It felt like everything was falling apart around him.
Everything had happened so fast that it was only now that he realised what had happened; like a polaroid picture coming into focus, the memories began to fill out.
The alphas. The hospital. He remembered the baseball bat breaking over the alpha’s head, shattering into splinters in his hand.
The ambulance. He remembered Cora stopped breathing and he had to resuscitate her. He remembered finding Derek unconscious in the elevator.
He remembered the car crash, the feeling of dread the flooded his veins when he thought he was too late to save his dad. He remembered his heartbeat pulsing in his ears as he dropped into the hollow beneath the Nemeton, he remembered his hands shaking as he shoved the bat under the falling beam. He remembered the moment of silence as they all stared at the bat, waiting for it to break and the roof to fall on their heads. He remembered the sigh of relief they all let out when it held, and the way his father pulled him into his arms and held him close.
Everything had happened so fast that it was only now – as the adrenaline began to wear off – that the memories flooded his mind like a wave crashing against the shore.
Bit by bit, everything came into focus.
He felt his chest tighten, his hands shaking as he struggled to swallow the rising bile that burnt his throat. His lungs burnt, desperate for air.
“How could you be so stupid?”
Scott’s thundering voice made his jump, his heart hammering against his ribs.
Stiles looked up at Scott, his friend’s face twisted with anger. Stiles blinked back the tears that welled in his eyes.
“Did you really think a bat would protect you against an alpha?” Scott shouted. “You could have gotten yourself killed.”
“I had to do something,” Stiles said, his voice strained.
“You’re human, Stiles,” Scott snapped. “You can’t fight like we can.”
“You’re right, I can’t,” Stiles retorted. “But at least I did something! Guess what, Scott? All of us can’t be true alphas. Some of us have to make mistakes. Some of us have to get out hands a little bloody sometimes. Some of us are human!”
A look of pain passed over Scott’s face, fading for a moment as rage flooded his expression. He opened his mouth to say something when Peter stepped in between the two of them.
“Alright, let’s take this down a few notches,” he said calmly. “To be fair, Scott, Stiles did save our asses. He may be human, but he was the only one who stepped in and did something useful.” He turned to face Stiles. “That being said, you have to understand what it’s like for us to watch you throw yourself into danger.”
“I didn’t throw myself—”
“You hit an Alpha with a baseball bat,” Peter pointed out.
Stiles opened his mouth to argue.
“And you crashed your car,” Peter continued, interrupting him. “And you went running into a hollow that was caving in.”
The man raised a brow challengingly and Stiles’ argument fell short of his lips.
“I know you can hold your own in a fight,” Peter said calmly. “But that doesn’t make it any less worrying for is to see you in danger.”
Stiles felt anger settle in his chest. He didn’t need to be coddled. He didn’t need to be pitied or worried about. He could take care of himself—werewolf powers or not.
“I think you two need a little time to calm down,” Peter said, looking between the boys.
Without another word, Stiles buried his shaking hands in his pockets and stormed away. He stepped outside into the cool evening air, shutting his eyes and letting the drizzling rain fall against his face. The cold air stung his cheeks, the rich petrichor grounding him as he drew in measured breaths.
He blinked away the tears that pricked his eyes as the panic attack began to wane.
The man’s voice was soft, cautious, but Stiles didn’t have to turn around to know Peter was standing behind him.
“What do you want?” Stiles asked, his voice drained.
“I want to know you’re alright,” Peter answered.
“I’m fine,” Stiles lied.
“My sister used to say that ‘fine’ was just a way of saying effed off, insecure, neurotic and exhausted.”
“I’m fine,” Stiles repeated.
He heard Peter take a step closer, standing beside Stiles and reaching for his hand. His fingers gently brushed against the palm of Stiles’ hand, sending shivers down his spine.
“I know you hate people thinking you’re weak because you’re the only human in our pack,” Peter said quietly. “But you’re the strongest of all of us. You also mean a lot to all of us, and if we lost you, we’d fall to pieces.”
Stiles turned to look at the man, his heart skipping a beat as he met his gaze, finding something there that he thought he would never see; sincerity.
“You’re our anchor,” Peter whispered.
He’s hand slid into Stiles’, his warmth seeping into Stiles’ skin.
“You’re my anchor,” he admitted.
Stiles felt a warmth settle in his chest, a sweet smile lifting the corners of his lips.