His hands. He couldn’t steady his hands.
Wring, wring, wringing them between each other, trying to massage the blood from his skin, from the caked up red in every nail bed. Every fidget, every shuffle felt like he was exacerbating the situation. Inhale, exhale. This wasn’t a lacrosse game. This wasn’t Scott crawling home embarrassed and bloody from his fledgling lycanthropy’s accidental rabbit massacre. This was serious, and he couldn’t focus.
Stiles willed himself to pick up his feet to tread in the direction of the window in his dormitory room, only to circle back and wear down the floor one more invisible increment into the track he’d been pacing for the latter part of an hour. He pulled out his cellphone like clockwork, paling in the glow of the LCD, casting a glance between the device and the heaving pile on his bed, intermittently frowning at his empty inbox.
It had been months since he left for college, months since he’d been accepted, months since he left Beacon Hills and the memories of a past war zone he’d all but abandoned there. He thought he’d pushed himself far enough away where no ghosts would follow him. He figured he’d be free, buried in textbooks and research papers and shoddy dining hall food. He followed up with Scott with the occasional Skype call, texted Lydia offbeat facts during class, and tried to forget all but the people he cared for about the horrible place.
And for a while, it helped.
He couldn’t remember the last time he woke up in a cold sweat, writhing through his bedsheets only to wake up damp and heaving. There were less night terrors, fewer glances over his shoulder, coming less and less frequently until they all but dissipated entirely, and for that he was grateful. He dropped lacrosse and settled in for the long haul of education, ditching his mythology texts in the loamy, grey peat of the woods behind the old Hale house one summer night.
He closed that chapter eagerly, shoved his entire life into his Jeep, and said goodbye with one hand accepting his diploma and the other on his steering wheel.
He missed his dad. When he couldn’t manage a call,...