Stiles didn’t know what made him open his eyes, but what he saw didn’t make sense. He blinked, trying to focus. Focusing brought pain, and pain gave him a push to try to get to his feet. He was shivering. Stiles knew several things with each stunned blink of his eyes; he was in the snow, the smell of burning fuel was an acrid weight in his lungs and his hand. . .
Stiles stared at his hand, uncomprehending. There was a large, jagged piece of metal driven through the meat of his palm, and his fingers were burnt. Stiles whimpered when he instinctively tried to curl his fingers, and when his vision spiked with a crystalline haze, then darkened, he acted without thinking: he pulled out the metal piece with a sharp tug.
When he spoke, the air was so cold it froze the breath in his nose and chest, and Stiles felt himself start to panic when his lungs refused to work. He could feel his blood, thick and hot on his skin before it froze, and that managed to shock him out of the fugue state he’d been in. He tried to get to his feet once again, but he was shaky enough that it took him two tries. There was something wrong with his leg and his head. The first step, he stumbled, but the burst of adrenaline before he managed to save himself from face-planting woke him up enough that he managed to get his shit together. Stiles looked around.
He could see tiny fires as bits of the plane burned. Visibility, though, was abysmal. There was a strange glow from the sky, but the heavy sting of snow frozen and tossed about by the wind kept him from seeing too far ahead. His gaze was caught by something on the ground, and Stiles saw a heavy branch. He picked it up. Even with the black clouds of thick smoke from whatever was burning, Stiles knew he had to find a place to make a fire. He couldn’t trust the fumes. His own fire was his best bet.
“Gotta find shelter from this cold.”
He was hurt, he was lost, and he was alone. His head was fucked, and while he knew there was something he should be doing to help get him out of this situation, he could t quite remember what it was. None of Derek's pack was going to come swooping in to save him just in the nick of time. There was almost a dreamlike quality to his stumbling around; god knows where, in the frozen dark, but he knew if he were to lie back down, he wouldn’t get up again. There was a weird scent in his nose and in his throat- like burnt ozone.
Stiles gritted his teeth and forced himself to take one halting step after another. He kept the rocky cliff’s surface to his right. His good hand trailed along the rocks, and he kept himself upright by using the heavy branch as a makeshift cane. The pain he felt from before throbbed dully and was easy enough to ignore. His foot hit some wood from a broken tree limb, and he picked it up, clutching it to his chest gratefully. Stiles took a few more steps. He didn’t know if he’d been walking for hours or minutes, but the cold only grew crueler and crueler as he moved away from the burning wreckage of Derek’s plane--
The novelty of having Derek flying a plane wore off about the same time that Stiles realized that Derek hadn’t been exaggerating when he said there was barely enough room for the two of them. The Zenith STOL Ch 701 did have two seats, but when one of the seats was occupied by a 200 plus pound muscley werewolf, space was limited. It didn’t help that Stiles had sprouted up several inches after his senior year and had finally (finally!) grown into his shoulders. He felt like Lurch from those old Addams Family reruns. Stiles had never been in a plane before, and he hadn’t realized that instead of cute stewardesses. . . no. Wait. They were called flight attendants, according to all those years of watching LOST. Instead of cute flight attendants, he just had Derek’s surly attitude as company.
He hadn’t wanted to go on this little jaunt to Great Bear Island, but Stiles hadn’t been above blackmail, and Derek hadn’t much appreciated being blackmailed, so there they were. The air was cold, and there was no heat, and Stiles had been so fucking worried about getting there that he hadn’t taken the time to pack appropriately. His jacket was fine for Beacon Hills, but up here in the great, white, what-the-fuck-was-the-temperature-again North, he was freezing.
Derek’s anger practically wafted from his pores, but the icing on the cake was the fact that Derek had a wonderfully warm parka that he was wearing just to spite Stiles; weres didn’t get as cold as humans. Stiles’ rather pitiful ‘can we please switch jackets’ had been met by a surly growl and roll of Derek’s eyes.
Stiles almost went limp when his hand felt nothing, and he realized that there was some sort of cave. He shuffled into it gratefully, stumbling on his half-frozen legs. It was obvious that this was some kind of home for something large; the bones scattered around the floor of the cave were pretty telling. Stiles put down the branch he’d been using and dropped the wood he’d collected with a clatter. Thanking Scott’s insistence on getting the camping badges in cub scouts back in 3rd grade, Stiles awkwardly broke down some of the branches he’d used as a cane into a tinder plug.
Fortunately, there were some leaves and moss that Stiles knew he could use for a flame. The problem was- he didn’t have any matches.
He stared at the small area, dismayed. He had moved to the back of the cave, where he knew no wind would get to his tiny fire. It was marginally warmer, but Stiles knew that he’d be dead sooner rather than later without that fire.
It was just so hard to focus.
Stiles fumbled at his pockets. He didn’t think he had anything useful, but it would be better to check and know, then have something and ignore it. He found a slip of paper, a travel container of Advil, His phone, cracked almost beyond belief, his car keys, and. . . wait! His car keys! Stiles almost sobbed with relief. It was one of those things they give you for signing up for a credit card, cheap shit that was rarely useful. But, Stiles had a nail file on his key chain; the kind that folded out into a decent sized one. There was also a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer.
Stiles grabbed a rock and used the nail file as flint for a spark. He had to hunker very close and lacked the dexterity to take the nail file off his key chain, but he did produce sparks that occasionally got close to his pile of tinder.
It didn’t work.
Stiles found himself exhausted and had to rest. He stared at his keychain again and frowned. Maybe he could use the hand sanitizer. It had a pretty high alcohol content, and it would probably burn.
Stiles caught himself from huffing out a frustrated breath just in time. He was just so tired and so cold. A little nap sounded. . . no. No, that was dumb. He’d never given up on anything in his life, and he for damn sure wouldn’t start now.
With shaking hands that didn’t want to work properly, Stiles used the nail file to get a tiny amount of sawdust from one of the sticks he’d broken down. After what felt like hours, there wasn’t very much, maybe enough to fill the palm of his hand. Stiles sprayed the hand sanitizer onto the sawdust, saturating it. This time when he used the rock to create a spark, the spark ignited the tiny pile of sawdust with a low whump, and Stiles quickly fumbled to feed it some of the dried leaves and moss, biting his lip when it all ignited. He forced himself to be patient, slowly building up his tiny fire until, with the wood he’d found and the sticks he created from the branch, he had a fairly respectable blaze.
With fire came light. With the light came warmth, and with warmth came the realization that he was in a very desperate position. A small drop of blood hissed onto the fire, and Stiles gaped at his hand, stupidly. The piece of metal was still in his windbreaker’s pocket, but he’d never bound up his wound. The blood had frozen, which certainly wasn’t good, but now that he was warming up, it was dripping everywhere. Stiles stared at the wound and at the hand sanitizer. He didn’t know if he should use it on his hand, which yeah, the infection wasn’t a thing that he particularly wanted, but that would be a problem for another day instead of the immediate issue of not having a way to start a fire the next time he needed to. Swallowing hard, flooded with uncertainty, Stiles ripped off part of his plaid shirt and used it to bind the wound quickly.
The fire crackled merrily, but he’d only found enough wood for a few hours. . . maybe six at most.
“If I go out again, something could happen. It can’t see very well. Derek said there were a lot of mountains around here, and falling off the one I’m on would suck. A lot. But, if I stay here, I might not be able to find more wood. Going out- supplies. Staying, warmth and. . . oh fuck it.”
Stiles ignored the way his voice sounded feeble and terrified in the echo of the cave. He was exhausted. His head pounded. The thought of going outside of his little cave was terrifying. Six hours was six hours. With some sleep and a clearer head, he could do more with better decision-making ability.
Forcing himself not to think of any one particular thing, Stiles curled up near his cheerful little fire. He lay on some leaves and made sure that there was plenty of stone between them and his makeshift pallet. It didn’t help much, but it did help keep the cold stone ground from leeching what body heat he had.
The fire crackled and popped, and the wind howled. Stiles wanted to stay awake, to keep his exhausted and battered body alert, but he could do neither of those things.