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what measure is a non-human

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Running out into the school parking lot, Kira right on his heels, and not seeing a centuries old were-monster is easily one of the top ten pleasant surprises Stiles has had in the last two months.

Seeing his best friend half-dragging himself towards the jeep, looking like he’s got more blood on him than in him, not so much.

Scott!”

Kira’s sprinting past him before Stiles can get an appropriate what the hell out, and she just barely catches Scott before he nosedives into the asphalt. A shell-shocked Liam appears from behind a row of cars, hands reaching for Scott like he wants to help, but isn’t sure if he’d be welcome.

The only sound louder than Stiles’ feet slapping against the pavement is his heart pounding in his ears.

He covers the last few yards in a handful of seconds and skids to a stop in front of them.

Scott looks even worse up close.

A deep cut above his temple, blood crusted over half his face. Both shoulders mangled. Two long, garish sets of claw marks across his chest and back. Multiple internal injuries, if the raspy breathing, purple-green bruising, and dazed expression are any indication.

Stiles’ stomach turns. He’d already met his quota for injured werewolves tonight—which was zero, thank you very much—and he’s pretty sure a quick kiss from Kira isn’t going to fix this.

“What—the hell—happened?” It’s meant to be a demand, but he’s a little out of breath so it comes out more confused than anything.

“I—the Beast,“ Scott says, and his words fragment for an entirely different reason. “Had to stop it. Get its scent.”

“You fought that thing?” Stiles remembers with painful clarity how quickly it’d KO’d Liam—Scott’s varying degrees of injury suggest a much longer fight.

“Yeah.” Scott doesn’t seem to notice his shock. “I tracked it out here and it’s—it’s Mason.”

It takes Stiles a second to register the gravity of that statement, as he’s still taking in the extent of Scott’s injuries.

Then it hits him like a metal bat to the face.

Oh, shit.

“Mason did this?” Kira looks appropriately horrified. “As in our Mason?”

Liam takes a half step forward, eyes shimmering with that combination of fear and guilt that Stiles knows all too well.

“It wasn’t him,” he says. “Or, I mean, it was, but it’s not—he didn’t mean to. Like actually didn’t mean to, not like—”

“Doesn’t matter.” Scott straightens as much as he’s able, and that deeply disconcerting rasp from before kicks back up. “He’s our friend, and he’s in trouble—Corey won’t be able to hide him forever. We’ve gotta find him before the Dread Doctors do.”

“Uh, quick question for the class?” Stiles gestures at the empty parking lot. “How’re you planning on doing that?”

“We track them.”

“But the scent—”

“We can still find them as people,” Scott says, a determined glint in his eyes that Stiles instantly recognizes—it’s the same look that once saved him. “Check places they go, people they trust. We can’t just—”

“Scott!”

A coughing fit, complete with blood splatter because when isn’t their lives a cliched horror film, overtakes whatever Scott was going to say and sends him collapsing against the side of the jeep, Kira once again scrambling to help.

It kinda undercuts the determination thing.

Okay,” Stiles says, as Kira grabs Scott’s arm and drapes it across her shoulders, “I realize we have a bit of a situation here, but you have way too much in common with a very loved and much abused chew toy to be picking fights with anyone right now, psychotic Doctors or no.”

“No, I’m okay,” Scott says, and boy if Stiles does not need to be a werewolf to hear that lie.

Kira, thankfully, is on his side, given that Scott’s side is literally bleeding all over her. “You’re hurt.”

Stiles swears Scott actually flinches at that, which—filing that away for further review.

“I’ll be fine,” he says, because of course he does. He also tries to ease his weight off Kira, and it’s telling when adjusting her grip is all it takes to stop him. “Look, every second we waste arguing about this—”

“Is a second you could be resting.”

Scott looks physically pained at Kira’s interruption, which is hilarious, because that’s what he is.

“I have to find him,” he says. “I—It’s Mason.”

Scott’s voice sounds so desperate Stiles almost wants to go along with it, except for the fact that the longer they stand there, the more Scott looks like he has one foot in the ground and can’t wait to add the other.

He clicks his tongue against his teeth. “Maybe—”

“Hayden and I can start looking,” Liam interrupts, finally making himself useful. “We know Mason’s and Corey’s scents better than anyone.”

“And I can contact Parrish and Lydia,” Kira adds. 

“Perfect.” Stiles gives them both a thumbs up. “I’m sure they’ve had a very relaxed couple hours, comparatively speaking, and are dying to go traipsing around town. And we can go—”

“I said I’ll be fine,” Scott says, frustration and an emotion Stiles can’t quite pin coloring his voice. “Just—just give me a minute.”

All three of them shoot Scott incredulous looks.

Or an hour,” he amends, like that fixes anything.

Stiles snorts and sets his jaw. Even in the handful of seconds they’ve spent arguing, Scott’s only sunk deeper into Kira’s support and it’s kind of starting to scare him. “Dude, you look like you need a month.

“We don’t have that kind of time!”

It’s the genuine anger—no, fear—that slips into Scott’s voice that finally gives Stiles pause.

He glances at Liam, who shrugs helplessly.

Stiles clears his throat, feeling weirdly like he’s trying to talk down a wounded animal. “It’s not like no one’s going to be looking for him, man. The rest of the pack can handle it while you’re out.”

“No—I just need a couple hours,” Scott says, and Stiles doesn’t understand why he won’t just let it go until he adds, “I’ll heal either way.”

And—

Shit.

Shit.

Stiles looks at Scott’s ashen face and it’s the same one he’d seen sitting in the back of a bus, standing in a puddle of gasoline, lying on a hospital floor.

You’ll heal.

“Scott,” he says, the words sticking painfully to the roof of his mouth, “you don’t—you might heal, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, okay? I was—”

Stiles cuts off from where he was about to say upset, swallows it down, and slots back in the word that’s more correct. The one that Scott needs to hear. “—I was wrong.”

Scott freezes. It’s more than enough to confirm how deeply he’d taken his words to heart. “I—”

“No, he’s right,” Kira says, and she must’ve figured it out, too, because her voice drops. “It’s okay to take time to heal.”

The fracture in Scott’s expression deepens, and Stiles curses Theo and the Dread Doctors and probably himself, because that’s exactly what Scott hasn’t been doing for the past two weeks. It’s barely been twenty-four hours since he recovered from the last time he got beat to hell, and here they are again.

Glassy eyes meet his, and Stiles adds concussion to the list of things he should be worried about. “But I—I can do this—”

“Scott,” Kira says. “If I let go of you right now, could you even walk across the parking lot?”

Scott looks like he’d fall over if Stiles breathed on him funny, but also looks very much like he’d still be willing to try.

Liam hesitates, then inches closer towards Scott.

“Just… just because you’ll heal from something, doesn’t mean you should ignore it,” he says. His voice is firm, though his gaze remains locked on his hands. “You wouldn’t have let me.”

Scott’s eyes flick back and forth between Stiles and Liam, and he bites his lip—there’s blood there, too, and Stiles’ earlier concerns about internal injuries resurge.

“Come on, man,” Stiles says, and if there’s a bit of a whine in his voice, sue him. “Let us help you for once. An Alpha at full strength has a better shot at saving Mason anyway, right?”

It’s maybe a distraction from getting him to care about his own wellbeing, but also, it’s the argument most likely to get through to him right now.

Scott deflates. “Yeah. Okay.”

Even though he’s the one who’d been pushing for it, he’s still startled by how exhausted Scott looks now that he’s not trying to hide it.

Kira nods to Liam, who scrambles to open the door to the jeep’s backseat. She starts moving them towards it, and Stiles shuffles in to take Scott’s other side just as he digs in his heels.

“Wait. We can’t leave without Malia—Braeden—”

“They’re right behind us, buddy.” Stiles is fully guessing, as he didn’t even know Braeden was here, but he figures they’re both more than capable of handling themselves either way.

“Braeden stayed to fix the cover story for the kids in the library,” Liam offers. “Malia, too. She said they’d catch up.”

Stiles also doesn’t know what that’s about, but given that Scott looks like he wants to argue, he’s not about to ask.

He hurries to stuff Scott into the backseat with Kira as quickly but gently as possible. “See? All bases covered.”

Stiles then tosses Liam the keys to Scott’s bike while they get settled—Don’t wreck it—” and turns back to Scott. “So. Kira’s house? Your house? Your house. Get that sweet, sweet medical exam from your mom—”

“Stiles.” Scott hesitates, only half listening if the guilt lining his face means anything. His hand is still resting on the door, preventing Stiles from shutting it. “You know I might not—heal. For a while.”

Stiles winces and glances at Kira.

He wants to tell Scott that he’s wrong.

That he didn’t have the pack before, that he felt too guilty, that his body was too tired. That there were a million different unique and no longer relevant reasons as to why he took so long to heal from last time.

But that’s not really the point, so what he says is:

“I know.”

Scott looks up in surprise, but Stiles just pats him on the arm—there’s too much blood on his undershirt to offer support anywhere else.

“I know, man,” he repeats. “Doesn’t matter. You’re benched until you heal.”

Scott shifts in his seat—he’s going to have to get the upholstery deep cleaned again—and he’s not sure if Scott’s wince is because he’s uncomfortable with the thought, or just uncomfortable in general. Maybe both.

“Why?”

Before Stiles can come up with an answer of his own, Kira jumps in.

“Because it’s worth it,” she says. She pulls Scott’s hand away from the door and threads her fingers through his, placing a soft kiss on his knuckles. “No amount of lost time is worth losing you.”

It’s exactly how he feels, so he nods in agreement. They’d already nearly lost him, thanks to Theo. They aren’t about to let it happen again.

Scott looks at Kira, then looks at Stiles.

He lets Stiles close the door.