It was supposed to have been a night of pack bonding. It was supposed to make Lydia feel better that no one had RSVP’d to her party. It was supposed to be a chance for Scott and Allison to kiss and make up. It was supposed to provide an anchor for Derek’s new wolves so that their inner wolves wouldn’t take over.
It was not supposed to be a trap set by Peter Hale.
If they’d known the vengeful Alpha had taken up residence in Matt’s consciousness then Stiles wouldn’t have asked the boy to bring the punch. But Stiles had and now they were all trapped in the subway station. Everyone except for an unfortunately possessed Matt who had barricaded the only exit on his way out.
At first they’d assumed Peter’s plan had been to have the three out of control Beta’s slaughter them all. Derek had been pleased at how his Uncle had underestimated him. For once Derek had thought ahead and already trained (with Scott’s help, of course) his new wolves to control the shift during the full moon. Not wanting to take any chances, Derek had quickly chained Isaac, Erica and Boyd to the outside of the subway car.
They’d just finished locking Boyd down when Peter’s true trap was revealed.
“Scott!” Allison screamed in warning, pointing at the darkest shadows in the corner of the station.
Everyone took cover as a Hunter in a black hood emerged from that darkness. The Hunter’s weapon appeared out of nowhere, taking aim immediately. Scott let out a howl of rage as the Hunter targeted Allison. Wolfed out, Scott tried to block the shot but he was too late. The air hissed as the arrow was released.
Allison gasped in pain as the arrow embedded itself in her abdomen. Scott rushed to her side just in time to catch his love as her legs gave out. Allison stared up at him with wide, shocked eyes and stroked his cheeks until the hair there receded. Tears clung to the corner of his eyes.
“WHY?” Scott shouted to the hooded figure. “She’s like you. You didn’t have to do this. Why would you do this?”
Slender fingers reached up and pulled back the hood. Allison’s smirking face stared back at Scott as she loaded another arrow. There was a moment of absolute incredulity where everyone kept turning their heads from the armed Allison to the injured one dying in Scott’s arms. Everyone was confused.
Especially Allison. “How is this possible?”
“You’d know that if you took up your calling,” Hunter-Allison mocked with a cruel smile. “Then you wouldn’t have to yell for help all the time. You’d be able to defend yourself and not count on wolf-boy over there to come and save you like the pathetic damsel in distress you’ve become.”
Allison whimpered from within the protection of Scott’s arms. “I love him.”
Hunter-Allison sneered at her in disgust. “You’re going to lose him one day. He’s already joined Derek’s pack. How long do you think you have before he chooses them completely?” The tip of her bow rose to meet Allison’s head. “I’m doing you a favor really. It’s so much more dignified to put you down now instead of letting you become dog chow.”
“No!” Scott shouted as the second arrow cut through the air.
In his arms Allison flinched, turning herself into Scott’s body and waited for death. Seconds ticked by as she waited. Allison shifted just enough to look up and see Scott. Her boyfriend was staring behind her with a look of relief.
“It’s ok,” he whispered, finally looking down to meet her eyes. “She’s gone.”
Allison hesitated before rolling back over completely. She sighed in relief as the pain from the stomach wound was gone, along with the arrow that had made it. The hunter version of herself had similarly disappeared.
“What happened?” she asked, eyes scanning the room for the intruder. “Where’d she – I – the other me go?”
“She was never here,” Derek explained in a gruff voice. He stood up from his crouch where he’d literally put himself between hunter-Allison and his locked up Beta wolves. “It was an hallucination.”
Erica frowned behind him. “But we all saw her. How can it be an hallucination if we all saw her?”
“The punch,” Stiles answered in a terrified whisper. “Peter must have had Matt put something in it. Something that would make us see things that aren’t there.”
Derek nodded at him. It was the same haunted look he’d worn after the incident at the pool. “We all drank it so we’re all infected. Thanks to the power of the Pack-bond we’re able to share in each other’s hallucinations. Now that Scott’s joined me, the bond will reach the humans in his former Pack as well.”
Allison shivered. “It was so real. Like a dream but while we’re awake.”
“Not a dream,” Derek corrected darkly. “A nightmare. Our greatest fears or torments are going to be shown to us tonight. We’re going to share in them together.”
“Great,” Stiles snapped with false cheer. “I’ve always wanted to star in A Christmas Carol.”
Boyd snorted before quickly covering up his amusement at the look his Alpha sent him.
“This isn’t a joke.” Derek’s booming voice echoed through the abandoned building. “Peter isn’t just trying to get you high. These are your darkest thoughts come to life. They’re meant to not just break you but break your bond with one another.” His gaze flickered in Allison and Scott’s direction. “Ask Allison if the pain from that arrow wasn’t real to her. Ask Scott if seeing a version of his girlfriend like that didn’t plant a seed of doubt in their relationship.”
Everyone was silent after that.
They tried to interfere the next time. How could they not when it was Isaac’s father that appeared?
None of them could get close. An invisible barrier appeared between them and the target of the hallucination. Every time they pressed up against it their limbs would fall numb and render them useless. Not even Derek in full-Alpha form could stop Mr. Lahey from ripping the restraints off of his son.
Isaac screamed when the full-body freezer appeared in the middle of the room. He kicked and fought as his father shoved him inside. The man leaned into the freezer and beat on his son until Isaac’s screams subsided into whimpers. Then he slammed the top down and thick chains magically appeared before they coiled around the freezer.
Even if they couldn’t reach for him, the Pack shouted reassurances to their tortured friend. Erica whispered about fond memories under the moonlight where they would cuddle. Boyd kept reminding him to be strong, to remember that it wasn’t real. Derek made a noise deep in his throat that seemed to calm the two Betas not trapped in a freezer. Everyone prayed that it would have a similar effect on Isaac.
It seemed like hours before the freezer finally disappeared.
Isaac was on the ground, his fingers bloody from where they’d been scratching at the sides of the freezer. He turned onto his side and started to cry. Derek sprinted for him – roaring his success as he finally managed to reach him – before pulling Isaac into a hug and holding him there.
They all turned away to give the pair some semblance of privacy. But there was no way they didn’t hear Isaac’s desperate sobs of terror. There was nothing they could do besides wait for their turn and worry over what it would entail for each of them.
The visions came for them all one by one.
Lydia and Derek had tied for most gruesome. Lydia had screamed as soon as Peter Hale stepped free of the shadows and stalked towards her. It wasn’t until Peter shifted into his full Alpha form that she took off running. She almost made it to the barricaded exit before a vision of Jackson knocked her down. The Alpha ripped her apart one bloody limb after another. All the while Jackson’s face smiled down at her, witnessing her torment with obvious glee.
For Derek it had been fire. The fire to be exact. Instead of one person’s facade appearing, the entire Hale House had taken shape in all its former glory. Derek was forced to live through every last scream of his family burning to death. Derek seemed to handle it rather well until his own clothes were set ablaze. His skin wrinkled from the heat and his hair disintegrated. Derek’s clothes burned to ash leaving him a writhing, screaming naked mess on the floor.
Boyd lived through his most embarrassing memory. Three body builder types had emerged from the darkness in matching uniforms; forest green polo shirts and cargo shorts. Boyd listened as they mocked him for being fat and not being able to lose weight like the other kids at fat camp. They told him he was too big and stupid to ever get a date. They told Boyd he’d be a virgin forever. They told him how disappointed his parents would be when they’d pinched and saved the money for his camp tuition only to have Boyd gain weight in the end.
Scott watched Allison leave him for Jackson. They all tried not to watch as his girlfriend and his enemy fucked on the floor in front of them. Scott couldn’t tear his eyes away from the sight of Jackson sinking into Allison. He listened to the moans of ecstasy that only he’d ever been able to pull from her lips. The real Allison sobbed as Jackson transformed into the kanima and continued to fuck her senseless. It wasn’t until after Allison had confessed her undying love for Jackson that the hallucinations allowed Scott to look away.
Erica tried to defuse her own pain by telling them all about her seizures long before her hallucination started. She went into every embarrassing detail, every bitter emotion and even into her contemplation of suicide. Erica figured that if she got it out of the way, admitted it to them all, then her hallucinations couldn’t hurt her.
She was wrong.
Erica’s parents walked into the station. Her mother was on a cordless phone and her father was carrying a laptop. Erica went rigid as her father opened the laptop and started playing a video. He showed it to his wife who started to cry. The Pack couldn’t see the video but they could hear it. They knew what it was within seconds.
After all, Erica had described to them in perfect detail what her seizures looked like. She just hadn’t told them how she discovered someone had filmed her having one – filmed her soiling herself – and posted it online. It had been her parents who discovered it first.
She’d dished her most embarrassing secrets in an attempt to save herself the humiliation of it being shown. In the end Erica still ended up in tears, flinching away from the comforting touches of her pack mates.
Dawn broke and Stiles was the only one to not yet be subjected to a vision. They were eying him with a healthy mix of pity and envy. Stiles only hoped that they’d find a way out of there before he’d have to see what his worst nightmare looked like. As someone who prided himself on putting things off and hoping they resolved themselves, Stiles wasn’t eager to see what sort of baggage he’d buried down deep.
“Maybe it wore off?” Scott suggested when their watches told them it had been three hours since the last vision.
Derek shook his head sadly. “It’s combined with the power behind the Pack-bond now. None of us will get off that easy.”
Lydia tried yet again to wipe off the mascara that had cascaded down her cheeks as Peter ripped into her. “You act as if it has a mind of its own.”
“You think it doesn’t?” Derek replied, voice low with tension.
“I think it’s cruel,” Allison said from her spot on a rusted bench. She glanced at Scott who was on the other end of the bench before looking down sadly at the significant space between them. “I think it has to be conscious to be this malicious.”
Stiles rubbed at his eyes with trembling fists. “Not making this any easier, guys.”
Isaac glared at him. “At least you know you won’t be beaten.”
“Or set on fire.”
“Or eaten by a werewolf.”
“Or shot with an arrow.”
Stiles stood and walked away from the group, hands held up in surrender. Everyone had been pushed to their limits over the course of the night. It was a miracle that no one had lost control of their inner wolves. Even Lydia’s nails could have done some damage if she’d sought to share her turmoil through violence.
“It’s fine, Scott. I’ll just wait over here and try not to piss anyone off.”
“No, dude,” Scott replied, his voice thick with emotion. “Your Dad’s here.”
Stiles froze. He could feel the weight of the Pack’s collective gazes on his back. He took a deep breath and turned around. Stiles legs shook as he closed the distance between himself and the Pack. Each step felt like a mile.
It wasn’t until he’d rounded the last column that he spotted his father standing by the subway car Derek and his Pack used as a bedroom. The man wasn’t dressed in his Sheriff’s uniform or the plaid outfit he wore on the weekend. Instead he was dressed in a black suit that Stiles had only seen him wear once before.
“No,” Stiles pleaded. “Please no.”
The Sheriff turned at the sound of his son’s voice. The half empty whiskey bottle swung precariously in his hand. Isaac whimpered at the familiar scene. Stiles felt a wave of gratitude for Scott as his friend struggled to reach Stiles, knowing exactly what was coming for him.
“Oh, look,” the Sheriff sneered. “It’s you. It’s my son.”
“Don’t listen to him, Stiles!” Derek shouted in reminder.
Stiles felt frozen to the spot in fear as his father continued on his tirade.
“You know every day, I saw her lying that hospital slowly dying.”
Memories of his mother’s face flashed before his eyes. Each time her features were paler, gaunter as her death loomed.
“I thought, how the hell am I supposed to raise this stupid kid on my own?”
Stiles felt the weight of Isaac’s stare. Heard the shocked intake of breath from Allison. Saw the tightening of Erica’s hands into fists.
“This hyperactive little bastard who keeps ruining my life?”
Tears slid down Stiles’ cheeks. He thought of crossing the yellow tape at crime scenes and always showing up near dead bodies. He thought of kidnapping Jackson and how his father had been the one to enforce the restraining order. He remembered the look on his father’s face when he told Stiles he’d been fired.
“It’s all you,” the Sheriff repeated with heat. “It’s you, Stiles.”
Scott had stopped pounding against the invisible barrier at the mocking hatred with which the Sheriff had said Stiles’ name. He was mouthing something that Stiles couldn’t make out. But Stiles could see the sorrow on his best friend’s face, knew Scott felt guilty for the images flashing through Stiles’ mind.
“You killed your mother. You hear me?”
Stiles knees buckled.
Derek’s usual mask of irritation was replaced by one that knew all too well what it was like to think you’d killed a family member. The look of someone that shared responsibility for not just deaths but for the pain inflicted on those who lived on without them. He stood and joined Scott at the edge of the barrier.
“You killed her,” he accused again with such certainly that Stiles nodded in agreement.
Boyd and Erica helped Isaac to his feet so that he could join the others.
“And now you’re killing me.”
They were all there now.
Allison had her fingers intertwined with Scott’s. Isaac was propped up by his fellow Betas. The expression on his face was one of understanding and pity. Erica’s eyes were red with tears shed just on Stiles’ behalf. Lydia stood just beyond Derek’s large shoulders and for possibly the third time in her life she was finally seeing Stiles as something more than a lovesick admirer. Derek was at the center of them all, the epitome of strength.
Stiles flinched as the hallucination of his father chucked the bottle at him. He brought his elbow up to block the hit but nothing happened. Stiles slowly lowered his arm and saw that his father was gone. For several long beats no one moved.
Then Scott was running forward. The Pack followed. Stiles sobbed as hands grabbed for him. Arms wrapped around him and hugged him close. Lips whispered their sorrow and their reassurances from all around him. Fingers carded through his hair. Tears that weren’t his stained his clothes.
For the first time since his mother died Stiles wasn’t alone with his guilt.
Later Stiles would think back to that horrible night and be grateful for it. Peter had meant to break them. Instead he’d brought them together. Ironically Peter had done what a good Alpha should do; he’d eliminated all the secrets between them and built a Pack that was strong enough to stand up to him.
Strong enough to end Peter Hale once and for all.