Stiles' favorite position to sleep in was on his back, sprawled across as much of the bed and Derek as his body could cover, usually with his head tipped up and back by the pillow. It'd taken time and negotiation and actual physical force (when he had to pick Stiles up and move him the first two weeks they were sleeping together) to figure out how to share a bed but Derek liked it now, especially when he got in bed first because he became one of the things that Stiles draped himself across. Intimacy, comfort and the bonus of all that pale, soft neck, right there, open and exposed for him to rub his nose against as they drifted off together. Exposing the throat was the ultimate position of submission and even though, in reality, there was nothing submissive about Stiles the trust of it all made Derek feel at home and safe.
All of that just drew into harsh contrast how horribly wrong Stiles looked right now. Almost on his stomach, curled in onto his side and with he's knees half tucked up towards his chest. Stiles' whole body was on the defense. The sheets pooled around his waist, exposing the lines of around his ribs and the angry red blotches around the edges that hid stitches. Derek knew that the only reason Stiles' bruised and bandaged arms weren't curled around their son right this moment was because Connor was not yet two, and fussy.
Four of Stiles ribs were cracked, on top of the four long gouge marks stitched shut on his back and kidneys the doctors had said they should "watch". Their baby boy couldn't stay still, just like his Daddy, not even when he was sleeping. With a normal child, being close in with Stiles in that condition would've been safe enough, even with all his energy.
The problem of course was that Connor wasn't normal. From his frankly magical conception to his manifestation of werewolf abilities at six weeks, Connor was anything but. Except there was nothing abnormal about the way Connor loved his Daddy so much and didn't understand why his tiny baby world was thrown out of whack by the fact that he couldn't get hugs from him right now. Connor loved his aunts and uncles and his Papa but they weren't Daddy.
It would hurt Derek's feelings if he weren't so strained with worry over both of them and if Connor hadn't made it very clear over the last twenty-four hours that he could tell that his Daddy was missing. Loudly. With tears. And screaming. And sobbing that broke Derek's heart. "Papa," Connor declared with grabby hands tipped in razor sharp claws. "Papa, Daddy!" Connor hiccupped. The whole thing made Derek want to throw himself off something very tall onto very sharp rocks.
However, the drugs Melissa had the doctors give Stiles on his release must have been amazing because he'd somehow managed to sleep through the entire thing. The tantrums Connor had had since the pack came home from the hospital, some of them lasting literally for hours (all focused on Daddy and his absence) should have been loud enough to bring the refurbished house down. Not that it was a huge surprise. Daddy was one of the few words in his small vocabulary that he said with perfect articulation every single time. Even when he was covered in snot and tears and fur and fangs.
Isaac finally got him down an hour ago. Derek suspected exhaustion got to the poor kid but he couldn't be sure. He just thanked his beta, repeatedly, and took the stairs with all his speed to their bedroom.
Only he never went any farther, getting frozen in the doorway instead. Derek wondered if he'd ever come unstuck from this moment where he was awake and Stiles was asleep in the wrong way, broken and battered in their bed, or if they'd be trapped alone together in this room forever. The image was less terrible than a feral omega nearly killing his mate - hunched over their child, protecting Connor with his body - but only because that was reality.
He didn't think about what would've happened if Boyd hadn't heard Connor's first desperate wolf howl and come running. He couldn't. If he did, he'd start destroying things and wouldn't stop until the world was burned to the ground. He already wished he could bring the omega back to life so he could kill the bastard again, rip him in half with his teeth and gorge on the blood of the monster that dared to try and take his family from him. His.
He growled, grumbling low and involuntary in his chest. Stiles stirred and lifted his head. The smell of pain that'd followed him since the attack was still there; so were the aromas of their bedsheets, Stiles' blood, and the strange medication, but the acrid scent of panic rolled off Stiles as he came awake was new.
"Connor?" he asked on a moan. It was the same question he asked every time he'd gained consciousness.
Derek moved across to him, carefully sitting down on the bed. "It's okay," he murmured as he dragged his blunt human fingernails through the fuzz of Stiles' hair. "He's with Isaac right now. You kept him safe."
"I should- he was- " Stiles began, trying to push himself up. Derek put a hand on his shoulder and didn't even have to use force to keep him down.
"He's good. He's beautiful and perfect, just like always, but you know if go in there now your heartbeat will wake him up and he only fell asleep a few minutes ago. You think we can give him an hour or two? It's been a rough couple days for him too."
Asking for this was one of the worst things Derek had done in a long time, up to and including the moment a few days ago where he literally ripped the omega in half. Stiles needed to see their son, Derek knew that - fuck he knew better than anyone. It was just that Connor had been so wrung out, so exhausted from the trauma and stress and confusion that when he finally crashed it wasn't so much falling asleep as passing out. Derek was trying here, trying to find the right balance so that he could take proper care of these two people he loved more than life. Only he wasn't sure if he was managing it. The doubt and guilt and failure all felt like pieces of him slowly ripping away.
If Stiles decided to argue with him, then fine. Derek would pick Stiles up and carry him into Connor's room and they'd deal, dignity be damned. It might even be the right thing to do only... Stiles clearly needed the time to put on a game face, even if it was paper thin.
All Derek could do was hold his breath and hope he'd said enough of the right things to keep Stiles in bed for now. He held Stiles' gaze and willed him to see that he knew, he understood. Connor was their baby. On this they could trust each other completely. So he held his breath then let it out as Stiles' whole body melted back into the mattress. He was taking that as a yes; thank fuck.
Derek toed off his shoes and sprawled out beside Stiles, close but not touching. He didn't know what hurt or where. He didn't want to make it worse.
"You smell," Stiles muttered, shifting a little, moving closer to Derek. Before he got very far, a groan escaped his throat. It was a pained noise so Derek put his hand back on Stiles' shoulder to halt his progress. Derek moved instead, pressing them flush together, loving the contact even as he hated the fact that Stiles' pain was no doubt spiking. He did it anyway, despite the fact that he knew it must hurt Stiles because this was what he wanted. Derek stopped assuming he knew what was right for Stiles years ago. "Seriously," Stiles continued once he was settled. "You just stink. It's awful."
He couldn't help but smile; that was the single most comforting thing Stiles could've said. "Yeah well, stress makes you sweat."
"We've got indoor plumbing. I even remember when it was installed. Right after you got a roof. And doors that lock."
"Mmm," Stiles hummed. "No. I haven't talked in awhile have I?"
Days. Days and days. Over a week since it was coherent. Derek didn't count the morphine babble in the hospital after the surgeries (once to repair the initial damage and again when they found an infection along the repairs) as talking. It wasn't real Stiles chatter, the kind that could crash over cliffs or smooth over unseen wounds.
So this was good. This was fantastic but Derek knew better than to say so. "Yeah. I actually got a word in edgewise. It was a shiny new experience."
"Oh, the Alpha's got jokes."
"I'm a funny guy."
"Uh-huh. You're Mr Funny Wolf. It's your defining character trait."
"Yep," Derek agreed before pressing his lips against the uninjured skin on the back of Stiles neck. It tasted like the antibacterial soap Melissa used when she cleaned away dirt and grime with a sponge in the hospital - every day, without fail, even though no one asked or expected her too. Under that was the taste of Stiles' skin and the feel of his pulse against Derek's lips. He could be normal again, feeling that heartbeat steady and strong with only the strain of recovery taxing its even rhythm.
"You don't have to be scared anymore," Stiles promised, which was fucking ridiculous. He was the one who was attacked. He was the one whose body was torn at from behind so deeply that the doctors had to go in and repair his organs. Yet here he was, talking about fear. Typical Stiles.
"I'm not scared."
"Funny and a bad liar. Just full of interesting character traits that make you a special special snowflake." Stiles chuckled for a second then stopped with a hiss. "Ow."
Derek dragged his knuckles down the undamaged skin on the side of Stiles' neck. "You okay?"
"Yeah. Well, no but yes. I'm fine. I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for the love in the non-carnal sense."
Derek chuckled into his skin. He could smell the pain even though Stiles said he was alright. There were no outward indicators but he could almost feel the knot of tension in Stiles that was screaming babybabybaby so he kissed the back of his neck again and said "Let's lie here like this for another couple of minutes, make sure you're not going to drift again and then I'll go get the cub. How's that sound for a plan?"
Stiles' breath hitched but other than that he didn't react. "I thought he was sleeping."
"He is but I was more worried about you than him when you woke up. Isaac had him. I knew he was okay. You..." You, Derek thought, I wasn't so sure about.
"How many minutes?"
"Ten. Final offer."
Stiles sighed. "Ten. Just to make sure I can stay awake?"
"Just to make sure," Derek promised. Stiles went limp as cooked spaghetti all at once and exhaled loud as a fog horn to Derek's sensitive hearing. He huffed an agreement against warm clean healing skin and glanced at the clock on the bedside table on Stiles' side of their bed over his shoulder.
The digital numbers clicked by slowly but surely until Stiles poked his arm and said, "That's ten and I'm still awake. You have to go get him because I can't actually get up."
"I know. I just don't like the thought of leaving you alone."
Stiles rolled his eyes so hard he actually winced. It was cute actually. Derek wanted to kiss the wrinkle in his forehead away. "Hurry and bring back our baby then," he demanded with a jerk of his chin that was as close to commanding as he could manage in his weakened state.
It rocked Derek to his bones every time Stiles said that: our baby. He never forgot that Connor was a piece of both of them: born of magics that they'd had to beg out of Deaton and resources they'd had to scour four continents to find. He never said my, was never selfish about this, the one thing he could be the most greedy with. Moments like this were when Derek loved him most of all.
He slid out of bed carefully and padded next door to Connor's bedroom. Isaac was sitting in the rocking chair next to the bed, his eyes locked on Connor. He didn't look up when Derek walked in, just sighed as Connor mewled and stirred at the sound of his father's heartbeat, beginning to cry.
"You know I just got him down, Derek. I'm just one man."
"I know," Derek soothed, bending over the crib. Connor quieted a little as his papa's face came into view, cautiously patient but ready to let rip at any moment. "But you-know-who woke up, so."
"Ah." Isaac nodded. "Okay. I'm going to go crash then. Call if you need anything."
Derek hummed in agreement and cuddled Connor close to his bare chest as they left Connor's room. The smell and heat went a long way to relaxing the little boy, lulling him back into a doze for the full thirty seconds until his daddy's heartbeat came into earshot. Then he was awake, alert, babbling "Daddy," over and over until Derek was settling him on the mattress, resting a hand on his back.
"Gentle, Connor," Derek said in a calmer, quieter version of the Alpha voice. "You have to be gentle with Daddy. He's got some hurt places so be gentle."
Gentle was another of those concepts they'd been working on since pretty much day one. A werewolf infant needed to know care, control, and delicacy as early as possible, and no doubt, Connor could smell Stiles' pain too, could understand it on a primal level even if he didn't have a word for it. That plus what they'd been trying to teach him was enough for him to crawl across the bed and grab Stiles' ear in a gentle squeeze, give him a gummy smile full of small baby teeth and say "Daddy, hi."
Stiles didn't role off his stomach, probably couldn't, but he did lift his hand to cup the back of Connor's entire head and Derek could smell his tears, taste the salt in the air. "Oh, baby look at you. You look so good, thank fucking god."
"Shut up. He can't tell the difference. And he's perfect. You're perfect, Con, you know that? You're my superboy."
Connor grinned at Stiles then yawned, long and loud, with his mouth all the way open in case they dared miss the point. "Sleepy Daddy," he declared in the precise phrases of a toddler determined to be understood. Derek wasn't sure if he was referring to being tired himself or the explanation they'd all been giving Connor: his Daddy was just really sleepy and needed to rest for the last few days.
Of course Stiles was Stiles and felt the need to prove once again that he was a far better parent than Derek could ever hope to be and covered both tracks with one response. "Yeah," Stiles agreed. "I am. I'm really sleepy, baby. Come cuddle with me? We'll both sleep better that way. Papa can come sleep with us too. Won't you Papa Wolf?"
"Stiles," he warned because the last thing he wanted was for that nickname to get around - things like Sourwolf, Fearless Leader, and Unibrow were bad enough - but there was no heat in it. It was hard to be upset about anything when he was crawling into bed with his child and his mate, both of them whole and alive and if not healthy then well on their way there.
Connor was asleep in a few heartbeats, leaving Stiles and Derek awake in the dark. He could still see every scratch and bruise shadow on Stile's face like it was daylight,. It was like bad tie-dye on perfect fabric, or something, Derek didn't know. He wasn't the one who had a way with words. All knew for sure was that his husband had their baby in his arms again and they were both safe, for the first time in over a week. It was like the universe had realigned and gravity was finally working the way it was supposed to.
"You're frowning," Stiles whispered although there really was no point. Connor could hear everything they said anyway.
"I'm not frowning."
"You are. Your mouth is turned down and your lower lip is pushed out and your eyebrows are all crinkled. This is smile time, grumpy. We're better. We're together."
"We almost weren't," Derek said because now that they were both here, both breathing and resting in his arms - it was like a tidal wave of stale fear and bitter anger crashed over him. He had time to feel it now. They were all right. They both lived, they were okay, and he was allowed to feel again now that he was sure. Derek wasn't sure that was a good thing though because he felt so much that he found himself physically shaking.
Stiles placed his hand on Derek's neck and ran his thumb over his throat, rubbing it rhythmically up and down like he might a pet cat. He had never done that before, not in all the years they'd been married, the longer years they'd been together. It wasn't the sort of thing Derek would have imagined happening if he'd had a life-time to dream it up but it calmed him somehow.
The longer it went on, the more the shaking eased. By the time his body stilled he felt anchored to the earth, like Stiles' hand was as good as any rope keeping him from floating into off into a mental universe of 'could have been's.
He wasn't sure why exactly. Maybe it was the placement of Stiles' hand, the connection of submission and devotion inherent in bared throats in wolf culture? Derek didn't care to be quite honest. He just cared about the way Stiles was looking at him over their son's downey black hair, eyes bright in the dark.
"It was my turn to do the saving anyway," Stiles murmured, petting Derek even though he was the injured one, the one who should be getting taken care of. "I've been keeping track, you know - like Legolas and Gimli."
Derek snorted. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. For the record - I'm Gimli because despite my less impressive physical prowess I kick ass and am, of course, the funny one. You're Legolas because you're the quiet one with hidden snark, are way too pretty to exist, but you also kick ass."
"You figured out which characters we are." Derek sighed. He would bet money that Stiles had mentally cast everyone in the freaking pack as someone from the trilogy. "Why am I not surprised?"
"Because you know me," Stiles said. He leaned forward and pressed a warm, soft kiss to Derek's lips. "Because you love me," he adds, giving Derek another kiss.
Derek breathed a "Yes" into the kiss just as Connor squirmed and resettled between them. They both glanced down to find him still asleep, his little face slack, drool at the corner of his mouth. Derek watched Stiles grin in the dark then he gave one more kiss, this one to the top of Connor's head, and whispered, in a halfway decent impression of Andy Serkis' Gollum voice, "And we loves it, don't we? My own, my love, my precious."
"You're deeply creepy. Don't call our baby that," Derek demanded because what the hell? On the other hand, the whole thing made Derek want to laugh, really laugh, for the first time since he skidded into the hospital to find a screaming Connor, and Stiles already surgery.
"Mmkay. But in my defense, I'm on like, a lot of the good drugs right now."
"You smell okay. Do you still hurt too bad?"
Stiles shrugged but didn't answer which meant, yeah, even through the oxy, it did hurt. Stiles was more likely to complain when there wasn't a real problem which, fuck that. Derek wasn't allowing that. He ran his fingers through Stiles' hair and took a deep breath, focusing on pulling the toxic pain out of his mate and into himself through the contact.
He knew when he started because of the vibration in his veins. There was a very specific feeling that came with this particular power and that manifested to Derek as a shivery, cold-warm-ache. His body was hyper aware of Stiles as his tense human muscles relaxed fully into the mattress. The sucking, whirling magic sensation of pulling pain out of Stiles, drawing it into himself to disperse knowing that it would lessen the pain, was one of the most intense physical manifestations of loving Stile that Derek had ever achieved. So much so that it took his breath away, for a moment there.
"My husband's magic." Stiles' voice was slurred, sounding more drugged now than the actual drugs had made him, likely from pure relief. "And my baby is awesome. I'm going to sleep now while life is perfect." Stiles said, his injured arm draped over Connor and resting on Derek's throat, his healthy one half pinned beneath him, but free enough to rest his fingers against their son's back. All of Derek's senses indicated that Stiles was content, that sleep was close. Thank God for that.
"Sounds like a plan." Derek agreed. "I'll be here when you wake up."
"Good. That's good,"
Derek nodded even though he knew neither Stiles nor Connor could see him. That didn't matter. He could see both of them clearly through the darkness. "Yeah. It is."