Being stood in the Doctor’s like this in a hospital gown, on the scale, watching her push the balance lower and lower, there was an urge to reach out and snap her fingers off. Stiles’ father was sat behind him in the chair, watching the numbers, and as it got closer, Stiles found himself wishing that maybe it’d be a little lower than yesterday. Maybe the stress might have weaned another pound off, or the space his stomach has had to devour the softness.
The Doctor, a middle aged black woman with kind eyes and an annoying hum. “One hundred and eight pounds. If I recall, that’s quite a drop.” His father’s expression got darker every second, but Stiles had a moment of victory in the lost pound.
Doctor Thompson looked through the file with a mask of concentration. “Last April you weighed a hundred and fourty three. That’s uh….you’ve lost..”
“Thirty two pounds.” The words pushed past his lips in an effort to speed her up more than anything, to get the ordeal over with, but the way his father looks at him after he’s said it is like he’s twisted a knife in him.
“That’s just since the beginning of this term, Doctor.” The Sheriff put in, eying his son, with a deep sigh. “It’s all happened within the last two months.”
After a moment of staring blankly at the documents, she patted the bed. “Stiles, why don’t you sit up here?”
He did as he was told, breathing harsh, eyes on the posters around the walls. Cancer. Obesity. Cancer. Signs of flu. Wash your hands. Cancer. Obesity.
The doctor stood in front of him, eyes expectant. “Okay, let’s take a look. Can we get the gown off your shoulders?”
Frozen, he stared at his Dad’s meaningful glance. “Can I get a little privacy? Y’know, teenage and all.” No one laughed, but John nodded.
“I’ll grab some coffee, be back in a minute.” Stiles looked back down at his lap, scowling harshly. When the door finally closed, she reached forward to inch the gown off him, and looked at him, bones and all. He felt like a child, the mirror opposite making him feel sick to look at how his head seemed over-sized compared to how his body looked. And yet, there were places he could see that were still soft. Still kind of too droopy and weak. He’d need to run those off.
She pressed her fingers to his sides, under his ribs. “Any pain?”
“What about here?”
“Nope.” He said softly, looking anywhere but at her, and the sharp fingers. There was a moment of silence, and she moved away, clicking one hand against the other. Stiles used the oppurtunity to pull the coarse blue material back up over his shoulders.
“So, you’re dieting?” The question caught him unawares.
“I had to, for sport.” Stiles said softly, not really noticing the lie himself. “And I’m kind of partially on a Lacrosse team. I can’t go out in front of everyone looking like a pig.”
She grabbed a blood-pressure arm band, sliding it up over his elbow without undoing it. “And- how do you think you look right now?”
Stiles answered straight away, mind elsewhere imagining Scott telling Melissa in another part of this hospital. Stiles is- Stiles is losing weight. What was so bad with that?
“Okay, I guess. I mean, could be better. Still some soft bits. But hey, I’ll get there.” Cheerful sounding as ever.
“It might sound strange to you, Doc, but up until now, he hid his weight fairly well.” They sat in the office, Stiles dressed again and jigging his knee up and down. He was chewing on a paper clip from his pocket, looking at the obesity poster above the Doctor’s head.
“But that’s not what concerned me. Not half as much as the way he’s changed. He’s become- I don’t know. Quiet and sullen and angry, all the time. He never used to be that way. A totally different person.”
Doctor Thompson shuffled some papers on her desk, but nodded. “We’ll send the blood to the lab to check, but I think the weight loss is deliberate. But to start with, Stiles, we have to get you to eat some more. I’m gonna give you some medication that will help your appetite, and uh...I’d like Stiles to see a psychologist.”
His Dad frowned, hard, face wrinkling up. “A psychologist?”
“Derek Hale. He’s a maverick in the field, but he’s had great success in handling cases like this.” Stiles suddenly popped up from his mindless daze of trying to zone them out. “Hale?” As in another Hale. Another LIVING Hale. Peter never talked about it, so maybe…?
“What is this case, exactly?” His father pressed on.
“Anorexia Nervosa. Self starvation. Usually it’s found in adolescent teenage girls, but in the past few decades, the number of males suffering from it has grown by half. These kids feel no control over anything in their lives, so they deny themselves food in order to control one thing, their body. Also something to do with a fear of growing up, of sexuality, rejection. Anorexics revert to a child-like state, becoming smaller and weaker, and losing the hormones that fire puberty. It’s a very serious disease. Last year five thousand died from Anorexia Nervosa.”
All through this, John’s face had been growing more and more lost. “He’s never had a sick day in his life.”
“It’s not caused physically. I think it’s something to do with the media’s preoccupation with thinness. Every celebrity is either underweight or fat, according to the media. We’re teaching them there is no inbetween. And that’s unhealthy.”
“So..” John’s fists are clenched, and Stiles knows he’s going to be drinking tonight. “What now?”
“We help him. As soon as possible. Because if this continues, Stiles, if you keep starving yourself, I’ll have to put you in a hospital to keep you alive.”
The words go over his head, pushed aside by the thought of ‘You’re SO WRONG’, but the hospital bit sticks. He’s never liked hospitals, not since- he can’t let his Dad get to the point of being alone. That’s something he can’t do.
“You won’t.” He half promises, eyes on the floor.