It had been close to twenty minutes since Derek and Stiles had entered Lydia's hospital room. Following close behind had been Jackson. Stiles could only assume that Scott had contacted the tawny haired boy for the same reason that he had summoned Derek and Stiles.
Looking to everyone in the room, Stiles heaved a sigh and slumped into his chair. Scott had frozen after Jackson's arrival and hadn't said a word since then. When something was bugging him, he'd bottle it up and let the problem go until he was filled to the brim with issues. It had been a while since they vented to each other and Stiles could see the bottle cracking. As a human teenager, Scott would usually blow his cool at the person that pushed him past his limit. He'd yell and get it all off his chest in one go in the most wordy and confusing way possible. Being that he was now a werewolf, Stiles didn't want to think about what Scott was capable of in one of his tantrums. Not when most of the people in the small hospital room had caused some of his problems or made them worse.
The longer Scott sat frozen in his chair the more restless Allison seemed to grow. As much as Stiles hated to admit it, she was good for him; a calming presence to the volatile nature that he was still trying to cope with. It wasn't long before Allison slowly moved from Lydia's bedside to the chair next to Scott's. The fear that had been clearly visible on her face when they had entered the room was there, just under the surface, but not as prominent. Stiles wasn't sure if she had been afraid of Scott or if he had done something to scare her. As Stiles watched, Allison slid her hand along Scott's arm and weaved their fingers together.
In the barest of movements and with the simplest of changes Scott appeared slightly more relaxed. Stiles wasn't even sure if Scott's shoulders had drooped as he calmed at Allison's touch or if it had been the muscles themselves relaxing.
Stiles' eyes jumped from the couple to Jackson. Where Scott appeared to be stressed, Jackson was distraught. He had backed himself into the corner of the room between Lydia's bed and the windowed wall. His haunted eyes hadn't left Lydia since he had entered the room and Stiles had the sneaking suspicion that this was the first time the jock had come to visit Lydia since Peter's death.
A small thread of anger shot through him at that thought. Jackson should have been here every day making sure she was okay. That she was going to pull through this and come out alive and well and whole. Stiles wasn't stupid enough to pin the blame on Jackson for what happened to Lydia, but he wasn't below thinking it. If Jackson hadn't dumped her in his quest to become a werewolf, she wouldn't have gone looking for him that night at the dance. They would have been in the gym as the center of attention, surrounded by their friends, making fun of everyone else.
Now they were a fractured set.
With Jackson's haunted gaze still fresh in his mind Stiles couldn't look at Lydia without feeling some form of sympathy for the lacrosse co-captain. If he hadn't seen the bite that Peter had left, seen the blood that had spread across her gown and covered the grass, Stiles wouldn't be able to tell you that she had been close to death a month ago. The color had returned to her face, albeit a little paler than usual, but she no longer looked like she had been drained of most of her blood. The dark circles that had ringed her eyes the day that he and Scott had snuck into her room to check the bite were gone. The air tubes that had been affixed to her face removed.
His eyes finally travelled to the last person in the room. Derek had all but assimilated himself into the wall. It didn't matter that the walls were a pastel blue and he was a walking black hole. Derek could pass as a life size 3-D sticker that someone felt the need to plaster onto a wall. Derek's blue eyes briefly met Stiles' as they passed from one person to the next in the room. He was just standing there, ramrod straight, arms hanging loosely at his sides like nothing was wrong. Even without being a werewolf Stiles could feel the tension in the room. Derek should have demanded what was wrong the minute he had stepped into the room. He should have done a lot of things.
Stiles stopped that thought before it had a chance to take hold. There was no need to go down a road that he'd been plenty of times. Heaving a sigh he looked back to Scott. "What's up, buddy? Why'd you call us here?"
Stiles didn't miss Allison's jump at the sound of his voice or the slight shift in Jackson's eyes as he glanced to see who had spoken. Scott didn't seem like he had heard the question directed at him so Stiles repeated it. When he still didn't get a reaction Stiles tossed the box of tissues on the stand next to him and hit Scott square in the head.
Yellow eyes shot to brown as the box was sent flying back towards Stiles' head. He ducked under it and suppressed the smug smile that wanted to slide across his face. "Paying attention yet?"
Scott glared at him, yellow eyes fading to brown. Stiles could see that he was working up a retort and beat him to it. "Now that you're back from Scott-land do you care to tell us why you've brought us here?"
For the life of him Stiles couldn't figure out why. The only thing that he could think of that would bring them all to Lydia's room was that she had finally woken up. A quick glance to her bed was enough to prove that that wasn't the reason.
"It's the same from the mall." Stiles wasn't sure he had heard correctly. Scott's voice was barely audible. "It's the same scent from the mall, Stiles. That person was here."
Derek was across the room before Stiles had a chance to process the information. He was inspecting Lydia's IV bag, arms, and legs. Any skin that was visible really. As he went for the side of her gown Jackson snarled at Derek but the noise died in his throat as Derek met his eyes. From where he was sitting Stiles couldn't tell but he'd bet that they had flashed red in warning. Barely a heartbeat later, Derek was gently removing the bandage that covered the bite wound, replacing it when he was done with his inspection.
What was with the werewolves? None of them were making any sense, Stiles thought. Scott hadn't seemed right since the mall but that was understandable. His freak-out here in the hospital was not. Derek had no qualms against physical contact when it came to bullying people but usually stayed away from any other kinds. Now he was all over Lydia checking for something. Jackson wasn't being his usual self either. It was like they were all on edge for different reasons and Stiles wasn't sure which one to confront about it first.
Allison's soft voice filtered through his mind and he turned to face the brunette. "…are you doing, Derek?"
Stiles mentally rolled his eyes as he figured Derek wouldn't give an answer. The elder wolf never did on most occasions. Though, he had been relatively open at the lake before Scott's mysterious text.
When the minute hand moved one tick on the clock Stiles turned his attention back to Scott. "What do you mean the same scent is here? In this room? On this floor? All over Lydia? You have to give us more than 'it's the same as the mall'."
"I mean," Scott began, staring at Stiles, "that the same scent that set me off at the mall is here in this hospital. It's all over this floor." His eyes closed as a grimace pulled his lips down. "It's strongest here in Lydia's room and around the front desk." When Scott's eyes opened again Stiles could see the pain in them.
Scott didn't have to say any more to Stiles. He understood. Aside from Allison, there was only one other person that Scott cared for above all else. His mother.
Ms. McCall was a nurse here in the hospital. Whether her rotation put her on the second floor or she was assigned to man this section's nurses' station, Stiles didn't know. But Stiles was aware of the fact that half of Scott's worry was for his mother's safety. Peter getting close to Melissa and putting her in danger had wound Scott a little tight when it came to her wellbeing. It was understandable. She was Scott's mom. She was all he had left.
Scrubbing his face with his hands, shooting a quick look at the Void to make sure he was still trying to remain as impassive as ever, Stiles asked, "Scott, can you tell us where this person was? Can you tell us anything about what they were doing in here?"
Scott shook his head briefly before closing his eyes and inhaling deeply. Stiles was on the verge of asking more questions when brown eyes opened slightly yellow. A few more deep inhalations later had the yellow irises almost glowing with their intensity. "Like I said, the person's scent is strongest in here. I'm not sure what he was doing. Just that when I walked in his scent was everywhere. There was the barest hint of blood but, don't they take blood from the patients? Maybe a nurse had been in just before the guy and had taken some."
Stiles mentally shook his head at Scott's innocence. It was like Scott didn't know that there was a bad side to people; that a strange man coming into Lydia's room was the worst that could happen to her. Peter was proof that that wasn't true. Whoever this man was that was setting Scott on edge could have had many different intentions in mind. None of which Stiles wanted to think about but could not stop.
They were lucky that they hadn't come in and found her dead. She was helpless in her current state. Some hunter looking to kill the human abomination that was lying in a coma in the hospital would be an easy mark. If they weren't the sort that didn't followed the Code they'd have no qualms about killing a teenage girl before seeing if she'd turn. As far as they were concerned a person either died or turned after being bitten. To a hunter they'd see that she hadn't turned. Yet. In their mind it would only be a matter of time before she was another beast to put down.
If this man wasn't part of the supernatural world and someone managed to cross their paths twice by mere coincidence, then he could have been here to do anything. Lydia was a beautiful girl. Any man could see that. It took the more deranged ones to want to take advantage of any situation that put something that gorgeous and unattainable in arms reach. The least creepy thing that could have been done was that he had stood in a corner and watched her sleep. The worst could have been that he'd sexually assaulted her.
Cringing, Stiles hoped that the werewolves in the room would have sensed something like that.
"Let's hope that it was a nurse that had taken her blood," was all he could force out. Rising from his chair, "I'll go see where your mom is. Maybe she saw someone come in."
"You shouldn't go alone." Stiles was surprised by the voice that spoke. Derek hadn't said a word since they arrived.
"I'll be fine. You three look to be on high alert as it is. If you were to go out there and something startled you, that little furry secret you're trying to keep quiet won't be such a secret anymore." And it was true. Scott looked a few breaths away from the full Beta shift. Jackson, only with glowing eyes, looked worse off. His hands kept clenching and unclenching, presumably to help with the strain that growing out claws from human fingers put on the bones and tendons. If he sneezed, his taut back had a good chance of snapping in half. And Stiles didn't believe for one second that the small tremors running throughout Jackson's body were from the coldness in the room.
Derek seemed to make an abortive movement when Stiles opened the door to Lydia's room but imperceptibly settled when he realized that Stiles was paying attention to him.
Shaking his head, Stiles closed the door behind him. There were too many issues in that room. Walking up to the nurse's station he patiently waited for the nurse typing away on her computer to finish with what she was doing. She was an older woman, probably in her late forties to early fifties. Her light brown hair was sprinkled with strands of gray and silver.
It didn't take her long to finally look up and give him a tired but content smile. "How may I help you, dear?"
He ducked his head at the endearment. "Can you tell me where I can find nurse McCall? I'm friends with her son and I'm in visiting Lydia Martin and wanted to say hi before I left."
The nurse in front of him, Gloria her name tag read, gave him another small smile. "You just missed her. She said that she had to run home because she forgot she had to pick up Scott. She left in such a rush."
Stiles stomach dropped at Gloria's words. Forcing a smile on his face he spoke on autopilot, "Thank you for the help." He heard her tell him to have a nice day but he was already moving down the hall and towards the stairs.
Before he knew it he was through the lobby and running to his car. If Gloria was right and Ms. McCall had just left, he stood a chance of getting to her before anything happened. If anything was going to happen. Maybe she really was worried that she had to pick Scott up from something. She could have gotten her dates crossed and thought that it was some other day. It wouldn't be the first time that that had happened.
But he wasn't willing to take a chance with his best friend's mother. They were already two for two with this guy showing up around them. Bumping into the same person twice in Beacon Hill's isn't that uncommon. Bumping into the same person twice in the same day in Beacon Hill's is uncommon. The town isn't as big as San Diego but it's no small town tourist trap either. You could go a few days without seeing someone, but it was rare that you could be at the mall in the morning and go clear across town and run into the same person.
If this was a case that his dad was working on, he'd say that this was a coincidence. Stiles didn't want Melissa to be the third run-in that made the man's presence become a pattern. That was the last thing that Stiles wanted to happen.
He picked his pace up once he was outside the building. Having the pack come after him when he wasn't sure something was wrong didn't seem like a really good idea. Especially with Melissa not knowing about the whole supernatural thing. Having three werewolves and a hunter burst into her home was bound to clue her in.
Reaching his car he threw himself in and raced out of the parking lot. Fate seemed to be against him as every light he came to was just turning red. What should have taken him a short while to go from the hospital to the main drag through Beacon Hills took a third longer.
Finally turning onto A21 thoughts of what could be happening to Ms. McCall danced through Stiles' brain. The simplest outcome would be that he'd get to her place and discover that she was berating herself for being so busy and time locked that she had screwed up her days; that she had left work early to go get Scott when she didn't have to. Even finding her at home doing nothing, using Scott as an excuse to get out of work early, would be preferable to some of the darker things that could be going on.
Like finding her torn to shreds by some new creature that decided it wanted to mess with the resident pack. Or the Argent's using her as leverage to get Scott to turn on Derek for good.
Pulling himself from his thoughts, Stiles made the last few turns that took him onto the road that ran in front of the McCall house. Ms. McCall's car was out front. Directly behind her was a black truck. It reminded him enough of the hulking SUVs that the Argent's own that he was out of his seat before he'd realized he'd parked.
Racing to the door he stumbled over his own feet. It was enough of a distraction that his mind needed that he abruptly realized he was panicking. He had to go about this in the right way; find out what the situation was, how to deal with it, and if he needed to call in the troops.
Taking the last few feet to the door a tad slower than before, he pressed his ear up against the door. For a heartbeat he thought that everything was ok. There were no sounds coming from inside. The TV wasn't running, no music was drifting from the kitchen; the distinct sound of the dryer vent from around back wasn't noisily blowing. It was too quiet in his opinion. There was usually some type of sound coming from the McCall household.
As he was about to knock on the door the sound of glass breaking set his nerves on edge. With the sudden crash came the sound of a man's raised voice and the quieter, yet frantic pleas, of Melissa McCall. He quietly made his way inside the house, conscious of each step and which floorboards would announce his presence in the house.
Coming closer and closer to the duo revealed more and more of the conversation; not that he had that hard of a time hearing what was being said, just that he had missed the beginning of it. There was something about 'how could you let him get hurt' and 'now there's no hope of ever getting to know what would have happened'. It didn't make sense. Who was the man referring to? What was he talking about?
Melissa, for her part, seemed to have receded into herself. Where she would normally be voicing what she thought all Stiles could hear from her were half formed pleas to let this mysterious 'he' that the guy was referring to go; to let him be as he wasn't doing anything wrong. She was barely even raising her voice.
There was a hall mirror that faced into the entryway of the kitchen. It wasn't a big mirror but as Stiles crouched down against the connecting wall of the kitchen and hall, he tried to use it to see what was going on in the normally bright room. It took a bit of angling but he finally managed to find the two.
Melissa was backed into the counter, her back to the mirror. She seemed to be sagging into herself; shoulders slumped forward as if giving up. The man, long gray sleeves bunched up at his elbows, was standing in a way that blocked his face from view. Stile tried to see if shifting from left to right would make for a better angle but nothing worked. Whether on purpose or by happy accident the man had found the perfect spot to stand that would prevent anyone in the hall from seeing his reflection.
"Richard, you can't hurt him. He's not done anything wrong." Stiles cringed at the desperate pleading in Ms. McCall's voice.
"He's one of them!" the man shouted. His anger seemed to build the more Melissa spoke. "You were supposed to watch him. Make sure he didn't get into anything."
"What would you have had me do? Keep him locked up his whole life?" Stiles perked up a bit more. Ms. McCall was getting angry now, her voice rising slowly but surely. "You were the one who left us. You could have stayed!"
Blinking and trying to processes this new information, Stiles tried to connect the dots in any other way that led to someone other than Scott. From what his mom was saying, or was hedging around, this man, the guy standing over her in the kitchen, was Scott's dad. And he was here to do something to Scott? What could Scott have done to piss off his dad that much that he'd come back from his self-imposed exile?
"And you could have come with me! You should have come with me. He would have been raised to know how to hunt werewolves, not become one."
"I wanted to keep him safe. What you wer…"
"And how did that work out for you?" Richard spoke over Melissa, disdain and hate dripping from each word. "How did staying in this small town, away from hunters and the people that could protect you and him, help keep him safe?"
Stiles couldn't believe what he was hearing. Scott's dad was a hunter? A werewolf hunter? And Melissa knew what werewolves were and that Scott was one?
The brief thought of having an adult as an ally flitted across his mind before the arguing in the kitchen pulled him back.
"It kept him from crippling asthma attacks and growing up faster than he would have with you.' Training them young' is what you always talked about. He would never have survived. His first hunt would probably have ended with his death."
The sound of a deep breath accompanied the gentle glide of Stiles sliding down the wall. Buzzing reached his ear before he realized what it was. Scrambling for his back pocket he pulled out his phone and checked his messages.
Apparently the pack had finally noticed his absence and had been trying to contact him. Or so Stiles thought as he saw the seven missed calls and 15 texts messages from the pack. Keeping an ear tuned into the goings on in the kitchen he sent a mass text message to everyone stating that he was fine and he'd call them later with an update; that they should all go to the subway station and wait for him.
The last thing he needed was for Scott to show up at home and lose his control because his father was there. He'd get shot more than likely and Stiles couldn't live with himself if that happened. A reply buzzed through his phone a short moment later.
You have an hour then we're coming for you.
The words screamed 'Derek' but came through on Scott's phone. It was the best Stiles could hope for from the Alpha. Letting him get away with whatever shenanigans they probably thought he was getting into was a milestone.
Sliding his phone back into his pocket Stiles grabbed his keys instead. If he could break up this escalating argument without anyone getting hurt he'd be surprised. There was a chance but only a slim one.
Slowly standing in a crouch he backed down the hallway to the front door. The voices were audible from this distance now and still gradually rising. He had to hurry before a neighbor called the police for a domestic dispute.
Acting like he had just run up to the house, Stiles flung the door open with Scott's name rolling from his lips and pounding up the stairs to his friend's room. By the time he made it back to the stairs to head into the living room a red faced Richard was glaring up the incline. Melissa was just starting to come around the corner, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
"Uh..." Stiles verbalized as eloquently as ever. Glancing to Melissa and flashing a small smile, "Hey there Ms. McCall. Is everything ok?"
"Yeah, Stiles. Everything's fine." Stiles fought off a wince at how defeated Melissa sounded. "Were you looking for Scott?"
He nodded in answer with another glance in Richards's direction. "I lost him earlier today at the mall. You know how it goes with him and Allison."
A faint smile graced Melissa's face at the mention of the two love birds. "He's not been home since you picked him up."
"Oh, okay. Would it be cool if I hang around until he finds his way home?" He cast another glance at Richard. The man wasn't looking any calmer. He was still flushed with anger and he seemed to be on the brink of storming up the stairs to throw Stiles out of the house. Half aborted lurches forward and clenching fists signaled his indecision. "I don't want to impose if you're busy."
"It's not a problem." At her words Richard cast Melissa a furious glare. "You know I love having you and the Sheriff over."
If possible, at the mention of the sheriff, Richard turned an even darker shade of red. Stiles watched as he spun on his heel storming to the door and slamming it closed behind him. The window panes flanking the door rattled in their frames.
No one moved until the sound of the hulking truck out front was gone.
"Well that was interesting," Stiles said as he slowly made his way down the steps. Ms. McCall had gone still and blank faced once the threat level had decreased. The look was reminiscent of Derek's blank stares.
Pulling his best friend's mother into a firm hug, Stiles waited out her shock. It took a while and a lot of mumbled reassurance that everything was ok before she finally gave him a quick squeeze and pat on the back.
Pulling away, Melissa fixed him with a hard glint in her eyes. "What were you thinking, Stiles Stilinski?! Never do that again!" She pulled him in for another hug before leading him by the upper arm into the living room.
All but pushing him onto the couch, Stiles exaggerated a flinch when he caught her eye and registered the patented 'Nurse McCall takes no shit' look that was directed at him. "So, uh, surprise?"
There really was no way to explain to someone's parent that their baby boy was now a walking talking wolf-man that could grow epically horrendous sideburns and howl with the best of them. Better just to break it to them. Even if it did seem like they already knew.
"So it's true then? Scott really is a werewolf?" Stiles could feel the grimace pulling at his face when she had to swallow around the word werewolf. All he knew was that Scott's dad was a hunter and that Melissa had been trying to protect her son from the man. But did she used to be a hunter as well? Was she part of the family business or had she gotten out?
Before his mind could get dragged down any farther Stiles was pulled from his thoughts by the couch dipping next to him. Melissa still looked like she was about to go give a particularly uncooperative patient a suppository, but the look was bleeding away into something that resembled fear and concern.
Stiles found that he didn't care if she had been a hunter. Melissa loved her son. She'd do anything for him, had done so in the past just to protect him. "I've got to go meet up with the pack. They'll come find me if I'm not there within the next half hour." He paused, thinking about what to do. "Do you think he'll be back? I can call my dad and let him know that you were threatened by your ex."
Melissa only shook her head before slumping backwards into the couch. Her face dropped into the palms of her hands as her shoulders started to shake. Stiles floundered around for all of a few seconds before he wrapped his arms around her shoulders in another hug. He was beyond uncomfortable, but if this had been his mother he'd have hoped someone was there to comfort her when she was confused and hurting.
She pulled back after a few minutes, sniffling and drying her eyes on her scrubs. "He won't be back but I don't want to be here if he does decide to do something reckless."
Nodding, "So does that mean you want me to call my dad?" Stiles really was hoping that she didn't want to see Scott at the present moment. This situation needed to be handled delicately. Scott was better with his control issues, but he still was prone to losing that control whenever it involved his mom. This would definitely be a time to break the news to him slowly. In a controlled environment. Where his mother was not present for the news breaking.
Stiles groaned as he saw her shake her head. "Stiles Stilinski, if you think for a moment that I don't want to see my son, you are sorely mistaken. Where is he?"
Stiles groaned again as he sunk into the couch. "This isn't going to be pleasant. They're going to kill me." He bemoaned his misfortune of knowing that Ms. McCall was going to follow him if he didn't take her to Scott. "Why must you McCall's make my life more difficult? What'd I ever do to you?"
"You befriended an asthmatic outcast that wouldn't let you go even if you had wanted to leave," she said as she ran her hand across the top of his head. It would have ruffled had his hair been long enough but instead it just felt weird. Melissa slouched down next to him, nudging her elbow into his arm, "Now, where is he?"
With one last dejected yet sarcastic sounding sigh Stiles stood from the couch and took a few paces away from it. Turning to face Melissa, he motioned with his head for her to follow, a quiet 'come on' accompanying the small action. He really wasn't looking forward to seeing how his best friend was going to react to everything. If it was only the fact Ms. McCall knew about werewolves and that Scott was now a member of the Canidae family, that probably wouldn't cause too much of an uproar. It was bound to happen at some point; one of the adults finding out what had been taking place in Beacon Hills. Adding the fact that Scott's dad was back in the picture, a hunter no less, jammed a massive wrench in everything.
The car trip to the station was made in complete silence. Both occupants of the powder blue jeep seemed to be lost in thought as the carriage bounced along. Stiles kept glancing at the clock on his dash, acutely aware of the fact that he was cutting it close on his one hour deadline. Just another wrench to throw into everything. Everyone was probably already in a panic that he had fled the hospital without telling them. With the deadline that Derek had set, only five minutes left and about 10 minutes of driving still ahead, they were most likely gearing up to track him down.
There wasn't much in the way of getting to the station any faster without breaking speeding laws in broad daylight, but Stiles felt like the last 10 minutes of the trip had passed twice as fast as it should have.
Pulling into one of the back slots of the old train station, he swung out of the jeep and leveled a look in at Melissa. "If I asked would you stay in the car?" Her only response was to climb out of the passenger side and walk to the back of his jeep, looking around the place. "Of course you wouldn't."
Stiles led her to a small alcove behind a wall of stacked crates. They were descending the stairs into the main room when Scott appeared at the bottom of the steps.