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Best Little Nothing In The World

Chapter Text

Stiles started running. When he ran like this, cold and empty, his head changed, became on edge and quiet and strong like steel.
The pounding of each foot on the sidewalk was like the feeling of his heartbeat through each bone in his body. He likes that now, that the body, his body has become this, a connection of bones to stomach to brain, to fingertips, to mouth, to feet. There are no nerves in this system.

It feels like the beginning of a lifetime movie, getting lost in the ethereal piano music playing in his head. He could imagine Lydia Martin all in white, floating like some spectre or banshee over him, singing softly in an other-worldly key. When he ran on nothing, he felt other worldly.

He was the best nothing in the world. The most invigorating brilliant thrumming waste of space. Limitless. It was nicer than reality.

Stiles Stilinski was running in his red La Crosse tracksuit, the air cold on his buzzcut, on his slightly too soft cheeks. His eyes were glazed honey, focused. Light flashed through the trees like strobes, reminding him of the club last night. Of all the people who had suddenly been covered in blood. Of the tiny creatures Scott had traced down with the others, with Isaac and Peter. Of how they’d gone, leaving him to stare at the bodies, and realise he should probably go too. The darkness had been stifling that night.

And then tried to zone all that out. He had to focus on breathing now, on how the breath was getting hard to keep, was being ripped away from him. Out of breath. A nasty thought. Unfit, out of breath.

As he rounded the corner back towards his house, the Sheriff passed on his way out to the car. The man was smirking, doing a funny running impression, dragging in breaths.
“How far, boy?”
“Hey, Daddy-O. Two miles.” Stiles responded, with his usual cheer, and grin.
The Sheriff slid past to the car, sliding in. “Don’t forget your school work, okay kid?”
And Stiles kept jogging inside.
The kitchen seemed cold and stark after his shower, and Stiles flipped through the paper, shirt and jeans still sticking to his skin slightly after his shower. There was half a slice of dry toast in his hand, and the backpack was already on his back, but he had half an hour to lose on his own in the house. Sometimes he missed the sound of his mother’s laugh in the kitchen, and in the halls. He missed her pancakes, and her angry views at the news, and the paintings she’d be halfway to finishing on the table beside her food. How there was rarely room for his father or him to eat their breakfast. She’d taken so much space up with the things she’d made.
There was always too much space now. A lot of empty space.
He text Scott, fingers cold and slightly damp on the keys.

[SMS://; Who you gonna McCall? ] Dude, did you get back last? Are you okay? Be at school! DO NOT BE DEAD. Did you die? PLEASE DO NOT BE DEAD.

The image of Scott covered in blood, wolfed out and angry, ripping out someone’s throat. Even a bad guy’s throat. The feeling that some night, it would be the other way around.
Looking around him once more, the toast in his mouth felt over-chewed, lumpy, sour-tasting. He spat the mouthful into the bin.

Chapter Text

“Did you see the new teacher?” Isaac asked, piling lasagna onto his plate in the lunch queue. “She looks like Megan Fox.”
The room was bustling with people. Lydia pulled a face. “Megan Fox. In your dreams. The washed up version, maybe.”
Stiles smirked, and looked over the food there with an odd expression. “Isn’t that the current version?”
His best laughed like an idiot, and all the deep gashes in his face had healed up, and Stiles felt like they’d kind of been drawn into him instead. “Greenburg says she’s single.”
The dark haired girl next to him pulled a face. “And what would Greenburg know about that?”

And Scott like the puppy he is, tried to please her. “When she was writing on the board in English, back turned, he was all, ‘So Miss, Are you married?’ and she turned around with this gleam in her eye and said, ‘To whom it may concern, the answer is no. Back to Shakespeare, okay?”
Stiles started to laugh. “Oh my god, where do you go to change to your class for English?”
“The line forms behind me.” Isaac replied with a smug expression, dragging Allison over to a table, and away from Scott. Stiles took Scott over with them, his mind totally focused on saving the puppy dog eyes Scott was known for.

All seated, Stiles looked down at the salad he’d seemingly picked out in his hurry, and stabbed his fork at it mindlessy. Scott beside him was doing the same with the lasagne, eyes on Allison and Isaac.
“I can’t eat. I’m too nervous. What if I screw up and lose my glorious bench position?” Stiles said, jabbing Scott in the ribs.
Isaac laughed, and Lydia threw him an amused glance. “Everyone knows you’ll do it this time, Stiles. You’ve been running from baddies long enough.” Lydia went back to chewing on her salad, split neatly into a smaller portion.
“What’s that meant to be?” Stiles asked, watching her.
“On a diet.” She snipped back, glancing up. “My mother’s got this thing about flab.”
“You’re not flabby. You’re like the opposite of flabby, Lydia.” Allison leant round Isaac to frown at her.
“You’re not my mother.” Lydia retorted, chewing a tomato dispassionately. “But it’s okay, the rewards are terrific. I get five hundred shopping money for losing five big ones. Which is an add-on to looking even more fabulous in a short skirt.”
“I’d lose twenty pounds for that.” Stiles smirked, picking up a piece of cucumber to chew with between his fingertips. It felt cold and crisp and nice in his mouth.
On the field, Scott had just shot the goal past Aiden, and totally nailed it, getting a first line slip from Coach as he ran round to the bleachers. Stiles walked up next, finally coursing with a little concentration, and motivation. Maybe this year he could do it. He’d already done so much, what was this?
“Stiles Stilinski, trying out for first line because I’ve never really left the bench. Wish me luck.”
Coach counted down to one from three loudly, and the air was course, and cold, and for a moment, he knew he could do it. He could do this. He could do anything.
He ran, scooping up the ball, and feeling the weight balanced so easily. Dodging past the player in defense, knowing about his teeth and claws made that so much easier, Stiles jumped, and flipped the ball, and muscle memory aimed him right, and...there it was. In the net. Bouncing on the ground.
He’d done it. Like that. No problems…
Around him, seconds later, his friends started cheering. Like it was happening in slow motion, he grinned so wide, hands above his head.
And someone off to one side, some girl in a pair of dungarees, called out his name. “LOVE THE WAY YOU MOVE, CUTIE. PUT CUTE-ASS ON YOUR TEAM, FINSTOCK!”
Stiles stopped dead, turned around to stare out into the crowd, at the group of girls in the stands, laughing at him. Swallowing, red cheeked, he ducked his head, feeling shame well up in him. So he was goofy. Wow. He was goofy, and an idiot, and why did he even bother. Even Finstock was laughing at him, and despite everything, he knew that nothing would change. Stiles Stilinski would always be a loser.

Chapter Text

There’s music slowly playing on Stiles’ computer, and he’s alone in his room, slowly folding shirts, and sliding them into the right place in his chest of drawers. The black ikea slides so smoothly, it fills him with this kind of calm. Then socks, a drawer lower, in soft parcels, in neat lines.

Now, waiting for something bad to happen, he goes to the wardrobe, where neat hangers lie in rows, and starts reorganising them. Red, then brown, then black, then grey, then white, then yellow, then green, then blue. So on and so forth. It’s filling space. There’s so much space on the outside, and so much stuff on the inside. He’d like to switch it round.
On his laptop sits pages and pages of research, more translations of the bestiary. Maybe he should work on that. He should work on that.
While researching on the web, his eyes fall on a picture away from the slender sprites he was looking at. It’s a boy, his age, with jeans so tight you’d think a normal person would be busting out of them, but this one was...not. HIs legs were tiny and slender, but obviously toned, and his torso wiry, like a Glaswegian fist fighter. The position he was in, bent back like a soloing guitar player, showed just how lean and tiny his stomach was. Stiles’ hand automatically went to his own stomach, and jumped slightly at the softness there.
No wonder the girls laughed.
They’d ordered take-out again, and the Sheriff leant over his carrot sticks with a miserable expression. “I miss food.”
“That is food.” His son ground out with a playful expression. “This is heart-healthy food. Come on, eat up.” Stiles lifted a stick of cucumber to his own lips, chewing vindictively.
John pulled a sour expression. “Yeah, well bring back the artery cloggers then. We’re gonna dwindle to nothing, boy.”
“Doubt it.” Stiles looked back down to his food, picking up the veggie-burger. Outside the warm bubble of the kitchen, the phone rang, and Stiles watched as his father went to pick it up, and listened as the station called and the words MURDER and SUSPECT jumped out at him. He listened as his father left the food on the table grabbing his keys and his gun, and left through the front door with his mobile to his ear and a wave of his hand in Stiles’ direction.

He sat in silence, chewing on the mouthful of burger over and over and over again, until it felt sour and noxious and wrong in his mouth. And then he spat it out into the bin, and started piling all the food in there too, his movements harsh, and angry, face calm and mask-like. He took the bag out to the trash can, and started up the stairs to his room, slow and quiet, and passive.
Stiles’ eyes lingered for a moment on the body of the male model still large on his screen, and then on himself in the mirror. His hands slid down over the shirt, grabbing at his stomach, at the fat there with pure hatred. And then he slid down to sitting, flattened himself on the floor, and started doing sit-ups. Maybe that would fill the space, and empty him out. For a few hours at least.


After the fiasco at the try-outs, Stiles finds himself at a gym. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing so he joins a class, all these guys who are fitter than him doing exercises that he can’t do. He tries, standing behind the rest and trying press-ups. By the end, his body is wet with sweat, and he feels cold and hot at the same time, mind buzzing with exhilaration, stomach tingling. Sat on the mat, a man walks past and hooks him by the elbow, lifting him right back up again. It’s the instructor, of course it would be. “Don’t sit down, walk around. Less likelihood of muscle cramps. Just walk it off. This is when you lose the weight, this bit here. If you want to make muscle the right way, you need to shave off this bit first.” He tapped Stiles’ stomach, and his sides, and Stiles watched him, nodding. “Okay.”
“Remember, less of the milkshakes, more running. Got that, kid?” The huge man smiled at him, before walking off the showers, blonde spiked hair, reminding Stiles slightly of Jackson. Jackson was never this nice. Or helpful for that matter.
Watching himself in the mirror, Stiles sucked in, stood straight, and imagined it. Imagined being wanted. Being good enough for first line. Not the weedy friend. It sounded so good.

Chapter Text

“Dad, gonna go study at Scott’s kay?”
“-no, I don’t think he would. Does Laurelson have the report from the Quarry? I don’t care whether or not he’s-”
“DAD. HEY, POPPA?!” Stiles leant over the man as he sat at the kitchen table, waving his books in his face. “I’m going to Scott’s tonight, to study. Okay?”
“Give me a second, Bob, okay?” The Sheriff put his phone to his shoulder, and gave Stiles ‘THE LOOK’. “Scott’s? Why is it you practically live in that kid’s pocket? Can’t Scott study on his own?”
Stiles whisked away the Jack Daniels bottle resting just in reach of the man’s elbow. “Not for this. Group Project. It’s okay, Isaac will be there. Isaac Lahey? That kid who you locked up for a bit?”
With a sigh, the Sheriff swatted at his son. “Yeah, I know the one. Be back before eleven, okay? Eleven sharpish. Got that?”
“Got it!” He had already left, scooting out the door with rucksack in hand, and Jack Daniels in rucksack.
In the dismal lighting of Lydia’s house, with some Artic Monkeys song playing far too loudly over everything, Scott was sandwiched by two girls, both Allison look-alike’s, discussing sport loudly, and drunkenly. Stiles found himself leaning back against a wall, drink in hand and swaying slightly with the music.
A guy behind him was nodding to the music, watching him. He could feel the eyes on his body, and suddenly felt self-conscious. The guy approached, dark curly hair a little too long. He leant like a guy did over a girl, invading his space.
“Hi there.” Even his voice sounded a little too low. It was nice. This guy seemed...nice.
“I’m David.”
“Stiles.” For some reason his answers were getting shorter, where normally they got longer.
“Quite a name. Who’s your date?”
/Date/. The word rung weirdly. “Oh, I’m here with my friends. Lydia’s a friend from school.” Not mentioning long-standing crush that recently turned water-tight-friendship.
“Ah. My lucky day.” Stiles’ blushed red. “You want a drink.”
And for some reason, he was feeling okay. He smiled, nodded, enjoyed the attention. “Yeah. That would be great.”
“Wait here, I’ll be right back.” The guy was tall, and kinda built, in a high-school way, and as he walked off, Stiles found himself watching that ass.
Lydia stalked up to him, and leaned decoratively, a grin wide on her lips. “SCORE for Stilinski. Honey, if he were into girls, I would have had him already. I’m jealous. Looks like you won’t be home for ten thirty, hmm?”
David was already coming back, smiling widely. Lydia giggled, her expression pure evil. “See you in school, Stiles.”
The guy passed him a drink, and Stiles took a sip, giving him grateful eyes. “Thanks, so..what is this?”
“Punch.” The guy replied, all innocent cute vibes.
“Punch with a little rum.” He replied, and they both laughed. “Why don’t we find somewhere a little quieter?”
“Sure. Lead on, Sir Awesome Ass.”
David looked amused. “I’ll remember that.”

They’re in the car, and the guy is leant over him, and they’re kissing and it’s hot and maybe Stiles is a little bit into what is happening here. The guy tastes like alcohol and crisps, and he’s a little too rough, and uses his teeth way too much, but it’s the first kiss he’s had since Heather and- and suddenly the thought makes him feel a little sick. He can’t stop visualizing her body laid out there, the line in her throat, her nakedness. She looked so wrong, and cold and inhuman. He would have been her first. She would have been his. He wondered as the guy nuzzled into his neck, whether this guy would be a body soon too.
He pulled away, frowning. “I don’t- I think I’m done.”
“Done?” David stared at him, expression unreadable. “What the fuck? Why’d you come out here if you’re DONE?”
Stiles tried to move away from his grasp. “Look, I just don’t want to be here now..”
But David’s hands are stronger, and he is stronger, and he keeps kissing his neck, and now it feels like a mark or a cut, slicing into him. “Get off me, Dude. Get the fuck off-”
The guy leans back, expression sour, angry even. “Fucking...y’know, one thing I can’t stand is a tease.” He opened the door, drink in hand from the cup holder, and walked away, slamming the door hard.

In the darkness, Stiles breathed, in and out, in and out, trying to stop the panic from pressing in on him. He lifted his hands to his face, cracking each knuckle, rubbing his eyes, trying to fill the overwhelming emptiness.

He clicked his knuckles in the same way outside the house, head ducked down, and trying to breathe. Leaving through the gate, he called out. “Bye Scott. See you at school, okay?”

He tried to close the door quietly, but only got a harsh noise.
“Stiles?” The boy winced, turning to the kitchen doorway, where his father’s silhouette sat, looking tired even in the pitch blackness. “You’re late.”
“Sorry. We-uh, wanted to get the assignment finished.” LIES. It seemed to blare from his forehead, great big red letters burned into his skin.
“When I say eleven, I mean eleven.” His father walked closer, staring at him. “Did you get it all done?”
“Yeah. Totally beat now though. I’mma head to bed, kay? Night Dad.”
The Sheriff pat his shoulder. “Night Stiles.”

Upstairs, he flicked the light on in his room and closed the door. Back in front of the mirror, his expression went from tired and sad, to something numb. He looked for a good long while, staring at his face, the chubby cheeks, the softness under his chin, how his neck seemed too thick. His collar bones didn’t show through sharp enough, his sides were too much, too wide. HIs legs were thicker than maybe they should be, fingers too big. Big, wide, thick, chubby, soft. Fat.

He turned away from the mirror with purpose now, stripping off his hoodie. When that was hung away, Stiles’ footsteps crossed quietly to the bathroom. To the cold white plastic square opposite the shower. He kicked the side button into operation, hands on his hips, and stood on, waiting quietly for the numbers to spin.

132. 132. 132. 132. 132. 132.

His hands shake for some reason, because although it’s less than it has been before, he thought it might have been smaller. And it isn’t. It just- isn’t. His mind follows all the research he’s ever done on being smaller. Getting smaller. Removing things. And for some reason, he’s knelt before the toilet, like he’s about to pray.
Pray to the God of thin and strong and fit and hot to smile upon him.
Stiles reaches up with a finger, and puts it between his lips. He imagines sucking David’s cock, already dead and cold and bloody, and sticks his finger back, and the vomit comes easily. Colourful punch hits the water, and he gags, and it’’s numb and painful, but it’s something.
It fills space.
Raggedly, he stares down at the disgusting mess that had been inside of him, eyes watering, and wonders if he’s going a little mad. And if he is, does it matter? Will it even matter?

Wash your hands.
Wipe your mouth.
Look yourself in the eye.
Fail at looking yourself in the eye.
Clean your teeth.
Sit at your desk, and study what you were meant to be studying when you nearly got molested.
Don’t think about it.

Chapter Text

Halloween comes around, and he’d been running again, this time past a bunch of kids in discount Wallmart costumes, being shepherded by weary looking parents. He did this every day now, when he could. After the recent unicorn problem, he’s got his speed up by like, five percent.

Then a few weeks later, it was Thanks-giving, and he and his Dad were at the McCall house, with Isaac, Scott and his Mom, because it turned out that she could actually cook, and his Dad is all for abusing their friendship for real food.
Everyone else dug in, and Stiles was playing this game where the pieces of food had to be exactly a centimetre in length and width, when Isaac called out. “Hey, Stiles, what’s happening on your plate? Is there some kind of battle strategy I don’t know about?”
Suddenly everyone looked at him, plates all half empty, and all the food is still on his.
“Is there something wrong with it, Stiles?” Mrs McCall asked, and she looks half worried.
Truth, or lie? Truth or lie?
Both. “Sorry, it’s a bit much for me. I’m kind of- on a diet..” Everyone all out laughed, like he’s cracked some joke, and Stiles had a sickening thought that maybe everyone saw him as just that greedy. The laughter quietened down, and the Sheriff asked, voice low. “Are you serious? What are you on a diet for?”
“I-uh..” Truth. Why are you on a diet? “I was thinking if I’m ever actually going to get on the team- I might as well, y’know, sort myself out.”
“Wouldn’t hurt to gain some muscle.” Scott agreed. “I remember having to bulk up for La Crosse.” Stiles shot him a glare because all Scott got was some magical bite, and then hallelujah, ABS.
“You’re fine the way you are.” Nurse McCall interjected, and Stiles put down his knife and fork entirely, because there was no way to justify that sentence. Not about him.
“It’s just a couple of pounds. I was talking to someone at the gym about it..” He began, and the sheriff interrupted him. “You’re skinny enough kid. It doesn’t matter, you’re not gonna be a professional athlete.”
Stiles felt some kind of rage inside him because they didn't have a right to input on his body, or his choices. They just COULDN'T. “I just want to at least be on the team for once in my life.”
“There are more important things than fitness.” Isaac cuts in, chewing with his mouth open. Stiles was still clicking his fingers under the table, and opened his mouth to speak when the Sheriff spoke. “Just eat your dinner, yeah? Melissa has a great dessert, I hear she spent all afternoon making it.”

After a moment of staring angrily into space, the topic already moved on, Stiles speared one of the 1x1cm pieces of food on his fork and put it into his mouth, trying to lower it in without touching his lips. Each chew was measured and counted.

“..Such a good kid…” The conversation flowed in and out of his ears, as he worked on the food, expression dull and numb and angry. There was too much inside. And not enough out.

3: 29 am saw Stiles on his back in his bed, legs high in the air and circulating. Round, and round, and round, and round. The effort was draining his face pale, and he was so tired, and yet the only thought Stiles had in the darkness was of the words ‘good kid’, and how they could never be applied to him. He imagined how much happier his father would be with someone else. With Isaac as a kid, with Scott. With a pretty little daughter like Lydia. Or a talented strong minded girl like Allison. With someone as passionate as Erica, alive and in his place. Boyd, strong and silent and caring. They deserved it more. He was the one who should have died.
Circling his legs around and around and around and around. Straight up, no shaking allowed.
Fifteen more, till 70. Then only 30 more till 100.

The time passed, till 4:00 am struck, and Stiles stopped at 150. He climbed off the bed, blinking slowly, and stepped towards the door. Slipping across the corridor, and into the bathroom, he eyed the scale, kicking it gently into action. And then stood on.

126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126.
126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126. 126.
He kicked the scale so hard it clattered and slid and hit the base of the sink.

Chapter Text

Almost three times a week now, he goes to the gym, but instead of participating in the cardio classes, finds himself running with his headphones in on the treadmill. Stiles pushes himself, listening to all these motivating songs on repeat. More and more and more. It’s something to fill the space, and if he fills a few hours at the gym when no one needs him, and leaves the research they all want on his bed, what of it? Peter’s toothy gang can do whatever they want with it, he’s beyond caring now.

As always, the pounding of his feet and the music, and the feeling, that’s all that matters.

They’re having Pizza this time, with Scott and Isaac too, and his Dad, watching the game. Scott gets three slices piled on his plate, as John comments. “Best pizza I ever handed out money for. Everyone deserves a treat every now and then…”

Scott dove in for another slice from the huge box, grinning and the Sheriff did a double take. “Now that’s what I call a healthy appetite…”

“I’m eating for two.” Scott supplied, and although his father laughed, Stiles supposed that wasn’t so far from the truth. Feeding a wolf and a person must be hard. And those shifts must take up calories…no wonder Werewolves got fit.
“You eat for two, he eats for nobody.” John replied darkly, glancing back at Stiles. The boy jumped, lifting his head to look at the others, then looking down at the untouched slice on his plate.

“Something wrong with it?” Scott asked, voice a little worried.
“What?” Stiles still seemed dazed, a little dizzy even.
“Your food?” The werewolf pressed, with that disgustingly compassionate look on his face.
“Then eat it.” John snapped. “Come on…”
After a moment of swallowing, and imagining the greasiness sliding back down his throat, he shook his head, cold hands resting on his knees. He liked how his body felt, these days. Firmer. Sharper.Less vulnerable. “I’m not hungry.”

“It’s the big game. We order pizza you like, specifically, and then you don’t eat it.” John looked tired, a little pissed off.
Isaac piped up, sauce around his chin. “You could just give him some space-”
“We gave him space!” John said, in a low voice. “And now there’s a letter from school. You’re failing, Stiles. Three subjects. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Stiles’ head ducked down, and under the table, he started clicking his knuckles, cheeks sucked in, looking down and thinking about it. About it all.
“That’s it, this diet is over.”

“I’ve only lost a couple of pounds, nothing like...serious.” He said, softly, as if to complain.
“I said, that’s the end, Stiles. You look sick, you’re failing.” John chewed his pizza, viciously. “What would your mother say?”

The comment felt like a stab in the gut, with the sound of chewing and swallowing all around him. He swallowed around nothing, feeling the anger rise up in him, the hurt. What would she think? Or would she have held him and asked him what was wrong by now? Would she have noticed more than the lack of food being swallowed up by a teenage boy? For a while now, there had been no wise-crack answers. No words. Just a lot of space inside him.

“Just eat your food, okay?” John said, softer, and then the silence was taken up by the game on the television, louder than their chewing. Stiles tried to rip some off his slice, as small as he could, and put it in his mouth, without letting it touch his lips. He counted the chews, and swallowed in a measured way. And took a sip of water and started again.

Upstairs, without them, while the baseball was still playing, Stiles turned on the radio in his room, loud, and went into the bathroom. Everything was cool, and pale, a little clinical, like most bathrooms, and he knelt, as in prayer, before the porcelain throne. It was kind of a ritual now, to clasp his hands together, and beg someone up there to let him be a little stronger, and a little lighter.

He listened to the sound of his own retching as if from the outside, another person listening in. The seventeen year old could barely feel it, anyway. The coughs sounded broken and painful, and hard, but whoever was puking themselves open inside him just kept doing it, until the water below was a mess of mangled tomato sauce and meat and cheese.
Flush, wash hands, wipe mouth, clean teeth, look yourself in the eye, fail at that, walk away.

He took off his clothes to get on the scale, slowly unbuttoning his jeans with the expression of someone who is not really there. Stood on with shaking legs, and watched the numbers.
109. 109. 109.

He was pulling on a pyjama shirt, boxers hanging loose off his hips with a safety pin, back to the door when he heard it open. Scott, stood behind him, and in that split second, everything changed.
As Scott took in his hips to waist ratio, how tiny his limbs had become, the way each bone jutted a little too far out, and in between each bone, the gaps sucked a little too far in. His waist was tiny, skin pale and bruised, and suddenly, the gaunt way his cheeks had been emptying made so much more sense. As Scott gasped, Stiles turned around, shirt on, eyes full of fear.
“Get out. Just get out!” He shouted, leant back against the sink for support but Scott was staring at him, eyes wide and hurt, face horrified. “Oh my god, Stiles. Oh my-”
“What have you done? Your bones…” Scott tried to approach him but Stiles back away, expression feral, whole mind set in panic mode.
“Sheriff Stilinski!” Scott yelled in a panic, his breathing short and worried, and for a moment it felt like his best friend had betrayed him, although he couldn’t understand himself what he’d betrayed.
So Stiles grabbed his arm, trying to shut him up. “Don’t. Shut up, Don’t tell him, shut up. Stop!” But it was too late. Because by then, Scott had already pulled away from him, starting down the stairs to find the Sheriff.
And the last thing Stiles could think of to scream was, “You’re lazy and greedy and JEALOUS.”
Jealous of what?

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Derek Hale turned out to be terrifying, and terrifyingly beautiful, all stubble and spiky hair, and tight shirt. His office was odd, all pale blue walls and for the most part after introducing himself, he let Stiles settle himself, watering all the weird cacti around the room. Either the guy had been given Cacti by someone near and dear to him, or he had a serious fixation. Maybe the psych needed a psych?
Stiles wandered to sit down in front of the desk thing, putting his coffee on the table, and getting comfy. His bones always ached these days, and he always felt the chill.
“What can I do for you, Stiles? That’s what you prefer to be called, right?” Doctor Hale was still watering a particularly nasty cactus on the window sill.
“Stiles, yeah. What do you mean? Mr...uh, Hale.”
His head turned, eyes intense but kind on Stiles’ face. “Derek.” Then he went over to the huge plant in the corner. “Generally people who come here have a problem that they want to straighten out. What’s your problem?”
Stiles picked two joined pieces of lego out of the box of toys by the desk, clicking them apart and together again. “I don’t have a problem.”
Derek’s eyebrows rose, as he crouched to water something on the desk. Stiles couldn’t help follow the movement of his thigh muscles under the trousers with rapt attention. “Oh?”
“It’s just the Doctor, and my Dad. Sheriff Stilinski, you know him, right?” Stiles was clicking the pieces at a much faster rate, and just looked up in time to catch the soft wistful expression on Derek Hale’s face.
“Yeah, I know him.”
“They think I’m losing too much weight. My Dad and Doctor Thompson.” He stared down at his lap, trying to calculate how many centimetres round his thighs might be. Maybe he could buy a tape measure after school, there certainly wasn’t one at home.
“Your Dad thinks that?” Derek asked, checking the water level in the plant pot. “So they want to help you put on some weight?”
“Mhmm.” Stiles replied, listlessly, finally dropping the pieces back into the box when his fingertips hurt. He picked out a small troll doll, twisting it’s head around.
“What do you want?” Derek finally paused, looking at him properly, leaning over the desk. His expression was open, like he cared. Holy shit, Stiles nearly started laughing. When did his opinion start to matter?
“I dunno. What do you mean?”
Derek sat on the desk, picking the dead flowers off a small plant behind the cactus. “Well, if you decide to come here, and have therapy, with me, what do you want out of it?” His eyes rose to Stiles’s at the end of the question, waiting expectantly.
The boy just shrugged, pulling his coat closer around him.
“Do, you...want me to get to know you?” Derek asked, softly, glancing up at the ceiling for a moment.
“What for?” Honestly, he just wanted to go out, and be running. He wanted to not see Scott, or his Dad, and their sad dissapointed eyes, or this hot stranger being on egg shells with him. He wanted out.
“So you can tell someone your feelings, your thoughts? Your fears.” He was the right distance to be looking kind, and not overwhelming, face open. “So you won’t be so alone and distant from everyone?”
Stiles stared for a moment before clicking the dolls head round the other way. There was a little bit of silence. “What if I don’t know what my problems are?”
Standing, Derek moved round the desk, to put his hands in his pockets. “Hopefully we can find them out together.” He sat into the chair, and the material made a soft noise as the air went out. Stiles hoped one day chairs would stop making that noise under him. He’d touch the world, but effect nothing, weightless. “We won’t see your problems clearly today, but we’ll see signs of them.”

“Like what?” Suddenly he’s curious, wants to prove this guy wrong, being a little violent with the dolls head. He’s a little wound up. It’s hard taking medication on an empty stomach.
“Like being uncomfortable. Like not being able to eat, like not being able to stop eating.” Derek steepled his fingers. “How many times a day do you vomit?”
“I don’t.” Stiles said, almost immediately.
His eyes went severe. “Stiles, listen. If you don’t want to tell me something, just say, but don’t lie to me. Because if this is going to work, I’m going to have to invade your privacy as much and as often as I can. The only way I can help you is by knowing.” He lifted his hands, giving him a small smile. “There are no right or wrong answers in therapy, only the way you feel. So, what do you think?”
His expression was a little scandalized, but at the same time, Stiles was leaning forward. Maybe he did want a talking diary. Maybe someone should know how he felt. Maybe he wanted that.
“You wanna come back? Say, twice a week?”
He looked around the room, at the dolls house behind him, with the Mommy and the Daddy and all the baby dolls, all in their neat rooms. And then at the fish tank, and the bright little tails flicking in the greenery. “Yeah, I guess so. Beats TV.”
In the gym, Stiles ended up back in the class, standing behind the others. The blonde guy leading looked in a bad mood, barking orders at everyone. “Hey, you! At the back! Pick it up, will you? And get those jumpers off, I want to see the lines you’re making.”
Stiles froze. “It’’s cold.”
“Look kid, conform or get out. Go change. I’m not running a kindergarten here.”
So he left, blinking, and breathing hard, knuckles white, to the laughter behind him.

Stiles first proper session with Derek, they both bought coffee in the foyer outside, and Stiles was opening his, sat in front of the desk. Derek was comfortably sipping his coffee, relaxed in the other seat.
“You want some sugar for that?” He offered, watching as Stiles was about to take a sip.
“Uh uh. I had them put it in when we got it.” Stiles took his sip, cheeks already hollow and shadowed as he sipped.

Derek watched him for a moment, eyebrow raised. “Coffee shop gives you little packages when you ask for sugar..”
And he had to snag it, didn’t he? He couldn’t let them go on in near blissful ignorance, huh? Stiles left his coffee on the table to go and look at the fish, dragging his fingers along the glass. “You tricked me.”
“You lied to me.” Derek replied. “If you don’t want sugar, say so.” He stayed at the desk, colouring in a kiddies picture of a dog. “Don’t lie to me, please.”
It comes out without him really thinking about it, scraping his nail down the glass. “You’re just trying to get me fat.” And then, kneeling painfully in front of the tank, “Anyway, sugar is bad for your pancreas.”

Derek rolled his eyes, and scribbled the dog’s eyes in red. “I am not trying to get you fat, I’m trying to keep you out of a hospital.”
Stiles drummed his fingers on the glass. “I don’t wanna talk about that.”
“What do you wanna talk about?”
Slowly, he got up, and slammed the door closed on the dolls house. He walked around the room, his back to Derek.
“Have you put any weight on this week?”
Stiles aimed a kick at a chair, watching it crash onto the ground. His voice was raised, he knew it. “Can’t we ever talk about anything besides my freakin’ weight?”
“Sure. Sure? Like what?” The psychologist put down his crayon, watching him.
Stiles went back to tapping at the fish.

Chapter Text

It’s another party at Lydia’s, Stiles is in a heavy jumper with a shirt and two under shirts, leaning against a wall and watching Scott and Allison, and Aiden and Lydia dance. The music goes loud and thrashy, and everyone looks so alive. It was like watching an experiment from behind glass, cold and clinical, on the outside. Happy New Year, Stiles.
Lydia started making out with Aiden, a little rough, pushing him back against a wall. Stiles felt sick.
He got up, heading towards the bathroom and letting the door click closed behind him. There was puke in the tub. It looked like carrot soup. He had pills in his pocket, a small silver tray of them, and he popped two, both sat in his hand as finally the boy glanced up at the mirror.
In the curved reflection, the mirror warped, his face seemed wide and heavy, doughy flesh under his chin, and in his cheeks. The image felt so real, so WRONG. He felt the urge to vomit and resisted. Swallowing down the weight loss pills, he walked home in the dark, eyes on the pavement and mind on losing that last six pounds before his next goal.

The house was empty when he stepped in, but the TV was blaring, showing the New Years show. After looking around, Stiles started up the stairs. His skin was sticky, clammy against the wood, and a shiver went down his spine. Ten minutes till 12 o clock. Down the hall, he heard movement in his room, and his heart jumped and jolted, imagining Peter sat in the chair again. Or something/someone else. Why is it, Stilinski, that you are that poor kid in the opening scene of every horror movie?
Instead, as he pushed open the door, he saw his father, the boxes from under his bed in his hands, looking at the pill boxes with something like disgust. And that almost seemed worse. “What are you doing?” Stiles asked, and his voice sounded raw.
John didn’t even flinch. “This happens to be the time of year when parents get sentimental, kid. I came up here to look for an old photo album, instead I found this…” He threw down some Ipecac with disgust, rage thinly veiled. “Your secret diet itinerary of chemicals. Your diet pills, your laxatives, suppositories..”
Stiles darted forward to scoop up his things but his father caught him round the arm. “Where did you get this, Stiles? You got enough junk here to kill a plough horse!” He tried to wrest the pills from Stiles’ hand but the boy wouldn’t let go, feeling numb but almost scarred. How dare someone find his things? It turned into a struggle, he was desperate to keep it to himself.
“It’s a whole damn drug store!” The Sheriff growled.
“You didn’t have any right to come in here!” Stiles yelled and it sounded broken.
“That’s a hell of a shrink you got, he’s really doing an incredible job!” He kept tugging the bottle from Stiles’ hands as the boy scrambled for them, desperately. John eventually grasped the back of Stiles’ neck, and his wrist, lifting him away. “Stop it! Just stop it! From now on, I’m in charge here, not you and your mind games, okay kid?” He started dragging Stiles down the stairs, rage fuelling everything. “I’ll make it very simple. No more Doctors, no more pills.” In the kitchen, he threw Stiles into a chair, where the boy looked up at him with bared teeth and angry sullen eyes. “You’re going to EAT, Stiles. Whether you like it or not!”
“I ate at the party.” Stiles bit out, shifting back in his chair, shaking from fear and anger and hatred.
“I bet you did.” The Sheriff slammed his palm against the table. “I bet you had two potato chips and vomited your guts out. Well that’s all over.” He went over to the fridge, opening the door with a little too much force. In the dark, the light on his face was ugly and eerie. “This time you’re gonna eat. And it’s gonna stay in your stomach.” He rummaged inside, and Stiles wanted to move but was stuck there, breathing too fast, frozen. “Even with I have to sit here with you all night.” The man came up trumps with bread and peanut butter, making sandwiches in front of him.
“I’m not hungry. I hate peanut butter.” Stiles whispered, voice shaking. “I’m not going to eat that.”
“Oh yes you are.” John hissed. “I already lost your mother, I’m not losing you. Not to this, to this god-damn pointless MADNESS. You eat!” He grabbed Stiles jaw, and although he tried to pull away, the boy was weak now, far too weak to resist. “EAT!”
He near enough shoved the food into Stiles’ mouth, and through the struggle of Stiles trying to move away, and John trying to feed him, Stiles opened his mouth and bit his father, hard. The cry of pain echoed in the silence for a few minutes. Stiles took the opportunity to swipe the food off the table, breathing hard, and with blood on his lip.

The Sheriff stood back, regarding him with anger and something like resignation. “You ought to be locked up. Fucking crazy. We’re both so screwed up, it’s pathetic.” He was yelling, face red, when the fireworks all around them started going off. Stiles was crying, tears running silently over his cheekbones.
John put a hand over his mouth, as if finally realising what had happened here, and blinked his eyes closed. Stiles watched him, lip curled. “Happy New Year, Daddy. Happy New Year, to our happy happy family.

Chapter Text

In the morning, sun staining the floor and clean sheets, the Sheriff pushed his head through the door, expression soft and guilty. The bed was made, the floor clean, and the fight last night was gone without trace. As was Stiles.
Heart beating a little fast, the man started down the steps, looking around for the boy and his now familiar sickly thin limbs and sharp pale features.
Looking around the living room, and then the hall, John was panicking. “Stiles?”
Turning into the kitchen, he watched mouth open and speechless as Stiles laid a plate of fresh pancakes on the table, and set some syrup down beside it. He was dressed neatly, hair combed, face looking sallow still, and gaunt, but obedient and quiet and submissive. “Good morning. I uh- I thought I’d make you a surprise.” He offered a small smile, clicking his fingers, and watching his father.
They ate in silence, cutlery clinking against the plates. Stiles pushed each mouthful past his lips without letting it touch, scraping it off the fork with his teeth to chew and swallow. He ate slowly, subdued and watching his father.
“These pancakes are delicious, Stiles.” John tried, voice soft.
After a little more silence, Stiles smiled. “Are you still going to pick me up after the game today? The Jeep comes out on Friday.”
“I said I would.” The Sheriff said, smiling. “What time is good for you?”
“Uh...four thirty?” Stiles picked at the remains of his food, chewing quietly.
His father winced. “I have a meeting at four. I’ll be there as soon as I can, okay? That might be a lot later.”
He shrugged, and put his knife and fork together, taking the plate to the sink. “I’m going to miss the bus. I gotta go..”
“Stiles? Who are you guys playing?” John sounded guilty again.
“Rockets. See you later.”
“How will you get home?”
“Don’t worry.” He grabbed his books, and his bag and pushed through the door out into the front yard, and blinding sunlight. After a moment of sitting there, his father got up, rushing to the door.
“Stiles, you know I love you, right, Kiddo?”
Pausing, the boy stared at his feet. “Mhmm.”
“Beat those Rockets, they don’t deserve to be first.”
“Sure thing, Pops.” Stiles turned on his heel and started walking off, feeling colder and angrier than he had in so long. The Sheriff watched him for a moment before going back inside.

John sat on the phone, in his office, gesticulating wildly. “The thing he does with his fork is weird, sure, but he ate! He ate without being forced, and he cooked, and he kept it down. I’m afraid to say it, but I think maybe, I got him over the hump!”

Stiles walked over the overpass, expression dreamy. His books were heavy in his arms, and recently, the Adderall pills have done nothing but make him sick. The cars sound like flies buzzing round him, and the sunlight was meant to be warm on his skin, but it didn’t warm him. His bones were ice, pricking frost through his skin. His eyes followed the stream of traffic, and for a moment, Stiles imagined dropping, like a rag doll, and hitting the tarmac below. Imagined the red squish, and then the crunch as the cars would roll over him. The human’s books rested on the bars, tipping the balance between dropping and staying. Falling and fighting. A white lorry past, and Stiles imagined the food inside, chilled goods like chocolate bars and ice cream, all stacked inside. He imagined falling into the back, and becoming contaminated and greasy and dirty and wrong with every bit of junk food that touched his skin. His fingers wavered on the edge of the books, and he let one drop, straight under the wheels. He couldn’t help but stare, eyes wide and empty and lost.

Walking back through town, a book short, and farther from school than he should be, Stiles turned off the ringer on his phone, ignoring texts from Scott, from Lydia. He past a donut store, holding his breath to stop the smell and the sugar particles entering his sinuses, stopping to look at his reflection in the glass. Opposite him, behind the window, a larger man stood in queue. He took in his longer hair, his sunken eyes, his face, smaller than it had been before, and then looked at it connected to the large mans body in the reflection. There was a harsh pain in his chest, an ache like hatred and like depression. He wanted to die, looking at that.
Turning his head into the sun, Stiles looked at the drug store. It was the real reason he’d been heading here, without even realising it.
Inside, he headed straight for the third row, picking up the pack of pills his father had thrown out. And then another, and then a third. He checked his wallet, surreptitiously, and then swallowed. Nothing. He had about fifty cents, which was a whole fifteen dollars short of what he needed. He looked up at the mirror in the corner, where the check-out guy was staring, out of the window with his head turned. Stiles looked down to tuck the pill packets into his book, just as the man looked up, and as he turned to walk away with them, the guy, a large greasy man with a moustache called out, leaving the till. “Hey! Hey, HEY GET BACK HERE.”

Stiles had started running the moment he heard the noise, head pounding and heart aching. A car skidded to a halt and blocked his exit, so he turned and headed the other way, book and pills clutched it his chest. The man grabbed his shoulders, and wrested the book from his chest.

“Are you happy now?” John loomed over Stiles, but he wasn’t angry, just tired and annoyed and disappointed, and worn down. The boy stood outside the cell, having his things returned to him. His face was emotionless, eyes clouded over. “You’ve made me more miserable than I’ve been since your mother died. Get out a club and beat up your old Dad. Is that it, Stiles? Humiliate me, make me responsible for the fact you’ve decided to give up life at seventeen?” The boy was paler than usual, heart thumping oddly in his chest, like it was out of sync.
He started walking Stiles out of the station, a firm hand around his arm, fingers able to touch with room to spare. “You don’t appreciate a damn thing I’ve ever-”
And that was when Stiles dropped straight to the floor.

Chapter Text

[SMS//: Scott ;)] What couldn’t you tell me in school? Why wasn’t Stiles there?

[SMS//: Isaac] I don’t know. I don’t know. He doesn’t talk to me, he doesn’t talk anymore. Which is the most horrible thing because he used to never stop.
[SMS//: Isaac] I don’t understand what he’s doing.

[SMS//: Scott ;)] Starving himself. Like a model or something.

[SMS//: Isaac] Not like a model. Like an anorexic. You remember I told you I saw, it was...I can’t even describe it. He looked dead, Isaac. Like a corpse from the holocaust or something.

[SMS//: Scott ;)] Do you think he’ll be okay?

[SMS//: Isaac] If he doesn’t stop, he’ll die. There’s nothing else to it, and I don’t understand how we let this happen. I let this happen. This is my fault.
[SMS//: Isaac] I should have noticed.

[SMS//: Scott ;)] How could you have noticed? He was hiding it from you. He was hiding it from everyone.

[SMS//: Isaac] That’s the point of best friends. To see the stuff that no one else does.
[SMS//: Isaac] I keep calling him but he doesn’t answer. And texting.
[SMS//: Isaac] What if he hates us?

[SMS//: Scott ;)] Then we help him. Wait till his Dad knows what’s going on, okay?

[SMS//: Isaac] Mmk.

Chapter Text

His consciousness began again in a corridor, on a trolley bed that was gliding along, seemingly unheeded by human hands. The lights above him looked like bars of light, and he imagined them, in his half-their state, as bars of milk chocolate, floating over him, and away from his life forever.
Stiles’ brown eyes seemed honey gold as he glanced up behind him at the nurse pushing the bed, his eyelashes dark against his sunken cheeks.


A few rooms away, Derek was leant against a nurse’s station, watching the Sheriff pull and twist at his hat in worry. Stiles’ constant fiddling made a little more sense now.
“I had no idea his eating would get so bad..”
Derek looked pale too, face dull and and reassuring, but his insides were cold with fear. “Anorexia isn’t just a problem of not eating.”
“He looks so terrible.” John was unable to even look up at him, dread filling his body like too much whiskey. “He’s dying.”
“He almost did.” Doctor Hale said, in a low voice, and the words feel sickly and awful and heavy on his tongue and teeth. “He’s going to be here for a while.”
“How did this happen?” His tone is getting more and more desperate and the man’s teeth are gritted.

Derek’s mind flickered to all the things he’d picked up about Stiles so far. LONELY. DEPRESSED. WITHOUT CONTROL. “Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out, Sir. Right now we’re concentrating on getting him back to a healthy weight, getting him strong enough to respond to therapy.”
“When can I see him? His friends?”
He started walking, leading John with him to the door. “In his condition, things that trigger him have to be avoided. It would be better for him, and probably you too, if you didn’t come back for a while.”


Stiles woke up again, feeling like he’d been gone for only a few minutes. The strange surroundings made him blink but his whole body felt so COLD. Cold and tired and light and useless. Too dull and empty to think much about anything. The sheets were icy against his skin. When he looked to the left, he could see a bag dripping clear liquid into his veins, god knows what into his system to fatten and poison him.

“Stiles?” John picked up the phone, hand shaking. He’d only just gone home, and the phone starting ringing as he reached for the whiskey.
“Daddy? Please, I wanna come home. Please, Daddy. I hate it here.” Stiles voice was thick, as if with tears, and quiet and subdued.
“Kiddo..” The Sheriff’s heart was full on cracking in two, for a second time, and his sheer hatred of the situation was making his hands shake. “It’s for your own good.”
Stiles sniffed on the other end, holding back a sob. “It’s freezing here. I’m cold, every second. And they don’t care. I tried to eat dinner, Dad, I did, but it was disgusting. The food smelled like germs…”
“I-I’ll talk to someone, I promise.”
“I want to come home, Dad. I can’t stay here.” Stiles was getting angry now, his voice turning into a scared-angry hiss. “I promise, I’ll eat and I’ll gain weight, and I’ll do anything you want me to.”
Knuckles white on the table, the Sheriff gave a heavy sigh. “The answer has to be no, Stiles. I need you to be better, I need the hospital to give you the all clear. I’m sorry, you know I love you. I just need you well.”
Stiles listened with shuddery breath as the phone clicked down. For a few moments, Stiles froze, finger tapping on the plastic back of his mobile, before he let it slip down. His clothes were on the chair opposite, and there was nothing stopping him, the ward around him practically empty at this hour. When he got up, the pain was ignorable, but the dizziness he felt around him, like he could float, was between magical and sickening. A few weak steps, and he was at the chair, ripping off the gown, and putting on his clothes instead. The cannula in his arm was unconnected to the drip, and he pulled on his coat, walking out of the ward and down the stairs with only the difficulty his body provided him. Each step made the floating light sensation worse, and any minute, he felt, he’d be on his face. Stiles leant heavily on the bannister, face numb and all the emotion inside him like a heavy lead weight.

When Stiles finally reached the bottom, sneakers echoing off the floor, he was almost swaying, and barely able to think. He pushed the door open by leaning against the bar, and when the outside air hits him, he can barely feel the cold, already numb.
There was no one about to see him walking towards the road, swaying and pale and looking like a runaway child. No one to notice the way his shadow looked like a halloween caricature in the low light. There’s a moment when his body tips and he has to cling to the wall for help, breathing hard and feeling so sick.
A few more steps, past the sign post to the ward, and through the foliage, and suddenly, the darkness looms too close and he can’t pull back anymore. He falls onto the grass, out cold.
Only five or six feet from the ward entrance.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

A dark-skinned girl with a fragile body and hair piled up in curls on her head strode down the hallway like she owned it, swinging the too-long sleeve of her thick wool jumper in one hand, and nodding like a gracious overlord at the kids and Derek stood in one corner talking. “Hale!” She greeted as she walked past, smirking in his direction.
“What are you so chipper about?” He asked, smiling back, and she turned, still swinging her sleeve vigorously, and walking backwards. “Nothin’ much. Heard it rain last night.”
“Oh, you’ve a wonderful sense of humour.” Derek said darkly, smiling at her. “Now if I could only get you to eat!”
“Hah!” The girl departed into another room, expression smug.
She walked a few more corridors, almost walking right past the open door into Stiles’ room, where the boy was crunched up on his bed and hugging his knees. She did a double take, smirking as she walked in. Stiles finally looked up to notice her standing there, big brown eyes full of laughter. “Well, good morning. Heard you got a little wet last night.” Her accent had something of Texas in it. Walking to the bed, she held out a hand to be shaken. Her face was so thin, it looked slightly inhuman, childlike. “Jodie. Jodie Armenta.”
“Stiles Stilinski.” He said, quietly. Stiles was always quiet now. It was like the inner voice that bounced and grinned and worried had been drowned and killed.
“Y’know, congratulations, you really shook ‘em up around here. I’m impressed. For a beginner, you did good.” When he remained silent, Jodie kept talking, made herself at home. “Been here two weeks. Not bad as hospitals go. The last one I was in was a real dump.”
Finally, curiosity killed the cat. Licking his lips, Stiles leaned forward to watch her. “How many have you been in?”
“Four, counting this one.” Jodie replied, and there was something bitter in her expression, and tired in her tone. “Took me seven months to get out of the last one.”
“Seven months?” The thought repelled him, spending seven months in a hospital like this. It seemed so endless.
“Took me a long time to con them.” Her walk was one of someone who seemed convinced in the cleverness of what she was. She walked right up close to him, and her body was tiny too. Like Stiles’, her forearms looked like twigs that might snap. “See, they like to think they can cure you. So you put on enough weight, till they think you’re better. Once you’re out, you lose it again. No big deal.”
He looked at her, expression half sad, half intrigued, mouth open. “How come you’re back?”
“I got careless. They got some new drugs they wanna try on me.” The girl kept pacing, pausing enough between each so it didn’t seem quite so hysterical “To see if they can cure my Bulimia”
“What’s that?” A small smile on his lips, because this girl him. Just a little, wasn’t she? Too much inside.
Jodie full on grinned. “What’s Bulimia? I got a lot to teach you.” She finally sat in the seat beside the bed, knees still jigging. “It’s like an eating disorder, but without the simplicity of just...stopping. So I binge and get rid of it sometimes, and sometimes I starve.”
She leant further forwards. “It’s like, you empty the fridge, and then hit the burger places, pizza joints, donut shops. Anywhere you can eat, you eat. I could eat three weeks straight, I could win awards.”
Stiles couldn’t help feeling the little bubble of disgust in the pit of his stomach. “So- if you eat like that, how come-?” He gestured at Jodie’s bones. “I mean, how come you aren’t five hundred pounds?”
Her expression got sour at the mention of weight, and she stood again, slapping her hand against the table. “Vomiting. Laxatives.”
Stiles’ gaze went to the window, deep in thought. “I’d rather not eat.”
“So would I, but I can’t help it.” Jodie stared sourly at the table, picking at her jumper. “Sometimes I heave ten times a day. Doctors tell me it’s dangerous, but I…”
In the silence, they both looked down, Jodie swallowing hard, and Stiles clicking his knuckles. Finally, she glanced back up at him, joy all gone from her eyes. “It’s better than being fat.”

After another awkward three or four seconds of nothing, she changed the subject. “What are you here for, are you gonna get cured?”
“My Dad put me in. I wanna get out.” He groaned, feeling at home with this odd girl.
“Well if you wanna get out, there’s some tricks you have to learn.” Jodie replied matter of factly, scooping her hair behind her ear. “They watch you like a hawk around here. Everything you eat. They weigh you every day. So listen up-”
Jodie was interrupted by an angry looking nurse, beckoning with a finger. “Armenta! I want you in your room now!”
She fixed the woman with a cold expression. “Coming mother.” Her voice was pure sass, and she rolled her eyes as the woman turned away. Stiles held back a laugh. “Stick with me, y’know? And don’t waste your time with the nurses, they’re not worth it, the Doctors are much more sympathetic. Later.” Jodie turned on her heel and started humming back down the corridor, swinging her jumper sleeve as she went.
For a moment, Stiles watched her, grinning widely at her form as it got smaller and smaller until she turned the corner. Slowly, his smile dropped, leaving him with an expression of half-terror.

At the Doctor’s station, Derek leant over the counter, watching the Doctor on call.
“Look, I know you don’t like this Hale, but we need to act soon-” The large man slipped some papers into a file.
“All I’m asking is a for three or four days. Maybe he’ll settle down, maybe he’ll stabilize.”
“Stabilize?!” The man shook his head, shoving more papers in Derek’s direction. “Here, the latest test results. His condition is drastic, he could go into shock at any time. He remains dangerously malnourished, there’s hypotension, BUN indicates incipient renal dysfunction, which relates directly to low blood supply and an overwhelming concentration of toxins. That’s all three, Hale, Heart, Liver and Kidneys. NG feed starts when I get hold of Jenks.”

Two nurses held Stiles’ arms down, gently, although ready to become firm if he moved. The Doctor leant over him had the slight fine tube ready, leaning over him, but he kept twisting his face away. Why was this more terrifying than facing Alpha werewolves, or a whole clan of Gnomes with weaponry?
“Please. I’ll eat anything you want.” He said, softly, trying to puppy dog eye the Doctor into stopping this now. Scott was always better at puppy dog eyes. He hadn’t seen any of them once since he came here.
“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think? You need more nourishment than normal food can give. We’re going to give you extra through a special tube through your nose and into your stomach. Try and relax. It won’t hurt a bit. Okay?”
“Mhmm.” He stayed tense, no matter how much he closed his eyes and tried to make the panic go away. Stiles made a soft noise of discomfort, without meaning to as she slipped it in, working it down inside him. His breathing quickening, knuckles white. A tear slipped down his cheek, and a nurse quickly dabbed it away, as he blinked, trying not to freak out and hit out. His fingers writhed as he waited, so tense. The light above him, and the Doctor’s ugly pored face staring down at him, all seemed too yellow. When they finally moved away, taping the end of the tube to his face and hooking it over his ear, he felt three things. Relief, discomfort, and...a little hope.

Chapter Text

When everything faded back in, Stiles realised he must have fainted. His nose and face are sore, and there are bruises on his arms from where they held him. Not that they used a lot of pressure, he knows, it’s just that he seemed so much more fragile now.
He took a deep breath, head turning. Jodie’s presence on the bed beside him was harsh.
“They got you. Knew they would. Said you almost died.” Her head dipped, and she gave him a moment to process that. For some reason, the words meant nothing to him. “I really freaked the first time they tubed me too.”
“The first time-?” His voice was hoarse, and sleep heavy. Eyes trusting on hers.
“Yeah, three times. From three different hospitals, told you, I’m a pro.” She flashed a tired grin, fingertips tapping against the plastic bars on the bed. There was more silence, as Stiles tried to process the idea of being stuck like this. Fighting it again and again and again. “When you’re stronger, I’ll teach you how to exercise like this.” Jodie’s voice was firm. “I can walk up and down the halls with it as fast as without. You’ll learn.”
There was something bitter about it. “I don’t wanna learn.” His hands fisted, and the cold plastic tubing against his cheek came more into focus in his mind.
“You will. Just don’t get too good.” Jodie’s gaze fell to her feet, six layers of socks and thick ugg slippers. “Just, I like to be the sickest, that’s all. Y’know, everybody’s got something they like to be better at than somebody else? For me, it’s starving.”

Neither of them speak for a moment, and Stiles can’t breathe. Because in four or five words, she’s captured something he feels. Something he can do with no problems, something he can do that no one back home would dare. They couldn’t handle how this feels, not one bit. They’d have no idea.

“You like Derek Hale?” The question brought him out of the mire of thoughts.
“He’s alright, I guess.” Stiles hasn’t thought about Derek as a person, not really. Maybe he should. So far, he’s only been a hot body, an urban legend, a brick wall.
“Does he like you?” Jodie asked.
“How would I know?” Stiles closed his eyes. “Anyway, I don’t care. I just wanna get out of here.” He stares at Jodie, with all the ‘fuck off’ he can manage.
And she does seem to get the message, tapping the side of the bed, and sitting up. “I wish you good luck.” A moment later, she was up and gone.


“How are you feeling?” Derek asked, sat comfortably in the armchair opposite.
“Bored.” Stiles has the machine on beside him, the one in the pysch office, hooked up and being fed. He can taste it, slightly, and it makes him feel both sick, and needy. The blankets around him in the armchair can’t keep him warm enough. “Like a freak. I don’t belong here.”
Derek was quick to answer that, head on his fist. “Stiles, you’re a very sick kid, you almost died.”
His gaze directed out the window, watching a woman who wasn’t a nurse pushing a kid in a wheelchair. The kid was kicking out, screaming, the noise was obvious from here. “I don’t just mean the hospital, I mean everywhere. I never fit in. I never fit in anywhere. Not here, at home, at school. Or any place else.”
“Is it possible-” Derek reached out a hand, watching him calmly. “Is it possible, that since you expect to be rejected, you send out vibes? Is that possible?”
Stiles picked at the skin on his knee. “What would you do?”
“That’s a very good question.” Derek chuckled without a lot of humour. There was silence for a moment. “I would probably think up a lot of little tricks to protect me from not belonging.”

His head ducked down, mouth open to drag in air, eyes closed, expression pained. “I um- I have tricks-” the words were hard to push out, secret, dangerous, “-to protect me from all the bad things.”
“You have to tell me them and let me help you get rid of them.”
“I can’t.” Stiles whispered.
“I know it’s hard, but it’s the only way.” Derek’s eyes were level with his, expression sincere, shrewd, worried.
“Next time, okay? I promise next time. I promise you, I’ll do it next time.” Stiles pushed, squirming in his seat.
“Just one. Tell me one.” Derek didn’t seem to be giving up, licking his lips.
In the open moment between when his response was due, and when Derek would of course try and push for answers again, Stiles let his mind tick over them. Found the one pushing at him to be let free, the one he had to tell. Something in him that someone had to know. He placed his hand flat on his knee, spreading the fingers wide. “I- I can’t let the food...touch my lips. I have to get it off the fork without it touching my lips.” His fingers slid over the dry chapped blue-ness that was his lips now.
Derek nodded, slow. “Tell me some rituals that have nothing to do with food.”
“You’re doing so well. There’s more in there, isn’t there?” Derek questioned, glancing momentarily at the machine beside Stiles.
A hand went to the back of his neck, and Stiles bit his lips, trying to think. “Y’know...y’know how you’re supposed to wash your hands after every time you use the bathroom? Because of the bacteria, or you could get a disease or something?” His face collapsed a little, tears rising up without him meaning. “Well, I’m kind of a freak. I- uh...wash my hands, in all the right places. And then, after….well, everything. Whenever something bad or scary or wrong happens. Well, I wash them- over and over, until they’re pink and sting and-” Stiles let out a low laugh, not really finding it all that funny. “I used to think if your hands were unclean, or unsafe, people would die. That’s really sick, isn’t it?”
“No.” Derek shook his head, eyes soft. “Not wanting people to die isn’t sick.”
“I don’t want it. I don’t want my stupidity to be the cause of someone elses-” Stiles couldn’t help the tears now.
“And maybe there’s another reason why you don’t eat. You carry blame for something you think your body did, won’t let yourself grow, won’t let yourself be content, healthy. You’re being punished. Stiles, you’re a slave to these rituals. They must make you so tired.”
“I can’t stop them.” He admitted, wiping his eyes.
“No, but we can deal with them in another way. You just told me your fears, that you were scared to death to tell anyone, and the sky didn’t fall down, did it?” Derek asked, tilting his head to try and regain eye contact.
Stiles felt exhausted. Like he was just floating on the tide. He looked back at the window. “No.”
“Because you shared them. Something’s lifted. Maybe we can do the same with eating.”
“No.” He broke Derek off, walls sliding up. “No. I couldn’t do that, I can’t.”
“You told me you weren’t strong enough to share your tricks but you did.” Derek reasoned. “You’re stronger than you think.”
“I don’t think I can.” Stiles snapped, fists tightening.
“I’m just asking you to try.” The therapist settled back in his chair, quiet. “Give it some serious thought.
Stiles’ voice was bitter, sounding trite and callous as it came out. “May I go now?”
“Stay and relax.” Derek told him. “We’ll talk some more.”


In the dark of the night, door closed, Stiles did what he did best. Exercised, and counted. Welcomed the swirls of dark thoughts that crowded in when the light was gone. He’d seen so much thrive and live in the darkness, feeding on other things that bled under thick claws.
He lay back fully, then sat up and touched his toes, over and over and over, getting deeper into the rhythm, the way the cold air, and prickling sheets inspired him to work himself unconcious. His breath worked out in harsh pants against the air, ribs aching, concave stomach shrieking against the movement. It was like this every night in the dark. No one saw you in the dark, and in the dark, Stiles could never sleep.
But it was okay. He had this.

Chapter Text

When Stiles first tries walking on his own, which he really shouldn’t be, it’s in the middle of his second week. He’s had four meals through the tube already and it makes him feel sick to imagine it all inside him. At the same time, sometimes he’d rather not think about it. Let the nourishment do something, maybe feel a little less dead. It’s taken out of his hands, and some small part of him rejoices in that.

He’s walking along a mostly empty corridor, eyes on the floor, mind elsewhere, when he spots Jodie, half surreptitiously picking up the fruit bowl on the nurses station. She must spot him too, looking horrified for a split second before plastering on the smug grin. She pressed an apple into his hand, with a whisper of “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away!”

Stiles blanched, tries not to think about the skin burning into his skin. He hadn’t realised how much food has become the enemy. He held onto it, watching her.

“Wanna see something cool?” She asked, tugging him along.
“Where are we going?”
“Mecca.” Jodie answered, licking her dry lips.


The room is plastered with images of food. Poster after poster of rich desserts and pies and hot roasts, and Stiles can almost taste every food he can see, just on the tip of his tongue, out of reach. It’s a lot, and too much. Overwhelming. He closed his eyes, just for a moment of respite.
“Not bad, huh?” Jodie grinned, hefting the basket on one fragile hip. “Bet you’ve never seen a hospital room like this before.”

Stiles realised he was grinning, for the first time in a while. The muscles feel sore and underused. “Where did you even get all this? Who lets you have all this?”

“I used to be a magazine photographer. In my younger, and saner days.” Jodie smirked. He’s hit with a realization that she must her thirties, maybe. She looks like a small child. Like a gangy under-developed teenager. Like him. He’d never have guessed.

She tugged open a drawer, and the smell of rotting food became overwhelming. Piles of browning food with white fur growing in little napkins filled it.
“What is that?” Stiles thought he was going to throw up, hand over his mouth.
“This, my friend, is ammunition for future binges.” Jodie started dropping fruit after fruit into the drawer, as if unaware of the rot. “When the compulsion hits me, I’ll be ready.”
“You mean you actually eat that stuff!?” He can’t help the pitch of his voice rising, eyebrows way up. Jodie glanced up and stared at him, the expression in her eyes turning hard.
“What’re you acting so superior for, all of a sudden?” Her voice began to raise. “You’re the one who let them stick that tube in your body, remember? It’s nothing but sugar you know.” Each piece of fruit thumped harder in the drawer. “Pure poison. They violated you and you let them.”
Stiles ducked his head, fists gripped tight, because every word is an exact replica of those thoughts he’d been trying to push down.
“I didn’t want them to! They forced me!” He hissed, running his hands through his hair, not looking at where Jodie had slammed the drawer and sat on the bed.
“I don’t buy that. You could have fought. You could have pulled it right back out! I did.” She said bitterly. Stiles was still squirming, close to tears. “I guess that takes guts. Something you don’t seem to have.” She spat.

She’s right. She’s so very fucking right. Scott was the one with guts. Always has been. He’s been the expendable human, who gets sick and fails. Fails everyone.

Jodie doesn’t look at him for a few minutes, body tight and eyes almost apologetic. She can feel the harsh tension between them, all the new pain she’s dragged him into. “Hey, um- Wanna pack of cigarettes?” She offered softly.
“No, thank you.” Stiles whispered, staring at his feet. His fingers are itching already. He wants to prove her wrong.

“Look, there’s nothing to be ashamed of!” She said, backtracking. “You’re still a beginner. Thing is, I won’t be here to help.” Jodie turned away. “I’m out. Tomorrow morning. I’m discharged.”
“No.” Stiles says, and he can’t believe he’ll actually miss her. She was so much better than being alone. She smiled. He’d forgotten how to joke, she obviously had grown into it. “Why?”
“It’s real easy to fool ‘em round here.” Jodie said, pulling out a cigarette and tugging open a window. The cold made Stiles shake. “I haven’t vomited in a week, I gained three pounds. They think I’m saved.”
“I wish you weren’t leaving.” He said, honestly, with a small smile.
“Well. Now we have to make them think you’re safe too, that’s all.”
“I’m scared.” He admitted, for the first time. To anyone. “I’m scared if I eat, I won’t be able to stop.”
Jodie considers, reaching out to squeeze his hand. “Haven’t you done it before? Eaten so you could get someone off your back, like your folks?”
“Well do it again.” There was this lost sadness in Jodie’s eyes, and somehow it felt like she wasn't even talking to him anymore. She was somewhere else entirely in her head, and he can see it.
“You can’t stay here forever.” Jodie insisted, with those dark eyes, “We have some great times waiting for us, BUT NOT IN HERE.” Her voice was wobbling.
“Sometimes I think I’m better here than at home.” Stiles said, softly. “At least here, I’m not getting people hurt. They’re noticing I exist.”

Jodie dropped the little trinket she was playing with, glaring at him. “I can get noticed wherever I want, I sure don’t need this! Forget going home! Parents don’t understand what you’re going through. I split when I was sixteen. I have my own place now. Thinking of starting design school in the fall. This dump has seen the last of Miss Jodie Armenta.”
“I couldn’t move away.” Stiles laughed softly, shaking his head. There’s too many people he can’t leave behind.
“Sure you can!” She approached him, face encouraging. “Sure you can. When you get out of here, I’ll teach you some good stuff. We’ll be friends, okay?”
“I’d like to be your friend.” He smiled at her. “Very much.”
Jodie nodded, although her usual smirk was gone. “I mean, we understand each other.” In the light, and it must have been the light, Stiles told himself, she looked close to tears. “I gotta start packing. You’ll be out of here before you know it, no problem.”
Stiles stopped leaning on her wall, nodding, unable to stop the awful feeling of sadness hit his stomach. A foreboding he couldn’t understand.
“Give me a call.” She murmured, turning to grab her jumper off the bed.
“Yeah?” He moved closer, unsure of the boundaries. And that was when Jodie curled her cold arms around his body and hugged him tight. She rocked him, gently,eyes clamped tightly closed.
“Good luck.” Stiles told her.
“Good luck is my middle name.”