Wake up, Stiles.
Stiles doesn’t hear their breath ragged and broken in their lungs. He doesn’t hear the shuffle of their feet against concrete or the scratch of chalk against the wall. He doesn’t smell the repellent. He doesn’t see the cold grey walls or the dusty pipes or the stairs leading up to where light is trickling through the cracks in the door.
He doesn’t see it or smell it or hear it, but it is exactly where he is, in the basement of the mental hospital with his leg pinned in something –
A bear trap –
What is that doing here –
Wake up, Stiles.
The person, the thing, whoever it is, whatever it is, gets quiet whenever he calls Scott.
When Scott’s voice rattles through the speaker, metallic and tinny and the most comforting thing Stiles has ever heard, the thing almost disappears. Almost fades to an annoying shadow in the back of his mind.
When he talks to Scott, in those brief seconds, he doesn’t see pipes and concrete walls and cold light descending from an old door.
He feels a hand on his shoulder.
He sees trees and roots and moonlight.
A bear trap.
Stiles shines his phone's light at the thing, face wrapped in decaying cloth, silver fangs glinting and he is afraid. When it talks, he doesn’t hear it. He feels it. Feels it in his lungs. He breathes with it, almost knows what it’s going to say. Knows the riddles before it asks.
Someone’s keeping time with him, answering the riddles as he does. It’s not the Thing. Not something dark.
Stiles! Wake up!
There are fireflies in the basement. The Thing plucks them out of the air and crushes them. Stiles feels his hand clench when each firefly is caught. Feels it die in his hands.
Something is wrong.
The smell is so bad. It burns his eyes. He tries to take the bear trap off his left –
Left ankle. He feels hands around his own that help him pull. Feels the trap give.
You’re safe, trust me, Stiles.
The Thing laughs at him. He feels his gut spasm. Feels his lungs expand and contract with every breath the thing takes. He screams when it starts to pull him up the –
Out of the Nemeton –
stairs. “You’re okay, Stiles!” Melissa’s voice is so gentle, so kind, when compared to his –
the Thing’s –
and her hands are warm and solid and real around him. They are needed.
They are not the hands that held him in the Nemeton. Not the hands that pulled the trap apart.
The nurse that prepares him for the MRI is benevolent. Her name is Nem. She smiles at him, pushes hair from his face and doesnt mind that he's a little shaken and has trouble pulling on the gown. She helps him.
"It's magnetic, right?" he asks. "My mom had one of these done."
She nods. "Dont be afraid, Stiles."
He feels her breath in his lungs, he keeps time with her. When she presses the stethoscope to his chest, his heartbeat fills his ears. Her hand is on his shoulder -
around his own hands, pulling apart the trap.
She takes him too the room. He sees the machine, white and powerful and imposing.
She doesn't say anything, but he hears it.
You're safe, Stiles. Trust me.
After the Kitsune voices her empty threat, he sees Nem in the hall, with the lights flickering. Her eyes are gleaming yellow like two fireflies alone in the dark.
"Not safe enough," he says.