Stiles didn’t like firing people. It was uncomfortable and sometimes people cried, or they just stared uncomprehendingly, as if their brain just couldn’t accept what he was saying. In fact, the only reason that he hadn’t yet fired Andy was because he got the sense that the guy was a crier. He was such a happy guy, really enthusiastic, and he had no business being in a kitchen with sharp implements.
“Mr. Stilinski?” the woman at the desk called. “We’ve got a room for you, but you’ll still have to wait a little while to be seen.”
“Sure.” He stood, cradling his hand to his chest. “I think the bleeding has mostly stopped,” he said cheerfully to the nurse who came out to lead him to his room. He looked at him and nearly swallowed his own tongue.
The poor scrubs didn’t stand a chance; the guy looked like a soap opera’s idea of a doctor, muscular and attractive and grim, except he was wearing nurse’s scrubs with a nurse’s badge.
“It’s not dripping anymore,” he continued, because a nervous Stiles was a talking Stiles. “It still hurts and feels like I purposely dipped my hand in molten metal, but that’s probably just because there’s blood all over my hand and it’s freaking me out. I have to fill out a shit ton of paperwork after this, too, but I guess you don’t really care about that, why would you?” He laughed nervously and gulped when the nurse turned his head to stare at him.
“Your room,” he said, holding the door open. “The doctor will be with you in a minute.”
“Don’t rush! Paperwork!” he called, even as the nurse was slamming the door. He wished he’d asked his name. Then again, he looked like the kind of guy who wouldn’t answer that question either. Stiles lifted the rag from his hand, peeking at the gash across his palm. He turned away quickly, stomach pitching. He covered it back up, still facing away as pain throbbed from the wound.
An orderly came in with a computer on a rolling cart as he was contemplating checking it again. “Hi, sweetie. I just need some information from you, then the doctor will get in here to have a look.” She poked at the computer screen until it lit up.
The questions about insurance and information about himself made it easier to ignore his hand, which he was holding up near his shoulder, up until she cheerfully said she was all done.
“Oh, excuse me,” he called before she left. “What’s my nurse’s name?”
“That’d be Nurse Derek,” she said cheerfully. “He’ll be back in if the doctor needs assistance.”
“Assistance?” Stiles squeaked. “Why would the doctor need assistance?”
“Oh, just if you need stitches, hun,” she said, rolling right out of the room with her little cart and letting the door close behind her.
Stiles did indeed need stitches. Nurse Derek returned to give the doctor whatever tools she needed and to stand off to the side, glowering at Stiles like he’d somehow insulted him. That was okay; Stiles faced him while Dr. Genesco stitched. If he was going to pass out, it’d might as well be while looking at someone pretty.
“Are you from Beacon Hills?” Stiles asked, wincing at every tug on his left hand.
“What?” he grunted.
“You. Nurse Sunshine. Are you from here? Tell me about yourself.”
Dr. Genesco made a little throat-clearing sound like she was trying not to laugh.
“Yes, I’m from Beacon Hills. Do you have a ride home, Mr. Stilinski?” he asked in a pleasant voice that made Stiles a little afraid and a little hot, to be honest. “We can call the sheriff’s department to have someone come pick you up.”
“Ah, so I take it you know the sheriff, then?” Stiles lifted his brows. “Get in trouble with the law often?”
“Sheriff Stilinski comes to have lunch with Nurse McCall,” he replied, sounding affronted. He looked irritated that his little threat hadn’t worked.
“I know.” Stiles grinned, pleased, then winced when Dr. Genesco tugged a little.
“How did you say this happened?” he asked.
“Kitchen accident. New kid at work.” He sucked on his teeth to imitate a cartoonish slicing noise.
Derek’s mouth twisted in disgust.
“Yeah, it was kind of gros-” He broke off, flinching, when Dr. Genesco snipped the end of the thread.
“All done. Nurse Derek will go over care instructions with you.”
Stiles looked at him, grinning insincerely.
He didn’t look remotely amused. He just pulled on gloves and unwrapped a bandage. “Keep it dry and covered for twenty-four hours. After that, you can wash the area gently with soap and water and change the bandages. Don’t scrub at the stitches, and pat dry gently. Make an appointment with Melinda for seven to ten days from now to get them removed.” He secured the bandage around Stiles’s hand.
“Thanks.” He hopped off the bed. “Do I get any painkillers?” he asked, smirking.
“Take some ibuprofen,” Derek replied dryly.
Stiles’s smirk stretched into a grin when he left the room. Maybe he’d give Andy another chance. At least he was friendly and good with the customers.
In hindsight, the cat probably could’ve gotten out of the tree by herself, considering she got up it just fine.
After the initial shock of slamming into the ground came waves of sharp pain from his left wrist. Still, he didn’t move. He figured if he was in this much pain holding still, it could only get worse if he jostled himself.
“Stiles?! Oh my god!” Scott ran right up to him, making him flinch as the ground thudded with his footfalls, followed by Isaac and Allison. “Can you move? Never mind, we’re just going to call an ambulance.”
“Don’t!” He groaned and pushed himself up with his right hand. Blood seeped down his face from a cut on his cheek, adding a nice, gory topping to his already crappy day. “I can feel my feet and stuff, but my wrist is broken.”
“Are you sure?” Allison asked doubtfully, then winced when she saw the appendage in question. “Oh.”
“And you just got your stitches out last week,” Scott sighed. “Come on, we’ll drive you to the hospital.”
Isaac handed him something. “Put it on your face, you’re bleeding.”
“I noticed,” he grumbled, holding the cloth to the general area of pain radiating from his face. This left him completely unable to get to his feet for fear of tipping over.
“Can you get the car, Allison?” Scott asked, a frown of concentration crossing his face.
She snorted. “Sure.”
Isaac and Scott got on either side of Stiles and lifted him to his feet by the elbows.
The pain in his wrist made him nauseous, so much so that he had to lean heavily against Scott’s side for a few seconds. “Okay,” he panted. “Let’s go before I break anything else.”
As they walked to the car, the cat Stiles had been bravely rescuing bolted across the lawn and through the dog door that’d been installed by the owner before they moved in.
“At least you got the cat down,” Allison said, smiling like she thought that would make him feel better.
Stiles was officially a dog person.
At the hospital, after confirming he hadn’t been unconscious at all and that he wasn’t having trouble breathing, he was sent to the waiting room.
“At least you don’t have to wait alone this time,” Scott said.
“True,” he grumbled, shifting in his seat.
Allison and Isaac were playing battleship on a couple pieces of paper they’d torn from a notebook in the car. Allison was winning, either due to her superior skills or Isaac’s inferior battleship technique.
Since it wasn’t very busy—Beacon Hills’ Clumsiest took Monday evenings off, who knew?—Stiles got called back within twenty minutes.
“You guys can go if you want,” he said. “I’ve probably got to get X-Rayed and stuff.”
“We’ll wait,” Allison said. “We can check out the gift shop and go see Melissa, if she’s here.”
He smiled. “Okay. Thanks.” He turned to the nurse waiting impatiently to take him to his room. “Nurse Sunshine!” he exclaimed, then immediately winced. “You hate me, don’t you?” he asked, laughing nervously.
Nurse Derek didn’t respond beyond letting the door close and turning away. He had a clipboard in hand that he was trying to snap in half, if the tension around his knuckles was any indication.
“What is the nature of your injury?” he asked as soon as they were in a room.
“Uh—my wrist is broken.”
“Mmhm,” he replied in a ‘we’ll see about that!’ sort of voice that made Stiles’s eyes narrow. “And how did this occur?”
“I fell out of a tree,” Stiles snapped, smug when Hale’s eyes jumped up in alarm.
“Which direction did your wrist go when you fell on it?” he asked. He sounded less snippy this time, which Stiles appreciated.
“Backwards,” he said, demonstrating with his right hand. The dishtowel he’d been holding to his face fell into his lap when he did. “Eugh,” he groaned, looking away. Of course it was white—or had once been white before he’d bled all over it.
“Are you left or right handed?”
“Aside from the laceration we treated two weeks ago, have you had any other hand or wrist injuries or surgeries in the past?”
“I sprained my wrist a couple times in high school,” he said absently, reaching up to scratch at his nose.
“Sure,” Derek said agreeably. “Okay, I’m going to assess the injury now. Tell me when it hurts.” And then Nurse Derek, who turned out to actually be a sadist, took Stiles’s wrist like some sort of demon and started moving it all around the damn place like they were doing jazz hands together or something.
Stiles had the very natural reaction of screeching like a scalded cat and punching out on blind instinct with his uninjured hand.
Nurse/Sadist Derek caught his hand without looking up and lowered it. “There will be someone here shortly to take you to get an x-ray,” he said after another minute of examining the purpling skin of Stiles’s wrist.
Stiles, panting, scowled at him. “Thanks.”
He flashed a smile and all the pain went away. “You’re welcome.”
Stiles had a something-fracture, which he promptly forgot the name of, and a cut on his face that someone applied Steri-strips to while the doctor prodded his hand and arm and declared that it didn’t need to be set, and then Nurse Derek was back. Stiles decided to forgive him for torturing him.
“Dr. Burke is going to put a cast on your wrist now,” he explained in the monotone voice of someone who’d repeated themselves too many times to inject enthusiasm into the words. “When you go home, you should keep it elevated above your heart for the first few days, which should relieve pain and swelling. You should ice it for fifteen to twenty minutes every three hours, but keep the cast dry when you do that.”
“Uh-huh.” Stiles looked at the cast doubtfully as it was being fitted. “And how do I do that?”
“I’m thinking a towel,” Dr. Burke said, the moderated note of thoughtful patience in her voice nearly making Stiles lose it.
He bit down on his lip to keep from laughing, looking at Derek again. “Right,” he said, managing through sheer force to keep his voice even.
“You’ll want to exercise and stretch your fingers, shoulder, and elbow while you’re in the cast,” Derek continued. “Once we’re done with the cast, I’ll show you.”
Stiles wiggled the fingers of his right hand. “You could show me now.”
Derek made a face and turned around abruptly, leaning into the hallway and grabbing someone as they were passing.
Stiles stretched forward, trying to see or hear, but Dr. Burke, gentle soul that she was, slapped his leg and went back to what she was doing.
“I have somewhere to be,” Derek said, barely turning his head. “So Nurse Ryan is going to show you how to do your stretches. I hope you feel better soon,” he recited.
“He’s so good with the patients,” Dr. Burke said lightly. “They always want him on every floor, he’s the best at soothing the nervous ones.”
Stiles thought maybe Dr. Burke was a little deaf or senile, because, while the man was attractive, Stiles definitely did not get a soothing vibe from Derek. More furious or annoyed, really. That was okay, she clearly knew her way around a plaster cast, even if it was violently green instead of blue like he’d asked.
“Scott, one day you’re going to have to learn how to put oil in your own car,” Stiles said, digging around the trunk until he found the bottle of oil he’d stowed in there last time this happened. The funnel was probably somewhere in the backseat. Scott was terrible that way. “Or maybe just take it to a mechanic? You shouldn’t need this much oil all the time.”
“Lecturing later, please? I’m already running late,” Scott whined. “I’ll buy you cake from that really expensive bakery you love on my way home tonight if you save the lecture for later.”
“Deal. It better be a whole cake,” Stiles added, snatching the funnel out of the backseat and wagging it in Scott’s face impatiently. “Now, do not, under any circumstances move the support rod while my head is under this. Seriously. I’ll kill you from beyond if you do.”
“It was one time, and Isaac’s fine, okay?” Scott muttered.
“Yeah, well, tell that to his crooked middle finger.” Stiles shooed him away until he could get under the hood. He was free of his cast and had no stitches to speak of, so he was playing it safe; he didn’t want to go to the hospital with another hand injury so soon after getting his cast off. It’d only been a couple months. They were going to start making inquiries about domestic abuse, and where would he be then? Explaining to hospital staff that he was honestly that clumsy.
“It was an accident!”
“So learn from it!” Stiles leaned down to start pouring, watching Scott dance around impatiently in his peripherals. “You should leave earlier if you’re this worried about being late, dude, this is totally your fault for procrastinating.” He straightened up, then, second guessing himself, started to lean back in to pour more. The hood dropped down onto the bridge of his nose, clacking his teeth together painfully while stars popped in his vision.
“Oh my god!”
“Scott, goddammit!” He’d dropped the oil trying to catch the hood, so the remainder of it slopped over his shoes. “Are my teeth still there? Scott. Scott, my teeth.” He shook his head, swaying in place, and looked at the window. His teeth were throbbing from the force of the hood slamming his jaw together, but despite the weird numbness, they were still all in place. Blood gushed from the cut across his nose and from both nostrils. He brought a hand up to stem the blood flow but couldn’t figure out where he should be trying to stop it, and just dropped his hand again.
“Oh my god. Here.” Something pressed down on his nose, making him yelp and leap back, then, dizzy, lose his balance. He hit the concrete hard, pain reverberating up his tailbone. “Don’t!” Scott shouted, but Stiles wasn’t sure what he wasn’t supposed to be doing, since he was just sitting there.
He tipped his head back to look for Scott; when the first trickle of blood went down his throat, his stomach pitched and he scrambled to his knees, gagging.
“Okay, okay,” Scott said, rubbing his back until he was done. “Hospital now.”
Stiles groaned. “I hate you so much.”
He was conscious but dazed through the drive and check in, following Scott to the waiting room. He was holding a towel to his face and reciting the alphabet to keep Scott from working himself into an asthma attack because he thought he was dying when they came to get him.
He was given a CT scan and an examination by one Dr. Phillips, who, after having him apply pressure to his nose for about twenty minutes, called for a nurse to assist her while she did a nasal packing, since the bleeding still hadn’t stopped. They also slapped a bandage over the cut on the bridge of his nose.
“Oh my god,” he groaned at the sight of the nurse assisting Dr. Phillips. “Why does this keep happening?” he whined.
“How did this happen?” Nurse Derek asked, scowling and crossing his arms.
“Please get the cotton balls, Nurse Hale,” Dr. Phillips said politely.
“I was putting oil in my friend’s car and he dropped the hood of it on my face,” Stiles muttered while Derek was working at the counter. “He’s evil and currently disowned.” He ran his tongue over his front teeth, because they still felt all tingly and weird.
Dr. Phillips took the cotton balls Derek passed to her and held them up so he could see. “These are going to have to stay up there for about ten minutes,” she said, and put them up his nostrils.
“Perfect.” Just what he needed.
“I’ll be right back. I have to get a gown and goggles. Nurse Hale, if you could turn on the overhead lamp and prepare the equipment.”
Derek looked almost gleeful as he started setting alarming tools of all sorts of shapes out on a tray.
“What’s that for?” Stiles demanded, pointing at something that looked like a giant pair of tweezers.
“Nasal speculum,” Derek said. He lifted them. “How do you think she’s going to get the gauze in there?” he asked sweetly.
Stiles’s hand jumped to his nose protectively. “Oh god.”
Derek let out a little sigh. “It’s not going to hurt,” he said. “There’s going to be pressure and you’re probably going to want to sneeze, but it won’t hurt.”
“Yeah, you’re not the one whose future includes sci-fi torture tools being shoved up your nose,” Stiles grumbled.
Derek continued assisting through the…procedure. He also took it upon himself to distract Stiles, which he appreciated. “My sister broke her nose once. She was chasing our youngest sister and slipped on a throw rug. She rammed her face right into a doorknob. Cora cried for three hours when it happened, she felt so bad.”
“If you’re going to sneeze, please give some warning,” Dr. Phillips said, because apparently Stiles’s “aww” face looked like a sneeze face, which was nice to know.
“Did she have to get her nose packed?” he asked, prompting Dr. Phillips to shush him impatiently.
“Yes, she did. She also had two black eyes for a few days, too,” he said cheerfully. “You probably will, as well, along with bruising from where the hood hit you.”
“Oh. That’s just…great.”
Stiles did end up sneezing, but thankfully he had enough time to warn them before it happened, so he only sneezed blood into the cloth he had in his lap.
“You should see when they can't warn us in time,” Derek said.
Dr. Phillips sighed. “It is a mess,” she agreed. “You’re finished, Mr. Stilinski. Nurse Hale will go over care instructions with you.”
“Am I supposed to be calling you Nurse Hale?” Stiles wondered. He sounded congested, which he guessed made sense since he had about thirteen feet of gauze jammed up his nose.
Derek didn’t reply. “Don’t blow your nose for two to three days, obviously. If you have to sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally, just like you did earlier.”
“Use a humidifier at night, since you’ll be breathing through your mouth.”
“I always do.”
Derek’s lips twitched. “No alcohol.”
“There goes my dinner plans.”
“Do you like spicy food?” Derek asked, checking something on the clipboard.
“I like certain spicy foods,” Stiles said with a little grin that made his face hurt. “Why do you want to know, Nurse Hale?”
“Because you can’t eat anything spicy for the next three days,” he said flatly. “It’ll make your nose run and disturb the packing.”
Stiles nodded. “Alright.”
“Try not to laugh too much. I know that’ll be difficult,” he said with an incredibly straight face. “Since your reflection will be on a fair few of the things you see.”
“Don’t strain yourself. You could disturb the packing.” He smiled down at his clipboard. “It’ll mostly dissolve on its own in two days. You can come back in if you’re worried, but if you blow your nose on Thursday, gently, it should come out. It’ll look like a blood clot, but don’t panic. If your nose continues to bleed more than just spotting, you should come back in. Dr. Phillips will want to try cauterizing it.”
Stiles winced. “I already said I don’t want to do that.”
“Then you can have nasal tampons up your nose for the rest of your life,” Derek said easily. “Your choice.”
“Alright, alright.” He waved his hands. “Can I go now?”
“Ice your face for about fifteen minutes today and tomorrow every couple hours to keep the swelling down.”
“And that’s it. You’re ready to leave. Do you have a ride?”
Stiles sighed. “Yeah, he’s out there, waiting in shame.” He got off the bed. “So, Nurse Sunshine, do you like spicy food?”
“Melinda will help you with your paperwork,” Derek said, turning on his heel and leaving.
“You’ll fall for my blood-stained face one day, Nurse Sunshine!” Stiles called. His nose throbbed with the force of his shout. “Ugh, Scott, you’re dead to me.”
Because he’d yelled himself hoarse at Andy for dropping his phone in the pot of soup and contaminating it, thus wasting good ingredients and time, Stiles didn’t realize anything was wrong at first. It was January; everyone had a little cough or a sore throat.
“Stiles, you need to go home,” Lydia said. She was by the door of his office, keeping her distance, nose wrinkled in distaste. “Or possibly to the hospital. You look dehydrated.”
He snapped, “I’m not dehydrated!”, or at least he tried to. All that came out was a squeaking rasp of “I’m n-” before his voice cut out. “This is—Andy’s—fault,” he forced out.
“You’re sick and you’re hiding in your office because you know you’re sick and you don’t want to be by the food while you’re coughing. You’re contagious and I will close this place down if you don’t think your sous can run things without you.”
He dropped his head in his hands. His skin felt gross and clammy.
“I’ll drive you,” she continued. “I can’t stay, but I can drop you off.” She opened the door, gesturing at him to follow her.
Andy was skulking near the emergency exit, looking like a sad puppy, most likely because his phone was ruined. Things like the entire kitchen staff being mad at him just rolled right off in the face of that.
Lydia swept right by without looking at him, which meant Stiles had no choice but to do the same.
By the time Stiles was checking in at the hospital, his voice was completely gone. The helpful woman running the desk gave him a piece of paper to write everything down on.
“We’re a little busy, so you can wait right over there. Try to drink some water,” she added kindly.
Stiles smiled at her because it was polite, but he hadn’t been drinking much of anything the last couple days due to the stabbing pain in his throat whenever he tried. It was possible he had been stupid.
He jerked awake when his name was called.
“Hi, I’m Nurse Lapin, but you can go ahead and call me Angie,” the perky nurse chirped. “We’re going to do a swab to check for strep, get you set up with an IV to restore some fluids, and Dr. Genesco wants to check your lungs. Sound good?”
He shot her a thumbs-up because he wasn’t sure how else to respond when he couldn’t talk.
Angie didn’t seem to mind; she just took him to a room and chirped that she’d be right back to swab his throat.
He had a coughing fit when she left, harsh, loud coughs that left his chest aching. He flopped back on the bed and let his eyes close.
“I feel like you’re doing this on purpose now.”
Stiles opened his eyes and mouthed a curse.
Nurse Hale stood by the door of his room, arms crossed. “I don’t see any blood. What’d you do this time? Slam your hand in a car door?”
Stiles frowned, confused until he realized that the questions meant Nurse Hale didn’t know why he was here. That meant he wasn’t the one assigned to treat Stiles, and that he’d seen his name and come to see him on his own. Stiles smiled a little.
“You should be more careful,” he continued. “You could get seriously injured one day.”
Stiles made a pffft noise, which was all he could manage.
“You know, you don’t have to injure yourself just to come here,” Derek said, a smirk starting to curl his mouth. “You could-”
“Here we go, time to swab. Open up,” Angie said cheerily. “Try not to gag. Hi, Derek,” she added, sidestepping him on her way to Stiles.
Derek’s brows furrowed. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, he’s lost his voice, poor thing. Would you mind setting up this IV while I swab him? He’s feverish and dehydrated, too.”
Derek’s face reddened. “Okay,” he muttered.
Stiles still felt like death warmed over, but he couldn’t help grinning at the sight of him blushing. It was cute.
That is, until Derek returned with a needle. “Don’t be a baby,” he grunted. “It won’t hurt.”
Stiles snorted, holding himself rigid and leaning away from the needle.
“Relax. Derek never misses,” Angie said, putting his throat swab in a container. “Once everything’s done, we’ll send you on your way.”
While Stiles’s attention was on her, Derek had stuck him, one quick, smooth movement. “You could have stopped me,” he muttered after Angie left the room. “I didn’t know you were sick.” He stripped his gloves off and tossed them in the trash. “I should’ve guessed. You’ve never been that quiet before.”
Stiles shrugged, making a face, and leaned back. He’d like to say he wanted to defend himself—he didn’t talk that much—but at that moment, he wanted nothing more than to nod off for a few minutes, maybe an hour if he could. An hour sounded amazing…
Before he knew it, Angie was back and Derek was gone.
“Okay, we’ve prescribed you antibiotics, and some cough medicine. Drink lots of fluids—the cough syrup will help with the pain there, so you’ll have an easier time swallowing water—and rest as much as possible.” She gently taped a cotton ball to the bend of his elbow, where she must’ve removed the IV while he was dozing. “Here are your prescriptions.”
“Thanks,” he rasped, getting to his feet clumsily. He shuffled back down the hall in a daze, not realizing he didn’t have a ride until he was nearly in the waiting room. He huffed, irritated, and pulled his phone out of his pocket. Surely someone could give him a ride. He stepped out into the waiting room, intending to go outside to make his call, and found his dad already out there in full uniform.
“Hey, kid.” He smirked when Stiles just stared at him. “I got a call that you weren’t fit to drive—and that you were sick. You didn’t tell me.”
“Voice,” he managed to force out, tapping his throat.
“Well, let’s get you home, then I’ll run out and get your prescriptions.” He put his arm around his shoulders to lead him out.
“Who-?” The rest of the question was lost, but thankfully his father had never needed as many words as Stiles usually gave him to understand.
“Oh, your nurse. He’s a nice guy. He called and said that you shouldn’t be driving, and I have to agree, you look dead on your feet, kid.”
Stiles looked over his shoulder at the doors, trying to catch sight of Nurse Hale, but they were too far away.
While he was waiting for his dad to bring back his meds, he may or may not have ordered flowers online to send to Nurse Hale at the hospital. He blamed his fever.
Scalding, freshly cooked soup, applied directly and liberally to bare forearms was, put simply, agonizing.
Allison reacted the quickest, propelling him to the sink with a hand on his back, thrusting his arms under cool water in the sink.
Behind them, several people were yelling at once, but Stiles couldn’t quite make out what they were saying.
“Let the sink fill up and keep your arms in the water. You’re going to have to go to the hospital,” she said quickly. “And we’re firing Andy. No arguments.”
“Is that who it was?” he muttered. His jaw was clenched tight in pain, hands trembling and jerking under the flow of water. It took him a minute to realize it was because he was crying, hitching gasps of pain.
“Yeah, he for some reason decided to move the—don’t!” Allison snapped, leaving his side. “You’re being fired for negligence, Andrew Foster. You can speak to Miss Martin about any questions you have, but for now, please, get out of this kitchen.”
He got lucky at the ER—they were extremely slow and got him into the back rather quickly; Allison refused to stay in the waiting room and accompanied him to his room. She helped him sit down on the bed when he had trouble climbing up.
“Oh, no,” Stiles groaned when he was settled. He knew that ass outside his room. Those ugly green scrubs couldn’t hide it. Why’d the nurse leave his door propped open? Did she hate him?
“What’s wrong? They’ll give you something for the pain soon,” Allison reassured him.
He still had tears drying on his cheeks, ugh, and soup all over him.
Nurse Hale turned around, brows going up at the sight of him. “Accident?” he asked, stepping in. He looked around, likely for Stiles’s chart, but he didn’t search for it.
“Kitchen accident. Spilled soup. They started blistering, so I thought we’d better get here instead of treating them ourselves. We ran cool water over them and kept them covered on the way here,” Allison told him, still speaking rapidly, as she did when she was stressed.
“Good. We’ll take a look at them and get you some cream to put on them. You’ll want to keep them covered and elevated. Don’t use cotton balls to apply the cream at home,” he added sternly. “We’ll give you some acetaminophen for the pain, and we’ll wrap them up before you go, too.”
He hesitated, then, glancing at Allison, nodded and left the room.
“Do you know him?” she asked.
“Uh, remember how I was complaining to Scott about the cute nurse I kept running into when I was hurt?”
“Ohhh.” She looked at the door. “And you’ve never seen him when you come to visit Mel?”
“Never. It’s like the only time he pops up is when I’m hurt.” He scowled as a thought occurred to him. “Or like he’s avoiding me until he has no choice. Damn it. Am I the kind of person you need to hide from? Oh my god. This day keeps getting worse.”
“I’m sure that isn’t it, Stiles,” she said soothingly. “They’re plenty busy here. It’s just a coincidence.” She had to go outside to answer a call from Lydia then, which was conveniently right as Nurse Hale was returning to examine and treat the burns.
“How did you say this happened?” he asked as he pulled on some gloves.
“New kid at work,” Stiles sighed. “Only he’s not new anymore, I guess.”
“The same one who sliced open your hand?”
He smiled. “Uh-huh, yeah. I figured it was new-job nerves.”
“Now I figure we’re lucky he hasn’t killed us all. Last month he dropped his phone in the soup.”
“And this month he dropped you in the soup.”
Stiles surprised himself by laughing. “Basically. Allison is making sure he gets fired as we speak.”
“Allison is the woman who brought you?”
“Yep. She’s my co-owner. We live together, too,” he added with relish, loving the way Nurse Hale’s brows were furrowing.
“Right,” he murmured, gently turning Stiles’s arm over to check the damage.
He sighed. “You could just ask instead of looking so furious.”
“If I’m with her. I’m not. She’s in a relationship with my other roommates, and she’s one of my best friends.”
He didn’t say anything, instead focusing on spreading cool cream over the red and white burns on Stiles’s arms.
He sighed as it soothed the pain. “Is that going to numb the burns?”
“Yes. We’ll give you a prescription for a tube to use at home before you leave.” With his head bent, he said, “You sent me flowers.”
“Uh. Yes,” Stiles agreed, his face heating up.
He sighed. His arms hurt too badly for him to feel too embarrassed about that. “Mostly to thank you for calling my dad that day that I was sick.”
“Oh.” The single word was soft and uttered without eye contact; he had a good excuse for not looking up, as he was still tending to Stiles’s burns. “You didn’t have to thank me for that. You were unfit to drive.”
“You called my dad instead of a taxi,” Stiles pointed out. He jumped when he switched arms. “You didn’t have to call anybody. I thought it was nice and I thought I’d do something nice in return.”
He cleared his throat. “Of course.”
“Also because I thought you deserved flowers. You’re nice-” maybe he should stop saying ‘nice’- “and you’re a good nurse.”
“Thanks.” He smiled briefly. “I’m going to wrap the burns now. Tell me if it feels too tight anywhere. They might swell, so I’m going to put these on loosely. Remember to keep them elevated when you can.”
“Okay.” Stiles wasn’t sure what else to say; he’d already made Nurse Hale uncomfortable, and he was being nice about it, so there wasn’t much else to say.
“You could always bring the flowers in yourself,” he said, still looking down. “If you wanted.”
“I’ve come in before to—oh, but not…not to be creepy, like…stalking you or—anyone. I’m usually-”
“You have lunch with Nurse McCall and Sheriff Stilinski on alternate Wednesdays and Fridays,” he said. “I know. I’m off those days.”
Stiles looked at him. “You are?”
He smiled a little, still focusing on the bandages. “Yes.” He cleared his throat again. “Keep these as dry as you can, take acetaminophen for the pain.”
He bobbed his head. “Sure.”
“And come back in ten days for a follow up.”
“And then maybe you could tell me what restaurant you work at, so I can come by some time.” He swallowed. “Just to make sure you don’t injure yourself, of course.”
“Of course.” Stiles rubbed his nose. “It’s Paragon, on Main.”
“You called your restaurant Paragon?”
“Lydia said if we can’t live up to the name, then we have no business in the restaurant business.” He smiled when Derek laughed. “I hope we’ll see you there, then. Soon.”
Derek tapped two fingers against the back of his hand. “Not too soon. You should keep these away from heat and try not to stretch the skin too much.”
“Right. I don’t know what I’m going to do until they heal.” He looked at the carefully wrapped bandages. “I’ll probably go crazy and drive my roommates insane.”
“Only after you’ve milked it for a few days,” he said, straightening up. “They’ll feel bad for you for a while, you do have second degree burns.”
“True,” Stiles said, perking up. “And, hey, I meant it. Stop by the restaurant sometime.”
“Okay. I’ll be right back with your prescriptions.”
Stiles sighed as he left. What was he supposed to do with that?
Allison poked her head in a few minutes later. “Hey, you ready to go?” she asked, leaning against the door. “I have your prescriptions,” she added, waving them.
So that answered that, then. “Yes. Thanks for driving me.” He jumped off the bed, holding his arms away from his body.
“Sure,” she said, holding the door open for him. “I have to get back to the restaurant, but I’m going to drive you home first. Isaac can drive your car home…And pick up your prescriptions.”
“Oh, he’ll love that.” He smiled, though, because annoying Isaac was almost as good as medicine.
“He’ll get over it. Come on.”
“I’m all sticky, ugh.”
She hummed. “I gave your number to Nurse Hale, by the way.” She kissed his cheek when he froze. “You’re welcome.” She swept her hair behind her back and marched out of the waiting room.
“Allison! Allison, you shouldn’t treat the injured this way!”
Nurse Hale didn’t call. He also didn’t come to the restaurant. Stiles figured that was a pretty clear sign, and went to Melissa directly for his follow up for the burns when they were healed.
“At least they didn’t scar too badly,” Scott said, leaning across the table to peer at Stiles’s arms.
They were having lunch outside of a coffee shop, since it was halfway between Paragon and the vet clinic. Stiles was also getting out of the way; Lydia and Allison were planning some renovations and driving him a little crazy, so he’d made an escape when he could. He had to get back soon, though, unfortunately. They had a new hire that needed training in the kitchen, though he had high hopes for her, as she’d worked in a restaurant before.
“Yeah, you almost can’t tell anymore.” He lifted his arms, turning them this way and that to look. There were mostly just faded red marks now, brown in some places, white in others. “I have to stop scratching at them, but they’re so itchy.”
“Don’t you have any of the burn cream left? That should make the feeling go away.” Scott’s brow furrowed in thought. “Or you could get some bug bite stuff from Walgreens.”
Stiles’s phone beeped in his pocket, making him sigh. “I guess I have to go back.”
“Yeah, my lunch is over, anyway.” Scott stood up, grabbing his jacket. It was still just that side of winter, where a few clouds tended to make it cold enough for a coat.
“I’ll see you at home.”
Scott sighed. “Instead of being sad, you should go to the hospital and see him.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Scott,” Stiles said, backing away from the table. “No one to see.”
“At least come out with us tonight!”
“I’ll think about it,” he said, knowing full well he was just going to go home after he finished at the restaurant.
“You mean you’re going to go home and watch Netflix until you fall asleep at your desk.” Scott snorted and shook his head. “Dude, is it really that bad?”
“Nothing is that bad, I’m just moping. Let me wallow for a little while. I’ll even go out with you guys tomorrow night!” He laughed a little, waving his hands. “Just, you know, let me pout,” he said, backing up even more. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay, just watch the—Stiles—stairs—!” Scott stuttered, eyes widening.
Stiles wobbled, half of his foot on the top step leading to the café patio; his arms wheeled comically as he tried to catch himself from toppling backward down them, heart slamming against his chest.
A hand came out of nowhere and closed around his shirt, yanking hard. The seams ripped a little, but his feet also rocked back onto solid, flat ground.
“Oh my god.” Stiles leaned over his knees, gasping.
“Do you just get into horrific accidents everywhere you go? How are you still alive?”
Stiles looked at his savior. “You saved me from visiting you again.” When Derek just blinked at him, he said, “And…sheer luck, the hard work of dedicated nurses. I’m lucky like that.” He straightened up, clearing his throat. When he glanced over, Scott waved, grinning, and left. Traitor. “Um, thanks.”
Derek—Nurse Hale, he should just think of him as Nurse Hale—was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, looking at Stiles with something akin to frustration on his face. “You should watch your step,” he said, and tried to step around him.
He stopped. “What?”
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I thought you asking about the restaurant was you, um, maybe reciprocating, but I…”
“You had your friend give me a fake number,” Derek muttered.
He sighed, rolling his head back like he didn’t want to talk. “When you were getting treated for your burns,” he said, looking at Stiles directly for the first time. “Your friend gave me your number and said I should just call you. I did.” He shrugged. “It wasn’t—it didn’t…So you told your friend to give me a fake number so I’d leave you alone. You didn’t have to. You could have told me I was bothering you.” He looked away, jaw clenching.
Stiles waved his hands. “You weren’t bothering me. You didn’t bother me. I didn’t tell her to give you a number—fake or otherwise.”
“I didn’t. And when she told me that she gave you my number, I was embarrassed but I was hoping that you’d call. Or text. I can text.” He frowned. “I can’t believe she gave you the wrong number.”
Derek pulled his phone out. “I, um. I kept it,” he mumbled, cheeks turning pink. He turned the screen toward Stiles. The number was under the contact name “???”, and the last number was a 6 instead of an 8.
“Yeah, that’s almost right. My number ends in eight, not six.”
“You must’ve had trouble reading her handwriting. Eight, not six.” He pointed at the screen. “Number’s wrong, mostly.”
“Oh.” Derek turned the screen to look at it. “Would it be okay if I changed it?”
“Yes.” Stiles bit his lip to hide a smile. “We could also grab some coffee. If you were interested?”
“Sure.” He smiled. “I have to make sure you don’t get hurt on the way there.”
Stiles laughed. “Good point. I-” His foot slipped when he turned, nearly sending him down the stairs again; Derek caught his arm, eyes widening.
“We should get away from the stairs. You’re a walking disaster,” Derek declared, his eyes widening. “You are an adorable, clumsy, walking disaster.”
“You think I’m adorable?” Stiles asked, grinning.
“I’m not answering any questions while we’re still by these stairs.”
“Good thing you’re a nurse, then, right?” Stiles teased, letting him tug him by the arm to a table.
“How did you make it to adulthood?” Derek wondered.
“Nurse Sunshine, do I have some stories to tell you.”
A smile flitted over his face. “I’m looking forward to it. For now, sit down while I get us some coffee. Tepid coffee,” he added, flicking a glance at his arms.
Stiles stuck his tongue out. “I didn’t spill it on myself, remember?”
“Sure.” He left him snickering at the table.
While he was inside, Stiles texted Allison that he would be late, because he was having coffee with Sunshine nurse!!!
Finally! was her reply, which made his eyes narrow.
When he told her that she’d given Derek the wrong number, she replied that it was Lydia’s fault, and before he could ask what that even meant, she’d sent a longer text, explaining.
Lydia thought that if Derek didn’t call you for a little while you’d get impatient and go see him and figure out that he had the wrong number. We didn’t think you’d give up so quickly!
You’re both dead to me.
Love you too
Derek set a cup of iced coffee in front of him. “I thought iced was the way to go. I know there’s still a chance of choking on the ice, but at least I can deal with that here.”
“You should hear about the one and only time I went to work out with my buddy at the gym. I shattered my knee cap and got a concussion.”
“While working out?”
“Ha. Haha, no, I didn’t even get to that part,” Stiles laughed. “So, it started with Scott talking me into trying out for lacrosse in high school…”