(When something tickles his funny bone)
The sky is a cool gray with blotches of ominous purple-gray clouds in the distance. The wind is picking up around them, sending the trees swaying with the force of the gusts. It’s peacefully quiet in the cemetery, even more than normal. The cool weather and hint of an impending storm is likely keeping most people inside for now.
Stiles sits cross-legged with a checkers-board resting between him and the teenager kneeling on the other side. Erica is deathly pale, her long blonde hair decorated with leaves and specks of dirt. Her white dress is stained with brown and green from the many times she’s crawled out of her grave.
“Gotcha,” Erica says with a smirk. Stiles sighs faux-dramatically as she jumps two of his pieces and swipes them off the board. “King me, Batman.”
“Yeah, yeah. You’re winning again, no need to gloat, Catwoman,” Stiles smiles, adding the additional piece to hers. The tiny skulls on his thin black bracelet clack together at the movement.
“Maybe you should stop letting me win. You’re not actually this bad at checkers,” Erica shoots back teasingly. Stiles gasps, clutching at his chest.
“You accuse me of losing on purpose? It would probably help my pride a lot more if I were,” Stiles laughs, leaning forward to make his next move which, predictably, enables Erica to jump him again. “I guess I’m just distracted. Speaking of, Parrish wanted me to ask you if you saw anything strange last night.”
Erica’s eyebrows rise at that. “Strange? Like what exactly?”
Stiles shrugs. “Anything suspicious.”
Erica’s eyes narrow at his hedging, but looks like she is thinking about it. “Um, some woman was here pretty late last night. Like, way later than most people are here. She looked like she was following something- not visiting.”
Stiles digs a hand into his pocket and pulls out a photograph. It’s a picture Sheriff Parrish had given him earlier that day of a woman with long black hair and a fiery grin.
“Is this her?” Stiles asks, handing her the photo. Erica stares at it intently before nodding.
“Yeah, that’s her. She was wearing jeans and a black jacket- looked like leather. Why?”
“That’s Laura Hale. Her brother reported her missing early yesterday morning,” Stiles explains.
Erica whistles and hands back the photo. “She was definitely here last night. But I don’t know where she went.”
Stiles nods and repockets the photo. “I’ll tell Parrish she was spotted around here.” He jumps one of her pieces, getting kinged in the process.
“Hey,” Erica mumbles as she makes another move. “Have you seen Boyd around?”
Stiles nods. “I have.”
“He seem okay to you?”
“Yeah, seems fine. Quiet as usual, but I don’t see him much or very often, why?” Stiles stares at her as she fidgets under his scrutiny.
“He just…seems sad to me, is all.” Erica says and purses her lips, lifting her chin defiantly as if daring Stiles to ask her why she knows how Boyd looks lately.
“I hear being an omega werewolf can do that to you,” Stiles simply replies. The supernatural hadn’t been very well-known by Beacon Hills until a couple of years ago when a feral werewolf went on a rampage, biting and turning or, in the worst cases, killing a bunch of townspeople. The death total had reached the double digits, causing a curfew to be enacted and wide spread searches that still turn up nothing. It’s almost like they’re chasing a ghost.
Naturally, in the beginning, there was a fear left over from the killer, especially since they still haven’t been found. But, thankfully, most of the town has rallied together to give support to the survivors and even welcomes supernatural creatures into their town. It’s because of this welcoming attitude that his and Lydia’s shop is able to stay afloat in this tiny community.
“I know,” Erica says with a slight pout. “But, last time, you said that Parrish was looking for local packs that might be interested in taking him in…”
Stiles shakes his head sadly and moves one of his pieces closer. “We haven’t found any yet. Most that have been willing to work with us so far are still getting used to their newest members. But Deaton is working with him, so he should be okay until we find the right pack for him.”
Erica sighs, but leans forward and continues their game, making a move that takes another of Stiles’ pieces.
Stiles grins. “Good game.”
“It would’ve been a better one if you actually tried,” Erica says with a frown.
“It’s been a rough day.” Stiles shrugs casually, but he can feel the tension building in his muscles from the admission.
“Oh? What happened?” Erica asks curiously.
“Lydia said something important was coming,” Stiles explains, running a nervous hand through his already messy brown hair. He licks his suddenly dry lips, remembering the morning clearly.
Lydia had turned toward him with a smirk, her eyes dull as they landed on him.
“It’s time,” Lydia said, void of emotion or any sign of being conscious of what she was saying.
“Time for what?” Stiles replied nervously.
Lydia’s head tilted as if considering his question. “It’s coming.”
“Something important?” Erica echoes in confusion. “What does that mean?”
Stiles’ frown deepens. “Nothing good. The last time she said that…” his dad and Scott were killed.
Erica nods in understanding, not needing to hear the rest of the sentence to know what Stiles is referencing. It is common knowledge in Beacon Hills, everyone knows about the tragic week Stiles Stilinski had lost all of the family he had left.
Stiles stretches out a hand and rearranges the pieces and board into their box.
“Aw, is my time over already?” Erica asks teasingly.
“Afraid so, I’ve got other clients, you know,” Stiles replies with a smile.
Erica rolls her eyes as she stands and they walk to her empty grave, the wooden casket hanging open and waiting for her return.
“Even I know most people go to see Lydia and not you,” Erica shoots back.
“You wound me, Erica,” Stiles says, “Now get into your casket so I can go back to my very busy life.”
Erica smiles, stepping close and pressing a chaste kiss to his cheek before laughing and hopping back into her casket. Stiles smiles softly, a tingle on his cheek where her cold lips had pressed.
“Ready to go,” Erica declares once she’s wiggled around and found into a comfortable position. Her hands clenching tightly together on her stomach are the only noticeable sign of her nervousness. Stiles knows it isn’t easy for the dead to go back, to forfeit their lives once again after experiencing being alive again- even if only for a short while.
But Stiles can’t promise more than that— more than a few hours of life every so often.
“Goodnight, Erica. I’ll see you in a month, okay?”
“Okay,” she says on a shaky breath, closing her eyes. “Goodnight Stiles.”
“I’m right here,” Stiles murmurs as he, too, closes his eyes and grasps onto the pendant that dangles around his neck. It’s a vivid red stone carved into the shape of an anatomically correct heart that glows brightly at his touch, sending a jolt through his body. Erica gasps, her body going rigid as it returns to its normal state. Within moments, it’s over and the necklace returns to its original color. Stiles opens his eyes to find Erica dead once more and himself alone again.
He leans down and shuts the casket, sealing her away.
Out of all the dead he’s worked with, Erica is the only one he routinely visits and brings back to life. She’s the only one that he would call a friend; the only one whose company he truly enjoys.
She’s also one of the few who chooses to remain here, who rejects the promise of better things in order to watch over her family and Boyd. Erica never admitted to the latter, but Stiles knows she spends most of her time as a ghost watching him and worrying whether or not he’ll find a pack.
Stiles concentrates on the piles of dirt around the grave, waving his hands and watching the mounds topple onto the wooden coffin. It doesn’t take long for the dirt to reach the top and connect with the ground next to it. With one final act of flourish, the soil sprouts a healthy layer fresh grass and bright yellow sunflowers, the kind of vivid yellow that always reminds Stiles of Erica’s hair when she had been alive.
He takes a few moments to build his courage. He really doesn’t want to leave the sanctuary or the calm of the cemetery, doesn’t want to face the world or find out what is important about this day.
He picks up the checkers box, but pauses once he notices a black blur moving through the trees in the surrounding forest. It has no definitive shape that he can make out, other than it doesn’t look human.
Probably just a mountain lion, he thinks, shaking off the strange sight. He trudges toward the gates, shaking as another gust of wind tears through him, this time carrying a few drops of rain with it.
The storm is getting closer.
Their tiny shop, Psychic & Skeleton, has only been in business for roughly six months. The decrepit brick building had once been a tattoo parlor years ago before it was abandoned when the owners moved shop to L.A. The outside is still covered in vines, since Lydia and Stiles had both agreed that they liked the supernatural feel the plants give the building. The only new addition is the neon sign out front, highlighting its name.
Stiles enters through the back entrance, knowing Lydia has a few clients scheduled for the day. As he steps into the backroom and walks up to the large reptile habitat stationed on a plastic folding table, Lydia’s voice floats in through the open doorway connecting the backroom and the front of their office.
“Hey, buddy,” Stiles coos at the creature in the cage, removing the top barrier and placing it off to the side. He reaches for a large box on the floor, opening it and pulling out a few wriggling mealworms.
Jackson, Stiles’ bright green teacup dragon stares up at him curiously with her wide black eyes. She blinks slowly and waddles closer to where his hand offers the tiny worms. The dragon lunges, snapping her jaws around the mealworms as she quickly chews and swallows them down.
The lizard-sized dragon was given to him as a gift after he gave a young wizard a full day to spend with his 4 year old son. The little boy had died suddenly during the night, nobody knew why, but the wizard and his wife were both desperate for one more day to say goodbye and Stiles couldn’t say no.
Stiles didn’t know why the wizard had the dragon in the first place, since dragons are very rare in the supernatural world, but he wasn’t going to question the present. She’s been the best thing to happen to him in a long time.
Stiles watches her eat, his head pillowed on his arm at the table. As she devours the last of the worms, he runs his free hand over her coarse back, enjoying the feel of her scaly body breathing under his hand. Jackson peers up at him with her large, unblinking eyes, the small wings on her black fluttering.
“What, you wanna come up?” He opens his palm and wiggles his fingers, encouraging her to climb up his arm. She digs into the flesh with her tiny nails until she settles comfortably on his shoulder. She lies down, curling her long, thin tail around his arm and resting her head at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. Stiles shudders as her hot breaths hit his neck, but he smiles and strokes her tail affectionately.
“Your vacation will end badly. I’d suggest you save your money and invest it elsewhere. Also, stop cheating on your wife,” Lydia loudly states with a harsh, monotone voice. Stiles winces at her bluntness and pushes away from the table, moving and stopping in the open doorway between the rooms. He watches the scene warily, knowing Lydia isn’t always the best as sugarcoating the truth and that often lead to trouble.
As if on cue, the customer’s chair is shoved back with a shrill screech as he stands angrily. “What the fuck did you just say?”
Lydia, nonchalant as ever, simply looks up at him unflinchingly and reiterates, “I said stop cheating on your wife. Technically, you can ignore my advice all you want, but if you do- don’t expect to keep your house. She’ll hire a way better lawyer and wipe the floor with you.”
The customer- a burly man with dark hair speckled with gray- swiftly picks up his coat to leave.
“Fuck you, I don’t need to listen to this.”
Stiles decides it’s time to chime in, “No, you don’t, but I’d suggest you pay her before you leave.”
The man turns to him with a glare. “Did you not hear what she accused me of?”
Lydia huffs a laugh and rolls her eyes. Stiles uncrosses his arms, lifting his hands in a placating gesture. Jackson lets out a tiny grunt of annoyance, digging her claws through his shirt and into his skin in order to hold on.
“I did, and while it could have been said with more tact,” Stiles snaps his accusing gaze to Lydia before focusing back on the customer, “She was correct, was she not?”
The customer doesn’t reply, simply pursing his lips in a sour expression.
“And she is providing a very helpful service by warning you what will happen if your wife finds out. Now you know to be more careful,” Stiles explains slowly. The man’s shoulders lose some of their tension and he obligingly pulls out his wallet, tossing cash on the table. He curtly nods at them both and leaves.
Stiles lets out the breath he’s been holding and sags into the recently vacated chair. Jackson scuttles to the top of his head, wrapping her tail around his neck as her little clawed feet scrape at his ears and temples.
“You really had to bring up his cheating?” he asks dully, pointedly ignoring how silly he must look with a small dragon on his head.
Lydia shrugs, picking up the money and counting it. “It was that or tell him he was going to crash his corvette on the way home. You should be proud, I kept one of those upsetting predictions to myself.” She smirks at Stiles’ shocked face and adds, “Relax. He’ll be fine, he just totals the car.”
“You better hope that’s all it is.”
Lydia grins. “What, like he could sue me for not telling him that? Not like he knows I saw it. Also, you look ridiculous with that thing on your head.”
“That thing has a name, Lydia!” Stiles cries, offended on Jackson’s behalf.
“Maybe I would call that thing by its name if you didn’t choose to name it after my ex-boyfriend,” Lydia snaps.
“To be fair, he was a douche,” Stiles retorts, “and so was dragon-Jackson the first month we got her. Do you know how many times she tried to claw me to death?”
“Yes, I do know, because you still won’t shut up about it,” Lydia growls.
“I’m just saying, the name fit at the time!” Stiles defends, cringing at the sound of his voice going high-pitched. He coughs and forcibly lowers his voice, “And I can’t change it now, she knows her name! She responds to it.”
“Oh, does she?” Lydia questions with a raised brow. “Prove it.”
“Hey, Jackson, go fly to Lydia,” Stiles orders, turning his neck awkwardly to look at the dragon on his shoulder. She doesn’t move or acknowledge him. Lydia snorts. “Shh, she doesn’t know any tricks or orders, okay? But she knows her name, don’t you, Jackson? Jackson? Jackson!”
Jackson cracks one eye open, glaring at him with all the might in her tiny green body.
“See? She knows!”
“Or she’s mad you’re yelling in her ear,” Lydia replies, “like me. Have fun with your pet lizard, I’m going out for lunch.” She tosses her hair back over her shoulder and saunters out the front door with the clacking sound of her heels.
Stiles turns to Jackson and grins. “Looks like it’s just you and me, buddy.”
Jackson huffs, climbing down his arm and jumping onto the table. She rotates a few times before plopping down, closing her eyes and looping her thin tail around herself.
Taking it as the rejection it is, Stiles huffs a laugh and pulls out his cell phone to dial the Sheriff. It rings three times before it’s picked up with a less-than-cheery, “What do you want, Stiles?”
“Wow, don’t sound too eager to talk to me, Jor.”
Jordan sighs on the other side of the line, his voice tight with annoyance as he repeats, “What do you want, Stiles?”
“On the contrary, I’m calling you to tell you that Erica said she saw Laura Hale in the cemetery late last night,” Stiles says, wandering into the backroom and opening the fridge. He eyes the empty shelves with a frown, suddenly remembering that it’s his turn to restock the fridge this week.
Stiles groans and steps to the left, reaching up and opening the pantries to find a half-empty box of Lucky Charms. He forgoes a bowl, shoving a hand into the bag and scooping a handful into his mouth. The angle is awkward as he tries to keep the phone from falling off his shoulder, but he manages.
“The cemetery? Did she say anything else? Did Laura look scared or—”
Stiles swallows the half-chewed cereal in a single gulp, coughing at the dryness scraping down his throat. He quickly reopens the fridge to grab a bottle of water and takes a drink before he answers with a raspy voice, “Just that it looked like she was following something. Erica says she doesn’t know where she went after that though.”
“Alright. I’ll check the area around the cemetery and see if I can find any leads. Do you…”
A loud bang comes from the front office, drawing Stiles’ attention. He steps away from the fridge and toward the open doorway. As he gets closer, he can see the darkened silhouette of a man clutching a woman to his chest. The sight of pouring rain blowing in through the open door behind them has Stiles dropping the cereal box and rushing forward to usher them further into the building. He grabs the handle of the front door, glimpsing the torrential downpour outside and hearing the sound of distant thunder before he slams the door shut and turns to face the visitors.
“Stiles?” Jordan questions hesitantly in his ear.
Jackson spreads her wings with a cry as the strange man nears her. She soars into the air, drifting into the backroom for safety. Stiles moves towards the man, finally getting a good look at the handsome face, the sculpted cheekbones and neatly trimmed beard- but the most notable feature is the desperate sadness in his eyes as he stares at Stiles and carefully, so carefully, lowers the injured woman onto the table.
It’s impossible not to recognize them both. They had lived in Beacon Hills for years- Stiles still remembers the massive crush he had freshman year of high school on basketball captain Derek Hale. He had a ten year plan to woo him, until the plan metaphorically went up in flames when the Hale house had, literally, burned to the ground- taking most of the family with it.
The fire was ten years ago and, at that time, werewolves hadn’t been revealed to the town yet. But once they figured it all out, it made sense that the only family of werewolves in the town had been targeted by hunters. It seems devastatingly sad to Stiles that, the week the two remaining Hale siblings decide to come back, one of them is killed.
Because, looking at the woman on the table, it is obvious that she’s dead.
“Can you help her?” Derek asks, his voice so low that Stiles almost misses it. Stiles’ eyes trail up to meet the light green ones he remembers seeing in his dreams so vividly as a teenager. Much of Derek Hale has changed- he’s visibly grown a lot in ten years time: his muscles now barely contained by the leather jacket, his well-fitted jeans that curve perfectly around his butt, and— the piercing gaze glaring daggers at Stiles right now.
Right. Dead body. Not the time to be checking someone out.
Stiles snaps his gaze to the ground as he speaks into the phone, “Jordan, I’m gonna need you to forgo that visit to the woods and come straight to the shop instead,” Stiles says, his voice steady and even.
“What’s going on?!” Jordan asks with a hint of urgency and worry.
“Derek Hale just brought Laura in. She’s dead,” Stiles says, noting the pained expression on Derek’s face at the last statement.
“I’m on my way.”
Stiles shoves the phone in his pocket, stepping up to Laura and analyzing the damage. She’s pale and rigid, her body locked in its position. Her lips are colorless, and her body fairly cool to his touch, but not overly so. There are scratches all over her abdomen, but what catches Stiles’ notice is the deep slash across her stomach, so deep it’s amazing Derek was able to carry her without the body completely severing into two. It’s sickeningly familiar.
“I didn’t kill her, I wouldn’t—” Derek chokes out, staring down at his blood soaked hands with an empty look from shock.
“I know you didn’t,” Stiles says, the surety in his statement causing Derek to gape at him in surprise. There isn’t a doubt in Stiles’ mind that Derek didn’t kill Laura- he still remembers the cocky senior Derek had been; how young Derek was great at sports, was popular and hot, was the reason young Stiles had realized he was bisexual, but, most of all- Stiles remembers how devoted Derek was to his family. There was no way he would ever raise a hand to his sister.
Stiles points at the slash across Laura’s stomach. “See that? That’s the same way many victims have been killed over the past two years. That’s practically a signature, right there.”
Derek’s eyebrows furrow. “Two years?” Stiles nods as he gently pulls Laura’s shirt away from the gaping wound and bunches the material up just below her breasts so that he has room to work. He presses his hands against the major wound, taking a breath to center the magic vibrating inside him and then pushing it out of his hands in gentle, but hot bursts. He drags his hands across her stomach, trailing the entire laceration.
Derek snarls, reacting badly to the smell of burning flesh. He tears Stiles’ hand away from his sister’s body with fingers that squeeze bruises into his skin with their strength. “What the hell are you doing?” He growls through bared teeth.
Stiles raises an unimpressed brow, pointedly glancing down at Laura’s body and replying dryly, “I just thought if I were to bring your sister back from the dead, you might want her to be in one piece. But if you want her upper half to be wandering this way while the other half tap-dances off to who-knows-where, well, that’s your choice then, I suppose.”
Derek drops his hand, nodded towards Laura and giving him wordless permission to continue. Stiles rubs his sore wrist with a pout, the skull bracelet clinking at the movement. He mentally thanks whoever is looking out for him that Derek hadn’t wolfed out. There’s only so much control a werewolf can have, especially after losing another member of their pack.
“Before I do this, I need to go over a few things with you,” Stiles says, “First, I will only bring her back for a few hours. During that time I suggest you enjoy your time with her and say your goodbyes.”
Derek’s face is pinched, but he nods in agreement.
“Second, no matter how far you run, when I decide to stop the enchantment, Laura will be dead.” At Derek’s confused expression, Stiles explains, “I’ve had a few people try to run. Which brings me to my third topic, payment.”
“Anything,” Derek’s eyes are determined, boring into Stiles’.
Stiles huffs a laugh, “Careful there, big guy. Don’t want to be promising anything to every necromancer you meet. Some might ask for your soul or someth—”
“I’ll give you my soul to bring her back,” Derek says, his voice steady and strong with resolve, “if that’s what you want.”
Stiles’ mouth gapes open for a moment before his brain kicks into gear and he stutters out, “N-no, I don’t ask for that. I only ask for money- typically whatever the client can afford. The average is usually about a thousand dollars for a few hours, so...”
“I can pay that,” Derek agrees.
“Okay, last thing is that I’ll need to ask her some questions when I bring her back, so you won’t be able to leave right away,” Stiles says.
“What questions?” Derek asks, skeptical.
“I want to see if she saw who killed her,” Stiles admits, “If she can help us find out who they are…then we can finally put a stop to this monster.” And I can get my revenge, he mentally adds.
“Okay. When do you want the payment?” Derek questions.
“You can pay me later,” Stiles states, rolling up his sleeves in preparation. Usually he has his clients pay beforehand, but he suspects Derek didn’t plan on visiting a necromancer this day. He likely discovered his sister’s remains and ran here directly after without stopping to pick up money or a check.
Stiles pulls his pendant out from under his shirt, wrapping a hand around the stone, closing his eyes and waiting.
The pendant pulses under his hand, beating in tandem with his heart. Stiles opens his eyes, seeing everything through a haze of purple. He moves to Laura’s side, pressing his free hand onto her chest where her heart lies silently. Unlike the usual purple tint when he performs his usual magic, his hand now glows with an aura of white.
He can feel Derek’s stare on him, boring holes into the back of his neck, but he focuses on making the heart beat beneath his palm. With every pulse of his necklace, Stiles pushes his magic into Laura’s chest.
Ba-dum. Push. Ba-dum. Push.
A wave of weakness hits Stiles, causing him to sway and his vision to blur. He sinks to his knees, keeping his hand over Laura’s slugglishly beating heart as he breathes through the dizziness.
“Are you okay?” Derek asks from close behind him. His hand hovers, as if unsure whether or not he’s allowed to touch the necromancer. Stiles ignores him and continues to force his magic forward.
Laura jolts up with a gasp, the motion causing Stiles’ hand to drop down. Stiles sags against the leg of the table, pressing his forehead against the coldness as he struggles to catch his breath.
“Holy fuck,” Laura says breathlessly, her wild eyes darting around before landing on Derek. “Der? What the hell is going on?”
Stiles blinks and lifts his head, watching as Derek darts forward and envelopes his sister in a tight hug. He pulls away moments later, wiping at the dampness on his cheeks.
“Der? What happened?” Laura’s voice shakes on the question and Stiles decides that is his cue. He stands slowly, bracing his arms on the table to help keep him stable during the process.
“Hello, Laura. I’m Stiles Stilinski, maybe you’ve heard of me,” Stiles says with a grin and a small wave. Laura eyes him warily, glancing between him and Derek with a confused expression. Apparently not. “I’ve done this a lot, but I’ve never quite gotten the hang of this part, so…What do you call a bee that never dies?”
Laura and Derek both stare at him with matching blank looks.
“A zomBEE!” Stiles answers gleefully, “Which brings me to my next topic, which is that you are one. A zombie. You died and I brought you back. Ta-dah!” Stiles ends with a flourish, spreading his fingers and wiggling them in a parody of ‘jazz hands’.
Derek makes a pained noise low in his throat while Laura simply stares at him in horror.
“I’m dead?” Laura whispers.
Stiles’ grin vanishes and he smiles sadly. “Not right now, you aren’t. But you only have about…four hours before my spell will wear off. Of course, I will give you both time to spend with each other and say your goodbyes, but I have a few questions I’d like to ask you first.”
“Yeah, sure,” Laura says, though she seems very subdued after learning that she’s going to go back to being dead later that day.
Jordan Parrish, soaked to the bone in his Sheriff’s uniform, barrels through the front door, his chest heaving with gasps for breath, “You said…Laura…” He freezes at the sight of the three people, his mouth forming a comical ‘O’ shape as his eyes land on Laura. “Wow, yeah, so you are dead then.”
Laura and Derek both flinch at the blunt reminder and Stiles sighs, “Jor, Don’t you have more tact than that?”
Derek swivels a glare in Stiles’ direction, snapping, “You told my sister that you brought her back from the dead with a zombie joke.”
Stiles shoots him an offended look, raising his hands in defense. “I tried to break the news in a fun way. I’m tired of people bursting into tears when I tell them, so sue me.”
Jordan grabs a chair nearby and sits down, staring at Laura. “You handling the news okay? We’ve been looking for you all morning since Derek called about you being missing. I’m sorry we didn’t find you in time.”
Laura gives him a grateful smile. “Thanks. For trying.”
“I was just about to ask Laura some questions,” Stiles explains to Jordan, “She had the same sliced abdomen as previous victims.”
“I see…” Jordan mumbles, “And a spiral?”
“No visible one,” Stiles replies, “Laura, do you remember anything at all about your death or where you were going?”
Laura considers the question for a moment. “I remember...I remember being in the cemetery, saying hello to our family and I saw…something moving in the trees. I went to go investigate and then…nothing.”
“So you don’t know who killed you then?” Jordan asks, his eyes flicking briefly to Derek. Stiles’ eyes widen in realization.
“Jordan,” Stiles warns.
“Laura, what color are your eyes?” Jordan questions. Laura flashes her eyes, golden orbs reflecting back at them before returning to their normal hazel. “And Derek?”
Laura’s mouth parts in surprise, realizing what Jordan is hinting at. “My baby brother didn’t—”
“Derek,” Jordan interrupts sternly, “Show me your eyes.”
Derek purses his lips, but obediently shines his bright blue eyes back at them. Stiles blinks in surprise. While it thankfully isn’t alpha red, meaning he didn’t kill Laura, the brilliant blue color meant that he had, at some point, killed someone. Someone innocent. And that isn’t reassuring.
Derek glowers at Stiles’ obvious surprise as if daring him to say something. Stiles turns away, focusing back on Laura.
“Do you remember any smells? Any right before you died?” He asks.
Laura shakes her head. “I don’t remember smelling anyone nearby, so whoever it was caught me off guard. Wait…there was…something strange. Like an herby smell.”
Stiles hums before rushing over to the nearby bookshelf, pulling off a couple of thick books and a manila folder. He drops the items onto the table, not caring about the contents spilling out of the folder as he opens one of the books and searches its pages.
Derek reaches out, grabbing one of the photos and staring down at it with a frown. The photo is of one of the many deceased victims, a thin spiral carved into their back as they lie on the forest ground.
“This is the sign for revenge. It’s used by most wolf packs,” Derek says, “The killer’s a werewolf?”
“We figured that out last year when they kept killing on the full moon,” Stiles grumbles as he rapidly turns through the pages.
Jordan snatches the photo out of Derek’s hand and grabs the manila folder, his scowl deepening as he searches through it and finds private case files and police photos. “Why do you have these files?! How do you have these files?”
Stiles grins cheekily up at him. “I don’t think you really wanna know the answer to that.”
Jordan sighs and drops the folder, watching in amusement as Stiles flails and jumps up from his seat, pointing at his book.
“Here it is!” Stiles yells, “Okay, so, we know this guy is a werewolf and that they now have Laura’s alpha power, right?” They all nod. “But, if they’re a werewolf, then Laura should have smelled them, correct?”
“Yeah,” Laura mumbles, “But I didn’t. I just smelled…”
Stiles beams, shoving the book under her nose. “An herb,” he points to the drawings on the page. There are four small bags drawn with a list of ingredients scribbled underneath each frame.
“Are those pictures supposed to mean something to me?” Laura asks, confused. Derek pushes the book away from her.
“Make your point, Stiles. I’d like to spend time with my sister,” Derek growls. The while I still can hanging in the air, unsaid.
“Right. Well, these are talismans that can hide the smell of a shape-shifter. But, here’s the thing, in each of these bags are ingredients that shifters can’t touch,” Stiles says, watching as the realization dawns on each of them.
“So they have help,” Jordan deduces.
“Not just any help. These babies require an element of magic to them, so…” Stiles licks his lips, “So they’re working with someone magic. Now,” he turns to Laura. “Since you’re the first werewolf that’s been killed, we don’t know how long they’ve been using these talismans, but I think they’ve had help from the beginning.”
“Wait, why?” Jordan questions.
“Because, this werewolf is an alpha, but I think they specifically targeted Laura because of her power. It’s more than likely they killed her because they saw her as a rival alpha encroaching on their territory. Which is why she was sliced in half instead of carved when they killed her. Look at the past victims,” he pulls out the manila folder, moving all the photos of the victims side by side, “most were killed the same way, a large slice through the stomach, but they also had the revenge symbol carved on their backs. So they were planned kills—”
“But your dad and Scott didn’t have that symbol,” Jordan interrupts. Stiles’ mouth clacks shut at the mention of his deceased father and best friend. “And all the victims that were bitten and turned.”
Derek’s stare bores into the necromancer. “Sheriff Stilinski?”
Stiles’ lips thin in a tight line. “Yeah, yeah, he…he’s gone.” He faces Jordan and continues, “But they were an accident. Wrong place at the wrong time.” Stiles bites down on the acrid taste of guilt, avoiding looking anyone in the eye as he adds, “But we knew all along that this alpha has been building itself a pack, biting and turning a bunch of people over the past two years. However,” he points to the dates marked on the photos, “The dates all line up with the full moon. It loses control, every full moon. That means that it might not be aware of what it is doing, it’s just running off instinct.”
“You already figured that out months ago though,” Jordan points out, “That’s why we have a curfew on the full moons now.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “Yes, but I’m saying that, as an uncontrolled alpha running solely on instincts…it probably also needed help finding its intended victims. The ones it kills for revenge.”
“So you think whoever made their talisman is helping with them find targets,” Jordan states slowly, trying to follow Stiles’ train of thought. Stiles nods vigorously.
“Yes, yep, exactly,” He says eagerly. “If we can get the talisman, I can track the magic user and take them down. But I would need help with the shifter.” He looks at Derek and Laura.
“Of course,” Laura agrees, the same time Derek barks out a sharp, “No.”
“What do you mean no?” Laura glowers at Derek.
“Whoever this is already killed you once, and you want to fight them again?” Derek asks incredulously.
“That doesn’t count! They caught me off guard, I didn’t even know they were there!” Laura argues.
Jordan and Stiles share an amused look, watching the siblings squabble.
“You still died!” Derek roars, “And I’m not going to spend the last hours I have with you searching for the shifter who killed you just so they can kill you again.”
Laura deflates at the comment, turning her beseeching expression to Stiles.
Stiles bites his lip, unsure if what he’s about to do is smart. But he has to try something. He has to take the chance to find Scott and his father’s killer.
“I can extend your reanimation time. You help me find the killer and I’ll give you a week,” He offers.
“A month,” Derek demands.
Stiles blanches at the thought of how much energy that would drain. “Two weeks.”
“A month or no help,” Derek insists with a smirk, already knowing he’s won.
Stiles stares down at his feet, his face pinching at the idea. Using his magic that much would be incredibly painful, would nearly drain him completely, but…
“Okay,” Stiles whispers, knowing the werewolves would pick it up.
Derek grins at Laura who beams back. Jordan rests his hand on Stiles’ arm, obviously seeing the distress on his face. Stiles smiles reassuringly in his direction, but knows it likely comes off more like a grimace.
One month. He can do this. He can.