He was all but swaying with the effort it had taken to rebuild the shattered pot, but his job was almost done.
"Scott's howling," Derek said from somewhere behind him; "it's coming."
Those were not the words Stiles wanted to hear.
Beacon Hills was under attack; nothing new, but this was something even the beastiary had never seen before. This had put five children under ten into comas, nearly killed Isaac when he tried to protect one of the kids and seemed to be an invulnerable cloud of purple smoke.
Everything had started when some idiot had smashed a pot from the new travelling exhibit visiting the town museum. The pot had come from a European dig and was early bronze age. Inside had been the mummified remains of what looked like a premature baby and no one knew if the entity released was the vengeful spirit of the child or some kind of guardian, but fixing the pot had been the only solution anyone could come up with.
The whole incident with the nogitsune and the clusterfuck with Kate fucking Argent afterwards had changed Stiles a lot, which was why he had the job. Whatever spark he had had before, it had grown and when he could focus he had a power that he could tell made Deaton nervous.
Reaching out with his will rather than his hand, he called the next part of the pot to him. It had started in hundreds of pieces, but now there were only a handful of bits left in the pile. Scott and others were out trying to keep the entity busy and away from kids while he worked, but clearly that had gone south. Derek was now going to have to do his job of protecting Stiles until he was finished.
That was another thing he needed to think about after this was all over; him and Derek. Things had changed there as well and he was still trying to figure it out. Derek was very important to him now, up there with Scott important, but he didn't have time to think about that at the moment.
Stiles focused on the pot; he had to believe he could do it, that was the key to everything. The small piece of clay flew to his fingers and under his direction flexed and morphed as he touched it to the pot. It fitted itself in, filling in cracks where bits had flaked away and been lost forever so that another part of the vessel became whole.
He fitted another and then another until he only had two left.
Something crashed and he heard Derek growl, but he could not turn away. He called the last two pieces to his hands at the same time. In his peripheral vision he saw Derek fly through the air past his work table, a terrible howling wind following the werewolf. He wanted to help, but he knew there was nothing he could do. Taking the last pieces, he willed them into place and he felt something magical click into place.
Being aware of things on a magical level still freaked him out, but in this case it was useful. The howling stopped.
It wasn't done. He could feel it wasn't done, but he had the entity's complete attention. Not daring to look behind him, he stood up, still focused on the pot. The mummified remains of the baby were sitting on a cushion next to where he had been working and he picked it up. He knew he was being watched with more than just eyes and he moved as carefully as he could as he placed the baby back in the vessel.
The simple clay lid for the jar had once been sealed on with pitch. He didn't have pitch, but he had fixed the lid earlier and he picked it up while praying he was doing the right thing.
As he touched it to the pot, energy shot up his arms.
"I know what it is," he said, because the sudden knowledge in his brain had to come out somehow, "oh god, I know what it is. It's a womb."
He had no idea how he knew, but it was obvious. Focusing all his energy on the clay, he fused the lid with the pot and he willed it to be safe and sure forever. As soon as it was done the thing behind him wailed and he shuddered as purple smoke surrounded him and energy surged through him. For a split second he thought he was being attacked, but then the smoke was in front of him and he slumped back into his chair.
"Stiles," Derek called and was by his side in a second.
Thanks to werewolf help he didn't end up falling off his chair onto the floor, but it was close. However, he couldn't take his eyes off the cloud. It was changing shape.
As he watched it coalesced and gradually took the shape of a woman. The first thing he noticed was that she was heavily pregnant. The pot glowed and markings that had been lost to thousands of years of wear came back into being. It was beautiful and powerful, Stiles could feel it. It was almost as beautiful as the long dark haired, naked woman who was now standing behind it.
"Shaman," she said with a small tilt of her head.
Her voice echoed and he wasn't actually sure she was speaking a language he would normally understand, but the magic was translating in his brain.
"Um, hi," he replied, "nice to meet you."
She smiled at him for that.
"You have restored my child to me, Shaman," she said, "for that I owe you my thanks."
"We'll call it even if you restore the local kids to their families," he replied, hoping that he wasn't about to offend her.
"Already done when you broke the curse, Shaman," she told him. "That was a duty, not a boon."
That surprised him.
"What is she saying?" Derek asked, which confirmed Stiles suspicion.
"The kids are okay," he replied. "Who are you," he asked, "if you don't mind me asking?"
"My name would give you too much power," she replied, "but I am guardian of birth and death."
That explained the eternal pregnancy at least.
"I offer you a life in return for the power and part of yourself you have placed in this vessel," she continued. "Chose one you have known who has crossed over and I will return them to you."
Stiles almost fell out of his chair all over again.
"You can do that?" he asked.
"Of course," she replied, but seemed amused rather than offended.
"What if they don't want to come?" he asked.
He had read enough to know entities could be tricky, and he'd seen Buffy.
"All the dead who still have a connection to the living wish to return," she told him; "it would be impossible to bring them back if they did not."
He was learning new things all the time.
The first person that leapt into his mind was his mother for purely selfish reasons. The idea that he could have her back filled him with happiness, but also trepidation. His mom had been dead a long time. Everything had moved on, his dad, although reluctantly, had finally moved on. What would happen if his mother was brought back to the world?
His mind of course skipped on and he looked at Derek. Derek had lost so many people and bringing just one of those back might help him. Stiles thought of Laura, the sister that Derek only rarely mentioned, but each time with reverence and sadness. The only thing was Stiles didn't know what that would do to the balance of power. Laura had been the alpha. If she came back would she reclaim that power? Would it affect Cora or Derek in adverse ways? Magic could be tricky like that.
There was also Erica or Boyd or even one of Derek's family who died in fire, but they all left some big questions.
When his mind flicked to another option he felt something shift inside him as if giving him a hint. He carried guilt around for the deaths the nogitsune had caused even if it had not been his fault and he felt that guilt tighten every time he saw the losses in those around him. He saw broken expressions because of one death in particular, one that had touched them all.
"Alison," he said, knowing it was the right choice.
"Well said, Shaman," the woman told him in her reverberating voice. "I bid you goodbye."
Then she simply vanished, pot and all, and in her place was a much more familiar figure.
"Stiles?" Alison said, looking down at herself and sounding very confused. "Derek ... what?"
Stiles heard himself laugh before he realised he was doing it and it occurred to him he was beginning to lose it. He needed sleep, soon, but he all but launched himself around the table to grab Alison in a firm hug.
"I was dead," she said even as she hugged him back; "I remember dying."
"Yes," he replied, "but you're not anymore. Everyone is going to be so happy you're back."
Before he could answer, the door burst in as the rest of the team arrived: Scott was first, of course and Chris was last with everyone else in between. They all came to complete halts. For a few seconds no one moved.
"She, the entity, was the guardian of birth and death," Stiles knew he was about to babble; "the mummy was her baby. The pot was a symbolic womb. She was beautiful and naked and not purple at all. And grateful, did I mention grateful. I think when it broke it put her under a curse. The kids are going to be fine; they woke up when the curse lifted. Totally weird curse, but she wouldn't tell me her name so I can't even look it up. The internet probably doesn't know much about bronze age naked women anyway," he knew he was getting off track. "She offered me one life for giving the baby back to her. And so ..."
He just kind of pointed at Alison.
There was going to be lots of hugging and crying he could tell. His brain was also beginning to shut down. Repairing the pot had taken everything he had. Luckily for him Derek was keeping an eye on him and caught him before he face planted on the floor.
It turned out sometimes purple clouds that turned into beautiful naked women were awesome.