It was a rough night. Scott didn’t have many of those, but this night definitely counted. Tomorrow, he’d be embarrassed about how much he’d drank, but at the moment, all he wanted to do was figure out how to put one foot in front of the next while staying mostly upright. He wasn’t sure he succeeded. There was a very good chance he might have, but that didn’t really explain why he was in the middle of an antique trinket shop, covered in dust and a feather boa.
Apparently he sneezed too big. He tumbled over his feet, crashing head first into an umbrella stand. The ground rushed up to meet him, and a thin layer of dust covered his everything. From under a dozen umbrellas and displaced antiques, Scott slurred, “Mmm’god I’m so sorry…”
He couldn’t help but feel awful. This was someone’s houseshopthing. He might have broken something! Scott reached for the closest item and wiped his sleeve on it, hoping to set things right. When the shoe-telephone started to glow, Scott didn’t notice.
When the nine foot tall giant broke through the room, sending fireworks and smoke everywhere, Scott couldn’t not.
"I am the Stiles of the - oh crap what the Hell? Goddammit too much smoke! Next time, I - wow, you’re tiny."
Scott meeped. The last thing he saw before he passed out, was a giant nostril coming closer and closer and closer.
Scott’s everything hurt with a bone deep ache and on top of the pain, he was pretty sure he was still drunk. The steady swaying of the ground was proof enough of that. It wasn’t fair, the headache wasn’t supposed to come until AFTER the buzz wore off, you couldn’t deal with both at the same time. Someone was lying, drunkness was not as advertised. There should be a lawsuit. He groaned and rubbed his hands over his eyes, really wishing he didn’t have to open them, but he was getting the distinct feeling that he had to pee and he’d really not like to pee in the closet again. Maybe he should have learned his lesson about drinking then.
He cracked open one eyeball and whined. At least he was back home, though he wasn’t quite sure how he managed that. Hella awesome tracking skills, no doubt. It was better than waking up face down in the lawn again. The last thing he remembered was wandering into some weird old store looking for snacks and then getting a face full of someone’s nose. Gross.
"Glad you’ve decided to join us." The unfamiliar voice said, smug and amused. Scott screamed like a girl and flung his pillow at wherever it was coming from.
"Dude, I don’t have anything! No money, nothing to steal. Get the hell out before I call the cops!" Or throw up heroically on you. That was a threat that would probably work on anyone.
There was a crash that rang through Scott’s skull, as his pillow flew into his floor lamp. Scott winced. He really like that lamp. When he stopped squinting, he realized with a new sort of horror that he recognized the dude standing in front of his bed.
"YOU!" Scott pointed dramatically. He might have pointed too dramatically. All at once, he lurched, turning over the side of the bed. He didn’t remember putting a bucket beside it, but there was one waiting for him when he upchucked. He hadn’t even had the chance to out the guy from the antique store.
"Gross." The stranger praised, leaning over to watch Scott lose his guts.
Scott groaned at him, but the sound of things hitting plastic was quite possibly the worst in the world. If he’d ever had the moral high ground, he was pretty sure he lost it for subjecting them both to it.
"I always figured my master would be less puke-y."
"What?" Scott was completely sure he hadn’t been imagining that. Oh fuck, he really must have drank a lot.
"I’m not- I’m not?"
Suddenly the bucket was gone. The more he tried, the clearer it became that he had no memory of getting back home, yet here he was, in a pair of Batman pajamas with really long legs that he didn’t own, in the presence of a - someone. At first glance, it was hard to tell that the dude wasn’t standing on the ground. Most people would have been more occupied by how, where legs should have been, there was only grey mist. Scott included.
"Uh, yeah, you are, dude." The guy shrugged. "But I kinda always hated that, way too kinky for me, but I am the ultimate and all powerful, Stiles of the Shoe Phone - long story, and I’m here for all your wildest fanta- okay, back to that kink territory.”
This was not happening. Someone must have spiked his drink with something, that was the only explanation. Scott crawled back to the bed and cradled his aching head in his hands. Nope. Not possible. He rubbed his eyes and tried again, but the thing was still looking at him with a slightly bemused expression, hovering over smokey nothing. Maybe he was officially going crazy.
“The ultimate and all powerful, Stiles.” The vision corrected with a small irritated huff. People always left that part out and it was important.
“Uh huh. Of the shoe phone.”
“Like I said, it’s a long story.”
“…but a shoe phone?” Did they even make phones that looked like shoes anymore? Scott was having flashbacks to those 90s shows where teens all had strange looking landlines in their bedrooms.
“Hey, I’m not criticizing your apartment, am I?” The ultimate and all powerful Stiles said with a derisive sniff. “And I totally could. You could build a skyscraper out of all the empty pizza boxes in here, dude.”
Scott closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, trying to get his stomach to stop sloshing around so much. He was not going to argue with a hallucination about cleaning up his apartment, he got enough of that from his mom whenever she dropped by. “Thanks for stopping by shoe phone guy, but I don’t think I have use for a Stiles.” He said, swaying up to his feet and staggering in the direction of the bathroom. Maybe a shower would help clear his head.
“What do you mean you don’t have use for a Stiles? Everyone has use for a Stiles. You would be LUCKY to have a Stiles around.” The thing followed after him, scolding the entire way.
"You wouldn’t have gotten home without a Stiles around!"
"Oh. Thank you." Scott said, grateful that the figment of his imagination wasn’t a complete jerk, even if he did go around calling himself ‘ultimate and all powerful.’
Stiles brightened up, grinning from ear to ear, and Scott was kind of taken aback by how nice his imagination looked. Maybe this head wasn’t completely messed up.
"Don’t mention it," Stiles grinned, taken aback but not at all disappointed. He couldn’t remember the last time he was thanked for anything. Sure, he was super awesome, and deserved all of it, but people kind of forgot that.
"Um. Do you mind?" Scott asked.
"Dude." Scott stared, long and incredulous before giving Stiles a solid squint. He wasn’t going away. It was worth a shot? He gestured to the shower in front of him. Stiles wiggled in midair, like there was a strong breeze in the room. Scott felt a little ill.
"OH! Right, sorry my bad." Stiles laughed.
And suddenly the room they were in was three times as large, Scott’s bathtub had six faucets and a shit ton of bubbles, and smelled oddly like cinnamon. There were seven rubber duckies, the original members of the Justice League. Then Scott kind of screamed.
"SHIT!" Stiles exclaimed, smacking his face with his hands. "You forgot to wish! This is totally on you, dude. Things would be a hell of a lot easier if you just let me explain shit."
“What the hell did you do?” Scott wailed, waving his hands at his bathroom. “Oh my gooood.” He sank down to the tiled floors and covered his face. He was never drinking again, that was a promise. Not a single drop after this. He was going to find out who had spiked his drink and smack the crap out of them on top of it.
“That’s a little overdramatic, don’t you think? It’s just a bathroom.”
“It’s my bathroom in my apartment and you’re not here! You’re not real, you’re just a figment of my imagination and I’m hallucinating or tripping balls or something. I’m done talking to you, just disappear.”
Of course his imagination was going to cop an attitude with him, why not? It already covered the hot guy laughing at him prerequisite, now it was going for broke. Any second there’d be a giant spider too, let’s go through all the things that made him act like an irrational idiot! “Are you still here?”
“Yes I’m still here.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Are you going to let me explain this to you or are you going to keep freaking out on the floor over this?”
“Freaking out sounds good.” Scott said, voice muffled in his hands. “Freaking out is just fine for me right now. Oh god, I think I’m going to be sick again.”
Stiles wrinkled his nose. “At least the toilet’s right there. Dude, you really need to get a grip on this.”
“I’m going crazy.” Scott muttered, gripping the toilet and resting his forehead against the cool porcelain.
Stiles sighed, like he could wordlessly make Scott believe how annoying and irrational he was being.
"Look, man I’ve got a contract to finish up-"
"So go!" Scott wailed, hailing the porcelain god. He meant to sound more severe, but what mostly came up was his bad breath. He missed Stiles’s moue of disapproval. It was exceptionally disapproving.
"Fine," Stiles huffed, floating beside his new loser. The gloves were coming off. He was going to be nice.
Scott tensed, suddenly feeling a warm hand over his head, stroking his hair. A ripple of unfair relief surged through his body, and he groaned, shuddering all over, and Stiles just stared. This was a really awesome view. Stiles kept petting.
"I, Stiles of the Shoe Phone," he generously ignored Scott snorting, very generously. "Hold ultimate, all powerful magics to make all things extra cool! So yeah, you get three wishes. I can get you all the things, almost all the things. You can’t wish for more wishes. I can’t change people’s emotions, aaaand that’s about it. Yeah. Unless I’m forgetting something."
“Wait, so you’re like a genie?” Scott didn’t look up from the toilet.
“I’m the all powerful Stiles! I’m way cooler than an ordinary genie.” He scoffed, almost insulted by the comparison.
“Of the shoe phone.”
“I said it was a long story, shut up!”
Scott mumbled something incoherent, but leaned into Stiles’s hands. This really did feel so much better, his body relaxing under the touch and the pain draining away. He could probably stay like this forever if the hallucination would just keep petting him. “How come you can’t wish for more wishes?”
“Because those are the rules.”
“So you don’t have the magic for it?” Scott blinked open his eyes. If his mind was going to play tricks on him, then what was the harm in going with it for now? “I thought you said you were all powerful.”
Stiles looked affronted. “I am all powerful, it’s just against the rules to wish for more wishes.”
“Who says? Is there like a genie training class where they tell you what you’re allowed to wish for? And isn’t being in a shoe phone against the rules? I thought it was supposed to be a lamp.”
“No one uses oil lamps anymore, you try living in one of those tiny metal tubes IKEA calls a lamp! There’s no room at all and the whole place falls apart in about a year.”
“No one uses land lines anymore either, dude.”
Scott grabbed his head, flabbergasted. His imagination threw a rubber duck at it, and it hurt. He looked to the ground, picking up the Green Lantern duckie, absolutely offended. It squeaked solemnly at him, but Stiles’s hand was back in his hair. Scott forgave him.
"That’s the problem with you kids nowadays. Everyone wants new things," Stiles grumbled darkly, under his breath. Scott shrugged.
"Get in the bath. I’ll show you what I can do."
Scott arched a brow. “Dude, I don’t know you that well. I’m not sure I want to - STILES!”
Scott shrieked, hands crossed over his chest as he suddenly found himself in a pool of foamy warm goodness. Half a dozen water spouts went off, and oh! There were underwater motors. Scott blinked, slowly sinking into the tub. It was like being in a giant pillow, except wet and sloshy, and actually nothing like a giant pillow.
The ultimate and all powerful Stiles hummed smugly. Scott knew him all of two minutes, but he was already damn familiar with his smug voice. Scott surreptitiously tried to pull a couple of foamy bubbles closer to him.
"I can do anythiiiing." Stiles sing-songed.
"Except get me more wishes."
"Do not start with me. I will smack you."
Scott threw a rubber duck at him, but he had five more to himself and hoarded them greedily. Superman even had a cape! He didn’t notice the way Stiles watched him, quietly pleased every time Scott turned a duck over, obviously impressed. Scott wasn’t sure what it said about his imagination that it got him naked this quickly and he watched the Stiles thing suspiciously, but he did have to admit that a bath was exactly what he wanted. He sank down into the bubbles, burbling into the warm water and letting the pain drain out of his bones. “Gooood.”
He couldn’t be sure, but it looked like Stiles got even smugger. “So are you convinced?”
“I’m convinced that I’m still messed up as shit and my subconscious is sending me some hot guy to get me nude and offer to be my slave while granting me any fantasy I command. Yeah. I think it’s been a really long time since I’ve been with anyone and if this is my brain’s attempt to remind me, the message has been loud and clear.”
“I told you it sounded kinky! Ugh, this is the problem with you people.” Stiles rubbed the bridge of his nose like his head ached.
Scott almost disappear in the foam, playing with his duckies and determined to ignore the creepy part of his brain that wanted to watch himself bathe. “You can probably go back to your shoe phone or something now, dude. Or maybe you’d like to upgrade to something wireless? It might help you get with the times.”
“Excuse me?” The genie looked completely insulted.
“I’m not the one living behind the curve. If you’re gonna give me a ‘kids these days’ lecture, then I’ll throw it right back at you, old man. You don’t even look that old, geez.”
"You have no idea who you are dealing with! I am countless millennia old!" Stiles bellowed, and the bathroom was suddenly bathed in round disco lights, straight out of an Hellogoodbye music video. Scott oooh’d appreciatively. His imagination was going the extra mile. He could play along.
"Or a PlayStation 4. Then I could play you, too?"
"This is not a game! We are not playing anything! What do you want to wish for?!"
Scott blinked slowly. The half of a hot guy, flailing at him, was not what he thought he’d be into, but it kind of was working for him.
"YOU CAN’T WISH FOR THAT EITHER!"
Then all at once, Stiles was gone. Scott was still naked, owned an unreasonably large bathtub, and couldn’t tell what to do with all his ducks.
Scott stared at the front of Ken’s Antiquities, trying to jog his memory. He was mostly certain that this was where he’d crashed into the previous night, but when everything wasn’t dusty and dark, it was kind of hard to identify. There was a pretty dark-haired woman with a long ponytail by the counter, picking up an umbrella stand. Scott felt his stomach flop unhappily. When he entered, a shrill little bell announced his arrival.
"Hi! Welcome to Ken’s Antiquities! I’m Kira. Are you looking for something?" The sales clerk greeted cheerfully, and if he hadn’t before, Scott definitely wanted to sink through the floor now.
He held out the shoe phone, movements a little too jerky and plenty embarrassing as fought for the words. “So. Hi? I might have… Broke into your store last night. And I took this, I’m so sorry, I’ll help you clean up.”
"Oh." Kira said, peering at Scott like he’d grown a second head. "That’s - kind of weird. No one broke in last night? And um. That’s a nice phone, but we don’t really buy antiques from people who come in."
"But?" Scott started, except there wasn’t much he could say when Kira only looked at him funny. He apologized, and high-tailed it out of there, embarrassed and confused. He’d meant to cut through the park, hoping fresh air could make his head stop playing tricks on him, when he heard a voice.
"Are you trying to get rid of me because of the world peace thing?"
Scott flailed, screaming embarrassingly high as he tripped over his own feet. NOPE! He wasn’t drunk anymore, he knew that for sure. There was no way he was hearing this voice again, he wasn’t going crazy.
“You okay, dude?” Stiles leaned over to get a better look at the uncoordinated boy scrambling to get away.
“You’re not here!”
“I’m not? I’m pretty sure I’m here.”
“Nope, you’re not real. None of this is real.” Scott scrambled to his feet and dusted off his knees, pointedly ignoring the floating boy who watched with that stupid smug expression. “You can’t even do world peace, some all-powerful hallucination you are.”
“Okay, now that’s just not fair!” Stiles squawked, following along behind. “First of all, there’s rules and I can’t break them. Doesn’t mean I’m not all-powerful, dude. And I’m totally real, haven’t I proved that enough?”
Scott kept his head down and did his best to ignore the presence. He probably looked like he was an insane person arguing with nobody as he made his way through the park. Why was his imagination so out of control? Maybe he was sick, that could be it. Some type of fever that was causing him to see hot guys and…or maybe he was still on something? He never did anything worse than a few hits of marijuana and usually all that did was make him boneless and giggly. Seeing things had never really been part of the deal. “I’m sure you’re a really nice hallucination, but you really need to leave me alone. I’m not crazy and I don’t want anything.”
Stiles stared, with a healthy dose of incredulity. “What do you mean you don’t want anything? Everybody wants something! You have to have some kind of wish, all you have to do is say it.”
“Except for world peace.”
“Oh my god, are you ever going to let that go? Yeah, okay so I can’t do everything but I can do almost everything. Come on, give me a chance?”
Scott tugged the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head and hunched his shoulders. “I’m not talking to myself anymore.”
"You can’t keep running away from me!"
Stiles gasped. Scott regretted saying those words almost immediately. Suddenly there was an impossibly tight pressure around his chest, and his arms had gone all tingly, and all he could see was white light. Was he having a stroke? He couldn’t be having a stroke; he was too young! He opened his mouth to scream again - and found himself face-to-face with a large rat.
”We’re in Chuck-E Cheese.”
"It’s shiny and everyone is happy here."
"Am I supposed to wish for pizza?"
Stiles rolled his eyes so hard they almost fell out of his head, and Scott was so sorry for everything he’d ever done. He looked at a menu that was almost insultingly cheesy, but when the waiter showed up, all he asked was, “Is there really a guy behind me?”
The waiter looked so affronted, Scott wanted to apologize. Strange customers were the reason he avoided the evening shifts.
"Hi." Stiles waved.
"I’ll give you a few more minutes."
Scott let his head fall with a thunk. It didn’t matter. There was nowhere to run. His not-imagination had blocked the exit.
“I appreciate the fact my imagination is this insistent on trying to make me happy, but could you just leave me alone?" Scott said without raising his head. “I have too many things to worry about already, I’d really like to keep ‘going absolutely insane’ off of the list for as long as possible. I already told you that there’s nothing I want, can’t you just poof somewhere else?”
“Sorry dude, that’s not how this works!” Stiles was obnoxiously cheerful as he plopped down in a chair next to Scott (could he even sit?) and went through the cheesy menu with a grin. “You’re the one who rubbed my- okay, maybe everything about this sounds a little kinky. You summoned me, I can’t go anywhere until you make your wishes.”
Scott peeked out of his arms. “I want my mom to be taken care of. I want the people I care about to be happy. That’s kind of about it, I don’t think you can help me with that.”
“What, no car? No billion dollars? You’re thinking too small! What kind of guy doesn’t want anything for himself?”
“I don’t know, I don’t need anything.” Scott buried his face back into his arms. “Except maybe a psychiatrist.”
Stiles started petting his head again. At least it looked like Scott had trained his imagination well.
This was different. Stiles wasn’t used to any of this. Normally when someone rubbed him the right way, they started shooting off wishes before he could get through his terms and conditions spiel. One guy had really been a douche about it. He’d wished for a Porsche, so Stiles made sure the one he got was three inches long. This guy - was kind of great. Besides, he said the magic words.
Mom wishes were pretty awesome.
"Look, buddy. You just need to see me in action, and you’ll get the hang of it," Stiles decided. "Okay, so how would you wanna take care of your mom?"
"Seriously?" Scott snorted, daring to look up. Stiles’s blinding grin made his stomach flop. He wasn’t sure he regretted it.
"Yeah! Go for it, dude. What would she want?"
Scott’s expression twitched. It wasn’t like he hadn’t thought about it. He’d gotten a job in Dr. Deaton’s clinic all those years ago because of it, and when he chipped in for the electricity bill the first time, he still remembered how his Mom had gotten teary-eyed. ”Well… I kinda wanna get her a house?”
"Thirty-thousand square foot property with four floors and three BILLION rooms made of gold and rubies and emeralds - I can do that!"
"Wha- no!" Scott railed. "You can’t do that!"
"Yeah I can.” Stiles buzzed. “Just say the words, ‘I wish,’ and-“
"NO! Dude, no! My Mom’s got a great house. She lives by herself! She just needs… Can - can you just, pay off her mortgage?" What would his mom do with three billion rooms?!
Stiles frowned, considering. Well all right, maybe Scott’s mom just got lonely. “Okaaay… What about fifteen-thousand square feet, three floors, but oh, I can do those infinity pool things! And maybe a helicopter pad and a helicopter.”
Scott stared. “What if she gets a massage chair?”
Stiles stared right back. “A massage chair.”
“Yeah.” Scott brightened a little. “She works so hard all the time, even though I’m not there anymore. The house is a big financial drain, so if it was paid off, she’d be able to have enough to fix the roof or maybe replace some of the plumbing. She’s a nurse, so she’s on her feet all day. A massage chair would be kind of the best thing for when she comes home…and…why are you looking at me like that?”
“I can give you a giant mansion made out of gold and jewels with a billion rooms and you’re going to ask me for a massage chair?” The genie wasn’t sure what to make of this kid. “You’re not thinking big enough. Dude, the sky’s the limit! Really put some thought in it, be wild. You can get her anything you want. What would it be?”
“Uh…” Scott squinted, trying to think. “It might be nice if she had a new mattress too. The one she has is pretty old and it might help it when she wakes up with back pain.”
Stiles reached over and flicked the boy in the head. “That’s thinking big?”
Scott rubbed his forehead with a scowl. “Yeah, I guess. Who needs helicopters and solid gold toilets? None of that stuff’s for real people, she’d hate it. I just want to make sure she doesn’t have to worry about things anymore and maybe doesn’t have to work as hard. I want to make sure if there’s something that goes wrong, we can just take care of it without worrying about losing the house or trying to decide between paying the electric bill and buying groceries. I want her to maybe find someone who knows how amazing she is and treats her that way so she’s not alone all the time. Maybe you should be her magical wish granting shoe phone.”
Stiles flicked him again, right between the lines of his unhappy scowl, and Scott flicked back. Stiles was going to destroy him. He lunged, flicking and tickling and sticking sticky wet fingers into ears and noses, and Scott squawked, tickling everywhere he could reach, wicked pinchy fingers leaving the genie shaking.
When their waiter cleared his throat, they froze. Scott let go immediately, and Stiles pretended he wasn’t trying to shove the other boy’s face into his armpit.
"You are the worst, ever," Scott hissed, trying to get his head around the idea that he was arguing with himself, and how solid his imagination was.
"Can we get the biggest pepperoni pizza you can make?" Stiles asked, his face still smashed against Scott’s chest.
Internally, Scott promised never to go back to any Chuck-E Cheese ever again. He let go of Stiles with a huff, but the genie only edged closer, like he was trying to sit on his wish maker.
"Dude, what about a submarine?" He asked, wide-eyed and hopeful. His hair was still standing in fifteen directions, and Scott tried not to think about how soft it felt when Stiles’d been noogied. "We could do a submarine made of gold!"
Scott smacked himself for not running.
"Look, are you an all powerful Stiles or what?" He huffed. "Cuz it sounds like all you do is make excuses and not grant wishes why don’t you mmmfff-"
Stiles hand closed over his mouth. He looked like he’d bitten into a lemon. “Oh I’ll show you what I can do.” If Scott shuddered, that was his business. “All you gotta do is say ‘I wish.’”
Scott squinted his eyes suspiciously. He wasn’t saying he believed any of this, but if it was somehow impossibly true, what if he could take care of his mom? “You seem really eager to get me to make a wish there, dude.”
“Of course I am!” Stiles threw up his hands. “It’s what I do. I grant wishes, it’s sort of my thing. I’ve never met anyone who was so hesitant about asking for something, geez.”
“I’ve read the stories. If you are real, and I’m not saying that you are, then if I ask for something it’ll backfire. It always does, right? You can’t actually wish for things that would change anything big and all the selfish stuff comes with a price tag that you end up having to pay for later. Or you get a song and dance number if it’s a Disney movie, but somehow I don’t really think you’ll be making me the Sultan of some far away country.”
“I could.” The genie said sulkily. “You just watch, I totally could.”
Scott shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. “I want the full run down. What are the pitfalls, why did you pick me? What happens if I ask for something? What happens if I don’t? Why are you living in a phone?”
“Is that your wish?”
“No! I’m not making any wishes until I know I’m not going to regret it, and since there’s nothing I really want anyways, I’m not in any hurry.”
Stiles pouted, making a face that looked like an unhappy fish. “You’re so difficult.”
“And you’re imaginary, I guess we both can’t win.”
"I’m not-! Fine! Ask your dumb questions. See if I care." Stiles snapped, and when their pizza came, he shoved a slice into his mouth before it could be set down. Both Scott and the waiter stared, but Stiles chomped on with determination. Scott wasn’t sure if his nerves were dead or if he really was magic.
"Well… Well, um." Scott pinched the edge of steaming crust, breathing in the heavenly scent of gooey cheese. "How many wishes do I get? Why me? What do I have to give up if I want to, y’know, wish?"
"Nothing! Jeez, you giant poop head." Scott glared. Stiles trudged on, not entirely cowed, but complacent. "You got the shoe phone, you get three wishes. That’s just how it works. It’s not my fault you got the mojo-jojo to wake me up. Not everyone who makes a call does, but you do, so."
"Then I’m like - special?" Scott regretted the words almost as soon as he opened his mouth, but the genie didn’t deny it. Stiles shrugged, and stole bits of pepperoni of other slices. Scott cleared his throat. "So what happens if I don’t wish?"
"Then I’m your new best buddy, buddy."
"Sure. And what happens when I’m done? Do you like, take my soul?”
The genie stilled, and it was only then that Scott realized how jittery he was, how often he fidgeted. Scott tried to fight back apprehension, but Stiles just shrugged. “Nah man, what’d I do with your dumbbutt soul? I said you didn’t need to give up anything. I go back to my phone, and wait for the next call. Like… You know, what I wanna do.” Stiles snorted.
Scott wanted to protest. He just wasn’t sure what he’d say, but when he bumped his shoulder against Stiles’s the genie felt as solid as anything. “Okay… How badly have you screwed someone over?”
Then Stiles just grinned.
There was no reason to let good pizza go to waste, especially if he was sitting here, talking to himself. He wondered vaguely what other people saw. Was he eating twice as much pizza as he thought? Was the waiter part of his messed up imagination? Was he asleep and chewing on his pillow? This whole thing was so crazy. The pizza at least tasted real and he settled in with a slice.
“I’m not sure I want to make wishes if you’re just going to dick me over, dude.” He said around a mouthful of cheese. “Things are kind of hard enough without some magical shoe guy making it worse. And I’m not going to let you hurt my mom or any of the people I care about either. Not in a million years. If my choice is to never wish for anything but make sure that they’re going to be okay, then I’ll choose them every time.”
Stiles snorted, waving his slice of pizza like a pointer. “I didn’t say I was going to screw you over, dude. I said I have in the past. Sometimes people are jerks and they deserve it.”
“So if jerks can make the call that summons you, what’s the prerequisite? Why me? Am I someone who deserves to have their life turned over by you, is this some kind of cosmic punishment?”
“I dunno.” Stiles said, stuffing the rest of his pizza into his mouth. “Do you deserve it?”
“I really hope not. I don’t think I’ve done anything horrible, but if I have, it certainly wasn’t on purpose. You said you wanted to go back into your phone or whatever, right? Why don’t you just pretend I wished for things and you can go back. I’ll put you back in the store, someone else who’s got the right whatever can find you and you won’t have to do anything you don’t want to. That sounds pretty good, right?”
"I’m gonna give you a can of cosmic whoopass if you don’t make a wish," Stiles threatened glumly. With a mouthful of cheese and pizza sauce on his chin, he was less threatening than he’d hoped to be. There was also the fact that he wasn’t sure if his new (Master sounded like they needed a safe word, Wish Maker? Wish Benefactor? Wishfactor!) Wishfactor was legit or not. His whole good guy persona could be a ruse to steal unlimited all-powerful Stilesness, like something Lex Luthor would do. The Mom card was either incredibly sincere or a mark of pure evil. Scott chomped on pizza and made a sound of orgasmic bliss. Stiles resolved to watch him very closely.
"Besides, I can’t just - break a contract. That’s not how this shit works, buddy. I gotta put in my time like everyone else, and grant the wishes, and go back to the shoe phone." It was a waiting game, Stiles was pretty sure. Or something.Maybe he had to reach a certain number of wishes to win a holiday in Barbados. He wasn’t sure. There were rules, the sort of rules that came from something so much bigger than him that Stiles had to follow them, even if he wasn’t normally the sort of guy who normally worked well with orders. Something told him that was what landed him this gig in the first place.
A sharp jab in his gut had him looking up. Scott’s evil fingers hadn’t moved away.
"Hey… You got quiet there for a second." His wishfactor pointed out. The genie flushed, and stuffed a whole slice in his face, cheeks puffing up like an angry squirrel. Scott laughed, and Stiles was 90% sure he wasn’t Lex Luthor.
"Look, dude, I’ll make a deal. You don’t be a giant douche, and I’ll make all your magical mystical wishes come true. Deal?"
"What if I’m a medium-sized douche?"
Stiles shoved greasy fingers into Scott’s face, and the human squealed in terror. It was almost as loud as how their waiter shrieked when he saw Stiles hovering over the booth, with only a wisp of smoke behind him.
“OH MY GOD!”
“Stiles, get us out of here!” Scott yelped as the waiter keeled over and the rest of the waitstaff rushed over to help.
“Are you making a wish?” The genie wiggled his eyebrows expectantly, but Scott just grabbed him by his cheeks and smooshed.
“It’s your fault we’re here in the first place, do something!”
“Oh, well if you want to get all technical about it.” Stiles sighed. “Okay, this is a freebee just because I happened to bring us here, but don’t expect it again.” The building winked out in a flash of white and Scott landed face first into his couch. There was a second bright flare as Stiles pulled the half-eaten pizza out of thin air with a shrug. “I wasn’t going to waste it!”
Scott groaned and covered his face. “Dude, you can’t go around with no legs out in public if people could…holy shit, he could SEE you!” The world tilted sharply sideways and Scott put his head back in his hands. This was real? Either his imagination was a lot more powerful than he thought or this whole thing was actually happening.
“I told you.”
“And you really can grant me any wish I want?”
“Mmmhmmm.” The answer was muffled around a slice of pizza. “All-powerful and stuff. You’re not going to be sick again, are you?”
The boy rubbed his hands through his hair and tried to focus on breathing. Actual real live magical wishing genie from a shoe phone. This was happening. He could have…anything. “You want me to make a wish that badly?”
“I’ve only been saying it forever, give me your best shot.”
Scott chewed his lip for a moment before nodding. “I want my mom to be happy.”
“Didn’t I just tell you that I couldn’t make people feel a certain way! Your ears are broken, dude.”
“Okay, I want my mom’s house paid off and for her to have enough money that she doesn’t have to worry about bills or overtime anymore. And don’t-, please don’t hurt her.”
Stiles squinted at his wishfactor suspiciously. “That’s technically a two part wish!”
“Seriously, is that another rule? You need to give me a freakin’ guidebook first, how am I supposed to know all of this?”
Stiles glared. Suddenly a fifteen page pamphlet entitled ‘A Wishfactor’s Guide to Wishing’ smacked Scott in the face. ‘Listen to Stiles’s was repeated roughly a thousand times, in large, obnoxious multicolored print.
"Are all Stileses as rude as you, or is that just you?"
Stiles licked the whole pizza, keeping eye contact the entire time.
“Who writes a manual in comic sans, seriously?” Scott muttered to himself, flipping through the book. There was nothing in its pages that said anything about how to deal with a snarky genie, that should have been the very first thing. It wasn’t bad. Strange, certainly, but maybe not all that strange once you ignored the fact Stiles didn’t exactly have feet. It wasn’t like Scott spent much time hanging out with anyone, hot guy or not, so it was almost easy to overlook some of the oddities and just enjoy the company. One part of him worried if that somehow meant he was the strange one, if he was so lonely that spending the afternoon with a vaguely mad supernatural shoe phone being with infinite cosmic powers seemed like a better alternative that walking out the door and speaking to an actual human being.
"Okay, buttface, repeat after me. ‘I wish my mom’s house was exactly the way I want it to be.’"
Scott’s hand curled over the genie’s wrist, and his expression crumbled. One last time he pleaded, “Please don’t hurt her… I wish my mom’s house was exactly the way I want it to be.”
If Stiles tugged him closer, that was just a coincidences. He waved his hands! And then nothing happened. Scott peered around expectantly, but Stiles only grabbed a slice of pizza. “So - would you still eat this, even though I licked it?”
"Urgh."He shoved Stiles in the face, but Scott couldn’t feel completely bad, settled in beside him on the couch.
"Did you really think I was super hot?"
"Are you sure you’re not broken?"
The phone call came in three hours later, while Scott was trying to teach Stiles the finer points of Speed with YuGiOh cards, and attempting to convince the genie to not pimp out his deck took most of his time. Stiles did seem fascinated with his YuGiOh card collection, which was a point in his favor. Maybe he could teach the genie something about Pokemon next, memorizing all their stats might be something he could do to keep occupied when he was in that weird little phone. Melissa’s voice was small and crackled on the line, but that wasn’t enough to hide how pleased she sounded.
"You don’t call, but you send gifts now, Scott?" She laughed, and against his will, Scott’s heart skipped a beat, excited and hopeful all at once. Stiles had gone quiet, but he wiggled closer, pressing his ear by Scott’s, and no one said anything about comfort.
"I don’t know what you mean, mom."
"Really? So I have some other massage chair giving son that I don’t know about?"
"Do you like it?" Scott asked, holding his breath, and when Melissa laughed he almost felt like crying.
"Of course I do! How did you get this, Scott? I thought we agreed you wouldn’t go after a second job until after you settled in, mijo?"
"It’s - it was a prize, mom. It’s not a big-"
"Scott? Scott what is… Dios mio, look at this, where did you get this?" Melissa couldn’t stop the way her voice quickened, shock and delight taking over before common sense could. Tucked into the massage chair was a small box of 24-karat gold jewelry, with a set of the finest diamond rings she’d ever owned. Gold was always a safe investment. "Scott what’s going on?"
His mother’s phone call made everything else suddenly secondary, and he swallowed hard, panicked that he hadn’t thought ahead far enough to come up with a good excuse. Damn it, this was like wishing 101! This was why he wasn’t good at this whole wishing thing.
“I, uh… I won a contest, mom.”
“A contest? Scott, what kind of contest gives you a massage chair and jewelry? Baby, how could you afford this, it’s… Scott it’s real!”
“I know!” He looked at Stiles like the genie could help him. “Mom, it’s okay. It’s supposed to be for you. I won a lottery thing and I didn’t want my name public so you can’t tell anyone. I promise I won’t spend it on stupid stuff, I just wanted to make sure you were taken care of first.”
“Oh, Scott.” Melissa’s voice broke and he felt horrible about lying, but it was for the greater good, right? “You shouldn’t spend this much on me, you know I’m fine. You should take care of yourself, pay for school, live! I’m doing alright.”
“I wanted to, it was important.” Scott felt his own throat tighten and turned away so Stiles wouldn’t see the way his eyes burned. “I want you to keep it, I have more. I get to give you a present, you’ve given me so much anyways.”
“Are you sure, mijo? It’s so much, I can’t take this.”
“Please? It would make me happy if you did. I want you to.”
It took almost half an hour before he was able to hang up the phone, rubbing his sleeve over his eyes and trying to hide the way his breathing hitched. “Sorry. Thank you for that. You don’t even…you have no idea. Thank you.”
Melissa was almost scared. She worried her son might have been involved in the drug trade, or even the synthetic cannabinoid one. He was a smart boy with a big heart, and she wouldn’t be surprised to know he took risks on her behalf. She didn’t know how much she was looking at. She didn’t know that it would be more than enough to take care of their house, or that the window insulation on the second floor had been repaired, or that all the roof tiles were suddenly brand new. All she knew was that she missed her son terribly, and it was so hard to stop smiling.
Stiles plastered himself against the other boy’s back, pinning Scott to his couch. It was easy, so surprisingly easy he didn’t dare think twice about it. All he wanted to do was wiggle all over his wishfactor, and maybe the mom card was an excellent card.
"You’re such a loser," Stiles decided, but his tone was impossibly fond, and Scott laughed under him, squirming until they were chest to chest. Then the human went quiet, but his face went all red, and Stiles never had greater motivation to not move. He cleared his throat. He didn’t think it’d be possible, but Scott got even darker. He pressed even closer, and he swore Scott squeaked. It was kind of the best thing ever. "So… About that second wish?"
He watched Scott’s mouth fall open, soft and impossibly pink, his warm doe eyes blown wide, and Stiles wondered if he knew how pretty he was from this angle. From like, a lot of angles, too?
"I could go for a smoothie?"
"Wait, for real?"
“Well, yeah? I-I told you that there wasn’t really anything I needed.” Scott did his best not to stare which is incredibly hard when the genie’s face was so close to his own. He couldn’t help but notice the way the brown eyes picked up tones of amber and gold or the way he actually felt solid and heavy against his chest. He knew he was flushed which just made the whole thing worse and Scott almost wished he could sink into the couch and disappear.
“It’s not always about what you need, dude!” Stiles flicked the boy in the head. “It’s about what you want. What do you want more than anything else?”
“I…” Scott blinked like he’d never given it any thought and Stiles realized with a shock that the human hadn’t! He’d never thought about what kinds of selfish things he’d have with a million dollars or how many cars he’d buy. “You helped my mom, I want her to be happy. I guess that’s it? I mean, I want to do well in school, but asking for help feel like cheating and I don’t want to do that. If I didn’t work hard for myself, then what’s the point? I want my family to be healthy and taken care of, you’ve done a lot to make sure that happens. I guess I could wish for a donation to a good charity, someplace that would really help a lot of people. Or a smoothie. Um…I could share it with you if you wanted?”
There was no way this human was that selfless, no one was! Stiles grabbed one of the couch pillows and thwacked him in the face until Scott was laughing.
"Are you shitting me?" Stiles demanded, with his pillow shoved into Scott’s face and the other boy flailing in earnest beneath him. Scott howled, kicking and squirming, until his foot flew through where Stiles’s legs should have been, and for a moment, all they could do was stare. That set them off again, and really, Scott should have just been thankful that he hadn’t gotten an asthma attack.
Lying on the ground, spread-eagle, with his magical mystical Stiles pressed against his side, Scott pretended he was brave enough to reach out and hold the genie’s hand. He wasn’t sure what good it would do. He just knew he wished he could.
"So…" He started, considering. "If I wanted to, I could wish for you to walk around with legs while I’m around, and a smoothie then you’d be able to go back to your shoe phone?" That would probably be for the best, Scott reasoned. Stiles wanted to, and he’d gotten what he wanted. Scott still couldn’t stifle a sigh of relief when Stiles turned him down.
"Maybe before,” the genie started. He didn’t mention that once Scott made a wish, he wouldn’t have the power to stop him. “I mean, I once made a guy waste his last wish on wishing I was gone, but he was a huge tool.” Jackson Whittemore - Stiles had great pleasure dying all his body hair bright pink before he disappeared. “But you, nah. I’m not letting you get off that easy, dude. I’m gonna make sure you wish for things you really, really want and then I’m gonna smack you upside the head so hard, you’ll be tripping over your gratitude.”
"That’s not how gratitude wor-"
"Shhhh. I’m doing you a favor." Stiles insisted, pressing his finger to Scott’s mouth. He wiggled all over, and there was an audible pop. Suddenly the genie was waving two human legs in the air, legs that were attached to his waist. Waggling his eyebrows, Stiles made two of the largest banana peanut butter smoothies Scott had ever seen appear out of thin air.
“Whoa, legs! WHOA, SMOOTHIE!”
It was ridiculously easy to make Scott’s eyes go wide and his face to light up in wonder, Stiles found that he liked doing it. The boy seemed so hesitant to believe, but holding out hope like he really wanted to. Or maybe there was something else he really wanted that he didn’t know how to ask for yet. Stiles was going to drag thar wish out of him by whatever means necessary.
“I didn’t even wish for it, dude!”
“Then if you don’t go telling everyone I gave it to you for free, no harm no foul, right?” Stiles said, kicking back on the human’s couch and crossing his legs as he sipped his smoothie.
Scott tasted his carefully, giving Stiles that heartbreakingly earnest smile again as he declared it delicious. “Do you like it?”
“Do I like what?”
“Being a genie? That is what you are, right? I saw Aladdin, I know the story. Dude, you even had a smoke butt just like him even though you weren’t blue.” And like a hundred times hotter. “I just have so many questions about all this stuff, like where did you come from? Are you really eleven billion years old? Are you the only one or is there some kind of genie island somewhere? Are you…is it lonely? I always wondered if it was lonely. It must be kind of nice being able to grant wishes that make people happy, but you spend a really long time in your lam-, shoe phone by yourself.”
“You really care about if I’m lonely?” Stiles asked, completely surprised. In all his years, no one had ever really thought to ask. They got their wishes and that’s all they could think about. If they weren’t complete dicks, he didn’t screw them over but more often than not, wishes came with a lesson attached. No one paid much attention to the guy granting them.
“I just thought it might be tough. Not that I know anything about this.”
"It’s cool." Stiles said breezily. "The shoe phone’s a lot bigger than it looks, and I can do everything I want." It should have been easy to dismiss Scott. He was pretty sure any of his other wishfactors would have heard that and taken it at face value, but the other boy peered at him like he was a puzzle Scott couldn’t solve. The Mysteries of Stiles.
"When was the last time you met another genie, dude? I bet that’d been crazy fun." It sounded like it at least, someone just as wild and daring as Stiles, with a bright laugh and brighter smile, and shit, Scott was so screwed. But the genie only shrugged, looking uncomfortable, or as uncomfortable as he could be, and Scott hastily back-pedaled. Stiles beat him to the punch.
"Hey, why were you so bummed out and gross last night?" Stiles suggested. "Maybe I could fix that for you?"
“Nah, it’s not anything you can fix.” Scott’s smile turned brittle at the edges and he did his best to wave everything off. “It’s completely stupid, really.”
“Your face is completely stupid, now tell me what happened or I’ll bring up images of last night and we’ll relive the golden memories of you puking every three second.” Stiles warned, only half kidding.
Scott sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s really nothing, it’s just…I ran into my ex last night and she was out with someone else. It’s okay though, I want her to be happy. She’s amazing and I know him, he’s great too. They’re going to be so good together and I honestly want nothing but the best for them both it just…hurts. It hurts a lot. I thought she was going to be the one, she was the first person I’d ever felt that way about and I never really considered what it would be like when it was over. It’s dumb, I told you.” Scott sighed and felt like burying his head under the pillows, guilt eating away at him. He shouldn’t have been anything but happy to see Allison smile like that again and he was, mostly. He was ashamed that there was a part of him that couldn’t let go.
“I could turn him into a water buffalo?” Stiles asked helpfully and Scott managed another smile.
“No, he’s good like he is. Isaac will be good for her, I don’t want anything bad to happen to either one of them.”
Scott was a good guy, real generous, swell even. He wanted what was best for his friends, and it looked like whoever they were, they were going to be happy together. That just wasn’t good enough for Stiles. Whoever they were, they’d hurt Scott, hurt him a lot, and the genie was quickly discovering that that sort of thing did not fly with him.
"But if I turn you into a water buffalo, too, you could beat him up and destroy his loser butt, and then when you’re both back to normal he won’t know any better?"
"Does anyone ever take you up on your suggestions or…?" Scott laughed. This time it felt like a real one, and when Stiles answered with one of his own, he felt more than a little better.
Scott scuffed the heel of his slipper against the floor, cradling his smoothie close like it had all the answers he sought. “Do you have something that can make you like - not feel so bad? Apparently I suck when I try the alcohol thing.”
His smile was sweet and self-deprecating, and Stiles was going to turn that Isaac dude into a dung beetle. Realization dawned with a bang, and Stiles greeted it, prepared to make a bigger one. “No, dude! But I can help you find a new person! What’s your type? Do you like butts?”
“What?” The genie looked affronted. Who didn’t like butts? Butts were a very important thing!
“I don’t need anyone playing matchmaker, especially you. Do you know how unfair it would be to make someone like me? I don’t want to manipulate anyone like that, it sounds horrible. If someone likes me, I want it to be because it’s honest.”
Stiles rolled his eyes and ruffled Scott’s hair until it stuck up in odd angles. He liked it so much he did it again until the human swatted his hands away. “I already told you I can’t change how people feel about things, don’t you listen? I did give you the guide book and everything. I could find you someone that could like you. Someone that’s your type! Chances are pretty good they’d be a match, I’m kind of an expert at everything. It comes with being all-powerful.”
Scott was quiet for a moment, actually considering it. Maybe finding someone new was the best way to move on, at least it wouldn’t hurt so much if he wasn’t alone. Finally he shook his head, leaning against the genie and grateful for his weight. “It seems too much like a set up to me. It’s like I trapped someone into liking me, I did the creeper thing of finding out exactly what they’d like before we even met and there’d be all this expectation. I’m okay, I don’t need anyone. What about you? What would you wish for?”
"I can make everything I’ve ever wanted. I don’t need wishes," Stiles dismissed, but he peered at his wishfactor with considering eyes. He snaked a sneaky arm around Scott’s shoulders, tugging him into his side until the other boy’s head dropped, and Stiles could manhandle him a bunch. No one had ever asked Stiles that, either, and if he had a chance, he’d wonder what it was like to be human. He wasn’t blue. He must have been one at some point, right?
He couldn’t have always been so lonely.
"You think too small. Stick with me, buttface." Stiles decided. "I’m gonna show you the world."
He waited a beat, then. “Eh, eh? Good reference, huh?”
"Oh my God, you suck so much."
Stiles was persistent. He kidnapped Scott before he could go to school, whisking him halfway across the globe before the other boy managed to put his foot down and demand Stiles take him back. Stiles waited until lunch before he shrunk Scott the size of a pea, and trapped him in an air bubble so they could ride giant sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean and eat fresh coconuts. Stiles routinely brought Scott newer and faster motorcycles to try out, even if Scott only managed to get him to ride one once. The genie clung to his back and screamed the whole way down the block, and Scott pretended he didn’t love the way Stiles refused to let go of him. Introducing Stiles to Pokemon was the worst thing. Once he learned Scott’s favorite, he was determined to bring Growlithe to life. Scott couldn’t tell the people at the Emergency Room anything true about how he got his burns, but Stiles blubbered sadly next to him the entire time, too shaken to heal Scott himself.
"I bet you and your other genie friends get to do a lot of really cool stuff," Scott whispered, shyly proud. He never expected to see the Mojave desert, but it was like nothing Scott had ever expected. A fire crackled by their toes, but Scott still pressed up against his genie to steal heat. He felt like he was floating above himself. Stiles said his weed was the best in the world, but Scott didn’t care, as long as he still got to watch Stiles try and make dinosaurs out of smoke.
Above them, billions of stars fought for a chance to shine, but all they did was make Stiles feel small.
"I never met another genie." Stiles answered, more honest than he’d ever allowed himself to be. He missed Scott’s look of surprise and the remorse that quickly followed, but he couldn’t miss the way their hands laced together. Stiles searched the night sky, but he still couldn’t find a star that was brighter than Scott’s smile.
It wasn’t all magical. Sometimes Stiles sat in on Scott’s classes, twisting and wiggling in his seat until Scott decided to let him go, or listening with rapt attention in the odd chance a lecture caught his attention. Once, he’d eaten so many Funnyuns he made himself sick, and rolled around in their bathroom for most of the night. Stiles fell in love with watching people on the bus, and could spend hours on public transportation. He had Scott’s schedule memorized. There were days he caught the same bus his wishfactor took home and swore up and down that he hadn’t ‘cheated.’
Then one day Stiles proudly proclaimed Scott was his best friend, and popped a chocolate cake out of thin air for them.
It wasn’t all magical, but it was all fantastic because it was Stiles.
Scott still had two wishes. He wondered if he could wish Stiles never left him alone.
There was just something about the way Stiles would stare, fascinated by something mundane that would make Scott stop and take a second look at the world around him. It wasn’t always the big things that awed him and Stiles’s excitement about even the smallest thing fueled his own. It was a competition of sorts, an introduction into things great and small that neither one of them had ever experienced and it was better when there was someone to share it with. Scott honestly couldn’t think of any wish that could compare. He shrieked when Stiles held him over the top of the Eiffel Tower to watch the city of Paris light up beneath him and he laughed when he introduced the genie to poutine, Stiles’s expression priceless as he bit into squeaky cheese. The sad little spaces of silence in his life were filled with so much energy that Scott didn’t have time to hurt, too busy trying to catch his breath as he raced after Stiles.
But even magic couldn’t last forever.
It was the smallest mistake, something he’d planned for a thousand times but when it happened, he was caught unprepared. He wasn’t careful, somewhere in the middle of snowy Canada. Stiles had wanted to show him something, but he couldn't remember what while he was too busy laughing. It felt good to laugh like this without holding back, but it quickly turned to coughing as his chest suddenly seized. Scott scrambled through his pockets as he wheezed, feeling like iron bands had clamped down over his ribs and were tightening fast until he couldn’t manage a single breath. Where the hell was his rescue inhaler! He never went anywhere without it, he always made sure. He’d always been so careful.
“Scott?” Stiles tried to get the boy to look at him, panicked by the way Scott’s lips were turning blue. “Breathe, Scott! Tell me what’s wrong!”
Scot couldn’t string the words together, drowning in his own broken lungs. Black spots prickled over his vision, eyesight narrowing down into tunnels of darkness as the world spun. His knees gave out and Stiles caught him before he hit the ground.
“You have to tell me what to do, I don’t know what’s happening! Scott, please!” Bending the rules were one thing, especially when he used his powers for himself, but this came with strings attached and Stiles couldn’t fix anything unless he was commanded. “You have to make a wish.”
“W-wish…” Scott forced the word out, spiraling into unconsciousness. “help.”
The next thing Scott knew, there were cool sheets against his feverish skin and everything was impossibly soft. He tried to move, but someone must have replaced his bones with lead, and a heavy waist was strung across his middle. Something tickled his cheek, and he squirmed, puffing out a mouthful of hair, but that just made Stiles press closer, the genie’s broad hands braced across his hips.
"You asshole, what were you thinking?" Stiles whispered, and Scott couldn’t take how sad he sounded. How he never should sound that way again.
Scott wanted to apologize as he struggled to remember what he’d done that was so wrong, but his tongue felt sluggish and heavy and refused to cooperate. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. Stiles hadn’t stopped touching him.
"I didn’t mean to," Scott said, not opening his eyes, and Stiles’s hands finally stilled. As he urged his best friend closer, he was careful, more careful than Scott had ever thought the genie could be, and Scott let Stiles’s fingers trace his mouth. He tilted into him, anticipation bubbling before Scott could figure out why, but Stiles pleaded.
"Say you wish you never got hurt again."
Scott smiled against the genie’s fingers. “I don’t want to waste it.”
“It’s not wasting if it keeps you safe! You could have died if I wasn’t there.”
“Hmmmmm.” The boy hummed and didn’t argue. Everything felt so good and he didn’t want anything to ruin this moment with Stiles’s hands on him. As long as he didn’t say a word, then maybe this wouldn’t stop. He nuzzled against the touch, hands creeping into the genie’s clothes. “I’m sorry I scared you. I’m usually more careful, I just forgot my inhaler.”
“You can’t just forget things that’ll kill you. All you have to do is say the words and I can make sure nothing bad will ever happen to you again. Please, Scott!”
“Shhh.” He put a hand across Stiles’s face, blinking open his eyes and smiling. His fingertips dragged down his friend’s cheek, curling around his jaw as Scott settled more comfortably against him. “I’m okay. I just need to take a nap for a bit, I’m exhausted. I haven’t had an attack that bad in years, I wasn’t expecting it.” The human bumped his nose against Stiles’s, so close that his eyes crossed trying to see him. “I still have one left, right?”
"You have to use it for something important, Scott!" Stiles insisted, gripping the other boy’s hand like he wanted to break it. Angry disapproval lapped at his nerves, as it became clearer and clearer that Scott didn’t understand the gravity of his situation. "Like THIS! Don’t you get it Scott? You can’t just forget. You’re my best friend! I can’t lose you. You can’t just - you’re not allowed to get hurt."
Stiles couldn’t help the way his voice broke, a wave of emotion crashing into his head at full speed. He was drowning under everything he couldn’t say, unhappy and scared. If he lost Scott, Stiles didn’t know what he would do. If he lost Scott, Stiles didn’t think anything else could matter.
“It’s not important.” Scott whined, trying to get Stiles to stop talking. He just wanted to lie here like this and let his sore lungs stop aching.
“It’s the most important! It’s like, the super important thing of all the important things!” The genie started to get worked up and Scott shushed him, putting his hand over Stiles’s mouth.
“You’re not going to lose me. I’m fine, it was just a bad asthma attack, I used to get them a lot when I was a kid. I have to remember to bring my inhaler with me, I usually have it. It’ll be fine.” He promised, but it wasn’t enough. Human lives were fragile and Stiles never really thought much about it before. He did his job, they lived happily ever after (or not), and he waited for the next one. What happened to them afterwards wasn’t his problem.
“Wish for it, Scott. It’s the only way I can keep you safe.”
“If I do, does that mean you have to go away?”
Stiles fell silent, and if that wasn’t proof of magic, Scott didn’t know what was. The human gathered up his courage, trying to fight back the certainty that he was balancing on the ledge of something steep and painfully high. “It’s not worth it, Stiles.”
The genie inhaled sharply, and Scott wished he could have ignored it. His friend’s grip had slackened around his waist. All at once, Scott wished he could have passed out for longer. If he was a good friend, he’d have told Stiles that going back to his shoe phone was exactly what he should have been aiming for, that Scott could make a wish that was sensible and useful. He’d save so much on health insurance. Stiles would be - happy.
"Do you really like your phone?" He asked instead, and tried not to think about how long it would take Stiles to pull away.
"It gets lonely."
Scott understood loneliness. He’d always been the nice boy, the quiet boy. The one everyone vaguely liked and ignored. He knew what it was to be invisible and the only time he ever made friends it was entirely by accident. How much worse would it be for Stiles? All that power to do everything he ever wanted, and there was just an eternity of being alone. The only thing he could look forward to were people who wanted to use him. They wouldn’t care about Stiles at all, just what the genie could do for them. It made his jaw clench at the thought.
The boy played with Stiles’s shirt, twisting his fingers in the fabric seemingly lost in thought. Finally, he found the words. “I know it probably doesn’t seem like much since you’ve seen almost everything and you’re already eleventy billion years old or whatever, but you could stay? If you wanted to. Could you stay?”
Stiles’s breath caught in his throat, and he didn’t know if he even needed to breathe. He could convince himself that he hadn’t heard Scott, but he couldn’t stop the way he leaned closer, pressing into the younger boy until he was so close, he could swear he felt Scott’s heart beating against his own.
"I don’t know," Stiles admitted honestly, and for one wild moment, he thought about just being this way, just the two of them, for however long his magic lasted. He could curse Scott to live endless years, together. They’d explore everything the world had to offer, and when they were done, Stiles would move them to the next. He was ultimate and all powerful! It would be his greatest adventure, as long as Scott never used his last wish. “I want to.”
He’d been alive for more years than he could count, but Stiles had never met anyone like him, no one with the sweetest, most generous heart. He wanted to keep him. Even if that meant Scott would just have to stop being human.
"I wish you could." Scott whispered, and all the air rushed out of Stiles’s lungs. He started to shiver, like his very bones were coming undone, and something was wrong, something was so very wrong. The genie lunged forward, hands suddenly kitten-weak. Body slow, like it was moving through molasses.
"Scott!" He tried to protest, mouth just brushing, brushing against his best friend’s soft lips. Then he was gone.
“No. No!” Scott clasped his hands over his mouth, realizing what he said too late. “I take it back! I don’t want that.” The boy begged, scrambling up to his knees. The relaxed languor was replaced with sharp terror, everything tensed. “Stiles! I don’t wish for that, please! I-I…I wish you’d come back. Stiles, it was a mistake. Come back, please…please come back.”
He’d ruined it. It had always been a matter of time, a ticking bomb on the tongue and one little slip was all it took to send the genie away. Scott held his breath and hoped it was a mistake, that there was some shiny magic loophole that could fix all of this, but only silence answered. He surged to his feet, tearing the apartment apart. The shoe phone had to still be here. If he could find it, maybe there was a way for Stiles to come back. He could give it to someone else? If it wouldn’t work for him, it could work for them! Maybe his mom or Allison. She’d help him still, maybe. Possibly. Oh god, please be here.
Scott finally gave up, sinking down in a mound of clothes flung onto the floor with a sob. These were the rules, weren’t they? Beware what you wish for? It was in all the stories, Scott just didn’t realize how painful the lesson would be. This was what happened when you were selfish and careless, you lost the one thing you really wanted before you even had a chance to say it. The boy curled into himself, hugging his knees to his chest and cried. Loneliness had never hurt this much before.
Scott couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. He went through his days like a shade in his own life. Everywhere he turned, he saw memories of his best friend. He wished they were all ridiculous, all over-the-top. He’d never see Paris again without Stiles. He didn’t think he’d ever want to. He’d never hold a sea turtle or chase the aurora borealis. If everything had been that fantastic, maybe he’d have been able to close the book on what felt like a dream. But Stiles was in the yogurt store across the street from his apartment. Stiles had slept in the corner of almost every one of his classes. A collection of seven rubber duckies had grown to twenty-five, most hand-panted and awful, and Scott remembered trying to design every one, the only thing magical about that night was how terrible Stiles’s coordination had been. He shared everything he knew with someone who should have had the whole world, but now there wasn’t anything left for him to keep.
His friends saw the difference, but Scott couldn’t begin to explain why everything had fallen apart. It felt like a hole had been burned into his chest, where his heart had once been, and now whatever remained ached and burned.
I wish you could.
Four words had destroyed everything. He couldn’t get them out of his mind. Was he not specific enough? Could Stiles have stayed and did he choose not to? Could the chance have only been for a moment and then whatever it was that kept his friend bound to the shoe phone kicked in? He hadn’t said forever. He hadn’t said with him. He hadn’t said I love you.
He hadn’t said anything he had wanted to say.
Stiles had made him see magic in the world, the amazing and fantastic things that no human had ever seen before and the mundane little wonders he always passed by. Without his friend, it all just seemed so gray. There wasn’t any magic left in the world, he’d seen the real thing and lost it. He should have paid more attention to the stories.
“Dude, you need a drink.” Liam declared, slinging his arm around Scott’s shoulders and finding the surest fix for his friend’s troubles. It had always worked in the past, why change a sure thing?
“I don’t think that’s going to help.”
“Psh, it helped you get over Allison, didn’t it? You were the happiest I’d ever seen you after you moved on. Whatever dickbutt you’ve been keeping a secret and broke your heart this time, you won’t even remember her name after a couple of shots.” The boy was relentless until Scott finally caved. Numb was always better than the heartache.
So Scott listened. He took us much as he could until his hands started to shake, needing more than liquid courage to get him through the night. It didn’t matter. Everywhere he turned, all he saw was his best friend, and the ground beneath his feet sloped in uneven, jagged tiles. He didn’t realize Liam was holding him up, or someone was laughing in his ear. He was warm all over, filled with anything he could get his hands on, and so tired of being hurt.
"I’m sorry!" He yelled, at a room full of smoke and black light, the pounding bass stealing away his breath. "I don’t want it I’m sorry!" His legs wobbled like they’d been stripped of their bones. There wasn’t enough air in the room, and Scott choked on the smell of sweat and alcohol. Someone was laughing, still laughing, and he finally wondered if they were laughing at him.
"You stole my power."
The voice came from a million miles away, but it pierced through Scott’s skull. He gasped, legs failing him as he was pushed and shoved through a sea of people, tears streaking down his face as it stabbed, sharper and sharper.
"You destroyed my home."
Scott’s ears were ringing, but there was no outrunning a nightmare. He’d made a mistake. He’d said too much. He ruined the best thing that had ever happened to him and sent away the only person who he ever thought understood him. Was Stiles lonely now? Had he found his new master?
"You took everything from me."
"I’m sorry," Scott rasped. He still tried to retreat. "I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m so sorry…"
"Let go of me!" Someone yelled. "Get the fuck out of my way. Scott - Scott!"
"Back off you’ve done enough damage!" Liam snarled, angry like he so rarely let himself be.
When the human stumbled through the club’s doors, the night air was cool on feverish skin, and Scott stopped caring where he fell.
Being unconscious was a gift, it was just a shame it couldn’t last longer. Nothing hurt like this, just the warm nothingness where he couldn’t feel how hard his body was shaking. He didn’t have to think about how he’d screwed up or the voice in his head that picked away at the raw wounds he carried. There was no guilt or shame, just rest. It wasn’t fair that he had to open his eyes eventually, but life wasn’t ever fair.
He couldn’t stop mumbling the words, saying them over and over in his mind like it could fix anything. Apologies didn’t matter, there were some things that couldn’t ever be put together again. It had all been a dream, it was easier to just believe that. Magic was only real in his head and he’d put together an elaborate fantasy to cope with his own heartache. Leave it to him to write a sad ending to his own story. Just let go of everything else, be empty and cold so he couldn’t feel anything anymore.
It worked for a while, but it was the cold that finally overwhelmed him, teeth chattering and muscles stiff and sore. Everything hurt, punishment for his own bad choices. It seemed almost fitting. Scott didn’t move, just sucked air into his aching lungs and took a quick catalog of himself. Everything appeared to still be attached, that was a good thing at least. He groaned softly, eyes too swollen and heavy to risk opening yet. Maybe if he just stayed still a little while longer it would either stop hurting or he’d freeze to death.
“You really shouldn’t drink that much.”
If Scott hadn’t had the motivation to pull away before, he had it now. He’d recognize that voice anywhere. Scott never acknowledged how much more cruel it was inside his own head. He tried to shy away, but a familiar grip had worked its way around its shoulders. What it lacked in strength, it made up for in determination. Scott wasn’t sure he could stand, wasn’t sure he’d ever want to, but it wasn’t so cold anymore.
"Come on, dude… Work with me. I can’t do this like I used to."
Stiles couldn’t shake the memory of Scott’s asthma attack. How pale he’d looked, the blue tinge in his cheeks, the way his shoulders trembled with every breath. He told himself Scott didn’t look worse now. He didn’t think he could make himself believe it, but when Scott opened his eyes, something in his chest came undone.
"I’m sorry," Scott said, words so soft he wasn’t sure they were only in his head, but Stiles’s hands were gentle this time. If this was just another dream, Scott hoped he never woke up.
"Just a little longer… Come on, Scott, come on.”
Scott didn’t remember the taxi ride, didn’t remember Stiles trying to shrug off a ratty jacket, didn’t remember tripping over the threshold of his apartment. But he dreamed that his best friend missed him. He dreamed that he could tell him he loved him, without Stiles running way.
When he finally woke, the first thing he noticed was that he was warm. Scott stretched until his joints popped and sighed into his pillow. His pillow? He cracked open one eye and winced at the bright glare of light, but he saw enough that he recognized where he was. Somehow he’d managed to stumble home instead of letting himself pass out and freeze solid on a sidewalk somewhere. That was certainly a plus. Maybe Liam found him and helped him back, he distinctly remembered someone’s arms around his shoulders and helping him stand.
Scott didn’t want to leave the bed, everything was too comfortable to risk his head pounding or setting off his stomach. He really needed to learn not to go overboard. It never helped him feel better and the hangover just compounded the misery the next day. At least he didn’t remember what an idiot he’d been the night before. There were enough bits and pieces to know that he’d done something stupid, but if no one texted him the details about it today, maybe he’d never have to know. That sounded nice. The longer he could stay like this, the longer he could pretend that everything outside of his bedroom door hadn’t fallen apart.
“I can tell you’re awake.”
The words had him jolting upright in a panic, ignoring the way his head throbbed at the sudden movement. “Stiles? You can’t, you’re gone. I saw you disappear, you can’t…can you?” Scott’s voice broke, so terribly hopeful and holding tight in case it would all come shattering down.
He never got to sit up. Sties barreled into him like he had come out of nowhere, and before Scott could say anything, the back of his head thunked against the wall, and he was too busy rolling in pain to protest.
"Oh shit Scott!"
Big hands bracketed his head, rubbing along his skull, and when Scott looked up, Stiles was so close, he went cross-eyed.
"If you get a concussion I’m so gonna - I’m so gonna…"
But Stiles never got to say what he wanted to do, Scott pressed his face into the crook of his neck and sobbed. Stiles was too busy holding on to continue. Scott let himself be rocked slowly, fingers winding into the back of his best friend’s shirt. Stiles looked tired and weary like Scott had never seen him before. His eyes were bloodshot and sunken in, but he smelled like Scott’s shampoo and wouldn’t let go.
"I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I thought - you were gone and-"
"Your breath is so rank, dude," Stiles laughed, and Scott laughed despite himself, despite everything. It really felt like he was home after so long. Then Stiles leaned forward and kissed him. This time he didn’t disappear.
He couldn’t be sad when Stiles’s mouth was pressed against his own, stealing the breath from his lungs. The other boy was real and Scott ignored his aching head to pull him down into the sheets where he could hold on and never let go. He’d lost Stiles once, he wasn’t going to risk him disappearing ever again. His hands smoothed down the boy’s back, wandering up around the back of his neck to card through his hair. It wasn’t a dream and he wasn’t drunk, Stiles was here!
“You look like shit.” Scott said quietly, snuffling into the curve of the genie’s neck.
“That’s my line. You look worse than when I first found you and you were puking your guts out then.” Stiles teased gently, letting Scott manhandle him down into the bed and trace his lip with one wondering finger.
“You kissed me.”
“I know, I was there.”
“I didn’t mean to say it, you know. It was an accident, I didn’t even know until you were gone. I wasn’t going to wish for anything if it meant you had to leave.” Scott’s voice hitched and he did his best to try and smile. “I thought you weren’t ever coming back. You’re okay though, right?”
"I’m - here." Stiles said, but that wasn’t the answer anyone was looking for. Scott tried to pull away, but Stiles wouldn’t let him get far. His arms automatically wound around the other boy’s shoulders, pinning him in place. It felt good. It did absolutely nothing to dispel the worry on Scott’s face, but damn, did it feel good. Stiles would be happy if Scott would worry half as much for himself as he did other people.
"Did they… What happened? Are you in trouble?" Scott asked, but what he wanted to ask was ‘did you grant my wish?’ If Stiles had someone else he answered to now, someone who might not take as long with their wishes as Scott had - Scott wasn’t sure what he could do about that.
Slowly he ran his hand down Stiles’s arm, features pinching with concentration. The genie was still, unnaturally so, and the answer hovered on the tip of his tongue. Stiles beat him to it.
"You know, I don’t think I ever remembered what being human felt like, dude. It’s not as bad as I thought it’d be."
“Human. Oh no.” Scott’s face crumbled. His ultimate and all-powerful Stiles, he’d ruined him. This was even worse than losing him to someone else who’d used him, Scott’s selfishness had stripped away his powers. All those years of magic at his fingertips, of being able to change the world and find the most beautiful parts of it and he’d taken it away. Not just that, he’d condemned Stiles to die. To get sick and hurt and old, Scott had stolen his whole life away because he didn’t want to be alone.
“I’m sorry! God, I didn’t mean to. I’m so sorry, Stiles.” Please don’t hate me. Scott pawed at his friend, the boy he hoped was still his friend, and held him close. “I’ll fix it.” He promised, mind racing. “There has to be a way. If I found you, maybe there’s another genie and I could wish that you’re back to normal. I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise. This is all my fault, but I’ll make this right again. I’ll take care of you until we get your powers back. I-If you want to stay. I understand if you don’t.”
He killed Stiles. He’d ruined everything.
"Scott - Scott!"
And it had been awful. For a while, Stiles wasn’t sure where he’d gone. Whatever world had sucked him up, he couldn’t remember much of it. He didn’t know if he’d been cold because he’d woke up in an unfamiliar street with just the clothes on his back, or if he’d been somewhere - somewhere it was safer not to remember. All he’d thought about was finding Scott again.
"Stop. Please." He couldn’t stop touching the other boy, crowding into his space like they’d done a thousand times before. Once upon a time, the genie could have given Scott a Californian King for shits and giggles. Instead, Stiles chose a life of stealing his covers and hording his pillows. He’d taken Scott’s pleas at face value, silly things about inconvenience and maintenance. All he needed was an excuse to plaster himself against his best friend. Now he didn’t need one. It was a new sort of terrifying.
"I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to do any of this," he confessed. "I got lost, dude. I didn’t know how to find you. I stole some guy’s jacket, I - I didn’t know. Fuck, I didn’t know we were in the same city. If I didn’t recognize that pizza place? I dunno where’d I end up."
Scott’s breath hitched, and heat pooled behind his eyes. It wasn’t fair. And Stiles still tried to push closer, even if they had no more space to give.
"But it didn’t matter, because I knew - s’long as I found you, it’d all be worth it. All I want is to be with you, Scott. And this way, I never have to go back into that damned phone again."
“But I killed you.” He cupped Stiles’s face, ashamed that there was some tiny part of him that felt- what? Relieved? Ecstatic to have him back? He shouldn’t be feeling this way at all, it wasn’t fair to find any kind of joy in the fact he’d condemned his best friend. “I took away everything, Stiles. You had forever and I was so stupid that I wished it away just so you could stay with me. I didn’t have any right to want that, you’re not supposed to be human. You’re so much more than this and I’ll fix it.” I won’t let you die or grow old enough to resent me. He said he wanted to stay, but how many years would it be before he missed his old life and learned to hate Scott for stealing it away? He resolved to find a cure, whatever he needed to do. Nothing was going to hurt Stiles, not even him.
Scott hiccuped softly, brushing his lips over the genie, the human’s. “I’ll keep you safe. You can stay with me and I’ll take care of you.” He pulled the covers up over them both like he could shut out the rest of the world, wrapping Stiles up in his body. He slipped his hands beneath the other boy’s stolen shirt, hating himself for taking the right to touch him but wanting to be close. This was wrong, he’d brought Stiles nothing but trouble. “You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t want to, you’re not alone. You’re my best friend in the whole world, Stiles. I’m not going to let you down again.”
"Scott…" Stiles whispered, but he was warm and safe. Scott was the first thing he thought about in the morning and what he hoped to see when he fell asleep. He smelled like sweat and stale smoke, and he was shaking like a leaf, but he was perfect. So fucking perfect.
He carded his fingers through Scott’s hair, just to feel him shudder against him. “I was a genie for a very long time. Dude, you can’t know what it’s like in there. It’s really. Really lonely… I’ve never - all this? Everything with you, you’re the only reason I get to do that.”
He chuckled darkly, chasing Scott’s mouth until he could kiss him quiet. If Stiles could drain the tension out of him, he would.
"I never got to use my powers unless they wanted me to. Ultimate and all powerful only when a master lets me be, and then I just… Waited. Waited for someone else to pick up that damn phone. It’s like being in a hole dude, no matter how deep it gets, you still get to see the sky and hear shit, but you know you can never get out, and it was really fucking -" He let out a ragged exhale, curling into his best friend’s throat. Stiles kissed the point where throat met shoulder, whispering thanks against his skin. “You’re so much more than any genie could ever be, Scott, and I’m gonna keep you.”
The boy stopped fighting, lulled by the promise of Stiles’s hands. If that was what it meant to be a genie, then there was a chance that this could be better. The thought of people using and forgetting about Stiles made his heart break, no one should have to be alone for so long. They had no idea what the real treasure was, wishes had nothing on the one who’d grant them.
Scott kissed his friend the way he’d dreamed about, exploring how he could fit them together. No one was ever going to hurt Stiles again, he’d spend his life making sure of it. He was the reason his friend had lost everything, he promised that he’d make up for every loss with something better. “You were my wish.” He said, tangling his legs between the other boy’s. “I just didn’t know how to ask for you. You can’t wish for someone, right? I didn’t want you to stay because you had to, I wanted you to just be happy.”
With a smile, he tucked Stiles against his neck and kissed the top of his head. “You don’t have to be lonely anymore. No one else gets to use you ever again, you’re a person and you get to choose. You can stay with me for as long as you want to, you’re free to do anything you want.”
Stiles smoothed his hand down Scott’s side, slipping it under warm cloth until his palm could rest against the jut of his hip. “You were my wish,” he countered. “I just didn’t know genies could make any.”
He leaned closer, his nose bumping against Scott’s. “And when you’re not so gross, I’m gonna do you." He tried to wiggle his eyebrows, aimed for lascivious and gave it all he had. Stiles tripped over his metaphorical feet and showed Scott his belly. "We still have the bath tub, right?"
"Not that you ever used it." Scott laughed, wiggling to find the perfect spot. Stiles’s heart hurt, like it was two seconds away from exploding in his chest. He wanted to get Scott to smile again. He thought he’d be used to it by now.
"You’ll get in with me… Show me how it’s done."
"I’ll show you how everything works, dude." Scott couldn’t help the flush that spread across his cheeks as Stiles’s reached up, carefully tracing his fingers over the lines of his face. He wanted to commit everything to memory. Scott’s smile could blind someone if he wasn’t careful. It was the most amazing thing in Stiles’s world. “It can be good right? It’ll be an adventure - you’n’me?”
"Yeah, dude. It’ll be amazing."
Scott had been so wrong about everything. There really was magic in the every day and Stiles’s face still lit with such wonder that he couldn’t help but see it too. The bath was a battle with too many bubbles and so much water slopped all over the floor that the people in the apartment below complained, but Scott wore a foam beard and Stiles laughed so hard he almost broke his tailbone when he slipped on a loofah.
Every day was filled with little adventures, new explorations that they dove in with fearless abandon. They raced shopping carts at the grocery store, they threw snowballs at each other until they were red faced and shivering, and they learned the best ways to tangle together at night between sweat stained sheets and half-gasped moans. Stiles was especially fond of that part, there was a distinct advantage to having a lower half and Scott had to shoo his hands away from sharing out in public.
Scott was in love. He was in love with every stupid grin and bad idea and excited little flutter of Stiles’s hands and he knew the promises they made each other were real. Neither one of them had to do this alone ever again.
And at night when they were spent and exhausted, Stiles would let the faintest spark of iridescent light dance along his fingertips in the dark and smile.