Stiles rested his head in the crook between the car seat and the window staring up at the passing streetlights. His Dad has been driving the past two hours and he was supposed to be getting a little bit of rest before he took back over but he couldn’t. He never imagined leaving Beacon Hills behind. He never thought he’d be separated from Scott. No matter how much he complained about Scott he never thought he wouldn’t get to see him again.
He never thought he would have made friends with Lydia, Jackson or Danny like he had. He didn’t think he would have the chance of actually missing them. He didn’t think that he would miss the fake pout from Lydia, the sarcasm from Jackson or the eye rolls from Danny.
But what really surprised him on the drive out of Beacon Hills was how much he missed Derek. He saw the smiles that Derek didn’t let the rest of the pack see. No matter how many times Derek pinned him to the wall in frustration he knew Derek wouldn’t ever hurt him. That was never the wolf’s intention. He looked after Stiles, the same way Stiles looked after him and the rest of the pack.
Stiles never thought he would lose any of them. It only took one night to lose everything.
“Get some sleep kid.”
Stiles shifted further away from his Dad and closer towards the window. He took a deep breath and slowly let it go hoping it would help get rid of some of the ache in his chest. It didn’t work. It wouldn’t ever work.
“I know you don’t understand why I’m doing this but you will one day. You’ll look back and realize that this is a good move. You’ll understand that I’m doing this to keep you safe.”
Stiles pressed his lips together trying to stop the words that were fighting to get free. He didn’t need his Dad knowing how involved he had been with the Hale pack. He didn’t need to be carted farther away from home than necessary.
“You could have been killed,” his Dad’s hand reached across the Jeep and lightly squeezed Stiles’ shoulder, “You were nearly killed.”
No one needed to tell Stiles that he was nearly killed. He knows that. He has the stitches and the bruises to prove that he was human, not what the rest of his friends had become.
“I have to do this,” his Dad’s voice broke, “I have to keep my son alive no matter what it costs me.”
All Stiles wanted to do was yell back to his Dad, I have to keep my friends alive no matter what. That was his job. He was the one they all went to when they had questions that Derek wasn’t sure how to answer. They asked him for strategic advice when a new pack started to enter their territory and try to claim it as their own. He and Derek working together got their territory back without bloodshed. They did that because Stiles found a law that had been buried underneath stacks and stacks of sooty books. He was a vital asset to the pack and now he was being taken away from everything he fought and breathed.
“You’re not one of them Stiles,” his Dad’s voice was soft and almost full of regret of what he was doing, “You’re human no matter how long you’ve been around them. They forget how fragile you are. How easy it is for someone else to take your life. How easy it was for someone to almost do that.”
Stiles didn’t know what to say to his Dad at that point. Anything he did say would just make things between them worse and deep down he knew that if he were in his Dad’s shoes he would probably be doing the same thing.
“If you’re not going to sleep at least recline the seat. You’re stitches have got to be killing you from being in the car all day.”
Grudgingly Stiles set the seat back so he was more comfortable in the seat and he stared out the window, still not wanting to look at his Dad.
After about thirty minutes of silence he heard his Dad sigh and shift in his seat, “It would have been different if it was one of the others who did this to you but it wasn’t. One of your pack did this. They sliced you open and nearly killed you because they couldn’t control themselves in one of the most important times. You were all fighting. Even the Argents were fighting to keep you safe. If they can’t keep you safe, and I know I can’t this is my only option.”
Stiles placed a hand over his stomach and stared at the blur of trees passing them by. He knew, god did he know, that what his Dad was doing was supposed to be better for him. He didn’t want to understand why but he did and all he wanted to do was be angry at his Dad for taking him away.
Closing his eyes, all Stiles could see were the shocked yellow eyes of his best friend standing over him with blood dripping from his claws. He remembered how fast he started to grow cold. He remembered how loud everything got, from Derek’s snarl and Scott’s howl of grief. Stiles didn’t know how badly he had been hurt at that point but he remembered Derek’s frantic yelling and Lydia’s hands pressing against his chest like her life depended on it.
In the end, it didn’t really matter that it was his best friend who ripped him apart in frenzy. Stiles had gotten between Scott and his mate at a pivotal moment. Scott was only trying to protect Allison from rogue wolves. Rogue wolves that had been picking off different packs and humans as they moved through territories across California.
They had all been fighting for their lives and it was only a matter of time before someone got caught in the crossfire.
Moving to live with his Aunt wasn’t something that Stiles ever thought he would do. She lived halfway across the country in the middle of nowhere Mississippi. From what he understood the kids there still haven’t discovered the greatness of lacrosse. So he wouldn’t even have the familiar feeling of the bench at games to keep him company.
“It won’t be as bad as you think. You’ll make new friends and you’ll see how life is supposed to be for a kid your age.”
His aunt had the light on the front porch on when they finally pulled into the packed grass, gravel and dirt that served as her drive way. There were bugs swirling and buzzing around the lights. The wooden porch creaked beneath their weight and Stiles could hear the air conditioning unit whirring at full blast, thankful that there would be some reprieve from the heat of the night.
The door opened before they could knock and Stiles starred at his Aunt Eileen for the first time in five years. She stood at almost the same height as himself and her hair was dark, curly and thrown up into a haphazard pony-tail to keep it off of her neck.
“Ellie,” Stiles’ Dad didn’t hesitate in the hug that he had scooped his sister up into. He held her tight for a few moments before he let out a deep breath, “Thank you for doing this. I just didn’t know what to do.”
“You know I’d do anything for you and Stiles,” She shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal to be taking in her brother’s sixteen year old son for an unknown amount of time. She tilted her head and took Stiles in before she grabbed one of the bags he was holding, “Come on in. I’ll show you where you’re staying.”
Stiles nodded and followed her into the house and when his dad coughed he knew this was it. He wasn’t even staying the night to get some rest. He was leaving and Stiles didn’t know the next time he would be seeing his Dad.
“I need to get going.”
Stiles turned to his Dad and wrapped his arms around him as tight as his stitches would allow. He might not like being here or understand why his dad thought that this needed to be done but he couldn’t not show his dad how much he loved him.
“You be good for your Aunt and be sure to get things set up with a new doctor here for your medicine. If you ever need me I’m just a phone call away.”
“Love you too Dad,” Stiles whispered into his Dad’s shirt.
Stiles didn’t watch as he dad hugged his aunt. He didn’t watch as his Dad walked out the house and into the Jeep. Watching would be too final. It would be like there wasn’t anything else for him to do but accept what was happening.
“Stiles,” His Aunt’s hand was cold against his arm, “You should clean up and get some rest. After you’re done, if you need help bandaging up the stitches I can help. Working with kids makes me a pro at keeping wounds clean and tidy.”
“I think I’ll have it,” Stiles halfway smiled to reassure her that everything was okay. He bent to pick up his bags and winced at how wrong it felt, “Where am I staying?”
“Oh,” his aunt jumped to her feet and guided him down a hallway before nudging a door open, “That’s your bathroom.”
The room next to the bathroom she toed open and turned the lights on. The room was a pale blue, had a bed, a desk and a couple of bookshelves loaded to the gills. It wasn’t his room but it would work.
“There’s a small dresser in the closet,” She moved to open the closet and Stiles was surprised at the space he was going to have, “I moved it in there because of my bookshelves. I can move those out of here if you want.”
“They’re fine,” Stiles yawned, “I think I’m ready for bed.”
“After that drive I bet you are,” She smiled before wrapping her arms around Stiles’ shoulders. “I know you don’t like your dad or me very much right now but we still love you.”
Stiles rubbed at his eyes and nodded, “I know. It’s just hard leaving everything behind like that.”
“It’ll get better.”
Stiles didn’t really believe her but he nodded to be polite. He watched as she padded out of his new room and then back in a few seconds later, “My room is the door all the way at the end. If you need anything, even to know where the peanut butter is, you are more than welcome to wake me up.”
The morning revealed more about the place Stiles was now calling home. There was a vegetable garden just outside the kitchen. He could see tomatoes, bright yellow blooms from squash, okra growing tall, and beans low to the ground. The land around the house was lush and green all the way up to the patch of trees growing tight and wildly together.
Further out one direction he could see horses munching on grass and throwing their head back in playful chatter with each other. He could hear birds chirping and calling. He saw dragonflies and bees all along the garden and yard.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
Stiles spun around to see his Aunt Eileen dressed in a pair of jeans, a tee-shirt and her feet were still bare.
“Not what I was expecting,” Stiles answered as he moved to sit at the bar.
“In a good way right?” She challenged as she moved to the fridge and started pulling eggs, milk, butter and bacon out.
“There aren’t many people who garden like that back home,” Stiles answered.
“Well everyone does it out here,” She smiled at him as she scrambled the eggs and the bacon started to pop and sizzle on the pan. “How are the stitches?”
“A pain,” Stiles shrugged.
“You have medicine to take for that right? If you start hurting too bad?”
“That, antibiotics and my ADD medicine,” Stiles nodded.
“So,” His Aunt let the word drawl out, “I figure we’ll take you to get registered at the high school here later on today.”
“Okay,” Stiles stabbed viciously at the eggs on the plate in front of him.
After they finished eating and they scrapped the last bits of egg from their plates his Aunt broke the silence between them once again, “Am I ever going to get the story on what exactly happened to you?”
“Probably not,” Stiles stood up and brought his plate to the sink, “Because if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
“Not an animal attack?”
Stiles looked over his shoulder at his Aunt and her wide brown eyes wondering if he would ever tell her what happened or if the official story would always be getting attacked by a mountain lion. “Sort of. It doesn’t matter anymore. I’m here not there.”
“You know your Dad wouldn’t do this unless it was absolutely necessary and he couldn’t come up with any better ideas.”
“I know that here,” Stiles tapped the side of his head and then touched his heart, “But here all I can think about is the people I left behind. Including my dad.”
“Oh Stiles,” She whispered with her hand over his mouth.
“Just let me take another shower and clean up my stitches and then we can head over to the school okay?”
“Sure thing kiddo.”
The school was tiny compared to what Stiles was used to and it was a junior and a high school combined together. People stopped and gawked as he followed his aunt to the school’s main office and they started the process of registration. His birth certificate, his immunization records, his transcripts from his old school.
Once the hard part was over he got his class schedule. All the same classes as before. Everything was almost the same with the exception of lacrosse. He didn’t bother asking about it when he saw how much football memorabilia they had in glass cases around campus.
“Is there anything else we should know about you Mr. Stilinsky?”
“He can’t participate in physical activities for the rest of the school year,” His aunt started digging in her bag before she procured a piece of paper with Beacon Hill’s hospital log on it.
“I was attacked by an animal and now I have stitches up and down my chest and stomach. It makes it a little hard to do PE.”
“Is there any preference for what class we could put you in?”
“What are my options?”
“Computer Basics, Spanish, home-ec, environmental science, we have a folklore class not many students seem to be too interested in.”
“Folklore,” Stiles cut her off, “I think that’ll be the best fit for me.”
“Right, I’ll have to shift your schedule around a bit but we’ll manage.”
“Good,” Stiles tapped his fingers on his knees and wished he was anywhere but here.
“Now we just need to get you an ID and you can be on your way and we’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
“Great,” Stiles stood up and followed the mass of curly gray hair to take his picture. Within a few minute he had a shiny new Pine Grove High School ID badge and maroon lanyard. Go Bulldogs.
School was just about what he expected it to be. People starred at him as he made his way down the halls and to his classes. He introduced himself at the beginning of each class and sat down in whichever seat was open for the day. People around here spoke slower, had heavy accents compared to what he was used to, and generally didn’t know what to do with a new person.
He sat by himself at lunch and munched on jambalaya, which was surprisingly good considering it was cafeteria food. He flipped through his folklore book hoping there would be something to connect him to Beacon Hills but it was more folklore of Mississippi rather than what he was looking for.
At the end of the day instead of riding the bus home, he made his way to the library to send a few e-mails off to the pack. He wasn’t allowed to text or call them but it didn’t mean that he couldn’t e-mail or actually write letters. It wasn’t like his dad was patrolling that much of his life from across the country.
I don’t even know if you check this regularly but it’s me, Stiles. I’m in Mississippi with my Aunt. She’s nice, the town is okay but it’s not home. It’s not with you guys. How is everyone doing? Tell me that Scott is okay and not beating himself up over something he couldn’t control. I’m fine and healing so he hasn’t anything to worry about.
I miss you guys already. I don’t know what to do with myself here. I feel like, well that doesn’t matter right now. If you ever need me you can always e-mail me or something. Dad says if he finds any phone calls to Beacon Hills besides his numbers that I’ll really know what it’s like to be separated from society. So e-mails only. It sucks but it’s all I’ve got.
Hopefully I’ll talk to you soon,
Stiles logged off the computer and grabbed his phone to call his aunt to pick him up from school. He was sitting on the front steps when she pulled up in her beat up Camry with a smile on her face.
“How was school?”
Stiles shrugged, “It was school. Things are different here, a slower pace than what I’m used to but it’ll be fine.”
“We’re pretty laid back around here Stiles. The only thing you can do to piss off your neighbors is let your dog tear up their garden or mess with their trucks. People like to take their time around here. Mississippi is nothing at all like California if it’s anything like it was when I was a kid.”
“I guess I’ve just got to get used to it.”
“It would help if you tried to make some friends,” Aunt Ellie offered.
“Right now I’m fine on my own,” Stiles answered with a sigh.
“No one is fine on their own Stiles, no matter how hard they try to convince themselves of that.”
Stiles rested his head on the window and watched the streets turn into bumpy roads lined with barbed wire, tall grass, cows and horses. “I’m not ready for new friends.”
“When you are they are more than welcome at the house to keep you company.” Aunt Ellie offered.
He was glad she was offering that. Most people didn’t like it when others invaded their space so spectacularly but she was just going with the flow on this one. It was just the friends he wanted to have over wouldn’t ever be allowed in the house.
Dinner was a quiet affair. His aunt made spaghetti and meat sauce and they ate quietly with company of her pen scritch-scratching on student papers. It was hard for Stiles to figure out what to say or how to even begin a conversation with his Aunt Ellie. So he didn’t. He ate quietly and when he was down he put his dishes in the dishwasher and headed towards his room.
His Aunt’s voice stopped him halfway out of the kitchen, “I have wi-fi here Stiles. I know we can’t keep you completely away from who your dad wants to keep you away from but I’m not going to monitor that stuff. I figure you’re old enough to know what you should and shouldn’t do.”
Stiles nodded before he headed to his room and sat down on his bed and starred up at the ceiling before he rolled over on his side and gave in to look at his laptop bag. He gave in and got the password and was logging into his e-mail before he could stop himself.
There were several e-mails waiting to be read. All of them were along the same lines, Stiles, where are you? It broke his heart every time he read the exact same words from Danny, Lydia and even Jackson. Derek hadn’t e-mailed him back. He almost kidded himself into believing that the alpha would have read the e-mail and sent something back in response.
After a few minutes of reading the e-mails over and over again Stiles shut his laptop. He couldn’t respond now. It wasn’t something easy for him to do. To tell his friends that he was hundreds of miles away and he wasn’t sure when he would be coming back or if he ever would.
He rolled onto his stomach and pressed his face into his pillows. He heard his Aunt moving around the house and he had nearly dozed off when she came into his room and sat on the edge of his bed. She ran her fingers over Stiles’ buzzed hair and let out a gentle sigh, “I know you miss home and I know that this will never truly be your home but you have to keep moving. Don’t get stuck in a place in between here and there.”
Stiles looked up at her for a moment before pressing his face back into the pillow. He felt his chest tighten and his breath hitch. He knew what was coming as much as he didn’t like to admit it, he was about to cry. His aunt left his room quietly. The door shut with a soft click and he heard her pad to the living room and turn the television on. If no one could see him crying it didn’t mean it was actually happening. Did it?
The next day at school Stiles felt like he was being watched. In the morning before classes and at lunch he could feel someone’s eyes glued to him. It wasn’t the new kid shine that they were looking at either, it felt like he was being assessed as if he were a danger to the area. He was being sized up and Stiles was smart enough not to let it be known that he was searching those eyes out.
Stiles zeroed in on the culprit at the end of lunch. He was tall, tanned and had slightly curly hair. If he was honest, the guy reminded him of Jackson with the way he had a group of people hanging off his every word and the wide arrogant smile that adorned a laugh.
They way the kid moved and seemed attuned to every little thing going on around him made Stiles’ mind instantly scream werewolf. It didn’t help to have that kind of thought when all he was thinking about was his pack back home. He probably reeked of a foreign pack and now he was in someone else’s territory without permission. He’d be lucky if he made it until the end of the day before he was cornered and the story about why he was here was forced out of him.
Stiles was right, between sixth and seventh period the same kid who had been watching him cornered him in the bathroom and they ended up skipping the last class of the day for the encounter.
“Who are you?” Stiles did his best not to flinch as he was pushed against the wall and a nose brushed along his chest. “Why are you here?”
“I’m Stiles,” Stiles answered keeping his eyes level. This wasn’t an alpha. He wasn’t going to back down or show any weakness. “I just moved here.”
“Who’s pack were you part of?”
“Hale, in California.” Stiles answered in a clipped tone, “Who are you?”
“Julian, Julian Matthews. You smell hurt.”
“I am,” Stiles grit out from between his teeth and pointedly yanked the hands holding his shoulders back.
“Where?” The question was asked but Stiles didn’t have a chance before his shirt was wrenched up and his bandaged chest was revealed. It took a few minutes of shocked gazing before Julian let Stiles’ shirt fall back to place. “You fled?”
“My dad made me leave,” Stiles answered.
“Who did this to you?” Julian demanded.
Stiles hesitated but when a hand slammed against the wall next to his head he answered quickly, “One of my pack, I got between him and his mate during an incident. It was my fault.”
“Pack doesn’t hurt pack, especially the human part of it.” Julian’s lip curled upwards in anger.
“It was a mistake,” Stiles defended his best friend. He knew Scott would have never done something like this on purpose. There was no way that Scott would try to hurt him. It was an accident.
“Mistakes like this shouldn’t happen, not if you’re part of the pack.” Julian stepped back and ran a hand through his hair, “Should I expect any others to come for you?”
Stiles felt his eyes water and he bit the inside of his lip, “I don’t think so. They don’t know exactly where I am.”
“You’re protecting them?”
“Always.” Stiles answered without hesitation.
“I’ll need to tell the alpha you’re here. He’s probably already found your scent but I’ll let him know what happened. That you don’t mean any harm. He may want to meet you.”
Stiles waited until Julian disappeared from the bathroom before he said anything, “Great. Just great. If it’s not one thing then it’s another.”
Aunt Ellie beat Stiles home since he decided the bus was an okay mode of transportation since the rest of Pine Grove High seemed to think so except the two wolves sitting on his front porch waiting for him. He couldn’t even get a breath of fresh air even in the middle of nowhere Mississippi.
“So is this the part where you tell me I have to leave?” Stiles asked as he stopped a few steps away from the pair. “Because honestly if you tell me to leave I don’t think I have anywhere else to go.”
Julian stood up after his alpha stood. The guy was tall, almost too tall to make any sense. He was bulky, his eyes were dark brown and his hair was buzzed to his scalp. “I wouldn’t tell you to leave. I need to know who’s in my territory and how long you plan on staying.”
Stiles resisted the urge to roll his eyes because he knew that would get him in a whole different world of trouble, “Stiles and I have no idea how long I’ll be here. I hope it’s not that long because I don’t, well, it doesn’t matter.”
“My name is Marco, I’ve been the alpha around here for the last five years. Have you talked to any of your pack since you’ve been here?”
“They’ve e-mailed me wondering where I am but I haven’t answered any of them yet. There’s been a lot going on back home and I just want everything to be okay there before they start to really worry about me,” Stiles shrugged as if what he was doing was normal and made sense. In all honesty, he was dying to hear from the rest of the pack and to know what kind of trouble they were getting themselves into now. He wanted to be there to help and to make them laugh. He wanted to be near them again. He wanted to talk to them more then ever but he didn’t know how to do that now that he was so far away. He didn’t know how to be pack anymore.
Julian’s soft whine broke through Stiles’ thoughts and he looked between Marco and Julian wondering what the heck just happened. Then it dawned on him. A wolf wouldn’t be able to handle leaving his pack so far behind and that’s what Stiles had to do. He had to leave them without a promise of when he might be back.
“Keep trying,” Marco reached out and grasped Stiles’ shoulder, “You need them as much as they need you.”
“We aren’t ever going to be the same as your old pack but if you ever need someone to talk to or anything we’re here.” Julian offered and Marco nodded in agreement.
“Do you have a cell phone?” Marco asked with an outstretched hand and Stiles handed his phone over without a second thought. After a few taps and a light ping later Marco smiled at Stiles, “I mean it. We’re not your pack, some of my wolves won’t like you but Julian and I are here if you need anything.”
Stiles pocketed his phone, “Thanks.”
He watched as they ambled down the driveway to where a rusty truck was parked before he turned to head inside.
Stiles bypassed the living room and headed straight for his bedroom. He tossed his bag to the floor and flopped down on the bed face first. He let out a growl of frustration before punching his pillows. After catching his breath for two seconds Stiles jumped up and logged onto his computer hoping that there was some news from the pack. He’d settle for a quick hello. That would make his week.
There were more e-mails asking where he was and why hasn’t he been in school. The only one who really clued into what might have happened was Lydia. She was always the observant one of the group.
Stiles took his time to write a response out to each of his friends. He told them where he was and how he, and his stitches, were doing. He also let the cat out of the bag about Julian and Marco. He didn’t know how they would react to another pack picking up a stray but he felt like the only way to stay present was to tell them anything and everything that crossed his mind.