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The Weight of the World

Chapter Text

Stiles Stilinski received the text that started the falling dominoes to the ruins of his Beacon Hills life on a Saturday morning at precisely 8.56 a.m. The text was a simple order of 'come to the loft' sent by his further and further estranged best friend, Scott McCall.

He was trudging through the woods on the look-out for Theo the night before, so he figured that he could just go straight to the loft without coming home. Stiles always knew that Theo was trouble with the devil's horns; this was confirmed after the night on the hospital and when he threatened to reveal what happened to Donovan.

Inside the loft, the whole pack was gathered. Scott, Lydia, Isaac, Kira, Malia, Liam, Jackson and even Derek and Cora were there. The only surprise that shouldn't have surprised him was Theo. Of course that lying motherfucker would be there, cause why not? Stiles was rarely included in any pack meetings nowadays but finding out that the outsider was included was a whole new level of 'low blows'.

"What's going on?" Stiles asked, letting the question hang in the air, uneasy from the glares and queased faces he was receiving.

Scott's glare was the harshest one, a smirking Theo lurking right behind him. "I heard what you did to Donovan."

Oh, that little fucker he's going to--

"You killed him."

Wait, what?! Stiles backed in his mind, whiplashed by the accusation. “Killed him? Scott, no.” He stepped forward only to be cut by Malia’s growl. Because apparently that was the thing now, Malia and Scott, slutting up the halls of Beacon Hills High. “It was self-defense.”

“Self-defense?” Isaac scoffed, followed by a couple others from his back. “We heard of how you stabbed him with a construction pole in the library. And how you hid the body.”

“I didn’t sta—“

“Stiles, that’s cruel. That’s murder. At the very least you shouldn’t have gone through hiding his body and just confessed to the police.” Kira, sweet loving adorable Kira, was even on Theo’s side. “Your father’s the Sheriff, Stiles.”

“When it was the Nogitsune,” Scott started, making Stiles flinch noticeably, “I understood that you had no control over that. But now?”

Stiles sighed, frustrated and betrayed by how the pack was treating him. “I’m going to repeat myself. It was self-defense. Donovan attacked me out in the parking lot and chased me inside, then the scaffolding fell while I—“

“Stop lying, Stiles!” Lydia screeched at him. The girl was admittedly close to the boy, but that was before she knew how much the boy had to offer to the world. She grew up in a world without competition, Lydia Martin who had everything she wanted in a snap would bound to be jealous. “Theo told us everything.”

“Theo?” Stiles breathed, his eyes stinging from the fact that his pack—who he had died for and got possessed for and killed for—was abandoning him for fucking fourth grade (really though?) classmate unknown Theo.

“We know he was targeting your father and I get your intent of protecting him. But we don’t kill people Stiles. We don’t kill those we’re trying to save. We’re better than that. There’s always another way.” Scott reasoned, Theo’s hand on his shoulder for a false sense of comfort.

Stiles took one deep breath, knowing a loss in words when he sees one. No one will understand, anyways. “Fine, what is that you want? For me to apologize?”

“You’re human. You’re weak, you’re reckless and you’re a burden that needs protecting, dragging us down on top of a hindrance.” Derek, who had been quiet this whole time with an even more quiet Cora by his side, spoke up with a shake of his head. “We want you out.”

The red-hooded boy had to literally swallow his cry; he could hear a few whimpers from the pack, particularly Cora, Liam and surprisingly Jackson, but he did his best to ignore them. “Out?”

“Of the pack.” Scott finished his sentence.

The sun shone through the tall wall windows, glaringly bright, at that moment. Streaking the pale mole-stricken face with a hint of shadow. The pain in his eyes and the tears glazing over, it was too much to bear. Betrayal. “Fine.” Was all Stiles could say, his throat choking from the need to shout. “Have fun not dying without me. I won’t help even if you begged.”

He was out the door, in his jeep, and driving aimlessly before the wolves could even snark a reply. On the wide expanse of the road, he drove and drove. Without a destination but home, added with a million detours. Stiles rationally knew this was coming. It didn’t make it any less painful. They were the closest thing to family he had, and they threw him away like yesterday’s garbage.

What hurts most is that everybody seemed to have agreed with Theo. He’d known that Scott, Malia and Kira would be on Theo’s side because those three come in a weird package. Lydia and Isaac though? He was there for Lydia and saw the real beauty between the facade. He was the one who comforted Isaac through his nightmares from both his father and Allison. Stiles wasn’t sure about Cora, Jackson and Liam, but they didn’t come to his defense. That said enough.

But Derek? In the base terms, Derek and Stiles never got along. Stiles knew that. But for the past months, they’ve reconciled. They’ve talked and Stiles became the closest thing to a confidant the former Alpha had. He should’ve known it would be like this. Fucking Derek and his stupid fucking hair and jaw.

Stiles hit the brakes abruptly, the jeep jostled by the motion. His feelings were a turmoil of anger, pain and sadness. He didn’t know wether to scream or cry or punch a whole in the wall. The jeep started shaking. The ground underneath it forming hairline cracks. The coins in the cupholder rattled against each other before bouncing off the car, embedding itself into the dashboard and door of the car. Stiles snapped from his rage, controlling the magic boiling in his heart.

Another thing Stiles kept from the pack was his magic. He was human but he wasn’t weak. He was a Spark; a natural magic user. He was going to tell them eventually, but now?

All the emotions finally broke loose in a loud cry. Wrecking sobs tore through his body, slumped against the steering wheel. He’d been driving for the whole day and he still found no answer. All he knew was the pain, unbearable and scarring. He had cried until nightfall that day, for the loss of his pack. Loss of his family. Loss of his home. All he wanted to do was run.

And so he did.

That night, he applied for a transfer of school through his father’s email, pending on the next location. Grabbing multiple books he had of his magic and supernatural, he reached for his laptop to copy the bestiary and important documents and programs into a USB. He packed it into a duffel bag and withdrew the money he’d hid under his bed from the Benefactor’s funds; it was never returned and split evenly between Scott and Stiles after all their bills were paid. $50,000 cash, all in untraceable 100 dollar bills. He left his phone in the bath tub, ruining the data inside so they couldn’t track him. He’d left a note for his dad in the dining room, telling him that he couldn’t bare to stay and leaving, and he didn’t feel sorry for leaving. After all, his father was never home, traumatized and scared by his son ever since the possessing.

The place he once considered home, a warmth of comfort in a bad day, was gone. The memories of his mother long faded from the couches and walls of the Stilinski household. He looked back through his life and all it had been through. He’d found out all the things that had gone bump in the night existed. He’d been through horrors and pain unimaginable to what a sixteen year old should have been familiar with. He’d grown and lost so many things, and now, two years later, became a person his past-self wouldn’t recognize.

Did he regret it? Honestly, no. If he hadn’t brought Scott out in the woods that night, none of it wouldn’t have happened and they could’ve avoided a lot of tragedies, yes. But all the lives they’ve saved would've died. He has to believe that was more true than the lives that were lost that could’ve been saved otherwise.

In the end, reflecting on everything, Stiles knew. This changed them for life. They matured, hardened like officers and tortured like veterans. Scott desperately kept hold of his innocence and scout-boy honors and moralities, Stiles knew that too. He couldn’t blame him. Scott will always be Scott. He had never had to make a hard choice because everyone else was doing it for him. One day he’ll learn, or maybe not. But that has nothing to do with him now.

With that, Stiles slung his duffel into the backseat of his mom’s Jeep and closed the door. Sliding the gear to drive, he headed for the airport. Not even looking back once.

He wasn’t sure where to go or what to do, or even less, what he wanted to be. But he was sure that he’d start over. For better or worse, New York is his future.

Besides, nothing can possibly beat the dangers of staying in Beacon Hills, right?

Chapter Text

Getting to New York was relatively easy enough. Stiles ditched the jeep halfway through the ride to the airport, he drove all the way out of California to Nevada and took a cab from there to the airport. That way he could buy time from the on slaught man-hunt that his dad would put out for him (maybe, he wasn’t sure whether his dad or pack cared where he went). 

One airplane flight later, he was in the bustling city of New York; the land where all dreams are made possible—a rather odd and very misleading statement; correction: New York, the land where all dreams are possible, only if you have the money, connection and face for it. 

Anyways, the first order of business Stiles made was to take the high school exam to get his certificate for ‘finishing school’, because if he went through 10 years of hell he better damn well get something out of it. Maintaining a GPA of 4.9 was a miracle in all the shit storm he’d been through, accounting that he was taking 4 AP classes. With that, he applied for a double major course in criminology and medicine in NYU, with the money from his college savings and a half-tuition scholarship. 

After all was done and well, he found a decent studio apartment above the bookstore he worked in; a special discount from the owner who he helped avoid a falling bookshelf when he was there for the first time. He barely furnished the studio, only added a bed without frames but an overload of pillows and comforters. He didn’t even buy a TV, only a radio for the local news and none of that FOX bullshit. 

Of course, he furthered his study in his magic; understanding the basics of the whole spark natural magic he had, after all he skipped everything and went straight for the hardcore against battling the  Dread Doctors. He learned a few things being in New York for the first month; he met a weird monk-like dude in a museum, who thought him the truth about Sparks and what he was. He’s always had a tether to nature, but that apparently meant he was an Elemental Spark. Who knew? 

Sad to say, he was majorly disappointed when he found out that he couldn’t have a wand or his own Dumbledore. That magic doesn’t exist. Nonetheless, he was still enthralled by his own ability to control the four elements. He excelled at controlling the earth and water; his fire and air still unstable but steadily growing. 

In the first month he’s been in New York, he’s met more magicians than he knew existed, albeit only two and one of them was his landlord-boss, the other an unknown sassy monk (which was in all the ways weird but a wonderful accident as he’d expected). Stiles visited the local New York pack to announce his presence and was offered the emissary position to which he politely declined; that pack bullshit was out of his life forever, he’s not going anywhere near that no sire. But, he didn’t want any enemies so he made an alliance with them; apparently Sparks were very well-regarded and respected in the supernatural industry, so huh. 

So far, his life was turning out to be quite the normalcy, if you discount the occasional once-week-monster-hunting (New York has an abundance of crazy wild supernatural creatures). It’s like they had a schedule of who’s going to wreak havoc next for each week of the month, it was exhausting. He's faced vampires, rogue werewolves, ghouls, succubis and incubis (a very fascinating and deadly experience, mind you), and he was finally getting use to the life he’d have built for himself in the 3 months he’s been here. 

He even has his own favorite customer at the bookstore; a ridiculously handsome and charming hunk of a blonde that had the manners of a gentleman from the 1940’s, a rare oddity but a welcomed surprise. That’s when you know you’re living the regular New Yorker life (and the occasional cursing to cab drivers who barely avoided hitting you in the sidewalk). 

Stiles was happy, and of course that’s when the world decided he’s been taking a 3-month-too-long life vacation. Because the world of the weird and supernatural extraordinaire couldn’t survive without Stiles somehow getting dragged into the middle of it. Fuck you, world. 

To be fair, in hindsight, it was technically his fault. He didn’t mean to hack into the intelligence servers of the government, but he needed to find out how much the government knows about and deals with the supernatural world. Imagine his surprise when he was abruptly abducted—no excuses, it was still an abduction, Stiles would swear that up and down to Merriam-Webster—with a bag over his head into a van with a syringe of anesthesia (he suspects benzodiazepines or ketamine with the rate that it worked at). 

He came to with a throbbing headache and a bagful of questions, starting with ‘Am I Dead’ and ‘Not-fucking-Again’, the latter directed to the beings in the sky—he’s open to religions, Stiles Stilinski is a man of respect, thank you very much. 

"Wow, the amount of treatment I am receiving is spectacularly new and fascinating, if not harsh and dehumanizing." Stiles snarked, head bag taken off of him. The metallic paneled room, or should he say holding interrogation cell, flooding his eyesight. "Do you guys have a Yelp-like system, I'd rate it a quality top score of negative 5."

His abductor was a man with a strictly pressed suit and a receding hairline, but it strangely works in an oddly charming and sleek way. “Do you know why you’re here, Mr. Stilinski?” Damn, even his voice is clandestine.

“No, but I do know from experience that I have a magnetizing presence to abductors and kidnappers.” Stiles smiled, having the whole ‘kidnapping interrogation’ routine memorized down to a T. 

The agent returned his smile with a plastic one, sliding a report on the metal table, which, oh look, he was handcuffed. Fun

“It says here that your name is Stiles Stilinski, an outstanding student with an impressive GPA and record in NYU, majoring in two very oddly combined majors. But your real name is redacted and your records scrubbed clean, although we were able to find the suppressed large numbers of police reports connecting you to an alarmingly frequent animal attacks, deaths and bombs.” The agent read off from the report he undoubtedly broke laws to get since Stiles had classified his file as a countermeasure to hide his identity. He directed an eyebrow raise at him. “So, tell me, Mr. Stilinski, who are you?” 

"A concerned citizen with astonishingly bad luck." 

The agent blinked an unimpressed glance at him. ”You hacked national severs."

"I can neither confirm nor deny that until I am within presence of my lawyer or does the law not apply here? Do you guys work outside the law? Because I think you're an independent structure, with more a power hierarchy than the law-abiding systems.” Stiles wasn’t about to fold, he’d been beaten down so many times, it feels like another Tuesday to him. 

“It’s clear that you were trying to access documents that were flagged as confidential." Stiles winced a little at that statement, because he thought he’d hid his tracks pretty well, but the Agent saw his reaction and smiled a little bit wider. 

But Stiles is a master at ignoring the problem until it goes away, it’s his life motto that kept him alive for many years, so he evaded. ”I’m confused though, why are you involved in whatever it is you think I did?" 

The Agent, to which he still does not know the name of but is surprisingly starting to like, blinked, caught surprised by the question. ”What?” 

Stiles Stilinski, supernatural extraordinaire, folded his hands on the table as best as he can with handcuffs on, knowing he’s got the man’s attention. ”Not saying I did do what you think I did  which I completely did not do, but isn't this supposed to be handled by the direct government investigative or at least intelligence agencies like FBI or the CIA, of which owns the 'national servers' I definitely did not hack into.” The Agent blinked once, a tick of the jaw that he wasn’t sure was a suppressed smile or blatant surprise. “I’d be honored if the NSA come greet me themselves but I didn’t think this would be a matter of national security if not a mere curiosity in the unknown."

"We are the FBI." Phil Coulson flipped his badge to show Stiles his credentials. Phil Coulson, huh, never thought Stiles would meet him. 

"Huh, funny. I didn't ask to see your credentials, which yes you were trying to assure professionalism and authenticity, but masking it with an initiative of forcing me to trust you, a common trick of illogical fallacy.” His words ran out of his mouth with precise execution, as he can see the man Phil Coulson start to break away from his serious disposition. “It would've worked better if you didn't. Because that badge is a fake. Credentials aren’t supposed to have ID numbers, only badge numbers, unless its on their card which they only use in the office."

Coulson smiled, his mind racing with thrill from the fast conversation—by far the most interesting interrogation he’s had in a while. "Aren't you scared? Someone pretending to be FBI all the while kidnapping you for an information we might or might not torture out of you." 

"You won’t resort to torture.” Stiles returned a tooth filled smile at him, breaking the egg once and for all. “It’s not in the SHIELD books."

Weirdly enough, he could hear a bark of a woman’s laughter outside the walls. Coulson spluttered for a while, his mouth opening and closing with a tilt of his head and squinted eyes. “How do you know who we are?” 

“There’s not a lot of clandestine force that works outside the law handling odd extraterrestrial matters. It’s not that hard to link SHIELD into it.” Stiles waved his hands only to yelp in pain due to the metal restrictions digging into his flesh. “Plus, I’ve been following your activities as best as I can.” 

Coulson raised his eyebrow. “Why exactly?” 

“A gentleman has to have a few hobbies, how else are we supposed to live in our white supremacy?” Stiles blinked his eyes innocently, sarcasm dripping through his lashes. 

Coulson let a little grin break from his poker face, so Stiles called it a win. Establish a connection is something you’d want to do in a hostage situation. But he was sure he didn’t need it. 

“So, Mr. Stilinski, do you know what’s about to happen?” Coulson asked, the file long forgotten. He was curious to see how much this kid knows about their operation and how they worked.

“You’re gonna lock me up in some cold dark tiny room where you keep all prisoners in with a scary nondescript name like ‘the Fridge’ or ‘the Sandbox’.” Stiles winked at Coulson, enjoying the twitch in his eye when he hit the nail. “Or you’re going to let me go and hope that I’ll keep my mouth shut.” 

The bark of laughter came back, following a deep chuckle. Maybe the room wasn’t as sound-proof as he thought. Coulson let a long weary sigh escape his mouth, but he was also failing to hide his smile to the constant surprise the man Stiles Stilinski turned out to be, “There’s a third option.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows in a challenge. 

“Join SHIELD.” Coulson offered, leaning forward in his chair. “We could use someone like you.” 

Stiles almost laughed, barely containing it. “And what exactly is someone like me?” He hadn’t shown his magic or his supernatural knowledge and connections. 

“Someone with a fast wit and intelligence, a thirst for knowledge and a very adept way at talking out of trouble.” Coulson explained, the boy reminded him vaguely of a fusion between Tony and Skye—Daisy, he corrected himself—which was either a really scary horrible mix or a spectacle to behold. “Plus, I’m pretty sure you’ve hidden a few tricks up your sleeves. You’ll be an outstanding operative.”

It was his third month in New York, and Stiles admitted that he kind of missed the thrill of adventures and not-dying every second of the day, despite how taxing it was. He felt a need to help, and he knew that doing things alone would only work until a certain extent. 

“First, is this really necessary though?” Stiles rattled his hands and the handcuff with it. “I’m not a hostile, I look like someone that can barely hold up in a cage fight with white church bunnies.” Stiles could tell Coulson didn’t buy the lie for a second, the guy was even tougher than werewolves and they’re actual walking lie-detectors. 

Coulson relented, showing a leap of trust on his behalf. Stiles could see himself working next to the guy, maybe it wasn’t a bad thing. “If I do accept this deal, what’s in it for me?” 

Stiles waited for the reply, expecting a threat or some greater good horse crap that everyone excuses themselves with. Coulson just shook his head, somehow reading his mind. “A fancy badge, cool toys and a hell of a story to tell your grandkids.” 

The laughter ripped from his throat in a shock of delight. Stiles liked him. He definitely likes him. He stood from his seat, straightening his hoodie. “Okay, you got me.” He waited for Coulson to stand before offering his hand. “I’m Stiles. A proper introduction is needed if we’re to trust each other, and I expect a full trust because loyalty is my first priority.” 

Coulson shook his hand, feeling a weird warmth spread through his palms. “Phil Coulson, the feeling’s mutual.” 

Stiles let go of this hands, stuffing them into his pockets while Coulson opened the doors. “I’ve got to tell you though, I’ve been through a lot so there’s nothing much that can surprise me that makes a better story than what I’ve already got.” 

The only thing he got back from Coulson was an all-knowing smile which he absolutely hates. God, he’s like another Deaton. Cryptic and enigma-like. The worst trait to someone with a deadly curiosity such as Stiles.

He figured out what the smile meant when he was lead outside the holding cell, seeing a couple of people smile at him with mirth over a touch-screen table and a huge screen that was showing the live footage of the holding cell they were in earlier. Inside a plane. 

Stiles dropped his mouth, looking to Coulson for an explanation; the smug expression on his innocent face speaking loudly to his question. 

“Welcome to SHIELD.”

That was how he got into SHIELD, completely by accident and a breach of national secret servers. It was the first domino to fall in the long run of his fate. Stiles didn’t knew it then because he was too caught up in the new excitement of being a part of the agency, but that was the beginning. Of what, one might ask? 

Everything.

 

Chapter Text

“Stiles!” Daisy shouted over the gunshots, causing a slight reverberation in Stiles’ eardrums, hiding under the open bar. 

It was his first week in SHIELD damn it. First week and straight into the hell hole of almost dying every single day of the week. He was given about two days to get his matters into order, apparently they were going to somewhere called the Triskelion, where they were going to start his training properly, since they were in a plane (he still could not believe that). 

So, technically it’s only been, what, less than five days. Which was surprisingly delightful to his knowledge. He made quick friends of Fitz and Simmons, the only two set of brains that could race with his to an educated rant of a new drug being invented or a new technological development and their ethical concerns; plus it also helped that he got on their good side when they show him the SHIELD toys. Daisy and him bonded terrifyingly quickly; he simply approached her in the command centre that he first saw them in and stood next to her while she was cracking a code, and helped her wordlessly. After that, they sat at the open bar and drank away eventually spilling hilarious jokes and giving Stiles the know-hows of the place. Apparently, Daisy was recruited the same way he did, so that’s another bonding factor. 

Mellinda May was a terrifying woman and he’s starting to think he has a soft spot for strong scary women that could stare him to death. She favored him slowly, but the key point was sitting next to her when she was doing her daily tai chi and yoga; he learned that to calm and center himself when the Nogitsune left, out of paranoia, maybe.

Antoine Triplett. Now that’s what he hasn’t figured out yet. He was the grandson of a Howling Commandos, which holy motherfucker, the Howling Commando, as in Captain America. Stiles may have questioned him on their adventures and gadgets for a little over 2 hours, but the guy didn’t seem to mind, in fact he claimed he’d love to talk to him again. 

All in all, the four days aboard the ‘Bus’ was spectacular. Until, of course, on the fifth day, they got hijacked. 

It started with the plane being hacked remotely, causing the plane to nose dive downwards. Stiles, Daisy and Trip were out on the sofa’s, playing a game of go fish when the plane started tipping and their cards flying. “What is happening?” Tripp called out. 

The acceleration downward made the gravity shift, Stiles holding on to one of the belt straps when his body lifts off the ground. “Are we crashing?!” 

Then the plane stabilized for a split second allowing Fitz and Simmons to run up the spiral staircase, falling in their steps, holding on to the railings. 

“Coulson!” That’s when a force came on top of the Bus, shaking the interior before they heard the  air-lock gate on the ceiling open. “Are we being—“ Fitz couldn’t finish the sentence when masked men came trooped down the stairs, guns blazing, “—What in the bloody hell?!” 

Trip and Daisy acted quickly, unholstering their I.C.E.R.s (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division was big on acronyms, who knew?), firing away at the intruders. Fitz threw a spare he has to Stiles, aiming himself with the railgun. 

When the nosedive continued angling the plane down into the ocean, the gunfire stopped for a moment, everyone caught unbalanced and disarrayed. 

“Is this plane water-proof?” Stiles shouted, looking out the circular window, nearly missing the gunshot to his shoulder. 

He didn’t receive an answer, nor did he need to, because right after the question was asked, the plane dove into the waters. 

“Uh, Coulson, this is not a submarine for god’s sake!” Fitz spluttered to the missing boss in question, pushing Jemma and himself into his bunk, pulling the doors half closed so he could still assist the rest in shooting. 

The lights suddenly went out, along with the AC and controls. May had shut down the plane, hoping it would reboot out of the control of hacker’s hands. 

Stiles took the advantage in the dark to knock out his opponent with the butt of his icer and the other with three dendrotoxin bullets to the chest. He felt the plane start up again, but the enemy still out numbered them.

“Daisy!” Stiles called out to the woman under fire from two men, formulating a plan. “Lead them to the cargo bay!”

The Inhuman shouted back, “What?!” 

“Just do it!” Stiles ran down the stairs, heading to the cargo bay when he fell down the last two steps due to the steep incline May had set the bus on out of the water. 

He still kept his magic a secret, and would like to keep it that way until further needed. The men came rolling down the stairs from Daisy’s quake powers with the help of the angle off the plane being almost 90 degrees to the ground. Stiles worked fast, going next to Lola when the gunfire started again, getting ready to push the cargo bay door lock button. “Daisy, hold on!” 

The woman just had about a second after the warning when the cargo doors opened, sucking the men out of the garage and nearly popping her shoulders out of place. One of the men caught Daisy’s legs, hanging on to them with one hand while the other held a gun pointed straight at her face. 

Stiles let go off his hold on Lola, quickly unloading his last bullets to the man, causing him and the man to fly out the cargo into the open air. 

“STILES!” Daisy shouted to the empty garage. She panicked, thinking she had lost their newest recruit, refusing to believe that he was gone. 

Stiles didn’t want anyone to know about his magic, but he figured one person knowing was better than dying. He controlled the air around him, pushing it forward to his will, making him fly back into the plane—simultaneously shocking the hell out of the Inhuman with vibration powers. 

He flew over to the button, hitting it with all his power causing the doors to shut back up. The two of them fell onto the floor with a body slam, knocking the air out of their lungs. They looked at each other, Daisy a mix of awe and shock while Stiles just shook his head with a wink. 

“Everybody okay down here?” Fitz popped his head from above, raising his thumbs up. 

Stiles chuckled at Daisy’s mock expression, he had rendered her speechless, that’s an achievement right there. 

“We’re all good.” 

 

~~~

 

Two days and a major clean up later, they arrived at the Triskelion. Stiles learned that the invaders were a common enemy of Coulson’s personal team called the Watchdogs. He’s fully geared in the black-jumpsuit-like apparel that all SHIELD agents are supposed to wear, debriefed on the tests and other documents he’d need to sign. 

Spending time with Coulson’s team was a good introduction to what SHIELD dealt with, Stiles was a positive thinker (a total lie, but he’s in denial what can he say), he’s decided to take only positives out of what nearly was a death mission on a flying submarine of a plane. 

Daisy had agreed to keep his powers a secret, although he could see her desperation to ask him a bunch of questions leading with ‘Was he an Inhuman’ but he wasn’t really sure. He’d never went through terrigenesis, at least not that he knows of. 

Coulson led him to the top floors--a floor that consisted of his office. Phil Coulson was a man of importance here in SHIELD, Stiles took great note of that and promised not to cross the guy when he asked him how important he was.

“Stiles?” His name sounded from one of the corridors. There wasn't a lot of people in the floor he was in, sitting down on one of the huge sofas outside Coulson's office waiting for him. 

Stiles stood and turned his head to the voice, greeted with clear blue eyes with a shade of shock and confusion--he was getting a lot of that look lately. “Oh, hey, bookworm.” 

Bookworm smiled, lips parted and still confused. "Really?"

"Hey, you’ve never mentioned your name before, Mr. Bookworm." Stiles joked with his favorite customer.

"Stiles." Bookworm shook his head in disbelief and sighed. "I've told you before, it's Steve." 

"Steve Bookworm." Stiles rolled the name around on his tongue. "It's a bit odd but it’s growing on me." 

"This coming from the man called Stiles Stilinski." Steve chuckled, stuffing his hands in his casual wear jeans. 

"I'll have you know that's a nickname." Stiles waved the banter away, his breath stuck in his throat by the way Steve was stretching his white wash jeans and casual blue training shirt. "Uh, how's the book you bought last time? What was it, 451 Fahrenheit?"

Steve's smile grew wider, his stomach fluttering by the fact that his favorite librarian employee manages to remember every single book he's bought. "It was very insightful, quite positive, and different from what I've previously read, I quite like it." 

"Your previous reads were George Orwell and John Steinbeck, I don't think your statement holds much meaning." Stiles squinted his eyes at the older man, teasing him like he always does. 

Steve read classics that he missed ever since he woke up. Other than painting and sketching, he spent his time reading novels. Back before the war, he remembered only having one copy of Dr Seuss that he absolutely loved and read over and over again. That was actually how he met Stiles. He still remembers the beanie-adorned glasses-wearing adorable young man stifling his laughter over his shoulder when the man was bent over a Dr. Seuss classic. 

"What's wrong with Steinbeck and Orwell? Why is it not insightful and positive?" Steve tested the young man, crossing his arms. 

Stiles was momentarily distracted by the muscles that poked through the sleeves, he was a growing man with a high libido—he’s allowed to stare.

"Nothing. Just that, Steinbeck and Orwell, they're views are similar to each other, so that's not much of a comparison—both led similar paths of lives. Steinbeck was a liberal pro-democratic writer and Orwell a socialist from communist influence." 

From the eyebrow raise that Stiles received, he shook his head. "My point is Ray Bradbury was a visionary, but he absolutely loathed technology. It's a dark and true prediction of what we're living in; we pay more attention to our social media and claim it's out of our hands. We're stripping away morality and our conscience under an excuse to not read books for intelligence and instead seek entertainment and happiness."

Steve nodded, thinking over his response. He loved having discussions of literature with Stiles. It was just one of his ordinary highlights of his visits to the book store.

"But still, the book writes of newfound hope and the importance of true knowledge behind words. It's quite different from the turmoil of darkness in 1984 or Animal Farm." Steve argued, watching the expression on Stiles sour, rolling his eyes. "Don't look at me like that, you're just ridiculously pessimistic and cynical."

"Spoken like a true American." Stiles pushed him on the shoulder, which was 99% pure muscle.  "You sound like one of those Captain America motivational posters."

Steve chocked on his spit, causing Stiles to reach over and pat his back. "You okay, dude?"

In his mind, Steve snarked on himself that the great Captain America's tombstone would read: death by self-induced choking. Outwards though, he nervously chuckled an assurance to Stiles that he was fine.

"Stiles, I'm done here, let's go." Coulson closed his door behind him, walking over to the young man when he saw Captain America. The fact that Coulson had a huge man-crush hero-worship on Steve Rogers was a big not-so-secretive secret, but he will deny it to his grave. "Oh, Ca-"

Steve coughed, a series of big loud coughs and several throat clearings. 

"Are you okay, Ca-" Coulson started, only to be overpowered by the loud vicious coughing by his favorite Avenger.  

When Stiles looked towards Coulson, Steve stressed his warning through a furious head shake. 

Coulson stood like a deer caught in the headlights, head angled back-wards like he always does when he has confused the hell out of his mind. 

"Oh! That reminds me!" Stiles directed his attention back to Steve. “What are you doing here? Do you work in SHIELD? I just got recruited, funny story." 

Coulson frowned, his mouth opening to question Stiles' mentality, when Steve cut him to it. "I-uh-yeah. I work here, of sorts. I would love to hear that story but it looks like you have to leave with Agent Coulson." 

“No, actually, we’re—“ Coulson slipped into the conversation but once again—

“Leaving. Busy day, today.” Steve hardened his eyes as much as he physically can at the agent. 

"Sure. You know where to find me." Stiles smiled unsurely, gesturing Coulson to the elevator. "By the way, you should really change into your uniform." He leaned forward to Steve, dramatically whispering pointing to Coulson, "He's very particular about uniformity, clandestine organization and all."

The elevator doors opened, Steve rushing them into the metal box, Stiles watching his behavior with an amused expression. "Right, yes, thanks for the warning. I'll see you soon, Stiles." 

"See you, Mr. Steve Bookworm." Stiles waved as the metal doors closed and the elevator started its descend.

Coulson stared at him like he was out of his mind.

"Why're you looking at me like that?" 

Agent Coulson stared at the elevator ceiling, letting the elevator music drown his long sigh. He looked back at Stiles, no valid explanation coming to his mind, and gently executed the most professional face palm (in Stiles’ opinion).

“What?”

Chapter Text

Coulson’s team left to go on another mission after Stiles got settled in the SHIELD headquarters. They gave him a bunk of his own and everything, even though he told them he wouldn’t need it since he’s got his own studio apartment—the smile he got in return for his explanation bodes nothing good for his future. Before they left, Daisy and Trip companied him to tour the facility, showing him the cafeteria, the command centre, which levels were restricted to which level of Agent status you were on and all the boring hierarchy that still exists even in a secret agency. This filthy, filthy world.

Fitz and Simmons showed them the lab and the gadget’s development center, which blew his brain up to bits when the learned that he was welcomed to use it whenever he wanted to. 

Coulson had that weird stare as if he was secretly assessing the man with special care like you would to a mental patient. It wasn’t unusual for him, hell, he was a mental patient once, granted he wasn’t literally present in his mind at the time, but it’s still on the records. 

Admittedly, Stiles was a bit lost on his first day there when the team left to help a fellow Inhuman named Lincoln. He got his lanyard card with his name as a level 1 Agent. He wandered through the facility once or twice before he finally gave up in trying to get a sneak peek at the black ops mission they were working on. So he decided to go on with his training. 

Stiles first held a gun when he was four, his father was a police officer so it was a given that he’d know how to fire one. He would deny it if anyone asked, but when he entered the range and saw the firearm collection, he squealed. Looking around to find the range was empty, he picked up a standard issued glock and the magazine before settling in a slot in the pistol shooting lane.

He set the target the farthest it can go.

“Don’t get cocky, kid.”

Stiles turned his head to the new voice, scoffing when he saw the choice of weapon the man equipped himself with. “It’s only cocky if I don’t make the shot.” 

“What is it if you make it?”

Stiles slotted his magazine in, pulling the slide back. “A party trick.” 

The agent beside him chuckled. “Make sure you don’t miss.” 

“Or else what?” Stiles settled the gun in his hand, facing the agent, slightly smirking. “You gonna bet on it?” 

The agent considered his proposal, humming. “What’ll you give me if you miss?” 

“Satisfaction, ego, and the feeling of accomplishment for beating a ‘kid’.”

“Cute.” He leveled his gaze at him, but Stiles knew the man enjoyed the game.  “What’ll I give you if you make it?”

“Your embarrassment.” Stiles turned back to his target, slipping on his safety goggles. “I’m a simple man.” 

The agent simply smirked, leaning back against the dividers of each slot. “Add a meal and we have a deal.” 

Stiles brought his hands up, aiming himself with the gun at the target, hiding his smirk behind his shoulder. “Just a warning, I expect a full-course french fine dining with at least a bowls worth of foie gras.”

He took a deep breath, preparing himself for the whiplash of the gun. Then he fired, emptying his magazine. All 15 shots at the human-shaped target. Perfectly rounded in the red crop circles; 5 head shots and 10 to the chest. 

The agent beside him whistled, “Guess I got to get that foie gras.” 

Stiles let a little laugh, exhilarated from the rush. He took his goggles off. 

The agent held his hand out. “I’m—“ 

“Clint Barton.” Stiles cut him off before he could introduce himself, secretly proud of the speechless look on his face all the while shaking his hand. “Hawkeye in the flesh. Tell me, how does it feel losing at your own game to a kid.” 

“I haven’t lost.” Clint laughed, pleasantly shocked. “How’d you know?” 

Stiles shrugged, unwilling to reveal how he’d known the identities of most SHIELD operatives even before he got recruited. He simply grabbed 3 arrows from the armory, tossing them to Clint, his eyes lighting up with a challenge.

“Headshots, three different targets.” Stiles provoked him. 

But Clint nodded, and to Stiles’ surprise, he made his way to the sniper range. Clint took a look back to see the kid’s eyebrows raise to his hairline. 

Agent Barton wasted no time to nock his arrows and let two arrows fly in a blink, nailing the two target’s head at it’s farthest distance. Stiles let his lip part, damn. 

“I win.” The archer grinned, nocking the third arrow into his bow, not even focusing on the target and instead looking directly at Stiles.

When Clint blindly shot the last arrow (he has a third eye, that has to be the only explanation), the circuit behind them sparked a rage before blowing out, taking all the lights down with it. 

Both of them snapped their heads to the ceiling, looking at each other with wary. Stiles chuckled nervously, “What are the chances that it’s just a blackout?” 

Clint rolled his eyes at the kid, huffing a small laugh, “In our line of work? Never.” 

The electricity was taken out, their emergency breaker kicking in place to run on limited power source, which meant the elevators didn’t work and the doors won’t open to the emergency staircase. 

Clint cursed, but moved anyways. Grabbing a tube full of arrows, he strapped it onto his back along with the compound bow he was holding. Clint took one look at the kid staring at the ceiling before handing him a handgun with two extra magazines of bullets. 

Stiles looked at him, unsure. “These are real bullets.” 

“Those are real enemies.” Clint reassured him, relieved when the kid nodded and pocketed the gun and the bullets. “Now, we need a way out of here.”

“Let me climb you.”

Clint stopped and stared at him, assessing the statement. “I’m flattered kid, but--” 

Stiles sighed. “Help me up.” He nodded to the ceiling where the air vents were attached to. 

Clint swiftly nodded at this, crouching down so Stiles could use his boost to latch on to the barred panel of the vents. He ripped it off his hinges, throwing it aside before climbing in and offering his hand down. “Come on.” 

Looking at the kid with absurdity and amusement, Clint scoffed and took his hand.

 

~~~

 

They kicked down the panel, letting it fall, before sliding out to drop themselves. Stiles pat himself uncoordinatedly, muttering, “For a secret agency, your air vents system is atrocious.” Clint shoved him in return.

As expected, the command centre was bustling with agents running around like chickens with their heads cut off. This wasn’t nearly the picture Stiles had imagined himself being in upon first time seeing the command centre, but he’ll take what he can get.

At the very least, he got to see Nick Fury. The man was even more intimidating in real life. And Stiles knew intimidation. Hell, staring the Dread Doctors in the eyes weren’t as scary as he was, and they feed on fear. 

Clint led Stiles beside him, standing right behind Nick Fury spouting orders and complaining all the while. “Would somebody please enlighten me how the headquarters of one of the most secure agencies is compromised? We don’t even exist, how is this possible people?”

“Our servers are down.” One of the agents updated from his side of the monitor, the big screen that fitted in the frontmost wall shadowing them with red highlights of it’s warning signs. “It’s a virus."

“Then counter it.” 

The agent looked away, “I can’t, sir. It’s disabled our anti-virus counterattack softwares.” 

Fury cursed, “Initiate lockdown protocol.” 

Another agent manning a monitor called out. “I can’t access the protocol, sir.” 

“Then send a notification to the men downstairs to do it manually.” Fury spelled out as if he was talking to a child. 

The agent faltered in his answer, his hand on the landline phone to his ear. “Uh, none of the communication line works sir.”

“Then what the hell can you do?” 

The agent bowed, inciting the others to do the same. “The mainframe is down, sir. I can’t do anything.” 

Fury sighed, long and tired. “That was rhetorical.” 

Stiles squeaked from his position behind Clint, “Again, seriously?” What is with his luck? First the plane now the headquarters. He’s been here for all of two minutes, god damnit. He peeked at the monitors and the screen. “It’s not just a virus, you’re being hacked.”

Clint stared at him, confused. 

The big screen popped another warning, the alarms sounding out in loud long rings that pierced their ears. “What now?” Fury stressed. 

“Someone is accessing our servers remotely, sir.” An agent from the far-right corner announced. “They’re in our hostile systems. But I can’t see what they’re doing, they’re overriding my commands.” 

Clint heard Stiles mutter a, “Told you.” 

Maria Hill strode in with her Stark pad on he arm, running diagnostics on the virus programming, settling in beside Fury. “They’re deploying the missile drones!” 

Fury closed his eyes, his brain a big drum rolling painfully in his skull, annoyed. “Where?”

Stiles moved forward to the edge of the bannister separating them from the lower ground of working agents and their monitor in long panels. He saw the agents trying to hack in with no avail, obviously, because they’re using the wrong code. No wonder they’re getting hacked every other week, these agents sucks. 

Or maybe it’s just his extreme case of bad luck and horror following everywhere he went, but he refused to accept that. He’s been through too much shit for it all to be the world’s most ridiculous occurrence of bad luck—or a family curse.

Maria Hill hopped down from the platform they were on, commandeering one of the monitors, tracking the movements of the hacker. “The drones are aimed—“ She stopped in her tracks. “Here.” 

Clint’s grip on his bow tightened. Fury frowning at the command of agents under him, “Well, stop them.” 

The agents all stopped working, looking at their director with unease. “We can’t, sir. Our access is blocked.”

Oh no, no. He got out of Beacon Hills to start a new life. There’s no way in hell he’s gonna end up blown to bits and hand his life over to agents who don’t know how to code to save his own life. 

Stiles slid himself through the spaces between the bar of the bannisters, hopping down on to one of the agent’s monitor, standing behind him. “Follow the virus.” 

The agent sitting down in front of him frowned. “What?” 

“Follow the virus and redirect it back to the originating source. If you can’t beat it, use it.” 

All the personnel working focused their attention at Stiles, even Fury was looking at him but with the intensity of a microscope. 

When the agent stilled, confused by his directions, Stiles huffed. “Oh my go—just move.” The agent once again stared at him in mock surprise. “Jesus, move!” He pushed the agent over, not minding that he fell down to the floor with a thump. He’s an agent who can’t do his damn job, he can at least take a tiny fall. 

Stiles got to work, his hands flying at the keyboard at a speed that shocked everyone. Clint felt the side of his lips pull, the kid’s just full of surprises. He leaned forward against the bannister, watching Stiles work from above. “You’re decoding the virus and rewriting it. Why?” 

“A virus is easily decoded once you know the mother key line of code that it was built upon. But smart hackers build a virus with a contingency that makes it more aggressive and malignant as someone tries to decode it.” Stiles explained off the back of his mind, unaware of the impressed looks directed at the back of his head. “To prevent that, I’m rewriting it as I go to redirect it back to the origin, making it essentially self-destruct.” 

Hill walked over to his station, hands braced on the side of the monitor, eyes following his movements. She constantly checked her own Stark pad for the progress. “One minute until launch.”

Stiles bit his lips, a bad habit. “Come on.” 

“40 seconds.” Hill reminded him. 

Stiles almost bit her hand off. “Not helping.” 

“30 seconds.” 

Huffing a breath out, he typed impossibly faster. “I’m trying to hack a complicated virus controlling a fucking nuke under pressure. It’s gonna take a minute.” 

Hill scoffed. “You have less than 20 seconds.” 

Stiles couldn’t even glare at her, his eyes stuck to he monitor. Green letters typed in a fast sequence over the black screen, racing with the red flying codes on the other side. 

“10 seconds, agent.” Hill banged her hands on the panel, making Stiles jolt. 

“Shit.” 

“5 seconds!” 

“Done!” He pushed back from the monitor in his swivel chair, hands up in the air, waiting for his code to override the virus. Then the red lights were gone and the alarms stopped, all systems turning green and back online. 

The room cheered, even Nick Fury’s perpetually stiff shoulders slumped down a millimeter. Hill let out a breath of relief, placing a hand on his shoulder and a smile that represented her apology for the pressure. The whole vicinity of the room directed their applause to him.

Clint chuckled, doing a backflip over the bannister, landing beside Stiles’ chair. “I want to scream your name but I don’t know it.” 

“Oh, right. It’s Stiles. Hi.” He waved, pointing to himself. “The new recruit. Nice to meet you.”

 

~~~

 

He didn’t know exactly how he got there, but he was in the director’s office. As in Nick Fury’s personal torture dungeon but with a magnificent view over Washington DC. Started from the bottom now he’s here. Except he really really didn’t want to be here—he’s decided that he’s going to lay low in SHIELD and kickass in the shadows. 

“Stiles Stilinski.” Director Fury drawled his name, swerving in his chair like a bond villain. “You acted out of command. You’re not an official agent, yet you inserted yourself in an operation.” 

“Inserted?” Stiles scoffed, ignoring his sub-conscious reprimanding himself to rein back the attitude. “Wow, you called that an operation? Since when was self-sabotage an ‘operation’? You’re doing your enemy’s work for them.” 

Nick Fury frowned. Holy shit, he’s in big troubled. To be fair though, Nicholas J. Fury perpetually frowns. It’s his image, goes with the whole eyepatch long coat assemble. 

“You could’ve compromised the situation.” 

“Compromise a situation where your headquarters is already compromised?” Stiles quoted the director’s words, openly chuckling. “Yeah, I would love to see how that works.”

He should’ve listened to his sub-conscious, but they’re called sub-conscious for a reason—they’re only half conscious over your brain. 

Fury’s eyebrow twitched. “You risked the lives of countless agents.” 

“Excuse me for trying to do a job that your ‘countless agents’ obviously can’t. I mean, seriously, where do you recruit these people?” Stiles leaned back into his chair, very tempted to kick his feet up on to the director's desk, but very logically decided not to—because that’s his director. “Do you just put up non-conspicuous ads on craigslist looking for people with credible poker faces and maybe a decent right hook?”

After a long stretch of silence filled with Stiles beating himself up in his brain formulating ways of quick death before the guy decides to torture him, the conversation—if he could call it that—went on. 

“Who the hell are you, Mr. Stilinski.” Director Fury stated; the intonation was a statement, yet there’s still a question. Stiles did not even understand the grammar of how that worked.  

Stiles shook his head in disbelief, muttering to himself, “I have a very weird feeling of déjà vu here.”

“Whoever the hell you are, you knew exactly what was going on while my trained agents of over 5 years could not bat a single fucking eyelash.” Fury laced his hands and propped his elbow on his desk. “How?”

“It’s not exactly rocket science.” Stiles leaned forward, his elbows raising up to imitate Fury’s position but stopped midair from the glare he received. He cleared his throat, starting over. “Your firewalls were breached by someone good enough to hack it.” 

Fury stared him down. “Our firewalls are airtight, it’s unhackable.” 

“Oh trust me, I’ve seen tighter. Nothing’s unhackable, not even Tony Stark’s software.” Stiles trailed off. “Unless—“ 

Director Fury’s eyebrows raised impossibly higher. “Unless what?” 

Stiles smiled, big and bright. “Nothing.” 

He received an unmoving and unconvinced stare in return, but Stiles just kept on smiling, testing the patience of his new director—which is probably not a good move considering Nick Fury might just be one of the most dangerous men in the world, and he’s his new boss. 

“Well then, Agent Stilinski.” The gaze Fury had on him intensified at the classification title. “There’s a system consisting of line of commands and directives to ensure that a situation like this never happens. It’s called SHIELD protocols. Make sure you look it up.” 

Stiles nodded his head stiffly, itching to remind him that the hypothetical situation happened already, but swallowed his remarks. It almost worked, until he reached the door and stopped at the handle. Well, at least he tried.

“You’re welcome, by the way.” Stiles turned back despite his better judgement. “That’s called manners. Look it up.” 

 

~~~

 

Clint Barton was waiting for him outside when he (ran out of) left the director’s office. The smug bastard was smiling at him. 

Stiles winced at the door behind him, tired. “Is he always like that?” 

Clint shrugged. “Just to those on his radar.” 

The scene that had happened in the office replayed in his head like a b-rated horror comedy. Or the start of a really bad porn, and Stiles is not amused. “Great.” He groaned. “I fucked up my career before I even started.”

“On the contrary, I think he quite likes you.” Clint nudged his shoulder with his own, finding amusement at the boy’s behavior. 

“Oh yeah, what makes you say that?” Stiles narrowed his eyes at the agent, his sarcasm snapping back into place. “The two-hour cold coffee you had while waiting for my threatening lecture?”  

Hawkeye crossed his arms, pushing back against the wall from his leaning position. “Well, if he didn’t, you’d be dead.” 

Somehow, that wasn’t as reassuring as Stiles thought it was supposed to be. Dreading the rest of his SHIELD career, knowing he’s going to have hell for testing the director. “Kill me, please.” 

Clint took a slight pity to the kid, attesting to the sentiment he had, but for completely different reasons. He slung a hand across the boy’s shoulder. “I’ll get you two bowls of foie gras.” 

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Stiles leaned at the arm, feeling Clint drag him in the hold towards the elevators. “I just saved your sorry ass, you owe me a fancy candlelit dinner and an accompanying string quarter.” 

“Three bowls of foie gras and maybe one candle.” Clint hummed his offer, playfully weighing the options. 

The younger shook his head. “Three bowls of foie gras, one candle and a cellist.” 

“Four bowls of foie gras, one candle and a live recording of Bach’s cello suite no.1 in G major.”

Stiles’ face broke out in a grin. “Deal.” 

Chapter Text

“Two hostile takeover attempts in over a week, I think you might be cursed.” Coulson smirked, relishing himself in the groan he got as a reply. “I’ll book you an exorcism.” 

“I don’t think that’ll work unless you want to drown me in holy water.” Stiles waved his hands lazily, his head still tucked into his resting arms. He could hear the laughter through the speaker of his laptop, Daisy, he figured. 

Coulson smiled pitifully at him through the screen, having heard of the disaster in the Triskelion and the heroics of their new recruit. Coulson would be lying if he didn’t feel a tad bit proud and smug for that, after all, he was the one who found Stiles. 

The doorbell rang, signaling a new customer entering the shop. Stiles apologized to Coulson, shutting down the video call from his team and closing his laptop to exit the office in the back. Since Director Fury had vouched for his skills and assigned him as an agent inconveniently after their last meeting (Stiles still swears that it was some form of punishment through a reward, but he still hasn’t figured out how that works out in the long run so right now it’s in the back burner of his mind). 

He was given a week off celebratory vacation due to his help in the Triskelion, thus he went back to New York and was manning the bookshop while catching up with his studies at NYU. Stiles was thrown aback by his schedule; he really should’ve thought this through, being an agent means that his education was going to be in big jeopardy, he’s at a crossroads. But, since Stiles always liked to get an early start in his course, he wasn’t missing much at all.

Stiles closed the door behind him, “Hello, welcome to—“

“Is this an original version?” A man in a suit questioned, holding a signed first edition copy of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, standing next to the open glass book case in the center of the shop. 

“Uh, that’s supposed to be locked.” Stiles pointed at it, dumbfounded.

“You mean this thing?” The man tossed the broken lock towards Stiles’ general direction, almost hitting the owner’s favorite vase before Stiles caught it with a flail of hand. 

Sties inspected the lock in his hand, the old-model of the lock busted. “This was vintage.”

The man gasped in a loud breath, bending over to trail his fingers over a typewriter. “This is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s typewriter, the edition he used in writing The Lost World.” He stood a little straighter, humming. “But it wasn’t really popular since it didn’t feature Holmes, but still a masterpiece on it’s own.” 

“You broke a fucking vintage.” Stiles repeated, still a little dumbfounded. But, to his defense, the lock was made in 1976. It was a fucking antique padlock without a key—you’d need to turn the wheels to enter in a combination—and it was fucking cool, and it was fucking broken. 

“How have I not heard of this place?” The man stood up in full height, turning around to inspect the store, his back still facing Stiles. “How much do you think I could buy this for? 35 million? Including all the antiquities of course.” 

“This was Russian made.” Stiles trudged forward, waving the lock to the man’s direction. “ A Russian made antique turner padlock, do you know how rare that is?” 

The man turned, and Stiles was a little taken aback, but hey, his lock was broken. A crime is still a crime, his inner fangirl could wait a while. 

“I’ll get you a new one, I have contacts in Russia.” The man in the suit waved the issue away with his hands, as if that was a consolation. “40 million?”

Stiles shook his head rapidly, squinting his eyes. “No one’s buying anything.” He snatched the book still in the man’s hand, caressing it in his arms once he had it. “Or touching anything.” 

The man gave him with a look of curious amusement. “Do you not recognize me?” He looked around the empty bookshop. “I thought everyone knew me.” 

“I don’t know, you’re a bit hard to recognize what with your inflated ego blocking most of your face.” Stiles snapped at the man. 

“So you do know me.” The man smiled, fixing his suit as if he just took a compliment. 

Stiles huffed to the top of his tuff sticking out from his beanie, moving past him to return the novel into the casing. “What do you want, Mr. Stark?” 

“Please, it’s Tony.” Tony Stark stuffed his hands into his pocket, head pivoting to follow his actions. “Mr. Stark is my dad.” 

“Who is no longer of this world, my condolences. Thus the title’s free to give.” Stiles placed the book back in it’s holder, closing the case as best as he can without a lock. “So, Mr. Stark, what can this lowly bookshop employee do for you?” 

“Lowly bookshop employee?” Tony smirked, not buying any of his game. “If any lowly bookshop employee could hack through my firewalls, then I would not be a genius playboy billionaire philanthropist.” 

Stiles narrowed his eyes at Tony. “You’d still be a playboy philanthropist which is much more than most people could say.” 

Tony hummed in response, following the kid around through the bookstore. “So, how did you do it?” 

“If I told you, I won’t be able to hack it anymore.” Stiles reasoned, busy shelving the books back in order. “So no, I won’t tell you.” 

“A ha!” Tony snapped in front of him, causing Stiles to slam back into a book shelf. There is something with this universe and throwing Stiles into rough platforms that goes hand in hand, and he’s had about enough of it. “So you admit hacking into SHIELD.” 

Stiles smiled fakely, rather pissed at the mild ache at his cranium. “I’m sorry if you haven’t heard of the ‘operation’ that happened recently, but I didn’t hack into SHIELD servers, someone else did.” 

Tony leveled him with a knowing look. “You and I both know that SHIELD servers weren’t hacked.” Stiles raised his eyebrow in a challenge, so Tony went on. “They don’t need to hack in if they’re already inside the system.” 

Stiles whistled, making an action to move away from the bookshelf and slide out of Tony’s bubble of interrogation. It’s not like he committed a crime, so why was he constantly getting interrogated damn it? “Those are some big claims, Mr. Stark. You’re stating treason.” 

“You said it first.” Tony blocked his way, trapping Stiles between the bookshelf and himself with his arms acting like cages. “In Fury’s office.”  

“I claim my right to remain silent as stated in the law.” Stiles tilted his head, not even surprised that Tony Stark bugged the Director Nick Fury of SHIELD.

“Fine. But you still admitted to hacking into SHIELD before you were recruited. I checked my servers; you might have hacked into it but there’s nothing that goes on without my knowing.” 

Stiles tilted his head further, challenging the man. “And here you are asking me something you don’t know.” 

“This is an act parallel to treason.” Tony pointed his fingers at him, moving it around to somehow mess with Stiles brain. “Withholding information that could assist in preventing a disaster.” He clicked his tongue in disapproval. “Do you really want to be the reason SHIELD falls?”

“Tony Stark openly supporting honesty to the government. Scandalous.” Stiles retorted, crossing his arms to mimic the man’s posture. “What happened to discretion of the government?” 

“It’s SHIELD, not the government.” Tony corrected him.

“It’s a free country.” Stiles shrugged.

Tony had this twitch in his eyebrow, not at all pleased that he could not get what he wants and Tony always gets what Tony wants. That’s how the world works. Unless the world is too busy caught up in another disaster.

Which was exactly what happened. 

 

~~~

 

It’s how things mostly starts in the life of Stiles, sudden and disastrous. One moment Tony and Stiles were facing each other with the weirdest case of nerd violence, and the next they were holding on to the bookshelves when they all started shaking and threatening to trip over them. 

“Earthquake?” Both of them questioned at the same time, eyebrows lacing together at the common conclusion, but something doesn’t feel quite right. 

When the ground wouldn’t stop shaking, they let go off the bookshelf. Running out of the way from the towering shelves, they were about to seek shelter when they heard the screams outside. They took one look at each other before running to meet the commotion. 

The sight that met them was more than they expected. The asphalt was laden with large cracks that ran through the streets like lightning. But they kept growing, and the world kept shaking. Stiles looked to Tony with panic. “This doesn’t look like an Earthquake.” 

That’s when the cracks grew bigger in one snap, but that wasn’t the worst part, no, of course not. Since when was the world that easy? No. There had to be something coming out of it. What looked like hands crawled out of the craters, but they weren’t human. The fingers were cracked and earthy—it looked like they were wearing a dry earth’s crust, covering their whole body. 

Stiles muttered an incantation underneath his breath to harden the air around the bookstore, acting as a shield, because there are a lot of things in there that should not be destroyed, for the good of everyone. It sucked that he still needed incantations, but he was still rather weak in controlling the air element. He could do wordless manipulations with earth and water, and he’s gotten a lot better at it with fire. But air just seemed to disagree with him. 

“Please tell me you brought your suit.” Stiles muttered to the shocked still Tony, who’s chin was pointed in his direction to nod but eyes never leaving the creatures coming out of the cracks. 

“How do you know that they’re bad?” 

Stiles gave him an incredulous eye roll. “When has glowing black eyes ever resulted in sunshines and rainbows, of course they’re bad.”

As if the world was trying to prove it’s point, the creatures started lurking at the civilians before making a move to attack them, all the while the shaking was still going on. Stiles would very much like to curse and blame this on someone. He really does. It’s his week-off, which he earned after saving a stressful situation. Only to land smack dab in the middle of another one, but with an amplified rate of danger. Why the hell does this keep happening?!

Tony instinctively pushed Stiles back, who squeaked at the action, calling out, “This’ll be a really good time to whip out your suit!”

The older man scoffed at the remark as if Stiles just said something incredibly stupid, “I don’t whip.”   

Before Stiles could question and make fun of that statement, Tony dropped his briefcase stepping on it. The case opened to reveal a deconstructed suit that attached itself to Tony’s body, scaling his limbs with each mechanical part before ending in the mask closing in on his face. He blasted off the creatures coming their way with a brilliantly timed repulser. 

He looked to Stiles with a smug expression, but then his attention got ripped away from him when he starts talking to no one in particular. Was he tripping? Stiles thought and waited a second in his mind, choosing his words carefully.

“Should I ignore whatever the hell this is or are you on something?” He waved to Tony’s general direction, watching the man look different ways while having a conversation. 

“Oh, wait.” Tony lifts his arms and one of his fingers’s metal suit opened to reveal a tiny red transmitter, he gave it to Stiles, gesturing to his ear. “Wear this.” 

“Are you sure?” Stiles still took it and put it in his ears anyways; he’s a curious being, sue him. 

“Well, you are a SHIELD agent aren’t you?” Tony reasoned through the speaker in his ears, flying away to deal with the creatures that kept coming from the crater. 

Stiles scoffed at the question, running to help people out of harms way from the attackers. “What do you expect me to fight it with, my biting personality?” He shouted a warning at Tony to watch his back when more of the creatures appeared from the crater. 

Tony let his tiny air missiles fly off to the crater-source, hoping to slow the rate these things were appearing at, his voice dubious. “Where are your weapons?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to bring my super expensive extremely retarded eye-nauseatingly colored but ridiculously awesome high-tech robot suit to my book babysitting job.” Stiles’ words dripped with sarcasm, dodging on of the creatures that went flying his way from Tony’s attack. “It’s in dry-cleaning.” 

A burst of laughter sounded from his earpiece, Stiles having to take an abrupt stop in his path. 

“Man, kid, you can’t seem to take a break can you?” Clint’s voice rang in his ear, referring to the situation they’re caught up in, yet again. 

“Don’t.” Stiles snapped tiredly, wanting nothing more than to lie down and watch the world burn. “I am blissfuly disregarding the constant attempts at my life that the universe keeps throwing my way—I have it down to a system, it’s called ignorance, let’s move on.” 

The earthquake kept shaking in lapses of minutes, Stiles was worried it was not due to natural causes. New York has a lot of high-rise building, that’s a lot more dangerous than shorter ones due to the resonance. And he was right. 

Buildings started to shake vehemently, and then one of them collapsed. “Tony!” Stiles shouted from his position, the man moving towards Stiles’ warning at one of the buildings. Ironman swooped down to the ground, holding a stationary post while blasting the rubble that came raining down to the civilians. 

“Thanks, but we need you to fight kid.” 

A red-headed woman landed next to him from nowhere, handing him one of her semi-automatic Luger with two rounds of magazine. “Here. Don’t mind Tony, he’s an ass.” 

“A very successful charming hot piece of ass who happens to be the nation’s most beloved hero.” Tony stroked his ego, flying off to fight a horde of the earth monsters terrorizing people that crowded up in a coffee shop when the shaking momentarily stopped. 

“Thanks, Agent Romanoff.” Stiles distractedly called out while ignoring Tony’s remarks, aiming himself in a hurry, running to the heat of the battle. 

Natasha looked surprised at her name, looking to Clint who was perched on top of a bus. “Don’t bother, he just knows things.” 

Stiles smirked at Clint’s reply, focusing his attention at nailing the creepy bastards with headshots, protecting as many civilians as he can. This is his life now, fighting alongside the Avengers. His mom would be so proud, or really worried, but mostly proud. 

“Where’s Cap?” Tony asked from his earpiece. 

Clint answered him in a grunt as he jumped and rolled from the creatures that were starting to morph their hands to sharp long earthy protrusion. “Mission.” 

Stiles could literally hear himself whine. Don’t get him wrong, he respects every single one of the Avengers. But his grandfather was in the war, and he told Stiles stories about Captain America. The one time he meets the Avenger, and fight alongside them, and it just so happens that Captain America was not present. Story of his life. 

“How about the big guy?” Tony asked again. “We could really use his help.” 

His question was answered, this time by a deafening roar. Stiles looked up to the source of the roar, and yes, he looked up. Because there he saw a huge green blur flying past him to land on a bunch of the crawling creepers, squashing them beneath his feet. Holy shit, that’s the fucking Hulk. 

“About damn time.” Clint smirked at the destruction, nonchalantly shooting three arrows simultaneously to nail the incoming at his side. 

With the hulk now on their aid, their destructive power had been multiplied tenfolds, but the fighting just stretched on. Their enemy’s numbers didn’t decrease. Stiles started to think, stopping in his tracks. 

Natasha cursed when she barely avoided a swing from the crust swords—shut up, Stiles names things, it's what he does—doubling back to kick two of the incoming in the sternum before shooting them in the chest. “Is it just me or are their numbers increasing?” 

That’s when he noticed that the bodies of these monsters sank back into the ground once they were dead. And the annoying realization comes to his mind, that they were coming back through the crater, alive for a lack of better word. 

He knows what they are. 

The shaking started again, people shouting from the buildings falling onto the street. This needs to stop, Stiles knew that. Knowing what the supernatural monster could do, this needs to stop now, before more of them start coming. 

Stiles ran towards the crater, which he noticed grew even bigger from the last time he saw it. His mind started racing to find a solution, his attention scrambled, maybe that’s why he didn’t see the enemy piling behind his back. He turned at the last second, a curse in his mouth and a late gun in his hand. He’s going to die.

Except he doesn’t. Because Hulk came galloping—yes, galloping, there’s no other word for it—his way down the street and knocked the bastard like bowling pins in a strike. Stiles looked up to the Hulk with awe in his eyes. The Hulk frowned at the look he was receiving, confused. So Stiles, albeit a really stupid decision, reached out and pat his legs because that’s where he stands at the Hulk’s terrifying full height. “Thanks big guy, I owe you one.” 

Apparently the Hulk didn’t mind the skinship, since he only huffed a puff of breath and shook his head before running off to smash more monsters. Granted, it could be a breath of annoyance, but Stiles did not turn into a mess of bloody organs and bone crusted on the concrete so he concluded it a win. 

“Guys!” He called out to the Avengers, an idea popping into his mind. “I think I found a way to stop this.” 

“Yeah?” Tony flew in next to him, kicking down one of the creatures while simultaneously blasting off three offenders. “How?”

Stiles called to the magic in his core, he could feel the spark lighting up through his body. “Stop killing them and focus at the crater.” 

Natasha frowned on the suggestion, skeptical. “Why?” 

“Trust me.” 

Surprisingly, that was all it took for the Avengers, even Hulk, to come to his side, all waiting on his order. “Fire everything you’ve got at the opening, as long as you can.” 

Tony nodded, flying into the air, aiming the missile he’s got in every nook and cranny (seriously, where does he think of this stuff, I mean, who puts mini missiles on their elbows?). Natasha went to stand at one side of the crater while Clint fanned out to the other side, both sliding in a new magazine and nocking explosive arrows into their weaponry. Everyone went into position. Except for Hulk, he was just roaring—probably due to his order of not being able to smash anything anymore. 

“Now!” Stiles shouted, bringing on the massive destruction that the Avengers fired at the crater, causing an array of explosions and eruptions inside the abyss. 

The rest of the monsters on the ground stopped and shrieked in pain, all snapping their crooked head and beady black eyes to their direction. Tony got the idea, deploying his shoulder-mounted guns and aimed the projectiles inside the crater for further damage. 

“Hulk, keep them away!” Stiles yelled, focusing his energy to the ground. Hulk ran off, smashing all the creatures that were capable of attacking them, if not crawling towards them in pain. 

The ground started shaking, but this time it’s not due to the earthquake. Stiles let the earth rumble underneath him, feeling it mend and obey under his command. His eyes started to change; the orbs and rings in his iris start to glow a crisp brown color. Clint noticed it first, looking at him with a second of surprise before nocking another arrow with his bow. 

Stiles raised his hands when he felt the wave of his energy sync with the earth. The ground cracking around them, slowly lifting heaps of compact earth and crust to the air. Natasha and Tony gasped at the sight, looking towards Stiles with alert in their eyes. Stiles just kept on pulling more and more ground from the earth beneath him. 

Then he pushed: all of the floating mounds of earth flying towards the crater, piling up. Clint and Natasha took a step backwards, their arrows and bullets depleted. Tony kept his stance in the air, looking around; the creatures were now screaming a high-pitched scratchy shriek, in excruciating pain, slowly sinking back to the ground almost forcefully. 

When all the earth he pulled out has been packed tight in the crater, he solidified them as best he could, but there were still cracks in them. Stiles looked around to find beams from fallen buildings all around the road. His eyes changed to a ring of grey, casting words on his lips to manipulate the air around the beams so he could lift them up. The beams flew under his wave to fit jaggedly into the cracks of the pressed earth. 

“Tony, a little help?” Stiles called out the man, who nodded and flew closer. Tony puffed his chest before firing his unibeam from his arc reactor towards the beams, melting them and molding them to hold. The dust finally cleared away after the beam stopped, revealing a perfectly sealed circle mix of earth and embedded metal. "Thanks."

 

~~~

 

It was over. Stiles could scream in relief, his body aching from the strength it took out from him. Clint shot him a cheer and placed his hands by his hips to lean in on himself. Tony Stark flew back down to the ground, his mask retracting back to reveal a brilliant smile. “I thought you said you didn’t have weapons.” 

“I said I didn’t bring any weapons.” Stiles smiled back at him, shrugging his shoulders. 

Tony laughed at his constant ability to comment on everything, ironically reminding him of himself. Stiles joined him at the joy, but their celebration was short-lived. 

“Nat!” Clint howled, running forward to catch Natasha seconds before she hit the ground. He cradled her in his arms, looking for any wound when he saw the jagged piece of sharp earth-like swords from the arms of the creature protruding out her stomach. “Natasha’s hit!”  

Stiles stopped dead in his laughter, replacing it with a string of curses. He ran to the two agents on the ground, kneeling to inspect the damage. He didn’t know much about the supernatural creature, but he’s heard of the deadly effects of getting scratched by the sharp-edged arms they weaponized. Natasha got stabbed by it. “It’s bad. We need to get her to medical, now.” 

“The nearest hospital is—“ Clint started in panic but Stiles shook his head.

“No, they don’t know how to deal with this.” He looked to the Hulk who was huffing and puffing away at the corner, kicking away the rubble left behind in the destruction. “Hey! Yo, Hulk!” 

The green giant snapped his head in his direction. “Where’s Banner?” 

Hulk lunged and roared at him, loud and straight up in his face. Stiles almost swallowed his tongue—again, probably should’ve thought things through, but Natasha’s life was in danger, he’s got no time for rational thinking. “Give us Bruce Banner back!” He stilled. “Please.”

At the pleasantry, the Hulk seemed to calm his rage. Stiles took this chance. “Look, I know that you don’t like Bruce—“

“PUNY BRUCE!” 

“Yes, yes, puny bruce, little old puny bruce, but puny bruce is smart.” Stiles slowly explained to the Hulk, inching closer to him with his palms up in the air with the pose of surrender. “Natasha is hurt.” He pulled his face in a grimace to act out pain and placed one of his hands on his stomach. “Natasha. Pain.” 

The Hulk huffed another breath and shook his head a little like he’s clearing his mind. Stiles knows he’s getting through to him, so he nodded as he went on. “We need Bruce to help Natasha.”

He started over when Hulk did not react to him, flailing his hands. “Bruce help Natasha. No Pain.” Stiles could feel his brain cells deteriorating from the conversation itself. “Pain go bye-bye.” 

Clint watched the scene from the side-lines in mock horror while Ironman stood slack jawed. The balls on this kid never fails to surprise them. 

“Help me.” Stiles pleaded to the hulk, reaching his palms out to take his ginormous hands. “Please.” 

The Hulk slowly, but surely, extended his fist to Stiles’ direction, slowly opening it. For a second Stiles was afraid he was going to get slapped to the face of the earth, but the Hulk placed one finger on his palm. Then he changed, shrunken and de-greened. 

“Dr. Banner?” Stiles tried. 

Bruce Banner lifted his head up to meet the kid’s, panting. “Thank you.” 

Stiles shook his head. “Don’t thank me yet, I need your help.” 

Clint called from his position, clutching at Natasha’s elbows, not knowing what to do. “This is great and all, but Nat’s still dying.” 

“Tony!” Stiles turned his attention to the man who flinched at his name. “Does the tower have a medical centre?” 

Tony spluttered his reply, “Y-yes?”

The day started with the usual routine of getting his coffee and studying further ahead of his classes in NYU, that was normal. But normal was too overrated for Stiles, even though he did not make that decision himself. So now, he had fought with the Avengers and was about to save one of their lives. And it wasn’t even time for lunch yet. Jesus fucking christ, what is his life. 

“Then let’s go.” 

Chapter Text

“Agent Romanoff, you have to stay with me now.” Stiles called out to the barely conscious agent in Clint’s arms, pressing the elevator’s button to the floor. He checked on the woman’s wound, the skin around the embedded weapon turning a sickly dark colour. 

Tony rolled on the ball of his shoes as best as he can—since he was still in his ironman gear—keeping a supportive arm on Bruce Banner’s hunched shoulders. “You okay, there? Not gonna go green again are you?” 

Bruce rolled his eyes at the man, attempting to straighten his posture. “Unless you give me a reason to, no.” 

“Can this go any faster?” Stiles pressed the floor button repeatedly in harsh jabs of his fingers, snapping his head to the man in the iron suit. “Tony, what kind of shit elevator did you build?”

Tony whiplashed his head backwards at the sudden comment, raising his hands up in defense. “I didn’t build this elevator, it was pre-made!”

Stiles cursed, his hands flying back to where they were hovering over Natasha’s body. The elevator doors finally opened on their floor. “Finally!” He rushed Clint out, following the man’s steady run to the medical bay. 

Dr. Banner went in first, heading to the operating table in the middle to clear it. “Here!” He signaled to Clint who promptly laid her body down on it. The doctor moved in a haste to hook her up to the EKG monitors, inspecting the digital readings that came up. “Her vitals are getting real low.” 

Clint stood by the doctor’s side, fussing over his actions. “Well do something! Get that thing out of her!” 

“No!” Stiles came back from the prep room with a couple of gloves and a tray full of medical appliances. “You could kill her!”

“She’s already dying, what could get worst?” Clint hawked, cradling Natasha’s pained expression within his palms, worried for his best friend. 

Stiles put himself to work, snapping on the gloves before handing it to Banner who did the same, preparing the vaporizer and the breathing mask. “Doctor, can you prepare a general anesthetic?”

Dr. Banner rummaged through the medicine cabinet, “Found it.” He grabbed the drug, attaching it to the vaporizer to wait a few minutes before slipping the mask on to Natasha watching her fall into a drug-induced sleep. “What do we do?” 

“To my knowledge, a cut from this creature is fatal because it releases toxins from it’s crusty skin that works if it cuts into a bloodline—Natasha’s impaled with this thing, so she should be dead. The only thing keeping her alive could be the arm itself.” Stiles busied himself with ripping Black Widow’s clothing on her midsection, revealing her toned mid-riff. “Tony, do you have O type blood stored here?” 

“Yes, Jarvis?” Tony called out to the ceiling while Stiles frowned at his action. Who the hell was he talking to—

“Sir, we have three blood packets in the fridge for emergency surgery.”

Stiles nearly dropped the needle he carried, “What was that?!”

Clint laughed a breath, nervous and hurried. “So there are things you don’t know, huh?” 

Tony seemed to bypass his question, rushing to the fridge to pull two packets of blood. “What now?” 

“Is it too much to ask if you have a dialysis machine?”

“Do I have a dialysis machine? Of course I have a dialysis machine.” Stark snarked to himself, shaking his head with the credibility of his own superior talent of having everything. He pushed the machine from the edge of the room directly next to Stiles, simultaneously pouring the blood to the containment. 

“What are you planning?” Clint asked from his position by the unconscious Natasha’s side. 

“We need to flush out the toxins in her blood stream.” Stiles clasped the necklace around his neck, a large round pendant, opening it to reveal a tube of black powder. He opened the powder in his hands, not sure if it was the right thing to do, before pouring it to the blood already in the dialysis machine. 

Dr. Banner watched with his hands stringing a surgery-safe needle. “What is that?” 

Stiles let the machine run to mix the blood properly through one round, bending down to watch the black particles infuse with the red liquid. “That is mountain ash. This will help kill the toxins in her blood and speed her healing process.” 

“She’s slipping!” Clint disrupted their process, an eye on the monitor that started beeping erratically. “Bruce! Stiles!” 

Tony frowned in distaste at hearing the name. “Stiles?” 

The latter nodded to the doctor’s questioning glance, a secret understanding between the two as medical scholars. Dr. Banner moved forwards, Clint consciously moving backwards to let the doctor work. He snapped his gloves, handling a scalpel to cut the wound an inch on each side.

“Clint, the light please.” Doing as the doctor said, the archer pulled the overhead surgical lights down. 

“Your name is Stiles?” Tony winced, both at the name and at everyone ignoring his question. 

Bruce slowly taking hold of the arm crust sword piece before extracting it out of her abdomen, with Clint keeping an eye on the monitor to see her vitals spike even further. Stiles immediately injected the blood transfusion tube needle into Natasha’s vein on her left hand, taping the tube down on her arms, turning the dialysis back on. 

“Stiles, really?” The Ironman tilted his head back, his tone incredulous.

“Will you just—“ The boy stressed, making a throttling gesture at the older man, who raised his hands up in surrender. Stiles calmed himself, raising his own hands in the air in a surgeon’s pose. “Doc, status report?”

“Vitals are still high but out of danger, for now. Her small intestines are perforated at the jejunum, extensive bleeding. We need to operate.” Dr. Banner looked up to see Stiles closing his eyes worry. He stopped his working. “Can you assist me?” 

“I’ve never technically done it before.” Stiles admitted, his hands trembling in their own grip to each other. He was still in college learning medicine, for crying out loud. Although he’s way ahead of everyone on their studies and moved on to his third year curriculum, he’s still inexperienced. “I don’t know.”

Tony watching from the sidelines, approaching the boy before putting both hands on his shoulders. “You’re a smart kid, you either do it or you don’t. And I’m willing to bet I know which one it is.” 

“If an avenger died by my hands, I’m so blaming it on you.” Stiles threw Tony off with a shaky smile, both knowing that he was grateful for the support. But seriously though, if an avenger died by his hands, he would have voluntarily go to the deepest darkest hole in hell, he’s pretty sure it’d be reserved for him. 

Tony simply shrugged. “I have a pretty good lawyer.” 

“You better.” Stiles huffed a big breath, steeling his nerves. “The least you could do is help us prepare.” 

The two men standing idly grabbed surgeon gowns and helped the two men actually working put it on. Tony helped Bruce slip on his head piece and brushed strands of hair in his face to tuck beneath it. He smiled a little, hiding Bruce’s mutual smile as he tied the mask on his face. 

Stiles gave the two curious looks but Clint tied the mask over his eyes, causing a rip of laughter from the archer’s mouth when Stiles slapped the man’s arms to pull it back down. Stiles met Clint’s eyes with determination—surprisingly from the older man’s eyes and not his own. “I trust you.” 

“You barely know me.” Stiles chuckled, embarrassed by the sudden admission. He’s never had somebody say that to him without a hidden agenda, that was the life he lived.

“You saved me twice, that’s enough for me to know.” Clint returned his amusement, patting his surgeon gown down. “Besides, I still have that meal I owe you. I’ll get to know you then.” 

Stiles chuckled, straightening his shoulders. “Remember, fancy french cuisine with five bowls of foie gras, one candle and a live recording of—“ 

“Bach’s cello suite no. 1 in G major, I remember. Which is how I know I owe you four bowls and not five, you sneaky little bastard.” 

“It’s five if I’m risking my mentality to save her life.” 

“Then you better not miss.” The archer repeated his line from when they first met, relieved that he could somehow take the pressure of off Stiles’s shoulder when the boy smiled at his promise. 

“Now get out.” 

Tony and Clint stepped out of the medical bay, letting the two medical scholars handle their friend while they stood watching in the observing area with a full window paneled view. Stiles gave a short nod to Bruce, signaling the start. He turned on the assist machine by his side, walking to meet directly in front of the doctor, one of them one each side of Natasha. 

“Suction.” Dr. Banner called out, Stiles grabbing the suction tube to draw all the blood out from the site of damage. The good doctor concentrated on the tools in his hand, clipping one of the perforated intestines in his clamp, looking to the younger. “Irrigation.”

Stiles grabbed the squirt bottle next to him, washing the intestine to clear the area, when the monitor started beeping again. 

“It seems that her heart rate is spiking, Doctors.” 

“Ok, who the hell is speaking?” Stiles restrained his shout by clenching his unused hands. 

Dr. Banner simply pushed away the comment, snapping the kid’s attention back to the matter at hand. “Stiles, there are some still embedded in the folds of her intestines.” He inspected the wound. “I can’t get it out without causing more damage.” 

“Okay, okay.” Stiles calmed himself down, reaching to his core to pull his magic to the surface. He’s never done this much magic at such close intervals, especially strenuous tasks that require attention like these. But hey, there’s a first for everything. 

Stiles closed his eyes, shocking Banner with his actions when he raised his hands. He could feel the earth components in her organs, it was weird. Earth always felt warm to him, it was his major element. Then water, fire and lastly air. But he’s always been so in sync with the earth that he knew something was wrong. It felt dead, barren of life. Even in the smallest dirt, Stiles could feel a vibrant beat of the earth’s energy. Now it just felt cold and empty. 

Well, this is new. And definitely not good. So technically, it wasn’t new. Because everything’s apparently never good in Stiles’ ridiculous life. He mentally sighed, frowning. 

“Why? What’s wrong?” Bruce Banner snapped him out of his trance. 

“Nothing.” I hope, Stiles faked a smile, inhaling a new air to cleanse the bad vibes in his system, finally opening his eyes. He continued to grasp the earth particles, lifting them out harmlessly out of Natasha’s open abdomen. The crust flying in the air, Banner’s eyes marveling at the sight of his eyes, letting it drop on the metal tray. 

“Agent Romanoff is stabilizing, well done, doctors.” The voice came back, deep and laden with a British accent. 

“I’m ignoring that.” Stiles muttered to himself, unamused by his constant inability to get answers, his mind still boggled by what he found out. He irrigated the open area, nodding to Dr. Banner to continue his operation. 

With all the imminent danger out of the way, Dr. Banner could relax, clamping the ripped intestines together, working with Stiles assisting him to sew the intestines back up with attentive concentration. “Cut.” 

Stiles switched his clamp with a long ended scissors, cutting closely to the sewing that Banner did, smiling when it was cut clean and they had finished the hardest part of the job. He looked at the monitor, breaking a huge grin. “Vitals stabilizing. Heart rate at 85 beats per minute. Blood pressure is 130/80.” 

Behind the glass, Stiles could see Tony and Clint’s shoulder slump down with great relief, smiling at each other. Being the immature little shit he is, when the two men looked at him, he smiled and gave a grand bow, causing Dr. Banner to chuckle at his actions.

Stiles directed his attention to the doctor, laughing along with him. Bruce gathered himself, extending his hand out to Stiles. “We haven’t properly met, I’m Bruce Banner.”

“This is definitely the bloodiest introduction I’ve ever received but,” Stiles clasped Dr. Banner’s extended hand with his own blood-ridden glove. “Stiles Stilinski.” 

He could hear the two barking laughter from the other side of the glass. Aiming a full fledged flare at the two men doubled over, he shouted. “I can hear you!” 

“Stilinski, oh my god, that’s a good one.” Tony slapped Clint’s back in quick repetition, causing the man to choke on his laughter, his tone slipping into a serious one. “Oh god.” 

“Yeah, you better choke.” Stiles raised his chin at the glass, Bruce shaking his head fondly at the three’s display of naught. 

Well, Stiles took a serene breath, breaking a soft smile at the sudden positive change in the atmosphere, at least an Avenger didn’t die by his hands. A little humility won’t hurt.  

 

~~~

 

After Stiles and Bruce finished cleaning up, they moved Natasha to the patient’s room that doubled as an ICU what with all the equipment in the room—he learnt that Tony likes to go big in everything. He suspected it was some weird inferiority complex but with whom, he still hasn’t figured it out yet. 

Tony finally explained Jarvis to Stiles, who took a moment to ask the AI ridiculous questions when he learned that he was everywhere (“Do you have videos of Tony in the shower?” “Stiles, what are you—“ “Why yes, I record everything.” “Well then, Jarvis, would you mind sending it to me, I have a business preposition with Youtube.” “Jarvis, don’t you dare!”).

Bruce and Stiles busied themselves with keeping Natasha comfortable in her bed, checking on the IV drip and taking the dialysis machine off after it was done. Stiles added more mountain ash to the drip as a precaution but also to heal the woman faster—he’s going to need more of it and he’s not looking forward to the visit back to the supplier; the witch scares him. 

Clint was halfway through talking Tony out off ‘upgrading’ Natasha—taking the tubes of suspiciously colored concoction out of his hand, throwing it out to the trashcan despite Tony’s cries—when the doors opened automatically. 

“Tony! I heard Natasha was hit. What’s—“ Steve stopped in his gait approaching the room, his eyes focusing on the surprising guest. “Stiles?”

“Steve?” Stiles copied his tone, walking forward past Bruce. “What are you doing here?” 

Tony frowned at the question, befuddled in the exchange between the two men. He looked to Clint for an explanation but the archer gave him the exact look back. 

“I-I’m friends with Natasha.” Steve bit back a sour expression from the way his teammates were looking at him with growing suspicion. “How about you?” 

Stiles nodded at his reason, shrugging, “Nothing. Just, you know, saving an Avenger after accidentally getting sucked into yet another crisis.” 

“I’m signing you up to the Guinness Book of World Records for worst luck in consecutive days,” Clint commented from the sidelines, hands grasping Natasha’s to comfort her. 

“Hey, maybe it’s the world telling you that you’re exactly where you belong.” Steve tried to spin his recent events to a better light, because that’s what he does. That’s Steve Rogers for you, and everyone else but Stiles. 

Leaning against one of the counters by the wall, Stiles crossed his arms. “Well, at least I get to see the Avengers in action.” Earning a few triumph smiles from the team, he smiled. “Now, all I need to do is meet Thor and Captain America, then I can move on to my next bucket list of eating all the McDonalds menu from all over the world.” 

Tony is visibly seen to be downloading and processing the information inside his head as he froze in his spot for a minute. Even Bruce stopped flipping through Natasha’s charts to direct his attention to the exchange between the two. Clint was the first to recover, “What are you saying, Stiles?” 

“Oh, McDonald’s have special menus for every region that they’re in—did you know that Japan has shrimp burger? And that New Zealand has this thing called Kiwiburger, I don’t even know what that means but—“ 

“No, not that.” Tony’s eyebrow linked together in ridiculous confusion, because that’s what this is.
“You—“ 

Steve coughed while passing by Tony, not-so-accidentally stepping on the man’s toes with all his might.

“Jesus!” Tony fell on his knees to clutch at his toes. “Ca—“

“Bruce!” Steve shouted, shocking the good doctor out of his skin, thankfully not into his green one, but shocking him nonetheless. “Tony seemed to have break his toes, will you please treat it?” 

Dr. Banner was such at a lost that he just directed Tony to sit on the sofa at the edge of the room and inspected his toe, Tony’s face stuck at a perturbed open-mouthed stare directed at Steve. 

“Do you still have a cold?” Stiles came up to Steve, hands coming up to check his temperature without realizing what he was doing. “You were also coughing the last time we met with Agent Coulson.”  

Steve spluttered in the sudden action, his cheeks tinting with a dust of pink. Tony just sat, perched on his sofa, dramatically mouthing a ‘cold?’ at both Bruce and Clint, knowing that he’s not physically able to have a cold.

“Oh god, I think you’re having a fever, your ears are red.” Stiles worried, his hands latching on to the side of Steve’s face turning it side to side to check his ears. 

Giving him a shaky smile, Steve cleared his throat and met his eyes, finally making Stiles realize the close proximity they were in. “I’m-I’m so sorry. My hands just—My brain’s not really—It’s, I, just sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Steve brushed his blonde hair with his hand, ducking his head down before looking up to see his teammates startled out of their shells.  

Clint laughed out loud when he finally got it, receiving a heated glare from Steve on his end while Tony and Bruce slowly caught on. Now it was Stiles’ turn to be confused at them, not finding anything hilarious to laugh about at the moment.

“You don’t know his last name do you?” Clint shook his head, wiping a tear from his eyes.

“Uh, yes. Duh, I do.” Stiles scoffed, his adrenaline still high off of his first medical practice, ending his sentence with a question and his hands perched awkwardly on his hips after flying around in different directions, looking to Steve. “It’s—it’s Bookworm?” 

“That—“ Tony gasped through his laughter, things finally snapping into place when he shared an understanding look to Clint, “—Oh god, that’s gold. Steve Bookworm, you are one ingenious bastard, old man.” 

Steve gave Tony his special no-nonsense glare that he reserved especially for Tony. Logically, Steve always knew that he was going to get caught in his lie, but it wasn’t a lie as much as withholding information. But, he just wanted someone that didn’t know him as Captain America and simply as Steve (bookworm). 

“You’re moving in.” Tony calmed down from his high, inhaling big breaths, anticipating how long Cap could possibly keep this up without it blowing in his face. “I’m calling it.” 

“Uh, no. I’m not. You’re not calling anything. I have a perfectly comfortable flat that I absolutely adore, plus I have to jump between the Triskelion in DC and my university here so, no. I’m not.” Stiles laughed the offer off, pushing his hands forward as if he was literally pushing the offer away, because he had a feeling Tony would be persistent. “To be clear, that was a definite no.”

Clint rolled his eyes, knowing how this goes. Tony gave him a smile that people would normally give to an ignorant baby that could not understand anything, which Stiles takes great offense to. “It’s cute that you think I can’t get what I want.”

“Not everything is about you, Tony.” Stiles scoffed, moving back beside Natasha’s bed to check the monitors. “There are laws in the universe.”

“You’ll see.” Tony jumped back off his feet after checking his phone. “But for now, Fury wants you in his office.” 

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Stiles threw his hands up, the only person getting his ‘excitement’ being Clint, who granted the boy an amused smirk. He was getting a little bit loopy from his magic use, it was tiring and he’s exhausted, and now he has to deal with another headache the size of one Nick Fury. 

The archer rounded Natasha’s bed to sling a hand around Stiles’ shoulders, shaking the boy. “Good luck, kid.” 

“We’re supposed to come with.” Tony update from his side, tucking his phone back to his pocket, grumbling to Bruce about dealing with the director’s vain disposition. 

“Can’t you just tell him that I’m busy here taking care of his agent?” The wailing kid tried to get away from the ordeal, who wouldn’t? Last time he went there, he almost got eaten alive—and that was only because he’d shown restraint (not the best, yes, but it’s the best he could do, leave him be).

Clint ruffled his head, tucking the kid into a short embrace of support, chuckling when the kid kept his face buried on his shoulders, unaware of the glare Steve was sending his way. “Nope, I got first class ticket to see this show, I’m not going to waste it.” 

“I hate you.” Stiles mumbled, body limp as Tony clasped a hand on his wrist, dragging him out of Clint’s grasp and out the door. Dr. Banner followed them like an over-worked parent, exhausted and amused. Steve was still frowning. 

Clint closed the door behind them with a cheeky smile and sighing to Natasha, “You’ll get used to it.”

 

Chapter Text

“Agent Stilinski, we meet again.” Director Nick Fury swiveled in his chair once he settled in it, Stiles restraining the extreme urge to roll his eyes because seriously, can this man get any more enigmatic? 

“I know, I know. I should have told you, SHIELD protocol, full disclosure, I heard this last time I was here which was very recent.” Stiles ranted off, waving his points in the air, tone going out of the ordinary. “But what do you expect me to do? If I’d told you then you’d put me under another interrogation and evaluation. Besides, you have a list of gifted people—which you will undoubtedly put me in. And then I have people prodding things on or in my body and take my blood with pointy needles, then I get tagged like a shark and left for free but then I’m not really free because then I’ll be living in a fish tank with all the supposedly-secret surveillance that you’ll have tracking my every fucking bowel movement—I’m an American!” Clint had to duck his way out of harm from Stiles’ constantly widening flailing hands, having made the bad decision of sitting next to him at the conference room. “I'm in New York, the land of the free and the wannabes. I deserve freedom!”

Tony was not so discreetly laughing out loud in his seat by the end of it, but Bruce was behind him clamping his mouth down with his palms, reducing the noise level. Nick Fury spared a thankful  look to the doctor before turning back to Stiles. “Are you done?” 

“I’m anti-shark violence, there are plenty other soups with vegetable bases that could easily replace shark-fin soup. Leave those sharks alone.” Stiles took a deep breath before opening his mouth to close it again. “Ok, I’m done.”

It’s as if Nick Fury was deliberately trying to piss him off, he swears. And it’s working. “You should’ve told me.”

Stiles grumbled openly. “Did you just call me in to lecture me about rules again? Because as eager as I am to go for a round two, I’m still rather exhausted.” 

Steve was caught off-guard by the display of behavior the boy was showing towards the authority figure, but he should’ve known because this was Stiles. And Stiles makes no exception for anybody, to be himself.

Nick Fury ignored his complaining, instead he signaled Maria Hill behind him to tap her pad onto the projector in the middle, bringing up a holographic image of the creature they fought. “While we have tried to identify this alien, we’ve come up with absolutely nothing.” To which Stiles hid a smile to, because from his knowledge of the servers he hacked, they didn’t know much about the Supernatural world. “Again, it seems that you always happen to know things before we do.” 

Stiles sighed, admitting defeat since he wasn’t really looking to pick a fight with the Director of SHIELD, he wasn’t that crazy, or that powerful for the matter of fact. He simply wants to live. “That’s because it’s not alien.” He looked towards Tony before he could ask. “Nor is it an experiment.” Stiles looked back to the director. “It’s supernatural.”

Clint joked. “Supernatural? Like werewolves and vampires, supernatural?” 

He weighed the options of telling them about werewolves, he wasn’t sure what to do. The constant hijacking that Stiles had gone through so far in SHIELD has made him wary; and the apparent conclusion that Tony also came to was enough reassurance for him to know that there’s something deeper going on that they’re playing into, one that they have no knowledge of. 

“They’re called Skinwalkers.” Stiles started explaining, having the whole attention to himself. “They first appeared in the Navajo culture, depicted as a witch with the capability of turning into animals and taking their forms.” 

“But they weren’t animals, they looked human but made out of earth.” Clint zoomed into the picture, showing the cracks in their dry skin.

“They’re wildling creatures, a primary woodland being—they’re not witches and they only turn into animals when they need to hunt for food or go into human population.” Stiles debunked the myth, pointing to the image. “That’s what they look like in their natural skin.” 

Tony served through the images and footage from the public who filmed the whole ordeal, pausing on one to show to Stiles. “And these,” He gestured to the transformation of their arms to sharp sword-like spikes, “What are these?” 

“Those are arms, Tony.” Stiles mocked the genius’ intelligence, receiving an unamused smile. “They have the ability of changing their shape to fit the animal skin they’re wearing, but they produce a toxin that’s deadly if they enter your bloodstream.” 

Bruce readjusted his glasses, angling his head towards Stiles. “You used this ‘mountain ash’ to fight it off, I’ve never heard of this drug.” 

“It’s not a drug, it’s the ashes of a burnt rowan tree.” Stiles rolled his tongue in his mouth, careful with his wording. “If made properly, it has high healing properties and almost immune to any supernatural toxins.” He kept the fact that it could be harmful to most supernatural creatures, taking precautions with giving deadly information to SHIELD. 

Nick Fury nodded to Hill, who was updating the information into their data stream. “Why did they attack us?”

“I don’t know.” Now this, Stiles was really baffled at. “They’re usually very calm creatures if not provoked, they live underneath the earth’s crust completely isolated.” His fear was amplified with the fact that the energy of the earth from the woodland creature was dead. 

Steve observed the frown from the boy, keeping his thoughts to himself as he listened on to the conversation. 

Agent Hill whispered to Fury’s ears, backing away when she was done. Fury sighed. “Another matter is what we’re going to tell the public. They’ve already seen the footage online of this attack, and they’re all wondering about the magical user fighting alongside the Avengers.”

Stiles groaned into the table, his head smacking down onto it. Steve patted his back in a sense of comfort. “And?” 

“I’ve kept the press on hold and forwarded it to Pepper to handle a conference naming you as an ally of the Avengers and an agent of SHIELD with anonymity.” Fury spared Tony a questioning frown. “Will that be okay to you, Tony?”  

“Yeah, whatever. I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about it because of the whole Nat-almost-dying situation, but now I’m really curious—you have magic!” Tony bursts when the room settled down to a silence, his hands extending out to Stiles. “How?” 

Stiles was dreading this. This is exactly the reason why he wanted to keep to himself. “Uh, I do.” He starts, prolonging his vowels to make time to think about what he should say. 

“So, you’re like a magician? A wizard? Like Harry Potter?” 

“Harry Potter!” Steve exclaimed, a chance to get into the conversation he’s been left out of simply because he wasn’t in the scene of the disaster. He was absent for a mission and another New York  attack happens, figures. “I know that reference.” 

Stiles hid his short laugh from the outburst of the man. “Not exactly like harry potter. But, sure. A magician, that's me.” 

For now, until he knew more of the bad feeling he’s got boiling in his gut, he’s going to keep as much to himself as possible. Call him paranoid, but he’s been a victim of following naive people around him who believes in too much good. He has a right to take precautions; he’s been possessed before, if that isn’t enough to make him paranoid, nothing will. 

“How do you know of the supernatural, Agent Stilinski?” Nick Fury questioned him with a tilt of his head, his only good eye assessing the truth of his statements.

“I’m a curious boy with the tendency of getting in trouble no matter what I do.” Lying by omission of truths, it wasn’t really a lie just not the entire truth. Stiles smirked back at him,  “You do the math.” 

“Nothing to do with the fact that you have magic?” Fury analyzed his statements.

Stiles cursed to himself, the one-eyed snake was sneakier than he thought. He kept the staring contest between them. “My magic was an unprecedented event I encountered while I was in-the-know of the supernatural world. Now it has everything to do with it—not dying is a lot easier, for one.”

“Coulson said that he found you when you were three months in living here in New York.” Fury read of the file transcripts Maria Hill collected, sending him an eyebrow raise. “Is it right to assume that you knew about the supernatural prior to entering New York?”

“I can neither confirm of deny that statement.” Stiles leaned forward in his seat to cross his arms on the table. 

Fury kept his eyes on the document. “It’s said here that you lived in Beacon Hills for all your life before New York.”

Stiles’ eye twitch without his permission, he has very little control over his actions and even less over his words; Stiles Stilinski is a man missing many brain-to-everything filters, so help him God. 

“Hill, can you tell us a bit about Beacon Hills?” Fury angled his head to her direction without cutting their gaze. 

Maria Hill moved forward from her stance behind the director, settling in a resting soldier pose. “Numerous cases of police file reports depicting murder, bombings, hijackings, grave snatchers, arson, serial killings, ritualistic sacrifices, animal attacks, kidnappings—“

“Sounds like a wonderful town.” Stiles snapped at the woman, memories building in the back of his eyelids. He could feel something boiling in his gut and it’s best if he doesn’t lose control. “I’ve heard all this from my recruiting interrogation ceremony, so why don’t you try something else, sir?”

Agent Hill held her own under the warning of Stiles’ glare, the atmosphere turning heavier by the second. “In the middle of every report, a group of teenagers were constantly present at every scene. Particularly Stiles Stilinski and Scott McCall, along with Lydia Martin, Derek Hale, Alliso-“

“Enough.” Stiles banged his hands on the table, startling everyone in the room when it shook with a force from the spark of his magic. His primary element, Earth, shaking the building slightly so the lights flickered off before turning back on. “Your point?”

“You are the point, Agent Stilinski.” Nick Fury changed the tone of his voice, taking on a softer edge with a heady burden behind it. “You seem to be ahead of every single thing that happened since you arrived here, and yet you keep everything to yourself.” He pointed to Tony with a condescending hand. “I’ve already got one self-assertive smug know-it-all, I don’t need another.” 

Tony shrugged, accepting the title, looking at Stiles for his reaction. 

Stiles sighed, his heart ridden with guilt of past failures. He doesn’t want a repeat of that. But he's aware of the possibility that by doing what he thinks is protection, he might end up making it worse. “You don’t understand.” 

Fury stressed. “So, help me understand what this is.” 

Tony sat back in his seat, watching the interaction between the Director and the new kid like a tennis match—pitching back and forth in a smart dialect and fast paced intelligence. At first it was entertaining, but now his arm was under the desk, hands on his watch that contained his compact repulser glove. At the same time, Tony trained an eye on Bruce’s condition from the stressful situation. Stiles noticed it. 

He really should think twice the next time he wants to snap, preferably not in a room with the fucking Hulk, his conscience reminded him.

Clint reached an arm underneath the table to settle on Stiles’ knees, hoping to calm him down. Stiles’s let his head drop down. Beside him, Steve gave him a look of concern, unsure of what to do. The scenarios ran in his mind like an old movie. Stiles made his decision, hoping for all eternity that he made the right one.

“I’ve told Phil that I would join SHIELD on one condition and that is absolute trust and loyalty between all parties.” He began with lifting his face, a blank expression plastered on. “Right now, neither you or I have given each other anything to build trust and loyalty upon.” 

Stiles could see Fury blink in his uninterrupted stare, he continued. “I’ve failed before, due to blind trust and weak bonds. A naiveté that cost everyone everything. I can't and I won’t let that happen again.”

“As a man, I respect that.” Director Fury nodded to him, but his tone didn’t change. “But as the Director of SHIELD, I can not afford to promise you full access of everything—“

“I don’t care about absolute disclosure, Director Fury.” Stiles could see Tony squint his eyes at the statement, somehow caught off-guard by the idea of Stiles accepting such terms. “It’s an intelligence agency, there’s bound to be secrets to uphold the hierarchy of command and security.” He was speaking directly to Director Fury but everybody in the room knew he directed his words to everyone present. “I don’t care about honesty because if or when I do trust you, all your lies become truths and I wouldn’t be able to discern which is which.” 

Nick brought a hand to his head, running his palms over the smooth surface, stopping at the back of his neck. “So what is it that you want, Agent Stilinski?” 

“Your promise.” Stiles handed him an honest clear look. “That you will try and trust me. That you’ll learn to be loyal towards me. And I will promise you the same.”

Taking Fury’s silence as a ‘yes’, Stiles smiled and broke the heavy atmosphere. The man was stoic as fuck, okay, he’ll never get a straight answer out of him. So the absence of denial is as much of an agreement that he’s going to get. 

“I don’t know.” Stiles took his arms of the table, settling into a more comfortable pose, because hey, being intimidating is a lot more taxing than it seems.  “Something’s wrong, that’s for sure. I don’t know what’s happening, that’s the truth.”

Fury tilted his head. “But I’m sensing you have a theory.”

“One. I think it’s somehow connected.” Stiles unconsciously flitted his eyes at Tony, who caught the stare and went into his own personal bubble of thought. “I’ll look into it.” 

“Alright, Agent Stilinski.” Director Fury laced his fingers together, leaning back into his seat with his elbows propped at the hand rest. “I have my own condition: We’ll have weekly meetings, unmonitored. You and me. That’s my trust.” 

“It’s not as much trust as it’s an alternative way you’re keeping tabs on me.” Stiles rapidly spoke through the mild accusation before buckling in a one thousand watt smile. “But hey, baby steps.”

Steve hid his smile with a duck of his head, eyes still trained on the kid. Clint shaking his head at the kid’s dangerous or amazing ability of fearlessness, it depends on each situation. Fury just sat there unamused and eyebrows still raised for his answer.

“Weekly meetings, I can do that. Fair warning though, people have been known to grow very vexed by me in a short amount of time.” Stiles ignored the fleeting sarcastic comment of Clint’s ‘can’t see why’ in the background. “So make sure you pop down the happy pills before every meeting. I don’t want bills or angry letters from your therapist coming to my inbox.” 

“Yeah, about that. I declare full guardianship over this one right here.” Tony stood in his chair, fixing the sleeves of his long-sleeved graphic tee. “He’ll be moving to the Avengers Tower by the end of today.” 

Stiles blinked, his voice cracking. “I’m sorry, what?” 

Tony clapped his hands to dismiss them. “It’s settled! Let’s go, Avengers! It’s past our curfew!”

“You’re kidding right. You can’t let him do this!” Stiles stood in disbelief, everyone else standing along with him. 

Fury rolled his eyes, nodding and going along with whatever Tony had planned—contrary to popular believe, he’d rather avoid confrontation with all Starks if he has the option. It was the logical thing anyone would do, Director of SHIELD or not.

“Give it up, Stiles.” Steve stood behind him, secretly happy that he’d spend more time with the kid. His identity secret in the back of his mind, overshadowed by the excitement. “It’s more convenient for your studies so you won’t need to go back and forth between DC and New York.”

“Seriously, Steve, you’re on his side?” Stiles stared him down with a disappointed judgmental glare, to which the man softly smiled to. “Clint?” 

“We don’t have a curfew.” Clint reminded Tony, facing away from Stiles, already on his way out the conference room.

Tony threw him an over-exaggerated look. “If we don’t go now, we will.” He dragged Stiles out the room before he could complain further, a fond Steve and an exhausted Bruce following.

Maria Hill closed the doors from their exit, looking back to find the director in deep thought. She bowed slightly, leaving him to his own.

In all his career, Director Nick Fury had built bridges and burned them down to get where he was. Not by his choice, but by the necessity of the path of career and vow he has to uphold. A man like him doesn’t get to where he was without at least a nation of enemies. And the chair he sits on is a powerful one, but a lonely one all the same. 

If the Avengers were fond of him, Stiles Stilinski might not be that bad after all. Nick ran the thought through his mind once more, it’s either that or he turned out to be worse than he imagined—the Avengers were peculiar that way.  

 

~~~

 

By the time they’ve successfully kidnapped Stiles back into the Avengers tower, it was already past dinner time. To say that Stiles was surprised to find his belongings already moved from his old apartment would be a lie: he knew a losing battle when he saw one. Doesn’t mean that he didn’t put up a huge resistance though—the only thing that finally stopped him was Banner threatening to hulk up on him. 

“This is the tenth floor, the common living room. The top 15 floors are ours and below that is SHIELD personnel base.” Tony showed Stiles around the high-rise space. “You’ve been to Banner’s medical bay, his lab and the patient’s ward is also in the same floor which is seven floors below this one. Above this floor is my penthouse, and the one above that is our locker room along with the quintet station.

“The entire five floors below this are the living quarters, one floor fits two tenants; theres one empty floor and a vacancy in Clint’s floor.” The man continued into the kitchen, grabbing an apple from the bowl in the middle of a kitchen counter. “Gym’s on the first floor, shooting range on second,

“You should really put up a directory somewhere around here.” Stiles looked around, amazed by the view, stopping at Tony sitting in the bar stool. 

“Jarvis is our directory. You can’t access the elevator without him anyways, so there’s no need for one.” 

“You’re bunking up with me kid.” Clint called from the open kitchen, grabbing a drink for himself. “No complaints.” 

Steve felt his eye twitch. He took an unconscious step towards Stiles. “Why?”

Clint placed the glass down. “What do you mean why? It’s safer to share a floor than live separately.”

“I’m fine with it.” Stiles patted Steve on his arms. “Besides, it’s your loss. I’m a living nightmare as a roommate.”

“I have a feeling we’ll get along swimmingly.” Clint chuckled, silently relishing in the subtle glare that Steve directed at him, directing his own cheeky glare at 

“Please just don’t destroy the tower, again.” Tony whined, knowing well the damage that Clint Barton can cause on his own—he doesn’t want to even imagine the possibilities when Stiles is added to the equation. “We’re still making repairs from Thor’s last venture against the ‘mighty evil’ coffee machine, again.”

Clint snickered at the mischief he was undoubtedly planning to cause, avoiding the apple core that Tony threw at him.

“Well, I’ll head on over to my room then.” Stiles gestured to Tony. “Keys?”

“No keys; Jarvis controls all the locks and doesn’t use it unless he’s told to.” 

Steve placed a hand on his shoulder, tilting his head as a signal towards the elevator. “I’ll show you the way.”

“That’s alright, I can just ask Jarvis.” Stiles shook his head, the idea of becoming a burden still a fresh pain in his gut. “Besides you need to get going.” 

“Going?” Steve’s eyebrows raised to his hairline. “Where?”

“Home.”

“He is home.” Tony pointed out, his pointer finger on Steve’s direction.

Steve nudged Stiles to the elevator—which is rapidly becoming Steve’s favorite new-age invention whenever Stiles is around. He faced Stiles’ questioning stare. “Yes, well actually, I’m in charge of this kindergarten day-care with the exception that it doesn’t end at night, nor the days following after.”

“You? Managing the Avengers?” Stiles slowly felt a grin breaking in his face, playfully frowning at him, happily being escorted to the elevators. “Are you trying to steal Captain America’s job?”

Tony smirked, rolling another apple in his hands. “Yeah, are you?” 

“I know you have the same name, Steve. But just don’t.” Stiles shrugged, enjoying the laughter Tony and Clint suppressed and Steve’s alarmed expression. “I heard he’s quite the fair fighter.”

“Fair fighter, indeed.” Clint narrated in a dramatic voice, his tone getting louder and louder as Steve shoved Stiles into the elevator and repeatedly pressed the close button. “Our beloved honor pride and joy of the team, Captain America. The great sentimental roman—“

Steve cut him off the same time the doors did, a laughing Stiles by his side. “Goodnight!”

 

~~~

 

Steve dropped Stiles off in the 6th floor that he’ll be sharing with Clint, excusing himself to the 3rd floor to check on Natasha and Bruce in his medical lab. The elevator opened up to a rather short but spacious hallway with one door on each wall, the end of the hallway acting as a window with it’s glass walls.

Stiles opened the door and backed his shoulders against it to close it once he was inside, before heading inside the short hallway. The hallway opened up to a huge flat—almost thrice the size of his old studio apartment. It had a mini kitchen bar and island counter and a sofa faced at a flat screen TV mounted to the wall. The open concept-living room was filtered with natural lighting from the tall windows that covered the wall; one of the windows multi-functioning as a sliding window to enter the short wide balcony along the window wall. 

He took a minute to figure out where everything was: His clothes all hanged and folded into the wardrobe in his room, which was ridiculously awesome with the floor to ceiling bookshelf as walls and a library sliding ladder attached to it. His bed was directly facing the bookshelf wall, a queen sized deep blue and brown colour scheme on an oakwood bed frame with a mountain of pillows. 

Stiles flopped down onto the bed, bouncing from the springs. This place was so expensive that he was sure he owed Tony his first born, if he were to ever have kids. He realized somewhere in the middle of the horror motion picture of Beacon Hills High that he wasn’t exactly a straight player. Women are amazing, Stiles agrees with that to the full extent, but they’re more of goddesses than lovers. Look at it this way, they’re all Beyonce—admirable but untouchable.

Beacon Hills. He hasn’t given the place much thought over the past few months. Stiles closed his eyes, sinking into the comfort of the bed before sitting up. It was no time to reminisce about the past. Especially if his hunch is right. 

Taking his phone out of his pocket, he dialed a number he knew by heart. Waiting for the dialing tone, he got up and walked out into the living room. 

“Hey, babe.” 

Stiles smiled at the greeting. “Sorry to disappoint, it’s just me.” 

“Yeah, I know. Babe.” 

Letting the laughter soothe his nerves, Stiles huffed. “It’s good to know that some things never change. How are you, Chase?” 

From the end of the line, Chase put his phone off speaker, taking it into his hands while closing the heavy leather book he had out. “Relatively fine. I heard things on your end has been rather interesting. SHIELD, huh?”

Stiles rolled his eyes. He should’ve known. After all, you can’t hide secrets from someone who sees everything. “Yeah, that happened, somehow. I figured I’m not going to think about it too much before I lose my mind trying to make sense of how all of this is happening.” He trailed his hands over the smooth wallpaper of the hallway from his bedroom and conjoining bath to the living room. “Anyways, I called to see if you’re free any time soon.” 

Chase clipped the book back into it’s holding, closing the glass casing with a frown. “For you, always. But why?” 

“There’s something I need to check.” Stiles stopped in his tracks, remembering something he had stupidly forgotten of in the midst of all the chaos going on. “I need to go. I’ll explain tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s fine.” Chase kept his frown, unsettled by the anxiety he could feel off the vibrations of Stiles’ voice. 

“Okay, thanks again. I’ll see you then.” Stiles hung up on the man before he got a chance to respond. 

Going out the balcony, he let the cold air of the night bite his skin. The night sky was lit up by the twinkling lights from the high-rise multimillionaire company buildings and blaring bright billboards. Stiles sigh. While the world is definitely beautiful, the little round bastard is trying to screw him over. 

Staring into his phone, he scoffed a breathless nervous short laughter. Five months. Is that seriously the best he can get until he needs to deal with the hellhole?

He pulled out his wallet from his back pocket, flipping it open to take a piece of paper from one of the card holders. Slipping the wallet back in, he turned the paper around in his hands, eyes raking the city in vain for another solution. 

“Fine.” Stiles whispered to himself, swallowing his emotions, opening the folded paper. With trembling fingers he typed the number in his phone, thumb stopping on the call button. 

Then he hit it. 

Honking cars, harsh winds and a loud gulp later, the call went through.  

“Hello?” A voice he hasn’t heard in a long time. 

“Who’s calling?” That husky rough voice he remembered changed a tone and mellowed out, he pointed out to himself.

“Is anybody there, hello?” The words are stuck in his throat, unyielding to his insistence. Why is this so damn hard? 

“I’m hanging up now.” 

Before Stiles could think it through, he bit out a small, “Don’t.”

The silence through the line was deafening for the two callers. Their breaths a tad bit louder than usual, heard on both ends of the phone.

A whisper. “Stiles?” 

Even though he knew the other couldn’t see him, he nodded once, exhaling slowly through his nose. “Yes, Jackson. Hi.” 

Back in Beacon Hills, Jackson yanked his phone from his ear, looking around the loft he was in for a pack meeting that hasn’t happened in a while. He made a split second decision and lurked off down the stairs to exit the building towards the parking lot.

“Hi.” The blonde gripped his phone in a tight hold, voice uncharacteristically soft. Jackson couldn’t believe that Stiles was calling him, and neither could Stiles himself. After months of silence and trying to track him down, the missing person tracks him instead with a single call. 

“Are you—” with the pack “—alone?” 

The connotation behind the words, or lack thereof, was crystal clear between the two of them. “Now I am.” 

Stiles looked up, his glassy eyes betraying his will power. Of course, they would still be together, going strong even without him. A part of him had wished that the pack would break themselves apart, slowly pulling at the seams, and he imagined that he was the cause of it—a rightful selfishness that he earned. Even now, that bitterness is still there. Fuck his life.

From the prolonged silence, the werewolf winced. Jackson was one of the very few who went against the pack’s common view of the boy; it pains him that they let him go that way. “Listen, Stiles—“

“Don’t.” Stiles snapped harshly at the sympathetic tone. It was humiliating and it was full of pity, condescending and despicable to his ears. “I don't want to hear it.” 

Jackson bit back his whine the same way he did five months ago: forcefully. 

He could almost hear the whimper in the speaker by his ear, but Stiles stood strong. He knew that Jackson wasn’t technically a part of what happened, in fact he seemed to be against it, but Stiles couldn’t deal with this. At least not now. “Look, I only called because I need you to check something for me.”

Pleasantly surprised at the feeling of being needed, Jackson rapidly shook his head up diagonally, desperate to win the boy’s favor back. “Yes, anything. Just tell me.” 

Stiles closed his eyes, a little relieved but his voice still stone cold. “Find the Nemeton.” 

Jackson pulled his phone away to physically stare at it with confusion before pressing it back to his ears. “Why?”

“Just do it.” Stiles knew that his tone was harsh and cutting, but he just couldn’t help it. Biting his cheeks, he whispered, “Please.”

The blonde blinked a few times, slowly. This was the unapologetic boy he had known since he was a little child. He’s never said sincerities like that before, especially not to the jock who made his high school life a living hell until they banded together against evil. Shaking his head from the shock, Jackson continued nodding. “O-okay.” 

Stiles didn’t know he was holding his breathing, the air piling in his lungs desperate for a way out. It left him in a rush as soon as Jackson agreed, the words that went out with it quickly sealing the exchange. “Call me on this number when you find it.”

“Stiles, wai—“

He locked his phone, ending the call in the process. Jackson’s voice hang in the air like the presence of a ghost. Or there might really be a ghost that Stiles wasn’t aware of or ever existing. Whatever the hell it is, Stiles hated it (and the ache in his heart wasn't really helping either). 

Chapter Text

Stiles turned the heat down from the stove, stirring inside the pan one last time before scooping the soup into the bowl he prepared. He bent down to grab a tray from the drawers and simultaneously checking on the garlic bread he popped in the oven a while ago. 

No one seemed to be awake just yet, but that’s a given since he’s awake in the ass crack of dawn at 6 in the morning. But, he’s a student, so he’s gotta keep a tight schedule or else everything will fall upon him like a brick wall. 

Taking the pan out of the oven, he arranged the bread on a plate along with two sunny side ups. He grabbed a mug from the overhead cupboard and poured in his special mix of tea. Tying his apron off, he balanced the tray in one hand and headed to the elevator. 

“Good morning, Jarvis.” He called out inside the elevator, smiling at the ceiling—which is weird cause he knows Jarvis is everywhere but it just seemed like the thing to do (makes him feel less mental for talking to empty air). 

“Good morning, Stiles.” 

Stiles smiled in triumph at finally getting Jarvis to call him by his name instead of the overly formal title that he absolutely feels ridiculous about.  “Take me to Natasha, please.” 

“Gladly.” Jarvis started the elevator, which had no buttons so good luck to whoever tries to rob this building. Well, at least the one good thing that came out of that design is that no one will be able to hijack the tower. Finally, somewhere safe. “Dr. Banner’s lab and medical ward, level 3. Enjoy your day, Stiles.” 

“You too, man. Thanks!” Stiles called out behind him, walking towards the patient’s room. He got a glimpse at the lab that Bruce works in, which is absolute heaven to a medical student like him. He’s definitely bribing Bruce later to play in it—maybe with some baked goods. 

Knocking the door softly, he slid it open and entered the room. “Agent Romanoff?” Stiles saw the woman wide awake, watching the news in the television from her upright hospital bed. He bowed. “Your breakfast, me lady.” 

The redhead broke a small smile in her beautiful features, returning the bow a nod of her head. “I’ve been waiting for hours, I’m famished.” 

“I must not keep the lady waiting, silly me.” Stiles gasped in mock shock, pulling the rolling table stand from the corner of the room to fit into Natasha’s bed, placing the tray down in it. “I shall iron my hands so forgive me, me lady.” 

“I need to know your name before I can forgive you.” 

“The filthy servant’s name is Stiles, me lady.”

Romanoff placed her hand on Stiles’ hunched shoulders. “Rest easy, Stiles. You may call me Natasha.”

Stiles bowed a grandiose elegant bend, taking Natasha’s hands in his and placing a soft air kiss on it. “As you wish, me lady.” He took the cover off of the tray, gesturing to the food. “Comfort mushroom soup with a side of toasted garlic bread and eggs, to your preference—at least according to Jarvis—and a warm mug of specially brewed tea. Bon Appétit.” 

“Splendid.” Natasha laughed at his act, finally breaking it when she started drinking the soup down with the bread. “What brings you up so early? No one usually gets up this early aside from Cap.” 

“Well, I have school, for one. And I’m cultured and mannered, unlike those Neanderthals snoring off in their beds.” Stiles took a seat next to her in one of the soft arm chairs, rolling his eyes at the ceiling to the men upstairs.

Natasha gave an approving nod. “Finally, a proper gentleman.” 

Stiles fiddled with his fingers, looking to his laps. “W-what about Captain Rogers?” 

“He’s too much of a gentleman with women. He treats us like we’re made of glass, it’s seriously offensive.” The woman huffed a pained sigh, as if she was physically offended from it. 

Stiles scoffed, stealing one of the garlic bread. “I can safely say you’re the only one that feels that way.” 

“What’s this?” Natasha lowered her spoon, tilting her head forward to the boy. “You’ve got a crush on Cap, don’t you?”

“No. Crush?” The boy nearly choked on his bread, coughing the words out in rapid succession. “What? On who? No.” 

Romanoff chuckled at the obvious denial, shaking her head. “Oh, honey, you’re going to be a splendid addition to the team.” 

Trying hard to change the subject, he took something out of his pocket, unwrapping the plastic wrap. “Here, I’ve got a present to commemorate your healthy recovery.”

Stiles placed the small pot of dirt in front of Natasha, who gave him a weird look before she watched him raise his hands palms up and watched seedlings grow and fan out into beautiful pale purple flowers.  

“Autumn Crocus.“ Natasha’s eyes widen, hands reaching out to touch the petals. “It’s one of the most endangered plant species in the world. How?”

He simply smirked at her, widening the span of his fingers to grow more. “It’s a beautiful yet deadly plant; one of a kind. I felt like it was the perfect gift for the only formidable member of the Avengers.”

Natasha marveled at the flower, she’s never seen it before. 

“Oh, and.” Stiles fan out both his hands around the plant, another flower growing taller than the others, bud bulging out more than usual. “Something special.” The bud opened to reveal a circle pendant with the black widow signature on it, a beautiful vintage version. 

Natasha reached out and plucked the pendant out, pulling the chain from the stem before the flower burst into dust. She huffed a surprised laugh, turning the necklace around in her palms. 

“That’ll protect you from things that will cause you unavoidable deadly harm like before.” Stiles offered a shy toothful grin.

“First you save my life and now you’re guaranteeing my life, it seems like I’ve got a new guardian angel.” Putting the necklace on, Natasha trailed her fingers down from her neck to the pendant, feeling a wave of warmth through her body. “Thank you.” 

Stiles coughed awkwardly in return, mumbling a small ‘you’re welcome’ to her, making her laugh at his inability to deal with gratitude. “Uh, I’ll leave you to it, then. Got school.” 

The boy could not rush from the room faster, leaving an amused and touched Natasha in her room. He shared a private smile with himself, pleased that he was able to cheer the deadly agent. Bruce was waiting next to the elevator when he got back up to the living room floor, smiling at him. 

“What?” He looked around, confused. 

Bruce waved his hand that had a StarkPad on a live footage of Natasha’s room. 

“Of course.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Is there anything that’s not under surveillance.”

“Sadly, no.” Bruce winced pitifully at the boy. 

Stiles shook his head disapprovingly, “No wonder you have trust issues.” 

The good doctor followed the boy into the kitchen. “It’s very kind, what you did for her.” Bruce complimented him, watching him scurry around the kitchen, taking out a batter from the fridge and a skillet from the pantry. “She’s very closed-off. It’s nice to see her being vulnerable.” 

“It’s not just her.” Stiles mumbled, but it was heard by Banner. By the silence that went on, Stiles sighed as the butter sizzled off the pan. “Everyone here has kept to themselves. I know that cause that’s what I also do. The burden, the pressure, the responsibility of saving everyone is on each of your shoulders—and as hard as you try to control it, it’s eating away at you.” 

Flipping one after another pancake, Stiles stacked them equally to different plates, different toppings on each ones also according Jarvis’ recommendation. He slid one in front of Banner who was sitting on the island counter connected to the open stove that he was working on, a plate of plain pancakes with chocolate syrup. “I’m trying to change that. Because I’ve seen what happens if it goes on like this, up close and personal.” 

Picking up his school bag he left at the couch, he packed in his lunch and threw it over his shoulder, fixing a beanie on top of his hair. “Look forward to it, Doc.” 

Bruce Banner was caught off-guard by the tirade of analysis Stiles threw at him. Startled by the amount of brutal honesty the young boy was able to speak with such confidence and calm. A strong personality and a headstrong mindset. 

Tony walked into the living room to see stacks of pancakes on different plates. “Chocolate Pancakes!” He took the plate with his favorite all-chocolate pancakes and syrup. “Wait, Brucie, you can’t cook.” 

Bruce shook his head at the statement. “Stiles made it.”

“I knew moving him in was the right decision, we finally have a decent cook in the house!” Tony cheered, shoving the pancake down his throat, stifling his moans. “What’s wrong?”

The doctor blinked away his stupefaction, softly grinning at what just happened. He cut into his pancake, a breath of relief washing over him when he tasted homemade breakfast that he hadn’t had in a long time. “Nothing.”

 

~~~

 

“That’s all for today. I’ll be expecting your reports to be on my desk by tomorrow morning before 12.” The professor shouted in the middle of the chaos of students pouring out of the classroom at the end of their day. 

Stiles went up to the professor, jumping his steps to skip the stair to go down to his desk. He pulled out his report from his bag, clumsily dropping most of his papers along with it. The professor laughed at him, used to the uncoordinated disposition his favorite student had. Stiles glared at him. “You know I can drop this class any time I want to, right?” 

The professor crossed his arms, raising his eyebrow at him. “Really?”

“Yeah, you’re right, I can’t.” Stiles gave up, waving goodbye to his professor. He was used to submitting his work early, another advantage of being ahead of class is that he had more free time to take care of his other matter of business (debatably the more important one).

He rushed through the students in the hallway, greeting the greetings that the others called out to him, exiting the campus in a hurry. Stiles walked all the way to his next destination, brainstorming in his head. 

The recent events that happened were relatively weird in his mind. He knew he was unlucky, but he can’t be that unlucky to have one after another disaster getting thrown his way in a matter of days. Once an accident, twice a coincidence, thrice a pattern. It was the most common rule of any investigation. He never thought he’d have to quote Ian Fleming in his life, but well, thing’s happen.  

Stiles reached the museum, casually entering from the pass from the security guard he’s friends with. 

“He’s in the archeology section.” The security guard pressed the button to pass the turnstile. 

“Thanks, Jerry.” Stiles rushed through the metal bar that rotated from his push, automatically walking to the section he was directed to. 

The museum was probably the place he visited the most in his time in New York. It was the first place he visited when he settled—a quiet place to get away from all the crowd, to wallow in thoughts and drown in the history of it all. He spent the first month of his stay in New York in a turmoil—silent and unfamiliar to his usual bright and chatty personality. 

“That’s never a good look.” A new voice interrupted his thoughts, turning around to face the first friend he’s made in the bustling city. 

“Good to see you too, Chase.” His words dripped with sarcasm, smiling to see him healthy and fine. Chase reached for a hug which he returned, guiding him to his office in the back of the museum. 

“So, what is it you want to ask me about?” Chase stopped in front of his cupboard, letting Stiles sit on the red vintage couch in the middle of his office. He watched the orbs glow different colours when he waved his hands to them, observing the mist that flowed inside the orbs as he read them. 

Stiles never ceases to be amazed at the things his friend does—one of the most interesting magic to his knowledge. Chase is a mage with the gift of prophecy. He’s adept at doing protection magic such as shields and charms; the necklace for Natasha was a favor that he asked Chase. The man was one of the most renowned prophet in the supernatural world, that was something he learned after he met him. He hears and sees everything from the different orbs he has placed around—Stiles could not explain what he does nor understand it. 

“Have you heard anything? Trouble or unnatural things?” Stiles asked him with caution, eyes trained at the back of the mage. 

Chase slightly moved his head to the side, eyes lit up in white, frowning. “No, nothing.”

“Oh.” Stiles tried to mask his disappointment to no avail. “Well this was a bust—“

“No.” Chase repeated strongly, the dyed platinum beach white hair raining on his face from it’s man bun. “I mean I hear nothing. I see nothing.” 

Stiles took a moment to understand what he said. “You mean, you can’t hear anything?” 

The museum curator waved his hands to stop the glow of the orbs. Walking over to the wall that had a million boards and clock-like devices with pointers and numbers, keeping track of who-knows-what. “The gods have stopped whispering. There’s nothing—I can’t see anything. It’s as if there’s a barrier, something blocking the way.” 

“Is that—bad?” Stiles stood up. 

The orbs shook slightly, both of their eyes flitting towards the cupboard, stance anxious and jumpy. Chase was the first to recover. “Yes. Very.” He moved to wards the stand in the middle of the shelves, looking towards the big leather-worn book, flipping the pages to find it all blank, cursing. “Very bad.” 

Stiles sensed the panicked state that Chase had spiraled into. “Why? What is that?”

“The Book of Horus.” The prophet stressed, flipping to random pages of the book to find it all equally empty. “It’s an all-changing book that records events around the world and calculates it’s actions and courses that will unfold. This is the only existing artifact in the whole world.” He slammed the cover of the book down. “And it’s blank.” 

A deadly feeling creeped into his gut, somehow knowing that his hunch was right. “What does that mean?”

The lights above them flickered, their eyes now on the ceiling, then the light turned off. In the silence, Chase whispered, his voice wavering. “I don’t know. This has never happened before.”

Stiles maneuvered his way through the dark to stand by Chase, the latter instinctively pulling Stiles towards him and casting a protection shield around them. Stiles grabbed his arm, the lights turning back on. “What’s happening?”

“I—“ Chase cut his words short as the lights brightness escalated in it’s intensity, making both men wince at the harsh light. 

“Chase, do something!” Stiles shook the arm he was holding to snap the man out of his reverie. 

The lights burst, sparks flying throughout the room and bounced against the shield Chase casted around them. One of the orbs breaking in sync with the light, a green colored smoke escaping from the cracks and dissipating in the air. Chase dismantled the shield, rushing to the ground to pick up the broken pieces of the orb. 

Stiles looked around the darkness, only light filtering in from the curtained windows. Glass shards from the lights scattered on the floor, some imbedding itself on the couch and rained on the desk. 

“Chase?” He called out to the man in a stupor kneeling on the floor, shaking his shoulders with a gentle arm. 

The ghostly look the normally charming and gallant man gave Stiles was enough confirmation for him to know that his suspicion was growing more real by the second.

 

~~~

 

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Tony repeated for the sixth time, crossing his arms in a show of confidence, but Bruce saw his leg bouncing up and down in agitation.

Steve and Clint were pacing around the room, worried for the late return of their newest housemate. It was way past 10 at night and Steve had called the campus to ask if Stiles was still there, but the university told him that the boy’s class ended way earlier at 4. 

Clint spared Tony a blank glare, waving his hands around. “The kid is like a magnet to trouble. He’s been in three dangerous situations in all of one week; and the last one was a fucking invasion from a supernatural creature—which I still can’t wrap my head around.” 

“He’s magic.” Bruce tried to reason, his fingers laced together propped on his knees from the couch he was sitting next to Tony on. “He can handle himself.”

“He can’t handle everything by himself.” Steve commented, walking back and forth in front of the elevators. “And how am I just now figuring out that he’s been through two hijacking attempts in SHIELD? How was he recruited to SHIELD in the first place anyways, he’s just a kid.”

Tony pointed an accusing finger at Steve. “First, he’s not a kid—he’s a legal adult by his age and far more mature than he should be. Second, why would we tell you about it? We didn’t know you knew him.” He shared a knowing look with Clint. “And we haven’t even touched the subject on why you’re keeping your identity.”

Steve glared at Tony—glaring’s just a normal response when faced with Tony Stark. “He works at the bookstore I go to. It’s just a coincidence that he doesn’t know me and you need to keep it that way.” 

Clint narrowed his eyes at the Captain, stopping in his pacing. “Are you sure that’s the only reason you’re doing it?” 

Rogers turned a deaf ear on the question, continuing the choreography of a worried (boy)friend. Bruce shook his head at the antics of the three men, keeping his eyes on the StarkPad showing Natasha’s vitals and footage in the room. 

“Tony.” Steve snapped, startling the man from his posture. “Didn’t you bug his phone or something?” 

“The Cap is intentionally asking me to break the rules? What sorcery is this?” Tony joked only to receive judging stares by all three of the men present. “Okay. Okay. I did.” Stark reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sticky note and the bug. “But he disabled the program and took the physical one off the inside of his phone.” 

Clint snatched the note from Tony’s hand. “Try harder, noob.” He read, bursting into a harsh laughter, forgetting the tense atmosphere for a second. “He called you a noob. Jesus, he is something else.” 

Steve was about to berate Clint’s behavior when the elevator dinged and opened to reveal a shell-shocked Stiles. The man sped his walk to take the boy into his arms, patting him down while Stiles could not say anything. “Are you okay? Where were you? We were all so worried.”

“Some of us were, I knew you’d be fine.” Tony commented from the back, receiving a punch to his shoulder from Bruce who caught his lie. 

Clint dragged Stiles away from Steve’s mother-henning, who in-turn gave him the Captain America glare for stealing the boy from him. Clint made an expression to stress the older man to recognize Stiles’ state. 

That was when the rest of the Avengers noticed that Stiles was quieter than before—in fact it was eerie. Clint sat Stiles down on the sofa next to Tony and sat beside him, a comforting hand on his back. Steve followed suit, crouching in front of the boy. 

“Stiles?” Clint tried. 

Stiles kept his eyes on his lap, still trying to gather his bearings from whatever the hell just happen over in the museum. “Yeah?”

Steve bent his head to catch Stiles’ shaky eyes, concerned. His voice was soft when he held the gaze Stiles gave him. “What’s wrong?” 

“I-uh.” Stiles licked his lips, staring directly into Steve’s clear blue eyes, suddenly finding his throat as dry as the Sahara. “I don’t know.” 

He came to the museum looking for answers because that was the only place he knew for sure he could get an answer from, always. But now, all he got in return was more questions and a truckload of anxiety to his already anxious self. What’s more alarming was that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answers. 

And what comes along with it.

Chapter Text

Luckily for Stiles, he didn't have any school the next day—so he wouldn’t need to embarrass himself in front of the whole school if he had a mental breakdown. Thus, he stayed back and unpacked all his things from the boxes he went back and got from his workplace. As paranoid as he is, he doesn't leave any important things in one place: he leaves them scattered in different places, the museum and his workplace being one of them. Most people might find this very disadvantageous, but it’s the safest way to assure maximum security in the worst situations. 

And with his life, you never know when that will be.

He only collected the things he thinks he needs, placing them all out on his living room at his own floor. Stiles had another cup of coffee running, taking his mug before walking forward to the glass wall. He sipped his coffee, reading all of the notes he had scribbled on the wall, a black whiteboard marker spinning on his finger. 

Stiles placed the mug down on the coffee table in front of his couch, moving the laptop to the side. Jarvis had connected his laptop speakers to the in-built audio system of the walls, and from it the words surrounded him, "I've been in contact with dreamcatchers, they're not seeing anything either." 

Writing the update on the board under the creature's name, Stiles sighed while looking at the laptop's screen that was directed at the writings on the glass wall. "Another dead-end, huh?" 

"Seems like it. I'm still waiting on the nymph and the merman, how’s your side?" Chase crossed his arms on the table he set his own laptop on from his office.

"The Elven Kingdom finally replied." Stiles moved away to the wall again, wincing a little from the strong ray of light that passed from the glass. Taking a red marker from his back pocket, he traced a line from the dreamcatchers to the Elven Kingdom. "They said regulating the weather is difficult these days; their Celtic Compass isn't fully working." 

Hearing the toaster call out his breakfast, Stiles sped walk to the open kitchen and spread strawberry jam on the burnt toasts. He stuffed one into his mouth, slipping the red marker behind his ear and carrying the plate with his free hand. 

“Is that all you’re eating?” The prophet questioned him when he entered the range of the camera from the video call. 

“It’s this or more cups of coffee.” Sliding the plate on the couch, since the table had no more space, Stiles wrote another link in the mind map. “How about the Fae Council?"

The platinum white-blonde huffed in frustration, holding up the beacon transmission of the faes. “Their world is in a turmoil, I can't contact any of them. But, I've heard rumors that their Mother Tree has stopped producing fairy dust." 

"Shit." Stiles furiously scribbled the information in, chewing down the rest of his bread in his mouth. ”This is worse than we thought." 

“It’s catastrophic.” Chase nodded along to Stiles, popping a cherry tomato from his abandoned omelette. “If we don’t figure out what’s happening, there will be consequences waving through this world too.” 

“At the very least we know that it only seems to be affecting supernatural beings in their own realms, which will explain  the skinwalkers’ incident, but what’s the connection to SHIELD?” Stiles took a blue marker from his pocket, slipping the black one he had between his pinky and ring finger, and circled the highest point of his mind map which he kept for the organization. 

In the screen, Chase ruffled his hair, letting his hair loose from the messy hair-do. "It's like white noise. It's worse than silence, I swear." He went off-screen to grab the Book of Horus from the stand. "Feels like I could almost hear the words behind it, but I can’t.”

Stiles spiraled into his own mind, looking at all the webs and legs of the mind map that crawled over the glass surface, doodling the scenery over New York in bright red blue and black. All of it links back to the center, the crucial piece he needs. Inside the center, circled in a red marker numerously, was one word: “Nemeton.”

The prophet untied his hair from the bun, letting his curls fall to his shoulder. Shaking his head to comb it over, he peaked up in interest at the barely heard whisper. “What about the nemeton?”

"I'm supposed to be receiving an update from—” Stiles bit back his words, considering it very carefully “—a colleague."

A series of loud bangs on his door disrupted their discussion. Stiles snapped his head to the direction, simultaneously checking his watch that read it was 7:32 a.m. Who was visiting him this early?

“I’ll talk to you once I hear from them. Jarvis, end call.” The boy rushed from one corner of the living room to the other, pulling the curtains so they meet halfway in the middle, submerging the notes and the room in darkness. 

He tried his best to clean out the mess he made of his living room but gave up when the series of knocks kept on coming. “Jesus, I’m going.” 

Of the things in the world that made Stiles speechless, there aren’t many that still exists. He gasped when he first went to the museum, he cried when he got his first laptop and the path to his googlefu, he maybe-really-kinda gave himself a concussion when he first tried out his newfound powers. Point is! There’s been a few that made his jaw drop. 

Not like this one. Not when he opened the door.

“HELLO, SPARK!” 

Stiles thought that his voice was louder than the speakers he was just using for a video call, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. 

“Oh yes hello, hi.” Stiles gave himself a whiplash with how fast his turned his head to face the intruder in his flat who was already making himself at home. “Wait, what did you say?”

His intruder turned around to face him, confusion in his eyebrows. “I said a greeting, little spark.” 

The words processed in his brain, trying to remember a time he outed his magic identity specification, but he didn’t. “I didn’t tell any—Wh-what are you doing?” Stiles looked up to see the blonde freely moving around his place, touching things that really shouldn’t be touched. “Just be careful, okay?”

With all the mess on the floor and around his living room, his guest paid no mind to his steps when he stomped over a glass mason jar. “I hope that wasn’t anything important.”

“No.” He could almost see his lie meter breaking off the charts, Stiles’ voice a pitch higher than before. “The dragon wing is not important at all, there’s just gonna be one less dragon in this world—which is apparently none because that’s the last.” Stiles hurried his speech,  internally cursing himself for the crack in his voice.

Unable to pick up the desperate and sarcastic tone in the boy’s voice, his guest trudged on and continued picking stray objects, including an antique husk of a fae’s wings. Stiles bit back a whimper by hurriedly sipping his coffee when it crashed in his hands, nodding to the apology the man gave him. 

Jesus, this guy has no regards for antique history preservation.

The god continued to grabbed another one—for some reason, obviously not learning his lesson—and Stiles choked on his coffee.

“No! Put that down.” Stiles reprimanded the long haired blonde, nearly slipping over his cape when he took the dark metal cube out of his grasp. “What the hell are you doing?!”

Looking confused, the man simply nodded and moved to pick another object—a teardrop shaped blue stone. 

“Woah! Careful there Pantene, this you can not break.” The boy snatched the item from his hands, cradling the box and the teardrop in the crook of his elbow, setting it down very carefully on top of the shelves that lined the wall. “Unless you want a demon hole sprouting right here next to my newly acquired typewriter set after Tony broke my last one.”

The man seemed to be taken aback for a second, crossing his arms. “I am Thor, son of Odin, who is this Pantene you speak of?”

Stiles blinked. “Wow, I uh—nope, that’s not gonna work.” This was definitely not how he expected his first meeting with the god going, if not ever. “I’ve never had my sarcasm fail me due to lack of common knowledge before, that’s a first.”

Thor smiled contently at himself, offering a small nod of the head to the statement. “You’re welcome, I’m glad to be your first.”

“It wasn’t a compliment but thank you.” Deciding it would be better to just go with it, he conceded. He’s a god for god’s sakes. 

The door opened again, revealing a barely awake Clint still in his pajamas—very much naked from the torso upwards. “Your first what?” 

“Clint don’t you start—“ Stiles turned to look at the new guest before hurriedly turning back. “Oh, seriously? Put on some clothes old man.”

Clint chuckled, striding to the younger and sliding and arm around his shoulder, taking his coffee from him. “Don’t deny it when you know you like it.” 

“I’d like it if there was a bruise in your sphincter.” Stiles raised his elbows, prepping to jam it into the man behind him. 

Good naturedly, Clint ruffled the kid’s hair, unwilling to let go of the boy in his grasps. “I’d believe that if you had more muscle mass, you little punk.”

Feeling left out, Thor moved towards the two, taking his cape off in the process which caused Stiles to gawk like a deprived-puppy because, holy hell that should not be as hot as it is.

“Thor, what the hell are you doing?!” He was turning into a broken radio; the effect of Thor, ladies and gentlemen. Witness and marvel.

“The man of birds told me that skinship is of human nature.” The son of Odin continued to take off his armory, seemingly unaware of the colour slipping from the boy’s face. “I welcome you to our humble abode with one, my friend.” 

Stiles was slack jawed. “Is this a strip house? Has my life really become the set of a b-rated porn hub?” He struggled in Clint’s hold, tilting his head towards the ceiling to avoid any eye contact because he thinks his eyes will break, “Oh gods, please put that back on.” 

Thor took the words as nil, because he simply wrapped both his arms to Clint and Stiles’s squished mess of limbs, none realizing that the door clicked open again.

“We’re having a welcome party and no one told me?” Tony barged into the room, helping hold Natasha’s weight beside him. 

Stiles raised his hands in defeat, incredulous by the action. “Does anybody knock?”

Natasha took pity on the boy, knowing first hand how hard it was to deal with these clingy creatures. “Sweetie, Steve just wanted me to call you up for breakfast.” 

“Right. Yes. Breakfast!” Stiles quickly took the invitation and squirmed out of the embrace with ease of the distraction. Making a break to the door, he rushed out as fast as he can, leaving the member of the avengers behind him. 

Which, oh right. The avengers. His room. Bad Idea. 

He went back as fast as he can, slamming the door open to see the gang touching his stuff and rummaging through the boxes, startling all of them. 

“Really, Natasha.” Stiles leveled the woman who seemed to be perfectly capable of walking on her own by the way she was stretched to the ceiling knocking any empty spaces open. “I expect this behavior from these—“ He gestured to the “—barbarians.” Stiles ignored the string of protests coming his way. “But you?”

Natasha found no regret in her actions, shrugging her shoulders. “Hey, you’re the one with mysterious secrets including ways to know our secrets. I’m a spy, it’s my nature.” 

Stiles gave up on negotiating further, waving his hands in a circle to gesture them out. “Well take your nature up and away from my personal space, please and thank you.” 

The Avengers filed out of his room with slumped shoulders, glancing back to look at his living room like it’s the pandora box of their dreams, but Stiles shut that down with his glare. He looked to Thor, who stood beside him smiling innocently. 

Without thought, Stiles draped Thor’s forgotten cape on the floor over the god’s face before pushing him out of the room and closing the door behind him. “Children.” 

 

~~~

 

The defeated bunch was herded to the room by one mentally exhausted Stiles Stilinski (“Ha! That’s one monstrosity right there” “I’ll show you monstrosity if you don’t shut up, Anthony”). 

Steve was manning the stove while Bruce helped plated the simple bacon and eggs for everyone to take. Stiles replied to the greeting he received from the two men, sharing a secret smile with the latter from the conversation they had the other day, to which the older man shook his head fondly at.

Moving to stand behind the kitchen counter, he smiled to the current chef. “I didn’t know you could cook?”

Steve faked offense at the accusatory question, pointing his spatula towards the younger. “You didn’t ask. Besides, I could do some simple everyday foods, nothing too advanced.” He lifted the pan to slide the omelette to Bruce’s plate. “I had to learn how to do it back in the old days.” 

Steve couldn’t see the frown growing between the younger’s brow, of doubt and suspicion. Tony saw it as clear as day and made a note to ask him later, while everyone made haste of their breakfast, breaking in small private conversation on their day itinerary. 

Stiles could see Tony scheming behind his actions, deciding to move on as fast as he could. “You gotta love a man with an apron.” 

The splutter in Steve’s action was caught by everyone but Stiles, the youngest turning his back to grab juice from the fridge. Natasha shared an obvious smirk to Clint and then down his way, to which Stiles just frowned on. 

What is with these spies and their secret eyebrow language? And where can he get a crash course on it? Seriously. Wherever he goes, he’s always got a Der—

Stiles stopped in his pouring, rewinding what he just thought of in his mind. That’s a name he hadn’t thought about in a while. He scoffed, realizing how pathetic he was that he can’t even say his name. It felt years since what happened happened but at the same time it felt like it was just yesterday. 

His brain was struggling to keep the topic out of his mind but his stupid heart just kept on pushing it forward. 

Thankfully, before Stiles could breakdown in a mental panic in front of the Avengers—which wasn’t any better than having it at school—Steve shook him. “Stiles?” 

“Yeah?”

The older man searched his eyes for any sign of what he was looking for. But Stiles kept his gaze steady and strong, he’s learned how to lie to Werewolves—he’s basically the only functional model of a supernatural lying machine (which does not sound as cool as he thought it’d be). “Are you okay? You seem out of it since yesterday, which you still won’t talk about.” 

Stiles felt guilty under the gaze of Steve, but he persevered. “Nothing, for now at least. I’ll tell you once I know more.” He could practically feel the stern observatory glare that Tony directed to him, ignoring it as best as he could. 

“So, Thor, son of Odin, sponsored by Pantene.” Stiles swiftly pivoted towards the god sitting on the island bar, leaning on his elbows to the man shoving eggs down his chin. “What brings you to the mortal world of weakling idiots?” 

Tony was the only one who found the humor more enlightening than the general insult, the rest pinning Stiles with a straight face. 

“This Pantene must be an honorable fellow.” Thor smiled to Stiles, unaware of the sly grin he received back. “But, I am here on official business.” 

Natasha piqued her interest, her senses spiking in the connection of the origin of her  injury and Thor’s visit. “Official business?” 

“The balance of Midgard has shifted.” Thor stated with a sense of urgency, dropping his fork as gently as he could to the plate (meaning resulting in a crack on Tony’s newly replaced tableware). “I do not know of what the cause is, but I have come to formally investigate on this occurrence.” 

Stiles let the information sink into his brain; balance. That’s true. Everything he’s collected on this weird phenomenon had led to the conclusion that the balance of the supernatural world had tipped to a more sinister scale. The reason was still unknown however, and it still wouldn’t explain what was happening with the constant attack against SHIELD.

“What do you know so far?” Clint continued the line of questioning, folding his arms together. 

Thor shrugged, taking his cup of coffee down in a single gulp—his Adam’s apple, Jesus. Focus, Stiles! 

“So far, we’ve narrowed the problem to come from deep within and not from external forces.” 

Stiles paused, the words echoing in his mind. Deep within? 

“Tony.”

“Stiles.” 

The two men looked at each other the same time they called each other’s attention, both having formulated the same hypothesis. Tony cleared his throat to dissipate the weird looks thrown their way, especially the intense one from Steve. “I remembered that I haven’t shown you my playroom yet.” 

Stiles got with the programme. “I don’t need to know about your sex dungeon, Tony, I have ideas of my own, thank you very much.” 

Steve choked on his eggs while Clint burst out laughing, Bruce suspiciously red, the tension gone from everyone’s mind except for Natasha.

“While I would love for you to see that, I would still very much like to use it for my own self-preservation.” Tony quipped back, careful from the burning glare Steve shot him with. “Come on, I’ll show you my lab instead.” 

Stiles playfully considered the offer before accepting it, walking with Tony to the elevator. “As long as I’ll come out the same state I did entering, then why not?” 

Tony crossed his hands behind his head, winking at him. “No promises.” 

“No funny business, Tony!” Steve called out behind him, weirdly constrained in his voice. 

“If I’m not back in an hour, send back up.” Stiles called out before the doors closed, catching Steve’s warning to be careful. 

 

~~~

 

When they arrived at the fourth floor mechanics lab, Tony spent a while pointing to projects that he was working on, pleasantly surprised on the inputs the young genius had to say about it. “Is there anything you can’t do?” 

Stiles inspected one of the repulser that Tony had been fixing. “What do you mean?”

Tony scoffed. “You cook, you’re smart in every aspect, you’re loyal, brave if not ballsy, a  medical student and you’re fucking magical for christ’s sakes.” 

“It seems that way, yes.” Stiles nodded along to Tony’s string of praise, trying hard not to blush. 

“But in reality?” Tony tested him, watching Stiles walk around the room looking for something. 

The boy ducked underneath desks and checked behind cupboards, pulling down panels that extended from the ceiling as holographic glasses. “That we’ll see soon, won’t we.” 

“If you’re looking for bugs, I can assure you that you won’t find one.” Tony piped up, crossing his arms. “This is a secure facility.” 

Stiles leveled him with a blank poker face and a tilt of his eyebrow, fumbling his hands on the glass casing so he could access Tony’s father’s SHIELD temporary badge. 

The older man warned him. “Be careful with that.” 

Contrary to the words, Stiles pried the metallic insignia open despite the outrageous cry Tony let out.

“What did I just sa—“ 

Stiles shut Tony up by holding up a blinking red light attached to the bug that had been inside the badge. The older man frowned in shock while Stiles turned the bug around, examining the design. “Soviet made. I’m guessing it’s been here the whole time.” He threw the bug on the ground, crushing it beneath his boot. 

Tony took a seat on one of his swivel chairs, hands running through his hair. “Well, now what? I’m guessing you did that because you’re thinking of the same thing I am?”

“Yeah, Thor’s words just clicked somehow.” Stiles leaned against one of the worktables, hands tinkering with a rotor. “It came from within.” 

“From deep within SHIELD.” Tony theorized, pulling up on of his hologram monitors, his Stark Pad controller in his hands to track his update. “It’s not just in the system, it is the system.” 

Stiles watched the man do his job and he is not afraid to admit that he’s kind of star-struck by watching the genius work. It’s his weakness, okay? He has a lot of weaknesses for a lot of things, especially towards hot older men (in particular one book nerd, but he’ll never say that out loud). 

“I’ve been running a program on the origin of the hack according to online fingerprints, it’s a new system I’m working on—basically analyzes the patterns and sequences of how each operative normally works with and identifies them.” Tony explained, eyes switching between the screen and Stiles. “I’m tracking the plane and Triskelion hijacking, which I’m supposed to get the results right about now.”

The screen rolled with commands and lines and lines of codes from Tony’s one press of a button, opening different windows and matching systems of digital signatures, finally stopping at one restricted access command.

Of a level 10 operative.

Stiles and Tony stopped their administrations on whatever they were doing. Eyes freezing at the analysis conclusion, unable to fathom the implications.

“Wait, that can’t be.” The younger muttered.

“Just to be clear, we’re thinking Fury right?” Tony broke the silence. “That man’s always rubbed me the wrong way.”

“I’m not going to question the word choice, but I don’t know.” Stiles shook his head, turning to face Tony with fear in his eyes. “There’s just something about Fury that I trust in—despite the constant infuriating one-eyed gaze of enigmatic ‘big brother-ism’.”

“You’re right.” Tony sighed in defeat, turning the holograph off to somehow push the revelation away. “It was worth a try.” 

Stiles took a moment to consider all possibilities, starting with Tony. “Why did you show me this?” 

Tony squinted his eyes at the suspicion rolling off the boy, a little bit annoyed but also rather impressed by the sharp instincts the kid’s got. “I’m truly offended that you would think I’m one of the bad guys. But, you're the only other person I know who’s alright with doubting SHIELD ever since our first meeting. You said it yourself in Fury’s office, remember?” 

Wincing with shame, Stiles grunted. “I know.” 

“And why did you call me out and not Steve?” Tony hid his smirk under a tight lip. 

Stiles ignored the sly tone Tony asked him with, clearing his throat. “You’re the only one not directly involved with SHIELD. Others could be blinded by their sense of loyalty to the organization.” 

Tony nodded. “What about Bruce?”

“I do trust him, but I didn’t peg him as one for the conspiracy trouble theorist.” Stiles waved his hands, sliding back to sit on top of the table, swinging his legs. “Oh, and what is it with you and Bruce?”

The older man had the nerve to openly smirk at him. “What about me and Bruce?” 

Stiles competed with Tony for a minute or two with unblinking staring, but decided to shove the childish behavior for a more appropriate time. “Whatever, we need to figure this out now.” He cursed when he remembered another detail. “Preferably before I have my weekly meeting with Director Fury.” 

“Tough luck, kid.” Tony tried to lighten the mood, leaning on his chair while throwing a rubber ball upwards and playing catch with it. “I’d offer to come but seeing that man is only good in small doses, I for one would very much like to keep my mentality sane.”

“Jerk.” Stiles wallowed in his misery, his brain unable to keep up with the fast development. What must a man do to get a single holiday of peace and freedom? He sincerely needs help. 

The room echoed with the ringing from Stiles’ phone and with the boy being too absent-minded to check the caller, he accepted the call. “Hello?” 

“Stiles?” 

The voice shook him from his trance, his spine straightening like a bolt that jolted Tony from his seat. 

“Stiles, are you there?” His caller repeated with a shaky voice. “It-It’s me, Jackson.” 

Stiles stood from his seat on the table, straightening his shirt even though he couldn’t see him. “Yes. I’m here. Did you find it?” 

Jackson let out a breath of relief, he seriously didn’t think Stiles would answer. But then again, he did ask for it so. “It’s good to hear your voice again.”

The silence that came from Stiles was uncomfortable to everyone, including Tony who could hear the conversation from the stark echo from the speaker of his phone. Stiles waved the pleasantries off, unable to handle it. “Did you find it?” 

“Yeah.” Jackson’s voice trembled with disappointment from the rejection. “It took me a while and well—you need to see this. Will you switch to video?” 

Stiles considered it. He really considered it. His heart ached to see the blonde jock once more—the pack bond, in it’s absent, throbbing wildly from the emptiness. His mind fighting against the pain that will come from seeing him. 

But he couldn’t be so selfish as to refuse answers that could explain the situation because of his absurdly frail feelings. So he accepted the video call request, turning his phone horizontally. 

Even from the small frame of his phone, he could see Jackson’s features clearly. He’s grown; his bones more defined and his hair shorn closed to his head at the side with a styled tuff at the top; he looks good, but he lacked his soul. The shadow beneath his eye lobes, the hollow stare of his orbs before looking at Stiles and the longing behind it when he did. 

“Hi.” Jackson’s voice was so uncharacteristically soft and grateful. It was just too much. 

And then Tony just had to storm in and blow it up in proportions. “Jarvis, connect the call to the screen.” 

Before Stiles could argue against the decision, his phone blanked and the table screened out a holographic projection of the video call; everything becoming so much more clear in it’s high-tech resolution, that it almost knocked Stiles to his feet. 

Jackson gaped at the change of view, standing beside Stiles—who had filled up to his potential, as bright and attractive as ever before, maybe even more—was honest to god, Tony Stark. “Stiles, is that—“ 

“I’ll explain that sometime later, just show me what you promised me.” Stiles cut him short, Tony looking at him with a weird concern laced in his eyebrows. 

Jackson nodded once. “I don’t know what happened. But it was like this when I found it.” 

The werewolf quickly shifted his camera to point at the Nemeton—or what was supposed to be the Nemeton. Stiles instinctively clamped his gasp back in his mouth with his palm, his other hand reaching out to touch the intangible image. 

The Nemeton, which was once a tree then a stump, was now a blackened short stunted tree; the branches sprouting from the short trunk like octopus arms, curling towards the ground, dripping black unidentified goo. 

“When?”

Jackson’s reply was a short voice of one, “I don’t know.” 

Tony mumbled underneath his breath, completely ignored by Stiles. “What is that?”

Stiles repeated his words with more coherence. “When was the last time you checked it?” 

The confusion behind the werewolf was grating at Stiles’ nerves. “Not since the last time we found the chimaera’s Parrish brought to it.” 

Basically, since the Dread Doctors. Since Stiles left, which was now roughly six months ago.

“You fucking idiots.” Stiles snapped before he could think it through. For once, he’s glad he didn’t have any filter because someone desperately needs to tell them that. 

What kind of stupid irresponsible being would not check on the one thing that signaled and warned them of incoming danger? Especially the kind of danger that can affect the entire world.

The pack. That’s who. 

Jesus, he knew that they’d be in a turmoil now that he’s gone and fuck themselves over three ways to kingdom come—but he didn’t expect for it to be this soon with immediate effects that affect him too, and of course, not to mention, the whole fucking world. 

What the hell was Peter doing? Thinking of Peter, he made a separate note to discuss it with him, most likely the only person he still trusts fully in the pack.

Jackson was silent the entire time, having switched the camera back onto himself, shame evident in his pulled face muscles. Because apparently the world is ridiculously unfair that all werewolves have incredible muscles in any place imaginable—every place. 

“Take this to Peter. Tell him I’ll be in contact soon. Don’t tell anyone else but him, do you understand?” Stiles commanded Jackson, unbothered by the guilt ridden in the werewolf’s sullen expression because he deserves that damn it—no amount of puppy face can save him this time. 

Jackson rapidly nodded, resolved not to disappoint the boy. Stiles ended the call without saying goodbye again. 

Tony was a still stone figure beside him, watching Stiles with wary eyes in case the boy spontaneously combusts in the middle of his lab. Because if that happens, he knows he’s going to get hell from the tenants above their floor, from every single one of them. 

“Tony, you’re coming to the meeting tomorrow with Fury.” 

“Okay.” The older man could do nothing but nod from the absolute command that left no space to argue. “Mind if I ask why? We’re not planning of straight-up accusing him are we?”

Stiles blinked at the question. “No! No, it’s not that. Maybe, I don't know. This is something potentially bigger than that.” 

Tony was stern in his words, waving for Stiles to evaluate. “Which is?” 

“Something’s playing with it. Disturbing it.” 

“Disturbing what?” 

“Exactly what Thor said.” Stiles dead on stared at Tony with conviction that Tony knew no child would ever have without going through terrible things—that no child should ever have. “The balance of the world.”

Chapter Text

Stiles sighed perpetually because why in the holy hell was he back here again? There’s just way too many things that he’s supposed to be ‘not-okay’ with, but he’s been through the ‘greater good’ protocol so many times that he won’t even try to argue against it. 

Still though, him in his past life must have been one hell of a serial killer because whatever the hell he did to be on the receiving end of Fury’s intense gaze this often in barely the span of two weeks—he didn’t want to know but it must be pretty damn bad. 

“So.” Stiles cleared his throat to diminish the awkward situation they were once again caught up in. He pointedly glared at the audience in the room. “It seems that this meeting turned into a conference, seeing that we have five too many participants than promised.”

It was Tony’s fault, really. And the man knew it from the sheepish look he gave him. They’d meant to do this discreetly; inform the head of SHIELD of the discovery and then not-so-subtly beat him down to submission of truth about the rats possibly hiding amongst the agency.

But then, the meathead decided to sleepover and have breakfast in Stiles’ floor instead of the common floor and thus brought in Clint, who smelled the eggs benedict from his own room—then brought Thor, who smelled the food from his floor two floors above him—and then came Natasha, who Clint called down to join them—and then Bruce and Steve went in when they were suspicious of the empty common floor. And that just led to the two being unable to escape the premises together without questions, so they all tagged along. 

Wait, that means it’s his fault for cooki—let’s just stop there. Ignorance is bliss, especially when guilt is involved. 

“I was under the impression this was a personal meeting, in which I remember to have specifically mentioning.” Nick Fury looked exactly like he did—mentally exhausted and one scream away from an entire breakdown. 

“Yeah, so was I.” Being the mature one (when did that happen), Stiles went past the complication. “Moving on to our discussion, I followed up on that theory I told you about.” 

Fury gave him the approving eyebrow—at least Stiles thinks he did, he still hadn’t tracked down a 101 introduction on eyebrow language—and he linked his StarkPad to the hologram projector in the table. 

“In the supernatural world, there are some certain rules that exist to put order to the unseemly chaotic mess that it runs with. One of those rules is that all supernatural power can be controlled in its balance and pulled from by what’s called ‘Ley lines’.” Stiles brought up the image of the world in the holographic display, the globe spinning around slowly before lines started crossing each other and spreading from each continent to another like the largest spiderweb. 

“These Ley lines run all over the world and all lines are connected—but there are some special instances where these lines intersect in multiples. There are three places where this happened; Kyoto, Japan, London, England, and…” Stiles reached out to spin the globe to where he wanted to direct it, zooming in to the places he mentioned. “Beacon Hills, California.” 

“Beacon Hills?” Clint repeated under his breath, trying to remember why that sounded familiar. “Isn’t that your hometown?”

Stiles nearly cringed at the word use. “It’s my birthplace, yes.” 

“What’s special with these cities?” Fury jumped back into the boat, eager to find out what’s causing the constant stream of events. 

“It’s not the city, it’s what’s in it.” Stiles nodded to Tony for him to bring up case file reports of each of the city. They’ve spent the entire night working on locating the other two Nemeton, which was a lot harder than it sounds. “When these Ley lines are connected they share their power streams—it’s like the stem of the central nervous system in our brain—and they become a sort of pillar for a supernatural beacon in the form of a huge tree.” 

Natasha surveyed the reports, finding similarities in the cases. “They all have the same crime patterns; animal attacks, disappearance, strange deaths.”

“That’s why you’re involved in all those police files.” Bruce nodded along, finally getting the bigger picture. “That means Director Fury was right, you have been involved in the supernatural world since long ago.” 

“That’s not even the half of it, but that’s a story for another time.” Before any of them could hitch on the not-so-amusing rollercoaster ride of Stiles’ home movie of horror and trauma, he quickly refocused their attention. “Like I said, supernatural beacons, all supernatural creatures are attracted to it. They’re called Nemetons.” 

“Nemetons.” Thor suddenly spoke in his loud booming voice. “I’ve heard of them—they’re branches of the Yggdrasil.” 

Stiles frowned at the new information. A branch of the Yggdrasil, as in Yggdrasil the all powerful magical fucking tree that connects all nine realms, which was not so insanely real after all. “That actually makes a lot more sense now.” 

“I’m guessing whatever happened so far is due to this Nemeton.” Steve piped up from his seat, his curiosity getting the better of him. 

“Yeah.” Stiles signaled Tony to pull up their next document. “I reached out to a colleague in Beacon Hills to check on the Nemeton.” He took a deep breath. “And this is what we found.”

With a swipe of his hands, Tony broadcasted the still image of the abnormality of the Nemeton—they’ve tried to figure out what could be affecting the Nemeton to react this way but they’ve pulled on loose strings so far and gotten nothing of use.

"Any chance that's just a questionable new seasonal look it's trying out?" Clint tried to no avail.

Judging by the look of shock from everyone’s face and the horror from Thor’s, they’d be expecting an explanation. “Sorry guys, me and the kid wrecked our brains last night trying to figure this out but nothing. Nada.” 

“You think the recent beef with the walking dead was because of this?” 

“That’s just—No. I mean yes. Skinwalkers, yes.” Stiles looked at Clint with the most ridiculous expression he could make, scoffing. “Zombies don’t exist.” 

The norse god lifted his hand, “Actually—“

“Not now, Thor.” Stiles shut him up. If zombies actually do exist, he’s going to flip his shit—doesn’t matter what anyone says, even if he sees it right in front of his fucking eyes, zombies aren’t fucking real.

Tony squinted his eyes at the kid’s childish behavior. “Anyways, from what we’ve gathered so far, this is turning the supernatural world inside out.” He waved his hand to dismiss the hologram, leaning back against his chair. “According to Stiles’ informants, they’re not ‘functioning’ properly; out of order and in panic, which I personally thought was their normal order of business.” 

“That’s why the skinwalkers attacked us.” Steve followed the thought, linking all the pieces together. “They’re scared?” 

Fury kept his expression controlled and stoic—something Stiles would swear to break one day just because. The director had a lot in his plate and now he might have to deal with more. “So, you’re saying there could be more.”

Stiles caught Tony’s sour look and mirrored it himself, biting his lips before facing the man. “It’s very probable yes. And there are immediate repercussions that could wildly affect our world.”

“As in?” 

Stiles looked to Thor. “Well, the supernatural world and our world is interconnected more than anyone thinks it is. Just like Asgard protects the peace of nine realms, the supernatural realm protects the order of our world.” 

“Basically, what he’s saying is that the supernatural world regulates our nature; such as tidal waves, growth of greenery, seasons, natural disasters. Each and every one of them has their role.” Tony summarized Stiles’ vague description, tilting his head because he still  couldn’t understand the science between such things. If this were true, his life had been a goddamn lie. 

Bruce, who had been quiet for the most part, piqued his interest. “You mean that werewolves and vampires have purpose in their life?” 

“Werewolves helps the moon cycle by calling to it every full moon and protects the woods of their territory.” Stiles almost winced at the statement, feeling a bitter pain of irony.  “Vampires, I haven’t got a clue. And I don’t want to because they’re all fairly dicks in my opinion.” 

It was nice that the good doctor found it all so interesting by the way his eyes lit up with the new knowledge, but seriously, Stiles just needed rest right now. He’s not up to anymore discussions or brain debates—a whole night with Tony is more than his mind , body and soul could take. 

Nick Fury nodded, concluding the briefing of information, moving on to the next big problem. “How should we proceed with this information, Agent Stilinski?”

“You know, that hasn’t come up yet.” Stiles’ voice sound strained and higher to himself, awkwardly pointing his hands to state a point he doesn’t have. “I just thought you’d figure that out for me.” 

Stiles could tell he was getting better at reading eyebrow because of the unimpressed notion he understood from Fury’s brow raising. “Hey, I’m just here as an Agent giving you information. You’re the Director.” He waved his hands in a grandiose manner. “Go direct things.”

Tony snorted out loud, earning a stink eye from Steve. 

“If you haven’t noticed, Agent Stilinski. Our agency has been attacked consecutively in the last month alone, I have bigger matters to attend to.” 

“What matter is bigger than ‘the whole world is at fucking stake of supernatural invasions’?” Stiles could not believe this guy, seriously. “And excuse you, big guy, I was there for both times of the attack and the one saving yours truly, you’re fucking welcome.”

Fury smirked smugly. “Therefore you have proven yourself more than capable of handling situations including ‘the whole world is at fucking stake of supernatural invasions’ ordeal.” 

“What!? You can’t use my own actions against me, that’s just dirty!” Stiles dropped his mouth on the table, voice flying different tones and pitches, fingers pointing straight at the blinking poker faced man. “Don’t turn my coincidence into some self-serving justification for your lazy ass. You’re dirty.” 

Unaffected by the tirade, Fury bargained. “The Avengers will be at your disposal.” 

“That—“ Stiles instinctively argued but stopped to think about it “—wait, what do you mean by that?” 

“Exactly as it sounds—since Coulson is now no longer in charge of them, you’ll be our new intermediary between SHIELD and the Avengers.” Fury ignored the look of pleasant surprise from the rest of the team. “They’ll help you with any occurrence that happens in the crisis.” 

“That sound likes I’m getting more work and responsibility—which is the complete opposite of what I want.” Stiles vainly pointed out. 

But it was of no use, because now the Avengers were chatting animatedly amongst themselves about the new development and throwing out congrajulatories. Apparently whatever Nick Fury says, goes. 

And just for that, Stiles kept the ‘compromised SHIELD’ gold information a secret from the Director. It was probably not a good idea, but for the time being, Nick Fury could suck it. Maybe next time, he’d actually learn to express gratitude in a non-douchebaggery manner. 

It was for a good cause. Ish. 

 

~~~

 

Going back to the tower was Stiles’ walk of shame—he branded everything in his head to make it easier on his collective unconscious to filter things. The team were talking excitedly over how much fun it would be to have Stiles working under them, which was really an insult because they’re working under him—at least officially, but in reality, yeah they were right. 

That still meant Stiles had basic human right that is exactly why he flipped his shit when they brought up the idea of training. 

“No. Nu-uh.” Stiles shook his head violently. “You are not going to make me do all that gung-ho up close fighting, no.” Clint raised his brows to his hairline but Stiles kept on going. “I am the sidekick of all sidekicks and you know what sidekicks do? They stay on the side and kick ass from the sidelines.”

This is one thing Stiles could never stress enough—there was a reason he avoided all the pack training sessions even when Lydia was participating, well, other than the factor that they tried to push him out of it, which—Oh, it all makes sense now. 

So the pack was already disavowing him from the team since long before the Nogitsune happened. Yee-ouch. That hurts more than he thought it did. 

“But what if you need it?” Tony went behind the bar, pulling out a shaker from the counter. “Or you run out of bullets and the enemy's in close range.”

“I wont! I'm like the sniper dude who stays away from all the heat of the action a few blocks away from a high rooftop.” He flopped on the couch, unapologetic in his actions of body slamming into Steve who was reading his book. “Hell, I'm already doing more than that guy by staying closer to the fight on the ground, so gimme a break.

If there was a single explanation for Tony, it would be that he’s stubborn. Either that or a jerk, discounting his genius. “Clint’s the sniper in the family, except with a bow. And he knows how to fight as good as Natasha—“

“Yeah, no.” The woman raised her glass from the island bar stools, to which Stiles saluted to because that woman is badass.

“—So, whats your excuse?” 

Stiles almost scoffed at how ridiculous that sentence was. “Clint doesn’t count, he practically lives in the gym if he's not crawling in the vents or lurking in high spaces. Plus, he's an Avenger!”

Bruce pointed his finger at him. “So are yo-“

Before he could finish the sentence, Stiles rose from the couch with his hands up in the air. “I am not an Avenger, I am a normal college soon-to-be-dropout-if-i-don’t-stop-skipping agent with enhanced powers that occasionally helps the world fight off supernatural threats.” 

The team took his words into consideration, looking at each other with a knowing glance when Tony broke the bubble. “That is one hell of a denial, Freud would be horrified. We should add him to our group therapy sessions.”

Steve placed his book down, giving up on pretending to read. “We don't have group therapy sessions.”

Tony waved a grand hand at Steve, as if his comment supported his statement. “Exactly!”

Clint ignored the confused look Steve gave at that, focusing on the boy still slumped over the arm of the couch. “Look, Stiles, we just want you to be safe.”

“I am safe!” Stiles stressed out. “In the safety of the sidelines! With my magic!” 

“Well, we've seen what magic exhaustion can do to you.” Bruce added his own penny to the dime, crossing his arms at the boy. “You can't use it all the time.”

Stiles does admit that, yes. He had to tell them because suddenly collapsing on the way to the directors office after fixing Natasha up was enough to shock them all—it never happened for that long but it does happen. 

“I won't be using it all the time, because I won't try to actively seek out danger like you guys.” The argument was weak, Stiles knew that but he’s running out of bones to feed the hungry dogs here. “On the contrary, I try to stay as far away from it as possible.”

“But you're always in dangerous situations.” Natasha chuckled at his weak attempt.

Sighing, Stiles cursed, his hands an uncontrolled series of waves and angry jabs at empty air. “I know. I said I 'try', but it never really works." 

“Come on.” Steve nudged his legs from where he was perched on, flashing him his one thousand kilowatt smile which is illegal, he swears. “Please? You’ll be training with me, it'll be fun.”

Tony noticed the falter in his expression, either by the word choice or the meaning behind the words but he noticed it. Still, however, Stiles stood his ground. If he were to bend his knees and sway by a pretty face, he would’ve been dead long ago. Something about werewolves and their unfairly perfect genes. 

“You are not taking me to combat practice or any workouts, no.” As if making a point, Stiles readjusted his seat upright on the couch. “I am perfectly fine here with my-hey what-whoa!”

His perspective shifted a good 180 degrees as he was lifted off the couch. Steve hurled him over his broad shoulders like a sack of potatoes, which Stiles should not have found hot as fuck. He has a weakness against power, okay, sue him. Focus, Stilinski!

“What are you—“ He started to splutter when Steve started moving, forcing his head to slump over to a wall of muscle, oh wait no that’s “—Oh my god, your ass is in my face!”

Tony smirked over his margarita. “Stop complaining, we know you like it.” Natasha gave him a toast.  

“I—what, no—you—“ Knowing a lost cause when he sees one, Stiles flipped his fingers at the pair. “Whatever, let me down, Steve!”

Clint occupied the seat Stiles previously took, waving at them. “Have fun!”

“Clint! Please, Tony, no!” 

The two men winked at him. 

“Steve!!!”

 

~~~

 

The next morning, Stiles woke up with sore muscles in places he didn’t even knew had muscles. He spread himself eagle on the cover of his bed, sliding over to the side to take his phone off the charger and saw the messages bombarding him from a certain historian.    

Half-assing his shower because he really couldn’t be bothered to reach places on his body more than a forearm lift away, Stiles got dressed in casual clothing which he’s not ashamed to admit are baggy sweats. 

He’s lived all his life with men whose bodies are like Romanian sculpted marble statues, he does not need a stark comparison of his own body to them in skin tight clothing. He still has some pride, regardless of how little that might be. 

“Jarvis.” He called out in the elevator. “Take me to the lobby please.” 

“As you wish, Stiles.” The AI complied to his command, the gravity shifting at his feet. “May I ask the purpose of your leave?”

Stiles checked his watch, it was barely 8 in the morning. “I’m meeting up with Chase, he said it’s urgent.”  

“Should I wake Sir up?” 

“No, it’s fine, Jarvis.” They reached the lobby, the doors opening to reveal a bustling floor. “Thank you.” 

Stiles greeted Happy Hogan on the way out, seeing agents coming in for work. The man was a complete ironic existence to his name and appearance. Checking his phone once more, he dashed to run to the coffee shop. 

Spotting the eye-catching man bun in the midst of the crowd, Stiles sat right in front of the man. “You ordered for me?” 

“Yeah, figured not to waste our time.” Chase pushed the iced americano towards him. “I’m surprised you could come, what about your lectures?” 

Moaning at his first coffee of the day, Stiles spoke with his mouth full. “My professor’s out for a conference in London so I’m free today.” 

The smile he got from the question was worrying. “What’s wrong?” 

Chase sipped a scalding mouthful of his black coffee before answering the question. “I heard back from the sea creatures.” He took out his phone. “Turns out they’re worse off than we thought; their numbers are rapidly decreasing due to a poisonous substance spreading through the water at a breakneck speed.” 

Stiles stopped drinking. “Wait, what? How?” 

“They don’t know.” Chase typed in his phone. “The Eternal Fountain stopped flowing which means that there aren’t any protective borders against hostiles anymore. And with their decreasing numbers, the sea is vastly getting harder to control.” 

“All of them?” 

The man looked up from his phone to stare him down. “Merpeople, nymphs, water druids, everyone.” 

Stiles looked up from their table to the television playing, the volume drowned out from the bustle of the coffeeshop. The news reported sea water levels rising and icebergs melting, rapidly. 

Chase nodded to the unvoiced question that Stiles was about to ask. “Yeah, it gets worse.” 

Frowning, Stiles took the phone that the man handed him, eyes unsure. Chase started explaining before Stiles even took a look at the phone. “One of my contacts snapped this shot the last time they checked on the Eternal Fountain.” 

The pictured showed the back of a uniform with an insignia—one he recognized intimately.

Snapping his head up, Stiles widened his eyes tenfolds. “You think a SHIELD personnel is behind it?” 

“You wanted a connection, there it is.” 

“No, no that can’t be right.” Stiles dropped the phone on the table, frowning even more. “I mean, yes, there are a few rogue agents in SHIELD but they’re only hostile towards the agency—Chase, think about it, what possible motives would they have to destroy the balance of the world?” 

“Look, Stiles, I want to help, I do. But I honestly don’t know.” Chase rubbed his temples as if the thought physically hurts him. “And frankly, I don’t care about motive—this needs to stop.” 

Detecting the hostile tone in his words, Stiles backed in his chair, hands still precariously holding the phone. “What does that mean exactly?” 

“It means that I won’t be responsible for what happens when this gets out.” 

“Chase.” Stiles tried to smile in hopes of easing the man’s growing tension. “We can’t jump to conclusion, we still don’t know a lot of things.” 

“Stiles, every kind of supernatural creature we know of are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They are going to be looking for retribution.” Chase inched closer to Stiles over the table, his hands grasped tightly in a fist on the table. “Especially now that the Nemeton is in such a state.” 

Unafraid to back down, Stiles inched closer on his own. “We don’t know if SHIELD is responsible for that, and let’s not condemn the entire agency for the actions of a few agents; that’s one hell of a generalization.” 

“You said it yourself, SHIELD is compromised—you can’t trust any one of them, Stiles.” 

I’m one of them.”

With that, both of them settled in their emotions. Things like these shouldn’t be hashed out with unstable feelings and instead rational thoughts, but it’s easier said than done. Stiles sighed.

“Okay, please. Chase, I’m begging you, don't tell anyone yet.” He tapped the table softly so that the man would look at him, but somehow the tired gaze in his eyes was worse than the anxious smile he had in the beginning of their meeting. “Give me a day—I’ll figure it out.” 

Stiles knew it was a huge debate in Chase’s mind. A prophet like him was used to knowing outcomes or at least parts of it—he can’t imagine what the man must feel like when he can’t see anything. Nevertheless, Chase nodded to his favor. 

“But if you don’t, one way or another, there will be a full-scale war of the supernatural against SHIELD.” Stiles watched the man stood up from his seat, his hands reaching out to firmly grip his shoulder before he left, in a manner Stiles wasn’t sure what to make as. “Make sure you’re on the right side of it.”

 

~~~

 

Slipping through the entrance, missing the unusual amount of personnel in the tower, Stiles took the elevator up to the roof. He took a quick look around to check that the rooftop was clear and whipped his phone out, dialing the only number he had saved from his old phone. 

Waiting for the call to connect, he sat on one of the benches strewn around the place. This was a mess—his head hurts, he’s exhausted and his muscles fucking aching isn’t really helping either. 

“Hello?”

Stiles almost sighed in utter happiness when he hears the voice. “That’s a voice for sore ears.” 

The well-aged deep voice could be heard chocking through his spit before finally uttering a “Stiles?!” 

“Missed you too, Uncle Creeper.” 

“Jesus, where are you?” Stiles laughed at the worried tone Peter adopted once he confirmed. “Are you okay? Why didn’t you call me?!” 

“I’m calling you now aren’t I?” Running a hand through his unkempt hair, Stiles leaned on his hands behind him. “Believe me, I almost didn’t.”

Peter sounds as demanding as always. “Why?”

“After what happened with Malia, you left. And I figured that I couldn’t drag you back in this mess, you sounded happy the last time you checked in and you deserved it.” 

“Being happy?” The older man scoffed from his end. “I’m back in Beacon Hills, so I was dragged back in regardless.” 

Stiles smiled at the unchanging satire in the man’s language. “How is it?” 

“Well, happiness was fun while it lasted.” An understanding laugh later, Peter rubbed his lips with his palms before broaching the subject. “Stiles, I’m so sorry about the pack—they shouldn’t have—“

Hell, no. “Peter. You know why I called.” Stiles internally praised the guy for his knack of picking up undertones. “I’m going to skip over your blatant idiocy of handling things in home sweet home because that place is a hell hole all on it’s own.” 

Peter winced, remembering the content of the last two-day revelation. “Jackson’s told me. I’ve seen it for myself, and I’m sorry.” 

“Apologizing is not a good colour on you, Peter. Stop it.” Stiles wasted no time on getting onto his motives, because he really has none to spare. “Do you know what caused it?”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t.”

He figured it wasn’t going to be that easy but it still sucks to be given nothing. “I need to know if you’ve seen anyone suspicious recently in Beacon Hills.” 

The older werewolf rolled his eyes so hard, Stiles could almost hear it. “Someone suspicious in Beacon Hills—that narrows it down to about everyone.” 

Stiles rolled the words in his tongue, being very careful with his word choice. “Someone official—perhaps affiliated with a certain clandestine agency.” 

“Stiles. What have you gotten yourself into?” 

Ignoring the question because he himself didn't know exactly the answer to that question, Stiles pushed on further. “Well, is there?” 

“I don’t think so, no—why?” 

Weird. “Has anything been happening back in Beacon?” 

“No. Not anything out of the ordinary.”

Even weirder. “Nothing?”

“I’d take that with a bit more positivity, knowing our history with unpleasant situations.” 

The scene of the crime, or the city in this case, was completely unaffected by the disastrous state of the Nemeton. Stiles swore that Beacon Hills would be ground zero for all things catastrophic when he found out about the Nemeton—which was why he found it completely ridiculous that no one’s noticed, but now he knew why.

The more he finds out about it, the less it makes sense. Stiles grumbled, figuring his next move. “Peter, just be careful okay? 

Peter Hale gave him silence before he honestly replied. “Stiles, you’re starting to scare me.” 

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.” Stiles dropped his head on his shoulders, closing his eyes to breathe. “Stay alert and find out what’s happening with the Nemeton.” 

“Stiles, you’re cuttin—“ Peter’s voice became disgruntled, static overpowering the line. Stiles took his phone away from his ear, calling out Peter’s name again only to hear static. “I can’t—Stil—“

The line cut. Stiles pulled his phone away to see that it was off, which was weird because he’d sworn to charge it fully in the morning—in a life like his, the goddamn phone was his life. Standing from his sitting position, he made for the elevator to find that it was shut down and wasn’t responding. 

“Jarvis?” 

The British-accented calm voice he expected to hear did not sound, instead he was met with silence. And that, is never a good sign.

Stiles ran to the side of the building, inching himself over the edge to see the building in it’s full prospect—but the angle just didn’t work. He leaned back inside the safety of the railing before he remembered that to his side was a million other skyscraper—one with reflective glass panels acting as mirrors. 

He ran to the west of the rooftop, bending over the railings to catch the sight reflected in the skyscraper. 

The Avengers building that once had windows as shiny and clear as other high-rise building in New York had, was now a black tower. That can only mean the place was on lockdown. 

Before he could panic, he took a step back and calmed himself. “It’s probably just nothing—it’s not like nothing’s working, electricity-wise or connection-wise, except that that’s exactly what’s happening.” 

Taking a few deep breaths, he reassured himself it’s probably just a malfunction. Right? The world can’t be that much of a dick towards him, can it? 

Except it can. And he just saw what he needed to see to confirm it. 

In the reflective panels of the buildings, the pitch black inside the tower. Except it wasn’t just inside. It was an aura around it. Shadows. Moving shadows. 

He knows those shadows. 'He' led them before. And he knows that with the building’s shutter lockdown in place, the whole damn place is plunged in darkness. Their perfect battleground.

With no escape. 

Now would be a very good time to panic.

“Fuck.” 

 

Chapter Text

This didn’t make sense, did it? Stiles kept thinking inside his brain, wrecking it for information and a way inside the tower—which he really needs to be in right now. No one has any idea what they’re up against. 

Technically speaking, there are only two creatures known to existence that takes form out of shadows and they’re both of Japanese origins; the Enenra and the Oni. Still, none of them are exactly friendly beings, he’d specifically testify for the latter. And he still has no idea what they actually do, save for what Kira’s cryptic mother told them in an even more cryptic matter, but even then he hadn’t been listening as he wasn’t exactly conscious now was he. 

He needs to warn them. They probably don’t even have the notion that they’re under supernatural attack and not military. 

 

~~~

 

When the shutters dropped down the sky windows, Thor cracked his mug and Natasha brandished the closest knife she could find. Tony exited the bathroom with his hair still dripping wet. “What the hell is going on?” 

Natasha moved forward cautiously, all their eyesights adjusting with the drastic dimming of the lights. She placed a hand on Thor’s, stopping him from calling Mjölnir. Dropping her useless phone on the table, she made a move to Tony. “Communication’s down.” 

“Electricity too.” Tony grumbled when the elevators won’t work. “Jarvis!” 

“What is it, Stark?” The Asgardian placed a hand on the man’s tense shoulder, hoping to asses the situation.

Tony Stark made a mental list of what he needed to check on to see for damage. “We got hit by an EMP.” 

“Electromagnetic pulse.” Reading Thor’s confused expression, Natasha brought it to herself to explain the technology while arming herself with a glock she pulled from her boots. “It disables all electronics and they probably put a scrambler to mess with our communications. The whole city or just us?” She directed the last at the man who was currently prying open one of the panels on the wall.

Tony served her a sarcastic look as he waved to their now opaque windows. “That’s gonna be hard to determine since I can’t see anything.” 

“Is the lockdown normally activated in cases like these?” 

Tony mulled over the question, trying to remember if it did. “No.” His eyes met Natasha’s. “This was an elaborate attempt of trapping us in here.” 

Thor let his hand drop from Tony’s shoulder, expression no longer confused but solemn. “Who?” 

Natasha’s eyes shifted from Tony’s features to behind him, her instincts recognizing something off. With the darkness that surrounded them, she narrowed her eyes to focus on the seemingly empty space. Before it moved. “Not who, what.” She clocked her gun in a split second before firing at Tony. “Duck!” 

Luckily for him, Tony’s used to getting things pelted at him at a dangerously high critical speed (mostly by Pepper but also by his enemies), so he dodged the bullet in time. “Nat!” He shouted when he saw the gun was still aimed at him before he had the idea to turn around.

“Uh, did we travel back in time and not—“ Tony couldn’t even finish his sentence when he had a samurai katana swinging at him, nearly missing his head. “Woah!” 

While Tony jumped out of the way, Natasha fired another shot at the dark masked samurai. Only now they all saw that the bullet simply passed through their body; the body mass parting way for the bullet to fly by and hit the reinforced double paneled glass behind it. 

“Okay, that’s definitely new.” Tony’s eyes tracked the movement of the creature, that seemed to be smoking dark clouds. He made a move to run to Natasha’s side but stopped when the dark mist grew in front of him, and from the shadows, another one emerged. Then another one. 

Natasha slipped her hands behind her jeans to pull out another loaded gun, pointing it at the opposition of Tony while Thor reached his hands out. Tony clicked his tongue, putting on the detecting bracelets with minimal movements, wary of the opposition. The tell-tale magnetic ringing of Mjölnir could be heard deafeningly in the the silence, followed by the loud clash of things breaking in it’s path. 

Tony activated the bracelets and stood still, waiting for it to come to him. “Where’s Banner?” 

Natasha winced at the sound of the ceiling two floors above them breaking. “With Steve.” 

The shadows moved forwards in one synchronized step, the three Avengers instinctively taking a step back. Tony fanned his arms out, the bracelet lighting up in red blinking shine. “Any smart ideas on how to fight smoke?” 

They watched all three of the shadows poising in a strike position with their katanas raised.  Thor tilted his body down in preparation to strike back. “Just.” He felt mjölnir’s power coming closer, his hands stretching to have it in his hold. “Keep.” Natasha trailed her fingers on the trigger. “On.” Mjölnir broke through the wall and flew into Thor’s grasp, he smirked. “Fighting.” 

Thor shifted on his legs, dropping down to his knees to slide down from the swing of the sword and tried to knock the creature’s footing loose but his hammer passed right through the limb. 

Tony ducked an attack directed at him, his body pushed backward from the suit attaching to his body part-by-part. He twisted his body to blast a repulser at the shadow, only for it to go through and hit the TV instead. 

The shadow dropped the sword at Natasha, backflipping dangerously close to the shine of the bad before gripping the handle of the sword and placing the gun right at it’s head and shooting. 

All three of the Avengers stopped their actions when the bullet simply ricocheted against the eerie ceramic mask they were wearing. Natasha made a face at the faceless shadow. “Really? Nothing?” 

Tony thrusted forward in the air to pick Natasha up and away from the deadly retaliation from the shadow. Hovering in the air, dropping Natasha back on her feet to land a kick on another shadow. 

“This might be a problem.” He quipped, pulsing blasts aimed uselessly at the shadows who kept evading them. 

Thor frowned, raising his arms up, his hammer sparking with electricity. “Enough!” The walls licked with the lightning generated from the thundering tell-tale sounds of dark clouds outside the tower, Tony biting his weep for the amount of repair from the damage about to be made, catching Natasha mid-air from her jump. 

Then he swung down—lightings striking from the ground to every inch of the place—filtering the place with blue-white light. But instead of taking damage from the expensive lightning, the shadows disappeared into the dark. 

Tony landed back on his feet with Natasha by his side and a confused Thor in front of him. The quiet silence an ironically loud presence in the destruction of their common floors. 

“What the hell just happened?” 

 

~~~

 

Steve was too late when he threw one of Banner’s metal bars to the closing doors, hoping to block it. Banner was too shocked from the sudden darkness and the sound of the metal shutters raining down the window of his lab on the 3rd floor.

“Are we under attack?” Banner calmly processed, grabbing his phone to find it pitch black and unresponsive. “Nothing’s working.” 

Banging at the door, Steve tried to use his strength to wrench it open. Bruce waved a hand for him to stop. “Those are magnetically locked, you have better chances breaking the window.” 

Steve ran a hand through his hair. One thought in his mind. “Where’s Stiles?” 

Bruce stopped in trying to make the electronics work to spare Steve a questioning look, suspiciously laced with a smirk. “Stiles?” 

“Yes.” Steve paced to the elevator, jamming his button into it. 

“He just got back so probably in his room?” Bruce leaned on one of his lab counters, toying with a gadget. “Why?” 

Steve pinned Bruce with a knowing look, but Bruce kept on with a knowing smirk of his own. Most of the building had figured the soft spot the Captain had for the boy, even though he kept his identity a secret from him.

“Steve, if you don’t mind me asking.” Bruce tried his hardest to focus his gaze on their leader even in the dark. “Why won’t you tell him?” 

The captain stood still in his pacing, dreading the time when his team mates were gonna pop the question. “This really isn’t a good time for that, Bruce. We could be in danger.” 

“We’ll deal with the threat if it comes, but now’s a good a time as any.” Banner tread carefully to the man in question, trying to intimidate the answer out of him when they felt something in the atmosphere change. 

Out of all the Avengers, besides the apparent God, Steve and Bruce had the most heightened sense as they were admittedly a lab experiment. Thus when their eyes met, they immediately turned to the direction of the disruption in the air.

“What was that about a good time?” Steve harshly whispered at the doctor, his panic doubling in the amount for the boy who could be alone in the middle of whatever the hell this is. 

Bruce chose to ignore the sarcasm for a more technical approach to the uncanny being they were facing. “Where’s your shield?” 

Steve nearly rolled his eyes, a habit he picked up from being around his team too long. “We were researching on supernatural creatures and their abilities, why would I bring my shield?” 

The two entities in front of them moved to unsheathe their swords—to which Bruce and Steve shared a look on—and took a step towards them. “Is this a code green?”

Steve grabbed Bruce’s upper arm and moved backwards. “We’re inside the tower.” 

“You didn’t answer my question.” 

Before answering his question, Steve grabbed the closest thing he could—a microscope—and threw it towards the samurai demonic beings. To both their surprise, the object permeated through them and landed on the ground with a harsh crack. 

Steve shrugged, face contorted with panic. “Maybe.”

 

~~~

 

“Ow, fuck.” Stiles yelped in pain when stubbed his toe in the dark enclosed space he was in. His curse echoed through the narrow abyss. 

Without a better plan on getting inside, he pried the elevator door open—which he spent the last hour alone doing, with the help of a lot of boulders that dented the doors enough for it to leave a gap for which Stiles could squeeze his body mass into. 

He nearly fell to his death entering the empty elevator shaft but quickly found his footing on the side ladder of the shaft. Stiles should really think about his plans thoroughly before he decides to execute it. 

But at this point, he really doesn’t care. The world won’t let him die anyways, it enjoys tormenting him more than eternal sleep—and it needs him to be alive in order to do that. That’s the only upside of everything. 

Through the echoes within the shaft, he could hear the attack unfolding in their 10th floor common room and the shouts down further on the SHIELD working floors below the top fifteen floors that belonged specifically to the Avengers. He reached the 10th floor faster than he expected, but scaling down 5 floors in a dark ass tiny never-ending shaft is fucking hard. 

“I hope this fucking works.” Stiles conjured his flames, his hands lighting up underneath the skin like magma was flowing in his body. He placed his palm out on the metal and let it his hands flame. 

The metal started to melt underneath his palms, Stiles moving his hand to draw a circle on the elevator doors. He removed his hand and retracted his magic before jumping and catching the bar above the doors. Stiles swung back, nearly crying at carrying his full bodyweight with his arms alone—he knew he should’ve done more pull-ups—, and slammed his foot into the circle with the momentum, sliding his body through the new hole. 

No matter what they did, the damn things just kept coming back. None of them knew why it disappeared the first time but it reappeared just as soon as it did. Tony jumped at the sudden flying circle metal that was previously his elevator doors. He doesn’t even know why he bothered repairing the tower countless times to have it destroyed in various ways again and again. 

“Little spark, watch out!” Thor called out a warning but Stiles ignored him.

He got up from his drop, staring the Onis down right in their sinister mask. A shuddery breath escaped his lips, but he couldn’t afford to break down now. But the tickle down his spine came back and he was back in that dark hole.

Tony saw Stiles froze. Acting quickly, he threw a blast at the creature quickly approaching the boy before dropping down in front of him. He faced the boy, metal hands on his shoulder to shake him out of it. 

Stiles came back to the sight of Tony in his IronMan gear. Closing his eyes at the rush of memories coming back, he barred up a wall in his mind and pulled at his fire once more. 

“Light!” Stiles shouted while throwing his hands in front of him, lighting the ceiling above him on fire—the stark brightness from the flames causing the Oni’s matter to falter. “They can’t fight in the light!” 

Thor caught up on his idea and swinging his hammer to gather the lightning once more before directing it upwards like Stiles—taking advantage of the metal paneled ceilings to act as conductors to keep the electric currents running enough to power the lights. 

As soon as the lights lit up and flooded the room with actual light, Stiles stopped and blew out the flames with a spell for a rush of air. Natasha dropped into one of the surviving stools while Tony flipped back his mask. 

“Where have you been?” Tony crossed his arms. 

“Seriously, that’s the first thing you say to me after all that?” Stiles let his arms fly wide, scowling at the elder, but answered his question regardless. “On the rooftop, I was dealing with something.” 

Thor clapped his back suddenly, causing him to nosedive into the floor. “Splendid job, little spark!” 

Natasha laughed at the boy’s weak stance, reaching down from her stall to help him up and pat him down. “How’d you know the light was the trick?”

Stiles tried very hard to not let that damage his pride, coughing from the fall. “Silver.” He got back his bearings and tried to shake the fear out of his system, simultaneously ignoring Natasha’s question. “We need silver.” 

Tony held back his remarks about what happened in the fight. “Silver?”

“It’s the only way to kill them—pure silver in any form.” Stiles walked back to the ruined elevator doors, looking back. “I have a few silver bullets in my room.” 

Natasha frowned at the statement and the backhand she got at her previous question, Stiles almost felt sorry but he just couldn’t take a trip down memory lane—ever. “Why do you have silver bullets?” 

“Precautions like these.” Stiles snipped the truth short, but all three of them noticed the tone of the answer. Hoping to rid the suspicion, Stiles strong balled it. “Well, anyone coming?” 

Natasha stood from her seat, moving towards Thor. “Take Tony with you, I’ll take this one here to company me up to 14th floor.” 

Tony nodded, pushing Stiles to move. “They’re going to try and turn the backup generator on for the lights.” He turned back to Natasha. “Oh, and if that doesn’t work, try shutting down the lockdown protocol—get the windows open.”

With that, Tony picked Stiles up in a bridal carry. Which, by the fucking way, hurts his manly pride because it’s a fucking bridal carry. Before Stiles could complain however, Tony pushed his thrusters and flew through the whole and descended down the shaft, slowly

“You’re totally doing this so you can embarrass me aren’t you?” Stiles accused the man, fully knowing that he could just fly down faster. 

Tony smirked down at him. “Maybe.” He decreased his thruster power, making them descend even slower than before, proving Stiles’ point. “But also, don’t you think it’s weird?” 

Stiles frowned. “Yes, I’m a fully grown adult male getting carried by another fully grown adult male for the purpose of ego bloating on your part and emasculation on my part.” Tony leveled him with a serious expression, causing him to adopt a similar one. “It is. The supernatural invasion, I get. But the lockdown protocol, the EMP and the scrambler—it’s an inside attack directed at SHIELD, specifically the Avengers.” 

“We need to tell Fury. SHIELD is compromised, and it runs deep judging from what just happened.” Tony stopped at the 6th floor mark, shifting Stiles to a one-arm carry—which impossibly made it more embarrassing and he knew it from the smirk that grew on his lips. He aimed his laser at the door and did the same exact thing Stiles did. 

Stiles let Tony work, but his mind kept racing at something. The scenario was as they discussed it was. But there was something with the whole timing that didn’t make sense. He just couldn’t figure out what it was. 

When Tony got the doors open, he manhandled Stiles through the opening like some fucking artifact on display—it was dehumanizing, really. He growled at Tony, but the man just smiled at him. 

Down the shaft, they heard an actual growl, familiarly loud and reverberating down their bones. Tony and Stiles shared a look of panic. “Is that—?” 

“God, I hope not.” Tony cursed under his breath in vain—knowing full well the extent of the damage his tower will be in, once more. “I’ll deal with it.” 

Tony disappeared down the shaft while Stiles conjured a ball of fire in his palms to light the short hallway to Clint’s and his door. He spared a glance at Clint’s door before heading to his own opposite of it. 

Breaking the door open with a blast of concentrated air force, he rushed to his room. Grabbing one of the boxes aside, he opened it to find the wooden box. 

His hand trailed the triskelion sketched into the wood, forcing the miserable hiccup down his throat. Opening the box to find all of his 30 rounds of silver bullets perfectly in place, his eyes stopped at the cloth at the edge. 

Stiles picked it out of the box and unveiled it in his palms. He took a moment to sink down to his knees. Hands trembling as he grasped the object in his palms—hard enough to draw blood. 

A silver arrowhead. 

It was impossible, but Stiles swore he heard the sweet laughter of the huntress he’d grown to love and grieved to lose. It was your fault. The melodious sound rang in his ears, the only clear sound from the deafening noise of his blood rushing. 

Before he completely succumbed to a panic attack, a loud ping echoed through the room. Stiles blinked from his reverie, harshly wiping the unshed tears from his eyes. He looked around and went to his table, the single source of light in the darkness. 

It was the satellite phone Coulson gave him—in case of emergency only. 

Now he knew. The incessant bone-chilling feeling he got at the beginning of all this wasn’t due to the Oni or the deep trail of traitors inside SHIELD. Although maybe a part of it was. 

But, definitely not what he thought it would be. 

The text was short, brief. As if it was sent in a hurry—just enough time to evade something or for it to come through. Coulson was always straight to the point, but he would at least call instead of text. 

“Found buried in SHIELD servers. Be careful.” 

There was a file attached, a link to a server. Stiles pressed it on instinct, not knowing what to expect. 

Back then, if he hadn’t clicked that file, he could’ve avoided everything that will happen. He could’ve lived under the pretense that maybe everything was mutually exclusive and stayed ignorant towards the blatant discrepancy of dangers few people live to know exist but still suffer through. 

But still, if he had known what pressing the file would’ve done to him, he’d still have opened it regardless. It was wired into him. After everything, he’d be damned to let this happen or at the very least try to stop it.

Maybe it was him seeking penance for all he’s done. But it didn’t matter. 

He pressed it. 

His satellite phone screen went black. At first Stiles thought that it was a virus, but then the screen turned back on with data lines and finally stopped at boxes with alternating letters that finally made up the sentence;

OUT OF THE SHADOWS, INTO THE LIGHT

Stiles laced his brows in confusion, this was in the SHIELD servers. Before he could question anything, his breath left him in a rush after getting his answer when the screen changed to a five letter box that slowly revealed the source;

 HYDRA

 

Chapter Text

New York City has been subjected to many horrors in the span of a short time—the center of an alien invasion, a supernatural invasion and the occasional run of the mill crime. When that happens, they were handed a solution: SHIELD. And then came the Avengers, along with every other nightmare that came true for any working adult. The Avengers tower was considered somewhat of a beacon of hope. That exact beacon of hope was now a shadow in the midst of civilization. A dark black mass of fog swirling the tower, clinging on the walls that was blocked off by metallic shutters. 

New York City was in a panic, yes, but Washington D.C. was a catastrophe.

 

~~~

 

Stiles stood frozen in his tracks, holding the wall for support as he exited his room. Hydra. Stiles cursed. Hydra is in SHIELD. He didn’t know how deep the breach was. He didn’t know what’s happening, especially now that Hydra might be the one behind this attack—that means there are Hydra personnel inside the Avengers tower. Maybe had been there all along. 

Fuck. He wasn’t going to panic, no. 

A plan. He needed a plan. A plan and a team. Stiles calmed his breathing, bracing himself on the busted doors of the elevator. Logically, to fight multiple enemies in a situation this complicated, one would need a solid team. 

But the question remain, now that Hydra finally released the trojan horse, there’s no knowing how to tell SHIELD from Hydra apart. Stiles held his breath in an attempt to slow his rapidly inclining heart rate, lifting himself over the hole and back inside the deep shaft. 

Who the hell can he trust?

 

~~~

 

Tony stood from his position, bent over Bruce who was struggling with his breath. Steve kneeled to pick up a fallen chunk of wall blocking the busted elevator doors, sighing as he did so. Stark silently took in Steve’s condition—he was holding off the Hulk without his vibranium shield, the man was lucky to only attain bruises from the debacle. 

“Thanks for this.” Steve shrugged the shield slung over one shoulder, tending to his arm with a fast-acting medicinal spray that Banner specifically concocted for super-soldier injuries. 

“Not a problem, Cap.” 

Steve tossed a salve to Tony who got a scratch on his face trying to put the Hulk to sleep, pacing his way to the elevator. “Where’s Stiles?” 

“He’s fine.” Tony stopped the blonde by pressing back against his chest. “He’s getting weaponry suited to fight the creepy Japanese shadows.”

“What were those things?” Steve forced himself to restrain his panic for the lone boy in the tower infested by those things. “We can’t seem to land a decent attack.” 

“We’re hoping Stiles could fix that. He said something about silver bullets.” Tony off-handedly replied to Steve’s question, still tending to Bruce who was down for the count. “For now, we’ll just have to light this place—“ 

The broken elevator doors burst open even more, sending one of the door flying between Steve and Tony, barely avoiding Bruce. Stiles jumped through, his phone in one hand and a box tucked under his arm. Disheveled and panic-struck, he went straight for Tony. 

“Tony, have you seen this?” He shoved the phone at the man’s face, still catching the older men off guard. “This is so much worse than we—“ 

Before he could finish the sentence, or anyone could reply, Stiles noticed his surroundings. The place was ripped apart, dents on every wall and overhead lights busted though force of strength. Bruce was curled in the corner with withdrawals, Tony’s ironman suit had seen better days and Steve—Steve was standing there, bruised and battered, with a look of relief fondness in his eyes directed at Stiles. 

But all Stiles saw was the red, white and blue star-spangled shield on his arm. 

“Steve?” 

The man frowned at the curious yet slightly affronted tone Stiles spoke with before he realized his eyes were staring at his arm. Steve snapped his eyes back up at Stiles’ face who was looking straight at him. “Stiles, I—“ 

Tony and Bruce were watching from the sidelines with a small grin ready to break out into full laughter, expecting the revelation to incite a hilarious shock and episode that will last them decades of embarrassment. 

What they weren’t expecting, was for Stiles to suddenly take a step back, shaking his head vehemently. When Steve approached him to try and assess the problem, Stiles ran back to the elevator and fled with a burst of wind. 

Confused and hurt, Steve looked at Tony for help. But Tony just about had the same amount of answers he did, maybe even less. 

 

~~~

 

Fuck. Stiles levitated himself up and into the common floor, depleted from his energy of using his weakest element frequently. He stumbled into the side of the kitchen island, a hand on the cold marbles surface for support. Jesus Fucking Christ. 

Steve Bookworm was Steve Rogers. 

As in Captain holymotherfucker America, Steve Rogers. 

Stiles breathlessly laughed in heightened panic, not knowing how else to react. There can’t be any other explanation than that. Other than that he was ridiculously fucking obliviously stupid for goodness' sakes. (Blond charming well-mannered Steve Bookworm living in the Avengers Tower managing the Avengers was Steve Rogers, the hunk of America. Who fucking knew?)

Steve lied to him. 

But why?

There was no reason he’d lie to him, right? If it was change of behavior that he was worried about, he’d seen Stiles react to the entire Avengers ensemble the same way he did to himself, so what else could there be—

Unless.

Stiles shook his head. No, that can’t be. He fished his phone out, trying Coulson’s direct number a few times only to receive nothing. Tapping a quick code sequence to access the SHIELD headquarters frequency on radio waves to intercept any news or command, he listened in. 

The crackled voice echoed loudly in the darkness of the floor. He kept the phone pressed tightly to his ear. 

“Captain America is now a wanted fugitive from SHIELD. I repeat, any and all personnel are to apprehend him as fast as possible. Captain America is compromised. I repea—“ 

Locking his phone to stop the connection, Stiles let his phone drop to the floor. Fuckity fucking fuck. His breath caught in his throat, lungs burning with it. 

“Stiles?” 

Fuck. The uncoordinated spark fell to the floor with the sudden voice, recognizing it. 

“Stiles?” The man repeated.

Stiles scrambled on the floor to get up but couldn’t from the sudden move the man made to help him—or attack him—so he shouted. “Don’t touch me!” 

Steve retracted his hand back in shock. “Stiles, what’s wrong?” Tony flew in behind him, back-carrying Bruce who went in before him. 

“Stay back!” His voice sounded painful even to his own ears. 

Tony gently dragged Steve by his elbows backwards, slowly approaching Stiles in the process. “Stiles.” He made his voice a pitch lower and softer, a comforting tone. “Calm down, it’s me—Tony.” 

Stiles snapped his eyes up into Tony’s, his speedy backward crawling slowed down just a tiny bit to shakily whisper his name. “Tony.” 

Stark nodded, getting closer with his arms up in an unharmed pose. “Yes, that’s right. We’re all scared here, it’s okay.” 

Rushing his words, Stiles coughed at his tongue shoving itself in his throat. He opted for movements instead, rapidly shaking his head and widening his eyes as a warning to Tony to stay away from Steve. 

But what if he had gotten the message and was still defending Steve?

That could mean that Tony’s in on it. 

Is he?

Crap. He can’t figure this out. What he wouldn’t do to replace this problem with a fucking rogue werewolf. Fuck, he never thought he’d say it, but he missed his old life’s simple problems. 

“Little Spark?” Thor crashed through the elevator, meeting the scene with a wary expression, having heard the commotion with his sensitive ears. Tony looked shock to see him there, to which he promptly explained. “Natasha’s getting the power back on, but it’s going to take a minute or two.” 

If Tony is in on it, then what about Bruce. What about Thor? He couldn't fight a god even with all the firepower in the world. Natasha or Clint? They were SHIELD agents, that means they’ve probably gotten the directive. Clint. Right, where was he? 

“Stiles?” Bruce tried.

In fact, everybody tried. His name was mentioned in so many different tone and volume to reach him, it sounded like a live auction. Stiles couldn’t handle it. 

“Stop!” Stiles held his hands in front of him, a wave of harsh wind forcing them all backwards at least 5 steps. “Go away. All of you!” 

Steve pushed through Tony to meet him directly. “What’s wrong, Stiles?” 

He nearly scoffed. The man should consider a job in acting from the way his brows scrunch of worry for him. 

“Stiles, please talk to me. What did we do?” Steve tried again, desperate for why the boy they’d grown to adore was behaving this way. 

“What did you do?” Stiles incredulously questioned them, in a hushed rushed tone. “You pompous bastard, are you still going to play ignorant?”

Everyone took a moment to reel in their shock, especially Natasha who slid into the room from the elevator at that moment, this was the first time the boy had ever said an insult and mean it. This was without the sassy sarcastic bright implication—it was spiteful and loud. 

When no one answered, Stiles took the moment to trudge on further, unable to keep his rage. He was sick of it, of being betrayed. 

“You fucking lied to me.” 

After a small momentary silence, Steve spoke out. “I’m sorry.” He hung his head. “I’m sorry for not telling you, I didn’t mean for you to find out this way.” 

Stiles clapped in a sardonic manner, unable to comprehend how confident the man would be in trying to redirect his attention by a show of weakness. “Will someone give this man an Oscar?” 

“Stiles, please.” Steve sounded so desperate, Stiles almost believed him. 

But he knew better. Fuck, he was just too fucking soft. You’d think being shunned out once was enough to make him wary enough to avoid another situation of being blindsided but guess again. In the life of Stiles Stilinski, up is down and down is nowhere to be found—because logic was fucking nonexistent. “You kept that a secret from me, what else?”

“Stiles, what are you saying?” Tony came forward to try and help him, but it only adds assurance to the scenario Stiles had already formed in his head. 

This doesn’t make any sense. Why was Tony helping him?! He should’ve seen the message inside the SHIELD servers. And Natasha, she should’ve been aware of the new command against Steve. The reasonable explanation would be that—

"No." Stiles’s voice broke in a hoarse crack, walking backwards one slow pained step at a time. "You're in on it too."

Without leaving any time for them to defend themselves, Stiles continued. 

“Was this the plan all along? Dragging me into this for my knowledge of the supernatural, was that it?” At this point, he doesn’t even care if he sounds desperate. He just wanted a slither of honesty, was that really too much to ask? “Fuck. Chase was right.” 

“Stiles—“

“When did it start, huh, Steve?” Facing his betrayal towards him, Stiles winced. “Fury's office? Triskelion? The bookstore?” 

Steve stood there, taking all of the rage Stiles threw at him. And he took it with a soft understanding yet confused expression—and that just wasn’t fair. 

“Was I that easy to lure that all you’d need to do is flash a smile and gush about Dr. Seuss with your unbelievably ridiculously over-flowing charm?”

Even Bruce, the least judgmental from them all, was looking at Stiles like he was a mad man—and he was certainly starting to feel like it. 

“Please.” Sighing, Stiles just gave up. “Please just tell me this isn’t true.” 

Still, all he got was silence. Deafening painfully loud and damning silence. 

“Tell me!”

Steve jostled by the sudden scream. “I—“

“Stiles! This is crazy! Steve would never do that!“ Tony tried to reason with him, moving closer to Stiles. 

But Stiles kept his attention at Steve, who was looking even more confused by the second. “Stiles. I’m lost. You need to tell me what’s going on.” 

“You’re HYDRA!” Stiles shouted, breaking the damn of controlling his emotional outburst because he's not exactly subtle if anyone hadn't noticed. “For fuck’s sake, it’s him, Tony! The 10th level operative we’re trying to track.” 

“Wait, Tony?” Natasha immediately shifted her attention to the man who was as shocked as everyone else at the accusation. 

“It’s a long story.” Tony waved Natasha off dismissively, turning back to Stiles. “What do you mean Hydra?” 

Natasha kept persisting, taking a more hostile attempt as she placed her hand on the gun at her belt. “Make it short.”

Tony scowled at the demanding agent, narrowing one eye at her. “Aren’t you supposed to be getting the power back on?”

“It’ll take five minutes to reboot.” The woman inched closer to the man that was suddenly avoiding the question. “Tony.”

To be fair, Stiles felt a tid-bit guilty for outing their mission, but he couldn’t care less if it was all for nil. 

Tony let out a grieving sigh, rubbing his eyes and gesturing at Natasha. “We found the base cause of the constant attacks against SHIELD, linked it to a level 10 operative inside of SHIELD. Long story short, your agency of secrecy has more secrets than you bargained for.” He swiveled back to Stiles. “Now, what the hell is this about Hydra?” 

“And you didn’t think to tell us?” Natasha was indignant in her voice, tilting her head accusingly towards the two perpetrators. 

“Well, we were investigating any compromised agents within SHIELD. You didn’t really fit the profile for our team.” Tony snarked at her, pissed at the interruption he keeps getting under. “For the love of god, can we please get back to Hydra!” 

Natasha frowned at him, then at Stiles. “There’s nothing to go back to. They’re gone.”

Words won’t help him, Stiles knew that. So he simply sent the server link Coulson sent him to Tony, who projected his screen phone into a hologram so everyone could see the hidden message routing and cycling inside the SHIELD buried servers. 

“No.” Steve let his mouth gape apart inch by inch, discombobulated by the irrefutable proof yet still refusing it. “This isn’t possible.” 

“Coulson sent me that.” Stiles knew that would solidify the accusation, but they didn’t seem guilty. Granted, they were all different degrees of shocked. But it wasn’t of being outed or exposed—it was genuine shock. “Those traitors we discovered in SHIELD, they’re Hydra.” 

“Sleeper agents.” Tony concluded. “But why would you think Steve was Hydra?” 

Stiles switched the connection back online on his phone, letting the narrative run for itself from the automated command on a cycle. “How was I not supposed to?” 

The expression between the Avenger’s features darkened minutely, synchronized in their alert and speed in which they all looked at one another. 

Bruce surged forward, grabbing the phone from his hands to listen to the announcement at length. “Stiles. Where did you get this?”

“The intercom over at Triskelion.” Stiles was beyond perplexed, not knowing what to believe even though he really really wanted to believe them. “What does it—“ 

Tony lifted his head from the bow it had, going over the command. “That’s not SHIELD. That’s Hydra.” 

Natasha caught up with his train of thought quickly, nodding to her points. “That’s why they targeted us and put us on lockdown. Why they released this message now. Why they set off the EMP.” She shared a knowing look to Tony, who urged her to finish. “They didn’t want us to interfere.” 

Stiles raised his hands in an aborted attempt of annoyance at being left out. “Interfere with what?” 

“They’re planning a hostile takeover on the Triskelion in DC.” 

At Tony’s clarification, Stiles hung his mouth open, unable to form words or comprehension over the surprisingly logical explanation. So, that's the logical part he forgot to take account for. He knew he was missing a piece of the puzzle but—

“Not planning.” A new voice entered their constant revelation, dropping in from one of the vents. “It’s already happening.” 

Tony chocked. "What?"

“Clint.” Natasha spared a smile at him, glad to see that he’s uninjured. “You missed out on a lot.” 

Dropping a gravely damaged StarkPad, Clint reached over to Stiles and briefly hugged him. “Got caught up fighting off some thugs who realized I recalibrate this to analog signal to spy in on the Triskelion. Turns out they were Hydra agents inside SHIELD; there’s an all-out war in Triskelion between them and SHIELD; our agents have no clue that Hydra’s back and are very much confused and torn between following Alexander Kirk’s command or staying loyal to the Captain.”

Stiles struggled to lift his head under Clint’s hold, but Clint got the message and let Stiles go to an arm’s distance. The archer heard the heat of the battle from the echoes through the ventilation shafts. “It’s Alexander Kirk. We’re not hydra, kid.” 

The boy was pulled from Clint’s arms to face Steve—in very close proximity with very strong arms on both his shoulders. Stiles could see the unfiltered look of complete honesty and transparency in Steve’s eyes that he nearly keeled over. 

“Stiles. I went in the ice because of them.” Steve searched his eyes for confirmation of his understanding. He stated firmly. “I am not Hydra.” 

Natasha smirked, a playful snide shared between her and Clint. “Besides, he’s not even a level 10 operative, Stiles.” 

Steve took the remark with a chuckle, and boy, does that affect Stiles. “If I were, I’d gladly let you accuse me and place me back under.” 

Staring and falling into Steve’s clear blue eyes so painfully filled with honor, Stiles nodded absentmindedly. Even in the darkness, it shone through Stiles’ heart like an arrow. 

Arrow. Right. 

“Wait, Hydra being behind the lockdown and EMP, I can understand.” Stiles mulled it over out-loud, unwilling to let go of Steve’s hold over his arm but turned to face the rest anyway. “But the Oni, that can’t be a coincidence—what does that have to do with Hydra?” 

“Oni?” Bruce stood up in his stupor, stretching his back into place from the recent transformation, rightfully attentive to the disturbing notion the question was getting at. “What the hell is an Oni?” 

Stiles froze, detecting the drop in the atmosphere before they could even appear. He’s way too familiar with it. He raised a finger, pointing behind the Avengers. “That.” 

Each of them pulled their weapons out before they turned, facing the ominous Japanese shadows with nothing short of determination—even knowing that they couldn’t possibly kill them. Stiles looked around to spot the bullets on the ground next to the kitchen island, having left there after his panic. Stupiiiiiid. 

His life was stupid. 

The attack began on their side, Tony blasting off repulser shots to light up the room, but his suit was damaged so badly that he couldn’t get one bright enough. Natasha assisted in front of Bruce along with Clint—they couldn’t afford a green disaster the second time around. Thor relentlessly tried to hammer the fuck out of them but constantly failed to do so. 

Sties. Well, Stiles was just stuck at his feet. Steve stopped his shield that ricochetted back to him to move into Stiles’ vision line—his eyes two worried blue orbs. Stiles noticed his own erratic breathing and then noticed his hand being pulled up onto Steve’s then straight on his chest. 

“Wha-“

“Listen to my heartbeat.” Steve calmly spoke in the middle of the chaos. “Breathe.” 

Stiles could feel the strong thrumming of the super soldier’s steady heartbeat. Right. He could do this. His breath slowed down, his heart steadying at it’s rhythm. He clenched Steve’s shirt once before letting go, dropping his arms to his side and walked forth. 

He ignored the warnings from the rest of the Avengers when he walked right to the group of Oni. They stopped at his approach, creepily turning their whole body to him in a synced choreograph. Steve was ready to jump in but then the Oni stood still. 

And they bowed. 

Briefly stopping in his track, Stiles took a deep breath before moving past them, ignoring the looks at his back by the Avengers. He bent down to collect the box, opening it and slugging 6 bullets into his gun. 

He settled the wooden box onto the marble island, turning back to face the Oni. He aimed and shot.

One by one. Without resistance from the Onis, each bullet cracked their mask and they burst in black dust that settled on the ground before magically sweeping away. 

Under his breath he whispered after his last shot rang through, dramatically and unexpectedly loud in the darkness. “That’s for Allison.” 

Stiles knew that their deaths weren’t exactly, well, death. They were just going to be reborn into another one—and the cycle goes on. He’ll never escape them. 

But it was poetic in a sense. And even though it wasn’t justice, not nearly anywhere close—but it was somewhere there. 

Steve was there to catch Stiles when his knees finally buckled, murmuring a soft thank you before he blacked out. The super soldier bent down to hook his arms underneath Stiles’ knees and carried his weight up. 

For all the audience in that room, Steve figured it wouldn’t hurt to softly smile at the feeling of Stiles in his arms. A warm comfort to hold and protect. 

Then the light turned on. 

And Steve looked up to find all five of his smug shit grinning team mates shooting him the sly eyed lip quirk. He rolled his eyes. 

“Fuck off.”

At the very least, Tony did looked absolutely horrified at the profanity. 

“Language!”

Chapter Text

The faint hum of well-constructed engines were the first thing he heard. Fluorescent lights beneath his eyelids, a warm red shine on his brown golden orbs were the next thing he felt. Cold hard surface on his back and a warmth encasing his hands. Stiles blinked a few times to adjust to the environment, opening his eyes. 

“Wha—“ Was all he was able to utter before the overwhelming numbing dull throb ran though his bones and muscle. “Fuuuuuuck.” 

From the side, he could hear Tony and Clint snickering at his pain while Bruce was being more sympathetic and slapping their arms to shut them up. Stiles couldn’t even roll his eyes without feeling like they were going to pop out of his sockets; but he did it anyway because he's as mature as the rest of them—who stuck their tongue out at him. 

When Stiles took the liberty to try and sit up, he was softly restrained by a hunk of an arm stretched over a very familiar blue and red sleeve. “Stop it. You're still suffering from magic exhaustion.” 

He shifted his head and his vision blurred out before focusing on hard sculpted features that may or may not have made a guest appearance (or star role) in most of his dreams—undisclosed for public comfort purposes. Stiles looked down to see that Steve was holding his hand. 

For a moment there, Stiles nearly jerked out of his body because Captain fucking America was holding his hand—then he remembered, Steve was Captain America. 

And it didn’t fucking help.

“You—you’re—“

Tony sighed. “Here we go.”

“I thought he already knew?” Clint frowned, obviously missing out on a detail somewhere there. 

Natasha blew on her nails, two of them chipped from holding the generator in place when the Oni stroke back at the wiring that almost collapsed the entire system. “Oh he does—he just hasn’t processed it yet.” 

Stiles sneered at them before going back to Steve, fingers unconsciously coming up to trail the bridge of Steve’s nose. “I just thought that with everything, God would be merciful and gave nation’s first hero a less than flattering face—but no. You just had to be goddamn perfect do you?” 

The silence rang like a sly demon, Tony breaking it by snickering loudly while Clint laughed in a sudden shock. Natasha plucked Steve’s ear, which was growing red and redder by passing second and that's when Stiles realized what he just said. 

“Fuck. Did I say that out loud?” Stiles groaned when his face palm felt more like a jackhammer at his nose. “Sorry. Sorry. That was the magic exhaustion talking.”

“Right. Magic Exhaustion.” Tony patted Steve on his back, bracing both his hands on the table Stiles was laid on. “I didn’t know hormones had a new name.” 

To his credit, Stiles opted to ignore the man for his and Steve’s respect. He looked around, finally noticing where he was—which was a big question mark. “Where are we?” 

“The Avenger’s Quinjet.” 

Stiles faced Clint who generously answered his question, and he was momentarily struck for the second time that day. He was in the Avenger’s quinjet for fucks sake. This was the top of his list of things he would never get away with stealing but really wanted to be in—right next to Nick Fury’s bedroom. And no. No, not in that way, you fucking perverts. It was a curiosity that will get him killed; but he would gladly trade something else for a peek at Fury’s perversion. Because that, my friend, is something no one in the world can know without either death or a really fucking amazing kink of whatever that guy’s into. 

“Thor?” The god was missing, if his eyes were properly working.

Natasha smiled at him, filling bullet rounds on her gun. “He’s gone back to Asgard, said he needed information on our attacker and something about answers.” 

Stiles bolted up in his seat, and this time, Steve gave up on restraining him and instead helped him transition positions. “Where are we going?” 

“The Triskelion.” Clint left out the ‘if it’s still there’ bit, but they all knew what he meant, even Stiles. 

“Isn’t it too late?” Stiles blurted out before he had considered anyone’s feelings. “I’m sorry. But, Clint, you said that it was underway when we were stuck at the tower.” 

Tony stood from where he was leaning on Stiles’ makeshift bed, making his way to his suit mounted on the wall. “We’re not going as a rescue.”

Stiles swung his leg, promptly landing on the ground and nearly stumbling over if it weren’t for Steve holding him back. He sighed, despising the sentiment. “We’re going as aid relief.” 

Natasha got up from her seat as well, patting his shoulder on her way to collect her armory. “Suit up, we’re almost there.” 

Saving one last look of despair to Steve, Stiles nodded and watched the Avengers all zipping up into their combat gear while he himself gave a silent prayer. 

Please. Be merciful, world, for just one fucking time. 

 

~~~

 

Religion was a thing of wonder—but it all depends on constant changing variables for every single person. Stiles was conflicted. He didn’t really believe in one religion in particular—but he does believe in a form of higher power. Because if there wasn’t a higher power somewhere out there that he could eventually ask to explain all that has happened to him; he would’ve given up a long time ago. 

Still, he didn’t know why he was prompted to say a prayer. Maybe it was a calling of some sort—the higher power’s way of telling him everything will be salvageable. 

It’s times like these that prayers do get answered. 

Stiles and the Avengers arrived at the scene of destruction—shocked at the state that the Triskelion had been left with. They were expecting a disastrous outcome, but that doesn’t mean accepting the reality of it was easy, even more so when they were filtering through the rubble once they head inside. 

They were just about ready to give up hope when they found a familiar man standing in the midst of all the horror. 

Tony broke out into relieved burst of laughter. “Should’ve known you wouldn’t die.” 

Phil Coulson stood shellshocked by the surprise appearance of the team, then he zeroed in a boy he had not think he would’ve seen again. Grinning widely, the agent side-stepped against the rubble to greet the boy with a hand on his shoulder. “You got my warning.” 

Returning the smile vibrantly, Stiles nodded. “There were some complications, but yes. I did. Thank you for that.” He waited a moment for the scoffing from the Avengers in regards to his wording to pass, looking around in expectation of the rest of Coulson’s team, but they were absent. Stiles met Coulson’s eyes. “Where are—“ 

Stiles was new to this whole agency professional game of poker faces, so he couldn’t really read the expression Coulson sleeved himself into. It was his typical ever-present smile and a hard look in his eyes. 

“Coulson?”

He could only see the man barely open his mouth and vaguely pointing behind him when he felt his knees buckle from the sudden force behind his back. As he fell to the ground all Stiles could think was ‘attack, fucking attack damnit’. And he was about to set his back on fire to catch the enemy as well, but then he heard the familiar shriek piercing his ears. 

“Stiles!” 

Blinking, he whiplashed his head backwards. “Daisy!” 

The woman let go of her hold on him, letting Stiles properly embrace her and returning it back with a crushing grip, “You’re okay! I thought you didn’t make it when I saw the footage of the Avengers Tower circling the media.” 

It seems like the world never wants him to respond or get any answer, because every single time one of the two were about to happen, chances are he either gets: a) violently mauled into another rough situation or b) just plain ridiculously disturbed (usually in equally violent manner). Either ways, he always gets hurt one way or another so it’s good to know that the world’s still all and the same. 

So, yes, Stiles gets tackled to the ground shortly after getting up from Daisy’s attack—this time by two brainiacs that talked over each other in their ears, streaming out blessings of his wellbeing. Unable to respond, Stiles just hugged them back while wheezing for his life because two human beings weigh a lot more than you’d think they do. 

When they finally let go of him, Stiles rubbed his chest vigorously. “I mean, everybody loves the love—but maybe a little less tough love will be good, thanks.” 

Coulson and the rest of the Avengers watched from the sidelines with a look of grateful fondness—in the midst of all the destruction, they could use a little happiness to get them through the day. 

 

~~~

 

The Triskelion, although mostly intact, was still crumbling bits of debris from the wreckage of one helicarrier lodged right in the middle of one of the three pillar-like structures. Some SHIELD agents had been evacuated by the organized routine of Coulson’s team. Stiles helped Fitz and Simmons create a perimeter around the Triskelion with the help of local police while Coulson and Daisy were briefing the Avengers of what exactly went down with Alexandre Kirk. Thor was out of the picture, and Bruce was helping tend to the injured.

“So, what exactly happened inside the tower?” Fitz slid next to him, helping him direct the crowd away from the scene despite their avid curiosity shown through holding their phones right at their faces. 

News stations were parked right outside the perimeter, hoping to get coverage on the disastrous outcome of a SHIELD facility and catch the Avengers on tape. Apparently the only way they could’ve made the crowd worse was with their own appearance—so that was a strategy that was not thought out very well. 

Stiles evaded the question Fitz threw at him with busying himself on manning the crowd who were pushing against each other to yell their admiration or hate at the heroes. Fitz and Simmons got the memo without Stiles having to explain himself. 

Because the truth is, he didn't know exactly what happened either. But he had a theory—a disturbing theory, yes, but a theory nonetheless. It’s also disturbing that none of the Avengers had bombarded him with the question yet—accounting the fact that they’re all nosy do-gooder meddlers—but he’s learned to not look a horse gift in the mouth. 

It didn’t matter that he’s grown up or matured or whatever the fuck has happened over the years—one thing will never change, and that’s his motto. Ignore a problem until it eventually goes away. Welcome to the life of the irresponsible master procrastinator, Stiles Stilinski. 

“Stiles!” 

The boy turned around at his name being called out.

“Chase?” 

The platinum-haired man rushed through the barricade with the permission of the guards who backed down after seeing Stiles’ reaction. Well, it’s not much of a reaction rather than a body instinct of running through the unstable pile of concrete to climb the man as if he was that last fucking boat piece of the titanic. 

Steve turned around simultaneously the moment he heard the boy’s name being called out. The man wasn’t an idiot—he’s old-fashioned, not some dumb retard with no social cues. He and the rest of the avengers knew there was something wrong with Stiles. With everything happening so far, they knew he’s hiding a lot more than he would prefer to tell them. And what just happened in the tower, with all the knowledge he seemed to have about the shadows that attacked them—the Avengers were bound to try and get the answers out of him, and honestly he is too. 

So, seeing Stiles interact with Coulson’s team was a small relief—seeing him smile even after what happened was a relief, if not a concern for his seemingly stable state of mentality despite everything the young adult has been through. Steve knew that. And yet, he just can’t seem to hide the frown that pulled on his eyebrows when he saw Stiles jumping into the arms of an attractive white-bun-haired muscled man clad in a ridiculous striped red button down and a grey sweater. 

Rationalizing everything was Steve’s way of dealing with his emotion. It’s a 1940’s thing—it’s completely understandable. 

“That’s definitely the most warm welcome I’ve ever received from you. And not that I hate it—in fact I absolutely want you to do more of it—but what’s wrong?” Chase let him down, keeping his arms braced on Stiles’ shoulder, gaging his expression. 

Stiles shook his head, aware of the audience they were attracting from the amazingly nosy heroes of the Avengers. “Nothing. I’ll tell you later. More importantly, how are you here? In DC?” 

“I saw the news on what happened in the Triskelion and the Avenger’s tower, figured you’d be here.” Chase dropped his hands and stuffed them into his pockets, eyes flittering around to scan the crowd. “I asked Trevor for a favor.” 

“Jesus, I don't know how you deal with him—he creeps me out.” Excessively writhing, Stiles could literally feel the goosebumps blooming down his skin. “I still can’t look at a whisk without shivering.”

“As long as he can teleport me wherever I want to go, I’m fine with paying the price.” The prophet caught the wary eye of a certain blonde and the rest of Stiles’ teammates on different degrees of calculating stares. He gave a general nod to their direction before focusing back on Stiles. “So are you okay?” 

To anyone else, the abnormally long period of silence Stiles took to answer the question might be unsettling. However, Chase knew Stiles better than most people. 

“Yeah.” Stiles sighed the answer, reluctant on trying to deal with his clusterfuck of emotions at the moment. He looked up in a careful manner, Chase picking up on it immediately. “We’re okay right?”

Softly smiling at the spark’s unnecessary concern, Chase ruffled Stiles’ brown locks. “Yeah.”

It was as if this burden just lifted off Stiles’ shoulder, his head rolling back in exasperated relief. “Oh thank god, that fight almost killed me. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you as a friend.”

Chase took this moment to place both his hands on Stiles’ cheeks, cradling his face so that he would look straight at him. For a moment, Stiles was nearly spooked by the amount of seriousness the usually casual man was giving. But, Chase wouldn’t be Chase if he didn’t. “You’ll live.” 

Alright, that’s it. Steve power walked to the pair, shield braced on his arms as if he needed to show some sort of authority towards the lesser physically threatening man, eyes strictly trained on the hands on Stiles’ face. “Stiles?” 

The younger’s head tilt had the unknown man’s hands falling off from it. “Oh, Steve. Right.” Stiles turned to Chase, gesturing between the two men. “Steve, meet Chase Byrnes.” 

Being the man of honour he is, Steve politely shook the hand this ‘Chase’ guy handed to him. “Pleasure to meet you.” 

“Wow, you really are as gentlemanly as the painted you to be.” Chase smirked at the captain, earning him a very stern look from Stiles. 

“He’s a mage and a prophet. He’s very useful when he’s not insulting people and disgracing human kind.” 

“I’m a historian—records show that the human kind disgraced themselves.” Smirking the rude commentary off, Chase tilted his body to face Stiles. “Anyways, I just dropped by to tell you that the Japan nemeton’s been releasing a weird pulse of energy according to my contact there. You should give a call back home, see how thing’s are.”

Without meaning to, Stiles frowned at the aspect of having to contact Beacon Hills again. Calling there three times in the span of a month was monumentally bad, accounting that he has never called once for the past 7 months prior to the current month (by far, his worst month, in his life, ever—and that’s something that has merit). “Okay, fine. I’ll let you know once I hear back.” 

Nodding to his confirmation, Chase pressed on the jewel on his bracelet—spontaneously whisked (Trevor, that’s a fucking whisk!) away in a grey cloud. Steve immediately drew back his shield in preparation to fight, which was admittedly so damn adorable—No, Stiles! Bad thought

“Hey, woah, Captain, it’s just remote teleportation. Tone the aggressive.” Stiles lowered down the shield that was blocking his way, eyeing all the other Avengers. “You too, Romanoff!” 

Natasha winked at him, suddenly appearing right by his side. Damn agents and their subtlety, and that was not Stiles’ jealousy speaking. Definitely not.

“Hey!” Ironman flew down from the building, landing in front of the crowd gathers around Stiles. Tony retracted his face mask, a serious look painted on his frown. “There’s still some agents unaccounted for, we need to scout the building.” 

Clint slung his bow on his back, hopping down from his perch on top of the security post. “How many?” 

“Rough estimate, thirty-fifty agents.” Tony reigned the attention back to his voice, frown growing even deeper. “But that’s not all.” 

Tony Stark is a bearer of bad news, Stiles concluded. Someone should really take that job away from him—he does not have even the least bit nuance of comfort. 

“Director Fury is missing.”

 

~~~

 

It was in his best demeanor, that he did not squeal like a rubber ducky every time a part of the ceiling collapsed or chunks of the floor giving in. No, he remained steadily masculine through looking for survivors—especially one missing director of SHIELD. 

Whilst mumbling to himself reassurances of not dying in one hell of a wrecked clandestine agency’s dope ass building—although it would be a cool obituary recorded forever in his life’s history, which sadly wouldn’t even be the weirdest thing in his file—he didn’t bother to notice that his very first fear was happening. 

A whole block of solid cement ceiling with a layer of sheen grey paint crumbling down in front of him. 

The moment he looked up, he realized he just jinxed himself. Well, fuck. He could see his headstone already; the (un)luckiest idiot that ever ran with the fucking supernaturals. 

“Stiles!” He felt himself being forcefully grabbed by his waist and into a brick wall—at least that’s what it felt like—at the exact time the ceiling fully collapsed and took the parallel piece of ground down with it. 

The dust of cement clouded the area, seeping down to both their lungs. Coughing haphazardly, Steve waved his hands around to clear the cloud, keeping Stiles pressed to his chest with an arm around his waist. 

“Stiles?” Stiles stood frozen in his place, ears against the pounding rhythm of the captain’s heart. 

By instinct, Stiles jolted backwards and pushed his way out of Steve’s hold, as if he was burned at the touch—which, in Stiles defense, is a reasonable excuse because holy smokes that man is burning

“Burning?” 

Oh fuck. “I just said that out loud didn’t I?”

Steve chuckled despite of his blushing ears. “You should really stop cursing.” 

Well, there goes his agent training—he has absolutely no tact for discrepancy, like zero. It’s a miracle he’s survived high school. 

“I found that it’s the only thing that constitutes as therapy at this point, so if you don’t mind Mr Captain America, sir, I’m going to continue using my colorful vocabulary.” Alright, he’ll admit that it’s a shitty thing to do, attacking Captain America. But hey, he had one hell of a reason to so Stiles is perfectly happy to assume innocence and a free pass because he deserves it. 

As expected, Steve’s smile of amusement fell into a discouraged grimace. Stiles didn’t bother to look at his reaction further than that and continued walking in the building, up the stairs and onto another floor. 

The captain followed the boy, helping carry chunks of fallen walls or ceiling off to help the agents trapped underneath it while Stiles hauled them out. They worked in silence. 

It was fine, Stiles was fine. Until, of course, Steve wasn’t. 

Setting the busted metal doors down after prying it from blocking the hallway, Steve offered a hand to Stiles for him to leverage on of scaling the rubble—of which he ignored and went up himself. 

Steve sighed, looking at the back of the young man who was slowly walking away from him—in more ways than one. “Stiles, I’m sorry.” 

Well, the silence was good while it lasted. 

“Sorry? What for exactly?” No one ever claimed Stiles wasn’t immature or passive towards bitterness; his middle name is ‘bitter’. And ‘sarcasm’, and ‘revenge’, and ‘awesome’, and in surprising cases ‘dangerous’—point is, he has a long weird ass fucking name. 

Steve closed in on Stiles, who was looking right to left, blatantly ignoring the man trying to get his attention. “I didn’t mean to—” Stiles walked into an open room, cutting Steve but he followed anyways, “I didn’t know—” 

Stiles looked down. “Hey, someone left a hundred bucks!”

“Stiles, please!” 

The boy stilled in his awkward knee bend position, a crumpled hundred dollar bill in his hand, a shocked expression hanging on his lips. 

Steve sighed, hand rubbing his temples while his eyes shone of regret. “Stiles, I don’t know what else to say but I’m sorry.” 

Okay, yes, anyone who made Captain America’s eyes look like that deserves a special place in hell—they’re basically a national treasure. But, this is Stiles. 

He’s got a bloody electric chair in hell with his name on it. And he’s just about begging for an upgrade. 

“Steve, I don’t care for your apology!” Standing up, his hands flew in a frustrated gesture. “That word doesn’t mean anything to me, okay, it’s lost its purpose years ago.” 

Closing his eyes for a brief moment, Stiles let his emotions loose. “I haven’t had the best track record with trust. Learned that the hard way.” He opened his golden honey brown eyes to meet sincere clear blue ones. “You lied to me.” 

The captain winced, reaching out to him. “Stiles, I—”

“No, you betrayed me.” Stiles took a step back away from him, his voice cracking from the desperation and volume he was speaking at. And hell did that stab the captain’s heart.

“I trusted you, and you betrayed me by lying about who you are. Must’ve been fun ain’t it?” The younger man shook his head, raising the pitch of his voice as a theatrical emphasis. “Poor dumb Stiles Stilinski blindly pining for the great Captain America while he was standing right in front of him, innocent and unassuming as the charming Steve Bookworm. What a joke.” 

Steve frowned, shocked by the statement, his own voice raising. “It wasn’t a joke! How could you think that it was a joke?” This time, he moved forward without stopping. “I care about you, Stiles. I’m sorry I betrayed your trust, but I didn’t do it on purpose.” 

Breaking with the closing distance, Stiles really wanted to believe him. He wanted—well, he didn’t know what he wanted, but he knew that he didn’t want to lose Steve.

Feeling his knees give out, Stiles sat on a desk, hands on his lap and weariness in his voice, cracking. “Then why’d you do it?” Shaking his head, Stiles breathlessly chuckled. “Why’d you lie to me about who you are? I just don’t get it.”

Steve took a minute to find his answer while Stiles was boiling in his own personal torture of curiosity and expectations. Finally, the super soldier closed the distance between them and knelt down at Stiles’ feet. Surprised by the action, Stiles made a move to stand but the captain simply shook his head and stayed there. 

With his back straight, Steve was at same eye level with Stiles sitting on the broken desk without legs. “Honestly, I don’t know.” Heaving a deep breath, he smiled. “It’s complicated.” 

Stiles scoffed. “Well, you’re gonna have to do better than complicated cause I know complicated.” 

“Ever since I woke up from the ice—“ Oh, wow, we’re going there  “—I lost all my friends. I woke up in a new world with new people and a new battle to fight. But I didn’t just lose my friends, I lost something far greater. Ever since I woke up, I was Captain America. Only Captain America.” 

Steve saw Stiles’ frown letting up, realization dawning in, and breathed out a sad mirth. “Yeah, you’ve got it. I lost Steve Rogers. I lost myself, buried underneath the super soldier that the world needed me to be. Everyone I knew, I knew because of my duties as Captain America. Every one of my friends, I knew because of their initial alliance with Captain America. Every part of my life was revolving around the super soldier that I was made to be.

“And then one day, I met this ridiculous quirky librarian—“

“Not a librarian.”

“—honorary librarian,” Steve shot him a soft warning look, “and for some reason, he didn’t know who I was. He was my first friend. Steve Rogers’ first friend.” Clapping his hands together, as if to clean it off dust, he fumbled with his fingers. “ I guess, in a way, I didn’t want to lose that—even though I knew you wouldn’t treat me differently even if I were to reveal my SHIELD identity.

“You’re the only part that Steve Rogers has, in a world that needs and only sees Captain America.”  Crossing his hands on each other, Steve looked down from Stiles’ subtle observing gaze. “I know that’s selfish, and nothing should be an excuse to cause you pain, but that’s my selfish desire as a scrawny pale man that was left behind in the war.”

Crap. That’s not fair. This was such a losing battle. What was he thinking, battle of emotions with Captain fucking America? Nothing gets past those blue eyes. Nothing. Not even Gordon Ramsay—if Steve stared him down, even with a burnt dish, that man would keel over and cry. 

Sighing along with the super soldier, Stiles closed his eyes in painful consideration before opening them up in a light new manner. “Against my better judgement, I believe you.”

The tense nerves on Steve’s shoulder dropped meters down, relief washing over him. “I wouldn’t want to insult your better judgement but I fully concur.”

“Yeah well, my better judgement is in the form of squealing ramblings from a 7 year old girl of monsters under her bed.” Stiles shrugged, the smile slowly returning in his cheeks. “Technically, I was right about the monster part but not the ones I was thinking about. The real ones had a much more imminent danger and life threatening consequences than good old ghosts do. Hey, I even met this one ghost—the correct term is ghouls, which by the way, why does no one ever get that right? It’s not that hard to remember: ghoul and ghost. It’s like racism, or wait is it not racist? If you simply categorize them all under one blanket term instead of grouping them separately then oh my god that’s our humane problem! We—”

“Stiles, breathe.” The sparkling—yes, it was sparkling—wide tooth smile the captain had adorned makes Stiles stop and breathe, for completely different reasons. 

Sucking in a lungful expanse of oxygen mixed with questionable air particles, Stiles calmed his incessant brain rambling. “Right. One question.” 

With the nod he got, Stiles leaned on his knees with his elbows, imitating a daunting pose. “Do you seriously like Dr. Seuss or?”

Steve laughed, taking the blundering depressing mood away with it. 

“No, cause if you don’t, I’m going to be very pissed.”

 

~~~

 

Yes, prayers do get answered. Miracles do happen, and hope lives at the end of the day. However, that’s something of a minority of rare occurrences—not when most outcomes were far more often bad than good. 

Sometimes—no, most of the time—prayers fell on deaf ears. 

The sharp ringing of Stiles’ phone cut through the peace the two had reconciled. Stiles dug in his back pocket to fish his phone out, throwing a look of confusion at Steve when he saw the caller ID. 

“What? Who is it?” Steve stepped down from the makeshift rubble chair he sat on. 

Stiles kept staring at his phone, unsure whether to pick up or not. “It’s my contact from Beacon Hills. But I haven’t even called them about the nemeton yet.” 

“Answer it.” 

And so he did. 

“Peter?” Stiles skipped the formalities, his curiosity and anxiety getting the better of him. This is exactly why he might’ve survived high school life—he was rightfully paranoid. 

“Thank god, you picked up.” Peter’s voice sounded nervous, fast and in short breaths. Stiles could hear a commotion behind the older man’s voice. “We saw you in the news in DC on a report about an aircraft crashing into a building, I thought you were injured or worse.” 

“Uh, no, well, I’m fine.” Blinking a few times, Stiles got distracted from the myriad of noises coming out of his speaker. Which he just now finally realized. “Wait, Peter. Who’re we?” 

After two seconds, Peter came clean. “The pack.” 

“Peter!” Stiles barked at his mic because Jesus, Peter Hale has successfully regressed in his intelligence. There goes the last brains of Beacon Hills, discounting Lydia if she’d only stop caring so much about what other people think. 

Damn it, just one phone call and he’s back to unnecessary petty insults. 

That place is toxic.

Peter’s voice brought him back from his thoughts, panicked and accosted. “No time to explain, I—Hey!” 

The line went rowdy and scrappy for a while, which Stiles winced and frowned to before it came back on but with a different voice. “Stiles!”

His brows flew up to his hairline—what the fuck was going on. “Jackson?!” 

Jackson breathed haggardly over the speaker of his phone, as if he was cupping his hand on his own mic and speaking in a very controlled baritone voice. “Stiles, you need to come back.” 

“Come back?” He’s just had about enough confusion and anxiety for the whole fucking day—jesus, he can’t believe that the Onis was still an occurrence that happened this morning on the same day—he just snapped. “Jackson, what in the ever loving fuck is going on?” 

Steve steeled his stance in response to Stiles’ growing panic and restlessness. He can’t blame the super soldier, because the thought of just going back to Beacon Hills scares the shit out of him. 

“The nemeton. Stiles.”

Japan. The nemeton in Japan. 

“It’s the nemeton.” 

And now, Beacon Hills. 

“Stiles, help us.” 

Chapter Text

If Jackson were to describe Beacon Hills in one word—it would be ‘hell-mouth of all the things even Hell rejected.’ He was aware of that being more than one word, but that’s as short as he can simplify the repertoire that is Beacon Hills’ description. 

When the doors shut on their faces that day, the last thing any of them saw of Stiles was the tense high shoulders of his back. Jackson looked around with his lips firmly on the terrible decision of staying quiet. He found Cora and Liam with their heads bent down—the former’s in plain frustration and the latter’s in a shameful state. 

They looked at their Alpha and the shameless bunch of followers behind him. They looked to Theo, who was smiling as if he had gotten everything he wanted. Cora looked to Derek, quiet and brooding all on his own. 

“I can’t believe he just left like that.” Kira, being the naive girl that she was, broke the uncomfortable silence in the air. 

“Good riddance.” Theo justified their actions, wrapping his words around the daft ears of the pack. Jackson sneered at him, Cora right by his side.

“He left because you pushed him out.” Unable to bite his tongue any longer, the kanima-turned-werewolf nearly lounged at the bastard. 

In an instant, the heads turned and glared at the lone wolf, Cora having the nerve to sneer back at them in a feral manner. Liam simply stood closer towards the girl, having formed a sisterly bond towards her. 

Derek pushed himself from the wall, crossing his arms. “He left because he’s a burden who can’t do anything and he knows it.” 

Cora looked at him the way she would look at a stranger—and Derek simply strode past them and up his bedroom through the spiral staircase. 

That night, Jackson had an arm around Liam, leading him out of the loft with the pack following after them. That night, nothing was ever the same in Beacon Hills, and for better or worse, they never saw Stiles again. 

 

~~~

 

The moment the pack bond that they had with Stiles snapped—Jackson keeled over in pain. Liam thrashed around in his bed screaming, Cora holding him down from scratching everyone else above her own internal wolf clawing at her skin to rip out and howl for the loss of a pack member. 

At first, they all thought that Stiles died as that would be the most reasonable cause for the break in the bond—but it was after a momentary notice that they realized it was due to the fact that Stiles had left the pack permanently. 

Although the prospect of Stiles not dying had caused them immense relief, however, the fact that the rest of the pack didn’t even seem to care that Stiles might be dead when the pack bond broke—judging by the way they turned a cold shoulder towards that conversation—was just unacceptable, especially to Cora. 

She barged into Derek’s room in the loft that night, fuming from her ears and nostrils enlarged, a blue beta tint in her eyes. Derek greeted her with an exhausted roll of his eyes, used to his sister’s fits of emotion. “What do you want, Cora?” 

“What do I want?” Cora scoffed, power walking her way in front of him to where he was seated at the edge of his frameless bed. “What I want is to know where my brother went, because this heartless douchebag sad excuse of a disgrace is not him.” 

Derek flipped a page in his book, nonchalantly ignoring Cora with minimal attention. “What do you want, Cora.”

Irritated with the behavior that his brother adopted, Cora kicked his bed with full strength, sending it crashing against the wall with Derek on it. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Derek?!” 

Exasperated with her actions, Derek closed his book on the bed and fixed his footing on the ground. “Trying to fucking read before rudely interrupted.” 

“How can you just be fine?” The woman threw her hands at him, leaping across the room to catch his collar and roughly shook him. “Stiles could’ve died for all we knew and you all were acting as if it was fine! The pack bond is gone, Der!” 

For a few long seconds, Cora thought she had finally gotten through Derek from the pondering look on his face. Until he replied, “So?” 

Without thought—or with as much thought as she could—Cora punched Derek straight from the jaw, watching him get thrown off to the side from the sheer power of it. She backed off almost immediately, reaching for the limited furniture and item that Derek had collected.

“After losing a pack or two, you would think every single one of them matters to you.” The woman grabbed the row of books on his shelves, throwing it across the room in every direction and pointedly at her brother. “Does he mean nothing to you?!” 

Marching to the drawers, she pulled each one of its hinges before throwing it at her pathetic family, one of the only two she had left. “I saw you two, I know you cared for him!” One shelve after the other, bolts flying wild. “The way you smiled whenever he was around! You were opening up to him.” Cora shouted in a last attempt, simultaneously using that power to throw the entire dressing cabinet down. “What the hell happened to you?” 

Derek stood there taking the heat of the argument as he always does, frowning and brooding. He ducked and dodged the things that nearly hit him in the face. Silently boiling in his own personal hell. Until Cora reached the wooden box he kept on a short cabinet near his full-length mirror. 

“Derek!!” She lifted the box in an arch. 

Derek stood up in alert, hands out to catch the box. “Cora, stop!” 

But he was too late. The box crashed to the ground, the impact of the wood breaking and the screws clattering on the sleek wooden floor like shell casings falling. Derek dropped on his knees to collect the item that fell out of it before Cora could see it, but she did. 

She saw and her mouth shut, clamped by the utter shock. 

Derek saw the expression in Cora’s face fall, a look of regret. He cut her off before she could say anything. “It’s none of your business.”

Biting her lips, Cora tried to reach for his shoulders. “Der—“

“Get out, Cora.” Derek turned, her back towards her, holding the item to his chest and dusting it off. 

“I—“

Harshly snapping, he glared at her. “Get out!” 

Cora flew out of the room, closing the door behind her in a mix flustering emotion of anger, sadness and a pitiful realization. She had tears in her eyes, heaving in short breaths of the tirade she just went on about in her brother’s room. With hesitant steps, she trudged down the spiral stairs, slumping down in the middle and sitting on the steps with a hand covering her eyes, hiding the tears and break in her tough character.

“Shit.” 

 

~~~

 

Ever since Stiles left, the supernatural shit storm went away with him. For some inexplicable reason, they had no big-bad of the month to deal with, no rogue werewolves, no weird mind bending magic of supernatural incidents—not even a fucking car crash or theft. Everything just became quiet. 

Except if they counted the moment Peter came back from his travels and found Stiles missing—then found out that he was kicked out, and threw the most violent and reprimanding fit to date. Scott still has the scar on his collarbone to prove it, and he’s an Alpha. Needless to say, Peter didn’t loiter around them anymore nor associated with them outside of Cora and Jackson, and maybe even sometimes Liam when he’s just too fed up with Scott despite his fear of Peter. 

Then one day, Jackson gets a call from Stiles when he least expects it. At this point, only he, Cora, Liam and Peter were looking for Stiles. The pack gave up in even trying to locate him further than the Beacon county when they realized he’d disappeared. His own father didn’t even budge to locate him further either, as he’d gotten used to ignoring the boy and coming home to a quiet house. Jackson despised the Sheriff ever since, moving on with Scott’s mother and barely spending any time in his actual house anymore. 

Jackson was breaking out in tears of happiness after that first phone call—Stiles was alright, he needed his help. He didn’t know exactly why he didn’t tell anyone, including Liam, Cora and Peter, but he just wanted to keep Stiles’ attention to himself. To repair past mistakes. 

That’s why when he found the Nemeton, he realized what a dumb mistake it was to blissfully accept the abnormally long time of peace they’d been having. Jackson saw Stiles when he reported his findings, saw the healthy shine in his skin, the newfound happiness and a worldly surprise of Tony Stark standing next to him. Jackson was glad Stiles moved on—yet also heartbroken. 

He took the news to Peter, and brought Cora and Liam in the loop. Investigating further on their own, although rather sloppily as it was their first run in months—thus why the pack somehow found out about the state of the Nemeton. Of course, one could only tell how it went from there.

 

~~~

 

To no one’s surprise, the first thing Scott did was put the blame on someone else. He didn’t exactly have a figure to blame thus he resorted to denying responsibility. 

Cora nearly tore his head off when he started blaming it on Peter playing lacky on them to go on a very well-deserved vacation, only stopping when Jackson had to physically restrain her. 

While the pack was bantering on the blame game and petty accusation pumped with hormones, Peter was preoccupied with the news—watching a live footage from the scene of the destruction in New York and DC. 

That’s when he saw Stiles along with a Scottish fellow that was holding back a cross line from the crowd. The footage was shaky, but he was certain it was Stiles. Before he could shut the TV off, Jackson doubled over the back of the sofa he was seated on—breaking to a stop near the TV. 

“Sti—mmph.” Jackson got a handful of Peter’s, well, hands, on his mouth, shutting him up effectively. The latter turned the TV off, facing the now curious faces of the pack with a guilty innocent smile. 

Just as Scott was about to spout more nonsense in blaming Peter along with his weird behavior, the weirdest thing happened. A pulse of energy rushing through their bodies, in and out. As if they were cut in half where in the passing of the energy lingered, the pulse swept through the whole town. 

Shock and slack-jawed, Peter and Jackson were the first to recover, immediately looking towards each other with only one thought of where that could possibly come from. The Nemeton. 

Rushing out the loft and into the woods, the whole pack reluctantly followed the two wolves and what a sight they were met with. 

Lydia opened her mouth only to close it, before starting again, “Is that—“ 

“The Nemeton.” Peter cursed underneath his breath, digging into his pocket for his phone in a loss. “Shit. This is bad.” 

Jackson and Cora were the only ones who dared to step forward, Derek and Lydia right behind them trying to hold them back in vain. The former kanima kneeled down to inspect the increasingly deteriorating Nemeton, one quarter fascinated and the other three quarters sanely terrified. 

“Thank god, you picked up.” Peter’s voice broke through the eerie silence, fast and in short breaths after their rapid run. “We saw you in the news in DC on a report about an aircraft crashing into a building, I thought you were injured or worse.”

Scott angled his head to look at the rest of the pack and Peter separately. “Who is he calling?” 

Peter ignored the Alpha in preference to replying into his phone, “The pack.” 

The Nemeton pulsed in a sickly violet purple colour from its darkened charred long windly dead state. Glowing and stopping. Glowing and stopping. Cora turned to Jackson for an explanation, but both of them came up with nothing short but ‘disastrously bad’. 

Peter’s tone turned into something the pack had rarely heard, panicked and accosted. “No time to explain, I—“ 

The glow grew brighter, the short stunted ‘tree’ vibrating in kinetic energy. Jackson acted quickly, grabbing Cora by her waist despite her protest and knocking into Peter who was closest to them in the proximity to the Nemeton. “Duck!” 

“Hey!” 

Then, the pulse released itself—blowing them all back with an inexplicable force, a barrier-like force. Which is never anything good. Peter’s phone had dropped on the forest floor of detritus, giving Jackson the chance to steal it before the older man could take it back. 

“Stiles!” Jackson breathed haggardly over the speaker of Peter’s phone.

The pack’s eyes widened one by one, in trance by both the pulse and the name that came out of Jackson’s mouth. Scott was the first to break. “Stiles?” 

Internally cursing his adrenaline, Jackson cupped his hand on the mic of the phone, speaking in a very controlled baritone voice. “Stiles, you need to come back.” 

The Alpha turned his head around to anyone who was willing to answer or listen to him, his expression sour and confused. “Is he calling Stiles?” 

Lydia frowned, mouth open in a gasp. “What the hell, Jackson?!” 

“Why is he calling Stiles?” 

“Shut up, both of you!” Peter glared at Lydia and Scott’s repetitive questions that got annoying real fast.  

Jackson sent a look of gratitude to the older wolf, focusing back on the matter at hand. “The nemeton. Stiles.”

Hearing no reply, he urged on. “It’s the nemeton.” 

“Stiles.” The young wolf ducked his head down, a small whimper and a ray of hope in his voice. “Help us.” 

 

~~~

 

The request rang in his hear like the toll bells of your very own church wedding—he figured, or imagined, because he’s technically never been married, unless his father has some explaining to do. Two words: Help us. Help Beacon Hills. 

Stiles felt his hand slack, the grip on his phone nearly dropping if it weren’t for Steve’s hands settling on his shoulders to shake him back to the world of the conscious. His heart leaped. They needed his help.

Jackson, on the other end of the line, spoke over the commotion on his side. “Stiles?” 

They need his help because of the Nemeton in Beacon Hills. “Stiles, the Nemeton, it’s releasing a—“

Stiles cut the wolf off, heaving out a breath that he hoped would fix the slowly growing erratic breathing of his lungs, to no avail. “Let me guess, a weird pulse of energy?” 

“How did you know?” 

Steve mouthed ‘nemeton?’ to him, Stiles nodding in confirmation of the super soldier’s suspicions. First, Japan. Now, Beacon Hills. 

“Stiles, you need to come back. Please.” He could hear Jackson sighing over the voices on the line, undoubtedly the pack raising hell about his involvement. Contrary to the pack’s belief, Stiles is actually very adept at listening and not just talking without stop. He could make out words that was said between them, all voicing different levels of hostility towards him. 

Stiles blinked back to Steve’s face which was riddled in worry and painted a wary smile. Shaking his head, he forced his heartbeat to simmer down and his lung intake to calm itself. This was his decision. Not anyone else’s.

With that spur of the moment caught in a hailstorm of lingering emotion, Stiles answered. “No.” 

He could almost hear the drop in Jackson’s expression, and what he wouldn’t give to have the rest of the pack listening in for once, because he needs to set this straight. 

“You’ve been doing fine all along, didn’t even notice there was anything wrong with the Nemeton until I clued you in. “

Tony flew in their level with his suit partially on, headpiece removed. He was about to ask on the state Stiles was in but Steve shut him up with a firm look and a brisk shake of his head.

“I won’t help you even if you begged.” Taking a deep breath, Stiles steeled his voice through sheer power, unwilling to let them think, for even a second, he’d come running back to them the first chance he got. “That was my term of leaving after you so graciously kicked me out of the pack.”

The silence on the other end of the line was gratifyingly more satisfying than Stiles would have thought it’d be (while ignoring the stabbing pain in the middle of his puny heart). Oh well. 

Suck it, Losers. “This was your mistake, you fucking fix it.” And he hung up the phone. 

There was an awkward pause starting from the second Stiles ended the call to the cough Tony Stark let out without any subtlety. The guy didn’t even pretend to cover his mouth in order to pretend to cough—he was just faking outwardly, that lousy faker. 

“Well.” The man in the suit started. “We sort of found Fury. Actually it was Hill who told us that Fury went in hiding, with the public presuming he’s dead underneath all this rubble so before they get any ideas on the truth—which will debauch the purpose of media—we should go.” 

Rolling his eyes, Stiles grabbed Steve by the arm and dragged him down the stairs, sparing a look to the floating man. “And what will debauch your exquisite sarcasm?” 

Tony winked. “I’ll let you know when I find out.” 

 

~~~

 

Miraculously, nothing reasonably dramatic came to pass after that whole debacle and Stiles survived the night to meet another day. Waking up felt like the relinquish of heaven, because falling  into the bed the other night was the most blissful thing he’d ever experienced—except for maybe one thing, but he has classes in under two hours and he really can’t be distracted.

Moving on. He rushed past the common floor, grabbing a paper bag and tossing his pre-made turkey soy-mayo sandwich and a bag of Reese’s in it. Natasha and Clint watched him fumble over the furniture with a pitiful look on their faces—which was very offensive, he didn’t choose to be clumsy thank you very much. 

Barely avoiding the flying banana thrown his way, Stiles caught it before it hit the wall and made a mess which would piss Tony off (although he was tempted to, but didn’t want to clean afterwards). “What the hell, Clint? You ran out of actual arrows or are you practicing your next circus act?” 

Clint playfully sneered at him. “I’m saving your health, kid.” 

Why thank you, kind sir. Good day to you, me lady.” Running out into the elevator, Stiles barely caught their farewells before he was swooped down into the basement by an overly enthusiastic Jarvis and out into the road with his bicycle. 

Needless to say, he barely made it into class within minutes to spare. Plopping down in his seat, Stiles chucked his shoulder bag on top of the table and laid his head to rest. 

Beacon Hills. Beacon fucking Hills. Technically, Stiles knew that he was being rude—was he? Seriously, was he though? His conscience keeps telling him to help, and yes, his rational part of his mumbling jumbling mess of a brain is corroborating that consensus as well. 

But, can the world please give him a fucking break? 

After all he did for them. After all they did to him. They only need him when they see it fit. He feels like a fucking Vanilla Ice song. An overly used one-hit-wonder that people only play when they really need to, not for enjoyment no—but for the good old joke of tradition. Don’t fucking argue with it, if you need a fact—who knows the entire lyrics of Ice Ice Baby?

And no, it does not only consist of “Ice Ice Baby” and over-exaggerated possibly publicly-illegal moans. 

The Nemeton isn’t his responsibility. It’s not. No, sire. Hell to the no. Scratch that, Purgatory to the no. Because everyone knows Purgatory is way worse than Hell. Assuming it exists, which it probably does considering his luck with these things. 

It’s not. It’s not. It’s… Damn it. Now he feels bad. Oh, he knew he shouldn’t let his conscience out, that frail little prick. 

A loud bang woke him from his little personal dimension, jerking his head up so fast he might’ve sprained a neck muscle. “Jesus, Parker, you scared me.” 

“What’s that say about you if I wasn’t even trying to scare you?” The short curly haired brunette sat down next to him, his trademark blue fashion of a plaid over-shirt flaring out in the seat. 

Stiles sat back further in his seat, hugging his bag with him. “Fuck off, Parker.” 

Chuckling, Peter Parker clapped his back when he saw the teacher enter the lecture room. “Don’t start with me, Stilinski.” 

“You wimp.” Too tired to come up with a better insult, Stiles took out his books in preparation for class. Head way too preoccupied with dilemmas, but hey, the best way to clear your head is with advanced microbiology. 

And to think he was so naive once to consider AP Calculus as a hard subject. Jesus, save him. 

Parker raised an eyebrow at him, half distracted by MJ, who he was waving to. “Was that an insult about my height?”

Stiles hid a short burst of laughter when the girl simply flipped him off with a smile, watching Peter’s face contort back due to the casual treatment in disappointment. “Hey, you said it.” 

Before the lecture could properly start, the temperature suddenly started dropping. Which was weird, because Stiles could swear it was at least 5 degrees hotter like a minute ago. He turned to Peter to find him unrolling his flannel to the tips of his fingers. 

“Did they finally upped the budget for air conditioning?” Stiles rubbed his hands together, breathing on it to generate some sort of heat. “I mean, I’m grateful not sweating my ass of in my next pharmacology class, but this is way too cold.” 

Peter rubbed his hands up and down his arms in a similar aim. “I think it’s broken.”

And that’s when Stiles looked to his hands and saw his breath clouding. As in clouding from the stark difference in temperature, the way it would when you’re outside on a freezing night. Turning towards Peter to check if he’s noticed it, he found the boy staring outside the wide windows behind him. 

“Parker?” 

All Stiles got was a slight part of his lips and his finger raising up, pointing in the opposite direction. So, he slowly rounded in his chair, expecting some sort of funny prank done by the post-graduates in the courtyard or even a flying robot—at this point, anything could happen. 

And boy was he right, about the ‘anything could happen’. Because outside the window, honest to god or any other beings in the sky, it was snowing. 

No, seriously though, someone fucking save him. 

 

~~~

 

Peter jolted up from his seat, still unable to say a word, while next to him, Stiles was already gone. He followed the boy, who was running outside to the inside courtyard. “Stiles, wait!” 

Stiles craned his neck uncomfortably in order to see the sky, the dark grey cloud stretching over it. “It’s snowing. It’s fucking snowing in the middle of summer.”  

“Global warming?” Sighing to himself, Parker, even though incredibly smart and adorably cute, could still be a fucking idiot sometimes. 

Well, truth be told, everyone is a fucking idiot half of the time. No exceptions. Except maybe Stevie Wonder. That man is a gift from god. 

Stiles traced the expanse of the cloud, but something was gravely wrong. “Wait, it’s only snowing in certain parts. Look the cloud divides and separates but it seems to be originating from—”

The only good side (?) of this, was that they didn't have to wreck their heads for an explanation of what the motherfucking hell was happening. Because then, they’d be too busy preoccupied with the—and stay with me now—snow piling up in large, curiously human shaped pillars that suddenly melted to reveal a nearly naked haggard old man with chunks of his flesh missing. 

And his brain just snapped. “Are you fucking kidding me? Zombies, seriously?” Stiles looked up towards the sky once more, referring to the last topic of conversation they had. “Thor, I blame you for this!” 

Peter snaked his hand onto Stiles’ bicep, pulling him backwards with him while simultaneously shaking him to bring his vision to the approaching horde. “I—I fully agree with you on the—the rotting bitten flesh parts, but I don’t think they come out of snow, Stiles.” 

By now, the student population were all either outside or peering through their windows, and queue the piercing screams because what would a horrifying scene be without a good high pitched scream? 

Still, of course, because it’s Stiles’ life—it wouldn’t be that simple. The presumed zombies start hobbling their way to the University, Stiles backing along with Parker, and all of a sudden, they stopped. 

And they grew. 

Taller and taller to the sizes of full grown birch trees. And that’s a tall ass fucking tree. Their skin became grey, coated in dead leaves and white from snow. Also, their numbers keeps increasing. So yeah, there’s that. 

Parker barged into Stiles’ analyzation of the creature to try and figure out its species. “Uh, Stiles. I don’t think those are zombies.” 

Restraining the urge to slap his face, Stiles slowly matched the pace of the creatures in front of them. “You think?” He was sure that it was supernatural—it was picking at the back of his head, because he’s sort of seen this creature before in his bestiary. Which would probably be helpful as fast as possible, because whatever the hell this new supernatural nightmarish creature is, they’re starting to swipe at humans left and right. 

“Stand back!” “Stand back!” 

Peter and Stiles turn to each other in their clashing of voices—standing still in the midst of all the chaos of people running around them to save their lives.

“What?” “What?” 

Both men retreated their heads back in surprise, frowning slightly, people bodily knocking into them. 

“No, you stand back!” “No, you stand back!” 

Peter squinted his eyes in confusion, opening his mouth to retort.

“Ok, stop!” Stiles clamped his hand on the boy’s lips before he could say anything, Peter’s eyes growing wide from the sudden restriction. “This is pointless! Stand back before you hurt yourself!” 

“Before you get hurt, you mean! Stiles this is dangerous!” Forgetting about the danger around them—admittedly not the best option—Peter pulled Stiles behind him harshly. “Leave this to me.” 

Utterly confused and growingly annoyed, Stiles brushed his shoulders against Peter’s to gain the advantage of position in front of him. “You? What the hell can you do?” 

Having nearly the same mental age as Stiles, and the same age as him, Peter puffed his chest up as if he was proving something. “What can you do?” 

As if the world was reprimanding them for the worst time appropriately used for a childish debate, two creatures swung their huge elongated hands, coming down at them at breakneck speed. 

Instinctively, Stiles brought up an air barrier with a swipe of his hands and one word spell—he’s gotten relatively better at them—while Peter shot a string of white spiderweb (?) at the creatures’ feet making them stop in place and fall down, their hands hitting the barrier of Stiles’ making. 

The two university friends looked at each other with surprise in their eyes. Echoing the same awkward recognition of, “Oh.” 

Before they got any time to re-introduce themselves—and Stiles has a fuckload of questions—the creatures recovered almost immediately. Most of the university students were out of the courtyard where the danger was centered around, but a good part of them had collapsed or stood frozen in fear. 

Wordlessly agreeing, the two parted their ways, Stiles to the left and Peter to the right. Stiles conjured his fire spheres and threw them at the ice monster that was grabbing two collapsed women with each hands. Successfully gaining its attention, Stiles looked around for a weapon to use but hey that didn’t matter because if fire couldn’t injure ice—then what the fuck would?! 

He needs to identify this creature, fast. Maneuvering the two women to lean on his shoulders, Stiles wrapped an arm around each of them and dragged them into the building; at the same time creating a wall of fire to hamper the line of, well, fire from the creature’s point of view. He dragged more unconscious people inside with the bought time while Peter was distracting the horde.

That’s when he saw the situation from a wide viewpoint. There were eight snowy giants slowly towering in the spacious courtyard of NYU, in a snowfall in the middle of summer. Safe to say, he’d never thought he’d have to say, nor even think about, that. 

Then, like a lightning bolt, Stiles finally figured it out. The creatures weren’t trying to violently attack humans—they were trying to grab them. And judging from the way they keep inching the human bodies to their mouths, they were trying to eat them. They were cannibals—giant winter cannibals with the appearance of old men with missing flesh or a big dirty beast. 

Wendigos. Not exactly Wendigos, but a species related to the Wendigos. Originating from the Wabanaki tribes of the most northern part of the United States; Chenoo. Or the Kiwakwa. Or Apotamkin. Depending on the culture the supernatural being was spotted in or discussed about. 

A sudden realization hit Stiles. The Chenoo was human once, becoming monsters due to cannibalism and deserted in the winter. Their heart turned ice cold and—that’s it. 

Their heart. They need to kill its heart, buried deep inside their chest. And if he remembers correctly, there’s only one thing that’s poisonous and can melt the thick iron ice skin of the Chenoo. 

“Parker!” Stiles shouted across the yard, uprooting a tree from the ground and throwing it against the creature behind him. “We need to go to the Kitchen!” 

Rolling on the ground from a backflip over the Chenoo, Peter shot another web string to bind the three monsters he’d been jumping around from. “Have you gone absolutely mental?!” 

“Salt!” Okay, he was aware he seems to be making no sense, but Stiles does not have time to loiter around and discuss the utter ridiculousness which is the supernatural world and their weird lame ass weaknesses. “We need to go!” 

Biting his lip, Peter decided to go with it. Running away from the creatures, who eventually followed him, Parker knew the distance will close real fast. Reaching for Stiles, he slipped a hand on his waist, carrying him up and making Stiles hold on to his neck for security. “Wha—“

“Hold on!” Was all the guy had warned Stiles before the air pressure around him shifted, pulled into the air by Peter’s absurdly strong web strings. Shoot, attach, pull, glide like a fucking badass, and repeat. From the different campuses in NYU, they finally reached a dorm with the largest kitchen. 

Crashing through the windows to access the kitchen immediately, Stiles rolled and tumbled with Peter by his side. “Jesus, you—“ He heaved a breath, feeling the prick of the glass shards on his shoulders. “You need to work on your landing.” 

Rolling his eyes, Peter pulled Stiles up before rushing into the pantry. “You know you love it.” Finding one whole bucket of salt, he held it up for Stiles to see. “Didn’t know they bought in bulk, but does this work?” 

Stiles could hear the heavy footsteps of the Chenoos coming closer, nodding rapidly to Peter, who immediately threw the bucket of salt towards him. Pouring the salt on the ground, Stiles ignored Peter’s squawk of befuddlement and opted to focus on the air particles around him. 

If he can do random levitating jujus with mountain ash—salt has got to be a lot easier, in technicality. The Chenoos tore down the walls of the dorms, flooding the place with sunshine and fresh oxygen. Smirking at the cannibalistic beasts, Stiles raised his hands up, the salt floating around him in a swarm. 

“Time to feed, boys.” Stiles pushed at the air, the salt surrounding each beasts in hefty amounts around their chest. Then hit them with an added strength of firepower—through fire power in the form of constant streams of flame directed at their chest.

When the ice on their torso melted, the stone cold heart was in perfect view. Without having to be told, Peter launched himself on the half-ceiling, carrying a bunch of knives with him, before throwing them in perfect aim to each of the eight heinous monsters. 

Stiles stopped the flames from his hands, reigning in his magic and calming his nerves. Slowly walking towards the fallen creatures, the two undergraduates watched as the beast morphed back into their eerie human state of rotting flesh, and finally bursting in a heap of snow. 

Looking at each other after a couple of minutes regaining their breaths, Peter broke out in a smile. “So, winter, huh?” 

 

~~~

 

The police came an hour after the incident, along with scientists from different lab research facilities and ambulances. By the time that they were all finished with their statements and compulsory check-ups, it was night fall and the snow had just stopped falling. No one had died, thankfully. And for the most part, people were too preoccupied with being scared and running for their lives to see Stiles and Peter in action (“You’re called Spiderman?” “Yea.” “Why? Did you get bit by a spider and get these powers?” “Uh, yeah.” “Wait, what?”). 

Clint and Bruce came to pick Stiles up, with the secret agenda of taking samples of the snow from the creature and the snow from the actual snowfall on Bruce’s part. While Bruce looked around after making sure Stiles is fine, Clint shook his head disapprovingly at him. “It hasn’t even been a whole 24 hours, Stiles.” 

“Do you think I like to be in near death situations every single day of the week?” Stiles slumped back down on his ‘trauma blanket’—which he initially rejected but now can’t let go off due to his ironic nature—feeling as if 10 years had been shaved off of his life. “Blame the universe!” 

Clint patted the boy on his shoulders, silently comforting him. “Hey, Steve told me about what Chase said about the nemeton. And Tony gossiped about your phone call. They wanted to be here, but Fury called them in for a secret meeting.” 

Smiling at the sentiment, Stiles sighed. “This is the Nemeton’s work.” He sipped the hot chocolate that was given to him by the nurses. “Weird phenomenas happening in all parts of the world—it’s a global destruction of balance.” 

“What are you going to do about it?” Clint sat down next to him, watching Bruce compile the sample in his myriad of test tubes or cylindrical container.  

Leaning subtly against the man’s shoulder, Stiles smiled reassuringly to Clint, but mostly to himself. “What I need to.” 

The archer hummed, leaning his own head at the extra weight on his shoulder. “And that is?” 

“Visiting Beacon Hills.”

 

~~~

 

Back in Beacon, the pack met up back in the loft right after, barreling Peter and Jackson and even Cora with excuses. Liam also joined Peter’s side eventually, and Scott had the nerve to feel betrayed by his decision, even though the Alpha was the one who had neglected pack relationships every since Stiles left—only focusing on Kira and Malia.

“We don’t need his help!” Scott stressed out, glowing his red eyes at the four ‘traitors’ of his pack order. “He can’t do anything, Jackson.” 

Fed up with the naiveté of the prematurely childish and dumb Alpha, Peter snapped his jaw. “He was the one who knew, even before we did. He’s way better at this than any of us, and he’s not even a werewolf. What’s your excuse, O True Alpha?” 

Cora could literally see the fumes come out of Scott’s ears, playfully smirking at Malia who’s sneering at her as if she was the last raw meat in a grocery sale. Scott straightened his back, hands holding both Malia’s and Kira’s. “Doesn’t matter. No one contacts Stiles. Ever.” 

With that, Queen Bee and his three dumb bitches and a guy escort strolled out of the loft—Cora’s words. And after a while, Jackson and Liam left too, the older promising to take the younger home. 

Peter retreated back into his own apartment while Cora barricaded herself in her room. 

Derek stood there in the silent emptiness of the loft. Trailing his hands on the metal railings of the spiral staircase leading up to his room, the brooding wolf maintained a solemn expression of perpetual frowning. 

He closed the doors behind him, leaning against it for a while, before pushing himself off of it and towards the desk. Wrapped in a soft old blanket, the item that broke out of the wooden box Cora destroyed sat innocently, placed on the center of the clean desk. 

Carefully, almost hesitantly, Derek unfolded the blanket to reveal the item, breath instinctively stopping at the sight before inhaling. His sensitive nose picking up the distinct scent that he had preserved ever since he took possession of it. His fingertips remembering the touch of the soft fabric.

The fabric of a red hoodie. 

 

Chapter Text

“Absolutely not!” Surprisingly, it was Tony who was excessively vocal about his stance against Stiles’ decision. “You want to go to ground zero, you’re gonna have to bring one of us with you.”

Clint nodded his head aggressively, although Stiles couldn’t tell if that was just for fun or if he actually genuinely agreed with Tony. Steve was silently frowning behind Tony so, Stiles could most likely count him down to Tony’s side. Bruce was also behind Tony—since those two come in a weird pack—which he classified as a weird science bromance, although he wouldn’t mind seeing more. Point is, it wasn’t their choice anyways. 

“You guys do realize I’m legitimately an adult right?” Stiles sidled closer to Natasha, who was the only member of the Avengers who’s not visibly against him. 

“A-ha! ‘Legitimately’!” Tony launched from his bar stool that he was half-perched on, his pointer finger waggling itself ten inches from Stiles’ face. “No one would ever use that word instead of ‘legally’ if they weren’t trying to fool himself or other people when he actually isn’t an adult.” 

Stiles had to physically restrain himself not to contort his face so far back that it would disappear into a tiny point where his nose was (his dreams are very vivid, don’t ask). He opted to swat the offensive finger instead. “They’re fucking synonyms, what are you saying?” 

Caressing his rejected finger, Tony appropriately took a few steps back to join his posse of anti-Stiles-treated-as-an-adult-which-excuse-you-he-fucking-is alliance. “Intertextuality, Stiles. You’ll learn it when you grow up.” 

Stiles rolled his eyes at Tony’s antics—which was also coincidentally how he’s learned to deal with the oversized baby with an IQ and Ego too high for anyone’s good. God must be repenting, bless him. 

It’s probably best to give context to this debate. Initially, Stiles was never going to tell anyone about his visit back to Beacon Hills. But, Steve already vaguely knew from his phone call with Jackson and the message from Chase. And Clint was there when he had a rare moment of truth to himself, but he was exhausted from fighting giant cannibalistic wintercultural-type Wendigos, damn it—maintaining confidentiality wasn’t exactly his biggest priority then.  

And it just spread from there into this wildfire and ended here. Honestly, he wasn’t ready to bring his past into any part of his new life. He wanted a clear big ass wall between past and present—one so big that Trump himself would be jealous and try to claim it as his own. That wall was his thin line of holding on to his mentality and well being. That wall ain’t going anywhere. 

But as much as he tried to avoid it, his past and present clashed violently when that cursed Nemeton decided to be a bitch. Thank you, you useless piece of bark. 

“I’m just going to assess the situation there and come straight here.” Stiles had to resort to using his arms to act out his plans, which was condescending on both of their parts. “No fuss, no harm.” 

Tony copied his action, using his infamous pointer finger to direct his tone. “That’s a lot of fussing, and harm always finds you—there have been no exceptions wherein that wasn’t true.” Using both his hands, he crossed them directly in Stiles’ face. “None.”

Jerking back from the continuous attack that was Tony’s hand, Stiles spluttered but his argument was slowly dying and he knew it. “That’s not—It’s—well, yeah. I can’t argue with that.” 

Nodding to himself, Tony looked around the room with a look of accomplishment. Defeated, Stiles turned towards Natasha, flashing her his world famous kicked puppy eyes. That’s the only beneficial thing he’s learned from his decade-long friendship with the disappointing personification of a kicked puppy—Scott. 

Fuck no, Stiles. No, reminiscing until you actually get to Beacon Hills.

But, fuck that too. 

Taking pity on him, Natasha turned from her place at the dining table, a bowl of Stiles’ homemade chocolate mousse in her hand. “Boys, despite how he looks, Stiles is very capable.”

“That was an unnecessary description but thank you.” Stiles grandly gestured to the deadly lady with a chocolate-covered spoon hanging from her lips. “Listen to the voice of reason, my friends.” 

In fear of pissing the voice of reason, the lesser men of the Avengers saw to Natasha’s advice and finally calmed down. Hugging the hell out of the woman with the melodious voice of reason, Stiles smacked a sudden kiss at her cheeks, surprising all of the men and woman in the room. 

“My Lady, you are of perpetual exemption. I’ll go pack and leave for tonight.” With that, he dashed out of the common living floor and down to his shared floor with Clint. 

Natasha was left smiling from ear to ear with a hand on her cheek, simultaneously chuckling at the flabbergasted expression of the Avengers on the nerves the boy had to smooch affection onto the most intimidating woman alive. 

Also, it helped that Steve was stuck somewhere between extremely jealous and infinitely befuddled—definition: adorable.

 

~~~

 

Stiles got off from the elevator at the 12th floor, containing the Avengers locker room and the Quinjet station. He passed all of the individual rooms of the Avengers wherein they store all sorts of their personalized weaponry and suits. Hitching his duffel bag up his shoulder, Stiles stopped directly in front of the metallic doors that opened up to the station, his hand paused for a second on the button. 

Deep breaths, one, two—oh fucking hell, that never works. 

Pushing the button to open the doors, he lifted his head to find Steve sitting on one of the boxes containing spare Quinjet parts. Stiles noticed the duffel bag he had with him, and oh no. 

“Steve.” Stiles started with an exasperated tone because at this point he’s getting rather annoyed and that is never a good sign for anything. 

“Before you say anything,” Steve stood up with one hand in the air and the other behind his back, before presenting a plastic cup of his holy grail, “I brought you coffee.” 

Stiles scoffed for a good minute but his hand was inching towards the bribery. Curse his hand. Curse that bastard. Begone you foul part. Praise be. Praise be. And curse that megatrillion watt smile. Curses. 

“I know you don’t talk about your past.” Stiles nearly choked on his cup of iced black coffee, but preserved his nonchalance anyways. “And I won’t push you to tell, but I know the look of someone who’s running away from it.” 

Slipping his cup from his mouth, Stiles looked at his reflection in the blackness of the beverage. Steve scratched the back of his neck in that adorable way he does when he’s embarrassed or unsure. “We’re living in a tower full of them.” 

Offering a shaky smile, Stiles bit his lips. He wants to tell him. For the first time, he actually wanted to be honest with someone—about everything. His dark past, his troublesome past, his broken past. And that’s a scary thought. 

But not now. Not like this. Not yet. 

“Then you know that I need to face the demons of my past. Alone.” Stiles sighed and pushed the half cup of coffee back to Steve’s hands, lingering his fingers on the warm skin of the super-soldier. “Give me one day. If I’m not back by the next day, you can burst your way into Beacon with the full wagon of explosions and pretty costumes complete with your tiaras.” 

Steve broke a small smile at the corner of his lips, his hand turning upwards to catch Stiles’, the other hand taking the coffee cup away. “It’s a crown, Stiles. Tiaras are for children.” 

Unsuccessfully hiding his grin, Stiles coughed instead, eyes focused on the warm embrace his hand was in. He’s taking his words back. His hands are not cursed. It’s blessed. Very blessed. Praise be. Praise be. Blessed. 

The Quinjet garage doors opened—well, he calls them ‘doors’ but truly it’s more like a ramp of some sort—literally blowing the mood out of the two of them. Chuckling at the brilliantly timed ignition of the engines, Stiles reluctantly pulled his hand back and smiled reassuringly at Steve before running up the tram and into the awesomeness that is the Quinjet. 

“One day.” Steve called out after him, his hand still holding the rejected bribery. “And make sure to check in with me—I mean, us!” 

Sparing the guy (and himself) from more embarrassment, Stiles waved him a short goodbye just in time for the ramp to close. 

And, now he’s back on his way to yet another hell. 

Curses. 

 

~~~

 

So here he was. Beacon Hills, the home of the uncanny and the unimaginable coming alive and haunting you like a moth to a flame. But in his case, even the flames hurts him because he's not fire fucking resistant. 

Technically he is, but only to his own flames or when he counters other flames with his own. But, point stands. 

Yup, this was starting to feel like a monumentally bad idea. 

Suck it up, Stilinski. You’re here for the Nemeton, nothing else. Just avoid and ignore. 

That being said, it’s pretty easy to make your mind up when you’re literally in the middle of fucking nowhere. He's not kidding—he’s in an abandoned field surrounded by the forest. He’s literally in the beginning of his own horror movie, and based on his past luck and experiences, he probably fucking is. 

The Quinjet was invisible at this point, because it has a cloaking tech. Stiles made a note to bother Fitz about that when he gets back—correction, if he gets back. 

Praise be. Praise be. Let him go back safe. Praise Be. 

Well, what can he do about it now except for doing the job as fast as he can and hightail the hell out of this literal hell hole as fast as humanely, or elemental sparkly, possible.

And there’s wherein another problem lies—does he disclose that he’s an elemental spark or should he keep his powers on the down low? Thing is, Stiles was not even sure why he’s skeptical about revealing his abilities. Call it paranoia or self-preservation or the biggest case of karma, he’s just reluctant to share his own supernatural inclination. 

Yeah, he’s aware it’s hypocritical, he’s aware and he’s accepted it, move on. 

Talking to himself only provides help to a certain extent until it actually stops being helpful and instead mentally insane. Stiles had been waiting for an hour or two, wandering aimlessly in the forest that he’s successfully avoided for the entirety of eight months. 

He’s not going to find the Nemeton. Not alone, anyways. With a reluctance of a five year old, Stiles grumbled as he pulled out his phone, dialing the number he’s saved in case this ever happens.

Five minutes in and he’s reverted to his useless lone self. 

Home sweet fucking home.

 

~~~

 

Peter flipped the pages of his magazine uselessly before eventually throwing it aside, shocking Jackson and Liam out of their skin. They were peeling apples in the kitchen counter in Peter’s apartment. Jackson was crashing with Peter due to the clear distinction between the pack. Hearing of the news, Liam decided to join the party and basically, Peter’s apartment became a werewolf daycare camp overnight. 

When Peter nearly resorted to take up murder as a hobby sport (again), his phone rang. Rolling his eyes at the scene in the kitchen, Peter didn’t even bother to catch the caller ID before grumbling a harsh, “Hello.” 

Jackson turned his head in time to catch the expression in the older wolf’s face change minutely into possibly one hundred different faces ranging from surprise, happiness, confusion and excitement. 

The call ended as soon as it started, leaving Peter bouncing on his heels with an alert disposition and a smirk on his lips. Before Jackson could even ask what the hell was going on, Peter rushed out of the apartment. In a split second decision, Jackson and Liam followed Peter. 

Jackson was sort of concerned for Peter’s sanity when they were running in the midst of nowhere in the bulk of the forest. Liam shared his look but kept following the manically grinning creeper wolf. 

Tree after trees after more trees later, the forest cleared up to an empty field. Peter stopped and turned around in his spot rapidly, 360 degrees to each and every direction and Jackson was almost certain that Peter had finally snapped. 

That was when he heard it. 

“Chasing your own tail, Peter? Really? I thought you grew past that already.” 

Peter stopped and focused on the direction of the familiar voice, happily dashing his way over and hugging his old friend. 

Stiles returned the hug as hard as he could. This was probably the only regret he had in leaving Beacon Hills. Leaving Peter behind, knowing how shit the pack treated him. But he had sincerely hoped that Peter would find somewhere to relocate permanently in his travels. Sadly, he came back. And almost ridiculously, Stiles did too. 

It was the curse of Beacon Hills. The “Leaving Beacon Hills. Come back again soon!” sign posted at the border of Beacon was not a nicety but an evil curse. Seriously, though, it’s a malignant curse. You won’t know it’s in effect until you somehow find yourself back here for whatever reason—and no one ever seems to notice. 

Praise Be. Praise Be. Begone Beacon, you foul devil—all the foul devils. 

“I didn’t think you’d show.” Peter let Stiles go but kept him at an arm’s length, checking the youthful face he hadn’t seen in nearly a year. “You look good.” 

Stiles smiled at the perceived compliment, noticing Jackson and Liam behind Peter. Looking down momentarily, he could hear the young wolves’ whimper at the avoidance. Be the better man, Stilinski. Sighing internally, Stiles ate his pride and looked back up, offering the two a small smile. 

“Can’t say the same for all of you.” And Stiles really couldn’t—they all looked like shit. Like they haven’t been sleeping, physically and mentally tired or possibly dead. Stiles could vaguely relate, but at the same time really couldn’t. 

Hey, the guy’s been through a total count of five major crises of deadly encounters and that’s only in the span of time he’s spent with the Avengers. The other three months prior to joining SHIELD, he had lost count of how many small jobs he had helping locals and sometimes intercontinental supernatural mishaps. 

And he looked ‘good’, relatively. So how the hell did they look nearly dead when all of absolutely nothing happened? 

Do all werewolves just naturally have a 5 o'clock shadow and brooding painted on their face? It is a very unfair attribute to have, because socially, one would be more inclined to help a social reject or a lone wolf. It’s somewhat of a misconception of privilege, being the only one able to connect to them. 

But boy, did that have their own special set of consequences which ranges from fear-induced insomnia to institutionalized mental damage, or in surprisingly large cases: death. Take your pick, he’s gone through the entire choice list, he’s a fucking veteran, that’s what he is. 

Jackson looked at him with this look in his eye that Stiles didn’t really want to identify. Liam and Peter did so too. And Stiles. Well, Stiles has a very high affinity for feelings and pitiful creatures. 

So, hell no. 

Before they could recite an entire Shakespearean word barf of feelings, or basically the entire script of Romeo and Juliet, Stiles shut them down. “So, the Nemeton. Lead the way.” 

Slightly pouting and frowning from the not so subtle evasion, Jackson tried to initiate the first step. “Aren’t you tired? You don’t want to rest—“

“Nope, I’m as fit as the proverbial fiddle. Just point the direction to the Nemeton and off we go.” Stiles made a point to gesture at the surrounding area. 

In an attempt to reel back, Jackson moved forward with his hands out. “Here let me take that—“ 

Instinctively, Stiles jerked back harshly and away from the incoming hands, gripping his duffel bag strap tighter. If that didn’t kill the mood, Stiles didn’t know what could. He instantly regretted his stupid stupid instincts but they’re instincts—it’s something that is completely out of his control, up there with emotion and sass. 

Sighing heavily, Stiles was just done with treading on glass. “The Nemeton. Please.” 

Peter placed a hand on Jackson’s shoulder, and the retreating hand of Jackson’s defeated will was even more painful to watch. But, other than that; 

This could not have possibly gone worse.

 

~~~

 

Stiles is completely dumb-struck. In all of his completely misguided life lessons and downright ridiculous hardships, he somehow never seems to learn the one most important skill. 

Never, and he means never, jinx anything. Even if it was a seemingly harmless comedic comment—just swallow that damn remark, swallow your whole tongue if you have to, absolutely do not let that jinx out. 

Jinx is like a verbal karma. No, wait. It is a verbal karma. 

Meaning, it always fucking happens. 

See exhibit: Stiles. Not all of 10 minutes ago, he said an off remark in his mind. Nevermind, it doesn’t matter if it’s not verbal, just the thought could trigger it. It’s basically karma. Someone should put up motivational posters on not jinxing or so help him God, someone get him a duct tape for his brain. 

As soon as Peter stopped and notified that they were near the Nemeton, the pack found them. 

He had one job. Technically two, but the Nemeton wasn’t a job it was a requirement of his visit. So, he had one job. Ignore and avoid. Two jobs. Maybe that’s why he failed but there’s no excuse of failing both jobs. 

Self passive-aggressiveness was a trait well executed in Stiles Stilinski—he’s a self-sustaining karma-inducing equally damaged and damageable elemental spark of a human being. Bless him.

Cora was the first to burst through the myriad of trees, stopping right at her tracks when she saw him. “Stiles?!” 

The rest of the pack stumbled their way to a stop behind and next to her, all different versions of shock and anger. Here we go. 

“What is he doing here.” Scott bit through his teeth, glaring down at Peter and Jackson and especially Liam, who were all in a pretty compromising position situated right beside Stiles.

Now, he’s resorted to complete rejection of Stiles’ existence, well done Scotty-boy. He’s reverted back the childhood stage of lack of object permanence. It wasn’t a surprise to Stiles because the guy still has profound egocentrism even as an Alpha of a werewolf pack. 

Despite fighting the urge, Stiles quickly scanned the pack, observing their state. He stopped at one face. A brooding face that seemed as if he was struck by lightning. Stiles hadn’t even attacked him yet, but it was still a complicated reward of some sort. 

“I told you not to contact him.” The childish man-boy with the glowing red-eyed appearance of an Alpha continued his rampage. “I’m not surprised by Peter and Jackson, they were never loyal to the pack. But Liam!” 

Seeing the victims called out like that and noticing the instinctive whimper the youngest beta let out, Stiles snapped from blasé ignorance to royally pissed. 

“I didn’t come because they called.” Stiles’ voice cut through the tension like a butcher knife through butter. Yes, it was that aggressive. “I came because none of you apparently learned basic life-sustaining lessons and world-protecting decency.”

Lo and behold, to Stiles’ great magnificent surprise, Theo fucking Raeken was there. 

Scoffing at Stiles, he presumed, Theo placed his hand on Scott’s shoulder as if feeding him moral support through his fingers—which if he was a decade older, would perfectly constitute as pedophilic behavior that would throw his sorry ass in jail. But this was Scott, so he would probably not file charges or claim it was consensual (which honestly, probably is). 

“Oh no, Stiles. You came back because even though you ran away, you knew you couldn’t live without us. He wants to win us back by gaining points and coming to our beckon like some deprived lap dog.” 

Here ye, here ye, the voice of personified axe-drenched jockstrap quarterback has spoken. What a majestic wisdom. 

“Seriously, lap dog?” Stiles squinted his eyes at him, shaking his head disapprovingly. “So it’s fine if you guys make dog jokes and it’s racist when others do it?” Scoffing, he pretended to think. “Are you even a race or are you really just an abomination? Maybe ‘massive fuck-up’ would be a better justification.”

And who would it be but Lydia who would counter him—that was rhetoric and everybody knew it. “What do you know, he never changes.” She sneered and smiled at the same time, a skill that Stiles will mark as a qualification for Queen Bitch. “Sarcasm and sass is still your only defense. Stop pretending to be strong, Stiles. Don’t act as if you’re fine and not desperate to belong again.” 

It’s good to know Lydia still has her cat claws. Not really good for his defense though. Ignoring any of his personal feelings, Stiles crossed his arms. “Oh Lydia, I see you’re still denigrating other people to feel superior. I could’ve sworn you were better at it, now it’s just pathetic.” 

Glowering intensely at him, Lydia was about to snap back but Stiles turned his back to her, effectively shutting her down. Instead, he focused on the suspiciously quiet Peter, who was known to at least make one snide sarcastic remark in any battle especially a heated roast battle like the one occurring—it was the main reason why he favored Peter a lot. Tapping his shoulders, Stiles frowned. “Peter? Hey.” 

Peter just kept up his confused glaring at the ground. Rolling his eyes, Stiles tapped his foot. “Peter, just lead me to the damn Nemeton. I’ve wasted enough time squandering with these animals.” 

Stiles could hear Scott, Malia and Isaac growl at him—but that just proved his point even more. Still, Peter was unresponsive, his mouth even gaping a bit. Something was very wrong. “Peter. The Nemeton.” 

“It’s—“ The ingenious wolf with the most brilliant manipulative mind on words was stuttering on a mere pronoun. Something was horribly wrong. “It’s—“ 

“It’s what, Peter?”

Finally, Peter’s voice raised a few octaves and a few hertz, hands coming out at his side to gesture at a plot of land in front of them. “The Nemeton!” 

Wait, what. 

Everyone was flabbergasted at Peter’s exclamation, even Theo, who Stiles low-key suspected to have been the root cause of all this clusterfuckery. But, Peter didn’t seem to want to elaborate on his reverse (I)eye-spy moment. 

As slowly as he possibly could, Stiles repeated the words he had been repeating all day. “Peter, where’s the Nemeton?” 

The older wolf looked straight to him, hand still directly pointing to an empty plot of land. “There.” 

Stiles blinked once, twice and even tried to enlarge his eyes, looking back and forth from the empty land to Peter. “Peter, there’s nothing there.” 

The man nodded unenthusiastically. “Exactly.” 

Trying, and he means desperately trying, to form words, Stiles just ended up making various shapes with his mouth before shaking his head and wrecking some sense of logic to—he can’t even—what. “It—there’s—uh. Are you sure?” 

Pointing to a tree next to them, Peter nodded rapidly, seemingly losing his capability to speak. Stiles was definitely not judging. He has his own word sickness wherein which he loses all capability to form complete intelligible sentences. 

So, he simply followed the line of sight to the tree which was—honest to god—carved with the message ‘Nemeton. Don’t Touch.’. 

He was surrounded by idiots. Dumb stupid dense absurd fucking supernatural idiots. Jesus

The Nemeton was gone. Repeat, the Nemeton was bloody gone. This was way past wrong. This was catastrophic.

Physically forcing himself to remain calm despite the obvious red flag, or should he say missing! red flag, Stiles chose his words very carefully after a very long painful pause. “How?” 

When he received no answer, the thin thin tether he had to his zen cracked. Afterwards, he’s an overflowing keg of oil to an open fire—fantastic. 

“You had one fucking job: watch the Nemeton!” Throwing his hands in the air, Stiles nearly combusted in flames if not for the risk of causing a forest fire. “How in the holy hell did you uncultured idiots manage to lose a fucking magical dying stump of a tree.” Shaking his whole head, his hands came up to massage the incoming migraine the size of Texas. “Then again, I’m asking the obtusely blind people who didn’t even realize anything was wrong in the first goddamn place, my bad.” 

Somehow still having the nerve to lash back, Scott preferred to turn the direction of the conversation to, who would’ve thought, him

“You’re blaming us? Stiles, don’t you get it, you’re the problem.” Theo’s hands on his shoulders encouraged him stronger and Scott stood taller, the passion in his eyes flaming. “You’re always the problem. Everything would’ve been fine if only you’d just stay away from our lives! I would’ve never become a werewolf. We wouldn’t have to awaken the Nemeton. The Nogitsune would’ve never possessed anyone. And Allison would’ve never died!” 

And that, was nothing short of a wet slap in the sunburnt face. Strike One.

 “You said that death happens to everyone around me.” Lydia tilted her chin upwards even though Stiles still towered over her. Her voice dripping in the poisonous sweetness it had always been lathered with. “But, Stiles, honey. Death revolves around you. Why did you think the Nogitsune possessed you instead of everyone else?”

Strike Two. 

“The sooner you’re gone—” Scott had stalked the short distance between them and had now occupied the entirety of his personal space, “—the faster things will be back to normal.” 

Strike Three. And, you’re out.

Taking the deepest breath he could possible gain with the neat trick of his air element filtering only oxygen into his lung, Stiles momentarily closed his eyes before opening them slowly. “I’m only here for the Nemeton, which you have somehow lost.” His voice was low and steady, as if it was vibrating through everyone’s bone, a chilling sensation. “I don’t give a flying fuck about your pack or your slanted opinions manipulated by your new Führer over there.” 

Stiles was the only one who saw Theo smirk, maybe Peter, Jackson or Liam did, but he was the only one who ever saw it. With added strength of sheer force and his air element, Stiles placed a hand on Scott’s chest and pushed with every syllable of his words. 

“Back.” Stiles pushed him with the impact of a punch. “The Hell.” Push. “Off.” Scott kept his glare, but Stiles knew he was shock of the sudden growth of strength he had. “Before I make you.”

“And what the hell do you think you can do, to us or to the Nemeton?” For any reason of pride or prejudice, Scott exerted his Alpha red eyes. “Human—werewolf.” He gestured between them, smirking as if he’d proved something significantly game-changing. “I know you’ve stuck around because you want purpose and meaning in your boring human world—but thats it Stiles, you’re just a passenger.” Smiling smugly, Scott imitatively pushed Stiles back with his hand on his chest. “You can’t do anything.” 

Chuckling softly, Stiles really couldn’t care if he seemed like a total maniac. Even Peter looked worried for his mental health. Now, he really didn’t care. Coming back was a goddamn mistake. 

It was his fault for trying. 

“You don’t know jack shit about what I can do. Oh, you don’t want to know.” Catching the retreating wrist of the Alpha, Stiles gripped it with force and let his fire elemental burn underneath his skin. He pointedly glanced at the ‘traitorous trio’ of werwolves on his side. “If you lay one hand on them—if you so much as fuck anything up—the next time I come back, you’ll see the full extent of what I can do.”

The heat in his skin was dangerously high enough that Scott could feel his wrist burn even with his Alpha werewolf healing from the way that the latter jerked his wrist back and held it protectively. 

Stiles put on the best glower he could possibly intimidate him with. “So go ahead, piss me off.”

Peter watched with silent admiration and unconscious fear irking at his inner wolf. The boy had changed, oh, has he changed. He listened with every fibre of his being, the power emitting from Stiles’ voice. The boy’s last sentence hung like the justice of a gavel struck. Consequential and promising.  

“I’m dying for a good fight.” 

 

~~~

 

Despite hashing out and putting a show of power, Stiles still ran away from the heat of the battle and ended up in the creek. He found this place a year into the supernatural madness that his life somehow spiralled into, and he kept it a secret ever since. It had a serene lake flowing from a river and a view of the deceivingly peaceful nature. 

It was a beautiful escape. 

Stopping the treks of his footsteps, Stiles breathed erratically. The breathing turned into coughs of heaving, his chest painfully suppressed and his tongue stuck in his throat. His hands balled up into fists in the lapels of his shirt, pulling it away from him. 

He ripped his long-sleeved T-shirt off from his body before head-first diving into the cool body of water. Feeling the stark difference of the hot burning emotion pulsing through his body and the cold soothing chill of the water, Stiles could feel his heartbeat slow and his lung finally calming down. 

Closing his eyes underwater, he almost felt like everything was going to be fine. How could he not? The refraction of the light in the water, splitting it a thousand different ways, painting translucent white streaks of light waving on his skin and on the water around him—it was an entrancing wonder. A simplistic beauty. 

Water was one of his most prominent elements. He could hold his breath underwater for quite a long time, having formed a bond with the element. Thus why he could spend an otherwise humanely impossible time underwater. And for that reason alone, was how he found a crucial piece of the game he was unknowingly playing in. 

Stiles was diving deeper down into the surprisingly extensive lake, when he found a gleaming object radiating of magical energy. Pushing his limits, Stiles dove to the bottom of the lake and picked the object into his hands. He thrusted himself out of the water with his magic when he felt his oxygen run scarce. 

Thrown into the ground by the sudden catapult of the pressurized water, Stiles coughed out the water he had swallowed. Once he regained his composure, he opened his fist to reveal a small black orb emitting powerful energies of magic. 

But that wasn’t what shocked Stiles, no. 

The orb gave off a rather familiar magical energy. A sinister type of magic. It was something he felt vaguely. But most prominently in the dirt of the dead skinwalkers, the first time he encountered them in the supernatural invasion back in New York. 

What the hell was it doing in the bottom of an isolated lake in Beacon Hills? 

Chapter Text

Stiles rolled the orb in the palm of his hands, feeling the energy compressed in it gravitating around him. He could literally feel the energy seeping and leaking out of the pure black swarm inside the orb. A sort of sickness spreading and infecting the air around him.

“So, what is it?” The holographic screen in front of him faltered, the voice rippling from the speakers, echoing through the metallic walls of the aircraft. Stiles was back in the Quinjet, the holographic table screening a video call to Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. 

“I was hoping you might know.” Finally setting the orb in the center of the table, Stiles leaned back against the counter behind him. “You’re the scientific experts on all things weird and immense power, do your mojo using your thingymabobs.”

Back in the Tower, Tony made a face at the large screen showing Stiles’ face. “It’s a bit more complicated than just stuffing it into our array of ‘thingymabobs’.” He reached out to place the holographic replica of the orb scanned on Stiles’ part, turning it around in his hand to inspect the build. “It’s made out of a pure energy level—no chemical match or electron dispersion forces matched on the elemental scale.” 

Banner played with his spectacles, rubbing it with his shirt in his hands before putting it back on. “Is it Asgardian?” 

Tony expanded the sphere on a molecular level, his hands flying to his sides, the orb now stretched and magnified. “No, Thor gave us the technology that identifies any Asgardian materials present, but it didn’t hit any matches.” 

Stiles mumbled a string of curses under his breath, ideas speculating inside his head but not exactly going anywhere. “There’s something familiar about it, undoubtedly.” 

Bruce pulled up a data analysis app from the hologram, scanning the orb for any familiar materials or energy levels. “Does your prophet intellect mage know anything about this?” 

“Chase?” Stiles tilted his head to the side, hands clicking on the glass of the bannister he was leaning on. “No, he said he’s not familiar with it.” 

Shaking his head, Tony passed enlarged orb to Banner who instantly tinkered around with it. “So, how’s the Nemeton doing?”

Well, now, isn’t that the golden question. “I’d love to know the answer to that.” 

At the perplexed expression of the two men staring at him, Stiles ran a hand through his hair, huffing out loud. “The Nemeton’s not here.” 

Bruce spared Tony a look they both shared, frowning in confusion. “Didn’t you say Beacon Hills hosts one of the three Nemetons?”

Stiles’ tone was dripping in exhaustion and a fake veil of happy optimism, instead of the utter lifeless frustration he was boiling with. “No yeah, it did.” 

Rolling his hands to urge him to explain, Tony leaned forward. “Did?”

Smiling enthusiastically, Stiles made jazz hands. “It’s gone.” 

Both men in Tony’s Laboratory looked to each other before pinning their youngest member on the screen with a look bordering on mental. “Gone?”

“Yup, uprooted and erased as if it’s never been there in the first place.” Stiles made gestures with his hands, mirroring whatever he was saying—too big of a smile plastered on his face. 

Bruce’s breath stuck on his throat, unsure of how to go about the topic. “So it’s dead?”

Stiles blinked. “No, it disappeared.”

Tony inclined his head and his hands bloomed open as if pushing compensation food towards Stiles—which would totally not work, because one it’s invisible and two, Stiles only takes bribes and compensations in the form of comic books or Reeses. “So does it still exist?”

He blinked again, shrugging for a extra measure. “Not sure.”

“And you’re—“ Tony licked his lips in attempt to choose the right vocabulary, “—fine with it?” 

“Absolutely not.” Stiles played with the tone of his sentence, prolonging the vowels and accenting the consonants. “It’s just that thinking about it causes me more physical and mental damage than not, and I’d really rather not lose control or lose my temper especially in a place like this. So, I’m just going to ignore it until it eventually goes away.”

Chuckling inappropriately, the billionaire fondly sighed at him. “Your philosophy never ceases does it?” 

“Nope.” Stiles popped the ‘p’ syllable, balancing on the balls of his feet, teetering one his toes. 

Before they could carry on with the conversation, Bruce’s monitor piped up in a continuous ping. “I couldn’t find a match to any database. But it has a similar energy level to the Skinwalker’s arm sample we had—the one that was stuck in Natasha’s—“

“Yeah, we know, we remember it quite vividly thank you very much.” Stiles waved the memory away from his head because that is something traumatic that should be locked into the deepest recess of his mind, holy jesus, he cut into a woman, a woman member of the Avengers. The only woman in the Avengers, breathe. “Are you sure?” 

Bruce flipped the holographic screen around with the swipe of his hands to show Stiles the perfect wavelength of energy and molecular composition. “This is the only thing remotely similar to each other—the movements of these foreign particles, it’s insanely advanced from anything we’ve developed, almost like it was—“

“Alive.” Stiles unconsciously pulled himself closer to the screen, hands reaching out to touch the data but his hands passed through the screen like air—because, it technically is that. 

“You said this was found where?” Tony marveled around the data, touching it precariously only to watch it bounce back on each other. 

“A creek. It’s one of the water sources in Beacon Hills.” 

Bruce’s eyes lit up like a thunderstorm, dashing to another monitor to look up the county of Beacon’s map. “Where is this creek?” 

“Up in the mountain—why is this so interesting, it’s a creek.” Stiles shook his head at the good doctor, eyes speculatively frowning and hands flustering. “The god damn name insults itself.” 

“Stiles, it’s a water source.” Stiles raised his eyebrow at Bruce’s mode of ingeniousness, the latter going on about his theory. “Water is one of the factor to almost anything. If it’s a source, and this object contaminated it, the water could possibly carry the energy to other places—or people.”

Slowly understanding the conclusion Bruce was arriving to, Stiles forced himself to think back on any details he might miss. “But, my source here said that nothing weird has been happening except for the Nemeton.” 

“The Nemeton is a tree.” Tony turned to Bruce, pointing at him as he smiled. “It thrives on water to live.” 

“And the water came from the creek.” Stiles’s eyes flit across the walls as if drawing a mind map in his brain. “Is what you’re saying?” 

“Yes.” Bruce resolutely broke in a triumphant grin, but still under the pretense of an upcoming sense of danger. “Can you go back and check the water pathways? I’m not finding anything in the county database.” 

Nodding absentmindedly, Stiles bit on his lips. “Now that you’ve mentioned it, Chase also said something similar.” Grabbing his personal notebook from his bag, he flipped onto the date he met up with Chase. “Something was contaminating the water, a substance of unknown origin—poisonous, as much so that it’s killing off supernatural life.” 

“Only supernatural life?”

“I’m not sure, he didn’t specify.” He turned to Bruce who was further back in the screen, still on the monitor accessing maps of Beacon Hills. “All I know is that it happened once the Eternal Fountain stopped flowing.”

Squinting his eyes as if he couldn’t believe it, Tony scoffed. “Eternal Fountain?”

Stiles rolled his eyes, because he’s aware of how stupidly majestic it sounds. For all his years in the world of the uncanny and horrifying, he still hasn’t figured out who came up with all these ridiculous names. “It’s a fountain that flows through every body of water, giving it protective barriers and properties like healing and well, life.” 

Both men widened their eyes, surprised at the fact that they weren’t aware of such a drastic development. Tony was the first to break. “When did you get this information?” 

“Right before the Avengers Tower got attacked.” Stiles flipped through the book again. 

Crossing his arms, Tony disappointedly looked at him. “Why didn’t you share it to us?” 

“Because—“ Even through a high tech incorporeal screen, Tony’s glare still had such a strong condescending effect on him. Damn, if he had that skill he would be so invincible to all those years of pressured stares, “—Chase showed me a picture of the last person seen in the Eternal Fountain. It was someone wearing the SHIELD uniform.” 

Stiles should really discern which of his statements help make a situation better or worse, because apparently, as he continues to grow into a questionable adult, his brain to mouth filter effect decreases—if it’s not already completely depleted. 

“And you actually doubted us?” Tony jerked back as if it had physically shocked him like electricity. “We both agreed that Bruce was unlikely to be Hydra, but me? Seriously? I was with you from the very beginning.”

Bruce sneered at the two. “So, you had to think first to reach to that conclusion about me? Wow, I feel greatly appreciated.” 

Ignoring the jabs of commentary, Stiles stubbornly insinuates complete innocence—which with his track record, he has a right to be paranoid. “My mind has a very short circuit, okay? I’m sorry. It was a stressful time and my reactions are severe and paranoid in the presence of an overload of cortisol and adrenaline, give me a break.” 

"Fine. We know that Hydra is in SHIELD. So we're assuming that SHIELD personnel is Hydra, right?" Reluctantly closing the topic of doubt, Tony ruffled his own hair in frustration. “Then, can we rule this out as a Hydra plan?” 

“That’s my hypothesis, yes. I don’t have a clue why they’re doing this or what they can get out of it. Because the Nemeton going missing, or even worse, eradicated, is not a good thing for anyone.” 

Which was the ultimate truth. He could understand acts of evil such as murder or supernatural invasion or even creating chaos as a diversion to do something worse—as immoral and wrong as it is, he could still understand the motives behind them. Selfish or even mental reasons. But this. This affects everyone in a devastating way—why would they cause something like this if they don’t benefit from it in any way? 

Bruce donned a miserable expression, exhausted and royally doomed. “Balance of the world?” 

Stiles nodded. “You’ve seen the news right?” 

“Tidal waves rising, the Sahara dessert growing uncannily colder, animals berserking, fucking snowing in them middle of summer, supernatural disasters everywhere.” Tony listed off on the top of his head, and what’s worse is that that isn’t everything. “What are we missing?” 

He was so tempted to bang his head on the glass wall. “More intel is what we’re missing.” 

“Then we’ll get more. We’ll reach out to the contacts that your mage friend gave us, check on the Nemeton’s in Japan and England. We’ll figure out what happened to it. You’ll go check our theory of the water pathways and we’ll try and compile it together once you get back.” Tony grabbed his StarkPad, writing their plan down to ensure maximum efficiency (a concept that is unfamiliar to Stiles, because nothing ever goes as fucking planned). 

Nearly crying at the thought of simply going back to his room and flopping into his bed, diving into the world of sleep and ignorance. “At this point, I’ve no idea when that’ll be.” 

“It’s tomorrow. Morning.” Bruce reminded him, eyes still focused on the orb. “You get back here tomorrow morning.” 

Bouncing his head from side to side, along with his flimsy limbs, Stiles played with the prospect of going back the next day. “With what’s going on? I think it might take a bit longer than that.”

Acting as if he was considering the option, Bruce hummed. “Well, nevertheless, it’s still tomorrow morning.”

Blinking rapidly to process the situation, Stiles frowned. “Why?”

“We’re getting sick of all the moping and the heavy stench of sadness and utter pathetic vibes that is currently suffocating the common floor.” Tony chipped in his own penny to the conversation, his tone set as if he was saying something so clearly obvious. 

Okay, now Stiles was really confused. “But I’m not even in the tower.” 

Tony briefly and harshly chuckled, taking amusement in the naiveté of the boy. “Exactly.” 

“Wha—“ 

Tony took his chances of replying away and clapped loudly. “Anyways, contact us when you have something new, we’ll see you tomorrow. Get that, it’s tomorrow. Or else.” 

Stiles was left in the silence of the Quinjet, the screen now gone and an orb in his hands that he absolutely had no idea what to do with. 

Or even if it’s safe to touch. 

But he hasn’t grown an extra limb or had a sudden urge to go on a killing spree and skin someone half to death, so he figured he’s at least safe for now. 

It’ll be fine. (Oh shit, that’s not a jinx is it?).

 

~~~

 

Nevermind. He takes everything back. Maybe the orb is affecting him. Because that killing urge had come and graced him with it’s beautiful quench of revenge and bloodlust. 

Then again, it could be the natural pheromones coming off of these mutts. 

“I told you to leave.” The major mutt gritted through his teeth. 

What in the holy hell did he do to receive this severity of a punishment to deal with the dumbest werewolves ever known to the supernatural world? Somebody tell him and stick him in Hell or something, anything is better than this. 


Anything. He’ll even go on one of those monk excursions, deprived of everything. Shave his head or something—just get him far far away. 

Ignoring the pack’s advancement on him, Stiles kept tracking through the forest verging on uphill to the mountain leading to the creek. Naturally, the pack followed him like the lost duckling they were, continuously spitting insults at his back as he ignored their mere existence. 

Jackson and Peter were directly behind him, Cora and Liam teetering close to them. Stiles seriously had no idea how they found him this time, he’s supposed to have a charm that nullifies his scent—if that witch fucked him over on this damn charm, she’s going to have hell to pay for. 

“Are you deaf now too?” Lydia snarked at him, pissed because her heels were getting dirty from the unruly ground of the mountain. “You just don’t stop deteriorating as a human being do you?” 

Rolling his eyes so far back he could almost see his brain, Stiles succumbed to the pull of childishness. “And you? Deliberately following someone you want gone, can you be more ironic? Choose one will you, Jesus.” 

Clicking her tongue, she was about to reach forward and yank his hair but Scott got to him first, with means to intimidate him from the back. “We wouldn’t have followed you if you’d just leave.” 

“And how is it that you followed me?” Stiles focused on trekking the unstable ground to the creek, not even one bit flustered from the attempt of asserting dominance. “I have a scent protecting charm, so unless you were stalking me, I’d better start coughing up excuses before I report your creepy ass to jail.”  

Grabbing his hand out of spite, Scott turned him around with a force of strength, a bruising grip as if it was denting his bones. “You reek of the scent of danger. You being here is pulling all sorts of evil energy, Stiles. Maybe the Nogitsune isn’t dead after all.”

Stiles’ eyes snapped a shade darker, his face muscle tense from keeping still. “Let go.” 

Scott refused to back down. “Then get the hell out of my territory.” 

“You’re deterring me so that I can’t leave, you self-centered bastard.” Forcefully removing his hand with help of a burst of wind to Scott’s sternum, Stiles glared at the naïve leader. “If it really is your territory, you would’ve noticed something poisoning Beacon’s water source, consequently affecting the Nemeton and causing it to wither and fucking disappear.” 

At the information, every pack member looked to each other to confirm the story, bearing the same perplexed complexion. Peter was the one to approach him about it. “Poisoning?”

Stiles was too tired to explain further and took the orb out of his bag. “This. I found it in the bottom of the water source of Beacon at the creek.” 

Peter nodded to the orb to ask permission to touch it, every other pack member inching closer to the orb as if on instinct. Stiles precariously handed it over to him.

And then, the weirdest thing happened. 

The orb was somehow affecting them. All the wolves drew closer into the circumference of the orb—and the orb itself, swirling inside as if a storm was inciting in the sphere. The wolves’ eyes all glowed a momentarily colour of purplish black, all unresponsive to Stiles’ beckon. 

In an instant, Stiles took the orb away from Peter’s hand. The werewolves all blinked simultaneously, as if they had no idea what just happened. Stiles stared intensely at the orb in his hand, putting it away.  

“What is that?” Jackson broke out of his stupor, his voice so strained that he had to cough up an invisible force that was blocking his throat. 

It hurst his pride to say it, but the truth is the truth. “I don't know.” 

“What are you doing with it?” Peter carefully walked towards him, a vainly hidden fear underneath his tone. 

Taking a hostile stance against Peter’s tone, Stiles backed away from him, glaring. “I’m going to find out more about it, starting with the creek it originated from.”

Everyone looked towards each other than back at Stiles. And for the first time since Stiles had been back, Derek finally had the balls to talk to him. “There’s no creek.” 

Unsure of how to respond to a) Derek talking to him b) Derek acknowledging his presence and c) the ridiculous lie, Stiles came up with the best he could do—a simple: “What?” 

The sourwolf’s eyebrow ticked as if he was the one talking to someone oblivious, which was infinitely more frustrating than anything he’s felt before. “There is no creek in the mountains, Stiles. My family’s been here for generations, the only water source is directly from the downtown river—nowhere near here.” 

And Stiles laughed. Why? Because it was hilarious. How dumb must these werwolves be? Stiles kept on walking with the pack following behind him and as soon as he reached the circle of trees bordering the creek, he stopped and inclined his head towards it. 

“Stiles.” Derek repeated, even Peter and Jackson was looking at him like he had gone insane. “I told you.”

Frowning, Stiles spun backwards to the creek and back again to the pack. But no one seemed to realize the presence of a fucking creek behind him. 

Slowly walking pass the trees and stopping in front of the creek, he grandiosely waved his hands—even twirling for an extra measure—around the body of water. “It’s right here.”

The pack’s eyes went wide with shock. Finally, someone slapped some sense into them. Wasn’t werewolves supposed to have better senses than normal humans? Seriously what was wrong with them. Stiles knew they were kind of mental and unbelievably brainless, but this was just ridiculous. 

“Stiles.” Jackson stepped forward, hands outstretched in front of him, catching empty air. “Stiles!” 

“What?” Stiles stepped a synchronized step back, because he was starting to scare him. 

“Stiles!” The blue-eyed wolf straight out howled his name, causing Stiles to shiver. The blonde looked back to the pack, Peter in particular. “Where is he?” 

What? “I’m—I’m right here!” Stiles waved his arms above his hand, eerily creeped out by the entire situation. 

Did he accidentally pissed off some god or did the natural balance of the world fucked up so bad that it erased him from existence? Or maybe he fucked up so bad that the world had to erase him from existence? 

With his life, you never know what is which and who is when or how is what. That sentence didn’t even need to intelligible for it to make sense. 

When Peter shook his head, Stiles stood frozen. They can’t see, hear or sense him. How? 

Taking the orb out from his bag, he expected the wolves to react to it again. But they didn’t. 

What the hell is going on? The orb was so powerfully affecting them before, what’s different with—

Stiles looked to the only difference in variable. The creek. The pack didn’t know the existence of the creek, nor the orb—which was definitely powerful enough to attract them, it would’ve been impossible for it to be hidden all this time. But all this time it was in the creek. 

Decisively testing out his theory, Stiles stepped out from the ring of trees surrounding the creek, orb in his bag for safe keeping. The pack’s eyes instantly snapped towards him, a look of shock, confusion and fear mixed in their eyes. 

Feeling something grab his shoulder, Stiles stared directly at the sudden contact, staring into the abyss of green emerald eyes. Derek scanned Stiles with his eyes, his hands on the side of Stiles’ arms, trapping him in place. “Derek.” 

When the older wolf wouldn’t respond, Stiles shook his body. “Derek, let go!” 

The wolf finally snapped from his daze, hands flying away from him as if he’d been burn—and no, Stiles wasn’t using his fire element, although he really wanted to. Patting himself down, Stiles straightened his shirt. 

“What just happened?” Peter voiced out softly, unsure of what to do. 

Grumbling, Stiles just wanted to pass out and be done with it. “Something inconclusive, as always.” 

Petrified out of his mind, Stiles ignored the confusion the pack was in and headed down the mountain. Staying here just brings more question than answers, he didn't know what he was expecting. 

Before he could fully escape the forest though, Peter caught up to him and just because it’s Peter, Stiles acknowledged his presence. 

“Are you going back?” The most likable Hale asked in an uncharacteristically shy and hesitant voice. 

Stiles nearly considered the option of staying but he wasn’t going to do that to himself. “Yes.” 

“Oh.” Peter thinned his lips and shortly nodded. “Well, I just wanted to let you know that—“ 

The pause and prolonged emptiness in his sentence irked at Stiles nerves, he’s tired and wasted—he literally has no patience. “Just spit it out, Peter.” 

“Your dad.” Stiles blinked. “He’s doing fine.” 

Swallowing his turmoil of emotion, he couldn’t deal with that right now. His tone was clipped and short. “I didn’t ask.”

“I know, I just wanted you to—“

“Wanted me to what?” Stiles abandoned all manners and nuance. The way Peter was acting—carefully and cautiously as if he was stepping around broken glass, as if he was that fragile—wasn’t really helping either. “You wanted me to know? You think I want to know?” 

Peter’s expression fell instantly. “Stiles, I just wanted to he—“ 

“If you say help, I swear to god Peter, I might actually punch you.” Stiles bit out the words forcefully from his tongue, he could feel his magic grow unruly. “To make it absolutely clear, I have worked my bones off to get as far away from this place as possible."

“This is hell—for me, Peter.” Stiles felt a punch in his gut when Peter’s eyes slowly turned glassy, and he bets that his own eyes were mirroring that exact expression. “You should understand that best.” 

“I do.” 

“Do you?” Stiles frowned at him in pain, scrunching his eyebrows in frustration. “I wouldn’t have gone back if it were my choice—but unlike Scott and that idiotic pack of his, I know where my priorities lie. Honestly, I wouldn’t even have contacted you, Peter. Ever, if I could.” 

The elemental could see the wolf swallow his own tongue, physically restraining himself to utter even a single sound. Blinking away his emotions and reeling in his hostility, Stiles coughed and cleared his throat, avoiding his eyes from Peter’s figure. 

“Sorry. You didn’t deserve that.” Stiles heaved a long breath, holding in his waterfall of emotions back in his bursting cage of a fucking heart. “I’ll contact you again if I need to.” 

Swiftly turning his back on the elder wolf’s sullen face, Stiles forced himself to walk those steps back into the Quinjet and off to the sky. 

Looks like he’s going back home in time for tomorrow morning after all. 

 

~~~

 

Updating his journal of mysterious happenings—or what he likes to call, his Diary—Stiles stopped writing and just—stopped. He could feel a panic attack building in his nerves, pulsing erratically through his body, only stopped by the sheer amount of control he has on holding things in. 

Leaning against his safety belt, he closed his eyes to focus on his breathing. He couldn’t be bothered by this—he shouldn’t be. There’s other things he needs to worry about, much more important and severe things. And he needs his mind in the tippiest of the toppest condition it can be in (his brain ignores grammar and intelligible words, we’ve established that by now).

Trying to formulate and scribble down the connection between all the variables, Stiles chewed on his pen and kept on chewing. Nothing makes sense and yet everything seems to be connected with each other. Which makes absolutely no sense altogether, but in a way it sort of actually does—because it would make sense if everything didn’t make sense in the world that is the supernaturally weird and uncanny. 

Right. Okay. Now where do you go from there?

“Oh, who am I kidding.” Stiles mumbled to himself, shoving the book into his bag, resolutely promising to figure it out once he’s back in the Tower. 

At that very moment, Stiles phone pinged. A message from Tony Stark, his phone reminded him. Stiles could barely read the first sentence of the message—'Stiles. Get out from Beacon Hills. Now.'—which was totally not ominous or anything, until he lost the grip of his phone. 

Because the Quinjet lost it’s balance of gravity as it rolled over. 

Body violently shaking to the turn of the plane in his seatbelt, Stiles gripped his chair. “Jake!” He shouted to his pilot of the Quinjet. “What’s going on?!” 

“Turbulence! Stiles, hold—“ And then his voice stopped after a loud crash in the cockpit. The plane was still tossing and turning, loud banging of something crashing against the surface of the aircraft. 

Stiles gritted his teeth. “Fuck.” Carefully undoing his seatbelt, he nearly got smacked up into the ceiling if not for him holding the seatbelt wrapped around his arms. Using the momentum of flying in the air, he let go of the seatbelt, free-falling into the cockpit when the plane dived downwards. 

Crashing into the cockpit's wide-window, Stiles hit all kinds of buttons he wasn’t supposed to—because what would his life be if not for a little flair of dumb accidents. Cursing his way through buckling himself into the co-pilot seat, he tried shaking his pilot awake. “Jake! Wake up!” 

He was unresponsive and Stiles went through enough med school to know that the man passed out from a concussion, if the huge bruise in his head is indication of anything. “Oh, are you kidding me?!” 

The plane was still going out of control, flying here and there, but Stiles couldn’t control it with the console wheel—because it was perfectly still. And it wasn’t the plane that was malfunctioning—not due to a hack like the last time (oh right, there was a last time, who would forget that?), but instead due to a much more worrying cause. 

Because as Stiles looked out the wide view of the cockpit, he was amazed of how dumb he was for not noticing the obvious reason. There was a whirlwind of a tornado, no scratch that—multiple tornados that seemed to open up from the sky and down to the wide expanse of ocean that stretched for miles and miles over the horizon. 

Yes, he said tornadoes. And not Hurricanes. Because as shit as he is in controlling the air element, he is far more familiar with wind speed and strength than even experts in the area of expertise, due to his inclination and connection as an elemental. And this whirlwind catastrophe was at least 450 mph—almost unheard of in any part of the world. Hurricanes are only up to 180 mph, 200 in worst case scenarios. But that wasn’t the weirdest part, no. 

Because this was a tornado. In the sea. Tornadoes only occur on land and are no more than a quarter mile wide. This was wider. Almost five times the normal size. 

And the knocking banging sounds on the airplane? Yeah, those were rain. Fucking heavy rain. Wait no, it might be hail—he can’t see the skies very clearly because oh right—did he mention?

The window was fucking white from all the whatever the fuck was hitting it, dropping from the sky, with such intense force that it formed so many hairline fractures that the entire double-tempered glass window became nearly wholly white from the cracks. 

Stiles did as best as he could to stabilize the plane with the limited knowledge he has of piloting—he turned off the thrusters to limit any resistance, positioned the wing-flap according to the wind direction and set the controller on stable mode. Because if fighting against it is going to cause more harm, he’d rather just bear through it. Plus, if he did try and fight against the tornado, the controllers, engine or flaps might break off due to the resistance so— 

He’ll take his chances going with the flow, thanks. 

Due to that, the plane flipped, turned, rolled, shook and ricocheted everywhere in the scope of the wind cone. “Shit, Fuck, Shit, Holy Shit.” Stiles pressed himself into his seat as to minimize the backlash of the movement on his joints and limbs, all the while placing a headset on his head and turning on the radio. 

“This is SHIELD 316. SHIELD 316. Calling to Base. Does anyone copy?” Half shouting and half cursing, Stiles stressfully sent out the SOS, repeating his sentence over and over. “Does anyone fucking read me? There is a, uh, Tornado in the, my god, Pacific Ocean. Requesting—oh what the fuck do you request, just, Help! I repeat!” 

All he heard was static from the other side. Jesus, he was going to die in a plane crash. 

In a last ditch attempt, Stiles repeated the coordinates he was in, the wind direction and speed he recorded and the nearest site he located—until the radio frequency eventually went dead. Making up his mind, after repeating to himself how crazy suicidal it was, Stiles unbuckled his seatbelt and catapulted all the way to his previous seat. 

Grabbing his backpack, securing it tightly to his body, he let the gravity take him to the loading hatch doors of the rear end. 

“I am going to die. I am going to die. I am most definitely going to die.” He repeated like the world’s most unhelpful mantra ever—which it probably is—but in his mind he only had one goal: This orb was the most important key to the puzzle that they had no clue in trying to solve. 

He’d be damned if he died before getting it somewhere safe and attainable.

And that, unfortunately, doesn’t involve being crashed or mushed in a plane wreck—with metal steel traps spelling out your grave or even worse, crushing the orb to pieces. 

“Oh well, the world won’t let me die like this—undramatic and painless.” Stiles vainly calmed himself with intakes of breath that did absolutely nothing. “That’s sad but also a reassurance.”

With a last minute split second act of bravery—or utter stupidity, it's a coin toss, really—Stiles opened the hatch and was promptly sucked into the mayhem vortex of harsh wind and hard as rock hail and cold ass freezing rain (It was both. It was fucking both), clutching to the orb that might actually be the last lifeline to solving whatever the fuck was happening. 

Gods help him. 

 

~~~

 

In the same time lapse, in a place farther than imagined, a drastic change was unfolding. Little gasps of air—not as much oxygen as foreign elements—echoing through the otherwise perpetually loud silence. Heaves of hope leaving his discolored lips. 

“How—“ Coughing, heaving, tearlessly crying. He was caught by surprise, stunned to no state, from what just happened. 

A gaping hole in his back, blackened blood oozing out of the wound into the grey surface of the terrestrial land. Particles of blobs of blood, levitating itself naturally of the lack of gravity. Naked nerves twitching, painfully exposed to the open air, for the most important specialized organ that it was previously nesting. Dying, slowly—he was slowly dying. 

His white eyes focused on the azure sphere in the distance, his gaze filled with regret and sorrow, and most prominently, remorse. For what he was supposed to do, and what he was supposed to protect, and the meaning of his existence for such a long eternity—was all taken from him in one unprecedented moment in time that was like a spec of dust in contrast to the entirety of his long long life. 

Gradually, his hands unconsciously reached out to the beautiful round treasure he was supposed to protect and look over for, account and record for, and to preserve. Scratching at an empty vacuum of air, his movements slowly died. 

Along with his hope for the thing he was supposed to protect, obliviously and innocently awaiting the disastrous and apocalyptic fate that the thing had in store for it. 

Chapter Text

 

Bruce ran his hand through his hair for the millionth time, irritatingly frustrated. “I can’t find anything. I’m not hearing anything back.”

It was somehow weird—seeing Bruce, the usually calm component of the equation that is this mess, act so uncharacteristically un-calm. Tony, however, could very much relate. They had been up all night attempting to reach their contacts in Japan and England on the Nemeton, but they’ve been dead silent for the entire day. 

“If the Nemeton in Beacon Hills did disappear—this might not be a good sign.” 

“Having no cereal in the morning is not a good sign. Stubbing your foot in the door is not a good sign. This?” Tony ranted on, phone in his ear, dialing tone playing like a lullaby. “This is a nightmare on elm street.”

Bruce was about to counter Tony’s negativity but finding it hard to do so, luckily for him however, his phone finally rang through. He jerked out of his slump and picked up the phone. “Hello?” 

“Moshi-moshi?”

Frowning, Bruce pulled his head back. Tony raised his brows. 

“Dareka iru no? Moshi-moshi?”

The doctor placed his hand on the receiver, whispering to Tony. “I think he doesn’t speak English.” 

Tony grabbed bruce’s phone and plugged it into his station. “Jarvis, translate please.” 

“Moshi-moshi? Kikoemasuka? Kuso. Henji shittekudasai.” The voice on the phone kept on going, until it liquified into a monotone Jarvis-like voice. “Hello. Can anyone hear me? Shit. Please goddamn answer me.” 

Jolting a little, Bruce unconsciously stepped closer towards the phone. “Uh, hello. Who is this?” 

There was a slight pause in the receiving end, in which came off as hesitation to answer. But, the voice came back eventually. “Nemeton.” 

Both geniuses looked to each other and back to the phone. “Yes. Nemeton.” Bruce nodded rapidly despite being unable to be seen by the caller. “You’re the one protecting the Japan Nemeton, yes?” 

“Yes. No. The Nemeton. It’s gone.”  Tony went away from the station with a loud curse on the tip of his tongue, Bruce simply closing his eyes in remorse. “It suddenly disappeared without a trace, we’re all in a state of unrest. Yours?” 

“Gone, as well.” Sighing seemed to be the only appropriately calm thing to release stress at this point because, anything else would result in destruction especially for these two. “Do you know how?” 

“No. Nothing’s happening.” As if the world was trying to prove something—in which case, wouldn’t be so surprising even if it were—the change came immediately. The line went scratchy, ringing and pinging loudly. “Kousuke! Shit!” 

The alert resonated in Tony and Bruce’s faces, the latter coming closer to the phone. “What’s going on?” 

“The ground! It’s… rumbling.”  The voice grew in it’s pitch, loud screams coming over the in the background, loud enough to echo in Tony’s laboratory. “It’s swallowing everything! Get out—“ 

The line cut before they could hear anything else but a painful screech from the caller himself. The contrastingly deafening silence compared to the loud chaotic mess before that was even more eerie than Bruce or Tony would’ve liked it to be. 

When both of them faced each other, they linked in their only remaining thought. Stiles. Tony rushed to his own phone at the station on the opposite side, hashing out a text message to warn Stiles to get out of the site, unsure of what exactly just happened. 

Just when they thought nothing else could possibly go wrong, Natasha barged in to the lab with a StarkPad held tightly in her hands. She dropped it on the table on which Bruce was leaning on. Heaving a loud breath once more, Bruce lazily picked up the dropped tablet, analyzing the data shown.

In an instant his eyes snapped up to face Natasha’s. “Is this—“

She nodded without hearing the rest of his question. Turning to face the man texting rapidly on his phone, Natasha called out to him. “Tony.”

Feeling irritably worried and upset, his voice came out harsh. “What!” 

“Get Steve and Clint.” Glaring at the StarkPad Bruce was holding, the woman bit her lips. “They need to see this.” 

 

~~~

 

Steve impatiently paced back and forth in his place in the 12th floor. Clint watched from behind, leaning against the doors separating the Quinjet station to the locker rooms. The super-soldier checked his watch for the seventh time in that hour alone, and Tony was just about to lose it. 

“Seriously, Cap?” Clint rolled his eyes, but the consistent tapping of his fingers on his crossed arms was enough to show that Clint was just as worried as Steve was. “Looking at it every 5 minutes won’t make the time go faster—stop.”

They had a very good reason to stay this way, you see. Because It was 10 a.m., two hours passed the meeting time set of when Stiles was supposed to be back by. Given that the trip from Beacon Hills California to New York using a Quinjet was relatively short in time taken, this was especially worrying.

“What if something bad happened?” Steve gritted his teeth, imagining worst case scenarios in his brain. 

Clint scoffed but didn’t dismiss the possibility because it could very much be the reality, seeing as how things have been the past few weeks—which was the entirety of how long they knew him. The boy was ridiculously unlucky and very attached to danger. Even more so than they were. 

Before fixing up some reassuring lie to Steve, Clint fell backwards from the sudden opening of the metallic doors into the floor with a crashing thud. Tony took one look at the mishap on the floor and turned towards Steve. “You need come with me.” 

“Way to ignore the injured man on the floor.” Clint grumbled through getting back up all on his own, following the men to the elevators that took them down to Tony’s lab. 

The entire cast roster of the Avengers were present, including a very pissed off Natasha and a twitchy Bruce. Instantly, Steve knew something horrible had happened, yet he was still afraid to ask. 

“It’s Stiles, isn’t it?” Clint subbed for him instead, the frown in his face etched deep in lines. He took one look around the holographic monitors that were pulled up and a map that was blinking. “What is that?”

Natasha took pity on Bruce and took over for him. “We lost track of his Quinjet the moment he left off of Beacon County.” At the silent response, Natasha trudged on with the domino of bad news. “If he was on the right track and nothing had happened, he was supposed to arrive here almost 6 hours ago, judging that he left the county at approximately 2 a.m. in the morning.”

“What happened?” Steve snapped at Natasha, fully aware that what she was doing was to prolong the conversation and a completely vain distraction. 

“We’re not sure. But it doesn’t look good.” The woman stepped up to a counter and pulled up a looped radio connection linked to the Quinjet. “We received this right before the connection crashed and we’ve lost all tracks to the Quinjet.” 

“This is SHIELD 316. SHIELD 316. Calling to Base. Does anyone copy? Does anyone fucking read me? There is a Tornado in the Pacific Ocean. Requesting—oh what the fuck do you request, just, Help! I repeat!” 

The mood drastically plummeted, goosebumps raising along the skin of every member—fearing for the life of their newest addition. Tony and Bruce were the two who were profusely confused above their shared panic. 

“Did he just say Tornado? In the Pacific Ocean?” Tony squinted his eyes, listening to the recording on a loop. 

Bruce nodded unsurely, fixing his glasses and making short stunted gestures. “Technically they’re called Tornadic Waterspouts. But they only occur in the subtropical areas.” 

“What are the chances that he’s mistaken? Maybe it’s a hurricane?” 

Shrugging, the good doctor slumped into a swivel chair placed next to the counter he was in. “Well, the only way to know would be measuring the windspeed—so could be?” 

“No, he’s an air elemental—we’ve done some previous tests with windspeed and he measured everything rightly.” Clint shook his head at the notion, knowing full well the extent of how accurate Stiles’ powers are. 

“But there’s no warning anywhere—not on the media and not on our governmental notice board or even NASA.” Bruce flipped through screens, keeping note of the absences of notices popping up on any media platform. 

Natasha pried her eyes off of the scientific debate, focusing on the man who hasn’t uttered a single word since the news broke. “He’s a smart kid, Steve. He’ll be okay.” 

Absentmindedly, Steve gave Natasha a less-than-reassuring smile. His hands were holding the other with a trembling disposition. Even though he knew Natasha provided a more than convincing argument, he just couldn’t shrug this feeling that something terrible was happening. 

Tony looked to Bruce in a secret manner, as if they were hiding something. And, secrecy was one thing the Captain hated more than dishonesty. “Tony.” 

The billionaire knew the tone that Steve was using and he knew that resistance was futile so he slumped in his seat next to Bruce. “We think it has something to do with the disappearance of the Nemeton.” 

And that was when the mood took another 180 degrees flip, as did Natasha and Steve’s stomachs did. In hindsight, maybe they should’ve told them, but the time just never came up. 

Still though, that made no excuse in a woman’s wrath. 

“What?!” Natasha raised her voice in both pitch and volume. “When did this happen?” 

Bruce winced at the sheer power in her voice but answered regardless. “Yesterday.” 

Steve struggled to keep his voice composed when all he wanted to do was scream. “And you kept it to yourself?” 

“It just never came up, okay.” Tony crossed his arms, knowing he was the one at fault but not backing down due to his personality. “We weren’t even sure what was happening so we’d hope that Stiles would be the one to explain to us.” 

Deciding to just come clean with everything, Bruce went on in the explanation. “We had instructions to wait and contact the other places of the Nemeton, and we came through with Japan.” Looking at the expecting faces of their two fuming members, Bruce lowered his eyesight in a manner that showcased his sorrow. “Apparently, their Nemeton disappeared as well. And before we could heal the full explanation of it… something happened.”

Steve’s frown was dragged further down his brow, face muscled cinched with worry. “Something?” 

Tony scratched the back of his neck, eyes avoiding them as well. “He said the ground was swallowing them. But we couldn’t hear anything because of the overlapping sound of—“ Wincing again, he blinked. “Screams.” 

Natasha turned her back swiftly at them, although the look of shock was apparent enough that they caught it before she could hide. Steve stood stoically, a frozen expression chiseled into his features, barely reigning in his anger. “And when did you get this?” 

“Just now.” 

Pacing back to a farther station, Steve hung his head downwards, hands fisted at his sides. “We need to go get him.”

Tony rubbed his temples, headache pulsing in his skull. “Don’t you think we want to? We don’t even know where he is!” 

“Start at Beacon Hills and we gather information from there.” Steve crossed his arms, willing composure into his posture and an authoritative voice that he only used as Captain America. 

“Stiles didn’t want us to go there.” Bruce tried to reason with him, knowing well how careful Stiles was with tip-toeing around his hometown. 

And fair enough, everyone was curious about what happened with that story—but they all respected the boy enough to give him privacy and freedom in when he chooses to tell them the truth. However, at this circumstance, they really have no other choice. 

“Fine.” Tony stood from his seat, patting his legs down. “Let’s go, right now. We might be able to—” 

Just like everything else that involves the soap opera that is Stiles’ life, thing just got infinitely more complicated with just one continuous abrupt alert from the main server. Everyone stopped in their tracks of heading to the elevator, and Tony went back alone to his desk, checking the alert. 

That one click brought a map to the big screen, a red pinging dot blooming where Japan is. Tony rapidly typed in the keyboard to find more information on the severity of the alert, and that’s when footages popped up from live recordings at the scene from the social media to news report articles. 

Shocking didn’t even begin to describe what they were seeing. The news showed the greatest ‘earthquake’, for a lack of better word, ever recorded. However, it was none of those, because the footage showed that the ground wasn’t shaking. It was moving. Rippling and opening up as if it was alive, and the word ‘swallowing’ definitely did it justice. 

“What in the world is that?” Bruce had to take off his glasses, choosing to come forward near the screen. “Is this the Nemeton’s work?” 

“I—“ Tony shook his head vainly to clear his thoughts. “I don’t know.” 

The ground was deforming and even rising in extraordinarily eerie shapes, destroying the landscape of skyscrapers and roads. Bruce watched the horrific scene until he caught something that caused him to shout. “Stop!” 

Tony paused the footage that Bruce was pointing towards, enlarging the picture and sharpening the image. 

“There.” Bruce whispered in the silence of shock, as the picture slowly enhanced itself in the program Tony developed for clearing pictures. 

In the screenshot of the footage, they could see it clearly. A large hand emerging from the ground, made out of the same earth that was ripping, crushing down a building as the video played on. Tony looked around the room, finding each of his members stuck in place. “Is everyone seeing this?” 

Bruce nodded slowly, his voice deep and breathless. “We need to go.” 

“Go there and do what?” Tony yelped. 

The scientist shook his head, providing no help, but his resolution stayed the same. “I don’t know but we need to go and help!” 

“What about Stiles?” Steve spoke up. “Are we not going to help him?”

Bruce hanged his mouth in the open air, unsure of what to do. They had two very grave situation. Lives at risk in Japan from an unknown calamity and Stiles’ life at risk from yet another unknown calamity. “Steve. We can’t turn a blind eye on this.” 

“Are you suggesting we’re turning a blind eye on Stiles then?” Steve raised the tone of his voice to the person he least expected to do it to—the patient and rational Bruce Banner.

At the statement, Bruce nearly snapped but restrained as his consequences of losing temper weight far more than any others. “You’re not the only one who cares about him, Steve. But we can’t abandon our duties to protect this world because of our emotional value on one crisis compared to another.” 

Steve fumed in his spot, standing still in the runt of the lecture from Bruce that he knew was right despite of his heart’s rage burning up in the cage of his ribs. Gritting his teeth with too much force than necessary, Steve didn’t bother looking to the rest of his teammates before storming out the lab. 

Natasha let out a breath that she was holding, a loud exhale in the silence of the room. She spared  Bruce a pinned glare. “Did you really have to do that?”

Giving Natasha a guilty look, Bruce turned away from her heated stare. “I didn’t do it because I want to.” 

The rest of the Avengers were split with the decision, and Natasha could see the burden that Bruce took for doing the ‘right’ thing. Sighing once more, Natasha stepped out from the lab and down the elevator to her room. Grabbing a small backpack, she stuffed in the things she thought were needed and headed back out to the elevator to the floor she knew he’d be in. 

Once she exited the elevator and into the locker room of level 12, she saw who she was looking for. “Going somewhere?” 

Steve froze, head unwilling to turn to his apprehender. Even without looking at her, Steve started a defensive stance. “I’m not going to abandon him, Tasha.” 

Natasha smiled at the supposed hostility directed towards her, even though it was laced with reluctance in the use of her nickname. “I don't expect you to.”

Slowly, the super soldier turned around to see the dangerous woman leaning at one of the walls, a backpack held in her hands. Before having the chance of inquiring her, Steve caught the bag that was suddenly hurled towards him. Questioning her with a look and a tilt of his eyebrows, he opened the bag with a look of surprise. 

“Go get him.” Natasha crossed her arms, pushing herself off from the wall. “I’ll deal with things back here and in Japan.” 

Steve was at a loss of words, he didn’t know what to say. “Tasha.” 

“There isn’t a single of us who doesn’t want to go out there and save him.” Natasha lowered her voice to barely a whisper, knowing fully that the man could still hear her.

Stuffing the bag into his duffel bag he had ready since the moment Stiles departed, Steve took a long moment of silence to finally nod in gratitude. “Thankyou.” 

Natasha watched the back of Captain America as he ascended up the ramp of the Quinjet. Just before the doors closed, she could see him turn back at her and gave her a hint of the resolute fierce look in his eyes. 

“Bring him home.”

 

~~~

 

Steve walked with his cap pulled down his face, blinking out the irritation that the contacts caused in his eyes. He was pleasantly surprised at the collection in Natasha’s ‘wardrobe’ that she managed to have brown contacts, a one-time wash black hair dye and black glasses that seemed to fit him perfectly. With that, in the bag she also packed a pair of tight-fitting jeans and white v-necks that fits him like a second skin. 

Steve didn’t know how she got those measurements exactly and honestly he didn’t want to know. Things are better kept in the dark, especially regarding that woman. 

He strolled around the small, seemingly peaceful town of Beacon Hills—the place in which Stiles grew up in. It was fascinating to see how such a bright and intelligent personality grew up in the dead quiet and demure atmosphere of such a secluded town. 

But Steve wasn’t ignorant, no. He remembers the tense meeting with Fury and Hill in the conference room—he still recalls the horrifying events that has riddled this town and how Stiles had been a part of every single one of them.

Looks can be deceiving—he’s learned a lot about that in not the most pleasant ways. He went on to the Stilinski household on a whim, not knowing where to start. 

Now, to those without context, this seems like a harmless plan. Steve thought it was a simple reconnaissance trip of finding Stiles' whereabouts. Well, he will be gathering information, perhaps more than necessary and more than comfortably digested, but not that of which he was looking for—or was actually looking for for a much longer time. 

Upon knocking on the doors of the Stilinski household, he was met with quite a man. A well-aged man in his mid-forties or early-fifties, clad in a boring brown cop uniform with a Sheriff’s badge proudly displayed on his chest.

“Excuse me, sir. Is this the Stilinski house?” Steve greeted the man without removing his cap, blinking once. 

The man nodded, hands on his hip in defense of the suspiciously handsome young fellow who was at his doorstep. “Yes, I’m Sheriff Stilinski. This is my house the last time I checked. Who’s asking?” 

Steve smiled a little, familiar with the defensive humor that the man had—Stiles’ father, he was guessing. “I’m sorry, but I’m looking for Stiles. I’m a friend of his.” 

The expression in the man’s face dropped and Steve instantly thought something bad had happened to Stiles, silently panicking. Steve didn’t know what he was expecting but he was prepared to receive the worst news possible—but he certainly did not expect what happened next. 

“I don’t have a son.” Was the short clipped stunted reply he got, with an instant glare and a door shut on his face. 

Steve stood there on the porch of the Stilinski modest house, confused and slightly shocked. He was sure that the man was his father—he could see the subtle resemblance in the speech and the crease of the eyebrows, although there wasn't much of a physical resemblance. 

In short, he left there with an unsettling fire at the pits of his stomach and still no clue to where Stiles went to. At this point, he has no other idea except to start looking for the Nemeton. Steve faintly remembered Stiles going off about how he liked to explore the woods and how almost every bad shit happens in the blinds of the forest—so that’s got to be where the Nemeton was. 

Walking through the woods, he felt oddly nostalgic—smelling the nature-filled air that Stiles grew up breathing, touching the rough barks of trees that he could imagine Stiles falling over or climbing on. He kept trekking on his own. Enjoying the small sense of peace and calmness, even though it was short lived. 

“What are you doing here?” 

A deep voice rang out from behind him, Steve turned. 

“This is private property.” 

He was met with a brooding man, stubbled and midnight black hair with piercing green eyes. Steve instantly felt something off with him. “This is a forest, how can it be private property?” 

The brooding man gave him no reply but a strict glare in return. Steve was familiar with these kinds of men—tall, dark and mysterious, always looking for dominance on every situation believing that they were indeed superior to everyone. 

“I’m looking for someone.” Steve decided to give up on trying to deal with him. “Maybe you might know him.” 

The man raised his eyebrows, which Steve took as inquiry to whom he was looking for. “His name is Stiles.” 

In an instant, Steve could see the recognition in his eyes, lighting up with a storm of emotions he couldn’t really specify in detail. The man finally spoke up. “Who are you?” 

“I’m—“ Steve hesitated, unsure of what to tell him. “Doesn’t matter who I am, do you know him?” 

The brooding man intensified his glare at Steve, hoping to break an answer by intimidation, but Steve had stared down face-to-face with men a million times more intimidating than he was, including Fury and Red Skull (and the most intimidating one of all, Natasha Romanov). 

Steve really didn’t know what he was expecting when he went into this town looking for Stiles, but it certainly didn’t include being pinned to a tree, hard rough bark digging into his brand new t-shirt. Steve was caught-of-guard, so much so that he allowed himself to be immobilized by this stranger if not for the sheer amount of strength the man seemed to possess.

“Who.” Steve frowned at the proximity of the man to his own face. “Are.” For a second there, Steve swore he saw a glimpse of the sharpest elongated canine poking out of his lips. “You.”

Even though Steve would give credit to the stranger’s strength for being able to push him back, it still wasn’t strong enough compared to his own strength. Pushing off the tree and prying the man’s hand off of his neck, Steve watched as the shock and wince of pain blossom in the brooding man’s expression. 

“I don’t remember hearing an answer from you either.” Steve applied a strong grip he had on the man’s hand, slowly turning it in a painful direction. “But I’m going to assume you do know him.” Pushing the man backwards with enough strength to knock him back a few steps, Steve crossed his arm. “Tell me where he is, and I’ll go away.” 

The man simply caressed his wrist and continued glaring, but inclined his head in the way that he meant to follow him. Steve was a careful guy, but he figured that he could handle the weird inexplicable things that this town might throw at him.

 

~~~

 

Steve had spent the entire day in Beacon Hills lost and confused, and although the day was almost  over, there is still plentiful time for it to get even more downhill from lost and confused to utterly disgusted and angry. 

Which seemed like the most probable direction it was heading when Steve, who had been waiting in a dimly lit and scantily decorated loft for an hour, was bombarded with a group—or should he say gang—of a racially diverse decently attractive bunch of young adults with emotions boiling underneath the vainly concealed glares. 

“Derek?” A red-head petite woman faced the hostile stranger, whose name was apparently Derek. 

“Lydia.” ‘Derek’ replied to the ‘Lydia’ woman. “Scott. This is the guy.” Derek spoke to a man with a crooked jawline and tanned complexion, Steve made a note of everyone’s name. 

This ‘Scott’ came up to him and, without being provoked by Steve, glared all on his own accord. “What do you want with Stiles?” 

Steve detected the bitter and hostile tone—apparently a county characteristic that everyone has—directed at him. “I just want to know where he is.”

“Why?” Derek called out but was instantly shut down by Scott. 

“What does it matter to you?” Steve shot back at the guy in front of him—who was puffing his chest and crossing his arms to accentuate his arm muscles even though Steve clearly had the upper hand in every single aspect in terms of body muscle weight and attitude. 

Scott squinted his eyes at him and for a second, he sighed before shaking his head. “We’re just looking out for you, man.” 

And Steve just officially lost all sense of logic—what in the world was happening with this sudden change of tone and unfounded worry? 

Lydia stepped out next to him. “You seem like a decent man with principles, so let me offer an advice to you—stay away from Stiles.” 

Steve frowned at that. “Why?”

With a devilish smirk on her blood red lips, Lydia batted her lashes. “He’s trouble. More than he’s worth.”

Well, Steve couldn’t really argue with the ‘trouble’ aspect, as Stiles seemed to be brimming with it what with trouble following him around like a pertinacious fever. But that last part wasn’t really necessary. “He does attract trouble, but he’s worth so much more than all of it combined.” 

A new brown-haired tall girl approached him, a rather rough demeanor surrounding her. “Are you his new friend?” 

Steve raised his eyebrow. “And who are you?” 

“He didn’t tell you about me?” This new girl scoffed in a manner that Steve didn’t find funny or manner-ful at all. “I’m Malia—his ex, unfortunately.” 

At that, this inexplicable fire in his pit from the beginning of this trip grew and flared. Suddenly, Steve was defensive and stood a little taller, his tone criticizing and hard. “Unfortunately?” 

“Of course.” Malia looked confused as if she had said something wrong. “Wouldn’t you if you found out you’ve been dating a murderer?” 

If he had a proverbial glass, he would’ve dropped it in the amount of fervent shock that caused everything in his body to slack. “A murderer?” 

Lydia came back into the spotlight and stared him down even though he was towering over her. “Death follows him around. He’s a mass murderer, littered with blood in every cell of his body. He’s a monster—he even killed his own friend—my best friend, his best friend’s lover, without remorse.”

Scott flinched at the memory, and Steve could connect the dot on who’s who. Steve could vaguely remember the names that Hill listed—Scott McCall, Derek Hale, Lydia Martin and Allison Argent. And by the way that Scott has been calling the petite black-haired asian girl next to him ‘Kira’, Steve figured that Allison Argent must’ve been the one Lydia was referring to. 

Steve turned off his brain, impossible as it may sound, but he didn’t want to process the information he was receiving. He didn’t want to make any assumptions or any decisions that he might regret later. His mission was to retrieve Stiles. 

“Where is he.” 

Derek snarled at him—snarled, Steve swears up and down. “We’ve told you don’t come near to him! He’s dangerous, he's an uncontrolled psychopathic monster. It would be better off for everyone if he never came back at all.” 

There was a lot of things Steve didn’t know, but what he does know is that Stiles doesn’t deserve this witch hunt. No wonder Stiles was so closed off about this place—it was a horrible town. And he was done playing civil. 

Steve stalked forward to Derek and promptly grabbed his collar to slam him to the brick wall. As the group behind him step forward to try and stop him, Steve raised his hand and swung it down right next to Derek’s face. 

The resounding crack didn’t come from Steve’s knuckles, but from the brick wall that shattered in a huge round broken impact from the force of his punch. Derek’s eyes could be seen trembling in it’s stress to look at his peripheral vision, breath ragged and hitched.

Steve? Steve was furious. He was furious and he was absolutely fed up with the hostility of the pack of animals that Stiles was associated with. And most of all, he was angry at himself for being so confused. 

“He’s my friend. And I won’t tolerate anyone who speaks of him like that.” Steve bit out, words strong and sure. “You leave him alone. And you stay away from him, you hear me?” Steve turned his head around to face the group behind him. “Or next time, I won’t hold back.” 

Letting go of Derek, Steve shouldered his duffel bag and stormed out of the loft and made his way back to his Quinjet. Throwing his bag to the side, he ruffled his hair and threw his glasses to his bag. Going to the vanity cabinet, he took of his contacts and gripped the counter, closing his eyes. 

“Stiles. Where are you?” Whispering to no one in particular, Steve ran his hand down his face. 

When he thought all hope was lost, his phone rang. Picking it up with haste movements and spiteful tone. “What?”

“Cap?” Natasha sounded surprise by the harsh tone she was receiving and was instantly on guard. “What happened?”

Steve scoffed at the loaded question because somebody please tell him what indeed just happened? He doesn’t even know where to start. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened—No one knows where he went. Tasha.” He forced himself to take a deep breath, grateful for the silence that his friend was giving him. “I don’t know where he is.” 

“Maybe you don’t.” Was the unhelpful reply Natasha misleadingly started with. “But I do.” 

Steve blinked his eyes open. “What?” 

Natasha chuckled at the sudden hopeful tone that he instantly snapped to, her fingers flying on the keyboard. “I stayed back in the Tower to monitor everything while the boys go to Japan to handle the situation, I’m going to meet up with them later. So, thankfully, we were able to track the Quinjet’s location up until it went offline, and I got the coordinates. Then it was all algorithms of wind patterns and speed of a Tornado and probabilities of the closest location and a lot of other things you probably won’t understand—“ Steve was grateful for the humor Natasha threw in there, because he really needed a splash of laughter in his dull depressing day. “—and I narrowed it down to a five mile radius.” 

“Tasha, I don’t—thank you.” Steve nearly wanted to cry. “Thank you.” 

“I’ve sent you the coordinates, you can thank me when he’s safely back home.” Natasha smiled over the phone. “Now, go. I need to catch up to the members—god knows what has happened.” 

Slipping himself into the pilot seat, Steve turned on the engines, setting the coordinates. “I will. Good luck.” 

Without answering, Natasha hung up the phone. And Steve didn’t mind. Because they both shared the same sentiment, and now they have to make sure their team is alright.

 

~~~

 

Stiles has had a lot of bad shit happen to him and a lot of less than favorable situations and a whole lot of utterly ridiculous. But this just has to be really really dumb. On top of getting whipped all kinds of direction from the unruly wind that is a fucking tornado on the middle of the fucking ocean, and nearly smacked into mountains or flying flapping school of fish in the air, he’s now stranded in the middle of an island in the middle of fucking nowhere so. 

To say he was in a bad mood was a fucking understatement. He was wet, bruised, tired and angry and also carrying a very important orb of which he does not know anything about but seems to be related with everything going bad in the series of events he’s been through—he was one inch away from a pathetic death.

Like seriously, couldn’t he be dropped in a sunny island? With coconut trees or exotic berry bushes? At least then he would be warm, fed (he vehemently believes that he wouldn’t die by poisonous berries because it just wouldn’t be a death befitting of all the shit he’s gone through so far) and relatively safe. But no, he landed in some freezing cold ass island, where everything was barren because life couldn’t fucking grow in a climate this fucking cold. 

Plus it didn’t help that he was wet—and now cold—he was sure to die of hypothermia if not for his fire element warming him up from the inside. Oh, and he’s barely holding on to his consciousness because that magical exhaustion of flying upstream (it’s the best comparison he has—he has literally no motivation to formulate a logical allusion, let him be) drained all his energy, he thinks it’s draining even his life force. 

Snuggling into his flannel—god bless flannel, its warmth is the reason for his existence—he grasped the orb in his hand, turning it around and around and around. But still, he was lacking that Eureka! moment that he was hoping to achieve simply by staring at the sphere—at least that’s what happens in most mystery thriller and sci-fi plot but well, although his life may very well be a mystery thriller sci-fi horror tragic and comedic story of ridiculous proportions—it’s definitely not a movie. Because in movies, everyone knows that there will be a relatively happy ending for the protagonist. 

He’s not sure about any of the part which involves happy or protagonist, but at least the ‘ending’ part is right. Memento Mori, everyone. Remember that someday, you must die. It’s a comforting pattern of life, in the simplest sense. 

“Dying, huh.” Stiles mumbled, breath fogging up in clouds in front of him, looking at the orb with swirling darkness. “Is that what you are, death incarnated in a sphere?” Turning it around, he inspected the black swarm inside the sphere. “I’ve never seen anything black and wiggly like you be anything but death—so I’m 99% sure you’re something bad.” 

Now, you might think he’s lost his mind but mind you—he’s a very social person, so social in fact, he talks to everyone, even himself. It’s a sane thing to do—isolation is one of the causes of mental disorders or permanent brain damage, it’s a proven psychological fact thank you very much. If not, why does prison even have isolation bunks? It’s especially reserved for the worst of the worst—a list that Stiles very much thinks that he has a special place in. 

Stiles closed his eyes, leaning back on the rock partially covered with snow if it weren’t actually covered in ice. “Something so little—causing so much trouble.” 

“Yeah, that pretty much describes you.” 

Blinking in shock, Stiles snapped forward and was immediately met with the owner of the familiar voice causing butterflies flutter down his stomach. “I—wha—how?”

“Doesn’t matter how.” On a whim, Steve brushed the cold-induced red blush on Stiles’ cheekbones, somehow hoping to bring heat into them. “I’ll always find you.” 

Stiles was loopy, tired and a bit high on magical exhaustion—and in desperate need of warmth. And if anyone asks, that’s what he’ll blame his actions on, when he decisively lunged and plopped into the bracket of Steve’s wide chest, curling his hands against it. “You’re so hot.”

While Stiles was regaining his warmth and swimming in the hormones of looniness from his exhaustion and isolation, Steve was overheating—which might be the reason why he was so ‘hot’. Unsure of what to do, and what to do with his furiously beating heart, Steve wrapped his arms around the boy, patting his back in a wavering tempo. 

“I’m not little.” Stiles murmured into the thin lapels of Steve’s white v neck, the first remark Steve said since finding him still bothering his hormone-drowning mind. “You’re just too big.” 

Blushing madly to match Stiles’ cold blood-rushed blossoming cheeks, Steve inclined his head up towards the cloud in an attempt to conceal it from Stiles, his voice a soft whisper like the translucent puffs of breath he was whimpering out. “I find it quite endearing.” 

Stiles snuggled in further, brows frowning in strain to hear. “What?” 

“Nothing.” 

 

~~~

 

Yes, Stiles was safe. Yes, Steve rescued him. And yes, the orb was safely in their hands, leading them into the right direction in unraveling this huge catastrophe of mysteries. 

However, I must warn those who are spectators in this series of events, you in particular, of the less than adequate proportions that this whole journey will end up venturing to. If perhaps, you’re looking for a happy ending, a stop to everything bad and horrid that has happened—this is not where you should be. And if you still somehow choose to accompany them on this journey, then be warned and be prepared. 

For this, was beyond what anyone expected it to be. 

When Stiles got into the Quinjet, he finally fainted from all the magic he exhausted in trying to survive the whole ordeal. He was fast asleep and dreaming away to a harmless flowery plot of sunshine-filled land where he was also sleeping because running just seemed to much like a bother and he’s not a big fan of fitting into the cliché. 

He was expecting to be in the Avengers Tower, researching about this orb, when he woke up. But he was still suspiciously in the air when he did. Staggering towards the cockpit where Steve was decked in, Stiles was still half-asleep in the way that his voice drawled its vowels. “Where are we?” 

“Still in the pacific ocean.” Steve swiveled in his pilot chair to face Stiles who was sitting in one of the retractable seats behind him. 

Stiles frowned, his eyes still blurry from sleep when he looked at the digital clock. “Still?” 

“We’re heading to Japan to pick up the rest of our team.” Steve monitored the flight route and the controls, smiling shortly to the sleepy elemental. 

Even though he was still half-asleep, he knew he didn’t hear wrongly. “Japan?” 

Steve waited before he replied, pointing out the window when he took over from auto-pilot to descend the Quinjet. “Yeah. Look outside.” 

Stiles frowned and followed his instructions. Stopping, he blinked a few times. He looked back to Steve before looking out the window again, this time with his hands vigorously wiping the sleep out of his eyes. “What in the holy hell happened?” 

And that was still a big question because from an aerial shot, Japan looked like what would happen if Bigfoot had ran a marathon through it and if Bigfoot was a 5,000 ft tall creature with feet the sizes of Burj Khalifa. More than half of the architectural structure was destroyed throughout the country, and the earth looked as if an abstract painting came to life—all weird shapes and textures and different levels, waving in out, popping in out and breaking apart. 

Steve landed the Quinjet on a plot of land in the woods as instructed by Tony. As soon as they got out, Stiles saw the destruction up close and he was speechless. Upon walking to the scene where his team were, he was swiftly pulled into Tony’s tight hug. 

“Thank god you’re safe—we thought something bad would happen to you.” Tony patted him up and down and turning him around while Natasha, Clint and Banner all showed different levels of affection in checking up on him.

Stiles wasn’t as concerned about his health as he was with whatever the fuck this was. “What—what the hell happened here?” 

A Japanese man, rugged and stubbled with streaking white and grey hair blended somewhat artistically into his ash-black hair, came forward to answer his question. “The Nemeton.” 

Even though Stiles has never met him before, he could recognize that voice. “Kousuke?” 

Smiling at the recognition, Kousuke wince in his attempt of a smile due to the huge cut on his lips. “Hello, Stiles.” 

They had been talking about the Nemeton since the moment Stiles located the Nemeton in Japan—keeping a close connection and twice-in-a-daily update about the situation in their respective Nemeton location. 

“Kousuke, what happened to you?” Stiles turned around to emphasize the utter amount of confusion he was in. “And here?” 

“The Nemeton happened.” Kousuke sighed, switching his weight to his non-injured foot. “It was weirdly pulsing for days and then it just stopped—we thought it was fine until it just disappeared and then this happened moments later.” 

“Fuck.” Stiles knew, rationally, that the chances of the Nemeton disappearing elsewhere was also high, but still, hearing it was a completely different scenario. “What exactly happened?”

“The earth started… moving. And it destroyed everything—it was as if the earth had turned into waves.” The man felt shivers running down his spine, vision still littered with the recent horror that had just passed every time he closed his eyes.  

Stiles stepped back. “The Nemeton did this?” 

“We think so—that’s why I sent you that message.” Tony spoke up from his position, still in his IronMan suit save for his face. 

It struck him like lightning. “Beacon Hills.” The horror in his face as he imagined what might be happening. His feet instantly turned and made for the Quinjet but Steve stopped him. “I—I need to—“

“Stiles.” Steve’s voice rang like a clear bell in silence. 

Stiles took a deep breath to calm his nerves, Steve’s voice grounding him from a panic attack—of which he really wanted to have because the situation doesn’t just call for it, it’s screaming for it. “The Nemeton in Beacon Hills disappeared as well.”

Kousuke wallowed in his own self-misery, losing all hope for the city and an empathy for the boy. “How about our friends in England?” 

Tony and Bruce’s shoulders drooped, the latter fixing his glasses who is still in a pristine state as he stayed in the Quinjet the entire time. “We can’t get a hold of them.”

“We need to warn them.” Steve nodded to himself, looking up at his battered teammates. 

“What if it’s too—“ Before Stiles could finish the sentence, he felt—more than saw—his jean pocket glow. Reaching in, he pulled out his orb, which was now glowing a sickly dark purple hue with the black warm inside it rampaging and storming against the walls of the sphere. 

Bruce inched closer to try to inspect the sphere. “What is it doing?” 

“It’s—“ Stiles brought it closer to the two of them. “—resonating.” 

Both looked at each other and then snapped the other way, looking around in the far distance until they found what they were looking for. Running to the destination, the team followed in their hurried footsteps, both ignoring the calls from their teammates. 

Once they reached the nearby stream they located, Bruce jumped into it without a second thought with Tony yelping out beside Stiles. 

“Bruce!” Tony tried to go after him but Stiles stopped him. “What the hell is he doing?” 

“Just wait.” Stiles gritted out to Tony. 

Indeed, Bruce came up after just a little over one minute with a huge gasp for oxygen and his right hand clutched in a fist. Stiles walked towards him in a synchronized step as Bruce inched closer to him. They extended their hands together and opened up their fists to reveal the exact same orb in Bruce’s palms. 

“We were right.” Stiles cursed, his own breath unsteady and airless similar to Bruce’s sharp and short intakes of air. “This is what caused the Nemeton to die and disappear.” 

Bruce looked towards Tony, chest heaving up and down. “We need to warn them to find and dispose this orb before it’s too late.”

“Well, we can't reach them so I guess we’re going to England.” Tony looked to Steve for confirmation. 

Just when they all thought that they were one step closer to figuring out what’s really happening with the confirmation of the orb—a source, a target to eliminate and to blame—and just when they thought nothing else could possibly go wrong in this miserable horrible information-filled (for some people) and revolting day. Lightning strikes again.

And this time, it was in the literal sense. As lighting did rumble and crackled before it finally struck down in the middle of where they were all huddled up in the woods, a rainbow like lightning carving up the ground in an intricate pattern. 

“Thor!” Stiles shouted in shock—more like squealed but at this point who cares (he cares)—at the sudden appearance of the Norse God, all clad in his warrior gear. 

Tony took one look at Thor’s frown and hung his head. “This doesn’t look good.” 

“Aye, indeed my iron friend. I came with alarmingly bad news.” Thor boomed out in his majestically loud voice. 

Rolling his eyes, Stiles mentally punched himself in the face to see if it wakes him up in case this was a very long nightmare, his voice dripping with sarcasm—because he is never too tired for sarcasm. “Of course. What other types of news could there even be?”

But it really wasn’t the time for jokes, or sarcasm. It really really wasn’t. 

“Well, this is worst.” Thor seemed rather confused with the sarcasm he could not comprehend. 

No one dared ask, especially Stiles, because they weren’t really keen on jinxing whatever the hell it was—and they all silently hoped that it wouldn’t be a big of a ‘bad news’ if they didn’t provoke it. 

Stiles should really learn his lesson he’s been trying to teach himself on jinxing things—even mentally—because it always always seems to backfire. 

“The Casket of Ancient Winters was stolen.” 

Chapter Text

Sties has a few if not a sufficient amount of days where he absolutely felt like collapsing all the way to China. And, of course, like everything else in the life of a Stilinski—that was the absolute opposite of a hyperbole, which means the reality was even worse, in which case means that ‘a few’ translates for every single day of his puny little life. 

For the twentieth (?) time that morning—yes morning, it took Steve nearly the whole day to find Stiles and then collectively go to Japan together—Stiles sighed. Tony was manning the Avenger’s main Quinjet with Clint lurking behind him. Natasha and Bruce were analyzing the specs of the black orb while Steve, him and Thor were decked out in their seats, bringing Thor up to speed with what has happened while he was gone. 

“So, the Triskelion was completely destroyed although Coulson and his team were a part of the survivors, almost half of SHIELD operators were deceased, including Fury but he really isn’t.” Thor waited for the confirmation from Stiles in the form of a nod. “And you got attacked by a winter species of wendigos called Chenoos because it snowed in your campus in the middle of summer.” Stiles winced, but nodded anyways. “Then you went to Beacon Hills because the Nemeton was faulty and found that it had disappeared.” Stiles went overboard and spread his hands out in a jazz-hand extravaganza, Steve just shook his head. “You found a black demonic orb and was impended by a tornado in the ocean—“

“Waterspout!” Tony shouted from the pilot’s seat. 

“—Waterspout, and got stranded in a freezing island until Steve rescued you. And while all this was happening, Tony, Clint and Bruce went to Japan because the Nemeton there disappeared as well and the ground became the sea and swallowed everything up.” Thor’s eyes were now staring off into the distance as if reminiscing about something, but Stiles really wanted him to stop because for one, it was really distracting because those eyes, those eyes. And two, well there is no second reason, Thor was just too distracting in general. 

“Yeah, that’s about it.” Stiles ticked his hands off to recount the events, but one of them popped out to him. “Wait a minute.” He shifted his body to look at Steve sitting behind him. “How did it take you so long to find me, I gave you my coordinates.” 

Natasha chuckled. “Coordinates, honey? If you did, we wouldn’t have had a whole debate about it.” 

“Debate?” Stiles frowned, shaking his head. “No, I listed off the windspeed and my coordinates before the radio went off.”

“We didn’t receive it.” Bruce muttered, hands still toying with the specs of the two orbs in the holographic scan. 

“Then how did you find me?” Stiles looked at Steve once more, waiting for an answer. 

Bruce stopped moving, blinking once before picking up another set of data. “He went to Beacon Hills to search for you.” 

Stiles froze in his seat. Steve? In Beacon Hills? His eyes drifted back to Steve’s and found that it was avoiding his stare. How much does he know? 

“And now we’re going to England to search for the remaining Nemeton.” Thor concluded, oblivious to the elephant in the room and nodding to himself in a grim disposition. “This is all kinds of horrifying in it’s own right, but on top of that, we have another grave problem at our hands.” 

Thor was right. This was no time to dwindle around with his feelings. Get it together, Stiles. Leave your emotions until you’re locked in the bathroom alone. Breathe. 

“The Casket of Ancient Winters.” Stiles recalled the name of the object Thor said was missing. “I can’t believe it actually exists.” 

Steve tilted his head, confused. “Pardon, but what exactly is it?” 

Thor looked affronted, which was hilarious although it shouldn’t be. “The Casket of Ancient Winters is a relic and weapon of the Frost Giants in Jotunheim. It holds the fury of a thousand killing winters and the infinite icy cold of Jotunheim itself. If opened, it will freeze and destroy anything in its path. Used to obliterate enemies, armies and conquer realms.” The god of thunder closed his eyes, his Mjolnir resting against his thigh. “For years it has been safe in Odin’s Vault in Asgard, and now it’s been stolen.”

“That’s not ominous at all.” Stiles smiled forcefully, clapping his thighs in a comedic purpose. Happy thoughts a day keeps the mental doctors away. A life motto worthy to live by. 

Tony set the auto-pilot on, unbuckling his seatbelt before leading Clint down to the holographic table in the middle of the Quinjet where Bruce and Natasha were analyzing data. Clint crossed his arms, leaning against the table. “So, any ideas who might take it or where it might be?” 

“I vote Hydra.” Tony raised his hands. 

Now, Stiles could see a logical reason behind why that may be so. But the prospects of it actually happening was somehow not right in his mind. “Is it though?”

“Stiles, Hydra has been relentlessly targeting S.H.I.E.L.D, who else could it be?” Steve spoke up, standing from his seat to meet the rest of the group gathered around in the table, leaving Stiles sitting with Thor. 

“Besides, we’re all agreeing that Hydra was behind poisoning the Nemeton, right?” Clint added to the theory, his hands pointing forward in a suggestive way. “Your friend had a picture of a Hydra agent under-cover as SHIELD near the Eternal Fountain.” 

Stiles couldn’t really argue with that, because it is logical. But something just didn’t feel right—as if it was too easy blaming it on one enemy. “Okay, let’s say it was Hydra, how did they even get into Asgard?” 

Everyone pointed their heads to Thor, looking for an answer. “Well, in my knowledge, only BitFrost grants passage to Asgard.” 

Stiles frowned. “And there’s no other way?” 

“None.” Thor shrugged, shoulders hunched, eyes staring off into the distance again before suddenly he sat up straight as a needle. “Except—“

The god of thunder raised his head and met his eyes with Tony’s, and collectively the rest of the Avengers understood what he was saying, no—not saying. Except Stiles, of course. Because he’s the new guy who missed out on that first office party where everything worth remembering happened and now he’s that one outsider left out of an inside joke. 

It’s a shitty feeling, he can give you that. 

“What?” Stiles urged Thor on to answer. 

Before he can get his answer though—because when is it ever so easy for Stiles to get anything he wants even if it’s just one fucking name—the Quinjet beeped erratically and a minor turbulence shook through the aircraft.

Stiles instinctively held on to his seatbelt. “Again? Seriously?” 

Tony rushed to the cockpit, turning off the alarm. “Relax, Stiles.” He buckled himself in and brought up the holographic panel to inspect what just happened. “There was a signal disruption. Our contacts are sending out powerful radio wavelengths to their location.” 

“Why don’t they just text like normal people do?” Stiles grumbled, hand on his heart to forcefully stop the loud harsh beating of his organ that was trying to escape the safety of his ribs. 

Bruce—who was not bothered at all by the turbulence—placed both orbs back on their respective cases. “These two are definitely the same—every component, completely identical.” 

“100% identical?” Tony squinted his eyes, because the specs of anything being 100% identical to another is scientifically unsound. See, even mass-produced items are not 100% identical. The chances of random errors or modifications even just by the slightest is very high. 

“Everything.” Bruce shrugged, wiping sweat from his brows with the back of his hands. “Every molecule, every small detail in the sphere and even every discharge from each particle. Exactly the  same.” 

Stiles took note of that eerie fact, still unsure what to make of it. “And anything other than that? The origin perhaps?” 

“No.” Bruce looked to Natasha who also shook her head from her place at her chair, StarkPad in her hands searching for database matches. “We were hoping in obtaining another sample, with the differences we could compare and maybe draw a conclusion from two samples instead of one and gain more information. But it’s exactly the same, identical—even if we have two objects, it’s as if we’re looking at the same sample.”

“Well, it is supernatural and it is related with the Nemeton and Beacon Hills—so hey, uncanny and weird is kind of the normal around here.” Stiles bounced his head from side to side, smiling too wide for anyone’s comfort. “If anything, I would be more worried if it wasn’t weird.” 

“That’s kind of the spirit!” Clint slapped Stiles back with so much effort that Stiles catapulted all the way to Natasha’s seat, face mushed into her stomach. 

Natasha smiled down at him, ruffling his hair before helping him up. “Maybe a third sample will help. That’s why we’re here right?”

In the cockpit, Tony flipped switches on the top panel, pushing buttons and pulling levers to prep for landing. “Among other things, yes.”

 

~~~

 

Once they’ve descended from the Quinjet and into the country where royalty was still a thing—Stiles was confused but he was open to all interpretation—the Avengers made their way to the address of their contact. 

“Is England always this—“ Tony paused to search for the right word, “—empty?” 

And he was right. The streets of London seemed deserted, barren from it’s night life. Ignoring the glaring eerie difference, they arrived at a small secluded Chinese restaurant. Bruce looked around and did a double turnover. “Is this right?” 

Steve took out the note, checked it with the number on the wall. “Yes, apparently so.” 

Stiles and Tony, on the other hand, went straight in—because Stiles is brave, if not reckless, and he doesn’t really think much and just does in general. If there’s anything he’s learned in his life in Beacon, is that if bad things are bound to happen—there is no amount of precaution you can take, no amount of fear, or any time of delay that is going to prepare you or stop it from happening. 

Life, man, it sucks. 

“No one’s here either.” Tony popped his head from the kitchen area, picking up random utensils, playing with a whisk in one hand. “Where is everyone? Do Brits have curfew that we don’t know about? Is it even business hours?” 

“It’s nearly 10 p.m., Tony.” Clint scoffed, going back out from the store to canvas the streets. “It’s prime time business hour for the Great Britain.” 

Steve shifted the weight of his SHIELD to his other arm, his right hand now free to access his phone to call their contact in the supposed area. “I don’t think they’re even here.” 

“I don’t like this.” Stiles felt a chill run up the back of his spine, and a very well-deserved one indeed. 

London, England, is a very beautiful city in it’s own right. Amazing construction and architecture, rich and painted with victorian era history and questionable flyers posted up everywhere. Stiles has never been to England, but he’s pretty sure it’d be a marvel in the day. 

Unfortunately though, he’s here at night. 

And the buildings—yeah, they’re not really helping disperse the creepy ass aura that’s mystifying over them (that’s a word. that’s totally a word). “Anyone else getting the feeling Jack the Ripper might just pop up if we say his name three times?” 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Stiles.” Tony scoffed, arms crossing one another. “Jack the Ripper doesn’t do that—the Candyman does.” 

Steve frowned, following the three men outside. “Who is this Jack the Ripper?”

“A serial killer who famously targeted women and terrorized the streets of Victorian London. Basically, the Bond villain that never happened.” Stiles commented half-heartedly, eyes still wary and on the look-out. “See, they’re both British—it should’ve been a thing, why is it not a thing?” 

“Or Sherlock Holmes, Doyle should’ve featured Jack the Ripper in his stories.” Clint added his own penny to the thought. 

“Speaking of Holmes, did you know that there has been some speculation that H.H. Holmes might’ve been Jack the Ripper?” Which was a thing, it really was. Stiles didn’t believe it though—what he did believe was that Jack the Ripper might’ve been more than human, if you get what he’s getting at. 

Natasha smacked both Tony and Stiles’ head from behind them. “You do realize you’ve said his name more than three times right?” At the incredulous expressions being shot at her, she rolled her eyes. “We’re here for the Nemeton, not talk about ghost stories. You can do that in your girly sleepover along with the rest of your mani-pedi and braiding sessions, later.” 

“I’ll have you know that I am an expert at braiding hair.” Stiles jutted his chin out, not wanting to lose even under an insult. “Thor, did you hear that? We’re grooming each other in a sleepover tonight.” 

“Excellent!” Thor boomed, his voice a grand echo in the dead streets of London. “Grooming like the Apes, your ancestors.” 

At that, Stiles, Tony and Bruce winced and looked several which ways, not sure where to start with that statement but collectively decided to drop it. Tony blinked away his stupor of confusion, widening his eyes and to somehow adjust his brain like it even worked that way. “Okay, let’s go to the woods, said no living soul that came out unharmed, ever.” 

That seems like the logical plan—it does. But remember that lesson learned, yeah. Nothing logical ever seems to work so Stiles does not want to touch that, no. 

“No, wait.” Stiles bit his tongue, because somehow he knows this is going to bite back hard. “I think I’ll stay here while you guys look for the Nemeton.” Before anyone could argue, Stiles held his hand up. “I feel anxious and queasy leaving here—which are two emotions that’s usually a warning for something disastrous.” 

Tony was about to raise three arguments to counter that, but Steve held him down by his shoulders and walked towards Stiles. “Then we’ll split up. I’ll hold down here with Stiles and you guys go find the Nemeton and the orb.” 

Any other time, if he’s offered alone time with Steve—like literally any other time—and Stiles would’ve been elated. But there’s just one huge elephant between them with a neon sign spelling out ‘Beacon Hills’ hanging by its trunk. 

“You know, maybe Tony could stay.“ Stiles avoided Steve’s eyes, to the extent that he had to tilt his head in an uncomfortable position. 

Tony shrugged. “Yeah, I mean maybe that’s better because—“ 

Steve roughly coughed, interrupting Tony and getting his attention simultaneously before glaring at him with such intensity that even the Tony Stark stuttered in his words and pedaled back faster than you can say race-car backwards. 

“—no. Because no, it’s not better. Steve should go.” Tony nodded rapidly, hands reaching out to gather Bruce and Clint who turned around to watch the conversation. “Steve and Stiles stays. The rest of us, out. Two-thirds of the Avengers, Un-Assemble, let’s go!” 

The only thing that could’ve possibly happened that would make that situation even more awkward is if somebody started singing shampoo’s ‘trouble’—on any side really—and Stiles was really tempted to. 

Oh, he really really wanted to. 

 

~~~

 

Because the streets of London was so uncharacteristically silent and eerie, Stiles and Steve decided to patrol the streets in case they see anything. And in this case, unlike so many other cases, Stiles actually wished something would happen. 

“So.” Even then, silence was still his worst enemy, and anxiety’s getting the best of him. “Have you ever been to England before?” 

Steve lifted his head from its bent position of unease, “No. Didn't have the time or the option to.” 

Right. You idiot, what were you thinking. You’re talking to Captain America—the guy whose live was known only in war and in the Avengers. Wake up, Stiles. 

“Well, back then in 1940s, Britain or Europe in general wasn’t such a great place to be. I’m pretty sure you knew but Europe had Germany to deal with and Britain was just relentlessly bombed or ‘Blitz’ed—as is now popularly referenced to.” Stiles was obsessed with History at one point, okay? It was fascinating to see how even back then, fuckery still happened on a ridiculous scale. 

Hey, if one man can cause that much destruction—he feels quite a burden lifted up from him as his actions, or really they were disasters, didn’t result in that much of a fuck up. 

And at least when he has a moustache, it wouldn’t be whatever the fuck was happening with that sad patch of hair. He has class—he’s going for a trim and proper caveman beard. 

(Yes, in hindsight, he realized he had just compared himself to a Nazi, which really wasn't a standard of comparison for anything—that’s way too low of a bar). 

When Steve wouldn’t even raise his head to offer that rough sarcastic humor he usually does when they’re alone together, that’s how Stiles knew that avoiding the problem until it goes away won’t work—not this time, at least. 

“Steve.” The tone in his voice changed, which was probably why Steve decided to look up and face him. “If there’s anything you want to say or ask, just do it.” 

The look in Steve’s face fell even more, and Stiles didn’t really know what to expect. 

“You went to Beacon Hills.” Stiles threw it out there with no intonations. “And that’s not a place you can visit without learning something new or leave without a thousand questions.” 

Steve didn’t exactly know where to start. Because Stiles was right, he did learn a million things and left with a billion more questions. “I met your dad.” 

“Ah!” Stiles laughed without mirth. “The old Sheriff Stilinski. What a bundle of joy, how’s your meeting him?” 

By the flood of sarcasm, Steve knew that the hunch he had was right. “I didn’t. Or at least, I tried, but he shut the door on my face when I said I was looking for you.” 

“Ouch.” Stiles kind of had to physically restrain his eyes from watering up by thinking happy thoughts—but nothings coming to mind. “Has he been drinking again?”

“Met your ‘friends’ too, for a lack of better word.” Steve’s brows slanted downwards even more, trying to keep a lid on his emotions, which doesn’t really work because that man wears his heart on his sleeves. 

Stiles winced but hid it under a coo as if he was talking about a baby. “How are they? Last time I saw them, they were still so immature and childish.” 

“Stiles, stop.” Steve snapped at him, shocking the younger straight through his backbone and freezing him in place. “How can you be joking about this?”

“About what?” Stiles shrugged, still acting nonchalant about it, hoping that Steve would just drop it. 

“How they treat you!” Steve stepped forward with every inclination of his voice. “How they insult you and cast you out when you're the only person trying to help them!” 

Stiles smiled, but it was watery and wavering and both of them knew it. “It’s called hormones, man. Twentieth century friendships are tough.” 

“They called you a monster. An unwanted psychopath.” Steve reached out for Stiles, his hands slowly coming up to catch his hand. “A murderer!”

And maybe he shouldn’t have done it, but Stiles stepped backwards and Steve’s hands fell short. Facing the super soldier with a cold hard intensity in his eyes, Stiles smirked. “So?” 

Steve stared at the young man in front of him in horror. He thought that the Spark would at the very least defend himself, and yet he’s just taking it as if, yes, as if he was repenting for something. And Steve knows those eyes better than anyone. 

“Stiles.” Taking a different approach, Steve lowered the tone of his voice to soft and emphatic. “I don’t know what happened, but I know you. You’re not a murderer.” 

“You’re right. You don’t know what happened.” Stiles shook his head, slowly, repeatedly, as if hypnotizing himself into a trance of his own emotion and guilt. “You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know how much deaths—all those deaths—happened because of me.” 

The atmosphere around them dropped, the air felt a little colder and the clouds drawn a little lower. Both were inhaling and exhaling at a speed to fast to be normal—their visions clouded over. Stiles cleared his throat unconsciously before trudging on. “You don’t know me. Not all of it. Not the person who came before. Not like they do.” 

“I don’t believe them.” Steve continued his path forward despite Stiles constant backing. “I trust you, Stiles. You won’t hurt me.” Finally reaching him, Steve grabbed Stiles’ hand and pulled him in a jerk to prevent him from moving. “So, please tell me the whole truth.” 

Stiles couldn’t say anything, as if something was blocking his throat. Coughing to clear away the blocking, Stiles realized he couldn’t stop coughing. And realized that his vision was getting blurry. “Steve.” 

“No.” Steve shook his head, closing his eyes as if he was shutting out everything Stiles was about to say. “I won’t believe them, Stiles. You’re not a bad person—“

“Steve! Look!” Stiles grabbed his face with both his hands, forcing Steve to open his eyes and look around. 

Before any of them knew what was happening, the streets that was clear and empty was now riddled with low hanging clouds. Dark grey and hazy fog cursing through the entirety of the city—partially blinding their sight and clogging their oxygen pathways, making it harder to breathe. 

“Shit!” A voice rang through their ears.

Stiles and Steve was instantly on guard, unaware of anything. 

“No!” Another voice blasted in their ears. 

Steve squinted his eyes. “Tony? Bruce?” 

They were greeted by silence, but then the voice came back. “Yeah, hi. Uh, your intercoms were on, so.” 

Are you fucking kidding me? Stiles instinctively reached for his ears and yes, the blasted thing was there. What would his life be without public embarrassment? No seriously, he’d really love to know. 

“What happened?” Steve tried to casually wave off their ‘conversation’ that the rest of the team might or might not have heard, while also physically waving the air in front of them to clear their sights a little more.

“The Nemeton!” Bruce came back on the coms and Stiles could hear a string of curses from Thor in the background. “It disappeared right in front of us, before we could reach it.” 

A static noise sounded before another voice popped up. “Guys.” It was Clint this time, noticeably out of breath. “Me and Nat found another Orb. We’re too late.” 

Well, fuck. All three Nemetons are gone. What do they do now? Stiles cleared his mind. “Okay, let’s just meet back up in the Quinjet. The nights of London aren't really being hospitable to us either.” 

Maybe that wasn’t really the right word to use, as Stiles and Steve were now coughing haphazardly  from the intense fog that came out of literally nowhere. He felt betrayed, because one, Steve happened. And two, no one told him that England was this bipolar with their weather. It’s not Canada, for crying out loud. 

“Are you two alright?” Natasha asked out of concern, because their coughs was still going on like the world’s worst choir ensemble. 

They couldn’t even answer. It felt like something was creeping down their throats and scratching at their lungs. Steve fell on one knee next to him, hands clutching at his chest. Stiles reached out to him. “Ste—“ 

And the most ridiculous thing happened. He’s aware that he’s abused the word ‘ridiculous’ so many times, that he wouldn’t be surprised if a lawsuit slid underneath his door pertaining to a restraining order against a fucking vocabulary. Actually, that sounds like a delight compared to what’s about to happen. 

It started with a noise. A weird, out of ordinary, noise that sounded like hard concrete moving—like the sound of tombs opening up in an Indiana Jones movie or the scene where that giant boulder started to move and pursued to roll one over the adventurer (not really the appropriate time for references but he’s panicking okay, let the man think). Cracking noises and heavy thuds. 

That wasn’t even the weirdest part, no. That would be the fact that the noises were coming from above. And so, Stiles looked up and wow. He’s officially lost his mind. 

“I think this fog may be cocaine powder.” Stiles drawled out his words in a whisper because his voice ran out of it’s box. 

Steve gave one last cough before pulling his strength and look the way Stiles was facing, slowly standing up. His jaw dropped. “Are those—“ 

The noise amplified, and the next thing they knew, they were being chased.

By fucking gargoyles. 

 

~~~

 

One thing a person might ask when they’re being chased by a fucking gargoyle is how the hell did you fucking get here. Because see, not a lot of things makes sense at that point, and Stiles is really confused beside of the fact that he wasn’t even aware that gargoyles were supernatural creatures, let alone real. 

One good thing might be that, no, London wasn’t deserted. The good people of London were all just hiding in their homes due to the recent boom in fog appearances. So yay, civilization lives on—royalty and tea, long live. 

Anyways, back to the point. What was it, again? Right. 

Gargoyles. 

“Steve!” Stiles grabbed the man who was still hunched over, trying to recover from the harsh coughing, and ran with the slumping man leaning at his side. “Come on!” 

The screams of the British were filling the streets, running out of their houses whilst being chased by flying gargoyles with sharp horns, claws, teeth, toenails (ew, no) just sharp everything. The fog wasn’t really helping either because not only can they not partially see, they can’t partially breathe—and thus can’t partially run anywhere without colliding with another person. Partially, fucked in every non-partial way.

Oh and partial, Stiles will be expecting your lawsuit too, please and thank you. 

“What’s going on? Stiles? Steve?” Clint ran through the woods, speaking into his coms, half shouting. Because if anything, screaming in the background and Stiles don’t mix well together. 

Stiles stopped, because running would be useless at this point, and gathered his earth tether to pull out chunks of brick in the architecture to launch at the incoming gargoyles. “Uh. How do I say this.” He paused to duck and a swooping strike from the concrete bastards. “Gargoyles!” 

With no further explanation, Stiles ignored the rest of his team mates’ tirade of questions and instead pulled Steve up. “Are you okay?”

The super soldier nodded. “Yeah, just shocked.” 

“Okay, just.” Stiles conjured a balls of flaming fire and lopped them at the incoming devils. “Help me out here?” 

Stiles didn’t need to convince the man further, Steve was up and running straight into the fog with his shield bared at his hands and ready to be catapulted. Stiles went back to guarding people the best as he can, but the fog. The fucking fog. He can’t see anything, let alone aim properly. 

Ripping off a whole wall from a red brick apartment complex, he manipulated his elemental power to drop it straight on top of a swarm—breaking the wall a part after that and aimed it at several positions, acting as a barrier for the mass of scared British against the Gargoyles. “Go! Run!” 

Facing them right up and personal was a whole ‘nother experience. Stiles stared straight to the red beady eyes of the concrete creatures, unsure of what to do when three of them swooped down and landed on the ground, preying on him. “Good gargoyles. Good boy.” He cooed, hands in front of him. “Or girl? No sexism here.” 

Then, in a blink, he was carried up into the air by a metallic arm. “Kid, you need better battle tactics if that was your escape plan.” 

Scoffing in relief (Stiles has figured out the art of that, you’re welcome), Stiles poked Tony in his arc reactor. “You should’ve gotten here faster.” 

“So, gargoyles are real, huh?” Tony landed back down next to Thor and Clint. Stiles watched as Natasha ran and helped Cap round up the people. “Any tips on how to defeat them?”

And well, he should have known right? Because of course he’d predicted that fucking gargoyles were real. Then again, he knew about the Chenoos—so it technically was a good question as to why he’s never bothered researching about gargoyles. 

“Nothing can’t be stopped by my hammer.” Thor brandished Mjolnir, leaping up into one of the high victorian buildings. Stiles loved seeing him fly and all, because whew those muscles and the cape—and that hair, oh my lord—but no, he has to be rational. 

“Thor, come back down!” Stiles shouted after him, thinking of a plan. “You can’t possibly aim in this fog, you’ll hit one of the citizens!” 

Tony and Clint were long gone from his side, running through the clouds of doom and helping people out of harms way while he was constantly levitating brick walls and concrete roads to act as shields for the rescue. 

Clint unfortunately ran out of arrows, and at one point, a particularly nasty wave of fog hit him right in the face and next thing he knew, he was being stared down by a gargoyle, fangs pointing out right in his face. 

Perhaps it was kind of inappropriate for Stiles to be thinking that, hey, for once—it wasn’t him in a ridiculous situation. But, watching Clint punch the gargoyle due to the lack of his weapon of choice, was pretty damn hilarious if not ridiculously terrifying. 

Because not only did it do zero damage to the gargoyle, Clint was also thrown back airborne by the  intensity of the roar the creature let out. Stiles managed to catch him by manipulating the air, but not before laughing—which, he’s got to admit, was a pretty dick move. “Nice hit.” 

Clint scrambled his way onto the ground, patting himself and ditching his bow for a gun thrown to him by Natasha. “You try punching 800 pounds of fucking concrete!” 

“Someone has to do something with this bloody fog!” Thor boomed from his position somewhere in the distance—because the fog was admittedly very thick and obtrusive for any kind of view. 

Looking around, Stiles agreed with Thor. This wouldn’t end, not with the fog still messing up their senses and choking them. Well, he’s never technically done this before but, life’s all about new experiences. 

Softly chanting an air spell he vaguely remembers—which is not a good sign, because misspelling in a spell is really disastrous, you have no idea what he’s been through—before sucking in a lungful of air, and blow. 

Gushes of wind blew from his mouth with the strength of a pipe hose, and Stiles could feel his lungs burning from the extent it was going to. But it was working. The fog was slowly dissipating and they could see better without the veil of questionable air particles. 

Feeling lightheaded from the air exhaust, Stiles stopped and inhaled as much as he can, as fast as he can. Thor landed down next to him with a huge crack on the road, patting him on his back—which excuse you, Thor, undid his inhaling by knocking all of the air straight out of his lung again. “Thank you, Young Spark.” 

“The fog may be gone, but we’ve still got a nasty—“ Steve leapt from a telephone box, latching onto the back of one gargoyle, “hard—“ throwing his shield to knock out the gargoyle next to him, he caught the ricochet of his shield and jammed it into the head of the devilish monster he was riding on, “problem in our hands!” 

“Without context, that would be very wrong.” Tony pointed out. 

Stiles looked around, noticing something amiss. “Where’s Bruce?” 

And maybe it was something close to fate, but Bruce Banner appeared then and there. Not as the Hulk, no. Which was probably a good thing, because the streets of London was pretty much destroyed seeing as how he has uprooted the architecture and infrastructure to act as shields and projectiles (sorry England, but gargoyles were your inventions, a little destruction won’t hurt). 

But just appearing there, running and out of breath, stopping beside Stiles and holding out the black orb, Bruce Banner somehow managed to be of greater assistance than Hulk. 

Because as soon as that happened, all the gargoyles screeched—loud and piercing—before flying up and away into the far distance, out of their reach. 

Stiles looked to Bruce with a cautious expression, to which Bruce reciprocated to himself. Steve dropped and rolled back onto the ground, running up to them along with the rest of their teammates. 

“Thank you.” Thor pointed out to the good doctor, apparently not understanding how weird what just was. 

“Uh, you’re welcome?” Bruce tilted his head, glasses tipping off the edge of his nose, while also turning around to face the rest of them with a confused expression and a mouthed, ‘what?’

All everyone could do was shrug and just be hopeful and grateful. At the very least, that was one other problem off of his hands, and they’ve all learnt not to look a gift horse in its mouth. 

Or something. 

 

~~~

 

“I won’t know anything until we get back in the lab, but according to the timeline that we established, Natasha and Clint took the orb out of the water source before the Nemeton disappeared.” Bruce handed out water for everyone in the Quinjet. 

They were on their way back to the Avengers Tower, the aircraft set on auto-pilot by Jarvis on a course headed home. Everyone save for Bruce was down for the count, still coughing due to the after-effects that was flooding over them now that the adrenaline rush was over and done. 

“And that implies?” Stiles waved his hands to move the conversation along. 

“No idea. But that’s a different variable that wasn’t present in these two, so I’m hoping to see a difference in some sort.” Bruce scratched the back of his neck, looking to Tony for back up. 

"What happens now?" Stiles threw up the question, but he was still looking at Bruce, rubbing harshly at his eyes and dragging his hands down his face. "All three Nemetons are gone." 

Tony felt pity on Bruce and came up to Stiles. “We’ll figure it out, kid.” Patting his back, Tony shook him in an affectionate manner. “We always do.” 

Steve was pointedly staring dead-straight at Stiles, and Stiles was pointedly avoiding his gaze. Hey, no one ever said he wasn’t petty. 

And he didn’t really have to bear with it for long. Because apparently, there was a recurring sound in his life that signaled everything bad—like that grandfather clock in your childhood home, terrorizing you in the middle of the night with those echoey loud gongs marking the countdown to your sleepless night (that’s a thing, right?). But in his case, it was the oh so familiar sound of a panicked dying screech of a monotone weasel, also known as the Jarvis-issued alarm. 

“What is it this time? Another signal disruption?” Stiles rolled his eyes in a half-joking manner, half expecting it to be true. 

Tony threw a smirk in his direction before going to the cockpit to check if anything was in distress. He came back with a StarkPad in his hands and a frown on his face. 

Stiles and Clint shared a foreboding look because a silent frowning Tony is never a good Tony. Natasha was the first to ask. “Tony? What’s wrong?” 

Without answering, Tony simply stopped by the holographic table and tapped his StarkPad to sync the data. What came up was truly a mess. Stiles watched as the world globe was projected, and footage after footage popped up in different locations all over the world. 

Videos and live recordings of floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, rampaging animals and array of supernatural attacks ranging from rogue packs of werewolves to swarms of flying pixies (they are so much worse than their Disney animated counterparts, so so much worse). 

“Everything.” Tony muttered, his tone unsure and shocked, eyes flitting from one disaster to another. He blinked rapidly, wetting his dry lips with the swipe of his tongue, looking around to each of his members. “Stiles?” 

Contrary to popular belief, he doesn't know everything. He may seem to, but he really doesn’t. He knows a lot of things yes, thanks to his special mastery in google-fu, but that range is not as wide as people may think, despite his appearance as a lanky nerd with a blabber mouth. 

Why the world is now somehow fucking broken, sadly, is not one of them. 

“I don’t know.”