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Stiles didn't know when his life had turned from one big boring episode of bland middle Americana, to not even being able to take a simple road trip without threat to life and limb. Well - - okay - - technically he did know - - to the day - - to even the hour even, but that wasn't the point he was trying to make in his head. The point being that it sucked in an astronomically major way that two days into a what was supposed to be a fun filled escape from all the supernatural drama that had descended upon Beacon Hills, a gigantic supernatural beast had tried to rip them to shreds.
And pretty much succeeded with Scott, who'd gotten tossed around like a werewolf shaped stuffed animal instead of an actual werewolf, before the thing - - the humongous, black, snarly faced - - so absolutely not a bear - - thing had turned around and decided to bat the Jeep around like it was a tinker toy. Or maybe a can of tuna it was trying to tear the lid off so it could sink its teeth into the juicy bits inside. Namely him.
Yeah, he'd screamed like a girl when the Jeep had taken that initial impact and gotten twisted around and mashed into the trees. He could only hope with all the snarling and the shattering of glass and the mashing of metal that Scott hadn't heard, because there were some things you never lived down.
But then Scott had been pretty messed up before his werewolf healing had kicked in and given him some relief. Which didn't help cover the blood and the shredded hoodie, the worst damage of which Scott was sort of keeping hidden with his back to the Jeep.
But these guys seemed a little less interested in them than they were in the thing they'd riddled with bullets that was lying out in the woods. They were just two dumb kids who happened to have picked the absolutely worst spot in California to go camping. If it wasn't for the Jeep being pretty much totaled - - and he'd just gotten her fixed - - he'd have high tailed it out of there without even bothering to gather up the camping gear.
But then the white haired guy, who the others seemed to defer to, seemed pretty set against that notion. Seemed pretty intent on making sure they were okay after literally having the plot of some sci-fi channel horror movie unfold around them and there was always the chance that it was genuine concern. The odds had to swing in their favor once in a while, right? And just because these guys were armed like they were on their way to take over a third world nation, didn't mean they made the habit of going around killing innocent bystanders. That would be ridiculous. And Stiles' life never veered into the bazaar and ridiculous. Right.
He backed up a step, swallowing, hitting the Jeep with a thump and leaning there next to Scott while dark figures were scurrying in the woods, the flatbed backing up as close as it could get to the trees, the red of its taillights the only illumination save for faint, cloud obscured moonlight.
"Okay - - so is it just me feeling like we stepped in something really terrible here?"
"No," Scott said softly, eyes following the movement in the woods, his enhanced vision probably picking up a lot more detail than Stiles' patently human ones.
"Soo - - you ever seen anything like that?" He leaned in closer and whispered. They hadn't really had the chance to talk since the night went to shit. "Is there such a thing as a werebear?"
Scott opened his mouth, shut it, seeming pretty stymied by that question, then he shook his head warily. There was something strained about the way he was holding his body, his lips pressed tight, something in his eyes that hinted he was putting an effort into holding himself together. The thing had sliced up him pretty badly that last time it had hit him, and maybe it was taking a while to heal. Maybe he just didn't like this situation any more than Stiles.
Scott didn't answer, just flicked his eyes towards the white haired guy, who was staring at them speculatively. The man said something to one of his minions - - he looked like the sort of guy who'd have minions and maybe a grudge against James Bond - - then started walking towards them.
"I'm assuming you have parents that need to be notified of this mishap."
Which was not the sort of thing a Bond villain might say and it threw Stiles off his game of brewing up nefarious scenarios in his head.
"God no," the last thing Stiles needed was his dad freaking out about another near death experience when he'd spent practically two days convincing him of the merits of him actually being safer if he was outside the town limits of Beacon Hills.
"I mean," he started again, attempting to cover that initial panic fueled denial. "Of course we have parents. Everybody has parents. There's just no need to bother them with this. Its not like we're in trouble, right?"
He glanced at Scott who nodded in reluctant agreement. If they were going to call anybody it needed to be someone with a little less intimately personal parental judginess attached. Like Allison, who had a dad that just might be in the know about giant bear like monsters and the sort of men that might hunt them.
The white haired guy lifted a brow, looking from him to Scott.
"As you wish. I'll have someone gather your gear and bring it back to the lodge when they tow your vehicle."
"Listen, that's really decent of you, but honestly, dude, you're sort of freaking us out with all the guns - -maybe we'll just call a tow on our own."
"The closest town is an hour's drive. You'd be stranded here for the night and I make no guarantees that the animal we killed was alone."
"The bear you killed?"
The man smiled and inclined his head.
"We can take care of ourselves," Scott said, but after the run in with the first one, Stiles had to doubt the veracity of that claim.
"Can we?" Stiles asked, really softly.
Scott gave him a look, the wariness melting into something closer to panic.
"What Lodge?" Stiles asked.
"My lodge. I'm Julian Dupont, I run a resort just north of here. A preserve actually, which was where this unfortunate animal escaped. I assure you, none of my guests have ever met their end at the business end of a gun."
"You have a mechanic that can fix my Jeep?"
"It's the least I can do, considering it was one of my animals that damaged it."
He looked at Scott, who really looked as if he wanted to not have anything to do with this man, but he was wavering. A lot paler than he usually was, a faint sheen of sweat on his face. Staying out here all night with him like this was not an option Stiles was comfortable with. Finally he gave in with a short nod and Stiles let out a breath.
"Okay," he said, giving Scott a silent 'dude, just go with it', look.
Dupont waved a hand towards the hummer. "I'll call ahead and let them to know expect you."
"Let me just get our jackets." He scampered to the tent, and grabbed their coats and Scott's duffle bag with its non-shredded replacement shirts. He tossed Scott's jacket at him and Scott fumbled to catch it left-handed, his dominant right one held to his side. Which was a pretty obvious indication that the not healing supposition was a good one.
Scott pulled the jacket on with a wince, covering the bloody rips in his shirt before he moved towards the Hummer.
It was an uncomfortable ride to Dupont's lodge. Dupont himself didn't ride with them, staying to oversee the clean up. He had a pair of his stone-faced minions accompany them and they weren't inclined to answer questions. Them sitting up in the front of the big vehicle proved problematic for talking about the specifics of what had happened with Scott, even if Scott had been in a talky mood. Which he didn't seem to be. Stiles probably wouldn't have gotten a whole hell of a lot out of him even if they didn't have company, but that was mostly, Stiles thought, because he was dealing a lot of pain.
It took thirty minutes of twisty, backcountry road before they reached a big set of gates, already open. Another twenty minutes of riding through heavily forested hills before the Lodge came into view. And what a view. The thing was like some rustic fantasy off Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous come to life. It was huge, fully constructed of logs, some of which looked to be entire redwood trunks.
They got out and just sort of stared at it in awe, until a woman came out of the sprawling double-doored entrance and greeted them with an indulgent smile.
"Quite inspiring isn't it? My grandfather built it, but my brother and I have added a few touches of our own. " She held out a hand. "I'm Jan Dupont. My brother called and told me of your misfortune in encountering our runaway. You have my apologies."
She was a feminine version of Julian Dupont. Same prematurely white hair, same long limbed body but with more curves. Her face was a little too angular to be called pretty, but she was striking. Maybe forty - forty-five, but she wore it well.
"Uhh - - thanks - -" Stiles fumbled for the hand she still had out. Her fingers were strong and cool. "It was no big deal."
She gave him a faintly incredulous look at that underexaggeration and lifted a brow. "I doubt that. I'm frankly surprised the two of you didn't arrive in considerably worse shape than you did. The beast you encountered is a particularly nasty species of Russian black bear and this one was - - not quite in its right mind. My brother said one of you was injured."
"No," Scott denied it. "It just clipped me. Bruised my shoulder. I'm fine."
She shifted her gaze from Stiles to Scott, assessing. "It got close enough to clip you and you came away with a bruise. You are a lucky boy, aren't you - -?" She trailed off with a questioning tone and faint, patient smile.
"Scott," Scott supplied what she was looking for. "Scott McCall."
"Stiles. Stilinski." Stiles followed suit when she glanced at him.
Her pale brow rose again, amused. "Stiles Stilinski?"
"That's me. Sooo - - this is a like a hotel?"
She laughed. "Yes, like a hotel. In that we entertain very exclusive guests that pay a great deal to enjoy our facilities. Presidents and heads of state have graced our halls."
They followed her up onto the sprawling covered porch and inside, to what proved a considerably less rustic interior. It still had that great outdoorsy feel to it, but with an eye to luxury and comfort. A huge fireplace dominated a room filled with comfortable seating. A gigantic chandelier made of the antlers loomed over the room. Twin sets of wide stairs flanked the fireplace, leading up to a second floor balcony.
"What sort of facilities?"
She smiled at him and waved a hand towards the stairs. "I'm sure you're both tired, woken in the dead of night by an unexpected guest. You have my deepest apologies. Let me show you to your room."
He glanced at Scott, who was staring at the array of mounted animal heads that decorated nearly every wall. A lot of dead things here, a lot of black, glass eyes staring down accusingly. It was creepy as hell.
"This is not disturbing at all," he leaned in to whisper to Scott as they passed the head of a snarling cougar at the top of the stairs. Scott gave him a look that Stiles interpreted as meaning he'd rather be somewhere pulling out nails than here.
The room she showed them to was pretty much in line with the rest of the place. Two big queen beds, a fireplace with a leather couch in front of it on what looked like an actual real, bearskin rug. A mini bar that looked like it was stocked with an awful lot of expensive booze.
"Is the bar comped, too?" Stiles asked hopefully.
"Are you legal?"
"Uh - - I could be?"
She smiled. "If I had to guess - - seventeen?"
He exchanged a look with Scott and admitted. "Yeah, good guess."
"I've a good eye. Seventeen's an excellent year." She gave him an under the lashes look and brushed her fingers across the back of his hand in what might have been just a polite way of taking her leave or might have been something else entirely.
"Make yourselves comfortable and if you feel the need to sample from the bar - - I won't tell, if you won't."
He stared at his hand after she'd gone, then at the door she'd softly shut behind her. "Oh my god, dude, did I just get hit on by a cougar? Was she hitting on me? Did you see that?"
He felt weirdly elated by the notion. Granted, she was old enough to be his mom and then some and sort of intimidating - - but still, it wasn't every day he got come hither looks from women, but less subtle innuendo.
"Stiles," Scott let out a breath with enough force that it sounded like he'd been holding it for a while. "I think I got shot - -and its not healing."
"What? Why not?" Scott managed to douse Stiles' momentary high with that statement.
"I don't know," he grimaced as Stiles helped him peel off the jacket. It was sticky on the inside with blood. His shirt was wet with it.
"Aw, crap, you're still bleeding."
"I know. I think the bullet's still in there." He took a step towards the bathroom and staggered a little, one knee giving out. Stiles shored him up, helped get him to the bathroom - - which given any other circumstance he would have had to stop and gawk at. Because it was huge and awesome and practically bigger than his bedroom at home.
Scott leaned a hip against a vanity made from one huge polished section of wood, and let Stiles help him with the bloody tatters of his shirt. There were only the faintest traces of a set of gouges along his side and back, but the hole in his shoulder was fresh and ugly, seeping deep red blood.
"Well -- fuck. Why is it not healing? It's not like one of those bullets laced with some sort wolfsbane, is it?"
Scott shook his head, awkwardly trying to probe at the edges of it with his left hand. He couldn't reach it very well and all he managed was to make a new trickle of blood ooze out. It made Stiles just a little lightheaded watching it.
"I don't think so. It doesn't feel like it."
"Okay, so what usually happens when you guys get shot? I mean it normally heals on its own, right?"
Scott cast him a vaguely annoyed look. "It's not like it happens all the time. But I think maybe the bullets just sort of get expelled. Maybe - - maybe its lodged in the bone and I can't get rid of it?"
"Ahh - - gross. Just gross. And how are we gonna fix it, because I'm thinking they're gonna notice eventually if you're bleeding all over the place or passing out from blood loss. You're looking pretty bad."
Scott met his eyes in the mirror. "You're gonna have to dig it out."
Which was really not the solution Stiles had wanted to hear. He put a hand on the edge of the sink, his stomach flip-flopping enough to make his knees weak. "Okay and what's the second option?"
Scott kept looking at him, desperate and pale and not willing to brainstorm on other less disgusting, less likely to make Stiles loose everything he'd eaten in the last twenty-four hours methods of dealing with the problem.
"Ah - - fuck. Just - - fuck, dude. How am I supposed to do that?"
"Your pocket knife."
"You want me to dig into your flesh with my pocket knife?"
Scott ground his teeth, holding on to control and patience. "I don't want you to - - but I'm sorta out of options."
Which was a fantastic analogy for the path their lives had taken lately - -lots of shit neither one of them had much control over - - that only got worse when it was avoided. He made a frustrated sound and dug into his pocket for his Swiss army knife.
"This so sucks - - hugely, massively sucks."
"Yeah, its gonna be terrible for you," Scott muttered with an impressive burst of sarcasm, considering he generally left the sensitive task of ladling it out up to Stiles.
"The shower. Let's do it in the shower where it'll be easier to clean up the blood. And yes, I'm amazed too, that those words just came out of my mouth." Stiles pulled Scott towards the big, glass-fronted, marble tiled walk in shower. The thing could have accommodated six.
Scott leaned a clenched fist against the wall, tensing up in expectation.
"Sit down." Stiles directed, dropping to a crouch himself. Scott looked over his shoulder, brow furrowed.
Stiles shrugged. "When one of us faints - - it'll be closer to the floor."
"God," Scott let out a miserable breath and sank down to his knees.
There was nothing to do but man up, even as his testicles wanted to shrink up into his body, and start cutting into his best friend.
It was the most sickening feeling in the world when the knife slid into flesh of Scott's shoulder, and whole fresh trickle of blood oozed out. Scott's fists clenched up and he dropped his head to the tile wall. But he didn't make a sound, other than the audible grinding of teeth.
"Sorry - - Dude, I'm so sorry - -" Stiles was muttering under his breath, trying to inhale enough oxygen to keep his head from spinning. He tried to zero in on the wound, tried to separate it from Scott - -tried to think of it like it was piece of meat he was carving up that had nothing to do with a human being. It worked a little, mostly because his vision had started to tunnel alarmingly and all he could really focus on was the blood stained patch of flesh that the blade of his knife was sliding into way too easily, down a pathway already eased by a bullet. And he really, really needed to maybe start humming to cover the sickening suckling sound of the blade slicing into Scott's flesh.
Then the tip of the knife clicked against something that he hoped wasn't bone and Scott made a desperate strangled sound, the hands he had on the wall suddenly sprouting claws.
"Don't wolf out on me. I think that's it," Stiles muttered, feeling around with the tip of the knife against something solid and metallic lodged tight against what might have been Scott's shoulder blade.
He put a hand on Scott's back for leverage, swallowed back the bile that was creeping up his throat and started prying at the bullet.
Scott did scream then, an aborted half cry that turned into a growl and Stiles swore and leaned a shoulder against him, pressing him into the wall, needing the bullet dislodged and fast before Scott lost control and did something out of sheer animal panic and pain that both of them would regret. He made a damned ugly mess of the wound, twisting the knife, but with a quiet little click the tip of the knife freed the entrenched bullet. He felt it then, this loose little pellet that he could just edge out, closer to the surface if he urged it with the tip of the knife.
"Almost got it - - almost got it - -" he was hissing through clenched teeth. Then he saw the blood covered black tip of it at the edge of the wound and he dropped the knife and plucked at it with blood-covered fingers.
"Oh my God," he let himself fall forwards, sprawling against the wall next to Scott, blood soaking the legs of his jeans, staring at the nasty little mashed up bit of metal that had most likely caused him permanent mental scarring. He glanced over to Scott, who was leaning with his good shoulder to the wall, and was visibly shaking, even as the edges of the wound that Stiles had made three times its original size were starting to close. There was wetness on his cheeks and blood on his mouth, where he'd likely bitten through his own tongue during the impromptu surgery.
Stiles felt wetness on his own cheeks and hadn't even realized he'd been crying. Considering the circumstances he felt justified. For the both of them.
"That may literally have been the most traumatizing thing I've ever experienced. And I've experienced some traumatic shit."
Scott looked exhausted and pretty traumatized himself. Physical trauma as opposed to Stiles' mental scarring. Stiles offered the bullet, but Scott just looked at it like he was offering him a freshly plucked eyeball or something, so Stiles wiped it off on his jeans and stuffed it into his pocket.
Scott nodded. "I think. Yeah."
"That's great. Don't ever ask me to do something like that again. "
"I'll try and avoid it." He tried for a smile and only managed the barest hint of it. Still it was an effort and Stiles laughed a little hysterically, wrapped an arm around Scott's neck and pulled him into an embrace that verged on desperation. It had been a truly fucked up night. The sort of night that the fact that you were even alive was a great and miraculous thing.
"We should call somebody. Let them know we're here. Allison maybe. She can ask her dad about the bear thing."
"Yeah," Scott mumbled against his shoulder, not sounding particularly enthused. But maybe he was just wasted. God knew Stiles felt completely, utterly wiped. Like even the attempt of getting up out of the all the blood on the shower floor would be too much of an effort to contemplate.
But then, he was sitting in a lot of blood on a shower floor and the more he thought about it, the more icked out he got, so an effort had to be made. He nudged Scott into motion, pushing himself up and reaching down a hand to help Scott, who looked at it, sighed, and finally relented, using Stiles to haul himself up.
First things first, they needed not to track blood all over the room, which entailed stripping down to boxers and leaving bloody clothing in a pile on the shower floor while they took turns showering and washing the blood off skin and clothes and the tiles of the shower.
With the evidence washed down the drain and clothing as blood free as they could reasonably get it with hand washing, they retreated to the room, Stiles heading for the bar for a well deserved 'sampling' of the refreshments, and Scott sitting on the edge of one of the beds, staring at his cell, trying to work up the nerve to call Allison.
When he finally convinced himself to make the call, he looked at the phone and frowned, holding it up to Stiles and declaring. "No signal."
"What? Really?" Stiles put down a bottle what he thought was very expensive double malt scotch and went to get his own cell which was on the dresser along with the rest of the contents of his currently wet jeans. The bars on his phone were non-existent.
"Me either. What the hell?"
Scott flopped backwards onto his bed, tossing the phone aside and covering his eyes with a forearm. "Honestly, dude, I'm okay with calling her tomorrow."
Stiles figured with all the crap that had happened tonight, Scott wasn't up to the added trauma of talking with Allison when it had finally begun to sink in that the 'we're just taking a time out' fantasy he'd been playing out in his head, was in reality more of a 'she's moved on, my world view is shattered' sort of scenario.
Stiles felt for him. He really did. He'd have felt more if Scott had managed to figure it out a few months earlier when the rest of their little clique had been pretty much clued in. But then, Scott could only be faulted so much for being a little slow on the uptake sometimes. He had a lot of things on his mind.
He sat down on the edge of his own bed, which was a lot more comfortable than a sleeping bag on the ground in a tent in the cold rain would have been. The creepiness of all the stuffed animal heads decorating the walls of this place aside, ending up here maybe wasn't such a bad thing after all. So he shoved down that little lingering sense of wariness that kept picking at the back of his mind, just for tonight, and collapsed backwards into uber soft comforters with a sigh.
Presidents and heads of state had stayed here after all, and if that wasn't a ringing endorsement for this not being a place where guests disappeared never to be heard from again, he didn't know what was.
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