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They’ve made it maybe half a mile by Stiles’ estimate, although his estimates are based on running back and forth across the field at school, not on uneven terrain in a hardwood forest, so he could be off. Either way, it isn’t that far. Not far enough for him to feel so tired, as if they’ve actually been running for hours.


His footfalls grow heavy, clumsy, until he’s not really running at all. Derek’s just dragging him until they grind to a halt.


To Stiles’ dismay, his legs go out beneath him, shaking and numb, almost paralyzed, the way he’d felt when the kanima’s venom had coursed through his veins and oh.


Derek catches him and eases him to the ground.


Stiles doesn’t want to be on the ground. He wants to be upright. Possibly running again. Running would be good, what with the buzzing bitey bugs they encountered more or less than half a mile away.


“Dude,” he says, moving his tongue slowly to fight what feels like a drunken slur. “They were poisonous?”


“I’ll carry you now,” Derek says. Which really isn’t an answer. Definitely not the right answer, anyway.


“They bit you too,” Stiles says, maybe a little petulantly. Why is it always something werewolves heal from and not like, wolfsbane-spitting faeries? Not that wolfsbane-spitting faeries are something he actually wants to encounter.


“I’ll carry you,” Derek says again, before he hauls Stiles up into a fireman’s carry and begins running.


Bobbing against Derek’s back, with consciousness becoming a fluid thing, Stiles can’t tell how far they’re running at all. But he knows off hand that it’s four miles back to the car, and that on foot, that could still be about and hour and—


Trees are so weird. They’re bendy and the bottoms are like the tops but underground and—


His head hurts—


The passenger seat in the Jeep has a lump in the cushion, like a hard bruise. Why hasn’t anyone ever mentioned how uncomfortable it i—


Who keeps screaming? It’s so loud—


“Stiles? You’re holding your breath.” Sandpaper against his face. “Stiles. Don’t hold your breath. We’re almost there, just breathe in, come on, and out. In and out.”












After a while, Stiles checks back in. Bright lights are not his best friend.


Derek gets this look when he’s worried, like he’s younger and tired all at once. It’s probably weird to tell him this but, “You’re kind of pretty when you’re freaked out,” Stiles says. Croaks, actually. It’s remarkably frog-like. “I mean that with admiration, not like, I mean I’m not making fun of you.”


“See?” Huh. Deaton’s here. “Right as rain,” Deaton says.


Derek puts his hand on Stiles’ forehead like that’s some kind of actual form of medicine or diagnosis. Although maybe it is. Werewolves, and all. “He’s still hot.”


“That’s a good thing,” Deaton says. “Elevated temperature is the body’s defense. He’ll be fine.”


Stiles grins. His mouth is dry and his head is pounding but he’s totally alive. Fuck you, buzzing bitey bugs. “You said I’m hot,” he says.


Derek shakes his head, his mouth tight in a way that looks less angry and more... “Adorable,” Stiles’ brain supplies. Out loud.


“Yeah,” Derek says. “He’s fine.”