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by P L Nunn




Stiles had thrown up everything on his stomach and he was still nauseous. Violently, gag until his throat was raw, sick. When he shut his eyes he could still see the bloody gore he'd made of her neck, could still feel the impact as shovel tip cut into flesh and bone, could still hear the sound of it, the crack of her spine as he'd severed it. The way her head had separated from her shoulders, nothing but a few bloody strips of skin and flesh keeping it from rolling down the slope.

He thought maybe he'd never be able to get it out of his head. But he'd had to do it. Had to make sure this time that she wasn't coming back. He wouldn't have been able to sleep sound ever again, otherwise.

He leaned over his knees and dry heaved again, then finally pushed himself away from the mess he'd made on the forest floor.

"Scott? You okay?" Scott was sitting there, looking like victim number three in a teen slasher flick, one arm still limp at his side, the other clutching the still bleeding bite marks in his shoulder.

Scott nodded slowly, all the wolf gone from his face, just pale, blood stained skin and bruised brown eyes. The line of his lips suggested he was fighting back a lot of pain.

"You?" Scott asked.

Stiles shrugged, gingerly picking at the shreds of his pants leg and the gouges beneath. "I'll live."

"Isaac? Derek?" Scott turned his eyes towards them. Derek was on his feet, standing over the body, prodding her torso with a wary boot. Stiles didn't want to focus on it.

Isaac had sat back in the leaves, hand over the worst of his own wounds. "It's healing slow. It hurts like a bitch."

"She was strong. And old." That from Derek, who was still sporting slash marks of his own.

"How'd you find us?" Stiles asked.

"We tracked Scott to the diner and lost the scent there," Derek said. "But the owner recognized the girl he left with. Said she'd left with a regular a week or so ago, and he hadn't been back since. "

"Dead," Scott said. "He's dead. She killed him."

Derek shrugged. "I thought as much. We were headed to his house when we heard you."

"I wonder how many more bodies are gonna turn up, rotting in the woods somewhere?" Stiles blew out a shaky, vomit flavored breath.

Scott shook his head, shuddering. The terrible wire inflicted slashes in his one hand had pretty much healed, but the arm still wrapped in razor wire was bleeding pretty copiously.

"Dude," Stiles said, swallowing. "Your arm."

Scott looked down, stared sort of dazed at the disaster area the wire had made of his arm from wrist to elbow, then looked up at him, lifting his good hand to his neck and indicating Stiles with a shaky jerk of his chin. "Your neck."

If he hadn't been so appalled, he might have laughed. He gingerly lifted a hand to the wire around his throat. At least the loop of razor tipped wire at his neck wasn't embedded into his flesh.

"Yeah, I'll live." And that was a miraculous, wonderful statement that he hadn't been so sure he could have made, ten minutes ago.

He scooted over, kneeling next to Scott, staring in helpless horror at the mess it had made of his arm. His fingers hovered over the blood stained wire, trying to figure out the best place to attempt to unwind it. It was wrapped tight and had twisted tighter still from Scott's attempt to choke her out with it. It wasn't coming undone easily, or painlessly. When he tried to unwind a strand, the sharp part grated against bone and Scott choked back a cry, digging the fingers of his good hand into the earth.

"Fuck, fuck - -" Stiles uttered a few choice curses for him, then got shouldered to the side as Derek crouched next to Scott and took over the grisly chore. Derek's bedside manner sort of sucked, but maybe hard and fast was the way to go instead of drawing out the agony.

Scott hissed through his teeth and pressed his forehead hard against Stiles' shoulder while Derek unwound wire embedded into his very flesh. Stiles couldn't look. He just shut his eyes, ground his teeth at the sound, and dug his fingers into the back of Scott's neck, the only comfort he was capable of giving.

"You hear that? Sirens." Isaac had pushed to his feet and was shifting uneasily, worried gaze flicking from them, to the direction where Stiles figured the road was.

"No." The only thing Stiles heard was the ringing in his ears.

"Yes," Derek said, tossing the last of the razor wire aside and digging fingers wet with Scott's blood into his pocket after his phone. "They can't find her body. There's only so much your father can cover up if his men get a look at her."

"What do we do? Bury her? Can we dig a hole that quick? Drag her off somewhere?" Stiles could admit to being a little slow on the uptake at the moment. Half his mind was still reeling from shock, and a good percentage of the unshocked portion was focused with a morbid fascination on the way the horrendous rings of gashes on Scott's forearm were rapidly closing up. Flesh mending, skin miraculously reknitting itself before his eyes. The other visible slashes, the ones from Zlata's claws and teeth were not healing up so quickly, on any of them.

"We're not doing anything," Derek said, phone to his ear. "Argent's got the resources to deal with covering this up. We just need to get him here before the police."

Isaac helped haul him to his feet while Derek was on the phone, talking with Allison's dad. He stood there, hand on Scott's elbow while he wavered, everything going just a little out of focus for a few second, as balance deserted him.

"I'm okay. I'm okay," he said, because Isaac was looking at him worriedly and Stiles had furrowed his brows, mouth open like he was about to make a comment on how badly Scott had gotten his ass handed to him. The faint headedness was just low blood count. He was familiar enough with the feeling, courtesy of Dupont. It would get better in a few hours. The wounds would heal quicker, even if the majority of them were taking their own sweet time.

His shoulder was knitting and that feeling of bones melding together beneath his skin never failed to send ripples of unease shivering through him. He rotated the arm experimentally and winced. It was still sore, really sore, but a lot of that might have been the bite marks from where she'd latched onto his shoulder with teeth as long as his fingers. He could move the arm though, and he motioned for Stiles to turn around so he could work at the twist of wire at the back of his neck.

He was careful untwisting it, Stiles flesh having no miraculous tendency to knit. Careful as he was, Stiles still hissed a little, raising his hands and flexing his fingers helplessly, a new little trickle of blood working its way down the side of his neck from where one particularly positioned bit of razor wire was cutting into his skin.

"Sorry. Sorry."

"Just don't - - you know, blame yourself too much if you slice open my jugular or something - - a little maybe."

"God," Scott breathed, not sure if that were a nervous attempt at humor or if Stiles were serious. Sometimes he couldn't tell.

"Hurry up," Derek was pacing, staring through the trees in the direction of the road.

"Don't rush him," Stiles said tightly. "And they'll probably head to the house first anyways. There's at least one body for them to deal with there."

He bloodied his fingers on the sharp edges, but he managed to untwist the wire enough for Stiles to reach up and gingerly pull the length of it from around his throat. The skin was bruised with more shallow slices than Scott felt comfortable with, where it had been and none of those marks were going to be gone by tomorrow or the next day, so Stiles was going to have to come up with an explanation for it, when people inevitably asked.

"I'll call my dad," Stiles said, after throwing the wire down and taking a few breaths of unrestricted air. "See if he can keep his guys out of the woods until Argent can take care of - - this." He refused to look back at the body in its two separate parts. Scott really couldn't blame him.

Stiles held out a hand that was trembling and badly, for Derek's phone and Derek handed it to him. He called while they were walking, veering away from the path they'd used getting here, and eventually coming out to the road a good ways down from where the house was.

They kept within the shadows of the tree line, leaning against trees or outright sitting, all of them weary and in varying degrees of pain, until a car approached, slowed and pulled over when Isaac stepped out from the trees and let himself be seen.

Allison's car. She and Lydia spilled out, Allison's eyes going wide at the sight of all the blood. Lydia just looked pale and distraught and almost shell-shocked - - so God knew what she'd been feeling during all this bloodshed.

"Oh my God," Allison put her hands on the bloody tears on the front of Isaac's shirt, then looked past him at Scott and clamped her mouth shut. "Get in the car. Quick, before someone drives by and sees you all looking like - -like you do."

"I'll wait for your father," Derek said.

"He's about five minutes out," Allison told him, as the rest of them squeezed into the back seat.

Derek just nodded and melted back into the trees.

"Are you guys okay?" Lydia leaned over the back of her seat, green eyes full of dismay.

"It's exactly as terrible as it looks," Stiles said. "She tore them the fuck up."

Scott caught Allison's worried gaze in the rear view mirror. Her hands on the wheel were white knuckled. Her crossbow and quiver were on the floorboard by Lydia's feet. She'd have been beside herself, having to wait behind, not capable of keeping pace with two wolves racing through the woods on the trail of a roar and scent. A good thing, he figured, though he'd never admit it to her, because Zlata hadn't needed another human target. He leaned a little bit to the side, so he could feel the warmth of Stiles' arm, a reminder of how miraculously lucky they were that he was still alive. If Zlata hadn't been so intent on torturing them both with the threat of his grisly death, she might have actually carried it out.

"But she's dead, right?" Allison asked. "Really dead this time?"

"Yeah," Scott said softly. "Really dead."

Stiles didn't say anything. Just swallowed, remembering maybe, what he'd done. Just like Scott couldn't get the feel of his hand tearing through her chest, ripping into her heart, out of his head. He didn't know if that had been the deathblow, or if Stiles' taking off her head had done it - - either way, it shook him to the core. It had to be done. She had been a brutal, sadistic killer and she wouldn't have stopped, but playing the part of executioner would haunt him forever.

Nobody said anything after that, each of them caught up in their own heads as Allison drove. Past the restaurant where his bike was, and he almost asked her to stop, save for the fact that he didn't think he was up to staying upright without something to prop him up for an extended period of time. He'd get Stiles to drive him back tomorrow to get it, after they both had a chance to breathe.

"I told you I didn't like her," Isaac finally said, a little sullenly, into the silence. "Nobody ever listens to me."

Stiles snorted out a laugh. "Yeah, and you know what they say about broken clocks, right?"

"Screw you. Wait. What?"

Scott shut his eyes and leaned his head against the back of the seat as Stiles proceeded to explain.




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