Chapter 8 – Spiraling Down

Stiles wasn’t sure what it was that was worrying him, but something was nagging at the edge of his mind. He was sitting in the passenger seat of his fathers squad car headed for the edge of town and something just didn’t feel right about the entire situation. 

When his dad had said that they would be leaving Beacon Hills he thought they would go home first and pack some stuff to take with them, when they didn’t at first he just assumed that his dad had already packed for them but there were no bags anywhere he could see. Maybe they were in the trunk but when he asked about it his dad never answered, which was strange because his dad always responded to his questions even if it was only to tell him to stop asking questions. The silence was ringing in his ears while his mind raced. 

Was something wrong with his dad?

There was enough evidence pointing towards that conclusion beyond the pointed silence. How he handled the situation with Scott and Laura was almost the exact opposite of how anyone who knew him would expect John Stilinski to do things. His dad was always preaching about talking before violence or more likely talking instead of violence. He was not a man who would just shoot two teens, or one teen and a “young adult” in the back with tranq darts. Sure it was non lethal but it left no room for explanations or questions, something his dad lived for. 

He had dismissed it in the beginning as being a reaction to being recently in the know and being afraid for his safety, but the more he thought about it the less that added up. His dad hadn’t hugged him back after getting him loose, he’d hugged him but those strong arms never rose up to engulf him the way he would every time he was worried about him. He’d brushed that off too as being a product of anger, after all he did kind of blatantly lie to the man for a while about something of more than a little significant to his own life. Werewolves in Beacon Hills explained away cold cases and made the hard to explain crimes easier to understand, but at the same time he had never known his dad to be so angry he wouldn’t offer comfort. Sure he’d made him pretty angry in the past, he didn’t exactly follow many rules the first time they were explained to him, but his dad had always been a strict because of love disciplinarian. Now though, he wasn’t so sure.

The lack of acknowledgement was startling and the longer he thought about it the more sense the shapeshifter theory started to make. Or maybe not switched, maybe just influenced. Could something be controlling his dad? And if it was what could he do about it?

He wanted to run to Derek and hide in his arms. There was just something about him that made him feel safe, no matter what Laura thought about him. None of the other Hales seemed to have a problem with him so he was inclined it was more like Alpha envy or something making Laura’s head turn so far out of orbit. Derek was natural leader material after all, he had the baring to him that natural strength that came off him in waves. Maybe she thought he might take her place in the pack and that was why she wanted him gone?

Either way it didn’t matter, he didn’t know where Derek was and couldn’t get to him from here anyway. That left him with few options.

He could go to the Hales they were near the preserve now and while he wouldn’t be able to find the house easily in the dark their wolfy senses would tell them he was nearby and they would find him. All he had to do was hide long enough for them to get to him.

Mind made up, he let his hand drift closer to the door handle, trying to seem casual like it was just his ADD acting up and making him fidget. He was already out of his seatbelt, he never wore one in the squad car if he could get away with it, sometimes his dad would insist but only after he noticed he hadn’t already put it on. Just as they were passing one of the deep ditches on the edge of the preserve he braced himself before throwing himself bodily out of the door and hit the ground hard, rolling deep into the trench and farther away from the car. 

His dad hit the brakes and jumped out the car, though he didn’t shout his name in concern so that was another reason to run. This was not his father! 

Scrambling to his feet he ran as fast as his long legs would take him, trying to weave a bit and not take a straight path. He could hear his fathers foot fall not far behind him, but he was far enough back to not be able to see him clearly. 

Running first this way then that, always pushing forward, he hoped his racing heart was loud enough to catch the attention of any and all werewolves in the area. He definitely needed help out here. 

Tripping forward he managed to catch himself and protect his face but his palms were scraped raw and his ankle was twisted badly in the large roots that tripped him. There was no way he was going to be able to put any weight on it for a while, he could already feel the throbbing of the pain throughout his entire body beating in sync with his pounding heart. His breaths were harsh in the air but he couldn’t hear anyone coming up on him.

Looking around he saw that the stump he was leaning against had some room under it like it had nearly been uprooted but had just barely managed to stand its ground against the wind. Getting low on his belly he pulled himself under the roots and burrowed in as deep as he dared go, curling his legs up to his chest to try and hide himself completely. He was not coming out of here until he heard someone he trusted calling his name.

Alan stared at the phone willing it to ring, but it remained stubbornly silent. Marin should have called by now with a suggestion or condolences but she hadn’t made any attempt to contact him which boded ill for them all. He had always known it was a risky choice to involve others of his kind, there was always the chance that whoever he contacted would turn against him but he had hoped that his long history with Marin would sway her in his favor. It would seem he had been wrong.

Picking up the phone he dialed her number by rote. She may have betrayed him but he would hear it from her own lips before he would believe it. She wasn’t the type to shy away from her own choices so if she did sell him out she would tell him, then he would know without a shadow of a doubt. If he had been betrayed he would need to prepare for the coming storm, and so would everyone else of Beacon Hills whether they knew it or not.

“Hello Alan.”

“Marin, I was concerned when I still hadn’t heard from you.” They both knew it was a lie, but if she let it pass then he would know her game. If she didn’t then it would still be a mystery, for the moment at least.

“Don’t play the fool Alan, not with me, it doesn’t work. You know what’s happened just as you knew what would happen when you picked up the phone to call me before.”

“I do know, I just thought you might prove me wrong.” He had hoped, he had prayed, but deep in his heart he knew that he wasn’t wrong. 

“Why would I do that?” The ache in his heart grew deeper and wider at the proof that he had been right. His people were beyond saving, they were all too far gone.

“Because of our long friendship? Because this mess we’re in has no end in sight? Because after me there will be another and that other might just be you? Take your pick, there are any number of reasons to help me.” There were any number of reasons for her to help herself. This was why Derek was so unrelenting, because he saw the truth. They weren’t sorry and if they could they would do it all over again exactly the same, only with more contained fallout. They were like naughty children who weren’t sorry they behaved badly but were only sorry they had gotten caught with their hand still in the cookie jar.

“Like you helped Baccari when she called on you for aid? Don’t get pious on me now Alan when it’s your neck on the line. You know why we do this and you even agreed with it before Derek showed his face in your office.” She was right, he was just as bad as all the rest.

When Julia Baccari had called on him begging for his help he’d turned his back on her just as surely as Marin was turning her back on him now. The only difference was that Stiles had never been under Baccari’s purview so her death was as quick as painless as any death could be at Derek’s hand. At the time he’d seen her death as an inevitable action, something that could not be stopped even if he tried so he chose not to try at all. Why do something when you’re only doomed to failure?

Now he knew better. Now he knew that while it was likely true that he couldn’t have saved Julia that didn’t mean he was freed of the obligation of trying. She was one of them. She was one of his people and he had owed her his time and sympathy, but in his arrogance all he had given her was scorn and the oh so helpful advice to die with dignity. Oh how he regretted his words now, each one coming back to haunt him. 

“Maybe I did, and maybe I was wrong. I have spent nearly a week explaining the situation we are all in to others in detail and with the recitation came clarity. What we are doing is prolonging the inevitable and for what? It’s not saving any of us, it’s only making each of us die alone. I don’t want to die alone Marin.” He had been startled to realise that his fear was not about dying, all living things must die as a druid he was intimately aware of that fact, but that he would die alone and be left forgotten in the past. That was why he’d reached out to Marin, not for salvation but for solace and he was grieved to know even that would be denied him. Though it was no more than he deserved he’d denied the same thing to others countless times.

“So you would have me die at your side, my Alan these events truly have gotten to you haven’t they. I have never known you to be so sentimental before.”

“Well, the end brings sentimentality to us all, even arrogant fools like me.”

“Not me.”

“Not yet.” Her automatic intake of breath heard loudly over the phone was all the acknowledgement he needed to know she not only heard him, but understood what he was saying. Yes, Derek was going to kill him. Yes, he deserved it. Yes, Derek may even regain his lost love here in Beacon Hill. No, that would not stop him. No, that would not save her.

“Goodbye Alan.” The dial tone sounded loud in his ear, welcoming him to the end. He had tried, it was up to the pack now to try and save themselves. He was a lost cause.

He did not deserve to be saved, but they did. He would try until his last breath to help them find a way out of this mess. He owed them that much.

Talia wasn’t sure what she would do when she found her daughter, but she knew that none of her options were good. Derek already knew that Laura was the one who took Stiles even if he couldn’t remember her name. He had her scent now and that was all that mattered. If he didn’t get the one he was looking for he would tear into them all and there was nowhere she could hide her child from him and they both knew it. She didn’t want to use Laura as a sacrificial lamb, as a mother it would tear her heart into a million little pieces, but to save the others she would do what she had to do. That was what being an Alpha meant.

Following the subtle pull of the pack bonds deep in her chest she tracked her daughter to a clearing where she found both her and Scott unconscious on the ground and a loose rope around a tree that from the scent and small flecks of blood gathered in the braiding once held Stiles. Someone had gotten to them before she could. It couldn’t have been Derek both Scott and Laura were still breathing. 

It would seem there was another player on the board now and from the faint scent of clay and magic she could guess which one. She only hoped that the golem didn’t manage to get Stiles across the town line, there would be no saving any of them if he did.

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