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“Bro, you’re not looking too good. When’s the last time you ate?”

Stiles looks up from his laptop screen to see Scott looking worriedly at him. He straightens up from where he was slouched over, moving sluggishly, realizing Scott’s right.

“Dunno. A week, maybe?” It had been a blood bag from Lydia’s stash, type B positive, two days stale. The human it had come from had a greasy diet, and the blood hadn’t sat well with Stiles. Still, it was sustaining. Better than hunting down some innocent, like the olden days, and let the guilt sit for weeks, maybe months, at what was needed to survive.

“Aw, dude, no. You’re gonna pass out, and after Tired Stiles we get Hungry Stiles, and you yelled at a bunch of undergrads the last time you didn’t take care of yourself.” Scott rushes to the fridge, pulling it open and scowling when he sees only human food, and strides quickly back to Stiles’ side. “Here, come on.” Scott rolls up his shirt sleeve and offers Stiles his forearm.

Stiles takes his friend’s arm gratefully, glad not for the first time that he had the good fortune to meet Scott. Most of his relationships were tainted with the idea that Stiles would live on, and he’d never be able to form anything permanent. It had been Lydia, and only Lydia, for the longest time, and sometimes the decades would run into one another and they’d get tired of each other, Maker and Born, but eventually find their way back together. Stiles learned in his first century that relationships— especially with humans—were fleeting, and that forming attachments would only mean heartbreak in the end.

Scott was an exception, though—Scott had known from the beginning what he was, because when Scott was bitten by a rogue Alpha werewolf in the small town of Beacon Hills, Stiles was the only Registered supernatural being around at the time, just passing through.

It was a terrible situation and incredibly awkward; the nearest werewolf pack at the time was at least two hundred miles away, and it had been a full moon; no help would have come in time, and a newly bitten werewolf, abandoned by his Alpha, could have been catastrophic for the supernatural community.

Everyone is bound by the Code, the tenets that keep their varied magical existences a secret from the human world, and while most people tend to keep to themselves, every once in awhile an anomaly will occur, and whoever is around has to do the best they can to take care of it.

Stiles could have died that night— the true death, the final one— at the claws of that Alpha while trying to get him under control, but Scott, newly bitten, still struggling with his instincts— had saved him, roaring back, holding the other steady until the moon set.

They’d kept the man subdued until the next day, all of them alone in the woods, until a solemn-faced woman named Vextra from the Council with slightly green-tinged skin (“Goblin blood, from my mother’s side,”) in a immaculate business suit had arrived by helicopter to take the Alpha away.

“You should come too,” she said to Scott. “A newly bitten werewolf with no pack is a danger to others. I can find you another pack willing to take you in, and train you.”

“I can’t leave,” Scott had said reluctantly. “I’m pre-med at Berkeley, and I just applied to a dozen grad schools. I have a home here, my mom is here, my friends are here— I can’t— you said the nearest pack is where? What about my career, my future? Will there be packs where I want to be?”

Vextra had run through the Code with Scott, and finally sighed, and said, “You’ll need a sponsor. Someone who’s Registered, another supernatural—”

And Scott had looked at Stiles, and that had been that.

Stiles hadn’t had a reason to stay in one place for so long, but it had been… amazing, actually, having a friend, someone who knew the secret. Scott’s the first person other than Lydia he’s had a close relationship to since, well, he was human, and Stiles doesn’t want to think about Scott’s lifespan, even if it is werewolf-extended.

Scott smiles at him now as Stiles brings his wrist to his lips, inhaling the scent of blood pulsing in his veins. Werewolf blood is bitter and foul, but it sustains him longer; one long feeding from Scott and he can last two weeks or so, but Stiles is careful of how much he drinks; Scott’s studying for finals right now, he doesn’t want to cause him any unnecessary fatigue.

Stiles exhales, letting his fangs drop, and he’s about to sink them into Scott’s wrist when he smells it.

“Oh shit, I’m so sorry,” Scott says, pulling his wrist back in horror. “I took Kira out for dinner earlier and I—”

“Garlic,” Stiles says wearily. “It’s cool, Scott. I’ll stop by Lydia’s office later tonight.”

“Really? This late?

“Yeah, we finally got a version of the serum she wants to start on human trials, and…” Stiles yawns and stands up, stumbling over himself. Wow, he really hasn’t taken care of himself. It’s a good thing Scott caught him in the fatigued stage— the blood thirst will make him irritable, and violent, eventually, and Stiles doesn’t ever want to lose control again. Ever.

Scott catches him by the arms. “I’ll drive you over.”

The ride to the campus is short, wind in Stiles’ hair as they zip through on Scott’s motorbike. Sure enough, the light on the seventh floor is still on. Stiles barely remembers Scott guiding him inside, and taking the elevator up. It isn’t until he’s got a blood bag ripped open in his mouth, warm sweet blood flowing into him that he stirs, sitting upright on the chaise lounge in Lydia’s office. Everything is in sharper focus, and his mind is clear; Scott and Lydia are talking in the lab next door. Stiles can hear two distinct heartbeats, smell the familiar iron-rich blood that’s Scott, strong and unyielding, and also Lydia’s distinct floral perfume with vanilla notes, and the pulse of the fresh blood she’s recently had flowing through her veins—

Two heartbeats. But Lydia’s heart wouldn’t be beating.

Stiles pushes himself off the chaise, standing up, taking another draw of blood, finishing the bag. He stands still, letting it flow through him completely, and all his senses are coming alight now—

Yes, there’s another person in the lab with them, someone who’s heart is beating steadily, sounding achingly familiar somehow, their blood sweet and cloying.

Stiles drops the empty bag and rushes forward, because it can’t possibly be— that scent— who he thinks it is—

He charges into the lab, pushing the door open.

“Welcome back to the land of the living, Mr. Stilinski,” Lydia says with a smirk. “This is one of our test subjects—”

“Derek,” Stiles says, under his breath.