Don’t panic. It hadn’t gone to plan, but it hadn’t gone not to plan.
Okay no, it just hadn’t gone to plan.
Actually, it had gone to shit, and now Stiles was out here by himself in the woods, with a dead phone and no idea where any of the others were. The sky was pitch black and he couldn’t see a thing, and sure, he was grateful it wasn’t a full moon, since that always threw up a whole heap of other problems, but anything to help him find his way back to the main path and the safety of his Jeep would have been useful, but no-
He was absolutely panicking.
At least an hour must have passed since he’d realised things had gone very wrong, and when things go very wrong, the plan is always just to retreat, regroup, and maybe grab some sleep. Maybe that was just Stiles’ wishful thinking.
“Need to find some human friends,” he grumbled to himself, picking his way through damp piles of squishy leaves, hoping to god he didn’t step on anything else. “Some human friends, whose idea of a fun Friday night is a movie and a popcorn fight. But no. What do we like to do on a Friday? Chase the bad guys! Chasing bad guys is fun! Especially when you’re very mortal!”
A snap of a branch from nearby silenced him instantly.
Stopping stock still, Stiles paused for a second, barely breathing, until the not so distant sound of a car racing past made him jump a foot in the air.
Not wasting a second, Stiles raced towards the noise. Cars meant a road, and a road meant civilisation, and that was all he wanted. That, and not to die at the hands of whatever was roaming the woods, but that was still up in the air anyway.
“Thank god,” Stiles panted as he reached the edge of the road, his hands resting on his knees as he tried to catch his breath.
A breath quickly stolen from him when something crashed out of the trees less than five metres away from him, in a flurry of leaves and branches and a groan of ‘Stiles’.
“What,” he yelled, except it came out as a squeak, “what are you thinking? Jesus christ, Derek.”
Stiles turned to face him properly, his fists clenched in frustration, but when he took in the way Derek was staggering, the way his hands were outstretched before him, the faraway look in his eyes, Stiles’ anger dissipated and he frowned.
“Derek, what’s wrong?” Stiles asked, closing the gap between them, and realising with a lurch of his stomach that his hands were covered in blood. Covered. “Wait, what happened? Who’s hurt? Derek, talk to me. Is it Scott? Lydia? Who’s hurt?”
“Stiles,” Derek repeated, almost choking, and then he was collapsing on him, bloody hands grasping at Stiles’ shirt trying to find purchase to keep himself upright
“Hey, hey, woah,” Stiles said, legs almost buckling before getting them under him again and helping prop Derek up. “What happened, I- oh. Oh, shit.”
Stiles pulled away from where he’d grabbed hold of Derek to keep him steady, his own hands now bloody too.
Derek was hurt.
“Stiles,” Derek said, and his expression finally snapped back into the present moment, as though he’d only just realised that Stiles was the person he was clinging to.
“Yeah, I’m here, I’m here, I’ve got you,” Stiles reassured him, pulling one of Derek’s arms round his shoulders so Derek could lean on him easier.
“Hunters,” Derek continued. “Arrows.”
They both looked down at Derek’s torso, and now Stiles could see the arrowhead still wedged in his flesh, blood seeping around it.
“Why aren’t you healing?” Stiles asked desperately.
Stiles groaned, then looked over at Derek, who was already unnaturally pale and shivering slightly.
“Okay, okay, we need to get somewhere, we need to get you some help,” Stiles said, cursing his dead phone once again. “We’re not far from Deaton’s, can you make it that far?”
Derek hesitated at the question, but Stiles shook his head and started walking slowly, letting Derek stumble beside him.
“Rhetorical question, buddy, you’re going to have to.”
They made their way down the edge of the road slowly, ducking back into the trees each time a car passed them. Hey, my werewolf friend got shot by a poisoned arrow, wasn’t a conversation Stiles particularly wanted to have with anyone.
It was fine. They would get to Deaton’s, and Deaton would know what to do, and they’d fix Derek.
It was fine.
It was not fine.
“I can’t,” Derek choked after an agonisingly long fifteen minutes. “Can’t go on. Stiles, please.”
In fairness, a normal human would probably have already been dead by that point, so Stiles would grant him that, but they were painfully close to Deaton’s.
“Yes you can,” Stiles informed him, leaving no room for argument, but he could feel the way Derek’s legs were struggling to hold him up. Stiles’ arms were aching from supporting Derek’s almost deadweight. “Come on.”
“No, no, Stiles,” Derek said, stopping in his tracks and twisting out of Stiles’ grasp to face him, planting his hands on his shoulders to steady himself. “No, leave me. Leave me, find the others.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Stiles replied, shrugging Derek’s hands off so he could keep dragging him along.
“Stiles, please,” Derek groaned.
Surveying Derek in the dim light of a nearby street lamp, Stiles could see that he was in bad shape. His face was twisted in discomfort, his skin near-white, and black tendrils snaked across his skin, visual representations of the pain and poison inside him.
“No,” Stiles almost growled, setting his jaw and swinging Derek back into their previous position, determined to get to the vet’s clinic if it killed them both.
Which was an alarmingly possible scenario, but he was trying not to think of that.
Clearly sensing he wasn’t going to win the fight, Derek gave in and tried to keep going alongside Stiles, but it wasn’t long before Stiles realised Derek was about to go crashing to the ground, taking Stiles with him.
“Why are you doing this to me?” Stiles said helplessly. “You know damn well I can’t carry you.”
He didn’t get a response this time, which was unsurprising but still unsettling. Derek’s glassy eyes were only half open at this point, and Stiles ran an anxious hand through his hair before making a decision. Getting Derek into a better position, Stiles ducked, and then suddenly, in a feat he was never going to replicate, Derek was slumped across his shoulders, and Stiles was slowly, determinedly walking forwards beneath him.
“I swear to god, Derek, you cannot die right now, because I want the honour of personally killing you for making me do this,” Stiles huffed at him. “I also want reimbursement for the chiropractor I’m going to need for the rest of my life.”
He continued like this, muttering curses at the dying man on his shoulders, all the way to Deaton’s clinic.
Barging his way through the back door, Stiles raced through to the table which had been used for healing his injured friends far more than he was comfortable with.
“Deaton!” Stiles yelled at the top of his voice, not caring if he woke up every animal in the place. “Deaton!”
Letting Derek slide off him in a heap, Stiles tried to rearrange him into a position that was somewhat practical, and then charged through the rest of the practice, looking for the vet. It wasn’t that late, he knew Deaton stayed until way past this time most nights.
Except tonight wasn’t most nights, Stiles realised, cold dread settling in the pit of his stomach as he saw the piece of paper on the front door. The piece of paper he’d watched Scott pin up only yesterday, which now felt like a lifetime ago.
The piece of paper which told everyone Deaton was out of town for the next week.
Cursing louder than he had any real right to, Stiles raced back to Derek, and then stopped dead as he realised he was going to have to be the one to try and fix him.
Stiles had to save Derek.
Derek was going to die.
Running his hands through his hair again, not even noticing that he was covered in Derek’s blood, Stiles took a deep breath, and then turned to face Derek. His breathing was shallow, and now they had some light, Stiles could see the faint sheen of his fevered skin.
He looked like hell, and Stiles somehow had to reverse it.
“Why aren’t you healing?” he yelled, frustratedly kicking the table and regretting it instantly. “How do I make you heal?”
No sooner had the words left his mouth than Stiles was vividly recalling the kanima attacks at the police station. The image of Derek stabbing himself in the leg with his own claws had pretty much guaranteed him therapy for the rest of his life, but this very moment would be the only time he was grateful for it.
“I need to trigger your healing,” Stiles voiced out loud. “I need to hurt you again.”
Glancing at the arrowhead still sticking out of Derek’s stomach, Stiles gulped.
“But I need to fix that first.”
Taking a deep breath, Stiles tried to distance himself from the situation. Tried to look at it rationally, calmly, as though it were just another puzzle that he needed to solve. He had most of the pieces, he had an idea of what order they needed to go in… he could do it.
On retrospect, Stiles would say he probably almost definitely entirely dissociated while wrenching the broken arrowhead from Derek’s torso, and he completely blocked out the waterfall of blood that followed.
“Okay, burn the poison out,” Stiles said, talking himself through it, remembering the godawful time Derek had asked him to chop his arm off. Honestly, the man owed him so much. “Just, burn it out. No big deal.”
Fishing around in the pockets of Derek’s blood-soaked jeans, Stiles nearly cried with relief when his fingers closed around a lighter. He knew Derek always carried one around, but Stiles didn’t care to question it in that moment, just thanked the heavens and carried on.
“Oh god,” he said, realising what he was about to do. He could see the black stain in the open wound, the faint purple glow surrounding it. He knew what he had to do, he just- “God, I definitely need human friends.”
Flicking the lighter open and scrunching his face up in anticipation, Stiles pressed the flame into Derek’s skin and braced himself.
The roar of pain that erupted from Derek was so devastatingly loud, Stiles half-expected the entirety of Beacon Hills to show up at the door.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Stiles repeated desperately, holding the lighter in place as Derek writhed beneath him, not pulling it away until he was certain the poison was gone. Smoke was rising from Derek’s skin, and Stiles heaved, turning away and taking a moment to compose himself.
Until Derek fell silent again, and Stiles twisted to watch his body go entirely slack.
“No. No. No, no, Derek, no,” Stiles said frantically, patting his face to try and wake him back up again. Stiles had just burnt his insides, he wouldn’t be unconscious again unless, unless-
Sprinting into Deaton’s operating clinic without a second thought, Stiles started raiding the cupboards until he found everything he was looking for, then dashed back to Derek’s still, so still, body, throwing his supplies down on the table.
“Come on now, Derek, stay with me,” Stiles implored, pulling the needle out and unravelling the thread to start stitching him up.
This was his plan. Stitch Derek up, stop the bleeding. Apply a bandage. Trigger the healing somewhere else. Just don’t let Derek lose any more blood. No more blood.
As long as Derek was still alive, Stiles could hurt him, and force his body to start fixing itself.
As long as Derek was still alive, he wouldn’t die.
The words became his mantra as the entire world shrunk to Deaton’s operating room, to Derek’s prone form, to Stiles’ hands shaking so badly he couldn’t thread the needle, the blood all over his hands making his fingertips slick.
“Stiles!” he yelled at himself, throwing everything back down and wiping a hand across his face, smearing more blood over himself and his matted hair. “Pull yourself together.”
Taking another deep breath, Stiles took a moment to compose himself, and then his stoic mask descended, and he got to work.
Thread the needle, close the skin, stop the bleeding.
As long as Derek was still alive, he wouldn’t die.
Secure the wound, apply a bandage, stop the bleeding.
As long as Derek was still alive, he wouldn’t die.
Apply more bandages, because the blood was soaking through too quickly, and Stiles had done a terrible job of stitching him up, but there was nothing else he could do-
As long as Derek was still alive, he wouldn’t die.
Stiles shook his head to snap himself out of it, and suddenly noticed he was crying. Hard.
“I need you to stay alive,” he sobbed, pleading with Derek. “I need you not to die.”
Realising his feeble attempts at patching Derek up weren’t going to hold forever, Stiles looked around desperately for something that would help him injure Derek without spilling more blood. As though they were taunting him, the sharp silver edges of Deaton’s various tools glinted at him, whispering to him, but Stiles tried to block them out.
No more blood.
But god, time was running out, and Derek’s chest was barely moving.
Sucking in a breath, Stiles gave up on his search, turned back to his patient, and without hesitation, took two of Derek’s fingers and snapped them back until he heard a sickening crunch.
And then Derek was yelling again, awake, and alive, and angry, and Stiles was going into shock, Derek’s broken bones breaking him.
Taking a step back, Stiles looked around properly for the first time, at the room, at himself, at his hands, and all he could see was crimson.
So much blood.
“Stiles?” he heard Derek gasp out, pulling him back to reality.
He moved over slowly, quietly, and Stiles didn’t know what he looked like, but it was bad enough for Derek to frown, and then desperately try and sit up, ignoring the pain in his side and his fingers to reach out for Stiles.
“Stiles, what’s wrong? Talk to me.”
“You didn’t die,” Stiles said hollowly, and Derek pulled him over, wrapped his hands around Stiles’ arms to bring him close. “You’re alive. You didn’t die.”
“I’m alive,” Derek assured him, running a hand over Stiles’ ashen face, his blood soaked hair, the streaks of blood on his cheeks. “I’m alive.”
“Okay,” Stiles nodded, mimicking his actions and moving a hand to Derek’s face, gently pressing his palm to his cheek.
“Okay,” Derek repeated, placing a hand over Stiles’. “Thank you.”
Looking back, it could have been a tender moment. Stiles finally letting himself crash and melting into Derek’s arms, crying so hard his tear stains started to rival the blood stains on Derek’s shirt, and Derek just sitting there, stroking his hair, letting him weep, mumbling soft words of nonsense to him in the most un-Derek-like way, but he’d nearly died, so.
But then Stiles pulled himself together, and punched Derek squarely in the eye, hurting himself more than the werewolf, and the spell was broken.
“Never, ever, do that to me again,” Stiles threatened him, and his tone was so soft, so menacing, that Derek shrank under his gaze a little. “Or I will kill you.”
A moment of silence passed between them, as Stiles glared at Derek, impressing upon him the absolute horrors that the night had brought.
Then, and only then, Stiles kissed him.