When the smoke clears, Melissa’s cell is unlocked. She stares at the open door, feeling exposed in that first moment of awareness. If the cell is unlocked, the monsters can get in. They can get to her.
The monsters. Scott.
She stares for a long time, terror icing her joints, stealing her breath. And heavier than that, below the shock, there’s grief. Her son, her baby boy.
She can’t move her body.
“I made you,” she used to say, giggling against Scott’s round belly when she placed him on his changing table.
“Scott,” she moans, when she wills herself to breathe.
Eventually, it’s the sound that gets her to move. Not the sirens or the tinkling of broken glass or the slow hiss of emptying smoke canisters. The crying.
Stiles nudges his head against his dad’s shoulder and tries to lever his arm over him. He can see and feel his dad’s breathing, but his dad isn’t moving and Stiles can’t tell how bad he’s hurt and he can’t stop crying. Heavy, hoarse sobs that hurt in his chest when he gasps.
“Dad? Dad. Please. Dad. Please.”
Someone touches Stiles’ back and he flinches weakly and presses his face as hard as he can against his dad’s sweat-soaked shirt as if that can protect him somehow, god, please.
“Stiles, sweetie. Shhh.”
“Mom?” Stiles asks, dizzy as he’s turned over. He blinks, vision blurring with tears and then clearing and of course it’s not his mom. “Mrs. McCall.” Another choking sob. “My dad. I can’t move him. I can’t move.”
“There’s an ambulance outside, okay? Hear it? I’m going to look at your dad now, you just breathe. I’m right here.”
She looks horrible. She’s got mascara all over her face and her eyes are so red. But her hands are steady when she eases Stiles’ dad onto his back and takes his wrist and looks at the the bloody mess where the handcuffs tore his skin. Her hands skim gently over the knot at his forehead.
“He’s okay, Stiles,” she says. “You’re all right.”
She’s not all right.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles says, still trying to move his body. Everything’s too heavy.
Mrs. McCall glances at him, her lips pressed tightly together. She knows. She knows, and she knows he knew. She doesn’t say anything.
Scott stands in the doorway, wearing a shadow. His mom’s too busy to notice him. Stiles doesn’t see him; he’s flat on his back wheezing, hurting so bad Scott can smell it. The Sheriff is unconscious, but his heart beats steadily.
The kanima is gone. The hunters have scattered. Gerard said to take care of his mom, but Scott can’t step into the room.
He recalls once, when he was nine, having to stay home when his dad went camping with some of his buddies. He watched the truck drive away and turned to his mom and screamed, “I hate you,” and she took a step back like he’d hit her and he took off running, down the street and into the woods, onto a big boulder where he scraped his knee. He cried, watching the blood ooze into his torn jeans, and said, “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry.”
She found him at nightfall. She tracked him down with her big purple flashlight and handed him a Capri Sun and said, “Let’s go, Squirt. You’re too big to carry home.”
Scott watches his mom perform first aid on Stiles’ dad. She went to nursing school at night after Dad left, and studied at the breakfast table and at dinner and after dinner and in the bathtub. She brought Scott to the hospital during those first years when she had the worst shifts, and he skateboarded in the parking lot with Stiles because Stiles was always there too.
Stiles takes his dad’s hand where they lay there on the concrete in the cell, waiting for the paramedics.
Scott tries to move his body but he can’t.
Everything’s too heavy.
Stilinski wakes up in an ambulance bay, blinking into the fluorescent lights.
“Stiles,” he says. It becomes a panicked bark. “Stiles!”
“Dad! Dad, I’m right here.”
It takes a moment to adjust to the brightness and the flashing lights from out the open door. They’re parked outside the station.
“Are you hurt? What’s with the IV?”
“Oh.” Stiles is on the bench beside the gurney, hooked up to a blood pressure monitor and a saline bag. He stares at the tape on his the back of his hand. “Dehydration. All the cool kids are doing it. You know, Lindsay Lohan, um, and other notable...” He trails off. “I’m fine.”
Stiles looks horrible. But whole, and breathing. Their eyes meet and Stiles’ expression crumbles and it’s been years since, since he cried like this. Stiles folds over the gurney, cold-nosed and shaking. There’s a tiny cut on the back of his neck, crusted with dried blood, that Stilinski will ask about later, when he can move.
For now, he holds his son as hard as he can, as if that can protect him somehow.