Room for Two
"If I have it, I don't share it." The creature dragged its bandaged fingers across the rusted pipes, moving with an awkward, inhuman lope. "If I share it, I don't have it." The male voice was slightly muffled by the sharp teeth that protruded from the bloodied mouth, all that was visible of the face, the rest in old, ragged bandages. The teeth glinted in the flickering light from the dying cell phone, held in a shaking hand with long, pale fingers. Stiles took in a quivering breath of cold air, trying to clear his head and think. He gripped his phone tighter.
"Who are you?" Stiles' voice came out as a whimper and he pulled himself up from the hard cement floor, leaning on his elbow. "W-What are you?"
The creature ignored his questions, slinking back out of the reach of his light, feet making a dragging sound on the floor.
"What is it, Stiles?" The teasing voice came from the other side of the room and Stiles flipped around in a panic. He couldn't move his right leg for some reason. It felt heavy. Tears stung in the corners of his eyes.
"I-I don't know." He sniffled, then did so again. It was freezing, absolutely freezing, and he was shivering violently.
"What is it?!" The angry roar came from another direction, the corner to his left, and he was forced to maneuver again.
"I-I don't…" Stiles trailed off, a tear leaking from one eye and down his chilled cheek. He'd done this before, hadn't he? He was having a strange sense of déja vû. He knew this dark basement, knew this cold, knew this acute sense of panic and confusion, knew that if he shined the light over his leg he would see a steel jaw trap around it.
His phone died.
"No, no," he muttered, hitting it, though he knew it wouldn't come back to life, that he would be left like this in total darkness with that thing in here with him. "No."
Stiles slammed it on the floor with a frustrated shout. It didn't break. He was too weak to do that.
"I thought you liked riddles, Stiles." There was the dragging of feet again, the voice slowly circling around him. He squeezed his eyes shut to hide from the impenetrable darkness in front of him. His breaths were frightened and heavy, accented by chattering teeth.
"I-I-I don't k-know," he stammered, shaking his head, wondering if the thing could still see him in the dark. "I d-don't know!" A sob crawled out of his throat and he collapsed all the way back onto the floor, head in his vibrating hands.
"If I have it, I don't share it," the thing began to repeat. The dragging sound of the thing's mutated gait was behind him, a little closer than it had been before. "If I share it, I don't have it."
Think, Stiles, think! He clutched at his head with what little strength he had in his shaking hands and tried to curl in on himself. There was a clank, pain shooting up his right leg, and he heaved out a cry, then whimpered.
"Why are you doing this?!" Stiles shouted desperately, hoping there would be an answer that made sense. "Why is this happening to me again?" he sobbed, voice growing quiet.
"I'm doing it for us." The voice was quieter, more gravelly. The creature's booted feet scraped against the cement near Stiles' bare ones and he flinched, lifting his head, opening his eyes though he couldn't see.
"U-Us?" His shivering was starting to subside, and there was warmth pooling in his stomach, a bad sign, though the sensation came as such a relief.
Stiles gasped when the rough bandages, the fingers, played along his left leg, tried to pull back, but ended up yanking on the trap that was clamped tight around his bleeding right one. He let out a pained and terrified scream, leaning on the palms of his hands, back slightly elevated above the floor.
"Y-You can't d-do this!" he stammered, voice cracking. The hand lay still on his leg.
"Just answer the riddle, Stiles!" The voice was an angry growl and there was suddenly hot breath in his face. He could just make out the outline of the creature, black against black. Instinct told him to scramble away, but the pain in his leg begged to differ.
Something suddenly clicked together in his mind.
"Secret," Stiles breathed, body shuddering. There were more tears and he thought his nose was running. It was hard to tell with his face having gone almost completely numb. "I-It's a secret."
"Good, Stiles." He sensed the thing slither away from him. "Very good."
Stiles took a deep breath and settled back on his elbows, trying to remember how cold he had felt only a few minutes ago. Feeling warm was a bad sign. It was his body about to go into hypothermia.
There was movement behind him, the scraping, dragging sound, and then the grating voice right in his ear.
"Do you want to know my secret, Stiles?"
He jumped - a shiver that was soon replaced by warmth racing up his spine - and screamed. It was loud in the cold, still air. He instinctively tried to pull away, yanking at the chain, bringing another scream from his parted jaws.
"Let me go! Let me go!" Stiles jerked up and began grappling with the trap in the dark, struggling madly, heaving a loud sob when his hand was sliced on an invisible tooth. "Let me go-o-o!"
His breath left him in a grunt as he was slammed back onto the floor with two powerful hands on his shoulders. The creature's breath was sweet with decay and it made him choke. In that moment, his fear took away his strength to resist. All he could do was bring up his hands and weakly grasp the collar of the creature's worn leather jacket.
"Do you want to know my secret?" it repeated.
Usually, Stiles would have responded with something snarky and irritating, but this was far from usual: an unknown creature straddling him on the floor of some old, forgotten basement while his leg was caught in a trap and he was most likely dying from hypothermia.
"G-Get off of me," Stiles demanded. At least he tried to. His voice shook. He could see some of the bandages on the thing's head, a lighter color against the dark. The thing was much too close to his face; he could just barely see the outline of craggy, pointed teeth. "Please." That came out as a whine and he closed his eyes, trying not to see what he could of the creature above him.
"My secret, Stiles, our secret…" the voice crooned. The grip on his shoulders tightened till it was painful and Stiles was afraid he would hear the cracking of bone if the thing held on any harder. He only managed a whimper at this.
"O-O-Ours?" Stiles whimpered. What on earth was the thing talking about?
"Yes," it grunted. "Our secret, is that-" the scent of decay was stronger, the creature's breath in his mouth and nose, making his eyes water - "I. Am. You."
Stiles jolted up out of his desk with a terrified bellow, nearly knocking it over, textbook, notebook, and pencils jumping to the ground. He stood there in the middle of the classroom breathing panicked gasps, studying all the eyes that had turned towards him. Scott, who was sitting next to him, reached out a hand.
"Dude, are you okay?"
Right. I was in economics, wasn't I?
"Stilinski! Good to know you're awake!" came a yell from the front of the room. He drew his gaze there, trying to calm his breathing, to still the shaking in his hands.
"C-Coach?" His voice was a hoarse croak.
"With an awakening like that I would assume you were dreaming about your close-to-failing grades! Now clean up that mess and sit back down!" Coach turned back to the blackboard where he had apparently been writing something. "And maybe bring a cup of coffee next time."
"Dude, seriously, are you okay?"
Stiles' wide, terrified gaze went to Scott.
The sound of chalk against the blackboard began and Stiles shook his head a little, trying to drag himself out of a dream. That's all it had been, right? A dream?
Then there was the second scraping of chalk against the board along with the first one. Stiles' eyes flicked back up again and he stumbled backwards a step when he saw the creature, in broad daylight, standing next to Coach who was completely oblivious, drawing something on the board.
"Scott, scott, do you see that?" Stiles reached out for his best friend in a panic, but his hand landed on empty air. He swiveled around and found that the classroom was completely empty. When he made it back to the board Coach was gone too. It was just him and the creature left standing in the classroom.
"Interesting symbol," the creature commented, dropping the chalk almost absentmindedly before slinking away from the board, back still turned. Stiles studied what it had drawn: it resembled the number 5, but was backwards. "Self." It was following the edges of the room, one hand running over desks, the other the walls. "Are you yourself, Stiles?"
"W-Why would you ask that? Of course I-I am."
"You stutter!" the creature snapped gutturally. "Are we ourselves, Stiles? Are we us?"
"What does that even mean?" Stiles was turning to follow the thing's path. He took a step back as it reached the back wall, the wall closest to him. Its exploration knocked books and other objects off of shelves and onto the linoleum floor.
"What is so delicate that saying its name breaks it?" The question was hostile and the creature yanked its hand off the wall, swishing its bandaged head to look at Stiles. It stalked up to him in that strange lope and Stiles stumbled back against a desk.
Stiles was quiet for a time, the only sound his frantically beating heart, (at least to his ears.) Fear and adrenaline battled hot and cold in his veins, limbs locked and frozen. His bottom lip quivered a little.
Not the riddles again. What is the point of the riddles?
"Answer it, Stiles." The voice was nearly a whisper. The thing was looking at him. He couldn't see its eyes, didn't even know if it had any, but it could see him and he could sense that. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
The creature seemed to wait with bated breath for Stiles to think of the answer. The room was quiet.
"Silence," Stiles whispered, breaking just that, blinking terrified tears out of his eyes. "Silence." In that moment it seemed to be oppressive, weighing down his voice so it couldn't rise above a whisper.
"What can you hear, but not touch or see?" The creature slowly drew closer, hunched into a sort-of crouch, like it was getting ready to spring. The head tilted like a bird of prey studying its next meal.
"Y-Your voice," Stiles responded in a whimper.
"Good, Stiles." He flinched and shouted as the thing reached out a grubby hand and gripped his face, bandages scratching his skin. He felt like the rotting smell was seeping into his pores. "And soon, nobody will be able to hear your voice. Only mine. I will speak for us."
"What do you want?" He barely repressed a frightened and frustrated sob.
"Everything, Stiles. I want everything."
"A-And what does that mean?" No wonder the thing liked riddles so much. It only spoke in them.
"It means, Stiles, that you're going to have to make room for two."