His hands shook on the steering wheel; he gripped it tighter, gripped it until his knuckles went pale. It was freezing in his jeep but he refused to switch on the heat, preferred to allow the rainy wind outside to chill him to the bone. Goosebumps crawled up his arms in patches.
It wasn’t fair.
None of it was fair. Not the wind or the rain or the fucking idiot who decided to pull a rifle from a hundred years ago on a store clerk.
It wasn’t fair that the officer in charge of disabling the gun wasn’t competent with a model made before his father was born.
He swerved to miss a pothole in the road. There was no other traffic, not this far away from city limits. Visibility was close to none and the steel railing that ran along the cliff looked weak in the pounding rain and whipping wind. How easy it would be to just turn the wheel…
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that the incompetent officer assumed the gun was disabled. That he assumed it was okay to process. That is was okay to hand to his commanding officer for transport back to the station.
He could feel the tell-tale drops of tears upon his cheeks. He didn’t wipe them away. They stung as they slid past his nose and down his chin, chilled his skin where they hit his neck.
He was almost at the top now, almost at the outlook that had once been Lover’s Lane during the fifties when it was cool for a guy to bring his gal for some late night nookie in his fancy car. No one came up here these days except for the park ranger and Scott and Allison when they wanted to meet in clandestinely. He would be alone on the top of the world, watching Beacon Hills through the rain.
It was a full moon at the end of the week but tonight it was shrouded in thunder clouds. Lightning flashed so close if you reached out your hand you could touch it.
Or maybe that was just his brain talking nonsense. It happened when he forgot to take his meds.
Then again, it happened when he did take his meds so maybe the problem was with him.
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that an ancient gun that had no business being in circulation or working condition rode in the backseat of his father’s car.
It wasn’t fair that it discharged.
It wasn’t fair that Stiles had been listening to his police radio at the time, hoping Boyd and Isaac weren’t out doing something stupid with Jackson. It wasn’t fair that he could understand every code name the 5-0 had for an accidental shooting. That resulted in a death.
He hadn’t needed the deputy to call him. There was no need. He was halfway to the hospital when his cell rang.
In all his years of dealing with the supernatural, or saving the asses of idiotic werewolves, and generally being a nice person in his dealings with all creatures beastie, he had never once had to identify a body. Because the werewolves he ran with might be stupid but they looked out for one another and somehow managed to live despite all the evidence to the contrary that they faced.
The only real dead body he had seen, the only one that counted, he had watched lowered into the ground when he was thirteen.
He would now have another body to lie next to her.
It wasn’t fair.
He was at the highest point now. Beacon Hills stretched out before him. The tall city buildings lit up with late-night workers surrounded by the suburbs of tiny, identical houses.
He wasn’t sure what his next step would be. He had originally contemplated just sitting in his closed garage with the engine running but had then decided that driving off the top of the cliffs, Thelma and Louise style was the better option. So here he sat.
It was a low point. He had turned off his phone at the hospital. He had gone back home, clear headed and light as air. He didn’t yet feel the crushing sadness of one who had lost everything. It wasn’t his smartest idea to be up here waiting to die, but hey no one ever said the distraught were rational. Suicidal, maybe, but not rational.
He might look back on this moment from wherever he went in the great beyond and think, wow, Stiles, nice job. Well done in becoming a statistic. I’m sure Mom and Dad are so proud where they are in heaven.
Well, okay, so he was pretty sure where all his karma was sending him.
He admitted to himself that he kept his phone off in part because he didn’t want to face the messages there. Or face his fear that there would be none. After all, Allison and Scott were on their honeymoon in the Caribbean and weren’t due back until the day before the full moon. Lydia was out of town, Jackson, Boyd, and Isaac were too occupied with their own infantile running amok, Erica was visiting family in Wisconsin, Danny was on a camping trip with his parents, and Derek…Derek was somewhere.
It was cliché to think himself the lonely martyr of the pack just because his friends had lives outside the pack and Stiles didn’t. But tonight he had needed them. Really needed them. And no one had answered their phone.
Low point. On the highest point.
He supposed it was okay to check the messages now. In a few minutes he wouldn’t care one way or another what they said or didn’t say. Perhaps his rational brain was kicking in and giving him an out.
He pushed that bit down to the depths of his subconscious where it belonged.
The familiar opening tune thundered around him in the quiet and the bright light of the screen imprinted itself on his eyes so that when he closed them he could still see his wallpaper.
There were messages. Many of them.
Scott/ 9:57p.m: Stiles? Mom just called & told me what happened. U ok man?
10:01 p.m. One missed call from Scott McCall. Voicemail message: Buddy? Answer your phone Stiles! Stiles!!!
Allison/ 10:03p.m.: Stiles? Scott says you aren’t answering your phone. Are you okay? I’m trying to call and get our flight moved up so we can come to the funeral. Please answer us, Stiles. Scott is getting super worried and so am I.
10:04p.m.: One missed call from Allison Argent. Voicemail message: Stiles it’s Allison. You’re still not answering. Scott is literally pacing the hotel room. He’s doing that overprotective wolfing thing he does when one of us is in trouble. Please answer us before he starts ripping up pillows. We both love you and want to make sure you’re all right. Call us.
10:06p.m.: One missed call from Scott McCall. Voicemail message: Dude. Answer your fucking phone, okay. How can I make sure my best friend is okay if I can’t talk to him?! Stiles? Look man, you know I love you and I’m here for you. I’m so sorry this happened but please answer the phone cause I know you and I know you’re overthinking everything right now. You get lost in your head and do stupid things. Please just wait to do stupid things until I’m there to do them with you and/ or bail you out of them. Answer the phone, buddy. Please.
Allison/10:11p.m.: Scott just called his mom and asked if she knew where you are. Where are you, Stiles? Please let us know you’re okay.
10:15p.m.: One missed call from Melissa McCall. Voicemail message: Stiles, honey, it’s Scott’s mom. He said you’re not answering his calls. He’s very worried and so am I. You know we’re here for you, whatever you need. Please call one of us so we know everything’s okay.
Scott/ 10:17p.m.: Dude. U r seriously freaking me out. Mom said no one knows where you went. Deputy checked ur house. Where r u man? Please call me. Don’t do something stupid.
Allison/ 10:18p.m.: Scott is on the phone with everyone he can think of at the station. Stiles they’re looking for u, to make sure ur okay. Please, please let me know ur okay. We’ll be there as soon as we can. I called Lydia. Almost positive you’ll hear from her.
Stiles was surprised to see that the next message was not in fact from Lydia, but instead from Isaac.
10:24p.m.: One missed call from Isaac Lahey. Voicemail message: Hey Stiles. Ran into Scott’s mom just now and she told me about your dad. Man, I am so sorry. We’re coming over now, me and Boyd and Jackson. We’re here for you, man.
Jackson/ 10:25p.m.: Where r u Stilinski? Me and Boyd and Isaac are coming over. We have take-out and booze. We’re here for you. Boyd said to tell u he’s sorry too.
He finally got to Lydia’s message.
10:25p.m.: One missed call from Lydia Martin. Voicemail message: Stiles I am so so sorry about your dad. I know how close you two were and I’m so sorry I didn’t answer my phone when you called. No excuses. I’m driving back to Beacon Hills now and I’ll be there in…three hours. Two and a half if I ignore the speed limit, which I just might cause my baby Stiles is in pain. I love you so much hon and I’m gonna give you the biggest hug ever when I see you. Oh, and Allison said to call her or Scott cause they’re worried about you.
10:33p.m.: One missed call from Isaac Lahey. Voicemail message: Stiles, where are you? We brought food and Jack but you’re not here, man. Where are you? Stiles?
It looked like several minutes had passed until someone else tried to reach him. Danny, of course, had no cell reception where he was, and Erica didn’t have a cell phone, having broken her’s during the last full moon in a wrestling contest with Jackson that got out of hand.
She surprised him though.
10:47p.m.: One missed call from Unknown Number. Voicemail message: Hey Stiles, it’s Erica. I’m calling from my aunt’s house phone so the number is gonna look weird. Just got a call from Isaac. I’m sorry about your dad. I know what losing a dad can feel like and I feel your pain. The pack is here for you but you have to let us be. Isaac said that he can’t find you. Said you’d run off. They can’t track your scent in the rain, Stiles. You need your pack now, Stiles, and we want to be there for you. Since you’re being stubborn I called Derek. Hopefully he’ll find you before you do something idiotic. Where are you Stiles?
It was no longer as strange as it had once been to hear her voice, her nice voice, on his phone. Back when the two packs had joined together and made things work there had been an adjustment period full of tussling and fighting. Strangely enough it was bringing Danny into the fold that had created an element of peace.
It was nice to be friends with everyone. But he wished Erica hadn’t called Derek.
There was a howl in the distance, followed by three more in tandem. Stiles vaguely remembered Scott saying something once about how the pack is connected and when one of them is in pain, all the pack feels it. He had written it off as something only the wolves did, meaning it didn’t apply to fragile, human Stiles.
Even Allison had a connection with the pack due to her mating with Scott.
Stiles was the loner, the outlier. However now he was beginning to question his earlier assumption. The rational part of his brain was fighting its way back from the depths.
This was stupid. His dad would be so pissed if he could see what Stiles was planning. He would be disappointed.
His phone beeped at him, alerting him to a new text.
Derek/ 11:16p.m.: We are pack. All of us. Including you. Come over and let me take care of you, Stiles.
Pack. He was pack. He was hurting and so was the pack. They felt the depression settling on his heart, felt the heartache that was just now setting in as the numbness of the news wore off to be replaced with a bitter, bitter throb in his soul.
He was pack. The thought made his heart hurt even more. He clutched one hand to his chest as his phone beeped again.
Derek/ 11:17p.m.: Stop thinking. Pack is pack. We look after our own. Now get your ass over here so I can take care of you.
Derek cared. Derek wanted to take care…of him.
He was pack.
He drove in automatic to the Hale house. It was the closest to the cliffs but that wasn’t why he chose it.
It was the unspoken alpha command in Derek’s text. That unspoken demand that Stiles come to him to be loved and supported. Stiles felt that. He was pack.
All the lights were on as he pulled up. Derek was standing on the front porch, oblivious to the wind and rain. Stiles could see the shadows of Jackson, Isaac, and Boyd through the front window.
Derek said nothing as Stiles trudged through the muddy yard. He remained stone silent as he helped Stiles into dry clothes.
He glared daggers at Jackson when he tried to touch Stiles’ arm and then growled when Boyd tried to put an arm around him.
Stiles allowed Derek to tuck him into bed. Derek’s bed, he realized.
Nothing was said. No words necessary to convey what each was feeling and what the other needed. Derek slipped under the covers and wrapped his big, warm arms around Stiles.
He held him as he cried himself to sleep. He shed one tear into Stiles’ hair. One tear to connect the two orphan boys.
Just the one. Just enough.