And we start with our intrepid heroes right before poor John gets put in the hospital, shall we?
* * *
John thought that, if she hadn't ripped Carter's heart out, he might actually have liked Allison, Carter's ex.
Or at least she would have been his type.
"I'm sorry, Carter," she said acerbically, "you want me to what?"
"The alternative energy whatsis ," Carter said bluntly. "You need to drop it. One of our guys is out there with some sort of weapon, and his son and his son's friends can't protect themselves with it up."
The pretty woman with the amazing dark eyes and lovely dark skin frowned. "But the only way that thing would be a problem for anybody is if…" She frowned at John. "Your son's a supernatural being?"
John grimaced. "Not since his junior year in high school," he said apologetically. "But all his friends are werewolves."
"And his boyfriend," Carter said helpfully.
"Yeah him." John didn't even want to think about his uneasy friendship with Derek Hale right now. "They're running for their lives-- can we maybe take down the barrier so they can get away?"
"And figure out who's got a laser that converts to plain old bullets when it passes the barrier," Carter said, all business. "This guy is trying to kill innocent--"
John made a noise.
"They're innocent," Carter insisted, "People!"
"Well," Allison said with an indulgent smile, "since you're worried, we can put someone on it. But remember, this is Eureka, Jack-- we don't really get casualties here."
"Yeah, well people drop like flies in Beacon Hills," John snapped, "so maybe we could get a move on!"
Allison's head snapped back liked he'd hit her, and suddenly she looked actually concerned. "Oh… yes. You're right. I'm sorry… here…" She hit a button at her desk. "Fargo!"
Five minutes later, John was standing in a situation room with green X's and red X's and Carter and Allison standing together and finishing each other's sentences.
"So," Carter said tersely, "this spot here is the power source for the cross-preternatural-atom-smasher thingie--"
"And it's not working well," Allison muttered. "It wasn't well designed. It may just break down by itself--"
"Well we can't count on that!" John protested. "You people may have that kind of luck, but believe me, it doesn't run in Beacon Hills!"
"I hear you," Carter said distractedly. He was busy tracing the line with his fingers. "Okay-- that's the barrier, and it's part of his defenses-- if we destroy that--"
"But you can't just destroy it, Carter," Allison said, her tone lecturing and familiar at once. ""You have to shove something in here-- see? This part right here? That will complete the circuit. And then get out of there because it won't take much to overload and short out. Now, Peterson--"
"The werewolf employee you fired," Carter supplied helpfully.
"Hey-- we didn't fire him because he was a werewolf--"
"But he didn't know that, so now he wants to kill all the fucking werewolves to prove something to you--"
"I'm sorry!" Allison exclaimed. "Look-- we had no idea there were so many of them. We didn't expect that barrier to catch anything, you understand? We're going to have to hire the guy who designed it back--we thought it was nuts!"
"We live forty miles away," John snapped, out of patience with their banter. "Forty goddamned miles. Somebody could have looked up our crime rate to see if maybe there wasn't something there. So right now, we've got to go put a… what? Something non-conductive in there, and we've got to do it before the… hey-- wait-- what's that?"
"That's Peterson," Allison said, assessing the infrared scans. "And he's tracking something."
"That's it!" John turned and stalked to the doorway. "I am going to go commandeer a goddamned car and get out there. That is my son he's tracking, and if it's not my son, it's his friends or his boyfriend, and basically kids I've known my whole life. So you people stay here and design kill jars for Tinkerbell, and I'm going to go save my kids."
He was halfway to the opulent elevator that would take him to the equally impressive atrium/foyer of the company when Jack appeared at his elbow.
"Jesus, John-- way to make an impression!" Carter laughed.
John cast him a sour look. "Are you sure she's gone back to her first husband? Because you two were pretty freakin' cozy. Maybe you can man the situation room and watch me become a little dot on the screen too. Wouldn't have to move away from this madhouse if your boyfriend's a little dot on the screen, right?"
"John…" Carter soothed. "You know it's not--"
"Yeah. I get it. Not that easy. You've got kids. I get it. I've got kids, and your people are trying to kill them, and I'm not happy about that." The elevator dinged and the two of them trotted down the steps and toward the entrance. "I would really love it if nobody ended up dead, because believe me, it doesn't always go that way in my corner of the hell mouth, okay?"
Carter bumped shoulders with him. "Yeah, John. I get it. Let's go save your kids."
* * *
Stiles jumped his bike over a tree stump and around a big tree. Behind him, he heard the weapon fire, and a bullet-- or laser bullet or whatever--ripped into the giant redwood he'd just used as shelter. Another shot sounded, and he heard a yip of pain.
"Derek!" he shouted, just as Derek rounded the corner, barreling full speed. God, he wasn't sure how long the two of them could keep this up.
Sometime in the last hour, Scott and Liam had recovered their werewolf powers and for a moment, they'd distracted their pursuer while Stiles had tried to gain ground. But he'd heard the gun report, and a couple of yips, and then silence, and his heart was pounding in his chest with worry.
God-- not Scott. Not Liam. They were probably just healing-- right?
Derek seemed to be able to shake the plain lead bullets that the laser was shooting, so they should-- right?
The barrier that had crippled Scott and Liam at the beginning had been fading in and out-- it was weird. It was like the power source was malfunctioning, and Stiles was beginning to hear a fluctuating, piercing whine as they ran.
But beyond the worry and the hope, there was the other worry and hope, and that was that they were being herded somewhere. There was a destination in mind. That was good, because Stiles knew his dad was coming to help. If there was a destination in mind, that meant his father wouldn't just be blindly wandering the woods trying to find running kids and wolves and asshole with a weapon, his dad could find them.
It was a hope.
It was a hope that bloomed full grown when he steered the bike out into a clearing--and then turned and stuck to the inner perimeter of the forest, because any idiot knew he was a sitting duck in the middle of the clearing.
The clearing was full of long grasses, with some sort of big machine whirring in the middle. Oh, yeah-- probably the power center for whatever the barrier was. They were going to have to destroy that thing in a hot hurry, weren't they? Stiles tried not to hit trees and brush while he scoped out the big scary machine, and it wasn't until he got about a quarter of the way around the perimeter--debris being shot around his head, that he realized that Derek was pretty fucking wily.
As soon as they'd burst into the clearing he'd sunk to his stomach, and while Stiles was dodging bullets and debris--
Derek was stalking their attacker-- but Stiles wasn't sure it was on the safe side of the barrier. What would happen if the thing went up-- would Derek be rendered helpless and naked for a few vital moments, like Scott had been? God, what would happen if their attacker got caught in the barrier if it fluctuated up while they were struggling.
Oh hell-- not attacker-- he wasn't alone like they thought.
Derek lunged at the guy with the gun and they both heard a "Don't worry, Dad! I'll amp up the barrier! He'll never live!"
Wolf sounds and gun sounds were echoing throughout the clearing, and Stiles steered his bike through all of that deadly openness---
And was almost broadsided when a little electric police car burst in through a barely-visible dirt road.
The car screeched to a halt in front of the cement block holding the freaky machine, and Stiles's dad jumped out of the passenger side of the car, holding…
A baseball bat?
"Dad!" Stiles called out. "Dad-- what are you--"
The weapon fired-- but it was aimed inside the barrier, so a very effective laser shot out and cut the electric car in half.
"Aw crap," Carter muttered. He pulled out the weapon in his holder and went running in the direction of the trigger happy sonofabitch who killed his car.
"Stiles get down!" John called. "And call Derek off that guy-- Jack'll get him. He's a--"
They could all hear the full snarling cacophony of a full-on werewolf fight.
"Dad, you're one of them!"
"Oh Jesus, save us all," John muttered.
John and Stiles both looked up in time to see a kid in his late teens pick up the fallen weapon by the struggling furry bodies of Derek and a werewolf John had never seen before.
"Derek, no!" Stiles cried out, and at that moment, the fluctuating whatever it was next to John gave a giant fuzzy red throb.
The two struggling werewolves because two struggling naked men, and Carter drew up short, exclaiming, "Oh that's not pretty!"
And the kid with the gun stood there with his finger on the trigger, his chin quivering. "Dad…"
Okay. John recognized an opportunity when he saw it. He grabbed his bat-- Stiles's bat, actually, it was in the back of his car-- they'd passed it on the way.
Stealthily he made it to the power thingie, which was designed pretty much like any bad-guy's machine ever, with a big sparking gap in the middle that would fit a baseball bat perfectly. (John wondered if maybe Eureka wasn't a giant supernatural node exactly opposite of Beacon Hills's energy signature, because if this had been in Beacon Hills, it would have A. Looked a lot less simple and a lot more sinister, and B. Been guarded by something deadly that John had never heard of. No wonder Carter thought he could do anything-- his town pretty much cake-walked the hard stuff.)
He drew near the hydro-atomic-preternatural-energy-whatever and pulled out the bat, never taking his eyes off the kid.
Who apparently had gotten over his shock at finding out his father was a werewolf and had decided to kill them all. And Stiles was the person closest to him, so that's where he aimed.
"Hey, asshole!" John called, and he couldn't miss the panicked look Carter gave him, or the way he stopped sneaking up on the kid and looked from John to the kid in back in agony. Tackle him, or shoot him? Tackle him or shoot him? What a terrible choice.
Maybe John could save him.
"Look! You may want to take cover," John called out, edging closer to the reactor, "Because I don't know what this is going to--"
He shoved the bat into the space, and then hauled ass--toward the kid with the gun.
"Mister, what did you do?" The kid asked in a panic.
"Michael, run!" said his father, naked and disoriented on the ground.
"Don't talk to me!" Michael shouted. "You told me they were horrible, and you're one of them?"
The gun leveled toward Derek and Peterson on the ground again, and Stiles threw himself in front of both of them.
Jack leveled his weapon at the back of Michael's head and said, "Michael, put the gun down!"
MIchael looked behind him to see what the new threat was, and John shoved Stiles out of the way, hissing, "Get Derek out of here before that thing goes!"
Stiles grabbed Derek, who was staggering now, wobbling on his two feet, and looking behind him in confusion. Together they started shambling toward the forest, and just as John heard Stiles shout, "Scott! Liam! Get out of here, we don't know what's going to happen when that thing goes!", Michael leveled the weapon at John…
And the generator for the barrier shorted out, sending a shockwave of preternatural and hydro-atomic energy rocketing around the little clearing.
And the gun went off.
And that was the last thing John could remember.
* * *
And now he was loopy in the hospital, and everybody was taking responsibility for the fucked up kid and the dad who didn't want to be a werewolf.
And John just wanted Carter to stay.
"Scott's okay, you know," Carter said quietly, when John wandered off.
"Yeah," John smiled. "You said. Love that kid like I love my son. Don't want the werewolves to get killed. Is that so bad?"
"No." Carter held his hand up to his lips. "You know… Allison was by while you were out."
Ick. "Wonderful. Did you practice reading each other's minds and trade parenting pro-tips?"
"No," Carter said again. "We talked about how easy it would be to pave a road between Eureka and Beacon Hills off the main drag."
"Why would you do that?" John asked suspiciously. "Don't you have a talking house or something?"
"Yeah," John conceded. "And Sarah really loves my family. But.. you know. I could, maybe, hang out there when it's my turn with the kids, but…"
John swallowed. "So… like shared custody. I get shared custody of you with your stupid electronic town."
"Do you not want any custody at all?" Carter asked, and John looked up and saw his blue eyes held the same expression they had when Carter had propositioned him in the bar, those months ago.
They held hurt.
"Of course," John muttered. "Full custody would be nice. Full custody would be…" Suddenly he started to chuckle, low and evil. "So that talking house," he muttered. "Would that be… you know… vacant, when you're not there with the kids?"
"Yeah?" Carter said doubtfully. "Why?"
"Cause I bet a werewolf and his boyfriend could live there. What do you think."
Carter nodded, and relaxed. "I think that sounds really good." He closed his eyes then, and held John's palm to his cheek. "Almost as having you better sounds. You ready to get out of here? They say you can go home tomorrow."
John rolled his eyes, falling asleep already. "You're gonna make a shitty nurse, Jack Carter," he said distinctly.
"You're the idiot who's putting himself in my care," Carter murmured. "You have only yourself to blame."
Of course he did.
John closed his eyes and dreamed of waking up next to a man, an equal, a partner.
Dreamed of making love to that person at night.
Dreamed of making a life and a home in a way he'd never suspected.
Dreamed of Jack.
* * *
Okay-- probably not next week, when I'll be at GRL, but the week AFTER, we'll see Jack nursing John back to health.