July 3, 2014

Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here 22/32

Title: Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Rating: NC-17
Authors: Sxymami0909 and Xtremeroswellia
Timeline: Takes place 1 year after the end of ‘Beyond The Sea’
Series: Post Finale AU
Pairings: Stiles/Lydia, Scott/Kira, Isaac Lahey, Sheriff Stilinski, Melissa McCall, Chris Argent, Derek Hale, Cora Hale, Aiden, Ethan, Danny, Braeden, Alan Deaton, Peter Hale, Malia Tate-Hale, mentions of Scott/Allison, mentions of Derek/Lydia, mentions of Stiles/Braeden
Part: 22/32
Summary: The one year anniversary of Allison's death is right around the corner just in time for a new threat to make it's way to Beacon Hills. With Lydia's banshee powers growing, and dead bodies piling up near the Nemeton, Scott and his pack need to work together to figure out who's behind the latest attacks and what knew evil is on the lose. Tension is mounting in the pack and relationships will be tested when an old ally returns to town with information that could help the pack. But can the pack trust their old friend or has the year passed hardened him to a point of no return?
Author's Note: This is a Stydia story, but it's a slow burn because a lot needs to be rebuilt and there are mentions of other couples and other friendships along the way. One year has passed between this story and 'Beyond the Sea'. You will get to see the missing year in a series of one-shots taking place between 'Beyond the Sea' and this story later on.
Previous Chapters: One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten |
Eleven | Twelve | Thirteen | Fourteen | Fifteen | Sixteen | Seventeen | Eighteen | 
Nineteen |Twenty |Twenty-One |

Chapter 22

The air was cold and the light material of her dress did nothing to fight the chill in the dark, damp tunnels. Her hands curled around the bars of the door as she tried to block out the voices swimming through her head. Her cheeks were slick with tears and she pulled at the bars harder a shiver running down her spine as voices taunted her in her head.

Lydia closed her eyes, her breathing shaky. This couldn't be happening again. It wasn't real. Her stomach was filled with knots as she felt his body behind her, cold hands gripping her hair as he pressed his cheek against hers. Lydia shivered gripping tighter to the bars a small noise leaving her throat. And then his hands were gone and when her eyes flew open she was alone in the small room beneath Eichen house. The sound of pounding footsteps making her frown. She spotted Scott and Stiles and fear slammed into her. It was happening again. They were coming to save her instead of listening to what she was telling them. Lydia stepped forward, telling them to get back upstairs to save Allison, but it was like they didn't even hear her.

Lydia’s heart slammed against her chest and she pushed past Scott and Stiles running up the stairs and heading for the hallway. But it was endless. She stopped, trying to catch her breath and when she did, Stiles was calling out to her. Lydia whipped her head around and watched as he stumbled down the tunnel. She reached for him automatically helping him as he fell to the ground.

She turned watching Scott run down the hall and frowned, knowing he wouldn't make it in time. Lydia closed her eyes. This was wrong. She didn't want to see this, didn't want to be here. She was kneeling down beside Stiles squeezing her eyes shut and covering her ears as a scream sounded from what sounded like her throat.

The second the scream ended silence surrounded her. After a minute she dropped her hands hesitantly and her eyes fluttered open only to find that she was in the Stilinski house. Lydia pushed herself up slowly confusion filling her face. “Hello?” she called out as she walked towards the doorway pausing and glancing out into the hallway.

Lydia ran her hands up and down her arms swallowing hard. She stepped out into the hallway and walked towards the steps. “Scott? Stiles?...Isaac?” She gripped the railing and started walking down the stairs slowly.

Lydia finally made it down the stairs pausing when she heard a sound coming from the kitchen. Her breathing was finally starting to calm down as she walked to the kitchen only to stop short at the sight in front of her.

Stiles was standing near the kitchen table putting stuff in a duffle bag. Lydia frowned. “What are you doing?” She asked her chest tightening. 

“What does it look like I’m doing?” he asked, not bothering to look up at her as he tucked things into the bag.

Lydia pursed her lips at his tone. “It looks like you’re packing a bag,” she said her heartbeat picking up speed, the churning in her stomach making it difficult to be sarcastic at the moment. Lydia took a step forward and then another, “Why, where are you going?”

“Away,” Stiles told her, arching his eyebrows. “As far away from this place as I can get. Before it ends up killing me.”

Lydia opened her mouth and then closed it, “But you said,” she paused, “You said you were staying...You promised you wouldn't leave again.” Lydia swallowed hard to moisten her throat as she felt her heart clench. This had to be some kind of a joke. She stepped forward and placed a hesitant hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “What about Scott and the pack?” She asked her heartbeat echoing in her ears, “What about me?” She whispered.

“You don’t need me. You have Derek.” There was more than a hint of bitterness in his voice. “And Scott doesn't need me either. He has you and Derek and Isaac.” He shrugged. “You’ll be fine.”

Lydia’s grip tightened on him. “I do need you.” She said immediately, panic curling inside of her. “You can’t leave. You said you wouldn't leave again.” She shifted moving herself between him and his bag trying to get him to look at her. “Stiles,” she paused, “I love you.” Lydia told him her voice quiet and shaky. “You can’t leave. You said you loved me too,” she added as she reached out to him, the familiar sensation of her chest growing heavy as several different emotions pooled inside of her.

“I lied,” Stiles said simply. “I got over you a long time ago, Lydia. I just needed your help to stop the daevas. I never intended to stay. Not for Scott or even for my dad. He has a new family now.” He shrugged. “You’re all worth saving, but I have no reason to stay.”

His words were like a slap in the face and she flinched, “You don’t mean that.” She whispered, her voice wavering, “You said,” she paused her breathing picking up speed as she took a step back, “We...you told me you were staying.” She said again dumbstruck. Lydia pressed a hand to her stomach, a wave of nausea filling her. “I felt you, you can’t lie about that.” The words were a last ditch effort to try and make sense of what was happening even as her emotions starting spiraling out of control inside of her.

“And what do you feel from me now?” Stiles asked, voice cold, distant, matching the look in his eyes.

Lydia tried to reach out to him through their connection, but nothing happened. Her heart clenched she couldn't feel him, not even the tiniest glimmer of him. “Nothing.” She mumbled. “I can’t feel anything. What did you do?” She stepped forward, “You can’t do this...you need me, just like I need you.” Lydia tried reaching out to him again, resting a hand on his chest. “We balance each other out Stiles you know that, you've seen that.” She said her words rushing together as she tried to control what she was feeling and not let it control her.

“Please don’t go, don’t leave again,” she all but begged moisture filling her eyes.

“I’m already gone,” he informed her, fading away right in front of her.

Lydia’s body fell forward when he disappeared and she used the table to catch herself a loud sob wracking her body as pain sliced through her chest. She tried to suck in a breath, but she couldn't. Her chest was tight and the urge to scream was overwhelming. The heaviness in her chest was getting to the point where she could no longer stop herself from shoving the emotions from her body, the force of them bursting out around her as she threw back her head and screamed, hands coming up to grip her head.

Lydia could feel the pack, all of them crumbling with the force of the emotions she had shoved at them, not able to control it. She fell to her knees the pain intensifying as each one of them collapsed wherever they were. Oh god, she was doing that, she was killing them. This couldn't be real, it wasn't real.

Lydia thrashed against the sheets, her sweat slicked skin sticking to the material as her body twisted in the covers. Her palms fisted themselves in the sheets before she was startled awake, a terrifyingly loud scream bursting from her lips, fear permeating the air around her as she sobbed.


He was in Deaton’s clinic and outside it was pouring rain, lightning streaking the sky and lighting up the dark room briefly until it flickered out. There was goosebumps on Stiles’ skin, a chill running down his spine at the eerie familiarity of everything.

He couldn't be back here. Not again. He couldn't do this again.

Stiles’ hand shot out, gripping onto Kira’s wrist painfully tight, and he watched from inside his own body as he rammed her head against the table, knocking her unconscious so that she was unable to help the person he really wanted to harm.

No. No no no. He tried to scream, but no sound escaped his mouth as he saw the sudden realization -- the sudden fear flash over his best friend’s face as Stiles moved toward him.

His heart was beating hard in his chest. “Okay?” he murmured. He curled his hand around the handle of the katana, looking into Scott’s eyes and twisting it in his stomach.

But then he was suddenly at the nemeton. The abrupt change of scenery was not only confusing, but also disorienting and he looked around, watching as Scott approached with a smile on his face.

He felt it. Felt the Nogitsune inside of him, felt his own hand curling around a knife in his jeans pocket. A knife laced with wolfsbane. Oh god.


No, this couldn't happen. Not Scott. Not like this. Not because of him.

He tried to protest, to shout a warning to his best friend to go back. To run away, but Scott was quickly closing the distance between them and Stiles’ heart was racing.

Scott jogged the rest of the way towards his best friend, pausing a couple of feet in front of him as he glanced sideways at the nemeton, “I came as soon as I got your message, what did you find?” He asked with half a smile as he took a step closer to Stiles, unaware of his friend’s hand in his pocket or the odd look on his face.

“So glad you could join us, Scottie.” He felt his mouth twisting into a sick smile as he reached out and laid a hand on Scott’s shoulder.

Scott frowned his gaze slowly shifting to the hand on his shoulder before he glanced back at Stiles. His chest tightened as he caught his best friends gaze, the lack of warmth there clear in the way he was staring at him.

“Stiles...this isn't you,” he whispered, “Fight it, you can fight it. I believe in you.” He insisted trying to bring his best friend forth.

“This is who I am. Who I've always been,” Stiles told him coldly, raising the knife to eye level and shoving Scott hard into the nemeton, watching as he sprawled atop it. “I’m just doing what has to be done. Keeping the balance. It’s what she taught me.”

Fear filled Scott’s eyes, “No, you’re my best friend, you don’t have to do this. This isn't balance Stiles...I've never hurt anyone you know,” he swallowed hard, “God I knew it, I knew when you came back that she ruined you, turned you into some kind of murderer.” He said as he stared at his best friend. “If there’s any piece of the old Stiles left...then let me go, let me go and we’ll forget this ever happened.” Scott told him searching his friends’ face, hoping that he could read him.

“This is all there is. End of the line, Scott. One of us has to go, and I’m not as self-sacrificing as I used to be,” Stiles informed him even as everything inside him screamed to stop as he pressed the tip of the blade over Scott’s heart. “It needs blood. It’s the only way to stop it.” He arched his eyebrows. “Don’t you feel it? It’s screaming for our blood.”

Scott could feel the tip of the blade against his chest and his heart clenched, “Please don’t Stiles, please.” He would not fight his best friend, he would not hurt him. Scott didn't have it in him to do that.

“I don’t have a choice,” he said, staring into his eyes and shoving the blade into his best friend’s heart.

Stiles woke up abruptly, the sound of his own screaming mixing with Lydia’s. His whole body was drenched in sweat, and pain shot through him as he stumbled out of bed, nearly tripping over Scott and Kira on the floor.

Scott was standing in seconds as the sound of Stiles and Lydia screaming hit his ears painfully. He winced and gripped his best friend’s shoulders keeping him from hitting the ground. “Stiles...STILES,” He shouted as Kira sat up her heart racing at the noise.

She pushed herself up and glanced between Scott and Stiles not sure what was happening.

Scott steadied his friend. “It’s okay Stiles, it’s okay.” He mumbled soothingly.

There were tears in Stiles’ wide eyes as he tried to pull away from Scott, even as Kira moved up to the bed and put an arm around Lydia.

“No, no, no, you have to go go, you have to get away from me,” Stiles muttered, shaking as he stumbled back from Scott, putting his arms up as if to block his friend coming any closer. His back hit the wall hard and he shuddered, rubbing his hands over his face.

Scott frowned as he took a step towards Stiles, pounding feet on the steps sounding behind him. He knew the screams had woken up the rest of the pack, but he was really hoping to be able to calm Stiles down before they burst through the doors. “Stiles everything is okay, you just had a nightmare, that’s all, everything is okay now, I swear,” he told him softly as he took another step towards his best friend his gaze shifting slightly towards Kira just in time to see Lydia pull away from his girlfriend and move in the opposite direction of all of them, huddling in the corner of the room.

Scott held in a sigh as he held up his hands, his gaze on Stiles again. “Dude, I need you to take a deep breath and tell me what happened.” He said quietly.

Stiles’ face was drained of all color, and he wasn't aware of anything going on around him save for the images still flashing through his mind. “Check on her,” he whispered. “Just...go check on Lydia.” He swallowed convulsively, afraid he was going to throw up.

“Scott?” Kira’s voice was full of worry and she moved over to him, resting a hand lightly on his back.

Scott swallowed hard, “Kira please go tell the other’s everything is okay,” he said quietly, “His gaze darting to Lydia, pain from both of them filling his chest, “And get Derek,” Stiles needed him right now even if he didn't want to admit it and he couldn't be two places at once.

“Of course,” Kira agreed immediately, moving away from him and heading for the door where the rest of the pack was lingering with worried looks.

Scott shifted towards Stiles. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here Stiles and I need you to focus on what’s happening right now. Please look at me and take a deep breath.” He said quietly trying to get his friend to listen to him.

Stiles’ breathing was uneven, eyes shut tightly. “I killed you,” he whispered, voice strained. “I killed you, Scott.”

Scott swallowed hard, “Okay, but it was a dream. You didn't really hurt me, I’m right here.” He ran a hand down his body. “Look, one piece, perfectly fine. Sort of worried about you, but other than that I’m in perfect health.” He told his friend trying to lightly the mood in the room. He took another step toward him.

“Stiles listen to me, I don’t know what’s going on in your head, but I need you to try and push it aside. I’ll help you work through it...But I need you to let me help. Okay?” He asked reaching out and resting a hesitant hand on his best friend’s shoulder.

Stiles flinched but didn't pull away. He also didn't reach out and touch Scott, either. He drew in a shaky breath and let it out slowly; trying to push away the growing urge he had to get the hell out of the room, and out of the loft. He could go and stay with Braeden. Scott would be safe. He wouldn't be able to hurt him, even accidentally. Even now he could smell blood in his nostrils and he looked down at his hands, expecting to see it there, too.

Scott saw him flinch and he could hear the sound of his friend’s frantic heartbeat. His chest tightened, “Tell me what I can do. How can I help?” He asked his voice quiet knowing there were other people outside. He could hear Kira talking to them in a hushed voice.

Stiles swallowed heavily. “Do you feel it?” he whispered, voice barely audible. “Do you still feel it?”

Scott frowned not certain what Stiles was talking about, “Do I feel what?” He asked worry coloring his features.

“The nemeton.” He scrubbed his hands over his face. “Can you feel it now?” Because he did, and he was terrified. Terrified that his dream was some kind of screwed up prophecy.

Scott frowned, “I feel the pull when I’m near it,” he admitted, “But...I can’t feel it from here Stiles. I mean there’s always going to be that darkness...that pull, but the more time that passes the easier it is for me to fight.” He explained.

Then it was just him. Was that why he’d had the dream? Why he’d called Scott there to sacrifice him to the nemeton so it would leave Stiles alone? Jesus. That couldn't happen. He couldn't let that happen. And he couldn't go back to sleep tonight. He couldn't risk it. “What time is it?” He asked, jaw tightening even as he rubbed a hand over it.

It took Scott a minute to follow the abrupt change in topic. He glanced over at the clock near Cora’s bed, “Just after four in the morning,” he told him quietly. “Do you want to try and head back to sleep?” He asked softly. “Or maybe go for a walk with me?”

“No more sleep,” Stiles said immediately. “Not tonight.” He drew in a breath. “But it’s not safe out. It’s dark.” There was anxiety in his voice that hadn't really been there the whole time he’d been back.

Scott could feel the anxiety coming from Stiles and he nodded. “Okay, why don’t we just take a walk right inside the apartment building? Maybe a few treks up and down the stairs will do us some good,” he suggested. “What do you think?” Scott cocked his head to the side as he rubbed the back of his neck.

Stiles raked a hand through his hair, but nodded slightly, chewing his lower lip as he tried to focus on calming his heart that was still beating all too quickly, making him feel panicky. A walk would be good, he thought absently, slowly pushing himself away from the wall.

A hint of relief filled Scott when Stiles agreed to take a walk. “Great, I’m just going to grab my sneakers and then we’ll go,” he said lightly squeezing his friend’s shoulder. Scott was pretty sure he’d left them downstairs. “Meet me downstairs in five?” He asked.

“Yeah. Yeah, five minutes,” He agreed, swallowing hard and nodding. He could wait for five minutes. He moved over to the bed, pulling his shoes out from underneath it and pressing a hand to his stomach momentarily as pain flickered through him at the motion. He quickly put his tennis shoes on.

Scott moved through the door and out into the hallway pausing when he saw everyone was still there. He motioned to the stairs and nodded for them to go down waiting until everyone headed down before making his way down too. “Everything is okay,” he said quietly, “Sorry you were all woken up; we’re taking care of it.” He told them while moving over to the couch where he’d left his sneakers.

“Stiles okay?” Isaac asked, concern in his voice as he sat down on the arm of the sofa.

Scott glanced up at the stairs, “Not really,” he commented, “But we’re going to go for a walk, try to get rid of some of the anxiety,” he answered as he pulled his shoes on. He straightened up and turned to Isaac, sending him half a tired smile.

“And Lydia?” Isaac glanced at Scott and then up toward the stairs.

Scott hesitated and then winced, his hand going to the back of his head, “I haven’t-- I’m not sure.” He said with a sigh. Okay, so he was a terrible friend. He hadn’t even checked on Lydia and he knew how bad her nightmares were sometimes. He ran a hand over his face, but Stiles’ were bad too and despite the fact that everyone was coming around on Stiles being back and being a part of the pack, Scott knew his best friend wouldn't feel comfortable letting anyone else in. Hell, he was barely comfortable letting Scott in since he got back. Right now Stiles just needed him more.

“She’s with Derek,” Kira said softly, as if sensing what was going through his mind. She had helped the trembling girl out of Cora’s room and to Derek while Scott was talking to Stiles. “She’ll be alright.”

Scott sent Kira a thankful look and leaned over pressing a kiss to the side of her head, “Thank you,” he said quietly. The words didn't seem like enough. Kira had put up with a lot of Scott’s crap and she was still there being patient with him. When this whole thing was over he was going to make all this crap up to her.

Kira smiled softly at him, reassurance that everything was fine and that she wasn't upset. She understood. She rubbed his back as she heard footsteps coming down the stairs slowly and turned to see Stiles, looking very pale and shaken, now dressed in a different shirt and his shoes with his sweat pants.

Scott turned and glanced up at the stairs watching Stiles make his way down, “Ready to go?” He asked keeping his tone light.

Stiles’ only response was a short nod as he raked a hand through his hair, making a beeline for the door, feeling like he was on the verge of suffocation even though he’d taken two Xanax before he’d come down. He had to pull himself together.

Scott watched his friend go and sighed. He glanced around the room, “Anyone else want to come with us?” He asked lightly.

No one said a word, looking around at one another silently and worriedly.

Scott nodded, gave Kira’s arm a light squeeze and then then made his way towards the door and out after his friend hoping the walk would do them both some good.

Derek sat on the edge of his bed, one arm wrapped around Lydia’s shoulders. “What happened?” His voice was quiet as he rubbed his hand up and down her arm. “Talk to me.”

Lydia shook her head, “I don’t want to.” She said quietly a shiver running through her body as she closed her eyes and swallowed hard, her eyes red from crying. Lydia was even more tired than before she went to bed and her entire nightmare had shaken her to her very core. It was like everything that worried her was all piled into one neat package and it scared the living hell out of her.

Derek pursed his lips, not wanting to push her. He drew in a breath and wound his other arm around her as well, pulling her close as he leaned back against the headboard of his bed. He had a feeling that whatever she’d dreamt about related a lot to the date on the calendar. It had been one year ago today, that Allison had died.

Lydia was silent for a few minutes before swallowing hard. “I want to go home.” She said quietly.

Derek blinked a couple of times. “What do you mean?” he asked carefully.

“I mean I want to go home. I’m tired of everything I just want--I need,” Lydia paused, “I need a break.” She hesitated, “I feel like I’m losing it. No matter how much I sleep I’m still tired. I’m barely hungry, I keep miraculously developing crazy new abilities and these nightmares...I just need to be. I need one normal night. I need,” her words were cut off as she started getting worked up. “I don’t even know what I need.” Lydia said squeezing her eyes shut.

Derek rubbed a hand over her back gently, troubled by the fact that she was wanting to get away from the pack when things were so up in the air. And also troubled that she and Stiles had had simultaneous nightmares they’d woke up screaming from. That just couldn't be a good thing. “What if you stay here the rest of the morning? Until daybreak? With me,” he suggested quietly. “And then we’ll talk to Scott and figure out a plan.”

Lydia was silent for a long moment. “Having me here just puts you guys at risk.” She told him quietly. “It would probably be better if I was somewhere I couldn't hurt anyone,” she mumbled. “I don’t want to hurt anyone…” She swallowed heavily to moisten her throat, her grip on him tightening, “And I let him back in too soon. Way too soon. He has too much control over what I feel and what if I can’t control that and then,” Lydia sucked in a sharp breath.

Her words were all jumbled together and most likely not making sense, but they made sense to her. She couldn't control her abilities. She couldn't save Allison, she’d barely managed to save Derek and Stiles had the ability to either make everything inside of her calm or make her emotions rage like she’d never seen them, which was how everyone got hurt last time. Lydia was a liability.

Derek was quiet for a moment as he thought. “Would you rather he shut it off again? The connection? Would that be easier for you emotionally even if it makes it harder with your new abilities?”

“He turned it off in my dream,” she admitted quietly. “He left...told me he lied and didn't love me and then just...left. And I…” Lydia’s chest tightened, “I hurt everyone,” she whispered. “I hurt all of you because I couldn't control what I am.” Lydia shook her head. “I’m never going to figure this out everyone I love is going to keep on dying and I’m just going to keep being useless.” She told him her voice quiet.

“I just really need a break Derek; I need what I can never have. I need to just be normal for a little while. I need to not have to worry that every time I get scared or angry that someone is going to feel that and get hurt. I’m constantly trying to repress everything I feel so it doesn't overwhelm me or anyone else and it’s exhausting.” Lydia pursed her lips, “I try not to complain or bother anyone because everyone is dealing with stuff and I don’t want to be a burden.” She sighed, “But it never stops and I’m just so tired,” she whispered, tears in her eyes.

“It was a dream,” Derek said gently. “But we can figure this out. We’ll start looking into ways to help control your abilities through methods other than counting on Stiles.” Just in case he did decide to split. Or in case something happened to him. “There has to be a way.”

Lydia nodded. “Can we just...can we just pretend for a little while. No banshees, no crazy shadow animals trying to kill people. I just want a couple of hours of peace.” She wanted to be able to try and relax and be sad and miss Allison, because she hadn’t forgotten what day it was.

“Yeah. We can definitely pretend,” he assured her, resting his head against hers.

Lydia let out a breath and sighed as she shifted, leaning into him. She was quiet for a minute tapping her finger anxiously against his chest, “Derek?”

“Yeah?” His voice was soft.

Lydia bit her bottom lip. “Why is it so easy for me to trust you and not Stiles?” She asked. She loved Stiles, more than she probably should after everything that had happened, yet whenever something went wrong or she was upset or hurt she went to Derek. It used to always be Stiles who fixed things for her and yet going to him was not her go to thing anymore and Lydia was smart enough to realize it was because she still didn't fully trust him.

His words from her nightmare echoed in her head, you don’t need me, you have Derek. Lydia wondered if Stiles actually felt that way, if she’d made him feel that way. Her chest tightened at the thought. She hoped not because it was the furthest thing from the truth. She needed Stiles more than anyone.

Derek was silent for a few seconds before he answered carefully. “Because I haven’t broken your heart and he has,” he answered finally. “And you don’t want to get hurt again.”

“I don’t,” Lydia agreed. “You’re not planning on running off in the middle of the night are you?” She asked lightly, “Because while it won’t break my heart it will definitely make me violent.” She tried joking, but the truth was it would break her heart, just in a different way than Stiles leaving. “I wonder what Allison would think about you being my best friend,” she whispered, “God, I miss her.” Lydia said quietly bouncing back and forth between topics.

Derek pursed his lips. “I don’t plan on going anywhere,” he said honestly. “And we definitely can’t have you being violent.” Now his voice was a little lighter. He did pause at her out loud ponderance, though. He and Allison had never really been friends, though they’d fought together on more than one occasion. He wondered what Allison would think about him becoming friends with her dad, too. “We all do.”

Lydia nodded as she yawned, “I think she’d like this version of you,” she said her eyes fluttering slightly. She didn't want to go back to sleep, she didn't want to dream so she did her best to fight the wave of tiredness that pulled at her. “I need to talk to Chris; she wants me to tell him something.” She mumbled. “Say something, I don’t want to fall asleep.” Lydia said as she yawned again.

Derek considered that, reaching out and flipping his lamp on to a low setting and picking up his book. Without further hesitation, he began to read to her, speaking quietly so as not to disturb anyone else who might have gone back to sleep. He just hoped this would help, somehow.

Even after six trips up and down the stairs in an attempt to ward off some of the sick dread and anxiety that was rolling through him, Stiles couldn't shake the feeling that something really terrible was going to happen. Because of him. And the fact that it was now the one year anniversary since Allison died...was just a painful reminder of just how terrible their lives could get. He finally sank down onto the bottom step and rubbed his hands over his face, body trembling involuntarily. “You should try to go back to sleep, dude,” he told Scott, voice barely audible as he rested his elbows on his knees, leaning over and shutting his eyes.

Scott ran a hand down his face and sighed as he dropped carefully next to Stiles on the step. “Dude, I’m not leaving you, no matter how many times you ask me to. There is no good reason for me to leave you here when you’re obviously not okay,” he added.

Sometimes Stiles really wished Scott wasn't so damn good. Sometimes he just wished that he was as good as Scott was. But both were futile wishes. He twisted his fingers, staring down at his hands, chest heavy. “I don’t wanna hurt you.” It was pretty much his worst nightmare. Or one of them anyway.

Scott rested his arms on his legs as he glanced at his friend. “You’re not going to Stiles. I don’t know what’s going through your head or why you all of a sudden think you’re dangerous to me, but Stiles I trust you. I've always trusted you and some stupid dream isn't going to me stop,” he offered wanting his friend to know he wasn't going anywhere.

“Because it wasn't -- it wasn't just a dream, Scott. Part of it was...that night at Deaton’s clinic.” He wanted to get up again and begin pacing but his stomach already hurt from all the stair climbing. Making it worse was only asking for trouble. “And the rest...you said you only feel it when you’re close to it, right? The nemeton?” He didn't look at his friend even though he felt Scott’s eyes on him. “I feel it all the time,” he whispered. “I felt it across the ocean, Scott. Thousands and thousands of miles away and I could still feel that fucking tree.”

Stiles’ words troubled Scott. “That wasn't you at the clinic,” he stated, “It was the Nogitsune and I’m tired of you acting like you two are one and the same because you’re not,” he said his voice strong.

“I know we’re not. I do know that,” he said honestly. “But I still have that memory. I remember how that felt. I remember --” His voice choked for a moment and he held his breath. “I was screaming and I couldn’t make it stop.” He rubbed his hands over his face again. He had seen the fear in Scott’s eyes that night.

Scott was silent for a minute, “Is that why you came back? Because of the nemeton?” he asked quietly.

Stiles fell silent for several long moments before answering Scott’s question. “It was part of it,” he admitted, looking down at the floor.

Scott reached out and rested a hand on his best friend’s knee. “I wish I could have helped back then, that you didn't have to go through all of that with the Nogitsune, but I couldn't and I’m sorry,” he said quietly, “But we've got to try and move past it Stiles. We've got to focus on the future. You’re staying in town and things, while they aren't good at the moment...they will be when we take care of this.” He said, “No one is worried about you hurting anyone.”

That wasn't exactly true. Stiles was pretty sure that there were at least three people who were worried about Stiles hurting someone. Lydia, Derek, and Stiles himself. But the rest of what he said baffled Stiles and he turned his head to look at his friend.

“Scott...you did help. You saved my life,” he said honestly. “So don’t say you didn't do anything because you did.”

Scott pursed his lips, “You know what I mean...I didn't do enough. I didn't encourage Lydia with her abilities and I let her ignore them. I wasn't there for her and she wasn't able to figure things out and we lost you for a while...and everything that happened,” Scott paused his chest tightening, “Maybe if we could have stopped things before they happened you never would have left.” He admitted quietly. Scott had always felt like he failed Stiles in that respect and he knew Lydia felt the same way too and still did.

“Scott, stop.” He shook his head, rubbing his hands over his face. “I was already -- it wouldn't have mattered, man. Okay? Because I was already possessed when that all happened. And we still wouldn't have known how to fix it. So don’t -- you gotta stop blaming yourself for stuff that you couldn't control.” He reached out and laid his hand on Scott’s shoulder.

Scott cocked his head to the side a slow smile spreading across his face. “Really?” He asked lightly, “Do you think I should stop blaming myself for the stuff I have no control over?” He asked lightly, “Because you know, I think that’s some pretty great advice.” He said pointedly.

Stiles paused at that. “Yeah, I guess I...sorta walked right into that, didn't I?” he said wryly.

Scott nodded, “You absolutely did,” he said quietly. “And I get it, I get that it’s not easy to just forget everything that’s happened. And it’s not easy to stop blaming yourself. I haven’t been able to, I know Lydia hasn't either. But we’re working on it and you need to also.” He paused glancing down as he folded his hands together, “I hate that you take all of this on yourself. It wasn't your fault Stiles; no one blames you for the Nogitsune just like you don’t blame us for not being able to stop it. These nightmares...they’re your fears. Don’t let them get the better of you.”

Stiles looked down at his hands, too. He was quiet for a few seconds. “She doesn't want any of us blaming ourselves,” he said softly. “Allison.” He drew in a breath. “Lydia and I...we saw her. After the daevas…” He bit his lip. “I’m pretty sure it was more than just a dream.”

Scott froze, “What?” He voice was quiet, “You--you talked to Allison?” He asked his chest tight as he studied Stiles, confusion etched into his face.

“Yeah.” His voice was quiet. He hesitated. “She’s the other part of why I came back.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I thought that was just a dream but then...she referenced it when Lydia and I saw her and...she says she’s watching out for all of us.”

Scott could feel his eyes start to burn and his chest constricted. He looked away from Stiles and ran a hand over his face, hands shaky. “I wouldn't expect any less from her,” he said finally when his voice was working again. It killed Scott a little inside knowing that Allison was out there still protecting them from somewhere he couldn't even see. How did that even work anyway? Why hadn't he ever seen her, really seen her? How did Stiles and Lydia even know if it was real?

So many questions ran through his head, but he couldn't bring himself to ask any of them. It still hurt too much.

He felt Scott’s pain like it was his own, the way he always had though it was different now. Deeper. His own chest tightened at the way his voice shook when he spoke and wordlessly he shifted closer, wrapping his arms tightly around his best friend, ignoring the pain in his stomach at the light pressure.

Scott hugged him back, letting his arms tighten carefully around his friend. “I still miss her. All the time. And it hits me at the smallest moments too. Stupid things.” Her loss was still so heavy in his heart that Scott felt it in his bones even after a year. He knew he wasn't the only one and normally he handled it better than most, but it was hard. But having people who needed him, people who counted on him helped keep him distracted.

It was the moments when he was alone, that undid him.

Stiles closed his eyes at Scott’s admission. He wasn't surprised by it, because he just knew Scott too well. Always had. Stiles hadn't been close to Allison and he was still affected by her loss. Felt it every single day. He knew that it had to be that much worse for Scott. Scott had loved her. He knew what it was like to love someone and lose them. He felt that loss every day when he thought about his mom. And while the pain had faded over time, he still had a hole in his heart that was never going to be totally full again. There were cracks when you lost someone, like someone physically took a chisel to your chest and chipped away pieces that could never be put back together.

And that, he knew, was how Scott felt about losing Allison Argent. That he had been fractured. That though time had passed, the wound still wouldn't close completely. It never would. He hugged him more tightly, nodding slightly against him. “I know,” he said very softly. “It’s okay to miss her, Scott.”

Scott swallowed hard, a tear slipped from his eyes. “I know,” he mumbled, “But I’m a leader. I have a pack of people that count on me and look to me for answers and I don’t have the luxury of losing myself in the pain.” He explained. “And sometimes I feel like I haven’t even really been able to mourn her.” He said in a shaky voice.

“None of us really have. We’re always on the move, always diverting some disaster or dealing with supernatural problems. I think we all forget that we’re teenagers and losing someone like...Allison,” Scott paused taking a deep breath, “It’s really hard on everyone. I don’t mean it would be easier if we were older I just-” Scott gripped his friend tighter; “Some days I just want to stay in bed and let myself be kind of sad.”

Stiles held onto him, listening as his friend talked. It was the first time in a long time that he felt like Scott was leaning on him instead of the other way around and he felt something inside of him shift like a switch had been flipped. All ideas of taking off and staying with Braeden at the hotel for a few days vanished in an instant. He wasn't going to hurt Scott. He couldn't hurt Scott. Scott was already hurting.

Stiles didn't feel like a teenager anymore. He doubted any of them did. They’d been through too much. It had changed them. Aged them mentally even if not physically, though physically too in some ways. “We don’t live normal lives,” he said quietly. The eldest werewolf in Derek’s loft was responsible for that one, ultimately. It was one of the reasons that Stiles would never truly be able to forgive Peter Hale, no matter how hypocritical that probably was. “But we still feel things the way normal people do. It still hurts.”

Stiles was silent for a moment, trying to come up with the words that he wanted to say, to make them make sense and give them every bit of meaning that he felt. “But we have each other. All of us. You’re not alone, Scott,” he whispered. “You don’t have to carry it alone.” Not ever.

Scott pulled back slightly so he could look at Stiles. “I know,” he said quietly, “But sometimes,” he hesitated, “I care about every single person in this pack. I do. Everything I do, I do for everyone. I do my best to include everyone and be there when they need me.” He responded, “But every once in a while I sort of wish it was still just us.” He said, his words barely a whisper, “And then I feel incredibly guilty.” He told Stiles. “I don’t have a bad life, but I miss simpler times. I haven’t even had a break to ask Kira to that stupid school dance. It’s not a big deal, but for the love of god she’s stuck by me for over a year while I've been trying to deal with Allison's death and everything never once complaining.” He added. “I’d like to take her on a proper date, you know?” Scott shook his head. “It’s crazy.”

Stiles’ eyes were sad as he gazed back at his best friend. They’d been through a lot long before he’d ever become a werewolf, and sure, in comparison things back then had seemed simpler. In a lot of ways they definitely had been. “I know,” he said honestly, listening to his best friend closely. Sometimes Stiles wished it was just them still, too. It wasn't that he didn't care about the others. He’d do anything he had to in order to keep any person in Scott’s pack safe and alive. But he didn't have a connection to most of them the way he did to Scott. The way he always had with Scott.

“Ask her to the dance, man,” he said softly. “It’s one night. And you've gotta have that, too. It can’t always be…” He waved his hand around the way he would have a year ago when trying to explain something. “It can’t always be this. All survival mode and…” He shook his head. “It can’t, Scott. You need the normalcy, too. We all do.” Even if he was terrible at normal things anymore. “Look at it like...if you’re not taking good care of yourself, you can’t take good care of the other people in the pack either.” His voice was quiet, sincere. “So ask Kira to the dance. And whether this is all over or not by then...one night isn’t going to break the pack.”

Sadness filled Scott’s face. “One night can change everything.” He responded quietly. “When this is over, I’ll ask her and we’ll take the night. The dance isn’t until the end of the month right before the holiday break. I think I even mentioned that Lydia invited Kira to go shopping with her, which,” he paused, “well it’s a big step. So, as soon as we have this situation cleared up I’m going to ask her. Because you’re right, every once in a while we need to do something normal, and it’s been a really long time coming.” He told his friend.

Stiles’ chest tightened at his first words. Because one night could change everything, and had on more than one occasion. But it didn't matter how prepared they thought they were or how unprepared, even. Sometimes crap just happened. He drew in a breath and exhaled slowly, looking down at his hands. He nodded slightly. “If that spell that Lydia translated from Braeden’s book works, it’ll take care of the daevas,” he said quietly.

Scott frowned, “No, Stiles. We’ll take care of the daevas. We do things together as a pack, watching each other’s backs. This isn't you against the world. We’ll take care of this together once and for all you and me. And we've got the pack on standby in case we need them.” He told Stiles matter-of-factly.

Stiles blinked a couple of times and looked at Scott. “I wasn't...saying otherwise,” he said carefully. He understood why Scott had taken it that way, though. In the time he’d been back, he’d done a lot of things on his own without backup, but that was how he’d been operating for the last year for the most part. He reached out and laid his hand on his friend’s arm. “I wasn't suggesting I was gonna do this on my own.”

Some of the tension left Scott’s body. “Sorry,” he muttered and then let out a sigh, “You said ‘you’d’ take care of it I just thought--I’m sorry.” He repeated. “I just don’t want you getting hurt again.” Scott explained quietly.

“You don’t need to apologize,” Stiles said quietly. “I think --” He paused, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. “We both know I've made some pretty crappy decisions. Impulsive ones. Even before I left.” He shifted slightly, stretching his legs out in front of him. “And I haven’t been the best team player since I got back. I can’t even try and deny that, man. I don’t blame you.”

Scott shrugged, “It’s okay. You forget I've dealt with the non team players,” he joked. “And now look at them. Derek is probably the only other person who everyone will listen to outside of me and Aiden is actually being helpful, though I think that has more to do with you than me,” he offered with half a smile.

“I haven’t forgotten,” Stiles said quietly. He remembered all too well how once upon a time it was Derek who hadn't been a team player. It was like they’d swapped lives, in a way, almost entirely. He squashed the instant of jealousy that threatened to rise up within him. Not just because Derek was Scott’s right hand man, but because of Lydia, even if he knew the circumstances and understood them in both cases. He hadn't been there. That was his own fault. And part of being a grownup was accepting the consequences of his actions, and he did. He wasn't going to be distracted by petty things like jealousy the way he had let himself be bothered once by Isaac’s presence. He wasn't that person anymore, either.

Scott glanced at Stiles and hesitated. Despite how long his friend had been gone and how much he had changed, it wasn't hard to figure out what was going on in his head when he actually let his guard down. Scott was quiet for a minute as he searched for the right words. “No one can ever replace you,” he shifted slightly; “you know that right? Just like no one will ever be able to replace Allison. Not in my heart, not in Lydia’s and not in this pack.” He told Stiles quietly.

“No one here can take your place, it’s just not possible.” Scott added.

It almost hurt, how easily Scott could read him even after everything. He turned his head to look at him. “No,” he said softly. “But things are different now. They just are. I accept that.” He paused. “I know that happened because I left and I accept that. It’s...part of growing up.” He looked down at his hands, flexing his fingers. “It just takes some adjusting for me too.”

Scott nodded. “They are different.” He conceded, “But things between you and me, they’ll always stay the same.” He said, his tone soft. “It still hurts that you left,” he rested a hand on Stiles’ leg before his friend could say anything, “But I understand why you did. Honest I get it. I don’t like it, I don’t think it was the right decision, but I respect you enough to understand that it’s what you thought was best. Because you always have our best interests at heart. Always.

Stiles’ chest tightened at Scott’s reassurances and he had to resist the urge to hug his friend again. “Thanks,” he said softly. “That’s…” More than he deserved, really. More than he’d expected. “It means a lot. And I will figure it out.” His place in the pack. It would take awhile, but he’d figure it out eventually. “But I want you to know that I don’t -- I don’t want you to not go to Derek or anyone else because you feel like you owe it to me to come to me first about something. You have to follow your instincts, Scott. I trust your instincts. And I’m not gonna take it personally.”

Scott lifted an eyebrow, “Stiles I have room for everyone. And yeah, I do go to Derek with some things because--well it’s taken me a long time to realize that even when Derek was at his worst, he’s always sort of tried to protect me and I know he’s loyal and I can trust him with things if anything ever happens to me. But just because I go to him it doesn't mean I can’t come to you too,” he said with a smile.

“The great thing about having a pack is, not one person thinks exactly alike. We’re stronger together because you think of angles no one else would think of. You give us a human perspective. And Derek comes up with things I wouldn't expect you to take into consideration because it’s not second nature to you despite all the research you've done,” Scott told him with a soft laugh.

“Even Ethan and Aiden with the experiences they've had bring something different to the table. It’s not just about one thing, it’s about taking all the perspectives and making the best decision I can to keep the people I care about safe.” Scott patted Stiles’ back gently.

Stiles pursed his lips, nodding slightly as Scott spoke. That was one of the things that he’d learned about packs, as well. His experience with other packs was much less hands-on, but he’d gotten a great deal of perspective on how they functioned. What made them work and what didn't. And Scott was spot on with his explanation. A good pack needed a lot of different angles because it meant they’d have more options. More back-up plans.

Scott hesitated, “I know things with you and Lydia are...tense, but it seemed like you guys were working things out.” He said carefully.

At the mention of Lydia, he exhaled slowly. “We were. But I think she needs some space right now. So I’m...trying to let her have that without her thinking I’m gonna take off again? Which…” He pursed his lips. “Not as easy as it sounds.”

Scott paused, “I’m not sure how to help you with Lydia.” He admitted honestly, “The bond she formed with Derek...none of us saw that coming. But I've never judged it because it’s been good for both of them. Lydia forces Derek to be more human. To put himself out there more. I’m pretty sure she’s the one who got him to really invest himself in being a part of this pack and actually helping me guide the others.” He explained glancing down.

“And Stiles...I tried. I really did try to help Lydia. I watched your tape and I've done nothing, but try to fulfill what you asked me to do. To watch out for your Dad and Lydia. But...she just didn't respond well to me, not at first. You know right after you left...she told me she wanted out. That she didn't want to be a part of this anymore and I think the words actually broke me a little.” Scott swallowed hard.

“The thought of losing all of you...I got her to reconsider and she was there when I needed her and vice versa, but it never really seemed to be enough. I couldn't get her to smile or laugh and she just wasn't Lydia.” He scratched the back of his neck. “I was the one who went to Derek. I was frustrated and worried and scared...and I didn't know what else to do. And then about a week later, Derek took Lydia to go see Chris.” He stated.

“And that seemed to really help. Giving her something to latch on to that wasn't pain or even channeling that pain into something productive and then before I even knew what happened Lydia stopped coming to me with all her problems. Not all at once or anything, we’re still close and I was still there for her whenever she needed.” Scott hesitated again, “But I think it was when Isaac and I moved into your house that she stopped coming around. I kind of feel bad about that.” He admitted.

“I feel like I took away her safe place. She used to say that my house felt safe, like its own little bubble or something,” he shrugged, “But ours parents were getting close and when your Dad asked Mom to move in...well the whole thing happened really quick. Neither of them wanted to waste any time.” Scott smiled. “But that’s when she started spending more time here. I know you’re used to being the person she goes too...and maybe with time you’ll be that person again, but it doesn't mean she doesn't love you. I know she does.” Scott told him quietly.

Stiles drew in a breath and let it out slowly as he listened attentively to everything Scott was saying about Lydia. Most of it he’d already picked up on. The rest wasn't surprising. He was quiet for a long time after his friend fell silent, letting everything sink into his mind.

“I’m not...looking for an easy out here,” he said quietly, honest. “I’m not trying to…” He chewed his lower lip, trying to figure out what he wanted to say. “I don’t expect her to just come running to me because I waltzed back into town. I know she’s made a connection with Derek. With you, with the others.” He rested his hands on his knees, twisting his fingers together.

“I know it’s not going to be that easy. I don’t expect you or anyone else to try and smooth things over for me with Lydia or anyone.” He turned his gaze to look at Scott. “I have to do that myself. I have to figure out how to fix things with people. It has to be me, man.” His voice was quiet. “I don’t know how I got lucky enough that you --” His voice grew strained and he rubbed a hand over his eyes tiredly.

“Scott, you’re literally the best guy I know. The fact that the night I walked back into town and the first thing you did was hug me, and welcome me back...dude that means more to me than you’re ever going to understand. You didn't have to do that. You could have been pissed at me, you could’ve hated me, and I wouldn't have blamed you. The fact that you’re not and you don’t…” He swallowed heavily. “Even if things don’t work out the way I want them to with Lydia, I still have you. And that means everything to me.”

Scott’s chest tightened and he reached out to Stiles. “Dude, I don’t know how many other ways to tell you that no matter what happens, you will always be my brother. A year away isn't going to change that.” He said quietly. “I would never turn you away, no matter how angry or upset or anything else that I was. Never.” He repeated. “That’s never something you have to thank me for. And don’t give up on Lydia just yet,” he said softly. “You guys love each other, I have faith it will work out eventually.”

Stiles hugged him tightly again, closing his eyes. “I know. I know that now, Scott...I just need you to know how much that means to me,” he admitted. “Man I was terrified that night. I've dealt with...a lot of stuff in the last year. Scary stuff. But that was the most afraid I've been in a long time, man.” He exhaled. “And I’m not giving up. I’m just...not gonna push her right now. I don’t wanna do that. She deserves to deal with all of this on her own timeline. And...she doesn't know about a lot of the stuff that you do still.”

Scott nodded, “You two definitely need to talk,” he said resting a hand on Stiles’ shoulder, “But knowing when is a good time and when isn't makes all the difference. I know you’ll figure things out and I’m here if you need me,” he said punctuating his words with a light squeeze.

He nodded, too, reluctantly pulling away and exhaling slowly. He believed that. He knew Scott was right. But today...today they had to focus on just getting through. Because today was one year since Allison Argent had died. And it was going to be a long, difficult day for all of them.

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