Author's Note: Thanks to Fizz Wizz for reviewing the last chapter!
"Ow. Ow. Ow," Stiles complained the entire way through the house. Though I didn't think he really meant it until we were thrown down the cellar stairs and I landed square on his back.
"Sorry," I muttered as I rolled off him, pulling the blindfold away from my eyes. The door slammed behind us as we picked ourselves off the floor and I let my eyes shift to see through the darkness. A whimper dragged my attention around and I froze, horrified at what I saw. Beside me, Stiles fumbled along the wall for the light switch, and when he flooded the room with light, he saw what I'd already seen.
Erica and Boyd were strung from the ceiling by their wrists with duct tape and electrical wires. The she-wolf whimpered again and Stiles caught my arm. He looked down at my hands in horror and I followed his gaze. My fingertips were stained with blood from where I'd scratched away the skin on my left wrist, trying to get the tape and wires off. But the wires weren't on me. Erica whimpered again when I looked up at her in shock and I hastily backed away, allowing the itch to fade.
As soon as it faded, it was replaced by a number of ribbons. "What's happening?" Stiles asked as he examined the cords wrapped around Erica's wrists.
'Is that every one?' Scott asked.
'I think so,' Isaac told him, and there was a loud clang. Isaac's ribbon pulsed with admiration as Scott tore open Stiles' locker, then mine. 'You're gonna find them by scent?' the taller Beta asked, incredulous.
'Yeah, we both are,' my brother replied, handing Isaac Stiles' shoe as he took out my shirt.
'How come you get her shirt and I get his shoe?' Isaac asked.
"Scott knows the scents better than you," I explained to him, pushing the thought down his ribbon towards him. Isaac was about to reply until Scott whacked his arm and turned, attention caught.
'We need to talk,' Derek told them, hands behind his back to pull his shirt tight across his chest.
Then Peter stepped out into sight and added, "All of us."
Shock flooded Scott's ribbon as he swore, "Holy shit."
Stiles shushed a whimpering Erica, then tugged at the wires. His and Erica's pain startled me away from the pixies and I looked up as the lights flickered. "They were trying to warn you it's electrified," Gerard told him, and I pulled back into a wary crouch as he came down the stairs.
"What are you doing with them?" Stiles demanded, taking a protective stance in front of Erica.
"At the moment, just keeping them comfortable. There's no point in torturing them, they won't give Derek up. The instinct to protect their Alpha's too strong, as it is with Ms. McCall here," the old hunter replied, leaning against the railing.
"Okay, so what are you doing with me?" Stiles asked, swallowing his fear. "Because Scott can find me, alright? He knows my scent. It's pungent, you know, it's more like a stench. He could find me even if I was buried at the bottom of a sewer, covered in fecal matter and urine,"
"You have a knack for creating a vivid picture, Mr. Stilinski," Principle Argent praised him. "Let me paint one of my own. Scott McCall finds his best friend and little sister bloody and beaten to a pulp. How does that sound now?" he threatened, walking forward.
"I think I'd prefer more of a still life or landscape, you know?" Stiles replied, prompting me to get to my feet behind the hunter. "What are you, ninety? Alright, look, I could probably kick your ass up and down this room," Stiles really didn't know when to keep his mouth shut, so Gerard did it for him, back handing him so hard Stiles sprawled on the cement floor.
Erica whimpered, looking away, and I snarled, my eyes flashing. "Stop it!" I cried, launching myself at Gerard's back. But he turned, a short knife in his hand, and scored me down the side of the face as I lunged. With a cry of pain I whirled away, raising my hands to my face as blood began to drip steadily off my chin. Boyd looked away this time, and Gerard bent over, grabbing Stiles by the front of his jersey.
"Alright, whoa, wait, wait," Stiles pleaded, but Gerard didn't even hesitate to punch a sixteen year old kid across the face. Erica and Boyd flinched every time Sties was hit, and I whimpered when I saw the blood on Stiles' face.
'Scott, please, find us!' I pleaded, pushing the thought down the horrified and furious ribbon.
"What the hell is this?" Scott demanded,
"You know I thought the same thing when I saw you talking to Gerard at the Sheriff's station," Derek retorted coldly.
"Ok, hold on, he threatened to kill my mom. And I had to get close to him, what was I supposed to do?" the dark haired Beta replied.
"I'm gonna go with Scott on this one. Have you seen his mom? She's gorgeous," Peter spoke up from behind Derek.
"Shut up!" my brothers snapped, making Peter raise his eyebrows as he looked down.
"Who is he?" Isaac asked Scott quietly, leaning over his shoulder.
"He's Peter, Derek's uncle," Scott replied hardly. His voice was cold and full of hate as he explained, "Little while back he tried to kill us all and then we set him on fire and Derek slashed his throat."
"Hi," Peter muttered, raising a hand as Derek clenched his jaw and looked away.
"That's good to know," Isaac observed, swallowing. Now he understood why Ami had been sleeping so badly lately.
"How is he alive?" Scott demanded.
"Look, the short version is he knows how to stop Jackson. And maybe how to save him," Derek replied, unwilling to reveal the parts he and I had played in bringing back Peter.
"Well, that's very helpful except Jackson's dead," Isaac told his Alpha. Scott's ribbon flared with regret that they hadn't known this sooner, because now it was too late.
"What?" Derek demanded, shocked.
"Yeah, Jackson's dead," Scott told him. "It just happened on the field."
"Okay, why is no one taking this as good news?" Isaac asked, searching the faces of the two older wolves.
"Because if Jackson is dead, it didn't just happen," Peter told him, then explained, "Gerard wanted it to happen."
"But why?" Derek asked him, turning to look over his shoulder.
"Well, that's exactly what we need to figure out," his uncle told him, stepping forward. "And something tells me the window of opportunity is closing. Quickly."
"Ami," a gentle hand touched my shoulder and I jerked away from the pixies as Stiles' face came into focus.
"Your face," I murmured, reaching up to the bloodied mark on his cheek. He caught my hand before I could touch him, and I noticed the blood on my own hands.
"Come on," he encouraged, helping me up. A bulky, brute of a hunter took us both by the arm and dragged us up the stairs, and I looked back at my Betas desperately.
Erica's eyes pleaded with me not to leave them, and I reached for her cerulean ribbon. 'I'm going to get you out of here,' I promised, and I watched her head drop as the door closed. I could feel Allison and Chris upstairs in the house, and realized we had been in the Argent's home.
But if I wanted to help my Betas, my pack, I needed Chris. Allison was unreachable with Gerard twisting her way into her head, making her ribbon painful to touch. 'Chris? Mr. Argent?' I murmured, closing my eyes as I was thrown into the back seat of an SUV.
'Ami?' he thought back, surprised, and I slumped against Stiles in relief.
'You want to know what happened at the game?' I asked, then shoved my memory at him and retreated into my own mind. When we pulled up at the school, Stiles and I scrambled out of the SUV on barked orders and into the Jeep. But Stiles didn't start his car until the SUV pulled out of the lot, then reached over and pulled me into the tightest hug he could manage. "Can you drop me at the edge of the preserve?" I asked as he pulled away and started the Jeep.
He nodded and handed me a travel pack of tissues. Using the mirror, I cleaned the blood off my cheek, revealing a long cut that went from under my right eye to down over my jaw. The black tint to the blood and the fact that it hadn't even stopped bleeding made me realize Gerard had used a wolfs bane doused blade.
"Stiles?" I asked when I jumped down from the Jeep. He looked up and I said, "Go home." He nodded sadly and I shut the door. Hunching my shoulders in the jersey I still wore, I let my eyes shift and picked my way through the woods.
"Dad, it's okay. Ami's home, we're okay," Stiles assured his furious father as the Sheriff grabbed his chin.
"Who did it?" the Sheriff demanded, rage darkening his ribbon and voice.
"It's okay. It was just a couple kids from the other team. They were really pissed about losing and I was mouthing off, you know. They went after Ami and me because we won the game, and the next thing I know," Stiles explained, the lie rolling off his tongue easily.
I looked away from Stiles' ribbon as the Hale House came into view, sensing Scott, Isaac, and Derek in the house. I knew Peter was there too, only because I could smell him as I climbed up the stairs behind the four. "They found Stiles," Scott told the others, relief washing over his ribbon as he read the text from the Sheriff.
I hesitated in front of the door, unsure if I wanted to go in but knowing I had to. So I sat down on the front stairs, eyes glowing, and listened. "Look, I told you, I looked everywhere," Derek said.
"You didn't look here," Peter's voice replied and I scowled. I didn't like the fact that I couldn't sense him through a ribbon. There was a clatter as Peter pulled something out, but Derek didn't have any idea what it was.
"Is that a book?" Derek asked.
"No," Peter sniped in his are you stupid voice. "It's a laptop. What century are you living in?" he asked. Something creaked as it opened and Peter explained, "A few days after I got out of the coma, I transferred everything that we had. Fortunately, the Argents aren't the only ones that keep records."
"And fortunately your temporary insanity didn't include destroying family records," I retorted, leveling a glare at his back as I stepped through the front door.
Scott grinned at me in relief as his phone rang and I smiled, slipping my arms around his waist while he answered. "Hey, Mom I can't talk right now."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I'm so freaked out that I can barely talk either," Melissa replied, her voice shaking. Immediately I reached for her ribbon and stared in shock at what I saw.
"What's wrong?" my brother asked, concern pulsing down his ribbon.
"Something, definitely something. I don't know what, but you're gonna want to see this for yourself," she told him.
I nodded and whispered for him to go, then shoved Isaac out the door after him. Moving slowly as to make no sound, I sat on the stairs and listened to Derek pace. Peter was sitting at the table, an Apple laptop in front of him.
I watched as the two Betas arrived at the hospital and snuck into the room where Melissa waited. Shock pulsed down both their ribbons, so I played with Melissa's ribbon until I could see what was going on. An image of Jackson's body encased by a clear, gel like fluid made me wince and draw back in fear. When he moved, I felt my own fear be pushed aside by hope that my jackass of a best friend was still alive. But the hope was quickly shot down by Lydia's grief as she stared down at the house key in her hands.
Erica and Boyd flared with fear as Chris came down the stairs, so I latched onto Boyd's ribbon to watch. "You know my family's done this for a long time. Long enough to learn things like how a certain level of electrical current can keep you from transforming," the hunter said, fingers brushing the dial that could kill my Betas. "At another level, you can't heal. A few amps higher, and no heightened strength. That kind of scientific accuracy makes you wonder where the line between natural and the supernatural really exists," he told them, staring at the two kids who were his own daughter's age.
'Mr. Argent, please, let them go. They've done nothing wrong,' I pleaded, pushing the thought down Chris's green ribbon.
Boyd watched him sigh and almost wince, and the hunter stared down at the dial. "It's when lines like that blur you sometimes find yourself surprised by which side you end up on," Chris admitted, then killed the generator.
'Thank you,' I thought, and let a pulse of gratitude roll down Argent's ribbon. Then I ordered the two Betas to heal before they broke free. The last thing I said was, 'Run, and do not stop. I love you guys.' I let their ribbons go before they could reply, so I swallowed and wiped at my eyes, dropping my head into my hands.
'Where's Scott, Ami?' Argent thought back. Once I told him, I retreated, knowing he was going to help Scott and Isaac take down Gerard.
I knew Derek's phone was going to ring when Lydia read Scott's text and flared with shock. So I slipped into the room and went to Derek's side. "Derek?" I murmured, and the Alpha spun on his heel. Peter looked up as Derek grabbed my chin and turned my head, clearly able to smell the blood. "It's alright, Der, it was an accident," I assured him as rage pulsed down his ribbon. He sighed furiously, knowing I was lieing, but didn't push it. "Scott's going to call you. Something is happening to Jackson," I told him, nuzzling into his shoulder and his warmth. His arm came around me as I watched Peter search through his laptop, and then his phone rang.
Neither of my brothers wasted any time with greetings, and Scott launched straight into what was happening. "They say he's in some kind of transparent casing made from the venom coming out of his claws," Derek told Peter.
"That sounds officially terrifying," Peter replied, reading something on the screen.
"They also say he's starting to move," the Alpha added, and I leaned around him to see what Peter had found.
"Okay, look, I think I found something," his uncle told him, and Derek leaned over my shoulder. "Looks like what you're seeing from Jackson is just the Kanima's Beta shape," my father explained, summarizing the page he'd read.
"Well, meaning what?" Derek asked. "It can turn into something bigger?"
The former Alpha clicked a file, opening a picture, and I stared in horror. "Bigger and badder," Peter replied.
"He's turning into that?" Derek asked, astounded. "That…has wings," he realized.
"I can see that," the older wolf retorted, voice dripping with sarcasm
"The Alpha Kanima is a dragon?" I asked softly, opening the next picture. It wasn't all that different, but it was sufficiently more terrifying.
"Scott, bring him to us," Derek ordered
Through the phone I heard Scott reply, his voice wavering, "I'm not sure if we have time for that." Isaac, Melissa, and Scott were huddled against the wall, staring at Jackson's prone body.
"Look, somebody actually made an animation of it," Peter said as he scrolled down the page. "Maybe it's less frightening if we," he started, then clicked on the play button. I sprang away from the table as the animation shrieked, and Derek jerked back, straightening. Fear and shock pulsed down Derek's ribbon and I tightened my hold on his tee shirt. "Nope not at all," Peter said, closing the laptop. "We should probably meet them halfway," he suggested, looking up.
Derek raised the phone back to his ear as he tried to rub some warmth back into my arms. "Scott, get him out of there now. Go now," he ordered, and pulled me with him as he strode out of the house. Peter hurried to follow, his hand on my back as I watched Scott and Isaac take Jackson from the hospital. I slumped in relief when Chris stopped them, though the two Betas flared with worry and defensiveness.
"Derek, we need Lydia," Peter said as we reached the front door.
"There's no time for-" Derek protested.
Peter stopped him, holding up one hand to cut him off "That's the problem. We're rushing. We're moving too fast. And while everybody knows a moving target it harder to hit, here we are racing right into Gerard's crosshairs," the older man told him
"If I get the chance to kill Jackson," Derek said quietly, meeting my eyes. Then he turned back to the front door and finished, "I'm taking it."
Peter glanced at me, and I stared back at him. "I won't stop you. If Gerard's controlling Jackson, none of us are safe," I told him, knowing Derek could hear me as we descended the steps. I climbed into the back seat of the Camaro, pushing aside Derek's duffle bag. "I'm borrowing clothes," I informed him, digging through the bag.
"There's a pair of your jeans in there," he replied and I sighed gratefully. I was still in my lacrosse uniform. In the small backseat I managed to wiggle out of the uniform and the pads, then shimmied into the jeans. Peter laughed at me when I kicked the back of his seat, so I kicked it again. I had to rifle through the bag to find the smallest of Derek's shirts, and it ended up being a dark blue Henley.
"Are they coming?" he asked me when I leaned forward between the seats.
"Argent is helping them. He's trying to convince Scott to let him help take down Gerard," I replied. Listening to myself talk, I realized my voice sounded far away when I handled the pixies.
"And Lydia?" Peter questioned me.
'It happens to everyone around you, okay? To all the people left standing at your funeral, trying to figure out how they're gonna live the rest of their lives now without you in it? Huh?' Stiles demanded, then stepped forward. 'And look at my face, huh? Come on, you actually think this was meant to hurt me?'
I flinched, knowing exactly why Gerard had chosen the two of us. We wouldn't heal like Scott or Isaac or Derek, so Gerard had picked the two people he could use over both Scott and Derek. Then he'd left marks, visible and clearly painful, on both of us. 'Stiles, it's not her fault,' I murmured, letting the thought roll down his yellow ribbon.
Instantly, he stepped back, seeing the look on Lydia's face. "Um. I'm so sorry," he told her.
"It's okay," the red head assured him. Then she turned around, her pink ribbon flaring with determination, and she decided, "I'll find him myself."
A pulse from Scott and Isaac's ribbons made me turn my attention to them. 'Let him help, Scott,' I instructed, watching Scott hesitate to let Chris drive. My voice in his head seemed to do the trick, so I backed off, dropping his ribbon.
Then I switched back to Stiles, knowing we needed him. "You were a hero," Mr. Stilinski told him.
"No, I'm not a hero, Dad," Stiles replied.
"You were last night," the Sheriff assured him. When Stiles didn't respond, he stood, slapping his son on the shoulder as he left.
"I'm not a hero," Stiles told himself, and I saw my opening.
So I sent him an image of Batman and Robin, side by side and triumphant. But without Robin, Batman had fallen. 'Every Batman needs his Robin,' I told him, watching him carefully. Stiles' head went up, and he stood, running out the door to his Jeep.
"Stiles is going to find her," I told Peter, and he nodded.
Derek pulled up at the depot, hiding the Camaro, and we climbed out. "Wait over there for me," he ordered, and I sent Scott the location to meet us.
As I walked away, I heard Derek order Peter, "Stay out of sight." I looked over my shoulder, watching the two of them as Derek's eyes flashed. I knew what was coming, but it still hurt when Derek added, "If you get the chance, kill Jackson."