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Tortured Soul

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There’s a gag over his mouth and a cloth over his eyes. He can’t move his hands or his feet but when he tries he can feel the painful bite of ropes against his tender skin. The clothes he was wearing when he’d been taken are no longer on his body and the concrete beneath his body is frigid. It’s cold wherever he is, the air enough to make him shiver.

As soon as he’d woken up, groggy and disoriented, he’d struggled, screamed, and writhed on the floor, trying to loosen his bonds, cry out for help, anything that would give him a little more control but after who knows how long his screams became sobs, his struggles became twitches, and his cries became whimpers. He doesn’t know how long he lay there, listening for something, anything, but there was nothing to listen to. There were echoes on close walls from his cries which indicated a small, empty room but other than that he had no idea where he was.

Time passes so slowly, there’s no clock ticking to indicate the passage of time, but he knows it did pass because his bladder soon becomes heavy and he tries wriggling and yelling once again to get someone’s attention. There’s still nothing and after probably another couple of hours he sobs as he just let’s go. The warm piss is a small relief on his chilled skin for all of ten minutes before it starts cooling uncomfortably in the puddle around his lower body and the scent becomes nauseating.

He’s crying again for what seems like the twelfth time. He’s hungry and cold and still lying in the drying puddle of cold piss. He wants to sleep but he’s scared that if he does he’ll wake up to something worse. His body aches from being left on the ground immobilized for so long but when he tried rolling over he just spread the piss even further and simply ended up rolling onto more cold ground, so eventually he just rolled back onto his side and stayed on the slightly warmer concrete.

There were phases of temperament he went through as he thought about his predicament. There was fear, then panic, then anger, then calculating, then determined, then exhausted, and back into fear. Each phase ran smoothly into the other, over and over, running around his head until he felt exhausted with it. He’d always come back to fear though. Every time he’d get a new idea to try and free himself he’d eventually become exhausted and disheartened at his failure. Every time he’d get angry over his predicament and how easily he’d been captured he’d eventually break down into tears at the hopelessness of it all. Every time he’d work himself up into a panic attack he’d end up winded and struggling to breathe through his nose until he either fell unconscious or the attack ended and he’d be exhausted.

His sense of time was completely off. A minute felt like an hour, an hour like a week, and a day like a year. He didn’t know how long he was there, laid out on the floor. He’d pissed himself twice and had ended up wriggling probably only a foot away from that spot before he shit himself. The smell was horrific and his ass felt filthy and he felt utterly humiliated and helpless and afraid.

When was this going to end?

~

“Is this the kid?”

“Yeah, picked him up twelve days ago. We’ve been giving him water intravenously while he slept but other than that there’s been no sustenance intake.”

“Good. Grab him and take him to room 3.”

“Yes ma’am.”

His heart thunders in his chest as the voices wake him from his latest panic attack induced sleep. He wants to kick and scream and demand answers and plead for his freedom or at least some food but he can’t. There’s no energy in his system, he’s nothing but skin and bones, his side where he continues to lay had gone numb a long time ago but he knew that where there’d been fat and some semblance of muscle was now only a gaunt skeleton.

The man grabs him under the arms and pulls him up as if he were a small child and drags him out of the room. He breathes through his nose quickly, trying to keep the panic at bay and focus on exactly what he’s hearing and what he’s feeling, what direction he’s headed in. They continue down a long hallway to the right of the room he was kept in and make a sharp left. He’s dragged for another few feet before they stop and one of the hands holding him up lets him go and he whimpers in pain as one side of his body drops, leaving his entire weight to be caught by the iron grip on his right arm.

There’s a jingle of keys and the sound of a door being unlocked and opened and suddenly he’s being literally thrown across the room. He hits the far wall with a sickening thud, pain jolting through his body as he crumples to the ground. Boots stomp across the room as he whimpers. There’s the sound of paper rustling and the boots come closer. He flinches back against the wall when the man comes to a stop in front of him.

There’s no warning other than the shifting of clothes and then he’s being hauled up once more, this time by his throat.

“I’m going to cut your ropes. Behave or I’ll cut off your fingers.”

He’s breathing hard, trying to keep the panic from overwhelming him. His body is shaking so hard that it feels like he’ll shake right out of his skin as the man cuts through the ropes that have been bound around his body since day one. The relief lasts for all of a second before his stiff limbs are suddenly yanked out of their folded forms and he screams as his muscles and bones protest. His wrists are quickly bound to cuffs linked to chains attached to the wall and he’s hung spread eagle on the wall, his ankles also fixed to the wall.

Tears are once again soaking the dirty cloth tied around his eyes and drool is seeping through the one in his mouth, his nose is running and his entire body is throbbing. The man doesn’t say anything more until the door opens again and there’s another pair of shoes walking into the room before the door is slammed shut.

“Age: 16, height: 5’8”, weight: previously 142, now approximately between 125 and 130. Residence: 129 Woodbine Lane, Beacon Hills, California, 95351. Father: Noah Stilinski. Mother: Claudia Stilinski, deceased. One living relative, grandfather: Elias Stilinski, has dementia. No other relatives.”

A woman’s voice reads through his history as if she’s reading a boring paper on amortization scheduling.

“Here’s what we need. Best friend: Scott McCall. Close friends: Isaac Lahey, Erica Reyes, Vernon Boyd, and Derek Hale. Long time crush on Lydia Martin who is dating his long time bully Jackson Whittemore. These are some important names. Powerful names.”

Her footsteps come closer.

“Now, boy, I’m going to ask you a lot of questions and you’re going to answer all of them honestly and quickly without fuss. Nod if you understand.”

He frowns behind his blindfold. What could this woman possibly want?

There’s a sharp jab to his left side that knocks the breath from his lungs and leaves him gasping.

“I expect you to follow every direction I give you. Every time you disobey there is a consequence. Nod if you understand.”

He breathes in little gasps through his nose but eventually does give a small nod of his head.

“Good. Now, I am going to ask you questions and you will answer them honestly and without fuss. Nod if you understand.” She repeats.

This time he nods as instructed.

“Excellent. Let’s start off small with yes or no questions. Does your father know about werewolves?”

His heart thuds in his chest. He’d guessed that these people had probably taken him because of his connection with the pack but it was another thing to have it confirmed. Another sharp, heavy hit to his side had him refocusing on the woman.

“Boy, I don’t like repeating myself. Answer the question with a nod for yes and a shake for no.”

He shakes his head no, his father does not know about werewolves.

“Does he know about any of the other supernatural beings?”

No.

“Does Melissa McCall know anything about supernatural beings?”

He hesitates. She does but would him letting them know that she does put her in danger?

He shakes his head no.

A violent hit to his other side makes him cry out and gasp for air.

“Any time you do not answer a question you will be hit on your left side. Every time you lie you’ll be hit on your right side. Nod if you understand.”

Nod.

“Is Derek Hale the Alpha?”

No.

“Is Scott McCall the Alpha?”

Yes.

“Do you know how Scott became the Alpha?”

Yes.

“If I take the gag off will you tell me exactly how Scott became the Alpha?”

Again, he hesitates. These questions, if he answers them, he’ll be betraying the pack.

The hard blow to his left side isn’t much of a shock but it does hurt and he cries out through the cloth in his mouth.

“Answer me, boy.”

No.

A solid punch in the stomach does shock him, has him curling in on himself as much as he can in his restraints as the air leaves his body and black spots dance across his vision.

“Any time you’re being difficult I will hit various parts of your body. Nod if you understand.”

Nod.

“Untie the boy’s gag.” She demands and the heavy footfalls stride towards him once more.

A sharp tug on the cloth at the back of his head has the nasty rag falling from his mouth and he gulps in large lungful’s of air and gives shuddering breaths.

“Now, boy, you will tell me exactly how Scott McCall became Alpha.”

He pants for a second before, “My name is Stiles, bitch.”

The blow that hits him across his face has him crying out loudly and sharply, blood welling from a split on the inside of his cheek.

“You have no name here. You are only a source of information. You are not a human being. You do not have rights. You are as much of a monster as the things you call friends. If you do not cooperate not only will you die but your father will die, your grandfather will die, and we will take Melissa McCall as our information source instead. Nod if you understand.” The words are hissed with seething anger right into his face and he clenches his jaw.

“Melissa would never talk. You have no leverage. Her son is the leader of a very powerful pack and would tear you apart before you could even look at her, especially since you already took me.”

As soon as the last word leaves his lips a blow snaps his head to the side, another split ripped into his other cheek.

“Answer the question.”

He shuts his mouth firmly, squeezing his eyes shut as he prepares for the next blow. It hits hard and heavy against his side and he wants to cry.

“Answer the question.”

Silence.

Another hit.

“Answer the question.”

Silence.

A harder hit.

“Answer the question.”

Sobs, but silence.

“You’ll take over the punishment since he doesn’t respond to mine.”

The man’s footfalls stop in front of him and the woman’s retreat.

“Answer the question.”

Silence.

A hit that is far harder than the ones he previously received smashes into his side and he cries out sharply, tears soaking his blindfold.

He lasts another two hits before he says shakily in a broken voice, “He had to kill the Alpha.”

“Who was the Alpha before him?”

“I don’t know, we never found out.”

The blow to his right side wasn’t too surprising.

“Don’t lie to us.”

He shakes and sobs, “Please, I don’t know. It was just some guy driven crazy from the power without a pack. We didn’t even see his human form until he was dead.”

The next blow really does surprise him.

“There’s more than that. There were spirals drawn in animal hides and at scenes of the attacks. Who was it? We know you know more than you’re telling us.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I only saw him after he’d died. Please, please, I don’t know, please.” He sobs.

“You will give us an answer.”

After that it was hit after hit, some on top of other bruises, some in new places until it felt like his body was going to break.

“This is only going to continue until you give us proper answers, boy.”

He chokes on a sob. “My name…is Stiles.”

The woman places her mouth next to his ear. “You have no name, boy.”

Chapter Text

Eventually they take him back to his room, never having unblindfolded him, and leave him with the promise of more tomorrow. He’s not quite sure but it doesn’t feel like there’s anything broken, just severely bruised and more than one spot cut open. His hands are once again tied behind him and he’s not flexible enough to get his legs up to take the blindfold off so he’s stuck in the world of darkness and pain until whenever his captors decide to let him see again.

He falls into an exhausted sleep that isn’t so much sleep as it is unconsciousness.

~

The next day is much the same, except when he passes out they shoot him full of electricity to keep him awake. He continues giving half-truths, as much as he can get away with. Sometimes they’ll give him a trick question that they’ll know the answer to just to see if he’s telling the truth and then punish him when he lies.

That night, or whatever part of the day it is, when they’re done, they feed him a small piece of bread, what seems like chicken, and a pill that at first he spits out but it’s quickly forced down his gullet and he’s gagged so he doesn’t throw it back up.

~

They fall into a pattern of torture and questioning, sometimes just torture, and sometimes just questioning from what he guesses is dawn until dusk. There are four different men who torture him but it’s always the same two ladies who ask questions. Every third night he’ll get bread and meat and once a week he’ll get a pill.

They never take the blindfold off though.

Everything hurts.

~

He doesn’t know how long he’s been there. Maybe he does. He’s been given 26 pills, meaning 26 weeks. How many months is that? Holy fuck, six and a half months. Everyone’s probably forgotten about him.

He’s forgotten who he is. Who is he?

You have no name, boy.

He is boy. He has no name. He has no friends. He has no father. He has nobody.

He is alone. He is useless. He is broken. He is ugly.

That’s who he is.

~

“We’ve gotten nothing from him in weeks, no matter how much we torture him. He hasn’t said a word. He barely even makes sounds. I think it’s just time we kill him and pick up the next one. He’s done.”

“Let’s grab Amy and she’ll decide what to do. Just leave him there.”

The men retreat from the room, leaving his broken, bloody body on the floor. It’s quiet and he’s untied for the first time since he got there. Slowly, oh so slowly, he drags himself up and pushes himself onto legs that have been broken over and over and somehow, he doesn’t know how, they still work enough to pull his body towards the door.

His sense of hearing had become incredibly heightened after he realized he was probably never going to use his eyes again. Not just from the blindfold but from the torture they’ve been put through. The same for his throat and his left hand. After the last two weeks, he’d only been able to whisper, nothing louder could make it through his damaged vocal cords.

Carefully, he follows the winding hallways he’s been through so many times he’s got a map of them in his head. He knows there’s very little chance of him making it, but, oh well, he’s going to die anyways. Why not?

His fingers close around the knob of the door he’d been looking for and he slowly twists it open, a small bubble of relief catching in his chest when it doesn’t hitch on a lock and actually opens all the way. He stumbles through the door leading to the underground garage he’d been in three times for some of the more creative tortures involving moving vehicles and demonstrations of his torturer’s imagination. It was enough, though, for him to create a basic map of the place.

It’s a small space with a ramp that opened with a clicker on the inside of each car to allow them access. There are three cars that used the garage and right now he climbs into the biggest SUV, shuts himself in, and fumbles under the wheel until he’s found the panel he needs to open to hotwire the car. Gently, he reaches up and undoes several wrappings of the gauze covering his eyes, but keeps a layer over them because of the eye’s sensitivity, until he can see through his one good eye the little wires he needs to use to start the car.

It takes a good minute but he finally gets it, singeing his already ruined fingers. The car rumbles to life beneath him and he wraps his eyes up once again until he can see nearly nothing in the dimly lit garage and he puts the car into gear. Ignoring the pain in his body he drives the vehicle up the ramp and pushes the button, and has to close his eyes as daylight pours through the windshield.

He wraps another couple layers of the gauze around his eyes until it’s dimmer but also a little fuzzier and gets going, pressing the button to lower the garage in an attempt to hopefully thwart whoever comes after him once they realized he’s gone.

It probably won’t be long now so he drives down the rough dirt path through thick trees for a solid twenty minutes until he arrives at asphalt. He has no doubts that his absence is now known and follows his gut telling him to go right and guns the engine. The tank is completely full and even though the road is small it’s relatively easy to drive down so he drove at top speed.

The longer he spends in the car the less able-bodied he feels. The adrenaline that had been washing through him which had fueled his escape is beginning to wear off and the only thing that really kept him from passing out from pain and exhaustion is the thought that if he did he’d be caught and killed on sight. Every glance in the rear-view mirror has those little sparks of adrenaline shooting through his system, keeping him awake and going.

~

The drive at top speed takes him through endless miles of trees. The sun, which had been hanging, fat and low on the horizon, now cast its last rays of daylight and sank beneath the trees. He just keeps telling himself, keep driving. Just keep going. Keep going.

~

There’s no strength left in his limbs. He hurts, everything hurts. He thinks that maybe, out of his damaged eye, he can see something. Lights? He doesn’t know. He’s slowing down?

His head lulls and all of a sudden, he’s careening off the side of the road. He doesn’t see where he lands.

Chapter Text

 “…-ey! I need…-ic over here!”

“…-re severe injuries… -urprised he’s alive…”

“…name? Age?...”

~

Steady beeping fills the dead air. Is he dead? No, he hurts. He’ll wake up and it’ll start all over again soon.

~

“…-ho is this kid? His fingertips are burnt off and I don’t think I can get dental records until his mouth heals a bit more to get proper x-rays. His face is swollen and scarred I don’t know if I’ll be able to get any matches on the facial recognition software until it’s gone down.” A sigh, “What the hell happened to this kid? He doesn’t look much older than fifteen, maybe sixteen.”

“Other drivers saw him go off the road and we pulled him from a small wreck.”

“From the looks of these injuries and the full body scans I’ve seen, some of these bone breaks are older and some are freshly healed along with some new breaks mainly in the ribs and hands. This amount of damage does not match that of a car crash though. This kid looks like he went through absolute torture. I don’t know how he survived this much damage. There was internal bleeding, ruptured organs, severe contusions covering 98% of his body. It seems the least amount of damage was done to his head.”

“We’ve been talking with some of our psychologists since we brought him in because of his age and condition and we think that maybe the lesser damage to the head was intentional. Generally, in severe trauma cases, if what’s needed is information they’ll leave the hostage able to talk and think properly to persuade them to talk coherently and give up the most amount of information before they kill them. But this is just a kid! What does a kid know that could possibly require this amount of damage and for this long?”

“We won’t know until he wakes up. Although, so far, he hasn’t shown any signs of waking up.”

“I think that might actually be a good thing. His body needs time to heal.”

“His mind needs time to heal. How damaged do you think this kid is going to be when he wakes up?”

If he wakes up? Probably irreparably.”

~

He slowly comes to, feeling like his head is stuffed with cotton and his body is completely disconnected. It feels like he’s just a floating head except less floaty and more rested on a cloud. But he can’t lift his head. He can’t sit up. This method of torture is new and he’s not sure if it’s better or worse than the previous methods of all pain all the time.

The steady beeping that had filled the air suddenly picks up in rhythm and there’s an influx of sound. Voices and rushed footsteps, clothes moving and people bumping into each other.

“Hey, can you hear me? If you can hear me I need you to open your eyes. Can you do that for me?”

The questions have already started. He doesn’t respond. What’s the point? They’re just going to kill him anyways, he doesn’t have to answer.

“Please, I need you to open your eyes.”

The voice is gentle and he doesn’t recognize it. This new approach is a little scarier than what he’s used to. Harsh, biting, violent pain he can handle. Gentle, calm, soft words he doesn’t know how to deal with.

He swallows, can’t help the nervous movement and there’s a sigh of relief. Guessing he doesn’t really have anything to lose he opens his eyes and catches a glimpse of people in his peripherals before the blinding light has him squeezing his eyes shut again.

“Shut off the lights.” Someone says in a hushed whisper.

The red fire behind his eyelid dims to darkness and once he’s sure that nothing’s going to blind him he opens his eyes again. There’s only blackness in his left eye but in his foggy right eye he can now make people out of the shapes around him. They look worried, their eyebrows furrowed and mouths pinched. There’s three of them, two look like male doctors, one looks like a female nurse.

“Hey, can you hear me?”

He nods.

“Can I ask you some questions?”

He shakes his head, his heart monitor going crazy as fear pours through him. He can’t go through questioning, don’t ask him questions, please!

“Ok, calm down, we won’t ask you anything. We’ll phrase everything and you can just tell us if we’re right or wrong. You’re safe here.”

It takes a long minute for the panic to subside as he registers the words. They’re not going to demand anything? They aren’t going to hurt him if he doesn’t answer?

Eventually he nods and the doctor starts with, “Ok, you’re fifteen years old.”

No.

“You are sixteen years old.”

Yes.

“You can talk.”

A slow nod.

“Ok. Now all we need is your name.”

Hesitation.

Who is he? He doesn’t have a name. Does he have a name? He used to. He used to say it all the time. He’s broken, he’s hurt, he’s defiant… he’s…

“Stiles…Stilinski.” His raspy throat whispers before he closes his eyes again and drifts back off to a place without pain.

~

“…me see my son! I need to see him! It’s been seven months since I’ve seen him. I need to see him, please!”

“Sir, I need you to calm down. I need to see proof of identification for both you and your son before I can let you anywhere near that kid. Please, understand that this is a very delicate situation and needs to be handled with the utmost care.”

“What the hell are you talking about? That kid, in there, is my son, Mieczysław Stilinski, he goes by Stiles. He is 16 years old, 5’8”, 147 pounds, and goes to Beacon Hills High School. Here’s my driver’s license, proof of insurance, hell, my discount card to the deli on Birch Street.”

“Sir, I know you’re worried and want to see your son but I need to explain the situation first. Let’s take your identification to the front desk so I can confirm everything and then we can check on your son, ok? Please, just, trust me, as a doctor, you need to know what we know before you go in there. Nothing can prepare you for this.”

“You’re talking as if he’s dead!”

“Which he is not, but it’s a close thing.”

There’s a choking noise and Stiles can hardly believe what he’s hearing. It’s his father. His father’s voice. A sound he never thought he’d hear again. He can hear them getting farther away and he wants to call them back but from what he’d heard of their conversation his dad really needs to brace himself for the damaged thing he’s going to see instead of the son he expects to see.

It takes a good twenty minutes, he’s counting the seconds and uses his fingers and toes for the minutes, before they come back within earshot, which, for Stiles now, is a relatively long way away.

“…have to understand that the son you knew is not the son that is in that room. Yes, he is by birth the same person, however, what he went through has changed him both physically and most likely mentally as well.”

“I don’t understand what you mean. My son is my son, no matter what.”

“Yes, and you need to remember that at all times. But he is not the same person by a long shot. You know how war can change people? That’s basically what Stiles has gone through, except far worse than any wounded warrior I have ever seen. What your son went through was practically seven months of pure torture. I don’t have the time to go over everything that happened to him but to narrow it down, from the extensive x-rays we’ve done it looks as if every single bone in his body has been broken at least once. Some bones, mostly his ribs and in hands, have been broken two or three times. It took days to put all of his bones back together again. Only his spine and his skull have avoided major injuries.

“98% of his body is also covered in scars and healing contusions and lacerations. A lot of these are superficial, however, there were also deeper, more severe issues. He will never see out of his left eye and his right eye will probably never have full sight. His left hand is completely immobile and his right, although it does have some function, will never have full function. We managed to talk to him very briefly earlier today and when he tried to talk it was, for lack of a better word, damaged. We took a closer look and his vocal cords are damaged to the point it’s irreparable, he will likely never be able to speak above a whisper.”

“Hold on, doc, please, just…” his dad sounds so broken.

Stiles is afraid suddenly, not for himself, but for his father. What if he can’t handle having such a damaged son? What if he’ll never be able to look at him or even talk to him again? Will he throw him away?

 His father takes a deep breath, and takes a full minute of silence.

“First, you’re going to finish giving me the whole rundown on my son’s condition, then you’re going to tell me absolutely everything you know on what happened.” His father demands, voice hard but with a wobble that Stiles can picture as tears in his eyes and a tightening of his throat as he tries not to cry.

“Yes sir, I’m afraid I don’t know much about the actual investigation going on, you’ll have to speak with the local police for that. However, I can give you the names of the best psychologists and physical therapists in the state.”

“We’re not from this state. We’re two state over.”

“In that case I can still refer you to some of the best people I know in these fields and I can express the urgency required for this case. I’m sure that they’ll be willing to make a house visit for a case this severe.”

“Thanks, now, for the rest of the damage.” The last word comes out strangled and Stiles wishes he could comfort his father even though he’s the cause of the pain.

“There wasn’t too much internal damage, although, there were some ruptured organs, torn muscles and damage done over time to the organs. His kidneys are severely bruised and he was also severely dehydrated. He had a bruised spleen and tears to his intestines. His stomach is incredibly small, probably from severe malnutrition, and we had to remove his appendix completely. His liver had a small rupture and was quite bruised but it should heal fairly quickly.

“There’s a lot of muscle atrophy, he also has permanent scarring on his left side, probably from repeatedly being laid on his side. His wrists, ankles, arms, legs, neck, and area around the mouth all have scarring from restraints.

“One thing I did notice, though, was that his immune system seems to be functioning just fine. Despite all the injuries and open wounds and obvious lack of a healthy environment or nutrition he has no signs of infection and his blood work came back negative for any viruses or bacteria meaning he hasn’t been sick at all in the time he’s been held captive. He seems to be exceptionally strong willed as well. During the talk with the hospital’s psychologists they theorized that the most probable reason for his being kidnapped and tortured was for information. They avoided the head and spine and the vocal cords are a recent injury meaning they wanted him coherent and able to talk. This is a tough thing to ask but it needs answering, can you, as his father, think of anything important enough that your son might know that would make him worth kidnapping and holding for so long?”

There’s a strangled sound from his father and a spark of pain ignites in his chest. It’s not physical though, it’s emotional. Guilt.

Chapter Text

His father can’t come up with anything, a few muttered excuses which clearly aren’t enough to warrant the extreme abuse Stiles went through. Does…does that mean that his father, in the seven months that he’s been gone, learned about the secret he’s been keeping from him for the past year or so? Fuck, he’s always been a smart man.

“Now, as far as the investigation goes, like I said, you’ll have to go to the local police to get all of the information you’ll need.”

“Yeah, ok. Just…can I see my son now? Please?”

The doctor hesitates but eventually he must give his consent because the door to his room slides open all the way instead of just being cracked open and he hears the sharp intake of shock from his father.

“Sir, remember, this is still Stiles, he just may not look or act like it, especially not now.”

“No, that’s definitely my son.” His father croaks out, walking slowly towards the bed. “His swollen face looks like it did when we realized he was mildly allergic to bee stings. Well, minus the bandages of course.”

Noah gives a sniff and blows out a breath, trying to steady himself and Stiles feels so guilty that he’s put his father in this situation. There are fingers gently touching his and in panic Stiles twitches, trying to pull away and the touch immediately disappears. Yet, it’s a feeling of bereavement that takes the place where relief had been before because this is his father. His father! He needs to know that he’s real, that he’s actually here, that he’s not hallucinating again.

Tentatively, he lifts his hand, trying to make the weak muscles move and takes in a breath through his nose.

“D-daaad.” The sound comes out haunting and broken, the ‘a’ sounding like a breathless whistle instead of an actual word.

“Stiles,” a sniffle and rustle of clothing as his father leans down next to him and gently touches his hand again, “Oh, Stiles. Hey kiddo, I’ve missed you. I finally found you though, I never gave up that I would have you back, I just knew that my smart boy,” flinch, “would eventually find his way back to me.”

In the background the doctor had quickly retreated from the room as soon as Stiles had moved and was calling down the hall for the nurses and other doctors.

“Dad. Mis-ssed. You.” He whispered.

“I know, I know Stiles, you don’t have to say anything, we can talk later. Right now, you just focus on getting better and then I can take you home and you can see all your friends.” His father gives a laugh that sounds more like a choke, “Scott’s been pretty crazy lately, and, surprisingly, so has Derek Hale. That kid really took the lead in trying to find you with your little rag tag team of super heroes.”

Stiles flinches, the beeping on his monitor picking up.

“Hey, no son, it’s not a bad thing, it’s ok. You don’t have to worry about anything, nothing at all. Nothing is wrong, just breathe son.”

“Sir, I need to have a word with you, please. It’s urgent.”

“Ok.” He says reluctantly, “Stiles, buddy, I’ll be right back. Just keep breathing for me, in, out.”

Stiles wants to hold onto him but his useless fingers can’t curl so he’s left with a trembling hand and a useless body as his father gets back up and follows the doctor out as the other doctor and nurses pour in. Stiles focuses his hearing as they walk into the hallway.

“What is so important that I can’t spend time with my son who has been missing for seven months?” his father seethes.

“Well, your son is supposed to be completely under. We’ve given him enough pain killers and anesthetics to keep him under for the time needed for his body to heal. After the last time he was lucid, we decided to keep him in a sort of medicated coma to prevent any movement or pain, I mean, even that time he’d woken up suddenly even with all the pain medication in his system.”

“What does that mean? Doesn’t it just mean he’s strong? He’s going to heal in no time!”

“Well, maybe, but most likely it means that while he was being held, his captors probably overdosed him with medications, meaning he’s immune to some of them now. It’s dangerous for a growing kid to be immune to such strong pain killers. When he does eventually leave this hospital, I don’t know what I’ll be able to prescribe to him for at home use that will help with his pain. Right now, he’s on morphine but I can’t continue to give him that because it becomes addictive fairly quickly.”

His father contemplates this information in silence until, “So how do you know that he doesn’t have other dependencies? He has ADHD and needs Adderall which is addictive.”

“In the toxicology reports there were no drugs in his systems meaning whatever they did was long enough ago that it’s left his system, the same with the Adderall, there wasn’t any. That withdrawal either went unnoticed due to the torture or was part of his torture, most likely around the beginning of his captivity.”

“Fuck. Can you not say torture, please?”

“Sure, however, you’ll need to come to terms that that is exactly what happened to him.”

“Yes, I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier that my son is lying in a hospital bed, unable to move and looking like he went through a meat grinder. Just, have a little more delicacy, please.”

“Of course, sir, I’m sorry for my crudeness. As a doctor this is one of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen anybody outside of a car wreck under the age of 25 and even for me it’s difficult, I ended up being harsh, my apologies.”

Noah blows out a breath, “I know what you mean. I’m the Sheriff of our little town and I’ve seen quite a lot of shit over the years but this…this is just too much. He’s my son. I should’ve been able to protect him. I should’ve found him sooner.”

Stiles’ heart aches at the overwhelming amount of guilt and sadness and self-loathing in those sentences and he wants to cry, but he can’t. The nurses, who had been fiddling with his chart, monitors, and various wires, had fixed the dosage on his morphine and he was soon sliding back under before he could tell his father that it wasn’t his fault at all.

~

There’s still fear bubbling within him every time he comes to. The fear that’s simmered under his skin, in his chest, and in his mind for months. The fear of being hurt more than he can stand. The fear that the information that he’s given up will be used against the people he loves the most. The fear that he really will forget who he is.

But there’s still hope. He doesn’t know how but through those months he’s held on desperately, fearfully to some form of hope that maybe he’ll be saved, maybe they won’t kill him, maybe they’ll let him go, maybe, maybe, maybe…

Maybe he’ll survive.

~

“His condition has improved rapidly, but I’d like to keep him here until all of his open wounds have scarred over and he’s had time to wake up and see one of our psychologists.”

“How long do you think that’ll be? I can’t stay in Utah for much longer, my paid leave is almost up.” His father’s voice floats to him and he basks in it, still more than a little afraid to hope that this is real.

“I can’t say for certain. His internal injuries are already almost completely healed and the swelling on his face and other more severely injured areas has gone down considerably. Right now, I’m most worried about his necessary bodily functions and his ability to move as well as his mental health.”

“Would you be able to transfer him to the hospital in Beacon Hills? His best friend’s mother is a nurse there and has known him all his life so he’ll be in good hands.”

“At this stage in his healing I’m not sure if a long transfer would be good on his condition, but I could look into it. For trauma victims, it’s good to be in a familiar place where they can relax so they can recover. You’ll also want to check with the city police here to see if they’ll allow you to take the victim home since they haven’t had a chance to question him at all.”

Fear grabs his body. No, he can’t answer anything, he has no answers. There’s nothing he can tell you. Nothing! Please!

The heart monitor grabs their attention and the doctor and his father rush to his side.

“Stiles, kiddo, I need you to breathe. You’re ok, you’re safe, you don’t have to worry about anything. I’m here, I’m right here, no one’s going to hurt you, I promise.”

“We need to administer a stronger dose. He keeps waking up.”

The heart monitor goes even crazier and Stiles struggles to breathe, his right eye narrowing in on the doctor as he moves towards his IV.

“No, he doesn’t need that. Stiles, son, are you in pain? I need you to focus on me, listen to my voice, breathe with me. Look at me kiddo, focus on me.”

Stiles’ eye focuses on him, on his father’s face, and it feels like forever since he’s seen him. There’s more grey in his hair and lines around his eyes which are surrounded by bruised looking skin. He looks tired but also calm, firm, real. He looks real. Stiles watches his father breathe and he subconsciously starts breathing with him in a habitual rhythm. As he stares at his father his panic levels subside enough that the heart monitor starts losing the fast, uneven beeps and starts giving off the slower, calmer beeps.

“Good job kiddo, you’re doing great. Let me tell you kid, I’m really glad to see you awake. You with me now bud?”

Stiles slowly nods, his eyes shifting back to the doctor to make sure he knows exactly where he is and what he’s doing to him. The doctor takes a step back and gives him a small, tight smile.

“How’re you feeling today?” his father asks, grabbing his attention again.

Stiles stares at him for a bit, not sure how to answer the question.

“How about, do you feel like you’re in pain at all? Even a headache?”

Stiles lets his eyes wander down his covered body, taking stock of what he can and can’t feel before giving a small shake of the head. Nothing really hurts, it’s more like a tired ache that never really goes away that thrums through his broken body.

“Ok, that’s good, really good. Now, I wanted to ask you, since this involves you too, would you like to go back home or stay here until you’re healed a bit more?”

Home. Home. He wants to go home. He wants to go home.

“Home. Home, wanna go home. Please.” His broken whistle of a whisper makes him flinch but he keeps going, begging to be taken home.

He needs to feel the comfort of his own bed, the familiarity of his own room, and the scent of his family surrounding him. He needs to see his friends and the place where he belongs. Well, he really wants it. He doesn’t know if the others will want him around once they know what he’s done.

“Ok kiddo, I’ll get you home as soon as I can. Let me talk it over with your doctor and we’ll arrange for you to get transferred back to Beacon, alright?”

Stiles opens his mouth, “How long?”

His dad frowns, “How long, what?”

“Been in hospital.”

“A little over a month now.” The doctor says instead of his dad.

“Pack?”

His father nods before looking at the doctor. “Can you give us a minute, please? I’m not going to be asking him anything or bringing anything up, I just need to talk.”

The doctor frowns but nods. “I’ll be in the hall if you need me.”

Chapter Text

They wait until the doctor’s left and shut the door behind him before Noah answers. “I called Scott and Derek as soon as I’d gotten word that you were here. They’d been asking sources in Arizona at the time about your whereabouts. They wanted to come with me but I made them stay, telling them I’d call them as soon as I got here. Well, after that I told them very little except that you needed to stay here and that they needed to wait for us to get back.”

“They ok?”

“Yeah, they’re fine, just worried. I don’t actually think they listened when I told them not to come though because I’ve heard people talking about glowing colored contacts a few times over the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure whether to go looking for them or just leave them here when we go back home.” He gives a light chuckle that helps lift the anxiety weighing heavily on Stiles’ breastbone.

“Want pack.”

Noah’s face flickers. “Are you sure? You don’t want to heal up more first?”

Stiles lowers his eyes. “I’m ugly, sorry.”

Noah is quick to backtrack, “No, no, no! Stiles, bud, you’re not ugly, you’re hurt and that’s completely understandable. The pack will understand too and if they don’t, Jackson, I’ll get Scott or Derek to kick them out. You have nothing to be sorry about Stiles, absolutely nothing. None of this is your fault. If you want, I can still let them inside to see you, you’re not considered critical anymore.”

It takes a second but finally Stiles nods. He needs to see that his actions, his words, his weakness didn’t damage more than just him. He has to see that his friends, the people he loves, are alright.

“Ok son, I’ll go see if I can find them lurking about. I’ll be right back, alright? Do you want the doctor to stay with you until I get back?”

Stiles nods again. He thinks he’ll go crazy if he’s left alone in his head. His father pats his shoulder where there aren’t any bandages and gets up.

“I’ll be right back.” He promises and opens the door, asking the doctor to stay with him until he gets back and to expect a few extra people.

The doctor makes his way in to his bedside.

“Well, I can tell you that you’re healing very well, Mr. Stilinski. Most of the breaks are well set and in probably a few more weeks you’ll be able to get the metal rods and plating removed. Are you sure that you don’t want to stay?”

Stiles shakes his head but doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t trust anyone who’s not family or loved ones. The doctor nods and they lapse into silence that’s only interrupted by the machines he’s connected to. Stiles is actually a little relieved with the silence, he doesn’t have to answer anything or do anything, he just has to keep breathing.

Finally, after what feels like an hour, the door opens again and a gently smiling Sheriff Stilinski makes his way through the door.

“Doctor, can we have some privacy again, please?”

The doctor nods but gives his father a solid look, “Please remember that he shouldn’t be pushed to answer anything and that if he seems distressed at all you’ll allow him some space and call for a doctor or nurse.”

His father gives him a nod, glances behind him, nods again, and allows the doctor to leave before he makes his way inside.

“Ok Stiles, you’ve got five very concerned people waiting for you but I convinced three of them to wait in the waiting room so we don’t overwhelm you. You ready for this?”

Stiles takes a deep breath, his heart kicking up a little, but he nods.

“Alright. I’ve already told them to be gentle.”

Stiles keeps his eye fixed on the doorway and from the hallway walks three large bodies and his heart kicks up faster. When all three are inside they seem to pause and Stiles can hear each of them draw in huge breaths of air, one louder than the others and so familiar that Stiles aches at hearing it.

“Stiles.” Scott breathes and shuffles a little closer, leaving the other two just barely inside the room. He clears his throat but Stiles can still hear the pain and emotion when he says, “Dude, I’m so glad to see you. You have no idea how much I missed you.”

Stiles opens his mouth, his heart beating wildly, “Scott.”

Each of them flinch harshly at the sound of his ruined voice and he shuts his mouth again, ashamed.

“Yeah bro, it’s me, the one and only.”

Scott, bless his heart, is doing his best to sound normal but Stiles can hear how his breaths are turning to hiccups and his nose is stuffing up.

“Derek and Isaac are here too.” His dad speaks up, though he also sounds like he’s on the verge of tears.

Stiles turns his only seeing eye to the others, their dark shapes hard to distinguish in the dim light of the room and through the damage. He can’t tell if they actually flinch as his gaze lands on them or if it’s just because he can’t see very well.

“Uh, hey Stiles, long time no see.” Isaac manages to croak from slightly behind Derek and Stiles gives him a nod.

“We, uh, we wanted to, ya know, come on by and make sure you were alright.”

“Even though I told them to stay home.” His father supplies.

“We couldn’t just not come! We’ve been looking for seven months and then you suddenly find him, my best friend and brother. Stiles, buddy, we never stopped looking, I’d have continued searching even if it meant it would take forever. I would’ve found you dude.”

We would have found you.” Derek finally pipes up, correcting Scott.

“Yeah, we.”

Stiles wants to smile, wants to talk to them, wants to hug them and laugh and cry with relief, but he can’t. There’s a part of him that feels dead, the part that seemed to enjoy things feels like it’s missing. Instead he lifts his hand towards them, finger twitching as he wants to make sure they’re real.

Scott immediately darts forward but the sudden movement makes Stiles flinch, his heartbeat going faster in fear even though he knows logically that it’s just Scott. So, he closes his eyes and just holds out his trembling hand. Scott had frozen when Stiles had flinched but now Stiles can hear him move hesitantly, slowly towards him until he feels a gentle touch on his. He lets out a sigh of relief and relaxes into the touch. Scott’s hand cradles his and all of a sudden that bone deep ache drains from him, replaced by a perplexing feeling of…normalcy? Calm, maybe numbness, definitely relief.

“Dude.” Scott’s voice is strained and Stiles flinches, going to take his hand back but Scott doesn’t let him go. “No dude, I’m not letting you go. I just got you back. You have no idea how happy I am to see you.”

“T’s awful.” He manages to whistle out.

“Yeah, gotta admit, you look like shit, but then again, who wouldn’t? Even I, a werewolf Alpha, wouldn’t be able to just walk away from this. You’re still breathing dude, you’re awake, and you’re going to get better, I promise.”

Stiles can’t help the disbelief that courses through him. Scott can’t promise something like that.

“You’re strong, Stiles.” Derek startles him by saying but before he can react his father is standing, the sound of rustling clothes making him flinch.

“Ok guys, let’s let him rest. I’m going to have him transferred back to Beacon Hills as soon as I can. Scott, I need you to contact your mom and have her make preparations for his arrival at the hospital. I’m going to talk to the doctor and get the names of those professionals he was talking about earlier.”

Scott goes to let go but Stiles manages a curl of his fingers, “Scott.”

“Yeah buddy, I’m here, right here.”

“St-aaaay.” His voice fades out and he’s not really sure he managed to get the whole word out but Scott seems to get it.

“Sir, I’m going to stay with Stiles. I don’t want to leave him alone. Can Derek use my phone instead?”

His father blows out a breath but concedes and Stiles can feel the movement as Scott hands over his phone to Derek whose footfalls are heavy as they cross the floor. The door opens and three sets of footsteps leave and Scott takes a seat in the chair his father vacated.

“Dude, school’s been a dump without you. Lydia’s always complaining that there’s no one to compete with for top grade and has been demanding that we find you in that way that she likes to think is strong but it’s really just shaky and concerned. Even Jackson missed you, man. He’s out in the waiting room right now. Boyd and Erica are here too. The only reason Lydia isn’t here is because she said that someone had to stay behind to collect all the homework while we were gone so that we’d all be able to graduate at the same time.”

Scott continues his rambling, talking about lacrosse and the ridiculousness of Coach as he continues to ask for him every day even though he knows Stiles isn’t there. He talks about his mom and the progress they’ve been making on the burnt-out Hale house and the plans Derek has to make it into a pack house. He keeps going and the words eventually lull Stiles into a comforted sleep.

Chapter Text

“Ok Mr. Stilinski, you’ll be transferred to Beacon Hills Hospital in a couple of hours.” The doctor tells him a week after the others had come to visit. “You’ll be taken in one of our transportation vehicles and escorted by a police car from here to the Beacon Hills Hospital. Your father also informed us that he will be riding with you while your friends drive behind you so you’ll be perfectly safe. If, for any reason at all, you feel uncomfortable or like you need to stop or if you experience any pain, I want you to tell someone immediately. You also have the option of being put under for the duration of the ride. Is that something you would want?”

Stiles shakes his head. He doesn’t want anything happening to him without him being aware.

“Alright, that’s no problem. Make sure to be honest about how you’re feeling throughout the entire ride. If you feel tired, sleep. If you feel thirsty, ask for a drink. If you feel hungry, let someone know.” Stiles nods and the doctor looks satisfied. “You’ll do fine kid, don’t worry. Now, I’ve got to go get everything ready for the trip. I’ll see you in a bit. Rest up.”

The doctor leaves and Stiles lays there, letting his body fall into a state of rest where his body’s relaxed and his heart is steady but he’s not asleep.

“He’s alone, just do it now.”

“He’s hooked up to monitors, they’ll know. He’s been getting better.”

“Inject it into the IV bag being put into the transfer vehicle. He still has to be hooked up so by the time they cross the state line it should take effect and they won’t be able to do anything.”

The voices fade and his heart ratchets up to panic levels. Within a minute both a nurse and someone heavier, Derek by the sounds of it, are opening his door and racing inside.

“Stiles, what is it? What’s wrong?” Derek’s voice is next to his head and his hand is immediately gripping his hand gently, pulling out any pain he might be feeling.

“Outside the window, they were there.” He chokes out and the hand in his goes rigid.

“Just now?”

He nods and Derek snarls. The hand on his starts to let go but he opens his mouth and yells, or tries to, in protest.

“No! Don’t leave me alone! They’re going to kill me!”

“Mr. Stilinski, no one is going to kill you, please calm down!” The nurse sounds completely out of her depths.

“Ma’am, I need you to go to the cafeteria and ask for Scott McCall and Sheriff Stilinski, I’ll calm him down.” He says, leaving no room for argument.

The nurse quits fiddling with whatever wires and machinery and quickly exits the room.

“Stiles, I need you to calm down and tell me what you heard. I will protect you. I’m going to kill every single one of them.”

The promise breaks through the fog of promise. Derek isn’t a killer.

“They, they, no, you’re good. You’re not a killer. You’re good.”

“I’m good enough to give them what they deserve, what you deserve. Stiles, I’m not going to let them get away with what they’ve done to you. I just need you to tell me what they said.”

Stiles takes a breath, pulling in air to match every intake that Derek does.

“They’re putting something into the IV for the transport.” He whispers out. “It’ll kill me by the time we reach state line.”

Derek snarls, a low, murderous sound in his throat but Stiles doesn’t flinch, it’s not a sound that causes him fear. He lifts his hand that’s still in the grasp of the Alpha and sets it to Derek’s stubbled cheek. The feeling soothes him further. Derek’s real.

His father and Scott come barreling into the room, both talking at once and he winces at the noise.

“What happened? Derek, what’s going on?”

“Stiles, are you alright?”

Derek snarls again but doesn’t make a move away from Stiles’ hand that’s still on his face. Stiles is content to let Derek talk, just wanting to feel the movement as he talks, the movement that means he’s not hallucinating, that it’s still real, that they’re here and that he’s safe. For now.

“The ones who took Stiles were here, outside his window. He said they’re going to inject something into the IV they’re using in the transport vehicle that’ll kill him by the time he reaches the state line.”

“We have to stop them!” Scott says a touch too loud.

“No!” Stiles says as loud as he can.

Everyone freezes and turns to him, to where he’s trembling on the bed and his heart beat is going crazy.

“Let them. They need to think I’m dead.” He says as he tries to keep his body from revolting against him, he wants to throw up, to cry, to scream, to pass out.

There’s silence in the room before his dad gives a small, humorless laugh.

“Traumatized and still he’s the smartest of us all. I’ll make sure to grab an IV and watch it the entire time until it’s time for transport. I’ll contact the local police, tell them what was overheard and tell the doctors that they’ll be getting a call once we’re at state lines saying you’ve died. We’ll arrange for another transport vehicle from Nevada to meet us at the state line and transfer you to that one.”

“I’ll go around to the outside window with Erica and Boyd to try and pick up any scents they might’ve left behind. Jackson and Isaac can watch the transport cars and report anything suspicious back to us.” Scott says quickly.

“I’ll be here with Stiles. If anything happens I’ll be able to feel it through the pack bonds. Keep my betas safe Scott.”

“I always do. You keep my brother safe.”

Derek nods and Stiles hears the door open and Scott and his dad leave as quickly as they came.

“Don’t worry Stiles, we won’t let anything happen to you ever again. Never again.” Derek promises.

Stiles keeps his hand, damaged and ugly and barely able to move, pressed against Derek’s face, reminding himself that they’re not there, they can’t get to him, they can’t hurt him anymore. This is real, it’s not a hallucination, Derek’s solid and warm.

They’re silent for a long time, just their breathing and the whirr and beeping of the machines. What stirs the air after about half an hour is the sounds of heavy footsteps coming down the hallway and Stiles tenses even before Derek does as he realizes they’re headed for them. The door slides open and Derek relaxes slightly so Stiles does too even though he doesn’t recognize the sounds of the people.

“Mr. Stilinski?”

Stiles nods in the general direction of the man’s voice.

“My name is Officer Smalls, this is my partner Officer Williams, we’ll be asking you a few questions about the…”

The officer trails off as loud, rapid beating cuts through the relative calm.

“No, please, I don’t have answers. I can’t tell you anything!” Stiles replies automatically, going to struggle but finding his body too heavy to move.

His limbs can flail though and that’s what they do before strong hands grip his wrists carefully but firmly and fold them over his abdomen. At the feeling of being restrained he cries out with fear, his blind eyes searching frantically for a way out, anything to make them not hurt him.

“Please, please, please, I don’t know.” He sobs.

“Stiles, you have to come back to me, Stiles, you’re safe, you’re not there, they’re not here, you’re safe. Stiles, you’re with me, your dad is safe, Scott is safe, everyone is safe. You’re not going to get hurt, they’re not going to hurt you.”

Derek’s voice is calm and soothing in his ear the entire time until the ringing in his ears fade to the point he can hear him, until his sobs turn to shudders and finally he can breathe again. Derek continues talking to him in a quiet voice, telling him that the officers here are going to make sure that they do everything they can to find the people that did this to him, that they’re going to help, that they’re going to keep him safe.

“You think you can handle them talking to you? Just talking, all you have to do is talk back. No interrogation.”

Stiles pulls in breath after breath, remembering to match the air that goes in and out of Derek to keep the panic at bay. After another minute, he nods.

“Sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about, it’s ok.”

“Stiles, is it? Do you mind if we take a seat while we talk?”

A gentle, female voice has him startling but he’s calmer so he nods and he hears their uniforms shift as they take their seats at the foot of his hospital bed.

“Ok Stiles, we heard that you’ve been gone for seven months, almost eight now. Can you tell us about the day you went missing?”

There are fine tremors running through Stiles’ body but he opens his mouth and answers anyway.

“I was walking home from school, my Jeep died in the lot. A black car rolled up, there were three men. I didn’t see their faces, they were big. They drugged me and I woke up in a room.”

He can hear the scratch of pens as they write everything down and he knows that they have a recording device somewhere that was probably switched on even before his freak out earlier.

“Can you tell us about the room?”

The tremors are turning into shakes again and he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to handle a full blown panic attack.

“Stiles, it’s fine, you don’t have to say anything you don’t want to. How about you just tell them whatever you can. Don’t think about anything you can’t.” Derek’s calm voice is in his ear again and he lifts his hand from where it’d come to a rest on his abdomen and puts it on Derek’s face again, a reminder of what’s real.

“They have three cars, all black. I stole one and drove it down a road until I passed out. I think I crashed it. There’s a dirt road I took away from the building. They have a garage that goes underground. There’s never any windows. I don’t know if it’s day outside, it always seems to be night. It’s so quiet and cold. They don’t let me use the bathroom.”

Each word comes out haltingly and so quiet that eventually Derek has to repeat what he’s saying louder for the officers to hear. He can’t continue, he’s slipping back into his method of survival, not thinking, not feeling, nothing’s real, he’s going to hurt and then he’s going to die but he has to stay quiet, he has to be smart, he has to survive as long as he can.

“You did good Stiles. You can rest now.” Derek decides for everyone that they’re done and Stiles slumps back against the pillow, his head lolling to the side as he’s too drained to keep it upright.

“Thank you, Stiles, that’s enough for now. We’ll be working closely with your father to catch these people. You’re very strong and very brave, keep it up kid.” Officer Williams says in a gentle but strong voice

They both stand up and Stiles doesn’t bother turning towards the sound as they leave. Derek’s hand smooths through his hair which the doctors had to shave off to check his head injuries but it’s growth fuzzy again.

“You did well, good job.”

Stiles wants to ask where this gentler side came from but he can’t find it in him to speak another word.

Chapter Text

The Sheriff and Scott get back a while after the officers leave and Derek lets them know that they dropped by. Scott says that he and the other two did catch a scent and have it ingrained in their memory now. Isaac and Jackson said they saw two men and a female, all clad in black that smelled like poison and gun powder getting into one of the transportation vehicles but got back out quickly. They both have the scents as well as the figures imprinted in their memories.

“You all set to go, kiddo?” his father asks, his hand holding onto an IV stand with a fresh bag of liquid hooked to it.

Stiles nods because what else can he do?

“Good, I’m going to go find those officers you were just talking to and have a word with them while you get loaded up into the van. Derek and Scott will stay with you until I get back.”

Derek and Scott nod in affirmation and his father leaves the room, pulling the IV with him as he goes.

“Your dad’s going to take care of you Stiles, you don’t have to worry.” Scott says, his hand gently patting his foot over the blanket. “What did the officers want?”

“They wanted as much of a statement as they could get before Stiles was transported back to Beacon Hills.” Derek answers for him, his voice dark and his jaw tense under Stiles’ fingers.

“Oh. Was everything ok? They didn’t push or anything, did they?”

“The guy didn’t appropriately handle the situation, he just barged in here, made Stiles go into a state of panic.”

Stiles shakes his head, “No.”

They both turn to him.

“No? That’s exactly what happened Stiles. He said he wanted to ask you…”

Stiles’ nails dig into Derek’s face before he can get the word out, even the suggestion of the word had him tensing up, fighting the automatic response of fear and panic that came with the association of the word. At least he recognized it so once he started the counseling he desperately needed he’d be able to work on it.

“T-trigger.”

“Trigger?” Scott asks.

Derek sucks in a breath. “Trigger word, Scott. The officer said a word that triggered a flash back. It happens in trauma cases.”

“Oh. What was the word?”

Stiles just knows that Scott is currently on the receiving end of Derek’s bitch face but he thankfully doesn’t say anything. They sit in silence until the door opens and he can feel Derek tense a split second before he sits up straighter.

“Hello, my name is Dr. O’Heare, I’m from the ATSS and I’ve decided, after looking over the case file, to look after Mr. Stilinski through the transport and will be assisting him in his home environment as well.” The man has a distinct Irish accent that Stiles can’t help but listen to.

There’s a tense silence for a brief moment before Stiles feels Derek move.

“I’m Derek Hale, this is Scott McCall. We’re close friends of both Stiles and his father, the Sheriff of Beacon Hills.”

There’s extra emphasis on the ‘sheriff’ part but Stiles can’t find it in him to care. They’re just looking out for him.

“It’s nice to meet you both. Do you happen to know where his father is? I have some things to discuss with him before we take to the road.”

“He’s talking with a couple of officers who came in here a bit ago. He’s down the hall and to the right.” Scott answers.

“Thank you. I’ll be seeing you later then.”

There isn’t a formal goodbye, just the sound of footsteps and the closing of the door before there’s silence.

“That was unexpected.” Scott mumbles.

“I think he was actually outside the door for a bit.” Derek says and Stiles can hear Scott shift his body towards him.

“Why do you think that?”

“I could hear someone outside the door but I didn’t realize that they were listening. Can you hear the Sheriff?”

“Sort of, if I focus.”

“Focus on the doctor.”

They’re both silent. Stiles doesn’t have that kind of range even though his ability to hear has practically doubled since he’s lost his ability to see. Derek’s jaw becomes more and more tense and Stiles doesn’t doubt that Scott is having the same reaction.

“Oh.” Scott says eventually and Derek heaves a small sigh.

“Yeah.”

Stiles’ fingers twitch on Derek’s face and he turns his face back towards him.

“Don’t worry Stiles, everything’s fine.”

This time the silence lasts for twenty minutes before the doctor who’d been taking care of him the last month or so opens the door followed by three nurses.

“Ok Mr. Stilinski, the transport van is ready so we’ll be moving you now. We’ll be giving you an extra dose of morphine to help with the pain of being moved. It won’t be enough to put you under again so you might feel some discomfort, but if it becomes too much let us know.”

Stiles nods and they start filing around him. There’s a distinct loss in focus as soon as the extra morphine hits his system and he wants to panic but the drugs keep him in a perpetual state of relaxation and having Derek, Scott, and now his dad there helps keep him from letting that panic shut him down.

The transfer to the van is less than painless but it’s far from painful. He has the sneaking suspicion that the ‘wolves are doing their pain drain thing since their hands never leave him. The only time the doctor and nurses tried to remove them from him his eyes had shot open and his arm, even though it felt so, incredibly heavy, had darted out, his breath coming faster as he felt for Derek’s familiar scruff or Scott’s bitten down nails. Derek was immediately allowed back within touching distance and Stiles figured he probably looked a little ridiculous leaning over him enough to keep his face within touching distance, but he didn’t seem to care. He just kept muttering reassurances that he was there, that he wasn’t leaving, that he was safe.

The van is on as they load him up and it takes a bit for him to become accustom to the sound. Derek simply climbs in with him followed by his father and two nurses, one male, one female. It’s a little cramped but the van was made for carrying multiple people and Stiles is insanely relieved that they’re with him.

“Scott’s going to drive my car back and Jackson’s driving his car back. Erica and Boyd are with Scott, Isaac with Jackson.” Derek says once everyone is situated in a seat.

“Ok, good. The officers have been informed of the situation and agree that this course of action, although a little unethical, might work and keep Stiles safe as we transfer back home. They’re also aware of the two cars following them and the five people in them. The hospital has arranged to go into ‘panic’ mode as soon as we reach the state line. Hopefully the bastards get caught if they stick around to hear the news.”

“This is the good IV then? Have you had the other one tested?”

“I sent the other bag out with the gurney they used to transfer Stiles in. They’re going to run tests on it and figure out if they can identify the poison they were planning to use. They also did a quick sweep of the interior to make sure there was nothing else put into the van. The nurses who stocked the van confirmed that nothing seems to have been tampered with.”

Then quietly, so only his father, and consequently Stiles, can hear, Derek says, “I’m going to do a sweep of my own.”

Stiles opens his good eye to look at Derek who’s seated right next to him and watches as he turns away from the nurses and his eyes go deep red. That’s one thing he’d managed to keep from them, that Derek’s still an Alpha. One secret that he didn’t give up. Derek’s gaze settles on him briefly and he’s given a small, warm smile that eases something in Stiles that seemed to have pinched up he doesn’t even know when.

Derek scans the room, his nose flaring and his head cocking slightly to the side. He goes over every inch of the van discreetly and after a solid twenty minutes he seems to be satisfied because his vaguely red eyes fade back into their original color, a color that Stiles can no longer see but knows to be an interesting mix of green and blue.

“There’s nothing out of place that I can see. A camera would’ve had a glare and a microphone would’ve had static. There’s no smell of poison anywhere either or gun powder or any other threat that I can detect that shouldn’t be here.”

His father blows out a breath of relief and claps Derek on the shoulder.

“Thanks son. Now we’ve got a good ten hours ahead of us. In about an hour and a half we’ll be at West Wendover, Nevada where we’ll be switching to a transportation van from Wells. That’s when the hospital will be getting the call. The Salt Lake City police will be sending another officer down here but by the time they get here we’ll already have been transferred and on our way. They’ll write up a false report that, as soon as those bastards have been caught, will be used as evidence in this little scene.”

“I’ll do another sweep of the van sent to pick us up from Wells then, just to safe.”

“That’ll be much appreciated.”

Stiles relaxes further, he’s in good hands. He doesn’t know when his father and Derek became so close but he figures it was sometime during their desperate search for him. It’s good for them though, both of them, to have someone to lean on. He’s just hoping that Derek kept his father out of the alcohol and he won’t be going home to a house full of empty whiskey bottles. But his dad hadn’t smelled or sounded of any alcohol since he’d arrived in Utah, so he figures that’s a good thing.

The rest of the ride is fairly comfortable. There aren’t any sharp turns or rough bumps in the road and Derek keeps his hand on Stiles, drawing out pain constantly despite the morphine and it leaves Stiles feeling like he’s floating.

As soon as they reach the state line the nurses begin fiddling with his wires and moving about, getting things ready for the move. His father and Derek both tense and the next ten minutes are filled with a flurry of movement. Stiles’ transport bed is taken directly from the back to the back of another van and slipped quickly inside. There’s another police vehicle beside the van from a different part of Nevada and two officers seated in the front. There’s no time for introductions so as soon as Stiles, Derek, his father, and the two nurses who came with the van are seated inside the van they’re off again.

“That went rather smoothly. Are the others still with us?”

Derek pulls out his phone before answering, “Yeah, they’re with us. They say the other police vehicle stayed behind and that the new one is now following us.” The quieter, “I’m going to do a sweep now.”

“Ok, that sounds good. Tell them to keep us posted and to stay vigilant of any vehicles that may be trailing us. This van should take us all the way back home.”

Twenty minutes later and Derek confirms that there’s nothing out of the ordinary here either.

“What about Dr. O’Heare? He’s not part of the group following us out.”

“He’s going to meet us back home, said he feels better flying than driving such a long way. Saves on gas money too.”

“What did you think of him? Do you think he’s qualified?”

“His credentials were emailed to me about a week ago, along with a few others. It took a while before I decided to choose him. He’s got the most extensive history with people who’ve been in this kind of situation and when I called him on the phone and spoke to him about it he was willing to take up residence in Beacon Hills for as long as he’s needed.”

“And you’re sure about him?”

His father is quiet for beat before replying in a quieter voice, “He was referred to me by Deaton, not the hospital.”

And that’s all that needs to be said.

~

Stiles allows himself to fall into a state of relaxation but doesn’t want to actually fall asleep. The van isn’t exactly loud but it’s unfamiliar and there are two people who are constantly talk whom he doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to fall asleep and wake up to unfamiliar voices and surroundings and freak out, so he stays focused on Derek’s hand which never leaves his grasp.

It’s a long trip, made longer by his constant vigilance, but it keeps him sane.

Chapter Text

“Let me tell you, it is good to see you.” Melissa greets him as he’s pulled from the back of the transport van.

Her voice is calm and familiar and instantly makes him feel better, like a mother’s. Stiles allows his fingers to detach from Derek who steps back and Melissa takes his place, holding his hand and pressing it to her lips.

“How about you never get kidnapped again, alright? I missed you.” She gives a chuckle that’s meant to be humorous but instead is just covering the thickness in her throat at seeing Stiles lying there looking so broken. “Now, let’s get you settled so you can sleep and heal up.”

As she wheels him into the hospital she addresses his dad and Derek, “You two need to go home, take a shower, get something to eat, and go to bed. You both look like you’re two hobos about to drop.”

“There are showers and food here, I’m staying with him.” His father says immediately with a hint of urgency.

She heaves a small, resigned breath. “Fine, but in the morning you’re going home and grabbing new clothes. I doubt you’ve washed those since you left. Derek, you go home. I’ll call you if anything happens before morning visiting hours.”

“I, uh, I also want to stay.” Derek says but Melissa just clicks her tongue at him.

“I know you do but you need to go home. He’ll start developing a dependency on you if you’re constantly there which, while it’s good for someone in his situation to be comforted, it’ll be a hindrance in the long run. Noah is his father so it’s different. Come back in the morning.”

The way she says it is so matter of fact, as if she’s seen it before, so Derek eventually concedes.

“I’ll be back in the morning Stiles. If you need me just tell the Sheriff or Melissa and I’ll be here as soon as I can.”

Stiles nods and feels the brush of fingertips across his cheek before Derek is walking away. There’s a small part of him that panics as Derek walks away but he’s got Melissa and his dad here right now so he focuses on them, on their familiar voices and scents and touches.

They’re real and he’s safe.

~

They get him settled in a small, familiar room and while he still hates hospitals, it’s better to be in a familiar one in his home town than one that’s hundreds of miles away in an unfamiliar state with unfamiliar people. Once he’s comfortable and hooked up to the monitors and given fluids, medication, and a form of liquid sustenance Stiles allows himself to relax into the bed, his hand held by his father. It doesn’t take long for him to fall into an exhausted sleep.

~

“Did you really think we’d let you get away that easily, boy?”

No.

“We have no use for you anymore, you’ve already given us everything.”

No.

“You answered all of our questions perfectly as soon as you thought you were safe.”

No!

“Soon your little pack of mutts will be burning, just like you, boy!”

NO!

Her laughing is cut off by the sounds of people yelling, by hands pressing down on him, by shrill beeping and bone deep pain.

“Hold him tighter, he’s going to hurt himself!”

“Call Derek, now!”

Derek. He needs Derek. He can’t be dead. It’s all his fault. He couldn’t stand the pain, he couldn’t take the questions, he can’t take being nameless.

“Stiles, sweetie, you’re ok, you’re ok, I need you to calm down. Stiles, can you hear me?! Stiles!”

No, he isn’t Stiles, he doesn’t have a name. He’s not human, he doesn’t deserve a name, he doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person. He’s a betrayer, he’s betrayed the only people that matter to him, they’re all going to die because of him, because he’s weak.

“We need to put him under again.”

“No, he comes out of those worse than this, Melissa, trust me when I say you don’t want to see that.”

“We need to do something!”

He’s crying, sobbing, breaking, he needs to break, he deserves to break. He’s hallucinating again, dreaming up the people’s voices he cares the most about. The real people only want to hurt him, see him suffer until he betrays those beloved people more, until he’s swimming in guilt and pain.

There’s a strong grip on his fingers and a voice in his ear. His hand is being pressed so hard against something soft but firm and a little scratchy and it’s moving. There’s warm, humid air against his ear but the voice is low, not high pitched and repulsive. It’s talking to him calmly, the deep resonance shaking through his head and his mind is beginning to clear.

He doesn’t know how long it takes until he’s able to register what’s being said but his throat hurts from trying to scream and his face is cold from tears.

“…-hat’s it, come on back Stiles, you’re doing fine. Take a breath, a deeper one, take another one, keep breathing, breathe with me.”

Stiles curls his fingers, feeling the rough stubble pressing into his fingertips. He knows this cheek, this chin. None of them ever had stubble, they’d always been clean shaven. It pulls him slowly to the surface, keeps him from sliding under.

He finds himself repeating in his broken, whistle of a voice, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

And Derek just replies with, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, Stiles, you’re ok…”

It doesn’t happen immediately but little by little Stiles comes down from the panic, from the fear, from the nightmare that had been his reality for seven months and back into the present. He comes back to the people who are still alive despite his betrayal, despite their best efforts to destroy everything he holds dear. His father is holding tightly to his casted left arm while Derek’s holding his right hand to his face. Melissa is at his feet holding them down and another nurse has his arms around his middle, trying to keep him still. After a moment that’s filled with the gentle sounds of his sobs they all begin to loosen their hold.

“Hey kiddo.” His dad’s sad voice breaks the silence.

“Dad.” He whispers on a sob.

Noah presses a long kiss to his son’s forehead that makes the kid want to apologize more for making his father so sad and scared and desperate. The nurse lets him go and Melissa simply rests her hands against his feet.

After a bit longer Derek says, “Should I call Scott?”

But Melissa shakes her head, “No, let him sleep. Everything’s ok here now. I need to go adjust his pain medications and fill out a report, I’m going to leave you two with him.”

“Thanks Melissa.” Noah mutters, his eyes not leaving his son.

She taps his feet gently and leaves the room. Stiles’ sobs have turned into quiet tears that he doesn’t know if he can stop. So, he lays there, quietly crying while Derek and his father whisper quiet reassurances to him but he doesn’t allow himself to fall back asleep. He can’t.

~

“Melissa, it’s been five weeks since he’s been back, he hasn’t said nearly a damn thing. You said his breaks are nearly all healed and all of his other wounds have scarred over, right? Why can’t he go home where he’ll be more comfortable?”

“It’s because he hasn’t said anything that I want to keep him here for a bit longer where I can observe him. He’s had two panic attacks and gone catatonic once since the day you brought him in but we still can’t figure out why. I’ve avoided the trigger word but there are still some things that cause unpredictable bouts of fear and outbursts.”

“The psychologist has been saying to take things slow but I don’t know how much slower I can go. It’s killing me to be here and it’s probably doing the same thing to him. His mother died here and ever since he’s hated hospitals. I think it’s time he was released. You can come over every day if that’s what it takes but please, Melissa, just let the boy go home. It’s been nearly a year since he’s been home in his own bed, in his own room.”

“I know, I know. I just don’t want him where I can’t immediately get to him.”

“You don’t think I’m the same? I’m his father, I feel like I’m going crazy with him here.”

Melissa sighs but eventually nods. “Ok, I’ll get you the discharge papers as soon as I can. But I want to be able to see him at least once a day. Also, I don’t think you should put him in his room for a while, the stairs are way too much for him, so the bedroom downstairs would be better. We’ll need to work him up to solid foods as well and we’ll have to schedule appointments with the physical therapist. You said that the psychologist will be making house visits, right?”

“Right. He’s been visiting every other day since we got here but he hasn’t talked about what happened during those seven months at all, he hasn’t even brought it up.”

“Which is good. We can’t push Stiles to talk about what happened until he actually starts talking and functioning like a normal human being again. Right now he’s barely a shell of a person, you need to give him time to come out of that shell again. He’s built himself a save zone, a comfort zone born of fear and desperation and pain which needs to be taken down before he can even begin to think about what happened to him, let alone talk about it. You should expect this to be a very long process, months, possibly years, before he even resembles the kid that he used to be.”

Noah heaves a long, sad sigh and nods. “Yeah, I know. It’s just so…heartbreaking and sad and hard. I want to do more, I want to protect him, to never let him out of my sights again. I want to help him, but I can’t, I don’t know how.”

“Just be there for him, Noah. This is going to be very, very hard for the both of you but especially for him, just listen and do whatever he needs and you’ll be ok.”

Melissa puts a hand on his shoulder and draws it up and down his arm soothingly, trying to comfort the strained man in any small way she can before letting him go.

“Now, I’m going to grab those discharge papers and give you a detailed explanation of all the medication and instructions for his bandages that he’s going to be sent home with. If you have anything you’re not sure about, call me immediately, I don’t want you just guessing on anything, ok?”

Noah nods and gives her a small, grateful smile. “Thanks Mel.”

“Any time. I’ll be right back.”

She walks off and Noah returns to the room Stiles is in, checking to see if the boy is still asleep. He seems to be so he breathes out a sigh and returns to his seat near the head of the bed, smoothing out the unruly locks that have started growing back in and covering the white scars that now crisscross his scalp. He’s glad to have at least some of them covered.

Stiles does look worlds better than the first day he’d saw him lying in the ICU in Utah but he still doesn’t look good. He’s absolutely covered in thick scars that are either still a lurid pink or a faded white. The only things that look the same are his ears and his mouth and even though his voice will probably never sound like it used to, he’s just glad that there’s something that’s the same as it used to be.

Chapter Text

“Welcome home dude!”

Stiles is greeted by his best friend pulling open the door to his house, the house he’s been longing for for almost a year. It’s been nine months since he’s last seen the off-white walls of his living room, the faded, light brown couches with the old floral throw pillows that his mother had gotten so many years ago and they could never bear to throw them away. He’s glad to see that there’s not a single alcohol bottle in sight but he’s afraid to see the condition of the alcohol cabinet.

“We made up the downstairs so it looks almost like your room upstairs. I mean, we didn’t paint the walls or put up your posters down here but we did get your bedding and clothes and computer and desk down here.”

Stiles is wheeled, because he’s in a wheelchair, into the house by his father and he takes a moment to just look at everything as much as his vision will allow. For some reason, it doesn’t quite feel real yet. It probably won’t feel real until he’s had a chance to touch everything, to feel that it’s solid and not a figment of his imagination or a hallucination.

The rest of the pack that hadn’t been able to go to Utah to see him is there, standing in the living room in varying degrees of discomfort (Jackson) to eagerness (Isaac). Lydia, Allison, and Peter are there too. There’s little fanfare as loud noises and lots of people too close still have Stiles falling back into fear and panic and really, what is there to celebrate? Stiles looks horrible, feels horrible, and will probably stay horrible for a long time, possibly the rest of his life. This isn’t a happy thing, just a relieving moment of being home.

“Do you want to see everyone or get comfortable in your room first?” his dad asks.

Stiles hesitates before, “Pack.”

He watches as Lydia and Allison’s eyes widen and even Peter looks a little frazzled, his eyebrows scrunching a little and his eyes focusing hard on him.

“Alright bud, sounds good. Let me talk to them real quick while Derek gets you situated in the living room.”

His dad walks around him and Derek takes over the controls, wheeling him past the three waiting people and to the couch. He still can’t lift himself so Derek easily scoops up his thin frame from the chair and deposits him softly into the cushions of the arm chair next to the sofa. He can hear his father talking even from this distance.

“These three words so far have been identified as trigger words. Under no circumstances can you say them. These situations are also triggers. Be quiet, don’t move too quickly, and don’t try to touch him too much unless he reaches for you first. He can’t talk very well nor can he move. Don’t ask him about his condition or what he went through. If he doesn’t answer you then move on, if he does don’t comment on his voice. And don’t stare.”

All three of them, even Peter, nod solemnly and follow his father into the living room after reading through the piece of paper that he hands them that must contain the things that have so far triggered panic attacks, black outs, outbursts, or other fear and panic induced reactions. Stiles can practically smell the pity coming off of Allison but Lydia strides right up, slowly though and without aggression, and seats herself on the sofa cushion closest to him, Allison taking up the middle cushion and Peter on the farthest cushion. They’re all looking at him but he’s grateful they aren’t staring like his father had said.

“Stiles, let me tell you, it’s been boring at school without you. I managed to keep your make up assignments in a very well put together order so that you can catch up to me once you’re feeling better.” Lydia says as if it’s a normal day about a normal subject and it makes the anxiety in his chest ease.

It surprises Stiles when it’s Peter who talks next, “Derek and Scott have been insufferable this past year, do try and leash them a bit now that you’re back.”

It makes Stiles want to smile at the small growl that Derek gives at his side but all it does is float right through him. So, he just turns his gaze to Peter, nods, and moves it away again, not sure what else he can do. It’d make them uncomfortable if he were to look at them for very long with his blank eyes.

Allison clears her throat and Stiles pretends he doesn’t notice the strain and hidden tears as she says, “My dad wants me to tell you that he’s available whenever if you need him for anything, anything at all. We’re also glad that you’re back.”

It’s by far the most awkward first words he’s gotten but it’s to be expected. He nods again at her in acknowledgement.

“We heard you lost those bastards at the state line, good thinking. Definitely the same Stiles we know and love.” Peter smiles and winks.

The word ‘love’ has Stiles’ gaze locking on Peter who falters for a second before the smile becomes more real, something he’d probably never seen on the man before. He holds up his hand towards the man, wanting to make sure that these really are the people he knows and loves. That he’s not just looking at and listening to empty air. Peter slowly, gently, scoots off the couch in a crouch and walks towards Stiles who puts the damaged fingers of his right hand against the sparsely stubbled cheek and breathes a sigh of relief when it’s solid and real beneath his fingertips.

Then he turns to Allison and reaches out. She scoots forward much the same and the dimples in her smile are definitely real. Then it’s Lydia, who’s the closest and he presses his palm against her cheek and finally that cool façade is broken and she looks devastated as he feels the warm apple of her cheek, so much plusher than those of the ones who’d hurt him before.

“I missed you.” He says, his gaze going over them.

Allison gives a small hiccup and then she’s crying. “We missed you too, Stiles, so, so much. We were so happy and relieved when they called and said they found you.”

“It’s good to have you bad.” Peter says in a voice so quiet Stiles probably wouldn’t have heard it before he lost his sight.

Lydia doesn’t say anything, just presses her fingers against the ones still on her face and Stiles can feel the warm wetness of tears even with his burned off fingertips.

“Ok kids and Peter, I think it’s time for Stiles to get some rest. You can see him tomorrow once he’s rested and not fresh from the hospital.” His father ushers them out and they go with reluctance, Lydia holding on until the last second before his fingers slip away.

Everyone says their goodbyes except Derek and his father, even Scott needing to go home and get some sleep. Once they’re all out the door his father comes back out and claps Derek on the shoulder.

“Thanks for taking care of my son kiddo. Let’s get him to his room and I’ll start dinner for the two of us.”

“Unless Stiles wants to join us?” Derek asks, looking at Stiles who shakes his head. “Alright then. I’ll join you for dinner once he’s resting.” Derek says and scoops Stiles into his gentle arms and carries him to the downstairs bedroom without fuss.

As Stiles is laid down on the bed his hand grips Derek’s shirt and he mutters, “Sorry.”

Derek’s face goes soft and he shakes his head, holding onto Stiles’ hand, “You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing at all. Me, your dad, the pack, we’re all here because we love you and want you to get better, not because we think we have to. All you need to worry about is getting better, ok?”

Stiles shakes his head and says, “You won’t,” quietly before turning away from Derek, pulling his grasp from his hand.

Derek thankfully doesn’t push it and just takes a seat in the comfy chair that had also been put in the room when it’d been made into his temporary bedroom. His presence is a comfort and when he picks up a book from the shelf next to him the sound of the turning pages allows him to relax further and slip into sleep.

 

Chapter Text

“Hello Stiles, it’s good to see you again. How are you settling in now that you’re back home?”

Dr. O’Heare had arrived early the first Monday, so five days, after Stiles’ release from the hospital. Now he’s sat on the couch drinking a cup of plain green tea and eating an herb scone he’d brought himself.

Stiles doesn’t answer, instead trying to figure out what this doctor wants from him. He hasn’t asked him any invasive things, he hasn’t asked him about what’d happened, he hasn’t even asked if he wanted to talk about it. He’s just been asking him mundane things during his visits to the hospital like if he thinks the blankets provide enough warmth or if he thinks the monitors are noisy or if the Jello is any good because he’s always wanted to try some but it’s a little strange to eat something that doesn’t seem like a liquid or solid.

It’s a little disconcerting but he’s fascinating to listen to.

“Your house is lovely, you’ll have to remind me to tell your father that it’s got a really nice atmosphere. Very welcoming.”

Stiles squints suspiciously at the man. He’s talking as if Stiles is answering.

“You know, when I was a lad, uff, that makes me sound old, but when I was a lad I used to live in this tiny little town in western Ireland called Carrowmoreknock. Beacon Hills reminds me a lot of that place, maybe a little more developed, but there’s still that small kind of feeling to it. Lots of trees. ‘Course we moved from there when I was only nine so I don’t remember much of it, mainly just the feelings.”

Stiles studies the man sat in front of him. He doesn’t think he’s here to hurt him but he can’t be sure. Light brown hair, green, smiling eyes, he’s probably around the same height as his dad, and slightly round in the middle. Probably from the tea cakes he’s said he loves so much.

The man keeps talking about things and even when he asks Stiles something he’ll wait a beat and when Stiles doesn’t answer he’ll keep talking like it doesn’t bother him at all. Kind of like how Stiles used to be. By the end of the hour-long session Stiles hasn’t uttered a single sound and yet Dr. O’Heare seems just as cheerful as when he’d come in.

“Well, Stiles, it’s time for me to go. I’ll be seeing you in two days since now that you’re out of the hospital the house visits actually entail a house to be in. Do tell your father that I say thanks for allowing me in his home and that it’s a lovely home. Text or call me if you need anything.”

He pulls a card from the front pocket of his vest and settles it onto the coffee table in front of where he’s sat and gives Stiles a wide smile before leaving out the front door. Stiles feels confused and is still sitting in a sort of daze when his father walks in from the other room having been watching the clock like a hawk, waiting for one minute after 12 like he’d been told by the doctor when he’d gotten there.

“Hey kiddo, how’d the meeting go? The doctor seems really nice.”

Stiles tilts his head, not sure if he should agree or not.

“How about trying to eat something semi-solid? Melissa emailed me a list of foods that you should be able to eat. I sent the list to Derek who should be back from the store any time now with the stuff. There’s yoghurt, cottage cheese, fresh strawberries and peaches since I know those are your favorite, there’s blueberries, avocadoes, potatoes, pudding, popsicles, ice cream, chicken, and a lot of others. I told him to only get one of each so if you don’t like something we don’t have to get it again. Anything you like more we can get more of. That sound alright?”

Stiles frowns at the extra length his father is going to but nods. His father looks so hopeful that he just can’t find it in him to say no to his help. He’s trying so hard for Stiles even though he’s done so much wrong. The front door opens and Stiles can hear the rustling of bags before the door is shut quietly again. The sheriff turns and smiles at what must be Derek coming back with the groceries.

“I got one of everything and anything you don’t want I’ll eat since I know you can’t have some of the heavier stuff like ice cream or pasta or bacon.”

The sheriff looks like he wants to protest but he just grumbles and goes into the kitchen with Derek to help put things away. Once they’re done Derek comes back into the living room to scoop up Stiles and bring him into the kitchen too. They’ve been avoiding using the wheelchair since it’s such a small living space. However, things like going to the bathroom Stiles does on his own as soon as he’s been put in his wheelchair in the bathroom. His father needs to help him bathe though since he’s so thin and weak and he’s still got his casts which he can’t get wet.

“What would you like first, Stiles?”

Stiles thinks about the things his dad had listed and decides on, “Yoghurt.”

His father smiles and scoops it out of the fridge, takes the lid off and gives him the container and a spoon which he takes in his right hand. Then, to seem like he’s not staring worriedly at his son he turns to Derek and strikes up a mundane conversation about the weather while Stiles stares into the container of strawberry/kiwi yoghurt, unsure if he’s really ready to eat. Nobody rushes him though and eventually he puts his spoon in the container set on the table and fishes a little bit out and brings it to his mouth.

It’s been so long since he’s had anything to eat that the explosion of flavor as it hits his tongue actually brings tears to his eyes. He didn’t think he’d ever get to eat again, not after the starvation in the last month they’d had him had started. He hadn’t had anything to eat besides the bland hospital Jello which tasted vaguely like citrus but didn’t really register to his senses. This though, this tastes tart and sweet and has bits of strawberry and kiwi in it and the entire experience is so overwhelming that he cries as he scoops small spoonfuls into his mouth.

When he looks up his dad has wet cheeks and Derek also looks like he’s biting his cheek at the strong emotions circling in the atmosphere.

“’S good.” He croaks and his dad nods vigorously.

“Yeah, yeah it is.” He sniffs.

Stiles has to stop before he’s finished the whole thing because his stomach is full to bursting but he feels more content than he’s felt in a long time. Now he just has to keep it all down.

“We can save that for later. Good job, son, you did good. I’m proud of you.” His dad says with a watery smile as he puts cling wrap over the top and sets the spoon in the dishwasher.

Derek comes up to his side and rubs a large, warm hand across his bony shoulders and gives him a small, crooked smile that is so genuine Stiles kind of wants to stare but can’t, he doesn’t allow himself to.

“Do you want to go back to your room or do you want to watch tv?”

Stiles thinks for a second before saying, “Room,” and his dad nods in understanding.

“Alright, you get some rest then.” He leans down and kisses his son on the forehead before Derek picks him up and takes him back to his room.

 

Chapter Text

“So, I heard you’ve been eating. That’s really good. Gotta get that strength up. You’re a growing kid, gotta keep them bones fed.” Dr. O’Heare says the next time they meet.

Again, like the last session, Stiles doesn’t speak and just listens as Dr. O’Heare talks, asks a few things, continues to talk, eats his scone, drinks his tea, talks, and finally, after the hour is up, he gets up and thanks Stiles, telling him to call or text if he needs anything, anything at all, and leaves.

“He’s a pretty funny guy, I like him.” His father says as he enters the living room after the doctor’s left. “Do you want a snack?”

Stiles nods, a little more enthused about getting something flavorful to eat than talking about the weird doctor.

~

“That rug in the front reminds me of when I went to Germany about two years ago, to meet with this pair of siblings who’d just lost their sister. They’d been triplets so you can only imagine how hard it was for them to lose her. Anyway, they used to always sit together on this special rug they had in their room that they used to play on when they were still triplets, it was like their memento of her. It was sad but it was also sweet.”

Stiles didn’t talk, but he did listen as the doctor continued talking.

~

On their tenth meeting Dr. O’Heare, ‘I know it’s spelled funny but it’s just ‘hair’ with an ‘o’ in front of it. It’s so weird how accents work, isn’t it?’ brings with him a present for Stiles.

“Your father has told me how much you’ve been liking the fruits he’s been getting you so I decided to get some fruits I thought you might like. I’ve got dragon fruit, lychees, longan, and a sapodilla. These are some sweeter fruits since he said you like strawberries and bananas and peaches. I’ll just leave them in the bag until the end of our session, yeah?”

Stiles feels a little excited about the prospect of more sweet fruit but he just doesn’t get it. What is with this doctor?

“What do you want?”

Dr. O’Heare stops and closes his mouth since he was about to launch into whatever long winded story he had this time and gives him a small smile that’s gentle and kind. “Honestly, I don’t want much. I don’t want everything and I don’t want to make you talk. I simply want what you want. If you don’t want to talk, that’s fine, I can wait until you do want to talk. If you don’t want to look at me, that’s fine, I can do the looking. There’s only one thing I really want, and that’s for you to get better. It’s not about your father, it’s not about the pack, it’s not even about those people. It’s about you. Only you.”

“Why?” he croaks, still confused.

“Because you’re worth it. Not only do you matter to a bunch of people but you matter as a person, as a human being.”

Human being? No, that’s not true. That’s so far from the truth.

“No, I’m not human. I don’t deserve to be a human. I am nothing. Nothing. I’m nothing.” Stiles mutters, his head tilting down and his mind going numb as he closes in on himself. “I have nothing. I deserve nothing. I have nothing. I am nothing. I am not human. I don’t have a name. No name. I’m nothing.”

He’s whispering, his words barely audible but Dr. O’Heare immediately knows what’s happening and starts talking back, counteracting each word with another word, a random word that doesn’t make sense in the context.

“Frogs, frogs on logs. Butter, butter in gutters. Flags, flags in bags. Stars, stars on cars. People, people in steeples. Dials, dials the aisles. Vials, vials with smiles. Stiles, Stiles has files. Stiles, Stiles goes miles. Stiles, Stiles in piles. Stiles, Stiles has styles. Stiles, Stiles is Stiles.”

“Stiles is Stiles.” Stiles finds himself muttering and his head snaps up and he stares at his doctor with his eyes wide, his one good eye seeing the gentle expression on the man’s face. “How’d you do that?”

“Have you heard of EMDR?” Stiles shakes his head, “It’s supposed to be eye movement desensitization and reprocessing which involves watching rapid movements or flashing lights to distract from the feelings you might be feeling when thinking about a traumatic event. However, because of your eyes I went with audio, instead of visual. By breaking through your words I was able to plant my words which broke your PTSD flashback. Thankfully I caught it quickly before you were emotionally spiraling which is harder to pull you back from.”

The doctor pauses and looks at Stiles seriously, reading the attention and whatever emotions may be on his face. After a bit he nods and leans back on the couch but turns his body to face Stiles fully. Stiles can sense the shift in attention and automatically focuses on the doctor.

“Stiles, you have what’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This means that there are things such as words, situations, movements, or even smells which can send you back to a memory which has been so deeply traumatizing to your mind that it goes into defensive mode to ward off these memories. So far, I have identified three, now four words, two situations, and two movements which sets you off into these episodes. Each trigger entices a different reaction, however, all of them so far have been defensive until this one. This one I am most concerned about. This trigger suggests that you have a certain level of belief in the words that were spoken meaning they were said enough times that you started to believe them.

“Have you ever heard someone say, ‘if you make that face long enough it’ll stick that way’?” Stiles nods, “It’s the same with words. If you say something enough times you’ll start to believe it. That’s why people are always trying to reinforce positivity, because words have power if you let yourself believe them. Actions, which are sometimes accompanied with certain words, are different, they garner an instinctive and necessary response in the body in order to protect itself from harm, it’s a survival mechanism. It’s like learning a new move in karate. You learn to read the signs of the other person’s body and you train your body to react accordingly to counteract those offensive movements with defensive movements. You get what I’m saying?”

Stiles nods, his attention fully captured.

“Now, in order to break these habits that the body has become accustom to it needs to be exposed to these words and actions in an environment that isn’t about survival. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to take a lot of work and it’s going to be scary and hard and draining on you, but now it’s about survival of a different kind. By allowing yourself to continue reacting to these triggers in a strongly defensive way you could not only end up hurting yourself but others around you. If you don’t allow yourself to heal you’ll remain injured in a way that no one else can heal which is very unhealthy for all parties.

“Stiles, you need to allow yourself to heal. Right now, you’re stagnant, and I understand that your physical body is still healing and it hurts, but the sooner you allow yourself to start healing on all levels the sooner you’ll be able to walk again, talk again, laugh and sing and dance again. You have to make an effort or you’ll remain in this state long enough that it’ll start hurting others. Do you think you can do that?”

Stiles doesn’t want to listen to this, he doesn’t want to hear that he’s still hurting others. He’s already hurt them so much, how much more is there left for him to do?

Dr. O’Heare claps his hands suddenly which makes Stiles gasp and jump, his whole body twitching violently in his seat but it breaks his train of thought.

“Well, I think that’s enough for today. Today was a very, very good day Mr. Stilinski. So very, very much got done, I’m quite pleased to say that you’re doing rather well. Now, this isn’t something you’d expect a psychologist to say but, don’t think too hard or obsessively over what we talked about today. Certainly give it some thought but if you find it difficult to the point where you’re shutting down, stop thinking about it and refocus on your breathing and your surroundings, keep yourself in the present. If you’d like you can talk with your father or that big friend of yours, Derek, about the session we had today and they can help you stay focused and in the present. However, it’s your decision, I’m bound by my doctor-patient confidentiality. Although, with your permission, I can give some pointers to your father and friends to help you through this. That’s for another time though. Just think on it, not too much though. I’ll see you in two days then! Call or text if you need anything, anything at all.”

And with that he’s up and out of the door, leaving behind the bag of fruits which he’d set on the coffee table at the very end of the session. His father comes in looking a little perplexed.

“You guys ended early. Did something happen? Oh wait, am I supposed to ask?”

Dr. O’Heare must’ve texted his father that they were done. Stiles goes to shake his head but pauses, then looks up at his father.

“I have PTSD.” He says simply.

His father sighs and gives him a small smile as he touches his shoulder. “Yeah you do kid, you’ve got it something fierce. But it’s not really surprising for what you’ve been through. You’ve just got to learn to work through it and eventually, with a lot of help and a lot of work, you’ll get back to smiling and talking and laughing. I know you will. You know how I know?”

Stiles frowns and shakes his head and his father leans down to eye level and says, “Because you survived. You’ve always been a survivor, ever since you were little, and you’ve always overcome everything that’s gotten in your way and this is no exception because you’re strong. So strong. You’ve been strong for me after your mother died, and now it’s my turn to be strong for you. We’ll get through this, I know it.”

And Stiles wants to cry. He wants to smile. He wants to. He can’t yet, but he wants to. Maybe, eventually. If, after what he’s done comes to light and they still accept him, maybe, just maybe, he’ll allow himself to smile again.

Chapter Text

The fruit that the doctor left is delicious and when Derek and Scott come over next he insists on giving them some. It feels different, being around them after that last therapy session. It feels like those words that had been completely nonexistent before are bubbling up and he suddenly wants to tell them everything. He wants to tell them what he did, that he betrayed them, that he doesn’t deserve him, but he can’t. He doesn’t want to lose the just yet, and it’s selfish and wrong of him, but he can’t help drawing on their strength as he starts to make an effort at getting better.

~

He’s gained some weight back, finally, and the physical therapist that has been coming every three days in between Dr. O’Heare’s visits has moved on from just having him flex his moveable joints to adding weights or having him actually try and stand up from his chair. It’s hard and it hurts, his bones and muscles screaming at him as he attempts to stand. It’s using everything he has in him just to plant his feet on the ground and push up with his arms.

His father and Derek are the ones that are usually there for this since everyone else has school except Peter. So, they’re the ones who are watching him practically humiliate himself by failing to do the simple act of standing up, but they never laugh at him, never say anything, they just encourage him and reassure him that he’s doing great and Derek subtly does the pain-drain thing which he is forever grateful for.

By the second month that he’s been back home he’s finally managed to stand up fully and take a few steps before his body needs to rest again and his father has never looked prouder. Even Derek looks at him with pride and it makes his heart swell even as his face keeps its stony appearance.

One day, on a day where neither doctor is due for a visit they receive a strange visitor of the doctor kind anyways. Even his father looks perplexed as he allows the man into the house. Derek’s not there at the moment so it’s just Stiles and his father.

“Hello Stiles, it’s good to see you recovering.” Dr. Deaton says with his usual smiles where Stiles is never sure if it’s genuine or not.

“Deaton, this is a surprise. To what do we owe the visit?” his father asks the thing that’s circling Stiles’ mind.

“There were just some things that I wanted to ask Stiles that is of great importance to his recovery. I hope you don’t mind.”

Deaton says this but he’s not waiting for permission, walking up to where Stiles is seated in the armchair and plopping down on the couch, setting his bag down on the coffee table before him.

“Stiles, I know that you’ve been working with Dr. O’Heare, and while he doesn’t tell me what the sessions are about he’s told me that he’s noticed something that he’s quite concerned about. I need you to tell me if you recognize these.”

Stiles’ eye darts to Deaton’s palm as he holds it out and freezes at the items settled almost innocently on his skin. The reaction is immediate. He’s scrambling backwards in the chair, shutting his mouth firmly and trying to get as far away from them as possible. Deaton instantly closes his hand and tucks the things back into his bag.

“I thought so. Stiles, do you know what those are?”

Stiles can’t answer, he’s simply shaking and staring at Deaton in fear.

“These are pills that are given to powerful magic users to suppress their magic. A side effect of these is a difficulty healing. It’s only once the user stops taking the pills and starts reusing their magic that they can heal at a faster rate, faster than a human generally can. Do you remember, back when Jackson was the kanima, when I had you manipulate mountain ash?”

Even with his heart still thundering in his chest Stiles is completely rapt. So, he nods and tries to settle calmly back into his seat.

“Remember when I told you that you had a Spark?” Stiles nods, “A Spark is a very powerful form of magic user. I don’t know how they found out that you could use magic but they gave you these pills to keep you under control and to affect your healing abilities. You may be progressing well but I’m sure that you’re still hurting quite a lot despite how long it’s been since you received your injuries, am I correct?”

How did he…? Stiles nods, thinking about the bone deep ache that never seems to go away even after his check-ups saying his bones had healed very well. It’s like he can still feel every place where he was broken and scarred like it’ll never quite heal.

Deaton nods as well and zips up his bag and puts it to the side. “The only way for you to fully heal is to start using that Spark that you have inside of you. The drugs should have been completely flushed from your system by now, the only thing left is for you to gain some control of the magic. Sparks can be tricky, though. The magic comes from sheer will power which is something you create, meaning, if you don’t believe it will happen, it won’t happen, or, if you don’t want it to happen, nothing will happen. Does that make sense?”

Slowly, still processing the information, Stiles nods. Logically it makes sense, but he’d thought that the mountain ash was a one-time thing, some sort of fluke.

“I want you to train with me during the days that you’re not with Dr. O’Heare or Dr. Turner. I know that some days you meet with both of them in the same day so I won’t make you meet with me during days they’re here since this will be both physically and mentally exhausting and I don’t want to overwhelm you. However, this means that you’ll be seeing at least one person every day. Are you ready for that?”

Stiles takes a moment to think this through. He’s already taxing his body with the physical therapist and his mind with Dr. O’Heare, but Deaton says that his training would ease both of those, right?

“What’s in it for you?” Stiles finally asks and Stiles waits for the reaction he always gets when a person hears his voice for the first time.

It doesn’t come though. Deaton’s gaze is as steady and unwavering as always.

“I want to train you to take over as emissary for the Hale/McCall pack.”

And that totally throws Stiles. Out of all the things he was expecting Deaton to say, that certainly didn’t make the list.

“All powerful, large packs have emissaries to keep them from attracting too much unwanted attention from outside threats. Emissaries protect the territory and ensure that the pack and their offspring are safe and have space to multiply and become more powerful. However, emissaries also protect the pack from themselves. If a pack becomes too violent or unruly it’s the emissary’s job to reign them in, to make sure their pack doesn’t become a threat to other people or packs. It’s like keeping the balance and the peace inside and outside of the pack.”

“Why me?” Stiles asks.

“Because you are powerful and smart and have a great pack that needs guidance. I can’t be their emissary because I was the previous Hale pack’s emissary. My magic would clash with their new territory and you have a bond with them that I could never have. Even when you were away you still managed to bring the pack together to work cohesively in order to find you.”

He’s not sure what to say to that. He doesn’t feel powerful or smart, he just feels broken and like a burden, a snake in their midst. He doesn’t deserve to be with them.

“How about you give me two months, that’s about twenty sessions, give or take, to help you. If you haven’t learned to heal in that time or still don’t want to afterwards, I’ll accept your decision and won’t press unless you seek me out yourself. How’s that sound?”

His father, throughout the entire conversation, hadn’t said anything, so Stiles looks at him now and his father shrugs.

“If it matters at all what I say then I would like for you to do it Stiles, but I know it’s your decision and I’ll respect whatever you decide.”

“Can I have some time?”

Deaton smiles. “Of course, this is a big decision. Go ahead and talk it over with your dad and with the pack if you need to so that they understand what’s happening. I’ll come back when you have no other visitors scheduled, so, Sunday. Let me know what you decide.”

“Thanks for stopping by Deaton, although, a little heads up next time would be appreciated.”

“Of course, Sheriff. I’ll see you later, then.”

After the door is shut his father blows out a breath. “That is one weird man.” He takes a seat on the couch. “Do you think this is something you might consider doing? If this magic training, or whatever, can help you get better then I think you should really think about doing it. You’re already part of the pack anyway, being their official emissary could really help them and you.”

“I’m not.”

His father looks at him, confused. “Not what?”

“Part of the pack. I’m not.”

“That’s just ridiculous, son. Of course you’re part of the pack, how could you not be?”

Stiles shakes his head. He doesn’t have the energy to explain it to his dad. His father looks like he wants to push for answer and for a second Stiles is worried that he might, but the moment passes as his father blows out a breath and he nods.

“Alright, if that’s what you want to think, I don’t think I can do anything to dissuade you, but you should really talk to the pack about that. I’m sure they’ll be just as offended as I think they’ll be if you tell them that, especially Scott.”

Stiles doesn’t answer and continues staring ahead of him at the foggy living room. They wouldn’t understand unless he explained and he’s not sure if that’s something he’ll be able to do without breaking.

Chapter Text

“I think it’s time we start addressing some of the main concerns here, Stiles.” Dr. O’Heare says about five minutes into their next session and Stiles tenses up.

Dr. O’Heare nods at the reaction and makes a small, soothing gesture with his hands. “Yes, I know, it’s not going to be the most pleasant of things, but so far I’ve been taking it slowly and it’s paid off rather nicely. You’ve begun talking more, you’ll actually turn towards someone when they’re speaking and you’re progressing nicely in your physical therapy. But it’s time to start in on the real problem, your memories.

“You know those coping mechanisms we’ve been talking about? You’re going to be using them from now on during the sessions as we begin to talk about your memories. This is an important step in the healing process and I’ve been putting it off until I thought that your body could handle it if you went into an episode. Dr. Deaton has been by to speak with you, yes?”

Stiles glares at the man which is answer enough for him.

“Stiles, it’s not going to be easy, but these things rarely are. You need to work with me to help yourself. We’re not going to just dive on in, we’re going to start small. We’re going to start with you thinking back to those seven months, but I don’t want you to think of the hard things, I want you to think of the easy things, things that don’t hurt to remember. Were there moments during your time there that were easier to deal with?”

Stiles doesn’t want to think about it. Those seven months of pain and anguish, of guilt and of being less than, of being nothing, of being broken and beaten and broken again.

“Stiles, don’t think of the hard parts, only the easier ones. I want you to use your breathing techniques and your word association, can you do that? You don’t have to use full sentences, just one word at a time or even a couple of words if you can manage it.”

Stiles takes deep breaths in through his nose and exhales through his mouth, his right-hand fidgeting nervously with his motionless left-hand in his lap.

“Cold, alone, bread, chicken, water, counting, listening, darkness, sleeping, thinking, emotions, lonely…”

Stiles continues in halting non-sentences. Each word brings back a memory, then another one, but he avoids the memories that these simpler memories bring, the memories that lead to hurt and torture of having no name and of the voices that only bring pain.

“You’re doing very well, Stiles. Now, I want you to string some words together into a sentence. You were cold, where? You were given bread, when? You were counting, what?”

“I was in a cold room. On the floor. I was given bread in the room after the day. I would count everything, seconds, minutes, hours, sheep, random numbers, anything to keep from hurting.” Stiles flinches and goes through another round of breathing before he can continue. “I couldn’t see, blindfolded, so I listened. To everything. I can hear conversations from very far away. Except in the room. It was always quiet. And dark. I was laid on my left side, hands behind my back, wrists tied to ankles. Thighs tied together. I never had any clothes. I had a gag unless…they asked…”

Stiles shudders and breathes deeply, looking at his doctor and runs his fingers along the embroidery in the floral pillow, reminding himself of where he is.

“Good Stiles, you’re doing very, very well. Keep going as much as you can. If you need to stop just say so.”

Stiles nods and even though he wants to stop he thinks of his father in the next room, of Derek and Scott and he needs to keep going.

“They ask things, I try not to answer. I try, but I can’t. I-…” Stiles chokes on his words. He betrayed his pack, the people he loves most.

“Stiles, eyes on me.” Dr. O’Heare’s voice is strong and has Stiles looking back at him, his breathing getting ragged. “You’re doing so good, now I’m going to ask and you don’t have to answer, but I want you to try, ok?”

Stiles takes deep breaths and is thankful that Dr. O’Heare waits for him because he’s feeling dangerously close to crying which is usually quickly followed by panic attacks. The doctor waits until he has his breathing under control again before continuing.

“Do they ask about you?”

Stiles nods.

“I want you to use your words, ok?”

“Ok.”

“Did they ask about your family?”

“Yes, my dad and how my m-mom died.”

“Good, ok. Did they ask about Beacon Hills?”

“Sometimes, they wanted to know about the Nemeton and how it draws people in, if I knew anything about it.”

Dr. O’Heare nods. “Ok, did you have an answer?”

Stiles sucks in a breath, thinking of the times when he refused and of the times he lied.

“I-I…I tried, I didn’t mean to…they…it hurt and I lied but they knew and the pack…I…”

Stiles feels like he’s drowning in guilt and pain. He forgets to breathe and then he’s stuck, completely stuck inside of himself, inside of his head, transported back to all the times he had to answer, when not answering would have cost him his life. There was always so much pain, everything hurts.

Stiles gasps and his mind is suddenly clear and he can feel his body where it’s laid out on the floor and he can barely make out the fan on the ceiling through his damaged eye.

“Stiles, are you with me? Stiles, I need you to listen to me and breathe with me.”

Stiles nods, his weak hand gripping someone’s shirt hard enough that he feels like his bones are going to rebreak.

“Good. Stiles, do you know where you are?”

He’s in his house, he’s at home. His father is in the next room. So, he nods.

“Excellent, you’re doing well, keep breathing. Do you know what day it is?”

“Th-Thursday.” He whistles out.

“Very good. Can you tell me your full name?”

Stiles blanks.

“Stiles, I need you to say your real name.”

“M…M-M…”

He can’t do it.

“Yes, you can, you can do it. It is yours. It is who you are. Say your name.”

And suddenly Stiles is saying, “Mieczysław Stilinski. I go by Stiles. What did you do?”

Dr. O’Heare smiles and holds up a finger. At the tip of his finger is a long, needle-like protrusion that’s shooting through his skin.

“Alan Deaton called for me specifically for this case. A few others were chosen as well but he knew your father would most likely pick me. My great grandmother was friends with a Dryad. I inherited some of her magical abilities that it gave her. I injected some of my magic into your system and used it to calm you down before you hurt yourself or lost yourself in the past. I’ve seen it happen a few times. This is an emergency only measure and I will be speaking with your father about this in case your magic interferes with mine. I didn’t give you much, but you have a strong spark inside of you so it’s best to be safe and keep an eye out for any backlash.”

Dr. O’Heare rights Stiles and gets him back to his chair before stepping back and smiling widely.

“Stiles, you have done a marvelous job and, despite the little hiccup there at the end, I definitely think that soon you’ll be able to talk more strongly about these memories without too much pain. I predict that within the next year you’ll be laughing and smiling again!”

Stiles doesn’t believe him even a little bit but doesn’t say anything as the doctor says his goodbyes to him and goes to discuss things with his father.

~

For the next week he doesn’t speak. He can’t. It’s like he’s been drawn back into the pain and anguish he’d escaped barely four months prior. The pack is obviously worried as they all come to visit him from time to time but his father is understanding and allows him the time he needs.

When Deaton had come by Stiles had nodded his agreeance but had refused to talk, so that first week was full of silent lessons and inward focusing. Breathing techniques also seem to be a thing with all of the doctors coming to see him as Deaton starts him up on those immediately at the start of every lesson.

It’s soothing so he doesn’t question it.

~

One day, after a physically taxing day with Dr. Turner, Scott surprises him by turning up looking cheery and not cautious and a little like a kicked puppy, like he usually is whenever he visits.

“Dude, I heard you’ve been taking lessons with Deaton on how to use your Spark. Dude, that’s so awesome! Ever since that time with the mountain ash back at Jungle when Jackson was a douchy lizard I knew you were totally going to be the Harry Potter in our group.”

Stiles looks at him and says, “Hermione. You’re Neville.”

And Scott busts out laughing and Stiles feels shocked at how easily he’d been able to say it. It was like a reflex, a knee jerk reaction to the familiar companionship with Scott. And it felt good. So good. Stiles takes a moment to really look at Scott, who’s close enough to see and sees how much he’s grown over the past year. His hair, which used to be floppy and unruly, was now buzzed on the sides and styled on top making him look far more mature than he used to before. There’s confidence in his every movement and his smile is wide and genuine and Stiles finds his lips twitching as if he wants to smile.

Is he allowed to?

“Scott.” He mumbles, happy with the way he’s able to say it without fear or pain.

Scott looks at him, smiling happily. “Yeah dude?”

Stiles shakes his head and reaches up to skim his hand over his best friends arm where the dark tattoo mars his tan skin.

“Nothing, just good to see you.”

“Yeah man, I know what you mean. It’s good to see you too. Sorry I’m not around more often, this year has got a lot of ridiculous classes. Did you know that I’m in AP Bio? I totally did that on my own! See? I’m definitely smart enough for AP classes.”

Scott’s child-like laughter is soothing and Stiles finds himself relaxing into the conversation, replying where needed and even sending a few jokes back, even if he doesn’t laugh at them.

Watching Scott leave later has Stiles longing to walk out that door with his best friend, to run around in the preserve like he used to and to just be with the people he loves most in the world. He’s smart enough to know that he’s not ready for any of that yet, but he thinks, that if he finally starts giving it some effort, he might just be able to. He’s not dead yet.

“Dad.” He says and it’s almost a shock when his father comes around the corner, trying to look as if he hadn’t been eavesdropping the entire time.

“What’s up, son?”

Stiles gathers himself and says, “I want to talk about what happened.”

Emotions flicker over the Sheriff’s face but he looks determined and actually happy at the words so he takes a seat next to Stiles and nods.

“Anything you want to say, I’ll listen. Anything you want me to understand, I’ll do my best. I can’t promise I’ll have all the answers, but I’ll try.”

“Thanks dad. Just, keep me from going under, ok? It’s…hard. It’s always like I’m being pulled back to that time. I think…I think I just need to say it, like if I finally say it I’ll be able to overcome it.”

His dad nods and pulls his phone from his back pocket. “Do you mind if I record this?”

Stiles shakes his head, understanding his father’s need to have evidence.

“Whenever you’re ready to begin, go ahead.”

Stiles takes several deep breaths, has to take a few minutes to go through some calming techniques, ignores the phone and starts talking.

“There were five of them, three men and two women. The women’s names were Janice and A-Amy. Amy was in charge. The men were Bradshaw, Anthony, and C-Conner. They asked me for information regarding the pack, Beacon Hills, and my family. They wanted to know who the Alpha was, who the Betas were, and the humans in the pack. They wanted to know everything, their weaknesses, their strengths, just…everything. And I told them. I tried to lie, I tried not to say anything, but they would hurt me. They hit me so hard, they wouldn’t let me sleep, they wouldn’t let me eat, sometimes they wouldn’t let me breathe if I didn’t tell them what they wanted to know.”

Stiles is choking, he doesn’t know how he’s still going. He starts speaking aloud as he recalls everything, not really realizing that as he’s being shoved back into his memories he’s relaying everything to his father.

 It’s like he’s there. It’s like they’re there with him. It’s like he’s with them, betraying and hurting everyone he loves all because he’s too weak to defend himself. His bones are snapping, the pain is excruciating. His blood is everywhere, all the time, flowing out of old and new wounds. Sometimes there’s the startling shock of white as his bone is shoved through his skin. Then there’s them, shoving the bone back in, binding it so that it’ll heal and they can rebreak it again and again.

Six months and two weeks of pure, unadulterated agony. All the memories, feelings, experiences, every form of torture they used, every word they spoke to him, all of it is rushing in, twisting him, breaking him again and again. How is he still alive? Why is he still alive? He should have died so long ago? His disgusting and ugly form shows that he should be dead. How did he survive? Why did he survive? He is nothing. He has no name. He doesn’t deserve anything.

“Stiles! Son, come on back, come back to me. It’s ok, you don’t have to say any more, you don’t have to think about it anymore, I heard it all, you said everything you needed to, you don’t have to anymore. Please, just, come back.”

It’s just like before with Dr. O’Heare. He wakes up on his back, staring at the ceiling with his father knelt by his side and a hand pressed against the meat of his shoulder.

“Dad?” his voice gives out completely.

“Yeah buddy, I’m right here. I had to give you the emergency dose that Dr. O’Heare gave me just in case this happened.”

Oh, that’s why his mind isn’t lost to the past.

“Stiles, you with me bud?”

Stiles nods and allows his father to sit him upright then pull him up so he can sit him into his wheel chair. His father stays there, arms wrapped around him, pressing a long kiss into his hair, and they sit there for a long while until Stiles’ body begins to droop in exhaustion.

“How about you go ahead and rest, it’s been a long day. I’m going to call a couple of people but I’ll be here if you need me, just call me on the phone or press the button on the walkie talkie, I’ll hear it.”

Stiles nods and allows his father to wheel him back to his room, his mind still a little fuzzy and his body feeling like he went through a compactor. As soon as his father is gone from his room he falls into a thankfully dark sleep.

Chapter Text

“It was bad Derek.” Is the first thing Stiles wakes up to hearing, “I’m glad you didn’t have to see it but I’m also kind of glad that it happened. There’s so much pent up pain that I don’t even know how he’s still functioning. His mind seems to be doing well despite the strain and unless he goes into one of those episodes he seems pretty normal.”

“When my family died I was very much like him as he is now. There’s so much guilt and pain and he doesn’t smile or laugh or even talk all that much. Peter would probably know more about the physical pain side of things because he was actually in the fire and scarred for years in a coma. Right now, Stiles is doing remarkably well but he’s still only human. My uncle is a werewolf and he barely survived from a single night in a fire. Stiles went through I don’t even know how much more.”

“I wanted to ask you, you remember when you told me about the memory thing that werewolves can do?” a pause, “Do you think you’d be able to do that for Stiles? Take his memories? Wouldn’t that make him better?”

Derek sighs. “It’s complicated with humans. Werewolves can heal after the nails are removed from the neck, humans don’t. It also takes a physical toll on the werewolf as well. That much pain and trauma would not be easy on me even though I’m an Alpha, it’d probably take me, Scott, and Peter to remove all of those memories without risk to our own sanity and we’d still have to make sure that Stiles is alright. He could wake up from that wondering why the hell his body is so messed up.”

“But would it help him heal? Right now his mind is preventing him from opening up to Deaton’s training, he’s so full of guilt that he doesn’t think he should heal so he just isn’t. Derek,” Noah’s voice goes high and pleading, “please, please help my son. Dr. O’Heare said that it could take years before he can ever smile, years more before he’ll laugh. That and he doesn’t think that Stiles would eat or sleep without the pain medications and anti-anxiety and anti-depression pills he’s been taking, but his body is already mostly immune to the drugs and a high dosage could damage him even further.”

“Sir, I understand what you’re saying and I want to, trust me, I want to, but I’d have to ask Scott and Peter to help me and talk with his doctors before I can think of injuring him further. If it doesn’t work it could destroy him. Leave him in a catatonic state that he’ll never come out of. I need to see if this would even work because it’ll be taking almost a year out of his memory and leave him with a wheelchair bound body.”

His father sighs and Stiles flinches at the hopelessness, “Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. Ok, we’ll get the pack together and I’ll ask Deaton to come over. I’ll talk with O’Heare and see if he’ll come to a meeting as well. Do you want me to tell Stiles about this or wait until it’s confirmed that this could very well work? I don’t want to give him false hope.”

“I can’t decide that for you, it’s up to you if you want to tell him, if not then I’ll respect your wishes.”

“You’re a good kid, Hale. Alright, I’d like to hold the meeting tomorrow after the session with O’Heare. I’ll talk to him about it and see if it’s a good idea given Stiles’ mental capacity at the moment.”

“Yes sir, I’ll gather the pack and we’ll meet you tomorrow. If you need any of us just call and we’ll be here as soon as we can.”

“I know son, thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Good night, sir.”

Stiles listens as Derek leaves and feels hope and fear welling within him. If they could take these memories from him will that get rid of what he’s done? Will he be able to move on with his life and finally start healing again? But what about the things he has done? He’s betrayed them and does he really deserve to live a happy, normal life after all that?

The anxiety whirls within him until the exhaustion pulls him under again.

~

“Today your father and I were talking about something that could very well help you with your delicate mental state, Stiles.”

“Memory taking.” Stiles nods and he sees the surprise and almost guilt flash across his father’s face where he’s sat next to the doctor for the first time in a session.

“You heard us last night, didn’t you?”

Stiles nods. “I don’t know if I want it. The things I’ve done can’t just be erased.”

“What things would that be? You were being tortured for information, there’s absolutely no humanly possible way to not have said anything in that sort of situation. I know you see this as a sort of betrayal but I’m sure you’ll find, that if you’d only talk to the people who love you most and I know you love most, that they don’t see it that way. I’ve also been talking to the pack every now and again and did you know that Scott feels like he betrayed you?”

Shock must be written all over Stiles’ face because Dr. O’Heare nods. “He feels like he should have protected you, been there with you walking home from school because he’d promised earlier that day before he was asked away by his girlfriend. You father as well.”

His father flinches and Stiles flinches in response.

“Do you hold them responsible for being unable to be there for you?”

Stiles shakes his head vigorously. The thought had never even crossed his mind. Dr. O’Heare is nodding.

“The entire pack, even the weird one, Peter, feels like they’ve failed you for being unable to track you down and bring you home. You are so important and loved by all of them that they are absolutely torn up inside and feeling guilty because they couldn’t do enough, weren’t there in time, took too long, etcetera. But you know what? They were doing all they could to find you, they never stopped. Every waking moment was spent listening for anything on your whereabouts, every person not in school was crossing states in search of you. Did you know that Derek even went to Mexico and Canada trying to find you? He just hadn’t gotten around to going far enough East otherwise he’d have found you for sure.

“But you’re smart and strong and willful and ingenious and were able to escape under circumstances where anyone else would have given up and died. This is a chance for you to forgive yourself for things you had absolutely no control over, things you did in order to survive. The information you gave would have been gladly given by all of the others in order to get you back.”

Stiles is crying. He doesn’t want to believe it, he wants to be punished for what he’s done, he deserves to be punished. But if what Dr. O’Heare is telling him is true then maybe he should try and get better, just try, so that eventually he can deal with these memories with the people he loves there to take care of them.

“Ok, but on one condition.” Both of them look at him intently, “After my body heals and I have control of my Spark, I want my memories back. It doesn’t have to be all at once but I want to remember what happened, what I did, and who did it.” I want to punish myself when I can deal with it properly, with a strong body, but he doesn’t say that.

A huge smile overtakes his father’s face and the utter relief is both uplifting and hard to see.

“Ok, I’ll call the pack over then. Right now, they’re gathered at Scott’s house going over again how to take memories since it’s been a while since they’ve done it.”

Stiles’ heart is thudding hard in his chest and he doesn’t know if he can do this but he’ll at least try. A knock at the door startles him and his father answers it as he’s talking on the phone and Deaton comes walking through the door with his bag in hand.

“Ah, Alan, it’s nice to see you.”

“O’Heare, it’s good to see you too. Thank you again for coming on such short notice. As you can see this fine young gentleman is quite dear to me and the people here.”

“I can see that. You’ll owe me a favor though.” Dr. O’Heare jokes.

“Of course I will.” Deaton rolls his eyes. “Stiles, how are you doing?”

Stiles just stares at him because, really? Stupid question.

Chapter Text

Peter, Derek, and Scott are lined up in front of him as that’s the order they’ll be pulling memories from him.

“All three of you need to be prepared for the pain you’ll be in as you see and feel the memories exactly as Stiles had experienced them. Since he’s human you’ll have to remain cognizant of your actions and surroundings at all times, do you understand?” Deaton says.

All three werewolves nod, all of them looking grim.

“Peter has the most experience so he’s going to be going through the memories and pulling out the most painful ones, then Derek, then Scott, who’ll pull everything remaining from the day Stiles was kidnapped to today. If at any time you feel like you’re going to lose control you need to immediately step away even if it’s mid memory. You can do permanent damage that could inhibit his ability to use his Spark if you go too deep or too far up or down with your claws meaning he won’t be able to heal himself ever.”

As soon as all the precautions have been taken and the claws have been disinfected Peter steps up to Stiles and settles his nails at the back of his neck.

“Sorry kid, this is going to hurt.” And shoves the claws into the skin.

Stiles’ scream is cut short as memories start flashing through his mind. The memories of the torture are located immediately as they’re the darkest part of his mind. He’s suddenly sucked into the vivid memories of the torture.

~

“That’s ten times in the last three hours that you’ve lied to my face!” the woman screams at him. “I guess your arms aren’t worth that much to you. Bradshaw, he doesn’t need those bones to stay where they are, fix them.”

Stiles screams and pleads with him, swearing that he’ll tell the truth this time but the man already has a hold of his right arm and snaps it like a twig. Stiles passes out as he screams but he doesn’t stay under long. They jolt him with enough volts to send his system into shock before it starts up again and he’s conscious again.

“We’re not done yet. You’ve still got the other arm to do.”

Again, in the same place on the other arm the man grabs and bends and keeps bending slowly, past the point of pain and flexibility and the poor bone finally gives and snaps. There’s a tearing sensation and suddenly the break is not just a break, it’s a compound break meaning the bone went through his skin.

“Would you look at that.” The man says almost in awe.

“Good, now fix him and throw him back in his room.” The woman leaves the room but the man, Bradshaw, grabs his arm and yanks it straight so the bone is pulled back through the skin and settles against the other broken part.

“Good thing I went to medical school or this would be a lot messier. Not that I’ll make it easy on you.”

And he pulls and pushes the bones until they’re in the right place and Stiles’ voice is going hoarse from screaming but he just.can’t.stop.

~

“This here’s my favorite car, the newest Ford Mustang V8 Fastback. It drives like a dream and goes from 0-62 miles per hour in five seconds. I’m sure you’ll appreciate it once you see what it can do.” Anthony coos and lays Stiles down on the ground.

Blindfolded Stiles has no idea what’s happening but then he hears the engine and he starts squirming but there are hands holding his head in place.

“Now get a load of this!” Anthony yells out the window and all of a sudden there’s cold rubber tires driving right over his thighs and he’s screaming as the bones break. “Isn’t it just beautiful! Now watch as it backs up!”

The tires go back over his legs in the exact same place they broke and he wants to die, he just wants this to be over.

~

“I told you I went to medical school, right? Well, there I learned how to put splintered bones back together and let me tell you, it’s a fascinating thing, almost like doing a puzzle. Now, what you gotta do first is open up the skin like this,” Stiles screams and tries to struggle as the scalpel opens the damaged skin of his thigh and cuts through the muscle like butter. “Then you gotta find all the little pieces…”

Everything after that is lost because he’s fading, he’s fading so fast. He’s going to die. He can’t take it.

And then there’s sensation and he’s waking up with his thighs both in poorly made casts.

“Lucky fuck, you died on my table and I had to bring you back, like, three times! Next time pay attention as I give you a lesson!”

~

Peter pulls back, gasping and shaking as he finishes drawing out all the severe memories he can find. Even as numb as he is, the pain is something that has him doubling up and throwing up into the nearest bin. Erica and Boyd are right there to steady him as he goes to collapse onto the couch.

They don’t wait for Stiles to come out of the trance because it could be too dangerous for him and Derek sinks his claws into Stiles’ neck and is drawn straight into the memories.

~

“Again, you just had to do it again. It’s been a good month so far, you’ve been giving us information so willingly and now you had to go and do this. When are you ever going to learn that lying and staying silent just aren’t going to work?” Amy seethes. “Connor, do what you need to.”

Stiles shakes hard in his restraints as Connor steps up and he can hear him just breathing, staring at him and when nothing immediately happens he begins to let his poor body relax a little. It’s a mistake.

Sharp metal is pressed to the inside of his arm and the flat of the blade is yanked just under the skin so a large sheet of it sloughs off. Stiles screams and cries, begging and pleading to no avail. Even as he whimpers out the answers they wanted to hear Connor keeps going, skinning little pieces of him off at a time, some right next to each other, others in random spots on his body. Blood is dripping in streams down his body and puddling beneath him by the time Connor is finished and Amy steps up again.

“You feel like talking now, boy?”

~

Stiles doesn’t even know what he did this time. He’d been following directions, he’d been answering questions, he’d been docile and responding as he should but Connor had come into his room, taken him by the hair and dragged him through the hallways until he reached a new room, one that smelled like the chemistry lab at school.

“Don’t worry, I won’t keep you here long.” Connor’s dead voice tells him.

“Why? What’d I do? I’ve been good, I swear, everything I’ve said is true.”

“Oh, we know. This is just for fun.”

And then there’s burning, but not like a fire burning. This is skin melting, a penetrating burning that keeps going and going and going, sliding down his left side, dripping down his thigh and calf, dripping onto his foot and making him writhe and scream. Then there’s another splash on the back of his thigh and his skin bubbles and oozes away from the muscles.

It feels like an eternity before Connor grabs a hose, turns it onto full blasts and aims it at his bloody burns. Stiles isn’t sure what hurts worse, the chemicals as they burn away his skin or the water as it blasts directly into the bloody mess left behind.

~

“If you’re not going to properly use those lungs for telling us what we want, we’ll have to use them for something else.” Anthony cackles.

Stiles is tipped slightly backwards and there’s a cloth over his face. He’s not sure what’s going on or what demonic sort of plan they have now but he’s scared, terrified, already screaming and pleading.

Then there’s water. So much water. He’s drowning. It’s filling up his nose, rushing down his throat, pooling in his lungs. There’s nothing in his stomach to throw up but it tries. He’s allowed a breath and then there’s water again. It goes on for hours, over and over. He’s passed out once and was smacked into the waking world. He accidently pisses himself and gets a longer bout of water and he almost drowns, only air being forced into his mouth keeping him from dying.

It continues for another two hours.

~

Derek barely has time to pull his claws out before he’s going down on his knees and gasping for air. Like Peter he darts for the bin and throws up everything he’s eaten in the last 24 hours. Erica, Boyd, and Isaac have to pick him up and carrying him to the other couch and lay him down where he shudders and breathes deeply.

Scott’s palms are sweating and he’s terrified but he has to do this, for Stiles, so before he can lose his resolve he darts forward and sinks his claws in.

~

“You said your dad’s the Sheriff, right? That means you’ll know what this is.” There’s a click and the sound of metal against metal as a gun is cocked. “Oh yeah, you definitely know what this is. Now, tell me boy, who’s the kanima and who controls it?”

Stiles shakes his head desperately, “There is no kanima, I swear! It’s gone! Matt Daehler had been controlling it before but then he was found drowned in the river and the kanima never surfaced again!”

“You’re lying again! Or rather, you’re telling a half-truth. There was a kid who drowned but then there was an incident during a lacrosse game that made it to the papers, although, no one actually knew what it was, but we do.”

There’s no warning before there’s the sharp, loud sound of the gun going off and then there’s fire blooming through his shoulder where the neck meets the torso and he screams, warm blood streaming down his body.

“Only one inches to the side and I’d have hit the carotid or even jugular, you’d best start telling the truth.” Janice says in her sickeningly sweet voice.

Stiles sobs and continues to scream as the pain spreads through him. Without the use of his eyes it’s like every sensation is heightened tenfold making the pain nearly overwhelming.

“Go ahead, scream it out, you’ll tell us eventually.”

~

He’s on the ground, bound in rope again and gagged but for once they’ve taken off the blind fold. It doesn’t really matter though because it’s so dark in the room that he can’t see anything. Anthony’s voice comes out of the darkness.

“Let’s play a game. If you can avoid us for two minutes we’ll allow you, mm, four hours of rest. If you get hit, well, you get hit and you won’t be getting any sleep tonight at all. Readysetgo!”

There’s no warning beyond the scuff of feet and then there are heavy boots coming at him from three sides. He never had a snowball’s chance to avoid them. His ribs, which are already severely damaged take brutal hits. His arms and legs also take a significant amount of damage, but it’s around the twenty-minute mark when a boot comes out of the darkness and smashes directly into his head. Stiles screams because there was a sickening pop and his eye is in so much pain he can only scream, he can’t even cry.

“Oh, man, why’d you have to go and do that? That’s totally gross. We’d better finish this quick because that is absolutely disgusting.”

And they don’t stop. There’s something warm rolling on his face when he turns and he’s suddenly sick with the realization that they popped his eye out of his socket. He feels like he’s going to be sick but has to swallow it down, not wanting to get vomit on his eye as it hangs out of his head.

He screams as his eye gets scraped and bruised and beaten as they continue to kick the shit out of him until finally someone flips on the light and he looks up with his one eye and sees all three men, smirking down at him with night vision goggles on top of their heads. It takes them so long to put his eyeball back into his head that even after they do the injury is permanent and he is completely blind in his left eye.

~

“This kid sure is resilient. I could do this all day!”

Pain tears through his body as the Bradshaw shoves a knife into his side and wriggles it and he screams. He screams and he screams and he screams.

“See what keeping quiet gets you? Cold, hard steel right into the side.” He does it again, and again Stiles screams and sobs, pleading for him to stop.

~

After pulling the last memory out Scott doesn’t even have time to throw up before he’s passing out and the three betas are catching him before he can hit the ground. Jackson is behind Stiles catching him as he falls unconscious as well but already they can all hear the difference in his breathing. It’s easier, heavier, and much calmer than it had been just minutes before.

Deaton and Melissa are there to take Stiles from Jackson, laying him down on his front and starting to clean up the wounds on his neck. They do it quickly so there’s not too much blood lost and soon they’re laying him down into the arm chair that’s leaned backwards for the occasion.

“Do you think it worked?” his father asks anxiously.

“He already sounds better, more like himself.” Erica says. “His heartbeat is strong and his breathing is less labored. I’m sure he’ll be fine tomorrow morning.”

“What about them?” Noah asks, gesturing to the three downed ‘wolves.

“They’ll need a lot of rest too, but they should be fine within the next 24 hours.” Isaac answers.

Noah heaves a sigh of relief and sinks to the ground next to the other humans present. “I’m afraid to hope.”

“Well, you should hope.” Lydia says matter-of-factly from beside him. “He’s a strong kid, and once he heals up he’ll be good as new. We need to come up with a reason for his body being the way it is though.”

“I think we should keep it as close to the truth as possible. He was in a horrible accident and we took his memories so that his body could heal. As soon as he regains the ability to use his magic and heals his body he can have his memories back a little at a time.” Deaton explains as if it’s the easiest thing in the world.

“I agree, keep it as close to the truth as you can without actually telling him what happened that way when he does get his memories back he won’t feel like you lied to him.” Dr. O’Heare concurs.

Everyone nods collectively and finally, as if the window had been opened and fresh air had breezed into the room, they give sighs of relief and begin to hope a little harder.

 

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up feeling groggy and in pain. Confused and more than a bit worried he groans and looks around him in the dim lighting. He’s in his living room, surrounded by the pack and a few others. There’s a strange man sleeping beside Deaton and he’s not sure what’s more shocking, the fact that Deaton is sleeping in his living room or that there’s a strange man sleeping in his house.

Groaning he goes to sit up and squawks, or tries to, when he finds himself nearly immobile with a bone deep ache running through his body.

“What the fuck?!” he tries to yell but all that comes from his throat is an awful whistling sound that’s closer to a whisper.

A little panicky now he looks around, or tries, and sees his father sleeping on the end of the couch closest to him so he reaches out with an arm that’s ridiculously difficult to lift and thumps his father on the head with his hand. The man is immediately wide awake and looking alert. His eyes settle instantly on Stiles and Stiles realizes that even though he’s looking he can’t really see. Actually, he can’t see at all through his left eye, it’s not just the dim morning light.

“Dad, what’s going on? Why can’t I talk or move or see?!” he tries to yell.

His father stares at him as if trying to comprehend what his son is saying before he breaks out into a huge grin and suddenly he’s crying, holding onto the hand still stretched out towards him and actually, legitimately crying.

“Stiles, son, it’s so good to see you awake and looking so lively.”

Confused and a little scared he frowns at his father, “Dad, what’s going on?” he asks again, slower and more worried.

His father sniffs as he smiles. “I, uh, I think I should wait to explain for the pack to wake up first. Let me just get them up real quick.”

Stiles watches through his foggy eye as his father goes around the room and wakes the pack up one by one except for Scott, Derek, and Peter. Why the hell are Derek and Peter in his house?!

There’s a lot of groggy groans of disgruntlement at being woken up but as soon as they see Stiles fully sitting up and looking at them they’re all immediately wide-eyed and staring at him. He suddenly feels like a freak and frowns at them, looking concerned until they stop staring and start smiling widely at him. Seriously, it’s freaking him out. Lydia comes over to sit next to his chair and smiles so fondly at him he should feel flattered but all he feels is a deepening sense of dread.

Once everyone is gathered around him, even Deaton and the new weird guy, he says, “Uh, is anyone going to fill me in? I’m starting to feel like a freak show.”

“Stiles, it’s good to see you awake. There are a few things we need to go over first before we get into the thick of it. Can you tell me your name, where you are, and what the date is?” Deaton asks.

“Uh,” he croaks and lifts an eyebrow, “Stiles Stilinski, my house, and September 29th.”

“Good. This here is Dr. O’Heare, he’s here to assess your mental state and he has some questions for you.”

The pack and subsequent humans all give Deaton varying looks of fear, shock, and anger before they quickly look at him as if waiting to see what he’ll do.

“Uh, ok. Shoot.”

Everyone relaxes instantly and he’s more confused than ever. Thankfully, Dr. O’Heare pipes up before he can start demanding answers.

“Can you tell me the year, please?”

“2016.”

A collective wince.

“Uh, not 2016. What the hell happened?! Is anyone going to tell me? I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus multiple times, I can’t see out of my left eye and my right is foggy as fuck, and I can’t fucking move! All the staring and weird looks are really starting to freak me out. Can someone just please tell me what the fuck is going on?!”

Dr. O’Heare holds up a hand to stop his tirade and smiles at him in a way that’s calming and trustful and Stiles is immediately suspicious.

“Mr. Stilinski, you were in a traumatic situation some time ago, and because of the severity of it on both your mind and your body we’ve had your Alphas and the older Beta remove those memories to allow your body to heal. As soon as your body has healed and you can use your Spark as it’s needed they will be giving your memories back to you a little bit at a time so that you can heal your mind.”

“Who the hell decided that?”

“You did.” Deaton answers.

Stiles squints at him. “Huh, well in that case, alright then. Wait, then how long has it been?”

Now there’s awkward silence and everyone is looking at someone else as if trying to decide who should tell him. Eventually it’s Isaac that speaks up.

“It’s uh, October 14.” He pauses and Stiles thinks, well, alright then, not bad, but then Isaac gives a slight flinch when he says, “2017.”

And it feels like the floor just fell out from under him.

“2017?” they nod. “You’re really not joking right now, are you?”

“No Stiles, it’s been 13 months since September 29, 2016.” Lydia says gently.

“But why? What could’ve been so bad that you had to take a whole year, over a year, away from me?”

“Stiles, I want you to trust us when we say that it’s definitely better like this right now.”

Even his father agrees and, well, it must’ve been bad.

“Well, alright then. I, uh, guess I have a lot to catch up on.” He says in a shaky voice.

He’s met with smiles and nods.

“You actually woke up sooner than we expected so do you feel like you need to sleep more or do you want to get up for the day?” Deaton asks.

“Are you hurting anywhere?” Melissa speaks up for the first time. “I need you to tell me immediately if you’re in pain or experience discomfort at all.”

“I kinda feel like I’ve been hit by a bus and I can’t really move to check if there’s a reason for that, but it’s just an overall ache, the kind you get when you don’t set a bone properly, you know?”

Melissa smiles and says, “Well, I can tell you for a fact that all of your bones were set correctly.”

“Which brings us to the topic of your body.” Deaton says and the mood instantly shifts into something more solemn. “You sustained severe injuries all over your body so you have extensive scarring. When looking at them for the first time you need to remain calm because your body can’t handle a panic attack at this stage.”

Stiles’ heart is thundering in his chest and he looks down at his hands in his lap for the first time and balks as he looks at the unfamiliar flesh covering them. Wow, Deaton wasn’t kidding when he said extensive scarring.

“What the hell happened to me?” he ponders quietly, breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth to calm himself.

“You’ll eventually get your memories back and as you reawaken your Spark your skin will heal even these scars. You should get your eyesight and your voice back as well as heal the internal injuries that are the current cause of your pain.” Deaton explains.

“My Spark? I thought that was just a one-time thing, like some sort of fluke.”

“I can tell you for certain that it was not. You have a very powerful Spark of magic inside of you. Your willpower is what gives it life and you have to believe that it’ll work for it to actually work, just like I told you before. We’ll talk more about that in our sessions later.”

“Uh huh, ok, whatever you say doc.”

Deaton rolls his eyes and Stiles smiles.

“As for me, I have a feeling I won’t be needed for a while yet so I am going to be leaving my contact information with each of the pack members and head out for the time being.” Dr. O’Heare states simply and smiles at Stiles. “It’s been lovely thus far and I hope that the next time I see you you’ll be in a much better condition. Ta.”

Stiles watches him collect his things and go and he’s left feeling a little confused but mostly just brushes it off.

“Well alright then. Now, can someone get me to the kitchen, I’m ridiculously hungry.”

There are several smiles and a couple of watery laughs but mostly it’s just an overwhelming look of relief on everyone’s faces that has him wanting to do his fucking best to get better.

Chapter Text

 “Dude! You’re up! Man, it’s so good to see you, how are you feeling?!”

Stiles chokes a little on the spoonful of cereal he’d been taking before turning in his chair and facing his best friend.

“Scotty, my man, I know it’s been, like, 13 months or whatever, but it literally feels like I just saw you at school. I’m feeling ok, achy, weird, but otherwise fine. How’re you? You look kind of like I feel. Was it the memory drain thing?”

Scott nods, his face, which had been creased in worry, relaxes and he sighs. “Definitely not something I recommend man, it really takes it outta ya.”

“I agree.” A grumpy growl comes from behind him and Stiles stares as Derek strolls into the kitchen like he’s been there a thousand times and pulls out the bread, butter, and jam from the fridge.

“Uh, good morning to you too grumpy.”

Derek makes a noncommittal noise and sets everything onto the countertop before he freezes and turns back to Stiles with wide eyes. Quicker than Stiles can follow with his shit eye Derek is standing next to him and staring intently at him in a way that has Stiles trying to lean away.

“Whoa, sorry, sorry, didn’t mean to offend you, dude. Back it up a little.”

“How are you feeling? Do you hurt anywhere? How’s your head?”

And suddenly they’re playing 20 questions.

“Um, fine, kinda everywhere, and it’s fine. What is up with you dude? Is it ‘cause of the memory thing? You’re kinda…weird.”

“No, that is just my nephew expressing his concern for the kid he’s spent the last, oh, year worrying about. You’re lucky he hasn’t scooped you up and snuggled you to death.” Peter snorts as he saunters into the kitchen as if he’s been here a thousand times and that is really not something he wants to think about.

“Oh yeah, the whole missing year thing is kinda hard to wrap my head around.” Stiles snorts and goes back to eating his cereal and ignoring all the questions that are bubbling inside of him.

Derek’s glaring at Peter but still hasn’t moved from Stiles’ side, his hand twitching every few seconds as if he wants to reach out but doesn’t know if he should. It’s Scott who interrupts the weird.

“So, what are we going to do after breakfast? Is there a plan for today?”

“I’d like for Stiles to rest up for a couple more days, to let the wounds in the back of his neck heal more and then I’ll be working more intensively with him on reawakening and controlling his Spark. We’ll set up a schedule later with your father.”

“My father? What?” Stiles startles.

His dad is currently taking a call in the other room.

“Oh yeah, uh, sorry dude. When things got bad after the first few weeks we had to let your dad in on the whole supernatural thing.” Scott says sheepishly. “But really, if it hadn’t been really important we’d have let you eventually tell him. But really man, your dad’s cool with all of this stuff and only threatened Derek and Peter, like, five times. Well, Peter more like twelve…or more, but that’s beside the point!”

“Scott, you know I didn’t want him involved because this sort of life style is too dangerous! He’s already got a dangerous job, I don’t want his civilian life put in danger too!” Stiles glares at his best friend.

Finally, Derek moves and puts a hand on his shoulder, shocking him into silence so he could say, “Stiles, you were missing. Your dad couldn’t find you, we couldn’t find you…” he’s silent for a beat and looks pained, “Your dad was terrified, we were terrified, and we wanted to help so we told him. It was unavoidable. Just think about it.”

Stiles opens his mouth to argue but then what he said registers. “Missing? I thought I was in a car accident.”

“You were in an ‘accident’ but it wasn’t a car accident. You were kidnapped and we took those memories so it’s best to just leave them alone until you’re healed.” Peter says, sipping coffee.

Stiles feels a flare of frustration and… sadness? What the hell?

“How come you are just fine, then? If it was so bad wouldn’t it have hurt you too?”

“Since it was divided between two Alphas and a Beta with experience the damage is far less significant than for a mere human.” Peter says, mock contempt surrounded by a sudden depressive aura wafting off of him.

Stiles stares at him curiously. The fuck?

“Ok then. I, uh, guess that makes sense. I’m just gonna finish my cereal and go lay down. I really do feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.”

Derek’s hand is still on his shoulder and his grip suddenly tightens at his words but before he can comment there’s an unexpected numbness that floods the spot where his hand is and he groans.

“Dude, is that your werewolf pain drain mojo? It feels amazing. Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.”

Stiles leans into his grip and Derek doesn’t release him until his whole achy body feels floaty and nice for the first time since he woke up. It makes eating the rest of cereal difficult, his muscles shaky and weak.

“Hey bud, let’s get you back to your room so you can rest.” His father says sometime later when the last bits of his cereal are floating around the milk in his bowl, his appetite completely sated and his stomach way too full, which seems unreasonable for him.

Stiles doesn’t protest being carried and allows his father to take him, with little difficulty he notes, to the downstairs bedroom where he seems to have set up shop for the time being. All of his stuff is down there and he wonders what his upstairs bedroom must look like. Probably covered in dust with mold in the laundry basket. Heh.

“Alright kiddo, just push this button here on the walkie talkie if you need anything, I always carry mine on my belt,” he says, patting the device hooked to his right hip. “Seriously, I mean it. Anything at all, even if you just want to talk, I want you to call for me.”

“Yeah, I got it dad. No worries. I’ll call when I’m awake again.”

The relief on his dad’s face makes his heart sad but he smiles at him anyways and watches him leave, pushing his face into the pillow and wondering what the fuck has he gotten himself into.

He’s missing a full year, a little more than a year, meaning he’s missed an entire year of school. Eesh, that isn’t going to be fun catching up on. Wait, is he still a sophomore? Most likely, since he was probably held back.

A thought dawns on him.

He’s not sixteen anymore. He missed his seventeenth birthday. He’d turned seventeen when he’d been kidnapped.

Fuck.

~

“Stiles, you’re looking well, how are you feeling today?” Deaton asks him two days after he’d woken up without his memories.

“The same as ever doc, achy, tired, and kind of irritated that everyone keeps tiptoeing around me like I’m made of glass. I kind of miss being treated like the annoying, human side-kick. If I get asked, one more time, how I’m holding up, I’m going to scream. Kind of. Since my voice is completely shit.”

“That’s understandable. We spent half a year looking for you and another half a year wondering if you would ever be able to even talk or interact with any one again. I think it’s perfectly acceptable that everyone is skeptical about your wellbeing. You might want to cut them some slack. Now, do you know where your father is? I’d like to speak with the both of you about your training schedule.”

Properly reprimanded Stiles just nods and says, “He’s taking a shower. He’ll be down in a few minutes probably.”

Deaton smiles and takes a seat on the sofa, putting his mysterious bag he always seems to be carrying with him on the coffee table.

“Well, in that case, I’d like to give you these. Dr. O’Heare asked me to give you them since he’ll be gone a while. He thought you’d might appreciate them. They’re called mangosteen and they’re supposed to be the sweetest and, quote, ‘most delicious,’ of all tropical fruit.”

He pulls out a mesh bag of deep purple, round fruit and places them on the table in front of Stiles who immediately reaches for them. He’s not strong enough to pick up the bag of twelve fruit and it frustrates him. He can’t even pull the mesh open ‘cause he only has one working hand and the one that does work is fucking shit!

“Don’t stress about it Stiles, I’ll grab a pair of scissors. You’ll get stronger the longer we work on your Spark, you don’t have to worry. You just need to want to get better and you should start healing rather quickly.”

“Whatever you say doc. As long as I can use my hands, eyes, and throat again, I’ll be fucking golden.” Stiles says grumpily.

There’s the sound of a door opening and at first Stiles thinks it’s his father coming downstairs from his shower but he realizes that it’s coming from the wrong direction. He turns his head to the front door in time to make out the fuzzy shape of Derek coming out of the hallway leading to his front door.

“Dude, you have a key to the place?” Stiles asks and Derek freezes for a second before nodding.

“Uh, yeah. I got it a while ago from your father. Does that bother you?”

Derek sounds a combination of defiant and worried as if he doesn’t quite know how to treat Stiles. Which, Stiles doesn’t blame him for. He’s been kind of moody, frustrated with not being able to even shit on his own with his useless body and he’s been taking it out on everyone else. So, he just shakes his head.

“Nah man, I just didn’t expect it. So, you’ve been coming here often then?”

Derek sits on the couch close enough for Stiles to see him and arches his brow at the question. Stiles stares at him, expecting an answer, until it registers what he said.

“Oh wow, that sounded like the worst pick-up line in the history of bad pick-up lines. Dude.”

Derek snorts and Stiles can’t help but smile as well, blowing out a short laugh but can’t do more than that since it hurts his torso to laugh. Deaton comes back with the scissors and hands them to Stiles, which Stiles is grateful for. He can at least to something like use scissors on his own.

“You want a mangorain? That weird Irish doctor guy said I might like them but I don’t really know him and you’d be able to tell me if they’re poisonous or not.” Stiles says and picks up a fruit to give to Derek.

Derek rolls his eyes and takes the fruit from Stiles. “It’s called a mangosteen and they’re not poisonous. They’re actually quite delicious.”

He uses his claws to cut through the thick outer layer of the purple fruit and reveals the soft, white insides of the fruit.

“Dude, that’s the weirdest looking fruit I’ve ever seen.”

“You actually had some very interesting tropical fruit the other week but I guess you wouldn’t remember those. I’ll have to see if I can find some of those lychee fruit that you liked so much.” Derek said as he handed the fleshy white part to Stiles after the outside had been removed.

“Lychee? I feel like I’ve heard of those before. Aren’t they Asian?”

Derek nods and grabs another fruit for himself and starts peeling.

“Yeah, they originated in southern China.”

“How do you even know that?” Stiles asks as he takes his first bite of the fruit and would have probably made a highly inappropriate noise if his throat were capable. “This is so fucking good. So fucking good. Holy fuck.”

“That’s a lot of profanity over a fruit.” His father says as he comes down the stairs and into the living room.

“Sorry dad but you have got to try these. It’s a mangostein or whatever.” “Mangosteen.” Derek corrects. “Whatever. Mangosteen. It’s so delicious. I didn’t even know such a fruit existed on earth. It’s sweet and supple and tastes like sunshine.”

“Does sunshine even have a taste?” his father laughs.

“Yes and it’s called mangosteen.”

They talk for a little bit, his father eating one of the fruit and agreeing that it is indeed one of the most delicious fruits he’s ever tasted, before Deaton finally gets them down to business.

“You don’t mind if Derek is here for this?” Deaton asks Stiles specifically.

“No, why? We’ll just be letting the pack know anyway, right? Might as well cut out the middle man. Or rather, Derek is the middle man. Whatever.”

Derek rolls his eyes but turns his attention back to Deaton who’s continuing.

“Alright then. I’m going to make some changes to the previous schedule we had going before now that Dr. O’Heare is not needed for the time being. I’ll be taking over those days but I wasn’t sure if you’d still want to include the physical therapist in the schedule.”

“During these sessions, what will be the physical requirements for Stiles? I know he’ll be working on healing himself, but will this include exercises, stretching, flexing, or more exaggerated moving? If so then I would suggest cancelling the physical trainer. Too much movement all at once might hinder his progress.” His father says.

“Hmm, I’m not much of a physical therapist myself and his Spark may heal his body quicker in some parts than others so, no, I don’t think I will be implementing much physical movement into the sessions besides the areas he’ll be concentrating on healing.”

“Then I think it’ll be find to keep the physical therapist. I’m just worried about the pain he’ll be in.”

“I can help with that, sir.” Derek speaks up. “I can come by after every one of Deaton’s sessions and physical therapy sessions. I can completely take all of his pain unlike the pain medications he’s currently on. His body is too immune to those and he’ll start developing a dependency if he keeps taking so many of them at the quantity he has to take them.”

“You sure, son? Won’t that mean you’ll be in pain instead?” Noah asks and Stiles nods, agreeing with his father.

Derek shakes his head. “It’s barely anything for me. My body heals faster than it takes in the pain, I’ll be fine.”

Stiles narrows his eyes, not sure if he believes Derek. His father seems to be thinking the same thing but Stiles can see he’s weighing his options in his mind before he finally nods.

“Alright, that sounds like a better plan than keeping him on so many pain meds.” He concedes.

“That’s actually good that Derek will be here for the Spark lessons. He’s got a connection to magic since he’s a werewolf and can sense the Spark better than I can.”

“I thought you were a Druid.” Stiles says suddenly.

Deaton nods. “I was when I was an emissary for the Hale pack, but now all I can really do is use the natural materials of the earth. I don’t have the connection to magic that came from the pack anymore. Derek has a connection to the living beings with magic and you have a connection with both living beings and the earth.”

Stiles frowns. “That doesn’t make any sense. How can magic just leave someone? You said that it wasn’t a fluke last time, right? Weren’t you born with magic?”

Deaton shakes his head. “The type of magic I had was connected to the bonds. Once they were gone I only had the knowledge of magic left over.”

Stiles sighs and shrugs. “Ok, sure, whatever. I’m sure there’ll be more lessons on this later. Derek’s here to be my magic guru. Why can’t it be Scott?”

“Scott’s bitten and less inclined to the magical aspect of being a werewolf.”

“But he’s a True Alpha.”

“That has to do with his willpower, not his level of magic. I guess if you didn’t want Derek there’s Peter, he’s also bitten and actually has quite a bit of knowledge on magic. He’s only a Beta but I guess he’d be a good choice as well.” Deaton suggests.

Stiles shudders and shakes his head. “Nope! I’m good with Derek. My good ol’ pal, ol’ buddy, my…dude. Der.”

His father looks like he’s holding back a smile but Derek’s grimacing.

“Don’t ever call me any of those. Just Derek.”

“Alright ‘Just Derek’ that’s what I’ll call you ‘Just Derek’.” Stiles snickers, knowing he’s being a little shit.

Derek gives a deep sigh.

“Well, that settles it, I’ll be working with Stiles on his Spark training starting today. I’d like for the sessions to be at least two hours long, every day, even the days he has physical therapy. Since those are in the afternoon I’ll arrive earlier in the morning those days to work with him before those sessions. Derek will be present for the sessions and Sheriff you may attend as well if you wish, however, the less distractions the better so I suggest limiting to just you two.”

The Sheriff nods. “That sounds great Dr. Deaton. I may not be present for a lot of the lessons, however. I’ve started working with an investigation team in Utah regarding Stiles’ kidnapping.”

“Utah? Was that where I was?” Stiles asks quickly.

His father winces but doesn’t answer the question, simply continues talking. “They’re going to be sending two people out here and I’ll be sending two of my own so we have cooperation on both sides. Even the Nevada police have offered their help in the investigation but I’d rather not spread my people too far so I’ll keep them as a last resort. I’m going to be pretty busy for a while.”

Noah turns to Derek and gives him a serious look. “I want you to send a couple of the pack over to the station when the officers from Utah arrive. I’m not saying I don’t trust them, but, well, I don’t trust them. I just want to make sure that I can share this sensitive information with them.”

Derek nods in understanding. “Of course, sir, I’ll send Jackson and Isaac down. Jackson is best with scent and Isaac is best with hearing. They’ll know if the officers are lying or hiding anything.”

“Thanks son. That’ll put some of my worries to rest. They’re due to arrive in two days so I have to get their accommodations ready, but I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Today I’ll be here to sit in on the first session.”

Deaton nods and scoots forward a little on the couch, so he can easily reach his bag on the coffee table. “Let’s get straight into this then.”

Chapter Text

Stiles wants to scoot closer to see better but he’s stuck waiting in anticipation as Deaton roots around in his bag for a bit before he pulls out a small pouch and turns towards Stiles. As he unzips the bag he talks to Stiles.

“I’m going to put a few objects on the table and I want you to choose the one you think you’ll be able to concentrate best with. Don’t choose it for the way it looks. In fact, I want you to take one look at them as I put them down and then close your eyes and make an instinctive choice. Take your time to decide, don’t rush this process.”

Stiles nods in confusion and waits for him to take the things out of the bag. It’s a little hard to see because of his eye but when he leans closer he can see Deaton pull out a small, black stone, a smooth, orange, petrified piece of wood, and what looks like a piece of coral but a blackened color on the inside. Once Stiles has seen each of them he closes his eyes like he’s been instructed and when he does he hears Deaton move and then the pieces in front of him are lifted from their spots and put in a different order. Huh. Alright then.

Focusing on the objects in front of him he thinks about the things he’d seen. Of them all he only recognized the petrified wood for what it was. He didn’t know what the stone was made out of or what the coral-like thing was. But he probably wouldn’t be able to concentrate very well with the odd texture of the coral thing so that was out. It would probably end up making him fidget, it just gave off a restless feeling. So, either the stone or wood.

Holding out his hand he reaches forward until it’s hovering over where the wood had been but he pauses. Deaton had said don’t focus on what it had looked like. So, he just keeps his hand there, thinking about what his fingers felt. Aaaand, that’s diddly squat. Nothing. It just feels like his fingers are hovering in the air. Inside his chest though he’s starting to ache. Maybe he’s just hurting and needs to decide to let his arm rest and quit straining his body.

He moves his hand to the side and the ache subsides. Relieved he keeps moving his hand but the ache returns. Frustrated he moves his hand back to the position it was in before and again his ache subsides. Sighing he decides to just go for it. It’s the least painful position and therefore probably the best decision. His fingers connect with a smooth object and when he wraps his hand around it, it becomes clear that it’s the rock. Opening his eyes, he stares at the deep black rock and rubs his thumb over it. There’s a slightly rough texture right in the middle that he’d missed before and when he traces it he finds a spiral carved into the smooth surface.

“Good, that’s an excellent choice as your focus item. I’ll put the others away. I’m a little surprised you weren’t drawn to the fulgurite considering how full of energy you usually are.” Deaton says as he puts the objects away.

“Fulgurite? That’s what that thing was? I’ve only ever seen them when on a Google binge. Aren’t those really expensive though?”

“Not if you find it yourself. That stone is black obsidian. The other is petrified Andaman Padauk. They each have their different uses and the black obsidian is the best choice for healing and grounding yourself. You’ll be using this stone to focus your body, mind, and Spark. I want you to keep this on you at all times, it can serve as a conduit and as a grounding stone, keeping you from losing control of your magic. Whenever you’re ready to begin, then.”

Stiles holds the stone in his palm, stroking it with his fingertips as much as he can, memorizing the shape and texture. He puts it up to his ear and taps on it a few times, listening to the sound and even goes so far as to run it over his lips since they still have the most feeling in them whereas his fingertips have lost most sensation. As soon as he’s given the stone a thorough once over he nods to the doctor.

“Alright, I think I’ve got it. What do I do now?”

“We’re going to start with breathing exercises. You need to fully relax yourself and allow your Spark to breathe and free itself. You’ll need to focus your mind inward, on your Spark, deadening everything outside until you’ve found it and have become familiar with its shape and volume.”

Stiles snorts. “Yeah, like that’s so easy. I’m a hyperactive seventeen-year-old with ADHD. Calming my mind and body is like telling a river not to flow.”

“Even rivers freeze over in winter. The surface is calm while the water flows underneath. That’s what you need. But it’s not just going to happen, it’ll take some time.”

Stiles sighs and nods. “Yeah, I figured you’d say that. Ok, boss dude, what do I do first?”

“Get comfortable. Lay down, lean against pillows, cross your legs, whatever makes you most comfortable. You don’t want anything to distract you in the beginning. It’ll be almost like falling asleep but you’ll need to keep your mind awake.”

“Sure, comfortable. I can do that. Hey wolfman, mind laying me down? This wheelchair just ain’t doin’ it for me.” Stiles asks Derek since he didn’t want his father straining himself too much now that Stiles was putting weight back on.

“Don’t call me that.” Derek mutters but easily slides his arms underneath Stiles’ legs and behind his back and lifts him slowly before gently placing him on the armchair he’d first woken up in beside the couch.

Derek pulls the lever to put the foot rest up and pushes down the back so Stiles is laying down on his back. Stiles clutches the stone in his hand and takes a deep breath.

“Ok, doc, I’m ready. How am I supposed to breathe? That sounds like a ridiculous thing to say.”

“I want you to breathe through your nose, only your nose. It’ll make your breaths quieter and it’ll expand the diaphragm to a comfortable point. Breathe as you normally would but count your breaths in and out so you have an average breath count to follow for any situation. Just in and out. Again. Again. Calm your body and focus on your breathing.”

Stiles does as he’s told, focusing on counting the breaths in and out. One, two, three in; one, two, three, four out. One, two, three in; one, two, three, four out. His mind starts focusing on his intake and outtake of air and his body stills with it, his only movement is his thumb tracing the spiral on his stone over and over, a mindless focus for his usually restless energy.

“Excellent. Keep going. I want you to do fifteen minutes of this breathing without moving and without saying anything. Keep your mind and body focused until it becomes a near subconscious thing.” Deaton’s quiet words gently cut through his mantra.

Stiles doesn’t do anything to acknowledge him and continues as told. Unfortunately, fifteen minutes was too ambitious and by eleven minutes Stiles is snoring softly, his mind having lost focus and his body having fallen unconscious, not subconscious. He’s immediately woken, though, by gentle fingers and he grumbles as he turns to see Derek’s face followed by Deaton’s disapproving face.

“You need to focus harder Stiles. I want you to sit up, take a few drinks of water and maybe eat another fruit to regain consciousness and then we’ll try again.

And try they did.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later found him capable of entering a trance-like state where his mind and body were both completely calm and in sync but still very much conscious and capable of responding to external stimuli without becoming distracted. Derek was always there throughout the lessons, one hand settled on his every fifteen minutes to pull out any lingering pain for about a minute before pulling back again. Stiles found himself automatically anticipating those brief touches since they brought such relief.

They hadn’t worked on his Spark quite yet, waiting for him to gain complete control of his body first and that had taken a bit more time than Stiles would’ve liked. Finally, finally, Deaton had walked in this morning and stopped him from settling into his usual relaxed pose which now was him sitting up with his hand holding his stone, eyes closed, and body relaxed.

“Today, we’re going to start moving into your Spark training. You’ll have to continue using the mind and body training you’ve been doing in addition to this training, but it should be easier now, more of an automatic response.” Deaton says as he settles into his usual spot on the couch.

Stiles fist pumps the air, “Yes! Finally! Now this is what I’ve been waiting for.”

Deaton nods and waits for Stiles to settle back down before continuing. “This training is going to require a lot of mind activity and very little body activity until we establish your connection with your Spark. First, you’ll have to locate your Spark and get a general feel for the energy. Once you’ve become familiar with the shape, size, and feeling of your Spark you’ll be able to start using it properly. Your Spark is linked to your willpower and that’s ultimately what will make it work. Do you remember the feeling you had when you manipulated the mountain ash outside of the night club?”

Stiles nods. “Yeah, I was really desperate. I wanted…needed, more than anything, to make it work. It was like, if I pretended there was more in my hand than there actually was then I’d be able to make it last longer.”

“Good, pretending is also a form of believing. A less controlled way of believing, but, still, it works. The reason why pretending won’t work for healing with your Spark is because what you’ll be healing, you can’t always see. You could see the mountain ash, feel it, but your body and mind aren’t always visible or touchable, neither is your Spark, so it’ll be harder to manipulate it.”

“I gotcha. So, I’ll finally start healing, like, today?” Stiles asks excitedly, anything to make this process a little quicker. He’s sick of not being able to use his body or see or talk. He’s sick of having to be carried everywhere and grimacing every time he passes by the mirror that he had Scott cover after the first time he got a good look at what he looks like now.

Stiles is disappointed when Deaton shakes his head and says, “No, today you’ll start looking for your Spark. You won’t actively start healing until you’re familiar with it.”

Stiles groans. “Seriously? This sucks. I’ve already waited so long.”

“You’re actually making amazing progress. Some people, especially those with similar conditions concerning their attention spans, take months to learn to focus their body and mind and even longer to find their magic. You have a head start. You’ve already used your Spark once before.”

“Right, right. Let’s just get on with this. The sooner I can feel my Spark the sooner I can finally get rid of this horrendous body.”

Beside him Derek flinches and he turns to see him giving Stiles a sad look before the werewolf looks away quickly.

“What? It’s true! I look and feel like a literal train wreck. Ugly, disgusting, and painful. The sooner I heal the sooner I can get out of this wheelchair and run around and fucking piss on my own.”

“You’re not ugly, you’re hurt. There’s a huge difference.” Derek growls but doesn’t meet Stiles’ eye.

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say buddy. Now, doc, how do I start looking for my Spark?”

“Everyone’s magic is different. For some it feels like a fire, others, like lightning. My own felt like wind and water that flowed throughout my entire body, but that was mostly due to the pack bond. You’ll have to send your mind throughout your entire body, but don’t focus on your physical body, it won’t manifest in a physical form. Focus on your body as a whole and feel for an unseen energy that will probably feel unlike anything you’ve ever felt before.”

“Ok, so I’m going to look for something I’ve never felt before, something I can’t see, and something that doesn’t have a physical form. Yeah, sure, no problem. Just like a blind man trying to capture a cloud.”

“That’s a good way of putting it, except you’re looking for the lightning in the cloud, not the cloud itself.”

Stiles groans but closes his eyes and settles into his familiar trance stance, as he likes to call it.

~

After thirty minutes, he’s still got nothing. He’s been searching his body with his mind, running throughout the space his body takes up, and still he hasn’t found anything like what Deaton described.

An hour later and he’s lost a lot of his focus, now just frustrated. He’s never been big into all this zen hoopla in the first place, this whole chakra and chi thing, the hidden energy and inner balance blah, blah, blah. No, if he were to have a Spark he’d expect it to be something he can feel, something he’d be able to identify as ‘energy’. The word ‘Spark’ in the first place represents something you can see. A flash of flame or electricity, something that burns hot and bright that catches into a bigger flame.

Two hours later has his mind wandering through the different ways he could potentially manifest his Spark in the different parts of his body, how it would fill him up with the energy and he’d burn bright with it. The warmth in his chest would turn from warm to hot to burning until he was filled with the energy.

The more he thinks about it, the more he focuses on it, on what that would feel like. And… huh, he’s warm. Well, the heater is on since it’s mid-autumn and it’s been getting pretty chilly outside. But, his feet are kinda cold. No, it’s his chest, right under his sternum, he’s warm. He dips his mind into it, into that warmth, and it’s soothing. It’s like dipping into a bath made of light.

Stiles gasps. In the center of the golden warmth it’s hot, like the burning sun but it doesn’t actually burn. It’s indescribable. He should be sweating at least but it feels so good, like he’s plunged into his soul. Holy fuck he’s gone poetic. It just feels so good.

“I think I’ve found it.” He whispers.

He can’t hear a reply, too busy runny his metaphorical fingers through the liquid sunshine.  Well, kind of like sunshine. Can sunshine be purple? Or maybe it’s blue. Can something feel like a color?

“I think I’ve gone crazy.” He mumbles and suddenly someone is grabbing his hand and gently prying his fingers open.

He has just enough time to open his eyes and look down to see the spiral in his black obsidian stone fade from a pulsing purple light back to its empty black.

“Holy shit, did you guys see that? I think I found my Spark.”

“I’d definitely say you did. I didn’t think you’d find it today since your mind was so restless for the first couple of hours, but during the last two I could see the difference in the stillness of your body. Your stone started glowing about an hour and a half after you went still.”

“How long was I still for? It only felt like a couple of minutes that I was just, kinda, I don’t know, swimming in it? I swear I’m not crazy, but it felt like a huge, burning pool of liquid sunshine, but it was, uh, purple. But I couldn’t see it. It was just a feeling. A really intense feeling.”

Deaton gives him a small smile. “That’s good. I didn’t expect you to dive so deeply, maybe just brush it before coming back out of it.”

“Once I’m in the trance stance I am all in.” Stiles smirks and he can practically hear Derek roll his eyes.

“I think it’s because you had contact with it before and because it is quite a powerful Spark. Although I wasn’t sure how strong it would be at the moment after the damage the pills you’d been given have done to your body. I’m glad it seems so strong.”

Stiles nods and leans back in his chair. He feels freaking exhausted now that he’s been pulled out of his trance. “How long did you say I’ve been sitting here?”

“You were under for about four hours, give or take. I’m sure you need to rest now. I’ll come back tomorrow to continue working on your Spark now that you’ve come into contact with it.”

“Sure thing doc, sounds great. I’m just gonna take a nap now.”

“I’ll take you to your room. I’ll see you tomorrow Deaton.” Derek finally speaks.

Deaton smiles, nods, and heads out the front door again with his bag in tow.

“That was freaking awesome, man. It was like jumping into the warmest, prettiest, weirdest pool I’ve ever felt, except instead of water it was liquid light. It was so weird.”

“Your scent changed slightly too. It became sort of…brighter, I guess. Like you’d been soaking in the sunlight for a long time in the summer.”

“So, like a really bad sunburn then.” Stiles laughs as Derek rolls his eyes and picks him up.

“No, it was like pulling a shirt out of a dryer, it had this warm scent. Like everything about you had suddenly been pulled out of a dryer, your skin, your hair, everything. It was weird.”

“Is that a good weird or a bad weird?”

Derek shrugs as he walks with him to his room, depositing him onto his bed as he says, “It just was. You still smelled like you, just warmer. “

Stiles sighs and nods. “It’s cool and all but, this is all just so weird. I miss being a regular teenager who ran with ‘wolves.” Stiles gives a small smile, “Where all I had to worry about was the next ridiculous history test or detention with Mr. Harris and keeping Scott’s wolfy butt out of trouble.”

Derek looks sad as he says, “You can still be that way, you just have to heal yourself first. And, in the end, you can still decide that you don’t want those memories back.”

Stiles hears the stress in Derek’s voice as he says this and turns his head to look at him full on. “Do you have my memories? Like, can you see them as if they’re your own memories?”

Derek winces and nods.

“I know that one of my conditions for having them taken in the first place was to get them back as soon as I was healed, but do you think I should take them back?”

Immediately Derek frowns hard, not in anger, but in worry and fear. “No, I absolutely do not want you to take them back. Stiles it…” he struggles for words, “it almost broke me, us, taking those memories from you and we’re three werewolves who have gone through some shit; torture, pain, and suffering. But this? I don’t even know how you survived. This goes beyond luck, Stiles, just the one third of the memories I have from you, just thinking about it, makes me want to vomit.”

There’s so much pain on Derek’s face and in response pain and fear flare up in his own chest.

“It’s really that bad?” he whispers.

Derek nods, “You can’t even begin to imagine, and if I had a choice I would never ever give these back to you. None of us would I don’t think.”

Stiles gives a slow nod. “Ok. Ok, I… I’ll think about it. Maybe I’ll have a chat with that Dr. O’Heare dude I met when I first woke up, see what he suggests I do. I’m sure if my traumatized self asked for them back then I should probably take them back. But, if the doctor tells me I shouldn’t, then, who knows? Maybe I’m better off not knowing.”

Relief floods through Derek’s face. “Yes, absolutely. You do not need these and I’m sure Dr. O’Heare would definitely agree.”

Stiles nods. “Alright, I’ll speak with him as soon as I’ve started healing myself. I find it easier to talk when my throat cooperates with me and I can actually see the person I’m speaking with.”

Derek gives a short nod and pulls the blankets over Stiles’ thin frame. “Are you in any pain? Do you need me to take any before I go?”

“Is there someplace you need to be?”

Derek frown and shakes his head. “No, why?”

“Then would it be too much to ask for you to stay? I kinda like your company and you can do your werewolf pain-drain mojo at any time and, I never thought I’d say this, you’re comfortable to be around. Your presence is soothing, I guess.”

Derek nods slowly. “Uh, alright, if you’d like. Do you want me to just sit in the room or…?”

Stiles reaches out with his only movable hand and pats the open space on the bed next to him. “Would it be weird for you to lay down?”

Derek shakes his head and climbs onto the bed, kicking his shoes off and curling up on his side facing Stiles. “The pack does this sometimes, just lays together in a bed. It’s a comfort thing.”

“Especially with their Alpha, huh? It’s nice to have their strong leader there protecting them from all the big bads out there.” Stiles chuckles before he’s cut off by a yawn.

“Go ahead and sleep, I’ll be here when you wake up.”

“Cool, sounds like a plan Stan. Who the hell even is Stan? Why is he the man with the plan?” Stiles mumbles as he starts drifting off to sleep.

He can hear Derek’s gentle snort of laughter and wonders, not for the first time, about what occurred while he’d been ‘away’. Derek seems more open, more willing to listen and cooperate than before and makes him a generally more likeable person than before. Before he’d been unapproachable, now, all Stiles wants to do is lean against him, laugh with him, flatten down the little bit of hair that always sticks up on the back of his head, and smooth the gentle crease between his eyebrows that appears whenever he’s in deep thought. It’s an odd feeling, but also a satisfying one.