Thanks to those of you who are still with me. I appreciate your patience. ^_^ This is the chapter where I'm starting the actual tie-in to the 4400... and we learn what happened to Stiles. ^_~
Again, assuming that most of you have made your way here via Teen Wolf, if you're interested in a quick, less than three minute crash course in the 4400 canon... check out this video: "eirenical . tumblr post / 40257860963 / the-4400-season-2-premiere-ad-its-for-the". It's the season 2 promo, but it serves as a wonderful summary for the entire show. ^_^ Enjoy!
It was over. Somehow, they'd won. Gerard was dead, or as good as, and the Kanima's vengeance was gone along with him. And with her grandfather exposed for what he was - in the end, nothing but a scared old man who'd wanted to live more than he wanted to do what was right - Allison had backed down from her need for vengeance, as well. The best part of all, though? Scott - Stiles' goofy, lovable, Boy Scout of a friend - had been the one to make it all happen. If Stiles hadn't been so exhausted, he'd have done a dance of pride and joy. Scott was usually content to let Stiles do their plotting, their scheming and planning, but he was no idiot, either. He was fully capable of doing his own plotting, scheming and planning - and Stiles enjoyed nothing more than those rare occasions when his friend stepped up to the masterminding plate.
It had paid off, today. They'd won the day and walked away virtually unscathed. And with saving the world finally out of the way, Stiles had a long overdue appointment with his shower and his bed that he intended to keep. There was so much he needed to wash away and forget... the game, the kidnapping, losing his chance with Lydia before he even realized he had one... the final battle - the day had been rotten all around and Stiles was done. He was beyond done. He would be there for his friend whenever Scott needed him... but right now, he just needed a break. He needed to go home, make up some excuse to his father for why he'd gone out again and then retreat to his bedroom and sleep for a week. Only it wasn't to be.
At about the halfway point on his way home, Stiles noticed an odd sparkling of lights coming from somewhere outside and overhead. He thought about stopping, thought about calling Scott, Derek, Dr. Deaton... whoever, but in the end, he just decided that he didn't care. He couldn't care. He didn't have the energy. So, instead, he drove right past it. Done. Really. Just, done. Someone else could take care of whatever this was. Stiles didn't want any damned part of it. Not tonight.
Only... six blocks from his house, the lights were still overhead. They were still there five blocks from the house, too. Four blocks away, the sparkling light was so bright that he had to pull down the visor on the car, actually thought about pulling out his sunglasses to deal with the glare, too. Three blocks from home, he had to stop completely - it was too bright to keep driving and the sparkling lights were giving him huge sunspots in his vision. He got out of the car to try to figure out what on earth had been following him all this way... and had just enough time to look up and say, "Oh, come on!" before the light swept him away into darkness.
When Stiles next opened his eyes after that flash of blinding light, he was not where he expected to be. As he turned to look around, he almost lost his footing in the shifting sands beneath his feet and his brain mentally catalogued it as a clue to his location. Once he'd caught himself he turned again, more carefully this time, and took in the glass-like water behind him and the tremendous mountain looming beyond that. His heart sank. He didn't know this place, had never been here before... and he wasn't alone. There were hundreds of other people standing on the beach with him, maybe even thousands. Something was definitely rotten in the state of California - if he was even still in the state of California. Somehow, he was beginning to doubt that he was.
After taking that moment to take stock of his situation, the full impact of what he was seeing finally caught up. Stiles had no idea where he was. He had no idea who any of these people were. And somehow, he'd been transported from his Jeep - when he'd been three damned blocks away from home - to somewhere that was completely unknown to him. Even Gerard couldn't have arranged this.
Stiles turned again, tried to find some point of reference other than that damned mountain that would help him figure out where he was but quickly found that moving more than a few paces in any one direction was impossible in this crowd of people. An imprudent movement on his part nearly had Stiles stepping on the feet of a woman in bell bottoms and a psychedelic shirt. He backed away from her just to bump into a tall dark-skinned man in an old-time air force uniform. He stared up at the man for a moment, appreciating the view - Stiles was never too out of it to appreciate a pair of dark, brooding eyes and a well-muscled physique - then moved to get out of his way, too. When that courtesty had him crashing into yet another person and his rebound from that had him stepping on the toes of a fourth, Stiles threw up his hands and frantically windmilled them in front of himself in an effort to keep from getting into anyone else's personal space. What the everloving fuck was going on? Had he been kidnapped to a beach costume party this time? It just didn't make any sense. What was even the point?
When it became clear that everyone around him was content to just stand there milling around and staring at each other like sheep, Stiles decided that he'd had enough. They might be content to stand around dumbly and wait for the slaughter, but Stiles wasn't. He was going to find out what the hell was going on here and he was going to get himself home.
Stiles started jostling his way through the crowd, trying to find at least a four foot space with no one else in it. At first he was polite, asking people to please let him through, but when that proved entirely ineffective in this chaos, he resorted to shoving. He just needed to get out of the crowd. He needed to see what was happening. He needed to know. But when he got to the front of the crowd, he almost wished he hadn't. This was so much more than what he'd thought he'd find, even given the already extraordinary circumstances. They were surrounded by government agents and camera crews. What the hell? The government agents at least made sense in an odd conspiracy theory kind of what, but... camera crews? All of his experience with strangeness of this magnitude told him that it took place in silence, in secret... far away from media attention. This was way beyond anything he had a basis to understand.
Stiles turned a slow circle back away from the cameras to take in the people in his immediate vicinity. Maybe someone else knew something that he didn't. It stood to reason, didn't it? Someone had to know something. His gaze eventually settled on a woman who had come to this party as underdressed as Stiles had. She was small and had dark brown hair that curled just enough to suggest ringlets, but was unkempt and tangled. She was dressed in her pajamas, her feet bare, toes wiggling nervously in the dry sand as though unable to keep still. Stiles felt an instant stab of empathy for her - he didn't much feel as though he could keep still, himself, right now. Before he could open his mouth to ask her anything, though, she turned a mournful look on the crowd around them, dark eyes lost and confused. She looked like Stiles felt. She whispered, "Mistake. This world is a mistake. We're spinning out of control. I don't belong here."
Stiles gaped at her for a minute, then hung his head and muttered, "Oh man. Thousands of people on this beach and I have to end up next to the one person more out there than me." He looked back up at her, eyes narrowed, "If you start singing 'Two by two, hands of blue,' I am going to be officially creeped out - way more than I am already." At the woman's blank look, he rolled his eyes, "Because you look kind of like... you know what? Never mind." He started slowly edging away, more determined than ever that he needed to get the hell out of here and get home. He turned and made a break for the trees, because whatever the hell was going on here, he did not want to have any part of it and if his dad had been freaking out earlier, he had to be completely flipping his lid by now.
He didn't get very far. One of the government types caught him before he'd even made it as far as the tree line and tossed him back with the others. He was none too gentle about it, either. Stiles landed hard on the ground, the jarring as he fell causing every bruise on his body to sing out its own note of awakened pain. He sat there, dazed, unsure whether he should laugh or start crying. He'd been done with this day already - so done - and had wanted nothing more than to go home. Why was nothing ever as easy as that?
As though Stiles' rough treatment had been a signal to stir from their stupor, the voices of those nearest Stiles started rising, a few crying, some shouting. He picked out English, Spanish, Japanese, something that he thought might have been Hindi - all those voices and all so frightened. As each person's voice started rising, it had a contagious effect on those around it and the overall noise level started to climb, the aimless milling started to take on more energy, more purpose. It was a bad idea to stay on the ground. Stiles knew it. It was a horrible idea. The more upset everyone got, the more likely they were to trample someone trapped underfoot - Stiles had seen it happen in Black Friday crowds gone ugly. He knew he needed to get up off the ground, but for the first time in years... he just couldn't. His mind knew what had to happen, but his body was locked, frozen, unable to enact it. His heart started to speed up, his breath to come in shorter pants that weren't bringing in anywhere near enough air. It had been years, but his body recognized the feel of this all too well... he was having a panic attack.
Stiles sat there on the ground for a minute, gasping for air, then started grasping at anything within his reach to get help - the hard leather of someone's boot, the swirl of someone's skirt, the fall of someone's pant leg, anything... but no one paid him any heed. He curled in on himself, tucked his head between his knees in a last-ditch effort to regain control... and just when he started to think that any hope of help was a fantasy just out of reach, a warm hand descended on his shoulder and a worried voice spoke four words into his ear like a Godsend of a distraction:
"Hey, man... you OK?"
The hand started rubbing warm, soothing circles around his back and up onto his neck... and it helped. Stiles hadn't expected that. Not even his father's touch had been able to soothe him out of panic attacks this quickly. But this touch... this touch was... shit. Stiles didn't have a word for what it was, but somehow that one touch, alone, forced the panic to unlock its hold on Stiles' airways and let him get a desperate breath of oxygen into his starved lungs. When he was finally able to look up there was a pair of dark brown eyes barely a foot from his and the boy they belonged to couldn't have been any older than Stiles. He wore a sherpa lined jeans jacket and a red shirt and had a tousled mop of tawny brown hair. He leaned closer to Stiles, a concerned look on his face, and asked again, "Seriously, dude, you OK?"
Was he OK? Stiles let a small smile slide onto his lips as he nodded. When everyone else had ignored him,, this boy had stopped, had helped him. In spite of the situation, Stiles felt a laugh start to bubble up from somewhere inside him - wouldn't you just know? Another Boy Scout. He was clearly just as scared as Stiles, but still, he'd done what he could to help - like Scott would have. Man, if only Scott were here. Then this wouldn't seem so... weird. Wait. Scott. Before the other boy could ask anymore questions, Stiles pulled out his phone and shot off a quick text to Scott to let him know that he was all right because someone had to be missing him by now - they had to be.
-DUDE. You are NOT going to believe what just happened to me. I know you and Allison are probably busy, uh... "making up," but... call me?-
That accomplished, Stiles felt instantly better. This was not going to be like last time. This time, Scott was going to come for him. Stiles just knew it. He smiled, took a deep breath, then another, and another. With each breath, the next came easier until he was breathing normally again - normally enough to pass, anyway. Pulling a shaky smile on, Stiles finally answered the other boy's earlier questions, "If you're going through hell, keep going, right?"
He hadn't expected anyone to recognize what he was quoting - hell, he'd never heard it before Ms. Morrell had thrown it at him in therapy and Stiles considered himself fairly well-read - but before the other boy could even ask what he was talking about, the creepy River Tam look-alike bent over and finally smiled, lifted a finger in front of her and solemnly intoned, "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Give us the tools and we will finish the job." She then looked at them both expectantly.
Stiles looked at the other boy and raised an eyebrow. The other boy looked back at him and shrugged. They both turned back to the woman, but Stiles was the one who asked the question, "Dude... what?"
She frowned, then hunched in on herself and said sadly, "I thought this was a game - a quoting game. I like quoting games. I have an excellent memory for books."
Stiles winced at the woman's downtrodden expression. There was something fragile about the woman, something that made him loathe to upset her further... made him want to see her smile again, if he could.
...and it had nothing to do with the fact that she looked like Summer Glau. Nothing.
"Winston Churchill, right?" When the woman's smile blossomed under someone else's gaze, Stiles resigned himself to losing her attention to this person who had guessed her quote correctly. And of course it had been Winston Churchill. She'd probably recognized his quote and that was where she'd gotten the idea for her own from. Stupid. If he'd figured that out and guessed... Damn. Another opportunity to impress a girl lost before it was even recognized. Stiles stood, brushed himself off and turned, hoping to catch a glimpse of the person who had spoken... and found himself face to face with a little girl. She smiled understandingly up at him, then turned and melted back into the crowd before Stiles could even ask her name.
Stiles turned back to the Summer Glau look-alike to ask her name, grateful for the second chance, but before he could even get the question out, the official-looking men and women around them started moving in, separating them into smaller groups and moving them off the beach. Now, Stiles hadn't exactly wanted to stay on the beach, but he wanted to go where these men were taking him even less. Where the hell was Scott, anyway? He glanced down at his phone and cursed, only then realizing that he still hadn't heard back from his friend. Thrown over twice in one night? What the hell? They were going to have a serious talk about the responsibilities of friendship when Stiles got home.
As Stiles' eyes started to resume their earlier panicked haze when the crowd jostled around him, the boy who'd helped him before put a hand back on his shoulder and shook his head. Stiles swallowed down his fear and nodded. The other boy smiled, "It's gonna be OK, Stiles. We're practically in my backyard - Mt. Rainier isn't more than a couple of hours from where I live. With all those camera crews, this has to have made the local news. My family has to have seen it." There was a promise in that - that the boy's family would come looking for him, might even find him, and could maybe help them both out of this mess. Stiles nodded to show he understood. The other boy smiled, tightened his grip on Stiles' shoulder once more before they were separated. He yelled back over his shoulder, "Stiles! My name's Shawn Farrell! You got a last name so I can find you, again, later?"
Stiles yelled back, "Stilinski!" just before he was nearly yanked off his feet by a scowling man in body armor. He held up his hands and said, "Whoa, dude! Careful. I've had a rough day, you know. A little gentleness wouldn't kill you." He was still protesting his treatment when they started loading him onto the truck, still stalling to see where they'd taken Shawn and his Summer Glau clone. He never found them. He could only hope that Shawn would have better luck finding him when they got to wherever they were going.
Those first days after their appearance on the beach - the beach by Mt. Rainier, Stiles' memory supplied - were busy, filled with tests and debriefings and questions. They were kept as isolated as the government could manage, held in special bunkers by the National Threat Assessment Command and allowed as little contact as possible, even with each other. Stiles figured that NTAC just didn't want any of the detainees putting the dots together before those in charge could do it - and given what Stiles had seen of most of agents he'd spoken to... well, that was pretty likely. They weren't all the brightest bulbs in the pack. But, Stiles already had a few theories and suspicions that he didn't want to examine too closely and he was sure that some of the other detainees did, too... and none of them were all to eager to share with those holding them captive.
They'd asked him questions - a lot of questions - trying to avoid coming to the same conclusions that Stiles was avoiding examining too closely, probably. One agent, in particular, had seemed pretty on the ball when she'd questioned him, anyway, had hit a little too close to home with her own theories. Stiles had to be extra careful around her - she had a nose for a lie and she wasn't above grilling a 16 year old kid if it got her the answers she wanted. And it had been more tryinng than he'd expected, coming up with those answers. After all... it was one thing to say he'd been driving around in his Jeep at 3 AM - it was wholly another to explain why a sixteen year old boy had been out that late alone driving around. Best to keep it simple, something he could remember, Stiles had thought to himself - he was an accomplished liar by now and that ability often stood him in good stead. It was no different here - well, except for the part that lying to NTAC might constitute treason for all he knew. Still, treason versus giving up his friends to the government lab rat community? No contest. So, he gave them what he could without giving away things he shouldn't, gave them just enough stereotypical truth to make his story plausible. Of course, they bought it, hook, line and sinker. After all... who wouldn't trust a 16 year old kid? Stiles couldn't help but laugh every time he had that thought - who wouldn't trust a 16 year old kid? Anyone who had one... and Agent Skouris.
Still, eventually even Agent Skouris seemed satisfied and the questions slowed, the tests stopped... and then the waiting began. It was clear that the government wanted to hold onto them until they figured out what had happened, where they'd come from. It was equally clear that no such answer would be forthcoming from any of the "returnees," as they were now being called. But what do you do with thousands of people who you won't release back to their lives... or who you can't release back to their lives?
Three days later, Stiles had his answer and some doubts as to whether what NTAC was doing was even legal, holding them all here against their will. He'd been tagged, processed and given a number - #2,118 - along with the 4,399 other people who had suddenly popped out of nowhere onto that beach with him. And really, that perfectly round number was just insult added to injury. 4400 people? You couldn't tell him that with a number that perfect there hadn't been some kind of intelligence behind all of this. Coincidences that big are never coincidences.
Stiles had been issued his very own wardrobe of hideous mustard tan clothing - seriously, it was all mustard tan and that was a color so hideous that Stiles hadn't even realized it existed and would have been perfectly happy continuing to never know it existed - and after much begging and pleading, he'd been given back his cell phone along with an admonition that he wouldn't be able to use it. He bit back telling the officer, "Duh," by the skin of his teeth when it was handed over. It was pretty obvious that he wasn't going to get any reception in a secret government quarantine bunker, but sassing the people who were actually cutting him a break wouldn't earn him any favors. So, communications would be strictly monitored - which sucked... but wasn't exactly unexpected. Stiles just wished that Scott had responded to his text before he'd been shoved into this cell phone dead zone with the rest of the returnees.
With a heavy sigh, Stiles shifted his grip on his government-issued belongings and carted them over to his very own cot with its very own trunk at the foot - a cot and trunk that were identical to the hundreds of other cots in this warehouse-like room. NTAC had given up on trying to keep them all separated - there just wasn't the space - but they were at least being split into groups of 500 or so. That would make things a bit less crowded than it could have been... but it would also make it that much more likely that Stiles would never find the only two people he sort of knew. He was more disappointed by that than he could easily explain.
Stiles dropped his belongings into his trunk, flopped down onto his bed and pulled out his phone, fingers automatically moving to open the text program. It wasn't until after he'd typed, "Hey, man, sorry I never texted again the other night, but you are not going to BELIEVE what's been going on," that his brain caught up with his fingers and stopped him from hitting send.
No signal. Right. Fuck.
Canceling the text, he sat up and surveyed the room. People were milling around, claiming beds according to their numbers. Stiles thought he recognized a few of them from that first night on the beach, but it was hard to tell with everyone wearing the same hideous clothing. He recognized a few others from having run into them during the debriefing process, but most of his new roommates were a complete unknown to him and in the mood he was in he just wasn't ready to deal with it. Rolling over, Stiles tucked his face into his government issue pillow, tucked his cell phone into the crook of his neck for reassurance and drifted off into an uneasy but much needed nap.
Later that afternoon, Stiles awoke feeling more tired and out of sorts than he had when he'd gone to sleep. Napping in the middle of the day always left him feeling groggy and it was even worse in here. The artificial lighting made it impossible to tell what time of day it truly was and it washed everything and everyone out into the same shades of mustard tan and yellow that made up their clothing. Stiles hated it already and he'd been here less than a day. He checked his phone automatically, cursed when there was still no signal and worse, no text from Scott. Shoving the phone into his back pocket, Stiles decided to make his way into the room and see if he couldn't find a familiar face, or at least feel out what the hierarchy here was going to be like. It looked like he was going to be here for awhile, so he was going to have to make the best of it.
Stiles' first circuit of the room at least gave him an idea of the general layout. The beds were sectioned off on one side of the room, hastily erected partitions sectioning them further into small room-like areas with ten beds to a "room." At least it was no worse than summer camp, that way. Then again... whenever Stiles had been to summer camp, Scott had been with him.
Swallowing the melancholy that thought produced, Stiles turned back to his survey of the room. The other half of the room was devoted to dining tables and social areas... which was just exactly what it sounded like it should be. There were a few ping pong tables and decks of cards, but other than a few TVs with selections of DVDs and gaming systems that Stiles was fair drooling to get his hands on after three days of living low tech, it was like a prison common room - nothing else but tables and chairs. Stiles supposed he should be grateful they'd even been given this much, but he really wasn't in a gracious mood. Past the dining tables there was a row of cubicles - like the kind that prisoners go into in the movies to chat with their visitors. There was to be no contact between the returnees and the people who might visit them from the other side of the glass... but worse, the only people who came to visit were NTAC. No family. No friends. And after three days, Stiles was starting to get a little frantic to find a way to let his father and Scott know that he was OK.
That was the idea, though, Stiles supposed. No contact. No contamination.
Stiles was already starting to hate the word.
Once he'd finished making his survey of the room, Stiles took stock of the various groups at the tables. The room hadn't filled up, yet, and the hundred people who were already assigned to this bunker were dwarfed by the sheer size of the space. They huddled together at the tables, speaking in hushed whispers, eyes darting around in quick, nervous glances every time someone new walked by.
Well, Stiles was used to odd glances when he walked into a room - he was a teenager and an awkward one, at that. This was no worse than the school lunchroom. Actually, considering that occasionally one of the glances tossed his way was a friendly one, it was a damned sight better than the school lunchroom. So. Make the best of it. Stiles needed information. That meant he'd just have to take a few chances. Reminding himself firmly that this wasn't the school cafeteria, when the next friendly glance passed his way, Stiles took it for the invitation it was and, with a wide smile firmly in place, walked over, sat down and started talking.
When they called 30 minutes until lights out, Stiles' head was reeling and he was more than glad of the break. He'd talked to as many people as he could stand talking to and he hadn't liked the answers he'd gotten. A lead weight had formed in the pit of his stomach as he considered the potential ramifications of his theory, but he ignored it as best he could. There was nothing he could do about it in any case, so there was no point dwelling on it.
Instead, Stiles made his way back to his sleeping area and his cot, still chewing over his discoveries. The last of the people assigned to this quarantine facility were trickling in and finding their bunks and it made it a bit difficult to get where he needed to go. He was starting to feel as cornered as he had on the beach, but before he had a chance to truly work himself up, an amused - and familiar - voice spoke up from the direction of his bunk and said, "Stiles Stilinski, right? I told you it would be OK! How you doin', man? And by the way... 'Stiles Stilinski'? Your parents must have had it in for you young, huh?"
Stiles spun around to face his bed, lips stretching into a wide grin as he took in the equally mustard tan clad form settling onto the cot next to his. He laughed, "Dude. It's a nickname - Stilinkski... Stiles. Right?" He walked over and perched on the edge of his cot across from Shawn, "Man. Talk about a sight for sore eyes, though - this was starting to feel like middle school, all over again, with the not knowing anyone and the no one caring to know me and..." He trailed off, then just said, "It's good to see a friendly face."
Shawn smiled back at him, reached out to pat his shoulder before turning to put his things in his own trunk, "You're not kidding. This whole thing is freaking me out. Have they told you anything?"
Stiles shook his head, leaned over to rest his elbows on his knees. Within seconds, he was chewing on his thumbnail, the opposite leg bouncing nervously beneath him. Shawn lifted an eyebrow at that, but didn't say a word about it, just gave Stiles the time he needed to get his thoughts in order and get the words out.
Eventually Stiles said, "None of the official people have said anything... but something's really wrong here. I mean... they're going to a lot of trouble to keep us from contacting anyone from the outside, but they're not keeping us from talking to each other, anymore, right?" When Shawn nodded, Stiles continued, "I spent some time talking to people today while we were all getting settled in. I talked to one guy who thinks it's December, a little girl this morning who thinks it's March."
Shawn frowned as he moved to sit on his own bed across from Stiles, "Well, that's weird."
"I know, right? Because it's June."
Shawn's frowned deepened, "Wait. No, it's not. It's April."
Stiles grinned and pointed straight at Shawn, "Exactly."
Shawn hung his head and made a noise of frustation, "Has anyone ever mentioned that you are not a very easy guy to follow in conversation?"
Stiles laughed, "Scott used to, but given time, I'm told you get used to it." He waved off Shawn's confusion, then and continued, "Look, here's the thing - someone obviously tampered with our memories, Shawn - or tampered with something - because none of this adds up. The last thing I remember, I was driving home. It was late at night - in June - and this ball of light appeared in the sky and the next thing I know... I'm on that beach with all of you. The little girl was picking flowers for her parents and it was the middle of the day and raining. She's from California, just like me, but Shawn... argh. I'm explaining this badly."
When Shawn waved him to continue, Stiles stood up, started pacing, "Have you really talked to anyone over the last few days? If we all thought it was a different month, that would be weird enough, but we don't all just think it's different months, Shawn. We think it's different years."
Shawn slowly stood, eyes wide, "You're not kidding, are you?"
"No. No, I'm not. Fuck, do I wish I was, though. You have no idea how crazy this has been driving me today and how glad I am that there's finally someone here I can talk to about it." Stiles shook his head, "OK, look. Just... hear me out, OK?" When Shawn nodded, Stiles shot him a brief smile then resumed his pacing, lengthened the area he was pacing in, "The last thing I remember, it was June 18, 2012. December guy thinks it's 2004 and the girl, Maia... she remembers it being March 3, 1946, Shawn. How is that even fucking possible?"
Shawn reached out a hand, caught Stiles as he went past, relief written on his face, "June 18, 2012? That's what you said?" Stiles nodded but before he could open his mouth to answer, Shawn slumped, "April 22, 2012." He looked up, smile widening, "That's not so bad, right? I can't have missed much in two months, right? Did I even miss anything in the last two months?"
"Uh..." Stiles paused, searching his brain for a non-werewolf related event that he could share. It was harder to come up with one than he'd thought it would be. His preoccupation with Scott's condition had kept Stiles from following much of anything going on outside of Beacon Hills for a while, now. After a few minutes of thinking, he snapped his fingers and said, "Oh, hey! I know one cool thing that happened last month! Obama finally declared a position on gay marriage."
Shawn blinked but rolled with it, "For?"
"Pfft. Of course, for," Stiles said, "He's a Democrat and he wants to get reelected. He's not an idiot. Still... cool. Right?"
Shawn smiled, "Right. It's all good."
Stiles shook off Shawn's hands and resumed pacing. Eventually, slowly, with great reluctance he said, "Thing is, Shawn... I'm starting to think I missed more than the few seconds it felt like I did. And I don't think you only missed two months, either. I think we all missed more time than we thought we did. I don't know how much... but I think it's been months, maybe a year, maybe more - for both of us. I talked to a guy earlier today who thought it was February of 2014." He sat down on his bed, clamped his hands between his knees. His next words were said in a harsh whisper, "How do we know that we won't find someone out there who's from as far in the future of us as we are from Maia?"
Shawn sat down across from him, put a hand on his knee and said, "We won't." He sounded so certain that Stiles had to look up. Shawn's eyes showed just as much certainty as his voice had displayed. He said, "I refuse to believe that in the year 2078, those suits are still in style and people are still carrying iPhone 4s. It's not possible. I'll give you the one or two years, but much more than that? Stiles, not enough has changed. So, that's pretty unlikely. Stop stressing about it."
Stiles took a deep breath, let it back out. At Shawn's raised eyebrow, Stiles offered him a wan smile, "You're right. Of course, you're right. Still, though... two years..." Stiles hung his head further, let out a bitter laugh, "If it's been two years, most of my friends will be graduating high school. They'll be older than me, now." He froze, slowly looked up, eyes widened in horror, "Two years... Oh my G-d. My dad." Before Shawn could do anything to prevent it, Stiles was off his cot and pushing his way through the crowds of people moving in the other direction to get to one of the booths where they could talk to the people from NTAC.
Shawn reached him before he'd made it halfway, caught his elbow and said, "Stiles! Jesus, man, you gotta slow down. We're all in the same boat." When Stiles tried to get around him, Shawn tightened his hold and said, "Stiles, I know these people. My uncle works for NTAC. You're not going to get anything accomplished by causing a ruckus ten minutes before lights out on the first night, OK? Come on. Let's go back to our cots. We'll figure this out. I'm sure once my uncle finds out I'm here, he'll come talk to me, tell me what's going on. Until then... just chill, OK?"
Stiles shook off Shawn's restraining hands and just stood there, head down for a moment before straightening. "Right. I can do that." He took a deep breath, "I can do that." A heartbeat later he said emphatically, "Fuck. Dude, I hate this. I really don't do well with forced inactivity, especially when there is major conspiracy theory, alien abduction shit going down around my ears."
A short laugh in answer, "Yeah, I can see that." Shawn lifted a hand, lightly punched Stiles in the shoulder. When Stiles looked at him, Shawn said, "How about we see if we can sneak our way into the video games they brought in once they turn out the lights? If we play with headsets, and keep the noise down, I doubt anyone'll notice... and in two years, there have to have been some sweet improvements in that arena. What do you say?"
Stiles looked back towards the wall of communication booths for a moment, as though he might change his mind, but Shawn relaxed when Stiles briefly closed his eyes, allowed himself to be distracted from his worry. Stiles' shoulders went down, his head went up and he turned towards the video game corner with its large flat screen TVs with a look that Shawn could only describe as predatory. Stiles rubbed his hands together and cackled gleefully, "I say you're on, man... and you have no idea what you're getting into."
For anyone who is familiar with or found their way here via The 4400... Welcome! :D Anyway, you may have noticed that I've taken a few liberties. To make the timelines work for plans I have later down the line, I've shifted the 4400 canon timeline 10 years in the future. Also, as a result, Shawn was missing for two years instead of three. Both he and Stiles are 16 and at the end of their sophomore year of high school when they're taken. It's academic, really, but I'm a detail hound and in case any of you are, too... there you go. ^_^
Questions, comments, papaya?