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Prophet Without Honor

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"Death most resembles a prophet who is without honor in his own land or a poet who is a stranger among his people." ~Khalil Gibran

He doesn't even care about the politics of it all, but then again, he rarely cares about why death is caused; he knows by now not to ask questions and just do his job.

Out of Death he was born, formed by skeletal hands and crafted from a piece of her own soul.  Stiles had spent his known existence with the cloying taste of death under his tongue, its aftertaste like fermented fruit and its color, a half-healed bruise.  At Death's command, he would slip into the world of the living, pulling the souls of those whose times had come from their bodies for delivery, grasping their hand like a lover and leaving only a decomposing lump behind.  Souls were never reluctant to leave.  Why continue life in a the bag of dirt that was a human body, when Death was waiting with open arms for their arrival? 

He could perform all his duties from the netherworld, but he chose not to.  It no longer takes much energy or concentration to send an unsmiling copy (or many copies) of himself elsewhere in the world (over 150,000 deaths in a single day; there is no other way to get all the work done by himself), so he started spending time watching the mortal world change.  It seemed sometimes that he would yawn and the world would shift in its entirety, and sometimes he would languish for an eternity watching the same l'huere bleue before nightfall.

The world was his oyster, and the dead were his pearls.  Well, not his.  They belonged to Death as soon as they left his grasp.

Death was not proactive.  She didn't chase her prey.  She knew that with age, or accident, or illness, they'd fall into her embrace.  Everyone came to her eventually, and she let fate rule.  It was for this reason that Stiles would play games out of sheer boredom.

Sitting in treetops, watching through windows, walking alongside them through dark alleyways, he would keep tabs a victim (for he always was aware of when any mortal would die, and for what reason) and shift the course of fate.  Once it was gently pulling on the collar of a child stepping into the path of an oncoming car.  Many times, it was placing a drifting soul back into the body of a heavily-beaten housewife bleeding on the floor.  Sometimes, he would scoot a plate, or a baseball bat, close enough into her reach.  I've decided that it's not your time, he'd tell the silvery figure trying to pull itself out of the confines of skin.

Death always noticed, but she said nothing unless he was tampering too heavily with nature's course.  Once, as he was preparing to slide the soul of a young woman back into the body, a thin, bony hand touched his wrist.  He glanced up, past the hood of his cowl, and she was there. 

Death is not beautiful.  Her skin is pinched and ashen, her body spindly and unclean.  For as long as Stiles had known her, she'd wore the same hooded garments draped over her multi-limbed body, sometimes catching glimpses of her eyes-- silver, like his own-- from beneath her heavy hood, from which two horns protruded.  Stiles held no love for her appearance, but respected her has his creator.  He was, of course, the only thing she had created.  She was a destroyer, a thief.

"No?" he'd questioned, surprised by her appearance.  She rarely left her chambers, and never for a teenaged girl.

She merely reached out and pulled the soul away from the body, hugging it to herself like a mother would a child.  Then, she was gone.

The girl's heartbroken lover mourned for years, but married another.  It was for this reason that Death had prevented him for interfering; when the man rose to power as a political figure, he depended on the advice of his wife, and helped lead an entire country away from collapse.

Stiles never became attached to those he saved, nor did he save them because he was attached.  Mortals were gone in the space of a sigh, in the fluttering of lashes, and even if he saved them once, he couldn't save them forever.

War had broken out again, but when?  Stiles never paid attention to dates.  What year was it on Earth?  Did it matter?

Wolves and men, was all Death had told him.  He knew he would have to oversee battles everywhere, but he chose one at random for the pure pleasure of observing.  He had always been one to watch and wait, tucking knowledge away.  He was an information monger, addicted to knowing, but never to sharing.

Beacon Hills was overrun with the scent of blood and fire, and the sweet atmosphere of souls coming home.  Stiles knew that he was running around out there, bringing each soul back to Death, but he also weaved among the trees of the forest, scoping out barriers.

On one side, he realized, there were wolves.  Werewolves, nature's favorite freaks.  Stiles took away the young ones quite often, killed in power struggles.  Their souls weren't always human-like; they were often wolves.  He liked that about them.

On the other side, men.  Not just hunters, he noticed with mild interest.  Ordinary humans (and some, maybe less than ordinary.)  His eyes fell on a head of dark curls sneaking past a line of tents, a bow on her back.  That one's human.  Coming back from the werewolf side?  A spy?

No, the scent of wolf was on her.  No, a reluctant ally.  He peered at her, following her as she darted through tents, trying not to wake anyone up.  Her lover is a wolf, but she is a hunter.  He watched her.  Old age.

With that, he left her.  She would not need his notice until her curls had gone silver.

He doesn't want to admit that he's lonely.

Death is no company.  She has little more to do with him than having him carry out her grunt work.  Stiles cannot be seen by mortals, though every so often one of them can sense him, or catch a glimpse of him.  They are just smoke and vapor-- no permeance.  He refuses to let himself form an attachment to something that will slip from his grasp so quickly.

Stiles wanted to put Derek Hale out of his misery.

It was pathetic, really, watching that wolf's heart break with every new death that he sensed in his mind.  He was a general, an alpha.  He was aware of every one of his wolves on that field, and he knew every single one that Stiles was pulling out of their corporal cage.  Stiles was about to tip the battle out of favor for Derek, and induce his death early, but as he began to manipulate the direction of a bullet, he paused.

There was something fierce about that broken wolf.  There was passion, there was vibrance, there was something so alive about him that it went against Stiles' whole being.  Somewhere in his eyes, Stiles saw love and honor and life and power and--


The bullet went in another direction, because Stiles was fixated on the eyes like polar icecaps, and suddenly he decided that he was going to keep that wolf alive.