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Bent Over Backwards

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“If you want to get where you’re going then you’ll need to follow the arches. If you don’t you’ll end up wandering back here.”

“Oh great. Because that doesn’t sound ominous or anything.” Stiles frowns. The voice echoes as it speaks to him and its shape is constantly shifting in a whirl of flickering lights. At one point the voice’s owner looks eerily similar to a lion. Another moment it resembles a woman. An old man. A snake. A baby. A flickering flame that dances and twists as it contorts itself into different aliases. Stiles doesn’t know who or what the figure is, exactly. 

What he does know is this: when Deaton told him to sit on a weird looking circle full of markings he didn’t understand and to focus on his spark- the figure had appeared before him. Ever changing and flickering. The shock had broken the content in almost the same moment that it had been there. 

After that, Stiles hadn’t meditated again. Until now, where he sits upon the stump of an ancient tree. Derek had said it was dangerous, Scott had said it was sentient, and Stiles? Stiles just wanted to be able to use his spark (whatever the hell it really is) to find Erica and Boyd. 

They’ve been missing for nearly a year now. The odds aren’t looking that great, Stiles is the son of a police officer. He knows the odds of a missing person after the course of 24 hours, let alone a week. 

But they’ve exhausted everything else. 

This was their last chance. So when Derek and Scott where arguing once again on the course of action and Deaton was busy trying to cast a locator charm, Stiles used one of the only tricks up his sleeve that he’s mastered since this whole “believe in it hard enough and your spark makes it happen” stuff- he faded into the background and let himself disappear. 

Not in a literal sense but it definitely is harder to find him even if you are looking for him. It’s by far his favorite trick. And it comes in handy often. 

So this is how he finds himself sat on the biggest tree stump he’s ever seen, legs folded and his eyes shut. Something about this place feels alive, more alive than any tree stump he’s ever seen before. Stiles focuses on that part of his chest that always tinges and burns when he thinks about his spark. He lets the burning feeling swell and thinks about nothing but erica and boyd. About their smiles when they’d started dating, how Boyd opened up more. He remembers Erica’s voice calling him Batman. He brings up memories that hurt more than the ache in his chest ever will. He thinks of how Gerard hurt them all. 

Stiles thinks about his missing pack members, about how worried he is. And as the world fades out, he can feel that familiar burn in his veins and behind his eyelids. This when the figure appears. 

It flickers and changes constantly to the point that it makes his head throb with confusion. It’s fluid shape makes it hard to concentrate on the surrounding darkness. 

“Follow the arches.” It repeats. Stiles manages to look away from what is now the form of a woman he feels like he should recognize but just can’t pin his finger on who it reminds him of. The world around him is mostly a swirling mass of black, like when you close your eyes tightly for a while. The blackness is so dark that the longer he stares the more he sees. 

What Stiles first thought was just pitch darkness is slowly revealing itself to be what looks like a clearing. With grass beneath his bare feet, and looming trees not unsimilar to the ones that surrounded him back at the Nemeton. 

“I don’t see any arches.” He says but when he looks back to the flickering creature, it’s gone. “Hello?” He turns in a full circle before confirming that he is, in fact, alone. “How is this supposed to find my friends?!” He shouts into the darkness but there is, of course, no answer. 

Magic isn’t easy, Stiles knows this. But it could fucking try to be a little less vague! It wouldn’t hurt at all. 

“Alright, fine. Follow the arches. Whatever.” He casts around another confused look around the clearing. “Arches…. arches….” 

There’s no fucking arches here. There are trees, and more trees and then- more fucking trees. Stiles knows this because when he starts walking in a random direction he eventually ends back up where he started. In the middle of a clearing with a big tree looming over him. 

“Fucking magic. Fucking vague stupid-” He cuts himself off when a small light flickers in and out of existence off to his left. It’s only in his peripheral and when he turns to fully see it, the lights are gone. 

Enamored by the possibility that this might be a sign, he takes off running after it. There’s only one thing it could be, that flickering vague ass fucker that sometimes helps him. Deaton told him once that it could possibly be a manifestation of his spark, but that sounds too much like a bad plot to a 2012 fanfic to Stiles. 

As he nears where the figure faded back out of existence, he can’t help but notice how the trees bend together at this path. Unlike all the others that are simply lined with the same looking trees at either sides of a cleared path. 

“Arches.” Stiles hums thoughtfully before taking off down the path. He makes sure to follow the bending trees but it’s hard. It’s also dark and it’s kind of painful to constantly be looking up at that angle. 

The amount of times he ends up at the beginning again, is so maddening that he almost gives up. He screams and shouts until the flickering figure returns and he throws a complete fit at the unanswering wisp.

“Follow the arches, and what you seek shall reveal itself.”

“You said that already! And I did!” Stiles growls after the tenth failure of somehow missing the arches of trees. “Goddammit! I just want to find Erica and Boyd! Please!” He shouts. He screams until he’s hoarse but the flickering figure does not show an ounce of care. 

“Follow the-”

“THE ARCHES. YES. I KNOW!” He screams petulantly. The anger is so hot in his veins that his concentration wavers and the vision shifts away like sand in the breeze. 

He doesn’t know if it’s the anger at his magic for being unhelpful or anger at himself for failing to follow the arches, but when he opens his eyes to see a concerned looking Scott and Derek in front of him, it’s all he can do to hold the tears back from falling over. 

“What happened?” Scott demands and Stiles just shakes his head. He’s barely aware of the jacket falling over his shoulders as the night breeze seeps into his bones. Derek frowns at him and helps him up. Stiles doesn’t hesitate to shove his face into the former alpha’s shoulder. 

“I couldn’t find them.” Stiles whispers, like it’s too shameful to say any louder. 

“It’s alright.” Derek hums.

“No it’s not! I should be able to do this, what good is magic if I can’t use it to- to-” A sob cuts Stiles off. He’s exhausted and angry beyond tears. He doesn’t know what to do.

“I know. It’s alright, Stiles.” Derek hugs him a little tighter. 

“We’ll find them.” Scott assures. Stiles doubts it, but he nods. It’s only as he looks up over Derek’s shoulder that he sees a flicker of light off in the distance. It takes him a moment to understand what he’s seeing before he’s launching away from Derek and Scott who yell in confusion. 

“Where are you going?!” Scott calls as he follows. Stiles keeps his eyes on the flickering figure, tree branches be damned as they nip and bite at his faces. 

“Follow the arches!” He shouts back at his confused pursuers. Derek and Scott pause as Stiles flies down a path that neither had seen before now, as if it were hiding just out of sight. 

“Arches?” Derek queries but follows the direction Scott points after his hand had landed on his shoulder. The two look up at where what they’d mistaken for overgrown trees and brush, was intertwined arches of wooden branches. 

They share a look of confusion before taking off after Stiles, for a boy who ran with wolves, he surely ran just as fast as one.