Stiles and Jackson both waited outside the bathroom door, unconsciously mirroring each other's position on either side of the door. The shower had been running for almost ten minutes and Scott had yet to emerge.
"Can you drown in a shower?" Jackson asked, shifting his weight.
"He came in was wearing more mud than he weighed. I'm sure he's just trying to get all the grim off him before he comes out."
"Or he's stalling," Jackson pounded on the door until it shook in its frame. "That's it Scott, times up, now get your ass out before I come in after you," he threatened.
The water turned off and a few seconds later a dripping wet Scott stepped out of the bathroom, the small towel barely clinging to his hips as he wiped at his shaggy mane of hair with the last dry wash cloth.
"You didn't leave me any clean towels," Scott grumbled trying to find a way to cover himself with less than a foot of terry cloth.
"We also didn't know you would be appearing on our window sill like Peter Pan," Jackson snarked with a flash of blue in his eyes, his eyes briefly tracking the water that ran down Scott's body. "You're lucky I didn't slash you throat when you jumped into our room."
"Right, I think you were too busy snuggling up to Stiles to even notice me. Does Derek know you've got your paws all over him?"
The growl that erupted from Jackson's throat at the accusation was enough to convince Stiles to step in as Scott shifted his weight forward, clearly ready for a fight. "Enough," Stiles said as he pulled on Derek's alpha power through their link. "This really isn't the time."
Both wolves backed down, Scott head bowing in submission. Waving them both toward the beds; Stiles tossed Scott a pair of his sweat pants and an old shirt before dropping down onto the second, unused bed and arranged the pillows behind him.
Stiles tried to keep from staring at Scott as his friend pulled on the clothing, the way his shoulder blades cut sharp points under his tan skin or how every vertebra of his backbone stood out. He could only imagine how much Scott had suffered.
Jackson wasn't so subtle. He eyed the other wolf with slowly widening eyes as he watched Scott pull on the sweat pants, eyes flashing blue for just a moment. "Shit, what have you been eating? Have you been eating? You look like complete shit."
Scott spun, already past his breaking point, claws fully extended as he flew at Jackson. Stiles reached up and caught his wrist before the two wolves could shed blood. Tugging gently, Stiles guided Scott down to sit next to him on the edge of the bed. After a few seconds Scott leaned into his shoulder with a sigh.
Jackson moved to the rumpled bed to perch stiffly at the corner, his eyes never leaving Scott's. Stiles could feel the tension humming between them he could only guess how Scott would feel if he understood just what Jackson was really feeling. The colors of their links shifted and flexed, tugging at him in different ways, Jackson's emotions giving away his desire to reconnect with the lost wolf. Scott may have lost the pack bond but his tie with Stiles was still strong, much deeper than one would think given the state of Scott's emotions.
Both wolves felt agitated but not truly angry. Their close proximity to both each other had Stiles wanting to scratch at his chest as their separate threads brushed up against each other creating vibrant flashes of color behind his eyes. Stiles tried to understand what he was seeing and feeling but couldn't quite get a hold of the underlining emotions that flowed just under the surface of their subtle growling.
Tearing his gaze from Jackson, Scott turned his full attention to Stiles with a disgruntled huff. "Why are you here, Stiles? This town is too dangerous for you to stay. You need to leave in the morning."
Being told the town was dangerous pushed all Stiles previous planned responses right out of his brain. All the tense feelings that had come through the silver link made more sense with the knowledge that something dangerous was happening. But it didn't explain why Scott was right in the middle of it.
"We're here because you're near death and needed us to save your ass. And if it's so dangerous here, why the hell don't you just leave and come back with us?" Jackson looked like he wanted to bite back the words, his face contorting as if he had just bitten into a lemon. "You know Stiles won't take off until you come home anyway, he's almost as stubborn as you are."
"Derek would kill me if I ever stepped foot on his territory." Scott turned a look of shock and disbelief toward Stiles. "You didn't do anything stupid did you? I can't believe Derek would just let you come after me after all I've done." Scott jumped to his feet to pace back and forth between the two beds.
Stiles felt the tips of his ears heating and ducked his head at Scott's muttered curses and Jackson's snide huff of breath. "You are such an idiot sometimes, Stiles. You have a good thing with the pack and you go and lose it all coming after me. He's never going to forgive you."
"Don't think for a second you know what Derek can and can't forgive," Jackson snarled. "Stiles is his mate, he might be angry about our little trip but he will always welcome him back."
"Derek doesn't forgive anything!" Scott's eyes flaring at the memory.
"He took you both in and gave you every chance to become part of our pack. Even after you betrayed us he wouldn't hunt you down like he would any other hunter or omega on our territory." Jackson rose up and blocked Scott's pacing, slowly backing him against the wall between the two beds with each word.
"That didn't stop you." Scott tried to stand his ground against the approaching beta, hesitating to take each step until they were chest to chest and Jackson's growl vibrated across his skin.
"Derek had no idea what I was planning, you jackass, and I'm aware attacking you was the wrong choice. But what you did hurt our pack, more than I could have ever expected. I was mad and hurting but I shouldn't have let my anger get the better of me."
"Before we have anymore werewolf posturing, maybe you could tell us what you're doing here and why it's so dangerous for me to stay." Stiles asked, trying to calm the two wolves.
Letting out a sigh, Scott collapsed on to the other bed. Running his hands nervously through his hair he searched for words, eyes tracking the pattern on the carpet as he struggled to find the start of his story.
"I left you at the hospital," he glanced apologetically upward, briefly meeting Stiles' eyes. "Sorry about that but I thought it would be best for you. That Derek would take you back if I wasn't there to bring back all the memories of betraying the pack and everything I did. But I shouldn't have left you. I'm sorry."
"I've been working my way through the pack territories, looking for someplace that I could be safe, someplace where I wouldn't hurt anyone. I never realized how much I had depended on you. It's been so hard without you." Scott glanced up at Stiles through his long bangs.
"Yeah, well being Omega sucks. That's your own damn fault." Jackson sounded smug and self-righteous but Stiles could feel a curl of worry darken his thread.
Scott's shoulders tensed but otherwise he ignored Jackson and continued speaking directly to Stiles. "When I first arrived here I thought it would be perfect. It was quiet and far enough away from the major cities that I figured that I wouldn't have trouble with any other packs."
"And you'd be far enough away in this backwater shithole that Stiles would have never been able to find you." Jackson added. "You abandoned him and went off to hide because you were ashamed."
Scott lifted one shoulder in helpless agreement. Stiles could feel the emotions rolling off his friend, the silver thread resonating with loneliness, unwanted hope, and desperation.
"But this town, they've all been cowed by the pack that lives here. I think this must have been hunter territory once but the wolves have killed off or turned anyone left after the War that might have been able to stand up to the alpha."
Fist clinching, Scott turned to face Jackson. "He's crazy Jackson, completely enraged. You need to take Stiles and get out of town before they discover you're here. They won't hesitate to kill you both and they've perfected the art of making it look like an accident or natural causes. This isn't your fight."
"But it's supposed to be yours?" Jackson snorted. "What are you planning on doing? Cry until he surrenders?"
"What I was raised to do. Make the world safe from werewolves." At Jackson's look at disbelieve and Stiles' gasp, Scott added quickly, "This is the type of pack we should have been hunting."
"We never needed Hunter to help us take care of rogue packs. If this alpha has gone rabid, it's not your fight." Jackson's voice dropped and he grabbed Scott by the bicep. "You are going to get yourself killed."
"It is my fight. This is what I was raised to do, what I've trained for my entire life. What do you think a Hunter is supposed to be? Just some mindless killer? If that's so you are just as wrong about me as I've been about werewolves."
"Those hunters you're so fond of lost their right to police werewolves a long time ago. I don't care how many out of control alphas you stop you won't get to make amends for what they did and you know it," snarled Jackson
"Regardless Scott, you can't do this alone. You need to know when to ask for help. What exactly do you think you can do, alone, to stop this alpha? Aside from dying?" Stiles concentrated on the silver thread, pulling gently on it.
Much of the fight went out of Scott. With a sigh he dropped his shoulders and almost whispered, "I don't know. But I have to try."
"Are you really this fucking stupid? You're using this as an excuse to get yourself killed because of a massive guilt trip. Dying won't make it better." Turning Jackson slammed Scott against the far wall. "This isn't penance. This is a really creative suicide attempt, you jackass. And if you think for one second that I'm going to stand by while you get slaughtered, you're more of an idiot than I ever imagined."
Scott didn't fight back, just went almost limp in Jackson's grasp. "I have to try," he whispered. "I can't just leave them like this."
"Then we will just have to help you." Stiles' jaw dropped at Jackson's statement. "Jackson, I'm all for helping but this is an alpha. Having three of us attack him will just give him more options on how to kill us."
"Then it's a good thing we have an Alpha of our own. The house isn't far; Derek can be here in under a day. This isn't something an omega can deal with and the hunter you claim to still be has lost all right to try to police werewolves. This is pack business, so we will deal with it. As a pack." Jackson released his hold on Scott, letting the omega almost tumble to the floor at his feet.
Stiles' mouth worked silently, opening and closing as he tried to come up with an argument to dissuade Jackson from calling Derek but he could see the look of resolve in the wolf's eyes and snapped his mouth shut as Jackson growled, "Derek will kill me if I let anything happen to you and no matter how much you don't want to you're more than crazy enough to try helping this idiot and take on a pack by yourselves."
Pulling Scott upright by his shoulders and pushing him toward the bed, Jackson faced Stiles with a look that boded no argument. "Now do you want to call your mate and ask for help or do you want me to let him know what you've been up to?"
Grabbing Stiles' phone, Jackson held it out with a raised eyebrow. "I know you're smarter than droopy over there."
Biting his lip, Stiles took the phone from Jackson and pressed Derek's number with a trembling hand. Derek answered on the first ring. "Just tell me where you are Stiles and we'll be on our way."
Stiles' knees wavered and the connection between him and his mate flared bright and strong. Meeting Scott's eyes, Stiles smiled, feeling complete for the first time since he left the pack territory. "There on their way."
Sorry I've been gone for so very long. First off I'd like to thank my beta, Jokr for sticking with me and kicking me in my butt to get me to get back on track. Second I'd like to thank any of you that are still out there reading this…sorry.
So…do you really care? I guess if you are still reading the answer is a YES.
My family calls it a "funk". My fiancé called it depression and dragged me to see a doctor claiming that spending the whole of Christmas break in bed with the covers tucked over my head was NOT normal and NO I was not going to emerge as a butterfly and find that everything was magically better. So…off I went, kicking and griping and telling him that I was FINE, DAMNIT and I didn't need no stinking doctor. Yeah…long story short - - he was right. I'm better now. He's a bit on the smug side for being right – for ONCE!
Sorry it was so long of a wait. I will try to have the rest of the story finished by the end of March. Thanks for reading.