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Road Trip

by P L Nunn

 

One

 

"Okay, so this is what I'm thinking. " Stiles pounced on Scott between chemistry and American Lit, his eyes flashing with a fevered glint of inspiration. "We've got two weeks for winter break, right? I say this year we throw tradition to the winds and go wild. "

Scott stuffed his chemistry book inside his locker and withdrew the lamentably thick American Lit one. He tossed Stiles a look.

"Go wild?"

"Yeah. Road trip. You and me, leaving all our troubles behind, heading up north - - no werewolves, no supernatural craziness, no girl drama - - just two weeks of road trip awesomeness with a special candy filled treat at the end. Or the middle - - yeah, the middle."

Scott kept staring, trying to absorb that rush of explanation. "What are you talking about?"

Stiles pulled a rumpled flyer out of his back pocket, presenting it with a grin. "Alien Autopsy. They're playing in Saratoga. In a club. Where we can get like up close and personal. It's gonna rock."

He finished on a high note, shaking the flyer in Scott's face on the off chance that he hadn't taken note of it before. He did like the band. He wasn't entirely adverse to the notion of putting Beacon Hills behind him for a pace or two - - there were things in this town, places he couldn't pass by now without triggering something dark and shivery inside him. But there were people here who depended on him. The feeling of responsibility he couldn't quite shake.

"I can't leave my mom alone on Christmas. I can't just - - leave."

"Dude, you mom works holiday shifts. When's the last Christmas day she was home? When you were like fourteen? And you can just leave. It's easier than you think. You pack a bag, get in the Jeep and snap, we're on the road before you know it."

He caught Scott's arm and hauled him away from the bank of lockers. "Listen, I know you've got this whole 'Savior' complex thing going - -"

"I do not."

"- - And I can understand how you got it, all things considered. Sociopathic mass murderers, werewolf wars, dark druids. But, dude, you have got to let it go."

They filed into American Lit behind a gaggle of other juniors, which from necessity, stopped Stiles' listing of the supernatural events that had plagued Beacon Hills for the last year and half. His eye was drawn to Allison, as it always was upon entering a room she happened to occupy. She was near the back, sitting across from Isaac, the two of them laughing over something he was showing her on his phone.

She looked happy, her fingers lightly resting on Isaac's, holding the phone steady, her smile this miraculous, radiant thing. And it always hit him, before he choked it back and locked it down, the incomprehensible notion that it wasn't the same smile she turned his way anymore. That when she smiled at him, there was always a little something guarded in it, as if she were afraid he'd take it the wrong way. As if she were afraid of getting too close. It never failed to feel like a knife in the gut. A fresh wound each and every time.

Stiles called him an idiot for not letting himself just get over her. But Stiles was a hypocrite, all things considered. Case in point, Lydia and all Lydia's varied conquests, none of which included Stiles. And if Stiles possessed some secret on how to stop loving a person once he'd been snared - he'd never shared it. And Scott didn't know how. He didn't know how to shut off the feelings and look at her not feel like he was drowning when he didn't see the things in her eyes that he once had. He didn't know how not to occasionally want to smash Isaac's head up against the wall when he was leaning in close to Allison, sharing some intimate secret.

And he hated that feeling. He didn't want to be that person consumed by jealousy. Isaac was a friend. Isaac was pack. He'd go to the mat for Isaac if he had to, so the fleeting urges to sink his teeth into his throat when he was too close to Allison were disturbing.

She looked up, catching his eye, and her laughter died, her smile turning wistful, like he was something old and familiar that she remembered fondly. He hated it.

He dropped his book bag on the floor and slumped into the desk.

"My dad's okay with it," Stiles was still on his fantasy road trip. "I've got a garage full of camping gear. I've got a route all mapped out. I just need you to remember you're seventeen and not thirty and attempt to have a little fun."

Scott narrowed his eyes, fighting the urge to listen in on Allison and Isaac. He would not. Absolutely would not.

"You're okay leaving your dad alone on the holidays?" He tried to prick Stiles with a little of the guilt he was feeling at the notion.

Stiles scoffed. "Here's an idea. Your mom and my dad could keep each other company. Problem solved."

"Right." Scott rolled his eyes.

"Damned right, right." Stiles paused, mulling that over. "Actually, that could work."

"Dude, you're not setting up my mom with your dad."

"What's wrong with my dad?"

"Nothing. Its just - - its my mom."

"What? Has she sworn off sex?"

"Oh my God. Do not go there." He felt vaguely appalled at the notion.

The conversation was mercifully cut short when the ancient American lit teacher ambled into class and painstakingly began scratching out the day's assignment on the chalkboard.

Stiles spent the rest of the day badgering him about the road trip and Scott spent the day coming up with reasons why he couldn't afford to go. It was busy at work and Deaton needed him. He didn't have the money saved up. His mom would be alone in the house for two weeks and God knew where Ducalean had gotten off too. Not to mention the other various psyche-scarring things that occasionally crept into Beacon Hills. Derek had been gone two months, without so much as a phone call or a text, which meant Scott was responsible for the few remaining wolves in Beacon Hills.

And there was Allison - - who damned well could take care for herself - -who didn't need him or want him at all anymore - - who he couldn't shake from his heart. And something inside him, some ridiculous desperate thing was holding onto the notion that if he was here to remind her of what they had - - maybe she wouldn't take that next step with Isaac. Maybe the pheromones he couldn't help but scent sharp and poignant in the air around them when they stood close together, were nothing more than teenaged metabolisms at work.

"You suck," Stiles complained after that last bell when they were heading with the rest of the migratory herd of students outside of the hallowed halls of Beacon Hills high, free for two whole weeks of winter break. "You suck balls. You are a sucky friend."

"Dude, I've got responsibilities."

"You've got a complex." Stiles jabbed a finger at him. "And you are seriously messed up about Allison. Don't think I didn't see that look on your face - - the one you get every time you see her and Isaac cozying up."

"I don't get a look. We're not together. She can cozy up to whoever she wants to."

"Right. And sure you don't. And you don't have claws and glowy eyes when the mood strikes. Scott, we deserve this. After the year we've had. We deserve this. But if you want to be an old lady about it - - fine."

That 'fine' was punctuated by a huff and an evil eye, before Stiles stomped off to his battered old Jeep.

We're not together. He'd been telling himself that at least a half dozen times a day since the school year had started. Before that, when she'd been in Paris - - well he'd had a little hope. It had just been a break. She'd needed that time to heal. To put herself back together. He'd thought - - he'd really thought, she'd come back and things might be right again. But she wasn't the same Allison that had left. Things had been irrevocably altered. She was changed and for the better, he thought. He supposed he wasn't the same either - - none of them were - - death and blood changed a person - - stained souls.

Get over it. Just get over it and do what you have to do. His motto of late, when the nightmares woke him up sometimes and he couldn't shake the feeling of the world closing in. But that didn't happen that often. Just now and then when he wasn't expecting it. And he wasn't alone. Sometimes he'd see it in Stiles' eyes, that flash of being lost in something dark and overwhelming, before Stiles' would shake it off and pretend nothing was wrong. He wanted to ask Allison if she felt it too, but it was such an intimate thing to inquire and he didn't know how to initiate intimacy with her now.

He could talk about it just fine with Stiles - - sharing insecurities had never been a problem with them. They were both pretty riddled with them. A road trip didn't sound like a terrible idea. Deaton probably wouldn't miss him at all at work. His mom would understand. And Stiles was right, they did sort of deserve it.

He sat on his dirt bike, second-guessing himself. Arguing with his arguments. He caught her scent on the breeze. Looked up to see her and Isaac on the steps outside the school doors, stalled in the open doorway, alone in the stairs, the rest of the students gratefully fled. Isaac bent, as if he were sharing some quiet word, but she stepped into the whisper, her hands sliding around his neck, her body melding against his, his blonde head against her dark.

Scott couldn't breathe. He'd thought - he'd thought they'd been playing at some sort of tenuous flirtation - - but this - - this wasn't some hesitant first kiss. This was her wrapping her arms around his neck, him pressing her back against the door, no uncertainty, no hesitation - - one step away from finding a dark place with a horizontal surface where they could lose their clothes and their minds in private.

He drew in a desperate breath, gone lightheaded from the lack of inhalation. His claws were out and he didn't remember actually triggering them. He stared down as equally horrified at the primal instinct to bound up there and tear Isaac off her, as he was at the fact that they were trying to devour each other's faces in the first place. He forced the claws in, forced his gaze away from them, backed the bike a few paces from the curb before he started the engine and tore out of the parking lot.

He felt sick, his stomach churning dangerously. He stopped a few miles down, thinking if he vomited, he'd rather not do it with the wind whipping it back into his face. He sat there, leaning over the handlebars, trying to settle his stomach. Trying to get the image of them kissing out of his head and to think coherently.

Eight months. They'd been broken up eight months. He had no claim on Allison. She could do what she wanted with whomever she wanted and it was no business of his. And Isaac - - whatever loyalty Isaac owed him didn't extend to who he made out with. That was asking too much. Scott hadn't actually dated enough girls - - just the one to be exact - - to be fully familiar with the rules about things like macking on a buddy's ex. Stiles would never do it to him, but then Isaac wasn't Stiles. Isaac just lived in the spare room in his house, and had his back in the occasional fight and was supposed to be pack. And was maybe having sex with Allison. The urge to rip out Isaac's throat hit again, this time with the accompanying taste of blood in his mouth from where the fangs that had popped up of their own accord had sliced into his tongue.

Oh - - God - - he was going to be sick.

He threw up in the weeds on the side of the road. Wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve and sat there on his bike, while traffic passed him by, regaining a hold on his composure. It was the upcoming full moon that had him popping claw and fang when a good old-fashioned clenched fist would have been more than appropriate. Two days till it crested and God - - maybe going home and having to look at Isaac and imagine what he'd been doing with Allison right now, until he got a hold of himself, wouldn't be such a stellar idea.

He spat the taste of vomit and blood out of his mouth and started the bike back up.

Stiles answered the door when he knocked and gave him an arch browed look, still pissed.

Scott stared right back. "Okay. Let's do it."

 

 

 

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