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Occam's Razor

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Something wasn’t right.

The realization dawned on Stiles the way the actual dawn broke, slow and encroaching by degrees. It wasn’t a jolt to awareness that came with finding himself kidnapped and thrown into a basement or tied to a chair. Sadly, he had experience with both. So he knew this ‘something’ wasn’t on the order of ‘wrong’ as that… but something was still off in the world of Stiles Stilinski.

It niggled at the back of his brain, as if to say ‘hey, Stiles, man… I know you’re sleeping, and it’s a really nice sleep, so no hurry or anything, but when you have time, just fyi, something’s not right.’

That creeping sense of wrong made Stiles want to cling to sleep as long as humanly possible. Because he hated it when things went wrong. And boy, they sure seemed to a lot. It was cozy in his semi-conscious doze, warm and heavy and flavored with the remnants of dreams.

Waking up and facing this ‘something wrong’ was not high on his list of enjoyable activities.

He might have stubbornly stayed asleep for a good hour yet, ‘something wrong’ could suck it for all he cared, were it not for the intrusion of his alarm.

Well no, not his alarm, because his alarm didn’t sound like that. Exhibit 1 of Something Wrong.

Exhibits 2 and 3 slammed into his brain with all the grace of a wrecking ball.

The bed under him shifted when someone else in it moved. Someone, sounding very much male, grunted and turned off the alarm before settling back on the mattress behind Stiles.

Stiles jerked his head up and looked over…

To find none other than Derek Hale in bed next to him. Sleeping next to him. Sleeping naked next to him.

Stiles yelped and lunged backward across the bed. Or would have, if there had been enough bed to lunge on. Instead, he executed an ungainly vault off the edge, hit his forehead on the nightstand, and dropped to the floor with a heavy thud.

Then it was really more about the pain in his face. It hurt. A lot. Who had steel nightstands? Because it felt like he’d rung his bell on something far harder than wood. Like, attack of the adamantium bedroom furniture. He brought a hand to his face and it came back red with blood.

“Stiles?” A bedside lamp clicked on. Derek sat up in bed and looked down at him, stunned and groggy and totally still naked.

Which, holy shit, Stiles was, too.

The discovery of the latter had Stiles coming full circle to completely freaking out. He made a noise like a cornered moose and scrambled for a sheet or a shirt or something, anything to cover up his manly bits, but it was hard to concentrate with his thoughts racing and blood running into his eye.

Suddenly, Derek was crouching in front of him. Still totally naked. Stiles did his best Serenade of the Dying Cat and kind of flailed when Derek reached out to examine his face. There were two more penises on display than their friendship really called for, but Derek didn’t even seem to notice as he squinted at Stiles’ injury.

“Shit… that looks bad. You probably need stitches.”

Yeah, probably. And the name of whatever drug he must have taken the night before to wake up to this. Alice in Wonderland would trip balls on that shit, because who gave a fuck about rabbits and hatters when the shit he’d been roofied with caused one to wake up naked in bed with a werewolf?

“Stay here,” Derek ordered, and Stiles wondered where else he’d go with a bleeding head wound and no clothes. Although, if he spotted a door, he might make a break for it, bloody and buck-naked be damned.

Really, he could just regroup and gather his wits nude and bloody on some nice, friendly street corner. Just hopefully not a street corner near a playground.

An overhead light came on and Stiles blinked at a room he did not recognize. It wasn’t his. It wasn’t Derek’s. Really, he had no fucking clue where he was. Just a bedroom. He could say that much because there was a bed and he’d been sleeping in it.

That was as much as he could figure out at a glance, but to be fair – head injury.

Derek pushed a folded towel into his hand, and Stiles put it to his face to sop up some of the blood. Not having blood trickling into his eye made watching Derek and hoping for a clue easier, at least.

Derek was moving around the room with confidence. This might be a strange room to Stiles, but clearly it was not unfamiliar to Derek. But it was definitely not the loft. That place had an industrial half-finished chic going on, and this room looked normal. Like a bedroom in a regular house. But whose house, and where?

Derek threw on jeans and a shirt (thank fuck), then he came at Stiles with a pair of sweat pants and a shirt. Stiles recognized the shirt. It was his. He’d know that ugly lime green monstrosity anywhere, though he didn’t remember it being so damn faded. The logo was practically gone.

“Here,” Derek squatted next to him with the clothes. “Can you put these on?” Derek seemed to think that he couldn’t. “Let me help.” He started to reach for Stiles’ legs or hips or something.

“Gahh!” Stiles grabbed the clothes and swatted Derek away. “Don’t… I’m naked!”

It was, admittedly, not the manliest Stiles had ever sounded in his life.

Derek sat back and gave Stiles a strange look. A look that Stiles tried to ignore as he put down the towel so he could stand up and scramble into the sweats as quickly as possible. Since time was of the essence, of course the moment he got to his feet he staggered and wobbled.

Derek reached out to steady him, but while Derek might be clothed Stiles was still very much bare-ass and dangling in the breeze, and he squawked and side-stepped out of range… even though it did mean crashing into the nightstand and guaranteeing himself a killer bruise.

“I’m good… I’m good!” Stiles rambled, just to make Derek back the fuck away from his general nakedness.

Derek looked uncertain but eventually moved away.

By the time Stiles had gotten the sweats and shirt on in the most uninspiring rendition of Stiles Knows How to Dress Himself ever, Derek was on the phone.

“Yeah, it’s me. I’m going to be late coming in this morning. I need to take Stiles to the hospital.” A pause. “No, he’s… he woke up, did a swan-dive out of bed, and hit his head on the nightstand. He’s bleeding pretty bad… looks like he’s going to need stitches.” The person on the other end said something to make Derek’s mouth twitch. “You and me both.” Stiles had a sneaking suspicion it was at his expense. “Of course, I’ll text you when we get there.”

“Who was that?” Stiles asked as he picked the towel back up and pressed it to his wound. At least the bleeding was slacking off.

“Dad.”

“Your dad?” Stiles gawked. “I thought he was dead.”

Derek looked at him. Oh, shit… that was the ‘Stiles, you are really starting to worry me’ look. He got that a lot with that fucking nogitsune. He hated that look.

“Nooo…” Derek said slowly, like he was talking to a not-very-bright child. Or a mental patient. “Your dad.”

“My dad? Why would you call my dad? Why would you call my dad ‘Dad’? Wait… you said ‘it’s me’ just now. On the phone. Not like ‘hey, this is Derek’, or ‘yo, Mr. Stilinski, sourwolf here’…”

“Stiles… are you okay?”

Stiles looked up in the general direction of his bleeding head wound in an unspoken ‘duh, obviously not’.

Derek’s eyebrows pinched together, then he shook his head. “Come on, let’s go get you checked out.”

It was still early, and Derek didn’t seem to feel the need to turn on lights in this house – whoever’s house it was – so Stiles didn’t see much of it before he was ushered outside.

Onto a street in a neighborhood he didn’t immediately recognize, leaving a house he didn’t know, led to a car he had never seen before. It was a four-door Honda that looked far too sensible to be Derek’s, and yet Derek opened the driver’s side door and got behind the wheel.

Dumbstruck, Stiles got in the other side and buckled up.

“Where are we?” Stiles asked as Derek was pulling out of the drive. This was all too much, too weird. At least knowing what part of the country he was in would give him some bearings.

“What?”

“What town is this?”

“Stiles… we’re in Beacon Hills.”

“Really?” Stiles looked out the window, but he didn’t recognize anything. “That’s wild.” But this was Stiles’ life, and he knew how this shit went. He’d had a moment of ‘what the fuck’, but he could roll. One had to hit the ground running when they ran with werewolves. “So what’s the situation?”

“I’m sorry?”

“You know… what is it this time? What supernatural beastie were we tangling with? Kanima, resurrected uncle, alphas, Japanese demons… or maybe something new.” Because whatever it was, it laid the whammy on Stiles big time. He was getting really tired of being the one that ended up on the wrong side of fine.

The sooner they rallied the troops, probably the better. “We should call Scott,” Stiles announced.

“Scott?”

“Yeah. Or I guess we could swing by and pick him up. I’m not bleeding that bad that we can’t make a pit-stop.”

“Scott lives in San Francisco… we are not going to get him.”

“He… what? No, he doesn’t. He’s never even been to San Francisco.”

A very heavy silence filled the car. “Stiles… what day is it?”

“Oh my god, are you checking me for a concussion?”

“Humor me.”

Stiles looked uncertainly at Derek. He was being so… nice. He hadn’t growled or manhandled Stiles once, come to think of it. Now Stiles was starting to freak out, because if Derek Hale was being nice, then something was definitely wrong.

“Um… Wednesday, it’s…” he looked at the dashboard clock. “No, Thursday. Shit! My chem final!” He’d been up into the early hours of the morning studying for that damn chemistry final, and now he wasn’t even going to get to take it on time, because genius Stilinski had to go and need stitches put in his face.

Derek didn’t say anything else on the drive to the hospital, but his silence was damning. It gave Stiles a very bad feeling.

*******************

Stiles was feeling pretty grumpy by the time they walked into the emergency room. He looked up, hoping Mrs. McCall might be on duty, but it seemed his luck was continuing its streak of suck. He didn’t recognize the admitting nurse at the desk. And she probably wasn’t on the fast-track to being his best friend due to the dirty look Stiles gave the clipboard and paperwork she pushed his way.

Derek touched his arm. “Go sit down, I’ll fill this out.”

Stiles didn’t even care how – Derek could make it all up for all he cared – he just went with it and found a seat in the waiting area.

In a few minutes, Derek joined him.

Stiles slumped down in his seat, surly and sore. Between the house and the ER, he had a headache. The cut on his forehead was just the icing on the shitty-ass cake, throbbing in time with his pulse. He felt discombobulated and sticky with drying blood. At this point, he didn’t even want to figure out what was going on. He just wanted to go back to sleep and hope it worked like rebooting a computer. He’d wake up and be in his own bed, surrounded by dirty laundry and chemistry notes.

“Headache?” Derek asked.

Stiles nodded.

Derek rubbed Stiles’ back between his shoulder blades and Stiles jerked in surprise. “What are you doing?”

“I’m... helping?”

“I know, and it’s freaking me out.”

Derek gave him that really worried look again.

“Mr. Hale?”

Derek stood and turned to Stiles. “Come on.”

*********************

While the nurse put three stitches in the cut just above his right eyebrow, Derek stood back watching him with that face of worry. He texted on his phone a little, but mostly he hung back and watched. Stiles glanced in his direction a couple of times, not really sure what to do with this Derek that was hovering and protective and, oh yeah, woke up naked in bed with him that morning.

That worry wasn’t doing the guy any favors, either. He looked older. Stiles hadn’t really noticed before. Given the circumstances, he thought he could be forgiven for not being the most aware. But they gave him some painkillers, and it freed his brain up enough to see concern added years to Derek’s face.

“Stiles… are you listening?” the nurse asked.

“Um… not really.”

Stiles hoped her middle name was Patience with how well she tolerated that. “I asked how this happened.”

“Uhhh…”

“Yeah, this I have to hear,” a familiar voice sounded as Sheriff Stilinski walked in the room.

“Dad!” Stiles said with pure relief.

The sheriff, in uniform, came into the room alongside Derek. Hell, everyone looked like crap today. Stiles hated to think he was the reason.

The sheriff came into the exam room, stopped beside Derek, and… put a hand on his shoulder? Stiles openly boggled at that. Since when were Derek and John Stilinski BFFs? “Derek… thanks for the text.”

Derek gave a distracted nod.

“Go on, son… I’d like to hear your version of the story.”

Stiles chewed on his lip. Oh, he did not want to be telling his dad this one. The sheriff would have a fit at the part where Stiles woke up sans clothes with Derek, and Stiles wouldn’t even have a fucking explanation for it. His day just went from bad to worse.

“Um… well, I woke up and… and Derek was in the bed, and I… got startled? Anyway, I kind of fell and hit my head on the nightstand.”

The nurse was eyeing him shrewdly.

His dad frowned. “Why would that startle you?”

“Are you kidding?” Stiles squeaked.

Derek looked personally affronted.

The nurse was not pleased. “Finding this man in your bed startled you?”

There was ‘bad touch’ weight to her words, and it hit Stiles the same time it did John.

“She’s assessing you for domestic violence, son,” John said, voice holding back laughter. Derek actually fucking paled.

“What? No! No, Derek didn’t… he didn’t even touch me. I just spazzed out and flew out of bed into the furniture on my own. Ask anyone who knows me; I’m pretty flaily.” Not that Derek was opposed to slamming Stiles into walls and being fairly abusive as a general rule, but nothing outside the scope of being a surly werewolf with socialization issues and certainly not anything worthy of siccing the law on him. Stiles looked the nurse dead in the eye. “To answer your question, no. There’s no ‘domestic violence’ going on here.” Boy, was she way off base on that one. If Stiles wasn’t weirded out and bleeding, he would laugh.

The nurse looked toward the sheriff, and John’s lack of concern on the matter seemed to sway her more than Stiles did. She relented with a nod. “Okay, Stiles,” she said, cutting the excess off the last stitch, “I think that should just about do it. I’ll just put on a bandage and you should be good to go.”

“Actually,” Derek spoke up, “first, could you make sure he doesn’t have any brain damage?”

John snorted.

“Gee, thanks. Real nice, dude,” Stiles said.

But Derek’s face was all kinds of not joking. “I mean it.”

“Derek?” John came alert.

Derek looked down with Concern, capital C, at Stiles. “He’s been weird ever since he woke up. Weirder than usual for Stiles. He didn’t know what town we lived in, and he wanted to pick up Scott on the way.”

Stiles was gaping at Derek, mouthing at him ‘what are you doing?’ when he caught his eye. If they were on some kind of mission, tracking down a critter or whatever, way to totally not keep it on the down-low.

“Stiles?” Now his dad was giving him that ‘Stiles, you are really starting to worry me’ look.

Well, all right, if they wanted to play it that way…

“Look, I… fine, I’m confused. I mean, I woke up in a strange house naked in bed with Derek Hale. Why is that not bothering anyone else but me here? I really think we should all be flipping our shit just a little bit about that. Especially my dad! I mean, what the hell, Dad? Can you give me one good reason why I would wake up next to him?”

“… because he’s your husband?”

What?!

What?!” Stiles looked quickly at Derek…

Who actually looked kind of fucking gutted. What in the god damn hell??

“Stiles, what’s the date?”

“This again?”

Derek pinned him with a look. “What year?”

“2014.” He looked at his dad to Derek and back again. Their faces said it all. “It’s not 2014, is it?”

Derek shook his head.

“Shit, what year is it?”

“Son… it’s 2021.”

“It’s… no, it can’t be…” But little things he’d been dismissing suddenly became glaringly obvious. Derek didn’t just look older because he was tired. He was older. The same with his father. The years on their faces he’d attributed to the stress of dealing with him were actually just years. Seven of them. And he hadn’t woken up in his bedroom in his father’s house, because why would he? If he was in his mid-twenties, he wouldn’t be living at home anymore.

He looked down at his hands, looking for signs they were older than he remembered, but all he really saw was the ring on his left hand. The ring that he had somehow not noticed, between waking up in the twilight zone and the gushing head wound and all.

“Oh my god…” Stiles jerked his eyes up to Derek. “How the hell did I end up marrying you?”

He meant it in a ‘we never had anything going on beyond grudging tolerance, how could we end up getting along enough to marry each other’ way, but the flash of hurt on Derek’s face made it pretty clear Stiles hadn’t really worded it well.

Shit, now he’d upset his husband.

“I didn’t see any indications of a concussion when I examined him,” the nurse was saying, “but we could schedule an MRI –”

NO!” Stiles jumped off the table and hurried toward Derek and his dad. On reflex, Derek’s hands came up to Stiles’ arms, flexing in readiness to push Stiles behind him, protect him. Which actually wasn’t all that out of character from the Derek Stiles knew. Huh.

“Son, maybe…”

“No, I’m not getting in that machine again.” At his father’s hesitant look, Stiles stage-whispered, “It’s 2014 to me, Dad… think about what was going on back in 2014.” He looked intently at his father, willing him to get it.

And suddenly Sheriff Stilinski did. His face lost most of its color and he flicked a knowing glance past Stiles’ shoulder to Derek. Stiles didn’t look, but Derek’s hands tightened on Stiles’ arms.

“Couldn’t we take him home and just watch him for a while?” the sheriff hedged.

“Mr. Stilinski, Mr. Hale is missing seven years of his memory. That’s a serious cerebral event.”

Stiles was going to have a heart attack. Holy fuck, he was a Hale.

“Trust me, we understand that. We’d just prefer to give him some time to see if his memory will come back on its own. We’ll keep a close eye on him, and if it gets worse we’ll bring him in immediately.”

The nurse was now sporting her sour lemon/difficult patient face. “I really don’t advise foregoing further testing, but we can’t force Stiles to undergo anything he doesn’t want to. You’re free to go, but I strongly recommend you reconsider.”

“Thanks, we’ll do that,” Stiles said hastily. Then he turned to Derek and said in a barely-there whisper, “Get me out of here.” He knew he sounded panicked and pleading but he didn’t care. He heard ‘MRI’ and he remembered coming out of it having done terrible things he couldn’t control, possessed by a chaos demon that wanted people to suffer and die and used Stiles to do it.

Derek nodded. “Sheriff? Would you object to me taking the day off?”

“Of course not.”

Derek tugged Stiles closer, like he might have pulled him into his side if Stiles hadn’t tensed and balked. Derek backed off, looking kind of wounded, and sighed. “Come on, Stiles… let’s go home.”

It wasn’t home. Not really. Not Stiles’ home. At least not that he remembered. But it was refuge from the hospital, where they wanted to stick him back in that MRI. He might never be able to go into one of those machines again, not after the nogitsune. There was probably a lot of fairly innocuous stuff he would never be able to do again thanks to that.

Stiles was one fucked up dude, but apparently that hadn’t been enough to stop someone from marrying him.

Granted it was Derek Hale…

“Hey!” Stiles said suddenly when a thought occurred to him as they were walking through the hospital parking lot.

“What?” Derek asked.

“It’s 2021, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You know what that means?”

Derek gave him a wary look.

“Means I don’t have a chemistry test today.”

Despite the epic levels of what the shit going on, that got a snort out of Derek.