Something was weird with the Nemeton.
It actually explained a lot of bad things going down in the Beacon Hills, but this time it felt different. Lydia shivered. She was looking out the window in their apartment for quite some time, trying to put this feeling down.
“Is everything alright, Lydia?” Jordan asked softly, hugging her from behind. They’d just put their kid to sleep, so he didn’t want to make a lot of noise.
“I’m not sure,” she whispered and put her hands on his. “Do you feel it?”
She blinked, looking in the distance.
“I think so, yes,” Jordan answered and kissed the side of her head softly. “Should we call Scott?”
Lydia nodded and Jordan let her go and went to get the phone.
Next thing she knew she was in front of the school. Jordan was nowhere to be seen, but next to her was Malia. This part of banshee power still kind of annoyed Lydia, losing time and ending up elsewhere, she still couldn’t master this.
“You are awake,” Malia said instead of greeting. Her pack bond felt unsettled, but, frankly, everyone was kind of aggravated. “They said there is something weird all across the town before you came here and painted a mark on the map”.
Investing in a Beacon Hills maps was a good idea after all. Lydia nodded and moved into the school. It’s been a while since the last time she was here, so some things were new. Mostly these metal detectors right in front of the entrance.
“Did I mark this place?” she asked mostly just to fill the silence.
“No, you didn’t. Liam and Mason aren’t far away, and some of the others took the other mark,” Malia growled a bit.
This made Lydia stop and look at her. “What is the other place I marked?”
“Theo. The place where we sent him to hell”.
At least now Lydia understood where the aggravation came from. She had a really bad feeling about being here right now. They went further, and Lydia stopped. There was some kind of dust lying here, it was way too light-colored to be either mountain ash or aconite. Malia also didn’t mention any smell.
There came an impact, a loud humming right from the Nemeton. Lydia screamed.
Something was crawling its way from under the dust, and Lydia had a very strong feeling of deja vu. Especially because the one who crawled up was very familiar. They were half-way through when Malia growled and tried to come to him, so Lydia had to stop her.
Because when they crawled up, they began coughing hard, covered in dust, that was slowly dissolving, like it was never there.
“Fuck,” the rusty voice said, and coughed once again.
They were wheezing, almost like they had some kind of asthma attack. Then they vomited a black goo and Lydia closed her eyes because it was disgusting.
She heard two people rushing their way to them. She felt Liam and Mason, which was good. Whatever it was could be way too dangerous for Malia and Lydia to deal with. One more werewolf and druid were a good help if they were about to deal with what Lydia thought it was.
The person on the ground also heard footsteps and raised their head.
They looked just like Stiles, those half-parted lips, sharp cheekbones, wide-open doe eyes. Though the eyes were way too different. They glowed blue. It was Stiles, and for some reason, it looked exactly like he did on the night of Nogitsune showdown.
“He is a werewolf,” Malia said. ‘Stiles’ also tried to say something, probably Lydia’s name, but then he coughed again. “He wasn’t a werewolf before.”
“This isn’t Stiles,” Lydia said.
‘Stiles’ shot her the same look of betrayal she saw in their actual Stiles so many times. He was still coughing, but it felt a bit easier.
This couldn’t be their Stiles, because he died four years ago at the age of twenty-four.
Lydia said so, but, judging by the look Malia gave her, her heart missed a beat. She lied, but it wasn’t possible.
Liam and Mason finally reached them and stopped. “Stiles?” Liam asked, very unsure. Lydia understood his feelings, Stiles became a kind of brotherly figure for him over the course of a few years, and seeing him now– well, that was unsettling for all of them.
“And who the hell are you?” Stiles rasped, not coughing anymore. He squinted, looking at Liam and Mason, and then at Lydia and Malia. His eyes went wide like he just realized something.
“What year is it,” he asked, exhaling like he was about to cough again.
“It’s 2022,” Mason answered, his voice a bit shaken.
“You are not joking,” Stiles said, puzzled. Then he blinked and looked at Malia. “You said I’m a werewolf.”
“You are,” Malia nodded. Stiles didn’t attempt to move, but Lydia knew this half-empty gaze too well: he was thinking about something. Also, the blue glow in his eyes disappeared. His nails were bland, but Lydia didn't notice if they were claws at some point.
“What do we do?” Mason asked, almost whispered.
“We catch him, and take to the cage,” Lydia said. That snapped Stiles from his thoughts.
“Why the hell would you put me in the cage? You freaking trusted an imposter, and now you’re gonna put me in some sort of a cage?” Stiles growled, his eyes glowing again, teeth growing. He tried to stand up, but it seemed like he couldn’t. “You fucking allowed Scott to bite me, and Kira to stab me, and now I’m going to the cage?”
Lydia frowned. “We will talk about it later.” She took a step back, ignoring Stiles’ snarling. Malia and Liam took this as their cue to grab him. At that time Mason fished some powder from his backpack and threw it in Stiles’ face, which made him lose consciousness.
“He looks… young,” Mason said.
“And sick,” Liam added.
“Take him to the car, we need to take him to the cage. I’ll call Scott,” Lydia said, fishing her phone from pants.
Malia and Liam complied. Liam took Stiles’ legs when Malia grabbed his torso. They carried him to the car, and Mason followed with the keys. He threw a final glance toward Lydia but didn’t say anything.
Lydia took a deep breath, trying to shake this unsettling feeling. They defeated the Nogitsune eleven years ago, the Stiles by her side was real, he was their Stiles, and this one – this one was his body, possessed.
And it sounded way too complicated without the research. So Lydia put a mental note to ask Mason or Danny check this later – because they never really addressed this ‘Stiles or Nogitsune created a whole new body for himself’ thing. She found Scott in her contacts and dialed, stepping away from the place. She didn’t dare turn her back to it.
Scott answered quickly. “Is everything alright?”
“Kind of. We have Stiles,” Lydia said right away, so as not to allow herself to doubt herself. Scott was silent on the other side of the line. “He is sixteen, I think. A werewolf. And also his last memory is, apparently, how you bit him and Kira stabbed him”.
“Oh God,” Scott whispered.
“And what do you have?” Lydia asked. She turned around the corner but still felt better after she looked back from time to time.
“Theo, he looks almost exactly like he did when we locked him up. We are taking him to the cage now,” Scott answered.
There was a silence after that.
“We are taking Stiles to the cage as well,” Lydia answered. “So see you there.”
“Yeah,” Scott answered and ended the call.
Lydia still held the phone to her ear. She lowered it only after she came back to the car. Stiles was tied and had been sitting down on the back seat between Malia and Liam. Mason was in the driver's seat. Lydia gazed over to her car but decided that she couldn't drive now, so she took the shotgun of Mason's car.
Nobody said anything for the whole car ride.
Stiles was coming to his senses slowly, and the world didn't even form a picture. The only thing he really got from his surrounding was that it was dark, or, at least, the light was dimmed.
Smells and sounds were killing him enough for the lack of sight, because, apparently, he was a werewolf now. He's so going to punch Scott in the face for that. Even without his claws, which he should have. Probably.
The feelings weren't much different inside. He still felt mostly empty, and this worried him. Scott, who was always awful with descriptions, described being a werewolf like there was someone in his body with him under the skin. Like an inner wolf or whatever. Stiles was blissfully alone in his head, hopefully. It could still be one of Nogitsune’s tortures.
He heard voices in the distance and a calm heartbeat nearby. Also, there were scents of mountain ash, aconite, cuprum and so many more things he couldn't decipher.
“Better not open your eyes yet,” a raspy male voice said somewhere above. It wasn't familiar, and that was worrying.
“Yeah, we get almost 90% of information about the world from what we see,” Stiles answered with a bored voice. Mostly to be a smartass. The owner of the voice huffed.
“You’ll have sensory overload, and are kind of exposed to the almost full moon. Honestly, you are handling it well for being newly bitten,” this sounded like the stranger didn't buy the whole ‘new werewolf’ thing.
“Great, my first day as a werewolf is a full moon. Maybe I'll maim someone. Probably you, because we are so close.”
Well, Stiles guessed they should be close. He slowly sat down and moved his hand toward the stranger, his hand kind of hit something– leg, yes, definitely a leg. Kind of muscular, but whatever. He held it.
“I doubt it,” the stranger huffed and didn't make a move to take Stiles’ hand away, and he was somehow grateful for it. At least now he knew the voice and the stranger was real. “I'm Theo Raeken, it's nice to see you again”.
Stiles turned his head and tried to open the eyes. Probably because he concentrated on Theo's voice, he was able to tune out all other noises.
The handsome and exhausted young man, or rather, Theo, sat on some kind of bench, chained to the wall behind him. His throat had a really mean looking collar on, and his hands were in handcuffs, that were also connected somewhere to the wall. Theo was dirty like he just dug his way from underground.
Like Stiles had just done.
Stiles took his hand off Theo’s leg and searched if he too had chains attached. He didn't have chains, but there was a collar on him.
“This one is electrical. They kind of argued if you or I should get such a treatment, because, apparently, they only have one cage. I feel honored in a way, that they considered me more of the treat,” Theo said it like it was that simple like it was some kind of joke. Or like he didn't tell everything. “You got the electrical one probably because they pitied you more.”
“I don't think you are Theo,” Stiles said simply and moved farther away from Theo.
For whatever reason, this seemed to entertain Theo. He smirked in this cocky way and leant forward, chains clicked.
“Oh, we already played this game, at that time you were the only one not to trust me”.
“Well, looking at you now, I begin to doubt their cognitive abilities. Again,” Stiles said without a beat.
Theo did look suspicious, and, well, meeting him in the cage, chained to the wall, didn't really help any possible trust.
“Sure, now is easier,” Theo shrugged. “But I knew you before.”
Stiles rolled his eyes “I was what seven when we even knew each other?”
“No, I meant the one who stayed after they sealed you and your body with Kira's sword.”
Stiles snarled but still didn't feel like he could turn. Maybe there was some kind of electricity running through him, so he decided to try. It didn't seem like there even was any electricity. The collar, probably, worked, but not right now. Also, even though, according to Theo, there was supposed to be a pull of a full moon, Stiles didn’t feel it at all. Maybe they were in some moon-safe room, who knew. It seemed like underground at least. Not like the bank vault though.
“I have a guess about what happened to you, and I won't say that to them without your permission,” Theo whispered, just above the hearing range.
Before Stiles had a chance to ask what did he know, the door opened. Scott, with a beard and weirdly long hair, stepped in. It was weirdly– graceful and self-confident, something Stiles had never seen in him before. After him, Lydia, Malia, Danny and the two young men he had seen in the school entered.
"Well, I gather, you are still an alpha. Let me guess, you turned the blonde one?" Stiles said instead of the greeting.
"Hello, Stiles," even his voice sounded stronger. "Theo".
"Yes, I'm still here. I will gladly leave Beacon Hills if you just let me go," Theo sounded annoyed and sincere at the same time. Like he really would.
And for now, Stiles really had more trust in this Theo, than any of the people that stood in front of the cage. He had a feeling, that he would gladly just leave with him, to be as far from this place as possible.
"We can't let either of you go until we figure out how you came back," there was some kind of finality in his voice, that was a bit unsettling.
"The Nemeton did this, case closed, let me shower and change out of these clothes," Stiles said and flailed his hands.
Scott smiled softly, but not in the brotherly way he did usually, but more like his dad smiled. Parental or whatever, and it gave Stiles creeps, so he moved closer to Theo.
This could still be an illusion.
"Unfortunately, it can't be that simple," Scott said, the concern on his face.
"Yeah, because you had like, what, eleven years to deal with it, so you certainly did, right?"
Theo snorted behind him.
"It's not that simple," Danny said with a sigh. And, hell, he was here, he knew about supernatural, what even…
Though, that was only logical, actually. Stiles waved his hand.
"Yeah, sure, nothing is simple if you love searching for obstacles. At least give us separate cages. I get it if you put him in chains you don't really care about me killing or hurting him, but I really would prefer not to have blue eyes".
Stiles could particularly smell the uneasiness in the room.
"You are holding pretty well for your first full moon," Scott said with a smile.
Stiles didn't even mention that he couldn't feel the pull of the moon or any need to kill someone or run. Maybe him coming back to life had something to do with it, or it was because he was always angry, so now it was just like that. Is he the Hulk? Probably he is, neat.
Or not, it could be a completely different thing, and it's even possible he isn't a werewolf. Because, according to Theo, there is something about him only he knew. Damn it.
"Well, that's expected, because I taught you control," Stiles shrugged. Scott smile wavered a bit.
"And me," Malia added. Woah, that's new.
"Me as well," the blonde guy said. Stiles hadn't grasped his name during the last encounter.
"I don't even know either of you well," Stiles said bitterly. "Well, Malia I do, but I only remember her during the possession phase of my life, and I'm not even sure it's over".
Not sure that he wouldn't turn around to look at Theo and see his own face, with this small cold crooked smirk. Not sure he just wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night. Or if there wasn't the Nogitsune in his body.
He felt the warmth of Theo's leg on his back, either he moved closer, or Theo did. Well, whatever, he would use this leg as an anchor to not have a panic attack. If it's even possible.
"Your eyes are blue already, by the way," Theo said easily, and that made Stiles stiffen.
He wondered when Scott was even going to tell him. He didn't look particularly guilty, even though Stiles felt, that this talk about him 'holding on' was a distraction.
"Great," Stiles just huffed. "Well, now I surely wouldn't trust myself."
"You never trusted anyone," Scott said with a nostalgic smile.
Stiles wondered what happened to his doppelganger. And the answer was pretty simple.
"The other me died because you trusted someone over his distrustfulness, didn't he," Stiles almost whispered. He noticed how everyone stiffened. Bingo. "Or because you let someone dangerous go," Stiles nodded toward Theo. Now he better understood why the pack was keeping them here.
"We learned that lesson the hard way," Lydia said and stepped closer. She took the water from the table next to the door and reached the bottle toward the cage.
Stiles remembered how he kidnapped her, and how he scared her, and how good it felt. Now, though, he felt empty.
"Maybe we should just lock them in the loft?" the black guy suggested. "This cage is really way too small for both of them".
"It won't work," Danny said. "Theo is a chimera, he can't be held by mountain ash or any supernatural thing".
Stiles decided, that he wanted a drink way too much to worry if it'd been poisoned or not, so he moved closer to the side of the cage she was at and reached his hand through bars. Danny and the black guy fell quiet. Lydia almost stepped back, like Stiles was going to hurt her.
"Mason, check the line," Danny said, moving closer. Stiles moved back and drunk the water when they circled around.
Scott also stepped closer and tried to get his hand through the cage, but it met an invisible barrier.
It meant Stiles couldn't be a werewolf.
“It’s intact,” Mason said and looked at Scott.
“Yeah, ok, so my eyes are glowing, I have fangs, but I’m not supernatural? How’s that even possible?” Stiles gave the water bottle to Theo. He nodded and took it, drinking greedily.
“You are a chimera, just like Theo,” Lydia said, eyes wide with surprise.
“How is that even possible?” the blonde asked, and Stiles really wondered about his name.
“I have no idea,” Scott shook his head.
Stiles wanted to ask what a chimera even was in supernatural terms, but decided against it. Not now, at least.
“Ok, fine, you won’t let us go now,” Stiles said, deciding to talk to Theo about this later. He didn’t know him, but, at least, he was just somewhere on Peter's level of creepiness, and not the weirdness of the pack. “Then let us shower and eat at least? Because, if what you said is true, I didn’t do either for at least eleven years.”
“And I didn’t for ten,” Theo added. “The clothes are filthy.”
“Yeah,” Stiles nodded. Whatever happened, and however this happened, the pack were ‘adults’ and they were ‘teens’, and they would be underestimated. Maybe they could run, or just Stiles could.
“Alright,” Scott nodded. “we’ll let you shower and give you food and clothes, but for now we can’t let you go”.
‘You are too dangerous’ was left unsaid, and Stiles kind of wondered what Theo even did to get such a treatment. And what happened to the other him, that the pack became so cautious.
A shower and some clean clothes made Stiles’ life easier. He felt more like a human being than whatever he actually was. The pack also let Theo shower, and after that put the same electrified collar on him, like putting him in the chains was a bit of an overreaction. So they sat next to each other and ate pizza, weirdly enough.
They were still in the cage, but not alone in the room. The blonde guy – Liam, it seemed – sat in front of the cage and looked at them with some confused expression. Stiles couldn’t really guess his age, so he didn’t even bother. He was somewhere close to the pack's age.
“So, what did you do to them?” Stiles asked Theo, reaching for one more slice.
He, kind of, knew the pack left to discuss what to do with two of them and also how did they even get back alive. Actually, Stiles would prefer to take part in this discussion, because it was about him, but right now he was considered both a child and a danger. And Theo was as well. Which was interesting.
“I killed Scott and ruined his pack,” Theo shrugged. “The usual”.
That made Stiles move a bit away, Theo smirked.
“As you can see, Scott is still alive, and the pack is well. Though, I didn’t see Kira, is she still with skinwalkers?” The latter Theo asked louder, probably to attract Liam’s attention.
“No, she is back,” he answered, and Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Dude, what the hell’s up with you?” Liam frowned. “You all just say we are dangerous, and we are enemies or whatever, you keep us in the cage and also he was in chains. Why did you even answer the question?”
“I’m sorry?” Liam said like he was used to saying that to Stiles. That felt kind of weird. Theo next to him was chuckling.
“There goes our chance to run away”.
“I’m not sure I want you and me to run away from here”.
“I sure like this ‘and’ you put there. Do you want to run away together?” Theo leaned closer to Stiles, smiling teasingly all the way. Stiles felt the strong urge to just hit him, and Liam growled, feeling the same thing.
Theo was trying to get under someone’s skin, and Stiles wasn’t sure if it was him or Liam. Maybe both.
“Well, if this is ‘and’, then only because I’d like to keep an eye on you, because, as you just said, you almost killed Scott,” then his mind went back to the topic. “And why were you so interested in Kira’s wellbeing?”
“Because she was the one who sealed me in the Hell,” Stiles could read ‘and I would like to repay her for that’ left unsaid.
“Maybe this whole thing has something to do with Kira and her sword because the last thing I remember is her stabbing me with it,” Stiles mused and looked up at Liam. “Call Scott and tell him to check on Kira and her sword”.
Actually, Stiles found it a bit worrisome, how Liam just nodded, took the phone from his pocket and went outside the room. It was like Liam was used to be ordered around by Stiles, and it felt like something so natural, that he was ready to do so on the first demand.
Or it was still the Nogitsune’s illusion.
“I doubt he can multitask,” Theo said almost inaudible. Stiles was sure, he could hear it only because of his enhanced hearing.
“So what’s with me,” Stiles asked, trying to speak as quietly. “I gathered that now I’m a chimera, but what it even is?”
“You are a chimera,” Theo nodded. “I heard stories about how you were dealt with last time,” Stiles really wanted to punch him in the face. “You were impaled by Kira’s sword and bitten at the same time.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Stiles whispered in an exasperated tone of voice.
“Yeah. So, you were possessed by Void, and being in that state was putting you on some kind of different plane of being,” Theo shrugged. “When you were bitten, the bite was almost received well by your body, but Void didn’t let you really turn. It, probably, burned the werewolf part down and burned itself. You didn’t have a chance to know, because of Kira”.
That sounded logical, even though Theo knew disturbingly a lot about this whole thing.
“And how do you even know that much?” Stiles asked, almost in a normal tone of voice. He couldn’t hear Liam at all, not even where he was.
“Word of mouth. Rumors spread quickly in the supernatural world. By the time Allison Argent was buried, everyone knew how they dealt with the Nogitsune”.
It was kind of hard to believe but Stiles had never really been aware of any supernatural aside from Beacon Hills and his own pack. Though he wondered who told the tale. Not Argent, he would’ve been devastated by Allison’s death. Doc could’ve, probably. Or Ms. Morrell. And it was slightly terrifying that people knew about him and this whole Nogitsune thing.
“So, you really are Void, the one, who was killed. That’s interesting,” Theo said with a small malicious smile on his lips.
“Fuck off,” Stiles said coldly.
Theo didn’t answer, because Liam came back, looking a bit suspicious. Maybe he heard something more, than just Stiles’ ‘fuck off’, maybe not. Now Stiles was burning with anger. He felt his eyes shining and teeth being way too long to comfortably fit in his mouth, but no claws extended. And his face felt just normal. He actually touched it, and, nope, everything was in place.
“I can’t turn further,” he said, almost feeling the relief. Ok, so he can’t really kill anyone with his claws. He was always capable of talking someone to death anyway, so some long and sharp teeth didn’t really make any difference.
“Wanna check the healing factor?” Theo asked and extended his claws. Stiles could feel the teasing, even though this was dangerous.
“Not now,” he said, and then tried to touch his teeth, that, actually, were going back to their human condition. Well, he once asked Scott to let him touch while the change happens to just feel it, but he didn’t allow. And now he had his own teeth, though, it wasn’t really a good thing.
“What the hell are the two of you doing?” Liam asked, standing right in front of the cage.
“Messing with you,” Stiles smiled, and Liam nodded, like that was expected. Maybe it was. “So what did others say?”
“They’ll look into it until then, you’ll stay here,” he said and sat back at his chair.
“Cool, I’ll kill him before that,” Stiles said and took one more slice of the pizza.
“Oh, and won’t you miss me? I’m heartbroken”.
“I’ve literally known you for like a few hours, and we met when you were chained. So, nope, I won’t”.
Theo huffed but didn’t say anything else. With Liam in the room, they couldn’t really discuss what happened to Stiles, and who the hell Theo was. So Stiles just fell silent, really wishing to go home. Because there was a chance, he was finally free from the Nogitsune. And he didn’t feel it, but, to be fair, he didn’t feel anything at all.
“Is my...” his voice broke a bit. “Is my dad still alive?” first seeds of worry grew in his soul. At least, he felt something.
“He is,” Liam nodded, almost smiling softly. “But he moved away, after you… other you died”.
“You and other me were close, right?” Stiles asked before he could stop himself.
“We were. Y– he taught me the control,” once again, Liam almost didn’t catch himself.
Probably, Stiles and this other Stiles weren’t that far off from each other. They had almost seventeen years of shared experience, and, probably, Stiles would act very much as he did. And it would freak everyone out. Considering they won’t seal him and Theo in hell. Or where was Stiles all this time? In the void without a memory about it.
“Hey, Theo, do you remember anything after you were sent to hell or no?”
Probably he’ll lie.
Or won’t. Stiles nodded and didn’t really ask. Hell or whatever can’t sound like a funny place to be in. And then the reality sink in, his stomach went cold.
“So you're telling me, Scott sent you to Hell?” and Theo remembered it. And this happened because Theo kind of killed Scott when they were teens, and if something didn’t get Theo away from that, he would still be there. Stiles really wanted to puke because of how sick the mere idea made him.
“He did,” Theo said softly.
The worst thing was Stiles couldn’t even scream at him, that Theo was lying. Because there was something about Scott, there always was, and when Stiles first heard about him letting go of Deucalion, or remembering how he planned to deal with them –
Stiles didn’t know what one could do to really be sent to such a sick punishment. And he can’t even begin to think how the other version of himself allowed it at all. Because he knew, he should’ve. And he was just capable of sending another person to hell. Somewhere after he survived the possession and the feeling of all these… Stiles just felt sick from himself, Scott and the pack. He didn’t think someone really deserved such punishment at all. Death would be more merciful.
“Liam, you need to get us out of here,” Stiles said and raised his eyes. “Let me out”.
As soon as these words left his mouth, he felt his anxiety skyrocketing. Let me out. Let me out. Let me out . This simple phrase made him panicky, so he stood up and began going around the cage. He needed to stop, he needed to keep calm, that was over, he was a chimera or whatever now, he wasn’t the fox anymore, it’s gone, it is gone!
“Do you want me to talk you through or just knock you out?” Theo asked, not really moving from his place.
“Nope, that’s too easy, and I really love suffering,” Stiles said, though feeling like he was breathing a bit easier.
“Maybe try some mantras?” Liam suggested, and that made Stiles stop.
“Like Buddhist mantras?”
“...Kind of?” Liam sounded unsure. “Like, for me ‘three things you can’t hide: the sun, the moon and the truth’ works pretty well”.
Stiles mind switched to this, and his mouth switched as well. He was just talking about everything he knew, occasionally answering questions. And even though he still felt the weight of the abandonment and his knees were a bit weak, he at least stopped feeling like he was falling apart.
“Liam,” Stiles said, sitting back. “Did anyone call my dad?”
“I think yes,” Liam nodded and sat back in this chair.
And Stiles wanted to say either ‘good’ or ‘why the hell did you do this’, so he kept silent.
He wanted to see Dad, wanted to hug him and everything. He’d just figured out he kind of time-traveled and was an evil twin at the same time. He hadn’t allowed the situation to sink in before this moment, but it was terrifying and he really just wanted to go home . And all his feelings flooded him as something opened in his heart, and the void was filled with this panic and anxiety and all the negative feelings.
At the same time, his Dad buried the other Stiles. He didn’t need to even know if he was here. Because Stiles had this feeling, that the pack may just send him somewhere like Hell or whatever if they think he is dangerous.
He would’ve sent himself. Because in, what, a year after coming alive from Nogitsune the other Stiles sealed Theo to hell, perfectly aware of that. Or he allowed the pack to seal him and never even tried to retrieve him. From the lifetime sentence in Hell, when he was still alive. Theo would need so much therapy. Stiles would need some as well, but he at least wasn’t trapped somewhere in agony or whatever Hell actually is. He just got out of a few months of it.
Stiles should help Theo get out of here and just get some life together. Well, not them being together, but just managing this whole life ten years in the future. Gosh, the amount of pop-culture references he missed – unbelievable.
His mind kept jumping from one topic to another, just so he wouldn’t fell asleep. He didn't sleep for weeks, and eleven years, he could hold on a little longer.
At some point, he began asking about this. And, well, Stiles was more a DC guy, but he really didn’t like where MCU went with this Avengers thing. Or Liam was a bad storyteller, who knows. The news about Tony Stark death didn’t make him feel a lot, though yeah, that felt like the end of the era or whatever.
And so he heard the hard footsteps. and he just recognized it.
“No, don’t touch me, I need to see him myself,” Dad’s voice loudly echoed through the corridor. The door opened with a bang, and Stiles flinched a bit.
His Dad stood here. He did look noticeably older, put on some weight, greyer in hairs, a scrub, and more wrinkles. And he was alive.
"Dad," Stiles said, voice breaking.
"Oh, Stiles," he said and moved forward to the cage. Parrish put his hand on Dad's shoulder.
Stiles sniffed. "Did you eat burgers? Dad, that's so unhealthy, oh god, I can smell all the bacon you ate lately," he huffed, not allowing himself to hope. Dad looked like he was just punched.
"Noah," Parrish said. Woah, they were on the first names basis. Stiles remembered Parrish only as a newbie deputy, who just came from army and Dad had kind of a soft spot for him. "We don't know if it's really Stiles or the Nogitsune".
Parrish was right, Stiles wasn't even sure himself. He opened his mouth to say exactly that, but words didn't come out. Because he also wanted to just hug his dad, to just relax after being a passenger in his own body for so long. So he stayed quiet once again and lowered his head, just now feeling the hot liquid in his eyes and hurriedly rubbing it with his hands. Stiles stepped back, away from the bars, hoping Dad would make a decision for him.
Because he was so done.
"Oh, screw this," Dad said and came closer. "Open the door and free him already".
Liam complied. Stiles stood in front of the open door, not moving to leave. He didn't feel like he was about to cry anymore, and, probably, his mental breakdown would wait a bit. Dad stood here as well, just looking at him like he couldn't believe it. Stiles just wasn't sure, if he couldn't believe his luck or misfortune.
"Oh, kid," Dad said and moved closer, way too suddenly and Stiles almost recoiled, but dad already put his hand on the back of his neck and hugged him tightly.
Stiles melted into his strong grip and warmth, hugging back and finally being able to relax.
If it was one more of the Nogitsune's illusions, it was the best time to ruin it. Because if all of this wasn't real, Stiles would just break completely.
"It's fine, kid," they both knew it wasn't. "You are safe now".
"Don't say what you don't know," Stiles whispered, not trusting his voice.
"We are together, and everything else will work out," dad said and patted him.
"Take this goddamn thing off him, I'm taking him away," dad let Stiles go and turned to Parrish.
"We can't, Scott said–" Liam began.
"Screw him. What Stiles needs is a soft bed and some actual food, and not all this," dad gestured to the whole room.
"Dad," Stiles said again. "We can't leave Theo here".
Stiles felt the surprise and confusion of all the people in the room. He was also a bit shocked he said it, but only the thought of leaving Theo alone here, when they possibly may send him back was sickening.
"Stiles," Dad began, and Stiles shook his head.
"We sent him to hell ten years ago, and he was there all this time," Stiles said, being perfectly aware of how his voice turned pleading, or how he grabbed Dad's hand tightly. "They will send him back, I'm sure, and whatever he did, he doesn't deserve it. It would be better to just kill him, and not all of that suffering and torture and–"
Stiles was projecting. He knew this, but he couldn't stop himself. Dad hugged him again.
"Shhh," he said. "We won't leave Theo here alone".
Stiles just knew it was a difficult decision, but he felt better. It was also irrational on Stiles' part because he mistrusted Theo. But even so, leaving him here was almost the same as torturing him.
Noah was riding a car back to the motel not that far from the Beacon Hills. He looked in the mirror reflection and back at the road in front of him. Both boys weren't asleep, they sat as far from each other as possible, and looked like they needed nothing more than some kind of rest.
He gathered the picture from what Patrish told him on the phone. Stiles and Theo suddenly appeared because of unknown reasons. Later they told him, that it's possibly has something to do with Kira. Because both of them were sealed or killed with her sword.
Stiles didn't miraculously come back to life, his Stiles was still six feet under. This Stiles was still his son, but right post-Nogitsune one. He wasn't this 'created body' his Stiles was, this was the original. And so he remembered everything from that point of view.
The worst thing was, that he looked exactly like Noah remembered his post-Nogitsune son. Twitchy in a more scared way, than in his usual lively one. Looking around carefully. Biting on his nails. Not meeting anyone's gaze. Noah survived this heartbreak and recovery once, he can do it again, now knowing what to do better, than the first time around.
Theo came right from the place where he was sent to hell. The mere idea, that this happened to him was utterly terrifying. Noah didn't ask what happened to Theo back then, because it didn't seem important, but now, knowing the truth, he felt even responsible for it. Now, knowing the truth, he wasn't going to leave him here even without Stiles' pleadings.
Because he noticed all the things that were off about him as well. This subtle tilt of the head, rounded shoulders, empty eyes. The Theo he remembered was drastically different from this one. This reminded Noah of Stiles right after the Nogitsune.
The one that was sitting next to Theo. And the worst thing was, that Noah understood perfectly well what Stiles was doing. Last time around, he did it to Malia. Leeched into her and projected all his trauma on her, tried to solve her problems and teach her how to live, instead of, at least, acknowledging he had any issues at all.
Stiles was going to put his whole being into fixing Theo because he saw it as a way to fix himself and his wrongdoings. This Stiles probably had it worse, because he was in the body, that really caused all the massacre at that time. He remembered it firsthand, damn it.
Noah sighed and tightened his grip on the wheel. Here it goes again.
It was selfish, to have his son again and to trust him unconditionally. He had nothing to lose anyway.