- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Murder
- Disturbing Imagery
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
He was walking this time.
His blue-light vision illuminated the forest trail his bare feet were striding along. Stiles felt the tugging from the darkness hard in his chest and accompaniment to the crunch of dead leaves under his feet. He knew where he was going.
He didn’t feel cold but his breaths were white smoke escaping through his mouth and nose. Beast-like, it swirled and billowed around his head. There was pressure on his head as if a heavyweight was upon it. Stiles reached up, his stride skipped and stumbled at the feel of horns protruding from his head. They didn’t feel like the antlers of a dear or the rough spiraling horns of a goat. They were smooth with a slight curve coming out of the hairline of his forehead. Stiles wondered if he could see them if they’d be white with black points like that of a bull. He pulled his hands away from the smooth warmth and kept walking.
The Nemeton’s clearing was suddenly in front of him as if it had been waiting for him to look up from the blue-black path he was on.
The great stump was covered in blood, a body was splayed across it. The blood black through the blue of his dream vision. Stiles’ toes touched the cold base of the stump, it was almost icy causing a prickling discomfort to seep into his feet. The stench of death wafted up from below, he could almost taste the rancid meat of the body. It ate at his nose as he looked upon the dead man.
And it was a man, naked with five deep gouges down his back, from shoulders to buttocks. Stiles could see rib bones and torn muscle, though the gruesome wounds didn’t disturb him. It was the lack of skin. Ghoulish, the flesh had been filleted away. Even the scalp and hair on top of the corpse’s head was gone. The only skin remaining was on the hands and feet that were hanging limply over the side of the enormous stump.
The blood was dripping from its fingers. The drops tapped, slow, and steady. It was the sound of a blacksmiths metal hammer striking an anvil he’d heard at the county fair when he was a kid. The sound rung in Stiles’ ears, piercing and painful.
The ringing clank of it was coming from behind him, rather than from the body itself, matching the dripping of the blood down to the roots of the Nemeton.
He couldn’t move, couldn’t turn around as a moaning howl sounded down the back of his neck. He could feel hot puffs of air ruffling through his hair. It made the horns on his head tingle.
He slapped his hands over his ears.
The moan rose. He could still hear it, unmuffled through the palms of his hands.
“No!” Stiles woke scrambling out of the twisted bed covers. The word a mere whisper in the darkness of his bedroom.
Panting his hands went to his head, no horns were protruding from his scalp. No one was in his bedroom. No one was behind him. There was no body. No Nemeton.
The crescendoing screech was sharp and clear.
Stiles’ eyes went wide. He realized he could still hear it and fell out of bed scrambling to his window. He fumbled a bit with the lock, his hands were shaking trying to unlatch it.
The screeching pain in his ears made him grimace. It was so loud.
He threw the window open.
The silence of the night was now thrumming around him, almost pulsing with his breaths and hummingbird beating in his chest. He looked down, his hands trembled, vibrating white knocked against the wood of the window ledge and counted with the squeeze of his fingers. One… two… three…
Ten, there were five fingers on each hand. He wasn’t dreaming.
Stiles collapsed to the floor, leaning against the cool wall trying to catch his breath. He was awake, he was.
He wanted to shout, to curse, to scream. He did nothing, just turned around back against the cool wall and with the cold breeze ruffling the tips of his hair, he looked at his crime board. It was full near to bursting with information about werewolves now. The rest, he knew would come.
He was not going mad.
He hadn’t been the first time the dreams became so real with Void playing in his head and he wasn’t this time. Stiles knew whatever was causing the dreams was not something only in his head. Not the result of trauma either.
It was something else and he was going to fucking figure out what it was.
There was a new deputy at the station’s reception desk. Stiles smiled at her, shouldering his way through the glass doors with dinner in his arms and his backpack over a shoulder.
“Can I help you?” She asked.
“Hi! I’m Stiles, Sheriff Stilinski’s son,” he replied, setting his burden on the counter, reaching over to shake her hand.
She complied with a small smile, her grip firm but chilled. “Yes, I recognize you from pictures in your father’s office. Deputy Agnes Scott, it’s nice to meet you, Stiles.”
She was a little thing with blond hair done up in a complicated braided knot on top of her head. She seemed to be in her late thirties, slight and short with a delicate bone structure that had been belied by the strength of her handshake. Her heart-shaped face was very pretty and she had a no-nonsense vibe to her that reminded him of Tara. A slice of sadness at the thought of his former deputy tutor shivered through his stomach.
“Can you buzz me back? I got his dinner.”
“Of course.” She reached under the counter watching him gather his things and buzzed him through.
Walking down the hall, Stiles was practically vibrating to find out what his dad had discovered so far about Brunski. It had been on his mind all day at school, along with being out of sorts from his most recent dream of the Nemeton. He wished he could get the image of the skinned man out of his head.
It had hit him on and off all day, except when Lydia cornered him to find out how Peter was. They’d not had a lot of time between classes to discuss what he’d learned over the weekend, so had made plans to get together after school the next day.
Malia, of course, had overheard their conversation and wanted in, as well. It wasn’t like he could tell Malia no and she should know a lot of the stuff Derek had told him anyway. He hadn’t seen much of Scott, except at lunch and he’d been distracted by Kira. Scott hadn’t even asked about the Hales, the vault, or Brunski, which had stuck in Stiles’ craw a bit. Scott could be so obtuse sometimes. Stiles loved him, but honestly, Scott’s priorities were ever-changing except when it came to girls.
He needed to pin Scott down and talk about wolfy business, though he still was unsure about bringing up the whole pack bonds thing. Stiles knew he needed to, he just didn’t think he’d like what Scott was going to say about it.
He gave his dad’s door a knock and waited until he received the okay to enter. Sometimes his dad had meetings, so just barging in on the Sheriff wasn’t a good idea. It had taken him a while to learn that when he was little and hanging out after school at the station until his dad could get off work to take him home for dinner. He’d never really gotten over his need to barge straight on into any situation, but the judgemental brows of his dad’s Sheriff Stilinski persona and the possibility of getting in trouble had tempered it somewhat in regards to bursting in on his dad at work.
“I really hope there’s not just rabbit food in your hands, son,” Noah said with a smile over the pile of papers in front of him with his reading glasses perched on his nose.
“Except for the bacon on Saturday, you’ve been pretty good on your diet this week.” Stiles grinned at his dad. It was probably a bit manic judging by his father’s worried blinking. “Since you’ve been so good and I’m not above bribing you when necessary, you’ve got stuffed lemon-pepper chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and if you eat all the salad in here as well, you get a brownie for dessert.”
His dad shoved the papers aside and made grabby hands at the containers Stiles was just holding out of reach as he sat down. “Not sure if the bribe is going to work, but I’ll allow it.”
Stiles’ eyes landed on the crime scene wall behind his dad. Distracted by the image of Brunski’s body sprawled in a wooded scene, he felt the containers being pulled from his hands. Besides Brunski’s body, there were photographs of drivers licenses of men and women in a grid pattern down one side. There were about thirty in all taking up have the board, all dated and labeled by name underneath.
His dad humming in pleasure brought his attention back and he took a seat in front of the desk to open the containers of his own meal. “What’s with all the id’s?”
Noah contemplated Stiles for a moment. Swallowing a mouthful of chicken, he said, “We discovered a few things about Brunski that are very disturbing. During the search of his house and office, we came across some old cassette tapes with various names on them. Turns out, he was a serial killer, Stiles.”
“What?” Stiles looked at the board again, his loaded fork forgotten. Yep, there were at least thirty people there. Disquiet fluttered through his chest, the darkness pulsed for a moment around the heightened beating of his heart. “Seriously?”
“Every one of those people was a patient that died in Eichen house due to suicide,” Noah said quietly, watching Stiles, most likely expecting him to freakout. “Or at least, at the time, the evidence suggested suicide either by hanging or wrist cutting. The tapes are of Brunski talking to them in their final moments.”
Stiles leaned down and opened his backpack grabbing a notebook. He’d been in so much more danger than he’d thought while at Eichen house. He’d thought Void taking him over was the danger at the time, but perhaps, Void’s possession had saved him from a serial killer.
“Can you tell if they were supernatural in any way?” He asked.
“No, they seem to be regular humans at this point, though one was Lydia’s grandmother.” Noah’s shoulders shifted, his was disquiet evident. “I’m trying not to be upset that you were in that place with that man, but it’s gonna take a while to get over it.”
“Maybe that’s why he didn’t go after Malia and me. Malia could’ve kicked his ass, and with the Nogitsune, he might have thought better of trying something with me beyond what he already did. Have you contacted Lydia’s parents yet?”
“Not yet, the investigation is still ongoing, so you need to keep that information under your hat, okay?”
“Yeah, I will, promise.” Stiles took a bite of his meal. Stiles didn’t like lying to his friends. He understood the needs of his dad’s job though. Lydia had enough to worry about at the moment with her banshee issues. Stiles was sure she’d be pissed at him when she eventually found out for not telling her. He’d just have to deal with it when it happened. She’d hopefully understand.
“Well, keep talking, Pops,” Stiles gave a wave with his fork. “What else have you found out?”
“From what we’ve figured out, he was a loner with no family near here at all. Originally from Seattle so Deputy Scott is trying to find any relations we can talk to.”
“She’s new, I met her when I came in.”
“Yes, transferred from Iowa about two weeks ago. Seems solid, has a good record with in the force.”
“So you’re sure, he killed all those patients?” Stiles asked. Noah nodded around another mouthful of his dinner. “He must have been working there for a long time. I would think that many people dying would’ve raised some red flags, at least with you, if not Eichen’s admin.”
“He was there for fifteen years, so on average killing two a year. We’ll have to followup with their families and it will eventually hit the news, once we complete the investigation.” Noah shook his head. “It’s a mess.”
“What else have you found out?”
Letting his dad talk while they both ate, Stiles was more alarmed than ever, sick inside, and totally creeped out at having had any contact with the man. At least Peter had killed people for a reason, even as crazy as he’d been last year.
Noah with Parrish and the new deputy were looking into Brunski’s phone records, financials, and were still finishing up with the man’s house. His office at Eichen had been searched thoroughly with the only evidence found were a few tapes and some squirted away Haldol that had been locked in his desk. The rest of the tapes had been at the house. Derek had found the gun Peter had mentioned and had left it with the body. It was unregistered and Deputy Scott was also working on tracking any information down on that as well. Stiles didn’t hold out much hope of his dad finding a paper trail to Deaton, but a boy could dream.
“The bullets had wolfsbane, so Parrish is going to work on that once he’s back from the house search to track down how Brunski got a hold of it. We should have the type back from the lab by tomorrow.”
“You can get wolfsbane from Amazon or Etsy, and a bunch of other places on the internet. I ordered a bunch of seeds to plant in spring, so I can start growing my own herbs, and stuff.”
Noah raised a brow. “That’s what was in that box that came last week?”
“Yeah, I’m learning about herbology and what it can do. I used an herbal mixture on Peter’s wounds the other night. It worked great. I haven’t been able to find Mountain Ash though.” Stiles frowned. “I might have to go to one of the nurseries in town and see if they can’t get me a Rowan tree from England to plant or maybe I can get a branch imported or something.”
“Peter mentioned Mountain Ash as a barrier to the supernatural,” Noah said, sitting back in his chair, obviously thinking. “You’re catching some flies there son.”
Stiles’ closed his mouth with a click.
“When did you talk to Peter Hale!” He squawked.
“I told you I was going to have a conversation with him. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, I did.”
“Yeah, well… I didn’t think you’d get to it so soon, Dad. Or we could’ve talked to him together, you know.”
“I needed to get a sense of the man without your input or influence. I also wanted to be sure, he was trustworthy enough to mentor you. There are very few people we know involved with the supernatural that have any knowledge, at least at this point. The only ones are Derek, Peter, or Deaton, and since you don’t trust Deaton, I don’t either at this point.”
He needed to keep better track of his dad’s whereabouts. The man was just asking for trouble and Stiles wouldn’t be there to protect him if he didn’t know what his Pops was up to.
“Dad, you need to keep me in the loop! I need to know when you’re investigating shady supernatural people!”
“Stiles.” Noah’s tone was long-suffering. “I am a grown man and a law enforcement officer. I’m also pretty smart, I don’t need you to babysit me.”
“I need to make sure you’re safe!” Stiles felt like he was going to hyperventilate. More quietly, he said, “I told you Derek was coming over. I know I can’t be with you all the time, but please, at least let me know when you’re going to have contact with anyone involved with this supernatural shit. Please?”
Noah rubbed his neck and sat forward, fork stirring through the cooling mashed potatoes Stiles had made. “Alright, I will, but you have to realize that if you interfere in my investigation, I’ll cut you off, son. I mean it. I know you’re scared for me. I’m scared for you too, but I also have a job to do.”
“We’ll keep each other safe then. I won’t stalk you or anything,” Stiles replied, a bit relieved. “I do need to know who you’re talking to. I really do, Dad.”
“Okay, it’s a two-way street though. I need to know what you’re doing and who you’re talking to, as well.”
“Deal.” Stiles relaxed, his muscles felt like overcooked noodles. Sometimes he felt like corralling his dad was a full-time job. He knew his dad was a capable man, but he just worried endlessly about him and Stiles didn’t need a therapist to tell him why that was so. “Okay, so, tell me about what Peter had to say. And do you think he’d mentor me and Lydia? Or is he a threat?”
“Well, I do think you were right that he’s not a danger to the pack. He is certainly dangerous, though. He likes you too much, which kind of worries me a bit. Not that it’s a bad thing if he likes you enough to help keep you safe. Did you talk to Derek about Deaton knowing the location of the Nemeton?”
“He confirmed Deaton should’ve known where it was and that the surrogate sacrifice was unnecessary.”
“Peter confirmed that with me too.”
They were both silent, finishing their meals. Stiles figured he’d let his dad eat while it was still hot, then he hoped his curiosity would be satisfied. He was worried knowing Deaton was as shady as his initial impression of the man had made him seem. It had been in his mind for a long time. The guy was just so unhelpful and mysterious all of the time and his sister Marin was no better. Deaton had too much influence on Scott and the sooner he was able to figure out what the man’s goals were the better.
“Thanks, that hit the spot.” Noah sighed leaning back, returning Stiles’ smile. “I don’t have a lot of time to spend talking but can give you the watered-down version until we have more time if you like.”
“Hit me with it, Pops,” Stiles said, putting the containers away and replacing them with his notebook.
Noah rubbed his face, thinking. “Well, the biggest take away from our conversation is that Peter wants to create a pack, a proper one. He didn’t say so out loud, but I got the sense he wanted you to be part of it.”
Stiles’ mouth hung open for a moment. “What about Scott?” He was a bit surprised Peter would want him to be part of his pack. Stiles figured he’d annoyed the man more often than not in the last year and wouldn’t have figured Peter would want him to be a packmate. Stiles sometimes thought the two of them were more alike than not and butted heads quite a bit during the time they did spend together.
“I don’t think he’s going to go for having Scott as the alpha of the pack.” Noah grimaced. “He certainly doesn’t think favorably at all about him. But, it’s more about Scott’s inexperience and immaturity, as far as leadership of a pack goes.”
And probably Scott’s good versus evil with no in-between view of the world, Stiles thought. He wanted to defend his friend. It was a reflex really because he didn’t disagree with Peter’s view on Scott’s leadership abilities, or lack thereof. “Do you think Peter would try to kill Scott for the alpha power?”
Noah leaned his elbows back on his desk, pulling the case files he was working on back in front of him, feeling around for his reading glasses, which seemed to have become buried under the paper piles. “He told me that he couldn’t take a True Alpha’s power, so there’s no motive in killing him for it.”
“Huh, did he talk about True Alphas at all?” It was another research topic he’d been stymied in finding information about.
“No, we didn’t get to that in the time we had. He did warn me about Deucalion though, and I think he’s right to be concerned. I’m going to see if I can track him down. I’d like to know if he’s still here in Beacon Hills. If he is, we need to think hard on how to deal with him.”
Stiles’ stomach did a little flip, and he couldn’t help the alarm that came out in his voice. “Dad, you need to leave Deucalion to Peter and Derek. He is way too dangerous to tangle with.” He waved away the objections he could see were just about to come out of his father’s mouth. “Seriously, he’s an alpha werewolf with a huge amount of power, he’d be able to kill you and anyone else easily. I honestly don’t think Derek, Peter, or Scott could defeat him in a fight, let alone a human.”
Noah gave him a wiry look. “I’m not saying I’ll tangle with him, Stiles, but I can certainly look into his whereabouts through legal channels. The guy has got to have a paper trail of some sort. He wouldn’t even know, I’m looking into him.”
“If, and I mean, if I can locate him, I will let Derek and Peter handle it however they see fit. Alright?”
Stiles deflated, relieved. “Okay, that’s a great idea. Be careful, please?”
“I will son. Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you.”
“You can’t promise that,” Stiles said, quietly letting his fingers fiddle with the pages of his notebook.
“No, I can’t but I will make my best effort not to. I can promise you that.”
Noah looked at his watch. “I’ve got another fifteen minutes to talk and then you need to get your butt home.”
“Okay, would it be okay if Lydia and I ask Peter to mentor us?”
Noah was quiet for such a long time, Stiles didn’t think he was going to say yes. At least not without rules, anyway.
“I don’t completely trust the man, so be on your guard. I do agree, he’s the best person out of everyone involved to teach you what you need to know… if you’re going to continue to be involved.”
“I can’t not be involved, Dad. That train left the station as soon as Scott was bitten last year.”
“I know. You have my permission, but I want to know if you are uncomfortable in any way as things progress, or if you get the feeling Peter has an agenda that’s going to hurt you or your friends. Got it?”
“Got it, Daddio!” Stiles beamed at the exaggerated huff he received.
Peter frowned, shutting off the silent alarm that was flashing on the pillar near the loft’s door and called out for Derek. His voice echoed out in the darkened cavernous space.
He didn’t receive an answer and figured Derek must be out running errands, or something. Though what the boy would need was beyond Peter, his nephew couldn’t cook to save his soul and had no fashion sense beyond jeans and Henleys in extremely boring colors.
He looked down at the notes in his hands, thinking he’d have to try to contact a Nagual in Mexico—
An acrid sour stench hit his nose just as a whooshing sound was caught by his ears. Pain exploded in his chest. Peter looked down in disbelief at seeing a small ax buried in the middle of his chest. The papers fluttered down to the floor as fire suddenly raced through his torso. He fell to his knees, his back hitting the hard floor soon after with a thud. It was hard to breathe, the pain was intense, and known. He’d felt it before. Wolfsbane.
Derek’s name left his lips in an almost silent whisper as the Astomi approached.
The mouthless being was bald without hair on his head or even on his brows, tall and strong dressed in black, almost military-style clothes. It was an Astomi and Peter had heard rumors about only one, The Mute, an assassin for hire. Peter’s breaths hitched as the being approached only to stop at his feet to access a device of some sort on his right arm.
“Don’t worry, Peter, Derek is next.” A computer-generated voice emanated from the device.
Beyond the agony of the wolfsbane burning its way into his body, Peter let his fangs drop and claws pop at the threat to his nephew. The Mute nonchalantly reached down and pulled the ax from its home with a wet sucking sound before raising it over his head.
It came down swiftly and Peter rolled just avoiding the hard blow. The ax embedded itself into the concrete floor with a crack. It resisted The Mute’s attempt to pull it free giving Peter his chance. He took it, kicking out with his leg hitting the thing’s chest, sending the assassin flying across the room. It hit the brick wall with a bang and a muffled grunt, but it bounced up as soon as it hit the floor, stalking back to Peter, his prey.
Peter scrambled to get to his feet, staggering. It was an effort not to give in to the urge to claw at the blazing wound. He ignored the pain and allowed the wolf within to the surface attaining his beta shift, roaring deep and loud enough to rattle the windows. The aggression and self-preservation instincts of the animal taking over to face the abomination trying to kill him. Trusting in the wolf to help him survive. To stay alive.
They circled each other, gaging, assessing. The Mute slowly pulled a large hunting knife from a sheath at its back. The blade glistened in the pale morning light and Peter knew it probably had wolfsbane on it as well. Anyone hunting werewolves would know to coat or pack their weapons in wolfsbane. It was only logical.
The Mute swiped out the blade with a quiet whistle, arching close but Peter was able to jump back in time not to be eviscerated. He bared his fangs at the knife swinging back trying to get at his belly. The arm and blade passed again. Peter surged forward, moving in close, face to face with the mouthless thing grabbing its wrist.
The strength taken to keep the blade from coming back down into his chest was intense. The Mute was as strong as any werewolf. Peter ignored the smoldering pain, adrenaline, and the wolf inside holding back the blade with one hand. Working to keep The Mute from crushing his throat with the other. They were in a stalemate pushing hard against each other, breathing each other’s air. The only sounds were Peter’s snarling, and low grunting coming from The Mute’s throat as they struggled against one another. The device under Peter’s hand broke away, crushed trickling in pieces under their feet.
Peter kicked upward with a knee. He missed the thing’s balls but got a hard hit onto its thigh, causing it to lose balance against him. He released the hold he had on the arm that was empty of weapons and ignored the thing squeezing his throat, raking his claws in deep, down the side of The Mute’s head and face.
Its scream was muffled and it pulled back and away, dropping the knife to the floor with a clatter. Its hands went to the gouges and Peter realized he’d nicked the thing’s eye as well. He surged forward intent on getting his claws into its throat but it caught him in the chest with a foot throwing Peter’s body in the air across the room. He hit Derek’s large wooden table hard with a jarring crack and a burst of bruising pain in his back before falling onto the floor below.
Peter watched as the Mute ran to the exit, the metal of the door screeching in protest at being thrown open so harshly. Breathing in whistling breaths Peter watched as the dark figure stumbled down the stair, escaping.
He didn’t know how long he laid there, almost under the table, whining at the wolfsbane fire in this chest. His blood had turned black by the time he rolled over. He couldn’t stand, he knew it and didn’t even attempt to. His eyes, caught sight of what he could now see was not an ax, but a tomahawk. It was still embedded in the middle of the floor.
Peter realized he’d shifted back at some point and that the tips of his fingers were becoming numb. He needed help, now.
Fumbling, he searched for his phone in the back pocket of his jeans. Letting out a relieved sigh at finding it still there, he laid it next to his head and unlocked it with shaky fingers. He hit the number he rarely called and hoped to one day be able to call without needing something.
“Peter?” Derek answered.