The young man had been left in a careless heap, like a forgotten doll, the dog tags resting in the hollow of his throat in a pool of sticky blood. Stiles reached out to gently touch the back of the man's hand, feeling the cold stiffness of a long dead body. This was the third body. No matter what Stiles tried he couldn't seem to save anyone.
Blue and red lit the small back ally, forcing Stiles to blink rapidly as his eyes tried to adjust to the blinding light. "Put your hands up," his dad's voice called behind the flashes.
"Peter's going to kill me." Stiles whispered raising his hands slowly into the air. He fought down the sudden urge to just run, knowing that no matter how bad it looked to be found kneeling next to a dead body, running away from one would be even worse.
"Stiles?" Deputy Stillinski, not his father Stiles reminded himself, gasped with an edge of horror to his voice.
"He was just laying here. He's so cold. I checked and there's no pulse." Stiles could hear the shocky quality of his own voice and snapped his mouth shut so quickly that he almost bit his tongue. Inside his own mind his voice continued, why can't I stop this, why can't a save them?
"Son, I need you to come with me?" Stiles found himself nodding as he rose, reacting more to the echo of his father in that voice than the command of an officer of the Beacon Hills' police force.
He was guided gently to the back of the police car, his head covered with a firm hand as he ducked into the caged back seat. The deputy remained silent as he drove to the police station, glancing back often to look at the younger man in the back of the car.
"We're going to have to ask you some questions, son." Stiles startled at the sound. He was starting to think that his father would remain silent for the entire trip. "You seem to have turned up at quite a few of the crime scenes these last few weeks. People are starting to question you motives. Twice is a coincidence…"
"Three times is a pattern," Stiles finished. He didn't miss the startled look the deputy sent back his way in the review mirror. He bit the inside of his lip at the slip. It was getting harder and harder to keep his knowledge from his old reality from slipping into this one. Plus, being so close to his father made his chest ache with a longing to just come clean, throw the whole thing out there and take a chance that he would believe him instead of locking him up in the nearest padded cell.
Instead he kept his mouth firmly shut and spoke only to answer, as politely as possible, all the questions that Deputy Stillinski and others from the force asked him.
Hours passed. The small office he had been left in was cold and sterile, nothing more than a long table and a couple of chairs. Stiles had tucked on leg up onto the chair, propping his chin on his knee with his arms wrapped around his shin. His t-shirt didn't keep the chill of the room from slowly sapping the heat from his body and Stiles found himself shivering.
The door opened to reveal a deputy that Stiles didn't know, one that didn't exist in his reality. "Mr. Hale is here to take you home." Swallowing the lump that formed in his throat, Stiles followed hoping that it was Derek and not Peter.
His luck sucked. Peter was waiting for him, leaning casually against the counter talking calmly with another officer, his face sporting his 'pleasant citizen' mask. "Stiles," he smiled. "You said you were going to the corner store for a snack. We've been worried. You should have called." Turning a pointed look toward the officers, Peter added. "He really should have called."
The office glanced down and away from Peter's stare. "Mr. Stillinski has been connected to a few of murders at this point."
"Mr. Stillinski was at a party that was attended by one of the victims, attends the same school as the poor Argent girl, and had the misfortune of stumbling upon the body of that young man that, from what I understand, has been dead for longer than the couple of hours that Stiles was gone from my house. I don't see the connection you are trying to force upon him." Peter's voice held a trace of his alpha growl and Stiles watched as most of the officers in the room instinctually assumed a slightly more submissive position.
"We needed to question him about the body he found and to rule him out as a person of interest." Stiles dad stepped forward, meeting Peter's eyes and not backing down.
Peter's mouth widened and only Stiles realized that it was more than a smile. "Then I guess we can leave now that you have ruled him out. Stiles, let's go." Peter moved with predatory grace out the door of the precinct, the officers backing out of his way as Stiles followed along in his wake.
Once out the doors Peter slowed allowing Stiles to walk along beside him. The hand placed on the back of his neck was warmer than a normal human's and the thumb was tipped with a sharp claw that dug just slightly into the skin at the base of his skull. To anyone looking it would seem a caring gesture but Stiles knew if for what it was; a threat.
"Do you ignore Alpha Derek's orders back in your reality? Even with my nephew's kind heart, I'm truly surprised that you have survived. Next time," Peter tuned and pinned Stiles in place with his gaze. "Next time you disregard my orders, I will not be so lenient. Next time you will pay in blood."
Stiles gulped and slid into the back seat of Peter's dark car, his heart racing. "Please," Peter snorted glancing into the back. "Stop the juvenile panicking. I'm not going to kill you." Smiling into the mirror he added, "Just cause you enough pain that you won't make the same mistake again. Understand?"
"Yes, Alpha!" Stiles replied, stomach cramping with more fear than he had ever felt in Derek's presence.
Stiles kept his head down for the next few days. He and Derek had done their best to find a pattern but between the differences that were becoming more apparent in this reality and Peter's careful watch over their activities there was little they could accomplish.
He didn't notice it at first, the heavy silence that preceded him as he walked down the hallway and the growing crescendo of whispers that he left in his wake as he walked into school Monday morning. So lost in his dark thoughts and fears, it wasn't until lunch, when he found himself alone at his normal table, that he realized that the sudden silences and murmurs were about him.
Scott plopped down in a seat across from him, face pale and pinched as he looked everywhere but in Stiles' eyes. "They're saying that you were found next to the last victim."
"I found the last victim in an ally way. And then the police found him before I could call. It sounds so much more sinister the way you say it." Stiles tried for flippant but couldn't quite pull off the light hearted tone needed.
Scott stared at him from under his floppy hair. "You seem to turn up a lot around people who are either about to die or have just been killed."
Stiles glanced around the lunchroom, scanning the faces that glared at him from the other tables. Their eyes were filled with distrust and fear. "I don't have anything to do with the killings, Scott. But my father was a cop and I think there's a pattern but I just don't have enough information."
"If you think you have a pattern to the deaths, why don't you take it to the police? What makes you think you are better prepared to solve this than the detectives on the force?"
The lack of trust from Scott stung. Stiles was used to always having Scott at his back no matter how crazy his plans and idea were. But this Scott didn't have years of friendship to pull from, didn't trust Stiles like a brother. It was as if a hole had opened up in the earth at his feet and threatened to engulf him.
"Right now they would just turn me away. Who would believe a teenager about something like this?" Stiles franticly tried to cover himself, backtrack so that Scott wouldn't be any more suspicious than he had already become. The hooded look in Scott's eyes are he cleared his tray from the table proved that Stiles had failed at that as well as stopping any of the killings.
For the rest of the day Stiles was surrounded by an eerie bubble of silence. No one spoke to him or acknowledged his presence. He could feel the eyes of the student body on him as he traveled from class to class but if he turned to look everyone would quickly avert their gaze.
By the time the final bell rang Stiles was more than ready to run for the door but he kept a steady pace until he was out in the sunlight, under the clear blue sky that shouldn't be so clear and calm with there was so much death that surrounded him in Beacon Hills.
"The sky should be dark and grey," Stiles growled as he climbed into Derek's car.
"Random," Derek soothed as he leaned over for a kiss. "Why should the skies be grey?"
"People are starting to think that I'm somehow involved with all this, the killings and everything. Today was tough."
Derek nodded, letting his hand rest on Stiles' knee as he pulled out of the parking lot. "It's not much better at home. Peter is catching on to our investigation. We are going to have to tone it down if we don't want him to find out we're still investigating all the deaths and trying to find the pattern."
Stiles could only nod and lean into the warmth that was Derek's shoulder. The ride back to the pack house was quiet and almost peaceful except for the worries that continued to circle inside Stiles' head.
"You need to relax. I can hear you heart rate picking up. It won't do us any good for you to walk through the front door and have a panic attack if Peter asks you about your day at school."
"I know. I just can't seem to let it go. After all I went through before, I just can't believe it is all happening again and I can't do anything to stop it, stop her from killing again."
Pulling into the driveway with a sigh, Derek leaned over and pressed his lips to Stiles' forehead. "We'll figure it out," he soothed.
Stiles smiled at the kiss but not the sentiment. They were a long way from stopping Jennifer in this reality and she still had another knot to complete. The thought of more deaths made the acid churn in his belly.
A sharp rap on his window had Stiles almost jumping out of his skin. "Enough necking," Rio snarled. "We have company and Peter wants you both inside now."
Stiles tumbled out of the car, his foot catching on the edge of the door in his hurry to get inside. Derek followed at a more cautious pace but still was able to catch up to Stiles after he tripped over one of the paving stones that made up a pathway to the front door.
From the clinched look of Rio's face Stiles was expecting someone truly scary. Visions of Deucalion making a house call sent his heart rate spiking to the point that Rio turned to check on him and Derek gripped the back of his neck, his thumb making soothing circles against his spine.
Deaton sat in the center of the couch, his body turned so that he could look over his shoulder at Stiles as he entered the room. He smiled briefly, a slight lifting of his lips, but it didn't reach his eyes.
"Stiles, it's good to see you again. I have some news on how to get you back home."