In the morning, sun staining the floor and clean sheets, the Sheriff pushed his head through the door, expression soft and guilty. The bed was made, the floor clean, and the fight last night was gone without trace. As was Stiles.
Heart beating a little fast, the man started down the steps, looking around for the boy and his now familiar sickly thin limbs and sharp pale features.
Looking around the living room, and then the hall, John was panicking. “Stiles?”
Turning into the kitchen, he watched mouth open and speechless as Stiles laid a plate of fresh pancakes on the table, and set some syrup down beside it. He was dressed neatly, hair combed, face looking sallow still, and gaunt, but obedient and quiet and submissive. “Good morning. I uh- I thought I’d make you a surprise.” He offered a small smile, clicking his fingers, and watching his father.
They ate in silence, cutlery clinking against the plates. Stiles pushed each mouthful past his lips without letting it touch, scraping it off the fork with his teeth to chew and swallow. He ate slowly, subdued and watching his father.
“These pancakes are delicious, Stiles.” John tried, voice soft.
After a little more silence, Stiles smiled. “Are you still going to pick me up after the game today? The Jeep comes out on Friday.”
“I said I would.” The Sheriff said, smiling. “What time is good for you?”
“Uh...four thirty?” Stiles picked at the remains of his food, chewing quietly.
His father winced. “I have a meeting at four. I’ll be there as soon as I can, okay? That might be a lot later.”
He shrugged, and put his knife and fork together, taking the plate to the sink. “I’m going to miss the bus. I gotta go..”
“Stiles? Who are you guys playing?” John sounded guilty again.
“Rockets. See you later.”
“How will you get home?”
“Don’t worry.” He grabbed his books, and his bag and pushed through the door out into the front yard, and blinding sunlight. After a moment of sitting there, his father got up, rushing to the door.
“Stiles, you know I love you, right, Kiddo?”
Pausing, the boy stared at his feet. “Mhmm.”
“Beat those Rockets, they don’t deserve to be first.”
“Sure thing, Pops.” Stiles turned on his heel and started walking off, feeling colder and angrier than he had in so long. The Sheriff watched him for a moment before going back inside.
John sat on the phone, in his office, gesticulating wildly. “The thing he does with his fork is weird, sure, but he ate! He ate without being forced, and he cooked, and he kept it down. I’m afraid to say it, but I think maybe, I got him over the hump!”
Stiles walked over the overpass, expression dreamy. His books were heavy in his arms, and recently, the Adderall pills have done nothing but make him sick. The cars sound like flies buzzing round him, and the sunlight was meant to be warm on his skin, but it didn’t warm him. His bones were ice, pricking frost through his skin. His eyes followed the stream of traffic, and for a moment, Stiles imagined dropping, like a rag doll, and hitting the tarmac below. Imagined the red squish, and then the crunch as the cars would roll over him. The human’s books rested on the bars, tipping the balance between dropping and staying. Falling and fighting. A white lorry past, and Stiles imagined the food inside, chilled goods like chocolate bars and ice cream, all stacked inside. He imagined falling into the back, and becoming contaminated and greasy and dirty and wrong with every bit of junk food that touched his skin. His fingers wavered on the edge of the books, and he let one drop, straight under the wheels. He couldn’t help but stare, eyes wide and empty and lost.
Walking back through town, a book short, and farther from school than he should be, Stiles turned off the ringer on his phone, ignoring texts from Scott, from Lydia. He past a donut store, holding his breath to stop the smell and the sugar particles entering his sinuses, stopping to look at his reflection in the glass. Opposite him, behind the window, a larger man stood in queue. He took in his longer hair, his sunken eyes, his face, smaller than it had been before, and then looked at it connected to the large mans body in the reflection. There was a harsh pain in his chest, an ache like hatred and like depression. He wanted to die, looking at that.
Turning his head into the sun, Stiles looked at the drug store. It was the real reason he’d been heading here, without even realising it.
Inside, he headed straight for the third row, picking up the pack of pills his father had thrown out. And then another, and then a third. He checked his wallet, surreptitiously, and then swallowed. Nothing. He had about fifty cents, which was a whole fifteen dollars short of what he needed. He looked up at the mirror in the corner, where the check-out guy was staring, out of the window with his head turned. Stiles looked down to tuck the pill packets into his book, just as the man looked up, and as he turned to walk away with them, the guy, a large greasy man with a moustache called out, leaving the till. “Hey! Hey, HEY GET BACK HERE.”
Stiles had started running the moment he heard the noise, head pounding and heart aching. A car skidded to a halt and blocked his exit, so he turned and headed the other way, book and pills clutched it his chest. The man grabbed his shoulders, and wrested the book from his chest.
“Are you happy now?” John loomed over Stiles, but he wasn’t angry, just tired and annoyed and disappointed, and worn down. The boy stood outside the cell, having his things returned to him. His face was emotionless, eyes clouded over. “You’ve made me more miserable than I’ve been since your mother died. Get out a club and beat up your old Dad. Is that it, Stiles? Humiliate me, make me responsible for the fact you’ve decided to give up life at seventeen?” The boy was paler than usual, heart thumping oddly in his chest, like it was out of sync.
He started walking Stiles out of the station, a firm hand around his arm, fingers able to touch with room to spare. “You don’t appreciate a damn thing I’ve ever-”
And that was when Stiles dropped straight to the floor.