The really worrying thing about the pain, for Stiles, is that it really isn't there. And he knows it should be, because even through the extremely nice, pleasant, comforting cloud of whatthefuck he's wrapped up in, he can smell the blood and he knows it's his and hey, he's not a werewolf so the only way he would be smelling blood is if – well. If there's really a great big fucking lot of it, is how.
Dying isn't so bad. He hopes this is how it felt to Mom. He hopes maybe... he isn't even religious. But he hopes maybe that's what she'll say, if he gets to ask her.
“Stiles,” someone says, and chokes on it. Fingers are patting his cheek. Maybe. Someone's cheek. It may or may not be his. “Stiles, come on, baby boy. Stay with me, Stiles. Stay with Dad.”
Stay with Dad. Right. That's what Mom would say. Stay with Dad. Watch out for him. Give him something to come home to.
“Dad,” he says. Or tries to say. Whatever happened, he guesses it happened to his chest, or his neck, or some other thing he needs for talking, because that right there, that is pain, racking through his whole body sharp and wicked. “Dad.”
And that's Scott and he turns as much as he can in that direction and wheezes at him. “Derek.”
And then, thank God, a large palm resting on his chest, gently, unafraid of the blood and mess of it. “Yeah, I'm here. You willing?”
“Do it,” he says, as forcefully as he can, and somewhere he's aware that Scott is pulling his dad away, his dad is yelling, but he really doesn't have the brain to spare for it.
“You're badly hurt,” Derek says, which, thank you, Derek, he hadn't fucking realised. “So it's going to need to be a little different. Okay?”
“Do it!” he breathes but that's fine, Derek has super wolf hearing and super wolf senses and super nasty wolf blood in his mouth oh God but he's swallowing, like his body is helpless in its death throes and working on pure reflex, and Derek is saying sorry, I'm sorry, strained and tight, but then it's gone and there's a sudden mouth-shaped pain at his shoulder and can he please finally go unconscious now and for once the universe listens to him.
* * *
Derek comes to visit him in the hospital, where it seems that everyone is very carefully ignoring the fact that he came in recovering nicely from fatal injuries and was sitting up in bed and asking for jello six hours after admittance. He's considering majoring in psych just on the back of it, he really is. He'll call his final paper How to ignore the werewolves in your midst, and then write a textbook that he'll sell as a novel and make millions, like the Twilight lady.
He can smell Derek from all the way outside the hospital, although his range even for Dad and Scott is the end of the corridor at best. He's desperate to see him by the time he gets to the doorway and as soon as he's there, real and steady and smelling of alpha and pack and strength, Stiles is reaching for him, embarrassed by his own behaviour but pretty much powerless to stop himself. He's reluctantly impressed by Scott: if this is how he's felt when he saw Derek he did damn well ignoring the pull for so long.
“It's not the same,” Derek says. He touches Stiles' head, thumbing over his temple and managing to make it seem casual, which Stiles is grateful for because it seems to soothe an emptiness he hadn't exactly noticed was there, then looks around the room, hooks Stiles' lone wonky-legged visitor chair with his foot and swings into it. He throws something casually on the bed and when Stiles investigates he finds half a dozen packets of jerky and the last David Foster Wallace novel, which he's been meaning to pick up for months.
“Thanks,” he says. “Everybody else has mainly brought fear and confusion, so a get well soon present is appreciated.”
Derek smirks. “Not well already?”
“Yeah, but we seem to have agreed to operate under a shared delusion that I'm not,” Stiles says. “It's different because you're not the one that bit Scott, isn't it? That's what you meant.”
“That too,” Derek says. His face goes serious; he looks Stiles over, scenting at the air, lingering at his chest. There's still claw marks like faint old silvery scars all over it, but they're not what they were a day ago and in another couple of days they'll be gone completely. “I told you it'd be different, because you were so badly hurt. Do you remember that?”
“I remember,” Stiles says, and there's – something, in Derek's scent, which makes him add, “I remember giving you permission too, you know. Not saying I would've taken the bite if the circumstances hadn't been what they were. But I knew what I was saying.”
Derek nods like it doesn't matter but Stiles can smell the change in him – relief, maybe? Somehow his memory of the scent stays sharp and clear in his mind and he stores it away carefully to think over later. This werewolf thing is amazing.
“I didn't just give you the bite, I shared blood with you,” Derek says. “It secures a quicker, deeper change. When it works. You'll feel more connected to me than a made were that just gets bitten.”
“And vice versa,” Stiles guesses slowly. There's something niggling at him, something he's heard of- “It's the wedding bite, isn't it? How born weres captured their brides. I read about it.”
“Nearly,” Derek says. “Werewolves are matrilineal, the gene is passed through the mother. It was actually usually how born weres captured their husbands.”
“Right!” Stiles says faintly. “Go team go.” He opens a bag of jerky and shoves half in his mouth.
“It was necessary,” Derek says finally. He shakes his head when Stiles offers him jerky. “It doesn't mean anything.”
“Doesn't mean anything?” Stiles says. He keeps his gaze on Derek's, not challenging, just there. “Or doesn't have to mean anything?”