John made his partner wait in the car. When they had received reports of blood smears in the halls of Chris’ apartment, John knew he had to be the one to respond, and Chris refused to answer his phone, making things worse. If he would just pick up his god damned phone, John wouldn’t have to make up some bullshit story to keep his second away from potentially supernatural happenings.
Phone pressed to his ear, John pushed open the stairwell door to Chris’ floor. The ringing tone kept sounding until John grew close enough to hear Chris’ phone ringing. He quickened his pace, and dropped his own mobile when he saw Chris’ door wide open and Chris himself splayed on the floor, bloody and unmoving.
“Shit.” John dropped to his knees at Chris’ side and pressed two fingers to the pulse point at his throat. He felt a desperate flutter there, and Chris was breathing. John scrambled for his phone and immediately placed a call to Melissa. She picked up on the first ring.
“Shit. Were you sleeping?” John panted into the receiver.
“Was. Not now. What’s wrong? John? Is it Scott?” She was immediately alert, and John heard fabric rustling in the background. “John?”
“It’s not Scott. I’m with Chris. He’s unconscious and bleeding from-” John drew a steadying breath. “I don’t know. Do you think you can get here?”
“On my way. I’ll be there in five.” The line clicked and John heard the service tone echoing in his ear. He placed a call to his partner and gave him the all clear to head back to the station. He wasn’t lying when he said he’d be staying to take statements. He just wasn’t telling the complete truth.
John slid the phone into his pocket and tipped Chris’ head towards him. He tapped Chris lightly on the cheek, hoping to rouse him. There was no possible way he’d be able to get almost two hundred pounds of solid muscle off the floor under his own power. He was fit, not a super man.
“Chris. Hey, come on.”
Chris’ eyes opened, rolling incomprehensibly until they lit on John’s face and he frowned. “What-”
“You smeared blood along the walls in the hall,” John said. “One of your neighbours called it in. Do you think you can stand?”
Chris’ hand fisted in the front of John’s uniform, urgent and shaking. “What time is it?”
“What?” John frowned, confused.
“What time is it?” Chris’ eyes were huge against his white face.
“It’s almost ten in the morning,” John said. He touched a firm hand to Chris’ shoulder, trying to keep him still. “Calm down.”
Chris collapsed back against the floor, his grip on John’s shirt loosening. “The sun’s up.”
“The sun is usually up at ten in northern California, so yes,” John said slowly. He was missing something here, and he had a bad feeling it had to do with Stiles’ screaming fits and werecoyotes and serial killers bent on destroying high school girls.
John whirled to see Melissa trotting down the hall towards him. She squeezed into Chris’ apartment around John and crouched at Chris’ head. “Okay, let’s get you up and cleaned up.”
With Melissa’s help, John hefted Chris to his feet- sort of- and they stumbled towards his bathroom. Chris collapsed onto his toilet seat while Melissa ran a cloth under warm water. John kept Chris upright with a steadying hand on his shoulder, and Melissa started wiping away the blood on Chris’ face.
“What day is it?” Melissa asked.
“Saturday,” Chris said.
“Who is the President of the United States?” Melissa asked.
“Obama,” Chris answered. “I don’t have a concussion.”
“Who’s the medical professional?” Melissa asked, pursing her lips.
“Who’s had numerous concussions?” Chris retorted. Melissa said nothing, turning Chris’ face to reach some blood caked under his ear.
“Chris, what’s going on?” John asked. He squeezed Chris’ shoulder gently. “Does this have to do with… You know?”
Chris pressed his lips together and closed his eyes. “Yes.”
“And when exactly were you planning on telling me?” John asked.
“In my defense, I was just made aware of it about twenty four hours ago,” Chris said. He winced when Melissa poked a sluggishly bleeding cut with iodine. “I had to check something out before I could come to you.”
Melissa jabbed him harder and Chris flinched. “Either of you,” he corrected.
John sat down on the edge of Chris’ tub while Melissa peeled Chris’ shirt back from his chest to get at some scrapes there. “What’s going on?”
“Hotaru,” Chris said.
“Sailor Saturn?” Melissa paused, a cotton ball hovering over Chris’ skin. Chris and John turned to her, eyebrows in their hairline. She let her mouth fall open, awkward. “What- I have hobbies, okay.”
“The fireflies,” Chris said. “Native fireflies don’t glow. What’s happening here is coming from somewhere else.”
“What?” John wasn’t following. “From somewhere else?”
“Hotaru are Japanese spirits that feed on souls,” Chris said. “They’ve moved into the city. They’re hunting for food.”
“And that food is…” John trailed off.
“Our supernatural kids,” Chris said. John caught his eye, and he watched Melissa’s lips quirk into a slight smile.
“You mean Melissa’s supernatural kid,” John said. “Because Stiles and Allison are human.”
“The Hotaru went after Isaac. You know they would never forgive us if we threw up our hands.” Chris wiped a hand over his face, ignoring Melissa’s snort of frustration. “They’re going after the wolves because they have stronger spirits, more connection to the earth and its power. I don’t think the Martin girl is safe either.”
“Lydia?” John blinked.
“She’s a banshee. Very connected to the afterlife, and the sort of thing that draws the Hotaru like a bug light,” Chris said. He sighed heavily as Melissa prodded his ribs, where a generous bruise was forming.
“It doesn’t look like anything is broken,” Melissa said. “I can strap them if you want, but I would take it easy for a few days, at least.”
“That’s not necessary.” Chris waved her away and she sat back on her heels, frowning.
“Are you going to tell us what happened or keep distracting us with anxiety for our kids?” John asked finally. Chris winced, caught, and John frowned.
“I got one a few years back,” Chris said. He leaned back against the toilet carefully. “Very few hunters manage to take one of them down because they are practically incorporeal. Sheer dumb luck that I was able to get it. I think there’s been a sort of target on my back since then. With the Nemeton active again, they were probably able to finally track me down. They’re out for my blood.”
“They’re here because of you?” John said. He tried very hard to tamp down on the anger rising from sheer terror that Stiles was out there this instant while these creepy shadow warriors floated around. “Did you not think they would find you?”
“They come from a very long line of masterful casters,” Chris said. “And the power stems strictly from certain Japanese bloodlines. I didn’t think they’d be able to reach this far across the globe. It had been years since I dealt with them. I thought I was safe.”
“So they’re going to drain my child’s soul until he’s, what. Dead?” Melissa asked. “Will he die?”
Chris caught John’s eye, and John knew Melissa wouldn’t want to hear the answer. John cleared his throat. “Let’s focus on how we can keep our kids safe, okay? Not what might happen.”
Melissa caught on, her eyes flashing furiously. “What’s going to happen, Chris? You tell me, or so help me-”
“It would leave Scott in a comatose state. Unable to function because he would have no will to live,” Chris said. He closed his eyes. “Without extraordinary measures he would eventually die, but it would be slow and it would be very unpleasant.”
“What can we do to stop them?” Melissa straightened. She dug her fingers into Chris’ thigh, gripping and shaking his leg. “Chris?”
“We have to find the caster and stop them,” Chris said. He shook his head. “I have to find the caster and stop them.”
“We’ll help you,” John said. He realised his hand was still grasping Chris’ shoulder, and he shook the man slightly. “You don’t have to do this alone. You have back up.”
“As much as I’d like to help-” Melissa cut herself off. She closed her eyes. “In any way possible, because this is my son we’re talking about, but when you called me I had just gotten off shift and- I am so, so very tired- Chris, would you mind- I don’t want to leave without knowing something about the plan, or what we can do-”
“My room’s across the hall,” Chris said. Melissa sighed gratefully and got to her feet. She leaned over Chris and touched a kiss to John’s forehead, and then did the same to Chris.
“Good night. Wake me up when you come up with something, or if anything happens, or-”
“Go, Melissa, we’ll be here,” John said with a wry smile. Melissa backed out of the room and vanished into Chris’ bedroom. “She just Mom’d us.”
That finally garnered a smile from Chris, and he nodded. “She did. I’m not sure I mind. The women in our line of work aren’t… Known for their Mom-ing.”
“D’you-” John started, stopped, and cleared his throat. “Do you- I mean, Melissa is a fine woman-”
“Yes. But. No, no,” Chris said quickly. He flushed high along his cheeks, and John felt his own neck heat. Chris narrowed his eyes. “Do you?”
“Well-” John coughed awkwardly. “She’s beautiful-”
“And a very strong, very capable woman who could have anyone she wanted,” John finished. “And if I was who she wanted then- Well, I wouldn’t say no, obviously-”
John looked helplessly at Chris, who was smiling through the most ridiculous blush John had ever seen. Chris slowly, carefully, put his hand on John’s thigh and squeezed gently. He said, “She is a good woman, John.”
“I, um, I never thanked you for protecting my son,” John said. Chris’ hand stayed exactly where it was, hot and firm on his leg and it really shouldn’t be doing things to John’s concentration and John wondered if Stiles was the only one who was going to be examining himself in the weeks to come. “So. Thank you. For, you know.”
“I was doing my job,” Chris said. “And I know what it’s like to be a parent in a supernatural world.”
“You’re a good man,” John said. Chris blinked at him, surprised.
“I’m not sure about that, but I’m working on it,” Chris said.
John tucked his hand over Chris’, gave a squeeze, and stood. “I don’t think we should keep Melissa waiting, should we? We can discuss more of this when you’re horizontal- Ah, I mean resting. Lying down. Not… Naked…”
Chris laughed and accepted his hand up. He swayed slightly, and John steadied him with a firm touch to his waist and elbow. Chris let himself be walked to his bedroom, where Melissa had already burrowed into a blanket nest and was napping happily. John helped Chris lie down and then took a seat on the mattress beside Chris’ head.
Melissa shifted closer to Chris with a mumbled noise of contentment, and when Chris blinked wide, terrified eyes at him, John couldn’t stop the bark of laughter. He rested a hand on Chris’ head like he did with Stiles when his son was sick, and gently pet his hair back. “Go to sleep.”
“She’s cuddling me.” Chris whispered, so as not to wake her.
John nodded. “Go to sleep. We’ll talk more when you’ve rested.”
Chris didn’t need any addition encouraging, and John listened to his breathing finally even as he slipped unconscious. John fielded one call from Allison to let her know that her father was sleeping and safe, and she tightly thanked him before disconnecting the call. John reclined against the headboard and closed his eyes.
It was going to be a long autumn.