The cold softness, the dimness of the room, and the breath of another human being was what brought Stiles back. Harsh crisp hospital sheets and the uncomfortable feeling of being lost. He turned over, slowly, still feigning sleep. With the sheet over his face, he glanced up at the figure of Derek Hale watching him, with a relatively calm expression.
Eyes peeking over the sheet, Stiles finally made eye contact. “What time is it?” His voice was quiet, throat inexplicably sore.
Derek shifted a little in his chair, sighing. “About two am. So...Where were you going tonight?”
The skinny boy in bed tried to sit up, muscles burning and heavy and tired. “Nowhere.”
“You mean that’s where you ended up, because you were too weak to go anywhere else.” Derek rest an elbow on his knee, face sad, but calm. Stiles turned away from him, feeling something like unease driving under his skin. He stared down at the floor beside the bed, leant against the white plastic bars even though it hurt his ribs.
“Want to talk?” Derek asked, and Stiles didn’t respond, running a finger over his bottom lip with a cold finger. “Hungry?” Immediately, Stiles turned over his shoulder, throwing Derek a stinging look.
“I’m sorry.” Derek replied, raising a hand. “When I’m tired, I ask dumb questions. Of course you are.”
He just turned away, lying back down on his side and closing his eyes.
“Do you play backgammon?” Derek asked, with slight pause for any answer. “Chess? You like puzzles?” Stiles still gave no answer, expression tight. “
“I like puzzles.” The therapist looked down at his hands for a moment. “Couldn’t get enough of them as a kid. My sister, she’d hide the pieces.” His expression was so soft, a small smile on his lips, and his eyes full of memories. “I’d just about have the puzzle completed, and I couldn’t find the missing pieces. I think it amused her, to watch me stomping about, trying to find two pieces of a white cloud. Or two pieces of George Washingto-”
“I’m tired, Derek.” Stiles said, boredly, rudely, turning over to look at the ceiling.
For a moment, there was silence. “And then, when I got tired of looking for the missing pieces, I’d cry and she’d bring over the missing pieces and she’d laugh. And she always said, she always said the same thing, Laura did.” He paused, staring at nothing with a smile, his hand in the air holding an imaginary puzzle piece. “You’re too young for puzzles if you cry over missing pieces.” Story over, Derek smiled at Stiles, with his pale face in the bed. “You know what I learnt from her? The moral of the story?”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I still go up the wall if I can’t find the missing pieces till this very day.” Derek said, brows lifting as he yawned gently.
Stiles watched him, expression softer. The Hales, the dead Hales, apparently people too. People who played with puzzles and made their siblings cry. “I suppose there’s a message in all of this.”
“No. None.” Derek replied, looking round at the window out at the dark sky, and the full moon. “I just wanted to see if you were listening.” Leaning forward, he put a hand on the plastic side of the bed. “Stiles, you say you’re not sick, you want to go home, so you run away, but you don’t have the strength to cross the street. That’s a puzzle.”
They exchanged a look, and for a moment, Stiles felt like Derek could see right inside him, to all the emptiness and the fullness.
“You get some sleep, I’ll be around if you want to talk to me. Okay?” After a brief stretch, the Hale got up, and left the room, closing the door gently behind him.