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Dread Doctors, chimeras, one psycho with an extra eye, and Kira’s unreliable powers forced the McCall pack into a pack meeting after the events that went down at Eichen House. They didn’t want to waste any time, Scott calling them all together the same night.

Scott, Stiles, Derek, Lydia, Liam and Malia all gathered in Derek’s loft, Scott addressing the group from the central point.

But Lydia’s eyes weren’t drawn to the alpha. She couldn’t help but watch Stiles.

Something was going on with him. It didn’t take someone with her IQ to figure that out. He had been jumpy, reactive, and filled to the brim with anxiety all day.

He hadn’t been in school, which was unusual. When Lydia caught up with Scott earlier that day, he had said Stiles had texted him to say he wasn’t feeling well and was going to take a sick day. But then the plan came for Lydia to go to Eichen House, and he suddenly was well enough to take on that chaos.

She had argued of course, and caught him lying about an injury he was clearly sporting, but something in his body language told her that he wasn’t ready to talk yet, so she let it go.

But then the Dread Doctors burst into the mental institution, and Stiles held her protectively, and she couldn’t forget his words.

“Everything that’s happened, everything that’s going to happen. It’s our fault.”

The way he said it, the utter depth of the self-loathing and fear in his voice, made it obvious that he was suffering through guilt beyond measure. There was more going on. They may have brought power back to the Nemeton, they may have agreed to something they didn’t quite understand the consequences to, but it didn’t balance with the pain in his voice.

The true tipping point was seeing the way Stiles reacted to seeing Scott hurt after they escaped from Eichen House. She knew she wasn’t paranoid—something was warping his mind.

Stiles held Lydia’s hand firmly as they got their stuff back from the front desk and headed outside.

That’s when they found Scott and Kira lying weakly on the front steps.

“Scott!” Stiles shouted, letting go of Lydia so he could run over and kneel down next to his best friend.

Lydia hadn’t been blind to the electrical burns covering Scott all over. They were worse than when Isaac had nearly died. If Scott wasn’t an alpha, he probably would be.

Kira didn’t look to have a mark on her, but she was clearly weak and disoriented.

“What happened? What the hell did you do?” Stiles snapped at Kira, glaring in her direction before gripping Scott’s shoulder so he could get a better look at him.

“Stiles.” Lydia warned, seeing the hurt on Kira’s face. The Asian girl was looking confused and upset, and she was sure that no matter what happened, it wasn’t on purpose.

Scott winced as Stiles gently grazed his hand over some of the less grotesque spots.

“It wasn’t her fault.” he told Stiles seriously.

Stiles’ jaw was still tense, clenched tight. He didn’t reply, wouldn’t even meet Scott’s soft eyes.

“You need medical attention. These aren’t going to heal on their own.” he mumbled.

Stiles helped his best friend up, slipping an arm under his to wrap around his shoulder. Scott leaned into him, groaning slightly in pain.

Stiles’ eyes drifted to Kira, and he averted his eyes to the ground instantly, clearly ashamed of his outburst. As much as Scott was always his priority, he cared about Kira too.

Lydia assisted Kira, worried eyes meeting Scott’s, and she knew she wasn’t the only one questioning their friend’s mental state.

They had wanted to take both of them to the hospital, but Scott didn’t want to have to try to explain things and Kira was quiet and wanted to just go home.

It was obvious that whatever happened, she was the most upset about hurting Scott.

“We need to call a pack meeting. For tonight.” Scott said as soon as they rounded the corner away from her house, surprising both. It was clear that Kira wasn’t going to be part of it.

Now gathered at Derek’s loft, Lydia couldn’t help but notice how distracted Stiles was.

His eyes weren’t staring off into space, as if his mind was preoccupied, but instead darting around, never focusing on one thing for too long. He was fidgeting more than ever, restless and anxious and likely creating a raw spot with the amount he was scratching at the corner of his jawline.

Derek, too, had picked up on Stiles’ anxiety, his eyes narrowing as he looked at the teenage boy. He was tending to Scott’s electrical burns. He had learned from when he lost his powers that first aid kits were handy to have around the house despite his typical healing abilities, and he had learned a lot growing up about how to take care of the things they couldn’t heal well from.

Scott was speaking, explaining how Kira’s electrical powers overtook her and got so intense she passed out. He had to carry her out. And he went on to explain her previous near-fatal attack on Lucas, how it was like she was a different person and she spoke out in Japanese. Apparently she had been doing so in her sleep too. She didn’t speak fluent Japanese, so it didn’t make sense.

“And I looked at her with my alpha vision… it’s like the fox spirit around her is on fire.”

There were murmurs through the group, Malia and Liam looking to the others for guidance.

Derek sighed. “We don’t know enough about kitsunes to understand it. We probably should look into it, maybe talk to Noshiko.”

All of them looked to Stiles, waiting for the suggestion of research sources, but he was silent.

Scott cut in, drawing the attention back to him. “We also need to figure out what’s going on with the chimeras. Why the Dread Doctors want the bodies back, why they consider them failures. It’s only a matter of time before they turn somebody else. As far as we know, the only two they’ve turned have had their bodies taken: Tracy and Lucas.”

“And Donovan.” Lydia piped up absent-mindedly, and the group looked at her in surprise.

“What do you mean?”

Lydia swallowed, having forgotten that the pack probably didn’t know that he was dead yet. Her eyes flashed briefly to Stiles’, noting the panic hidden there. “Well, I sensed his death last night. And since no one has reported a supernatural being to the news stations yet…”

Scott looked solemn, and he looked to Stiles, likely thinking about saying something about Donovan’s threats being over. He hadn’t missed the aggression in Donovan’s eyes when he threatened Stiles’ dad and tried to go after Stiles too at the station.

But Stiles was distracted, having startled at the sound of police sirens going a few streets over so hard he nearly knocked into a table.

They discussed things further, branching into brainstormed ideas of what could be going on, but Stiles remained silent through the whole thing, and Lydia was distracted watching him.

“Maybe we should call it a night.” Derek was the one to suggest, even though they hadn’t really made any progress. “Kira’s issue is a little more prevalent. These Dread Doctors have already used it to their advantage once, as if they were counting on it. If they can’t get these chimeras to be a success, maybe they’ll turn all of us against each other. After all, we have become the protective pack of the county. They wouldn’t be the first to notice and try to exploit that.”

The rest of the group agreed and moved to leave.

Stiles was the first to slip out, without a word to anyone.

Scott grabbed Lydia’s wrist before she could leave. “Hey, I know you’ve noticed it too. What happened? In Eichen House?”

She grimaced. “A lot. I’ll tell you later. But if you mean what happened to make Stiles act the way he is, he’s been off all day. I think something else is going on, but I think I might have an idea what it is. I’ll talk to him.” she promised.

He nodded, wincing at the stretching of his painful skin.

Lydia squeezed a safe spot on his arm comfortingly. “Take care of yourself. We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?” She detected the worry in his eyes, for more than just Stiles. “And try not to stress too much about Kira. We’ll figure it out.”

“I hope so.” He sighed. “Go on. Talk to Stiles. Make sure he’s okay.”

Lydia smiled reassuringly at him before turning to head to her car, feeling guilty for the fact that she had a pretty good idea okay was the furthest thing from what Stiles was.

Lydia knocked on the door of the Stilinski residence, seeing Stiles’ jeep in the driveway. She was only half-sure he’d return home. With his mind so full, she wasn’t sure if he’d try to deal with it elsewhere.

The Sheriff opened the door, smiling at the sight of the strawberry-blonde.

“Lydia. Come on in. Stiles just went to his room if you want to head up there.”

She smiled gratefully and headed up the familiar stairs.

Stiles’ door was ajar, and she went to knock, peeking through the opening, but the sight she saw made her stop.

Stiles was pulling his shirt over his head, gasping and reflexively clutching at the open wound on his back when he twisted his torso. The shirt fell from his hand, and he breathed heavily, clearly in a lot of pain.

Lydia pushed her way into his room, skipping her manners.

“What the hell happened to you?” Lydia demanded, making a beeline for him.

He turned around in surprise at the voice, flushing immediately when he saw who it was.

A beat too late, she realized she had sort of barged in on him changing and he now was standing shirtless before her.

She swallowed at the sight, catching on that this was the first time she had seen him in such a state of undress. Despite all of their adventures over the years, he had managed to keep his clothes on, unlike her. He was fitter than she would’ve expected, although she should’ve known with how much cardio they all put in each week fighting supernatural monsters. Plus he was on the lacrosse team.

Ignoring her spark of attraction towards him, Lydia focused on what Stiles was saying.

“It’s nothing, Lydia.” he dismissed, not meeting her eyes.

Lydia sighed and went to close his bedroom door to avoid the Sheriff overhearing, crossing her arms. “You forget who you’re talking to. Try again.”

He didn’t reply, just moved to his dresser to find another shirt.

She followed, her fingers reaching out to graze over the mark. There were several puncture marks around the edge, but mostly it was mangled flesh, as if whatever bit him had hung on and been tugged away. The angry redness glared and made it clear it should’ve been tended to before now, but it obviously wasn’t in a great spot for Stiles to do it himself.

She could see the way Stiles’ hands were shaking as he ignored her and picked through the clothes in his drawer.

“Stiles. Let me help you.” she murmured, stroking down his back soothingly, drawing circles on the dip in his lumber area.

Stiles raised his head slightly, blinking back tears. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine, Stiles! Did Donovan do this to you?”

He whipped in her direction so fast she startled enough that she nearly lost her balance.

The panic in his wet eyes broke her heart. Her eyes softened. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

He swallowed, surrendering, and she led him to sit on the bed.

She knew where his first aid kit was in the bathroom, having needed to take advantage of it a few times in the past. She remembered after Meredith had banshee-screamed at her last year and her ears bled. Stiles had gently wiped her skin clean and made sure there was no visual damage, had been so precise and dedicated that she wondered if he ever would consider a job in medicine.

Sitting next to him, Lydia got to work, wincing in time with Stiles when she applied antiseptic to the area.

“I’m sorry. I’ll try to work quickly.”

Stiles shook his head, smiling slightly over his shoulder at her before looking away again. “It’s okay. It’s not that bad.”

Lydia continued cleaning, having picked up a lot over the last few years from Allison, Melissa and the first aid course she took as a precaution.

It was Stiles that spoke. “You know, don’t you?”

His voice was gravelly, shame and agony laced around it.

Lydia rubbed over his good shoulder blade in a comforting gesture as she continued working. “I wasn’t entirely sure. But I know that when I sensed Donovan’s death last night, I sensed you at the same time, like you were connected. And then Dr. Valack made that comment, about that supernatural being taking shape of a lost soul tied to you. And I just sort of connected the dots. I can’t explain what I felt, but it was almost like a part of you died.”

Stiles was quiet, but his breaths gradually started getting shakier. “I think a part of me did. Whatever scrap of pure and good I had left.”

The intention was to make it casual, but the words cut Lydia deep, especially because Stiles’ voice broke and the tears he had so desperately been holding in finally broke free from their chains.

She didn’t waste a second, tugging on him until he was in her arms, her face buried in his shoulder as she squeezed him as tight as she could without hurting him.

As her arms wound around him, the sobs climbed up his throat, shuddering through his ribcage, forcing his body to release its rattling despair.

He held Lydia fiercely, all his pain spilling out on the floor. His eyes bled tears as visions flashed in his memory. He knew he’d never forget watching the light leave Donovan’s eyes, the way his head flopped to the side, the way blood pooled around his mouth and the impaled wound and how it dripped to the floor. His eyes didn’t close when he died; instead, they stayed open, boring into Stiles’ soul. He had moved to tug the pole out of the boy’s chest, even though a part of him told him it was useless, that the damage was done, but another part was sure that he needed to remove the problem. Remove the problem and there was hope. But the hope died as fast as the light in the teenager’s lifeless eyes and Stiles knew it was over.

It didn’t matter that Donovan was trouble, that he had spent the last part of his life hunting Stiles down, determined to eat his legs to pay the Sheriff back for the part he had played it what was done to his father’s lower half.

It didn’t matter that Donovan was ruthless, that the Wendigo part he was made with was bloodthirsty and unable to be reasoned with.

It didn’t matter that Stiles had pulled the pin with the hopes that things would tumble down and knock Donovan away, or get him to cover himself long enough that Stiles could scramble away to safety. It didn’t matter, because one of those bits of debris slid through his chest like a knife through butter and anchored him to the floor, propping him up like a deformed doll, a puppet without strings. Because in those final moments, it didn’t matter what supernatural parts he was. He was just a teenager. Like Scott had said, he was the victim.

And Stiles made him a murder victim instead.

Stiles had gone home, after hearing the police say it was just a prank call, after he got the visual confirmation for himself that Donovan’s body had been removed from the premises. That he wouldn’t be going to jail for manslaughter right then. He had gone home and scrubbed the blood off his hands until they were red from scrubbing, making him scrub harder, thinking the blood had stained his pale hands permanently, so everyone would know what he had done.

And if Scott knew… if Scott knew what he had done… He would hate him. He wouldn’t forgive him. Scott, who had always found another way, despite all the horrific enemies they had faced. Scott had yet to kill someone. Scott had yet to take a life. He was determined to never carry the weight of that.

But Stiles did now. And how could he be best friends with someone who was so good, so pure, so true?

Scott wouldn’t have panicked in the situation the way Stiles had. Scott would have tried talking things out, instead of running like a coward. Scott would’ve fought harder. Stiles had been so scared, the fear so tight in his spine it was almost paralyzing. It was only the adrenaline that forced him to move. All he could think about was the pain coming his way, and if he didn’t make it, the pain his father would have to endure. That was why Donovan was doing it, right? To get back at his dad? His dad had had enough grief in his life. He knew he couldn’t handle losing him too, no matter how much of a fuck up he was.

Stiles didn’t know how long he sat there and cried into Lydia’s arms. He didn’t know how many embarrassing sounds he made, or how weak he may have seemed. He couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t hold it in anymore.

He had stayed home from school, not sure how the hell he was going to face his friends. He was scared they’d smell it on him. They’d catch his chemical signals that indicated his anxiety was off the charts, they’d smell the blood under his fingernails, they’d hear the distress in his heartbeat. He hadn’t even thought of Lydia’s abilities. Completely stupid of him. Of course she would know before anyone else.

Yet Lydia was the one holding him, shushing him, crying tears of her own. She was in his lap now, curled around him completely, nuzzling against his cheek as he calmed down.

“Scott’s never going to forgive me. He’s never going to be able to look at me…” he started to say, but his voice trembled too much.

He was surprised to find she had made sense of the jumbled words. “It was self-defense, Stiles. It was an accident. He’ll understand.”

Stiles pulled back, grabbing his fallen shirt to wipe his face of the disgusting amount of moisture on his face before tossing it to the floor. “How do you know what happened?”

Seriously, had her powers advanced to telepathy? To actually sensing the details of a death? The applications of that ability in police investigations alone would be monumental…

Lydia cut off his thoughts, her hands reaching out to touch his clean face. “I know you. I know you’d never intentionally hurt someone that way. I know, even just based on the way that you’ve been acting, that you’re no sociopath. This whole thing is killing you from the inside out.”

Stiles was shaking his head, shaking his head to dismiss her words, to dismiss her comfort. He hadn’t forgotten to turn off the oven or take his key with him when he left the house. He had taken a life. He didn’t deserve this sort of comfort. What he had done was one of the lowest things he could ever do.

“Lydia, I… he’s dead because of me. We might have been able to… It doesn’t matter what I… It doesn’t matter what happened.”

“It does. It does matter. Accidents happen, Stiles. Tell me what happened. Talk to me. Please?”

She was so earnest, her hands holding his in hers now, keeping them steady, and he found himself spilling the dark secret that had wormed its way into his heart, pumping black blood through his veins.

He told her about his jeep breaking down, the sudden pain in his shoulder, and his struggle with Donovan. He even told her what he said about his dad, and that Donovan had his phone so he couldn’t call for help, and about the sneak attack through the library shelves. He told her about climbing up the construction equipment left behind, about the whiteness coating Donovan’s eyes and the metallic-like rows of teeth, that he hadn’t needed Donovan’s threat that he was going to eat his legs for him to know that he had been infused with Wendigo DNA. He told her about the pin, his struggle to pull it, and the dusty falling of objects.

He couldn’t go on beyond telling her that one impaled Donovan. He couldn’t tell her the details of watching him die, of calling the police and chickening out of saying what happened. He couldn’t confess all of his cowardice.

Lydia listened, not releasing his hands from her hold, not making any sort of approving or disapproving noises. Just silently absorbing his confession.

Stiles couldn’t talk anymore. He felt like his mouth was sewing itself up, he was just so done with talking, even though the majority of his day was spent staring at the ceiling in loud silence.

He wanted the pain to all go away, all the memories, all the visions taunting him in his dreams and when he was awake. He couldn’t handle the crippling agony clawing its way through his internal organs. The weight of that pole in Donovan felt like it had lodged itself inside him instead, as punishment for his crime.

He wondered about turning himself in. He thought about it logically. If they couldn’t find a body and the Dread Doctors had swept the evidence away too, would they be able to hold him even though he had confessed to it? Would they believe him when he said he didn’t know where the body went? Jail didn’t really sound like an ideal place, but Stiles wondered if paying his dues for the crime would help him deal with the grief of it all better. Make him feel like he was paying for it instead of getting away with it.

He had no idea how he was supposed to live with this. He had no idea how to move on and act like it hadn’t happened. He had no idea how he would find the strength to tell anyone else, to explain, to beg for forgiveness for something he didn’t believe he deserved forgiveness for.

Lydia didn’t say anything, just nestled herself in his arms again, sighing against his skin.

“I’m sorry.” is the only thing she could muster herself to say.

Because she knew Stiles. She knew he wasn’t in a place to listen to comforting words right now. He’d snap, he’d talk back, he’d use any of his usual defense mechanisms. He was in such a state of terror that he couldn’t help but lash out. It was why he snapped at Kira earlier. He was afraid for Scott and didn’t have enough self-control to put it through a filter first.

She was sorry. Sorry that he had to make the calls he did, sorry he had been through so much, sorry he had learned such an upsetting fact about his dad in the process, sorry he had to live with his decision for the rest of his life. She was sorry that he was hurting, that he might not ever feel whole again.

She wanted to stitch all his wounds back together, to heal that which had been broken, but she knew it wasn’t a simple solution. That some things can’t be mended. That some things leave a permanent scar. An open wound.

“I should finish.” she finally broke the silence, pulling back to gesture at his shoulder.

He nodded and turned to acquiesce, letting her work, barely wincing as she started stitching what she could together.

They didn’t speak, but he had stopped shaking. He seemed to have let go of some of the anxiety that had been rattling his core.

It wasn’t much, but it was a start. She only hoped she could help advance the rest of his healing. It was a long road ahead.