Dylan O’Brien for Teen Vogue (september 2014)
God, this is making me want a Journey of Natty Gann style AU. Stiles lying in his narrow bed in the McCall rooming house, listening to the sound of voices through the thin walls, the stairs creaking under Melissa’s tired footfalls. He heard her earlier, talking to Mr. Deaton about how long his father has been gone, how much longer she can afford to feed two hungry boys with her husband gone, money so scarce, and already letting so many of her boarders stay on credit they’ll never pay back.
"You be good. Mind Mrs. McCall." his dad had whispered. Hugging him tight just before he stepped onto the train west, where everyone says there’s work. And he’s tried to be good. He’s worked hard, helped Melissa scrub and wash and ready rooms for new boarders. He’s come home worn and bruised from long nights working loading the lake freighters at the ship yards only to scrub the grime off his face and make a long day at the school desk. But he knows that if money doesn’t come soon, the he’s going to more of a burden than he is a blessing.
He hates the idea of leaving them, can’t stop from thinking about the harsh sound of Scott’s wheezing breath when the cold winds come off the lake and through the places where the window frame doesn’t sit true. He knows they’ll tell him he’s being foolish, that of course he’s wanted, if he says a word about leaving. So he doesn’t say a thing.
He waits until the house is at its soundest asleep, just before dawn, to sneak out. Little more than the clothes on his back, a few dollars, and a slim bladed knife.
The sun is rising by the time he makes his way to the long sweeping curve where the trains crawl before building up speed for the western runs. He watches three trains go by, counting the click-clack of the wheels and thinking about old Mr. Argent with his missing leg and gold watch from Grand Trunk, Pete at the shipyards with scars from being to slow to escape the swinging clubs of the railroad bulls.
Finally, the fourth time a locomotive rumbles by, he takes a deep breath and runs. His arms are shaking when he drags himself into the freight car, but he’s still got four full limbs, so he thinks it’s a job well done. The steady rumble and sway lulls him quickly, and he falls asleep curled on a dusty burlap tarp in the shadowed corner furthest from the door. When he wakes, it’s to a persistent, cold, wet press against his cheek and a startling realization that the train has come to a stop.
"Whu? Where’d you come from?" He says, blinking blearily at the large dog taking up his entire field of view, all thick dark fur and bright sharp eyes. The only answer is teeth tugging firmly at the cuff of his jacket. Outside Stiles can hear the raised voices of the bulls coming closer, the rattle and scrape of their clubs rough against the sides of the cars.
"Hells bells!" Stiles mutters, grabbing at his bag, bitter panic rising up in the back of his throat. He’s trying to shake off the dog, his jaws too close to skin for Stiles’ liking. when suddenly here’s a commotion at the next car. A string of shouted obscenities, and a cracking sound that makes Stiles’ stomach churn. And then Stiles is alone in the corner, fumbling to wrap his fingers around the hilt of his knife.
The dog— no, Stiles’ realizes— the wolf is in the open doorway, huge and bristling, terrifying in the hulking shape of his raised back and obvious strength in his snapping jaws.
"Goddamnit! Jimmy, bring that shotgun up here!" One of the bulls cries just outside. Stiles hears the cock of a gun, but before the shot comes, the wolf leaps.
"Where the fuck did that come from?" another voice asks, Jimmy, Stiles guesses.
"Damned if I know," the first bull pants, "But if there was anybody in that car, he’s a corpse now, and I sure ain’t gonna be the one cleaning a man’s guts off the floor. Call it clean and let the next ones deal with it."
Stiles’ closes his eyes and says prayers of thanks as the train groans and shudders back into motion. The slow jerking easing out into steady rhythm as the engine builds speed, and only when the flicker of sun and shadow through the open door is moving faster than any man could run does Stiles feel his heart steady into its proper place
It jumps back into his throat as a dark shape flies through the doorway, resolving into the wolf, landing in a crouch before shaking himself out and trotting over to Stiles, tongue lolling out it’s mouth.
Stiles reaches a careful hand out, brushing his fingers through the thick fur at the wolf’s throat.
"So… does this mean it’s you and me now?" Stiles asks.
The wolf just tips it’s head to the side, but Stiles thinks it’s close enough to a yes for now.