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Two Men and a Tree

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The weekend Christmas break starts, Stiles is researching a new monster in town that’s got a bad habit of abducting people. Reading through the file his dad gave him, he takes notes as he goes. The first child went missing the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since then, a new child goes missing with each passing week. All of them have been between the ages of 6 and 12. All of them are different races. Each from different religious backgrounds, and family makeups. The only commonality, other than age, is that none of them are from wealthy families. They were snatched once they got close to the woods surrounding their homes, meaning no witnesses.

He knows he isn’t the only one trying to find the the missing children. All evidence points to a run of the mill, serial kidnapping, so the police are working the cases if they were normal instances of missing people. But they’re wrong, and Stiles can feel it every time he walks through the Preserve. Almost like the Nemeton is telling him to keep digging. So he does.

He isn’t having as much luck as he usually does. Lydia is out of state with her family, so she can’t help translate the Bestiary. At this point, he is just translating what he knows and skipping over the rest. He can only hope that somewhere in the Argent history, someone came across whatever they’re looking for.

Two hours ago, he found a site that will take what he and Lydia already translated and can run it through finding similar words. A lot of the text is already done, so it isn’t as slow going as it would have been their first time with the Bestiary.

An hour into it and the site gives him an error message, unable to continue. "Unable to contin.... What the hell does that mean? I swear this thing!"

Stiles clicks around on the page, selecting various words and looking them up. Come to find out, halfway through the Bestiary, someone had the brilliant idea to change the language it was written in.

"Old French... Are you kidding me with this? Who writes in Old French... and Old English? In the same paragraph? What is with these people?! As if this wasn’t frustrating enough, now it’s gonna take twice as long" Stiles sighs and the lights in his room flicker.

He searches the site to see if it can translate it further. It can. He changes the settings and lets it run again.

It is nearing 4am and Stiles’s eyes are beginning to cross. Stretching, he lets his mind wander and it lands on when Scott was bit by Peter and how everything changed. Ever since that day, all Stiles has done is research. He doesn’t always work alone but it is usually his ideas and his research that gets them through whatever it is he is doing. Stiles sighs heavily. It’s exhausting, but apparently the Pack thinks that it’s a one man job, and he’s the only one capable enough to do it.

He usually doesn't mind. Ever since the whole Nogitsune thing, research makes him feel useful. But some nights, when he knows that the pack is asleep while he tries to translate the damn Bestiary all by himself, searching for each strange word on it’s own in hopes of finding a website that can tell him what it mean… he can’t help but get a little frustrated. He has done this so many times he often dreams about the words that sound foreign on his tongue but his brain seems to be able to read, more and more each day.

He sighs again. His mind wanders further, and it leaves him in the memory of Gerard kidnapping him. His anger towards the bastard flares, and the lights in his room flicker and dim. Stiles never told anyone what happened that night. No one ever asked. Except Peter. He told Peter what happened while they were stuck in the Train Station to Nowhere. Peter wanted to kill Gerard, but couldn’t find him. When everyone was brought back, The Ghost Riders took more than just the Nazi Captain. They took Gerard as well. Both men were marked with swastikas. Stiles thought it was poetic that both wore the same band on their sleeves, what with Gerard being genocidal and all. The lights in his room stop flickering and come back on to full brightness, as he smirks at the thought. Even with the satisfaction he feels at knowing Gerard's gone, he still can't forget everything he did to the Pack. Everything he did to him .

Stiles is knocked out on the field while everyone is focused on the chaos surrounding Jackson’s “death”. Someone carries him to a car and they end up at the Argent home. He wakes, while being carried to the basement, and is forced onto his feet to walk the rest of the way. A man, who’s face Stiles never sees, throws him down the basement stairs of the Argent house. When he shuts the door, the guy turns off the light to the landing of the basement. Stiles stands and he hears a whimper in the dark. Afraid of what he might find, he cowers against the wall, searching for the light switch. When he turns it on, he sees Boyd and Erica hanging from the ceiling by rope soaked in wolfsbane and handcuffs, connected to a small generator with electrical wires connected to their cuffs. Stiles tries to untie them but Erica and Boyd make noises of protest. 

“Shh.” He tells them to quiet down and as soon as he touches the rope, “Ow!” he’s electrocuted, sending painful shocks through both of the werewolves.

Stiles hears a familiar voice from behind him. “They were trying to warn you. It's electrified.”

Stiles turns around, anger and curiosity apparent in his expression. “What are you doing with them?”

“At the moment, just keeping them comfortable. There's no point in torturing them, they won't give Derek up. The instinct to protect their Alpha's too strong.” Disgust and pride wash over his face for a fraction of a second. Just enough to notice, before his expression hardens again.

“Okay. So what are you doing with me? Because Scott can find me, all right? He knows my scent. It's pungent, you know? It's more like a stench. He could find me even if I was buried at the bottom of a sewer covered in fecal matter and urine.”

Gerard scoffs. “You have a knack for creating a vivid picture, Mr. Stilinski. Let me paint one of my own. Scott McCall finds his best friend bloodied and beaten to a pulp. How does that sound?”

Stiles’s voice lowers, a lot less confident. “I think I might prefer more of a still life or landscape, you know?”

Gerard doesn’t respond right away and thinking the old man is bluffing Stiles blurts out, “What - what are you, 90? Look, I can probably kick your ass up and down this roo--” Before he can finish the last word, Gerard slaps him hard across the face. He then grabs the neck of his shirt and knocks Stiles off his feet. Stiles holds his hands up in protest, begging Gerard not to hit him again. He continues to do this, while Gerard hits him over and over.

Stiles lays on the floor of the basement, and before his vision goes dark, Gerard goes back upstairs and another man comes down. Stiles assumes it is the same man who threw him down the stairs. He still doesn’t know what he looks like. Just as his eyes close and his senses go quiet, he hears more than feels, his rib break as the man kicks him in the side.

Some time later, a sharp pain registers on his arms. Over and over it happens until he can’t ignore it. He whines as he wakes. The man is shrouded in darkness as he slices into Stiles’s upper arms. He tries not to cry out as the man continues to cut shallow marks into his skin. Enough to hurt, enough to bleed, and enough to scar, but not enough to do any permanent damage. Not enough to kill him.. The pain in his chest feels worse than just a kick to the ribs and realizes the same shallow cuts cover him all over his torso. Each cut is carefully placed and none will show when he wears a shirt.

The man continues cutting even after Stiles passes out.

When he wakes for a third time, Chris Argent is giving him something for the pain and bandaging his wounds. He frees Stiles from the chair he’d been tied to when he passed out the first time, and walks him to a car. Once Stiles is in the backseat, Chris shuts the door and lets the driver know he can leave. The car stops a block from Stiles’s house and lets him walk the rest of the way. As soon as Stiles shuts the door to the car, it speeds off. Stiles stumbles home and walks into his room, just in time to hear his dad say, “Oh, come on, Stiles. Where the hell are you?”

Playing it off as nothing big, he replies with, “Right here. It's okay. Dad, it's okay.”

“Who did it?” Noah walks over to him, anger in his steps.

Stiles tries to placate his dad with a lie, “It's okay. It was just a couple kids from the other team. You know, they were really pissed about losing and I was - I was mouthing off, you know. The next thing I know -”

“Who was it?” his dad demands, again.

“Dad, I don't know. I didn't even see them really.” Not technically a full lie. The only faces he saw were Chris, Gerard, Erica, and Boyd… and Chris had a broken expression on his face when he helped Stiles to the car, like he didn’t want to be doing what he was doing.

“I want descriptions.” Noah’s voice is more forceful this time.

Stiles’s voice raises a couple of octaves, desperate for his dad to believe him and to just let it go. “Look, dad, come on. It's not even that bad.”

Noah’s voice cracks with emotion and raises with each word “I - I'm calling that school. I'm calling them and I'll personally go down there, and I'm gonna pistol-whip those little bastards!”

“Dad!” Stiles shouts, trying to get Noah’s attention. Then more softly, “I just - I said I was okay.”

“God.” Noah almost sobs out, as he grabs Stiles and holds him close in a hug. Tears threaten to fall from Stiles’s eyes. Both from emotion and the physical pain he is in.

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, up until he crashes his Jeep into the warehouse wall and knocks Jackson down. The thing that stuck out most was the fact that no one asked him if he was okay, or why he smelled like morphine, blood, and disinfectant. Not even a weird look when he winced and limped when he walked. Not even Scott. He only gave Stiles questioning look at the mark on his cheek, and that was it. He probably assumed it happened when he crashed the Jeep.

When he gets home, he gingerly lays on his bed, without changing his clothes, and falls asleep on top of the comforter. He doesn’t wake again, until the sun is high in the sky, and it’s only to go to the bathroom and lay back down again. He sleeps for another 4 hours only to wake to the sounds of Dad getting home from work.

Stiles’s anger causes the lights to flicker again. After that night, everyone went on with their lives as if nothing had happened. Everyone was busy that summer, trying to forget. Luckily his ribs healed enough for him to play Lacrosse that following semester. A lot of the scars faded with diligent use of scar cream. Enough stayed, though, that he was very careful when he changed in the locker room so no one would see them. He knew that that would be the beginning of all of this. How people treated him. The fragile human. As long as he kept quiet, no one seemed to care about the pain he was in. The only one who ever seemed to notice was Peter. Any time he was injured and in the room with Stiles, he’d brush his hand against his bare skin, siphoning away any pain. Stiles and Peter never talked about it. But Peter could see from Stiles’s expression that he was thankful for the help.

Why is it, the one everyone seemed to trust the least, always seems to be the one that cares about him the most? Even Scott is distancing himself more and more these days. Each year something happens and it feels like the pack grows farther and farther away from him.

An annoying beeping noise alerts him that the page he is working on is done translating. Stiles reads through the information and arm pumps while shouting “YES!” causing the light in his lamp to explode. “Damn it. Not again” he laments.

He calls Scott. Who, of course, doesn’t answer. “Why do I even bother calling him. I swear…” Stiles rants to himself as he dials Peter’s number, while ignoring the flickering of his lights.

“Stiles, it is almost 5 am. Why on earth are you calling me?”

“Scott wouldn’t answer--”

“Of course”

“--and I thought that you are the best one to call, since I know what is kidnapping the kids that are missing.”

“Go on.”

“We are looking for a… hold on I can’t pronounce this. I’m going to put you on speaker phone and look up how to say this.” He puts the phone down on his desk and Peter can hear tapping and Stiles muttering under his breath. Finally the site he wants loads and he plays the audio.

Jólakötturinn” [the word is a clickable link]

Peter hears Stiles pick the phone back up. “It’s a…. Why the fuck didn’t it just tell me the English name… I swear to god this thing is going to be the dea--”

“Stiles, focus”

“Yeah, sorry. It’s called a ‘Yule Cat..’ Says here it is ‘a cat from Icelandic folklore that lives in the mountains and comes out around the time of Yule. It captures children it finds who aren't wearing new clothes then drags them back to its lair to be devoured’.” He sighs.

“Well that sounds pleasant” Peter quips, sarcastically.

“Why in the world a giant Icelandic cat is here in Beacon Hills, is beyond me. But that’s what it is.”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think there’s much we can do about it right now. It won’t try to take another kid for a couple more days, so we have time to find it. Now. If that is all, please get something to eat and go to bed. You have been up entirely too long.”

“But --”

“No, Stiles. Don’t argue. It is day three that you have been working on this, and if I know you, and I do, you haven’t slept the entire time. Go to sleep. Eat first. Or I swear I’ll come down there and make you.”

Stiles pauses, “That doesn’t sound like much of a threat,” he says before he has any time to stop himself.

Peter growls under his breath. Not sure if Stiles is calling his bluff or flirting with him. He is too tired for this and just pinches the bridge of his nose instead. “Stiles. Do you have anything to eat?”

“Well, no. Not really.”

“It’s too late and early to call for a delivery. I’m coming over with food. Please just go take a shower, while I drive over.”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Fine, Zombiewolf. But I’m not going to be the one to explain to my dad why a 30 something year old werewolf is visiting his house this early in the morning. He’s going to be awake soon.”

“I really doubt your father will be that upset with me, if I can get you to eat a decent meal, make sure you get to sleep, and then leave right after. I don’t plan on staying to watch you sleep. Besides, we’re Pack, and Pack takes care of their own.”

“Alright. Alright, I’ll see you when you get here.”

Peter doesn’t bother saying anything before he hangs up. He just smiles to himself. That boy, I swear…