It all goes to shit, of course.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Wow, we have really got to stop meeting like this, guys. It's almost cliché these days,” Stiles snarks, as he swings a baseball bat lazily back and forth beside his leg. He's standing in front of the staircase, the lone sentry at this entry point, and Isaac and Erica are looming in the front door, identical expressions of violent anticipation painted across their faces.
Of course things end up this way, because things always do. Lydia and Allison are the first to find the katsune, find the half feral fourteen year old huddled in the woods, gnawing on far too fresh pituitary glands. As far as they can discern, she's been on her own for years, after a pair of hunters butcher her family as she hides in the closet. Her last kill is a fifteen year old Junior Varsity football player, but Scott – and by extension Allison and Lydia – think she can be taught, can be saved.
Derek, of course, thinks otherwise.
It's the Battle of Alpha Hill all over again, only Allison's already run upstairs to protect the window of the safe room from Boyd, which leaves only Stiles to man the front door.
Erica's smile is all shark, and she runs her tongue over her teeth. “Out of the way, Stiles. You already know how this ends.”
“With us kicking your asses? Yeah, pretty sure that's how this will go.”
She just grins wider and takes a step into the room, while Stiles takes a matching step back. “Hey, hey, hey! What happened to you guys having to keep your paws to yourself?”
Erica pauses and throws a look over her shoulder at Isaac, then takes another step. “I don't know where you would have heard such a thing. And trust me, true or not, today is an exception to the rule.”
He swings the bat as hard as he can, but she catches it, inches from her face, and uses it to jerk him to her. Her hand fists in his collar and as she lifts him off his feet, he's given a perfect view of Isaac.
- who does nothing, just leans against the doorway and smirks as Erica flings Stiles across the room and into a wall.
Something – he'll find out later that the homeowner was hanging pictures and left an inch long hook poking out from the wall – pierces him in the small of his back and tears its way up his spine, leaving a white hot trail as he slides down the wall. He's glad of the pain, and the fear, because it keeps him from concentrating on the thing that shatters inside him, breaking into a million pieces. Because he's known, right? Known exactly where Isaac would fall if battle lines were drawn? He can't be such an idiot as to have deluded himself otherwise. So it shouldn't hurt more than the blood dripping out of his back, shouldn't hurt more than the wrench in his shoulder, shouldn't feel like his lungs are being turned inside out.
But apparently knowing and seeing are two different things, because it does – Jesus fucking Christ it does.
He scrabbles weakly for the bat, laying a scant two feet beyond his reach, and Erica plants a hand on his chest, raises the other with claws extended. He squeezes his eyes shut in anticipation, but the blow never falls.
He opens his eyes to see Isaac's hand wrapped around Erica's wrist, his eyes glowing gold in the dim light. And he should be glad Stiles is two seconds away from writhing on the ground in agony, because if he wasn't, he'd find a pencil and poke Isaac's fucking eyes out, just so he won't have to see them; so he won't have to be reminded that the last time Isaac looked at him with those eyes, he was licking his way across Stiles' chest to bury his face in his neck.
The bastard. The fucking bastard . How dare he?
“Go help Boyd. I'll finish up.”
Erica nods and sprints up the stairs, and as soon as she's gone, everything about Isaac just... crumples as he drops to his knees next to Stiles.
“You moron. Why can't you just stay out of this?” He's touching Stiles' neck and his arms and his chest, and Stiles realizes he's looking for injuries. He sniffs at the air. “You're bleeding. Where are you bleeding?”
A howl, followed by the sound of glass breaking, comes from upstairs, and Isaac jerks, his head following the noise. “Just stay. Please. Don't try to get back up.”
Stiles almost has a hold on the part of him that desperately wants to pass out, so he shakes his head. “You know I can't, man.”
Stiles pushes himself up a little higher on the wall. “Can't let you guys kill her. Derek's wrong, Isaac. You know he's wrong .”
Isaac just stares at him, his hands hovering over Stiles' face. “You know , Isaac.”
Someone screams, and it shatters whatever bubble they've been working in. Isaac whines and pushes his face into Stiles' neck and then jumps to his feet. “Stay down. Please .” He runs up the stairs and the scream breaks into growls and snarls
Stiles rolls over onto his stomach and painfully drags himself toward the baseball bat.
* * * * * * * * *
For the very first time, they learn what it's really like to lose.
Not because Derek's pack beats them – that will be a cold day in hell – but because while they're all busy in-fighting and scrabbling amongst themselves, Chris Argent arrives, and with one well aimed shot, puts a bullet in between the katsune's eyes. She doesn't even have time to look shocked before she crumples to the floor. The second the bullet leaves Chris's gun, Derek's pack disperses, and as soon as the katsune – Mary. She had a name, Stiles reminds himself. Mary – falls, Chris looks over the rest of their ragtag crew, his disgust clearly evident on his face.
“Get out of here. All of you.” When Allison starts to slink by him, he grabs her by the arm. “Except you. It's time you learned what goes into cleaning up you and your little friends' messes.” The hide-a-body game Mr. Argent makes Allison play is enough to have the bile rising in Stiles' throat when he hears about it.
They end up at Dr. Deaton's, with Stiles lied out on his stomach, on the operating table, as Dr. Deaton cuts his shirt from his body.
“You're lucky this wasn't a couple of centimeters to the right. You could have damaged your spine.” The slash runs the entire length of his back, then curves out at the base of his neck to the tip of his shoulder, where the hook ripped clean. Dr. Deaton shoots him full of local anesthesia and begins stitching him up. “This is going to scar, and it won't be pretty. It's too deep, and, well, it cut jagged. But I wouldn't worry too much. All the girls I've known like a few scars on their men.”
Stiles laughs weakly, because if he doesn't, he might cry, and he's not going to do that in front of Scott, not when Scott is already close to tears himself.
He plays hooky for the next two days. Doesn't go to school. Doesn't go to lacrosse practice. Most definitely does not bother looking out his bedroom window. He spends a lot of time on his stomach, a lot of time trying not to scratch at the way the stitches itch and pull. Scott texts him to let him know he and Derek are working out a new truce – of course they are; they always are – and Stiles doesn't bother texting him back. He feels numb now, like everything is washing over him and floating around him, but nothing is actually touching him.
So this is what it feels like to lose.
It's the second night, at 8:29PM, when Isaac slides his window open and climbs in. Stiles is curled up on his side, shirtless because the fabric rubs against his stitches, and he shakes his head and buries his face in his pillow.
“Go away, Isaac.”
Isaac pauses uncertainly, but then comes to sit on the edge of his bed. “You haven't been at school.”
“Gee, how observant.”
Isaac reaches a hand out toward Stiles' face, but Stiles jerks back before he can actually touch him. Isaac flinches, looks confused.
Stiles can't help it. He laughs, sharp and bitter and short as he rolls into a sitting position to face Isaac. “What's wrong? What's wrong ? You're joking, right? I thought you were going to kill me. Or watch while Erica did it. Is there nothing wrong with that picture for you? That I should even have to wonder that about somebody who's had their mouth on my dick ?”
Isaac rears back like Stiles has physically punched him, horror sketched over his face. “What? No...no! N-n-never! I never would have - ! How could you even... I stopped Erica!”
Stiles shakes his head. “What would you have done if she hadn't listened, Isaac?”
Isaac's mouth is stretched wide with fang before Stiles can even blink. “I would have stopped her.”
Stiles is tired. He's so tired and he just wants to sleep and he just wants to pretend he didn't see a fourteen year old girl shot in the head. “Why should I believe you? You stood and watched...hell, you freaking grinned while she...”
“I had to! I had to. If I didn't, Derek would -”
Stiles cuts him off. “Right. Derek. It's always Derek, isn't it? Swear to God, Isaac, sometimes I don't know if I'm making out with you or with him.”
Isaac's head is shaking frantically. “No, it's me. It's me!” His voice is rising, becoming panicked, and he grabs Stiles' hand and puts it on his cheek. “See, Stiles? It's me. Just me. Please! Don't...please don't.”
“Stop!” Stiles wrenches his hand from Isaac's, and then winces as something pops and pain shoots down his back. The wound is far better than it was two days ago – Stiles is almost certain Dr. Deaton sprinkled one of his just-this-side-of-magic powders in the cut before he stitched it – but he's still moving gingerly around it. “Isaac, I don't think I can -”
But Isaac isn't paying attention anymore. Instead, he's crowding into Stiles space, taking long sniffs of air, the panic shifting to something far more lupine and intense. “You're hurt. I remember now. You got hurt. Let me see.”
His hands are on Stiles' shoulders and Stiles bats at his arms. “Hey...hey! Back off!” He's too naked for this, too naked for Isaac's skin to be against him and his palms pressed lightly on his clavicles; his traitorous body wants him to say yes, okay, everything is fine, just kiss me . “We're having a fight, remember?”
“We're not fighting,” Isaac says absently. “Just let me see. I'll leave after, I promise. Swear.”
It's easier to just go along, and if it means Isaac will leave, then he can do this. “Fine.” He flops over on his stomach. “Happy now?”
Isaac carefully peels the bandages away. When he's fully uncovered the damage, the whimper that comes from Isaac's mouth is terrible, whining and low and pained, and before Stiles can protest, he's straddled his hips and braced his hands on either side of Stiles' ribs. “I could kill her. I could kill her. Do you want me to kill her?”
“What? No!” He's aware Isaac is flickering in and out of control, swinging wildly from one extreme to the other; he doesn't want to examine why he doesn't feel any fear, when common sense dictates this should probably be scaring the crap out of him.
“Are you sure?” Stiles is just confirming that yes, indeed, he is firmly against the murder of one Erica Reyes, when Isaac bends down and starts licking at his wound. Not on it, exactly – of which Dr. Deaton would approve, since he very firmly lectures Stiles about not getting his stitches wet before he lets them leave his office – but just to either side. On his spine, and to the right; short, soft licks, trading sides back and forth as he travels from the base of his spine, up toward his neck. In between the strokes, he's whispering, over and over.
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry...”
When he reaches the place where Stiles' stitches curve to his shoulder, he traces the path in two long, broad swipes, and then, careful to keep his weight on his hands and not on Stiles' back, he covers him, fitting his face into the space between his shoulder and neck.
“Please...I don't want to go.”
This isn't about tonight, Stiles understands that, and his hand shakes as he reaches back to card his fingers through Isaac's hair, tugging, just a little, when he reaches the ends. Isaac's whine is tinged with happiness this time, and Stiles turns enough so that Isaac can find his mouth, can kiss him slow and deep and full of drugging pleasure.
But Stiles also meant what he said earlier, so he finally pulls back and licks his lips. “I can't do this, not tonight. Just...you're watching tomorrow, right?”
Isaac nods hesitantly.
“Okay, tomorrow. We'll figure it all out tomorrow. Okay?” Isaac's breath hitches in that funny, too fast pattern again, so Stiles pulls him in until their foreheads are touching. “I promise, okay? I don't want to go either.”
“Okay,” Isaac finally says, then carefully rolls off Stiles and stands up. All at once he freezes, then cocks his head to the side for a long minute.
After another minute Isaac relaxes and shakes his head. “Nothing.” He gives Stiles a tentative grin. “Tomorrow.”
Stiles latches his window behind him and curls back up on his side. It's hours before he sleeps, before he figures out exactly what it is he wants, and what he's willing to compromise, and what has to happen for this thing to work.
Later, he'll wish he'd spent the time sleeping, because sixteen year old boys really have no place trying to control a future that's already happening, and the rest would have been more useful.
He falls asleep without realizing it, and wakes up feeling hopeful, for the first time in two days. Isaac will be waiting for him, so he sprints (hobbles) to the bathroom to piss and brush his teeth, before throwing his window open and sticking his head out.
He slams it shut almost as fast, before very, very slowly pushing it up again.
There is no Isaac under his window.
Instead there is Erica.
“Good morning, Stiles.” She smiles, not a single hair out of place, and lips painted a perfect murder red. “Did you miss me?”