Chapter 1: Prelude
Author's Note: This is a pro-Stalia story so if your not up for that you may kindly exit stage left. This story takes place in the 'To Save a Life' Universe and chronicles the five Stalia breakups briefly mentioned in the epilogue of that story. Welcome to Oldcastle. I hope you like it ;) P.S. Never use fireworks in the way described in my story. It's dangerous and stupid. Its only fun in fiction. I own nothing but my ideas and original characters. No copyright infringement intended.
Nine Simple Rules
USF Campus, San Francisco, CA.
The old Beta Omega Rho fraternity house had once been a proud and stately building. With an elegant tower, a generous wraparound porch and burnished finials crowning its high roof. After the fraternity was dissolved the house and property were tied up in a legal dispute. And so it sat derelict for years slowly rotting at the edge of Greek row.
As the years past its patterned shingle siding started to chip and flake off. The intricate fretwork and wood turnings on the porch and rails started to weather and crack. The once gleaming brass finials rusted and warped as the house shifted on its foundation. The windswept old chapter house loomed darkly over its unkept yard, looking rather hollow and ominous.
Eventually it became known as the ghost house on campus. It became something of a tradition for the freshman to break into the old chapter house during rush week. In the last fifteen years the rooms and hallways had been overlain with graffiti. The local Delta Phi fraternity were known to plan an annual prank on the abandoned house. And when the pack had started renting it out in freshman year, the Delta Phi's had been unwilling to break with tradition.
That first year they had been blindsided by the pranks and vandalism. Freshman egged the house, toilet-papered the house and yard and spray-painted the garage. But the Delta Phi's they took things up a notch. They left a load of cow manure on the front porch blocking the doorway and burned a message in the lawn. A warning for the tenants to move out of their prank house.
When Scott had first pitched the idea of renting the decrepit old place out Stiles had laughed it off. The place had cracked windows, missing floorboards, leaky pipes and pealing wallpaper. It had old knob and tube wiring, questionable insulation and the whole house shuttered and groaned in the wind. What it did have to offer was a lot of square footage, a licence to do whatever they pleased with the property and the rent was dirt cheap.
It took about as much work to convince the girls to move in as it did to make the old house livable. But eventually they had the whole pack under one roof. Malia, Lydia and Kira shared the third floor while Scott and Stiles took the rooms on the second floor. After living in his drafty room for a week with creaky floorboards and an unreliable supply of hot water, Stiles had begun to doubt their decision. But then the Delta Phi's declared war and suddenly Stiles was ready to fight for that decrepit old house.
Scott and Stiles climbed up to the roof of the old chapter house and pried the old Greek letters off the side of it. From then on they called the chapter house Oldcastle and they were prepared to defend it. That week they snuck onto the Delta Phi portico roof and took down their Greek letters. Replacing them with the rusted old Beta Omega Rho ones. Their message was clear. We aren't going anywhere.
After being blindsided that first year they were much more prepared to defend the house in sophomore year. Scott and Stiles had jerry-rigged some traps for the would-be vandals and had armed themselves with an old fire hose, tennis ball launchers, water balloons, roman candles firecrackers and cherry-bombs.
So when Stiles was sitting at his desk hunched over a textbook with a pen in his mouth, and the first egg of rush season slammed into his window, he wasn't all that surprised.
Muttering under his breath Stiles dropped his pen and textbook and rolled back from his desk. Crossing to the window he snagged his two-way radio off the charger as he peered through the egg on his window. The street was dark except for a pair of tail-lights
"Scott, look alive up there." Stiles urged, "You've got a bogie west wall."
The radio hissed with static. "…standby."
A tennis ball launched from the roof striking the target in the chest, forcing him backwards and knocking the box of eggs out of his hand. The target was hit three more times rapid fire with tennis balls before he managed to scramble back to his car and peel off.
The radio crackled back to life. "…west wall secured."
Stiles chuckled into his radio. "I take it back. The tennis ball launcher is totally worth it."
"…right?" Scott agreed. "So… you ever coming… up here to help?" he asked him through the static.
Stiles sighed looking back at his desk with his open laptop and stack of textbooks. Returning to his desk he dropped back down into his chair morosely.
"Give me an hour. I've gotta finish this paper tonight."
"…you said that…an hour ago…" Scott protested.
"I'll be there in an hour. Just save some of the fun for me."
"If these idiots…keep coming…I can't…make any…promises…" Scott chuckled into the radio.
"Fair enough." Stiles conceded. Dropping the radio down on his desk Stiles flipped open his book and tapped his keyboard. The screen lit up and he had just found his place when the radio crackled again.
"Dude, you're not helping."
A knot settled in his stomach. Stiles quickly turned off his radio and hunched back over his textbook. Biting into his pen cap he forced his eyes to wade through the words on the page. Distantly he heard the front door slam and the creak of footsteps on the stairs. As they continued down the hallway. He felt a pang in his chest remembering the thousands of times he had looked up from his desk to find her leaning against his door frame. Now she sped past his doorway without even casting a glance his way. Stiles sighed leaning back in his chair and running a frustrated hand over his face.
Stiles and Malia had been through everything together. Like literally everything. They had survived chimeras, zombie Nazis, prom and algebra together. But even when you love someone things don't always work out. They had been broken up for a little over a month now. And being stuck in close quarters at Oldcastle wasn't helping either of them. After senior year they had made a promise to each other. That no matter what happened between them in future, they would always be there for each other. That they would always be friends.
The only problem was Stiles and Malia had never been just friends. There had always been a spark between them. And they had barely known each other before they had fallen headlong into a relationship. Now it was a struggle to disentangle their friendship from all that intimacy.
Malia's solution was to avoid him and skirt around the issue. Whenever they did find themselves in the same room together, they were just so awkwardly civil with each other. It drove Stiles crazy and gave him an urge to pick a fight if only to get some sort of reaction from her. He felt like he hadn't just lost his girlfriend in this breakup but also one of his best friends. How could you miss someone this much when they lived up the stairs and down the hall from you?
Straightening in his chair he flipped back open his textbook. Settling back over his desk he found his place. He was reaching for his pen, just as he caught a flash of Malia stalking past his doorway again in her running shorts. She had gotten into USF on a track scholarship. And she had been away at a track meet all weekend. Stiles had always loved her track uniform. He shook his head and tried to shake that image from his mind. He had to get this paper done tonight.
Stiles had just finished re-writing a paragraph, when he heard the squeak of the shower turning on. There wasn't enough Adderall in the world to keep his mind on track now. Not when he knew Malia was in the shower twenty feet away from him. Stiles shoved his chair away from his desk, grabbed his radio and stalked out his door. Flicking on his radio as he made his way down the hall.
"Hey Scott?" he called, "I'm on my way up. I hope you saved me some tennis balls." He said as he jogged upstairs to the third floor. Stiles crossed the hall and mounted the narrow metal staircase that led to the tower attic.
"…dude, you're my….best friend…I even saved you some…roman candles…" Scott replied. Stiles grinned as he climbed up the tight staircase. Reaching the attic he crossed to the open window and climbed out of it. With practiced ease he scaled his way down from the tower window and dropped down onto the overhang of the roof. He made his way carefully in the dark toward Scott who sat dangling his feet off the overhang. Stiles sat down on the edge of the roof beside Scott.
"Good timing, we've got company." Scott whispered. Stiles squinted scouring the yard for movement.
"Where and how many?"
"Three. Coming at us from the east." Stiles nodded. Scott brought up his tennis ball launcher already taking aim as he handed Stiles a roman candle. "They're almost at the porch." Stiles grinned striking a match against the shingles. Time to blow off a little steam.
The three shadowy figures maneuvered across the lawn carrying something lengthy. Stiles looked to his friend lifting his shoulder. Scott shook his head and gestured for Stiles to wait. A metal ladder clattered as it was set against the house. Scott nodded to Stiles.
"HEY JACKHOLES!" Stiles yelled as he lit the fuse, "GET OFF MY LAWN!" The three figures looked up toward the roof just as Stiles tossed the Roman candle down onto the lawn. It fizzled as it hit the grass a tiny ember glowing in the dark. It startled the three trespassers but as it crackled and started to fade out, one of them started to snicker.
The three started to move back toward the house, until the Roman candle let out a low piercing whine behind them. With a small innocuous pop a white hot ball of light erupted from the paper tube. It shot out along the ground before arcing through the air. The three pranksters hollered as they dodged the flares. The Roman candle spun along the ground with momentum as it launched blast after blast in every direction. It threw the frat boys into confusion as they tried to dodge them and escape the yard. Eventually the three men managed to bolt from the yard, tripping over themselves as they ran. As they retreated, Scott fired a barrage of tennis balls at their backs, while Stiles hurled paint-filled water balloons and insults after them. Jumping into their truck they sped away.
Scott and Stiles were howling with laughter, slapping each other on the back as they congratulated themselves. Oldcastle was safe for now. Stiles clapped his hands before falling back against the shingles, his body wracked with laughter. Between the stress of his job, his growing course load and everything with Malia, he hadn't laughed like this in a really long time. His lungs burned as he sucked in a breath, still snickering. He took a few more steadying breaths before he sat up. Wiping a hand over his mouth as he grinned and looked to his best friend. Scott's shoulders were still shaking as he clutched his tennis ball launcher.
"Thanks, Man. I needed that." Stiles admitted. He was lucky to have such a solid best friend.
"Anytime." Scott replied casually. Then he reached over to grab something from beside him. "Here," he said passing Stiles a compact fire extinguisher. "You're on fire-safety. I've got to get reload those tennis balls." Scott hopped down off the roof landing effortlessly on his feet. Stiles climbed down the rungs of the abandoned ladder. Scott rounded up the tennis balls in the dark while Stiles extinguished the Roman candle. He carefully searched for any wayward sparks before he started helping Scott.
A pair of headlights flashed across the yard blinding them both as it pulled into the driveway. Scott brought the tennis ball launcher up suspiciously. The door slammed shut and a pair of heels clicked out onto the concrete.
"Just what do you boys think you're doing?" Lydia asked. Scott lowered his tennis ball launcher looking sheepish, while Stiles shrugged as the fire extinguisher dangled from his hand. Kira appeared at Lydia's side assessing the pair of them. They were both carrying bags from their latest shopping excursion.
"You're home early." Scott observed, trying to change the subject.
"You're picking fights with the Delta Phi's again aren't you?" Lydia accused.
"Technically, everything we've done tonight has been in defense." Stiles countered.
"You do remember what happened last year don't you?" Lydia cautioned.
"Do you?" Kira challenged. "Or did you forget about them ruining your best suede Prada's?"
Lydia flicked her hair, "Of course not, I loved those shoes." she said mournfully. "But whatever it is that you two are doing isn't working." She said pointing at the pair of them.
Kira looked between Lydia and the two boys and gave a tilt of her head. "Yeah, she might have a point there, guys."
Scott gave Lydia a sour look. Kira gave Scott a small smile and took a step towards him when her foot snagged on a fishing wire. Kira looked down at her foot, in confusion.
Stiles smacked Scott on the arm, "Scott, did you disarm t—" before Stiles could finish his sentence Scott bolted for Kira and drew her out of the path of a hurtling water balloon. The balloon slammed into Lydia's car splattering green paint against the windshield. Scott set Kira down softly on her feet, touching her cheek fondly.
"You, OK?" He asked.
Kira's face was flushed, "It just wasn't the kind of greeting I was expecting." Scott smirked and pecked her lips in apology.
Lydia made a small indignant noise as she wiped a speck off her forehead.
She pointed at her windshield blindly, "You boys are cleaning this up." she growled as she strode toward the house.
Scott sneered "You boys are cleaning this up." he repeated in a high mocking voice. Kira snickered beside him.
Stiles shot Scott a grin and held up his hands backing away in an innocent fashion. "Actually, I just remembered I have this paper to finish." He chuckled as he back away toward the house.
"Stiles!" Scott complained.
"Remind me who set the traps, again?" Stiles asked. Scott scowled and brought up his tennis ball launcher and popped a few shots in his direction. Stiles easily dodged them as he made his way up the front steps and through the screen door.
Kira leaned in and kissed Scott on the cheek, "At least he's smiling again." she said thoughtfully. Scott watched after his best friend before nodding in agreement. "I'll go get the hose. We need to get this off before it starts to dry." she offered.
Scott jerked his head around, "No!" Kira lifted her eyebrow at him, "No. It's OK. I'll get the hose. You stay on the driveway." he insisted.
"There's more traps out there, isn't there?"
Scott rocked back on his heels and made a small noncommittal sound before deciding silence was the best option. He turned his back to her and started carefully navigating his way toward the garden hose.
Stiles made his way up the stairs and down the hallway, his eyes shot warily to the bathroom door. He was relieved to find it open and to see Lydia fixing her makeup in the mirror. With a sigh of relief he slipped into his room and closed the door. Sitting at his desk he cracked his knuckles and tapped a few keys on his laptop, until the screen lit up. With renewed concentration he started typing.
A few minutes later there was a knock at his door. "It's open!" He called without looking up from his laptop. After finishing a few keystrokes he looked up to find Lydia leaning against his doorjamb fixing one of her earrings. Stiles shot her a grin, "Hey, what's up?"
"Can I ask a favor?" she asked still fiddling with her earring. Stiles spun his office chair towards her giving her his attention.
"Can you keep, Scott, from going full tactical warfare while we're gone?"
Stiles grinned, "Probably not." He fidgeted in his chair, rocking it from side to side "Where are you guys headed?"
"We're taking, Malia, out to celebrate." Stiles tilted his head in confusion, waiting for her to elaborate. Lydia lifted an eyebrow, "She took first place in the 800 meter race. Set a course record." Stiles dropped his eyes and straightened in his chair no longer fidgeting. Lydia's eyes softened with sympathy, "She never told you."
Stiles spun his chair back toward his desk, "It must have slipped her mind." he said under his breath.
Lydia ventured further into his room, "You two still aren't talking, huh?"
"Oh we talk," Stiles corrects bitterly, "We just never actually say anything anymore." Stiles raked a hand through his hair.
Lydia sat on the corner of his desk, as he leafed through his notebook, avoiding her eyes.
"You guys will get through this," she assured, "You both just need to get past this post-breakup awkwardness. You should come out with us tonight." she suggested.
Stiles gave her a sidelong glance, "I'm gonna have to take a hard pass on that one."
"Fine. Be that way." Lydia said as she rose up from his desk. Before turning away she reached out and squeezed his shoulder gently. Stiles looked back up at her. "But you two are going to have to deal with this."
Stiles cleared his throat, "I-uh...I've got a lot of work to do." he said shifting his eyes back to his notebook, seizing his pen he began scrawling a few notes.
Lydia sighed moving toward the hallway. She grasped the doorknob starting to pull it closed when he suddenly looked up from his work, drumming his pen against the page indecisively as he watched her leave.
"Lydia," he called out. Lydia ducked her head back through the doorway. "Thanks. I know you're just trying to help." he offered. Lydia gave him a small forgiving smile.
Stiles hunched back over his textbook, leaning his head against his hand. Lydia gave him a final look as she started closing his door. He looked miserable. She shot a look down the hallway then back at Stiles. An idea taking root as she watched him.
With a grin she bumped his door open a little wider with the heel of her shoe, "Oops." she whispered to herself. Turning toward the staircase she strode with a purpose, smiling to herself.
Maybe all they needed was the right push.
Chapter 2: A Thousand Miles
Malia caught him staring at her shoes and watched him with those dark caramel eyes. They used to be able to catch each other's eyes and say more with a look than they could with words. But tonight they were standing in the same hallway and it felt like there was a thousand miles between them.
A little while later Stiles was still at his desk. He glared at the blinking cursor on his screen, it was mocking him. Stiles ran a hand down his face shaking his head. Snagging his mug from the corner of his desk and took a sip of black coffee. Caffeine helped with his A.D.H.D. Stiles set his mug down again. Squinting at his screen he bit into the edge of his pen and reread the last line he had wrote.
Stiles straightened in his chair as a correlation in the research something he had overlooked suddenly occurred to him. He searched his desk for the right textbook. Selecting the right one he thumbed through the book looking for the right page. Finding it, Stiles tapped the page with his index finger, and flicked his eyes back to his screen. Stiles slouched back into his chair, pleased with himself. He just might have finally found the strongest evidence for his concluding argument.
Stiles grinned around the pen he had still clenched between his teeth, as he swiveled his chair from side to side. He heard heels clicking down the hall and spun his chair toward his open doorway. He wanted to bounce his closing argument off of Lydia before she and the others left.
Then his pen fell out of his mouth as Malia breezed past his door in a short blue sundress. His chair creaked in protest as he shifted in his seat, straining to chase the image that had just crossed by his door. After a moment he eased his chair upright, gripping the arms of his chair, a little stunned. And to think, only half an hour ago he had been worried about running into Malia wearing nothing but a towel. Stiles brought his hand up to his face, pinching the bridge of his nose.
This was so much worse than a towel.
It must have taken him longer to collect himself than he realized because before he knew it the bathroom door was creaking open. The heels were echoing down the hallway again, striding past his door. He was powerless to look away. Her long hair was falling around her shoulders in waves. The dark blue chiffon dress fell to just above her knee, giving a generous view of her long tan legs. It was a sleeveless, backless dress with spaghetti straps. Stiles was still staring, long after Malia's silver ankle strap heels had carried her out of sight.
Stiles could count the amount of times he had seen Malia in a dress on one hand. And he was her boyfriend! Well…ex-boyfriend. Her style had always leaned more toward soft loose-fitting tops and cut-off jean shorts. Not that he would ever complain. Malia was gorgeous, she could make a paper bag look sexy. But there was just something about her in a dress that got to him. Maybe it was because it somehow made her look softer and even more alluring than usual. Or maybe it was because she wore a dress on their first real date.
Stiles spun back toward his desk. He should be better at this. He had spent the better part of high school lovesick over Lydia Martin. That should have gotten him used to the feeling. Except it didn't. Longing for someone to notice you was different than pining for the girl you're in love with. Especially when you're still living under the same roof with her, and she's ignoring you.
Or like tonight when you're heartbroken and she's traipsing past you're door in a short dress…while ignoring you.
Logically, Stiles knew that the only decent mirror in Oldcastle was the one hanging on the back of the bathroom door. He also knew Malia wasn't a mean-spirited person she wouldn't do this on purpose. And for a hot-tempered werecoyote she had been doing her best to keep her temper in check whenever they were in the same room. He knew she was trying to make things easier on them. But for Stiles it just made things worse. The Malia he was in love with was never afraid to call him out on something. This cool civility she directed towards him now, just made him feel as though he had lost her trust, and that stung.
Stiles checked his phone 10:33 pm. The girls would probably be leaving soon. After they left it would be a lot easier for him to focus on finishing this paper. Except then he would be thinking about Malia wearing that slinky dress in a club full of guys. A swell of jealousy rolled through him. Stiles tightened his grip on his pen. He wasn't typically a jealous guy. Back when he had been infatuated with Lydia he had been stupidly jealous of Jackson but that had been a long time ago.
When he had been with Malia he had never really gotten all that jealous. Sure he still had his insecurities, but Malia had always made it very clear that she was only interested in him. At times she was even a little possessive of him. It had been good for his ego and he knew he could trust her. But now they were broken up and she didn't owe him anything.
Stiles tossed his pen on his desk. Sitting here obsessing over this wasn't doing him any favours. It wasn't healthy. Stiles grabbed his earbuds off his desk and stuck them in his ears. Scrolling through his phone found a song and amped up the volume until it sort of hurt. Pushing away from his desk he started toward his door. He was going to grab a slice of pizza from the fridge, lock his door and write this paper.
He strode through his doorway with the determination to do just that when he collided into a girl in a red dress. Her feet were already unsteady in her heels and so she easily lost her balance. His hands shot out to steady her, and he suddenly found himself with his arms full of Malia Tate.
She stared up at him with surprised caramel brown eyes and her mouth was moving but he couldn't hear her. Stiles stared down at her, frozen. His ears were buzzing with his music and he was acutely aware of the softness of the fabric between his fingers. Stiles blinked and spoke over his music.
"Sorry." he said. Releasing her, Stiles stepped back and tugged out his earbuds.
"It's fine." Malia said as she regained her balance and ran her hands along her dress smoothing it out. Stiles couldn't stop his eyes from tracking over her. She had changed out of her chiffon sundress and into a silky-soft wine red shift dress. It had a rounded neckline and short sleeves. And Malia wore it well. Stiles cleared his throat and averted his eyes. Malia watched him curiously for a moment. Stiles met her eyes and willed himself not to give off any embarrassing chemo signals. When Malia's nose twitched and she gave him a tiny smirk, he knew he had failed. Stiles shifted on his feet and rubbed at the back of his neck. He wasn't used to having to hide his reactions from her.
"It's not my fault. They're making me dress up." Malia offered, gesturing toward her dress. Stiles felt some of the tightness in his chest ease up. This was probably the first time in a month she had said something to him that wasn't perfunctory.
Stiles gave her a teasing grin, "Trust me," he said looking her up and down "It's entirely your fault." Malia ducked her head and wrapped her hands around her arms. Stiles winced at his own words. Flirting with her always came so easy, and old habits die hard.
Malia nudged her head towards the bathroom. "I should…" she said not meeting his eyes.
"Yeah," Stiles grunted and stepped out of her way. Stiles bit his lip shaking his head at himself. The first time she's actually talked to him in weeks and he wrecked it. He stood indecisively in the hallway. His body pivoting back and forth between his doorway and the hall. Deciding to abandon his plans to raid the kitchen Stiles moved towards his room. He stopped short before heading inside.
"Malia?" he called turning his head toward her. Malia spun around to look back at him. "I...I just wanted to say congrats on your big race."
Malia's eyebrow quirked up "How did you...?"
Stiles gave her a small smile, "I work for a private investigator." he said with a shrug. Malia shook her head at him.
"Who told you? Lydia or Kira?" she asked.
"I know better than to reveal my sources." he said not meeting her eyes. "Go have fun tonight. You deserve it." Stiles said sincerely before moving through his doorway. Stiles shut his door and leaned against it briefly. It physically hurt to tell her to go have fun. The petty part of him didn't want her to have fun without him. But the bigger part of him, the part that loved her more than himself just wanted her to be happy. Stiles straightened up and locked his door popping back in his earbuds he strode toward his desk with a purpose.
Stiles managed to punch out a half-assed concluding argument but his heart wasn't really in it. He pulled out his earbuds and rolled his shoulders, sitting back in his chair. All that was left was to double-check his sources and proof-read. He scrolled up to the introduction and started reading through when he heard muffled laughter. One of the little quirks of Oldcastle was that the walls were paper-thin.
Stiles rubbed at his shoulder and focused on his screen until he heard Malia's voice echo through his wall. His room shared one wall with the bathroom. The girls often congregated around the bathroom mirror to do their makeup before going out. Stiles reached for his earbuds he really didn't want to listen in on their conversation, but his hand faltered when he heard Malia say.
"Lydia, this is a bad idea." Malia protested.
"Oh, come on it'll be fun. Besides Cale's going to be there." Lydia baited. Stiles stiffened in his chair. Who…the hell…is Cale?
"Who's, Cale?" Kira asked. Yes! Thank you, Kira Yukimura. Who's Cale? And why are you girl-talking about him?
There was silence from the other side of the wall. Stiles rolled his earbuds between his fingers. If he kept listening to this conversation it wasn't going to end well. There was still time to stop listening before things got worse. Stiles started to bring his earbuds up to his ears. When Lydia blurted out.
"He's the hot paramedic, Malia, met at her track meet." Jealousy seared through him, but it was quickly overpowered by a gnawing ache deep in his chest. It hurt a hell of a lot more than he expected it would.
"I never said he was hot!" Malia insisted.
"You didn't have to. It was implied." Lydia countered. Whatever was said next was drowned out by the squeal of the faucet and the splash of water in the sink. Stiles stared blankly at his laptop screen. The faucet creaked as it shut off.
"…Malia, that dress is so hot." Lydia praised. "Those boys aren't going to know what hit them." Stiles thumped his fist against his desk then swiped his hand out knocking his textbook onto the floor. He stood and stalked away from his desk. He wasn't going to just sit here and listen to this. He grabbed his keys and yanked open his door, striding into the hallway. Stiles planned to keep his eyes down and make it the front door. Until he saw Malia standing in the hall and stopped short.
Stiles let his eyes trail over her slowly. She was wearing a faded blue flower dress and a short dark denim jacket. The other dresses had been gorgeous on her, but this airy flower dress suited Malia in a way the other's hadn't. All his anger and jealousy faded away as he stared at the girl in the flower dress. She was so beautiful.
But when his eyes fell to her feet he couldn't stop staring at her shoes. They were the same girlish low-cut converse sneakers she had worn on their first date. Stiles had taken Malia to the Beacon County Fair. He and Scott had been going to the fair since they were kids. But for the first time in his life Stiles took a date to the fair.
Malia had loved all the rides and games on the midway, except for the roller coasters. Malia hated roller coasters. They shared cotton candy and caramel corn. They had played all the midway games, constantly trying to outdo each other.
Then at midnight they rode the Ferris wheel. The night was lit by dazzling fair lights, that flickered across her skin and her wispy summer dress. When the Ferris wheel lurched to a stop with them at the top, Malia gripped the metal bar and slipped her foot between his. He had stared down at that little red shoe tucked between his and felt this inexplicable pride. The fierce beautiful girl beside him could easily bend the metal bar in her hands in half. And while she might still be too proud to grab his hand. When she was scared she leaned into him and slipped her foot between his. Stiles was just the weak human, but she trusted him and he made her feel safe, even back then.
He had only just been falling in with love her back then. Now he was already in deep. Malia caught him staring at her shoes and watched him with those dark caramel eyes. They used to be able to catch each other's eyes and say more with a look than they could with words. Tonight they were standing in the same hallway and it felt like there was a thousand miles between them. There had been so many times when he had been so sure he knew what she was thinking. Now he wasn't so sure he ever had. Malia's eyes shot to his hand, noticing his keys.
"You're going out?" she asked. "I thought you and Scott were watching the house tonight."
Stiles nodded. "Yeah, I... just need to clear my head first." Her features pinched with curiosity. Stiles shifted past her and jangled his keys as he made his way down the hall. He heard Lydia and Kira step out of the bathroom and start to follow after him. They were chatting among themselves and he tried to tune them out, as he jogged down the stairs.
"Are you sure about this?" Kira asked.
"Don't look so worried. I've got everything we need in the car." Lydia assured. Stiles quirked an eyebrow at this.
"Where did you girls say you were headed?" he asked conversationally, as he came to the front door and pulled on his jacket.
"We didn't" Lydia corrected with a mysterious smile. Stiles shook his head pulling open the front door for the them. They thanked him and breezed past him. Kira was the last one through the door and Stiles touched Kira's shoulder stalling her. After Lydia and Malia were out of earshot Stiles whispered.
"Kira, what's going on?" Kira was nervous her eyes looking anywhere but at him. Kira was a really good person, which incidentally also made her a terrible liar.
"All sorts of things?" she quipped uncertainly.
"Kira!" Stiles whisper shouted.
"It's rush week. The whole row is having a party. Were just gonna go crash a few." she said sounding less than confident.
"You're crashing a frat party?" Stiles repeated. Kira was fidgeting nervously. Then all the little clues rattling around into his head fell into place. "You're sneaking into a Delta Phi party aren't you?"
"Not exactly." Kira admitted. Stiles raised his eyebrow questioningly. "Well, Malia was sort of invited by this guy, Cale. Oh, you probably didn't want to know th—"
A horn honked obnoxiously from the driveway, "KIRA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Lydia hollered.
"Gotta go." Kira said slipping past Stiles and bounding toward Lydia's car. Stiles scowled after her. He watched the car reverse out of the driveway and disappear down the street. The Delta Phi's were known for throwing legendary parties. But those Jackholes had also been terrorizing Oldcastle pretty much since they had moved in. He didn't think the girls would overlook that just for a party. The Delta Phi's also knew the girls lived with them. If they walked into that party tonight the Delta Phi's were definitely going to try something.
Stiles clenched his jaw. Then there was this Cale guy who had invited Malia to the party. What was Malia doing with some Delta Phi guy? Leave it alone, Stilinski. The girls could handle themselves they had proved it more than enough times. He should get in his Jeep and clear his head. Or better yet go upstairs and finish his paper. But he just couldn't let it go. Not when his friends might be walking into trouble.
Stiles threw off his jacket and charged upstairs. Skidding into his room Stiles grabbed his two-way radio off his desk and threw open his closet door.
"Scott, you there?" he asked.
The radio crackled to life "…yeah…what's up?"
"I have a really bad idea. And I could use some backup."
Scott chuckled over the radio, "…isn't that…the foundation…of our…friendship?"
"Scott, the girls are in trouble. They're about to walk into a Delta Phi party." Stiles explained while digging through his closet searching for something he had stashed there.
Stiles heard nothing but static for a few seconds.
"... give me ten minutes…to reset the traps…"
Chapter 3: Say Something
“Uh-oh. What’d you do?” She asked, in her typical blunt fashion.
Stiles lifted his head, “Why do you assume it was my fault?”
Kaley cocked an eyebrow, “Wasn’t it?”
“No.” he argued. “Not entirely.” he amended slightly. “I don’t even know.” he finally admitted raking a hand through his hair.
Practically every house on Greek row was lit up tonight. The fraternity and sorority parties were spilling over into each other, until it was unclear where one party began and the other ended. Which was why Stiles was standing in the backyard of the Alpha Nu Sorority house. He had been waiting there for ten minutes for Scott who was using his wolf powers to sneak into the Delta Phi party.
They had hoped that having the row swarming with new faces that the Delta Phi guys wouldn't notice them at all. Unfortunately for them the Delta Phi's president Matt Hollister was unusually sober tonight, and he was all but guarding the front door. Hollister had practically masterminded every prank on Oldcastle, and his hatred for Stiles and Scott ran deep, ever since they had stolen his beloved Greek letters. There was no hopping the fence into the backyard either, as Hodge a massive Delta Phi and Hollister's right hand was keeping a careful eye on the party in the backyard.
Stiles wandered along the fence bordering the Delta Phi chapter house, and tried to appear casual. The Alpha Nu sorority house was packed full and the music was pulsing, but the backyard had only a handful of people milling around. A couple was making out on the steps, and a guy was puking in the bushes. Stiles bounced on the balls of his feet as he shot a glance toward the Delta Phi house. Spotting Hodge, through the fence he turned away and clapped his hands together and started to pace again.
His phone vibrated and Stiles flailed, clawing it out of his pocket and flicking open Scott's message.
I'm in. I'll find the girls. Then get you in. Hang tight.
Stiles shoved his hands in his pockets. He wasn't good at waiting. But at least he felt less anxious knowing that Scott was in there with them. The full moon was tomorrow night and he and Malia had never been broken up during a full moon before. Malia had much better control now than she did in high school. But Stiles also knew that her coyote lived a lot closer to the surface, than Scott's wolf did. If one of these Delta Phi's pushed the wrong button she just might snap. And that would be a disaster for Malia. Stiles needed to protect her from that.
At the centre of the Alpha Nu's backyard was a large four-tier marble fountain. It was lit by underwater fountain lights. Stiles noticed that it was pretty but hadn't paid it much mind, until he hear a splash as someone threw a beer can into the fountain pool. A second later then was a small thunk as the can sailed through the air and wacked the perpetrator in the shoulder. The partygoer grunted spinning toward the redheaded girl who sat on the edge of the fountain.
"Keep your cans out of my fountain," said a familiar voice. The partygoer grumbled and gave her a lewd gesture then stalked away. Stiles turned toward the fountain and grinned at the girl who sat there.
"Hey, Kaley. I didn't see you there." He said as he stepped up to the fountain. Kaley Decker gave him a small smile in acknowledgment.
"That's kind of the idea, Stilinski. I chose this spot for its anonymity."
Kaley was an Alpha Nu and a junior at UFS that he had met in his introductory psychology class last fall. They had gotten along well because Kaley was quick witted and she had been a little bit mouthy to their arrogant professor.
Stiles tossed his head toward the litterer, "Well, I think you blew It." he said with a smirk. Stiles joined her sitting on the edge of the fountain pool. Kaley shrugged unaffected, and slipped her feet back into the water, wriggling her toes in the shallow fountain pool.
"How was your summer?" she asked. Stiles sighed and tried to think of a response. Honestly with everything that had been going on the summer had been a bit of a blur.
"Busy." He decided "Yours?" Kaley hummed in agreement as she lifted her foot and let the water slosh between her toes.
"Good. It went by fast though." Kaley lifted her head and peered around the yard. "Is Malia inside?" A rock settled in his stomach. Stiles bit his lip and stared down at the grass.
"Uh-oh. What'd you do?" She asked, in her typical blunt fashion.
Stiles lifted his head, "Why do you assume it was my fault?"
Kaley cocked an eyebrow, "Wasn't it?"
"No." he argued. "Not entirely." he amended slightly. "I don't even know." he finally admitted raking a hand through his hair. Kaley offered him a sympathetic look.
"I really liked you two together."
"Yeah," he breathed out. "So did I."
"So what happened?"
Then the words just sort of tumbled out of him, "I asked her if she loved me."
The Delta Phi chapter house was a lavish neoclassical Greek revival house. Every inch of it was composed of the finest red brick masonry. Its windows were balanced and trimmed by black shutters, and there was ornate detailing above the central doorway. It had an imposing two-story portico roof supported by lofty white pillars that framed the front entry. Malia grinned up at the shiny Greek letters affixed to the portico roof. She after all was one of the few people in the world who knew the location of the originals.
Malia steeled herself as they made their way beneath the portico and into enemy territory. She couldn't believe she had let Lydia talk her into this. She resolved to never let the strawberry blonde near her phone again. Lydia had seen Cale's name on her caller ID and pounced on the phone before Malia had even decided if she wanted to answer it.
She had met Cale Corban at a few of her track meets in the past, when he was stationed as the onsite paramedic. They had met when he had to administer her mandatory blood test. Malia disliked needles, but Cale had distracted her with his charming smile and casual manner. He was easy to talk to and he looked really good in uniform. He was a pre-med student at San Francisco State University, and put himself through college working nights as a paramedic.
They had exchanged numbers on friendly terms but Malia hadn't expected him to call. She definitely hadn't anticipated Lydia making such a big deal of it. Malia played with the cuff of her dark denim jacket. As much as she loved loud music and dancing with her friends, tonight she kind of just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep. But even if she had just gone to bed, she probably would have just ended up staring at the ceiling again. Oldcastle was a rickety old house and at night it would squeak and groan.
During freshman year Malia had pulled up floorboards, patched walls and tinkered with the plumbing in order to fix some of the strange noises that disturbed her sleep. The whole pack had pitched in and worked hard to make Oldcastle livable. But more often than not it was just her and Stiles fixing things. She missed fixing things with him. There was an uncomfortable tightness in her chest when she thought about him.
Since they had broken up, no matter how tired she was when she went to bed her mind was always too busy for her to fall asleep. The only thing that helped was to listen for him through the wall. As much as she fought it, the steady drum of his heart was the only thing that would help her drift off to sleep. It made her feel weak. And Malia Tate hated feeling weak. So during the day she tried her best to ignore him. She ignored the pull of his voice, and the lure of his scent, and she never allowed her eyes to linger. But at night when she was desperate for sleep, she would allow herself a little weakness.
His eyes had lingered, more than once tonight. She couldn't help feeling a little twist of satisfaction at that. It felt good to know she wasn't the only one who felt a little weak.
As Malia and her friends waded their way through the crush of people she spotted Cale, leaning against the wall. He smiled and gave a small wave as he made his way towards them. Cale was tall with short curly dark hair and bright blue eyes. Lydia let her eyes rove over the young paramedic appreciatively and nudged Malia's arm.
"Still mad at me?" Lydia asked in a teasing voice.
"Shut up." Malia replied good-naturedly. Lydia laughed. When Cale reached them he smiled at Malia and waved to Lydia and Kira. His mouth was moving but the pulse of the music stole his words before Malia could grasp them. She shook her head and pointed to her ears. Cale stepped into her space and spoke into her ear. When he pulled back Malia nodded at him. She gestured to Lydia and Kira to follow them. Cale pressed his hand to the small of her back and started to guide her through the crowded party, with Kira and Lydia trailing behind them. Malia could feel the heat of his hand sink through her jacket, and it was incredibly distracting. She let herself smile. Then she felt a twinge of guilt.
Less than an hour ago she had been standing across from Stiles in the hallway. He had been wearing a black faded batman t-shirt and dark blue jeans. His hair had been unruly, probably from him running his hands through it too many times. He had plastered on a fake smile, and told her 'go have fun' but there had been pain in his eyes when he said it. She didn't want to think about what she would see in his eyes if he could see her now. Malia reprimanded herself internally. Stiles broke up with you. You have no reason to feel guilty. Except she did. And she knew exactly why she did. Malia set her chin and ignored the feeling. Her friends had dragged her out to have fun tonight. The least she could do was try.
Stiles sat on the edge of the fountain with his head in his hands. Kaley reappeared in front of him and nudged him. She thrusted a red plastic cup toward him the second he lifted his head to look up at her.
Stiles sat up and accepted the drink with a quiet, "Thanks."
Kaley rejoined him on the edge of the fountain and was uncharacteristically quiet for the next few minutes as he sipped his drink.
Unable to keep a lid on her curiosity Kaley finally asked, "How long were you two together?"
Stiles scratched at his eyebrow, "Three years."
Kaley lifted an eyebrow "And in all that time she never said it?"
"Nope." he whispered gruffly, as he ran his thumb along the rim of his cup.
"Did you say it?"
Stiles blew out a breath, "No." he admitted, before taking a long sip from his drink.
"But you're hurt that she didn't?" Kaley asked, trying to clarify.
"There were so many times I almost said it and I had to stop myself, so I didn't scare her off. But it's been three years. If she was going to say it, she would have by now."
Kaley tilted her head. "Did you ever feel like you knew she loved you without her having to say it?"
Stiles leaned his arms on his knees and nodded, "Yeah, of course."
"So, how did you know?"
The first thing he thought of was Malia slipping that old mix-tape into his shirt pocket.
"The first time I knew was when she gave me a mix-tape," he replied.
Kaley snorted beside him. "A mix-tape. Really?"
Stiles shot her a look. "It was her mom's. It's one of the few things she has left of her. And she gave it to me."
Kaley sat up straighter, "Did she ask for it back?"
Stiles was staring down at his phone as if by staring at it he could somehow will Scott to tell him what was going on inside the house. Kaley wacked him on the arm to regain his attention.
"Ow! What?" he grumbled.
"Do you still have the mix-tape?" she demanded.
"Yeah. It's in my Jeep. Why?" he asked tilting his head.
"She never asked for it back?" she asked as she splayed her hands wide.
Stiles lifted his eyebrow, "No."
Kaley covered her face with her hand, "You're an idiot."
"Gee, thanks Kaley. That's really helpful."
"You're an idiot, Stilinski and I'm going to tell you why. If she gave you that mix-tape and it meant that much to her. Then you bet your ass she loved you. And if you've been broken up for over a month and living in the same house, and she never asked for it back. Then she still does." She ranted.
"I don't know, Kaley. We kind of had a bad breakup in high school. After that we promised each other if it happened again, we would try to be friends. I think she's just trying to keep her promise. She's trying to keep things civil."
"Malia doesn't seem very timid to me." Kaley wagered.
Stiles snorted, "Yeah, that's because she isn't."
"So if she wants something she goes after it. She doesn't hold back." Stiles nodded, thinking about how many times he had witnessed that to be true.
"Yeah, basically." he agreed.
"So if she didn't want you to have that mix-tape. There would be in no way in hell you'd still have it."
"I think you're reading a little too much into this." Stiles said as he shifted uncomfortably on the edge of the fountain.
The corner of her lip twitched, "Oh, OK." Kaley said holding up her hands. "Then why haven't you given it back to her?"
The question barreled into him like a freight train. And for a second he wasn't sitting on the edge of the fountain anymore, he was in the Jeep with Malia again. He could still hear the rush of the rainstorm in his ears, and feel the dampness on his skin. The look of her sitting across from him with her tangled rain-washed hair. The warmth in her eyes as she reached out and slipped the mix-tape into his shirt pocket. Her words ringing in his ears.
I want you to know you're not going to lose me, Stiles.
"I can't." he admitted. Even thinking about giving the mix-tape back was like a punch in the gut. "That would be like saying it didn't mean anything."
They were caught up in a crush of people. Dancers pressing in on them on all sides. The air was thick with heat as the crowd surged to the pulse of the music. Malia was in her element. She tossed her head, her hair flowing around her as she danced. Her arms in the air, her body rolling with the beat.
She was glad they talked her into this, the Delta Phi's might be a bunch of Jackholes, but they had a kickass sound system.
She cheered into the blare of the music, opening her eyes she smiled at her friends. Lydia was a trained dancer, so she took to the floor with flawless technique, every move she made looked as if it was exquisitely choreographed. Cale was very agile on his feet, his movements were sleek and controlled and he carried himself with a natural confidence.
Kira nodded her head and sang along to the song but was struggling to find her rhythm. Her movements were stiff and uncoordinated. She forced a smile as Malia caught her eye.
Malia smirked and caught Kira's hand. Pulling her closer she moved with her friend to the beat. After a few minutes Kira, caught on and started to let loose a little. Malia smiled as her friend started to get into the song. Kira just needed to remember to stop thinking and just trust herself. Malia released Kira's hand as the other girl started to have fun. As she turned away from Kira, she found Cale watching her, with interest. His curly hair clung to his forehead, just above his eyelashes, she found it hard to pull away from his eyes. But then the choice was taken away from her when a wall of dancers crushed against her, separating her from Cale and her friends.
Before she had even regained her balance, an arm caught her and drew her back into her circle of friends. Malia abruptly found herself toe to toe with Cale Corban. His arm was still around her, but as he smirked down at her, she couldn't bring herself to care. When she didn't pull away, Cale took her free hand and started to move with her, dancing to the beat. Malia swayed along to the music with him and for the first time in a long time, her smile came easy.
His phone buzzed. Found them. They're dancing. No trouble yet. Stiles nodded and pocketed his phone.
"So what are you going to do?" she asked.
"I'm a big fan of just avoiding the problem until it goes away." Stiles said with a self-deprecating smile, and a wave of his hand.
Kaley chuckled into her drink. "You sure have a funny way of avoiding the problem."
"What do you mean?" Stiles asked as he pitched his cup at the garbage can and frowned when he missed.
"Well you followed her here, didn't you?"
Stiles squinted in confusion, "How could you possibly know that?"
"You're dressed up." She said gesturing toward his crisp white button down shirt. "And you're at a party. Two things I've never seen before. Plus you haven't taken your eyes off that fence for more than five minutes. She's at the Delta Phi party isn't she?"
"It's not what you think." he rushed to explain. "I'm not following her. The Delta Phi's hate me, and I don't want them to do something to her because of me."
"This right here…" she said thrusting her chin toward the fence, "Is exactly why you two need to set some ground rules. So that you don't end up acting like a crazy person."
Stiles held up his hand but didn't argue with her, "Ground rules?" he asked.
"You're living in the same house as your ex-girlfriend. There has to be rules."
Stiles snorted, "That would require her to stay in the same room with me for longer than five minutes."
Kaley smirked and nudged him, "That could be rule number one."
Stiles wiped his hand across his mouth, "I have no idea how to do this." he admitted.
Kaley gave him a small sympathetic smile, "Nobody does. The only thing you can do is figure out how you feel and what you want and be as honest with her as you can."
He sighed and leaned forward with his hands clasped in front of him, "I love her." Stiles whispered gruffly. "And I don't mean that in some bull$#*! way like I'm just trying to get her back. She wasn't just my girlfriend. She's more than that she's… she's one of my best friends. And I don't want to lose her."
"So tell her that."
Stiles stood and turned away from her, raking a hand through his hair as he spoke, "You make it sound so easy." he said with a hard voice. He folded his arms and kept his back to her.
"Trust me it's not." She admitted, "I broke up with this guy I really cared about once." She said as she came up to stand beside him. "We were both too mad at each other try and stay friends. Now he's in a bad place and I still care but he won't let me help him. The only reason I'm telling you this is because if you don't say something to her now, then I know you're going to regret it."
Stiles shifted on his feet and looked down, "I know." he sighed.
"So. Let's get you into this party." She said nudging his shoulder with her own.
Stiles raised an eyebrow at her, "How? There's no way I'm getting past, Hollister."
Kaley grabbed his arm and started tugging him along with her. "I can handle Matt Hollister."
He looked down at his phone as it buzzed again. I lost Malia.
Stiles picked up speed almost outpacing Kaley, "OK. So what's the plan?" he asked urgently.
Kaley stopped along the fence and tilted her head toward one of the fraternity house's second-story windows.
"How are you with heights?"
Chapter 4: Lightning in a Bottle
"What do you think you're doing?" A tight voice asked from behind him.
Cale didn't look up from pouring drinks for his friends, "What does it look like I'm doing, Hodge?" he fired back.
"It looks like you're messing around instead of helping me." Hodge said as he gestured across the room to where the girls were sitting.
Cale smirked and let his eyes linger on Malia, "I'm multitasking." he replied.
"You're being reckless. You shouldn't have brought them here tonight." Hodge said as he stole one of the drinks from Cale's hand. "Not with everything that's going on."
"Why am I even here? You haven't even told me what's going on." Cale snapped, as he started filling another cup.
"You're here because Alice Corban said you're her best tracker." Hodge said as he sized him up. "So far I'm not impressed."
Cale twisted his lips, "There are four-hundred and ninety-six people here tonight. Seven of them are supernatural…eight if you count the naiad next door."
Hodge shook his head, "I'd be more impressed, if you hadn't brought three more normals into this. People who might get hurt if things go sideways."
"That's exactly why you need me, Luc." Cale scoffed. "You should get your nose checked. Those three aren't normals. And if things do go sideways they just might come in handy."
Hodge folded his arms, "Normals or not. You just put them in danger."
"This thing scares you." Cale realized. "What is it? What are we tracking?"
Hodge shook his head, "I don't know." he admitted. "Even the professor and the old-ones don't know what this thing is. But it's hunting in this territory. If it keeps to its pattern then it will be here tonight."
"If I don't know what it is how am I supposed to track it?"
"It'll smell old and very powerful. Different from anything you've ever smelt before."
Cale gave him a curt nod, "I'll let you know if I find something." he said as he brushed past him balancing the drinks.
"Cale," Hodge called after him. Cale looked back over his shoulder. "This thing whatever it is…it can get in your head. If you're tracking it and you get a feeling something like déjà vu then you drop the scent and you run."
"You want me to run from Déjà vu?" Cale asked with a smirk.
"I'm not kidding, Cale." Hodge growled before he melted back into the crowd.
Malia collapsed onto the couch next to Kira and Lydia. She was laughing and all her muscles were humming. She hadn't danced like this in a long time. Cale gave a little wave to her from across the room. He had offered to grab them all drinks. Malia gave him a little smile and waved back.
"You two look good together," Lydia said as she watched their little interaction. Malia rolled her eyes at her friend. She supposed they did. Cale looked strong and sleek when he moved. And when he had danced with her he had mirrored her with ease. He was easy to talk to and he had very nice eyes. But something felt a little off about him. He was just too sure of himself. Too cool and collected, he seemed like he was never off his game.
Then again, maybe she was just reading him wrong. Every time she had met him the stench of sterile chemicals had clung to his uniform and overpowered her senses. She never had been able to catch any chemo signals off him because of it. But tonight he wasn't in his uniform and yet the only scents she caught from him was just a touch of soap and aftershave. It was weird.
Maybe it was just tonight that was weird. This was the first time Malia had hung out with her friends and brought along a guy who was clearly interested in her. She couldn't help noticing the shift in dynamic.
Cale exuded a sort of natural confidence. Stiles wasn't that guy, but he could always make himself brave for other people. If it was just him then there would be no way in hell he'd end up on a dance floor. But if it meant making Kira feel like less of a dork then Stiles would dance like a total spaz to save her from embarrassment.
Stiles could make dancing so much fun. He would make faces and do wacky moves until Kira would forget about trying to do everything perfect. Lydia would even take dancing less seriously and throw her head back and laugh. The last time they had all gone out it had been a couple months before their breakup. They had gone to Malia's favourite club The River Styx. She had good memories of that night.
Scott and Stiles were jumping around haphazardly, knocking into each other and everyone else. Stiles bumped into her and she shoved him away good-naturedly. He raised an eyebrow and moved back into her space, his arms moving every which way as he danced. He grinned playfully as he brushed up against her. Malia rolled her eyes at him. Stiles caught her hands and started twirling her around with him. He suddenly spun her away from him then wheeled her back to himself, in a sloppy imitation of a foxtrot. The move was completely wrong for the techno-dance music that pulsed all around them.
Malia laughed pressing her hand against his chest, "You're pretty ridiculous."
"You're ridiculously pretty." He replied before brushing his lips against hers in a light teasing kiss.
Malia smiled against his lips and laced her arms around his neck pulling him closer. He hummed into her mouth when she bit his bottom lip, and slid his hand up to tangle in her hair.
After a minute she pushed him away and enjoyed the heat that lingered in his eyes.
"We're supposed to be dancing, remember?" she teased.
Stiles winked at her, "I thought we just were."
"Malia…Malia?" Cale's voice urged her out of her thoughts. He was holding a drink out to her and his eyebrows were drawn together. "You OK? You look a little flushed."
Malia released a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding and nodded at him. "Yeah, yeah it's just hot in here." She replied. Lydia and Kira both gave her odd looks which she pointedly ignored. She accepted the drink Cale offered her. The heat didn't explain the way her lips were still burning.
Malia brought the drink up to her lips, but then stopped herself, "I'm gonna go get some air." She said passing the drink back to Cale.
"Uh…OK." He muttered confused. Malia quickly strode away from him, merging with the crowd and making her way to the patio door.
For the first time that night Cale looked unsure of himself, he shot a confused look at Lydia.
"Is she OK?" he asked. Lydia and Kira exchanged a look.
Lydia gave Cale a sugary smile. "Here hold this for me." she said passing him her drink. "I'll go check on her. Kira why don't you tell Cale that joke you know?"
Kira's eyes widened and she shot a look at Lydia in alarm. But Lydia just smiled mischievously and left her stranded with Cale. He gave her a small reassuring smile. And Kira awkwardly attempted to say something but she just couldn't get the words out. She was saved from forcing small talk when a strange look passed over, Cale's face. His eyes flit around them searching through the sea of people before locking on someone. "I'll be right back." He said distractedly as he brushed past her. Kira exhaled in relief.
Malia sighed in relief as she stepped out into the cool night air. She sat down dangling her feet off the edge of the porch. She sat forward and gripped her elbows. She was assaulted by a flash of memories. It was the little things she missed most. Like how Stiles always kept a sweater for her in the Jeep. And how no matter much he grumbled about it he always let her steal curly fries from his plate. She was so easily charmed by those big brown eyes of his and how they changed with his mood. She even missed how adorable and frustrating it was that he was completely incapable of keeping still.
She missed his inexplicable bursts of confidence and timidity. How he would occasionally catch her off guard, with a kiss, or a stroke on her cheek, when she said or did something he found sweet. Though she rarely ever knew what she'd done to deserve it. She got a heady sort of satisfaction from the way she could drive him to nervously ramble, when she walked toward him with predatory eyes. And yet at other times it was him crowding her with his body, with his eyes full of heat and his teeth grazing her skin. Malia shivered.
He was her first boyfriend. The first and only guy she had ever kissed. It was completely normal to feel all twisted up inside like this. Maybe Lydia was right and she just needed to rip the Band-Aid off. She should take her advice and let Cale take her on a real date. Maybe she should trying kissing him to know for herself, what it was like to kiss someone else.
Malia lifted her head as Lydia's perfume tickled her nose, and she heard her heels echoing against the patio floor.
Malia grimaced, "I don't want to talk about, Stiles." she said cutting her off preemptively. Lydia smoothed her dress and sat down on the edge of the patio with her, and folded her hands in her lap.
"Good." Lydia quipped. "Me neither." Malia cocked an eyebrow at her, surprised. Lydia had been trying to get her to open up about the breakup since it had happened. Lydia lived to pry, to involve herself in the lives of her friends and help them even when they really didn't want help.
"Is this reverse psychology?" she asked confused.
Lydia laughed. "No. If you ever want to talk about it. You know I'll be there for you to talk to, right?" Malia nodded. "Good. Then I want to talk about how we can take our plan to the next level."
Malia remembered listening to Lydia hatching her plan earlier that night when she had been talking her into going out. It was the only reason she agreed to crash a Delta Phi party.
Malia sat up straighter, and gave her a small grin. "I'm up for that."
Lydia slung her purse off her shoulder and unzipped it, setting it across Malia's lap. Malia peered down into the bag and looked back up at her friend with a slow dangerous smile. "Let's prank these assholes."
Stiles slipped into a swarm of college kids on the lawn and covertly watched as Kaley strode toward the frat house. Matt Hollister was casually slouched against one of the pillars on the front steps. He had a girl sitting on either side of him and he was laughing with a group of guys who were sitting on the steps. Kaley dodged around half a dozen frat boys and ended up standing right in front of him.
Hollister straightened up as he spotted her, his lazy smile slipping. "Kaley." He said sounding confused. "What are you doing here?" Kaley let her eyes pass over the girls on either side of him for a fraction of a second before they landed back on him.
Kaley tilted her head at a soft angle and asked, "Can we talk?" Hollister's eyes considered her for a few seconds. "Matt, please." Something lit in his eyes the second she said his name.
Hollister cleared his throat, "Yeah, sure." he said gruffly, before passing his drink to one of the girls beside him and following Kaley down the steps. Stiles watched the pair of them as they started walking away from the party. Hollister had his hands jammed in his pockets awkwardly. Kaley was fiddling with her necklace and kept brushing the same stubborn lock of hair behind her ear.
Stiles did a double-take. Kaley and Hollister?
Stiles couldn't imagine Kaley being with a guy like Hollister. And in the year he had known Kaley he had never seen Hollister go anywhere near her. So whatever this was it wasn't recent. But as Hollister held open the picket fence gate for her, Stiles could tell that whatever this was between them, it wasn't over for Hollister.
Stiles felt grateful for Kaley, she had just gone off to have what would obviously be an uncomfortable conversation with Hollister, so that he could have a chance to talk to Malia. Not everybody would do that for a friend. He shot a final glance toward her as she strolled down the sidewalk. Later he'd have to tell her she deserved a hell of a lot better than Matt Hollister. But right now he had a wall to climb.
Stiles wedged his way through the crowd and slipped into the shadows along the side of the house. He pushed his sleeves up his arms and licked his lips. He had free climbed the walls of Oldcastle thousands of times. But this wall was covered in lattice and creeping vines. Stiles grabbed a handful of vines and brought his foot up testing his weight against the latticework. He grimaced as he heard the lattice creak under the pressure. He would have to do this fast. Stiles bit his lip and started climbing, he tensed slightly as the vines swayed under his weight, and started climbing faster. Stiles cursed quietly as he pricked his hand on a barbed vine. He shifted his weight and grabbed at a different vine.
He was half-way to the window when his cellphone went off in his back pocket, and he lost his footing. Stiles flattened against the wall with a grunt, dangling by his arms, his feet scrambling to find a foothold. His foot finally caught on a vine, and he pulled himself back up the wall. Stiles sucked in a breath, his hands were a bit shaky as he gripped the vines. His phone was still blaring obnoxiously and broadcasting his location, he risked reaching behind him with one hand trying to silence it, but it was too late.
"HEY!" yelled a deep voice. "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING UP THERE?"
Stiles jolted at the voice but didn't stop moving. He pulled himself up to the window's ledge and then started to shove. The window was old and stiff with age and Stiles had to force his shoulder against it for it to open enough for him clamber through it. He tumbled through the window landing in a heap on the hallway floor, with a groan.
Stiles reached blindly for his phone and cracked open one eye to check the caller I.D. The name Joe Garrity glared at him from his screen. Stiles forced himself onto his shoulder with a groan, and hit the answer key.
"Boss," he rasped. "Now isn't a really good time." He said as he lay on the floor.
"Stilinski!" Garrity barked in reply. "Where the hell did you put the Jackal case files?" Stiles heard Garrity crashing around his office pulling open drawers even as he asked.
Stiles opened both eyes, "They're in your storage locker. With all your other old cold cases."
"Right." Garrity grumbled to himself. "Forget coming into the District Attorney's office tomorrow. I need you to pick up those files and meet me at the FBI field office on Wiltshire at 6 A.M."
Stiles crawled to his feet. "The FBI field office?" he asked incredulously. Joe Garrity was a District Attorney's Office investigator, and a former SFPD Homicide detective. Stiles had been working as his assistant for the last five months. Garrity was always giving him weird assignments but this was a first.
"You heard me, Stilinski. The files need to be there by—"
"6 A.M. I know." Stiles said cutting him off. He suddenly heard the pounding of feet rush up the stairs, behind him. Stiles started moving. "…Gotta go, Boss." he whispered before pocketing his phone and taking off down the hall.
Stiles ducked inside a hall closet just before three Delta Phi's came rushing down the hall.
"Check the rooms. There's no way he got too far." One of them growled. Stiles recognized the voice as the same guy who had spotted him on the wall, it belonged to a burly, pug-faced Delta Phi named Rhodes who was one of Hollister's favourite lackeys. Stiles held his breath as he heard them branch out down the hall. He braced himself psyching himself up the same way he did on the lacrosse field when he knew he was about to get hit. The music from downstairs was vibrating through the floorboard beneath his feet. Stiles strained his ears for the sound of approaching footsteps.
The door knob raddled. Stiles tensed on his toes of his shoes, all of his muscles were coiled tight and ready to spring forward. When the door started to swing open, Stiles slammed into it with all his weight and knocked the frat boy behind it off his feet. He dodged around the guy sprawled on the floor and took off running. He dashed down two flights of stairs as fast as he could before he saw a couple Delta Phi's coming up the stairs. They weren't looking at him yet but if they saw him they'd recognize him. He spun around on his heel and ducked into the crowd of people on the second floor. He was reaching for his phone to text Scott as he moved down the hall. As he rounded the corner he suddenly skidded to a stop and his breath caught in his throat.
Down the hall next to one of the bedroom doors he saw a girl in a familiar blue flower dress. Her face was turned away from him. Somewhere along the way she had shed her jacket and discarded her shoes but Stiles knew it was her. Her hair was mussed from dancing and there was a slight flush to her skin. She was pressed up against some tall guy in a Greek letter t-shirt, and then she rose up on her toes and she was kissing him.
Stiles winced and looked away. His jaw clenching and his fist tightening at his side. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't move. Not when Malia was less than fifteen feet away from him kissing some waste of space. Emotions rolled through him so fast and intense that he felt nauseous. He chanced another look and found the guy leading her into one of the rooms.
He suddenly felt a crushing weight bearing down on him. He slumped back against the wall and thumped his head against it, in frustration. He wasn't sure how much time he lost just standing there but when he eventually peeled himself off the wall, he felt numb. He drifted listlessly down the stairs, suddenly uncaring if the Delta Phi's found him, nothing they did to him could make him feel worse than he did right now.
When he reached the bottom of the stairs an arm reached out and snagged him. Stiles found himself being tugged out of the path of a couple of frat boys and into a dark alcove.
When Malia pulled back from the kiss the first thing that registered to her was that her lips felt wet. She didn't feel the tingly feeling she normally felt when she kissed Stiles, but the kiss hadn't been bad either. She brushed the back of her hand over her mouth and grinned as he led her into the room. As he shut the door he gave her an appreciative glance, and he really was quite cute. It almost made her regret what she was about to do next. Almost. The guy moved back into her space and put his hands on her waist. Bad idea, frat boy.
Malia grinned menacingly up at him. "Say goodnight." she whispered. His eyebrows drew upward sharply just before Malia pressed her hand against his neck. She held the pressure point exactly the way Kira had taught her until the cute frat boy lost consciousness. Then she let his dead weight drop back onto the bed. She should feel bad about impulsively kissing him and knocking him out. But to be fair, if he hadn't started chatting her up while she was busy trying to break into this room, she wouldn't of had to get creative to get rid of him.
Turning away from him she slung Lydia's purse off her shoulder and reached inside finding the dye packets. Moving into the adjoining washroom, her nose wrinkled at the stench of unwashed tiles and dirty clothes littering the floor. Ugh. Boys are gross. Climbing onto the side of the tub she reached up and unscrewed the shower-head. After shoving a few of the dye packets inside she reset the shower-head, smirking to herself. Malia looked back into her bag of tricks and tried to decide what she was going to sabotage next.
She hoped Lydia was having as much fun as she was, the strawberry blonde was currently downstairs in the kitchen super-gluing childproof locks onto all the all the drawers, cabinets and appliances.
Chapter 5: When the Levee Breaks
When Stiles reached the bottom of the stairs an arm reached out and snagged him. He found himself being tugged out of the path of a couple frat boys and into a dark alcove.
Scott pushed Stiles into the shadows and signaled for him to keep quiet. When the Delta Phis passed by without noticing them Scott turned his attention back on his friend.
"How did you..." Scott started to ask before getting a good look at Stiles. "Hey, man. You don't look so good."
Stiles shifts off the wall. "I need to get out of here." he says restlessly. Scott grabs him by the shoulder, and holds him back.
"Whoa. Stiles slow down. This place is crawling with Delta Phis." He warns.
Stiles shakes him off. "I don't care." he says as he brushes past him. Stiles goes for patio door but stops short when he finds Hodge leaning his shoulder against it.
Stiles clenches his jaw and his eyes dart around looking for other options. People are all around him brushing against him and knocking into him as he tries to move. The whole house is rattling with the speakers and he keeps tripping on people's feet and discarded plastic cups. The air all around him is thick with heat. Stiles grits his teeth. There's no way out. He turns to the nearest wall and kicks it. Then he braces his arms against the wall hangs his head.
Scott plows his way through the crowd and comes to stand beside him. Scott's eyes soften on his friend. Even with people pressing in on them on all sides he can smell his frustration and sadness. "What's going on?" he asks carefully. "Why do you need to leave so bad?"
Stiles thuds his forehead against the wall. "Because I'm an idiot." He grumbles into his arm. With a sigh he lifts his head. "What are the chances of you getting us out of here?" he pleads.
Scott gives him a sympathetic look. "Not great." He says with a jut of his chin to the front door. Stiles casts a glance in the same direction and finds that Hollister has reclaimed his post. "It looks like we're stuck for a while."
Stiles flattens his back to the wall and sinks against it dejectedly. "Of course we are." He sighs as he drops his head and rubs at his eyes. He briefly contemplates throwing himself back out the second-story window. Scott stiffens beside him and Stiles looks up involuntarily following his line of sight.
Across the room Malia is standing at the foot of the stairs, smiling softly at a guy who's holding out his hand to her. It's not the guy she was kissing upstairs. He's taller with dark hair and blue eyes. Malia tucks a lock of hair behind her ear and takes the guy's hand. He leads her through the crowd to where people are dancing.
Stiles leans off the wall. "I need a drink."
"Stiles—watch—out!" Scott tries to warn him. But his friend has already swerved unwittingly into the path of the Delta Phi's vice-president and a handful of pledges. So Scott does what any good friend would do. He body-checks Stiles through the kitchen's swinging door.
They fly through the doorway and tumble onto the kitchen floor. Stiles lands face-first on the floor tiles. With a groan he shoves Scott off of him.
"What the hell, Scott!" Stiles grumbles into the floor tiles.
"Sorry." Scott grunts as he rolls away from him. Stiles rises up on his elbows, and starts to peel himself off the floor when he stills and realizes they aren't alone in the kitchen. He squints across the room finding a girl standing barefoot on a chair, fussing with a cupboard.
Lydia turns her head and assesses them. "Well." She says appearing only mildly surprised to see them. "I'm glad to see you boys are keeping such a low profile." she jokes, as she resets the cupboard door. Scott and Stiles pulls themselves upright as she springs down from her chair and brushes off her hands.
"Lydia?" Stiles croaks. "What are you—what are you doing?"
Lydia shrugs nonchalantly. "You guys have your way of handling the Delta Phis." She says just before she flashes a tube of super-glue at them, with a smirk. "This is mine."
Stiles cocks his head to the side. "You crashed a Delta Phi party just so you could prank them in their own house under their nose." A slow smile crept across his face. "You're an evil genius."
Lydia tipped her head at the compliment. "So, now that we've established what I'm doing here." She says as her eyes pass over them. "What do you two think you're doing here?"
Stiles and Scott shoot a look at each other. "We were just…" Scott stammers.
Stiles twisted his lips. "I was just leaving." he says as he makes for the door. But Scott catches his sleeve.
"Stiles, give me five minutes to find a way out first." Scott urges him, before looking to Lydia. "Keep him here." He tells her. "Maybe he'll listen to you."
Stiles grits his teeth but gives a jerk of his head in agreement, and Scott claps him on the shoulder. "I'll see you in five minutes." Scott promises him before slipping through the kitchen door. Stiles clears his throat and strides over to a garishly colored green fridge that sits humming in the corner. He yanks on the handle only to find it sealed shut.
He casts a glance at Lydia. "Seriously?"
Lydia looks up from delicately filing glue off her nails. "I was thorough." she replies as she hops up to sit on the counter-top. "I have gum in my purse." She offers.
Stiles closes his eyes and rubs at the back of his neck. "Got anything stronger in there?" he jokes.
Her head is bent over her nails but her lip twitches as she replies, "Acetone."
Stiles huffs through his nose. "I'll pass." He says with a wry smile.
"So." Lydia says drawing out the vowel. "We're stuck here for five whole minutes together." She says drumming her fingers on her knees as she sizes him up. Stiles shifts uncomfortably on his feet. "Got anything you want to talk about?" she asks lifting an eyebrow.
Stiles rolls his eyes and crosses his arms. "No."
"Oh, come on. Enough already!" Lydia protests. "You two breakup out of the blue. You tip-toe around each other for months. Now you follow her here tonight and you're seriously leaving without talking to her."
Stiles scrubs a hand down his face. "Leave it alone, Lydia."
"I have left it alone!" she argues. "But you're both so stubborn and I can't just keep watching you do this to each other."
Stiles drops his hand and looks at her dead on. "You left my door open on purpose." He says as his eyes harden. "You wanted me to come here tonight."
Lydia lifts her shoulder. "I just wanted you to do something. Anything. Fight. Get back together. Choose to be friends. It doesn't matter just fix whatever is going on with you guys." She says sincerely.
His heart is pounding in his chest and his fist clenches his at his side. He doesn't hear Lydia slide off the counter, and her feet hitting the floor. All he can hear is the words he and Malia said to each other during their last fight. And all he can see is her pressed up against some other guy.
Stiles flinches when Lydia touches his arm, and he steps back from her. "I asked her if she loves me. And she doesn't." he snaps.
Lydia's eyes soften "Stiles…"
But Stiles holds up a hand to forestall her. "So leave it alone." He says as he starts backing toward the door. "Because you're just making it worse." Then he turns away from her.
But Stiles shakes his head without looking at her. "You're five minutes are up." His says as he pushes his way through the kitchen door.
Stiles keep his head down as he pushes his way through the crush of people. He's not sure where he's going he's just moving with the crowd. Until someone catches him by the elbow.
"I wouldn't go that way if I were you." The person holding him by his elbow warns. Stiles turns to give them a piece of his mind when he realizes it Kaley holding onto him. So he swallows his rude comment and lets her lead him in the opposite direction. She starts leading him toward the patio but then Hodge appears up ahead of them and she pushes him in the opposite direction. They end up in one of the chapter house's many rec rooms. It's a large room with high arched windows. And it's furnished with a large flat screen, an assortment of couches, a pool table and a large trophy case. And despite the fact that the party is in full swing just outside the door, the lights are off and it's empty.
Stiles rolls his eyes as she drags him inside. "Ugh…why aren't all these guys drunk and useless by now?" he complains. Kaley snickers at him.
Stiles makes a face at her and steals the half empty cup from her hand.
"Hey!" she protests. Stiles downs the drink unapologetically.
Kaley frowns at him. "That bad, huh?"
Stiles shakes his head "Don't ask."
He moves toward the windows and curses when he notices that they are painted shut. Stiles turns back to her and rubs his hands together.
"I hate to ask this but do you think you could distract, Hollister again for me?" he pleads.
Kaley grimaces and runs a hand up her arm. "I think I played my last card with him, tonight." She admits.
Stiles drops his head. "Sorry. Are you, OK?" He feels like a jerk for even putting her in that position.
Kaley shakes her head. "Don't worry about it."
"You're going to have to explain that to me some day." Stiles says with a small smile as he leans back against the window and props his foot against the wall.
"Me and Hollister?" she asks. "It's a short story. And it happened a long time ago."
Stiles smirks as he guesses. "Was there some sort of alcohol involved?"
Kaley shakes her head. "I was stone cold sober."
Stiles raises an eyebrow. "Were you just using him for his body?" he teases.
Kaley snorts. "I'm not that shallow."
Stiles shakes his head. "I just don't get it. That guy is a giant tool-bag." He says jutting his finger toward the party. "And you deserve better."
Kaley gives him a soft smile. "I do." She agrees. Then she turns toward the trophy case. "C'mere I want to show you something." Stiles walks over to stand beside her. The moon light glints against glass trophy case. It's packed tight with trophies, awards and photographs. Kaley points toward one of the pictures of the championship swim team. Her finger singles out a young man with a crew-cut and piercing green eyes. "That's Jack Hollister. Matt's older brother." She tells him. Stiles can easily see the resemblance between the brothers.
"He drowned two years ago." She says sadly. Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat. Jack was only a few years older than them. He felt an uncomfortable tightness in his chest as he thought of Allison. Heather. Erica. Boyd. Lives cut too short. "Jack was a prankster. Always the life of the party." Kaley says fondly. "But Matt when I met him was different he was…sweet. He had glasses and was kind of quiet. When Jack died Matt changed. He started drinking a lot and getting into fights. He never really let himself grieve…you know?" Kaley sighed and stepped back from the glass case. "Jack loved this fraternity. I think that's why Matt holds onto this place so tight. It's like he's trying to keep him alive or something."
"I'm sorry." Stiles offers. "I know you care about him."
Kaley gives him a rueful smile. "Against my better judgment." She admits.
The light switch flicked on and people start flooding into the rec room. "We should get out of here." She cautions. Stiles nods and they duck out the opposite door. They drift through the hallway with the crowd until Kaley suddenly shoves him away from her with some much force that Stiles flails and falls behind a nearby couch.
"Was that necessary?" He groans.
Kaley quickly perches on the edge of the couch and whispers between her teeth. "Stay down."
"What? What is it?" he asks rise up to his knees.
"I see Malia." She whispers to him. "She's dancing with some guy…He's gorgeous." She reports.
"Not. Helping." He grits through his teeth.
Kaley shakes her head. "Sorry. I'll let you know when the coast is clear."
"Worst. Party. Ever." Stiles grumbles to himself as he sinks down to sit propped against the wall behind the couch.
Fifteen minutes later… long after Malia had left the dance floor and once his legs have completely fallen asleep Kaley nudges him. "Stiles!" she whispers. "Hodge, is gone. I think we can sneak you out the side door." Stiles climbs to his feet too fast and curses as he feels pins and needles shooting through him, he stamps his feet to get the feeling back. When his feet feel less floppy they start moving.
They are eight feet from the patio door when a hand closes around his arm like a steel trap. He winces and looks up to find Malia glaring at him. Before he can even register what's happening he's already been pulled off the dance floor and into a deserted hallway.
Malia drops his arm. "What are you doing here, Stiles?" she asks in a tightly controlled voice.
Stiles straightens his shirt. "I was just leaving." he says avoiding her eyes as he tries to shift past her.
"That's not what I asked you." she says stepping in his way.
His eyes finally lock with hers, and she must be surprised by his anger because she steps back.
"Why are you here?" Stiles counters sharply.
"I'm here to dance." she replies annoyed.
Stiles shakes his head. "You could have crashed any party. Why did you have to go to the one place you knew I'd have to follow you?" he accuses.
Malia's eyes harden. "I never told you where I was going." She says jabbing her finger at him. "I hardly said two words to you tonight, Stilinski. So explain to me how I made you follow me here?" she demands.
Stiles rakes a hand through his hair. "Because I knew if you came here the Delta Phis would do something to you." he explains.
"So what if they did? You think I can't handle a couple frat boys?" she scoffs. Something must have passed over his face because realization suddenly dawns on her. "…you thought I'd lose control." she says tightly. "What is it going to take for you to trust me? I haven't lost it on a full moon in over two years. I don't need you to babysit Me, Stiles!" she says resentfully.
"You haven't needed me for anything in a long time." he snaps back bitterly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Malia demands.
Stiles shakes his head spinning away from her. "Forget about it."
She catches his arm stopping him from leaving. "Why can't you just say it, huh? I can already smell it all over you."
Stiles swings back towards her and pins her with a glare. "Smell what?"
Stiles pushes into her space. "You sure that's what you're smelling?" he challenges with a sneer. Anger is rolling off him in waves. He hopes that it's strong enough to overpower the scent of everything else he's feeling right now.
"Jealousy and anger." She amends. "And something else…" she muses. Then her eyes cloud with confusion "Disappointment?" she asks. Stiles flinches at her unfair advantage and looks past her. She frowns. "You're disappointed in me?"
His jaw twitches and he won't look at her. He tries to maneuver around her so she gently puts a hand to his chest to still him. "Why?" she urges.
Stiles steps back from her touch. "BECAUSE I SAW YOU KISSING HIM!" he finally explodes. Malia drops her eyes. Stiles turns his back to her, his breathing ragged as he paces down the hall scrubbing a hand over his face.
"Stiles." She begins softly after a moment. "That wasn't me trying to hurt you."
Stiles shakes his head. "It's easier to kiss a stranger than tell me how you feel, right?" he snaps bitterly.
Her eyes flash with fire. "You want to talk about how I feel?" she challenges.
"No." Stiles shakes his head. "Not anymore." He says as he moves past her.
"WE WE'RE FINE!" she shouts after him. Stiles stops and slowly turns to her. "…w-why did you have to push things, huh?" There's a flash of hurt in her eyes, and she looks so…betrayed. And it pisses him off because he's pretty sure he's never given her a reason to look at him that way. She's the one who left him, she's the one who's going around kissing other guys. No. She doesn't get to just stand there and look at him like that. Before he's even aware that he's moving, he's already in her space. Her eyes harden as he advances on her, but Malia doesn't retreat, she never has.
Stiles hasn't been this close to her in so long and no matter how frustrated he is with her, he can't stop his eyes from drifting down to her mouth. This is a bad idea, he should have just walked away.
Malia's breathing hitches and his eyes snap back to hers. There's a flicker of heat in them and it burns right through his last thread of control.
"We weren't fine!" he growls, right before he hauls her against him and kisses her. It isn't gentle. It's a clash of lips and teeth. They crash into the wall, Stiles swallowing her gasp, as he pushes her up against it. Stiles kisses her roughly, his mouth slanting hotly against hers. Malia moves against him kissing him with every bit as much intensity, her hands fisting in his hair, her nails biting into his scalp as she tries to take control of the kiss. But Stiles denies her. His hands clutch at the small of her back possessively. He breaks away from her mouth to scrape his teeth against her neck.
"S-Stiles…" she gasps brokenly. A hot spike of pride shoots through him at the way she says his name. Malia uncurls her fingers from his hair, and runs her hand down his cheek, her thumb stroking his jaw. It's an unconsciously tender gesture but he's angry with her, so he brushes her hand off his face and pins her arm to the wall. Malia lets out a small fitful growl. Stiles smirks, flashing his teeth against the side of her neck. He brushes his lips against her throat, before lifting his head to catch her in another searing kiss.
Malia gasps into his mouth. Her free hand trails down his chest clenching a fistful of his shirt as she tugs him closer. This time he doesn't resist her. His fingers glide up her arm and entwine with hers against the wall. The kiss turns slower…softer. Malia hums appreciatively, untwining her fingers from his shirt, she reaches up to tangle them in his hair. When she lightly tugs at the roots of it, his fingers reflexively tighten over hers on the wall.
Without warning Malia stiffens and draws back, pushing him away from her. Stiles stumbles back half a step, disoriented. She pins him to the spot with her dark caramel eyes. Her breath is coming out in short warm puffs that ghost over his skin, as they stare at each other. Then she grabs him by the collar of his shirt and spins them. Shoving him against the wall with so much force that his teeth rattle on impact. Then her mouth is back on his, hot and unyielding.Stiles slides his hands up her back, his fingers curling in the soft fabric of her dress. By the time they come up for air, he's short on brain cells and completely at her mercy.
Stiles sucks in an eager breath and knocks his head against the wall. When he realizes that Malia is no longer pressed up against him, he focuses his eyes on her. His shirt is still clenched between her fingers but her eyes are staring down and away from him. Stiles straightens up against the wall and tries to catch her eyes. But she won't look at him.
Stiles touches her hand where it's fisted in his shirt, tentatively. "Malia?" he asks.
"Don't." she snaps, recoiling from his touch. Her eyes are hard when they flash to him "You ended this." she accuses as she draws away. "So you don't get to come here. And you don't get to kiss me."
Before Stiles can move off the wall she's already walked out into the crowd.
Author's Note: This chapter is your reward for putting up with all this angst and build-up. I hope you liked my attempt at some slap-stick comedy and the hot tension-filled angry make-out scene. Thanks for putting up with the "drama" I promise I'm going somewhere awesome with this that Stalia shippers are going to love. But in order to do that I have to lay the ground-work right. Soon you'll see how it all comes together. Sincerely Hurricane.
Chapter 6: Déjà vu
The patio door flings wide open and crashes against the side of the house. Malia doesn't slow down. She just elbows her way past the swarms of college kids blocking her path, as she makes her way across the lawn. She barely notices when her shoulder catches against a guy twice her size, she just knocks into him and keeps moving. The house had been sweltering and her skin is flushed and prickled with sweat. There is little relief to be found from it outside, as the heat of the day still hangs heavily in the air.
She's too upset to even consider stopping to look for her friends. She will send them a text once she's far enough away from Stiles and that hallway to think clearly. He had caught her off guard tonight. And as a rule Malia didn't let that happen. She tries to ignore the way her lips are still burning. Stiles had always been a hot kisser. Even during that first kiss in Eichen House, when he had still been a bit clumsy and unsure of himself. Even then he had set her heart racing and had tingles running down her spine.
She had tried to convince herself that it could be like that with anyone. That it only felt special because she had nothing to compare him to. But now she knew different. The boy she had dragged into that room upstairs hadn't been clumsy, he had confidence and technique. But he had none of the heat, none of the intensity that crackled like a live-wire between her and Stiles. Stiles was a born detective, and he was curious by nature. He knew how to read her reactions and anticipate her moves, and he knew how to use that knowledge in a way that completely unraveled her.
Malia shivers at the memory and shakes her head to clear it. She has to keep moving or she knows she will spin around and march right back to him. She isn't sure whether she's fighting the impulse to go back and fight with him more or shove him against the wall and kiss him again. But she's so raw right now both would be dangerous. Her coyote cries out beneath her skin. Malia bristles against its desire to go back to him. He left us. She chides. We shouldn't still want him this much.
But attraction had never been one of their problems. It was their attraction and their quiet ability to read one another that had helped them stick together for so long. But this time she just couldn't give him what he wanted and the fact that he can't understand that hurt beyond words.
With everyone else she had to learn to force her words out to get her point across, but not with him. Stiles had always been the one that understood her, whether she used words or not. She had gotten so used to him being able to do that, that it was so painful and confusing for her when he suddenly couldn't.
He had never needed the words from her before…or at least he hadn't pushed things until now. But between school, their jobs, fending off supernatural threats and the stress of everything changing they had less and less time for one another. And the misunderstandings started to build up between them. Somewhere along the way his insecurities cropped up and he started to doubt where they stood with each other.
He started to need the words.
The one thing she couldn't give him.
Malia brakes through the crowd and rounds the side of the house. She pushes her way through a high gate and steps into a narrow path cut between the side of the house and a towering wooden fence. It was dimly lit by a single flickering spotlight. Malia's pace slows. There is a strange quality to this place. It feels more than just familiar...it's as though she's stood here in this exact same spot before and seen this place just as she is seeing it now. It makes her feel uneasy.
She picks up her pace. The further she goes the hollower the path feels. The party in the backyard behind her sounds oddly muted to her ears. And ahead of her there is nothing more than thirty feet and a high gate separating her from the party on the front lawn. But it to sounds distant. Something in the air shifts and the spotlight above her flickers and goes out. Malia's coyote balks within her. The hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Something isn't right. Malia steps back. She flashes her ethereal blue eyes and lets her senses fan out.
A dark powerful smell suddenly encompasses her. It's sickly-sweet and so overwhelming she can nearly taste it on her tongue. Her claws flick out instinctively and growls in her throat as she moves backward. The temperature inexplicably drops all around her, and she shudders as the cold bites at her skin. She can see the wisps of her own breath in the wintry air. Her eyes track over the gnarled vines that grow up the side of the house, every instinct is screaming at her that something is lurking there. Whatever this thing is she knows in her bones she stands no chance against it. Still, Malia risks turning her back to whatever is stalking her and flees dashing toward the back gate.
She only makes it five feet before something blurs into her vision and clamps down tightly on her wrist. A shadowy faceless figure towers above her, Malia snarls and fights against it. Its grip on her tightens and Malia mewls as a white-hot heat sears through her veins. She thrashes against it pushing through the pain until her senses become muddled and hazy. Then everything fades to black.
Her voice still echoes hollowly in his ears. "You ended this…" He was confused. Is that what she really thought? After a few seconds, his vision clears and he pushes himself off the wall. He starts down the hallway with a purpose. Stiles shoulders his way through the sea of people, his eyes searching for her.
He must have gone over their breakup a thousand times in his head, since it had happened.
He used to think he knew the reason why they had ended things. But after seeing that look in her eyes a few minutes ago, he's not so sure anymore. He must have missed something…or misunderstood her. Stiles shakes his head at himself. It's pretty hard to misinterpret asking your girlfriend if she loves you, and having her shove you away and stalk out into the rain.
But then again, Malia wasn't the average girlfriend. Often what she didn't say was just as important as what she did. As forthright as she could be at times, there was always so much more going on beneath the surface with her. Figuring her out was usually half the fun. Other times like when they were fighting it was downright frustrating.
They were both a mess when they had first started dating. Malia had just been ripped from her woods and thrown into a turbulent seventeen year-old's body, with eight years of repressed guilt and grieving. Stiles had just been possessed by a dark Nogitsune that had made him watch powerlessly as it used his body to kill and tormented innocent people…people he loved.
Stiles was tormented by dreams. He barely got any sleep and his dad pushed him to see a psychologist. But Stiles had refused, what would be the point? He couldn't explain to a normal person what his nightmares were about. Things had only started getting better for him after Malia started sneaking through his window at night.
There was something about her…something that thrummed between them whenever they were in the same room. It was something new for him and it was raw and powerful enough to distract him from his dark thoughts, when she was close to him. But it was the understanding in her eyes that helped him more than anything…that made him know that he wasn't alone.
She never asked about his dreams, but whenever he jolted awake in the darkness her arms would tighten around him. She never said anything. She just ran her hands through his hair, and words tumbled out of his mouth, without his consent. He told her everything. He gave away every secret. Every fear. And she held him through it.
A few weeks after Malia had started sleeping in his bed he realized that he wasn't the only that had nightmares. The first time she had cried out in her sleep, he had woken her and tried to ask about it. But Malia had just sat up on the edge of his bed and tied her shoes. She kissed him and told him to go back to sleep, before disappearing out his window. It had taken him more than a week to get her to sleep in his bed again.
The next time it happened he knew better than to ask questions. But still she sat up and started tying her shoelaces. Instead of talking Stiles just brushed his hand down her arm and covered her hand on the laces with his. She had leaned back against him, and after a moment she let him slip off her shoes and pull her back into bed. He had tucked her face into the crook of his neck and held her all night after that. His thumb drawing soothing circles on the back of her neck until she drifted off to sleep. She stopped running away after that. She let him chase away her nightmares, with touch…but she never talked about them.
Eventually, his nightmares went away. Hers never did. It made him worry that she wouldn't open up about them. Especially whenever she was stressed and their frequency and ferocity increased. They weren't always bad though, sometimes they were so mild that he slept right through them. And for a while they got to be so few and far between that Stiles had thought they might have finally stopped.
Then four months after they moved into Oldcastle, her nightmares got worse than he had ever seen them. She started to wake up with blood on her hands because she had driven her claws into her palms, in her sleep. They were both busy but Malia had been running herself ragged with school, work and the pack. She was skipping too many meals and barely getting any sleep.
He kept trying to get her to talk about her dreams when they happened. But she would just nuzzle into his neck, and tell him she was fine. If he was too persistent, she would start kissing him in desperate and distracting ways, and then pull him on top of her. And he's not proud of it, but that always made him cave.
He tried to do whatever he could to help her. He'd drop by her work and bring her lunch to make sure she was eating. He made time to help her with her assignments. Every time her boss got her to work late, he'd get his back up. Stiles barely got anytime alone with her, and what little time they have he spent trying to sweet-talk her into taking a nap. He worried and he fussed. He just wanted to take care of her…to make it better.
Then one night she fell asleep behind the wheel. Her car jumped a guardrail and plunged into the river. She had struck her head in the crash and she would have drown. But Scott had been following her home from a pack mission on his bike, and had dove into the river and saved her. He called Stiles at work, and he had rushed to the Animal Clinic. He didn't leave her side as she lay unconscious. He was sick to his stomach, because he had let her get this bad. She healed after a few hours. But Deaton cautioned that it was a very close call.
They didn't tell the others about the accident, but after that Stiles stopped playing good cop with her. He told her that if she wasn't going to get help, that he would tell her dad about the accident. That's what they had been fighting about the night they had broken up.
Ahead of him he catches sight of Kaley. She plows her way through the crowd to get to him.
"Hey, have you seen, Malia?" he shouts over the music. Kaley shakes her head.
"No. Not since she dragged you off. Why? What –" she pauses to eye him up and down "You kissed her didn't you?" she accuses.
Stiles narrows his eyes at her. "How could you possibly know that?"
Kaley smirks and flicks the front of his shirt. "Well there's this…" Stiles looks down to notice he's missing the top three buttons from his shirt. "And there's lipstick on the collar of your shirt."
"I need to find her, Kaley." He pleads.
Kaley gauges him for a moment. "I don't think you should." she cautions. "Things are probably already confusing enough for her right now, and you just went and made things physical."
"She kissed me back." He argues. He bristles under the implication that he would ever try and force Malia to do something she didn't want to do. "And aren't you the one who told me I should tell her how I feel?"
"Yeah. With words, Stilinski."
Stiles crosses his arms, and shrugs. "We've always been a bit more physical when it comes to getting our point across."
Kaley wrinkles her nose at him. "But you aren't together now. So the rules have changed. You can't just kiss her."
His shoulders droop. "I'm not trying to screw this up…" he vows. "I – just – I just gotta find her, Kaley."
Kaley squeezes his shoulder. "I know. C'mon, she can't have gotten that far."
They search the dance floor and come up empty, when they move into the backyard, Scott comes rushing up to them.
"Stiles–I've–been–looking–everywhere–for…" his best friend stalls, giving him a quick once over. "Hey, what happened? You look like you got into a fight."
Stiles clears his throat and tugs at his ear. "Yeah-uh, something like that."
She feels weightless as if the only think anchoring her to the ground is the dull throbbing pain in her wrist. Her vision clears and she isn't in the dark pathway anymore. She's walking through a familiar parking lot. She's at Tucker's Auto and Salvage where she works as a mechanic. It's a dull and rainy day. Raindrops are falling all around her but it's odd she doesn't feel them against her skin. A blue Jeep rolls into the parking lot and she watches as a figment of herself dashes out into the rain to meet it. That's when she realizes this isn't real and it isn't a dream…it's a memory.
Malia moves closer and she watches "herself" climb into the passenger seat.
Stiles is turned toward her, he's grinning as he watches her with his arm slung over the wheel. She blinks at him surprised to find him wearing a tie and dress shirt.
"Hi." She says slightly confused as she shuts her door. She hesitates for a second before leaning across the seat and kissing him softly. She uncharacteristically keeps her hands to herself.
His lips quirk upward as she pulls back.
"Really, that's it?" he teases. "We haven't seen each other in like two days."
Malia gestures to her grease and oil stained work shirt. "I'm a mess." She explains as she eyes him up and down appreciatively. "And you're…not."
Stiles reaches out and pulls her across the passenger seat and into his lap.
"You're the best thing I've seen all day." he tells her warmly, before he ducks down to give her a proper kiss. Malia grins against his lips and reaches up to catch his face in her hands, and pull him closer.
Malia looks away from the pair of them. It was a good memory…but something wasn't right. Just out of the corner of her eye, Malia could see a blight. Something vile was here, hiding just beneath the surface. Whatever had found her in that pathway was here now, she hadn't escaped from it. There's a surge of pain in her wrist. And nausea rolls through her. She feels weak…drained. She snaps her teeth in defiance, at her invisible captor. There's no way in hell she's going down without a fight.
Ghastly cold fingers grasp her chin, and turn her head back toward the Jeep. She tries to resist but finds herself lifted from the ground, her toes dragging on the concrete as some unseen force propels her forward. It holds her still and forces her to watch the scene playing out in front of her.
The two figments of her memory are still totally engrossed with each other in the driver's seat. Malia watches herself eventually pull back from the heated kiss. Stiles rocks forward, chasing her lips. But she smirks and dodges his mouth. She scoots back on his lap, and leans against the steering wheel, as she starts unbuttoning her work shirt. His hands unconsciously flex on her hips and his eyes dart around the parking lot.
He licks his lips. "Uh…Malia." He rumbles nervously. She grins and continues to work the buttons on her shirt.
Malia lifts her eyebrow in a challenge. "What?" she asks. Her eyes dance with laughter as she watches the wheels turning in his head. It was always so easy to get him going, sometimes she just couldn't resist, toying with him. He shifts in his seat beneath her, his heart racing with nervous-excitement. "Relax, Stiles…"she whispers as she runs her finger up and down his tie. His heartbeat jumps and she smiles playfully at him. "I'm just trying not to mess up your shirt." She says with a snicker as she rolls her work shirt off her shoulders, revealing the black tank-top she is wearing underneath.
Stiles frowns at her when he finally catches on to her game. He expels a breath and shakes his head, as she snickers at him. Her laughter is stifled with a gasp, as his hands slide up her hips and his thumb starts toying with the hem of her shirt. She looks to him, and he gives her a slow sexy smile. Careful…two can play at that game. His eyes warn. Malia grins. She loves it when he gets all confident.
They watch each other for a moment, as the intensity builds and begins to crackle between them. Then Stiles abruptly drops his eyes and clears his throat. "Quit it." he says gruffly. "You're distracting me and I've only got a few minutes before you have to get back."
Malia raises an eyebrow at him. "Distracting you from what?" she asks. Stiles smirks and holds up a finger gesturing for her to wait. He wraps an arm around her waist, so she won't slide off his lap as he reaches back to root around in the backseat.
"Where did I put that…" he grumbles to himself. Malia laughs as he struggles to reach for something while still refusing to relinquish his hold on her. After a few seconds he sits upright bringing a small red and white checkered table cloth with him. He shakes it out and drapes it over the center console.
Malia gives him an odd look. "Stiles, what're you…" she begins asking until she's pitched forward slightly in his lap as he leans down to grasp something from under the passenger seat.
"Just a second…" he promises.
He's grabs a cylindrical object about the size of a coffee cup. He turns it over and flicks a switch. Then when nothing happens he shakes it and knocks the bottom of it against the dash. Suddenly it starts to flicker and glow. Stiles sets the battery operated candle in the center of the checkered table cloth on the console.
It's a cold blustery night, and the little candle fills the dark interior of the Jeep with a soft glowing light. Malia situates herself sideways on his lap and watches the flickering candle in confusion.
His lips brush the shell of her ear as he whispers, "Happy anniversary."
Malia's eyes widen and she turns to look at him in surprise. "Yeah…I know anniversaries aren't really our thing." He says with a shrug. "But with how hectic things have been lately–we probably wouldn't have even seen each other today–And I don't know I just needed to see you–even if it was just for a few min—Malia cuts him off by catching his face in her hands and forces him to look at her.
"Stop talking, you dork." she says affectionately before, tugging him forward and giving him a slow, gentle kiss.
The look he gives her when she pulls back fills her chest with this indescribable warmth, and she ducks her eyes and blushes. Nobody else can make her blush…stupid Stiles Stilinski.
Stiles smirks and brushes her cheek. He seems to delight in how much it pisses her off when he manages to get her to blush. Then he pulls an envelope from his shirt pocket, and holds it out for her. Malia takes it from him and inspects it curiously. She looks to him for an explanation but he just lifts his shoulder and gestures for her to open it. She tears open the envelope and three slips of paper fall into her hand.
Malia squints down at them, and finds herself holding two tickets and a camping permit. "They're for a music festival up in Rockford, next weekend." Stiles explains. "And it's close enough to Big Basin State Park, so we can camp at your favorite spot."
Her smile falters. "Stiles, I can't. I have to work next weekend." She whispers with regret. But her boyfriend is undeterred.
"Actually, you don't." he says with a sly smirk. "I already worked that out with, Tuck." Malia turns in his lap and grips his tie, in her excitement.
"So… we're camping next weekend?" she asks excitedly.
Stiles nods. "Uh-huh. We can even sneak up to the waterfall and camp out on the beach, if you want."
Malia pulls back to look at him skeptically. "Stiles, you hate sleeping on the beach."
Stiles shrugs unaffected, "Yeah, but you don't." he reaches up and brushes his thumb over her cheek. "And you're nightmares are getting bad again." He whispers softly, and Malia tenses. She had hoped that he wouldn't notice this time. But he was Stiles and he always noticed. "You could use a good night's sleep."
"Look, if I'm keeping you up, then I can start sleeping in my own room." she offers, feeling a little defensive.
"That's not what I'm saying and you know it." Stiles fires back. "You're barely getting any sleep, and you're working double shifts, and you have a full course load. I'm worried about you." he says running a hand through his hair, in frustration. "And the only place I've ever seen you get a good night's sleep is when we're camping out at big basin."
Malia's heart softens and she leans forward to kiss him tenderly. "Thank you…I know you're just trying to help." she whispers. Malia wraps her arms around him and presses a kiss to his shoulder through his shirt. Then she tucks her face into the hollow between his neck and shoulder, and hugs him tight. Stiles holds her close with one arm and trails his other hand up and down her back, soothingly. Her heart swells and she's swallowed up by the warm weight of his affection and worry.
A familiar tendril of fear coils in her stomach. This isn't going to last. One day he's going to ask. One day he's going to need the words. And she isn't going to be able to give them to him. And that will be the day she loses this—loses him. Malia shudders and snuggles closer. Her eyes prickling with unshead tears. She's fought to tell him so many times. But she can't get the words past her throat…not for him…not for her dad…not for anyone. No matter how much she feels. She just can't. So she nuzzles his ear and gives him what little she can.
"You're my favorite person." she whispers into his shirt. Stiles tightens his arms around her and makes a low contended noise. After a while he lifts his head and realizes the time.
"You're gonna be late for work." he warns, without making any move to disentangle himself from her.
Malia hides her face in his shoulder, "I don't care."
Malia's struggles anew against the invisible bonds of her captor. She doesn't want to be forced to watch this any longer…she doesn't want to go through losing him again. But she's already weaker than she was before. And struggling only seems to make it harder to breath. Her pulse is already weak and thready, and her limbs hang heavy, like dead weight. She manages to force her eyes closed for a few seconds but that's when the sinister voice starts taunting her.
You can't say it can you? Not to him. Not to your father. And I know why... just let go Malia…stop fighting it. It will be so much easier if you just let go…
Chapter 7: The Cavalry
Malia's eyes are forced open and she's no longer standing in the blustery parking lot…she's in Stiles' room at Oldcastle.
"YOU CALLED MY DAD!" she hears herself shout.
Stiles drops a set of two-way radios into his duffle bag, and turns to look up at her. "…I did." He admits. He had been moving around his room packing up surveillance equipment for work tonight, when Malia had come bursting into his room.
"YOU SCARED HIM OUT OF HIS MIND, STILES!"
Stiles purses his lips, "He should be worried."
"YOU DON'T JUST GET TO DO THAT!" Her eyes flash a feral blue at him, but Stiles is undeterred.
He shrugs and puts his hands on his hips. "Do what?"
Malia breathes through her nose and tries to steady her heart-rate. "You don't just get to decide what my dad knows about my life." she tells him in a low dangerous tone.
Stiles crosses his arms. "I told him that you need help and you won't listen to me, but maybe you'll listen to him—"
Malia rubs at her temples. "You can't just tell him things like that."
His jaw tenses. "—what I didn't tell him was that you almost died, when you drove your car off a 130-foot high bridge."
Malia looks up to glare at him "I healed."
Stiles shrugs. "…This time. But what about next time?" he asks, gruffly. "You're nightmares are getting worse—you're barely sleeping—you're working full time while trying to keep up your scholarship—you can't keep going like this!"
"What do you want me to do?" she snaps, shrugging her shoulders and folding her arms. "I don't have the choices you have. I'm not smart like you are—"Stiles shakes his head.
"The hell you aren't!" he interrupts taking a step toward her.
"—I need this job, Stiles! I need this scholarship!"
"AND I NEED YOU!" he yells, his suppressed anger finally surfacing. Ever since the accident he had been so careful with her. He drops his eyes, his hands are shaking at his sides. The anger fades from Malia's eyes, and she takes a tentative step forward.
"Stiles…" she begins softly.
"Do you have any idea what it was like for me sitting there waiting for you to wake up?" he asks, his eyes cutting to hers. "Knowing that it was my fault you were lying there. Because I knew you were in trouble and I didn't do enough to stop it!" he says, jutting a finger toward his chest. Stiles folds his arms again and avoids her eyes.
His heart is beating too fast. And he smells like pain and fear. Because of her. Guilt twists uncomfortably in her stomach.
"Hey—hey look at me." She says, softly reaching up to touch his shoulder. Stiles turns his head and looks at her. Those big brown eyes of his are so unguarded that they completely undo her.
She slides her hand up his neck to touch his cheek. Stiles ducks his head again. So Malia rises up on her toes and presses her forehead to his. "I'm sorry I scared you—I'm sorry." she whispers to him. Stiles sucks in a breath and leans his forehead against hers, his hands slipping up her arms to pull her closer. They hold each other for a moment as his heart-rate evens out. "I'll get it under control." She promises him.
Stiles pulls back to look down at her, his eyes gauging her carefully as he responds, "You're the strongest person I know…but you can't just will yourself through this. I think you should talk to Deaton…I think he could help you."
Her hands slide down off his arms and she leans away from him. "No. This is something I have to do alone."
"Hey," Stiles hooks his knuckle under her chin and tilts her head up. "Whatever you're in I'm in. Remember?" he tells her with a warm smile.
Malia wraps her arms around herself and steps back from him. "Not with this, Stiles."
Stiles runs a hand through his hair. "That's not how it works when you love somebody." Malia flinches at the word love and won't meet his eyes. After a moment Stiles reaches out to take her hand in his. He looks down at her hand and toys with her fingers, uncertainly, before trying to catch her eyes. "You-ah…you do love me, don't you?" he asks, softly.
Malia's whole body stiffens, except for her hand which trembles in his grasp. She takes a shaky breath and pulls her hand away to push a lock of hair behind her ear. She still won't look at him.
Stiles clears his throat and nods "…Oh." he whispers.
Tears rolls down Malia's face as she watches as the light that was in his eyes seconds ago, fades. This is the moment she hurt him the most—the moment she loses him.
"I can't…" she whispers brokenly, shaking her head she pushing him away and flees out the open door. She's blinded by tears as she leaps down the steps. She can hear him on the stairs following after her. But she dashes out the screen door and runs out into the rain.
"MALIA WAIT!" he calls after her. But she just kept running…
You couldn't tell him why you can't say it…but you can't hide it from me…I know why.
Malia snarls at the voice in her head, and thrashes with what little strength she has left. ENOUGH! IF YOU'RE GOING TO KILL ME…JUST DO IT ALREADY! She shouts.
... I KNOW WHY!!!
The voice taunts her again and again and Malia's vision begins to blur. Every nerve ending aches and throbs as she finds herself in the backseat of a car. Malia's eyes widen.
NO! NOT THIS! NOT THIS! She pleads helplessly.
She sees her nine year-old self. She's wearing a grass stained soccer uniform, and she has a split lip. She's been feeling irritable all day. She had never felt anything like this before. Her teeth are aching…her skin feels too tight. She groans and hugs her stomach. Her little sister Lindsay is beside her…Lindsay with her doll and her cute little braids. Malia digs her teeth into her split lip finding something satisfying about the pain.
"I don't know what's gotten into you...?" Her mom berates her from the front seat. "What did that girl ever do to you? She was on your own team!"
"She should have passed the ball…" Malia snarls, rubbing her head.
The car hits a pothole and Lindsay's doll flies from her arms and tumbles onto floor near Malia's feet.
"My dolly." Lindsay whines pitifully straining to reach for it. Malia watches her younger self sneer and kick the doll under the passenger seat further out of her reach. Malia smacks at her nine year-old self, snarling "LEAVE HER ALONE!" But nobody can hear her—this is just a memory—she can't change anything.
"Malia! Give your sister back her doll." Her mom snaps. The younger Malia folds her arms and taunts Lindsay.
"Sorry. I can't reach it." she says, cruelly. Tears spring to Lindsay's eyes. And Malia can't stand it. She reaches out to touch her little sister, brushing her hand over her hair soothingly, even though she knows she can't actually feel it. "Sh—sh I'm so sorry, Linds." Malia whimpers "I'm so sorry."
"It's O.K. baby." Her mom coos from the front seat. Reaching her hand back she rubs Lindsay's knee gently, until the girl settles. "Just because you're sister is in a rotten mood doesn't mean we have to be." she says brightly. Malia looks up catching sight of her mom's eyes in the mirror. They are the gentlest…most beautiful eyes she had ever known.
Her mom reaches for the tape deck and fast-forwards to Lindsay's favourite song. Finding the right spot she cranks up the radio and Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Good rattles through the speakers. Lindsay makes a squeak of delight and sits up in her seat and her mom laughs. Her mom turns the steering wheel slightly making the car "dance" on the empty road. Malia watches her younger self jam her fingers in her ears and kick at the passenger seat.
Her mom catches her eyes in the rear-view mirror. "Keep it up." she warns. "You already have to tell your dad that you got kicked off your team for fighting…don't make it worse."
Nine year-old Malia's whole body is on fire. Her fingernails and toenails are throbbing. Sweat glistens on her forehead. Her ears are painfully sensitive and the rattle and hum of the speakers is excruciating.
She lets out a frustrated yowl "AAHH! I WISH YOU WE'RE ALL DEAD!"
For a split second Malia's eyes lock with her mom's in the rear-view mirror and there's a flash of hurt in her mom's eyes.
Then she hears something whistle and crack against the windshield three times, and the car starts listing to one side. At first, Malia just thought her mom was playing around and making the car dance for Lindsay, again. The she hears her mom's piercing scream. Malia's stomach drops as the car lurches into the air. Her bones and teeth rattling as the car pitches and tumbles down the steep embankment…slamming hard into the floor of the ravine.
Malia screams as hard as she can. It feels like water is being forced down her lungs and she thrashes and claws at the air fighting against the memory and the dark spector that forced her to relive it. She stiffens when…she hears a familiar voice.
"SHE'S OVER HERE!" it shouts.
Malia pries open her eyes and blinks blearily up at Cale Corban's dazzling blue eyes. It's then that she realizes she's standing in the same she had been in the pathway between the fence and Delta Phi house. She loses all the strength in her legs and starts to faint. Cale catches her in his arms and scoops her up. He touches her cheek softly, his face drawn with concern. "Hey, it's O.K. I've got you." He adjust his hold on her and starts carrying her out of the dark pathway.
Malia hears another voices from above her. "It can't have gotten far." One of them says. She forces her eyes open and sees a very serious looking, Hodge staring down at her. "Take her inside. Make sure she's O.K." He instructs Cale. "The rest of you are coming with me."
Author's Note: Yikes that was hard to write! I guess that's why I've been procrastinating. Don't worry we haven't seen the last of the big bad and I promise I will reveal what this evil thing is...in the mean time I hope you enjoy this.
Chapter 8: The Fractal Pattern
Something’s wrong. He knows it in his gut. He’s being irrational right now, but he just doesn’t care. They should have found her by now. Stiles moves with purpose, his sharp eyes cutting through the crowd. Malia’s a big girl. He reminds himself. And they had just got into a pretty heated fight. She probably went to go cool off somewhere. There has to be a perfectly logical reason for why Scott can’t seem to pick up her trail. And there has to be a reason why she’s ignoring all of Lydia’s and Kira’s text messages.
But Stiles can’t help feeling on edge. You’re just being paranoid. He chides himself. This is what Malia does when she’s upset. She runs. But his suspicions are confirmed, when Scott begins to sense something out of place at the party. A dark foreboding presence, with a strong scent is lurking somewhere nearby. They decide to quietly regroup with the rest of the pack, and make sure they are alright. They find Lydia and Kira easily enough…but there is still no trace of Malia. So they split up to cover more ground.
He’s circled the house a half dozen times by now, and he’s no closer to finding her. Shouldering his way through the crowd, he makes his way to the foot of the stairs. Stiles grabs onto a baluster and hoists himself up, craning his neck, he scans the crowd with careful eyes. There’s still no sign of her. Stiles drops back down on his feet and reaches for his phone.
Still nothing from the others. Stiles gnaws on his lip, as he scrolls through his contacts. He stops for a moment, his thumb hovering above her picture. Then he swallows down the last of his pride, as he taps her name, and punches out an awkward text.
Look, I know you’re pissed at me.
But something’s up.
I just need to know you’re somewhere safe.
He knows it’s a long shot. But he finds himself praying to see some ellipses. He watches the screen with baited breath until the backlight on his phone dims, and his nervousness ratchets up a few notches. Stiles blows out a breath and rubs at the back of his neck.
“STILES!” Kaley shouts, from behind him.
He spins toward her and sees her wrestling her way through the crowd to get to him. She grabs his arm and starts pulling him with her. “I just saw some guy carrying Malia through the back door. She looked really out of it, Stiles.”
Kaley leads Stiles back through the house. “This is where they took her.” she says, as she stops in front of the kitchen’s swing door.
Stiles doesn’t slow down, he plows straight ahead and collides with the door. With a grunt, his head snaps back and he falls back half a step. Splaying his hand on the door he shoves with more force. The door rattles in its frame but won’t dislodge.
“Why would they lock the door?” he mutters, to himself.
Kaley pales. “Something felt off about the guys who brought her in – They wouldn’t let me talk to her.”
The skin at the back of his neck prickles. Why do I always have to be right? Stiles brings up his fist, and pounds against the door. “HEY!” he shouts, over the music “OPEN UP!” There’s no answer from the other side. Stiles passes his phone to Kaley. “Call, Scott.” He instructs. As she dials, Stiles slams his fist harder against the door. “I KNOW YOU’VE GOT MY FRIEND IN THERE! MALIA?—MAL, CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
Suddenly the door cracks open a few inches, revealing a towering young man with earthy-green eyes and a scar on his chin. “Whoa. Take it easy, Man. She’s O.K.” The young giant tells him.
Stiles shifts on his feet straining to see into the room. “Where is she?” he demands. The guy behind the door, holds open the door a little wider. His eyes widen as he sees Malia stretched out on the kitchen table. She isn’t moving.
“Malia?” he says, softly as he instinctively steps toward her. But the guy with the earthy-green eyes isn’t moving. “What happened to her?” he asks, as his eyes stay glued to her prone form.
The guy behind the door plasters on a reassuring smile. “Look, my friend’s a paramedic, he just went to get his kit, and he’s gonna check her out. She probably just had too much to drink.” He says, with a wave of his hand.
Stiles narrows his eyes. “Malia doesn’t drink.” The fake smile on the guy behind the door morphs into a look of annoyance. Stiles steps forward. “Now, get the hell out of my way.” he growls. The guy with the earthy-green eyes shoves Stiles out of the doorway with surprising force, and slams the door. Stiles regains his balance and launches himself against the door. The door rattles but holds. Stiles backs up and forces his shoulder against the door again.
“Scott isn’t answering.” Kaley says, her tone rising with urgency. Stiles curses and kicks the door. Breathing heavily, he skims his hands along the door searching for where there bolt would latch on the other side. Then he stills as something occurs to him.
“The baseball bat.” Stiles thinks aloud.
“There’s a baseball bat in the hall closet upstairs.” Stiles says, as he starts for the stairs. Kaley follows after him. They take the stairs two at a time knocking people out of their way as they go. Stiles skids around the corner on the third floor, rushing for the closet.
He sees something just out of the corner of his eye, right before he’s struck from behind. Stiles hits the floor, his ears ringing. He blinks trying to clear his vision. Lifting his head he finds a familiar Delta Phi standing over him, a guy named Rhodes. The same one who had caught him climbing in through the window. Over the ringing in his ears, he can just make out Kaley’s voice. Stiles grits his teeth and climbs to his feet. He sways slightly, as he finds his footing. Rhodes had sucker-punched him in the ear.
“You think we’re just gonna let you walk in here and prank our house, Stilinski?” Rhodes growls.
Stiles presses a hand to the back of his head, and winces. “What are you talking about?” he rumbles, confused.
“Stiles, watch out!” Kaley tries to warn. But before he can move another Delta Phi has already come up behind him and hooked his arms behind his back.
Stiles struggles against their hold. “Hey! Get off of me!”
Rhodes punches him square in the jaw, and his head whips to the side. His ears are ringing again. Stiles shakes his head, to clear it. When his vision clears he sees Kaley jumping between him and Rhodes. He can tells she’s yelling but he can’t make out what she’s saying at first.
“WHA…TH…HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!” she yells. Kaley presses her back to Stiles’ chest shielding him from Rhodes.
Rhodes brushes Kaley out of his way, and grabs Stiles by his shirt. He’s winding up to punch him in the gut when Kaley calls out.
“Go ahead—hit him.” she dares “But I hope he’s worth getting expelled for…” Stiles sluggishly lifts his head and looks to Kaley. She’s holding her phone right up in Rhodes face, filming the whole thing. Rhodes goes for her and Stiles jerks forward to stop him, but the guy behind him holds him back. Rhodes knocks the cellphone out of Kaley’s hand, and he shoves her. Kaley stumbles back and falls against the wall.
“RHODES!” Stiles wrestles his way forward a few feet. “Leave her alone.” he snarls. Kaley hops to her feet and glares at Rhodes. Her fist curls up tight at her side, ready for a fight.
“Kaley, go find, Scott.” Stiles urges. “You gotta tell him Malia’s in trouble.”
“But what about—”
“Don’t worry about me. Just go.” He dismisses.
“—Stiles I’m not just gonna leave you.”
“Kaley, go!” Stiles insists.
Kaley throws up her hands in exasperation. “Fine—fine I’m going.” she grumbles. “But you,” she says pointing at Stiles. “Try not to get killed, while I’m gone.” Then she jabs her finger at Rhodes. “And you,” she glowers. “O-Oh, I’m coming back for you.” she promises, with a menacing tone. Kaley gives Stiles one final worried look, before dashing back toward the stairs. Stiles feels a bit of relief knowing that Kaley will get to Scott. But the feeling lasts for all of ten seconds before Rhodes slams his fist into his gut.
Stiles doubles over, his eyes watering as the air is forced from his lungs. His lungs burn and his brain scrambles to remember some of the moves his boss, Joe Garrity had taught him. He’s just gotta lure him a little closer.
"Wha…What are the ch…chances we speed this up?" Stiles wheezes. "I've...I've gotta get back to my friend she's in trouble."
Rhodes rolls his shoulders. "Don't worry, Stilinski, at this rate you aren't gonna last very long."
Stiles snaps forward, dragging the Delta Phi at his back with him. "Oh, yeah?" he challenges, his eyes dark and menacing. "Get your trained monkey off my back and we'll see how long you stay standing."
Rhodes flashes a smile right before he drills his fist into his side. "Naw, I like you right where you are." Stiles drops his head hissing through his teeth. "I saw your girlfriend dancing tonight, Stilinski." Rhodes taunts. "She's a wild little thing, isn't she?"
Stiles stiffens, his head shooting up. "Leave her out of this." he says through his teeth.
"She's got that hot little body, and legs for miles. But her eyes, her eyes kill me they're so innocent. I bet she's real innocent until you get to know her, right?" Rhodes chuckles darkly, goading him on.
Stiles' jaw twitches as he glares coldly at Rhodes. "Don't talk about her like that." he warns.
"I saw her with one of the guys, and they looked pretty friendly." he says, with a grin. "So how does it feel, huh? Knowing that she could be out there right now giving it up to one of my buddies?" he asks as he inches into his space. Stiles smirks grimly seeing his chance. That's close enough, asshole.
"Something like this." Stiles quips, right before he slams his head into Rhodes' face. The big Delta Phi roars and staggers back, holding his nose. Stiles quickly, locks his leg around the other Delta Phi's ankle. He steps back, forcing the guy off balance and frees his arms. Then Stiles turns out and throws the guy to the ground.
Rhodes shakes his head and with a growl he launches himself at him. Stiles shifts his weight onto his back foot, clenches his fist and waits. He throws a perfectly timed punch and Rhodes barrels right into it. His head whips to the side and he hits the ground, hard.
Stiles sniffs and wipes the blood off his mouth with the back of his hand. He crosses to the closet and grabs the baseball bat. Holding it loosely in his grip, he turns around and looks between the two Delta Phis. Rhodes is still on his back groaning, and the other one is hissing and gripping his ankle.
Stiles crouches down above Rhodes, his hands folded on the knob of the bat. "You sucker-punched me - I knocked you on your ass. We're even. But if she gets hurt because you got in my way. Then you're gonna need more than him," he says jutting his chin toward the other Delta Phi, "To protect you."
Straightening, Stiles flips the bat catching it by the barrel, and strides for the stairs.
It’s difficult but Scott manages to pick up faint traces of Malia’s scent. He trails after it through the crowded house and out into the backyard, where it’s much stronger. His nose twitches and he grimaces. Malia’s sweet woodsy scent was muddled by hints of anger…confusion…and lust. It makes him uneasy. He’s known her for years, she’s a member of his pack and one of his best friends, but she’s guarded even with him. For all of her ‘progress’ Malia was still very much a creature of instinct.
To protect herself in the wild she had learned to cover or dampen her scent. So, for her to be giving off chemo signals so freely like this, she has to be majorly upset. Scott feels a bit guilty invading her privacy like this. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t. He knows better than to go after Malia when she’s upset. But right now he’s more concerned about whatever’s lurking at the party than he is with facing her wrath. He’s been catching its scent for the last half hour. It’s powerful and sickly-sweet, like the smell of rot and decay. And the most disturbing part is Scott can sense its aggression…whatever this thing is its hunting.
Scott trails her scent to a gated walkway cut between the side of the house and the front lawn. He pushes open the creaky fence gate and recoils at the stench. Malia’s scent is completely drown out. All he can smell is death. Something shifts the air around him and Scott growls in his throat, flicking out his claws. Amber eyes flash in the darkness and then fade. Scott tenses on his feet. Another pair of eyes flash…and then another. He counts five distinct heartbeats. They have him surrounded.
Stiles skids to a stop in front of the kitchen door. It’s still locked and there’s no sign of Scott or Kaley. Stiles grips the bat like a battering ram and aims it at the door just beneath where the latch should be on the other side. Stiles hauls it back and strikes. The wood groans fracturing but the lock holds. He strikes again using more force and this time the wood splinters and the door flies open. Stiles charges inside.
He sees the same guy from before standing over Malia.
Stiles points the bat toward him. “Get away from her.” he commands, in a low threatening voice.
The guy's eyes widen and he raises his hands and backs away. Stiles moves to the table, keeping his eyes on him as he plants himself between the guy and Malia. "Keep your hands up and stay against that wall." he orders.
His eyes dart to Malia, and he drops the bat. Her skin is ghastly pale against the dark wood of the tabletop. He's never seen her like this. Not even after the accident. And she isn't moving— Stiles leans over her gripping the edge of the table, his ear hovering above her mouth. He gasps in relief as her faint breath tickles his ear. Stiles turns his head to look down at her.
"Malia" he whispers, his voice rough with worry. "C'mon, Mal." he urges a little more forcefully as he brushes the hair out of her eyes. His other hand slides across the table to cup her shoulder, but he flinches when he makes contact. She's freezing cold. And its 98º tonight— Stiles rubs his hands along her arms and shoulders desperately trying to warm her. He tugs at her shoulder urging her to talk to him. As he jostles her, her head lulls to one side. His hands slide up her shoulders and he cups her face in his hands.
"Malia." he pleads, his thumbs stroking her cheekbones. "C'mon, baby, open your eyes." As he gently turns her face in his hands, a thin bead of black blood spills from her nose, and trails down her cheek. His hands start shaking. Stiles lifts his head to glare at the man standing against the wall.
His eyes cold, rigid as he demands. "What the hell did you do to her, huh?"
"Nothing." The guy insists as he keeps his hands stretched out in front of him. "We found her like this. We were trying to help her."
There's something in the guy's face that isn't right—he's holding something back. Anger slices through him, burning, potent. Stiles instinctively starts toward him. He'll make him talk. Then he stops short when he realizes that he still hasn't let go of Malia. He grits his teeth and presses the anger down. She needs him to be smart right now. Stiles turns his attention back to her, and wipes the blood off her cheek, with the cuff of his sleeve.
His eyes cut back to the guy against the wall. "If you wanna help, then toss me your jacket, and slide over your cellphone."
The guy looks to Malia, then back at Stiles and nods. He pulls out his phone and slides it across the floor. Stiles grabs it and punches in one of the few numbers he had memorized and hits speakerphone. He drops it on the tabletop, near Malia's head as it starts to ring. The guy throws over his jacket, and Stiles tucks it around Malia. He crowds his body over her, trying to keep her warm.
"You're gonna be O.K." he mutters to her over and over, as he combs his fingers through her hair.
The call connects. "Hello?" chimes a muffled voice.
"Deaton, I need your help! Something's wrong with, Malia—I don't know what to do!"
"Alright, Stiles, slow down. Just talk me through what happened."
Stiles rakes a hand through his hair. "I don't know what happened. I just found her—she's so cold and she's not waking up."
"Is she breathing?"
"Yeah…but it's shallow and rapid."
"Can you find her pulse?"
"Yeah, just a second." Stiles presses his hand to her neck and counts. "I've got it…its weak, Deaton, real weak."
"Stiles, I need you to check her eyes. I need you to see if her pupils are equal size and react to the light."
Stiles is breathing heavy, as adrenaline courses through him. He draws back her eyelids one at a time and peers down at them.
"She's got, uh, pin-point pupils. They, uh, they aren't reacting to the light."
"You said she was cold? How cold?"
"Like hypothermic…but she's not shaking." Stiles realizes, his eyes narrowing.
"She's gone into shock."
Nausea rolls through him. "Wha-What do I do?"
"O.K.—O.K. Stiles I need you keep track of her breathing. If it stops or gets too weak you're going to need to start C.P.R."
Stiles nods to himself as he tries to recall the first aid course he had taken a few years ago for a credit in health class. "Stiles—you still there?"
Stiles shakes himself out of his own head. "I'm here."
"Where are you right now?"
"715 Dalhousie Street. It's a few doors down from Oldcastle."
"O.K. Stiles I'm coming to you. I just need you to do a few things for me alright? I need you to elevated her legs and try and keep her warm."
"Right." Stiles nods and his eyes scan the kitchen. He grabs the dishtowels, and the oven mitts hanging off the stove and wads them up tucking them under her legs. "O.K. her legs are elevated. What else can I do?" he urges.
"I need you to check her over for any injuries, no matter how minor. With Malia's physiology, her body should be able to handle almost any injury. So she has to have been exposed to something."
"What am I looking for specifically?" he asks as he skims his hands along her skull, and down her neck and shoulders, feeling every ridge and furrow.
"Look for bruising, swelling, bones out of place, puncture marks, bites, abrasions…"
Stiles runs his hands over her right arm. His hands questing for any irregularity. His thumb slides over her wrist and he stills. He lifts up her wrist and examines it.
"What about a burn?" he asks, as he carefully strokes the skin around the angry red mark on her wrist.
"Potentially. What does it look like?"
"It's on her wrist. It's, uh, about an inch wide and it's weird."
Stiles shakes his head as he struggles to describe it. "It looks like a fractal pattern."
"O.K.—O.K. Stiles listen to me very, very carefully. And do everything exactly as I tell you. Because we don't have a lot of time…"
-TO BE CONTINUED-
Chapter 9: Fight Fire With Fire
O.K.—O.K. Stiles listen to me very, very carefully. And do everything exactly as I tell you. Because we don't have a lot of time…"
Time slows down, as if it's being stretched out like a long rubber band. His hands reflexively tighten on the edge of the table. He's frozen there in between the space of a few heartbeats, as he stares down at her. She looks so small lying there, swathed in a stranger's jacket, with her long honey-brown hair fanned out on the dark wood of the tabletop. She looks so fragile, so unlike herself. Stiles would give anything to see those fierce brown eyes of hers staring up at him right now.
Then time pulls tight and springs forward. "Tell me what I have to do."
"Where are you in the house, right now?"
"We're in a kitchen."
"Good—that's good, Stiles. Open up the cupboards and tell me what you find."
Stiles peels himself away from Malia's side, and grabs the cellphone off the table before striding over to the cupboards. Dumping the cellphone on the counter he reaches up to yank open one of the cupboards, only to find that it was sealed shut.
Stiles thumps his fist, hard against the cupboard door. "Dammit, Lydia," he growls, frustrated.
"What is it?" Deaton asks.
"The girls superglued the kitchen cupboards." Stiles rushes back toward the table and grabs the abandoned bat. Stiles spins back around to find that the green-eyed stranger has moved off the wall toward the cupboards. Stiles narrows his eyes in his direction.
"Easy, I just wanna help." the guy insists, raising up his hands in surrender.
Stiles cocks an eyebrow at him. "And what are you gonna—" Stiles stops mid-sentence when the guy flicks out a wicked set of werewolf claws, and rips the cupboard door off its hinges. He flashes his amber eyes at Stiles, before letting the mangled cupboard door drop to the floor. As his eyes settle back into a earthy shade of green, he lifts his hands up again, in a non-threatening manner, and smiles crookedly at him.
Stiles' mouth falls open and his eyebrows disappear into his hairline for a few seconds before he shakes his head and grimaces.
Stiles throws down his bat. "Really?" he huffs, "You're one of them too?" He shakes his head as he makes his way to gaping hole where the door had once been. "What is it with werewolves and northern California?" he mutters under his breath. He starts rooting around the shelves, "Don't just stand there. Make yourself useful, werewolf." he says, gesturing vaguely to the rest of the kitchen. The green-eyed werewolf rolls his eyes at Stiles before he goes about ripping more cupboard doors off their hinges.
"What have you found?" Deaton urges him.
"What am I even looking for?" he snaps, as he digs around in the shelves.
"Just read me the labels."
"Coffee beans, peanut butter, honey, teabags, corn starch, sugar, a spice rack, condensed milk—Argh, there's nothing here!" he growls out, as he rakes a hand through his hair and his eyes dart over his shoulder, toward Malia.
"No, Stiles this is good we can use this. Grab the honey, and the spice rack."
Stiles quickly uncurls his fingers from his hair and turns back to the shelf, he grabs the bottle of honey, and the small spice rack and brings it to the table.
"You're also going to need a knife, a pen, a dish full of water and a clean cloth."
Stiles fills a bowl with water and rushes over to the table. The green-eyed werewolf tosses him a clean dishtowel, from one of the drawers and a permanent marker, from the top of the fridge. Stiles reaches into his pocket and pulls out his keys, finding the small pocket knife on his keyring he unfolds it nervously, and sets it down.
"OK. Deaton, I've got everything."
"The fractal pattern on her wrist, has it spread?"
Stiles takes her wrist in his hand and inspects it. Stiles pales, "It's, uh, about two inches in length now."
"We can't let it travel up her arm. Take the pen and make a mark about half way up her arm."
Stiles uncaps the permanent marker with his teeth and draws a line. "What's this for?" he mumbles out around the marker cap in his mouth.
Deaton hesitates, on the other end of the phone. "…If it travels past that line, then we won't be able to stop it." His grip on Malia's arm tightens, and he nods
"What do I do next?"
"List off what's in the spice rack."
Stiles grabs the spice rack and starts fishing out the bottles. "Sea-salt, cinnamon, tyne, basil, chilli powder cloves, cayenne pepper, seasoning salt, nutmeg—"
"Take out the salt, cayenne pepper and nutmeg." Stiles grabs the small plastic bottles and sets them aside. "Now wet the cloth and spread it out flat on the table."
Stiles stretches out the damp cloth on the table. "Done."
"Smear honey on the cloth until its covered. Then dump half the bottle of cayenne pepper onto the cloth and then the whole bottle of nutmeg. Then add more honey."
"OK. Now what?"
"Roll up the cloth and work it into a paste."
"What's this for?" he asks as he kneads the cloth.
"Cayenne pepper quickens the blood. And nutmeg is a very effective poison."
His whole body goes rigid. "Excuse me, did you just say poison? You're gonna poison her?"
"In effect, yes. Whatever she's been exposed to her body is reacting as if she's been poisoned."
"So you're what? Just gonna poison her again?" Stiles seethes.
"It's too late for anything else, we have to fight poison with poison."
Sorry for the wait my friends. Life has been crazy and written has been elusive lately. I apologize for the short update but I promise there is more to come. STALIA FOREVER!
Chapter 10: Out of the Frying Pan
"No! That's crazy, there has to be something else."
"Stiles, there's a reason she's a werecoyote, she's a survivor. And right now you're the only one who can give her a fighting chance."
Stiles rakes a hand through his hair his eyes darting around the room for something anything. But there's nothing, he's got no clever plan to save her this time, there's no way out of this. His eyes fall back to Malia, her breathing has been reduced to a harsh rasping sound, it sounds and looks painful as her lungs claw for breath. Stiles leans over the table, pulling the jacket up higher beneath her chin, and brushing the back of his hand over her forehead, tenderly.
He leans away from her, bile rising up the back of his throat, "I can't—I can't lose her, Deaton." He chokes out.
"You're not going to lose her, Stiles. You just need to trust me."
Stiles brushes the back of his hand across his mouth, and clenches his eyes shut for a second before he consents. "O.K. But you're gonna have to walk me through this." He says gruffly, before clearing his throat.
"Take the knife and make a small cut about five inches above the burn, not deep just enough to draw blood."
"I was afraid you were gonna say that," Stiles jokes flatly, as he reaches out a shaky hand for the knife.
He positions the knife over her arm and takes a steadying breath, willing his hands to stop shaking. He licks his lips, his eyes darting back to Malia's face. Then he reaches out with his free hand and strokes her cheek with his thumb.
"It's all gonna be O.K." He promises her, before he gently drags the blade across her skin. Black blood spills over the blade and a wispy green-hued vapour starts rising from the wound, curling in the air. "Deaton, she's-she's bleeding…smoke."
"Whatever you do don't inhale it!" Stiles jumps back from the table and snags a dishtowel from the nearby stove and tosses one at the werewolf standing in the corner. Securing the towel over his mouth and nose he moves back to the table. "Mix the salt with the water and pour it over the cut."
Stiles flushes out the cut with the salt water, temporarily stemming the smoke.
"Now what?" He barks through the dishtowel.
"Under the smoke, is she still bleeding black?"
Stiles nods, "Yes."
"Wrap the cut with the dishtowel full of nutmeg and honey, make sure it's in full contact with the wound. Don't do it too tight we need to draw out all the venom."
Stiles presses the poultice to the wound, and carefully secures it in place. "What's next?"
"We've got to get her heart pumping faster. You're gonna have to take a pinch of cayenne pepper and put it under her tongue."
His hands fumble as he pops open the bottle and reaches in to pinch out a tiny lump of cayenne pepper. Tilting her chin up, he gently parts her lips and slips it beneath her tongue.
"Got it." He confirms, as he gently tips her chin down.
"Now drip a little honey into her mouth, it'll boost her immune system."
He carefully feeds her a capful of honey, drawing it across the seam of her lips with the pad of his thumb.
Drawing away his thumb he nods, "What now?"
"Now we wait. The fractal pattern is it still spreading?"
Stiles swallows hard, "Yes."
"She's a fighter, Stiles."
Stiles crowds over Malia, combing his fingers through her hair, his free hand slipping down to clutch hers. Leaning in he whispers in her ear, "C'mon, baby, stay with me." He pleads. Time drags on like nails on a chalkboard until, Deaton finally breaks the silence.
"O.K. Stiles, carefully peel back the layers of the dishtowel and tell me what colour her blood is."
Stiles brushes off his honey smeared fingers on the front of his shirt, and bites his lip as he carefully parts the dishtowel, the greenish vapour has all but stopped and the blood spilling down her arm is a brilliant crimson.
"It's red." He sighs in relief.
"That's good, Stiles. That's very good. How does she look?"
"Still really pale," he touches her forehead. "She's a little warmer though." He says thoughtfully. Then her fingers twitch beneath his. Stiles jolts in surprise. "Her hand is moving!"
"If she starts to regain consciousness, then don't let her move. I'm ten minutes away. Try and get her to lie still." Deaton instructs before the line disconnects.
Malia groans low in her throat and her head sluggishly shifts from side to side. Her jaw tenses, forehead scrunching up as she lets out another low pitched whine. He slips his arm under her shoulders, and tucks her into his chest.
Stiles tugs the dishtowel down off of his face, "Hey—hey, Mal, It's alright. I've got you." He whispers.
Her eyes shift rapidly beneath her eyelids for a moment or two, before slowly cracking open. She blinks blearily, peering up at him half-lidded.
Stiles sucks in a breath, and stares down into her gorgeous, weary eyes.
She blinks rapidly, parting her lips to speak, "St-" she manages to grate out before her jaw seizes and she moans in pain.
"Easy, don't try to move, O.K?"
She lets out a soft hum of agreement. Stiles sighs in relief, as he holds her close.
"You scared the hell out of me, y'know?" he breathes out, tucking a sweaty lock of hair behind her ear. Malia just stares up at him, blinking wearily.
There is another low painful moan, but this time it's not coming from Malia. Stiles' head whips around and he spot the green-eyed werewolf, hunched over, holding his head in his hands, the dishrag falling from his grasp.
Stiles squints at him cocking his head to the side. "Hey, buddy, you alright?"
The werewolf slaps his hand down on the countertop, fracturing the sheen granite surface. Stiles stiffens. The werewolf snarls and snaps as it grips it's head, his fangs elongating, saliva frothing around his mouth.
Stiles carefully slips his arm out from beneath Malia, and sets her head down on the table top. "Don't move." He instructs, as he ducks down and seizes his abandoned bat.
The werewolf growls as it slowly rises up to it full height. Stiles squares his shoulders, his hands tensing on the bat, as he stands pitted between the werewolf and the table.
The werewolf's once handsome face was now twisted, and mottled with scars and bulging veins. It's eyes that once glowed amber had shifted, settling into two different colours. One of its eyes had morphed into a frosty blue and the other had settled into a blazing green. Stiles had never seen two different eyes on any supernatural creature before and the ferocious look of the creature before him makes his skin crawl.
As it spoke, the same eery green smoke from Malia's wound, poured from its mouth, "Ní mór duit a bheith cur isteach, buachaill! (You should not have interfered, boy!)