A/N: Picks up after they discover the Kanima is Jackson. Not sure where this came from but it bounced into my mind and won't stop rattling around. If you've come over on author alert – sorry that I've been on hiatus, but at least it's still werewolves – that has to count for something right?
Stiles knew that he was dreaming, he always knew when he was dreaming. It was like the boundary that exists in other people's mind between sleep and awake just wasn't there for him. He could sense the dreams, could he even call them dreams really? Memories - that was what his dreams were, clear, visceral memories of moments in his life that never faded, never went away. Memories that just replayed themselves behind his eyelids over and over again, with a different angle, different vantage point until he could almost taste them.
He knew this dream far too well. He can feel how old he is by the fact that his feet don't touch the ground where they are swinging from the chair. He knows this dream by the steady beep beep drone in the background, a sound that always makes his blood run cold, even if it's just coming from a stupid TV show. He can feel his mouth opening, he knows exactly what he's about to say, how his little boy voice will sound as he trembles out the words, the question he wants to ask his mom that no one else, not his father, not the doctors or nurses who pat him on the head when they pass will answer him.
He's had this dream a thousand, no a million times, and as much as it hurts, it's ok, but he knows exactly how it all pans, he knows how to handle this. He knows how much he loves her, how much he loved her then and still does, how his childish mind was trying to cope with the loss of this thing he called 'family', how her not being a part of it will destroy him and his dad, how they will never be the same again even though they survive, stumbling through life carrying this huge empty void with them. They've found their own ways over the years. His dad uses work, allowing each case to literally take him over, absorb him, fill up that void, give him a purpose, a reason to keep going. Stiles feels himself take a breath in his sleep, the dream memory taking over his thoughts again before he allows himself to dwell on how he survives.
But as the dream memory pulls him back in Stiles can feel that it's wrong – something has changed, this isn't right, he fights for control of the dream, for how it should feel, but his feet are hitting the floor as he stands up from the chair he should be sitting on, that he's always sitting on, and his voice doesn't tremble and it's not the child's voice it should be. It's hard and angry and full of venom as he spits out the words he's always said with such fear, except now it's not a question, he's not meekly asking, he's demanding. He's angry, angry with the person, angry with the world, angry with himself. Stiles tries to fight the dream, tries desperately to control it, because this is how he survives, this is how he keeps going by being able to control things. But Stiles can't control what's happening and he's never been more terrified in his life because if he can't control this dream everything will come crumbling down around him.
He's too tall, as tall as his is now almost, and he's not wearing the little t-shirt and shorts that he's always wearing, the check shirt flashes by his eyes as he points in anger, as he's watching the dream unfold in a way it mustn't, it can't. His heart is racing as he tries to force it back to the way he should be but the words are already out, spat into the air with hatred and it feels like they are vibrating in the air around him.
"Are you dying?"
They should be whispered, they should break with a small sob at the end, they should be followed by a gentle trail of fingertips over the top of his head as she whispers back to him the words that tell him everything he needs to know. But everything is wrong now, there are no whispers, there are no fingertips, the look on her face is pained and resigned and she's not supposed to look like that, like she needs him to save her, like it all depends on him, she can't….please don't let her….
It cuts through his heart like a knife, and he bolts awake in bed, throwing back tangled covers and staggering out of the door. Shoving himself into the bathroom as the feeling forces its way through his body, doubling him over, leftover chilli making a vile repeat visit. He leans back again the sink, trembling all over, turning and grabbing some water to rinse his mouth out, he looks at himself in the mirror. His eyes are wide and pupils are dilated. He leans across and flips open the cabinet, searching for the bottle with shaking hands but as he pulls it out, he drops it suddenly.
He doesn't want to concentrate. He doesn't want to figure this out. He doesn't want to know anymore. He's tired, so very tired. He's tried to take care of them, he's tried to protect them all – his dad, Scott, Lydia, Allison, now even Jackson, even ….. Stiles shuts down, he can't, he can't do it anymore. Not when it feels like this. Not when it feels like….
He bangs his fist down angrily, no – this is not the same. He will not let it be the same. He doesn't have a family. He has his dad, that's it. Just him and his dad, he lost his family in that room. He does not have a family. He is not p…. He grimaces at his reflection, refuses to finish the thought and bangs the cupboard closed angrily, sweeping the bottle off the counter and on to the floor. He sets his face determinedly, he refuses. That's it, he refuses to choose. He's done, he's out. It's over.
He pulls the hoody over his t-shirt and shoves his feet into some sneakers. His hand reaches out for the keys to his jeep before remembering that it's still impounded. He sighs, he doesn't care anymore. It's over. Pulling the door behind him he steps out into the cool night air, the breeze makes him shiver as it eats through the thin sleep pants he is wearing. He pulls the hood up, sticks his fists deep into the pockets and begins to walk.
By the time he is finally tired he's lost track of where he is, for a moment he panics, suddenly acutely aware that it is night, there are wolves, hunters, kanima, not to mention probably regular old murderers, thieves and rapists wandering around at night and he doesn't even have a cell phone on him and he's wearing essentially pjs. But then he remembers, remembers that he doesn't care, that this is the point of it all. That he has given up, he is handing back control to whatever forces of darkness control this town now.
Stiles sits wearily on a nearby bench, part of him is sad, he feels bad for his dad, but this way is easiest, no more lying, hiding, being caught in the middle of everything unexplainable. But mostly he is calm, a strange sensation really. He's fought for so long to be in control that letting go is almost pleasant. No more choices. No more pain. No more memories.
Briefly he wonders what will find him first, how he will die, he wonders what face death will wear when it comes for him – lizard, wolf or human even? Then slowly, for the first time he can ever remember, Stiles slips into sleep, real peaceful sleep that has no dreams, no memories, just fuzzy colours and a sense of calm.
The colours get brighter, stronger, more harsh until Stile's has his eyes screwed up tight, this is it he thinks, it is time. Death is here and it's bright and vivid and….
Stiles cocks his head to the side… Death sounds like candy wrappers?
He tries to sit up and flails unexpectedly due largely to having fallen asleep on a narrow bench. A solid hand grabs hold of his sleeve and rights him. Stiles drags his eyes open and tries to focus on… Boyd? The guy is sitting on the other end of the bench, chewing thoughtfully on some kind of candy bar.
"What are you doing here?" Stiles manages to mumble out, is Boyd Death? Or is he just here to kill him on Death's orders?
Boyd shrugs and stands up from the bench, loosening his shoulders as he does so in an nonchalant manner "Waiting for the bus" he says nodding as indeed the school bus begins to pull towards the stop that Stiles hadn't seen on his night wanderings. As the doors open in front of them, Boyd steps back slightly and motions towards Stiles "Are you getting on?"
Stiles isn't sure why he steps up onto the bus, after all he is only wearing sleep pants and a t-shirt under his hoody, he has no book bag, no money, no phone, he hasn't showered or even brushed his teeth and he's pretty sure that he is doing a good impression of being homeless right now. But what he really can't figure out is why he's still alive, that wasn't the plan at all. He was supposed to sit there, and Death was supposed to find him. Death has been chasing him for this long he was really just supplying the helping hand.
He slides into the seat that Boyd is nudging him towards, squeezing up against the window because, you know, Boyd is a pretty big guy and these seats aren't particularly generous. He turns his attention back to the bench, the empty space he had chosen to surrender himself to Death and frowns slightly, certain it hadn't looked like that last night, or this morning whenever it was. One thing was clear, if the huge amount of litter around the bench was anything to go by, Death had eaten a hell of a lot of candy.