Jesus Christ, there were so many youths here.
Derek turned to send a withering glare Laura’s way. “Why the fuck couldn’t you babysit this teenage party again? Why the hell am I stuck doing this?”
Laura smirked that annoying I-am-the-older-sister-and-far-superior smirk. “Because, Der-Bear, I am engaged and have important wedding items to attend to.” Derek suppressed an eye roll. Like he hadn’t heard that excuse a thousand times since the damn ring got shoved on her finger. “And Der-Bear, you should probably refrain from using such language in front of the little children,” Laura said smoothly with a wicked look in her eye.
Paige, who had remained silent up to this point, gently laughed and patted Derek’s arm. “Derek it’s not a big deal. We can handle a little ‘babysitting’ before we leave for our trip tomorrow. And I’m sure Cora really appreciates it.” She tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear and turned her amused face toward Laura. “Go ahead, Laura, we have this taken care of.”
Laura smirked that smirk again and then picked up her bag and confidently began to stride down the hall where they had been talking toward the back door. “Bye, Derek. Bye, Paige. Love you, enjoy the trip tomorrow!” She paused with her hand on the door knob. “You know, if you survive the night.” She winked and then yanked the door open and disappeared through it.
Paige gave that soft laugh and patted Derek again, this time on the cheek.
“Derek, I don’t think that we have to be hall monitors here…I just think your mom wanted to make sure an authority figure was here to make sure the place doesn’t get destroyed. Or that anyone gets any ideas about her bedroom.”
Derek looked at her small smile which lit up her soft, round face and dark brown eyes. The eyes were so genuine. He groaned and heaved a sigh. Christ, he was so easy for the women in his life to manipulate. How else did he get stuck in these situations? His mother, Laura, Cora, Paige, and god, Kate—
“Can we please just find a room with as few of these youths as possible?”
“Youths?” Paige laughed, “God, Derek, they are seniors in high school.”
“Exactly,” he muttered darkly.
“Okay, let’s get out of this hallway and I promise you we’ll find as secluded a spot as possible for your anti-social self,” Paige teased.
Paige grabbed his hand and yanked him forward to walk towards the front room.
The front room was filled with high school seniors celebrating before they went back to their last year of ridiculous cliques, social anxieties, college preparation, popularity scales, meaningless sport dedication, and constant drama.
Why the hell wouldn’t you wait and celebrate when that shit was over?
Cora had better fucking appreciate this.
The music blasted through the room, some pop radio shit, and teenagers seemed to literally be teeming through the room, laughing, talking, dancing. There were several couples making out in various corners of the room and kids ducked their solo cups behind their backs as Paige and Derek passed—as if Derek didn’t know they contained alcohol.
As if he was some kind of idiot. Though, maybe they had a point. Only an idiot would end up in this position. He was twenty six, for Christ’s sake, he should not be attending a high school party, even as a chaperone. Add that to the list of reasons why he didn’t become a high school teacher.
Tomorrow, Derek and Paige were leaving for Hawaii. Everyone, Paige included, knew what this trip was for. Hell, she had been with him when he went to pick out the ring. He was ready to just ask her and have a few days to relax and be away from his meddling family.
The family that, instead of giving him the evening to contemplate this great life change and get his wits about him, blew up his phone a day ago asking ridiculous favors.
The conversation had been something like this:
“Derek,” Cora begged, “please come up and be at the house for my party. It’s not like you’d have to actually do anything, please—”
“Derek,” Cora said in the exasperated tone of someone who was dealing with the most unreasonable person on the planet, “it won’t fucking kill you! Come on—”
“I said no, Cora.”
“Derek, Laura has already bailed on me. Some wedding emergency—”
“That’s a shame, I guess you’ll just have to cancel.”
“Derek!” Cora yelled, sounded scandalized. “I swear to god,” she muttered darkly.
“I doubt even God could sway my opinion.”
“God, maybe not,” Cora said in a solemn voice, “but mom, maybe.”
“Mom wouldn’t seriously ask me to come the night before my vacation and—”
“Don’t be too sure about that,” Cora said stiffly and hung up.
Derek had rubbed his hands over his face and closed his eyes. Why did he have so many sisters? He had gone back into the living room at his house in Sacramento after grabbing a beer from the kitchen and had sprawled unceremoniously on the couch next to Paige who was reading some Steinbeck novel. He had received a text from Laura five minutes later.
>Come on, Derek!
>Seriously, I have a wedding emergency. Mom needs someone here.
>Don’t be a dick about this.
Derek had rolled his eyes and ignored the messages. This wasn’t his problem.
At least, it wasn’t until his mother called a few seconds later.
“Hi, Derek,” his mother had greeted.
“Hi, mom,” Derek had replied with a sinking feeling in his stomach. All she had done was say “hi” in that no-nonsense-Talia tone and he already knew he was going to give in.
He was such a pushover.
The sound of something crashing to the floor to Derek’s right and the sudden halt of Paige in front of him ripped him out of his thoughts.
Derek whipped around to see a tall boy, all thin limbs with soft blue eyes and light curly hair. He met Derek’s eyes and immediately turned a pale scarlet. Derek must have given off an angry glare because the kid’s eyes became frightened.
“Isaac!” someone called to the kid.
The kid continued to stare at Derek like he was afraid to tear his gaze away. Derek, on the other hand, looked to the scene of destruction and saw only a picture frame on the ground, not looking much worse for wear. He sighed. At least it wasn’t dad’s precious vase from Japan. That would have been a shit storm.
Derek focused back in to hear the kid apologizing profusely and to see a young girl had appeared at his shoulder and grabbed his hand to pull him somewhere. She was pretty, slight but looked strong, with dark hair and eyes, and a bright dimpled smile which she was flashing at everyone.
“It’s fine, seriously,” Paige was saying with a bit of a laugh in her voice, “just put it back up there for us, please.”
The kid, Isaac, Derek guessed, carefully placed the frame back in its place. It was a picture of the whole Hale clan, probably a couple of years old.
“Ready, Isaac? Everyone is ready outside,” the girl said.
Isaac nodded quickly and mumbled a “sorry” again before receiving another laugh and a little wave from Paige. He let the girl, who Derek heard him call Allison, lead him away. Derek spared him one more glance and noticed a scarf around his neck—seriously, in the middle of summer?
Derek looked at Paige with eyebrows raised and simply said, “See? Youths.”
Paige rolled her eyes and reached to tug him forward again.
“Just come on, you idiot,” she said fondly.
After a moment, Derek realized that she was leading him to the side room off of the front hall. It was small, so no one would probably find it worth occupying, but close enough to the main room and front door that they could monitor things fairly easily. Paige always had been smart.
Before they could make it to the room, Derek felt someone grab his arm.
Jesus, what now?
He turned to be face-to-face with Cora, her skin flushed with excitement and probably something else.
“Derek!” She said breathlessly, “God, thank you for being scared shitless of mom and being here. This is awesome.”
“My pleasure,” Derek droned, “next time mom decides to go out of town on a job when you want a party, sign me up.”
Cora rolled her eyes heavenward and proceeded to ignore Derek and throw her arms around Paige.
“I’m so glad you came too! Isn’t it awesome? Oh, and we’re about to do the bonfire outside, do you want to come, Paige?”
Paige smiled brightly and hugged Cora tightly back. “I would, but someone has to make sure your brother doesn’t eat anyone.”
“I’m not going to eat anyone,” Derek grumbled.
“Okay, excuse us, glare at someone until they explode,” Cora stated drily.
Some guy pushed forward through the crowd toward them—the new guy Cora was dating. Derek furrowed his eyebrows and thought—what was his name again?
Lincoln? Lance? London? Landon?
Whatever his name was, he was obviously a douchebag preppy boy with his too-nice hair and lacrosse co-captain jacket.
“Cora, we need that lighter. Hey, what’s up?” The kid—Landon, Derek was 99% sure it was Landon—flashed his too-white teeth in greeting. Paige seemed to have noticed Derek’s distaste.
“You guys go have fun,” Paige said turning to Cora and shooting an accusatory look at Derek.
Cora flicked her hair back and smirked (eerily similar to Laura) and disappeared with Landon into the crowd.
“Come on,” Paige insisted, “before you actually do glare someone to death. Can’t you just be nice?” she asked, exasperated.
“No,” Derek replied with his usual eloquence.
They safely made it into the room without any more detours, and Paige took the chair in the corner while Derek leaned against the wall next to her.
Now that they were settled, Derek could begin to focus on the small tug in the back of his head, which has started a few minutes ago when Laura left. It felt like the beginning of a headache that foreshadowed torrential agony, but currently refused to spill over into full-fledge pain—so it let him just anxiously wait for the onslaught. He closed his eyes and rubbed the side of his head.
This damn party.
“Are you okay, Derek?”
Derek turned to see Paige’s concerned face looking up at him.
“I’m fine. Just this noise,” he said. “I’m ready for Hawaii, so I can avoid things like this.”
Paige smiled beautifully. She gently took his hand and said, “I’m ready too. So ready. It will be so nice to just be the two of us.” She squeezed his hand slightly. “I hope that Laura doesn’t think that we are trying to take anything away from her wedding,” she said in her soft voice.
Derek shook his head. “I’m sure she is just excited that once her wedding is over, she’ll have another one to plan. Or at least to try to,” he said with a sigh.
Paige laughed at that and then the two of them fell into their soft chatter.
God, he loved her. When they have been in high school, he had thought that she was just one of those band nerds, not worth a basketball, baseball, and lacrosse star’s time. And then in the ways of the universe, they had slowly worked into each other’s lives—he had learned to appreciate her cello abilities and then her loyalty, diligence, patience—goodness. Granted, there had come a time when appreciating someone wasn’t enough to overcome some argument, fight, unhappiness, and they had briefly broken up. Derek has filled that space with Kate, the complete opposite of what he had been missing with Paige. And, god, how that had turned out. Derek couldn’t even think of the situation without guilt and overwhelming pain. After that, however, he apparently hadn’t learned his lesson and tried to hook up with a girl in their class, Jennifer. That didn’t go quite as he had planned either—and he had called Paige all broken, and without any obligation, she had come. She came and she gently fixed the worst broken pieces, and they were together again by the end of high school. He wanted to hopefully have her always. He never knew what she saw in him, but thank god for it.
Derek suddenly felt the tug get worse. Like the cup had tipped further and the threat of pain spilling out had gotten stronger, just hanging over the rim—
“Derek, seriously, are you okay?”
Paige stood and lifted a hand to his forehead.
“It’s just a headache, I doubt you can do anything for it.”
Paige’s eyes looked worried as she said, “I can at least get you some Advil. I won’t even have to use my MD for that.”
She turned to walk out of the room in search of ibuprofen, when they heard mumbling and the sound of feet approaching.
“Fuck, why me? It’s not like I know where Cora is or my way around…Cora?”
One of the party-goers entered the room and repeated his sister’s name.
Paige began to speak with the kid and Derek looked up and caught a glimpse of him—a boy with messy brown hair and a lot of moles, tall and gangly with a slightly upturned nose, and eyes behind black-rimmed glasses—
The soft, honey-brown eyes caught his and then the pain finally surged forward.
Derek thought he might have heard the kid gasp and Paige cry out as he quickly slid to the floor. The pain was excruciating. It was traveling through his bones, all leading toward the same central point on his torso. Suddenly, the pain felt like it was radiating from just that point, trying to push through his skin and flow outward—then the pain halted and was replaced by the feeling of being tied to something and trying to pull away. Like a rubber-band that was tied under his skin being pulled by some unseen force. It was such a foreign feeling that Derek could barely understand it or compare it to anything he’d felt before. It was like constantly being tugged toward something, something you needed—
And then there was pain again, but this time it was in only three places—his arm, below his clavicle, and next to his heart, all on the left side. It felt like the skin was being sliced apart, ripped open, flayed off—
And suddenly it was done.
Derek opened his eyes and blinked back a haze. His head felt like cotton. After a second, he was able to get back some of his bearings and as he looked to Paige, who was crouched in front of him with a panicked look, and all of the blood around him, a realization began to bloom in his head.
No. He was too old. He was outside of the normal age range. He had Paige. This wasn’t how it normally happened anyways…
He looked across the room and saw the boy on the floor, looking about as bad as Derek felt, also surrounded by a small pool of blood. The kid was clutching and unclutching his fists, breathing deeply, and looking completely out of it. Derek also noticed with a vague sense of curiosity that Laura was behind the kid, holding him up and looking stricken. But, there was no time to wonder what she was doing back, there was something more important—
He focused on the kid’s shirt, where the blood had soaked through, and took a deep breath.
A spot had bled through the arm of his long-sleeve plaid shirt and Derek could see a streak of blood on his undershirt extending from about his shoulders to half-way down his ribs.
No. This was impossible.
Derek leaned his head back against the wall and squeezed his eyes closed. Maybe the darkness would erase the reality in front of him.
● ● ●
When Paige finished her MD and was matched with the Bonding residency program she wanted, Derek wasn’t surprised. Paige was kind, understanding, and overwhelmingly empathetic, so it made her perfect for dealing with people who had bonded. It was a sensitive situation which required the right type of people to deal with it. He had always through that she secretly hoped that they would bond in college—he often wondered if she was disappointed that they hadn’t. Not that it was uncommon to not bond; only about 30% of the population did. Once he reached twenty five, he knew there was little to no chance for him to bond, same for Paige, so they had carried on…
Yet, here he was, almost twenty seven and—
“Oh my god, there are three,” Paige breathed.
“What?” Derek heard Laura question croakily across the room.
Paige placed her hand on Derek’s non-blood soaked shoulder. “Are you okay, Derek? Derek? You’ve been out for a few minutes, I need you to talk to me.”
“Three?” He mustered hoarsely.
Paige shifted a little and replied in what was obviously as calm a tone as she could produce at this point, “That’s not important right now, we need to get you to Dr. Morrell at the hospital, and this boy—”
And this boy. It was at those words that the full weight of the situation seemed to crash down on Derek’s lungs and press out all of his air.
And this boy.
“I’m not gay,” Derek said tensely, trying to pull himself up higher.
Paige and Laura both seemed to be looking at him with the cautious and wary eyes of someone approaching a flighty animal.
“No one said you were, Derek,” Paige nearly whispered, “but we have to get both of you to the hospital. I’ve never seen a bonding like this before.”
“I’m not gay,” Derek repeated, louder this time. Were they not listening to him here?
“Derek,” Laura began and then was cut off by a small, gentle raise of Paige’s hand.
Paige turned to Derek and all of a sudden, it wasn’t his Paige in front of him—it was Clinic Paige, the Paige he had only seen at a distance.
“Derek, it is very common for bisexual people—”
“I’m not bisexual.”
“—to bond with either sex, not just the opposite one or the one they are drawn to more,” she continued as if he hadn’t tried to interrupt.
She was even using that calm, clinic voice that she normally reserved for patients. This shit wasn’t happening to him.
“And if it is the sexual aspect that you are worried about, there are some bonds that are platonic, even if they are rarer.”
For some reason, this didn’t make him feel better.
“I’m not bisexual,” he repeated, “and I don’t need another platonic relationship.”
Paige calmly responded, “Well, there is obviously something, Derek. But we can discuss all of this later, we need to get you both to the hospital.”
“No!” Derek shouted, managing to push himself to his feet and lean against the wall. God, he was so tired. Paige took a small step back.
“No, I am not going to the hospital with this guy! This little kid my sister’s age with fucking hipster glasses who probably plays video games 24/7 and eats vegan food. I have not just bonded to some high school fucking kid. Especially with some guy!” Derek yelled, almost hysterically.
“Well, maybe I don’t want to be bonded to you either, asshole,” came a voice from the other side of the room.
Paige and Derek whipped around to look at the boy on the floor and Laura, who was still holding him, looked down and tried to get him more upright.
Derek saw the boy finally seemed to have come back round, the sheen no longer in his eyes and signs of understanding flickering across his face.
He didn’t look happy.
Paige immediately flew over to him, feeling his pulse on his neck and placing the back of her hand on his forehead.
“What is your name?” Paige asked quietly.
Derek didn’t care what the hell his name was.
“Stiles,” the kid on the floor replied.
Stiles? What kind of a name was that? Stupid fucking hipster name. This situation was becoming more ridiculous by the minute.
“And your last name?” Paige continued.
Stiles Stilinski? His name just got worse somehow. Though, it now sounded familiar for some reason.
“Okay, Stiles, I really need you to cooperate with me, alright? We are going to get you and Derek to the hospital so we can get the Marks cleaned and everything, okay?”
Stiles just shrugged and continued to look displeased.
Derek could only imagine that expression was reflected on his own face. No, he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t compare himself to this kid at all.
“Asshole,” the kid muttered again.
Stiles allowed himself to be supported into a standing position by Laura and then Paige walked toward Derek.
“You are going to come with me Derek, but I’d rather you make this easy for me and just follow my instructions.”
She was still Clinical Paige, but there was a sadness to her tone—the tone of someone who had realized they had lost something precious.
Make this easy for me.
Derek suddenly felt gutted when he realized what was implied behind that statement and all of the fight left him. He slouched forward and let himself be supported by Paige’s shoulder. He was only going for Paige.
“We cannot make a scene with this,” Paige said quickly. “We are under the privacy clause, Laura, because they are not registered yet.”
“Almost all of the kids are at the bonfire,” Laura said nervously. “And I have my car right by the back door from when I came back to get my wedding book.” Laura shifted under Stiles’ weight.
Stiles remained resolutely silent.
“That’s perfect,” Paige breathed. “Let’s hurry, we should have already been on the way, I’ve never seen this before, and three Marks…”
She signaled for Laura to move forward and together the women dragged the two men out the back door to the car quickly, with little to no interference and only a few strange looks.
“Thank god for that bonfire,” Laura supplied as they buckled Derek and Stiles in the back.
Derek wasn’t thankful for anything right now. He just slid as close as possible to the door, away from Stiles on the other side, and placed his forehead on the window. He willed one last glance at Stiles and saw him in a similar position on the other side.
This was unreal. This couldn’t be true. His life was too set for this to happen. He felt the car start up and heard the low whispers of Paige and Laura in the front seats and took that as his cue to close his eyes and allow the darkness to take him.
● ● ●
This was bullshit.
Stiles hadn’t wanted to go to that party in the first place. First off, it was at Cora Hale’s house, the girl he had maybe spoken seven words to their entire lives. Second, his dad knew all about the party (small towns and chatty parents) and there was literally no plan he could conceive (and he definitely had tried) where he could sneak in drunk since his dad didn’t work that night.
So, very sober Stiles wouldn’t be able to handle the third important reason he hadn’t wanted to go—there would have been no delightful, hazy buffer between his low tolerance and the douchebaggery of people like Jackson Whittemore and Landon Cress.
But Scott had insisted. Something about senior year, and wanting to take Kira out, and an “epic” bonfire. Stiles had finally agreed to get Scott’s puppy dog eyes off of his conscience.
So, they had walked up to the house, which is located on the Reserve, a ways out of town, healthily arguing about video games as Kira happily led them to the house—
(“I’m telling you, man, there was just something about the new Wolfenstein that just didn’t feel…genuine.”
“Seriously, Stiles, genuine? It’s an alternate reality WII game, how genuine can it be?
“Dude, don’t knock my feelings, there was just something off about this one…”)
And as they walked through the door, Stiles was rewarded for being such an awesome friend and giving up a blissful night of video games and pizza (and one of the last summer nights) with a headache.
A weird, tugging headache that made him sick to his stomach.
But, Stiles is awesome and trudged into the party, which was in full force. He had awkwardly hung around Scott and Kira, ogled across the room both Lydia (though they established the friendship playing field a long time ago, he was still allowed to admire beauty) and Danny (because unlike Derek fucking Hale, Stiles was very open about his bisexuality), and dealt with just as much douchebaggery as anticipated.
And then they were outside by the bonfire and someone had wanted Cora (Stiles wasn’t paying attention to the particulars) and couldn’t find her, and then no one could find her or Landon. And somehow (“Stilinski will do it,” Jackson had yelled to cheers) Stiles was assigned with finding the missing Princess and her Prince.
Stiles had muttered curses as he weaved through the house he didn’t know. They were probably making out somewhere. Or having sex in her room. And Stiles was not walking in on that. Not going upstairs in general. So, Stiles exited the main room and noticed a small room off of the front hall. Perfect make out spot—and his last stop. No one could say he didn’t try.
Stiles had continued to grumble and call out Cora’s name and quickly entered the small room. There were two people, no Cora. One was a small woman with a kind face and the other was an older guy. They were most assuredly the two chaperones he had heard about, Cora’s hot older brother and his girlfriend.
And the dude was hot. No matter how much this sucked, Stiles had to say that he bonded with someone out-of-his-league hot. Derek was his height, but built like a god, and he had dark scruff over beautiful facial feature, and those eyes—
Those damn eyes are what got him into this mess. If he hadn’t made eye contact, maybe he wouldn’t have had his headache explode to full force and a horrible agony take over his body. The pain had been too consuming for him to decipher much, and Stiles was 95% sure he blacked out twice.
And when he had finally come to the point where things made sense again, he realized he was covered in blood and some asshole (Derek Hale) was pronouncing his heterosexuality to the world.
Derek had obviously recovered before Stiles and more quickly put together their situation. Stiles had wanted to be more vocally sarcastic and irritated through the whole thing, but he was obviously worse off than Derek.
The nausea that he had experienced when he entered the house had been overwhelming after the incident and Stiles was lucky he managed to get a few words out and get to the car.
Stiles stopped picking the thread on the hospital bed sheets that he had zoned out staring at and focused on the new presence in his room. He hadn’t even heard someone come in.
The doctor, Dr. M. Braeden from the embroidery on her coat, came closer to his bed and smiled an easy, sure smile at him. She was a pretty lady, dark skinned with long wavy hair and confident, intense eyes.
“Mr. Stilinski, since you are now conscious and out of any danger, I’d like to ask your permission to inspect your Marks.”
“Ask my permission?” Stiles asked blankly.
“Yes, Marks are very personal and intimate. Now that we are no longer worried about you, I will never touch them without your permission. I was bonded before my husband died, and I would have never appreciated someone touching my Marks without reason. It made my bond feel tight, anxious.”
Stiles stared at her. “What do you mean ‘make the bond feel anxious?’ You make it sound like a person.”
Dr. Braeden continued to regard him with calmness and patience.
“Your father was bonded before the loss of your mother, correct?”
Stiles felt a pang of something in his chest. “Yeah.”
“If I may suggest, ask him when he comes to pick you up later if you still do not understand. He may explain it better than myself.” She smiled that sure smile again and then stood quietly by the side of his bed.
Oh, right, she probably wants an answer.
“Umm, sure, you can touch my Marks.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Stilinski. I apologize if it is uncomfortable,” she said smoothly as she put on a pair of latex gloves and moved toward the bandages under that horrible hospital gown she had him in.
She carefully pushed the gown down on his chest and up on his arm and slowly removed the bandages. Each bandage, once freed, revealed raw skin with red marks starting to crust over.
Stiles started at them in fascination, despite himself. He couldn’t clearly see the one that flowed along the underside of his clavicle like a vine or the one that was more in the sternum area closer to the heart that looked more like an organized symbol. He’d need a mirror to get the full effect. But he knew enough about Marks to know they were larger than normal. Definitely larger than the scar on his dad’s back.
The one of his forearm, however, he had a perfect view of. It was an intricate design of lines that almost looked like some kind of maze—and it was larger than even the other two marks.
Something in Stiles’ head ticked forward and he began to wonder—wasn’t three a lot more Marks than usual…
He opened his mouth to say something, ask the thousands of questions that exploded suddenly in his mind, when Dr. Braeden sighed.
“Amazing,” she breathed, “absolutely amazing.”
She reached down and gently touched the mark on his arm.
Stiles was suddenly filled with nausea, the same that he had felt at the Hale house, and there was a flood of unease and all he could think was that only Derek should do this…
Stiles jerked his arm back quickly and looked to Dr. Braeden, who didn’t look very surprised. “Sorry, I…I don’t think I’m going to need my dad to explain anything,” he said miserably.
Could he please repeat? This whole thing is bullshit. He was obviously crazy bonded to some guy who didn’t even want him.
Dr. Braeden just smiled that same smile and replaced his bandages, careful to avoid the Marks.
“Your father brought you some clothes while you were out,” she said, pointing to a chair in the corner with a small stack of clothes. “If you don’t mind, Mr. Stilinski, would you please get dressed and signal for the nurse? You, Mr. Hale, and I have a very important meeting in about fifteen minutes about your bond. It will probably last about an hour and then you will be free to go.”
And then there was that damn smile again as she left as quietly as she had entered.
Stiles sat frozen for a second, too overcome with shock and questions. There was so much he wanted to say. Dr. Braeden was lucky he didn’t have the energy to blather. And then his normal jitteriness returned and he jumped up to get dressed back in human clothes for basically the biggest meeting of his life. The meeting that Dr. Braeden had spoken of like it was nothing more than a little chat and then he could continue on as normal. Little chance of that.
Stiles finished carefully pulling on his shirt and then groaned into his hands. Why didn’t Scott just listen to his advice and avoid that party like the plague? He had had a damn good video game night set up, too.
Well, Stiles Stillinski was fucking awesome, and if anyone could deal with this shit, it was him. He could research the shit out of it, at least. Stiles walked towards the wall and pushed the small button for the nurse.
Let’s get this show on the road.
● ● ●
Stiles hadn’t paid much attention to the standard hospital room that he had been placed in to recover, but as the nurse (who was definitely not Mrs. McCall) led him into a small consultation room in an area of the hospital he was unfamiliar with, he began to observe more closely.
This section of the hospital seemed quieter, more private somehow.
The room was painted a light, neutral color and the décor appeared to be trying to give the impression of a normal living room, rather than a typical hospital room. Over a large window on the right, there were lightly striped curtains and below the window was a soft green couch. The walls were covered with what appeared to be landscapes interspersed between an alarmingly large number of pictures of different couples. In the middle of the room stood a beautiful wooden desk, in front of which Dr. Braeden was leaning against and behind which another doctor he didn’t know sat in a plush chair. In front of the desk sat two cozy chairs, the same soft green as the couch. Stiles could see the back of Derek’s head over the top of one of the chairs, indicating he was the last to join this little shindig.
Both doctors smiled at Stiles as he made his way into the room and toward the unoccupied chair. It appeared that Dr. Whoever had perfected that same smile as Dr. Braeden. Maybe it was a prerequisite for the Bonding residency.
As Stiles settled into the chair, he diligently ignored the man next to him.
Dr. Braeden began, “Mr. Hale, Mr. Stilinski—”
“Call me Stiles,” Stiles blurted out.
Stiles could feel Derek’s glare being turned toward him.
Dr. Braeden smirked. “Would you mind, Mr. Hale, if I called you Derek, as well?”
Derek seemed to grunt out an affirmative.
Dr. Braeden turned slightly and gestured to the woman behind the desk. “This is Dr. Morrell,” she introduced. Dr. Morrell tipped her head toward them in response. She was dark-skinned, like Dr. Braeden, with long straight hair, thick eyelashes, and a thin, toned build. She had dark eyes and an almost crafty expression.
Dr. Braeden turned back to focus on Stiles and Derek. “Dr. Morrell is the normal attending bond specialist here in Beacon Hills and the surrounding areas. However, I am a specialist who focuses on more advanced cases and have come at Dr. Morrell’s request to oversee your case and subsequent sessions before registration.”
Subsequent sessions? Stiles immediately opened his mouth to question what the hell that meant, when Dr. Braeden held up a hand.
“If you may, please refrain from any questions until after I give you a short break down about bonds, specifics about your bond, and the requirements for registration. After that, I will answer anything you are wondering to the best of my ability.”
Stiles saw Derek nod out of the corner of his eye and then replicated the action.
God, this whole ordeal was making Stiles freak out. He began to bob his leg up and down and twitchily played with his fingers. Stiles had barely had time to fully wrap his mind around this situation and now they were talking about things like registration. With a specialist for fucking advanced cases. He felt jittery and unfocused, like days before a test when he’s forgotten his Adderall.
“Now,” Dr. Braeden started, “the basics I’m going to go over I’m sure you know the majority of—especially you, Derek, since you’ve been through college—”
“Excuse me,” Derek said gruffly and turned suddenly to Stiles and slammed his hand down on Stiles’ leg, holding it still. Stiles flipped his head irritably to look at Derek.
Derek look exasperated and said in an even more exasperated tone, “Could you goddamn calm down? I am never going to be able to sit through this while feeling your ridiculous levels of anxiety the whole time. And stop moving your leg, you’re practically jumping up and down.”
Stiles stared at him incredulously.
Dr. Braeden and Dr. Morrell just seemed mildly interested.
“Look, you ass—”
“Boys, please,” Dr. Braeden said with a slightly raised voice. “I know this can be a difficult transition, but let’s remain civil. I suppose before I begin with my introduction, I can ease in with a question.”
Stiles and Derek grudgingly turned their attention back toward her.
“Do you feel the emotions of the other person?”
Stiles paused for a moment. Now that she mentioned it, he could feel an undercurrent of something, something he automatically knew was projected from Derek. But, before he could come up with a way to express this other than saying “kind of,” Derek immediately spoke.
“Distinctly?” Dr. Braeden asked.
Derek paused and then almost tonelessly recited, “About fifteen minutes ago, he was sleeping or something. And then it was shock, curiosity, confusion, frustration, curiosity again, then anxiety, then anger.”
Stiles stared at him again.
“Stiles?” prompted Dr. Braeden
“Uhh…kind of?” Apparently he wasn’t going to get any better than that. “I feel a general idea, I guess…but nothing so…specific.” It almost made him feel guilty for some reason.
Dr. Braeden hummed appreciatively and then said quietly, “Very interesting, that explains some things…”
Well, at least someone was getting some marvelous clarity.
“As I was saying earlier, I’d like to begin in some basics. I’m sure you know the majority of the population does not bond, but there are still a great deal of people who do. The typical time frame is as follows—people begin to feel the bond pulls all around them around age nineteen and then they fade around age twenty four. This age range is why bonding is so often considered a college experience. However,” Dr. Braeden turned her attention more toward Derek as she continued, “there are plenty of situations outside of this range. I personally consider anything from fifteen to thirty years old perfectly normal.”
“When you bond, you are intricately tying yourself to another person. You have no control over who you bond with and there is no breaking bonds, unless maybe a Class I minor. Even then, the bond is never truly broken.”
Dr. Braeden paused and started hard at Stiles and Derek as if wishing to convey that this is a point she hoped they paid attention to.
And there was the answer to one of Stiles’ top five questions.
“Every bond is unique,” she continued, “but in general there are shared feelings, shared health (usually in the form of faster healing and stronger immunity), and a general sense of each other’s presence. We think that bonds are our bodies’ way of becoming more balanced. To help fill the parts of ourselves that are missing and to encourage and push us in ways that we ourselves normally wouldn’t.”
Bullshit. There is no way Derek Hale is going to balance him. Maybe drive him crazy, but…
“There are six classes. Classes I through V are further divided into subclasses, major and minor. Now, I won’t go into all of the semantics of how we decide how a bond is labeled, but Class I’s are the weakest, often with one small Mark and milder bondings, and Class V’s are some of the strongest, often with one or two large marks and more intense bondings.”
Dr. Braeden eyed them both carefully. “You are none of these classes. Your bond is the sixth classification—”
“Oh my god,” Stiles couldn’t help but moan, “we are crazy bonded. I knew it.”
Derek just set his face into an even deeper, angry, despondent glare. He looked like he was gritting his teeth away to nothing.
Dr. Braeden gave Stiles the same look Mr. Harris did when Stiles has interrupted class. It was enough to stop his outward moaning, but he was still groaning internally, damnit.
“The sixth classification is Class X.”
“We are the X-Files,” Stiles murmured.
Dr. Braeden seemed to have decided to ignore him and continued on, “There are only five cases of Class X bonds in the United States, of which you are the newest.”
She surveyed them with a fondness that Stiles didn’t really think they deserved at this point.
“You are possibly my new favorite case since my only other Class X that wasn’t registered just had their Registration Day. They were another male couple—”
Stiles saw Derek bristle a little at that classification.
“—but they were both in high school in Lawrence, Kansas. At opposite ends of the social caste system, typical.” She shook her head and seemed to smile at some joke Stiles missed.
“Class X is a bond so tight and strong that we don’t really understand them. They tend to grow stronger as time goes on. The couple I just spoke of began as a Class V major that continued to grow until they were the strongest bond in the country. If we subdivided Class X, they would be Class X major.”
She brought her hands together, interdigitated her fingers, and gave them that intense stare again.
“Yours is stronger. It is undeniable. Even the moment of your bond taking place was the most extreme we’ve ever documented. We don’t really know the implications of your bond. If I had control over the system, you would be a new Class. So,” she said slowly, “I would think it’s very important for you both to be very cautious and feel out your limits. You need to be understanding of each other, hard as that may be. I suggest staying in close proximity and learning about each other and what the bond needs—”
“I can’t,” Derek interjected. “I don’t live in Beacon Hills anymore, I live two hours away. And traveling is a part of my job, I leave to go out of town every few weeks.”
“My suggestion is that you find a way to work this out.”
Derek’s face, if possible, seemed to grow even cloudier at this apparent lack of sympathy.
“Class V bonds often produce physical effects—usually minor headaches, nausea—when the individuals in a bond go certain distances away from each other. I can only hypothesize what the effects will be for the two of you. That is why I have suggested close proximity.”
Stiles felt like, for the second time today, that he had been struck numb. This was definitely reaching the level of too much.
“My final comments about your bond are about your Marks. There are three, as I am sure you have become aware. This is highly unusual.”
No shit, Sherlock. This whole situation was unusual.
“The role of Marks is unique to each bond. I’m sure you will discover yours.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. Well, wasn’t that cryptic? But whatever, research was his forte. Research was his bitch. Maybe Google could give him some damn answers about this mess.
“We’ll go over the particulars of how to register closer to the date, but for now, know that registration is when you receive all of the legal benefits that come with bonding. At this point, you only really have control over the other’s medical situation if the other were to become incapacitated. Since you are tied together, this cannot be denied to you. Anything else, including your distinction bracelet, will be received on your registration day about nine months from now. It is normally six, but Class X requires more time by law.”
Registration Day: a.k.a. the future worst day of Stiles’ life.
Dr. Braeden suddenly rolled her eyes. “I think it’s ridiculous, myself. You should be able to register the day after it happens—what are you going to do, get cold feet at the alter?” She rolled her eyes again. “Stupidity. But, you’ll meet with me here once a month just for us to monitor any dangers, see how you are transitioning, and talk through any complications. Finally, before you go and try to sort through all of the information I just threw at you, it is imperative that I inform you of the privacy clause. Stiles in underage—”
Another uncomfortable shift from Derek.
“—so that makes this trickier anyways, but besides that, it is standard protocol that as few people are told about the bond as possible; or, if the Marks are seen, the details are not divulged. At least until registration day. It allows a more private development of the bond. I’m going to insist that you uphold this.”
Anddd—there is that stare again.
“You are allowed to tell your parents and I am going to say only one friend, please.”
That would be Scott, obviously.
“Derek, your sister and Dr. Krasikeva obviously know, but the situation was dire and I won’t limit you to them. You still may speak to a close friend.”
Stiles assumed Derek’s shrug was a grateful one.
“I think this is especially important for you, Stiles. High schoolers can be cruel when they are jealous or don’t understand something. I’m sure you know this.”
Being at the bottom of the high school food chain, yeah, he was pretty aware of this, thanks.
“I am aware that unbonded people, especially young teenagers, call this ‘The Curse.’”
Dr. Braeden looked at them now with a softness in her eyes. Stiles felt a deep undercurrent of feeling from Derek. He had been able to tune out a lot of the emotions bleeding over the bond, but this one was more consuming.
“It is a not a curse. We love who we love for a reason. We bond with whom we bond for a reason.”
Stiles saw Dr. Braeden shift one of her hands to place her fingers over a scarred Mark on the top of her other hand, close to the wrist. She had one other on her neck that extended just over the collar of her white coat.
“This is now your journey to get to know one another and I suggest you take off on it running. Fighting it will just make this unnecessarily difficult for you both. Here is my card; call me if you have any questions, concerns, etc.” Dr. Braeden handed them each a crisp black and white business card.
“Do you have any questions?”
Stiles decided that getting out of this room and trying to process was more important than any questions he had at this point. He shook his head vehemently.
Shit, he deserved some curly fries after all this. But, then his dad would want some, and he definitely couldn’t have any—oh, god, he’d have to talk about this with his dad. That was going to be so horribly awkward.
“No,” Derek said quietly.
Dr. Braeden and the ever silent Dr. Morrell smiled at them both as if this was the expected response.
“Well then,” Dr. Morrell said suddenly, also holding out cards for them both to take, “good luck.”
● ● ●
“Set me as a seal upon thy heart, As a seal upon thine arm: For love is strong as death; Jealousy is cruel as Sheol; The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, A very flame of Jehovah.”
-Song of Solomon 8:6