No stop all the rain and poison the ground
Love doesn't want to hang around
Go turn all the fruits into bitter wine
It was only sweet when you were mine
There is an emptiness inside of me
Since you been gone
All the world has lost it's meaning
All my colors run
“Black Out the Sun” – Darren Hayes
Stiles’ breath came in stuttering, harsh pants as he ran through the forest.
The thing was—seriously, the worst part of it—the whiskey-eyed teen had known that coming out here had been an Absolutely Horrible, No Good Life Choice; but it was like the words ‘mystery’ and ‘unknown’ and ‘murder’ and ‘animal attack’ had lodged themselves into his brain—deep enough that he couldn’t shake them free—and then nothing could have stopped him from collecting Scott and driving them to the preserve.
Honestly, the only upside in all of this was the fact that his dad had managed to catch on to their presence so early on. Stiles knew that he was going to be in so much trouble come morning and when his dad finally got home—that is: if the teen managed to survive that long, which… odds weren’t looking that great, truth to tell—but at least the amber-eyed teen was assured that Scott was safe with his dad and the rest of Beacon Hills’ sheriff’s department. His best friend was safe.
If nothing else, Stiles was guaranteed that.
He put on another burst of speed, feet pounding through the groundcover—legs breaking through brush and small gatherings of trees in the hopes of losing his pursuer; it was a small hope, though, and one easily dashed as the teen heard the pounding of feet against the dirt just behind him.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Stiles sobbed out, loping across the forest floor; he spotted a clearing up ahead and, maybe it was a bad idea, but the thought of getting open space to actually run, picking up speed and distance and hopefully putting whoever it was chasing him—the girl’s murderer?—in the dust… at this point, Stiles was desperate for anything.
A bone-rattling roar came from behind him, mere steps from the heels of his tennis shoes—and it was then that Stiles realized that what had been chasing him hadn’t been human at all. The blood chilled in his veins, frozen solid and forcing his heart to a stop as terror and adrenaline flooded his body, and it was enough of a distraction that the boy finally stumbled over a bared tree root, stumbling and falling end over end to finally roll to a halt in front of a downed tree, the remaining trunk still buried deep within the earth and wide enough that six adults still wouldn’t have been enough to circle around the full girth.
“Oh, my God,” Stiles whispered softly, bracing a hand on the trunk of the tree to push himself up fully; a branch snapped, sharp and final, just to his left and the teen slowly raised his head upwards to see what it was that had been chasing him through the woods. The police reports had mentioned that the girl had died from an animal attack. So perhaps it had been a bear? Or a cougar? Either option was likely, especially as both animals tried regaining weight lost during winter.
The teen met a pair of feral, bloody crimson eyes, and Stiles’ own widened as he jerked back.
That… that hadn’t been light reflection. The creature—the wolf’s?—eyes were red. They glowed. The monster looked like some sort of Lovecraftian mix of wolf and man, limbs all skewed and lumbering as it still somehow moved with predatory grace along the clearing’s border, and the inane spark of inspiration There are no wolves in California. Not for over sixty years. That’s not a wolf. Not a real one. That’s a werewolf. settled in the back of the boy’s mind, hidden behind the jabbering screaming that was taking up most of his thought processes.
Stiles was afraid—and he knew that he was about to die.
The wolf-like creature suddenly darted forward, eating up the distance between the both of them with a speed that was, frankly, nightmare inducing; it was instinct, helpless response—already knowing that running wouldn’t save him at this point—and Stiles jerked a hand up in an attempt to make the onslaught stop even as the amber-eyed teen fell backwards onto the bared tree trunk.
“No!” Stiles screamed, terror giving his voice weight, and the creature bounced back off of a shield that abruptly sprung to life between them. It gave off a pearlescent sheen, sheer enough to almost be invisible—but there, still present, still somehow working even as the teen gaped down at his hand and then to the gleam of the barrier that had repelled the creature.
He… had he done that?
Or was there something within the clearing that had somehow managed to keep Stiles safe?
The wolf-creature was definitely stunned by the hit, slowly staggering upright and shaking its head in an almost human-like gesture, as if to clear potential ringing from its ears; it was a sight that raised the hairs on the back of the boy’s neck, finally calm enough to take in the details he hadn’t previously been able to see.
There were… there were some disturbingly human-like features mixed in with the monster, enough to make Stiles’ heart stutter in his chest as that bulky, terrifying visage shifted to return its attention the boy’s way. It was hard to really be sure, but something assessing—calculating and contemplative, a tactician’s sort of intelligence—shifted within that bloody gaze, and again the thought came:
“If you kill me, my dad’s never going to stop hunting you down,” Stiles began, voice shaky in the beginning but eventually gaining strength towards the end of the sentence. “He’s the Sheriff. It won’t matter if you’re man or beast, he won’t stop until you’re put down like a rabid animal. Because you’ve already killed tonight, haven’t you?”
That human intelligence once again shifted within those crimson eyes, and the wolf-creature’s head tilted to the side, just so, as its gaze sharpened upon Stiles’ face. Maybe it understood. Maybe it didn’t. Regardless, it appeared that Stiles had its attention—for the moment, anyway.
“But, right now, I don’t know who you are—what you are, either, technically. I don’t know your name or your face—so we can just… go our separate ways. Let bygones be bygones, water under the bridge, hakuna matata, all that jazz: right now, the police think that what happened to the girl was an animal attack. They’ll find a random mountain lion or maybe a hunger-crazed bear, capture it or kill it depending on the situation, and then that’ll be it. None of that will matter, though, if you end up hurting me. ‘Cause if you do… you’re a dead man walking. You just don’t know it yet.”
The creature stepped forward then, coming right up to the barrier that separated the both of them. Its gaze flickered down to that fairy-light sheen, glittering through the air—nothing beast-like in its eyes; that was all human emotion now readily evident, and Stiles’ heart raced at the confirmation before him—before lifting to meet the boy’s. It didn’t bother attempting to come any closer, though the eldritch features began to slowly recede away to show the man hidden beneath fang and fur.
Half of the man’s face was distorted by burns, mouth pulled back in a perpetual snarl as those still-red eyes continued to meet Stiles’, steady as you please as more and more of the monster melted away to reveal the human beneath it all (still a monster, though, if only a different sort—a lesson hard-learned through too many unsupervised romps through his dad’s case files when the Sheriff left them out for too long).
“You’re a clever one, aren’t you?” the werewolf rasped, voice hoarse as if he spent most of his time screaming, never relenting, never stopping—never giving his vocal chords the chance to heal, and the sound of it made Stiles shiver as he scooted back farther onto the bared tree trunk. “Full of hidden talents it looks like, too.”
“Yeah, well. I always aim to please,” the teen automatically shot back, sarcasm buried deep within Stiles’ psyche—irresistable and unstoppable, an avalanche’s worth of words and snark instinctive and coded into his very soul, even as the blood slowly drained from the amber-eyed boy’s face.
The man offered a wolfish smile in return, all bared fangs and predatory interest that had the boy’s eyes widening even more, breath hitching as all of that terrifying attention settled its full weight upon him.
“I’ll keep that in mind, darling boy,” the werewolf murmured and slowly backed towards the clearing’s border once more, wolf-like features smoothing the burns that made his face so much like melted wax, coursing over the man’s body so that beast yet again won out over the human: there was a flicker of crimson eyes, there and gone again, and Stiles finally found himself alone and still absolutely terrified at the chance that the werewolf might come back.
He released a slow, shaky breath, ignoring how it wheezed out of him, and crawled more completely up onto the tree trunk. Maybe it was the tree—perhaps it was some sort of magical tree while it had still been alive?—or maybe it was something in the clearing, some anti-dark creature or anti-magic natural protection embedded within the ground—maybe even one of the ley lines that Danny swore up and down criss-crossed the town and was doing the research to prove it, too—but none of that currently mattered. The important thing was that something had stopped the werewolf and, because of that something, Stiles absolutely refused to move from this spot until the sun was high overhead in the sky above.
Stiles’ dad would probably go out of his mind in worry at coming home to an empty house and with no son in sight, but… well. Werewolf.
The teen curled up into as tight a ball as possible, hoping to preserve what little warmth his thin hoodie provided, and abruptly burst into tear-streaked laughter, ignoring how the sound bordered on hysterical—figuring that the night had been rough enough as-is and he was perhaps allowed a few terror-inspired tears and hiccupping laughs.
Werewolves were real. Stiles had just, quite literally, met the Big Bad Wolf face-to-face.
While wearing a red hoodie.
He was Little Red Riding Hoodie.