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I'm Still Up and Driving

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The Stilinski house is dark and silent as Stiles lets himself in, which is no surprise, given the hour. By the time they had been sure that Scott was recovering from whatever it was Victoria Argent had done to him, they had ducked all the cops crawling around the murder scene, and left the rave, it had been nearly one o’clock in the morning. Stiles is exhausted. He’s had worse days lately, but not many.

Despite the hour, there’s a small light on in the dining room. Stiles goes in to see his father sitting there with a bottle of whiskey and a shot glass, along with a photo album. He swallows and looks away. “Hey, uh . . . hey, Dad,” he says, feeling things out, wondering how much his father has had to drink. When his father doesn’t reply, he says, “Look, uh . . . I really am sorry. About everything. But the police van thing most of all. It, uh, it seemed like a fun idea at the time.”

“Yeah,” is all his father says in reply, which is a lot like a knife to the gut. Stiles slowly pulls out the chair across from him and sit down. There’s so much going on, and he knows that he should tell his father, but he’s petrified, paralyzed by the idea of the knowledge getting him killed. Of course, given everything that’s happening, it seems just as likely that ignorance could get him killed. Either way, Stiles foresees a long future of bitter regret.

But it isn’t just the supernatural stuff he needs to tell his father about. It’s Jackson.

/ “What are you doing at my girl’s party, Stilinski? You should know better than to show your face here.” /

He can recall standing out in the woods with Scott and Allison, outside the police van where they were holding Jackson captive, and saying, “Why don’t we just kill him?”

He doesn’t think that Scott believed he really meant it, but he did. Because he knows what Jackson is, and it has nothing to do with the failed attempt to turn him into a werewolf. He knows what Jackson really is, and he has for a long time – since the winter before, the night of Lydia’s party, the night he had had too much to drink and Jackson had decided to ‘teach him a lesson’ for the way he always tried to get Lydia’s attention.

But nobody listened to him and now Jackson is still out there, still killing people, and apparently under the control of a ghost or zombie, if what he said at the rave was any indication. Stiles wants to care. He does. But he’s so damned tired. And the two inches of whiskey in his father’s glass are killing him.

“Look, uhm, I know that we shouldn’t have done it,” Stiles says, fiddling. They had meant to go to his father and explain things, but Jackson had gotten there first, and brought in other adults, and now everything’s messed up and he doesn’t know how to fix it. “Is there something I can do? I mean, I’m sixteen, they shouldn’t hold you responsible for my actions – can I write a letter, pay a fine – if it’ll help to let Jackson press charges, I’ll face up to that.”

Because that’s what he wants to do. Spend more time with Jackson. The time alone in the police van with him had been slow, exquisite torture. Even knowing Jackson had been chained up and ostensibly helpless hadn’t made him feel a lot better about it. Even now, days later, he’s still been having nightmares about it. Why did the kanima have to be Jackson, of all people? He could have dealt better with just about anyone in Beacon Hills.

/ “Do you think I haven’t noticed the way you’re always sniffing around after her? Did you think I was just going to let you get away with that? You’re going to regret showing your face here tonight, you jerk-off. I’m going to make you regret it.” /

“No,” his father says, “I don’t really think that’ll help, son.” He reaches out and takes a sip of the whiskey, rubs a hand over his face. “I appreciate the offer, but no.”

“Oh.” Stiles studies his hands. “Okay.”

Even if he does explain to his father, he can never explain to Jackson’s parents. Sometimes it seems crazy to him that there’s this entire supernatural world that exists without anybody knowing about it. He wants to write letters to the editor and post videos of kanima-Jackson on the internet and make everyone aware of it. But there’s this deep-seated voice of reason that says that would be an extremely bad idea. Humans are exceptionally bad at facing frightening things. They would go after anyone who they had even a vague reason to suspect was different with pitchforks and torches. It would be the Salem witch trials all over again, only aided by automatic weaponry and instant communication across the globe.

So there’s nothing he can say on that subject that will make it better.

But there are other subjects that might. Other reasons, valid reasons, that he might have wanted to make Jackson suffer, that would put his actions in a less ridiculous light. It might ruin his own life, but he could save his father’s, if only he can find a way to explain it to him.

/ “I’ll teach you what it’s like to have someone after you who won’t take no for an answer,” Jackson says, twisting his arm around his back. /

Stiles shudders a little. “What if I, uhm, what if I talk to Jackson’s parents?”

Sheriff Stilinski pours another inch of whiskey into the glass. “Like you talked to them at the station the other day?”

“Shit, I’m sorry, that, that was a mistake, I didn’t mean to – ”

“You never mean to,” his father says woodenly. “Jesus, kid. What could have possessed you – out of all the kids at your damned high school, why him? Why the God damned DA’s son?”

It’s the perfect opportunity, and Stiles know he won’t get a better one, but the words stick in his throat. “Because he . . .” Say it, he lectures himself, say it, you fucking coward, just man up and say it. “Because he’s the one who raped me at Lydia’s party last winter.”

His father flinches back as if Stiles slapped him across the face. His hand jerks to one side, knocking over the glass of whiskey, and he stares at Stiles for a long moment before he abruptly pushes back from the table. He takes a step back, then to the side, as if he doesn’t know where to go. “Jesus, Stiles, you – you don’t – do you have any idea how serious an accusation that is, if, if you don’t have proof, if you’re just making this up to get him in trouble or get yourself out of it – ”

Now Stiles is the one to flinch, and the lump in his throat is becoming impossible to swallow. He opens his mouth to say something but realizes there’s nothing he can say. So he just stands up and walks out. Behind him, he can hear his father calling his name, and he breaks into a jog. He gets into the Jeep just as his father makes it onto the front porch, and ignores him as he backs out and starts driving.

He’s too upset to process, to plan, to think. He just drives. He hits main street, which leads him to the old country road which takes him out of town. A ten minute winding drive through the woods, and he’s on Route 299, which will eventually take him to Interstate 5, if he drives that long. He’s not really aware of that or intending to do it. He just drives.

/ “Hey, Stiles.” It’s a girl he doesn’t know very well. “Lydia wants to see you. She’s really glad you came. Upstairs. Second door on the right.”

If he hadn’t had so much to drink, Stiles would have seen the trap a mile away. But he was tipsy, maybe even outright drunk, and it was exactly what he wanted to hear, and he bought into every word of it, thanking the girl before he went up the stairs. But of course, it wasn’t Lydia waiting for him. It was Jackson.

He was drunk, too, drunk and pissed off, because Stiles was always looking at Lydia, and Jackson is many things, but secure in his relationship with Lydia is not one of them. Jackson pushed him around, hit him a few times, said nasty things about his parentage. All the while Stiles protested that it wasn’t like that, sure he thinks Lydia’s pretty, but he’s not a poacher, why can’t he just be nice to a girl?

It was a complete lie and Jackson knew it, and before Stiles could figure out a way to escape, Jackson had cleaned his clock and he was on his back on the bed, groaning. Jackson leaned over him and turned him over, twisting an arm up around his back. “I’ll teach you what it’s like to have someone after you who won’t take no for an answer.” /

Stiles realizes that his hands are shaking so hard that the wheel is wobbling. He sees a road and turns off, pulling over. His chest aches, heart beats wildly out of control, throat tight and sore. He can barely draw in air, and he wonders if he’s going to die.

His phone chimes, and then chimes again, and he reaches over and turns it off without looking to see who’s messaging him. He doesn’t want to know. He doesn’t care. He just needs the world to leave him alone for a little while.

/ He could smell the liquor on Jackson’s breath as the other boy pushed him down, squashed his face into the mattress, fumbled at his belt. “Jackson, what – what’re you – ” Stiles protested, but then he realized what was happening. He started to shout but Jackson just pushed him down again so any noise he could make was muffled in the blankets.

Stiles struggled but Jackson was stronger, and Jackson had gravity on his side. “Don’t think I’m enjoying this, you fucking shit stain. I just want to make sure you stay away from my girl. Hell, I want to make sure you stay away from everyone. Go die in a ditch somewhere after this, make the world a better place.” /

He had tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. Hell, he had welcomed the arrival of werewolves and chaos into his life because at least that was something he could focus on. And he pretended everything was normal. He went to lacrosse and did his classwork, and if Scott noticed something off about him, well, their entire orderly world had been upended around them. Who wouldn’t act a little weird after that?

And he can still remember the first day of school, clear as day – “Hey, Lydia, you look . . . like you’re gonna ignore me!” And he had let her go, not chased after her, not tried to compliment her dress or her shoes, because there was only so far he could go now. But somehow they kept getting thrown together, all of them, and every time he thought he might tell someone what had happened, there had been a photograph e-mailed to him. A photograph of him, that night at the party. Curled up on the bed in the guest room afterwards, naked, crying. Or one of him during, though it’s always cut off so Jackson’s face can’t be seen.

It must have been Jackson who took it, set up his phone beforehand to document the experience. Stiles is pretty sure that nobody else knows what happened between the two of them. It would have been all over school like wildfire if anybody did. It’s just him and Jackson – but the other teenager has made it clear that it doesn’t have to be that way. Stiles has read the stories of the girls this has happened to, who have been called sluts and made outcasts and eventually driven to suicide. He has no intention of that being him.

Or at least he hadn’t, except now Jackson is a lizard monster and his father’s lost his job and everything has – he wouldn’t have thought it was possible – gotten even worse.

The panic attack gradually abates. He finds himself able to breathe again. When he finally gets himself together, he looks at his watch to see that it’s nearly two thirty. He has no idea how long he’s just been sitting there on the side of the road.

He reaches over and picks up his phone. When he turns it back on, he’s got twenty-eight messages. Twenty of them are from his father – three voice, seventeen text – and the other eight are from Scott, all texts. Which means that his father was worried enough to call Scott in the middle of the night to see if he had heard from his son.

The idea of going home makes him nauseous, but what else can he do? He can’t leave now. Not when everything else is going on. He’ll just have to face the music.

He doesn’t listen to or read any of the messages. He just sends one to each of the concerned parties. The one to Scott reads, ‘sry Dad worried u. am ok, c u tomorrow.’ Then he sends one to his father. ‘On my way home now. See you soon.’ Then he turns the phone off again because he just doesn’t want to know what either of them has to say about anything.

It takes him longer to get back than he would have anticipated. He hadn’t realized how far he had gone, or maybe he hadn’t realized how fast he had been driving. It’s past three when he pulls into the driveway. As soon as the door to the Jeep shuts, his father is on the front porch, hands white-knuckled on the railing. He looks like he’s aged ten years in the last hour.

Stiles walks up the front path then past his father, not even looking at him. He’s sure that if he does, he’ll lose what little composure he has left. His father just stands there wordlessly as he walks by. For a few moments, Stiles thinks that that might be it. That they might honestly never talk about what had happened before he left the house.

But his father catches up with him just as he starts up the stairs. He grabs him by the arm, turning him around slightly. Stiles’ gaze flickers to his face, but then drops to his shoes. “Jesus, Stiles, I thought – ” It takes a moment for the sheriff to be able to form a complete sentence. “You don’t have to talk to me or, or forgive me or anything, but you have to – at least let me say it. I fucked up, and I’m sorry, and I – I’m afraid that if I let you go into your room without saying anything, you’ll never come out of it.”

Stiles pushes a hand through his hair. “I won’t . . . hurt myself,” he finally says, though he still won’t really look at his father. “I promise. I just – want to get some sleep, okay? I’m really fucking tired.”

“Okay.” His father lets him go. “Okay, I . . . g’night, son. I’ll . . . see you in the morning.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says. “Night.”

He goes the rest of the way up the stairs and into his room. He doesn’t even bother to undress, but just kicks off his shoes before flopping down onto his bed and closing his eyes, hoping that he falls asleep sooner rather than later.

 

~ ~ ~ ~

 

“Hey!” Scott catches up with Stiles as he goes up the front steps of the school. “Hey, what was going on last night? Your dad was seriously freaking when he called me.”

“Yeah, it was nothing,” Stiles says, waving this off. “We just got in an argument because of him, you know, getting put on leave because of the whole thing with Jackson and the van, and . . . I don’t really want to talk about it. Besides, we’ve got more important things to worry about, like how a dead guy could be controlling the kanima and shit.”

“Right,” Scott says. They put their heads together on that for a little while and come to the conclusion that, as usual, they have no idea what the fuck is going on. Everything that happened at the rave seems to have only made things worse. “Hey, what time are you picking me up tonight?”

“For what?” Stiles asks, as they dump their things at their respective desks.

“Lydia’s birthday party,” Scott says.

Stiles fumbles his books and spills them all over the floor. “Oh, uh, yeah,” he says, wondering if there’s any excuse he can give not to go. He’s been dreading it since the moment it came up. Lydia’s house. Lydia’s party. At least he’s been invited this time. He doesn’t know whether or not Jackson will be there, given the current state of his and Lydia’s relationship. “I don’t know, eight-ish, I guess?”

“Okay, cool,” Scott says.

Stiles manages to get his things together and vows to spend the entire time by the pool and not drink anything alcoholic. He blitzes through most of his homework during study hall because he has important possibly-dead-people related research to do. Unfortunately, in this case he’s not even sure what to Google. ‘Murder lizard controlled by ghost’ doesn’t get him a lot of hits.

Derek and his pack are busy getting ready for the full moon, so he’s out as a resource, although Stiles makes a mental note that he still hasn’t had a chance to grab the alpha by the front of the shirt and demand to know what the hell he was thinking, giving someone like Jackson the bite. He’ll have to put that on his calendar. He’s tempted to work with Derek – who seems to be the only person besides him who’s considering ‘let’s kill Jackson’ as a valid option – but he knows that Scott would just get pissed off at him. He sighs and starts thinking about what to wear to the party as he jogs into the house. Something unattractive. He won’t even bring a present. No, Lydia would notice if he does that. What in God’s name can he possibly buy? What sort of present says ‘I still have a crush on you but totally don’t have a crush on you?’

Of course, he has to admit that his ‘I’ll just stay away from Lydia’ plan has crashed and burned for a variety of reasons, and they aren’t all werewolf related. Even when he convinces himself to avoid her, he can never do it for very long. He just kept hoping that if he can make her see how much he appreciates her – in so many ways that Jackson’ doesn’t – she would dump his sorry ass. She deserves so much better. He doesn’t even care if he gets her in the end, doesn’t know that he’d even be able to ever look her in the eye after what Jackson did to him.

Then Jackson had to go and dump her, and step all over her feelings doing it, and now Stiles is doubly confused about how he should react around her. Does he actually have a chance with her? Would it make him even more of a jerk to flirt with her while she’s on the rebound? Does she have any idea that he actually likes her because of who she is, rather than in spite of who she is?

Once inside the house, he just drops everything where he stands and lets his head thunk back against the door.

“Long day?” his dad asks, and Stiles nearly jumps out of his skin.

“Jesus, I forgot you’d be home,” he says, scooping up his stuff. “Uh, yeah, no, I just, school and stuff.” He hastens into the kitchen to get a drink and try to regain his equilibrium. His top half disappears into the refrigerator as he digs around for the last can of Cherry Coke. He had been half-hoping that the fact that there had been another murder would have gotten his father back to the station. Apparently not.

They stand in completely awkward silence for a few minutes.

“Well, I, uh,” Stiles says. “Homework. I’ll be in my room.” He jogs up the stairs and shuts the door behind himself without another word. He dumps his bag on the chair and flops onto his bed, facedown. There are so many things he should be doing, and he can’t motivate himself to do any of them. Everything feels like swimming upstream lately, like defeat is inevitable so why even bother? He’s fighting against inertia, and he’s losing, badly.

Minutes trickle by before there’s a knock on his door. “Stiles?” his dad says from outside.

“Yeah,” Stiles says in reply, staring at his ceiling.

“Are you . . . okay in there?”

Stiles sighs. Damn his father for being perceptive. And damn himself for not realizing that his father would know something was wrong because he hasn’t put on any music and he can’t hear him typing or moving around. “Yeah, Dad, I’m fine,” he says.

“Can I come in?”

“Just a sec.” Stiles hauls himself into a sitting position and drags a book out of his backpack, flipping it open so it’ll look like he was studying. “Yeah, okay.”

From the look on his father’s face when he comes in, it’s obvious that he doesn’t buy Stiles’ casual ‘of course I’m just doing my homework’ routine. He sits down on the edge of the bed. “Look, if you need anything . . .”

Like what, Stiles wonders, but he understands that this isn’t easy for his father to deal with, any more than it’s easy for him. So he just shakes his head and says, “No, I’m okay.”

Sheriff Stilinski laces and unlaces his fingers. “Okay. But I, uh, I just wanted to say, about the police van . . . don’t worry about it, okay? You don’t have to say anything about why you did it. If you don’t want to. This whole leave of absence . . . it’s just a temporary thing. They just have to put it on record that they looked into it.”

“Okay, Dad,” Stiles says, burying his nose in his history textbook.

Since the conversation is growing more awkward by the second, Sheriff Stilinski apparently decides to back out before it gets worse. He stands up and heads for the door.

“Oh, uh,” Stiles says, calling after him, “I’m going out tonight. It’s, uh. Lydia’s birthday.”

Sheriff Stilinski frowns. “Will you . . . be all right? At her party?”

“Yeah, sure, I was actually invited this time and everything,” Stiles says, and his father winces. “And Jackson won’t even be there, I don’t think, since he and Lydia broke up, so, you know, no worries about his restraining order or anything.”

“About that . . .” Stilinski says.

“Don’t,” Stiles says, and shakes his head, not looking up. “You were right. I don’t have proof. I shouldn’t have even said anything.”

“That’s not what . . .”

“Let it go, okay?” Stiles says, his voice short and abrupt. He rolls over so he doesn’t have to look at his dad. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay,” his father says. He’s quiet, uncertain, and Stiles hates that, because he doesn’t think he’s ever heard him like that before. His father isn’t always right, but he always at least knows what to do, or even when he doesn’t, he thinks he does. Except now. “Okay, I’ll just, uh, you have a good time. At the party.” He backs out of the room before things can get worse.

As soon as the door shuts, Stiles throws the textbook across the room. He has to take several deep breaths before he can calm down. He resolves to buy Lydia a ridiculous birthday present.

 

~ ~ ~ ~

 

As parties go, it could be worse. Okay, there’s the hallucinogenic punch, awkward swimming pool accidents, drag queens, and murder lizards, but still, it’s not the worst party he’s ever attended. He’s pretty sure it’s going to be a long time before anything breaks that record. He’s not even sure where Lydia went; he hasn’t seen her for the last hour and why was the punch hallucinogenic anyway? None of which particularly matters because Matt is the kanima’s master and –

“And that’s why you should always listen to me,” Stiles sums up as they race back towards his house in the Jeep, “because I am always right, real talk.”

Scott scrubs both his hands through his hair and says, “But if Matt’s the one who fucked with Jackson’s tape, why did he then point out that someone had fucked with the tape – ”

“Do I look like I understand the mind of an emotionally fucked up, possibly dead, stalker serial killer?” Stiles interrupts. “Because I really do not. Matt’s evil and we’ve gotta talk to my dad, end of story.”

It takes some time to get Sheriff Stilinski on board with the ‘Stiles is always right’ plan, and at one point he starts to say, “You want me to trust you?” but then his gaze skitters sideways as he thinks about what happened the previous night and doesn’t quite get the sentence out. Stiles hastily derails the conversation by suggesting that his father trust Scott, since Scott of course is the shining example of all that’s good and honest in the universe and certainly never got raped at a party.

Everything’s going just swimmingly until Matt shows up and starts killing people and somehow Stiles finds himself paralyzed on the floor with Derek while Jackson skulks around and his father is chained up somewhere and everything is terrible. Every time Jackson looks at him, he can feel the panic start to rise in his chest. Jackson isn’t himself right now, so Stiles supposes he probably won’t do anything to him, but ‘probably’ isn’t particularly reassuring. Jackson could do anything to him while he’s paralyzed and helpless. Only Derek’s presence in the room keeps Stiles from having a complete freak-out.

“That’s disgusting,” he says, as Derek digs his claws into his own thigh.

They lie there in silence for a while as Matt takes Scott on his little tour down memory lane. Derek can hear their conversation fairly clearly, and relays bits of it to Stiles as his claws flex and relax.

“So when he says he ‘died’, what he really means is ‘he had a nasty experience’,” Stiles says. “Okay. Gotcha. My sympathy meter is reading a little low, but hey, it’s been a rough night.” He tries to glance over at Derek, who just grunts in reply. The panic wells up again. “Can you – can you still hear my dad?”

“I told you, Stiles, if anything happens to your dad, I’ll tell you,” Derek says. “He’s trying to pull the handcuffs out of the wall.”

That’s his dad, Stiles thinks, the panic momentarily replaced with pride. Sheriff or not, he’s not going to let some asshole teenager with a gun take over his police station. Jackson wanders over to check on them, every movement slow and reptilian, the scales on one side of his face rippling with the motion. Stiles swallows hard and tries not to look at him.

“Calm down,” Derek snarls at him. “Your panic is distracting me.”

“Fuck you, asshole,” Stiles replies. “None of this would have happened if you hadn’t thought it was a bright idea to give Jackson the bite. What the fuck were you thinking?”

Derek growls and replies, “I was thinking that I needed a pack and he was willing. We’re not supposed to turn people against their will, Peter never should have done that to Scott, so when I needed a pack, Jackson was a logical choice.”

Stiles thinks to himself that there’s a real rape metaphor here that just makes everything more ironic, and he starts to laugh, close to hysterics. “How’d that work out for you? Because from over here, it looks like it worked out like shit.”

“Thank you, Captain Hindsight,” Derek replies.

They lie there in silence for a while because really, what can either of them say?

“So is that hypothetical plan of yours becoming any less hypothetical?” Stiles finally asks.

“I can move my toes,” Derek replies.

“Dude, I can move my toes,” Stiles says, thinking that it’s going to be a long night.

But then of course everything goes to shit, there are people with guns and Stiles literally has no idea what’s going on. (He does have to admit a brief, fuzzy feeling about Derek telling Scott, “Take him! Go!” but pushes that aside to a point that he’ll have time to deal with it, like never.) A lot happens very quickly, mostly while he’s lying prone on the floor feeling powerless and terrified.

Somehow his father manages to get through the entire incident without once seeing a werewolf, werelizard, or other such telltale details such as paralyzed teenagers. That seems to be the most supernatural thing of all, but Stiles takes it as a definite sign that his father is not meant to know about the bizarre goings-on. Eventually other police officers show up, drawn by the gunfire, and ambulances, and by then Stiles is on his feet, shaky but mobile. They check his father for a concussion but decide he doesn’t have one. Stiles wants him to go to the hospital anyway, but his father vetoes him because Matt is still on the loose somewhere.

Scott’s taking his mom home and Derek vanished somewhere during the fighting. Jackson’s long gone, and Stiles’ father has left with several officers to try to track down Matt. Stiles is left sitting alone in a police station full of dead bodies, trying not to cry.

 

~ ~ ~ ~