All righty, my lovelies! Here it is! The first part of Arc II! This chapter will be split into two parts because of how long it got, so expect updates every Friday just like before. If you’re new to the series, start here. If you would prefer to read it on AO3, link to the series is here! Summer vacation is upon the pack, new threats appear in the horizon, and Stiles’ still feeling the repercussions of his fight with Alex. Here we go!
When Stiles was young, his mother taught him the value of control. With his attention splitting off into different directions more often than not, the aspect of control was a foreign and uncomfortable subject for him. But his mother would sit him down in the garden, surrounded by the brilliant flowers she minded to so lovingly, slap a trowel into his hand, and make him tend to the roses. Roses were vicious flowers, snapping at fidgeting fingers and wrapping around ambling arms. Stiles learned quickly that if his concentration flitted away to another part of the garden, he’d end the day with more scratches and bleeding thumbs than he cared to remember.
His mother would click her tongue at him and smile, pressing a kiss to every little scrape, and then make him do it all over again the next day. Stiles learned control because of the roses. He learned to focus because of his mother.
When the accident happened, Stiles’ focus turned to finding a cure for his mother. There was little he could do; the doctors had no idea what caused her sudden lapse into a coma, or why there was nothing visibly stopping her from waking. She was lost to both his father and him, falling away like petals in winter, and all of Stiles’ focus, all of his control, was for naught.
After the funeral, after all the tears and attacks and fighting desperately every day not to call for his mother in the hallways, Stiles turned back to his mother’s teachings. He stayed in his mother’s dying garden, tracing out the symbols she would carve into the soil every day, picking up trowel and scissors to tend the roses. But no matter how much Stiles tried, no matter the water and the sun and the words he would whisper, the roses drooped in his hands, almost as though they felt the same loss Stiles did.
The roses died too.
School offered a brief return to normalcy. Meeting Scott grounded him, homework handed him purpose, Lydia shaped his focus. But his control was shot, his hands shaking at random intervals that he disguised with wild gestures and jammed fists in pockets. The roses his mother tenderly cultivated never regrew, no matter how many times Stiles replanted them in the spring, and he tried to find another way to steady his agitated limbs.
When Scott was turned, his fingers flew over the keyboard, flipped pages, scribbled down theories, created folders. When Scott was turned, his control started to take shape again, in an almost obsessive need to know all that he could. When Scott was turned, Stiles felt for the first time that same sharp focus he had when he looked into the tangle of rose bushes holding a trowel and rose scissors.
And then his magic happened.
Control is something Stiles fights to retain at all costs. He works for it, yanking his mind back onto the task at hand, forcing his hands still, grounding his thoughts in logic, creativity, and cunning. He’s learned through trial and error that his magic requires the utmost control, the sharpest of focus, or it will backfire. It will harm.
But even with all his careful planning, there are some things that still have the capacity to uproot the entire structure and leave him floundering. It starts with a red ring around his vision that he hasn’t been able to shake since his fight with Alex. It starts with his magic bubbling aggressive and mean whenever he spends more than a week away from the pack. It starts and it doesn’t stop and he can feel his well-earned control being drawn away from him like children following the Pied Piper.
It starts and Stiles has no idea what will happen when it ends.
Stiles bites his tongue, scribbling as fast as he can. His essay is almost damn near illegible at the end, but the body paragraphs make sense and that’s all that matters. The clock ticks like a death chime, faster and faster until Stiles practically feels the sensation sliding up his spine. He gets to the last line, words slanted and irregular, and his teacher calls time.
“Mr. Stilinski, I’ve given you your extra hour,” his teacher says. Three words. “Mr. Stilinski.”
“Done!” Stiles says, slapping down his pen. There’s no one else in the classroom but him and Mrs. Karlial. She raises an eyebrow at him and Stiles stands, scrambling to get his things together, his mind still blurring through everything he didn’t get to write down. Stuffing pens and pencils into his hoodie pocket, he grabs his essay and presents it to her with a flourish. “M’lady.”
“I will admit I’m surprised. What could you possibly have written on that would take this long?” she asks, peering at his paper. Stiles rocks back on his heels, a sheepish smile on, and she raises an eyebrow. “‘The Medicinal, Natural, and Mythical Uses of Monkshood’. Mr. Stilinski, when I said to write on any topic, I meant one that we covered over the course of this semester.”
“Hey, plants are part of biology.” Stiles grins at her and Mrs. Karlial sighs.
“Fine. Have a pleasant summer, Mr. Stilinski.”
“See you next year.” Stiles slips out of the classroom, nervous energy a chatter in his head. There’s an etch of red out of the corner of his eye but he ignores it, just like he’s done for the last three weeks, and breezes down the hallway to his locker. Scott’s waiting for him, leaning with his forehead against the metal, tongue peeking out of his mouth as his fingers fly over the touchscreen of his phone.
“Dude!” Stiles calls and Scott jerks, banging his nose on the locker. He wrinkles it up and greets Stiles with a wounded wide eyed look. “Oh come on, you have super hearing. You don’t have to be all dramatic about it.”
“I think I bombed the chemistry exam,” Scott groans. “I kept forgetting how to balance equations.”
“It’s like maths.”
“No, chemistry is nothing like maths. Maths includes numbers, symbols, and basic understanding of two plus two. Which I’m good at. Chemistry includes all these elements and adding invisible things together that no one knows about, and somehow I always end up with the wrong amount no matter how I try to make it work. Give me another maths examination any day. I aced that shit.”
Stiles opens his locker, grabbing out his bag. “Well, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. We are officially free.” He shoulders his pack, glancing at Scott. Scott’s rolling his forehead on the lockers again, making little pained noises as he texts. “Dude, seriously, we’re free. Stop it, you’re harshing my mellow.”
“Allison finished her lit exam and she wants to talk before the pack meeting,” Scott says, tongue peeking out of the corner of his mouth again as he focuses. Stiles rolls his eyes and grabs Scott’s elbow, dragging him down the hallway. “She said her exam was really easy! I don’t know what to tell her about my chem exam.”
“You did fine,” Stiles says. “And now that we’ve cleared that up, summer vacation! Can we talk about summer vacation because I don’t want to think about school anymore.”
“Do you really think I passed?” Scott asks, pocketing his phone. “Because I need those credits and the whole werewolf thing hasn’t been helping. And we have to worry about universities soon. Oh god, do you think Allison would still date me if I failed one exam?”
“You,” Stiles shoves Scott out the door, grin tugging up his lips, “need a timeout on the Allison front, I swear to god. I love you, I do, but you’re killing me here.”
“Allison!” Scott calls, breaking away from Stiles the moment he catches sight of Allison’s tousled hair. She turns from where she’s talking to Lydia, smiling broad as Scott all but tackles her to the ground, nosing delighted at her hair and greeting her with a quick peck on the mouth. Stiles walks at a more sedated pace, gaze caught on the blue sling cradling Lydia’s arm. He’s managed to stay away from her for this long, but it’s about time he faced reality.
“Stiles,” Lydia says, eyes narrowed. Stiles rocks back on his heels, hands jammed deep in his pockets. He tries a disarming smile. Lydia stalks toward him. “You and I need to have a little chat.”
“Of course! Anything for you, Lydia, star on my compass, beacon of my life.” Stiles takes a tentative step back and Lydia bares her teeth at him in a predatory smile. “However, due to prior obligations, I’ll have to postpone what probably amounts to a scalding scolding, so I’ll just grab my lovesick little werewolf and be on my way.”
“Don’t even think about it,” Lydia snaps. Stiles winces and stands his ground as Lydia stops just inches from him, green fire burning in her eyes. “I thought we were over the whole ‘keep things from Lydia’ stage of this farce. Especially when it is concerning the safety of my person. Boyd explained why your magic didn’t work on me, why my immunity makes it dangerous to be around the pack in high stress situations, and I understand that. What I do not understand is why you’ve been avoiding me like I’m about to stab my favourite stilettos into your eye socket, which, I might add, I would if it got me what I wanted.”
“I, uh, I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable,” Stiles says, eyes flicking down to her stiletto clad feet. They’re a fetching shade of red. “And there’s nothing I can do to fix it, so I figured it would be better if I just stayed away?”
Lydia reaches out, her fingers curling into the strings of his hoodie. She jerks him down until their eyes are level. “Sometimes I wonder how you’re second in the class. There is nothing on this Earth that I cannot fix, there is nothing that will stop me from driving my knives into squishy supernatural creatures, and there is nothing to stop me from gallivanting around the woods with all the rest of you like some deranged gang. We will find a solution and we will fix this so your magic will work on me.” Lydia smiles, perfectly sweet and dangerously placid, and Stiles swallows. “Okay?”
“Excellent. Now,” Lydia leans back, patting Stiles’ cheek before turning to Allison, “I’ll meet you after your usual escapades with the pack for coffee, yes?”
“Of course,” Allison smiles, fingers combing through Scott’s hair, who raises eyebrows at Stiles. Lydia nods and clips away, her hips swaying beneath her peacoat. Stiles stares after her, hand up around his throat where the bite of his hoodie sits tight. Allison laughs. “Well, that went better than I thought.”
“She’s going to eat me alive,” Stiles manages.
“Yes, but at least she’s willing to talk to you after everything that happened.” Allison tugs on Scott, sliding their fingers together as she starts walking toward the parking lot. Stiles trails after them, face flushed and pants a little tight. Lydia will always be his first love, that won’t change, and her ferocity definitely won’t fail to turn him on.
“So, we may have a problem,” Allison says, and Stiles immediately despairs.
“If you tell me more alpha werewolves are wandering around looking to kill me again, I will blow up this town. Fuck everything,” Stiles says. Allison laughs, shaking her head.
“Not quite. No, my father is going to be playing host to a group of hunters in a few weeks. They’re from up north and they’re passing through on an annual trip to Texas.”
“How far up north? Are we talking Washington or crazy Canadians?” Stiles asks. Allison rolls her eyes at him.
“Canadians aren’t crazy. They’re my cousins, actually, from my mother’s side. And before you say anything, that doesn’t make them crazier. Aunt Lee gave me my first quiver, actually, and my cousins Ted and Terri always played hide and seek with me when I was little. When we moved east, we no longer saw them so it’s kind of a rare treat that they’re passing by this summer. I’m just giving you a heads up.” Allison’s fingers squeeze around her back strap. “Though, uh, Dad hasn’t told them about the truce he has going on with Derek, nor has he mentioned that I’m part of the pack. We’ll have to go secret agent on this.”
“Well, this is going to end terribly,” Stiles says, but he gives Allison a reassured nod. “At least we have a bit to prepare before they blow into town. We might even have a normal summer after all of this.”
“Dude,” Scott groans, “why would you even say that.”
“Because I enjoy tempting fate.” Stiles digs his keys out of his pocket, waving a hand when Scott pulls the puppy eyes on him. “I’ll meet the two of you at Derek’s. Don’t get sidetracked.”
“No guarantees,” Allison says, grinning as she drags Scott away. Stiles tosses his bag into the back before clambering into his jeep and jamming the key into the ignition. He takes a moment, fingers wrapped around the steering wheel, before he throws the jeep into reverse and peels out of the parking lot.
The drive to the Hale house is always monotonous, filled with the kind of mindless serenity that allows for Stiles’ thoughts to wander. It doesn’t take him long to flit back to his favourite werequeen, Alex, and her taunts under the overpass. He’s replayed that scene thousands of times in his mind, highlighted different sections, pondered over inflection and meaning, scoured for possible understanding. Everything centers around how the name he thought was a simple, if not creepy, term of endearment had in fact been a title. A title that no amount of research has managed to clarify.
He’s a Red. He has no idea what that means.
A small flicker of colour catches in his peripheral and he rubs furiously at his right eye, but it only makes the red spread in splotchy patterns, until the spirals turn into familiar shapes and smudged lines. Blinking wide, he grits his teeth and waits for it to fade, his heart hammering in his chest. The peaceful moments between each cascade of colour are becoming shorter and he has no idea what it means or how to counteract it. So far, each episode has only caught him when he’s alone, but it won’t be long before he has company when the next one strikes.
The only possible solution he has to the problem is learning more about his magic and attributing the colour bleed to a side effect. But the fact that it started after his final fight with Alex is an issue that has his skin crawling. Something inside of him had shaken loose during that fight, had snapped wide and left him frayed and cagey. His magic clutters around his head like loose change and it won’t settle unless he’s in close proximity to the entire pack.
Well, it might be more than just the pack, but he’s not latching his unrequited feelings for Derek onto a sudden and unexplainable lapse in his magical control. That way lies madness.
Turning onto the Hale road, the colour finally fades from his vision and he’s left disoriented and dry mouthed. His jeep hits a pothole and he almost bites clean through his tongue, fingers tightening in surprise around the wheel. He bumps and clunks his way up the road until the burned out walls of the Hale house come into view, a stark contrast to the summer blue sky soft behind it. Stiles parks beside Derek’s Camaro and turns to gather his bag and binder up. The trio comes tumbling out the front door, Isaac latched onto Boyd’s back and demanding he run faster, and Erica calling loudly for Derek to stop moping because they have company. Stiles slams the door closed and Erica saunters over to him.
“Finished the exams?” she asks, draping herself on him. He’s gotten used to the affectionate treatment that’s become a staple whenever she greets him. He blows a raspberry into her hair and she shrieks at him, pushing his face away with a manicured hand. “That is not an answer, Stilinski!”
“Done and done,” Stiles says, grinning. Derek sidles out of the house just as Erica swats him on the back of the head and Stiles nearly swallows his tongue. Summer obviously means the pack will be spending more time in revealing clothing, the white muscle shirt Derek’s wearing enough to make Stiles’ mouth go dry and his fingers twitch. He really needs to get this under control.
Boyd and Isaac go tumbling by, Isaac rolling in the grass before popping up and tackling Boyd to the ground. Erica leaps into the fray and Stiles is left standing with his backpack hanging listless from his fingers as Derek makes a beeline for him. Derek stops in front of him, a smile quirking his lips up on the side, and Stiles blinks at him before returning the grin. “Ready for summer, Mr. Big Bad?”
Derek rolls his eyes, snagging Stiles’ backpack from him. “Summer just means none of you will leave me alone, or get off my lawn. They’ve been whining for you since you started exams so you’re training them today.”
“What, no, what?” Stiles trails after him, trying to get his bag back, but Derek’s faster than him. “Come on, I don’t have any training plans set up. I was just going to wallow on your porch until someone paid attention to me.”
Derek turns and Stiles almost headbutts him at the sudden switch. Derek furrows his brows. “Someone is always paying attention to you.”
Stiles’ lips purse in confusion at the underlying tone to Derek’s words; he knows it, but he can’t figure out just where it falls. Derek glances away before shaking his head and continuing his trek toward the porch. Stiles glares at the back of his head as he follows. Derek Hale is a goddamn mystery and no matter how many times Stiles thinks he has the formula right, the stupid werewolf always up and changes it.
“You’re still training them,” Derek says, tossing his bag onto the porch. He gestures at where the trio has collapsed into a tangled mess, Isaac spitting out Erica’s hair and Boyd trapped under both their collective weight. “I have to figure out just how much of the foundation I have to uproot before the builders will allow me a permit to rebuild. Isaac keeps stealing my phone and Erica won’t stop hitting on the contractor.”
Stiles snorts, following Derek into the house. “Well, you know better than to talk to people when your puppies are around. And no, you know how I train; you have to join in or it’s just no fun. Besides, you have to keep them distracted while I come up with a plan.”
Derek stalls before turning, tapping him on the forehead. “You already have an idea in mind. I can see it.”
“Lies,” Stiles says, scrunching his nose. Derek’s right though.
Derek taps him once more with a grin. “You get this weird furrow between your brows when you’re thinking too hard, which has to be really taxing for you, so I don’t know why you continue.”
“Ha ha, you’re a regular comedian.” Stiles grabs Derek’s wrist, dragging him back toward the door. Derek allows this. “Just keep them from following me around the perimeter. Throw Erica around. Let Isaac tackle you. Mock Boyd with incorrect facts about weather patterns. Just keep them off my back for a bit, okay?”
“And what do I get out of this transaction?” Derek asks, stepping into Stiles’ personal space, and Stiles’ stutters on a breath, his mind racing through all the possible answers he could give to that. So many possibilities. So many filthy possibilities, oh god. He makes a high pitched noise that he’s hoping he imagined as they stumble out of the house.
Derek tugs at the hold, shaking Stiles’ fingers loose. He presses a hand against Stiles’ lower back instead, breath ghosting over his ear, and says, “You can make it up to me later.” He pulls away, jogging down the stairs. “Hey! We’re training now! Stop it with the school yard behaviour, come on.”
Stiles reaches up and rubs his hand over his ear, his face burning. He really needs to figure out just how innocent this flirting is, because Derek’s been tugging on his chain just a tad too hard the last few weeks, and he’s not sure how much longer his poor teenage libido can take it. Shaking his mind clear, he walks over to his bag, crouching to dig through it. The sound of loose dirt shifting makes him look up, Allison parking her car as Scott gets out; Isaac tackles him immediately.
“Really?” Scott squawks, going down hard. Isaac snorts at him, rubbing his face with grass, before heading back over to the trio. Stiles can just make out Scott’s foot twitching. “That was totally uncalled for!”
“Oh, sweetie, you should know better by now,” Allison says, leaning against her door. She shoots a smile at Stiles and waves loosely at the trio gathered around Derek. “Did we make it in time?”
“We’re just about to start,” Derek says, arms crossing over his chest. Stiles doesn’t stare. “We’re just letting loose energy today. Everyone finished their exams, and Erica has been completely insufferable the last week.”
“Bite me,” Erica says. She jumps on Boyd’s back, sticking her tongue out. “Oh, wait, that already happened.”
Derek points a finger at her but says nothing. Stiles takes the opportunity of Derek explaining what they’re doing to flick through his binder, chewing on his lip. He gets to the back page of the defensive wards, to the large red marked spell, and wonders. He’s used it before, just shortly, on himself for testing purposes, but the ward is stationary and he needs to work on his offensive while using defensive. Repulsion works well as a fixed ward, but that’s due simply to Stiles modifying how it’s used. He can’t just slap everyone with this one. That would take away all the fun.
Tracing the ward with a finger, he mulls over possibilities. The yard is expansive, and no one aside from the pack would be caught inside the net if he decided to alter the parameters; but then again, because of the stationary quality, would that actually be plausible? And how would he contain it into the confines of the yard? He could use the mountain ash; it’s already set up to ward off unwanted supernatural forces, but he knows this ward is powerful. The kick it gives can be overwhelming.
He looks down at illusion and decides to go for it. He can always dispel the magic, give it a firm imagined pen for it to stay within, and negate other variables. Nodding, he stands and goes to check the perimeter. Jogging down the stairs, he laughs when Scott goes sailing past him, rolling in the dirt before leaping to his feet.
“You are all cheaters!”
Boyd ducks behind him as he walks and Stiles startles just enough for Derek to reach around him to snag Boyd’s shirt. “You can’t hide behind the resident magic user. That’s cheating.”
“See!” Scott says, only to get clipped by Erica on her way to tackle Derek. “Why do I come to these things?”
“Because it’s fun.” Allison ducks under Isaac’s attack, a thin baton in her hands. She whaps it over his ribs and Isaac makes a face, hand automatically going to the bruise. “Come on, Isaac, I’m just a sad little hunter.”
“Yeah, no, not making that mistake.” Isaac looks over his shoulder at where Erica and Boyd are teaming up on Derek and Scott is using Stiles as a shield. Stiles despairs and silently begs Isaac to save him.
“I have things to do!” Stiles says loudly. Isaac grabs Scott around the neck and hauls him back, Allison right on his tail. Stiles jogs away from the fun with a laugh, hitting the perimeter of the ash and almost tripping over it.
There’s a flicker of colour against his peripheral and he resolutely ignores it as he crouches down and passes a hand over the magic line. It buzzes under his hand and the red gets brighter, harder to ignore, and Stiles jams the heel of his palm into his eye. The colour explodes, black and red mixing together into an angry welt, fresh and new against his mind’s eye, and Stiles sighs. The red dances against his eye when he stands, stays bright and persistent right up until he’s walking behind the house. When it leaves him, his head rushes, making him stumble.
“Not now,” he mutters, making sure the lines connect. He has to worry about illusion and the possibility of it going out of control. The illusion ward has a very red, very large exclamation point beside it signalling its danger. That’s not to say he can’t control it; it’ll be fine. He does a full circle, crouching one last time to make sure the magic is connected, and Scott hits a tree beside him and doesn’t get up.
“Why is it always me? I mean, Erica and Boyd never get thrown and Isaac just gets a nice little toss every now and then, like, you’re not even trying. I hit every tree and ditch in the goddamn yard.” Stiles laughs at him and Scott raises a hand, pointing at the sky. “I say that from now on, I don’t even try to attack you and instead you toss everyone else around.”
“Well, stop being so tossable,” Derek says. Erica sneaks up behind him and Derek grabs her wrist, flipping her over his shoulder and onto her back. “Look, Erica was tossed and she isn’t bitching.”
“Excuse you,” Erica wheezes. “I would bitch if I could breathe, Christ.”
Stiles grins and skirts around Isaac and Boyd who have their heads bent together and are making up a plan through a complicated communication of raised eyebrows and wrinkled noses. He crouches in front of the porch steps, digging his fingers underneath the thick, green grass and uprooting a large chunk of it. He tosses the offending hunk of foliage to the side and makes sure his new space is drawable. Nodding to himself, he stands just as Allison comes to peer over his shoulder.
“This new training exercise is going to be fun, isn’t it?” she asks. Stiles beams at her, pressing a single dirt covered finger to his lips. She shakes her head with a soft smile before turning and jogging over to where Scott is still rolling in pain by the tree. Stiles heads over to his backpack and digs out his binder, unclipping the illusion ward from the back. It’s the only one he’s drawn since he tried it on himself. It’ll be interesting to see how the pack handles it.
He glances up at the sound of a victorious whoop, Isaac finally jumping into the fray and latching onto Derek’s back, claws digging into his shoulders. Erica and Boyd tackle him at the same time and they all go down in a tangle of confused limbs, Isaac underneath them all. Scott’s sitting up now, leaning against Allison’s leg and talking with her quietly. Stiles hops down the stairs and whistles sharp to gain everyone’s attention as he approaches the wiggling pile of werewolves.
“Now that Derek has successfully stalled everyone in figuring out what I’m doing, I’m hijacking the training session!” Stiles toes at where Erica is sprawled haphazardly over Derek’s stomach, her hair in her face. She swipes at his leg and he dances back. “Come on, Derek told me you’ve all been whining nonstop since I started exams.”
“That’s because you took so long to do them. You’re supposed to be a genius, aren’t you?” Isaac kicks and scratches at Derek’s bulk on him. Derek doesn’t move, blinking slow up at Stiles, and Stiles snickers. “Really? You weigh about the same as a coffin, get off of me.”
“You should never attack someone from behind,” Derek says, a serene smile drawing up his lips. “It just means they’ll fall on you and crush you’re pitiful frame underneath.”
“I am not pitiful!” Isaac snaps, finally getting enough leverage to shove Derek to the side. Derek grabs him around the waist and tosses him off to the side, chuckling at his yelp of surprise. Erica butts her head against Derek’s stomach before standing and yanking Boyd up beside her.
Derek dusts off his jeans as he gets to his feet, stepping easily into Stiles’ space. Stiles ignores the way his magic seems to settle and instead whistles again to grab Scott’s attention. “Come on, you two, everyone gets to participate!”
Allison tugs Scott up and the pack crowds around Stiles, who knocks his shoulder into Derek’s before holding up his ward. “This is an illusion ward. It basically turns every sense inside out. Left is hearing and down is diagonal. Your sense of smell will be worth shit and your sight will trick you into following a path that doesn’t exist. I used this on myself only once and, man, it was ridiculous. You’re going to see a lot of messed up things when I activate this but just remember: it isn’t real.”
Stiles walks backwards toward the bare spot he’d made and the magic tugs at him, knocking against his temples in an eager ploy to be released. A shine of red bleeds in the corner of his vision, stark lines drawing up the sides in shapes and squiggles he’s become intimately familiar with. He shakes his head, eyes blinking wide, and the red backs off. He’s going crazy.
“So, the object of the game is to sniff out the caster,” Stiles says. “This spell yanks control away from you in a way that can be jarring, so to keep everyone safe, I’m making up a safe word. Don’t worry, if something goes wrong I’ll immediately dispel the magic and you’ll be in full control of all your functions. The word is ‘sour apple’, okay? Now, I’ll be in my own little space of comfort and whoever manages to get to me first wins.”
Erica cocks her head, blinking at the swirled ink on the paper. “So, what, do you just slap it on us or something?”
“Not quite,” Stiles says, crouching until his hand hovers over the ground. He really hopes this works. “Everyone ready?”
The pack nods, each one curiously shifting forward, and Stiles exhales through his nose. Quickly, he draws his finger through the patch of dirt in front of him, the shapes and lines of the ward digging deep into the soil. He finishes with a gesture, lets the magic tumbling through his head finally have an outlet, and pushes his belief into the ward etched into the ground. The pack can’t find me.
His vision reds out.
It’s nothing like before; there’s no slow bleed that sneaks up on him out of the blue. He can’t see anything, his sight completely gone save for the sick swirl of crimson swimming across his eyes. Magic sprints across the red field in sparkling swirls, lightning fast and never staying in one spot. Sharp, suffocating pain starts up in his stomach and catches against his throat, shortening his breath.
Sucking in a desperate gasp, he blinks, blinks again, but when the red stays firmly in place, fear takes root. His fingers stay pressed against the ground, and that’s when his magic finally seems to realize it has an outlet. The beat in his head increases into a painful crescendo until his ears feel like static and his tongue blisters. The magic cascades down his arm, cracking his wrist, before slamming into the ground at such a velocity that the earth seems to shift under him. The spell morphs beneath his touch, mutating at the sudden influx of power, and Stiles chokes.
He can’t seem to get enough air and his eyes are bleeding, there’s so much red; the ground trembles and his magic barrels down his arm and into the gateway ward. He can feel it transforming into something far more sinister than he was initially aiming for, skipping over the grass as it spreads like a virus. It envelopes the yard, circling shark like around the group of people at its center, and Stiles tries to do damage control.
His magic snaps, snarling, vicious and unstable, and builds inside Stiles’ shaky slapped together cage of belief. It lashes out against him, knocking him forward and onto the ward. His hand twists ugly under him, unable to stop touching the ward, and the already shattered bones punch a scream from him. His magic twists, turns, and rushes for his unsuspecting pack. Black creeps up along the edges of his vision and his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth in shock.
That’s Scott, that’s Scott, and Stiles tries to fight off the cascading of his vision, tries to rip free of whatever the spell is doing to him. He rolls over, his arm twisted at an awkward angel, but it’s all he can do to get leverage. It hurts, bone deep and expansive in his chest, but he can’t move his fingers off the ward, he can’t get away. He startles when a high pitched yelp kicks through the air, followed by Allison’s scream. He needs to break the spell.
“Stop, stop, stop,” Stiles begs, grabbing his wrist. The magic burns alive under his skin, scorching his blood and forcing him to curl into himself. “Stop it, come on, I don’t believe anymore, you have to stop, I don’t believe anymore.”
But he does. His fear propels the belief forward and he can sense the mutated spell tearing into his pack, into his friends. He can hear Erica’s snarl of fury, Boyd’s uncertain gait, Scott’s tuck and roll, Isaac’s roar. But he can’t hear Derek. There’s a stutter in his vision, a quick flicker of colour that smudges out green before being swallowed up by red again. He pulls frantically at his hand and the magic fights against his strain.
Derek’s howl cuts through Stiles’ frantic motions, slices the red of his vision into ribbons, and allows him to finally remove his hand from the ward. He jerks to the side, arching as his magic scorches through him in a rejected whistle, rebounding off the outlet he’d shut down. The rampaging magic outside of his body is suddenly cut off, no longer able to retain form. He presses his shoulder blades into the dirt, praying he can believe enough to cancel out his magic, because he’s pretty sure this is what dying feels like.
Blinking wide, he has a moment to take in summer blue before the red falls like a theatre curtain. Magic twists down around his fractured wrist, putting unnecessary pressure against it, and Stiles bites back another scream. Thundering footsteps shake the ground and Stiles rolls into someone’s side as they grab his shoulders.
“His eyes! What’s happening to him?”
Erica. Erica’s okay. He broke the spell. Thank god, they could’ve been trapped in the illusion forever.
“I don’t know! Stiles? Can you hear me? Can you see me?” That’s Scott. At least he’s recognizing voices still. He wants to answer him but his tongue won’t move, swollen and sitting like lead in his mouth. “What do we do?”
“Deaton. Deaton will know what to do,” Derek says, and his vision streaks with muddy black, but this time there’s a definite shape to the colour. His head throbs out a beat in tandem with his magic, pulsing at his fingertips, up against the line of his throat, before gathering behind his eyes. He wants to claw them out. “Stiles? We’re going to take you to Deaton. I just need you to hang on, okay?”
His magic roars in his head the moment Derek presses a hand against his neck, racing down and snapping against the touch of Derek’s fingers. The shape against his eyelids finally solidifies, stark black lines and tasting like tree bark. It’s a ward, it’s definitely a ward, but not one that Stiles has ever seen before. He has no idea what it means. It seems to conjure pain, though, as his entire body goes rigid at the staggering slap of pressure that makes his bones creak. And then Derek lets him go and the ward shatters into thousands of black pieces of shrapnel.
“Stop,” Stiles manages, fighting to gather the fragments, but they worm into the red, splintering it apart like tiny bugs, and Stiles suffocates in the ensuing darkness.