills. That was the bad part but maybe having a non-homicidal alpha who knew more stuff about what else was out there was not the worst thing.
“What?” Scott asked and Stiles notices that Peter was smiling more widely.
“As always,” Peter replied, “I can count on Lydia to get the job done.”
Sighing at this totally unnecessary reminder of Peter’s previous villainy, Stiles nonetheless felt glad to hear that it had worked. It had been the final piece that might have gone wrong: their way back not opening. They looked at each other, obviously Peter wanted him to go first but old paranoia died hard and Stiles wanted to make sure Peter did not bailed at the last moment and left Allison behind.
“If only,” Peter replied and looked down at the unconscious Allison with an expression that made it clear how little he thought of her. Thinking about it, Allison probably do Stiles physical violence for just hinting she might be one. Being insecure about being a girl had always been one of her less charming traits. He much rather preferred Lydia being strong enough to cry, while maybe worrying a bit how that might make her look, than Allison reasserting her power loss by putting arrows into people.
Then Peter just stepped through the massive tree trunk and was gone with her. Scott looked at him with some astonishment but then they nodded at each other and walked towards the still incredible solid looking surface.
“If I bump my head again, Peter is going to pay for the aspirin,” Stiles said, closing his eyes second before the impact.
He felt a barrier but it was more like breaking through water. A soft resistance splashed against his face, then gave way as he with Scott in tow walked straight into it. Next thing they knew, was them falling over the edge of the the chopped off Nemeton.
“Oh, yes, yes!” Stiles ignored the pain and just celebrated the fact that they were back. If the leaves didn’t look so filthy he might have done a pope number and kissed the ground. Instead he rolled onto his back to look up at their friends and saw his father’s very serious expression and the gun in his hand that usually went along with it.
He was not the only grown up who had made his way to the Nemeton site: Looking behind him Stiles saw Chris Argent with another gun in his hand pointed at Peter.
“Let her go,” Allison’s dad said, trying to hide how badly his voice was shaking.
Stiles took a quick inventory of the situation. Scott lay beside him, trying to get up on his own but failing. Lydia and Isaac stood on the other side of the Nemeton looking very unhappy about this development and then there was Peter holding Allison as a shield before him, one hand at her throat. It certainly did not help that there were blood stainds on his hands.
However, amiable their trip had gone, not for a second Stiles doubted that if either of their father’s did something stupid, Allison was going to pay the price. It was so frustrating, there was really no need for this and proved once again: you better don’t tell the adults. Even though technically that would probably include Peter. So he Stiles amended that last bit to parents or non-werewolves.
“Now, look who’s done the double-crossing,” Peter said with cold anger.
For a moment, Stiles considered warning the others, that Peter was not only back to fighting speed, but that he was an alpha again. A valuable tactical information that could only serve to escalate this further.
“Isaac, help Stiles to get Scott and Lydia out of here,” his dad calmly said.
“Wow, Dad, Mr. Argent what the hell are you doing?” Stiles stood up ignoring both his father’s suggestion and Scott on the ground.
“He’s got Allison,” her father said flatly. “He’s dangerous.”
In those few words Stiles heard everything he needed to know about Chris Argents intentions. He had heard that voice before, it was the same tone he always used when he explained that werewolves were nothing but rabid dogs that needed to be put down. Before today, if Chris had wanted to go after Peter, Stiles would have probably cheered him on.
It was not that easy anymore. It was not even the bond, which outside of the other world seemed to mean very little. Their encounter was only making him think that if someone did shoot Peter tonight nobody ever would find out about the sex thing. The part of him that wanted to brag and be like: See no longer a virgin either, was not ever going to tell who had participated in that encounter.
But that was not the issue. After all the help Peter had given, everything they had gone through, especially the lack of open betrayal, Stiles could no longer see him as someone that needed to be put down. Peter was a far cry from being a friend but he was an ally and Stiles was going to treat him as one.
Knowing that his dead was not going to shot, he instead stepped right between Chris Argent and Peter Hale. “He’s got Allison, because he just saved her life. And Scott’s and mine.”
At that last bit, he looked over to his dad, whose expression softened a bit. It must be so confusing for him to have heard his son say all these awful things about Peter and what he had done and then hearing this. But in Beacon Hills nothing was ever clear cut or easy. They played by different rules: The werewolves made their own, the hunters made theirs up along the way and in the end so did they.
Stiles new rule for the day was: They all should walk out of here. Not every confrontation needed to end with someone being put six feet under.
“Get out of my way, Stiles,” Chris said, his gun still pointed straight at him.
This was probably not the best decision the hunter had made, because it made the Sheriff realise what was going on. “Don’t point that gun at my son.”
Then it was suddenly the fathers who stood there yelling about the dangers of guns, psychotic werewolves and trigger happy hunters. While this went on, Stiles looked behind him at Peter and saw that Isaac and Lydia had come closer as well. They all exchanged looks and then in a few seconds, Stiles stepped backwards blocking even more of Peter and Allison from sight, while Isaac was handed the unconscious Allison.
By the time Chris or John were able to react, Stiles and Lydia were standing directly in front of Peter. It sent a message and Peter was smart enough not to aggravate the situation. As the sheriff had his gun still pointed at Chris, because whatever threat Peter might pose in the sheriff’s mind, it clearly outweighed someone pointing a gun at his son.
Stiles had been surprised that Peter had gone for the exchange but Allison being with Isaac calmed her father down. With Chris lowering his weapon so it was not pointing at any one person anymore, the situation had a greater chance to be resolved peacefully. Maybe Peter would prefer the Argent’s to be dead, but Stiles had learnt enough about Peter’s strategy to be sure that he would avoid a deadly confrontation if given a way out.
“How is she?” Chris asked, still having a tight grip on the gun, ready to bring it up again at any second.
Isaac shrugged. “Her heart is beating but very weak.”
“That thing fed of her life force,” Scott added from the ground.
“Nothing extensive bedrest should not cure,” Peter said ever so helpful.
The hunter and werewolf exchanged a venomous glance but Stiles saw Chris failing to keep it up. Peter had murdered his sister but that was also a reminder of the much worse thing Kate has done. It was hard to take the high road when your own family had been involved in such nasty business. After all, if werewolves were rabid dogs in the mind of Chris Argent what did that mean Kate was?
“Chris, why don’t you get your daughter out of here, I’ll take care of this,” Stiles’s dad tried to defuse the situation further.
John was struggling as well. As the sheriff he had always had relied on the law, maybe made a few exception and not given out a ticket but he had never dealt with a known murderer who had come back from the dead. Or with one who murdered people because they turned at the full moon. Stiles was aware that Chris Argent at the very least had aided and abetted some of his father ice cold murders. Who knew how many werewolves he had slain who did not deserve it but weren’t protected by that weak ass little code.
Isaac picked up Allison and carried her over to her father, then finally he put the gun into his belt and checked her pulse. Stiles could see more tension fall of his shoulders, now that he felt first hand that she was alive. The way she looked she might as well have been dead. Stiles recalled his first impression after seeing her tied to that tree trunk.
Finally, Chris took her from Isaac but asked him to help her take her home. With a final nod to the Sheriff and an uncertain look at the three of them standing there together like christmas carolers, the Argents left the side of the Nemeton.
“Are you okay, son?” the sheriff asked next.
“Of course, just minor tree root damage,” Stiles said, pointing to the bruises on his face. “Hey, how about you take Scott home and I’ll go and drop off Lydia?”
His dad seemed to consider that but of course there was still one more question hanging over their heads. “What about him?” John pointed at Peter.
“I’ve got my own car,” Peter replied with a shrug.
“You seriously expect me to leave you alone with the man you told me killed his own niece?”
“Dad, it’s a little bit late to worry about me hanging out with the wrong crowd.” Adding in his mind that now Lydia was not the only one who was sleeping around with homicidal werewolves.
“We’ve kind of hanging out with him before, Sheriff,” Scott admitted reluctantly.
“They also killed me,” Peter pointed out, “but I’m not holding a grudge.”
Letting out an exasperated breath, Stiles’ father was showing signs of this getting too much for him. “Trust me, dad, it’s fine. Besides he hasn’t killed anyone else lately - have you?” Stiles turned to Peter and then back to his father and Scott.
“No, not lately,” Peter replied with a weird tone, that made Stiles all the more suspicious, when Scott’s eyes narrowed at the statement. They looked at each other and it was clear, this had to be investigated. At this moment, they had to get the meddling parent out of the way.
“If Peter wanted to harm us, he could have done so and in situations where he could’ve gotten away with it, too,” Scott admitted.
That seemed to settle things, his father had long given up on asking him to stay away from Derek or the twins, who all had their little body count stacking up. He might as well give up on Peter Hale, if only for utter lack of evidence and a shit pile of indicators that more supernatural stuff was going to pour into their backyards.
“You drop off Lydia and then come straight home!”
“Dad, it’s not that late,” Stiles said and wondered what time it actually was, the beyond had screwed up his wrist watch. Then seeing the look on his father’s face. “I won’t take too long.”
“Very well,” the sheriff put the gun back into his holster and walked towards Scott. “Can you walk?”
“Barely,” Scott admitted as Stiles’s dad helped him up. As those two got going, Stiles, Lydia and Peter went towards where they had parked their cars as well.
“What happened to your face?” Lydia asked finally.
“He could benefit from better coordination,” Peter said and Stiles knew what he was referring to. He was making another offer.
“No way, that is ever going to happen.”
Stiles saw Peter shrug it off, almost as if to say ‘give it time’. The thing was, Peter had been right, it was not the fear he might not survive the bite, it was not for lack of wanting those abilities but what being that powerful might do to him.
“You actually brought him back in one piece,” Lydia said as they finally left the Nemeton behind. It felt good to hear how happy she was about that. Even though Stiles also notices that there was less hostility towards Peter in her voice as a secondary result.
“It wasn’t all that easy and wouldn’t have been possible if you did not open the door back,” Peter said obviously using the moment to smoothen things out even further.
“Yeah, that part of the plan went well,” Stiles admitted chipping in some more praise of Lydia as well.
“I know,” she said, “I’ve heard the message loud and clear. Of course, Mr. Argent and your father had shown up by that time. But we convinced them to let Isaac do the blood thing. Oh, by the way, your dagger” - Lydia pulled it out from her handbag - “then you know what happened.”
“Giving me sharp blades, you must begin to trust me,” Peter said jokingly but it kind of echoed the weirdness of the situation: they did begin to see him in a less antagonistic light.
“I wouldn’t want you to drop in unannounced to ask for it back,” Lydia wittily replied. Because there was no chance they were trusting him that much. Stiles wasn’t ruling out the fact that they might at one point come to a more reasonable level of trust but that would depend on lots of things. Like how honest he was going to be with them.
“Whom did you kill, you know not lately?” Stiles asked, making Peter and Lydia pause in their steps.
“What makes you think, I did?” Peter countered, but clearly not outright denying it.
“Because you’ve been hinting at it, the whole time we have been over there, probably before, as well,” Stiles explained, and he could not exactly repeat the words but Stiles was sure that in Peter’s mind the killing was a gift to them. Right now, he was ready to listen and prepared to be outraged.
“He’s right, isn’t he?” Lydia’s remark was more statement than fact. Little surprise there, as she was becoming an expert on death.
“Very well, I’ve killed your teacher,” Peter replied and after watching their expressions widen, he added. “Isn’t that every high-school studemts dream?”
“This isn’t the time for jokes,” Stiles said bitterly. But as this was Peter, it probably wasn’t one. “Do you mean, Mr. Harris?” That did not seem to be the answer either but it was the first one Stiles could think off until it hit him like a truck: “Miss Blake!”
“But I thought Deucalion killed her and then made her body disappear,” Lydia repeated their latest speculations, they had told her about the events that night but it was the Twins who suggested that Deucalion might have gotten rid of her body to screw with them.
“No, he slashed her throat but left her alive for her comeback,” Peter said.
If Stiles had needed a reminder about how dangerous Peter was, the absolute indifference he uttered when talking about killing Jennifer Blake was enough of that. “So you just finished the job?”
“What would you’ve me do?” Peter asked. “Take her to the ER? Let her be patched up and then collect twelve new sacrifices?”
“Well, he has a point,” Lydia replied almost as flatly. Stiles knew killing people was a rather sore spot for her, especially since she was the one finding the bodies some of the time, but Jennifer had also come after her twice already.
“Yeah, I know,” Stiles said back. “But I don’t have to like it.”
It would have been so much easier to keep believing it had been Deucalion, because fuck Deucalion. Stiles still could not believe that Scott had just let him stroll away like that. But Stiles also understood why Peter had not denied it further, that was the whole point he had been trying to make: They needed him.
With all that was going to happen due to them giving power to the Nemeton they would get into more situations where they wouldn’t always be able to protect themselves and others by playing according to Scott’s no kill rule. Stiles hated the thought but he was accepting that Peter could be a useful asset.
What would make things really difficult in the future was the fact that Peter was an alpha. He would come for Scott and Isaac, would tell them they needed each other. Stiles counted on being asked again, because Peter wanted him in his pack and Peter had a way of getting what he wanted.