Stiles has had his fair share of terrible Valentine’s Days, but this one, quite literally, takes the damn cake. Years of yearning after unrequited crushes, rejected prom proposals, and returned flowers have nothing on sitting half-naked the Emergency Room covered in hives, his throat starting to close up, his tongue the size of Buick.
That sonofabitch Saint Valentine wasn’t tortured nearly enough, Stiles thinks ruefully.
To his list of those who should be punished for his Valentine’s misery, he adds all of the shitty OkCupid dates he’s suffered through in the last month, the Safeway employee who didn’t label the half-price Valentine’s Day cupcakes as strawberry, and the ER nurse who insisted he disrobe and put on a open-backed gown, even though he’s not wearing underwear.
Beheading was too good for them all, he seethed silently, each passing moment waiting to see a doctor frustrating him more, sinking him even farther into the self-loathing that got him here in the first place, kept afloat by his pool floatation of a tongue.
He’s distracted from his admittedly obnoxious self-pity by the appearance of two pairs of feet on the other side of the curtain that separates his exam area from the adjoining nurse’s station. There’s a pair of well-worn dad sneakers topped by green scrubs, and a pair of those clunky clogs all nurses seem to wear, these ones sparkly purple under dark pink scrubs. He cocks his head to listen, hoping to find out when he’ll be seen so he can get the hell out of here and return to eating his feelings.
“What do you have next for me, Erica?” The man’s voice sounds tired, but not completely defeated, which Stiles supposes is the best he can ask from an ER doctor in the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day. There’s something oddly familiar about it too, a lilting gentleness that tugs at the edges of Stiles’ memory but that he can’t place.
“You have your pick of Cupid’s rejects,” the nurse answers, and Stiles can’t help but snort a laugh. She ain’t wrong, after all. “We’ve got a sorority girl with first degree burns from trying to burn her ex-boyfriend in effigy; an elderly couple with food poisoning from edible underwear probably purchased last century; an amateur chef trying to impress his date with fancy fileting moves has a hand lac that needs sutures; and a middle-aged man with heart-shaped anal beads lodged in his rectum. Oh, and a twenty-four year old guy with moderate allergic reaction to strawberries.”
Stiles yanks back the curtain. “Thmoderate?” He yells. “My thongue thooks thike the Milthenium Fathcon! Ohl, anth I’th thilke to breathhhe somethime again! Buth thure, ith’s thmoderathe.”
“Mister Strawberry, I presume?” The doctor crooks up a thick, black eyebrow, and it’s expressive and ridiculously adorable enough to distract Stiles from the rest of his face for a few moments.
“Thee, whath gathe it away?” Stiles wants to roll his eyes, but dammit, it hurts.
“Erica, let’s get a dose of epi and some oral diphenhydramine, 75 milligrams, for Mister…” The nurse hands him a chart and throws a curious smirk at them as she slides the curtain shut. Dr. Eyebrows scans the chart quickly before looking back up at him, both caterpillar eyebrows up this time. “Stiles?”
“Huth?” He’s sure he put his legal name on the paperwork, and there wasn’t a spot for a nickname. Which only means that the doctor – who, Stiles realizes with a dread that feels nearly as bad as when he figured out that the cupcake he shoved into his mouth was strawberry – is fucking hot, recognizes him.
“Stiles Stilinski, right? I’m Derek Hale, I was a couple years ahead of you at Beacon Hills High.”
No, this dread is worse than the realization of strawberry poisoning. Unfuckingbelievable. Apparently Saint Valendouche really has it out for him this year, because standing before him looking way more hot than anyone in scrubs has the right to, is his biggest, most all-consuming, most unrequited, high school crush. And he has a beard now.
“Therek, hi,” he says. “Thow’ths it boing?” He attempts a smile, but he’s seem to have lost feeling his lips, so it comes out as a puffy, awkward grimace, and in this moment, Stiles wishes the cursed berry would kill him dead right then and there.
Derek smiles, and it’s even more dazzling than Stiles remembers, and he has to stop himself from rolling his eyes, because come on.
“How about we take care of this allergic reaction and then we can catch up?”
Cheeks burning now with embarrassment and hives, Stiles nods, grateful for Derek’s kindness and an excuse to keep his damn mouth shut. Derek – Doctor Hale – pulls on a pair of gloves from the cart next to the bed Stiles is sitting on, and then grabs the stethoscope that’s around his neck and puts the earpieces in. It’s all so swift and smooth, so professional, Stiles is torn between feeling impressed with his apparent skill and relief that it seems like Derek isn’t gonna make it weird. Or weirder than it already is, he supposes.
He straightens his back when Derek tugs down the gown a bit to put the stethoscope to his chest, and tries to breathe normally while he listens to his heart, which has started racing since Derek walked into the room, just like every day in high school when he would pass him in the hall.
“Have you had an allergic reaction to strawberries before?” Derek asks, walking around him to place the stethoscope on his back. He moves the open back of the gown aside, and the tips of his gloved fingers graze lightly across Stiles’ skin, sending a shiver down his spine.
Stiles takes a steadying breath and nods. “Nah thinth I wath a kidth. The backagthe of thupcaketh thwas’nth thlabelthed.”
Derek takes a moment before he responds, listening to his lungs. “These hives came on with the rest of the symptoms?”
He nods again, trying not to think about how Derek has a front-row view to his bare back and ass, which are oh-so-attractively covered in ugly red spots. Anytime now strawberries, he begs silently, you can finish me off anytime, for the love of the gods, please.
“The epinephrine and diphenhydramine will help with the hives, but we’ll also get you some topical cream.” Derek walks back around to stand at the foot of the exam bed and smiles at him again. It makes the corners of his eyes crinkle up and dimples appear in the thicket of his beard, and it’s totally and completely unfair.
All right, Saint Valentine, you win, he rues silently. Kill me dead already.
A big needle to the thigh later, Stiles has a new sore spot, but he can breathe regularly again and his tongue is back to normal. After giving him the epi shot, Derek has to run out to deal with what sounds like a pretty bad trauma, so Erica applies Benadryl cream to his hives. She tells him that Doctor Hale wants him to hang out for a bit to monitor his vitals before he can be discharged, and Stiles swears she winks as she says it, but her smirk disappears behind the curtain before he can be sure.
It’s nearly two am when he sees Derek again, who appears a lot more exhausted than he had before. Stiles is dressed and lying back on the bed, scrolling his phone, definitely-kinda-maybe googling Derek and looking for a Facebook relationship status.
“Oh, hey there Doctor Hale,” he bumbles awkwardly as he sits up and slips his phone into the pocket of his khakis.
“Please, call me Derek.” He picks up Stiles’ chart from the end of the bed. He flips through the papers quickly and looks up at him. “Your vitals look great, so you’re good to go. Stay hydrated, keep using the Benadryl if you need it, and I’d suggest getting an epinephrine pen to keep on hand.”
“Will do, Doctor Derek.”
“I was hoping we’d get some time to talk, but I’m sure you want to get out of here.”
Stiles shrugs, conflicted. He does want more than anything to be in his bed and to put this whole shitty day behind him, but the idea of hanging out and talking to Derek is entirely more appealing than it should be, and it takes him a bit to realize that Derek is looking up at him with those damn green-and-gold eyes all wide and hopeful, his chin dipped down sweetly, almost shy.
It’s utterly and completely adorable, and Stiles’ heart starts to throb with warm affection. The flutter and flip of his stomach make him feel like he’s back in high school, once again lingering in hallways and classrooms just to risk eye contact with the most beautiful boy he’s ever seen.
Who’s now the most beautiful man he’s ever seen, looking at him with hearteyes, for the love of gods.
“I, uh, just moved back to town,” Stiles tells him. “So you know, I’m around…”
Derek doesn’t miss a beat. “There’s a diner across the street…I usually go there after my shift ends at eight, to get some breakfast before I crash into bed. Would you like to join me in a few hours?”
Stiles uses his newly repaired lips to smirk. “For breakfast or bed?”
Derek crooks up a still-ridiculous eyebrow. “Both?”
Well damn, Saint Valentine, Stiles thinks with a smirk, maybe you do know what you’re doing.