“Come on Jackson, I know you hate algebra but the sooner you get this worksheet done the sooner we can play some X-Box.” Stiles tried to bargain.
Jackson gave Stiles a death glare and stated, “This is shit, when am I even going to use this shit as a lawyer.”
Stiles rolled his eyes and said, “We have this argument every single time you’re here for tutoring. You know you need algebra to pass the LSATs with a high enough score to get into a good school.”
They both looked up with panic on their faces as they heard the Sheriff yell out “Stiles!” from the bottom of the stairs. Jackson frantically waved Stiles towards the door.
Stiles left the room and tried to look nonchalant as he walked down the stairs, “What's up Daddio?”
Noah wasn’t fooled by the nonchalant act for a second, “I’m just wondering why you are home, I thought you and Scott had plans to practice lacrosse tonight?”
Stiles shook his head, canceled them when I found out he hadn’t done any of his winter break homework.”
Noah sighed and said “Good boy, I don’t know what Mel is going to do if he falls behind again. So what are you up to? You looked shifty.”
Stiles gave his dad a wounded look and he asked, “Me? Looking shifty? Nah, just doing some extra credit work before school tomorrow.”
Noah narrowed his eyes and he quizzed Stiles by asking, “For which class?”
Stiles swallowed nervously and he said, “AP Algebra, don’t worry, I’m not planning another essay like the one I did on the history of male circumcision even if it was worth the laugh and the credits it got me.”
Noah rolled his eyes and he chuckled as he said, “Thanks son, I would rather not repeat the parent-teacher conference that spawned. Your Econ teacher is best done in small doses. Go on, finish what you’re doing. Are you cooking tonight or can I order pizza?”
Stiles frowned and he said, “No pizza. I will finish up the worksheets I am working on and I will cook something healthy. You only get one cheat day and that was yesterday.”
Stiles headed back up the stairs but paused when he heard the sheriff’s phone ring. He started to head back down when he heard the sheriff pick up his keys.
Noah called out, “Stiles?” He turned and he saw Stiles on the stairs, “I need to head back to the office, stay out of trouble and stay home please.”
Stiles nodded and silently turned to head back up the stairs. When he got back to his room he held his hand up to silence Jackson, Stiles waited until he heard his dad driving away in the cruiser before he spoke up, “Quick, lift your legs onto the bed.”
Jackson moved because he was curious, Stiles was never this serious. Stiles dug around under the bed and pulled out the scanner he built out of spare parts.
Stiles set it up on the floor and flicked it on in time to hear, ‘it was just the legs, they were found just off a jogging trail in the preserve south of the old Hale house.’
Jackson had paled, “What the fuck. The legs of what?”
Stiles shrugged, “Dad told me to stay home so I would say a body, shhh that’s dad.”
They heard the scanner again, ‘Do we have a cause of death or do we need the top half of her first? Has the coroner been able to identify her?’
The boys looked at each other in shock.
The deputy relaying info responded quickly, ‘No sir, all he could confirm is that she’s in her 20s and initial forensics showed there didn’t seem to be any sign of the legs being moved. We called in the search dog teams from SF PD they should be at the preserve gates in about 20 minutes.’
Jackson looked down at his homework then back up at Stiles, he said, “Let’s go search, it beats algebra any day.”
Stiles raised an eyebrow and he asked, “You, the DA’s son are willing to risk being caught in the preserve while they are searching for a body?”
Jackson nodded, and he clarified, “Half a body. Come on, you know you want to go. I won’t even complain about you calling your wannabe siamese twin.”
Stiles shook his head and he said, “No. Scotty needs to actually finish his homework. He refuses to accept any help from me so he doesn’t get to come out and play. Plus I don’t want to listen to you two fighting.”
Jackson shrugged and he asked quietly, “Won’t he be pissed if he finds out you left him behind?”
Stiles stared at Jackson and he said flatly, “He won’t find out, because the first thing he will do is run to spill the beans to Moma McCall. The only time he doesn’t tattle is when he is in on the adventure or the secret.” Stiles stood and pocketed the keys for Roscoe and his phone, he turned to Jackson and he asked, “You coming?”
They both sprinted down the stairs both wanting to be first out the door. They headed out to the preserve after a quick stop at Jackson’s Porsche parked a few streets away from the Stilinski house to drop off Jackson’s bag.
As they were wandering through the preserve Jackson asked, “So, what I don't get is why are you friends with McCall if he is a tattletale?”
Stiles shrugged and said, “At the start, we were lumped together, I was the hyperactive spaz no one wanted to be around and he was the kid who couldn’t breathe. Now though, to be honest, I am not sure. I love Scotty but lately, he has been getting evasive. I have barely seen him through the winter break. I think I have seen you more with our tutoring sessions. I am not sure if you heard me talking to dad earlier but we had plans tonight to do some last-minute lacrosse practice so he can finally make first line,” Stiles ignored Jackson's incredulous snort with that statement, “but he canceled saying his mom found out his winter break homework wasn’t done. Except he cried off a few of our plans saying he was getting his homework done…”
Jackson rolled his eyes and said, “McCall never could think up a good lie. Meh. So how’s the investigation into my bio parents going?”
Stiles frowned and he haltingly said, “It’s going, well, weird.”
Jackson stopped walking and he asked, “Weird how?”
Stiles was walking but stopped when he realized that Jackson was no longer beside him, he turned and explained, “Weird in that the one mention of you around the time of your birth in the police files is marked as classified and it was marked that way by Talia Hale.”
Jackson looked flummoxed and he asked, “The Hale family?”
Stiles nodded and he said, “Yeah, so… weird. Even using dad’s login didn’t unlock the files.”
Jackson started walking again, slower though as he thought through the problem, he explained, “I think she was the DA before my adoptive dad. He was the assistant DA before the fire.”
Stiles walked beside him and bumped his shoulder in a show of support, he said, “I am not about to give up at the first hurdle. I am looking into what happened around the date of the locked files to see if I can narrow down other cases that may be related so I can use other sources to get info.”
Jackson pulled Stiles into a half hug and he mumbled a quiet, “Thanks Sti.”
They walked quietly deep in the preserve for another ten minutes, partly looking for the half a body, but also both thinking of school tomorrow.
Stiles cleared his throat and he murmured, “I don’t want to protect Scott anymore.”
Jackson perked up at this and he asked, “So no more hassling you instead of Scott when he’s being a douche?”
Stiles nodded sadly, he explained, “It’s clear he's distancing himself from me for whatever reason. I have stuck up for him and protected him ever since we got lumped together in elementary. If he’s not man enough to just tell me we are no longer friends, then I am done protecting him from his own stupid behavior.”
Jackson glanced at Stiles and he said, “I will still have to hassle you if you hit on Lydia though. People will expect it.”
Stiles laughed but it held no mirth, he glanced up at Jackson then fixed his focus back on the ground, he considered how to respond then he snarked, “You mean you didn’t recognize that it was a front, it was a way to give you a reason to hassle me to deflect your attention away from Scotty.”
Jackson nodded and he confirmed, “I had a feeling, but I suspected it was more a reason for you to hide.”
Stiles frowned and he asked, “Hide? From what?”
Jackson grinned and he replied, “From your utter aversion to anything pussy related.”
Stiles shoved Jackson as he laughed out, “Crude much.”
Jackson shoved him back and he asked, “Am I wrong though?”
Stiles looked away as he shook his head. He quietly answered, “No.”
They looked around as they heard a rustling nearby followed by a low growl. Stiles reached out and grabbed Jackson’s arm and started pulling him behind him. He was too slow however and the creature, a large hulking beast jumped out and knocked them both to the ground. It stood over them and glared at them from blazing red eyes, it put a misshapen paw on both of their chests, as they lay side by side, it’s hot breath on their faces, bloody drool slowly dripping from its huge jaw.
They froze as it sniffed around their necks, Jackson whispered, “Stiles? What do we do?”
Stiles looked at Jackson with fear in his eyes and he whispered back, “I don’t know, my self-defense lessons didn’t cover whatever the fuck this is.”
The beast leaned down and bit them both on the side above their hips while still pinning them to the ground. Once it was done with the bites and it saw red blood staining their sides it walked backward and sat calmly just watching them.
As soon as they were free, Stiles and Jackson both scooted back until they hit a tree. As they sat and got their breathing back to normal Stiles felt his side and gulped as he felt the blood, warm and sticky on his hand. He whisper shouted at the creature, “What the fuck dude.”
The creature stared back at them impassive for a few minutes until it suddenly flinched and stood, the boys saw it turn it’s head as if it was listening to something off in the distance, it flared it’s crimson red eyes at them before it whimpered a garbled, “Help me…. Please…” before it took off running into the forest.
Jackson and Stiles looked at each other before they scrambled to their feet, Stiles pulled out his phone and turned on the flashlight, he pulled up Jackson’s shirt and checked the wound on his side. He commented, “It’s stopped bleeding but we should probably get home and clean out the wound.”
Jackson snarked, “You think? We have tryouts are tomorrow. How the hell are we going to do tryouts with gaping bite wounds on our sides.”
Stiles rolled his eyes and said, “Like Coach won’t name you captain just for turning up to tryouts. Let's head back, I don’t really want to be roaming while that thing is loose and we have a clumsy sized first aid kit at home.”
Jackson nodded in agreement and they turned and headed back to the Stilinski house, it was slow going as the wound on their sides would pull when they tried to move too fast. When they were nearly back at the Jeep they heard the distant barking of the search dogs and they sprinted for the Jeep as they didn’t want the dogs to pick up their scent and chase them down. The sheriff would kill them both for being in the preserve during a search.
On the drive back to the Stilinski house Jackson asked, “Won’t your dad notice the missing first aid supplies?”
Stiles shook his head and he explained, “Nah, it’s my job to make sure the kit is stocked properly since it’s usually me using it.”
They pulled up at the house but as they were walking up the stairs to the front door Jackson patted his pockets and he exclaimed, “Fuck!”
Stiles unlocked the door and looked back at Jackson in confusion and he asked, “What? No, never mind, get in here before one of my nosy neighbors rings Dad to report me coming home after curfew with a boy.”
Jackson hisses to Stiles as he walks in the door, “My keys are missing, I must have dropped them!”
Stiles facepalms and he asked, “Do you have a spare set?”
Jackson nodded and said, “Sort of, I have a spare car key in my locker at school, I will need to find my keyring or replace the house keys quietly.”
Stiles said, “We can go search the preserve before tryouts to find your keyring. We both have study hall at the end of Mondays. Come on, let's go get cleaned up, the blood is starting to itch.”
They both crammed into the bathroom and Stiles pulled out the mega-sized first aid kit he had stored under the bathroom sink. He said, “Right, take off your shirt, it’s pretty torn as it is.” Jackson grumbled but he pulled off his shirt, not his favorite but still a waste of a good button-down.
Stiles got out a washcloth and he cleaned up the wound on Jackson’s side. He was not sure but he could have sworn that the wound was bigger than that when he checked it in the preserve, he internally shrugged, it must have been all the blood making it look worse than it really was. He taped on some gauze and stood before he quietly asked, “Will your parents notice if you don’t go home tonight?”
Jackson crossed his arms across his bare chest and he leaned back against the sink as he said sardonically, “They barely notice me when I am there, I doubt they will even comment on it.”
Stiles moved beside him and nudged his shoulder in reassurance, he said, “You know where the spare room is, grab something to wear from my closet and we will do an early morning run to the school to grab your key from your locker so you can grab the Porsche. With the search going on Dad will catch a nap at the station.”
Jackson awkwardly gestured to Stiles side as if asking if he wanted help, Stiles waved him away laughing, “I got this, go get ready for bed, I will set the alarm so we can be at the school when it’s unlocked.” As Stiles turned away to clean his own wound he muttered to himself, “I doubt you want anyone seeing you arriving with Spazlinski.”
Jackson pulled on his arm to turn him back around, he angrily stated, “Hey, that's not fair, I didn’t start that damn name, your so-called BFF did.” Jackson saw the look of shock on Stiles' face and he said, “Let's make a deal, no more hiding, no more hiding our friendship from Scott and Lydia.”
Stiles nodded his agreement and he silently turned back to the sink, Jackson snatched the fresh washcloth from the side of the sink and he started to clean Stiles bite wound, returning the favor by taping it up with gauze before they packed up the kit together and left the bathroom to pick out something to wear for sleep.