He lies in a hospital bed for what seems like hours before a nurse stumbles in on him. Stiles’ body feels heavy, sore, and the dry ache in his throat hasn’t gone away. It’s the second time he’s woken in this room, and he’s already has his moment of panic at being alone before he thankfully fell into unconsciousness.
“Oh, gosh, you’re awake,” she stammers, almost tripping up on her own feet. Her scrubs are clean and Stiles sees the blush on her cheeks, vaguely questioning it, but the woman seems to get herself together and she gets him a glass of water.
The machine next to him beeps, the pitch low and the sound steady, and now that his throat isn’t burning he manages to fall back asleep.
When he wakes again his father is there, sitting at the edge of the room. The hope on his face turns to careful relief, and then he’s on his feet before both his hands grip one of Stiles’.
“Hey, hey, kid,” there are tears in his eyes. He looks a lot older than Stiles remembers, with more lines on his face. Stiles hates to have put him through all this again, after his mother. “God, thank God you woke up.”
Stiles tries for a smile. “Dad,” he croaks.
“Just rest, Stiles, please,” his father says, glaring at him when he tries to sit up. It feels like Stiles has been here for years, body stiff and sore all over.
“How long have I been here?” Stiles manages, before another wave of tiredness hits him.
His father puts a hand on his shoulder, trying to get him to stay down. “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “You’re awake now and that’s all that matters.”
His face is wet with tears and Stiles has the feeling he’s hiding something from him. Whatever had gotten him in here can’t have been small or easy.
“Derek’s going to be here soon, I promise.”
Stiles’ eyes have fallen shut but he opens them again, suddenly confused. “Derek?” he says, but his father shushes him and tells Stiles to get more sleep.
There’s something wrong.
It starts when Stiles looks down and sees a ring on his finger, gold and almost new. His heart fucking leaps and he searches the room with frenzied eyes, wondering if someone is playing a joke on him. His father is asleep in the corner of the room, a thin blanket over his shoulders and snoring loud. Stiles wants to wake him, wants answers, wants to know why he’s even fucking in here but he can’t move.
He’s not stupid and now he’s already had too long to think about this, his lungs working hard as he tries to understand why he has a wedding ring on his finger. His pulse must skyrocket because seconds later a man in a white coat is stepping into his room, a calm smile on his face. Stiles doesn’t trust it.
“Mr. Stilinski,” he says.
“How long have I been in here?” Stiles demands.
The doctor’s expression wavers but he steps forward, voice soft and smooth and meant for calming, but it does little to settle Stiles’ nerves. They tell him he’s been in here three months, that there was a car accident while Stiles was driving alone, that he got hit by a drunk driver.
Stiles’ father wakes up and he offers his own version of events. They don’t mention a Derek again. Stiles is too freaked out to acknowledge the ring on his finger and he knows the thought is crazy, but maybe, maybe he’ll figure things out when he sees him.
Stiles will be able to put everything together when he sees the person he married. It can’t be any more complicated than that, it can’t, because Stiles has already lost three months of his life and he can’t bear to have lost anymore.
The doctor is in the middle of doing his checkups when there’s some movement by the door. They hear a gasp, everyone looks up, and there’s a very, very handsome man standing there, his lips parted in disbelief.
“I’ll give you two a moment,” the doctor says, taking a step back and gawking at the man, before he tries to maintain an air of professionalism and exits the room.
The man strides forward, wearing a suit and a rumpled white shirt, a bow tie hanging loose around his neck. Oh God. This is him, this is Derek, and Stiles’ skin grows hot because it’s wrong, all wrong.
“Fuck, Stiles, I’m sorry I wasn’t here –” His face looks distressed, tired, and Stiles stops listening. There are tears in the man’s eyes and over his cheeks, running into dark stubble. He hovers by the bed for a second too long before he decides to sit down. Stiles is still.
It’s Derek Hale.
Derek Hale is in his hospital room, reaching for his hands. His grip is shaky before warm palms slide up and down Stiles’ arms, offering comfort. Stiles tries to sit up properly and it’s an invitation for Derek Hale to wrap his arms around his shoulders, pulling him in for a gentle, yet strangely intense hug.
Stiles closes his eyes, squeezes them tight and tries to make sense of it all. Fuck. He can’t do this, it’s too hard. He knows the man in front of him, but he doesn’t, he really doesn’t.
“God, Stiles, I missed you so much – you have no idea, it was,” he clears his throat, voice moving to a hoarse whisper. “It was so hard without you. I’m so happy; I can’t believe you’re okay. You’re okay.”
Stiles catches a glimpse of his father over Derek’s shoulder, and he has a fond smile on his face. Stiles stays quiet, trying not to look horrified and trying to figure this mess out. Nothing is making sense to him. Eventually Derek gently pulls back and looks Stiles in the eye, thumb against his cheek and expression looking softer than Stiles has ever seen it, anywhere.
“Fuck, you’re hotter in person,” Stiles blurts out.
Derek’s face scrunches up, but he tries for a smile. “So are you,” he says, biting his lip. “Although right now you look a bit worse for wear.”
Stiles is still too confused to look affronted, but he must manage it because Derek gives a quiet chuckle. Stiles quickly realizes he’s out of his depth, only one second away from freaking the fuck out, and he pulls back, keeping his hands to himself. Derek frowns, but takes away his touch.
“Um,” he says, trying to figure out how to break the news. He looks down at Derek’s hand and sees a similar ring to the one he has on his own finger. He stares at it as he speaks. “I don’t, um, you’re Derek Hale. You were in that weird TV show when you were a teenager. You’ve won a fucking Oscar, right?”
Stiles scrunches his eyes together. “Are we married?”
It takes a long, long, moment before Derek responds. Finally, he nods.
Stiles leans back on his pillows. “Fuck, I’m married. I’m married. I’m married to Derek Hale,” he says, staring at the ceiling. Everything seems to hit him at once. He pushes aside the fact there’s a celebrity sitting right next to him, on the edge of his bed, and then thinks of why the fuck he can’t remember him, why he doesn’t know who he’s married to, and how much time he must have lost.
His head swims, and he chances a look at Derek but it’s a bad idea. He looks so lost, and broken, confused, fingers twitching at his sides and shoulders curved over.
Stiles feels like he can’t breathe, and slowly, slowly, Derek seems to back away.
There’s a hand on Derek’s shoulder, and it belongs to Stiles’ father. “Son, do you want me to get the doctor, or should you?”
Derek snaps out of it. He takes another look at Stiles, whose breaths are coming in too fast as he tries to fight off a panic attack, his sight gone fuzzy.
Stiles’ father sits on the edge of the bed, offering soothing words. He manages to calm Stiles down a little and by the time the doctor comes in his vision has cleared. Derek stays, back pressed against the far wall.
“Don’t worry about a thing, Mr Stilinski, okay?”
Stiles doesn’t even try to stop himself from glaring.
They’ve sat him down with some water and another blanket. Stiles’ father had ushered Derek out of the room, looking pained, and Stiles was at least glad that they didn’t seem to hate each other. When they return Derek’s face looks less flushed, but his frown is still deep. He keeps his gaze away as Stiles watches him, a little eagerly.
He remembers last seeing that face across his television screen, as the man walked up some steps to receive an award onstage. Derek’s prettier now than he had been then, even if his eyes look dead and lost.
“Is it...okay if I’m here?” Derek says. “While they ask you questions?”
Stiles shrugs. His mouth waters a little, and he’s still trying to get over the fact that Derek Hale, Oscar winner, is standing in front of him.
They ask him what the last thing he remembers is. Fuck, he doesn’t even know. He doesn’t even remember getting into the car that crashed three months ago.
“Uh, Scott’s birthday? I guess? We went to the beach and hired this shitty cabin and it smelt so bad. We got drunk. We had a good time.” Stiles looks up. “Where’s Scott? Is he here?”
“I’ve called him,” his father says. “You’re still good friends.”
Having to be told that sends a chill down Stiles’ spine.
“And the date? How old are you?” asks the doctor, writing everything down.
“Twenty one? I had my birthday...” Even as he says it, Stiles doesn’t feel like he’s twenty one. He really, really doesn’t, and he has to close his eyes as he asks how old he really is.
The doctor hesitates. “Twenty seven. You’re twenty seven.”
Stiles leans over the bed and throws up.
Apparently it’s a miracle that he’s alive, that he even woke up. It doesn’t feel that way to Stiles because as far as he knows, he’s forgotten a good portion of his life. He doesn’t remember graduating even though he was so close to it; he doesn’t remember his father retiring, after Stiles moved to New York.
The air is strained as they wait for the doctor to do more tests and ask more questions. It seems to take forever and Derek is silent, lip quivering as if he’s trying to stop himself from breaking down. Stiles hates it. He hates that he doesn’t know him, and he doesn’t quite understand why there’s so much concern on Derek’s face.
“I’m sure I don’t have to remind you,” Stiles’ father says, standing up. He folds his arms and stares at both the nurse and the doctor. “Of patient confidentiality. If my son’s condition gets out you’ll be sure I’ll be suing this hospital into the ground.”
Stiles snorts. “Dad, relax. No one’s going to care.”
Derek stares at him and Stiles fidgets under his gaze. “They will,” he says, voice surprisingly low. Stiles realizes he’s barely heard Derek talk, he’s just been this steady presence in the corner of the room while they try to figure out the extent of his injuries.
“Right,” says Stiles. “You’re you.”
Derek meets Stiles’ father’s eyes. He looks desperate but Stiles’ father gives a minute shake of his head, leaving Derek with a grimace on his face. Stiles watches as Derek picks up the fancy jacket he came in with, and he walks out of the hospital room without another word.
The doctor clears his throat. “I’m sure that won’t happen, Mr Stilinski. This hospital has a very good reputation and your son should be very comfortable staying here. Your son’s condition won’t leave the walls of this hospital.”
“It better not,” Stiles’ father says, voice hard. Stiles resists the urge to roll his eyes, but a prickling sensation moves over his skin, and he feels like there is, yet again, something else that he’s missed.
The next day when he wakes up, Derek is sitting there with his hair wet, wearing jeans and a soft, grey shirt. He’s looking down at his hands, thumb running along the smooth band on his finger. Stiles moves and the sheets rustle, Derek’s gaze snapping up.
Stiles coughs awkwardly.
“Morning,” Derek says, voice resigned.
“I see you’re actually wearing normal clothes.”
He gives Stiles a weak smile. “I was at some stupid party for this new contract I’ve signed. I didn’t really want to be there, but it’s the first thing since,” Derek stops his quiet words, “Since your accident. I wish I was here sooner.”
Stiles pauses. “It’s not like I was missing you, anyway.”
Derek abruptly turns his head to the side, away from Stiles. He rubs his eyes, shoulders tensing, and Stiles didn’t mean to be so blunt but he doesn’t feel nearly as guilty about it as he should. Everything’s all so surreal, to the point where he doesn’t care about what he says.
“Do you need anything?” Derek says. Stiles shakes his head. “Okay, I’ll go get the doctor.”
They’re pleased he remembers everything from the day before. Derek barely leaves his side even though they say hardly anything to each other, and Stiles can feel Derek’s gaze on him, watching him when he talks or whenever he moves around.
They tell him he is suffering from amnesia, and that his episodic memory has been the most affected. He still remembers where he’s from, what he studied, general knowledge, how to do math, who Madonna is. He remembers Derek Hale, after all.
Just not the real him, the him sitting in Stiles’ hospital room trying to keep his feelings to himself but failing miserably.
“Can I get them back?” Stiles asks.
Derek shuffles closer, looking surprised. “You’d want that? You’d want everything back?”
Stiles groans, resisting the urge to glare at him. “I think everything would be a whole lot easier for me, wouldn’t it?” he snaps.
“Of course,” Derek says, voice flat. He seems to shrink.
“Can I get them all back?” Stiles repeats.
The doctor hesitates. “We can try jogging your memories, letting you look at significant objects that might help you remember certain events. We can also send you to therapy, but I doubt it, Mr Stilinski. I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up.”
Stiles turns away. His face goes blank and he refuses to answer any more questions. Derek looks just as miserable, hope fading, their life together fading. Stiles can see it disappearing, even though he never lived it.
He’s so fucking torn by the fact that it’s Derek Hale sitting before him and the fact Stiles has no idea who he is. That he probably knows way too much about Stiles than is comfortable. Despite how terrible he looks, sitting there dejectedly, bags under his eyes, he’s still that gorgeous movie star. He’s still the actor that has graced many red carpets, that Stiles had admired, and that many girls wanted to marry.
He tries not to get too lost in his thoughts, but it’s a hard thing when everything’s so complicated. The doctor is trying not to shock him, Derek’s staying quiet, his father is a supportive presence but he doesn’t have all the answers. He hates this, he hates it, and something tells Stiles it’s only going to get harder. He’s close to panicking, but then he’s broken from it all when he hears -
He turns to the door and he can’t stop the grin that pulls onto his face. Scott is there, looking ecstatic, and rushing towards the bed. Stiles laughs, reaching for his friend and then they’re hugging.
“You’re awake, I can’t believe it,” he says, over and over again, squeezing Stiles tight.
“Dude,” Stiles says, when they pull away from each other. “When did you get a beard?” He pokes at it and Scott turns confused, knocking Stiles’ hand away. Stiles sighs. “Didn’t they tell you? I’ve lost my memories!”
He tries to sound cheerful, but it falls flat. Scott is frowning and he looks around the room and finds Derek. Derek stands and smiles weakly, eyelashes long as he stares at the foot of Stiles’ bed.
Scott lowers his voice. “Yeah, they kind of told me. But I thought they meant like, the last three months. Do you, I mean...Derek?”
Stiles shakes his head, and shrugs. He’s surprised when Scott gets up from the bed and walks around to Derek, one hand reaching out to his shoulder.
“God, I’m so sorry, Derek,” he says, and then Scott’s hugging him as Stiles stares. Derek seems surprised too, stiffening before he grips Scott tight. The embrace lasts longer than the one Scott gave Stiles, and he whispers to Derek, body sighing when he gets his answers.
Scott smiles as he pulls back. “Why don’t you get Stiles’ Dad? He’s just coming up; he picked me up from the airport.”
Derek nods, casts one look at Stiles before he walks away.
“You don’t remember him at all!”
Stiles huffs. “It’s not my fault. He’s just some celebrity to me.”
Scott looks pained. He glances down at Stiles’ hand and sees that the wedding ring is still there, sitting on his finger and catching the light. He sighs in relief before smiling cheekily, taking a seat on the foot of Stiles’ bed.
“What’s he like?” he asks.
“Fine,” Stiles says.
“Do you like him?”
“I just met him,” Stiles says, rearranging himself so that Scott doesn’t have to sit on his feet. He’s not sure what to think of Scott getting along with Derek, because Scott’s mostly disliked the people Stiles has gone out with, not that there’s been many. “Besides, he hovers a lot.”
“He’s worried about you.”
“Because he loves me,” scoffs Stiles. Scott raises an eyebrow, scratching at his trimmed beard. His hair is longer than it was when they were in college and he suits it. He looks more carefree than when he’d been balancing two jobs and full time study.
They talk and talk, about easy things, and just before the other two arrive, Stiles catches his friend’s hand and groans at what he finds. “God. I’m not the only one who got married, am I?”
Scott grins. “No,” he chuckles. “I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
Scott still lives in Beacon Hills, in an apartment near his mother. He keeps Stiles’ father company at least twice a week and Stiles is glad that even if he left, there was someone else to stay in Beacon Hills and look after his father.
Derek gives them space. He’s gone for two hours and during that time Stiles is only told about Scott’s life or his father’s life and definitely not his own. It’s too hard to hear about himself, and there are more than a few awkward pauses when things don’t match up.
Scott talks to him like they haven’t seen each other in months, but to Stiles it’s like any other week. Scott’s always been around and they studied at the same college, went to the same stupid parties.
“Dad told me he’s not at the station anymore?” Stiles says. His father is sitting on one of the chairs, half listening to them.
Scott shakes his head. “No, he retired after he got shot.”
Stiles’ mouth drops open. “What? He got shot?” He yells.
“Shit, sorry, I keep forgetting...um, he’s fine, obviously,” Scott says sheepishly, and Stiles glares at his father who, eyebrow raised, taps his shoulder and shrugs.
“I’m fine, son,” he says.
It’s all Stiles can do to stop the frustration clawing at him. So much has happened. There’s so much he doesn’t know about, and he can’t believe he ever left his father alone for a big city. He wants to throw up again, feeling sick and so out of control of his own life.
Scott reaches for his arm and squeezes. “It’s okay, buddy, it’s okay. We’ll get through it. And, there’s something else you should know, so, um, when Derek comes back ask him how you met each other, okay? Have you done that yet?”
Stiles shakes his head. “No. Do I have to?”
They both nod and Stiles sighs, wondering if things are going to get any easier.
It takes until visiting hours are almost over for Stiles to ask. Derek has brought him food, things from their home, things that he might like. It includes a favorite blanket, his DC pyjamas he bought in college, his ratty, red jumper he’s surprised still exists, and they’re all things that he would remember and that would give him some comfort. It scares Stiles more than it should that someone who isn’t Scott or his father knows these things.
“So,” Stiles says, everything awkward, Derek still at the edge of the room and unwilling to leave, even though all he did was sit there and watch Scott and Stiles talk, not wanting to ‘overwhelm’ him. “How did we meet?”
Derek looks at him, takes a deep breath. “It – it was on the set of Crown for a Criminal. I was the lead actor.”
Stiles falters. “Wh-what?”
“Your books. People like them. I love them. You got published.”
Stiles swears, and suddenly the sheets are too tight around his legs. He needs air, he needs it now and he can’t deal with another bomb dropping like this. It’s not fair. It’s not fair.
“Books?” he finally says, voice hard to hear.
“You’ve released two of them.”
Stiles feels his heart do something weird in his chest. His books. “My fantasy series?” He demands, getting angry. Derek nods. “I hadn’t finished writing them! I’ve only half finished the first draft!”
He’s yelling, he knows he’s yelling but he can’t stop. Stiles swears and Derek looks heartbroken and all Stiles can think of is that his fantasy series has been in his head since he was fifteen. It can’t be written. Two whole books can’t be written. There’s still so many things he hadn’t figured out yet, and then Derek’s coming closer, thumb running over Stiles’ wrist. The sweetness of it, the shock of it, seems to calm Stiles down.
“It’s written,” Derek says softly. “And it’s very popular.”
“No, no, no – it can’t be. It’s not done. I still have so much to do,” he says, and then he curls over, away from Derek, bringing his knees up to his chest. Derek’s hand drops away. Neither of them moves.
It seems like hours later when he finally lets himself turn back to Derek. He stares at him, admiring the soft curve of his cheeks and the pinkness of his lips. His eyes are stunning and his hair is dark, a perfect fit for the character Stiles created.
He was sort of an inspiration – looks wise at least, for the main character. Stiles had admired Derek Hale from afar, when he was on that stupid TV show and then when he started to make increasingly better and better movies, and then finally winning that award.
Stiles wonders if Derek knows that, if Stiles ever admitted that he was the starting point to his whole fantasy series.
Judging by the soft, cheeky smile that emerges on Derek’s face, almost too fond, it tells Stiles that he knows. Of course he knows. It’s too much to comprehend.