"No, no," Stiles said as he tossed in his bed. "Don't let them in, don't let them in, don't let them in!"
His eyes shot open revealing he wasn't actually in bed, but trapped inside a locker at the school. His breath hitched in his throat as he shoved open the steel door. It was night time, dim moon lighting shining through the windows. Empty and cold. He walked through the corridor reaching an open door. The Nemeton.
'What on earth is this thing doing here?' he thought to himself. The moss covered stump began to vibrate as he reached towards it. Stiles knew he should stop reaching for it, that he should run. Hell, he should probably be questioning why he woke up inside of his gym locker. But he couldn't. It was like he was in a trance. A trance remaining unbroken until vines ripped from the exposed wood and wrapped around Stiles' wrist.
Stiles sat bolt right in his bed once again with a gasp of breath.
"You okay?" asked a strange, deep voice. "Stiles?"
"Yeah," Stiles said, taking comfort in Derek's hand on his lower back. "I was just dreaming. It was weird, it was like a dream within a dream."
"A nightmare?" Derek asked.
"Yeah," Stiles sighed, enjoying the warm hand rubbing circles into his back. He took hold of Derek's hand, rubbing circles with his thumb. "Wait a sec. Derek? What are you doing here?" His door creaked open. "Hold on."
"Stiles, where are you going?"
"I'm just going to close the door."
"Just go back to sleep," Derek asked pulling gently on Stiles' arm.
"No, no, I should close it."
"Don't worry about it."
"What if someone comes in?" Stiles said as he pulls away, not able to tear his eyes away from the door. Something was wrong, he could feel it in his gut.
"Like who?" Derek asked. "Just go back to sleep, Stiles."
"No," he whispered. "What if they get in?"
"What if who gets in? Stiles, just leave it, please" Derek said with a very much out of character amount of panic in his voice. "Stiles, please. Just come back to bed!"
Stiles couldn't though. He needed to shut the door. He had to protect Derek. It was his job to keep Derek alive, it had been this whole time, since the very first time they met. Slowly his feet carried him towards the door. It should have just been moments that he walked, but it felt like hours.
"Don't go in there, Stiles," Derek begged. "Please Stiles, don't. Stiles!"
Stiles could hear his heart beating in his chest, and he felt it in his throat as he slowly reached for the doorhandle. He pulled the door open, and instead of the second floor of his home, he found himself back in the woods standing in front of the Nemeton. Dozens of bright, hot lights glared at him.
"It's a dream, This is just a dream, it's just a dream, get it out of your head Stiles," Stiles repeated to himself, slapping his hands against his head. Though he was truly terrified, absolutely terrified, he felt ever so slightly relieved knowing this wasn't real. It was a stupid part of his subconscious playing tricks on him. "You're dreaming. Alright? So, wake up, Stiles. Wake up, Stiles."
He couldn't wake himself up. Terror began to consume him. His heart raced.
"WAKE UP!" He screamed with all his might.
"Time to get up, kiddo," his father said, poking his head into Stiles' room. "Get your butt to school."
"And you couldn't wake up?" Scott asked Stiles as they walked up the stone stairs leading to the school courtyard.
"Nope," Stiles said. "And it was beyond terrifying. Have you ever heard of sleep paralysis?"
"Uh, no, do I want to?"
"Have you ever had a dream where you feel like you're about to wake up but you can't move or talk?" Stiles asked and waited for Scott to nod. "It happens because during REM sleep, your body is basically paralysed. It's called muscle atonia. That way if you start dreaming about running you don't actually start running in your bed."
"That makes sense," Scott said, nodding his head, trying to convince Stiles he understood. Stiles knew he didn't but he just needed to talk about what was happening.
"But sometimes your mind wakes up before your body does," Stiles continues. "So for this split second your aware that you're paralysed. And that's the terrifying part. It turns your dream into a nightmare. You can feel like you're falling, like you're being strangled, or, in my case, like you're at the centre of a grove of magical trees where human sacrifices took place. You think it means something? What if what we did that night What if it's still affecting us?"
"Post traumatic stress?" Scott asked.
"Or something. But you want to know what scares me the most? I'm not even sure if this is real."
Stiles started screaming, whimpering, clutching at his chest and the blankets around him. Arms gripped him tightly around his chest from behind.
"It's okay, buddy, it's okay. You're okay," his father repeated as he rocked his son back and forth. Papa Stilinski felt tears forming in his eyes. He hated seeing his son like this, each night, waking them both up screaming. Once Stiles had calmed down enough he spread his hands out in front of him, counting each individual finger. Eight and two thumbs. He was awake. He was no longer dreaming.
"I'm okay," he reassured his father, but his voice was entirely unconvincing. "I'm okay."
Later that morning Stiles was packing his bag for the day. He picked up his history textbook and glanced at the title. Dalesi Xis Anla: Dol Wtari Awnd Rhie Wuttrnrrienla Saotrgle Fgo Tpone.
'What the hell?' Stiles thought to himself, straining his eyes to make sense of the jumbled letters. He wondered briefly if this was some kind of misprint.
"Hey kiddo," Tom Stilinski interrupted Stiles' train of thought, causing him to forget about the book. "You alright? Ready for school?"
"Yeah," Stiles stammered nodding his head. When he looked back at the book the words were fine. "Yeah, I'm good." Tom looked at Stiles questioningly, unable to believe him. "Dad, seriously. I'm fine, it was just a nightmare. What's that?"
"Oh, just. uh, files from the office," Tom said indicating the box in his hands.
"Says 'sheriff's station, do not remove'," Stiles pointed.
"Yeah, well, unless you're the sheriff. Now get your butt to school, alright?"
Stiles pulled up to school in his jeep where he saw Scott glaring at his bike helmet. His best friend shook his head rapidly before glaring into the visor once again.
'What the hell is he doing?' Stiles thought to himself. He climbed out of his jeep, slinging his school bag over his shoulders and walking after his friend. Scott was behaving erratically, every few steps he would look behind him at the ground before hastening his step. To Stiles it looked like he was afraid of his own shadow.
'Why is he running from his own shadow? ... Unless?' Stiles wondered if his best friend was suffering the same as he was, with his own punishment for surrogate sacrifice being hallucinations rather than horrific nightmares. Stiles jogged up to Scott and grabbed his shoulder.
"Hey, hey. You alright?" Stiles asked and Scott nodded. "You don't look alright, Scott."
"I'm okay," Scott assured. Stiles didn't need no superhuman werewolf hearing to know Scott was lying.
"No you're not," Stiles said. "It's happening to you, too. You're seeing things, aren't you?"
"How'd you know?" Scott asked with wide eyes, like a great secret had been revealed.
"Because it's happening to all three of you," came a very familiar voice. The boys turned around and saw Allison and Lydia standing behind them. They continued walking into the building with each sharing their experience.
"Well, well," Lydia said pushing open the large wooden doors. "Look who's no longer the crazy one."
"We're not crazy," Allison said.
"Hallucinating," Lydia said looking at Allison and Scott, then looked at Stiles. "Sleep paralysis. Yeah, you guys are fine."
"Well we did die and come back to life, it's got to have some side effects, right?" Scott asked as the bell rang. We keep an eye on each other, okay? And Lydia? Stop enjoying this so much."
In history Stiles found himself continually counting his fingers, needing constant reassurance that he's awake. His eyelids felt heavy, the skin under his eyes feeling the effects of gravity. The new history teacher walked in with an air of confidence.
"Good morning, everyone," the teacher greeted his class with a smile. "My name is Mr Yukimura, and I'll be taking over from your previous history teacher. A little about me; my family and I moved here around three weeks ago. By now I'm sure you all know my daughter, Kira. Or you might not since she's never mentioned anyone from school. Or brought a friend home for that matter. Either way, there she is."
Yukimura indicated to the quiet girl sitting in the back, who's head thumped heavily against her desk at the unwanted attention.
Stiles turned around with minimal interest, though he could swear he felt something in his mind reach towards the girl. He looked around at his fellow students and saw them gawking at her.
'Way to go guys, make the new girl feel even more alienated,' he thought to himself before turning back to the teacher.
"Now, let's begin with American history at the turn of the twentieth century."
The rest of class went by smoothly, though Stiles could barely focus on the lecture. The hour was eventually up before the bell chimed.
At their lockers Stiles fiddled with the lock trying to get his code for the lock.
"Maybe," Scott started. "Maybe we just need a little more time to get back to normal."
"Yeah, try not to forget we hit the reset button on a supernatural beacon for supernatural creatures," Stiles said still trying to get his lock. He was growing frustrated. "There's a pretty good chance things are never going back to normal."
Stiles pulled at his lock which remained in place. He glanced at the numbers and was frustrated to see instead they were odd symbols. He sighed frustratingly and gave up, turning to his friend who's eyes were glowing dark red.
"Dude, your eyes."
"What about them?"
"What about them? They're starting to glow," Stiles said looking around to make sure no one else noticed. "Scott, stop it. Stop it."
"I can't control it," Scott said squeezing his eyes shut.
"Alright, just keep your head down," Stiles said, throwing an arm around Scott and with a glance around to see if anyone noticed he started to lead him away. "Look down, come on. Keep your head down."
Stiles lead them into an empty classroom, and as soon as his arm was removed from Scott's shoulders Scott rushed forward pulling his jacket off.
"Get back away from me," he said with a growl.
"Scott, it's okay."
"I don't know what's going to happen to me," Scott growled between heavy breaths. "Get back!" Scott's claws started growing him his nails. He balled his fists, digging the nails into the palms of his hands. Blood started trickling down his arms. He dropped to his knees with a growl as he regained his humanity.
"Pain makes you human," Scott explained, looking up pleadingly at Stiles.
"Scott, this isn't in our heads. This is real. It's starting to get bad for me, too," Stiles said letting himself open up. "I'm not just having nightmares, I'm having these dreams where I have to literally scream myself awake. And sometimes I'm not even sure if I'm ever actually waking up."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you know how you can tell you're dreaming?" Stiles asked. "You can't read in your dreams. More and more, the last few days I've been having trouble reading. I can't see the words. I can't put the letters in order."
"Like even now?" Scott asked, worry written all over his face.
Stiles stood up to look at the blackboard.
'Hesxprno Dilsrwev Vumis Dhlemeqjs Mgmxl Qov Hm Dalc Idftmlv- Cagqztuo Foxqera Tardw Akfbrcae? Rlbzxo AER Incwgrthb Naqblfbus Clupas Obcvgrftus Ueipexa Zmverh - Pwft.Dac Drmaf Dqe Hoke'
Stiles looked around the walls, posters showing intangible words, books showing symbols.
"I can't read a thing."