Moving in the Dark
"Love hunt me down, I can't stand to be so dead behind the eyes."
Scott McCall groaned as his phone buzzed on the nightstand beside his bed. It was the third time it had buzzed in as many minutes. The sun was up and peeking through the blinds but his alarm hadn't gone off yet. He'd hoped to get a last little bit of sleep but it didn't look like he'd be able to. He glanced over at his clock and confirmed that he still had about ten minutes. He pulled his pillow over his head, praying that whoever was calling him would just wait a little longer. But it wasn't even a whole sixty seconds later when the phone started buzzing again.
With a grumbled curse, Scott threw the pillow to the foot of the bed and reached over for the phone. He recognized the number and sighed, sliding open the call and putting the phone to his ear.
"Stiles, what is it?" he asked curtly as he laid his head back against the now pillow-less mattress.
"I was just about to call Isaac to see if you were still alive. God man, answer after a few times, would you? I'm too young for a heart attack."
Scott grit his teeth a little, torn between wanting to reassure his best friend that he was fine and yell at him for calling so early. "Sorry, okay. You have my attention now. What is it?"
Stiles hesitated for a moment. "I need to talk to you about something really important. Like, vitally important."
"Is there a body?"
"What? No, it's not anything like that. It's—"
Scott interrupted him. "Has somebody been kidnapped?"
"No, man, it isn't like that. It's just that—"
"Stiles," Scott interrupted again. "Look, if no one is dead or missing then it can wait until school, okay? It is just way too early right now."
Stiles grumbled something that Scott couldn't make out and he immediately felt bad that he might have hurt his friend's feelings. "Man, I don't mean to be short. I'm just exhausted. You know, after everything that's happened."
"Are you having trouble sleeping?" Stiles asked. "Because I know I have been."
Scott thought about it for a minute. He hadn't really had any issues sleeping, except that it felt like that's all he wanted to do all the time. Exhausted felt like an understatement. He couldn't explain it to the others in a way that made sense though. It wasn't like he was expending any extra energy. He hadn't been staying up late or running through the woods in the middle of the night or anything. It was as if the emotional toll of almost losing his mother had just broken the part of his body that recharged after sleeping.
"It's more like I can't get enough sleep," he finally answered, trying to frame it in a way that would be relatable.
"I wish I had that problem," Stiles said. "I feel like I'm totally wired on caffeine all the time."
Scott snickered. "How's that any different than usual?"
"Ha. Ha. Funny. You should go into comedy with that one right there," Stiles said. "Anyway, can we talk?"
Scott rubbed his hand over his face and glanced at the clock. Two minutes and his alarm would be going off. "Look, I've got to get up and eat. But I'll meet up with you at school and we can talk then."
"Yeah, okay," Stiles said. Scott could tell he was a little disappointed but there was nothing that could be done about it now.
He hung up the phone and laid it on the nightstand just in time for his alarm to go off. He thought about snoozing it and getting another ten minutes of dozing but then changed his mind. He really needed to be at school on time today.
It was their first day back. It felt like the first day of school all over again. With everything that had gone on with the evil druid, homicidal alpha pack, sacrifices, and suicides, the parents who were in on things now didn't object to them taking a week to get their heads back in the game. It had been a calm week at the McCall house. Scott had spent most of his time sleeping. The house had been quiet because his mom had gone back to work and Isaac spent a lot of the daytime at Allison's. Stiles had stopped by a few times but his nervous energy had just been exhausting.
Before anyone was really ready for it, Monday morning had dawned. Everyone had agreed to be there today.
And he was the Alpha now. His pack wasn't just werewolves though. Stiles, Isaac, Lydia, Allison…these people were his pack. They looked to him now. They expected things of him. He had no idea how he was going to deliver on those expectations but he was determined to try. The first thing he needed to do was make sure he didn't fail his classes and take his friends down with him.
He pushed himself out of bed and threw on some clean clothes, heading downstairs to find something to eat before he had to be out the door. As he came through the living room he checked the couch only to see that Isaac wasn't there. He'd been crashing on the couch for a while now, which didn't seem to bother him. He was just grateful to have a place to live. His blanket was folded and stacked with a pillow on the floor under the window. He tended to clean up after himself a lot better than Scott did, which was one of the reasons Mrs. McCall hadn't minded Isaac staying indefinitely.
Scott wasn't surprised to see that he was already out of the house. He didn't have a car. Allison had been coming by and picking him up to go places, but they only did so when they thought Scott was either asleep or not there. They were trying not to rub their relationship in his face. While they swore they were just friends and that there was nothing romantic going on, he knew they were in denial. It was just around the bend, he was sure of it. The initial shock of the idea of Allison with someone else had hurt him. But the more he thought about it, the more he was just glad that his two friends had managed to find some little piece of happiness in the midst of all the horrible events of the last few months. He was sure he was supposed to be jealous and angry but he wasn't. He couldn't explain it but he felt very much at peace with them. He hadn't gotten around to telling them that yet but he intended to.
As he stepped into the kitchen, his mother came in the back door. Her dark, curly hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail at the nape of her neck. She had a folder of papers clenched between her teeth since her hands were full with a gallon of milk in one hand and keys in her other. She was tired, bags under her eyes, uniform scrubs wrinkled from a long night shift at the hospital.
"Hey Mom," Scott said, giving her a hug and taking the milk as she set her purse down on the counter. She hugged him back and he didn't even complain when she kissed his cheek. Almost losing her had made him appreciate all the little things that he'd thought were annoying before. He knew he wouldn't be taking them for granted any time soon. "How was work?" he asked before unscrewing the cap on the milk and chugging down the top quarter of it.
"Ugh," she said, ignoring the fact that he was drinking from the jug. She went to the fridge and pulled out a carton of orange juice. "It made me wish I had vodka to put in this." She smirked as she poured the juice in a glass and drank it down in a few gulps.
Scott tucked the milk away in the fridge before he rummaged in the pantry and came out with a box of Pop-tarts. A whole box. Ever since he had become a werewolf he'd found that he had to eat two or three times what he used to eat. "Sorry to hear that. Anything, you know, not normal come in?" he asked, taking a seat on one of the barstools around the island.
Mrs. McCall shook her head. "Nope. Just your usual car accident, flu, and one appendix about to burst."
Scott swallowed down one of the toaster pastries in three bites and then the other before tossing the rest of the sealed packages in his backpack for later. "I hate to eat and run but I've got to be on time today," he said, slipping off the stool and hoisting his backpack onto his shoulders.
Mrs. McCall gave her son another hug, knowing what he'd left unsaid. "Alright honey. But to warn you, your father is parked out there again."
He groaned and picked his motorcycle helmet up from the bench by the backdoor.
One of the great things about having spent most of his time over the last week sleeping was that it helped him avoid his FBI agent father. Agent McCall, as Scott thought of him, had apparently decided to take a short leave of absence after the events of the eclipse. He felt that he needed to be around to get to know his son and be a good example for him. He was staying in a motel in town to be closer. But Scott wasn't having it. In his book, his father was dead. The man had left Scott and his mom to basically fend for themselves, choosing his career over his family. That was not the kind of man Scott thought he should be looking up to. If anything, he looked up to Mr. Stilinski and Mr. Argent. Those two understood familial obligations.
Scott stepped outside and saw his father's dark sedan parked on the street near the end of the driveway. The man jumped out of the car upon seeing Scott come out of the house.
"Scott!" he shouted as he made his way up the driveway. "Son, you have to talk to me sometime."
But Scott just put his helmet on, which muffled his father's voice. He swung his leg over his motorcycle and turned it on. The engine effectively wiped out what little he could still hear of his father. He wheeled the bike around and was annoyed to see that his father was standing in his way.
Scott revved the engine and waited while Agent McCall thought about whether or not to move. He must have finally decided it wasn't worth getting run over because he stepped to the side. Scott didn't hesitate and pulled back on the throttle, speeding off down the driveway and turning toward school. He didn't even glance back over his shoulder to see his father's expression. It occurred to him, about halfway to school, that for an instant he had actually considered running the man down. Part of him, the animal he held within, would have been very happy to spill that blood. It made his skin crawl to think of it. He shook off the feeling and tried to focus on making it to school.
Stiles Stilinski was in the hallway at school, waiting for Scott in his usual place at the top of the stairs. The other students were milling about, gossiping, frantically finishing forgotten homework assignments, the usual. But somehow, after the events of the lunar eclipse, Stiles no longer felt like one of them. If he were to be honest with himself, he hadn't felt like he belonged with his fellow classmates in a long time. He had spent far too much time avoiding death at the hands of one supernatural creature or another to feel like this English essay or that math assignment really mattered anymore. But he had to go through the motions. He had to pretend. Because if he didn't, he'd lose the last grasp he had on reality. And the reality was that while these monsters really did go bump in the night, he still had to pass History if he wanted to graduate on time.
He was pacing back and forth. He didn't mean to be. But ever since he woke from the tub of ice water at the animal clinic, he'd been this way, almost constantly in motion. He just couldn't hold still. It wasn't a conscious decision to be pacing. In fact, the less he thought about it, the more he did it. If he wanted to stop pacing, he had to actively tell himself to stop doing it. That nervous twitch, that feeling of a prolonged adrenaline rush, was starting to drive him nuts.
Stiles stopped and made himself lean against the wall to get out of the way of a group of underclassmen coming up the stairs. He started tapping his foot in place of pacing. He was leaning against the wall this way, arms crossed and foot tapping when Scott appeared from around the corner.
"Scott!" he shouted over the heads of his classmates. "Hey, Scott!"
His best friend's head whipped around at the sound of his voice and Stiles realized, belatedly, that there was no reason for him to have yelled. He could have probably whispered Scott's name at this range and the werewolf would have heard him. But he just shook his head and took the stairs down two at a time to catch up with his best friend.
"Hey man, what's up?" Scott asked, turning to his locker and dialing the combination.
Stiles shifted his weight from foot to foot, another habit he had invented to keep himself from pacing. "There's something I really need to talk to you about. I wanted to tell you about it all week but I…well I just wasn't sure what it meant. It's something about, you know," he stopped and glanced around to make sure no one was eavesdropping. "What happened on the eclipse."
Scott tucked his motorcycle helmet into his locker, grabbed a couple of his textbooks, and shut the door again. He turned and gave Stiles an evaluating look, seeming far more composed than he would have a few weeks ago. Not for the first time, Stiles wondered if this was one of the side-effects of becoming an Alpha.
"Come on," Stiles said, tugging on his friend's jacket sleeve when he didn't say anything. "Let's go to the library."
Stiles was in motion almost at once, glancing over his shoulder to see if Scott was with him. When he did, he noticed Lydia Martin farther down the hall. She looked as flawless as he'd ever seen her. Her strawberry-blonde hair was meticulously maintained, her clothes chosen with attention to detail, what little make-up she wore applied with perfection. She hadn't seen him as she stalked confidently past lockers and students, garnering the attention of most of the boys as she went.
One of these boys, a hulking behemoth of young man, was trailing along behind her, carrying what Stiles could only assume were Lydia's books for AP Chemistry and Calculus. When they arrived at her locker, she turned and kissed said behemoth on the cheek and took her books, winking and saying something that Stiles couldn't hear but that made Aiden grin.
Stiles had only seen Lydia one other time since leaving her at the animal hospital the night of the eclipse. After everyone's parents were confirmed to be alive and most everyone was determined to be none the worse for wear, they had all convened at the animal hospital again. It was crowded and tense and emotional as they were all able to heave a collective sigh of relief.
Aiden and Ethan had survived their necks being snapped by Jennifer, the homicidal druid. But in surviving, they'd lost their ability to meld together in their Alpha form. In fact, they'd lost their Alpha status altogether, reverting to their Omega status from years before.
Stiles thought back to that night, that feeling of meeting Lydia's gaze across the crowded room. It spoke volumes. She wanted to go to him, Stiles could feel it as surely as he could feel the ground beneath his feet. But she hadn't. Aiden had stepped up behind her, wrapping his overly-muscled arms around her, effectively claiming her for himself. Stiles had turned away rather than watch the show of possession and in doing so he inadvertently acknowledged it. Since that moment, Aiden had considered Lydia as his and she had certainly not done anything to dissuade him of that assumption.
It had hurt. It still hurt, seeing the two of them down the hallway, chatting and making plans as if nothing had happened. But Stiles knew that something had happened with Lydia. When she had kissed him, when she pressed his shoulders beneath the swirling and icy water with her dainty hands, something had happened. When he broke the surface of that same water and looked for her face, first and foremost, something had definitely happened. But that tether, if it existed in reality, felt frayed and raw right now. He was just waiting for her to feel it too.
He turned away and continued down the hall to the library, thankful Scott was more nimble now than he'd been back in his human days.
Once they were settled at a table in the back corner, Stiles started.
"Okay," he said, clearing his throat. "So, back when we were, well, dead, did you see anything? You know, besides the Nemeton stump?"
He watched as Scott nodded. "Yeah, I had that flashback to the night I was bitten."
Stiles shook his head and leaned a little closer. "No, I mean besides that."
"No," Scott said frowning. "No, that was all. Why? Did you?"
"Yes. I did," Stiles said with a sigh. He leaned back in his chair a little, rubbing his face with his hands. "I saw my mom."
Stiles didn't even have to be looking to know what Scott's reaction would be, but he did look anyway. Scott's eyes were wide and his jaw clenched, probably involuntarily. It was as if he didn't know what to say to this revelation. Stiles very rarely talked about his mother, even to his best friend. So the fact that he was bringing her up now must have been messing with Scott's head.
After another minute, Stiles started again. "Okay, so I tell you that I saw my mom and you react with Derek-like silence? Is that like, I don't know, an Alpha thing? Hmm?"
"What do you mean, you saw your mom?" Scott asked, recovering slightly and ignoring the Alpha jab.
"I mean I saw her. Full on apparition or whatever," Stiles said with a gesture of his hands. "She was standing right there, talking to me."
"What did she say?"
Stiles slumped in his chair and ran his fingers through his messy, dark brown hair. "That's just it. I can't remember all of it. But I know it was something really important, something about her death. She wanted me to figure something out but now I can't remember what she was telling me. It's making me crazy."
"Dude, you were kind of crazy before," Scott pointed out with a half-smirk.
Stiles stared at his best friend with a dead-panned expression. "Really?"
Scott laughed and threw his hands up in defense. "Okay, sorry. I get it. No jokes about this. So you saw your mom and she gave you a message that you can't remember."
"Can you say that in a way that doesn't sound like you're just humoring me? I mean, after werewolves, druids, and snake-lizard monsters, does seeing a ghost really rank as impossible?"
Scott shrugged. "You make a good point. But Stiles, just consider this for a minute, okay? Before you go making yourself crazy. You were dead. I'm sure Deaton could explain this better than I can but what if it was just, you know, brain chemistry?"
Stiles frowned. He'd really expected his best friend in the world to be more supportive right now. But maybe he had a point. Maybe he really had just imagined his mother. It had been his greatest time of stress, both emotionally and physically. It wasn't outside the realm of possible that he would imagine it. But it had felt so real. His connection to her had been so strong. No, he hadn't imagined it.
But Deaton might know something about it. He might have an idea of why Stiles had seen his mother, or at least he might be able to explain how he'd imagined something so real anyway, if his vision had in fact just been his imagination.
Before Stiles could explain that he was pretty sure his mother had been real, the bell rang. Scott stood, gathering his books and shouldering his backpack. "Come on. Let's go."
Stiles hesitated. "I'm not really done talking about this. You get that, right?"
Scott nodded. "Yeah man, I get it."
Stiles grabbed his backpack and followed Scott out. But Stiles knew that no matter what the werewolf said, he certainly didn't get it.
…to be continued…