Despite the increasingly obnoxious headache and the tremors running under his skin, Stiles manages to keep it together long enough to help Allison and Isaac get his dad, Mrs. McCall and Mr. Argent out from under the rubble of what had been the nemeton. There's a tiny part of his mind, (the overly analytical part that he tries to ignore for the most part), that is taking stock of the situation and is battening down the hatches for the inevitable shit storm that's brewing. He can feel it in the way that every once in awhile, it's just a little harder to exhale but he doesn't have the time or patience to deal with it at the moment.
All he cares about right now is getting his dad and Scott's mom home. That and finding out what happened to Scott. He hasn't heard anything since he woke up behind the wheel of his significantly less mobile Jeep. The rational part of his mind totally understands why. He had a role to play in this and when he disappeared, they didn't have the luxury of standing around and waiting to see if he would eventually show up. He's grateful that Scott had apparently managed to stay level headed enough to think of a back-up plan (the less rational part of his brain keeps interrupting him to point out that he doesn't know that at all; that Scott could be dead at this moment).
Luckily, his dad's weight on his shoulder is enough of a distraction and he has no choice but to let his mind go blank while he uses all the strength he has left to keep both himself and his dad from face planting in the dirt they are currently shuffling through. He can hear Isaac asking Mrs. McCall if she's sure she's really okay because it's okay if she's not and he has no problem carrying her if need be. He can also hear her exasperated response but it's quickly fading out under his increasingly labored breathing.
Ahead of him, he can see Allison and her dad scanning between the trees like the shadows are going to come to life and devour them whole. Normally, he would roll his eyes and make a loud and rude comment about how the hunters could step down since the danger was already passed but he's willing to admit that it's kind of nice to know someone else is watching out for them at the moment. It makes it easier for him to concentrate on not dropping his father. It feels like they have been walking forever and Stiles swears they are passing the same trees over and over again and he starts wondering if this is what it's like to be stuck in a Groundhog's Day scenario. He had always assumed it would be a much cooler situation than it has turned out to be.
"…Stiles, are you listening?" his dad's voice cuts into his internal dialog and with a rush of sound, he realizes that he had been viewing the scene around him like a silent movie. Now that he's noticed it, he can hear how loud they all are, crashing through the underbrush and talking in what they must think are hushed voices, trying to catch each other up on how they all managed to wind up in the same place. Even Allison's dad is unusually loud for the circumstances as he tells Allison that she should try to get Scott on the phone and Stiles wonders if it's because they are all a little deaf after being surrounded by the sound of collapsing earth.
"Son? Are you with me? Do you need to stop for a minute?" His dad is talking again and this time he takes the time to draw enough breath for an answer.
"Sorry, dad. I was just thinking. I'm fine." His breath catches a little at the end and he wonders if it's because they have started walking uphill or because the inevitable freak-out is closer than he thought. His head has started a dull throbbing and every step he takes sets off aches and pains he didn't realize he had. He's been blinking blood out of his vision since they clawed their way out of the hole in the ground but is purposely ignoring what that means.
His dad has turned his attention ahead of them to the Argents who are saying something about Scott being on his way to meet them. The relief sweeps through Stiles like a storm surge, leaving behind a surplus of energy that makes him feel like he could run all the way to his house and back.
He hadn't realized how afraid he was that something had happened to his best friend until it was confirmed that he was okay. He tunes back in to Allison informing them that Ms. Blake is most likely dead, but despite his reaction to hearing about Scott, Stiles finds he can't muster up anything other than numbness at the news.
They have all stopped moving and are huddled in a clearing, waiting for Scott to meet up with them when Stiles' dad taps him on the shoulder and asks for his cell phone.
"Might as well call the station and ask someone to bring out a van. I know I sure as hell don't feel like walking all the way back to town."
Stiles' cell in hand, he slowly walks to the closest tree and leans against it, rubbing his forehead with his free hand.
Unburdened by his father's the extra weight, Stiles feels light enough to float off the ground. He's feeling restless and uneasy so he starts doing slow laps around the clearing, trying to work off some of the nerves. On his third circuit, Scott's mom snags his arm and he comes to a standstill as she silently takes in his overall appearance. Her arm rises towards the slowly drying blood on his forehead and he backs up a step, trying to look as close to normal as possible. His whole demeanor screams "I'm fine, don't notice me" and she hesitates before giving him a crooked smile and lowering her arm again.
"I'd like to look at that later, sweetheart."
It's a free pass to continue to ignore his current state for the time being and more than he expected so he gives her a quick smile and jerks his head in a nod. He can hear a rustling coming from the edge of the clearing and his body stiffens up into the fight or flight mode that he has been stuck in for days. A quick glance around to the rest of the group shows the same responses. All except Isaac, who is looking in the direction of the noise with relief on his face.
Stiles relaxes as he realizes it must be Scott and his suspicions are confirmed a minute later as his best friend comes barreling into the clearing, looking around wildly before his gaze lands on his mom. He launches himself at her, hugging her tight enough that she squeaks in protest.
A minute later, Stiles is stumbling back as Scott grabs him in a hug, and he gasps involuntarily. Scott pulls back a little and stares at the wound on Stiles' head with a slightly guilty look on his face as he sniffs the air around him delicately. He keeps his hand on Stiles' arm and after a minute, Stiles notices the dark black lines racing up his arm and under his shirt sleeve. The pain in his head eases back to a tolerable level and the aches in his body dull enough that he feels like the 16 year old he is and no longer like an octogenarian with arthritis.
"Dude. Where the hell were you? You scared the shit out of me."
Scott is frowning at him now and Stiles smiles in relief before reaching out and pulling him into another quick hug.
"Later. I promise to tell you all about it. Dad's on the phone trying to get someone from the station to come pick us up. We should probably find the road, huh?"
Scott takes a step back, taking in the rest the rest of the party with a look of relief on his face. He makes eye contact with Stiles' dad and gives him a nod and a smile. He turns to Allison and her father next and while his smile is a little strained now, he's still polite as he asks Mr. Argent if he's okay. After a quick assessment of his mom and Isaac, he nods as if assuring himself that she is truly alright and starts walking to the edge of the clearing. He looks back over his shoulder and says "the main road is this way. I passed it on my way here."
Stiles heads back to his father to see if he needs help moving but his dad shakes his head gently, and after taking a deep breath, pushes himself off of the tree and heads after Scott.
The trip home is a blur for Stiles. He passes the time by staring blankly out of the dirty van windows, his right arm crushed by the way he is leaning into his father's side. It's wholly uncomfortable but he can't be bothered to care. His dad is talking to Scott's mom and Mr. Argent, and his voice is a gentle rumble that settles deep into Stiles soul. It reminds him of sitting in his dad's lap on Sunday mornings, while his dad read him the less gory stories from the newspaper. It makes him feel safe and loved, and terrified at the thought that he almost lost this.
He must make some noise because his dad's voice cuts off suddenly and his arm wraps around Stiles tightly, as he presses a kiss into his son's hair. The van stays silent afterwards.
They are the last drop off and Stiles stands listlessly as his dad tells his deputy that he will be in first thing in the morning to give a statement and take care of paperwork but right now, he just wants a shower and some sleep.
As the van pulls away, Stiles feels a hand on his arm and he starts, looking up into his father's face. His dad looks like how he feels. He opens his mouth and gives a couple of false starts before sighing and glancing down at the ground.
"I'm sorry, kiddo. I know that doesn't begin to cover it and we are going to have to have a very long talk about this but tonight is not the night. Just…god. I'm so sorry. For so many things."
He looks up at Stiles through his lashes and Stiles launches himself at his dad, wrapping his arms around him as the sobs he's been holding back rip from his throat. His dad is hugging him as tightly as he can and even though it's pressing on injuries, Stiles can't bring himself to care.
In the back of his mind, Stiles knows that if any of the neighbors were to look out their windows, they would be getting quite a show but it feels like he hasn't seen his dad in years and he doesn't want to let go.
It's the sharp breeze cutting through their clothes that finally changes his mind about going inside and he reluctantly pulls away from his dad before turning away and digging his hand in his pocket for his house key.
Once inside, he looks around his house like it's the first time he's seeing it. It suddenly seems brighter now that he isn't the only one here. His dad shuts the door behind him, then turns and claps a hand on his shoulder as he takes in the clutter before of him. It's messier than usual, but in Stiles defense, he had been preoccupied.
Stiles hear a slow chuckle before his dad squeezes his shoulder a little harder and says "well, I'm glad to see that not everything changed while I was away." Stiles finds himself smiling and then a giggle breaks out. A minute later, they are both laughing. It sounds a little hysterical but on a night like this, Stiles figures it's better than nothing.