As soon as Isaac trapped the fly and the Nogitsune was reduced to dust under his feet, Scott immediately turned his eyes toward his best friend; the dark undereyes, the striking pink lips against his pale skin, his dark under eyes, and his unkempt hair, his biggest fear was that he would lose Stiles. He already had lost Allison.
But as Scott felt his own heartbeat slow down, like things were finally going to be okay, Stiles fell out of Lydia's hold and crashed onto the linoleum floor; Scott's heart started going a hundred miles a minute once again.
"Stiles!" He yelled, dashing forward before crashing to his knees and pulling Stiles into his arms, feeling his slow, uneven breathing against his arm, and his freezing cold cheek pressed against his chest. He pressed his hand against Stiles' neck. Scott had seen his mom do this before. 'Check the pulse. Check the breathing. Go from there. He repeated in his head like a mantra.
"We have to get him to the hospital." He could hear Kira's voice behind him, but it felt clogged. He couldn't focus on anything besides how cold his friend was. The last thing he had felt that was that cold was Allison.
He stood up, lifting his best friend into his arms. He could still feel the freezing skin and the slow, uneven breaths against his body, and he didn't know what to do. He couldn't focus, but he managed to take a deep breath and form a plan in his head. "Lydia, drive us to the hospital. Kira, can you call my mom? Let her know what's going on?" When Kira nodded, Scott turned to Isaac, shifting Stiles in his arms so his head was pressed against his shoulder. "Help me watch his breathing and heartbeat."
The group of four nodded and sprinted toward the blue jeep that was parked outside of the school; Lydia climbed in the driver's seat; Kira sat beside her and immediately got to work with alerting Melissa of what was going to take place once they got to the hospital, to be ready.
Isaac and Scott got in the back, Stiles slumped against the two of them as the jeep pulled away from the school and flew down the road; As he held his friend's body in his arms, focusing on the sound of the slow but still beating heart, all Scott could do was Stiles would cling to the little life he had left till they got there.
The jeep ride was a blur, rushing fast through his head; Scott tried to recall any information he could about Stiles' condition to his mother before he was taken away from the pack and into triage, but all he could feel was the rapid pounding inside his chest and his ears as he was led to the waiting room by Kira's hand on his shoulder.
That had been two hours ago.
The Sheriff had gotten there as soon as Isaac informed him of the events that transpired with Stiles, since Scott was struggling to speak, but Lydia was now gone with Ethan and Derek to figure out what to do with Aiden's body; Scott still had his phone open to her number though, for when they got news on Stiles.
The only noises Scott could hear was the ticking clock and the pounding coming from his own chest; he couldn't even focus in on his mom, let alone Stiles.
He was brought out of his thoughts by a warm hand on his, and he looked up from his knees to see Kira looking at him with reassurance in her dark brown eyes.
Neither of them spoke, but the look she gave him instantly slowed some of the rapid pounding against his chest. He wrapped his hand around hers, and gently squeezed it before stroking it softly with his thumb; partially to reassure himself and partially to calm her down. Her heartbeat seemed just as rapid as his had been.
That's when the two large doors opened up and Melissa McCall walked toward the small group; Scott couldn't hold back a smile when he saw her face, it was one he knew well. Exhaustion, caffeine carrying her through her shift, but relief. He could see the relief lighting up her face.
Before she had the chance to speak, he knew that Stiles was alive. He had made it.
"He's gonna be okay. He's warming up, and he's pretty exhausted, but he's going to be just fine." Melissa explained to the group, "It's past visiting hours, but if any of you want to see him before you go home, now would be the time; we just need to go one at a time so he doesn't get overwhelmed."
"You should go," Noah softly coaxed her son, "I'm gonna be here all night. Go see him."
Scott didn't put up a fight at all, and instead just walked towards her, clearly exhausted but determined to see his best friend; so she gently put her hand on his back and led him towards the elevator, clicking the button to take them to the pediatric ward.
"How much does Stiles hate being in here?" Scott joked softly, but Melissa changed the subject, although the joke did have truth to it, to voice the thought that had been on her mind for days.
"I'm proud of you, Scott. I'm so damn proud of you, " she stopped for a moment, holding back a sob of admiration for her son, her baby boy, that had grown up in front of her eyes, "and I'm sorry I don't say it more often, I just...I'm proud of you."
"I know, mom." He smiled softly, wrapping his arms around her in a hug, making the tears well up in her eyes. "But thank you. It means a lot."
That's when the elevator dinged and the doors opened, revealing the painted bears and balloons that graced the outer walls as a means of distracting children, and she led him to the room before turning the doorknob and opening it, stepping in with Scott behind her.
Stiles was staring outside at the window across the room, his right hand tapping against the other despite the fact that it was connected to an IV, and even though there was an nasal cannula wrapped around his face and the beeping of the countless monitors beside him, even she could acknowledge that he looked the healthiest he had been in weeks. "Stiles? You have a visitor." She spoke softly to break him away from the window as she approached him before waving Scott in.
"Scott?" Stiles spoke softly, his throat dry and raw as his best friend approached him while Melissa charted down his vitals. 'He's okay.' he rationalized, despite the fact his anxiety had been telling him the complete opposite since he had woken up ten minutes ago; Scott rushed forward and before Stiles could register what was happening, he was engulfed in a tight hug and despite the fact his body was weak, and screaming in pain with any more then miniscule movement, he hugged him back as tightly as he could, resting his head against Scott's shoulder; he couldn't stop the tears from spilling out, staining the sleeve of his jacket.
"Shh, shh, we're okay," He couldn't stop...everything was flooding his brain and spilling over; Allison, Aiden, the fact that Scott was here, 'you could've killed him' ...how could Scott stand to be around him when he had taken her from him? "We're all okay, Stiles."
Despite how desperately he wanted, he needed, to believe that, he knew it wasn't true. Scott was grieving, Lydia was grieving... He had hurt his best friend and the girl he loved, so he just tried to focus on keeping the feelings in, and making the tears stop, in order to make Scott think that he did, indeed, believe that they were all okay.
A few moments later, he managed to force everything in, keeping his voice quiet in order to keep his emotions at bay, and pulled away from Scott's shoulder. He kept his voice quiet, letting his body react to Scott's voice instead of his mind so he could convince Scott that, yes, he was just fine; unfortunately for his friend, he knew just how to hide things from him.
Scott left shortly after, something about how it was late and that he had school in the morning, but that he would be back afterwards and just like that, Stiles allowed himself to recline back onto the bed and stare out the window once again, tapping his left hand once again when Melissa came into view.
"Everything looks...well, as good as it can." She smiled softly, tuning a hand through his hair, her fingers lingering against his scalp for a moment, "Get some rest, sweetheart. I'll go get your dad."
Stiles managed a nod as she walked out, shutting the door behind her, and that's when he finally let out a shaky breath and the tears softly streamed down his face as everything hit him. 'You killed her. You killed Allison. You ruined Scott's life. You killed him. You killed Aiden. You ruined Lydia's life. You ruined their lives. You did it with a smile on your face. You're more nogitsune then human.'
Stiles sat up, shaking from the revelation that hit him and reached over toward the nightstand, grabbing the pen that lay on it. He clicked the bottom of it, and held it over his right wrist, shaking as he pressed it to his skin and wrote a backwards "5" on it, taking in a breath of relief. The kanji for self. He was himself.
Stiles could not sleep. He had been home from the hospital for three days, and he couldn't sleep; because if he did, it might take over again. After all, Deaton's sister did say that he was vulnerable when he was asleep, and if there was one thing he took away from Eichan House, it was that.
Well, that and Malia, who even if he was sleeping, she would still sneak in and wake him up anyway, resulting in neither of them getting sleep.
But on the third day, he seemingly blinked, and that's when everything faded to black; or so he thought.
'Oh, hell no.' Stiles panicked; he knew that voice too well, way too damn well. He spun around, and he had to stop himself from throwing up when he saw his own face in front of him, but instead of his pajamas, he wore dark colors and had that glint of pure evil in his eyes. This was the nogitsune in the flesh. "This is just a dream." He assured himself out loud.
"You know that it isn't, Stiles," his reflection smiled, "that it felt good when we commanded the Oni to drive a sword into the huntress. When we commanded them to do the same to the beta twin," Stiles reached up, covering his ears and turning away, still hearing the voice, "That we liked all of the power. The chaos. The pain. We want to feel it again."
"Go away!" He shouted, squeezing his eyes shut.
"You can feel that way again. Let me in, Stiles."
"Shut up! Just shut up!"
"You want to. I can feel it." He heard him approach, his heart racing as he spoke with every step. "Let. Me. In."
He sat up, panting, staring at the door leading into the hallway; he held his hands up to his face. Five fingers on each hand. 'Just a dream. Just a dream.'
"Stiles?" He heard a voice beside him, Malia, mumble as she opened her eyes halfway. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine." He tried to calm his breathing. "I'm all fine, just go back to sleep." He laid back down, staring at the dark ceiling until he heard her breathing even out and light snores and that when he sat back up, maneuvering out of the bed in a way where Malia wouldn't feel him get up, and made his way to the bathroom.
Stiles breathed over the sink, trying to force the vomit he could feel in his throat down, brushing a cold, wet hand over his face, splashing it in the sink. "Just a dream. You're okay." He whispered, still shaking. "Dreams are just faces and events mixing in your brain, and you just happen to have been possessed until like, a week ago. It's okay. It can't come back."
Despite what he said aloud, however, he still couldn't stop shaking; that's when he saw the sharpie laying in the slightly open drawer in the bathroom. So before he could stop himself, he uncapped it and drew a backwards "5" on his wrist, so it was staring him in the face. "You're yourself."
He stopped shaking, splashed a bit more water on his face, before going back to bed and maneuvering himself back in so Malia's front was pressed against his back; but he held his wrist against his eyes as they closed again, hoping that maybe he could get some sleep without being absolutely terrified out of his mind.
Scott was delighted to have Stiles back at school, even though his friend was acting a bit unlike himself. It could be because of the hospital stay, he knew those were never easy on Stiles, but he kept a keen eye on him. After all, they were brothers first, pack second, despite everything that had happened in the past month.
"Hey, Scott." One of the girls, who he remembered named was named Casey, smiled at him before handing him a flier. "There's a memorial service for Allison next week, and I was wondering if you would want to speak?"
"W-what time?" Scott stuttered, the grief smacking him dead center in the chest; he had been trying to avoid it, admittedly, but he knew Isaac was planning on speaking, and he didn't want him to be alone. "I'll see if I'm working."
"7:30. Should only last an hour."
"Yeah. Yeah, I'll be there." Scott smiled, trying to keep his feelings in. He knew that if he was open with his emotions, no one would mind, but he needed to stay calm in order to get through school.
"Thank you. And Scott? I'm sorry for your loss." Casey walked away after that, leaving Scott in the hallway with a flier and his pain, that he quickly tried to shake away, and that's when he heard the voice behind him and a hand on his shoulder.
"Yo, Scotty? You good?"
Scott turned, taking a shuddering breath before turning to see Stiles behind him. "Yeah, I'm okay," that's when he took the dark circles and pale skin his best friend was still sporting, "Are you? You look really tired."
"Fine." Stiles shrugged him off before grabbing the flier out of his hands, cursing under his breath. "Did Casey convince you to speak at this?"
"I...I don't want Isaac to be alone." Scott admitted, trying to keep the tears in when he saw her face on the flier again, almost as if she was being advertised as a lead in a theatre production and still alive. "He doesn't deserve that, after everything that's happened." He swallowed his tears, seeing that Stiles' face was now drained of color. "No one will be upset with you if you don't go."
That's when the bell rang, and Stiles practically dashed away, seemingly happy he had been given the chance to do so, but the small mark on the palm of his friend's hand didn't escape him, and Scott only grew more upset when he saw it, making a mental note to talk to his mom about it later, she had to have an explanation for this.
There had to be a reason why Stiles was writing the kanji for self on his hand.
Noah couldn't sleep. The stress of covering up the crimes done by the Oni and that thing that wore his son's face were catching up to him, as well as the guilt for putting Beacon Hills over Stiles, even though he knew damn well that his son, his baby boy, hadn't done those things, the town wouldn't have the same feelings toward him.
He had noticed that his son wasn't sleeping as much as he should, even though the night terrors had faded, and that he had been writing on his hands and his arms; what he was writing, Noah didn't know, but it clearly was something Stiles had never done before, even when Claudia was in the depths of her battle with fronteltemporal dementia.
When Noah heard fast feet escape from Stiles' room and into the bathroom, the door slamming behind them, he knew it was his son and couldn't stop himself from getting up to check on him; he tapped his knuckles against the door, calling his son's name softly in order not to wake Malia, but when he got no response, he twisted the knob and opened the door, being blinded for a moment before his eyes adjusted and he saw the scene in front of him.
His son's back was to him, his sides moving erratically as he breathed rapidly, his elbows were propped on top of the sink, and the water was turned to cold; he could've sworn that Stiles was mumbling "just a dream" under his breath.
Noah slowly moved, in order not to provoke his son, and turned off the sink before gently grabbing his son by the elbows and helped him sit on the edge of the bathtub. Kneeling in front of him, Noah tried to push back his feelings. "Stiles? What happened?" He asked softly, trying to get his son's attention.
When Stiles finally looked up and made eye contact, Noah swallowed seeing the tears in his eyes. "D-do you have a pen? O-or a marker?"
Noah nodded, standing up and grabbing the Sharpie out of the drawer that they used to keep their toiletries separate before kneeling back down in front of his son and handing it to him; he watched as Stiles uncapped the marker and pressed it against his palm, writing a backwards "5" on it before capping it, letting out a sigh of relief as he handed it back to him. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Noah stood and placed the marker on the side of the sink before sitting on the closed toilet lid, "So, what does it mean?" He asked, looking briefly at Stiles' still shaking hands, "The backwards "5"?"
"It's a kanji. The system of Japanese writing using Chinese characters. It means self," a swallow, clearly trying to keep the tears back, "Mrs. Yukimura had the Oni use it to mark those who weren't possessed behind their ear so they could find the nogitsune."
"So, when you see it, you know that you're yourself?"
"More me than nogitsune." Stiles affirmed before slumping forward; now that he was calm, he was obviously exhausted and threatened by the looming presence of sleep.
Noah smiled softly, mostly to keep Stiles calm as he helped him stand up before leading him to his room, even when he protested, citing that Malia was going to be worried if he wasn't in the bed, Noah just continued to bring him into his room. "Everything is going to be fine. For now, you have to get some sleep." He insisted, leading Stiles to where Claudia used to sleep and laying him down before tucking him in snugly, "I am right beside you if you need me. Sleep."
Noah turned and walked around to his side of the bed and pulled the blankets over his shoulder, letting his eyes flutter close as he drifted off and having to trust that Stiles would wake him up if he needed anything.
Malia could not help being worried, hoping Stiles would be able to sleep through the night, or at least for longer then a few hours at a time. She knew that every night, he would bolt awake in a sweat and she would pretend she was asleep as he maneuvered himself out of the bed and went to the bathroom. She wasn't going to do that anymore.
She had only been human for a few months, and while she hadn't been human in 8 years, she knew that having nightmares every night wasn't normal; granted, she hadn't known anyone who had been possessed before.
"Stiles?" She asked softly as he came into the bedroom after brushing his teeth, she could see the hesitation when he saw the bed in his eyes.
"Malia, I'm too tired for that tonight." He mumbled, rubbing a hand over his eyes before climbing into the bed.
"Not what I was going to ask," Malia told him before cuddling against his back, her arms around his waist, "You can wake me up, you know. When you have a nightmare?"
"I don't have nightmares." He mumbled, settling into her arms but before she could tell him "yes, you do, you have been since I started coming in here", he was asleep; and shortly after, she descended into darkness herself.
She felt the mattress lift, which woke her up pretty quickly. Malia sat up, rubbing her eyes, but stopped when she heard the panting and let her eyes adjust to the darkness, seeing Stiles hunched over in the bed, studying his hands in the dark.
"Hey, it's okay. Just go to sleep." Stiles' voice cracked, but she wasn't going to just stand by that.
"You're not okay." She told him, sitting up as she took his hands in her, trying to redirect his attention. "You had a nightmare, and you're not okay."
"I will be."
Malia just turned towards him, bringing him closer to her and pulling him into a hug, trying anything she could to help him feel better, even though she had no experience in what she was doing. She could feel and hear his heart racing, pounding against her ears, and his struggles to breathe. She had to act fast.. "Shh, it's okay. Just breathe."
Stiles swallowed, and pulled away, before reaching over his and grabbing a pen, but she stopped him, grabbing his hand him to look up at her. "Malia, let go."
"You don't need to do that. Draw that symbol on yourself, just to know you're here." She told him, pulling the pen out of his hand and putting it on the table. "We're here. We both are. And you're okay. We're okay." He tried to pull away, but she stopped him, still holding his hands. "Breathe, its okay. Just breathe."
Stiles let his hands drop, he stopped fighting her, and he slumped forward. "I'm sorry, for waking you up."
"It's okay." Malia spoke, trying to keep him calm before pressing a kiss to his cheek, gently scratching his scalp. "Are you okay to go back to sleep?"
"I...I think so." He smiled softly through the tears before laying back against the pillows. "Yeah, I can sleep."
"Okay." Malia smiled, laying beside him and pressing him against her in order to protect him, to keep him safe from all things, real and imaginary.
And for the first time in weeks, Stiles didn't draw the kanji on himself.