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“He’ll be fine,” the vet says, “he just needs to rest. It’s a little like––" he purses his lips and it looks an awful lot like he’s trying to hide a smile, “–– being drunk I suppose.”

“Really?” Scott says, interest peaked. Stiles rolls his eyes.

“It’s not worth being bitten in dozens of tender places by a nest of sharp-teethed ugly blue flying things,” he says and Scott nods, looks at Derek sitting slumped on the operating table, henley and hands spattered with tiny blood marks.

“Probably not,” Scott agrees.

Freaking pixies.

“He shouldn’t be alone, though,” Deaton says, packing away cotton balls, sterile gauze and antiseptic creme. “It’ll take all night for the venom to burn out of his blood and he may be disoriented at times. We don’t want him to wander into town and shift in front of everybody.” He goes on mumbling something about CCTV images and mountain lions walking on two legs that Stiles thinks isn’t very complimentary but he’d rather not know. He looks at Scott instead, whose eyes have gone wide and panicked.

“I’m supposed to meet––”

Stiles sighs, “Allison, I know.” He can already tell where this is going.

“We’re going to ––”

“Talk things out, I know,” Stiles says. He wishes he wasn’t such a pushover. Deaton is regarding him with something close to pity and says,

“I can stay here with him, if there are no other options.” He looks tired though, and Stiles thinks they sometimes forget this guy’s an adult, with a full-time job. Maybe a family, even though Stiles doubts that. Erica and Boyd are still missing, Lydia and Jackson would laugh in his face if he’d even suggest it. Peter… Stiles doesn’t want to think about the advantages Peter might take of an incapacitated Derek. He doubts Derek would thank him in the morning for leaving him with Peter in this state anyway.

Derek makes a small noise, he looks like he’s about to tip sideways and that decides it, really. There’s no way he’s going to let Derek spend the night on a hard metal table. It’s probably not the worst surface he’s slept on, but still. Not on Stiles’ watch.

“Fine,” he says, “but you all owe me. And you’re gonna help me put him into my car. If he pukes up in it, you’re cleaning it tomorrow, Scott.”

“Yeah,” Scott tells him, so relieved Stiles doesn’t need a wereschnoz to sense it. “You’re the best, Stiles.” He hooks an arm around Derek’s waist and drags him onto his feet, Stiles taking the other side. Deaton pats his shoulder.

“He’s lucky to have you, Stiles,” Deaton tells him and Stiles snorts but he’s feeling ridiculously pleased for some reason.

“I’ve got no idea what to tell my dad,” he complains to hide it. At least Scott’s too busy being in a hurry to get out of there and to Allison. Stiles hopes they work it out. He kind of doesn’t like the way he’s second place in Scott’s life when she’s in it, but he hates it more when Scott’s unhappy. “Come on,” Stiles groans, because Derek weighs a ton, “put your back into it, McCall.”

Just as they reach the door, Stiles remembers to grab Derek’s jacket, and then they’re outside in the warm evening air, the sky still pink even though the sun’s long gone.

They load Derek into the car, he mumbles something and then slumps against the window as soon as Scott closes the door.

“Call me if you need anything,” Scott says. He looks guilty. “And thanks for––”

“It’s fine,” Stiles says. He hesitates for a second and then pulls Scott into a hug. It’s supposed to be one-armed and quick, but turns into a heartwarming bear hug. “Go get her, tiger. Wolf. Tiger-wolf.”

Scott pulls away and grins at him, squeezing his shoulder one last time before disappearing into the night. When Stiles turns back to the car he sees Derek’s mouth move, eyes closed, but Stiles can’t hear what he’s saying, doesn’t know if he’s even awake.

“Off we go then,” Stiles mumbles, climbing into the car. Derek sighs. He looks sleepy-soft.

It’s barely past his curfew so Stiles drives slowly, thinking of what to tell his dad. He still doesn’t know when he pulls into the drive, and Derek doesn’t budge an inch when Stiles shakes him. There’s no way he’s going to be able to lift Derek out by himself. Stiles scrubs a hand over his face, through his hair, pulling it askew. He hasn’t had a haircut since school ended, and probably won’t until it starts again in a few weeks. Shit.

He goes inside.

“You’re late, Stiles,” his dad says, but he’s not mad. He’s nursing a drink and Stiles’ eyes narrow. “Ginger Ale,” his dad says. “Scout’s honor.”

“Okay,” Stiles says. He’s not moving from his spot in the doorway and his dad turns.

“Something wrong?”

“I need your help,” Stiles says before he can change his mind. His dad sits up, eyes widening and Stiles winces. He knows his dad thinks he might get the truth this time, might find out why Stiles is quieter these days. Why he puts more time in making dinner every night, why he hugs a little tighter, a little longer, why he never opens the door anymore without looking through the spy hole first. He winces around the lie he’s about to pile on top of all the others, tells himself it’s for the best and nearly believes it.

“Son, what is it? You know you can talk to me about anything, right? Is it about those kids? The ones that –– that hurt you?” His dad’s on his feet now, putting his hands on Stiles’ shoulders and holding him at arm’s length, looking into Stiles’ eyes like he can find the truth there.

“No, no that’s not, that’s not it, Dad. I’m fine, I promise. It’s––” he takes a deep breath. “It’s Derek.” The hands on his shoulders tighten.

“Derek Hale?”


“What did he do.” There’s his cop-voice. Calm in a ‘I will handcuff you and shine a lamp in your face until you tell me everything’ sort of way.

“Oh my god, dad, he didn’t do anything. He’s, he’s in my car. He needs help.”

Instantly his dad’s face changes, looking toward the front door like he can see through it. “Is he hurt? Do I need to call an ambulance?”

“No, he’s okay, I think. We, we were at a party and someone slipped something into his drink. I didn’t want––” Stiles swallows.

“Stiles, if there are drugs in his system, we need to take him to the hospital right away.” His dad’s already at the front door and opening it, and fuck, Stiles didn’t think that through at all.

“We already went,” he says quickly. “Well, we saw a doctor.” It’s not even a lie. Deaton is a vet and Derek is part wolf so it totally counts. “They said he just needs to sleep it off. He’s got nowhere to go and I didn’t think he should be alone and he doesn’t have any insurance so I don’t know if he could afford a night in the hospital so I brought him here. I need your help getting him out of the car.” He’s babbling at top speed to get it all out before his dad reaches the car with long, purposeful strides.

Derek is still asleep, lips parted and face pressed against the window. He looks as harmless as anyone ever could and Stiles sees the fight go out of his dad with one breath. He knows how much Derek has lost. He’d seen it first hand as a Deputy. Knows he’d been thankful all the times Scott’s mom took up dealing with Stiles when he couldn’t. Knows he’d want someone to be there for Stiles if anything ever happened to him. Stiles knows his dad knows all those things, even though he never said so.

“All right,” his dad says. “Okay.” He puts his hand on the door. “Go in the other side and hold him so he doesn’t fall out when I open the door, since you didn’t even think to put on his seatbelt.” Stiles blushes a bit under the stink-eye his dad gives him for that one, but scrambles to the other side of the Jeep.

Leaning over the driver’s seat, Stiles grabs Derek’s arm and holds it. Derek mumbles something and Stiles very carefully doesn’t understand it as Laura. His dad opens the door and Stiles has to scramble to grip Derek with both hands before he topples out of the car.

“I’ve got him,” his dad says, easing an arm behind Derek’s back. “Come on, son, out you get.” He bends down and lifts Derek’s feet out of the car. By the time Stiles is at his side, Derek is leaning heavily against his dad, head resting on his shoulder. The sight does something to Stiles, something weird and painful in his gut that makes his throat burn. “Go open the door, Stiles,” his dad tells him, groaning a bit under the strain.

Stiles runs up to the front door, props it open with one of his wayward shoes and hurries back to take some of Derek’s weight.

“Home,” Derek mumbles. “Want to go home.”

“In the morning, kid,” Stiles’ dad says. Stiles feels him tighten his grip on Derek’s waist and he can’t think of a single thing to say. They manage to get him up the stairs and into Stiles bedroom, which surprises him more than a little.

“You need to keep an eye on him,” his dad says, “make sure he doesn’t throw up. Try waking him up in a few hours. I’ll come check on you two before I go to bed.” He looks from Derek lying on Stiles’ bed to Stiles standing awkwardly in the middle of his bedroom. “Call me if you need me. Or if anything changes. If he gets worse, we’re calling an ambulance.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says. “Thanks dad.” They look at each other for a moment, and then Stiles is engulfed in another bear hug. It feels good.

“You’re a good kid,” his dad says and with a last pat on the back, he’s gone.

“Special hell,” Stiles mumbles, “a spot with just my name on it.”

“No,” Derek says and Stiles looks toward the bed. He’s not sure if Derek means Stiles won’t go to hell or if he doesn’t want to be in Stiles’ room because he’s trying to sit up.

“You can’t leave,” Stiles tells him. “You need to rest.”

“What happened?” Derek asks. He’s determined to sit up though, so Stiles helps him by pulling at his arm.

“You wandered into a nest of pixies. They didn’t like it.”

“I don’t wander,” Derek says, sounding petulant and Stiles laughs a bit. There’s tiny marks of blood everywhere, and Stiles thinks they’re lucky Derek favors dark clothes or the conversation with his dad would’ve gone a whole different way.

“Take off that shirt,” he says, “you’re not getting dried blood all over my bed.”

To his surprise, Derek obeys. Or tries to at least, but his body doesn’t seem to want to function and the edge of his shirt keeps slipping from between his clumsy fingers.

“Here, let me,” Stiles says and he helps Derek’s arms out of his sleeves, pulls the henley over his head. “Some of these are still bleeding,” Stiles says.

Derek looks down at his chest, blinking slowly like it’s hard to focus. He licks his thumb and smears it over a bite that’s beading blood right above his nipple. Stiles looks away, folds the shirt and puts it on his desk.

“Do you want another t-shirt?” Stiles asks, facing his walk-in. Behind him Derek huffs, and if he didn’t know any better, Stiles’d think it was a laugh.

“None of them fit,” he says, definitely amused even if it’s only a little bit.

When Stiles figures it’s safe to turn around, he gasps because it looks like Derek folded double in pain or something, but he’s just trying to take off his sneakers. Stiles kneels by his feet and pushes Derek’s hands out of the way.

“Jesus,” he says, “what did you do to these?” There’s like five knots in the laces, pulled impossibly tight.

“I don’t know,” Derek says weakly. With a quick glance, Stiles sees him clutching his head like he’s dizzy.

“Do you need to lie down?”

Derek shakes his head, blinks his eyes open and looks at Stiles. It’s like he’s too tired to even pull his features in his usual scowl and Stiles can’t believe how young he looks. How vulnerable. He bends down again and sets to work on Derek’s shoe laces, trying not to feel his stomach flip when Derek puts a hand on Stiles' shoulder to balance himself when Stiles wraps a hand around his ankle to lift it and pull off the shoe. After a pause, he decides to take Derek’s sock off too, because he hates sleeping in socks himself.

The other shoe comes off easier and Stiles remains where he is, looking down at Derek’s oddly delicately boned feet.

“Do you do this for that other guy?” Derek asks him and Stiles startles. Derek is swaying a bit, almost unnoticeably.

“Do what?” Stiles asks, bewildered. “What guy.”

“The one with the dark hair,” Derek frowns like it’s a chore to draw on the memories. “The dark hair and, and the –– the computer. Thing.” He sighs and starts to fall forward so Stiles catches him and eases him down on the bed. “Undress him,” Derek murmurs. “Do you undress him too?”

Stiles had been reaching for Derek’s jeans but he stops, hands outstretched, like he’s caught in –– something. “What?” he asks, “You mean, Danny? No, he’s not my–– I mean not that you are –– What?” His mouth has gone completely dry and Derek just looks at him, not angry or hurt or upset or any of his usual looks. Just. Stares. Like that’s all he wants to do.

“Good,” Derek says, and then he closes his eyes.

He is about to wake Derek up after two hours, when his dad creaks open the bedroom door.

“Everything all right?” he whispers and Stiles nods. “Okay, I’m going to bed. Come get me if you need anything.” Stiles nods again and his dad leaves.

Stiles’d been sitting in his desk chair all this time and his butt’s a bit numb. He thought about turning on his computer but didn’t want the light to wake Derek, so he alternated playing Sudoku and Bejeweled on his phone with watching Derek sleep on his back. It’s okay though, Stiles figures he’s still behind on the Derek scale of watching other people creepily.

Now his hand hovers over the blanket he covered Derek with, because not all the pushing and pulling in the world would’ve managed to get him underneath the comforter. Stiles takes a steeling breath and holds it, jostles Derek’s shoulder, expecting a dramatic reaction. Red eyes and claws at least, maybe even an attempt to get away. Derek just blinks and yawns.

“Stiles,” he mumbles, turning his head until his cheek is pressed against Stiles’ fingers. Stiles isn’t sure if it’s accidental or not and he doesn’t want to draw attention to it so he leaves his hand where it is.

“How you feeling?” he asks but Derek just hums. “You still drunk?” Derek shakes his head, his stubble grazing Stiles’ knuckles.

“Just tired. Headache,” Derek mumbles and he turns on his side, trapping Stiles’ hand between the mattress and his cheek.

“Do you want some water?” Stiles’ voice is all hoarse, he must be more tired than he thought. “I’ve got water right here.” Derek nods, opens his eyes when Stiles presses the bottle into his hand. It’s steadier than before, when Derek leans up on one elbow and drinks, but he still looks exhausted. “Go back to sleep,” Stiles tells him, taking the bottle from him and recapping it.

“You should sleep too,” Derek says, already lying down again.

“You’re in my bed,” Stiles counters a bit dumbly.

“There’s room.”

And. Yeah. Stiles doesn’t know what to say to that. Especially when Derek moves over, making space, eyes on Stiles, steady. So he takes a step forward like he’s in a trance, almost.

“Undress,” Derek says, and okay, he should at least take his shoes off. And his jeans maybe. So he does, face heating like a furnace because Derek doesn’t look away for even a second. He keeps his t-shirt on though, stands uncertain in the middle of the room until Derek lifts the blanket, holds it up in invitation. Maybe Stiles should open a window, because he’s suddenly really warm.

It’s even warmer underneath the blanket. It doesn’t help that Derek still has his jeans on, but Stiles is really thankful for that, at least. He doesn’t know when this turned into –– this, wonders if it’s just him making an idiot of himself. But no, because there’s a hand sliding underneath his t-shirt, over his stomach and his chest until it rests on top of his heart.

“Sleep,” Derek mumbles, the movement of his mouth hot and dry against Stiles’ shoulder.

“But,” Stiles begins, trailing off when human-blunt fingertips dig slightly into his skin.

“Sleep,” Derek repeats. “It’s okay. It’ll all be okay.”

Stiles wonders if Derek means what Stiles thinks he means, if this is still the venom talking, if Derek will even remember any of this in the morning. He wonders when he crossed the line from dislike to like, thinks it might be when he broke the mountain ash barrier so Derek could go save Scott. When Derek had briefly gripped his shoulders in a wordless stay put, stay safe.

There’s a small pocket of panic making itself known in Stiles’ belly. He’s not ready for this, whatever it is. It feels huge and he doesn’t think he can handle it. Behind him Derek whines, every so slightly, in his sleep. Derek’s picking up on the distress building in Stiles so he concentrates on breathing evenly and slowly. Derek hums, shuffles a little closer, snuffles Stiles’ hair, noses behind his ear and makes the most content noise Stiles has ever heard. He starts to smile, can’t stop it, because even if Derek doesn’t remember in the morning, Stiles knows this now. Knows Derek cares in the least, wants –– something Stiles won’t, can’t name, at the most.

He takes a deep breath, and another one, closes his eyes and huddles deeper under Derek’s arm, feeling safe.

“You’re something all right,” Stiles mumbles, grinning into the dark. There’s a sudden edge of awareness, the press of Derek’s mouth to the top of Stiles’ spine, and, softly,

“So are you.”