Stiles knows when it’s time to talk to the tree because he can feel it like someone knocking at a door, but inside his head. He’s at home, halfway through an essay on the portrayal of werewolves in Harry Potter, and Derek isn’t there, thank God. He doesn’t know if he would be able to deal with this with Derek in the room.
He doesn’t want to infect their home with this mess, so he heads to the room they use the least—the bathroom—and sits down in the corner of the shower, back against the wall. This way, also, when he’s done, he can potentially drown himself in the shower without having to go anywhere. If he’s really desperate, he won’t even need to take off his clothes.
And then he closes his eyes and says, “I’m ready.”
“Given up negotiation from a position of strength, have you?”
Stiles opens his eyes to see stiles standing in front of him, looking entertained. “I wasn’t aware this was a negotiation.”
“Everything is a negotiation if you know what you’re doing.”
“Then I want to not have to do this again.”
stiles smirks at him. “Then I’ll reclaim the territory to its full extent, and you can let your werewolves feel our power in their bones.”
Right. “Let’s not.”
“I thought not.” stiles examines the bandages on one hand, and they look brighter than ever, almost entirely white, and Stiles has the abrupt and horrifying thought that stiles is getting that from him. “Well,” stiles says, and sits down across from Stiles, sprawling lazily. “Let’s talk.”
Two hours later, Stiles’s heart is beating a so fast it feels like it’s about to beat its way out of his chest, and he’s pretty sure the only thing keeping him talking is the knowledge that, if he stops before he gets permission, he’ll have broken his word, and things will go to hell.
But time is almost up for the day, and he’s trying to figure out how to keep talking because there’s only so long you can talk around the clusterfuck that is your life, and then he thinks of something. “When we made the deal—”
stiles’s expression twitches, and Stiles swallows compulsively. But then stiles smiles. “I didn’t think you would go there. Maybe you’re braver than I thought.”
He can’t drop it now, can he. So he swallows again to wet his dry throat then says, “It wasn’t my threat that made you change your mind.”
The smile grows, and Stiles has the horrible thought that he looks proud. “Maybe you do know how to negotiate. Very well, go on. What do you think you know?”
“You were going to keep me from killing myself, one way or another. You stopped a bullet.”
“So that’s not what you were afraid of. That’s not why you stopped. You stopped—” And he’s working this out now as he goes, rubbing the back of his hand against his mouth. “You stopped when Melissa—when Mrs. McCall threatened to have me committed again. That’s what you were so afraid of.”
stiles stares at him for a long moment, and then he picks up his hands from his lap and starts clapping, slowly, the sound muffled by the bandages but echoing oddly against the tile of the shower. He licks his lips. “Very good. Maybe you’re learning. Because the thing is, you’re no fun, drugged up. All that panic, gone from your head, and it tastes so good, like fire. And when they sedate you it’s even worse, because then there’s just nothing there.” He leans forwards, and suddenly he’s on top of Stiles, finger tapping his forehead. “All of this is just gone. And you’re the only fun I get to have, these days. You’re the most fun I’ve had since that woman opened me up and fed me those children.” He runs his hand through Stiles’s hair, and Stiles jerks away, banging his head against the tile behind him. “So I will give up a lot to keep you like this, untainted by those drugs they use to try to make you whole. I will make you whole.”
He sits back, sprawling back down against the tile floor. “I will give up a lot, but I will not give up everything, so take care before you test me any further on this. I may want you, but do not forget, you are mine.”
And then he’s gone, and Stiles slumps over sideways, dry-heaving. As soon as he has himself under control, he crawls over to the shower handle and turns it on as hot as he can get it, then starts stripping. He gets down to his boxers before his clothes are clinging too badly to easily come off, and then he just lays down on the floor with the water burning on his chest and tries to use his hands to scrub himself clean.
It doesn’t work.
Finally, he manages to get himself up and turns the shower off, stumbling out. He should dry off before doing anything else, but he’s exhausted, and he just can’t—
He just can’t.
So he stumbles into the bedroom, shoves the nightstand a couple feet to the side, wedges himself as tightly as he can against the side of the bed with his back pressed hard against the wall, and goes to sleep.