Actions

Work Header

If the ley lines you should follow

Chapter Text

Stiles breathed in the crisp forest air.  His chest hurt like he had been hollowed out, like those long nights after the nogitsune where all he could do was stare up at his ceiling and wonder if he was awake.  The sun was spotting through the leaves above him and Stiles tried to remember why he was outside.

He was back home after finishing his last year of grad school at UCLA.  He didn’t know why he bothered to come back though.  Scott hadn’t talked to him since high school.  Kira’s family moved back to New York.  Malia hated him after their third breakup.  Lydia washed her hands of Beacon Hills the moment she got her MIT acceptance letter.  And his dad.  Stiles knew his dad was the reason he returned.  Stiles still had to settle things with the property and put fresh flowers on his grave. 

And it was as if there was only a Beacon in Beacon Hills when he was home.  Stiles thunked his head back on the tree and tried to remember the night’s events.  He had gotten smashed at the Jungle, first time back there with a valid ID, had stumbled into the alley with some stranger because drunk hookups were a thing he partook in semi regularly now.  Which was of course when his hook up turned out to be a creature of the night ready to gut him and drink his blood.  Or something like that.  He could only assume because he up and blasted that thing to hell the moment it got its teeth in him. 

Stiles had been diving deeper in to the magic arts of an emissary ever since his father died.  It took little effort to turn the thing to dust.  He must have stumbled out to the woods afterwards. 

Stiles groaned, his head pounding from the magic and alcohol hangover.  Based on the sun it couldn’t have been more than ten in the morning.  He was in desperate need of a bacon double cheese burger and a heaping side of curly fries.  He patted his jeans down for his wallet, which was there, and his phone, which was smashed to pieces. 

“Aw, fuck,” he said, standing and brushing the dirt off his butt.  He hadn’t broken his phone in two years so of course he would the day after he came back to Beacon fucking Hills.  Now he just had to figure out where the hell he was. 

There was a crunch of leaves in the distance.  He didn’t exactly hear it, more that he just knew it happened.   His magic worked as a warning system of certain supernatural creatures.  It was most helpful in this hell pit.

The crunch happened again, a pull of attention that tingled under his skin like a low reverberation.  A growl.  A wolf.

Stiles did not have the brain capacity to deal with Scott right now or one of his stupid betas. 

The crunching grew closer, faster and picking up speed until Stiles could physically hear the sound of feet pounding against the forest floor.  Stiles rubbed at his eyes.  It was somebody he knew and trusted enough not to kill him on sight, otherwise it would feel different, so he wasn’t afraid of an omega.  Still, he didn’t want to do this first thing after waking up.  His head was still ringing from the hangover.

The footfalls stopped.  The world around him became almost unnaturally still.  It was puzzling, like someone was holding their breath.  Stiles took his hand away from his eyes and turned towards the thrum of wolf.

Derek stood there, about as far away as the first time Stiles had ever seen him in the woods.  Just as still.  But he looked wild.  His eyes were blown, his mouth hanging open just the slightest, his shoulder hunched up and back as if he were posturing and unsure of himself rather than the ball of tension he had once been, nor the relaxed guy he had finally been able to become with Braeden.

And Derek just stood there, staring at Stiles like he was a ghost.

“Dude, I know it’s been a while but you don’t have to look at me like you’re that surprised I’m hung over in the woods.  It’s practically a tradition at this point.”

Stiles?” Derek whispered, the name falling from his lips like a punch to the gut.  Stiles watched, confused, as Derek took a deep breath in and took a shaky step forward then back again.  “You’re not- you can’t be.  Who are you?”

Stiles squinted his eyes at Derek, checking for damage.  “Dude, are you okay?  Are you on something?  I don’t see a bullet wound.”  Stiles took a few steps forward but from the way Derek tensed up more, he thought it may be best to just stay put.  “Look, man, I know we’re not friends but you also know I’m the best bet to treat you if you’re hurt, so.”

They stared at each other for a long time, or what felt like forever.  It might have been only a minute or two.  Something in Derek’s body language told him to stay still, so he did.  Maybe Derek was high.  It’s not like Liam didn’t figure out how to lace his drinks and roll an aconite joint the moment he figured out the normal shit wouldn’t affect him. 

More tingling came from Stiles’s left, another wolf he knew was approaching.  He looked over when they got near and tensed up, a perfect mirror of Derek’s body language.

Erica froze in her tracks when they made eye contact.

“Holy shit,” Stiles cursed, taking an unconscious step back.  He darted his eyes between her and Derek.  “Did you get into some black magic when I was gone?  What the hell!” 

Because Erica was dead.  She’d been the first of a domino effect that tore him apart.  And now she stood before him, an adult and a bigger bombshell than her high school self could ever compare to, whole and alive.

“Stiles?” she asked, the same disbelieving tone and gut wrenching sadness in her voice as Derek’s.

Stiles opened his mouth to talk.  You’re alive.  You’re alive and all grown up.  You’re here.

“But you’re dead.”

Those weren’t his words, they were Derek’s.  Stiles snapped his eyes back to Derek, who was looking firmly at Stiles, not Erica. 

“What?” Stiles asked.  He was too hungover for this.  He told them as much, clutching his throbbing head.  “Will someone please explain to me what is going on?”

“Stiles,” Derek said, sounding broken.  “You’re dead.”

Stiles laughed, although something about Derek’s tone of voice told him he wasn’t lying.  “Since when?” Stiles asked.

“One year, four months, and twelve days,” Derek recited. 

And there it was again, the lack of lie.  It was too quick, too hurt, too much like he’s been counting the days.  It couldn’t be a lie. 

“Why.. what?” Stiles scrunched his forehead trying to grasp what the hell was going on.  “You’re trying to tell me I’m dead.  What year is it?”

“2020,” Erica replied.

“May 27th, 2020,” Stiles said, which was todays date, at least it was when he passed out this morning.

“Yeah,” Erica said, her stance growing apprehensive.

“So, I didn’t lose any time.  I just got home from school yesterday.  There’s no way I’ve been dead for a year.”

“Stiles-,”

“NO!” he snapped, throwing his arm out and pointing at Erica.  “You don’t get to talk because you’ve been dead since you were sixteen!”   His voice reverberated through the stillness of the forest, a sub-audible echo that hit his bones.  The sky above felt too oppressive. 

The silent standoff lasted for another few minutes.  Then Stiles’s stomach growled.  “Maybe we should take this somewhere else,” Erica suggested, “Gather the gang, do some research, and get some lunch.”

Stiles shifted his weight, unnerved by the situation.  “Yeah, okay.”  He could be a rational human being, even with a hangover and a dead girl nearby.  He’s had weirder moments.

Erica turned to Derek, a concerned look on her face.  “Do you want to stick with us, or?”

For the first time, Derek’s eyes left Stiles to meet Erica’s.  It was apparently all the prompting he needed to dash away. 

“Jesus, what’s up with him,” Stiles muttered, earning him the brunt force of Erica’s glare.

“Other than you crawling back from the dead?” she snapped.

Stiles shrugged.  “If I really have been dead for a year I still don’t see why he’d be that freaked out.  I’d be the fourth person to come back.  Not including yourself.”

“You don’t see why?” Erica hissed, storming over.  “Stiles, what the hell?”

Stiles took a step back as she came closer, throwing his hands up in surrender.  “Hey, don’t get mad at me.  I’m not entirely convinced I’m not still asleep.”

Erica growled.  Stiles let her manhandle him, leading him away from his faithful tree-bed.  Home sweet home, right?

On the way to their destination, he couldn’t help but watch Erica and hold in a panic attack.  His imagination wouldn’t have been able to come up with her.  She had aged.  Even now he could only image the 16 year old who went through a dramatic transformation, how she postured him in the halls.  She was different, too.  Her red lipstick was darker, her curls softer, her clothes more relaxed.  She was real, he told himself.  She was a person who had lived the last nine years. 

Erica led him to a large Victorian styled house that felt oddly familiar.  He knew this area.  “Is this…” Stiles trailed off in disbelief.

“Is this what?” Erica asked, holding in her anger.  It was the hurt kind of anger.  She was just as confused as he was and she wanted to lash out because of it. 

Stiles looked back to the house, walking up the porch, trailing his fingers over the white painted wood.  The door was a cherry red that pulled old memories from the start of junior year of high school.  It was the color Derek had used to paint over the alpha’s symbol.  Stiles opened the door, shoveling his anxiety into a box in the back of his head. 

The house was lived in.  The couch had a blanket slung over it, crumpled from recent use.  There were a few empty cups sitting around and someone’s bag was by the coffee table and a pair of shoes under a chair.  There was a coat rack with a familiar black leatherjacket, along with a few other jackets that weren’t as familiar but reminded him of people by their color and cut, but none of those people would be here.

“Is this Derek’s house?” Stiles asked in disbelief. 

“Yeah,” Erica said, wary and almost offended by the comment.  “You should know this.”

Stiles frowned, following her into the kitchen.  On the way he froze, catching sight of a photograph.  It was of the pack: Derek, Isaac, Boyd, and Erica, smiling at the beach, and clearly out of high school.  His stomach dropped, and he knew.  He knew without being able to grasp the whole mechanics behind it. 

This was real.

But this wasn’t his reality.

Stiles collapsed onto the stool that was pulled up to the kitchen bar.  It was a nice kitchen.  It was weird.  Stiles had expected to return, finish the paperwork to make his childhood home no longer his house, and leave to never look back. 

He wasn’t expecting to find a whole different Beacon Hills.

Erica texted what Stiles could only assume was the pack and pulled out a tupperware of leftover meatloaf.  She stuck it in the microwave and the scent was intoxicating.  It smelled like… “That smells like my mom’s,” he said, heart aching.

Erica frowned at him, almost guilty, it wasn’t a look Stiles could place.  She looked sad.  “Yeah.  Derek makes it every Thursday.”

“Derek knows my mom’s recipe?”

Erica’s frown deepened.  “Yeah.”

Stiles frowned, waiting for the microwave to ding.  Erica placed the meatloaf in front of him with a fork and steak sauce.  Stiles looked at it blankly.  Most people ate meatloaf with ketchup.  Stiles never did, but Stiles also never ate meatloaf with anybody besides his dad.  And this was his brand.  This isn’t something she should have known about him.

“Erica?” Stiles asked, after pouring the sauce on the meatloaf and picking up his fork. 

“Yeah?”

“How did.. how did I die?”

His fork hovered over the meatloaf waiting for an answer.  He couldn’t meet her eyes.  It was somebody else’s life he was asking after. 

“How did I?” she replied. 

He looked up, biting his lower lip.  He wondered if Erica had figured it out, that he never died, that he wasn’t theirs.  She was smart though.  She knew he wasn’t… right.

“You and Boyd were kidnapped by the Alpha pack and you tried to fight your way out and Kali killed you.”

Her breath caught, her own memories swelling to the surface behind her eyes.  “I was never kidnapped,” Erica said.

“And the Darach?” Stiles asked before taking a small bite of meatloaf.  It tasted just as he remembered making it for his dad, but it somehow also tasted like sand on his tongue, like he was tasting something he wasn’t supposed to and it was souring the experience.

“You figured her out pretty quick when she seduced Derek.  We took her down before she got too strong.”

He nodded, as if it made sense.  He wasn’t sure it did.  He wanted to know what else was different.  He wanted to know why he was here.  If studying magic taught him anything, it was that there was always a reason, a flow like the ley lines beneath the earth.  He was born near the nemeton, drowned for the nemeton, and reborn from the nogitsune who had been trapped in the nemeton.  And all a nemeton truly was, was where the ley lines clustered.  Stiles was a cluster of magic after the world he had lived through.  He must have followed the magic without even realizing.

“Erica, how did I die?” he repeated.

She looked at him for a long minute: remembering, contemplating, gathering courage.  He still couldn’t read that sad look on her face.  Then he felt the under-the-skin tingle that told him a wolf was growing closer.  Erica turned her head to the front hall and moments later Isaac and oh my god was that Allison, rushed through the entrance, staring at Stiles in disbelief.

She was beautiful.  She’d gotten bangs and her hair was straight and feathered out.  She looked so sure and confident even in the trembling of her hand as she stared at Stiles.  Tears and guilt was building behind his breastbone and she was twitching for her bow.

“Allison?” he asked, her name slipping out in a whispered heartbreak.  She died because of him.  Because he was the weak link when the nemeton was knocking on doors, waiting for somebody to open.  He had been separated physically from the nogitsune at the time but he had still felt its chaotic desires, its greed and glee when Allison was stabbed. 

Then Boyd entered behind them and Stiles couldn’t help the tears.  The last time he saw Boyd it was as he was dying, forgiving Derek with his last breaths.  

“Who are you?” Allison demanded, her hands whipping to pull out her side arm in an easy movement.  A lethal weapon was pointed at him and he didn’t so much as flinch.  “Who the hell are you because you don’t get to come here and wear our friend’s face!”

Through his own tears he could see the wetness trailing down her face.

Boyd placed a hand on her shoulder.  “He smells real.” 

“Does Derek know?” Allison asked Erica, keeping her weapon up.

“Derek found him.”

“Well shit,” Isaac muttered.  Isaac, who Stiles hadn’t seen since halfway through Junior year and he moved to France. 

And Boyd, who was dead.  And Allison, who was dead.  And Erica, who was dead.

He couldn’t hold back the anxiety any longer.  His head was spinning, breath growing short.  One in Two out he told himself, but that didn’t change the way the air caught in his throat going in in in in in.  The world around him slowed and sped and tilted until hands around his biceps pulled him to their body, dropping to the floor.  A weight of someone’s palm against his chest, holding him down and anchoring him, the rhythm of his heart beating against their hand, their heartbeat bouncing off his back, a perfect symmetry of an erratic tempo.

Words in his ear.  It’s okay, it’s okay.  Shh.  You’re safe.  The promise of comfort and compassion just in the soothing tone of a broken voice trying so hard to be whole.  Trying so hard for him.

Stiles gasped, gaining control of his breathing, slowing his heart, taking in his surroundings and the arms encompassing him.  Stiles turned his head to stare in confusion and amazement. 

“Derek?”

Stiles turned more in Derek’s grip, caught up in the terrified look in the man’s light eyes, blue and green and gold.  Derek reached up and caressed Stiles’s cheek, wiping away some of the tears.  Stiles pulled back, confused.  Derek flinched.  They scrambled apart, Stiles standing on shaky legs.

“Thanks,” he muttered.  Derek nodded, standing gracefully and… defeated.  Stiles took in the pack, standing around in various levels of shock and mourning.  “Is this everybody?” Stiles asked dubiously.  He directed the question to Erica.  She seemed to have her head on her shoulders better than the rest.   Erica nodded.  “What happened to Scott?”

Derek’s head snapped up, alert and even more confused.

“Oh, Stiles,” Erica said sadly.  “How different were our lives?”

“What is she talking about,” Allison demanded, hand still twitching on her cross-bow. 

Stiles backed up, frowning.  He looked between them all, eyes landing on Erica.  She understood.  Of all of them, she understood.

“Erica, what are you talking about,” Allison repeated. 

“This is Stiles, real Stiles.  Just, not our Stiles,” Erica said. 

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Isaac scoffed.  “Is this resurrected Stiles or is this some new monster with Stiles’s face.”

Stiles sat down on the nearest seat, all the twisting of his mind and body of the day exhausting him.  “It means exactly what she said.  I’m not who you think I am.”  Stiles looked down at his hands.  “I should try and find a way to get back.  Is Deaton around?”

“Get back where?” Derek asked.  That was desperation, Stiles was sure. 

“To my own world.  I don’t belong here.”  His earlier thoughts came back to him.  “Although I must be here for a reason.”

“Where did you come from,” Allison persisted.

Stiles just shrugged.  “Someplace parallel to this.”

“A different dimension?” Boyd asked.

“Or something like it,” Stiles said.

“God, what the hell are we going to tell his dad?” Isaac whispered.

Stiles snapped his eyes up with shock and desperate hope.  “My dad’s alive?”  He could see the shock on their faces.  Stiles scrambled to his feet, darting to the door.  Boyd wrapped his arms around him before Stiles could reach the exit.  “Let me go!  I have to see him!” he pleaded. 

“Stiles, no,” Boyd said.  “Not until you’ve calmed down and we’ve taken stock of the situation.”

Boyd, always the voice of reason.  Stiles took a deep breath and relaxed in Boyd’s grip until the other man let go. 

“Are you going to call Deaton?” Stiles asked.  He caught Derek’s eye again, who looked on the edge of tears.  He dashed away without another word.

“Seriously?  Again?  Why does he keep disappearing like that?”

“Seriously?” Boyd scoffed.  Stiles just turned to him with a scrunched brow.  It truly didn’t make sense to him.  Boyd searched his face and the mask of anger fell to disbelief.  “You really don’t know.”

“Know what?” Stiles asked.  He didn’t like being kept in the dark.  He was the stranger here, surrounded by ghosts.  “Will someone, please, just treat me like a newbie and tell me who Stiles was to you, because I am not your Stiles.”

The silence was stifling.  They looked at him like he was a monster, a wolf in sheep’s clothing just waiting to turn tables and attack them.  He’s not their Stiles.  So he must not be Stiles at all.  Allison fiercely wiped away a tear and turned on her heal.  She ran up the stairs, Erica quick to follow with one last glance at Stiles.  Boyd diverted his gaze and pulled out his phone.  “I’ll call Deaton,” he said, slipping out the front door.  There was a silent line of communication between Boyd and Isaac before the door shut: keep an eye on him.

Isaac walked over to where Stiles sat, his leg shaking minutely as he stared Stiles down.

“You smell human,” he commented.  “But, more like Deaton.  You have that extra tang of magic about you.”  Isaac shrugged and took a seat on the couch.  “Stiles smelled the same, exactly the same.  I don’t think an imposter could have faked that.”

Stiles hummed and bit at the quick of his thumb nail. 

“But you smell different, too,” Isaac continued.  “Derek’s much better at reading emotions in scent, but you have this underlying hurt, I guess, and anger, that Stiles never had.”

Stiles huffed.  Figured.  “Yeah, well, in my life I don’t exactly talk to any of you anymore.  I’m a bitter, lonely old man and I’m only twenty-four.”  Stiles forced himself to stop picking at his nail bed.  He looked up to Isaac in earnest.  “How’s my dad?”

Isaac shrugged.  “You did die only a year ago.  But we make sure he’s eating healthy and not drinking too much.”

Stiles gave him a sad smile.  As good as could be expected.  Better, even.  If he had died before his dad back home, there would have been no one around to take care of his old man.  Stiles felt the sting of tears surfacing.  “Sorry, I just,” he wiped at his eyes, taking a deep breath. 

Isaac just shifted uncomfortably.  “So,” he said after some silence, “what am I up to in your weird parallel dimension?”

Stiles let out a wet laugh, a little hysterical.  “In France, last I heard.  You moved there after… you moved there back in Junior year of high school, between semesters.”

“Why?” he asked, sounding like France was the last place he would have gone. 

Stiles looked up to him and wondered how much of his life he should tell.  These people didn’t need that heart ache.  They didn’t live these tragedies.  “What’s your relationship with Allison?” he asked instead.

Isaac looked up the stairs.  Stiles could only assume there were guest rooms up there and Allison and Erica were occupying one of them.  “We dated back in high school.  She was my first love, you know.  I had crushes on other people before she moved to town, sure, but our relationship was that whirlwind of teenage angst.  We broke up when we decided to go to different colleges and just never got back together.  We grew up and just aren’t those people anymore.  She’s a good friend.  I’ll always love her, in my own way.  You know?”

Stiles nodded.  “Did you guys deal with the nogitsune?”

“The what now?” Isaac asked, eyebrow raised in a truly impressive look of skeptic confusion.

Stiles frowned.  That’s a no.  The nogitusne happened because Stiles, Scott, and Allison sacrificed themselves to find their parents.  Because Jennifer took them.

“But you did deal with the alpha pack and the darach,” he muttered to himself.  There had to be a lynch pin here somewhere.  “But Erica and Boyd were never kidnapped.”

“They what?”

“After the Kanima-”

“What the fuck is a kanima?” Isaac asked, even more confused than before.

Stiles frown deepened.  “Derek never bit Jackson?”

“Jackson?  Jackson Whittemore?” Isaac laughed in disbelief.  “No!  Why the hell would Derek bite Jackson?” 

Stiles shook his head.  “I never asked.  I assume because Jackson was a dick and Derek was hoping the bite wouldn’t take.  Once Jackson found out that he could become stronger he pushed all the right buttons.”  He sighed, biting his thumb again.  “Why do you think he didn’t bite Jackson here?”

“Because you helped him pick his betas,” Isaac said without a second’s pause, like it was the most obvious thing and the fact that Stiles didn’t know this was alarming. 

Stiles pulled his thumb away from his teeth again.  “I helped Derek,” he said in deadpan disbelief, “with his pack.” 

Isaac’s eyes frowned despite his attempt at a reassuring smile.  “You helped all of us.”

The lynch pin had to be further back then.  Maybe this whole world was slightly off.  Something changed before he was born.  Maybe there’s a huge series of events that are just different, no one point that split their timelines.  Maybe- Stiles remembered Erica’s voice saying his name when he asked about Scott.

“Scott,” Stiles whispered to himself.  He looked up to Isaac in dread.  “What happened to Scott McCall?”

Stiles watched Isaac’s expression crumble.  “What happened to your Scott McCall?”

“A lot of things,” Stiles spat.  “Answer the question, Isaac.”

Isaac looked down at his hands and bit his bottom lip.  “He died.  In the woods.  I remember the news going around school.  There was an announcement in all the classes during first period.  It wasn’t until later I learned it was because the bite didn’t take when Peter had attacked him in the woods.  You told me that’s what would happen to me if the bite didn’t work.  I got it anyway.”

Stiles heart beat triple time in his chest, the verges of a panic attack closing in on the edges of his vision.  He could picture it now.  The guilt of brining Scott out to find Laura Hale’s body, working with Derek to find the killer, the alpha, to find Peter.  No Scott meant no star crossed romance with Allison.  No trap in the school.  Stiles never would have said Derek was the murderer after the first time. 

Scott not turning meant Jackson never found out about werewolves, so he never would have pushed to be one.  He probably never broke up with Lydia. 

“What happened to Lydia Martin?”

Isaac shrugged.  “Graduated top of the class and is now doing NASA stuff I think.”

Lydia must never have been attacked by Peter which means..

“And Peter Hale?”

“Buried under this house, which is kinda creepy.”

Stiles took a deep breath.  Peter was never resurrected.  Lydia never learned she was a Banshee.  Scott never bit Liam.  The alpha pack probably went down entirely different if they were only after Derek and not Scott’s potential. 

“Kate Argent?”

“Also dead.  Peter killed her.”

“And she never came back?”

Isaac gave him a strange look.  “She died.”

“She turned into a were-jaguar,” Stiles supplied, exhaling sharply. 

“Shit,” Isaac said, like he was just realizing how sucky Stiles’s life was.  “You’re from the gritty universe.”

Stiles barked out a laugh.  He was, that was a perfect analogy.  “Yep.  You guys are all sunshine and rainbows compared to my life it seems.”

Stiles still had a million questions.  What happened to Cora and Malia and Victora Argent and Meredith and Parrish.  Did Kira ever even come here if they never dealt with the nogitsune?  He didn’t have time to voice anymore before Boyd entered telling them Deaton would be over in ten and Erica came downstairs to force Stiles to finish his lunch.

“I could hear your stomach all the way upstairs, Stiles.  I don’t care if you’re a figment of my imagination, I’m feeding you.”

Stiles had to smile, though he was still dazed by all the revelations he’s had.  He thought back to Scott over his meal. 

This wasn’t just a puzzle.  Scott was dead.  Sure, they had fallen out of favor over the course of time, but so do most friends.  Especially when one was an alpha werewolf and the other blamed him for his father’s death.  But that didn’t mean they weren’t still friends on some level.  It didn’t mean that all those years they were inseparable went away. 

Over a plate of meatloaf Stiles grieved for the Scott he knew before the bite and the Scott this Stiles never got to know after.  It was probably the most profound meal he’s ever eaten. 

There came a knock from the door.  None of the werewolves seemed surprised, probably heard him half a mile off.  Stiles’s assumption that it was Deaton was proved correct when Boyd opened the door and the emissary turned vet walked in.  Stiles stood, his meal settling uneasily in the pit of his stomach.  Deaton looked over him, mouth slightly open.  The level of emotion on the man’s face was minimal, but more than Deaton ever normally let slip.

“Hey Deats, what’s happening?” Stiles asked, needing to break the silence somehow.  Deaton’s look was too much for him to handle. 

“Stiles,” he said with wonder.  Deaton placed his bag upon the floor and walked forward, already examining Stiles if the way he squinted his eyes slightly was any indicator.  Stiles stayed silent as Deaton did his thing.  Deaton reached out, pausing to meet Stiles’s eye.  “Do you mind?” he asked.  Stiles shook his head.   The vet looked Stiles over in detail: his eyes, his moles, his fingernails, his teeth.  He went back to his bag and pulled out some powders and solutions and rub a salve on Stiles’s forearm and some other things.  Stiles didn’t need to ask what things were, he knew.  It was clear the pack didn’t, however.  Isaac kept wrinkling his nose, trying to sniff out the different ingredients and Erica’s brow furrowed every time Deaton tried something new, her mouth opening slightly on occasion with an intake of air, readying for a question she never asked. 

“Well,” Deaton said after a while, taking a step and giving Stiles a once over, “how did you get here?”

Stiles shrugged before running a hand over his tired eyes.  “I was drunk when it happened, to be honest.  I was attacked by something and I blasted it, next thing I know I’m waking up in the woods.”

Deaton hummed.  “Do you know what the creature was?”

Stiles shook his head.  “I remember,” he stopped to think about it, “he tried to bite me.  He might have, actually,” he trailed off.  He pulled at the collar of his shirt but there wasn’t any marking to indicate the thing sunk its teeth into him.  Stiles frowned.  He was fairly certain the thing bit him. 

“And you used magic while you were drunk?” Deaton said, a judging look over his features.

Stiles shrugged again.  “Wouldn’t be the first time.” 

“Well,” Deaton said returning his things to his bag, “one thing’s for certain.”  He quietly put all his equipment away before catching the eye of everyone present.  He so did love his dramatic pauses.  Deaton looked at Stiles. He opened his mouth to speak but Stiles already knew this riddle.

“If the ley lines you should follow,” Stiles quoted, “and your dwelling at the end,”

“And find your presence has been hollowed,” Deaton continued.

“Your hereafter is to amend.”

There was a beat of silence.

“Okay well that was thoroughly creepy,” Erica said, crossing her arms nervously.  “What was that?  Some sort of doppelganger password?  Seriously.”

Deaton shook his head, eyes still trained on Stiles.  “You’re much more well versed in this than the Stiles from this time,” Deaton commented.

Stiles gave a sort of half smile, looking away.  “Doesn’t surprise me.”

Allison took a step between Stiles and Deaton.  “Are either of you going to tell us what’s going on,” she said crossly, not quite able to make Stiles’s eye.

“It’s simple really,” Deaton said.  “Stiles, this Stiles, was brought here from a different line of events.”

“But why?” Boyd asked.

Deaton gave them all a sad smile.  “To fix something.”