After the Nogitsune had been killed and Stiles had been freed by Derek and Scott, she had taken a turn for the worse. She blamed herself for the deaths of her friends and so many other people. She had become a veritable recluse during the summer speaking to almost no one and spending massive amounts of time running the preserve, learning hand to hand combat from Deputy Parrish, trying to learn everything she could from Deaton, and avoiding her pack. Mostly her friends gave her the space that they thought she needed but Stiles knew that it wouldn't last too much longer.
Derek used her window like it was a door and over the past three years had frequently come and gone through there. Stiles was their go-to for all research actually she was the go-to for anyone that needed to talk without judgement. She was the professor and the psychologist. Derek had been her most frequent visitor, besides Scott, and although he didn’t talk much she thinks that it was the fact that Stiles could fill the silence that surrounded Derek for too much of his life. He would probably die before telling anyone that he actually enjoyed the companionship and comfort that being around Stiles provided him. But when Derek had decided that he and Peter were going to South America to return Cora to her pack he hadn’t come back. He had disappeared and they were unable to reach him and Stiles was starting to worry. Scott was enjoying his relationship with Kira and everyone was trying hard to come to terms with everything that had happened in the last six months.
Stiles had taken up learning as much as she could from Deaton who had said that she possessed a spark, a little light of magic. With practice he had told her that she could eventually do what he did and become the pack’s next emissary. So she threw herself at the lessons, and she was talented. She swore Deaton to secrecy, she didn’t want everyone else to know what she could do, not just yet. After the third week of Derek being missing she really started to worry and approached Deaton wondering if there was a locator spell that she could use.
“Dude, I’ll do anything, they should have been back weeks ago,” she begged Deaton.
“I don’t know Stiles, we just got into working with inherent magic, like the mountain ash and lights. I don’t know if you are ready for any actual spells,” he hesitated. In reality Stiles had blown through inherent magic, and all of the healing practices that Deaton knew and had been pilfering books from his secret stash for almost the entire summer. She would take them home with her and painstakingly photocopy them into her computer, just in case. She never wanted to be unprepared again. They had already been unprepared so many times.
She still wasn’t sleeping. It wasn’t as bad as before and when they separated her from the Nogitsune she found she could read without the letters sliding from the page. She still had nightmares though, and every once in a while she would get the horrifying sinking feeling, like she was still in a dream. Her panic attacks were back as well but she had managed to hide most of this from her friends. The only one that managed to see that something was going on with her was Jackson. He also used her as a psychologist, but somewhere along the way they became friends, and he became less of a douche. She managed to play it off as best she could and Jackson told her that eventually Lydia would notice, so Stiles avoided Lydia as much as possible.
As the third week passed of her not being able to reach Derek and Peter, Stiles started to dig through the pile of books that she had managed to pilfer from Deaton this summer. There must have been well over a hundred books worth of digital scans. One night while she was just scrolling aimlessly, not even really paying attention she stopped abruptly on 'Madame Donnet’s Book of Orenda'. She paged through the book and finally found herself stopping on a page for Dowsing, location magic. She was so happy she could cry. But as she further examined the pages it was difficult to tell exactly what the spell entailed, it seemed like every time she read through the spell it changed a little and some of the words were ones that she had never heard of and google searches of the words didn’t lead anywhere. The spell was fluid, moving and changing.
It took her another week to parcel out, what she thought, the right items needed and their correct arrangement. She had gone to Derek’s loft, she had made a key of everywhere they might ever need to go and she kept them on an oversized ring, but Derek’s key wasn’t with those, that particular key stayed attached to her Jeep keys, right next to the key for her own home.
Everything looked the same as she had last seen it, maybe slightly more dust. She felt an overwhelming sense of loss come over her. She sat on his overly fancy couch for an immeasurable amount of time, working up the courage to venture further into the loft. She needed some hair or an important possession for the tracking spell but she couldn’t bring herself to look through his things, it felt like an invasion. One she knew Derek wouldn't appreciate. She finally sucked it up and found her way to Derek’s bedroom.
The bed was unmade. The sheets were a beautiful midnight blue matching the comforter. They were also insanely soft fabric. She sat at the edge of the bed and looked around. Derek didn’t really have possessions, there was no ridiculous leather cuff that he wore or gaudy ring, as if he was some mysterious fictional heartthrob. Stiles didn't know what to expect. She opened the small drawer on the nightstand. There was almost nothing in the drawer, some Chapstick and oh boy, yup, that’s lube. She immediately closed the drawer and quickly stood up from the bed her face beet red. This was a total invasion of privacy. Normally she didn’t mind invading people’s privacy, in fact, she enjoyed it. She liked knowing things, especially things other people didn’t know. With her face a startling bright red she made her way into the bathroom.
It was beautiful with light grey subway tiles and dark grout. The sink and vanity were industrial without being too masculine. The shower was killer, he could probably fit four people in that shower. A big bathtub sat right in front of a large floor to ceiling window that looked out into the preserve that backed up to the building. She quickly found a hairbrush and plucked a few strands bagging them up and making her was back into the main room.
She stopped when she noticed someone at the big sliding doors to the loft. It was Lydia, and she didn’t look so good.
“We have to find him,” Lydia said panicked.
“That’s what I’m doing here Lyds,” Stiles said in a near whisper, looking down at the floor. Lydia showing up here was nothing short of bad. It meant her Banshee senses were a tingling and that meant nothing good for Derek. Stiles held herself together and made for the door, locking it behind her.
“We should call Scott,” Lydia insisted taking out her phone.
“I have this handled for now, you can call him when I’m done. There isn’t any point in calling him now we don't know where he is,” Stiles responded, putting a hand on Lydia’s phone to stop her.
“What exactly are you doing?”
“Does it have something to do with why you’ve been so quiet this summer?”
“Ever observant Lydia, Jackson figured you already knew,” Stiles scoffed.
“I just wanted to wait for you to come to me. We all go to you with our problems hoping that you’ll solve them for us, that you’ll have the answer. But who do you go to Stiles?”
“Now is not the time to talk about me Lydia, I have to find him.”
“But after, you are going to have to talk to someone. I can see the dark circles Stiles, I can practically feel the exhaustion rolling off you, and not just from not sleeping. It’s like it is a dark fog over you.”
“Yeah Lydia I’ll get some help after all this is done.”
“I don’t need to hear your heart to know that you are lying,” Lydia whispered. Stiles just ignored her and got in her jeep and left.
It had taken her a week to gather all the components for this spell it was especially difficult because Madame Donnet used obscure names for some of the plants that she needed and some things she needed in a specific form like coriander instead of cilantro small differences that would make or break the spell.
Stiles had painted a large square of chalk paint on her bedroom floor perfectly covered by the area rug at the base of her bed. She pulled the rug off and started to draw the appropriate sigils and runes for the spell. It turned out that most spells weren’t incantations alone but a mixture of incantations and drawings and offerings. This particular spell required blood, a lot of Madame Donnet's spells required blood. It took her another three days cooped up in her room to get this spell right. She had a veritable collection of small cuts up and down her left arm, but luckily she had learned a great healing salve from Deaton so half the cuts were already well on their way to healed by the end. She took diligent notes on what worked and what didn't, scribbling in a small notebook.
Her last attempt, the successful one, came at three in the morning on the fourth consecutive day. She had barely eaten anything and was feeling woozy from all the blood loss. She had been testing different amounts of offerings and different tweaks on the drawing, she tried to use her intuition and change things by feel. She’d slept maybe three hours in the last three days and it was taking it’s toll.
She made a cut and started the incantation. This time the entire circle lit up and the map in the center shifted and roiled. She fed more and more power into the spell willing it to work. Blood steadily dripped on the south side and began to circumvent the map. Just as the map seemed to solidify she could feel the fog begin the cloud her vision and everything went dark.
When she woke it was bright in her room. She grabbed the map; it was centered on Mexico and a small spot of blood marked a point outside of a small town. She quickly cleaned the blood and chalk drawing on the floor as best as she could and threw the rug back over the paint. She lit some sage and opened a window and cleansed the room hoping to get rid of the smell of blood. It wasn’t a moment too soon because there was a knock at her door.
“Stiles? You in there? Your dad let me in.” It was Scott in his patented careful voice.
“Yeah dude, come on in,” Stiles put the sage on a dish and hid it on the roof outside of the window.
“Ugh what is that smell?” Scott wrinkled his nose and waved his hand in front of his face.
“Sage, supposed to be cleansing,” Stiles rushed pulling on a flannel.
“Shit dude, you’re bleeding!” Scott shouted. The latest cut on her arm which she had neglected to put the salve on was sluggishly running down her hand dripping onto the floor.
“Shit, must have cut myself,” Stile mumbled. It wasn’t technically a lie. She went to her small bathroom to clean up the cut and put some of the salve on it to stop the bleeding. She quickly wrapped the cut up and covered most of the other ones. She grabbed a new, not bloody, flannel from a drawer and turned to Scott.
“We have to go to Mexico, Derek is there,” Stiles insisted.
“Wait how do you know where he is?”
“I just do.”
“What has been going on with you dude, Lydia is worried, I’m worried, shit Jackson is worried!”
“We can deal with all of that when we get back,” Stiles promised.
“We both know that’s a lie dude,” Scott whispered. When Stiles finally looked up at him, he was giving her the most puppy dog Scott eyes that Stiles had ever seen.
“Please, we need to go we can’t waste any more time.”
“Fine, but I’m not letting this go Stiles.”
Stiles called her dad from the car and told him that they were planning on getting the group together and going camping. Her dad gave her some ground rules but ultimately complied with her plans. She felt bad lying to her dad but at this point she would do anything to get down to Mexico and retrieve Derek, and Peter, but mostly Derek.
On the way down to Mexico Stiles spent most of her time jotting down different simple spells into her notebook. Ones that didn’t need components, other than blood of course, most of Madame Donnet’s spells required blood. Stiles over the past four days had gotten used to cutting herself for her spell work. She copied down several spells into a pocket sized notebook that she could carry on her person. Her work with Parrish had made her handy with a knife too so she was well armed for the upcoming battle. Or at least what she assumed would be a battle.
Stiles, Lydia, Scott, and Kira took the Jeep while Ethan, Danny and Malia took the SUV. Laura was meeting them there and collecting Chris Argent on her was down. Stiles briefly thought about asking Parrish to come with them since he now knew about everyone but she decided against. Parrish would have felt obligated to inform Stiles’ father of what was transpiring and her father would have tried to stop her, which would have been fruitless. She would do anything to save Derek, no matter the cost. After Allison and Aiden she had sworn that she would do everything in her power so that no one else in the pack would die. They spent the first night of the trip in a small town just across the border into Mexico but still had another day of travel ahead of them.
As Stiles settled into the room she was sharing with Scott and Kira she sat at the edge of the bed and palmed at her eyes. She had a headache that appeared when she awoke from the location spell and it hadn’t yet dissipated. She shook out a few aspirin and downed them dry. She wondered what she could mix up for the headache from the components she had back at her house. Many of the spells, poultices, and tinctures required rare plants that she didn’t have access to so she had to work around and the results were never quite as reliable. She had started a little herb garden in her back yard and taking care of the plants calmed her and she enjoyed researching the different uses for them.
She didn’t sleep more then a couple hours at the motel. She was obsessively taking inventory of all her salves and tinctures and mountain ash she had brought with her when Scott and Kira woke up. She and Lydia had taken to carrying mountain ash with them wherever they went these days. Most of the group had modified their houses or at least their rooms to be lined in mountain ash and Lydia and Stiles oversaw activating any of the barriers. They had gotten to a point where if Stiles was across town, she could activate any of the barriers for a great distance which came in very handy.
They packed up and left the motel early. Stopping only a couple times along the way for food or just to stretch their legs. Every bit of wasted time increased Stiles' anxiety. It was dusk when they reached La Iglesia de la Reina, The Church of the Queen. It was an old church that had mostly been destroyed during an earthquake more than a few decades ago. There wasn’t much about it online, only that it was supposedly haunted. Many people believed that it was struck down by an angry god or cursed by the god of the Quiche people that had once occupied this land.
Stiles carried a mountain ash baseball bat and a knife, concealed in her flannel was the pocket spell book and a pocket full of mountain ash mixed with a rare type of wolfs bane.
“This place gives me a bad feeling,” Lydia shivered.
“Like a banshee feeling?” Stiles asked anxiously.
“No, just a its dirty, dark, and gross kind of way.”
Stiles rolled her eyes at that and they got to work. Lydia and Danny would wait in the Jeep and they would surround it with a line of mountain ash so nothing could get to them. Stiles had tried to convince Danny and Lydia to stay in Beacon Hills but it would have been suspicious if only part of the pack went on this little ‘camping’ trip. Ethan would stay with them and act as backup if Scott howled for him. Malia, Scott, Kira, and Stiles would be the ones that went into the church.
Laura and Chris were only an hour or so behind them but Stiles had a feeling that they couldn’t wait. She pushed open the big wooden doors of the church. One of the door hung haphazardly from its hinges and the whole place smelled of dust and sunlight.
“I don’t smell Derek, all I smell is… death,” Malia shuddered.
“Keep moving,” Stiles insisted and pushed forward. It took her no time to find steps down into a catacomb region of the church.
“It smells worse down here,” Malia said in a whispered hiss.
Stiles ignored her and moved forward as if propelled by her magic, like the dowsing spell still tethered her and Derek. She had felt that pulling sensation ever since she had woken up from the dowsing spell. It had only grown stronger as they got closer to the Church of the Queen. At this point when they were completely underground it was more of a rending feeling, and it almost made her sick.
The tunnels were like a maze that made Stiles dizzy and frantic. She was panicked and breathing heavily as they came around a corner and saw the first door set along the hallway. Scott put a steadying hand on her shoulder, she just brushed it off and made her way to the door. Through the slot in the door she could see a body. She frantically looked to Scott.
“I hear a heartbeat but – “ Scott started.
“Fucking finally,” came Peter’s ragged voice from the cell door. Scott made his way to the door and shouldered it open. Stiles made quick work of the shackles that held Peter, there were strange markings on the wrists of the shackles and Stiles made sure to take pictures of them while Peter drank two bottles of water and ate three power bars. Stiles put some of her salve on Peter’s wrists and a little on his forehead where he had obviously taken a hit.
“Where is he?” Stiles prompted.
“You are not going to like the answer to that,” Peter winced.
“Peter I swear to god if you don’t answer the fucking question I’m gonna-“ Stiles started in on a rant.
“Kate has him.”
“What do you mean Kate has him, Kate is dead, you killed Kate,” Scott interrupted.
“Apparently not so much, sorry,” he shrugged and had the decency to look as ashamed as he could muster, which wasn’t much.
“It get’s worse doesn’t it?” Stiles asked, not wanting to be right.
“Oh yeah, much worse. She has a Berserker, luckily just one. Nasty piece of work, pretty sure she is trying to make Derek into one too, she turned out to be a pesky were-jaguar, who knew?”
Stiles swore under her breath. Berserkers were covered in one of the bestiaries that she had swiped form Deaton.
“Short rundown, extra fast, extra strong, don’t take them on alone pair up, Scott stick with Kira and Malia, I’ll stick with Peter. If you come across it, there is nothing you can do except take it’s head off,” Stiles reported, Scott whimpered but Stiles knew that if he couldn't take care of it then Malia could. He still had a distaste for killing, even when it came to pure evil. Scott, Kira and Malia made their way back out into the hall. Peter quickly consumed a fourth power bar and stood.
“Been studying with Deaton I see, ooh, maybe more than Deaton,” Peter said as he leafed through her pocket spell book.
“Nosey bastard,” Stiles murmured as she swiped the spell book from Peter and put it back in her pocket.
“Trying to keep your foray into the occult from the others?”
“None of your business,” Stiles hissed, “Actually you know what, you should be fucking thankful because that’s how I found your dumb asses. But no here you are fucking getting in my business and poking and prodding unhelpfully!” Stiles rant whispered at Peter.
“Well, jeeze, do you still want me to thank you or…” Peter said, hands raised in a mock surrender. Stiles just huffed angrily and made her way back out to the hall.
As they crept through the never ending catacombs, going deeper into the earth. There were sinkholes in the ceiling that were accompanied by shafts of bright moonlight giving the whole place an eerie glow that unsettled Stiles. The further they went the more unsettled Stiles got, she had an eerie feeling that they were being watched and it sent shivers down her back.
It happened all at once. Stiles had stopped them in a moon soaked chamber that had five hallways departing from it. He seemed to appear from a shadow. He went for Kira who quickly brought her sword up to counter. Malia and Scott stepped into the throng with Kira but they were quickly being overwhelmed by the Berserker. Peter came to the defense of his daughter after she was flung across the room by the Berserker. Stiles managed to stay out of the way, concentrating on the direction that her and Derek’s bond pulled her. It was hard to tell which direction it was pulling and there seemed to be a pull from every direction, then she saw it, it was just a flash but she saw. Kate was there smiling from a shadow laden passage, green eyes ablaze.
Stiles didn’t even hesitate, didn’t falter. She ran for the woman. She heard Scott call her name but paid it no mind as she raced down the corridor she had seen Kate disappear down. She dodged roots hanging from the ceiling and protruding from the ground. Luckily a light spell had been one of the first things that Deaton had taught her. Everyone with a spark could call light but the shape it took was different for everyone. Deaton’s light came in three baseball sized golden globules of light. Stiles’ light came in the shape of stars, she had once called thousands of tiny pinpricks of silver light into her room. This time she just called enough to light her way and followed the trial of stars into another chamber.
It wasn’t as well lit as the other ones but her stars followed her into the room. It had only happened once before but when she had conjured the stars they came with little white bioluminescent moths that seemed to flutter around her. In the chamber, now filled with starlight, the moths seemed to hover over a stone alter and as Stiles approached she noticed with a sinking feeling that it wasn’t just an alter, it was a tomb, and the moths seemed to be coming from inside.
She looked inside the stone tomb and covered a sob with her hand. Derek’s face was perfectly illuminated by a few of the moths, one of them landing on his eyebrow. She braced herself against the stone, sagging under her grief. She reached inside to feel for a heart beat.
“He’ll wake up, don’t worry,” came Kate’s purring voice from a shadowed drenched hole in the wall, “but when he does he won’t be yours any more, he’ll be mine again.” She said stepping into the starlit room. Stiles was done hesitating. She grabbed her mountain ash bat from the top of the tomb and ran at Kate.
Of course she missed the first swing but she didn’t think she would hit, instead she moved in the ways that Parrish had taught her. She parried most of Kate’s blows but knew that the longer this fight went on the less likely she was to win. Kate was smart though and had more experience in fights than Stiles did so she kept close to Stiles not giving her any room to disengage.
Stiles knew that if she tried to get some room that Kate was going to get a hit on her but she saw no other way. She parried a blow of Kate’s claws with the bat then went to take a few quick steps back. But as she reached for the pocket full of mountain ash mixed with wolfsbane Kate’s claws caught her, digging into her ribs and dragging down her abdomen. Stiles could feel the hot blood soaking the front of her shirt. She threw the powder at Kate who had not been expecting it and Kate started to cough and fell to the ground on her hands and knees.
“It’s a particularly strong strain of wolfsbane that I got from your brother actually, and I’ve found that mixing in just enough mountain ash actually packs quite the punch,” Stiles said bitterly, wincing as she moved. She felt like her stomach was on fire. Kates’s claws had gone deep enough to be a painful problem but not deep enough to turn her thankfully.
As Kate wheezed on the floor Stiles worked her spell book from her pocket and opened it to a page. She put a tentative hand to her abdomen and smiled as her hand came back saturated with blood. Kate was now looking at Stiles like she was insane. Although it probably looked like she was crazy, just an insane smiling girl covered in blood. She ripped a page out of the spell book with her bloody hand as she worked the strings of her magic. She threw all of her anger and pain into the spell crumpling the paper.
A split second after she crumpled the paper Kate started to scream as she was engulfed in flame. The flames would only stay as long as Stiles concentrated on them but this was one time when she didn’t have any trouble concentrating. With the amount of power she was pouring into this spell the flames were a veritable inferno. After some time, Kate by now just a charred body, Stiles felt a hand on her shoulder.
She stumbled a little, blood flowing from her nose down her face and neck. Her shirt in shreds she collapsed and the fire finally subsided.
“Scott, Malia, Kira get Derek out of there,” Peter ordered. He had been the one that interrupted Stiles and also the one that was currently holding her as she faded in and out of consciousness.
“What the hell happened?” Scott asked horrified. The room reeked of burning flesh and blood. The smell seemed to permeate everything and the three other teenagers were all covering their noses.
“We don’t have time for your questions we need to get her out of here now or she won’t live through this.”
“What even is this?!” Scott protested.
“Just do what I say Scott!” Peter roared. He momentarily put her down to help move the top of the alter off of Derek. Derek was conscious enough to, with the help of Scott, Kira, and Malia, make his way out of the chamber and back towards the exterior of the church.
“My spell book?” Stiles asked in a pained whisper to Peter.
“I have it, just concentrate on staying alive yeah?” Peter said with a good natured, if fake, chuckle. Stiles tried for a smile but it was weak and filled with blood.