The day Jackson died and was reborn as a werewolf was the day that the nightmares started. They lasted the whole summer, the same images flashing through Stiles’ mind night after night, dragging her from her sleep.
This morning was no different. She woke in a cold sweat, her body sore from countless sleepless nights.
She jumped when her dad knocked on her door, the book she had been reading the night before clattering to the floor.
‘Sorry to wake you kiddo,’ he said, poking his head into her room. ‘I’ve been called out to work, just wanted to let you know so you didn’t freak out when you got up.’
‘You didn’t wake me dad, it’s fine,’ she said, forcing a smile on her face.
‘Got any plans for the day?’ her dad asked.
‘Lydia’s coming over in about fifteen minutes,’ Stiles said. ‘She’s going to go shopping with me to grab a few of the last supplies I’ll need before I leave.’
Her dad stepped into her room.
‘So, you’re really going,’ he said quietly.
‘I can’t get you to change your mind?’
‘I gave them the whole summer dad,’ she said wearily. ‘The whole summer to just contact me, and the only person who did was Lydia of all people. The banshee who had managed to pull her mass murdering boyfriend back from the brink of death. The banshee who barely looked at me before this year, let alone talk to me. My supposed best friend didn’t even think to say hi or ask if I was okay. If it’s because Derek has them on a ‘no talking to Stiles’ leash then that’s just worse because that means they’re actually listening to him.’
Stiles had thought about it a lot since the day she had come home after being tortured by Gerard. She had been struggling already, but that day Derek had taken one look at her, asked her what had happened, and when she lied to him he didn’t even pick up on it. Then he told her that she wasn’t pack, that she was too weak to run with them. That had been the last straw. The last thing she had done before breaking contact with the pack was to make Erica and Boyd promise not to tell Derek what had really happened with Gerard. They asked her why but didn’t argue when she didn’t tell them. If she was going to be part of the pack it was going to be on her own terms, not because Derek had realised what a huge mistake he had made.
‘Where are you going to go?’ her dad asked. She shrugged. ‘Deaton has taught me everything he can about my magic. He’s a druid not a Spark, so there’s only so much he can do. He has a friend up North who’s a Spark and has agreed to teach me so I’ll start there. After that I’m not sure. I’ve talked to the school and they’ve agreed to let me do my work online so I can still do school no matter where I am. They say I can come back whenever I want. I have that inheritance money from when my great aunt in Poland died so I won’t be strapped for cash.’
‘You’ve really planned this out properly haven’t you?’
‘I can’t stay here dad,’ she said sadly. ‘There’s nothing here for me but you. I want a chance to live, without the pack looking over my shoulder.’
He pulled her into a hug, sniffing as he held back tears. ‘I know baby,’ he said quietly.
‘I’m really gonna miss you kiddo.’
She pulled back, smiling as she wiped a tear from his cheek.
‘I’ll miss you too dad.’
She reached over to her bedside table, grabbing a thick envelope from the drawer.
‘I need you to give this to him dad,’ she said. ‘When you think they need it I want you to give it to him.’
Her dad took the envelope, nodding. ‘Of course I will,’ he said.
The doorbell rang, effectively cutting off their conversation.
‘That’ll be Lydia. I should get ready,’ Stiles said, getting up and heading to the bathroom.
‘I’ll let her in and send her up,’ her dad said. ‘Have a good day kiddo.’
As Stiles stripped and stepped into the shower she heard her dad open the front door and bid goodbye to Lydia. A few moments later her bedroom door banged as Lydia strode in.
‘I’ll be out in a second,’ she called.
Washing her hair she wrapped it up before stepping out of the shower, drying herself off and heading into her room. Lydia was by her bed, laying out an outfit that Stiles’ knew she would end up wearing whether she liked it or not. The dress was one that Lydia had made her buy at the start of the summer but she had never worn it. It was dark green with flowers printed all over, with cap sleeves. The torso of the dress was sheer so that the black bralet worn underneath could be clearly seen.
‘You expect me to wear that to go shopping?’ Stiles asked, with a whine in her voice.
‘Don’t whine at me Stiles Stilinski,’ Lydia said, mercifully pulling out Stiles’ black Dr Martens. ‘I want you looking fabulous so that if his highness Derek Hale happens to see you he’ll know what he’s missing.’
‘I’m leaving in the morning Lyds, and I doubt he and the pack will even notice I’m gone until I don’t show up at school in the morning. If they even notice then.’
Lydia whirled on her.
‘It can’t hurt to be prepared for every eventuality,’ Lydia said, a smile on her face.
Stiles grumbled a bit before pulling on the outfit.
‘Why are we going shopping again?’ she asked, tying her boots.
‘Because you’ll be driving hours in that jeep of yours and if anything you at least need a few hours to get out of this house before you go. Also, I need some retail therapy myself to be honest, and of course a pair of killer heels for the first day back.’
‘Of course you do,’ she said.
When she stood up Lydia ran a critical eye over her before pulling her into a tight hug.
‘You better keep in touch Stiles,’ she said quietly, her voice thick with tears.
Stiles wrapped her own arms around Lydia’s shoulders. ‘Of course I will Lyds. I don’t plan on being gone forever.’
‘I should hope not,’ Lydia said. ‘But when you do come back I expect you to be enough of a kick-ass to beat the living daylights out of the alpha of that stupid wolf pack.’
‘The stupid wolf pack that you’re still a part of?’ Stiles joked.
‘Only for you,’ Lydia said, ‘and Jackson of course. Derek really is an idiot though.’
‘I know,’ Stiles said. ‘I don’t know why I ever thought that we could get along. I don’t know why I ever thought…’ Stiles paused.
‘Why you thought that you might be in love with him?’ Lydia asked.
Lydia wiped a tear from Stiles cheek as it rolled down her face.
‘I understand why you have to go,’ she said. ‘I really do, but I want to make sure that you know why.’
‘I can’t stay,’ Stiles said, grabbing Lydia’s shoulders. ‘I need to figure out who I am without the pack, without Scott and without Derek. I need to put them behind me if I’m ever going to move forward.’
‘And one day Derek will wake up and regret ever letting you go,’ Lydia said.
‘I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,’ Stiles laughed.
Stiles left at 2am the next day, heading North in her beaten up old jeep.
She stopped when she reached the you are now leaving Beacon Hills sign.
On the sign she carved runes that melted into the wood, sealing up the barrier she had been erecting around the town gradually over the summer. If anything supernatural so much as touched the wards Stiles would know.
Jumping back in her jeep Stiles got on the road.
As she crossed the Beacon Hills border she felt a weight lift off her chest, like she was leaving her worries behind at that goodbye sign.
Stiles spent the first nine months away from Beacon Hills with Deaton’s Spark friend, Imogen, and they were some of the worst and best nine months she had had in a long time.
She kept on sending photos to Lydia and her dad of all the new things she was trying, the places she saw, the friends she made. She video called them every week. It had become more often than that when Lydia had called her out of the blue a month after she left to tell her that Jackson had gone to London. Lydia was heartbroken.
Stiles was still having the nightmares. The same ones over and over again, haunting every hour she slept. But she learned to deal with them. She got better at understanding her power, and controlling it.
After nine months her best friend Kyle, a Druid, talked about hitting the road to travel the states. Stiles decided to join him. They spent the next three months meeting magic users and wolf packs alike, and helping to face threats in various territories.
Stiles had never through she would see as much as she had, but she also knew it couldn’t last.
At the end of their third month they were on the trail of a Druid using dark magic that they had been following for two weeks. They had been given the case by a group of hunters who were finding it hard to follow the Druid with their more traditional methods. The hunters had given Stiles and Kyle records of the Druid’s movements from over a year ago. The Druid had slowly been making their way across state lines and into California, dropping bodies behind them. They had stopped in an area that Stiles was familiar with, about fifty miles outside of Beacon Hills, for a couple of weeks before even Stiles and Kyle had lost track of them.
They were investigating the sixth body the Druid had left behind when three things happened in quick succession.
1) Imogen called Stiles to tell her that a group of hunters they knew had spotted a pack Alpha werewolves heading for the Beacon Hills area a few weeks previously. The pack was one that Stiles and Kyle had run into when they first hit the road, and they were by no means friendly.
2) Five minutes after she got off the phone to Imogen Stiles felt one of her wards around Beacon Hills shiver as something crossed the border, something dark.
3) At the same time her phone chimed as a text came in from Lydia. It simply said: Something’s coming. Beacon Hills is in danger. Please come home.
Stiles told Kyle and they followed the mantra they had come up with. One is of interest, two is a coincidence, but three’s a pattern. Kyle contacted a few of the hunters they had met along the way to carry on their job of trying to track the druid before he packed the jeep and they hit the road.
Just over a year after she had left, Stiles was headed back to Beacon Hills.