Stiles has been trapped in his basement for three, maybe four days. He isn't sure, it's hard to tell time when his phone has been dead for days and there isn't any sun coming in from any windows. Luckily, his dad has always been a bit fanatical about disaster preparedness, especially earthquakes, so they have stockpiles of bottled water, blankets, and nonperishable food in the basement, just in case. He'd gotten down here just before the bombing started, before the house collapsed, sealing the basement with Stiles in it.
It starts in Beacon Hills, which Stiles isn't surprised about at all. As far as he and Deaton can piece together before everything really goes to shit, a baby necromancer had tried some shit way outside of his pay grade. Within a few hours of the footage airing of bodies crawling from their graves, reports flood in from all over the west coast of cemeteries emptying. Then come reports from the midwest, the east coast, all the way up into Canada and down to Mexico. But they seem to have realized it all started in a northern California town with an unnaturally high murder rate called Beacon Hills.
Stiles had been at home, grabbing his mountain ash baseball bat and raiding his dad's gun safe when his dad had called from the station.
"Stiles, I need you to get to the basement now!" the sheriff says.
"What? Dad, if something's happening, I need to help, I - "
"Stiles, the Army is about to drop a damn bomb on the town, there is nothing you can do!" the sheriff says. "For once, please just listen to me and get in the damn basement! I'll come get you as soon as I can."
Stiles swallows thickly and nods, even though his dad won't be able to see it.
"Okay," Stiles says. "Okay, I'm going."
"I love you, kid, okay?" the sheriff says. It sounds like a goodbye.
"I love you, too," Stiles says, trying desperately to keep his voice even. He waits until the sheriff hangs up to put down his phone.
Stiles grabs his backpack and sends out a mass text the pack as he runs downstairs, saying They're bombing BH. Get to shelter NOW before calling Scott. The call won't go through twice, the cell towers probably too busy with everyone trying to call their loved ones, but finally Scott picks up.
"Stiles, I can't talk now, I'm at Deaton's, we're trying to find a way to reverse this!" Scott says.
"No no, Scott, do not hang up!" Stiles says. "My dad said they're going to bomb Beacon Hills, you need to get in a basement or something fast, okay?"
"What? Did you say a bomb?" Scott asks.
"Yes, Scott, get somewhere safe, okay? I'll find you when I can!" Stiles says.
"Stiles, I - "
The call dies. Ten seconds later, the ground is shaking.
Stiles clings to the hope that his dad is alive, that Scott and Lydia and the pack are alive. He has to, otherwise, what else is there?
Stiles tries to shift some of the rubble at first, tries to see if he can get out of the blocked-in basement, but all he manages to do is get a bunch of debris falling down on him, knocking him down the stairs. He decides to wait it out. His dad said he'll come, and he'll come. There's that small, slithering voice in the back on his mind that says if he were alive, he would have come already. If the sheriff isn't dead, he'd be here. Stiles stomps that voice down.
Occasionally, he'll hear rumbling above him, but he can't tell if it's from a car, a helicopter, or what. Sometimes there will be creaks, and those are scarier than the potential of being bombed again. Is it the dead walking through the remains of his house? Is it the house getting ready to collapse? Is it his dad coming to dig him out?
After a few more days (he thinks), Stiles is running dangerously low on water. He has enough beef jerky and granola bars to last him a while, but he's been going through water a lot faster than he should. He's also running dangerously low on the hope that his dad is coming to get him soon. He's going to have to try to dig himself out again. It's either that or risk dehydration, and that's not a way he wants to go.
Stiles ties his over shirt around the bottom half of his face, hoping to avoid breathing in too much of the dust, when he hears the building above him (or whatever is left of it) shift. He stills, looking up at the dust drifting down from the ceiling. He thinks he can hear footsteps now, he's almost certain. There's a pause, the steps stopping almost right above him, then the sound of rubble being shifted. Someone is digging him out.
Stiles rushes to the corner where he's been keeping his things and shoves them into the emergency duffel bag. The blankets, leftover granola bars, jerky, the two bottles of water he has left, even the book he's read three times all go into the bag with the rest of his supplies. He slips his backpack on, grabs the duffel bag, and stands as far away from the staircase as he can.
It takes a while, at least an hour before Stiles can hear the movement above him getting louder, the person digging getting closer. A stream of light comes through the top of the staircase, one of the chunks of concrete removed from the opening to the basement.
"Dad? Dad!" Stiles shouts, running forward to see if he can look up through the space made.
"Stop yelling, you'll call all of them in a five-mile radius to us."
Stiles freezes because that's not his dad's voice. That's -
"Stop. Yelling," Peter says. "And get away from the stairs."
Stiles scrambles backwards and watches as more debris shifts above, a few chunks falling down the stairs, until there's a hole big enough to climb out. Stiles shoves the duffel bag through first, then the baseball bat, then climbs out, Peter taking his hand to help him through.
It's night, but even through the darkness he can see that the house around them is all but gone, nothing but two walls and part of the chimney still standing. All the houses around them are similar, or worse, making the neighborhood look like something out of a sinister horror video game. Except this is real. This is real, Stiles isn't imagining it or dreaming it, the rubble and destruction is real.
Then there's Peter.
Peter's covered in dirt and grime, whether it's from digging Stiles out or before, Stiles isn't sure. Stiles hasn't seen him since Scott and Deaton had cooked up the idea to stick him in Eichen (a dumbass move, to be sure) and he looks gaunter, skinnier than before. His cheeks are sunken and his eyes look hollow, so different from the Peter he's come to expect.
"You're here," Stiles says dumbly.
Peter rolls his eyes. Well, at least his attitude still exists.
"Obviously," Peter says. "Now come on, we have to get out of Beacon Hills."
"What about the pack? What about my dad? I can't just leave them here," Stiles says.
"We don't have time for this. If any of them were alive, do you really think I'd be the one pulling you out of that basement? Don't you think Scott or Malia or even Lydia would have come?" Peter asks. The worry that's been simmering in Stiles' gut about that exact train of thought rolls to a boil. "We have to go, Stiles!"
"Not without my dad!"
"The sheriff's station is gone!"
"I have to see it!"
"We need to go! Do you think I'm the only thing the bombing let out of Eichen?" Peter hisses. He grabs Stiles' arm, tries to yank the boy with him, but jerks away when Stiles' magic rolls across his skin, zapping him with electric energy.
"Fucking go then! But I'm not leaving unless I know for sure," Stiles says.
Peter's lip twitches in a snarl, but he still follows Stiles out of the house.
Stiles doesn't know what he'd expected, maybe angry hordes of zombies? A mob of survivors with torches and guns? An Army roadblock? Empty streets wasn't on the list. There are downed telephone poles everywhere, overturned cars, half-collapsed houses, and most of all, bodies. Broken bodies, or parts of bodies, scattered everywhere Stiles looks. And everything is grey, covered with the dust of crumbled buildings. Stiles grips his bat tightly as he and Peter make their way through, ready to smash anything at the first hint of movement.
The sound of Stiles' footsteps seems to echo entirely too loudly in the quiet stillness around them, though he can't tell if they're actually loud or if it's just him being hyper aware of the silence. Peter, of course, walks nearly silently. Stiles' steps are probably pissing off the apex predator inside of him, but Stiles wasn't born with the supernatural grace and has never really been able to master the whole silent thing. It's kind of a miracle that the sheriff never caught him sneaking out, considering the amount of times he's bumped into things or stepped on the squeaky floorboard. Or maybe his dad knew and was aware he couldn't stop him if he wanted to. Maybe he's just a heavy sleeper. Stiles will have to ask him if - when he sees him again.
Deaton's clinic is barely out of the way to the station, so they take the five-minute detour to see if anyone is there. They find the bodies of Scott, Deaton, and Liam in the parking lot, barely recognizable. Stiles had been prepared for it, had even been expecting it, but he still throws up against the wreckage of a car. Peter lets him, before gently taking him by the arm and urging him along. Peter's right, Stiles knows. It's unwise to linger.
They have to hide three times when Peter hears zombies (zombies, seriously?) coming. They duck into barely-standing houses or behind overturned trucks, waiting for them to pass. Stiles peeks around the side of the truck to catch a glimpse of the dead walking by and wishes he hadn't. They're all in multiple stages of decay, some freshly dead and still with all the working limbs, down to some that are more rot than anything else, ones that Stiles is surprised are able to stand at all.
The sheriff's station is close to the center of Beacon Hills and the closer they get, the harder the trek is. The street is completely collapsed in some places, exposing the sewer system below. It's a jam of destroyed cars in the streets and sidewalks, forcing Stiles and Peter to either climb over or find a way around. There are more of the dead here, so it takes longer than Stiles would like, and by the time they're rounding the corner to the sheriff's station, the dark night sky is lightening to a deep, soft blue.
There's almost nothing left of the station besides the foundation and a pile of rubble. Stiles runs toward it, frantically starts pulling away chunks of concrete and debris, digging for any signs of life. Anything that might prove his dad is alive.
"Help me," Stiles says, not bothering to look over his shoulder to where Peter is standing. "Damn it, help me Peter!"
"There are no heartbeats, Stiles," Peter says quietly. "No one is alive."
"You don't know that!"
"I can hear. I can smell the death," Peter says.
Stiles whirls around and shoves Peter, but it's like shoving a brick wall.
"And how do I know you aren't lying?" Stiles demands. "How do I know you're not saying that just to get me to leave?"
"Why would I?" Peter asks. "Why would I follow you through this godforsaken wasteland just to turn around now and lie to you? Why would I come all this way for that?"
"If you want to go, just go," Stiles snaps. "I'm not leaving until I know for sure, or else I'll always be wondering if he's alive and I didn't know because I was here and just didn't check."
Peter heaves a deep sigh and motions for Stiles to follow him. They walk around to the back of the station and Peter points to a spot about five feet in from what used to be the back door.
"He's under there," Peter says.
Stiles swallows hard.
"How do you know?" Stiles asks.
"I can smell him," Peter says.
Stiles falls to his knees and starts digging, uncaring that his hands are bloody and ragged, just needing to see, to know.
"You could help," Stiles says over his shoulder.
"I already dug out one Stilinski today," Peter says. He's looking around them, as if listening for a threat.
"The faster this goes, the faster we get out of here," Stiles says.
Peter sighs but pushes Stiles out of the way, shifting the heavier pieces of debris that Stiles would never have been able to move on his own. He only stops when Stiles breathes in harshly. Stiles collapses on his knees next to Peter, pushing the rest of the wreckage off the broken body of his father. The man's face is covered in blood and dirt, but it's unmistakably the sheriff.
Stiles just stares. It's not that he isn't comprehending what he's seeing, because he is. He's seeing it in all his bloody glory, but he's also seeing all the times his dad and him sat in the squad car and ate dinner, all the times they went to the shooting range together, to the movies, sitting at home watching a game.
Stiles doesn't realize he's crying, big ugly sobs, until Peter is pulling him up, tugging the boy into his arms. Stiles would believe it's out of caring, how tightly Peter's holding him, but he knows Peter's just muffling Stiles' cries into his dirty shirt. Peter lets him, though. Maybe the man remembers what it's like to realize you lost your whole family, Stiles doesn't know, but Peter lets Stiles cry until the sobs have mostly abated.
"Come on," Peter says softly. "We shouldn't stay here. We don't want to be around if they decide to bomb us again."
Stiles nods, taking one last glance down at the broken body that used to be his dad, and follows Peter. They're heading north, through the ritzy part of Beacon Hills. Stiles is out of it, following Peter without really noticing where they're going. His mind is on his father, his father who's dead, so it doesn't really matter now what happens to him, does it?
Because of the sheer destruction and the fact that he wasn't paying attention at all, it takes Stiles a long time to realize they're at the end of Lydia's street. It's hard to tell, with everything blown to hell, but he can barely make out some of the houses he recognizes as her neighbors.
"What are we doing here?" Stiles asks.
"It's on the way. Plus, you said you wouldn't leave town without knowing, right?" Peter says.
Stiles nods and keeps walking, but he doesn't have much hope. He can see the remnants of Lydia's house from here and he highly doubts anyone managed to survive. Nevertheless, he follows Peter down the street, until the man stops in front of Lydia's house, a strange look on his face.
"What?" Stiles asks. "What is it?"
"There's a heartbeat inside," Peter says, and he sounds just as shocked as Stiles feels. "But it's slow and failing. It won't be beating long."
Stiles scrambles over the chunks of concrete that used to be the driveway and through the gaping hole that was previously the front door. Peter's at his back, helping him over spots where the floor has given way and over fallen ceiling beams.
"That way," Peter says, pointing down a partially-collapsed hallway. They climb over debris and are almost to the end of the hallway when Stiles catches sight of Lydia, body mostly pinned under the fallen ceiling.
"Lydia!" Stiles runs to her side, heedless of the tripping hazards, and collapses to his knees next to her. She's frighteningly pale, her hair matted with dark red blood. She's completely pinned from the chest down, only her right arm free, and Stiles is pretty sure he sees a large piece of metal piercing her stomach. Stiles gently takes her face in his hands, causing her eyes to flutter open.
"Stiles?" she asks. Her voice is soft and hoarse.
"Yeah, it's me," Stiles says. "We're going to get you out of here."
She frowns and looks up to see Peter standing behind Stiles. She doesn't flinch or demand answers, like Stiles expects her to. She just sighs and closes her eyes.
"No, you're not," Lydia says.
"No, no you're going to be okay. We're going to get you out of here and you'll be okay," Stiles says.
"I'm a banshee," Lydia reminds him. "I can tell when someone's going to die."
"Lydia," Stiles whispers.
"I don't know what you want," Lydia says, her attention on Peter. "But keep him safe, please. Just, stay safe."
Peter nods solemnly. Lydia winces in pain, her breath leaving her with a whine.
"I need..." she says, then breaks off with a gasp.
"What?" Stiles asks, gripping her hand tightly with his own. "What do you need?"
"I need you to end it," Lydia says.
Stiles recoils, but Lydia keeps a surprisingly strong grip on his hand.
"No," Stiles says, shaking his head. "No, absolutely not."
"I can feel more of them coming," Lydia says. "They're getting close. I can't move, and I won't die by getting eaten alive."
Stiles looks at Peter, who says, "She's right, I can hear them coming. Probably at the end of the street."
"Lydia," Stiles whispers, tears blurring his vision. His heart is like ice in his chest.
"Stiles, I'm going to die anyway," Lydia says, breath hitching. "Please, at least let me choose how. Give me that."
"I can't do it," Stiles says. He knows it's what she wants, he even understands why and would probably want the same in her shoes, but she's one of his best friends and the first person he ever loved, and it's just not something he's able to do. "I can't..."
Lydia turns her gaze to Peter then. They've never been friends, the two of them. Lydia knows exactly what Peter is, exactly what he's about, and she seems to know that Peter would understand wanting to end things on her own terms. They lock eyes for a long moment, before Peter nods slowly, and Lydia exhales sharply.
Stiles closes his eyes and leans down, resting his forehead against hers. He takes a deep breath before kissing her forehead. She smiles up at him, eyes watering and body tense in pain. Now would be a great time for a grand declaration, or maybe some deeply moving final words to each other, but neither of them have any and honestly, they don't really need them. Stiles just moves to the side so Peter can get closer, but doesn't let go over her hand.
"Make it quick," she says to Peter.
Peter nods and leans down, take her head in his hands more gently than Stiles would expect. Lydia squeezing her eyes shut, holding Stiles' hand tightly, then Peter snaps her neck cleanly. Her hand spasms in Stiles', then goes limp. It's over in barely a second.
Stiles stares down at Lydia's blank face for a long time, until Peter rests a hand on his shoulder.
"I can hear them coming," Peter says quietly.
Stiles nods and lets Peter tug him to his feet. Stiles follows Peter out of the house as if on autopilot. They go out through the back, cutting through what used to be the backyard to get to the next street. Stiles keeps pace with Peter automatically, completely unaware of his surroundings. Peter has to tug him behind the remnants of a building more than once to keep him from walking straight into a herd (horde? Cluster?) of zombies.
They're close to the edge of Beacon Hills when Stiles asks, "What about Malia?"
Peter's quiet for a few seconds, then says, "I checked on her before you."
"And?" Stiles asks.
"And I had to kill the snarling, undead animal my daughter had become," Peter snaps, stopping in the middle of the street.
"Oh," Stiles says softly. "I'm sorry."
Peter glares at him before huffing and turning. "Keep moving."
Stiles tries to feel something about that, but there's nothing but numbness. It's like he used all the grief for his dad and Scott and Lydia that has nothing left to give. He's sure it will hit him later, when he's sitting still and everything has the chance to sneak back up on him, but now he focuses on just following Peter.
They try to find a car to hotwire at the edge of Beacon Hills, but the only one not completely mangled is missing its back tire, so they keep walking. The roads out of Beacon Hills get steadily clearer, until the wrecks eventually turn into open road. There are a few zombies shambling by once in a while, but mostly it's Peter, Stiles, and the silence.
Close to dark, they come across a crashed SUV. The driver had been pulled out, a smear of blood leading into the trees on the side of the road. Peter can't smell anything nearby, so they climb inside to rest for a few hours. They toss Stiles' duffel bag and backpack in backseat, where there's miraculously a case of water and a box of food. Apparently the owner was well-prepared, for all the good it did them in the end. They lock the doors and curl up to sleep, Stiles' bat at his feet.
It barely feels like he's slept at all when he wakes with a start, Peter's hand clapped over his mouth. He looks up with wide eyes and Peter presses a finger to his lips. Stiles nods, and Peter takes his hand off Stiles' mouth. It's still dark out and there are shapes moving outside the SUV's tinted windows. Stiles can't tell if it's zombies or survivors, but the way Peter's tensed in the seat next to him, it isn't good. Then Stiles hears the cocking of a gun, and he reaches for his baseball bat. Peter's claws slide out, his lips curling in a silent snarl.
"Think anyone's in there?" a man's voice asks.
"Well if there is, they know we're here now, genius. What part of shut the fuck up don't you get?" another says.
"Doesn't matter," a third voice says. "If there isn't, we're seeing if we can get this thing to run. If there is, we kill them, then see if we can get this thing to run."
Stiles' grip tightens on his bat. The figures outside approach Peter's door, gun raised. Peter doesn't wait for them to find out it's locked. He throws the door open, knocking the man down, and launches himself out of the car, claws out, eyes bright blue. Stiles scrambles out of his door, baseball bat in hand. The two other men shout, raising their guns, but it's too late. Peter rips the throat out of the first, snapping the neck of the other.
"Don't fucking move!" shouts the guy on the ground, the one Peter knocked down with his door. His gun is raised, pointing at Peter's face. Peter turns, clawed hands bloody. "I said - "
He never gets to finish. Stiles bashes his head with the baseball bat, his neck snapping and skull breaking. Stiles is breathing heavily, looking down at the dead man. It's not the first time he's killed, there have been plenty of threats to Beacon Hills that have had to be taken down, but it's the first human.
"We can't stay here," Peter says. "We don't know what that noise attracted."
Stiles nods and tears himself away from the lifeless body, climbing into the SUV's passenger seat. Peter gets in the driver's seat. The keys are in the ignition, the driver never getting a chance to even take them out before he was pulled from the car. Peter tries them, both of them holding their breath. It takes a few tries for the engine to turn off, but it actually starts. It's the first bit of luck they've had.
"Where are we going?" Stiles asks as they drive. Peter hasn't turned the headlights on, not wanting to draw anything to the light. He doesn't need them to see anyway.
"My family has a cabin deep in the Oregon woods," Peter says. "I haven't been there in a while, but it's well-stocked and safe. It'll be a good place to hunker down for a while."
"Okay," Stiles says.
"Just okay? No loud, contrary opinion?" Peter asks.
Stiles shrugs. "I don't have any better suggestions," he says.
Peter doesn't say anything to that.
They drive for hours. The tank of gas is only half full, so they don't make it as far as they'd like before they have to find another solution. The gas stations they pass are either in shambles, full of the dead, or not working. They manage to siphon gas from a few cars along the way, and that keeps them going for a while.
Eventually, they pull over in the middle of nowhere. Stiles has to pee, and Peter needs to stretch his legs, feeling cramped and uncomfortable from driving for so long.
"Don't wander too far," Peter says when Stiles steps into the trees for a little privacy.
Stiles really has to pee, has been holding it for a while, not wanting to stop unless they have to. He blames that for why he doesn't hear the footsteps behind him until a twig snaps, right when Stiles is zipping up his fly.
"Well, well, aren't we a little far from home?"
Stiles whirls around. Standing a mere dozen feet away is a man, dirty and ragged, grinning ferally. His aura pings wendigo to Stiles' magic, and not a stable one at that. Stiles doesn't say anything, just backs away slowly toward the road. The wendigo growls, claws lengthening.
"Don't move, kid," he growls.
"Yeah, uh, I can't listen to that, you know I can't," Stiles says.
He's trying to gather his magic, always sluggish when he hasn't used it in a while. He can feel the power growing in him, but he hasn't been resting or eating well, his body isn't charged and his magic knows that. He won't be ready by the time the wendigo comes.
"I haven't had a magic user in a while," the wendigo says, stalking closer. "You're going to taste fantastic."
The mangy wendigo rushes Stiles, claws out. He wraps a hand around Stiles' throat and Stiles is able to muster just enough magic to zap him hard, throwing him backward a few feet. That's it, though. He's out of juice. He's going to die, not by zombie or bomb, but by a drifter wendigo. God, he's fucking stupid for not grabbing his bat.
The wendigo snarls, leaping to his feet, ready to charge again. Then there's an enraged, animalistic roar that has him pausing, eyes widening. Peter comes crashing through the bushes to Stiles' right, barreling into the wendigo and driving him to the ground. The wendigo doesn't even have time to scream before Peter's snapped his neck.
Stiles is staring, jaw hanging open. Peter stands, chest heaving, and turns to Stiles. His eyes are electric blue and full of rage. For the first time in a long time, Stiles is scared. Peter stalks toward him and Stiles backs up until he bumps into a tree. Then Peter's there, pressing Stiles against the tree, his nose buried in his neck. Stiles stays still, not sure if he's about to be eaten or not, but then Peter's nuzzling at him, licking up the side of his throat and oh, oh.
Stiles tentatively wraps his arms around Peter's waist, which earns him an approving hum. Peter runs his hand up Stiles' arms and pulls his face away from his neck, eyes darting over his body for signs of injury.
"I'm okay," Stiles says. "Peter, I'm okay."
Peter huffs and reaches out, brushing where the wendigo had wrapped his claws around Stiles' throat, like he can erase the touch.
"Come on," Peter says. He wraps his hand around the nape of Stiles' neck, squeezing tightly, before steering him back to the road.
Peter keeps his hand on Stiles' thigh for the rest of the drive, like he needs to remind himself he's still there. When they switch drivers so Peter can get a few hours of sleep, Peter takes Stiles' hand and doesn't let go, even after he falls asleep.
The farther they get from the big cities, the less touched everything is. Stiles can even pretend for a few miles that everything's fine and they're just driving in the country, until a few miles down the road they'll drive by a zombie snacking on someone in the middle of the road.
A few hours into Oregon, they stop at a small grocery store in a tiny town. There's no one around, nothing but abandoned cars and bodies in the street, so they cautiously exit the car, going inside to see if there are any supplies left. A lot is gone, mostly bottled water, but Stiles thinks he can magic a way to filter water to make it drinkable if there's a stream or lake nearby, so for now they're okay.
They fill the trunk of the SUV with as much as it can handle, from canned foods to cereal, even some Gatorade Peter finds under an overturned shopping cart. They leave when Peter hears an engine approaching from far away. They don't want to run into any more survivors again.
The cabin is still another few hours away. The road is bumpy and unkempt, which makes them hope no one has been through in a while. Peter stops to push some large rocks and fallen trees over the road behind them every once in a while, hoping to dissuade anyone who tries to come down seeking shelter. It's just them now. They can't trust anyone else.
Stiles should have known that when Peter said cabin, he was talking from a rich son of a bitch point of view. The 'cabin' is easily as big as the Stilinski house was. The windows are grimy and the roof looks a little worse from the wear after years of disuse, but it's solid and when they walk the perimeter, there are no holes or any rot. The inside is musty but clean and Stiles immediately sighs in relief.
"I can't hear anything outside other than wildlife," Peter says. "We're safe for now."
"I can ward the perimeter," Stiles says. "Once I'm firing on all cylinders again."
Peter nods. "Rest," he says. "I'll unpack the car."
"I can help. You've been driving for eight hours," Stiles says.
"Rest," Peter repeats. "I want you sharp and deadly."
Stiles smiles faintly and Peter rubs their cheeks together, scenting him, before turning around and heading out to the car. Stiles' heart clenches at that and he knows it's something he's going to have to address, but he's exhausted, physically and emotionally, and he just doesn't have it in him right now.
Stiles doesn't feel like poking through the bedrooms so he just lies down on the couch, closing his eyes. He's tired, more tired than he's been in a long time. He trusts Peter to wake him up if something happens. And isn't that strange, trusting Peter and not even meaning it sarcastically. Huh.
Stiles wakes up a few hours later to Peter picking him up.
"Shh, go back to sleep," Peter murmurs.
It sounds like a good idea, so Stiles lets his head rest against Peter's chest as he's carried. He's set down on a soft bed that still smells a bit dusty, and a second later Peter is lying next to him, wrapping himself around Stiles' body. Stiles hums, twining their fingers together and letting himself drift off.
In the morning when he's more or less rested, Stiles and Peter go out into the woods surrounding the cabin, laying wards on trees. Peter is alert at Stiles' side, looking for any threat that might come, but so far they've seen nothing other than a couple of rabbits and a whole lot of squirrels. It takes the better part of the day and when he's done he's exhausted, but Stiles get the woods warded about a mile in every direction. They'll know if someone or something comes into the area now, and that kind of security is worth a little exhaustion.
Stiles sleeps with Peter again that night, the room smelling much better now that they've let the cabin air out all day. Peter lies at Stiles' back, between him and the door, his nose pressed against the back of Stiles' neck.
Stiles spends most of the next few weeks honing his magic. He figures out how to make the utilities work, giving them running water and electricity. He's never been so grateful to shower in his entire life. It also means that with a working refrigerator, Peter can shift and run in the woods, bring back deer so they can have meat. It means they can cook. Wash clothes. Simple things that Stiles never thought he'd be so grateful for. They still have to run to a nearby town to stock up on essentials every once in a while, things like toilet paper and first aid supplies are high on Stiles' list. He'd kill for a bottle of Adderall too, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen.
In the months they've been at the cabin, they've only had to chase off intruders twice. Once was a mostly decayed zombie that had tripped the wards. They'd decapitated it and burned its body miles away from the cabin. The second was a group of survivors smelling of alcohol and rage that was stopped at the first log Peter'd put down in the long road up the the house. Peter had politely encouraged them to move on and when they hadn't, when one had whispered that he had fun plans for 'the sweet looking twink', Peter had ripped them limb from limb. Stiles feels like he should care. He doesn't.
He still sleeps in Peter's bed.
They're sleeping in the morning after the full moon. There are actual wolves in their forest and Peter will go into his full wolf shift (something Stiles had not known about and had scared the living shit out of him when he woke up with a wolf on the bed next to him where Peter should have been) and play with the pack. It had taken a while, but they're less cautious of him now, more tolerant. They're smart animals and have noticed that the mile radius around the cabin is free from the dead and other humans, so they stick close. Peter's exhausted from running with them all night, having collapsed into bed completely naked around 5:00 a.m. Stiles had just grumbled and rolled over, making room.
Now, Peter's curled up into Stiles' side, nose pressed against his throat. Stiles has his arm around Peter's bare shoulders, absentmindedly rubbing his thumb over the soft skin. Stiles has been awake for a while, since the morning sun had started shining in through the curtains he'd forgotten to close, but he's comfortable in a way he hasn't been in a long time. He's content to lie with Peter, feeling warm and safe, something he hadn't thought he'd feel again. He's just contemplating going back to sleep when a hot tingle lances through him, the rune he'd had Peter cut into the skin of his wrist flaring bright white. Something triggered the wards.
"Peter," Stiles says urgently, shaking him. Peter's instantly awake at the sound of Stiles' voice, eyes wide and alert. He's crouched defensively in front of Stiles before he can say anything.
"What is it?" Peter asks, looking around.
"Something tripped the wards," Stiles says. He rolls out of bed, slipping on a pair of jeans and his shoes.
"Which ones?" Peter asks, quickly pulling on clothes.
"Northwest, by the old logging road," Stiles says.
Peter nods and less than a minute later, they're out the front door, Peter with his claws out, Stiles with his gun and magicked bat. They sneak through the forest on nearly silent feet. Stiles has gotten a lot better at the whole quiet thing, and he's experimenting with charms that will mask his footsteps, heartbeat, and scent. Peter says he's succeeded in muffling, but not completely blocking out the sound. He and Peter wear one charm each anyway, just in case.
Peter pauses, going completely still. Stiles wants to ask what it is, but he keeps silent, not wanting to give away their position to whatever is in their woods. Then Peter is sprinting forward, uncaring of how loud he is. Stiles chases after him trying to keep up, until he bursts through the treeline and onto the old logging road that runs near the end of their property. There, standing right in front of him, are Cora and Derek. They're looking worse for the wear, dirty and miserable and underfed. There's a wild look in their eyes like they aren't quite sure what they're seeing, and Stiles doesn't blame them. It's hard for him to believe this is real, too.
They all stare at each other for a long moment, the wolves with their claws out and Stiles with his gun in his hand, before his adrenaline ebbs and he lowers his arm with a shaky breath. A second later, he has his arms full of Cora, who's yanked him into a bone-crushing hug. Stiles blinks, shocked for a second, then he's wrapping his arms around her, hugging her back just as fiercely. Stiles has always liked Cora. She was brash at first and rude, but hey, so it Stiles so it's not like he could judge her. Especially with everything she'd gone through, he'd figured she'd earned the right to a few anger problems. When those problems had started putting her in danger though, he'd put his foot down. He'd never told Derek or Scott or anyone, but he and Cora had spent a lot of late nights together during the whole darach and alpha pack problem. Cora hadn't always had the patience to deal with Derek, something Stiles had understood, and Stiles sometimes worked better when bouncing his ideas off someone, which Cora could facilitate.
It wasn't just being a good person or whatever that caused Stiles to fight hard to keep Cora alive. She's his friend. That's a hard thing to achieve and once that happens, that's that, you're in Stiles' protective zone whether you like it or not. Stiles is pretty sure he's the only one that Cora bothered to keep in contact with when she and Derek took off. He'd wondered if she and Derek would be safe in South America, but apparently not.
When Cora pulls back, Stiles can see Derek hugging Peter, face buried in his uncle's neck. Cora joins, rubbing her scent over them. Stiles steps back, wanting to give them room, but Derek holds out his hand, looking desperate, and Stiles can't say no. He joins the giant group hug and lets himself be scented and touched. Cora and Derek keep running their hands over him, like they can't believe he and Peter are really there.
"You're safe," Peter murmurs, holding them tightly. "We have you, you're safe."
Derek whines high in his throat and Stiles holds him tighter.
"It's all right, come on, let's get you cleaned up," Stiles says.
Peter and Stiles lead Derek and Cora through the woods to the cabin. Cora clutches Stiles' hand the whole time. Derek sticks close enough to Peter that Stiles thinks they might trip, but Peter doesn't seem to mind. Derek and Cora both let out a sob when they get to the clearing with the cabin. It looks better than it did six months ago when Peter and Stiles had arrived. The roof is fixed, the windows cleaned. Stiles doesn't know if it's how Derek and Cora remember it, but he's pretty sure they're just happy to be here.
"Come on," Stiles says, tugging Cora by the hand.
They look half starved and Stiles wants to feed them now rather than have them wait for him to cook, so he pulls out the leftover venison from the night before. Cora and Derek attack it hungrily, barely stopping to drink the water Peter sets down in front of them. He watches them eat with a desperate look on his face. Stiles and Peter never discuss who they lost, have never discussed Cora and Derek. Stiles doesn't even know if Peter thought they were alive. Stiles goes upstairs to give them some time under the pretense of finding clothes for them to wear. He has some sweats and a t-shirt that will be loose on Cora, but mostly fit her. He takes Peter's sleep pants and an old v-neck for Derek.
They're just finishing eating when Stiles comes back downstairs. He hands them the clothes.
"Take a shower and clean up," Stiles says. "We'll be here when you're done."
"Shower?" Cora says, looking confused.
"Yeah," Stiles says. "That thing you stand under and it's wet."
"Smartass," Cora says, smacking him in the arm. It makes him grin. "I mean, how do you have running water?"
"Magic," Stiles says, wiggling his fingers, making light dance between them.
"Whoa," Cora says. "Okay, more on that later, I need to shower a month of dirt off me."
Cora turns and walks down the hall to the bathroom. Derek, who Stiles still hasn't heard say anything, just looks at them for a long moment before heading upstairs to use the bathroom on the second floor. As soon as they hear the door close, Peter sighs, turning to Stiles. Stiles opens his arms and Peter wraps himself around him, resting his forehead on Stiles' shoulder. Stiles holds him close, running one hand through his hair. Peter shudders out a harsh breath.
"It's okay," Stiles murmurs. "They're safe, Peter. They're here."
Peter doesn't say anything, just holds Stiles tightly.
Cora emerges almost forty-five minutes later, steam pouring out of the bathroom when she opens the door. Stiles doesn't blame her, he'd done the same thing. Her hair is wet and tousled, and there's more color in her cheeks than before. She sits next to Peter on the couch, leaning against his side. Peter wraps an arm around her, kissing the top of her head. Derek comes down a few minutes later, skin damp, and sits on the love seat next to Stiles. He sits way closer than he needs to do. Stiles has a hunch he wants contact but doesn't know how to ask, so he holds his hand out. Derek takes it, squeezing tightly.
"I thought you were in South America," Peter says.
"We were," Cora says. "Then our graveyards started emptying and the news said it all started in Beacon Hills."
"Is it everywhere then?" Stiles asks. "The whole world?"
Derek shrugs. "By the time television went out, they'd made it to Ushuaia," he says. "So at least all of North and South America."
"Damn," Stiles says. Derek's hand squeezes his.
"We didn't get to Beacon Hills until after it had been bombed and couldn't find you anywhere," Cora says. "We didn't know where else to go, so we came here."
"We thought you'd died," Derek says quietly.
Stiles gives up all pretense and lets go of Derek's hand, tugging him into a hug.
"Why'd you go to Beacon Hills at all?" Peter asks.
Cora looks at him like he's an idiot. "Because you were there," she says. "I couldn't get a hold of you or Stiles and we had to see...we had to know if you guys were okay."
"It's just us," Stiles says quietly, his arm still around Derek.
"I figured," Cora says. "I'm glad you're here. I didn't expect it. I thought it would just be us, but you're here..."
Cora buries her face in Peter's shoulder. He kisses the top of her head again, resting his chin there with his eyes closed.
"Is it safe?" Derek asks. "Is it safe to be here?"
"I have the place warded a mile in every direction," Stiles says. "We'll know if anyone or anything gets close. I'm working on protection runes too, but that shit's tricky."
"So it's safe to go running?" Derek asks. "I haven't been able to run in the woods when it wasn't for my life in...god, I don't even know how long."
"It's safe," Peter says. "Do you want to run the perimeter with me? I can show you where our boundaries are."
Derek nods and unwraps himself from Stiles to stand.
"Do you want to come?" Derek asks Cora.
"No," Cora says, shaking her head. "I want to curl up under a blanket and sleep for a week."
Stiles chuckles. "I can facilitate that," he says.
"I'll see if we can get a deer for tonight," Peter says. He walks over and presses a kiss to Stiles' forehead before leading Derek out.
Stiles ignores Cora's calculating look and goes to the hall closet to pull out a large knitted blanket. Peter had said his father made it. Cora's eyes widen as he brings it over to her. She tugs him onto the couch and throws the blankets over them. Grinning, she curls up under it, head resting on his shoulder. Stiles rubs her back, happy to see that haunted look in her eyes fade a little bit.
"So," she says. "You and Peter?"
"What about us?" Stiles asks.
"Are you guys together?" she asks.
"I don't know, I guess?" Stiles says. "We haven't said it or anything, but I know that he's mine. And I'm his."
Cora nods like that makes any kind of sense. Maybe it does to her, but it's still weird to Stiles. He thinks maybe he should at least kiss someone before saying they're his.
"I'm glad you guys are okay," Cora says. "I'm glad you got out."
"You guys too," Stiles says. "I'm lucky. Peter had to dig me out of my basement. I don't know why he even came for me, but he did."
Cora snorts at that. "I know why, you dumbass," she says. "You're his favorite. You've always been his favorite."
"Nuh uh," Stiles says. "He hated me."
"Nah," Cora says. "He hated that he bit Scott instead of you."
"What?" Stiles asks, startled, pushing past the pain of hearing Scott's name. Peter had never said that, never even alluded to it beyond offering him the bite in the parking garage all those years ago.
"Yeah," Cora says with a shrug. "He said he didn't remember much from those first few weeks, only smelling something in the woods that he wanted. That something was you, but he got turned around and bit McCall instead."
"I...whoa," Stiles says. He probably should be mad, in another life he would be, but it's really just a shock. He doesn't have much anger left for Peter. "And he just told you this?" he asks skeptically.
"He may have been drunk of wolfsbane whiskey," Cora says. "The details aren't important."
"Uh huh," Stiles says, grin tugging at his lips.
Cora hums but doesn't say anything else. She lies down so her head's in Stiles' lap, the blanket wrapped around her. Stiles rests his hand in her hair, stroking it gently. Cora rumbles contentedly and lets him, closing her eyes. Stiles can imagine how tired she is. He remembers looking like her, feeling like her when he and Peter had first arrived. He doesn't care that his legs are going a little numb from how long she's been sleeping on him, he isn't going to move.
Peter and Derek come back an hour or so later. Cora still hasn't moved, snoring lightly with her face buried against Stiles' stomach. Peter smiles at them softly and walks over, pressing a kiss to Stiles' forehead. Stiles doesn't think, just leans in and kisses his lips. His eyes widen, not having expected to do that. Peter looks surprised too, but he smiles brightly and kisses Stiles again, slowly this time.
"All right, no making out above me, please," Cora grumbles, sitting up.
"I hear I'm your favorite," Stiles says with a grin.
Peter rolls his eyes. "Cora is a liar."
"Right," Stiles says.
"We got a deer for dinner," Peter says.
"I'll cook," Stiles says, standing. "You spend time with Derek and Cora."
Peter looks so damn grateful at that that Stiles can't help but lean in, pressing their foreheads together. He sighs, tilting his head to the side so Peter can nuzzle his jaw, before heading to the kitchen. He can hear the soft sounds of their voices from the living, occasionally one of them laughing. It's stilted at first, as if they aren't sure they're allowed to laugh with so much tragedy around them, but it seems to get easier. Stiles smiles. He's done that more today than he has in months.
Dinner is quiet, probably because Cora and Derek and fading fast, still exhausted from their trek here. Tomorrow, Stiles and Peter will get two of the other bedrooms ready for them, but tonight they drag two mattresses and all the blankets in the cabin into the living room, setting up in the middle of the floor. Stiles falls asleep curled against Peter's chest, Cora snuggled up behind him. Derek's on the other side of Peter, hesitant at first until Peter had lifted an arm, inviting him to move closer.
Peter and Stiles are awake long after Derek and Cora nod off. Peter presses his lips to Stiles' forehead but doesn't say anything, just lies there with him. Tomorrow, Stiles knows, Peter will have to tell them what happened to Malia. Stiles will have to make them a tracking amulet like the one he made Peter so he can find them in case they ever get separated. Peter will have to show them the local wolf pack (hopefully they like Derek and Cora more than Stiles. Which is to say not at all.). Tomorrow they'll see about running into town to find clothes for Derek and Cora since they showed up with nothing but a backpack each. But that's for tomorrow.