Author's Note: The setting for this story is SPN post season 5/pre season 6 and TW post season 2/pre-season3. The time kind of (maybe?) lines up, but I'm taking liberties obviously. Fair warning, Sam and Dean aren't main characters in this story.
Comments and suggestions are appreciated, even if I'm not always able to use them, and while I don't always reply to reviews, I read and cherish ever one of them. This story was finally completed thanks to a nifty LJ comm called WIPBigBang. Thanks for reading.
Sheriff Noah Stilinski ran a calloused hand down his face, trying and failing to wipe his mental slate clean. The past few months had been exhausting. No, correction, the past year had been exhausting. But he had thought (foolishly, he was certain) that closing a case meant being able to file it away out of his memory. Out of sight, out of mind. He was wrong. Especially since all he could think about was how his own son was linked to that case.
"When did this even start?" he asked.
The empty office was predictably quiet, but he could picture what Stiles would have looked like if he'd been sitting in the seat across from the desk. Stiles would have flailed and commented on evidence of fast food in the trash can, asked how the new deputies were working out, and back-pedaled until his dad had completely forgotten the whole point of the conversation. Stiles was skilled in that area, which was why Noah had decided not to bother with questioning his son directly.
Now he wished his son was there to distract him, to get these thoughts out of his head, but once they were there, once he'd noticed the obvious number of coincidences...He couldn't just erase that knowledge:
His son was involved.
It wasn't that he was previously unaware that Stiles had shown up at one too many crime scenes lately. Noah was good at his job, despite what a few of Beacon Hills' more influential higher-ups liked to say about him, so he knew what it would look like to anyone but him. But he also knew Stiles.
Noah stared down at the photograph in his hands. It was a still from a surveillance video showing his son wearing a shocked expression as a man who was impersonating a deputy held an arm around his neck, threatening to press a needle into his throat. Perhaps that was the moment, when he'd looked through the videos to find out how the impersonator had gotten to the jail cells, that he realized how many close brushes with danger that Stiles had had over the year, from being chased through the high school when the janitor was murdered, to being on the scene after the mechanic was killed...And those were altogether different cases, but Stiles tied them together.
Even knowing that there was a link, he'd pushed the information to the back of his mind, especially after they'd discovered the guilty party was Kate Argent in the first instance, Matt Daehler in the second.
Noah shook his head, almost sick at his stomach when he imagined Matt's gun being pointed in his son's direction. Another close brush, another connection. There was no one in his office to see him, no one there to ponder why he was looking over these cases again, because he was afraid of what they'd think. What they'd see when they looked at his son's less than spectacular timing.
He would have been able to drop it. Maybe let him and his kid work out what all these lies between them were about lately. Maybe he would have if he hadn't decided to look deeper into what happened on the lacrosse field the night Jackson Whittemore was falsely reported as deceased. He'd actually bought the story about Stiles disappearing because of the other team, getting roughed up by rowdy teenagers. Even though it didn't make sense that any of them would have been in the frame of mind to pick a fight, not with a kid down on the field. Still, it was a likely story, considering that not everyone found Stiles' sarcasm entertaining and fights like that weren't exactly uncommon between boys their age.
Noah would have let it go, if he hadn't decided, weeks later, to visit the field, check out the school on a whim. That's when he'd overheard a conversation between a few of Stiles' teammates. The kids hadn't even noticed him, and Noah had already questioned them about the incident with Jackson. He'd almost ignored what they were saying before he heard one of them, Greenberg, make a joke about Principal Argent losing his job over Stiles.
There it was. Some implied tone. A leer between the words.
Greenberg had gone pale, losing his smile when he realized the sheriff was listening in, and tried to backtrack out of the comment. Noah hadn't let him.
The kid said he was just joking. Just joking…Why? Because right before Jackson went down, he'd seen Stiles standing between two strange men, seen them walk him off the field. The three of them had gotten into Principal Argent's SUV. Argent himself had joined them a few minutes later, and they'd driven off. Driven off with his son.
Noah decided right then that Greenberg must be a moron, because the kid still didn't seem to understand the importance of what he was saying.
"Was that before or after Stiles took a beating?" Noah had snapped, getting a bit too into the boy's personal space.
Greenberg swallowed hard. "What beating?"
Noah hadn't been able to continue the conversation. For half a second he'd considered calling Stiles, demanding answers. But he knew what demanding answers would get him. Stiles would come up with a lie.
Noah quickly closed the file laying across his desk, hiding the information inside from view. He didn't want to think about it, about Stiles missing half a night and coming home hurt. He hated himself a little for letting his son weasel his way out of the situation with a lame excuse. God, had he been more hurt than he appeared? Had Argent really done something to his boy?
Noah pushed away, forcing himself to his feet but stopping before the movement turned into nervous pacing. He calmed himself with one steadying thought: he'd find out. He'd find out, and he'd make the ones responsible tell him exactly what had happened.
Because Stiles sure as hell wouldn't.
Whatever his son was going through, whatever bad situations he'd found himself in, Stiles was playing this close to his chest. Asking him for the truth and expecting a real answer? Well, that was out of the question.
Noah couldn't say for certain the moment when he decided his next course of action, because somehow the cell phone was already in his hand before his mind caught up with his body. His finger hovered over her name and private number. He'd only stored it a few short weeks ago. Before then, communication between them meant calling her office and hoping for the best.
"Noah?" Her voice sounded unsure.
He took a moment to appreciate the fact that she'd answered after seeing his name on the screen.
"Jody," he returned, then hesitated. How the hell did he start this conversation again?
"Wow." She let out a deep breath. "Look at us. Two calls in a month's time. Must be a record. Everything ok?"
He blinked back the sting in his eyes, hating himself a little for letting the comment get to him. He wasn't sure if the tears were sad ones or happy ones. It was always hard to tell when he was dealing with his baby sister. Jesus. He hadn't even let himself think of her as his 'baby sister' in so long that the term felt wrong, even in his head. She was Sheriff Jody Mills these days, and if he wasn't slightly scared of her temper, he would have made a joke about her following in her brother's footsteps.
They weren't close enough for a joke like that. Not yet.
Two calls was accurate. And indeed a record. Last year, such a call would have been downright bizarre, but over the past few months, they'd been trying to reconnect. It was slow work, and he knew he hadn't been putting in the effort, but the circumstances weren't ideal, either. It was hard enough to talk to someone who'd been out of his life for so long. Harder still when it was a tragedy that had forced him to make the first move.
The same thing had happened not three years back, when little Owen had...Noah closed his eyes. He didn't want to even think about his nephew, a child he never even knew outside a photo. It was too painful, and when Jody had called hoping for his help, his support, he hadn't done all he could to give it. He was still dealing with his Claudia's death, still feeling his way through being a single dad working full time, still trying to avoid another swig from the bottle.
He shouldn't have been surprised this time around, when she hadn't called him at all. Her world had crumbled, and he'd found out by accident. Sean Mills of Sioux Falls, dead in a bizarre accident.
He'd taken a weekend to go see her by himself, but he couldn't afford much more time off. It hadn't been a warm reunion. It hadn't healed any wounds. But it was a start. The next few phone calls between them, he'd hoped for more, but found them struggling to talk. They were two adults now, not kids, and he didn't really know who Jody-the-adult was.
Why the hell would he call her right now? Why would he think she'd be fine with this?
"Noah?" she asked, sounding worried by his silence. "Are you alright? Is Stiles ok?"
"No," he said, not really meaning to. He sighed to himself. His kid was going to hate him for this. "No, Stiles...He's not ok. I think he's in trouble. Jody, I know I don't deserve it, but I need some help."