He probably should’ve been used to it by now. The waves of nausea and the low, throbbing pain deep behind his eyes were familiar like an old, well-worn t-shirt. He should be used to it now, the way he almost managed to not slur his words or stumble in his tracks.
But he wasn’t.
Stiles gritted his teeth and babbled his way through his concussion, waving his hands like he always did while fervently wishing he didn’t puke his guts out. He made it out of the loft and into his Jeep before he finally had the chance to close his eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Only after he felt like he didn’t shake out of his own skin, he started the car and carefully, oh so carefully, drove home.
He missed the shape in the shadows, watching after him with piercing, blue eyes.
Stiles was sure he was a mutant. Well, pretty sure anyway. The reason for that was simply the fact that he’d gotten way too many concussions after this whole supernatural shit started happening and his life was on the line on a weekly basis. And he was pretty sure there was a limit of how much abuse brain tissue could take before it either started leaking out through the ears or the person suffered a significant drop of intelligence.
So, when he didn’t feel his IQ was lower than before and his cognitive functions were as good as ever (or, as good as they could get with the continuing high-stress situations, sleep deprivation, and general terror he was currently living his life), he decided the only reasonable explanation was that he was a mutant. Because, like Spock had said: Once you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
The sad thing was, Stiles had no-one to share this revelation with. His dad was always working and the pack…well, they had their own worries. Even with his wits and his trusted aluminum bat, Stiles was the comedy sidekick, the skinny, vulnerable human. If he let the pack know he was getting concussed on a regular basis, they would ban him from ever partaking a fight. Not that the monsters cared, though.
The other sad thing was that, because no-one knew, Stiles suffered the aftermath alone. He took a couple of painkillers (not Aspirin because that elevated the risk of bleeding), propped himself on a half-sitting position to reduce pressure on the brain, and programmed his phone to wake him up every two hours to answer a set of control questions he’d queued up.
Sure, it sucked but, so far, it had worked out just fine.
As time slowly trudged on, his control question sheet started to get blank pages. It made him more worried than he actually wanted to admit because if he didn’t wake up to his modified alarms—the kind that actually woke his passed-out dad downstairs—he had been more banged up than he’d thought. But the strange thing was that after those nights, he’d also woken up better rested than in ages and his headache was almost gone.
So, yeah. One more point for the Stiles-is-a-mutant box.
(He completely missed the way Peter tracked him after those worse injuries.)
The pack ended up having a particularly nasty fight with a group of pixies that hadn’t responded well to Scott’s We can be friends kumbayah! -spiel. It didn’t take them long to realize they could actually hurt Stiles so they started targeting him, tossing him around for a bit before throwing him against a tree with a sickening crunch, and then—
He came back to a world that was a blurry place filled with pain. Sprawled on his side and breathing heavily, he groaned as he shifted and then promptly threw up.
”Careful,” Peter murmured from his side.
”Bad…touch,” Stiles slurred as he tried to dodge Peter’s hand reaching out for him. It was a huge mistake because nausea and vertigo that hit him were something he’d never encountered before.
”I don’t think this is something you can soldier through by yourself,” Peter continued in that same, low murmur. ”You hit your head way worse than usual.”
”And how would you know that?” Stiles asked. It came out sounding a bit like howdjanoghat, but he didn’t care. His head hurt a lot.
Peter let out a slow, controlled breath. ”I know you’ve been hurt a lot recently and I know you’ve been hiding it for some, most likely a very valid reason or other,” Peter said. ”I know you have safety measures in place, and I know you try to take as good care of yourself as you can. And I know it’s not enough.”
”Creep,” Stiles muttered.
”Stubborn brat,” Peter said fondly.
He leaned closer, ignored Stiles’s futile attempt to flinch back, and picked him up in a bridal carry. For half of a heartbeat, Stiles thought he should fight him because he didn’t exactly consent to be touched and carried around but then the pain started to…pour out of him, leaving behind a cottony feeling.
”Wha—?” He managed.
Peter quirked a brow. ”The word you’re looking for is thanks.”
Stiles woke up the next morning in his own bed, rolled up in his blanket like a burrito. When he finally managed to free his right hand, he probed the back of his head and hissed when he touched the egg-sized bump.
So it had actually happened.
As he lowered his hand back, he noticed the red marks on his wrist. They looked a lot like—
”Shit,” he said. ”You marked me, you creep.”