The hospital was the loneliest place. A stark white building, white uniforms, white bed sheets, white clipboards with white paper, scrawled over with the black ink of fate. Lung cancer. Heart failure. Internal bleeding. Brain tumour. Coma. An entire life could be spent in such a place; sitting, waiting, watching. Watching someone die. Someone you love.
Derek was grateful he was watching from the outside.
The corridor behind him was buzzing with life while the room on the other side of the glass panel was silent apart from the beeping of the machinery attached to the lifeless body in the bed. Dark ringlets were tucked neatly behind pearl studded ears, cheeks as white as the hospital walls. A single figure sat beside the patient, frame made small by the hunching of shoulders.
Nothing had changed since last week.
Derek made a final scan of the scene before turning on his heel, walking swiftly to the exit.
Monday, 7th December
The buzzing of the 7:30 alarm saluted the start of another miserable day. When Stiles managed to bring himself to finally hit the off button and roll out of his duvet he noted that the weather outside was decidedly dull. The sky held no colour. A thin white blanket of cloud was all that could be seen. Dragging some clothes over his tired, pale body and half-heartedly combing his hair, he slumped down the stairs and plonked himself down in a chair at the breakfast bar. His dad was hurrying around the kitchen, phone pressed up to his ear with his shoulder, hands juggling jacket, car keys and a cheese and ham sandwich. He hardly noticed Stiles until he made for the door and had just enough time to roughly shove the sandwich in his mouth and use his free hand to gently squeeze the back of his son’s neck in goodbye. He then hurried through the door and was gone for the day. Stiles knew he would be unlikely to see him again until the following day.
Breakfast that morning was a sorry bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice that tasted a little out of date. He tipped it back regardless and switched on his mobile. It buzzed twice against the breakfast bar. One message from Scott, another from Lydia.
Scott: Hey. You up for lacrosse practice tonight? Coach will kick you off the team if you miss too many.
He’d only missed two. He had a sore ankle. At least that’s what he told Coach who had been less than impressed. He then checked his message from Lydia.
Lydia: You should come see her with me after school today. If you’re skipping lacrosse again, you have no excuse.
Stiles’ ankle was suddenly feeling a lot better. He returned to Scott’s message.
Stiles: I’ll be there.
He managed to avoid Lydia almost all day. It was only at last period that he failed to escape her clutches. He was just about the swerve into his final class, Chemistry, when she saw him and pounded across the linoleum floor in her heels and cut him off at the last second.
‘You can’t avoid this forever.’
‘Heeey, Lydia. Funny how I haven’t seen you all day.’
She wasn’t going to swallow such blatant bullshit.
‘You never texted me back.’
‘Ah yeah. I gotta get back to lacrosse. The team needs me.’ Stiles gave a stupid grin, hoping to fool her but when she raised a single, immaculate eyebrow he shrugged as if to suggest there was nothing to be done about it.
‘You’ve got a friend in the hospital who needs you more.’
With that, she turned and marched away, hair swinging over her shoulder, coconut sent filling the air.
His attempts at lacrosse that evening were poor. He hardly moved when the ball came flying across the pitch at him and he almost forgot where he was, his mind lost on other concerns.
‘Bilinski! Move your ass or get off my field!’
Coach jumped up and down in frustration, arms waving frantically. Stiles made himself focus for the next few minutes and managed a shot on goal. He missed.
Once practice was over, Scott ambled towards him, pulling his lacrosse kit off as they walked towards the changing rooms.
‘You doing ok, man? You seem really far away.’
‘Yeah dude, I was down field from you, that’s why.’ Stiles joked, voice only half betraying his exhaustion from sleepless nights.
Scott grinned and rolled his eyes.
‘I’m serious. You ok?’
Stiles shrugged. They reached the changing room and once inside, they all began to strip.
‘As good as I can be.’
Scott gave a pained look, pulling his shirt over his head.
‘It’s been almost a month. Have you even been to see her once?’
Twenty three days. It had been twenty three days, each one of them more dire than the last.
Stiles undressed and headed quickly for the showers. Avoiding the question was the easiest way of dealing with the guilt.
The following morning went almost exactly the same as the one before, minus the text message from Scott. Lydia, however, was as persistent as ever. Surprisingly, he managed to avoid her all day and made it to his car at four o’clock with no trouble. He waved Scott goodbye as he zoomed off on his motorbike. He was off to the hospital again. He hadn’t bothered asking Stiles to join him this time.
Instead of driving home, Stiles made a beeline for the Sheriff’s station. His dad would be working a late shift again that night and he wanted to see him before he went home to an empty house for dinner. He parked in his usual spot and easily made his way through to his dad’s office. He found his father sat behind his desk, phone in one hand, coffee in the other. He nodded to Stiles as he came in.
‘Yes, that sounds fine. Send it over to me as soon as you’re done. Yep…Ok…Bye.’ He put the receiver down. ‘Hey, kiddo. How was school?’ Stiles shrugged. It was easier than talking. ‘Exciting as ever, I see.’
The Sheriff sighed.
‘Long. I’ve been on the phone all day. We’ve been having trouble with several shootings over the last few weeks that at first seemed pretty normal but now I’m not so sure.’
‘How d’you mean?’ Stiles was suddenly on edge. Was something new about to turn up in Beacon Hills and cause yet more havoc?
Cue a bigger sigh from the Sheriff who had the beginnings of bags under his eyes.
‘It could be nothing but I want to get a specialist’s opinion on it before I pass it off as nothing.’
Tuesday, 8th December
Specialist opinion. That’s what he’d called it. Derek wasn’t sure that being a werewolf qualified him as a specialist on all supernatural occurrences and creatures but he supposed he knew more than the poor Sheriff who seemed to be trying to eliminate all possibilities from a potentially serious series of shootings.
He hadn’t really wanted to go all the way to the station to find that he knew nothing about the case at hand but apart from reading and working out, his days were very uninspiring. He could do with leaving the apartment more often than his visits to the hospital and the supermarket. He adorned his leather jacket and made his way to the car and fifteen minutes later found himself outside the Sheriff’s office. He hadn’t often been inside the station without his hands behind his back and he received a few odd stares from officers who had previously arrested him. He knocked on the Sheriff’s door and was beckoned inside.
‘Derek, come in. Thank you for coming to see me.’
Only then did Derek notice Stiles sat in the chair opposite his father.
‘Yes, Derek is the “specialist” I asked to come in to give me some advice on this case.’ Stiles seemed unsure and narrowed his eyes. Derek was already wishing he hadn’t agreed to this.
‘What do you need from me?’ Derek spoke bluntly. He wanted this to be over as soon as possible. The Sheriff slid a folder over the desk to him and Derek sat down. He flicked through the paperwork as the Sheriff spoke.
‘There have been several shootings in Beacon Hills over the last few months.’ Derek read the first sheet. Four shootings, to be exact, but luckily none of them had been fatal. ‘All the victims have been male and between the ages of sixteen and twenty. This maniac has been targeting kids as far as we can tell.’
‘So what does this have to do with me? I don’t see anything abnormal about this case.’
‘I didn’t think so either. But then I looked at the dates that these shootings happened.’ The Sheriff slid a calendar over and Derek could see the last three weeks before him. Three dates had been circled. Derek looked more closely. Two of the shootings had occurred on the full moon.
‘Did the shootings happen at night?’ The Sheriff nodded. Derek mulled the information over in his mind. It wasn’t enough to suggest supernatural activity.
‘There’s more.’ The Sheriff said quickly, sensing Derek’s doubt. ‘More than one person was shot at the full moon and all the victims were shot with bullets made of silver.’
‘Silver bullets. That’s just a myth. They don’t affect werewolves any more than a normal bullet would.’
‘I know that, but the gunman might not.’
‘What?’ Stiles asked, face contorted in confusion.
‘The dates of the shootings, the age and gender of the victims and the use of silver bullets made me wonder if we might be dealing with another maniac like Matt Daehler. Someone could be targeting male teens on the full moon in the hopes of killing young werewolves. More importantly, Scott.’
‘Why would they be after Scott?’ Stiles sounded scared.
‘Because he’s the alpha.’ Derek said, his mind lost in thought.
‘My thoughts exactly.’ The Sheriff stood and walked to the wall where he had pinned up the faces of all the victims. ‘If this killer had found out about werewolves and objected to them or was maybe being controlled by someone else like Jackson was, Scott and the others could be in danger. You too, Derek.’
‘How can I help? I can see how you’ve come to this possible conclusion but I can’t see a way in which I could help you. So far it could still be a regular, run of the mill, trigger happy loon. The fact that they’re using silver bullets suggests to me that this isn’t someone well versed in the supernatural. They would know that silver is useless against werewolves if they were. This sounds more like a psycho who likes targeting innocent kids.’
‘Derek’s right, dad. This guy sounds like he knows almost nothing about supernatural beings. If he were one or hunted them, then surely he would know how to kill a werewolf?’
It was a little disconcerting that Stiles agreed with him. They were so often at loggerheads that when they shared the same thoughts it made Derek question himself. Was he being a moron?
‘I understand, Derek. I purely wanted someone more experienced with all this to take a look at the information I’ve gathered. To ease my mind I suppose. I hope I haven’t inconvenienced you too much.’
‘It’s fine. I wasn’t busy.’
The Sheriff sighed again and ran a hand through his hair.
‘I was going to contact Chris Argent about it but considering what he’s going through…I decided against it. He spends almost every minute by her side.’
Derek gave a short nod. He’d seen Chris sat there. Motionless, just like his daughter.
Derek stood to leave and noticed Stiles shifting awkwardly in his seat, avoiding eye contact with both of them.
‘If anything else comes up, call me.’
The Sheriff nodded and thanked him for coming. Derek looked over to Stiles who was watching him leave. He briefly raised a single brow in gesture and left.
Tuesday, 8th December
Stiles had been wrong to think himself safe from Lydia that day. Despite her lack of presence during school hours, she was increasingly persistent that evening. Stiles had hardly gotten home before his phone started dinging endlessly with angry text messages. After he ignored ten of them, she tried calling him. After four missed calls, she ordered him to pick up by text. Stiles eventually gave in, two “missed calls” later.
‘Hello?’ he answered as though he didn’t know who it was on the other end.
‘I don’t understand what’s wrong with you! Allison is in the hospital. Don’t you care?’ Her voice was full of accusation and anger. Stiles couldn’t blame her.
He drew in a jagged breath.
‘Of course I do.’
‘Then why haven’t you been to see her yet?’
Stiles’ heartbeat leapt up. He swallowed thickly. He had been asked this question several times over the last few weeks and he had yet to answer it. He knew why but he didn’t have the courage to vocalise it. He was afraid of being selfish.
‘I’ll go when I can.’ His voice was painfully small. He closed his eyes and tried to slow his racing heart.
‘When you can? What makes you so busy all of a sudden?’
‘Please stop calling and texting me about this.’
He hung up as she ranted down the phone.
Another pill of guilt to swallow.
Would have been easier if he could actually breathe.
The panic attack had been relatively easy to handle. He had sat on the floor, doubled over, hands over his head, breathing deeply between his knees. Twenty minutes of gentle rocking and steady breathing seemed to expel the panic and stress but the pain in his head gradually worsened. He needed to lie down. When he made it to bed, he didn’t even bother undressing. He crawled under the sheets and curled into a ball. Sleep drew him in quickly and for once he wasn’t plagued by horrifying nightmares and didn’t wake again until the alarm rang at 7:30am the following morning.
He didn’t make it to school that day.