And There It Is
Note: I am so sorry for taking so long!
Stile had trouble sleeping. Everything was too quiet in his apartment and the gloomy weather that Seattle brought down on its inhabitants was less than appealing to him given how sunny it was back in beacon hills. He'd never admit it out loud, but on the cold nights, he missed home.
Work on the other hand was busier than usual. A new project had just been launched and everyone on the development team was working nonstop. Some of the senior developers were even putting in overtime. He and the other junior programmer, George, a nerdy red headed guy around the same age as him were kept really busy helping out with QA duties.
It became clear after working at the company for two months that people were rather cliquish. They were friendly enough when he passed them in the halls and he had had several conversations with his more experienced coworkers and they engaged, however, times like lunch showed him how everyone really behaved, as each small group left at particular times and rarely asked others to join.
George was one of the small few who ate lunch in the cafeteria, his head usually buried in a book as he ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches quietly. Stiles on the other hand had to drive out and get something to eat just so he could get some variety and take some time out of the nice but sterile office space.
As Friday approached on a particularly busy week, Stiles took the initiative and emailed George and his cube neighbor Stacey about going out for drinks.
A moment later Stacey peered over the cubicle wall and pouted with a "sorry Stiles, I promised the boyfriend that I would hang out with his friends that night."
"No worries" he grinned, hiding his disappointment.
"Next week?" She added hopefully
"Yeah of course, there will be other times."
George emailed him back an hour or so later with "sure." And so Stiles finally had plans with someone aside from his TV and laptop on a Friday night.
As Friday afternoon rolled around, he got more and more excited to finally do something and spent an hour looking up local bars and lounges in the hopes of doing something fun. He finally settled on a bar that sold more than 200 types of beer and was given several awesome reviews regarding the atmosphere and events. As he watched his coworkers slowly leave for the weekend, George approached his cubicle with his work satchel.
"Ready to go?"
"Yeah." Stiles nodded turning off his monitor.
"You get the address?"
"Yeah. I'll see you there" George nodded before heading out to his blue smart car.
Stiles met George at the bar and took time in ordering an imported lager which he was glad he enjoyed because at fifteen dollars a pop, the place was not cheap. George had ordered a domestic brew and sipped on it slowly looking slightly uncomfortable.
"This place is kind of loud" He spoke looking around.
"Yeah. It's cool though right?" Stiles responded chugging his beer. "I mean we've all been working so hard lately, nice to unwind."
"So how do you like working at TriForm Software so far?" Stiles continued cheerfully.
"It's pretty good. They pay well." George responded with a shrug.
"I really like the way they run their programming models" Stiles added. "They're really innovative."
George nodded looking over to see a small crew of people around their age enter most of them dressed in black, looking extremely contrasting to their business casual attire.
Both of them stared as they approached the bar and ordered drinks.
"So any plans for the weekend?" Stiles offered after turning back to his beer.
George shook his head. "Not really I'm going to finish the book I'm reading and do laundry."
"You want to do something?" He asked with a shrug.
"I'm not interested in you" George blurted out in response.
"What?" Stiles replied with one eyebrow shooting up.
"Uh…I like girls." George justified quietly.
"Good for you?" Stiles supplied looking quizzical
"I thought Stacey was going to be here. She was on the email list." George reasoned looking even more awkward than usual.
"She canceled last minute because she had to do something with her boyfriend" Stiles provided quietly taking a gulp of his beer.
"She has a boyfriend?" George's shoulder fell as he echoed what he had stated.
"Yeah. Sorry dude."
"Makes sense" he sighed. "The pretty ones are never single."
"No way. There are still plenty of pretty single girls" Stiles reasoned gesturing at the crowd that was gathering inside the bar.
His counterpart shrugged and returned to his drink which was three fourths done.
"So how long have you been single?" George supplied finishing off his drink
"For a while, kind of lost count." he provided honestly, the fact that he had been single for so long resonating in his conscience.
"Uh sorry for what I said earlier. The whole not interested thing."
"No worries. You're not my type." Stiles shrugged.
George frowned. "What's your type?"
"Brooding, emotionally constipated guys with stubble apparently." Stiles stated cynically.
"That's Pretty specific."
Stiles laughed." Yeah I guess."
George surveyed him for a moment before speaking.
"I got my heart broken too. Her name was Francesca. She was Italian. So freaking hot but way out of my league."
"Why do we date people out of our leagues Geo? Can I call you Geo?" Stiles replied with a laugh.
George shrugged as two new beers where put down in front of them.
Stiles got home an hour later after substituting water for alcohol and slowly getting bored of the non conversation he kept attempting to have with George who turned out to be as quiet and reserved as he was in the office.
He opened the door to his dark apartment, closing the door behind him, the moon shone some light through the windows and he leaned against the front door wondering whether he should get a cat.
"Who else has been here" a voice asked next to him.
It took him 10 minutes for Stiles to get his heart rate back to normal as he breathed deeply into a paper bag, glaring at Jackson's unimpressed expression.
"What. The. Hell. Were. You. Thinking. Jackass." He managed finally feeling the jolts of adrenaline slowly diminishing.
"Housekeeping. What do you think Stilinksi?" Jackson shot back simply.
"I don't know. You could have called." Stiles reasoned sitting down in the nearest chair and surveying Jackson. "Why are you dressed entirely in black?"
"I didn't want to be seen. Also answer my question. Who else has been here?" Jackson replied looking around the apartment.
"No one. I haven't had any visitors since I've been here. Except the movers but that was months ago."
"Stiles. I can smell a wolf. And another human."
"Oh." He nodded. "Two police officers came by a few weeks ago asking about Mark. "
"You let them inside?" Jackson spoke, sounding incredulous.
Stiles shrugged. "They were only here for a few minutes."
Jackson shook his head. "Do you have any pepper spray? A knife?"
"I have a baseball bat" Stiles shrugged. "I dunno, I suppose it was too much to think that I could live like a normal human being out here away from all the craziness?" He added shaking his head.
"I'll send you some mace when I get back."
"Speaking of? How did you get here? I don't see your car." Stiles asked standing shakily.
"I parked a few towns away and took the bus"
"You. Took the bus." Stiles echoed.
"Yeah Stilinksi, I took the bus." Jackson retorted, shooting him a look, daring him to make fun of him.
"So have you heard anything about Mark?" trying not to grin to widely.
Jackson shook his head "No. nothing on our end. Your dad?"
"I talked to him a few days ago. Nothing there either. It's like he vanished into thin air."
"What about that device? The one that was inside Derek? Did you find out about it?" Jackson continued looking out of the window, surveying the area.
Stiles cringed, since he had moved for his new job and started on the new projects there had been little thought given to that rice grain sized object.
"No. I completely forgot about it."
"Well this has been a complete waste of time." Jackson deadpanned.
"Lovely to see you too Jackson."
"Did you eat already?" The beta asked as he made his way into the bedroom.
"Let's go, I saw this diner place a few blocks down. The food smelled edible" Jackson muttered heading for the door.
Stiles had to give kudos to Jackson on finding a place that served good food and was dimly lit, both hiding them from view in the large booths and allowing for private conversation in the massive diner.
The waitress brought along two steak dinners, and Stiles watched as Jackson cut into his which oozed out pink liquid given how it was so medium rare that it was still practically raw.
"I guess you just eat it as is back home huh?" Stiles observed as he cut into his own, glad to see that his was cooked all the way through.
"It's an acquired taste. You can't help it." Jackson shrugged.
"So? What's new out there in good ol' Beacon Hills?"
"Scott and Allison are expecting." Jackson responded between bites.
Stiles choked on his steak.
"Yeah. It's been a few weeks now. She's not showing yet." Jackson spoke quietly, gauging Stiles' look.
Stiles remembered what Geraldine had said when he had introduced Scott and Allison to her a while ago. That congratulations was a little early but he had suspicions that Geraldine wasn't just an ordinary girl with a really good intuition. The thought of his best friend being someone's father and him not being nearby on the other hand still ached uncomfortably and Jackson noticed.
"I'm not supposed to tell you but they're planning on visiting you in a few weeks. Well Allison, not so much Scott."
Stiles nodded. " Cool."
Though the small fact seemed to deepen the ache.
"What have you been up to? I know you graduated with a degree in finance right?" Stiles tried cheerfully, changing the subject.
"Right." Jackson nodded. "I'm going into equities and then eventually become a broker. "
"Yeah. It's a good job and I get to set my own hours. And make a boat load of money."
Stiles smiled as he ate. "Congrats to you too."
Jackson took a sip of his drink and looked at Stiles.
"Everyone's fine. We're doing well." And after a moment "He's doing well."
Stiles smiled, though this time he had to fake it.
"We're trying to fortify the area. Make sure there are no traps and other leftovers from those rogue attacks."
Jackson finished off his drink.
"They've died down?" Stiles asked quietly.
"Yeah. It's been quiet. Almost normal." Jackson shook his head slowly.
Stiles frowned, knowing by Jackson's inflection and the steely look in his eyes that that was the worst feeling of all. The sense of false security could be maddening. He felt both sad and empathetic towards the beta.
"Anyway. Did you get the names of the officers that came to your house?"
"Have your dad run those names through his database just to be sure."
"And Stiles, we really need to find out about that device. It's really dangerous. I know Derek's been worried about it for ages."
"Yeah." Stiles agreed. "I'll get to it this weekend. Oh speaking of weekend are you staying the night?"
"No. I got to get back. This place. It gives me the creeps, like someone's watching."
"Oh come on. It's Seattle. The only people watching are 40 year old beatnik poets and stoners. And they're most likely staring off into space until they come down from their highs."
"Just stay alert ok? Do you have anyone you can call to stay with you?"
'Really? Isn't that pushing it over the top?"
"I wouldn't hear the end of it if something happened to you Stilinksi." Jackson mumbled and Stiles hated how that warmed him at the core.
"Fine. I'll have a friend over tomorrow.'
"Friend? From where?"
"George Hallsworth. You want his social security number too?" Stiles muttered, annoyed now.
"Just stay alert alright?" Jackson reasoned signaling for the check.
Jackson parted ways after paying for dinner, quickly disappearing into the forest as Stiles drove away, his mind filled with new information.
As soon as he got home, stomach full and eyes drooping, he hit play on his Netflix account and took out his trusty laptop to do some research. He got through a total of 15 minutes of perusing Google before he resumed his game and eventually drifted off to sleep, his online playlist going through itself and his laptop sitting sideways on his quilt.
Stiles woke the next morning to find the red Netflix screen glowing back at him and his body trapped in place by the edge of the bed and his laptop. He yawned and went to the bathroom to take care of his business and slipped back into bed, this time, under the covers. He turned his laptop back on and resumed his search, the thoughts that had swirled inside his mind now surfacing into the front of his mind.
The sense of false security must be maddening.
He grabbed his phone and dialed Derek's number. It rang once and then an automated voice stated "We're sorry you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service If you feel you have reached this recording in error please check the number and try your call again" in a mechanical tone.
"Good. I didn't really want to talk to him anyway" he tried out loud, but even he could pick up the fake tone in his voice.
He sighed and continued searching; starting with the components he believed to be in the capsule device. Wolfs bane was an obvious, but he couldn't determine what the powder and the gel were made of. He needed someone with a greater level of experience to help him.
He finally searched for chemists and forensics experts in the area and landed on Colin Domell's site, a forensics expert with more than two decades of experience dealing with material tracking and a pretty long list of referrals from satisfied customers.
Stiles parked his jeep in front of a large house that looked like it was built in the 70s with its tall stature and long windows.
He knocked on the door to find an old man wearing a cardigan and holding a cup of tea answering.
"Hi. Is Mr. Domell here?"
"That's me." The old man replied with a smile.
"Uh. I saw your website online." Stiles began
"Ah yes." The man nodded .
"You look. A bit more mature than you do on your website" Stiles shrugged awkwardly.
'Yes. The person doing my website design hasn't updated it. He's busy with college and he said he'd get to it this coming winter."
Stiles nodded. "Uh well I could do it. I know basic HTML."
"Oh no. it's fine. Come in….Mr?"
Come in Mr. Hale. the old man opened his door, the inside of a cozy living room greeting him.
Stiles ignored the 'huh?' that his brain was asking him because his mouth had spoken before he could think. Ignore, Ignore, Ignore he told his brain as he entered.
Mr. Domell's house was like a postcard from the past. There were antique clocks, book cases of leather bound books and carpets that your feet sunk into. It beat the heck out of his tiny apartment and Stiles looked around like a kid in a candy store.
"This place is amazing!"
"Oh thank you. I'm an avid collector of rare things. I like books a lot"
Books are the best. Stiles grinned "No way!"
Stiles rushed to a book case and pointed "a first edition of 80,000 Leagues Under The Sea?"
That's right. I'll get some tea going ok? Mr Domell grinned at Stiles' excitement.
After an hour of touring Mr. Domell's house and listening and asking about his career Stiles finally handed over the capsule in the ziplock bag.
"A friend found it stuck in a…wolf." Stiles began pointing at the device.
"A wolf?" the old man asked, completely intrigued.
"Yeah he lives out in the wilderness and there are wolves that live nearby. Someone had shot this wolf with it and it died on his property."
"I know." Stiles nodded seriously.
Mr. Domell held the capsule up to the light. "Fascinating though"
"Yeah we want to figure out what's inside it."
"So do I "Mr. Domell agreed.
"So how much can will it cost Mr. Domell?" Stiles asked hopefully.
"Arthur please." The old man replied.
"Arthur, how much will this cost me?"
"Oh. Just fix my site and we'll call it even. " the old man waved as he made his way towards the basement.
"Yeah. I mean this is an exquisite mystery you got me on. Fascinating Mr. Hale."
"Stiles." He grinned politely.
"My name is Stiles. Stiles Hale." Stiles replied slowly.
"Very well then" the older man nodded. "Well the computer is upstairs if you want to get started. It'll probably take several hours to get to the bottom of this."
"No worries." Stiles grinned taking his trusty laptop out of his bag. "I got a computer on me pretty much at all times. "
"Except in the shower?" The old man laughed shaking his head.
"Until they make water proof ones." Stiles grinned before booting up.
Stiles sat opposite the old man as he ran tests, the meanwhile working on the website infrastructure and basically revamping the whole thing.
"This is a simply built, but effective site" Stiles acknowledged, stretching slowly after an hour of coding.
"My nephew's son." Mr. Domell spoke back. "He's a freshman studying computer science at state. Just got his first taste of freedom so no time for his great uncle. "
Stiles smiled. He knew what that was like.
The two worked late into the night, neither of them acknowledging the fact that their conversation flowed freely and that the old man had ventured upstairs to prepare a roast chicken and salad for dinner which they both then ate while watching old episodes of "I love Lucy."
Stiles left after falling asleep in front of his computer at two in the morning, promising Mr. Domell that he'd be back the following Friday afternoon.
Stiles called Allison's phone during his lunch break on Monday. She picked up on the second try.
"Hi mommy to be" Stiles smiled against the receiver.
"Ugh. Jackson is completely useless." She grumbled.
"How are you feeling?"
"Good. Tired though" she managed with a yawn.
"We're going to the justice of the peace to get the certificate. Don't want a huge wedding right now."
"Makes sense." Stiles agreed. "Everyone's kind of putting their life on hold huh?" He evaluated quietly.
"Yeah." Allison agreed. "But it's worth it."
"Is it?" He replied quietly.
"Yeah" She affirmed. "You know it is Stiles. No one should have to live in fear."
"So where's Scott?"
"Stiles I don't think it's the best to contact him right now."
"Allison please? I need to talk to him." Stiles pleaded
"Stiles. No." She affirmed sadly. "I have to go ok?" She managed before hanging up.
Stiles sat for a moment staring at his steering wheel for a minute before getting back to his burger. He picked up his phone and dialed the same number again. Then again. And again. She finally picked up after five calls and two voice mails.
"I said no Stiles" her tired voice filtered through the speaker.
"I want to congratulate him. Come on Allison, I've known the guy since he was in diapers."
She sighed. "Alright. But he's going to change his number afterwards ok?"
"That's fine." He agreed readily.
Stiles dialed Scott's number as soon as he was home and in the solace of his apartment.
"Hey man." Scott spoke back uncertainly.
"You're going to be great dad."
"And you're going to be a great uncle. " Scott added warmly.
"So how are you?" Scott continued.
"I'm good. Works keeping me really busy." Stiles provided lying down on the couch.
"Seeing anyone?" Scott inquired slowly.
"You gotta get out there dude. I mean I know we're kind of in a mess right now about the visiting and stuff but It'll be awesome –"
"Can I get his number?" Stiles cut in mid sentence. "Scott?" He continued when there was no response.
"Stiles come on. Don't do this" Scott whined.
"I want to wish him a happy birthday and tell him what I found."
"Tell me." Scott reasoned.
"You'll forget it all in 5 minutes."
'I just want to say happy birthday. That's all."
Stiles had spent an awesome Friday night with Mr. Domell who had sleuthed out the ingredients of the tiny capsule and was now pacing around his apartment the following afternoon.
Stiles couldn't eat anything and opted for two shots of whiskey before calling. The call picked up promptly after the first ring.
"Stiles….How did you?"
"I guilted Scott into giving me it. Please don't be mad at him darling."
There was a silence on the other end, just the sound of Derek dry swallowing.
"I just wanted to tell you what I found out about that capsule device."
"There was Wolfsbane. That's a given right. It also contained compounded White Willow bark which goes by Salicin in pharmacological terms. It's like a stronger version of aspirin and acts like a numbing agent. That's why you just felt worse and worse and weren't really in pain till it got to the point of you know. Killing you."
"The third component?" Derek asked slowly.
"This one was harder to determine but it was in the Bromide family. Bromelain" Stiles provided finally.
"Bromelain." Stiles repeated slowly
"Bromelain." Derek confirmed as he jotted the information down quickly.
"It has anti inflammatory properties. Used to reduce swelling and stiffness." He added quickly.
"Is that all?"
"Thanks, I'll see what I can find from that. We found another one of those pods in a booby trap in the woods. It hit a deer which set it off. I'm sure I can follow up with some sources."
"Ok." Stiles answered, listening to the familiar tone of the alpha's voice.
"We haven't found or heard anything about Mark." Derek added quietly.
"Yeah. My dad said the same thing."
"Are you seeing someone?" Derek spoke softly.
Stiles laughed. "No. No one new."
"Are you alright?" Derek spoke slowly after a pause.
"Yeah. I'm good. Great."Stiles managed, suddenly feeling the loneliness and isolation get the better of him, his voice cracking ever so slightly at the end.
"You don't sound great" Derek acknowledged gently.
"Sorry. Just. I miss you." He managed shutting his eyes tightly at the way he sounded. Derek's voice came through the receiver quickly.
"Stiles I'm coming alright? Just hold on." The alpha's voice sounded rough on the other end.
"No. no I just wanted to hear your voice." Stiles managed. "Just wanted to say hi."
"Stiles." Derek asked waiting for him to give him the go ahead.
"I'm going to hang up ok?" Delete my number from your history. He pushed not wanting to do any further damage.
"Take care of yourself." Derek managed after a pause.
Stiles hung up and deleted Scott's text message with Derek's number and his call history so that he couldn't be tempted again.
He crawled into bed and buried himself under the covers, holding a pillow tightly as the night swept on in an endless dream.
He had forgotten to wish Derek a happy birthday.
TO BE CONTINUED…..