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It's All In Your Mind

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It was still there.

Stiles Stilinski couldn’t understand why. He couldn’t understand why It was following him. But It was there, plain as daylight. It watched his every move. Even though Kira had run a sword through Its body. Even though they had caught the firefly. Even though It was supposed to be dead.

(It as in the thousand-year-old demon that had taken over his body and made him kill so many people. It as in the thing that had killed Allison and Aiden. It as in the thing he still saw in his dreams.)

It shouldn’t be possible. But It was sitting there, right across him, wearing his face and wearing a huge smirk.

It wasn’t supposed to be there. But It was. And apparently, he was the only one capable of seeing It.

Stiles clenched his fists under the table he was currently sitting at. Few weeks had passed since they caught the firefly. His doppelganger had appeared in the first week after Its supposed demise. And It had been making Stiles’ life hell ever since.

For the past 30 minutes, Stiles had been glaring at It. But It just grinned at him in response, looking very pleased with itself.

He just wanted for It to let him be. But it didn’t seem like that was an option. If he could, he’d strangle that bastard to death. He’d gladly rip the fox to pieces. But he couldn’t. Because he couldn’t even touch the fucking jackass. He tried. But it was like trying to catch smoke.

It seemed, as if it wasn't even real. Although, It probably wasn’t. Not like anyone even saw It. He had asked the Pack, but everyone just looked at him, like if he was crazy. Scott even recommended getting his head checked. He stopped asking after that.

His fingers twitched. It followed him everywhere. It sat next to him in school, It was with him when he rode his Jeep, It sat around when he ate and It watched him sleep.

Not that he had caught any sleep since It appeared. He couldn’t fall asleep. Most of times, he just fiercely glared at it, until he became so tired he fell asleep. Not like those few hours of sleep made anything better.

These past 3 weeks had him constantly tired and annoyed. He was surprised he hadn’t already gone insane from it. But he was getting close. Although, he guessed seeing someone no one else saw was pretty crazy itself.

“What’s the problem, Stiles?” His own voice resounded through the room.

Stiles’ glare only increased in intensity. The fox knew pretty well, what was his problem.

After seeing him fume, the lazy smirk only widened. The thing, sitting across from him at the table, looked thrilled. It only made Stiles angrier. But he knew that if he started shouting - like he wanted to - it would only satisfy the demon further. It took a lot of skill, but he replied as calmly as possible.

“I don’t know. Your face, probably.”

Nogitsune threw Its head back and laughed. Its sick laughter made him want to throw up. He gritted his teeth. It looked back at him and smiled sweetly.

“But sweetheart, that’s your face. If you have problems with your appearance, then you should probably try some make-up.”

Stiles threw his hands up in frustration. “Why can’t you just let me be?”

It knew that there was more to that question. They won. Why couldn’t It go away? Why? Stiles wrecked his mind with these questions, ever since he had first saw It after the whole stabbing incident. And yet, Nogitsune refused to leave.

The fox’s smile turned somewhat sad, almost as if It was pitying him.

“Because Stiles, this is all in your mind.”

***

Time passed and It still didn’t go away. Fortunately, it became easier to ignore It with each passing day. The fox itself, however, tended to not like being ignored, so It spoke all the time just to annoy him. It took all of his strength, to not snap in classes. Thankfully, Stiles learnt to tune Its chatter down after some time.

He had no idea what the fox was doing there. Or, more importantly, what was It? No one else was able to see It, he couldn’t touch It and It didn’t seem to be controlling his actions in any way. Did that mean, that some part of Nogitsune got stuck in Stiles’ head, prepared to haunt him forever?

He stood before a mirror in his room, looking himself over. He wore the best shirt he could find, and yet he still felt like if he put on a potato bag. He ran a hand through his hair, trying to mess it up a little. Stiles hoped to at least look presentable for his date with Malia. But he was standing here for about an hour already, and still felt terrible.

“God, Stiles, are you going to be any slower? Even a snail would be ready before you.” The fox exclaimed. It laid in his bed, looking bored out of Its mind. It made Stiles happy to see the demon agitated.

He glared at It. “Well then, excuse me, for wanting to look good.”

It was quiet for a while and Stiles thought It wouldn’t talk anymore, so he turned back to the mirror. But then It spoke up again.

“I don’t really get what makes you so fixated on some stupid Werecoyote, anyway. What even happened between you two to make you a couple? You fucked few times?”

Stiles gritted his teeth. But he replied, color running to his face. “Once.”

“Huh?” It sat up, looking at him, “You fucked once and she’s your girlfriend?” It looked at him, like if he grew a second head.

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “Yeah. And what’s your problem?”

The fox looked at him for a moment, as if trying to decide if he was kidding or not, but then shook Its head. It sighed and spoke, as if speaking to a small child. “Stiles, one-night-stands don’t mean serious relationships.”

Anger blossomed in the human’s chest. Stiles gritted his teeth. How dare the fox make any assumptions? What did It even know? Of course one-night-stands were without feelings, but he and Malia were different. Sure… the sex in Eachen House was… unexpected and a moment decision. But they got closer afterwards. They were together now.

Stiles opened his mouth to told the fox so, but then realized – why should he even listen to It? It was just trying to agitate him.

So he looked back into the mirror and proceeded to ignore It.

Nogitsune shook its head and chuckled. “Humans… so funny.”

Ignore It, ignore It, ignore It.

***

Kate got resurrected, Derek lost his powers, someone made a dead pool of all the supernatural creatures in Beacon Hills, Scott turned someone into a Werewolf, one of the deputies turned out to be… something, and now someone released a Werewolf-killing virus on school.

It sure has been lot of stuff to deal with.

The last cause was the most worrying. The entire school ended up getting quarantined, although it seemed that normal people weren’t affected in the end. No, the worst fell on his friends.

It seemed like the virus was targeted mainly on supernatural creatures. In the end, Stiles ushered Scott, Malia and Kira to the Hale’s vault.

They looked terrible. All of them. Weak, pale, shaking like leafs. It hurt to see them like that.

And Stiles felt useless. He was the best at it, but he had no idea what to do.

Nogitsune stalked around, looking through the various jars, boxes and things on the shelves surrounding them. He seemed to be in a happy mood (sometime, over the course of time, it became he). Stiles wanted to slap him for it. Preferably with a metal chair. Not like that would hurt the bastard anyway. But in the end, he ignored him like he always did, since - you know -  he had more important stuff to worry about!

He wanted to stay with them, but once they started to bleed black blood from their mouths and claws, Stiles realized he’d be no help for them. He had to find some cure.

He said bye to Malia. She seemed half dead. Whatever was in the air seemed to affect her the most. She grasped at him, hugging him and begging him to not leave her alone. He promised her he’d be back soon.

Nogitsune started to fake-vomit at their show of affection. Stiles really needed that chair now.

At the end he left them and went to school. He looked around, trying to find anything that could help. He scanned the rooms full of sick teenagers, people in yellow suits and Lydia’s mom, but found nothing useful and went away.

At the end he crashed into someone’s office – who knew whose it was – and looked through the papers. He didn’t really know what he was looking for, but he knew he’ll know when he'll see it.

“So what exactly are you trying to accomplish again, Stiles?” His companion asked.

Stiles ignored him and looked through the various files on the table before him. He really wasn’t in a mood to talk, right now.

The trickster sighed at the silence and shook his head. “Alright, so let me rephrase the question. Do you even know what you’re doing, Stiles?”

Stiles stopped short.

Don’t listen to him. He thought.

But… but he was right. Stiles had no fucking idea what he was doing. He just… he just wanted to help. God, why did it have to be so hard to find anything in here? He slumped into a nearby chair and looked around miserably.

Nogitsune took this as an answer and slowly came closer. “So… you want to save your friends. Even though they’re pretty useless. And you’d be better off without them. “

Stiles glared at him and the trickster continued.

“But you’re an idiot so you still hold on to them. Tell me, do you even know what this virus is? How to conquer it? Maybe that would be good to know.”

Stiles stared at him for a moment. Why was he helping him? If he ignored the insults, Nogitsune could even be considered kind. How the hell did that happen?

But of course. He was right. Why didn’t he think of that? If he spoke to the doctors, he could find out what it was and maybe figure out how to help his Pack. Stiles felt like kicking himself. Such and idiot…

“Mr. Stilinski. I thought I’ll find you here.” A voice teared him out of his thoughts.

Stiles turned his head, only to see the man who looked over their exams. He stood in the doorway. With a gun in his hands.

Stiles’ eyes widened.

Nogitsune made a face. “Oh look, that annoying idiot.”

He couldn’t agree more, but right now he was more interested in the gun laying in the man’s hands.

Mr. Don’t Know Your Name glided closer, looking very proud of himself. Stiles stood from his chair and backed away. Well shit.

The man pointed his gun at door leading from this office into the locker room. Oh… so it was probably Coach’s office he just raided. Did the man want him to go there? Why…?

At the end – with some pushing and oh my God there is a gun in my back – he stumbled in. He stood with his back to the man, but he could feel the gun. His heartbeat quickened. His palms grew even more sweaty than before.

The man talked, explained the virus wouldn’t kill him, and then asked where Scott and others were. Stiles lied, saying something about the library and cafeteria, but it didn’t seem to have any effect on the man.

Instead he pointed the gun at the back of the boy’s head and said. “I’m going to count to three. And then I’m going to kill you.”

At this point though, Stiles could only scoff. The man looked like he was trying to be all intimidating and scary looking. Really. Like if something this pathetic could scare him… Stiles had been through much worse. He was placed in worse situations. Situations the man couldn’t even imagine.

He turned around. “You think this is going to scare me?”

The man shrugged. “No, I’m just going to kill you and add the numbers, so it will be more dramatic.”

However, before Stiles could admire the man’s sarcasm, the cool surface of the black gun reached his forehead and his anxiety came back.

“Well then.” The man said with a little sigh. As if he was sad about what he was going to do. What a bullshit. “One.”

The number ringed in his ears and he felt the world spin. Fuck, fuck fuc-

“Are you really going to just let him kill you?” The fox’s voice reached him and snapped him out of his panic. He looked at him.

Nogitsune stood beside the man, looking him over with a sneer, like if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The fox looked back at Stiles. The world seemed to stop.

“After all of the things you’ve already lived through, he’s going to kill you?” He was mocking him. As fucking always. And yet, it almost seemed as if Nogitsune was trying to help him somehow. The hell must have frozen over, but Nogitsune sure acted nice today…

“Really, Stiles… one would even think you want to die.”

And the previous statement just ceased to exist. But with the trickster’s words came thoughts. Thoughts he didn’t want to think about. Dark thoughts that belonged deep in his mind behind closed doors. But now they came out, swarming his mind like hundreds of annoying bees.

Because… what was the point really? His Pack… they were all going to die anyway. The virus would kill them. After that, it would only take few weeks for assassins to kill everybody else. And Stiles would be alone. Again. Because he couldn’t find anything useful. Because he wasn’t strong enough. Because he was just a pathetic human.

What was the point of living in the end? He was going to die anyway. Like his mom did, like Allison, Aiden…

“Yeah. What is the point, right? They all died. And whose fault was it, again?” Nogitsune hitched closer, looking straight into his eyes. Stiles gulped already knowing the answer. It was his fault.

“Yes, yours. And you know it. You have known for so long, already. Ever since your mother died…” he paused.

Stiles wanted to say something. He wanted to scream and shout, that it wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t. Not when deep down… he’s been thinking this all of the time.

Nogitsune continued. “You blame yourself for their deaths. You blame yourself for your mother’s death, Allison’s and Aiden’s… and now even your dear Pack is going to die if you don’t do something and you blame yourself already. You’d rather die at this man’s hands than fight back. Because, you want to die.

Stiles could only shiver in tremor. Tears filled his eyes. The fox was right. He wanted to die for almost 3 years now. He tried to ignore these thoughts most of the time but it was not like he could forget them. But really, feeling like shit has become a norm for him a long time ago.

He never thought about… really killing himself. But standing here with a gun pressed into his face, his thoughts certainly differed from normal people’s. He guessed normal people were scared or something. He was wallowing in depression, feeling that it may even be good if the trigger was pulled.

Normal people also probably didn’t have malicious fox demons around. Oh well.

“Two.”

The number came and ripped Stiles out of his thoughts. He almost forgot about his situation. But everything seemed to happen so slowly…

Nogitsune tilted his head to one side. “But really, you have two choices now.”

The human’s head snapped in his direction so quickly, he feared he must have broken his neck.

“Either you can wallow in your self-pity like some cry-baby, who thinks everything resolves around him, or, you can just wake the fuck up. If you don’t do anything, your friends will die. So get over yourself and fight back.”

Stiles blanched in shock. Fight back? But how could he…? How could he fight back against a man who held a gun to his forehead? He didn’t really even see any chance of anyhow escaping this situation… of course, he could tell him where Scott, Kira and Malia were… but like hell he would do that (maybe they seemed to talk less and less these past weeks, but they were still his friends. He couldn’t do that to them).

“Well… I’m sure a punch into the arm and some kick in his balls would do the job, really…” He trailed of, but then he shrugged. “Or just let him do it. Both would be very pleasurable for me. Maybe we’ll see each other in hell.” He grinned and walked off. As if he couldn’t care less about what happened now.

Stiles was left with mess of emotions and feelings in him and the reality quickening itself to a normal speed again. That was to say, too quickly. Before Stiles could even decide what to do, the assassin’s mouth moved again in final number.

His eyes widened. Panic flew through him, as he realized, that he had no time. He couldn’t defend himself now. It was too late. He was going to die, because he wasted all of his time-

Bang!

Stiles shut his eyes expecting the pain to come. But nothing did. Something wet splashed on his cheek and he opened his eyes in shock. His assassin was now laying on the ground with his head shot. Someone had shot him before he had the chance to shoot Stiles. He felt immense relief wash over him as the threat of death disappeared.

He looked at the door. And in them stood none other than agent McCall. Stiles could only stare. What was he doing here? Did they call the FBI?

No matter. Stiles felt his knees start to shake. He almost died.

But he was safe now. He was safe, he was safe. He wasn’t going to die. He didn’t have to deal with it anymore…

If he could, he’d sit down on one of the benches and cry in relief. The stupid fox messed with his emotions more than anything before. He brought back memories and thoughts he had been hiding for so long, that such an exposure almost made him loose his mind. If agent McCall hadn’t come, he’ll be dead. And probably even happy about it, or something. 

But his best-friend’s dad was talking and he had to pay attention. He had to solve this situation now. He could think about his suicidal thoughts later.

***

His nightmares sometimes brought him to the point, where he woke up screaming. Sometimes, he woke up feeling so numb he would stare at one spot for hours, wanting to die. Sometimes, he woke up sobbing. Sometimes, he woke with a sense of relief – it was just a dream, thank God – and sometimes, he had the luck to not remember his dream at all. Not like these dreams appeared often.

It was one of the nightmares, that nearly brought him to screams, that woke him up that night. It was a mix of things that had happened that only made sense in that dream, but it was still somehow so real…

Nogitsune was sitting above him, looking at him with an unreadable expression. Stiles glared at him, but it was weak. He didn’t have the strength to argue with him. No after that dream…

A flash of Allison lying on the floor with a katana in her chest came into his mind and he quickly shook it off, reminding himself that it was only a dream. It was a dream, nothing else.

The trickster continued to watch him. “You dreamt about the hunter again.”

It wasn’t even a question. No, the fox knew him well enough to know almost all of his dreams were about killing Scott’s girlfriend. He averted his eyes.

“And they all blamed you, didn’t they? Like always.

“Let me be.”

“They always abandon you. Your great Pack always leaves you. And it’s not only in dreams. They ignore you.” The fox’s eyes glowed with malice as he continued to jab at him.

Stiles threw a pillow at him, but it only passes through. “Go away.”

The fox chuckled, shaking his head. “You can deny as much as you want but you know it’s true. They never listen. They didn’t listen when you told them about Matt, they didn’t listen about Peter and yet, both of them turned out to be the worst. And they still don’t take you seriously.”

He leaned closer, smirking. “Doesn’t it hurt?

It stung. Stiles tried to shove him off, even though his hands touched nothing and it only made the trickster laugh harder. At the end he huffed and turned around, facing away from him.

He’s just trying to get to you. Don’t listen to him. Stiles thought to himself. He’s not worth it.

But the fox kept talking. “Really, to think how much none of them even care… I’m sure it must be horrible. To know that all of them think of you just as a pathetic little human.”

Stiles kept his eyes on the wall opposite of him. Ignore him, ignore him, ignore him!

“If you think I’m just making stuff up, then think again. They don’t care about you. You see it yourself almost every day… What was the last time they talked to you about anything other than research or homework, again?”

He tried to stop listening, but he couldn’t. Not when these words hurt so much. Not when they were true.

He didn’t want to think about it. But his mind already pointed out so many incidents, just from last week alone, that he couldn’t ignore it. His eyes stung with unshead tears and he started to blink them away. He wouldn’t give Nogitsune the satisfaction in seeing him cry. No. He would rather die than let the trickster see him being affected by his words.

He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to think about Scott not even glancing his way. He didn’t want to think about the lonely lunch breaks and odd looks his ‘friends’ gave him anytime he tried to talk to them. He didn’t want to think about Malia’s excuses for not going on dates, Liam’s looks of ‘what are you even doing here?’, Lydia’s bored hums, Kira’s nervous smiles followed by abandoning him or Scott’s - I’m sorry, I have to go, but see you later – that always just made him more angry than sad. What was more important than your best-friend?

He hated it. Hated it, hated it hated it! He hated that he became a bother to them. He hated that they didn’t even acknowledge him on these days. It hurt, oh God, it hurt.

And the fact, that Nogitsune followed him everywhere and was basically throwing it in his face, didn’t help. At all. Most of the days, he wanted to just hit him, but each time he tried to even touch him, his hand glided through air. However, Nogitsune sometimes touched him and he could feel it. Sometimes he wished he hadn’t. The trickster’s touch was always cold. Unnatural. Anyway, this little fact made him even angrier, since the fox always looked so smug about it. He wanted to get that smirk off of his face. But he couldn't. And that was the entire point.

If Stiles was being honest, he had no idea what to even think of the fox. Nogitsune followed him everywhere. Almost like a puppy, but Stiles would have chosen puppy over the fox any day. No, Nogitsune was like some bad smell. It annoyed you and you couldn’t get it out of your clothes, but you soon became used to it.

It scared Stiles, that he in fact became used to it. Nogitsune would usually stay by his side, observe things and comment on them.

On good days, Stiles would even silently laugh, since Nogitsune, as it soon became clear, was sassy as hell. Sometimes, Stiles had to work real hard, to keep a straight face after few of the fox’s remarks. He sometimes even wished, he could have answered him, but he didn’t need others to think he was crazy on top of all the other bullshit, he was already dealing with.

On bad days, Nogitsune would mock and taunt him, pointing out his mistakes and laugh in his face for them. He would make terrible remarks, and this time Stiles would have to keep a straight face so he didn’t launch at the trickster. Sometimes, he wished he could strangle the creature but of course he couldn’t.

He wished Nogitsune wasn’t haunting him anymore. He wished he didn’t have to be the only one, who could see him. He wished Nogitsune could’ve left him when they stabbed him with Kira’s katana. He wished for this and so many other things, but no one heard his wishes. No, the fox was still there, still taunting and still messing with his mind.

But he became used to it. He became used to never being alone. He became used to Nogitsune’s snarky remarks, his sarcastic comments and jabs. He became used to his ever-lasting presence. It scared him, because if he became used to it, did it mean it was real? That it became real? That this was his life now, and it wouldn’t end?

These thoughts were probably the most terrifying ones he got. And probably the worst thing about this situation.

That however didn’t mean, that other thoughts – for example about his ignorant friends – weren’t hurtful too. They hurt like bitch.

Nogitsune tsked and shook his head. “I don’t even understand why you talk to them. You could do so much better without them, but yet, you still hold on to them. When will you realize they don’t like you? They don’t care about you. And you shouldn’t spend your time with someone, who doesn’t appreciate your company.”

But at this point, he finally had enough. He sat up, facing the trickster. “Oh? And who should I hang out with, then? You?” He sneered.

Nogitsune gave him a sly smile. “Why, but you already hang out with me. I’m just trying to make you see sense, dummy.”

Stiles sighed, feeling rather pissed. “Do me a favor and go fuck yourself, yeah?”

The only response he got, as he laid down again, was the trickster’s laughter.

***

There was something wrong with Theo Raeken.

It was a simple observation, but an important one. He knew people could change. He hadn’t seen Theo since 4th grade. And that was a long time ago. Still, the way he acted… This just simply wasn’t the Theo he had known.

But of course, no one believed him. As always. He guessed he should’ve expected it. They never believed him. It still stung, though.

What frustrated him the most about this whole situation, was that Scott was obvious to it all. He had known Theo before as well. But apparently, there was nothing wrong with the boy, and Stiles was just overreacting and having something against their ‘friend’.

So Stiles was, once again, left alone with his suspicions.

It didn’t change the fact, that Stiles still firmly believed in them and tried to convince his Pack about it. But with every failed attempt, they just looked more and more annoyed. It came to a point, that those few conversations they held before, became none. And every time he just opened his mouth, they started to look annoyed and gave him frustrated looks.

Nogitsune was there for all of it and kept sneering. He told Stiles over and over that he would do way better, if he had just found new friends. The thing was… even if Stiles sometimes thought about that possibility, it just wasn’t an option. He wasn’t popular. He never had been, but at least before he had Scott. True, the Pack became popular, but people still sneered at him. Or ignored him. And when he was alone, sometimes they even laughed. Even those he didn’t talk to at all, knew he was a sidekick.

It frustrated him more than anything else, and he had an annoying fox at his side all the time.

Besides, could he ditch the people who saved his life repeatedly? Yeah, sure, they sometimes didn’t talk to him. But they just had other things in mind. They spend time with him sometimes. They had saved his life a lot of times already. They asked him for help and sometimes, they helped him too. They just didn’t talk to him that much. So what? He was grateful they talked to him at all.

When he had told Nogitsune so, the trickster had cuffed him on his head with a newspaper. “Are you bloody crazy?” he had exclaimed, obviously miffed. “They’re using you, idiot! They do nothing but make you do things for them, and when they don’t want anything, they kick you out. How can you be bloody grateful?!”

Stiles hadn’t known the answer back then and he didn’t know it now. He knew they weren’t the best. But they were at least something. And he needed that something.

And that was the reason, why he wanted – no needed – to prove that he was right about Theo Raeken. He had to make them see. Make them believe him, at least once.

He spent hours on finding any information he could find about Theo. He tried to talk to his dad. But the older man just rebuked him. He had tried to talk with Malia and Scott, but both of them had brushed it off.

But now, now he had a proof! 

Few days back, he had found Theo’s dad signature on a fine, from 8 years ago. But he needed to see if the one from now was any different. That was why he had sneaked in the school office and stole some documents.

And the signatures? They weren’t the same. They weren’t! Yes, they looked similar, almost the same. But Stiles was a professional in copying his father’s handwriting. It only took him a second, to find all of the unnatural differences. Lines were too shaky to be written quickly, angles so different the first person couldn’t have written them… It was passable – for an untrained eye such as the person in a school office, who hasn’t even seen the first one – yeah sure, just another signature. And even now, looking at them side by side, they would pass. Handwriting changes over years. But this hadn’t been written by the same person.

Stiles was 100% sure (alright, maybe 99%).

So here he was. Clutching both papers in his hands, heading towards his Pack that sat in the library.

Nogitsune shook his head. “You and I both know they won’t believe you.”

He ignored him. Instead, he walked towards his (maybe?) friends faster.

Scott was the first to look up. Annoyance flickered in his eyes, but Stiles quickly spoke before his Alpha could say anything.

“Guys, guys, I found something!”

Others turned to him acting interested, but he could see the looks they traded. He could also see Nogitsune shaking his head in disappointment in the corner of his eyes, but he continued with ignoring the fox.

“Look – the signatures. They don’t match! It means that whoever signed Theo’s documents now, is not the same person as before! He’s been clearly lying about this! Someone copied the signature, so it can’t be Theo’s real parents!” He babbled excitedly.

Kira looked at the papers and sighed. “Stiles, handwriting changes over years. This doesn’t prove anything.”

Scott nodded. “Really, she’s right. No one writes the same after more than a decade. Besides, what would this even prove? That he’s some evil maniac, who killed Theo and now pretends to be him, so he can kill us all?”

Malia snorted. Liam gave him a ‘really?’ look, while Kira placed a hand before her face so she could hide her giggles and Scott sighed.

Stiles gulped. He thought… But this was a clear proof! It made sense! Why couldn’t they just believe him for one moment?

He let out frustrated sound. “C’mon, this could literally be happening! I’m not saying it’s probable, just that there’s something wrong. You told me I had no proof, but I have it now. I’ve been copying signatures for years, Scott. You know that. I can see what is and what isn’t a copy. And this,” he gesticulated to the papers, “is clearly a fake.”

Scott sighed yet again. “Alright, so maybe it’s not the same. So what, I’m sure Theo could explain it. Why can’t you just give him a chance already, Stiles? He’s been nothing but nice and you keep acting, like if he turns people into monsters, or something. Just… why can’t you just give it a rest, already?”

Malia nodded. “Yeah, look, the fact that he’s here doesn’t change our friendship – you know that, right? But to be honest, your attitude may…”

“Yeah right, as if you even had any friendship…” Nogitsune muttered.

Stiles felt his shoulders sag. He looked at all the members of his Pack and felt the lump in his throat grow bigger. They really didn’t believe a thing… But maybe it was his fault. Maybe, the reason why they hadn’t talked to him that much these past months really had been because of him… Maybe, if he just forgot about Theo and acted nice around him, they’d be nice to him again-

“Idiot.” Muttered the fox again.

“I… I didn’t think, he coming here, changed anything. I just… I was just worried he might be another threat. I didn’t want it to catch us unprepared, again…”

Liam made a face. “Well, let’s hope it wouldn’t. Besides, Scott has already talked with him and checked his pulse, he wasn’t lying. So… just let it go.”

Stiles licked his lips. Looked at all of them. They all looked at him expectantly. Hoping he would really let it go.

He knew he couldn’t. But he could act. He could play nice. So they would talk to him again and so Theo won’t suspect anything. He knew he could and he would.

But the thing was… it hurt. That no matter what he did, no matter how many evidence he brought, they still didn’t believe him. Hell, they haven’t even considered it.

He thought they were his friends. Real friends, that would at least try to listen to him.

His eyes started to burn, but he willed himself not to cry. It wouldn’t do him any good.

He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I have been acting little stupid.” He laughed a little.

And he didn’t even need Nogitsune to point out the relief in all of their eyes.

Scott grinned. “Great.” And turned right back to his book.

All of them did. He wasn’t welcomed anymore. So he clutched his papers tighter. And trying very hard not to lose composure, he walked away. Without any of them saying anything. Not even a goodbye.

He felt sick.

He walked to his Jeep, feeling numb all over. Nogitsune was right behind him, but didn’t say anything. Stiles was glad. He didn’t think he could deal with any of his remarks right now.

He stumbled into the driver seat and closed his door. For a moment he just stared at the wheel. Trying to forget about the whole situation, about the crushing disappointment their disregard caused. He told himself, that crying over it would be just plainly stupid. That it was just a small moment. They would talk to him soon, he was sure. They just had a lot of studying, plus they did listen when he came.

It wasn’t like they didn’t want to talk with him.

It wasn’t…

The tears started to fall and he desperately tried to stop them, but soon he was sobbing into his hands.

He just wanted his friends back. He wanted to be unpopular again with Scott, and having at least one real friend. He wanted to go back to the time, when he could talk with them all the time, and they would listen. Why did they have to act like this? What had changed?

What had he done to deserve this loneliness? All he wanted was a friend. At least one person, so he didn’t have to be so alone.

Was it him? Had he became so annoying no one could talk to him again? Or had he done something without even realizing it? He just wanted his Pack back. Nothing else. Just someone, with whom he could talk, and spend time with no troubles.

He had had that. Just a year back, they were okay. And now, it felt like if he was just an annoying tail, like if they still talked with him only out of some pity.

Nogitsune was right. They weren’t his friends. He was alone.

He cried harder.

Nogitsune laid a gentle hand on his back. It startled him into looking up. The trickster looked at him with an unreadable expression.

“They’re not worth it.” He said simply.

Stiles choked back another sob. “What the hell are you doing.”

Nogitsune pursed his lips. “I’m making sure the only human who can see me, is okay.”

The boy laughed in disbelief. “As if you cared. Of course I’m not fucking okay. You were right. They don’t care at all.”

His doppelganger sighed. “And for some reason I wish I wasn’t. Look, maybe I fucked you up before, but at least I can see what’s happening to you now. They’re not worth your tears. Neither your attention. Stiles, talking to them is just toxic. They don’t care, as you’ve just seen. They’re a bunch of bloody assholes. You would get so much better, if you just stopped talking to them. You’re way better than any of them anyway.”

Stiles wiped his face, but the tears kept coming. He didn’t understand why Nogitsune cared. He didn’t understand, why the fox acted the way he did. But the kindness moved him so much, he started to cry again. No one had said so many nice things to him in such a long while, he almost forgot what it sounded like.

And suddenly arms wrapped around him and he pressed his face into the trickster’s chest without even thinking about it. Some rational part of his brain screamed at him to pull away, to not engage in any contact with him.

The… creature he was hugging was a thousand-year-old demon. The same demon who inflicted pain and terror, loved causing chaos and hurting. It was the same demon, who had possessed him and killed Allison and Aiden. Stiles shouldn’t be leaning into the touch. He should be running away.

But he had been so kind… No one had talked with him and touched him like this in so long. The fox may have been an utter bastard, but he was there. He was there for him, listened to him and understood. And Stiles had become so lonely, so touch-starved, he welcomed any comfort he could get.

It still made his head spin a little that it was Nogitsune, but the sorrow and loneliness clutched his heart so tight, that he stopped thinking altogether.

Nogitsune gently shushed him, rubbing his back along the way. Not pushing away, not doing so with that irritated ‘gosh stop crying already’ tone most of his friends used. He just wanted him to stop crying so he can stop being sad. It warmed his heart and made him for some reason cry harder. God he missed this. He missed this so much.

The few times he had allowed himself to cry before any of his ‘friends’, were always filled with unspoken annoyance hanging in the air. They patted him on the back, tried to comfort him, but he could see he only bothered them. He learned not to do so.

“They don’t deserve you. You’re worth something better.” Nogitsune muttered into his hair.

Stiles tried to stop the tears. He really did. Part of him was cursing him for his weakness. He must have looked pretty pathetic. But it was almost like if someone turned on a faucet in his mind, and he couldn’t turn it off.

But as the ugly sounds stopped leaving his throat, shame quickly replaced it and he pulled away, whipping the tears off.

“I-I’m sorry.”

The trickster tilted his head on one side. “You’re not the one who should be apologizing.”

Stiles closed his eyes and asked instead. “Why did you do this?”

Nogitsune lifted his eyebrows. “Why did I do what?”

Stiles bit his lip. He didn’t want to say it. It felt… too embarrassing for some reason. But the fox kept staring at him. “Why did you… you didn’t have to com-comfort me.”

And gosh why did it sound so wrong?

But Nogitsune didn’t comment on it at all. Instead he sighed. “Is it really that hard to believe I would wish to help you, after spending so much time with you?”

He snorted. “More like stalking, but…”

“Sure, whatever you call it. It may have escaped your notice, but I’m not heartless, Stiles.”

Stiles scoffed. “Yeah, right, and I’m an unicorn.”

Nogitsune gave him a pointed look. “While I understand where you’re coming from, I’d like you to know, that it isn’t true. My past actions may have caused you to believe that, but… I’m a Kitsune. Your friend Kira is one of them and you wouldn’t say that about her, would you? And even if I didn’t, what would I do without you? It’d be boring…”

“You’re a thousand-year-old demon. I’m sure I do have reasons to believe it. Besides, you’re a jerk most of the fucking times.”

He chortled. “Sure I am. Don’t you know that’s my job description?”

Stiles rolled his eyes. He still didn’t know, what to think about this… turn of events. But he felt better. It was hard to believe, but Nogitsune lifted his mood up. What a plot twist this whole day was. First his ‘friends’ – not putting the imaginary apostrophes in it just didn’t felt right anymore – made him cry the hardest since last month, and now his ‘worst enemy’ – these apostrophes again – helped him and lifted his mood up.

It felt as if their roles switched. He didn’t think he liked it, but he knew, that his feelings about both of them changed.

He wasn’t so sure about his friendship with the Pack anymore. He still craved their friendship. But some other part inside him woke up, making him unable to like them as much as he had, ever again.

Nogitsune proved to be a good companion for once. And thinking about it now, he wasn’t so bad half of the time. Stiles enjoyed his sarcastic remarks and now realized how lonely he would’ve truly been, if he’d been alone.

The roles were changing and it honestly freaked him out.

***

Scott McCall didn’t believe him. A friend, his best-friend didn’t believe him. Well, not that much of a best-friend, really. More like someone who really believed, he could have killed someone in cold blood.

He had got a text from Scott, so he rode towards their Vet station to meet him there. While he was riding it started to rain and when he got out, the water fell down in such thick ropes, it almost felt as if he was standing in a shower. And he had forgotten his umbrella at home. Yippee.

And of course the fox bastard had to laugh at him for that.

He was ready to go straight into the building, but he found Scott standing before it and looking more sombre than Stiles had ever seen him. Nogitsune commented on the fact, that he looked like he got a stick in his ass, while Stiles carefully got out of his Jeep.

He started to blabber about having no idea where either Lydia or Malia were – which was true, he couldn’t find his friend or girlfriend anywhere – when Scott cut him off with one swift move. Stiles’ eyes widened when he saw a rather familiar looking wrench in his friend’s hands.

Nogitsune whistled. Stiles felt himself blanching. That was… that was his wrench. His wrench which he had hit Donovan with. Why was Scott holding it with such a terrible expression?

“Scott?” He felt his mouth go dry. Whatever the Alpha was going to say wouldn’t be pretty.

But Scott didn’t respond. He just stood there and stared at him. As if Stiles had any idea, what any of this was supposed to mean. So he tried again.

“Where did you get that?”

Scott finally spoke and extended the hand holding it towards him. “Is that yours?”

The boy felt his eyebrows go a little up, as he took the wrench and felt it in his hands. It had to be about Donovan. This… this whole thing had to be about it. What else would make Scott look at him with such disappointment?

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Stiles looked away. “I was going to…”

“You weren’t,” Nogitsune pointed out.

But Scott shook his head. “No, why didn’t you tell me, when it happened?”

The image of Donovan being injected on a scaffolding flashed before his eyes and he felt the tremendous feeling of guilt spike in the pit of his stomach. “I couldn’t.”

Nogitsune gave him a look. “Oh, so you couldn’t. You couldn’t. I have been there with you when it happened, Stiles. We both know it was nothing but a stupid self-defense. You didn’t tell him because you can’t trust him, and the sooner you realize it, the easier it will become for you.”

He wanted to turn to him and shut him up. He wanted to shake his head and deny it. But Scott would probably think the jury was out, so he didn’t.

But it wasn’t true. Every time he had tried to say it, Scott either had something terribly more important to do, and when he hadn’t, Stiles realized he wasn’t able to even move his lips. He just couldn’t. Because the guilt and fear gripped his throat and made him stutter. Scott would surely hate him if he knew. So maybe it was true that he didn’t trust the Alpha to not abandon him, after he heard that Stiles took someone’s life. But that was it. Yes, it was a self-defense and he strongly believed it, but of course he trusted Scott… kind of...

“You killed him?” Scott’s voice pierced the air and made Stiles’ heart miss a beat, “Did you kill Donovan?”

Yes, he had. He had killed Donovan. But he had already gone over the situation about million times in his head. In nightmares, bouts of second-guessings and self-hate. He could still feel the speed his heart had been beating, the absolute, inexplainable fear that cursed through him and the frantic panic as he ran and climbed and moved faster than he ever did, so he wouldn’t die. He also remembered the fact, that his only thoughts at the moment, he pulled the plug out, were about survival. His body had gone on automatic and he done everything he could, to came out of it alive.

It was self-defense. He tried imagining doing something different. But in the end he found there was no possibility for both of them to come out alive. It was either him being killed, or killing Donovan in the process of running away.

So yeah. He had killed Donovan. But what had he been supposed to do?

“He was going to kill my dad. Was I supposed to just let him?”

Scott protested, shaking his head. “You weren’t supposed to do this. None of us are.”

Puzzled, Nogitsune lifted one eyebrow and looked at the Werewolf, scrutinizing him. Then a sudden understating flickered in his eyes and the expression that dotted his face the second time his eyebrows went up, was one of astonishment, rather than confusion.

But of course he didn’t tell Stiles anything. Bastard.

He tilted his head to one side. Do what? Defend himself? “You think I had a choice?”

Scott sighed. “There’s always a choice.”

No, in this case it had been either him or Donovan. Besides, the chimera had almost eaten his legs! What else could he have done? Turn into an unicorn and fly away?

“You know,” he started, feeling anger starting to boil in him, “I can’t do what you can, Scott. I know you wouldn’t have done it. You would figure something out, right?”

Nogitsune snorted. “He’d probably try to talk Donovan out of it and give him a righteous talk about being good or something…”

And of course Scott nodded. “I’d try.”

As if it was so easy. As if he could just waltz in there and make everything right. As if Stiles was the monster here.

“Yes, because you’re Scott McCall!” He snapped at him. Scott blinked in surprise. Nogitsune chuckled.

“You’re the True Alpha! But guess what, not all of us can be True Alphas! Some of us have to make mistakes! Some of us have to get our hands little bloody sometimes! Some of us are human!”

He felt the rain fall down on his hair and face, but he barely cared. He was so angry. So much. Why couldn’t Scott see it? Stiles was just human. He couldn’t turn into a wolf and use super-strength. He couldn’t, so he had to do with what he had. And back then, the plug was the only thing he had.

“So you had to kill him?” Scott asked again, quietly.

Of course, he had to. Of fucking course! There was no other way. Why couldn’t Scott understand? What was so bad at saving himself from dying? Save his father?

Nogitsune shook his head. “Wow, he really is persistent.”

Stiles let out a disbelieved breath and answered, feeling his voice shaking. “Scott, he was going to kill my dad.”

“But the way that it happened…The point it’s just… it’s not self-defense anymore.”

What…?

“What are you even talking about? I didn’t have a choice, Scott! You don’t even believe me, do you?” His voice broke at the end. He didn’t, did he? Oh God, of course he didn’t! Because when ever did that happen? When ever did Scott McCall take his words into consideration? Never, that’s it.

“I want to.” The Werewolf answered finally, avoiding his eyes.

An ugly feeling of hurt squeezed his heart and he had to take a breath before he could answer. “Okay, right. So you believe me then. Scott, say you believe me.”

But Scott didn’t answer. He tried again with a sense of growing trepidation. “Say you believe me.”

His Alpha finally looked at him, but Stiles could see pity in his eyes. It made him want to throw that wrench at him.

“Stiles, we can’t kill people we’re trying to safe.” He spoke, his voice bathing in desperation.

Nogitsune made a face. “I mean, if he’s trying to save cannibals…”

He felt the anger rise again. Scott spoke as if Stiles didn’t feel any guilt for his actions. As if he didn’t care, that he had killed a person.

He pointed his wrench at the Werewolf, only for him to flinch and back away. Stiles stared at him in confusion.

The trickster on his right furrowed his brows. “It’s almost as if he’s afraid that you’re going to…”

“What, you’re afraid I’m gonna beat you to death with it or something?” Stiles snapped at him a little irritated.

Scott paled and took another step back. The human wasn’t sure if he understood what was happening.

“Please, say you believe me, Scott.” He tried again.

But Scott had finally had enough. “We can’t kill people! You believe that?”

He felt all color leaving his cheeks. Of course they couldn’t kill people. Of course he believed that. But that was such a low blow…

His voice broke. “Well, and what do I do about this? What do you want me to do?”

Scott just looked at him with disappointment.

“Okay, just tell me, how to fix this, okay? Please, just tell me, what do you want me to do?” The water sliding down his cheeks wasn’t only from rain anymore. He couldn’t understand. He was trying. He was trying so damn hard. But it wasn’t enough. Not to his friend. Not to Scott who didn’t even give him a second chance.

Nogitsune took few steps closer to him. “Stiles, there’s nothing to fix here. You did nothing wrong. He’s the one in the wrong. He almost never speaks with you anymore. Why don’t you just leave him already?”

Stiles blinked at him in shock. He almost heard desperation in the fox’s voice. But he had to be imagining that.

He mentally sighed. Nogitsune was trying to make him cut ties with the Pack for months now. And he understood. The trickster did have a point. But they were all he had left. And the thought of being left alone made him want to curl up and die. He didn’t know what he would do if they left him.

And by the look on Scott’s face it would probably happen soon.

“Don’t worry about Malia and Lydia.” Scott spoke, his voice hard and distant. Stiles almost flinched when he heard it. “We’ll find them. You… you should talk with your dad. I’ll go to the Pack.”

And Stiles could only stare at him as he turned around and walked into the clinic, leaving him in the rain. Leaving him there, staring at the closed door and trying really hard to not fall apart.

What did this mean? What did Scott mean by his cold parting words? Was it a disposal? He said they’ll find the girls. And that he should leave. It was clear Scott didn’t want him near their, his pack.

It… hurt. Hurt in a way that made him desperately want to stop it. He hated this. He hated the whole argument and he hated his guts for killing Donovan. But the fact that Scott didn’t believe him at all made a huge gaping hole appear in his chest and start to painfully claw at all that remained of him.

The rain was still beating down at him, but he couldn’t force himself to move. It hurt. God, what had he ever done wrong? What had he done to deserve Scott’s ire? The boy always gave second chances. Always. And Stiles was his best-friend. Couldn’t he had at least listened to him? Hear him out? He hadn’t even answered most of his questions. He just plainly told him he wasn’t welcome with them anymore, reprimanded him for killing someone and went away.

His best-friend had walked out on him.

And now, they weren’t even friends anymore. Because how could they be, when Scott told him to go away? To not even bother looking for his girlfriend? How could they still be friends, when Scott hated him so much?

They couldn’t. Scott didn’t want him as a friend. And Stiles was tired. Tired of the way the Pack had treated him, the way they all treated him. They hated him now, but they would come running when they needed him to help with research. And Stiles wasn’t sure, if he could let it keep happening. Let them push him away and use him.

Because he was tired of it all. And as he stood in the rain, he realized he didn’t even want to be part of the Pack anymore.

Nogitsune silently stood by his side, watching him with his intelligent eyes. Was it worry that shone in them? It was a laughable idea, but the fox had already proven to care about him more than the Pack. So maybe it could be possible.

He didn’t know. He didn’t really know anything. He didn’t know what he should do now, where his dad was, or how will his next confrontation with Scott go.

But he knew that even if it all went to shit… he at least wasn’t alone.

He turned and stepped into his car. Not saying anything, not minding his wet clothes. His thoughts were a jangled mess but he just felt numb. Utterly, stupidly numb.

Nogitsune gently touched his hand. His eyes snapped to the trickster beside him. His own face was staring at him, but he had already learned to recognize it as someone else’s. Nogitsune looked at him with sad eyes.

“I told you, you should’ve left them. They’re no good for you. How can you still consider them friends, after what he just did?”

Stiles gulped. His eyes hardened when they locked on the trickster’s. “I don’t think I do, anymore.”

Relief flashed in Nogitsune’s eyes and Stiles had to wonder again.

But he didn’t think he could deal with it right now. So he looked forward and started his Jeep.

He had to get out of there.

***

So Theo Raeken had been working with the Dread Doctors this whole time, just like Stiles had suspected, but of course they didn’t listen to him at all. He guessed they wouldn’t for quite some time now.

He had tried coming home after his fight – that terrible, gut-wrenching fight – with Scott, but found the house empty. It had only added to his depression and he had almost gone right back to try to find his dad, but Nogitsune stopped him. He had made him go to sleep, and while it had shocked Stiles beyond wonder and maybe annoyed him a little, he complied. Now he was happy he had.

His thoughts got a little less messy.

But his Jeep broke. His Roscoe was old and he had to constantly repair it, but it had still kind of worked, so he kept it. But now he had no way of getting to his dad. He needed a car.

So he texted Theo, since - for some unknown reason – in the past few weeks, he had spent most of his time with the boy. More than with the Pack, really. And now, after the fight, he was sure he and Theo would talk even more.

So yeah, he texted Raeken and waited, until Theo’s black car stopped next to him. He went right ahead and tried to get in, but Theo started to talk.

At first it didn’t really make sense to him. Like at all. Why was Theo talking about Scott? But then the smug motherfucker showed him his library card and his blood ran cold.

“Scott doesn’t want to talk to you, but I think your dad does.”

He looked at the card and then back at Theo. “Where is he?”

The boy nonchalantly shrugged. “Your dad was looking for you. He found me instead.”

Stiles felt himself freeze. This was not good. Absolutely not good. What had he told his father?

Seeming satisfied with Stiles’ reaction, Theo continued. "I covered up for you. McCall's mother found this in the hospital. It seems that even son of a cop can make mistakes."

Nogitsune sneered at the statement, but didn’t comment.

Stiles felt his heartbeat quicken. He could barely care about Theo’s jabs. He had to know about his father. “Did you hurt him?”

But Theo didn’t answer. No, instead he started to slowly stalk around and talk about completely different things. A strange gleam entered his eyes.

“I never lied about the reason why I came to Beacon Hills. I came here for a pack.”

Stiles scrunched his eyebrows while Nogitsune lifted his. The human was sure that if anyone could see them, they’d look like twins. Only one of them looked half dead (and in these days Stiles wasn’t sure which one of them it was).

“I came for the Werecoyote whom first instinct is to kill.” The Chimera – a bloody Chimera, can you believe it?? – started to count down. That must’ve meant Malia.

“I came for a Banshee, the girl surrounded by death.” Lydia, “I came for the dark Kitsune,” Kira, although, were storm Kitsunes deemed as dark? “the Beta with anger issues.” And Liam.

Theo stopped his predatory circling. His eyes gleamed with greed. Stiles had never seen him look as insane, as he did in that moment. He wondered what exactly was the point of this whole speech.

And then Theo smiled. "I came for Void Stiles!”

He wasn’t sure where the nickname came from. But he understood perfectly. Of – fucking – course Theo wanted that. Because who would want anything else than the demon that once resided in him? Who would ever want him?

“I would.” Nogitsune whispered gently.

It took him by surprise. The fox had been acting kinder to him than anyone else in these past few weeks, but he wasn’t sure he understood. Any of it. Why did he say such things? Why did he act like if he cared? And if he truly did, why? He had been happily torturing him at every chance he had got. So why?

This whole situation had been going on for so long already. And Stiles still hadn’t got his answers. Why would a thousand-year-old demon care for him? He was just Stiles.

“That’s the pack I want. Sadly, it doesn’t include Scott.” Not noticing Stiles’ inner turmoil, Theo continued with his little speech.

Nogitsune looked at the Chimera and sneered. Then he turned to Stiles. “He wants Void Stiles?” he parroted the nickname, “Show him one.”

The human blinked couple of times. Then the meaning settled in.

Oh.

He could do that. If there was something he was sure he’d never forget, it would be how Nogitsune used his body. How he made him dance the fox’s sick dance like if he was a puppet and unleashed an indescribable terror everywhere.

He looked at Theo and had to laugh. In comparison to Stiles’ own demons, was Theo just a big kid trying to act like an adult.

“You really don’t know what you’re asking for, Theo.” He said and the smoothness of his own voice surprised him.

The Chimera obviously didn’t expect this kind of reaction. But he quickly regained his composure and Stiles had to silently applaud him for that.

Stiles knew a lot about acting. He had to act most of his life. He had to act as if he wasn’t really all that sad about his Mom’s dead. He had to lie and say he was fine so he wouldn’t put more burden on his father’s shoulders. He had to act as if everything was alright after his friend turned into a Werewolf and Stiles had almost died multiple times. He had to smile and say it was fine, of course you guys can go to that festival without me. And he had to act as if everything was normal for the past year – or was it more? – that he had the fox around.

So yeah, Stiles knew a lot about acting. And Theo was goddamn good actor.

That didn’t change the fact, that Stiles was better.

“Oh, have I struck a nerve, Stiles?” Theo mocked, finding his confidence again.

Nogitsune watched with a spark in his eyes that would make Stiles worry in any other moment. But not now. He couldn’t concentrate on the demon at this moment.

He smiled at Theo, but his eyes were cold.

Then he moved, quick as a flash and in the next moment Theo was on the ground, breath punched out of his lungs.

Stiles had no idea what made him do it, but his rage soon drowned all other thoughts and he found himself on Theo, unable to stop punching.

He couldn’t remember the last time he had punched someone. He knew he wanted to punch a lot of people. He was stifling all of his hate and rage towards Nogitsune, Scott and Theo in himself for too long.

This asshole ruined his life. This motherfucker under him took everything from him. From his place in the Pack to his friends and family.

Theo Raeken ruined it all. And Stiles was very, very angry.

He punched and punched and his knuckles hurt, but he could barely register it.

“You know, if you don’t stop, you might kill him.” Nogitsune mused from where he was crouching few meters away from the boy.

Stiles stopped, shaking and panting, the rage slowly leaving him. He looked down at Theo and had to blink in shock.

Theo’s face was a mess. Blood poured out of his broken nose and split lip. There were bruises and scratches all around his face. It made Stiles freeze, realizing just how far he had taken it.

Until the bastard started laughing. It caused even more blood to pour out of the wound on his lips, but Theo didn’t seem to care.

“I knew you had it in you!” he laughed, eyes gleaming in victory.

The hot burning anger now settled into something way more dangerous. Stiles felt coldness washing over him as he grabbed the collar of Theo’s shirt and jerked him closer.

“You think you’re amazing, don’t you, Theo?” he snarled.

“You think you’re the best, but let me tell you something. You’re pathetic. You think you’ve managed to break us apart, and I’m sure you’re very proud of your achievements, but trust me, we’ve dealt with worse shit than you. Maybe you did something to the Pack, but not to me. You think you’re scary,” Stiles laughed, “but I’ve seen shit your stupid ass could never compare to.”

Theo’s expression changed. The cockiness it held before had disappeared. His eyes stared at Stiles, and the human was pleased to find fear flickering in them.

“You could’ve never hurt me, Theo. I’ve dealt with more shit than most of the Pack and compared to my demons, you’re nothing but a very. Annoying. Bug.” He stressed the last words, enjoying the way Theo squirmed.

He let go of the Chimera’s jacket and stood up. He walked away to Theo’s car, not really thinking straight. Rage still burned in his veins like fire, and he didn’t know if he’d be able to control himself around Theo, were he not to walk out.

But as it turned out, Theo probably had a death wish.

“I knew you had a dark side, Stiles.” His voice made Stiles stop in tracks. He turned around, only to find the prick having his confidence back again. Seriously, what was wrong with him?

Theo coughed, droplets of blood landing on the pavement. “What would your precious Pack do, if they realized what hides inside of you?” He laughed, coughing out more blood.

Stiles felt his eyebrows scrunching up. “There’s nothing hiding inside of me, dickhead.”

Theo looked at him for a moment as if he was trying to find out if Stiles was serious. But Stiles was. He had no monster hiding under his skin, unlike Theo. Yeah, he knew he wasn’t really okay in his head. But if you didn’t count the annoying fox beside him that just… existed around him, there was nothing. He knew he carried a lot of rage inside, but he would never kill anyone. He didn’t like the Pack at the moment. He felt hatred towards Scott. But he wouldn’t hurt them.

But Theo just threw his head back and started to laugh. Maniac pearls of laughter that made Stiles rethink most of what he thought about Raeken. Like for example that he was sane.

He sighed shaking his head. He came here for a car, so he’ll get one.

He opened Theo’s car and got in. Nogitsune followed, not even opening the other doors, just appearing next to him on the passenger seat.

Theo was still laughing on the ground but Stiles could hardly care. He gripped the wheel and rode away, shaking his head. Raeken was nuts. And yet, his words kept echoing in Stiles’ head like bells.

What would your precious Pack do, if they realized what hides inside of you?

***

Stiles woke up panting.

The clock on his bedside table showed 4:42 in thick red letters and Stiles felt a mix of both relief and agitation at the thought of still having so much time before he had to get up.

The whole situation honestly annoyed him. But it wasn’t like he wasn’t used to it. His nightmares had become a part of his silly stupid life years ago. He was happy that they’d gotten little better over the past months.

Nogitsune was sitting right next to him on the bed. That was another thing Stiles had gotten used to. The fox always watched him sleep. It was rather creepy, if Stiles were to be honest. But when hadn’t the fox been creepy?

So it didn’t surprise him to find his doppelganger's eyes on him. What did surprise him was the worried look in Nogitsune’s eyes. There was a slight crease in his forehead, eyebrows furrowed. It was very subtle, but this was Stiles’ face he was looking at. Nogitsune may have been someone completely different, but he still used Stiles’ visage and had the same mimics.

Nogitsune was worried about him. Because he had a nightmare. That had never happened. Every time Stiles had had a nightmare, the fox either mocked him or ignored him. He had never looked worried.

But before Stiles could marvel about this oddity any more, the expression disappeared from Nogitsune’s face and in its stead came one full of sick amusement.

The demon sneered down at him and asked in mock-worried voice. “Did you have a bad dream, Stiles? Should I sing you a lullaby?”

But even if Nogitsune was acting like a dick, Stiles couldn’t be hurt. He had seen the expression and he was sure.

Despite Nogitsune acting like he hated him most of the times – if you didn’t count those few moments he had actually been rather nice – the fox liked him. He could mock and tease him however he wanted, but it was clear. Nogitsune cared.

And somehow, that thought made everything better.

***

That guy had his shirt! What the actual hell?

Stiles was just walking with Scott, when he saw the other boy. At first he could care less about some stupid boy in a lacrosse dress. Until he noticed his own number on the boy’s back. With a different name, but his number none the less!

Things were going crazy already with this Wild Hunt thing, but now it seemed, that no one thought it would be good to notify him about a practice, even though he was a part of the team. And now they gave his number to someone else? What was going on?

He snapped at Scott a little, when he realized he had missed his training, but Scott didn’t even acknowledge it and inquired about his research. As always. Sigh. But this had already happened so many times that Stiles didn’t care. Scott just was that way and yes, the Wild Hunt was more important right now, even if Nogitsune didn’t seem to think so.

Things had been quite queasy between them after their fight. Fortunately, they had made up, and their friendship was not lost. But while Stiles had already forgiven Scott’s deeds and took Scott back in, he could never forget. Not even if he wanted, since his fox companion was very keen on bringing it up. And it wasn’t as if you could forget about your best friend ditching you for a guy he knew for a few weeks.

So yeah, they were back to normal. And while this normal – filled with ignorance and lots of ‘sorry, don’t have time right now, Stiles,’ – would not suit most people, Stiles was fine with it. That thought in itself sounded so depressive Stiles decided better not to think about the topic.

Scott heard him out and they came to the conclusion they should check on the little boy – Alex. But as they arrived at the Police station, they found the cell empty. The deputy in – Hayden’s older sister – didn’t even remember Alex. It was astonishing how easy you could erase someone (if you happened to be an old creature from myths). They also figured out the Wild Hunt had to be going for Liam and Hayden, since they were on the street as well.

So they dashed to the school again, since the two of them and Mason happened to be there. Once they’d gotten in though, Stiles started to feel weird.

There were students and police officers swarming around and none of them even looked at him. Something was wrong. Really wrong. It was just a feeling and Stiles had no idea what it was, but he was positive – something was happening and it wasn’t going to be good.

Even Nogitsune was more quiet than usual.

But then Scott turned around, saying it’d be better if they split up. And Stiles panicked. “Scott, wait.”

The Alpha stopped and lifted his eyebrows, brown eyes expectant.

“I…” he tried but nothing much came out. He had no idea what to say. He knew what he wanted to, but when he opened his mouth, his mind got blank.

He opened his mouth again, but Scott just patted him on his shoulder. “You’ll tell me afterwards, okay?”

And he knew it was wrong, knew he should’ve stopped him and knew letting Scott go was a mistake, but he sighed and let the Werewolf go, agreeing to it.

Scott smiled, not even hiding the relief, and walked away from him, neither of them realizing that this was the last time they were ever going to see each other again.

The empty pit in Stiles’ stomach deepened and he felt worse than before, but he let it go and focused on finding the young Betas – that was the reason why he was here, after all.

Nogitsune followed him without saying a word, which was probably the weirdest thing of all of them, but Stiles didn’t think much about it. Nogitsune was Nogitsune and he was unpredictable. Nothing new in that.

He turned around and almost ran into Natalie Martin, Lydia’s mother. He didn’t really like her. She was strict and annoying and too keen on wanting the kids safe, rather than having them deal with dangerous stuff on their own. Wait, that was probably a good trait.

Whatever, she was annoying.

He spluttered for a moment before regaining his composure. “Oh hey, have you seen Liam and Hayden? Or my dad?”

And she looked at him as if he had a thousand-year-old demon wearing his face following him around. Because that so wasn’t true.

Maybe he needed a therapist. Oh well…

“Um, excuse me?”

“You know, my dad, the sheriff? He’s here because of the body...”

But Mrs. Martin didn’t even look like she recognized him. She looked behind him, before telling him to stay there and went away.  

Of course Stiles didn’t do anything like that. He jogged through the halls, past several officers he had known since his birth. And none of them even speared him a glance.

Nogitsune was still silent. His face was impassive, but for a moment Stiles thought he saw apprehension flicker in the fox’s eyes.

Something was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And he couldn’t put a finger on it.

He ran down a couple of stairs and almost fainted in relief, when he saw Liam, Hayden and Mason at the bottom. They were okay. Good.

He basically sprinted to them, having to hold on the locker so he didn’t crash straight into it and started rapidly explaining.

“Guys, the little boy, Alex. He’s gone and no one can remember him. The Wild Hunt took him and we think they might now go for you, since you were on that road as well. So Liam, Hayden, you can’t be alone. You have to stay with either Scott or me, since I also saw them…”

He trailed of once he noticed the looks on their faces. Hayden and Liam were exchanging odd looks, looking at him with no recognition in their eyes. Hayden’s chocolate eyes shown nothing but disturbance.

They almost looked as if…

Mason, always being the polite one, gently asked. “Do you go to this school?”

And Stiles blanched. They didn’t… they didn’t…

“They don’t remember you.” His doppelganger finished his thoughts.

It was the same thing with Mrs. Martin and the officers. And now he realized it was also the same with Coach giving his jumper to the other boy and his application not being filled.

He saw the Wild Hunt. They weren’t going for Liam and Hayden.

Oh no, no, no, no, no!

And that’s when he finally saw his father. He quickly brushed past his three confused classmates and ran towards the Sheriff.

He stopped before the older man and started to babble before he could even think. “Oh God, oh God, everybody’s forgetting, you got to help me, please, e-everybody’s forgetting me and- “

“Son, stop. It’s going to be okay.” His father interrupted him. And he almost flung himself at the man from the relief of his Dad remembering, when Nogitsune stopped him.

“That doesn’t mean he remembers you.”

Oh… of course. It didn’t. And his father proved it just with his next sentence. “Alright kid, first tell me your name and then what happened and we can figure it out.”

His father-

His own father-

His own father didn’t remember him. His father didn’t recognize him.

He stumbled few steps back. Oh God… everyone was forgetting. Everyone. No one knew him. Not even his dad.

Oh God, what was he supposed to do?

His feet started to take him away, but he registered it only partly. His mind was blank. Blank and everything seemed hazy.

Nobody remembered him, nobody remembered him, nobodyremeMBEREDHIM!

He stumbled through the hallway towards nearest doors. Liam, Mason, Hayden, the officers, his dad. They all lost memory of him. Because he was being erased, he was being swept under the rug. Because the Ghost Riders were coming for him, they were going to do who-knows-what to him and nobody will remember him, which means nobody will look for him.

He felt tears stinging in his eyes. They were coming for him and nobody would save him. And soon, no one around would have any recognition of him, if they didn’t already.

He stopped in the middle of the hallway and quickly took out his phone, his hands shaking. He ignored his fox’s concerned look and dialed Scott.

Please remember me, please remember me, please-

“Hello?” the Werewolf’s voice sounded unsure, “Who’s calling?”

Stiles slowly let his hand fall down. Not even Scott. Not even he – God, he spoke with him minutes ago!

He felt like crying. It was only a matter of time until the Wild Hunt would come for him and then…

“Stiles,” Nogitsune stepped closer to him.

There was something sinister in his expression, that made Stiles stop short.

“I know this is terrible,” he said softly, “but… you still have me, okay? I’ll always be here with you.”

The boy looked at the demon and felt his heart miss a beat. Nogitsune was there. Nogitsune was still there with him. And how could a being in his mind forget him?

It calmed him down a little bit. The Hunt will take him. But he won’t be alone.

For once, he was even glad for the fox’s presence. It was weird. But Stiles was too stressed to care.

His thoughts were jumbled and messy. His hands shook. He had to tell himself to breathe, because that simple action suddenly became almost impossible.

Nogitsune gently squeezed his hand, leading him towards the exit. It made sense. If Stiles was to be taken away, he would like to see something else than school.

“Do you think I’m going to die?” He asked, trepidation making his voice shake.

The demon entwined their fingers together. “We’ll have to see.”

Stiles looked back onto the school full of people that didn’t recognize him, and made up his mind.

He took a deep breath and stepped out of the door.

***

He found himself in a train station.

Out of all of he had expected, this wasn’t it. At all.

And he really hadn’t expected to find that many people in here.

In the chairs surrounding him sat minimally one hundred of them.

Stiles looked around himself, quickly finding Nogitsune sitting beside him. He breathed out a sigh of relief. He hadn’t lost his only remaining friend, then. Good.

But… where was he?

He stood up, looking around himself. People of all ages sat around him, reading newspaper or doing something on their computers. They all looked as if they were waiting for a train. But to where?

And why?

Stiles’ eyes trailed to his right and caught the sight of a big rusty signboard. Just like in a train station, really. He looked through the towns, until he found Beacon Hills. His train was supposed to arrive in ten minutes.

“Do you think it will take us somewhere?” He asked, uncertainty tainting his voice.

Nogitsune scoffed. “Sorry to debunk your hopes, but that would make zero sense. The Wild Hunt has trapped you and all the others in here. Why would they let you go? Why would they erase you just to put you back?”

Great. “Thanks, Mr. Logical.”

The demon rolled his eyes, but said nothing else. Stiles looked back onto the sign.

9 minutes.

Okay. He’ll wait and see. If the train comes, he’ll get in and see where it takes him. Waiting a bit couldn’t hurt.

Or so he thought.

The time flew by about as fast as a snail with crawling problems. He kept checking the digital numbers on the screen, but it was as if someone purposely slowed them down.

Nogitsune kept sending him funny looks, but Stiles ignored him. After all this time, it really wasn’t hard. He had practice.

The digital 2 finally changed into 1. Stiles bit his lips. One of his legs was nervously tapping on the ground.

The digital 1 disappeared. And changed into… Delayed.

His eyes widened. Really? Like, really? Delayed?

“Not surprising.” Nogitsune said.

“Not surprising? I… But…”

The fox rolled his eyes again. “You have been erased. Basically kidnapped. Trapped. Why would they let you go?”

That was logical, but Stiles still couldn’t shake off his disbelief. They really delayed that thing. And as he realized now, there was no train coming. There will never be one.

The people around him hadn’t even looked up. They all stared into their devices, barely moving. A sudden thought crossed his mind and he walked over to one of them.

It was a middle-aged lady, fully absorbed in her book about knitting. Dirty blond hair fell onto her face, but that didn’t seem to bother her. She sat still as a statue. Stiles realized, with a wave of horror, that aside from blinking, her eyes remained unmoving. She wasn’t even reading.

None of them were.

Was he the only one awake? The only one who actually realized what was going on? The thought scared him.

Stiles Stilinski had seen true horrors in his short life. But there was something terrifyingly unsettling about this situation.

To think that the Ghost Riders trapped their victims and then put them in hypnosis-like state, so that none of them could even fight back… it was the best working strategy they could have come up with. And the most terrifying.

How could they fight an enemy as sophisticated as this? How could they win, if they themselves wouldn’t remember to fight?

And while all these worries made his stomach painfully twist and tangle… the thought of being aware of this hell and stuck here for eternity… it terrified him more than any sort of monster ever could.

Stiles had thought he had been lonely before. He had clearly been wrong.

***

Stiles spent about an hour walking around the crowded platform, looking for anyone that wasn’t a vegetable. Sadly, luck wasn’t on his side.

Nogitsune followed him around, offering snide remarks about people around them and consolingly patting his back when he couldn’t manage to wake anyone.

Stiles even went so far as to shake someone. Nothing seemed to help, though. The brunet remained sitting on his plastic chair, blankly staring ahead, without even a one spark of life coming through him. If it wasn’t for the slight moving of his chest, he could pass as dead.

Freaky.

After that encounter, Stiles decided to rather look around for escape. Couple of red doors lined the walls and he decided to check them first. He expected them to be locked, but the first set he tried opened with no trouble.

He walked through them. And appeared on the other side of the same room.

Stiles stumbled a few steps in shock. But that shouldn’t be possible!

He looked around himself and confusion. The doors he walked in were there… and he was here… what?

Nogitsune giggled at him from where he was leaning against a wall. Stiles ignored him and tried another door.

Same result. Seriously… what?

After that he continued stumbling through multiple doors, until he finally – finally! – entered a room that wasn’t the platform. He had to play with the lock for a bit, since this door actually happened to be locked. But he had learned how to pick locks a long time ago, and soon he was in.

It was about one tenth of the platform’s size. From the wires, running old electronic and lots of buttons, Stiles reasoned it was some sort of a control room. He tried messing with few of the buttons, but all it did, was making him look stupid in front of Nogitsune, who was laughing at him again. Ass.

In the end, he decided to just return to his seat. And right there, at the moment he decided to give up, he finally got lucky. He hadn’t noticed the man when he had woken up. Even though, he was sitting 3 seats away from him.

But now he did, and he could only stare in shock. The man in front of him, was none other than Peter Hale.                                                                                                                                                  

Peter Hale. The guy that used Lydia to resurrect him from death. The Werewolf that fucked them over multiple times, and even betrayed his own daughter. The fucker that almost killed Scott.

“It’s not like the last one is a bad thing…” Nogitsune murmured. Stiles shot him a dirty look.

Point was, this guy was a jackass. And apparently, he was the only one around that Stiles recognized. He didn’t like the idea of spending his time with someone so untrustworthy as Peter… but dang it, he really had no one else.

Stiles had to try to wake him up.

“I don’t think it’ll work. But be my guest.” Nogitsune commented off-handily and sat down on an empty chair.

Stiles sighed. Back in the school… Nogitsune had been so nice to him. He had thought that maybe something would change. But really, he should have known it was a foolish expectation. Nogitsune wasn’t going to miraculously become a completely different person just because they got kidnapped. He was the same as always. Sarcastic, witty and annoying as fuck.

(Now that Stiles thought about it, those words could be used to describe himself as well, but he was definitely not going to think about that).

The human looked at the Werewolf. That kid back there hadn’t reacted, but Peter was a supernatural being.

With determinate look Stiles grabbed Peter by the shoulders and shook him.

Stiles wasn’t sure if spending his time with this asshole wasn’t worse than being alone. But he still couldn’t hold of the smile spreading across his cheeks, when Peter woke up.

The man looked around, just as disoriented as Stiles had felt, back when he had woken up himself. His eyes shone with confusion as he took in his surroundings. And then Peter’s eyes landed on him.

“Stiles?”

***

“I should’ve let you rot in here!” Stiles screamed after the fleeing Werewolf.

Peter just shot him a shit-eating grin and disappeared in a flash of green light.

That fucker actually left him here! Stiles balled his fists, as his hands started to shake in anger. That absolute, disgusting, sleazy little cockroach!

Oh God, why had he even considered waking Peter up? Why hadn’t he anticipated something like this happening? He knew the other man was a self-centred dickhead, so it didn’t surprise Stiles in the slightest, that Peter used his chance to get out and ditched him at the first chance he got. That didn’t mean he wasn’t furious.

Stiles, was seething. Nogitsune was back at patting him on the back, but it just annoyed him more.

So many things had happened since he snapped Peter out of his haze. Peter immediately started to ask just about everything. He managed to answer some of Peter’s questions, before the Ghost Riders came in.

Stiles’ heart almost jumped out of his chest, when they grabbed an unconscious person from their horse and pushed them on to the ground. The body fell down like a sack of potatoes. Stiles was glad he managed not to let out any sounds, as he watched the scene. For a while it seemed like the person will just lay there for eternity.

And then they stood up, dragged themselves to an empty chair and sat down, as if nothing happened.

Peter and Stiles exchanged wary glances. Nogitsune started to giggle.

They tried to wake up the newcomer afterwards, but with no results. The person had fell into the haze, just as everyone else.

So that’s how they bring them in, huh…

This happened a few more times. Peter checked out the control room for himself and stumbled through few doors, before coming back to Stiles. He agreed there was nothing.

Which left the tunnel. The Ghost Riders came from there, so why not follow. In the end, the only new discovery they made, was that the Wild Hunt, could walk through walls.

Or maybe that wasn’t exactly true. The wall flashed with green neon light every time they passed through. Stiles was lead to believe that it was some sort of a portal. He examined the wall, but it was solid. Nothing could come through it. Except for the Ghost Riders.

It seemed like their only escape was closed… until the Riders brought another person. This time, however, their victim was awake.  

The boy was about the same age as Stiles, with a shock of brown hair on his head. And he was moving. Scrambling, yelling at the Riders to take him back, looking around himself.

He probably shouldn’t be happy about someone being taken by those monsters, but he couldn’t stop the smile, that spread across his cheeks. He wasn’t stuck here with only Peter for company!

(And thank God for that, the Werewolf was already making him want to crawl out of his own skin).

They calmed down the boy and explained their situation to him. He looked positively miffed, when he looked around at all the hypnotized people. They showed him the portal. And boy, Stiles had never seen such excitement and determination mixed in one person.

They watched as the Riders went through their portal once more. And when they came next, Adam (as he introduced himself) jumped on one of the Rider’s horse.

And for a while, it seemed perfect. The Rider tried to push him off, but Adam managed to hold on. They neared the portal. And just as the green light enveloped them, Adam shrieked in pain.

Some invisible force pushed him back and he fell off the horse. He wasn’t moving when he fell to the ground. And all of his body… God, those burns...

Stiles pushed down the lump in his throat. Adam was dead. Oh dear God…

It seemed like getting away, would be impossible. If he tried to go with the Riders, he’ll get burnt to death.

That, however, didn’t stop Peter, who proclaimed he’ll heal, and before Stiles could say anything, he was already jumping on one of the Riders and disappearing along with them. And he was right – Peter was a Werewolf and could heal from basically everything.

Peter made it. He got away from the Ghost Rider’ clutches.

And Stiles was left alone.

Frankly, he was miffed. No, he was beyond that. He was fuming. That bastard just left him here! Stiles wanted to scream. How was he supposed to get out of here now?

As far as Stiles knew, he didn’t possess super healing abilities. This thing would kill him.

The hopelessness came crawling back. And this time it was worse.

He was alone. Completely, utterly alone. It was more bearable before he woke Peter up. At least, back then, he knew he was alone. Back then, he still had that drive to get away. Now though? He was pretty sure, that the Stiles that ran around the station and examined everything there was to examine, was some completely different person.

He dragged himself back to the platform, feeling worse than he remembered ever feeling. He slumped down to his seat, now more than ever wishing he could go back into that haze.

There was no food. No water. Nothing. If he didn’t think up a way to get back home, he’ll die. And that weird perception of time in here… He had no idea how much time had passed, since he woken up. There was no clock. Nor any windows.

It felt like hours, but he couldn’t be sure. Really, he couldn’t be sure of anything in this stupid place.

What was he going to do?

“And we’re back to moping again.”

He glared at his doppelganger.

Nogitsune sighed. “I mean… I get it. We’re fucked. But is moping going to do anything?”

“No. Probably not. But what else am I supposed to do, huh?” It came out less angry than it sounded. Stiles just felt so tired…

“Well, not mope, for one.”

Another glare.

“And… I may, or may not have a solution.”

This made Stiles sit up straight. “You know how to get us out of here? Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

Nogitsune shrugged. “It seemed like you wanted to do it yourself.”

Oh, c’mon! “Are you serious, right now?” Stiles’ left eye started to twitch, “You had a way out, all of this time, and you didn’t tell me, because ‘I wanted to do it myself’?!”

Nogitsune scratched the back of his neck. “Well, to be frank with you, I’m not sure if it’ll even work.”

Stiles pinched the bridge of his nose. “That doesn’t matter. Tell me what you’ve got.”

And so Nogitsune did. And holy hell, wasn’t that something.

***

“You made a mistake,” He said to the man on the horse.

The Rider tilted his head in silent question.

Stiles stepped a bit closer. “I said you made a mistake. And really, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

The other Riders now turned to him as well. The one he spoke to let out a breathy noise. Their way of speaking (A pretty weird one, if you were to ask Stiles).

Nogitsune squeezed his shoulders. Stiles forced himself to remain calm. “Did you really think it would be a good idea, to take a Nogitsune?”

A nervous wave shuffled through the Riders. Stiles felt a sparkle of hope bloom in his chest.

So he continued. “I’m only controlling this boy now… but I can wreak havoc. You sure you want all your obedient zombies to turn against you?” he gave the Riders a cocky grin.

Nogitsune grinned at him. “You’re perfect.”

Well of course he was. Sure, inside, Stiles was shaking like a leaf. But he knew Nogitsune like the back of his hand.

The Ghost Riders exchanged looks in that slow, weird, breathy way, they did things. Then they turned back to him. And they didn’t look very convinced…

Stiles had to push more.

“I’m sure your leaders won’t be pleased, when they’ll hear you broke our deal.”

The Riders seemed to tense. Good.

“500 years ago, both of our nations swore to not cause any harm to each other. You have violated that, just by taking me here. And once my sisters and brothers realize I’m missing… there’ll be a war. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want that on your heads.”

The main one said something to his companions. The other Riders nudged their horses and suddenly they all stood around Stiles. The Rider before him pointed his gun at him.

His heart skipped a beat. Well… now he was either going to die, or his plan worked.

For a moment, Stiles felt like panicking. Before the realization hit him. It didn’t matter if the Rider shot him or transported him out. He’d leave this place anyway. And while he would prefer to be alive… was death really that bad? Would it really be worse than what his life has become?

And so, when the Rider pulled of the safety, Stiles remained calm. Whatever awaited him now, would be glorious.

Bang!

***

Stiles Stilinski didn’t die.

He didn’t die.

Oh thank God.

Alright, now that the adrenaline had died down, he realized just how shaken he truly was.

It worked. It worked, it worked, oh thank God!

He appeared somewhere in the woods, but that didn’t matter. He was alive and in the real world. Free.

A huge weight, that he didn’t even know was there, fell from his shoulders. He felt like he could properly breathe for the first time, since he departed from Scott at the school. Stiles escaped the Wild Hunt. He escaped them! He made it.

Oh God, this was amazing!

Nogitsune was leaning against a tree next to him. He looked nonchalant, as if nothing even happened, but Stiles could the flicker in his eyes. He was happy about this as well.

Stiles turned to him and grinned. “We did it!”

“I told you it would work.”

Stiles laughed. “You said you didn’t know.”

Nogitsune stuck up his nose. “Please, I was being modest.”

He was back to being arrogant… but Stiles couldn’t find himself minding. He laughed at him. And then found himself doing something, that surprised both of them.

He walked over to the demon and hugged him.

Nogitsune froze. Some part of Stiles wondered what exactly he was doing, but he was still so happy and (mostly) relieved, that he couldn’t care less. He squeezed the trickster tighter and said. “Thank you.”

And then he said it once more.

Little did he know, that this was the first time Stiles had touched Nogitsune and not the other way around.

Nogitsune was silent for a moment. And then he wrapped his arms around Stiles and hugged him back.

Stiles thought that if this was what hugging himself felt like, then he couldn’t be a bad huger.

“Stop being egoistical,” Nogitsune scolded him, “that’s my job.”

Stiles laughed again and pulled back. The demon let him go, but they still stood close. Closer than normal. It was then, in the light that seeped through the trees around them, that Stiles noticed just how pretty Nogitsune’s eyes were.

(Yeah, okay, they were technically his, let him be).

They kinda looked like chocolate, but also kinda like honey. And it was weird, since he never looked at himself this way, but… Nogitsune kinda like… wasn’t him? Did that make sense?

Gosh, his thoughts were a mess.

Oh, whatever.

He turned away from the trickster and for some reason felt his cheeks start to heat up. Jeez, was he seriously just gushing about Nogitsune’s eyes? He had more pressing manners to deal with!

“Um, we should find Scott and the others.”

“They don’t remember you.” Nogitsune said.

Stiles sighed. Yeah. He knew. “Well, they will when I’ll remind them.”

His demon looked at him for a moment. And then sighed as well. “Okay.”

Stiles took that as the end of the conversation and headed out of the forest.

“Just so you know… I don’t think it’ll work.”

He stopped in his tracks and turned back. The trickster shrugged. “Wanted to tell you, so you won’t be too disappointed.”

The human scoffed. “They’re my friends. At least in some way. And even if they won’t recognize me… they’ll believe me.”

Nogitsune didn’t look very convinced about that. But Stiles already settled his mind. So he turned around and headed out of the forest.

Nogitsune had never believed in his friends. But they were his Pack. Sure, they weren’t very close. But still, they were his friends.

Yeah, maybe they won’t recognize him at first. But they’ll get reminded. And take him in. Once he tells them all about what they did together, they’ll remember.

Right?

***

They didn’t. None of them remembered.

None.

Not even a single one.

Not even that guy who’s dog he used to walk for years.

Not even his Pack. Not even after about an hour of explaining.

He had tried to get them to remember. To at least believe him when he said, he had been their friend. But neither Malia, nor Scott looked like they believed him. They listened to him and then said they were sorry, but: “You probably have the wrong guys, dude.”

He told them. Everything. About the Pack, the Supernatural (no, not the show), about all the things nobody but they knew. And yet… in the end, they accused him of being both crazy and a stalker. They even threatened to call cops on him.

That was when he took his things and walked away.

It was horrible. To think that after all he had told them, they would accuse him of being a stalker. A stalker. God.

But maybe a think that stung the most, was that he saw some flicker of recognition in both of their eyes. They knew the Wild Hunt was taking people. They knew his story could be 100% plausible. And yet… it seemed as if they didn’t even want him.

It hurt. It wasn’t just him feeling like shit after they ignored him a bit. The revelation, that maybe they realized who he was and acted this way, because they didn’t want him with them, made him want to go back to the Riders into their weird, abandoned train station.

And he wasn’t kidding. It was that bad.

He had nothing. No one. No home, no friends, no family. No possessions, but his old Roscoe. He had found it sitting in the school parking lot. Weird, how no one wondered about it being there. It had to stay there for days without moving and no one cared.

Interesting.

So here he was. Sitting in his Jeep and riding to God-knows-where.

“You know, maybe they really don’t remember you.”

Stiles’ grip on the steering wheel tightened. “They would try to help me, if they had no idea who I was. No matter who I was, they wouldn’t jeopardize their chances on beating the Hunt.”

“But they didn’t take you in.”

“Yes. They didn’t. Because they do remember me. And they don’t want me back.”

A silence for a moment and then… “I told you so.”

“Oh really?” he turned to glare at the demon, “You’re gonna bring that up now? Really? Go fuck yourself.”

Nogitsune lifted his eyebrows. Stiles ignored him.

Because in the end… Nogitsune was right. It hurt to admit, but he had been right all along.

Scott, Malia, Lydia… they had never been his friends. It wasn’t friendship. Maybe somewhere at the start. But they had soon replaced him with other people. They didn’t like him.

It was a horrible realization… but in the end, he was just following them around. And because it seemed that they just couldn’t tell him they didn’t like him, they let him near them and still continued acting, as if he was their friend.

And he had really thought they liked him. He had really believed they were his friends.

They were assholes, all bunch of them. Nogitsune was right, when he said he should just leave them and find some better friends. He should have believed him.

But what now? He had nothing. The people he would once sacrifice the world for, hated him. And aside from that 20 dollar bill he found in his pocket, he had no money.

As he wrecked his mind, he realized the scenery around them changed. They were riding along the cliffs.

The cliffs.

He stopped the car. Not many other passed along the route. It had already gotten dark, and the city spreading beneath him looked magnificent. All the lights…

“Stiles?”

He stepped out. Maybe this was it. Maybe this would be better. In the end… it even looked kind of peaceful.

“Stiles?”

He walked over to the edge. What else did he have left anyway? A fox demon that no one else saw? His stupid car? He had lost everything. Everyone.

Was it that wrong, to want the easy way out? He had been trying for so long… To be the best for everyone around. And yet no one was ever there for him. He had been dealing with more bullshit than others for so long… Why did he still have to fight?

It wasn’t like someone would mourn him now. They forgot. They wouldn’t be sad. He wouldn’t hurt anyone. And really, was it so wrong to want to stop this pain? To stop this torture?

He had been dealing with nightmares haunting him almost every other day for years. He had been dealing with depression for longer. He had been pushed away and ignored and left alone more times than he could count.

He couldn’t even remember the last time he didn’t feel terrible. So why should he keep on living?

“Stiles.” The demon’s voice sounded small.

It made him stop. His feet were just a couple centimeters away from the edge. The height was almost overwhelming. It would only take one step. One.

One tiny step and it would be over. All of this. Stiles could feel tears pricking his eyes. It will really be over.

And suddenly a pair of arms wrapped around him. He let out a surprised gasp. Nogitsune was hugging him, stopping him from jumping.

“Please don’t do this, Stiles, please don’t do this.”

He had never heard Nogitsune sound like this. Nogitsune never pleaded for anything. And yet, here he was, clinging to Stiles and begging him to not commit a suicide.

It would make him laugh, were it any other situation.

But right now, it was the final push. The tears started to fall. He hunched over and started to sob.

When Nogitsune steered him back towards his car, he didn’t fight back. He let himself be seated on the roof of his car, feeling Nogitsune’s arms around him. He could hear the demon’s soft murmur, telling him it was okay, telling him to get it all out.

And Stiles cried. He sobbed and shook and everything that went along with crying. Nogitsune sat next to him and quietly caressed his shoulders.

He just wanted this to end. Was that so bad? Was that so bad, that he just wanted it to stop? What was the last time he felt good for more than half an hour?

After some time, he calmed down. His eyes hurt from crying and he was sure he looked terrible. But that was a constant for him, so what.

Nogitsune silently hugged him and Stiles had to be reminded yet again, just what a great friend the trickster was.

“It’s okay.”

Stiles wanted to believe that.

He pulled away. Looked at the night lighted city he had grown up in. And had to wonder. All these people in there, they had everything from their families, to their loved ones. They all lived their lives in that state of nativity, not knowing neither, that there was a whole supernatural world out there, nor that they all had friends they couldn’t remember.

He, on the other hand? He had nothing, except for an old Jeep and… what even was Nogitsune, actually?

He turned to the demon. The question popped into his mind so suddenly, it made him snap out of all of his sadness. He had never gotten an answer out of him, back when he had still asked. But Stiles felt that he did deserve an answer.

“What are you? I mean… I know you’re him, but we trapped the firefly. Are you just a part of him that was left in me? Or are you him, but like, his consciousness?”

Something sad appeared in his eyes. “Stiles, I…”

“Well? I deserve an answer.”

“You see I… fuck, I didn’t want you to find out this way…”

Stiles lifted his eyebrows. “What?”

Nogitsune was silent for a moment. “Stiles… I’m sorry. Look, after everything that had happened to you back then… your mind just couldn’t take it. After what Nogitsune done to you and with your friends barely talking to you… your mind just…”

Stiles mouth went dry. He had a feeling that he was about to come to yet another terrible revelation. And he really didn’t want to find out.

“You couldn’t handle it, so…”

“So what?”

“… Stiles, I’m not real.”

“…”

“Stiles?”

“What?” The world started to spin. “What do you mean, you’re not real?”

Nogitsune cringed. “I’m sorry.”

Stiles stood up. No. No, this couldn’t be true.

“Your mind couldn’t handle with what you were going through, so… it created me. It took Nogitsune as you viewed him and,” he paused, “made me.”

He turned to the demon, but the fox wasn’t looking at him. Instead he was staring at the blue hood of his Jeep. Stiles had never seen him looking so sad. His whole face was scrunched up and wait – were those tears?

Stiles’ hands shook. “You’re trying to tell me I’ve made you up?”

“I’m sorry.”

The tears came back. He stumbled back onto the car. Nogitsune looked just as miserable as he felt.

He tried to think about this in some logical way. It wasn’t that bad. He tried to tell himself. He always knew that Nogitsune wasn’t a real person. So okay, he thought the trickster was some part of the Dark Kitsune. He thought that the demon survived their attack and decided to haunt Stiles for the rest of his live.

So it turned out that Nogitsune wasn’t the real Nogitsune’s leftover. So what? That wasn’t that bad, no?

(It really was).

“It…” he had to stop, “It doesn’t matter. We… We can work through this. I know I’m messed up, so what?” He tried to smile.

Nogitsune didn’t smile back. He looked pained. “Stiles… you know we can’t. It would never work. Not the way we used to.”

Okay, now they were both crying.

“Every time I’d say anything you’d realize I’m just a hallucination. You would be reminded of that all the time. And we could never go back into…” Nogitsune let out a dry laugh, “whatever you want to call what we had.”

“Wait, what do you mean?” Stiles’ heart started to beat faster, “Are you saying you’re leaving?”

The thought scared him. Even now he felt indescribably lonely. How could he survive, if he didn’t have the demon with him?

“I’m sorry, Stiles… but there’s no other way.”

His heart missed a beat. “What do you mean, there’s no other way? You can’t just leave me!”

The trickster reached out and squeezed his hand. “I can’t stay. I’m sorry.”

He was apologizing a lot right now.

Stiles started to shake his head. “No,” he sobbed, “please, you can’t do that. Do you really expect me not to jump off of that cliff when you leave? I have no one. I can’t lose you as well.”

Nogitsune bit his lips. And then he gently took Stiles’ face in his hands. The human blinked a few times at that.

“Stiles, I know you won’t. Because I believe in you.”

He said it with such conviction, Stiles did a double take. The demon’s eyes shone with look so sincere, it made him speechless. How could Nogitsune look at him like that? As if he really believed Stiles did possess the strength to go on. To move on with his life.

But how could Stiles do that?

He grabbed Nogitsune’s hands. Not to push him off. He just had to hold onto something.

The demon pulled up one corner of his mouth in something akin to a sad smile. He gently rubbed his thumb across Stiles’ cheek, wiping away his tears.

“I believe in you.” He said, his voice almost a whisper.

And before Stiles knew it, they were kissing. It surprised him. He never expected Nogitsune to initiate it, especially not now. He knew that his own feelings for the fox has grown to something deeper than just friendship, but he had never thought that Nogitsune might feel the same way.

He squeezed the demon’s wrists tighter. And then he was kissing back.

Nogitsune’s lips were chapped and Stiles was pretty sure, he himself was a terrible kisser. But how could something like that matter? Especially now, when he was standing on the edge of mental breakdown.

They pulled apart. For a moment they both just stared at each other. It seemed that Nogitsune was just as baffled as Stiles himself.

The human cleared his throat. “If you leave me now, you’re a bigger bastard than I thought.”

His doppelganger let out a bark of laughter. But he quickly sobered up. He opened his mouth, probably to apologize again, but Stiles spoke over him.

“Well? What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I have nothing left. And now, you’re leaving as well. I can hardly go back to Beacon Hills. And you know I have no money.”

“I know. This is terrible. But Stiles please,” he looked at him, “you can’t jump. Please, promise me you won’t.”

The human looked over to the cliff. It would certainly be the easy way out. “Why? Why shouldn’t I?”

Nogitsune squeezed his hands. “Please. You have your whole life ahead of you. Please. Don’t.”

“Yeah. My whole life. Well guess what, so far, my whole life sucked. And right now, I’m pretty sure it’ll suck even more.” His chest deflated. His shoulders hunched down. “What am I supposed to do?”

Nogitsune looked at him for a moment, before speaking. His voice sounded hesitant. “Well… maybe I know of something.”

“What?”

“You could always go to him, you know.”

Stiles frowned. “Him?”

His newly discovered hallucination (and wasn’t that a mouthful) lifted one of his eyebrows. “The Dark Kitsune. You could always go to him.”

Stiles blanched. He couldn’t be serious. “You can’t mean that. Have you gone insane?”

Nogitsune shrugged. “He’ll remember you. And really, what more could you lose at this point?”

Stiles thought about it. In all honestly, Nogitsune was right. He really had nothing to lose. And thinking through all of his options… well, he couldn’t decide which was worse (or better?). He could either throw himself off of a cliff, join a sadistic demon, or go to some random city, hopefully find a job that wasn’t prostitution, and somehow survive and find some place to live.

The last option didn’t sound that bad. But he hadn’t even graduated from high school yet. And he knew how hard it would be to find any sustainable job. Plus, it would be at least a month before he had enough money to afford any place to stay.

So… yeah. Bummer.

In the end, he knew that any sane person would go with the third option. They could get lucky. Meet nice people, start anew… but at this point, Stiles wasn’t very sane.

And frankly… for some unfathomable reason, he leaned towards option number 2.

Why? He had no idea. But he had spent more than a year in his Nogitsune’s company, thinking he was the real one. And yeah, he knew that his Nogitsune was probably very different that the real demon, but… But…

God, he didn’t want to lose him. He would have found this impossible just a few months back. But after all the time they had spent together… Stiles forgave Nogitsune for what he did to him.

How that translated to his feeling for the real demon, he didn’t know. It was still all really messy.

Could he actually go to the being that caused his panic attacks to come back? Could he, in any way, join the creature that basically tortured him? That made him kill his friends?

He didn’t know if he could. Truly, he simply wished his Nogitsune could stay with him.

“Stiles?” his doppelganger spoke softly.

He turned to him. “I guess you’re right. But… with all the things he had done to me…”

“I know. But as I’ve said, he remembers you. He’s the only one who still does. And I’m sure he’s pretty weak now. He needs a host. Maybe you could work together this time…”

Nogitsune trailed off. His faced clouded in thoughts.

Stiles shifted on the roof. “Work together? I don’t exactly enjoy walking around and killing people.”

The demon avoided his eyes when he answered. “Yeah… but don’t you want revenge?”

“Revenge?”

“The Pack,” he turned his gaze towards him, “It’s not like they deserve anything nice, after how they treated you. Think about it. They could get what they deserve.”

“You seem pretty adamant about him.”

A small smile tugged at the trickster’s lips. “You made me that way, so really darling, stop complaining.”

Stiles sighed. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad option. Still tough… “Do you really have to leave?”

He felt like a small kid with all his whining. Fuck, he must have looked so pathetic.

But Nogitsune didn’t look away from him, or cringed. He only looked sad. “I can’t stay. But I know you can do this. Okay? It’s not like I was that much of a help, really.”

The tears were threatening to come back. “You annoyed me more than anyone else. But for fuck’s sake, you were the best fucking thing that ever happened to me.”

He was cursing. He couldn’t really bring himself to mind.

The demon rolled his eyes and squeezed his hands. “Just promise me you won’t jump off of that cliff, idiot.”

He should make some stupid remark about how Nogitsune shouldn’t call him that. But when he opened his mouth to speak, he couldn’t, over that lump that appeared in his throat. That tiny moment of happiness stayed for like 3 seconds and was already gone.

Stiles gulped. Okay, the option of ending his life now didn’t seem all that tempting. And yeah. His life was crap extraordinaire. So what. He’d at least try for a while.

He sighed and squeezed Nogitsune’s hands in return. “Okay. I promise. I’ll… I’ll try to go on.”

Nogitsune smiled sadly. “It’s going to get better Stiles. Trust me. One day it will.”

He wanted to trust him. He really did. There were just too many worries clouding his mind.

“Spending time with you, was really nice.”

Stiles opened his mouth to answer, but found out he couldn’t. Tears swelled in his eyes. He didn’t think about what he said next.

“I love you.”

Nogitsune put his hand on his cheek. “I love you too.”

This time it was Stiles who initiated the kiss. Nogitsune hummed happily and tilted his head to one side, providing more space.

The kiss was sweet, slow, and sad. It felt like goodbye. Stiles clutched the other’s hands tighter, hoping that he wouldn’t leave, if Stiles never let him go.

Nogitsune’s hand tightened on his jaw, as if to tell him he understood. Stiles leaned in a bit more and deepened the kiss. Please don’t go. He wanted to say. Please don’t go. Please don’t go.

They pulled apart.

And when Stiles opened his eyes, he was alone.

***

The jar felt cool in his hands, when he lifted it up.

Last time he had seen it, he had happily given it over to Deaton and let him hide it far from his sight. Right now, he was holding the same wooden container and could only laugh at the irony of Deaton hiding it beside a jar of dead flies.

Some part of him screamed at him to let it be, to put it back and ran as far away as possible. The rest didn’t really want to do that.

So here he was. God, something must have been really wrong with him.

In the end, it was the loneliness that got him. He told himself he’ll ride to some nearby city. But after few kilometers, he realized he couldn’t do it. He missed his companion too much.

So he came back. He couldn’t stand losing the demon, so he had to get him back, at least in some way.

So here he was. Standing in Deaton’s lab, holding the same jar he swore to never open.

The firefly inside was buzzing with curiosity, restlessly flying around.

This would either turn out to be the worst or the best decision of his life. Stiles knew that it certainly wasn’t smart.

But God… he was just so tired. So tired of everyone looked down on him. So tired of their falseness, the loneliness, the hurt. He was just tired. Of basically everything around him. And with his demon leaving him… he really had no one.

But Nogitsune, even if he was a tremendous bastard, remembered him. There was a lot of terrible things the fox had done to him. But Stiles could also clearly remember how Nogitsune tried to convince him to join him.

The fox tried to get him on his side. At the start. But then Stiles said no and that bastard just possessed him.

Yeah.

The point of all of this? Well… as absurd as it sounded, maybe Nogitsune actually wanted him (And wasn’t it sad, that he’d be the first?).

And his Nogitsune had been right. Again. Because even if it was hard to admit to himself, he did want revenge. The Pack had treated him horribly. Well, maybe except for Liam. Liam was a cool kid; they just weren’t that close…

Was he wrong for wanting that? For wanting to open that jar, to let the thousand-year-old demon free? Was it wrong, that he wanted to join him?

Probably.

But Stiles had literally no one to stop him.

He grabbed the lid. And before he could second-guess his decision any longer, he opened the jar.

The little firefly flied out and above the container. It flashed a few times. And Stiles watched as it slowly dissolved into black smoke.

The atmosphere in the room changed. Almost as if someone prolonged the shadows, bringing even more darkness into the moon lighted room. Cold breeze swept over him and Stiles shivered.

Someone was standing behind him. He didn’t dare turn around. Or even move.

“Well aren’t you something?”

His voice was smoother than anything Stiles could ever produce. It sounded like him, but also not.

The demon walked closer to him. “What would your friends think if they knew what you’re doing? Oh wait…” Nogitsune trailed off.

Stiles gritted his teeth. He turned around.

Nogitsune was different than the one that had followed him around the past year. He looked like Stiles. But his eyes were a lot more bloodshot. His skin was white as snow. And he certainly looked a lot more menacing that anything his mind could have ever come up with.

He expected the Kitsune to start mocking him. But Nogitsune was looking at him with calculation in his eyes, not amusement.

“So much had happened since we last saw each other.” He commented.

It felt like if he was reading Stiles like an open book. Which he probably was, since he could read minds. Well…

“It seem so.” Stiles’ voice sounded rough. Speaking was harder than before.

Nogitsune tilted his head to one side. Then a slow smile spread across his lips.

“Oh Stiles… we’re going to have so much fun.”