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Evil Trees, Hot Guys in Leather Jackets, and Awkward Situations: A Survival Guide by Stiles Stilinski

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Evil Trees,
Hot Guys in Leather Jackets,
and Awkward Situations:
A Survival Guide by Stiles Stilinski

Chapter 1

Halloween in April 

Stiles slams his textbook shut and groans, stuffing a hand through his shock of dark brown hair. Names and dates swirl past his eyes at a dizzying speed. He still has over a month until finals start, but his Middle Ages final is a year-long, cumulative test, and on top of that, he has a huge paper for his Greek and Roman Culture class, and a math and English final. Last semester, Lydia spent a week berating him for cramming all his studying into two days. He’s not going to give her that satisfaction again.

“Studying again?” Stiles’ friend, Jacob, drops into the seat across the table from him. His curly, blonde hair is damp from the drizzling rain that’s been coming down all day, and his hazel eyes flash brightly as he brushes water off his coat.

Even though they’re both freshmen, Jacob is a year older than him. Stiles graduated a year early from Beacon Hills High School, desperate to get out of that town after all the darkness and the blood that’d happened there. He’d had to leave Scott, Derek, and the others behind, but they’d understood and supported his decision.

Stiles shrugs sheepishly, dragging himself back to the present.

Jacob rolls his eyes. “You’re such a nerd. You know finals aren’t for weeks, right?”

“Yeah, but this history test is going to be a bitch.”

“If you don’t have some fun soon, you’re going to go straight-up crazy,” Jacob informs him as if he’s preaching the word of God, and Stiles doesn’t bother to tell him that he’s already halfway to crazy. “Come with me to the Alpha Delta Phi party tonight.”

Alpha Delta Phi is the biggest fraternity at the University of Chicago, and every year, they hold a wild, sprawling party that invariably ends up getting shut down by the cops. It has a different, wacky theme each year, and this time, according to the neon orange posters plastered all over campus, it’s ‘Halloween in April’.

Stiles checks the time on his phone, and his ears grow a little warm when he sees the photo he set as his lock screen. Last summer, he managed to snap a candid photo of Derek’s profile without the werewolf noticing. He’d caught Derek in one of his rare, unguarded moments. Half a smile creeps across his face, and his black stubble was thick that day, his hair messy and uncombed. He’s wearing one of his infamous, grey V-necks, and the swell of his muscles pushes at the fabric.

Stiles doesn’t quite know why he’s set the photo for his lock screen. He misses Derek. He misses the others, too, of course, but Derek is the only one who truly understands the darkness that he’s seen.

It’s nearly dinnertime, Stiles realizes with a start; he’s been studying for about four hours. That seems like more than enough for one day.

“Yeah, let’s do it,” he says to Jacob, flashing a smile. “Do you want to grab dinner first?”

“Sure.”

Stiles slides his books off the table and dumps them into his backpack as Jacob stands, the movement spraying a few droplets across the floor. They weave through the lines of tables and chairs towards the doors, and Jacob slings his arm around Stiles’ shoulders. He pokes Stiles in the ribs. “Tonight, my friend, we are going to get you laid.”

Stiles shoves Jacob away, rolling his eyes. “Dude, shut up. I don’t need your help to get laid. And besides, I’m not interested in hooking up with some random chick I met at a party.”

“How about some random dude, then?” Jacob asks, waggling his eyebrows.

Stiles glares at him good-naturedly. “No.”

“Oh, I see.” Jacob nods knowingly. “Because of that hunk of a man you set as your lock screen, right?”

“Shut up or I will end you,” Stiles threatens, trying to hide that he’s turning bright red.

“Whatever.” Jacob shoves one of the glass doors open, and they step out of the college library and into the rain. Stiles pulls up the hood of his black hoodie, tucking the end of one of the strings into the corner of his mouth.

They hurry across the wet, grey campus. No one travels alone anymore, not after the two murders that have happened over the past couple of weeks. One victim was found in an alley, behind a dumpster, and the other was found in his dorm room, lying on his bed. He lived four doors down from Stiles. Police haven’t released the details of the deaths yet. If he were back in Beacon Hills, Stiles would put his research hat on and get to work, but he done with that for the year.

By the time the reach the glass and brick dining hall, they’re both soaked through. Stiles holds the door open for Jacob and glances back out into the rain just before he ducks inside. Two tall men walk quickly down the street, heads bowed against the weather.

The dining hall is steamy and warm, and Stiles’ table is practically overflowing with people. He quickly forgets about studying as the bubble of conversation surrounds him.

“Are you going to the party tonight?” Sara asks him as she steals a fry off his plate. The rain has made her hair frizz out in a halo around her head, and her brown skin glows in the light. Stiles knows that Sara is a werewolf, but he hasn’t told her that he knows. He wants to stay away from all things supernatural while he’s at school. This college is his refuge, a place where the darkness can’t touch him.

“Yeah,” Stiles replies, face stuffed half-full of burger.

“Don’t worry, I’m making sure he changes,” Jacob interjects.

Stiles glances down at his clothes. He’s wearing a drab, green jacket over his black hoodie and a pair of blue jeans. That seems perfectly reasonable to him. “What’s wrong with these?”

Jacob smacks him on the arm. “It’s a Halloween party!”

Oh, right. This past October, Stiles found out that he actually likes Halloween. They never celebrated it in Beacon Hills; they already had to deal with the supernatural on a daily basis. But Stiles likes the chance to dress up as something he’s not and pretend like monsters and magic really are all just make believe.

After dinner, Stiles, Sara, and Jacob head back to their dorm. They all live in the same hall, separated by only a few doors. They go into Stiles’ room, locking the door behind them. Somehow, Stiles ended up with a single, and he keeps it pretty simple. Dark blue sheets on the bed, a couple piles of dirty clothes heaped on the floor and his rolling chair. There’s a picture of him and the Pack on his dresser, everyone grinning except for Derek who absolutely refuses to smile for photos.

Stiles tosses his backpack onto his bed. “So what should I go as?”

“Something sexy,” Jacob suggests instantly.

“Go as a sexy pirate,” Sara adds, latching onto the idea.

“You can borrow my striped pajama pants,” Jacob says, “and stuff the ends of them into your combat boots.”

“I have a little toy sword you can use,” Sara interrupts. “Then we’ll find you an eye patch and a bandana. You’re not allowed to wear a shirt, though.”

Stiles laughs. “Alright, I’ll be a sexy pirate. Now get out of here. I’ve got to grab a shower before we get ready to go.”


 

“Why did we leave the Impala at Bobby’s again?” Sam asks as another string of cold water runs under his collar and down his back.

“Because I don’t trust college students,” Dean reminds him. “I don’t want them trashing my baby.”

“Whatever,” Sam grumbles, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

They arrived in Chicago yesterday evening, having taken the MegaBus due to Dean’s paranoia. The two murders caught Sam’s eye as he was browsing police databases, searching for a new job. The reports say both bodies had been drained of blood, but the police don’t have any suspects yet. Dean and Sam know it’s a vampire.

Following a colorful tour guide map, Sam and Dean make their way over to the dorm building where the second victim died. It’s a little after noon on a Saturday, so Dean’s hoping most of the students will be at lunch, and they’ll be able to snoop around undetected.

They approach the key card activated door just as a girl comes out, popping an umbrella open. Sam catches the door before it can swing shut, and they slip inside, pounding up the stairs until they reach the third floor.

The hallway stretches out in front of them in a straight line, double rows of doors with brightly colored signs illuminated by the stark overhead lights. Sam shakes the water from his thick hair as they start forward.

“I think the room is at the end of the hall,” he says. He doesn’t know what they’ll find in there, but he hopes there’ll be something that will lead them to the vampire.

Halfway down the hall, a door swings open, and a boy with a shock of spikey, brown hair so dark it’s almost black steps out, tugging a backpack higher onto his shoulders. Dean and Sam turn away slightly as he passes, pretending to wring water from their hair.

They arrive at the door marked 315, a construction paper sign reading ‘Kevin’ in reds and oranges plastered across the center. Dean leans up against the wall to keep watch while Sam stoops to pick the lock, his tongue poked out slightly. The door clicks and swings open, revealing a slice of police tape across a black room.

Sam ducks under the tape, Dean close behind him, and they shut the door after them. Dean pulls a small flashlight from his pocket and shines it around the room. The sheets have been striped from the bed, but the police couldn’t quite get the blood out of the mattress, a brown-red stain up near the headboard.

Kevin was apparently into heavy metal bands, judging by the posters on his walls, and Dean nods approvingly at his taste. The police have gone through his dresser and his desk, but other than that, the room seems undisturbed.

“What are we looking for, exactly?” Sam wonders

“I don’t know. Anything that might lead us to the vamp.” Dean shrugs and starts to poke around on top of the desk.

Sam pulls out his own flashlight and crosses over to the bed. He checks underneath it and behind the headboard, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary. He sighs. The vamp could literally be anyone.

“Dude, check this out.”

When Sam turns around, Dean is holding up an orange paper with the words ‘Halloween in April’ written on it in a dripping font.

“What is it?”

“A frat party.” Dean grins wickedly, green eyes glinting.

“No, we’re not going to a college frat party.”

“Come on, man. It’s perfect.” Dean shakes the paper a little. “We can talk to a few people, try and find someone who might have seen something. Maybe the vamp will even show up.”

“You just want to hit on drunk college students.”

Dean’s grin widens, and he doesn’t try to deny it.

It’s not actually a bad idea. It’s better than going door to door down the hall, and a drunken party is the perfect hunting ground for a vampire. “Alright, fine,” he says.

“Yes,” Dean cheers quietly, pumping his fist a little.

“But I’m not dressing up,” Sam says firmly as he walks past Dean and ducks under the police tape again. They close up the room behind them, checking to make sure they weren’t seen.

“You have to, that’s the whole point,” Dean tells him and Sam rolls his eyes.

“What would we even go as? FBI agents?”

“Yeah, why not?” Dean actually kind of likes the idea. Everyone – man or woman – digs a guy in a suit.

They leave the dorm building the same way they came in, and Sam’s dismayed to see that it hasn’t stopped raining. His hair’s still wet from the last time they were outside.

Sam and Dean return to their cheap motel room which is only a few blocks from campus. Dean pulls the key with its gaudy, cat chain from his jacket pocket and unlocks the door with a grimace. Every time he goes into his room, the décor hurts his eyes.

The wallpaper literally has cats on it, like the kind you’d find in an old lady’s calendar. There are cat clocks on the tables and small writing desk, and there are cat shaped pillows on the twin beds covered in cat sheets. Dean has never seen so many cats in one place. They’re lucky there’s not a live one, too.

Dean sheds his wet jacket and drapes it across a 70s style chair with a plastic back as Sam makes a beeline for the bathroom, desperate to stop the water dripping down his neck. Dean peels off his wet shirt, too, and flops down on his bed with a sigh. Sam comes out of the bathroom, still toweling his hair.

He hears a quiet snore coming from Dean’s prone form, impressed as always by his brother’s unfailing ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere, in less than a second. He boots up his computer and sits down at the small dining table, content to do research until Dean wakes up and demands to be fed.

 

With a snort, Dean comes back to life, lifting his head and blinking blearily at the clock. It’s nearly dinnertime, and he rubs at his eyes; that was one of the longest naps he’s ever taken. He’s finally remembering how to sleep after the disaster that was Lucifer and the Apocalypse.

He glances over at the other bed and sees that Sam is engrossed with his computer, a fan of papers spread out around him and a pencil in his mouth. His eyes flicker briefly in Dean’s direction. “Morning, Sleeping Beauty.”

Dean makes a sound between a groan and a muffled insult, and Sam smirks. He spits the pencil from his mouth and lets it drop, shutting his laptop and sliding it off his leg. “Rise and shine. Let’s go get dinner.”

“Will you bring me something?” Dean mumbles.

“No. Get up.”

Dean sighs heavily. He rolls slowly off the bed, catching himself on his legs just before he hits the ground. He and Sam stand at the same time and move towards the door, slinging still damp jackets on. Outside, the rain splashes across the ground, glowing in the neon sign coming off the motel’s sign.

Sam sighs. “We really need to get an umbrella.”

They end up eating at a small Mom and Pop diner just off of campus. “I bet we could scam some free food from the dining hall,” Dean says as they pass the well-lit hall on their way to the restaurant.

“You need an ID card to get in,” Sam reminds him. “And anyways, we’re already getting free food with our fake credit cards.”

“Oh, yeah.” Dean grins.

When Sam and Dean enter the small, clean diner, they stand on the welcome mat for a few seconds to shake the water from their hair and jackets. A woman in a flowing, blue blouse comes up to them and smiles, clip board in hand.

“Table for two?”

“Yeah,” Dean replies. “Thanks.”

He leaves a trail of water on the tile floor as he follows the hostess across the restaurant to a corner table. She sets two laminated menus down in front of them and leaves with a second smile.

As always, Dean gets a hamburger, cooked medium rare, with cheese and extra bacon. Sam orders a salad with walnuts and chicken and raises an eyebrow when Dean’s plate arrives, piled high and oozing juices. He learned long ago not to criticize Dean’s eating habits.

There’s also pie, and Dean has to have four slices, each a different kind. He also refuses to talk until he’s finished them all. Sam pays the bill with one of their fake credit cards, and they head back out into the rain, making their way back to the motel. Dean scowls as he shoves the door to their room open. “I swear I’m going to burn everything in here before we leave.”

“I’ll help you,” Sam promises.

They pass the next few hours trying to dig up any possible lead on the vampire’s identity. Dean thinks it has to be a university student, but that means thousands of possible suspects. They’re going to need to get up close and personal with the college kids, try to find that little nugget of information that ends up being key.

Eventually, eleven o’clock rolls around, and Sam and Dean unfold their black suits. Over the years, Dean has come to realize the value of the fancy, black suit. It helps him get into places he wouldn’t normally be able to get into. People listen to him when he wears the black suit. Also – and this is the best part – he looks really, really good when he wears it.

He tucks his fake badge into the suit’s pocket and rakes a comb through his blonde hair, spiking the front up. He slips that into a different pocket.

Sam comes out of the bathroom, smoothing the front of his jacket. He locks up after they leave, putting the garish key into his pocket, glad that it has finally stopped raining.


 

Stiles stares at himself in the mirror, impressed by the costume his friends managed to scrounge up in less than a half an hour. He’s wearing Jacob’s red and white striped pajamas pants, the ends tucked into his big, black combat boots. Sara tied one of her black scarves around his waist and gave him a toy cutlass that’s about the length of his forearm. She also randomly happened to have a plastic eye patch in her sock drawer, and a red bandana completes the ensemble.

He’s filled out over the past year, thanks to the free university gym, meaning he’s not embarrassed to go to a party shirtless. He’s also lucky he doesn’t have too many scars on the outside, so he doesn’t have to constantly explain them to people. He has a long one across the side of his ribs from a rogue werewolf, but he passes it off as a lacrosse accident, saying that a stick snapped during practice and slashed him up.

“Damn,” Sara whistles. “You look great.”

“Arr, shiver me timbers.” Stiles shakes his little cutlass and gives a fake snarl.

Sara very obviously checks him out and a slow smile spreads across her face. Stiles winks at her a little flirtatiously.

Jacob decides to dress up as a Jedi, and Sara straps a pair of purple wings to her back, complimenting them with a short, black dress and a lot of sparkly, purple make-up.

Just after eleven, they saunter out of the dorm, and Stiles is glad to see that it’s finally stopped raining. It would be no fun at all to go to a party soaking wet. Stiles is amazed that Sara can walk in her four inch heels on the slick sidewalks, but she motors along just fine beside them.

The frat house is a few streets over, maybe a ten-minute walk. There’s music and light blasting from the three-story building when they arrive at the end of the road, and people are streaming towards it from every direction like moths to a lantern.

Stiles shows his ID to the scantily clad Michael Phelps at the door, and the man draws a blue X on the back of his hand, marking him as an underclassman. Not that it matters. It’s easy enough to get drinks if you know how to smile.

Inside, the music is literally shaking the glass window panes, so loud that Stiles can’t make out the lyrics or even the melody. But the beat is strong, and he can already feel his body beginning to sway to it.

Jacob seizes both his and Sara’s hands and drags them towards the dance floor and the flashing strobe lights. They merge into the crowd seamlessly, and the music sweeps over Stiles. His hips begin to sway, and he lifts his arms into the air, head bobbing.

Several songs later, he shouts in Jacob’s ear that he’s going to get a drink and weaves his way out of the grind of dancers. He swaggers over to the bar and smiles at the bartender, a young woman dressed as a Ghostbuster. “Can I get a beer?” he asks her, shouting slightly.

She nods and spins around on what look like Heelys, gliding over to the wall of drinks. She wobbles a little as she goes, obviously already intoxicated.

As he waits, Stiles turns and surveys the crowd. A pair of men immediately catch his eye. They stand along the wall, dressed in black suits, and awkwardly not mingling with the rest of the party-goers. The one on the left is the tallest man Stiles has ever seen, taller even than Derek who is pretty much the biggest person Stiles knows. His brown hair is thick and long, and his shoulders are probably as wide as two Stiles standing side by side.

The other man is a few inches shorter, and he holds an entire try of cheese and crackers in one hand, stuffing them into his mouth with the other. Stiles eyes the way his shoulders taper down to his waist.

The men – because they seem just a little older than the rest of the college students – look around the room. The blonde man’s gaze lands on Stiles, and Stiles quickly drops his eyes. The Ghostbuster bartender hands him a plastic cup full of amber liquid, and he gives her a wink and a grin in thanks.

He raises the cup to his lips as he turns around and nearly splashes the whole thing over his face. The blonde man is suddenly right beside him, leaning on the bar and grinning just enough to be intriguing. He’s almost as pretty as Derek. He has a face like a prince out of a fairytale and apple green eyes, and his blonde hair is perked up into a perfect spike.

“Hello,” he says and pulls a leather wallet out of his pocket. He flips it open, revealing an FBI badge. “I’m Agent Hamill. Mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Laughing, Stiles reaches out and plucks the badge from the blonde man’s fingers. “That’s funny. If this were a real badge, there would be eight numbers on your ID code, not ten, and Hamill is the last name of the actor who played Luke Skywalker.”

The blonde man takes his badge back, tucking it inside his jacket and pretending he’s not slightly flustered. “Well, it is a Halloween party.” He flashes Stiles a grin. “I’m Dean. And you are?”

Stiles takes the hand that’s offered to him, noting the rough callouses across his palm. “Stiles. I’m Stiles.”

The grin comes again, accompanied by a glint in his eye. “Nice to meet you. What year are you?”

“I’m a freshman. Well, technically, I graduated a year early from high school. So now I’m here. As a freshman.” Shit, there goes Stiles’ mouth again.

“That’s awesome.” The blonde man, Dean, seems quite impressed. “I graduated last year, but I’m hanging around to work on the paper for awhile.”

“Oh, wow. What section do you write for?”

“I float around.” The Ghostbuster just hands Dean a drink without him having to ask for it, and his answering smile makes her go pink. Stiles is pretty sure he turns the same color when Dean looks back at him. “I’m actually working on a story about the two murders right now.”

“What’s that like?” Stiles asks, though he’s pretty sure he already knows. It’s dark, and it’s horrifying.

Dean’s smile fades a little. “It’s not really what I expected it would be. It’s been pretty disturbing.”

“I bet.” Stiles sips at his drink, and the cheap beer is bitter on his tongue. “I actually live in the same hall as Kevin. He’s just a few doors down from me.”

“Really?” Dean doesn’t actually sound very surprised. “Did you know him well?”

Stiles shakes his head. “Only in passing. We’d say hi when we passed each other in the hall, but that was about it. Kevin was kind of a loner. He didn’t really interact much with anyone.”

Dean nods like that was what he’d expected. “Over the days leading up to his death, did you notice anyone new or strange hanging around his room?”

Stiles pauses to think. If he were investigating the death, he would be asking the same question. Has he seen anyone suspicious around? Back in Beacon Hills, he was always on the lookout for signs of the supernatural or the dangerous. Since he’s been at school, he’s stopped looking, wanting to be normal.

“Maybe.” His memory works to dig up the past few weeks. Suddenly, the wires connect, and the lights come on behind his eyes. “Actually, yeah. The night before he was killed, there was a man in a leather jacket hanging around the hall. I’d never seen him before. I didn’t think much of it, because I just assumed he was someone’s friend from another hall.”

“What did he look like?” Dean asks, failing to keep a note of eagerness from his voice.

Stiles closes his eyes and casts back through the threads that tie his past together. He follows a red string back to the night he saw the strange man. The scene swims into focus before his mind’s-eye.

“He was tall, maybe as tall as you. He wore battered jeans, a white tank top, and a leather jacket. His hair was long and black, slicked back with an obscene amount of gel.  His face was pale, his nose long, and he had dark eyes.”

When Stiles open his eyes, Dean is staring at him with obvious amazement. “That was incredible.”

Stiles turns hot. “I kind of have a photographic memory.”

“That’s awesome.” Dean flashes him another one of those killer smiles. “Have you seen him anywhere else?”

“What kind of story are you writing?” Stiles asks. He thinks that the school paper would want a profile on who Kevin and the other victim were, not a piece speculating who the killer might be.

Dean shrugs. “I’m just trying to get as much information as possible.” That grin comes again as if to wash Stiles’ suspicions away. “So have you? Seen him around?”

Stiles dives back into the threads, pulling them apart, following them through their twists and turns to their intersections and dead ends, but he comes up empty. He slides back into the present and tucks the threads away, shivering at the cold memories of his supernatural investigations that the threads dredged up.

He meets Dean’s eyes and shakes his head apologetically. “No, sorry. That’s the only time I’ve seen him.”

They both take drinks of their beer, practically in unison. Stiles is suddenly very aware that he’s not wearing a shirt and he’s talking to a very attractive man – even if that man isn’t Derek Hale. He’s not sure why he’s so self-conscious, but he quickly looks down at his cup as if there’s some answer there. There’s not, of course.

“What else can you tell me about Kevin?” Dean asks.

“Like I said, I didn’t really know him,” Stiles answers.

“Does he have any friends I could talk to?”

“Sorry,” Stiles says. “As far as I know, he kept to himself.”

“Well, thanks anyways.” Dean finishes his drink and sets the cup down on the bar. “It was great to meet you, Stiles.” He gives Stiles one more of his award-winning smiles and turns to leave. Before he takes two steps, though, he pauses and spins back around. “Hey, would you like to grab a drink with my brother and me sometime?”

Stiles stares at him, shocked. “Uh, yeah, uh. I’d love to. That sounds great. Yeah. Sure. Um, here, let me give you my number.”

Dean passes his phone over, and Stiles quickly adds his contact information. “Here you go,” he says as he gives Dean his phone back. “That’s me. Stiles Stilinski.”

“Fantastic.” Dean puts the device away. “I’ll shoot you a text in a few days.”

Once again, Stiles feels his face heat up. Dean is really good-looking and has a really cute smile which he is once again pointing in Stiles’ direction. “Great,” Stiles stutters. “Awesome. Looking forward to it. Thanks.” He doesn’t know what he’s thanking Dean for.

“I’ve got to go find my brother,” Dean says. “Got to make sure he’s not doing anything I wouldn’t do.” He lets out a laugh. “Actually, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do.”

Stiles watches as he saunters away, admiring the way his ass fills out his pants. He feels a little guilty, like he’s betraying Derek, but the view is too good to pass up.

“Who was that?”

Stiles jumps violently, nearly spilling the remainder of his drink down his bare chest. Jacob has appeared at his elbow, his mouth practically on Stiles’ ear.

“Shit, man, don’t do that!” Stiles exclaims. “You nearly gave me a heart attack!”

“Sorry. Not sorry. So who was that?”

“His name is Dean. He asked for my number.”

“Dude, nice!” Jacob slaps Stiles’ shoulders. In the time they’ve been apart, Jacob has obviously found several drinks. “Get it!”

They rejoin the dance floor, but Stiles can’t stop glancing around every five minutes to look for Dean, though the blonde man seems to have disappeared. A small rock of disappointment lodges itself in his stomach, but he pushes it aside to enjoy the party.

They dance for a long time, their bodies flowing with the pounding beats, and it’s well after two a.m. when they finally stumble out of the frat house. Jacob is completely inebriated, and Stiles and Sara have to support him all the way back to the dorm.

Stiles deposits Jacob in his bed before heading back to his own room. He slowly peels off his borrowed costume, dropping each piece to the floor. He falls into bed in his boxers, rejecting the blankets as he slips down into darkness.