Derek stood at the edge of the clearing. Blood and fur and… other things that he’d rather not think about were splattered all around the ground and on his clothes.
The fight had been long and brutal, and Derek still had no idea what it even was they had been fighting. All he knew was that they had claws as sharp as his, and teeth twice as long with a bite that could probably have snapped his arm in two. Luckily, they didn’t seem to need anything special to die. At least, he hoped they didn’t need anything special, Derek thought as he eyed the bodies on the ground.
Derek cracked his neck, then winced at the pain that shot down his back. One of the creatures had managed to get a good bite in at the base of his neck, and another managed to dig its claws into his lower back deep enough that there was sure to be bone showing. He was healing, at least, and the creatures were all dead. Hopefully.
Derek glanced out to the clearing and watched as Stiles limped his way to where Scott was standing. Scott hadn’t arrived until most of the creatures were already dead, and it had been Derek and Stiles on their own. Not that that was uncommon for them anymore since the pack was gone off to college and Scott had himself a new girlfriend.
Derek watched as Scott clamped his hand down on Stiles’ shoulder and ignored Stiles’ wince. Derek wanted to growl, wanted to step up and smack Scott’s hand away, but Stiles had made it plenty clear that he could handle himself. Which he could, but still. Sometimes Derek just wanted to protect him. Not that Stiles needed protecting, actually, but… well, it was all very confusing in Derek’s mind. Much easier to just not think about it, or about how Stiles could make Derek’s heart speed up with just a look.
“That went well,” Scott said. Derek watched Stiles scowl as he shrugged Scott’s hand off his shoulder.
“‘Well’? How was any of that ‘well’? Derek’s spine was almost ripped out of his back, dude! What took you so long to get here?” Stiles said. Derek winced at the reminder, but honestly, the pain was mostly gone by now. A little tightness remained, but that was as easily ignored as the pain earlier.
Scott grinned at Stiles and shrugged. “Sorry, I was on the phone with Megan. Besides,” Scott said with a quick glance towards Derek. Derek tried, he really did, but he couldn’t get rid of the glare on his face. “Derek’s fine, he’s healing. Chill, dude.”
“He shouldn’t even have to be healing! If you would have just answered your phone the first five times we called, this,” Stiles yelled as he waved his arm around, “could have been avoided!”
“Look,” Scott said, “we are all fine. Let’s just-”
“Fine?” Stiles grit out. “How am I fine? My clothes are fucking ruined by all the rips and blood. Which, for the record, a lot of that is mine! My shoulder is already black and blue and probably will be useless for the next week.” This time Derek did growl, and Scott flinched slightly but didn’t look in his direction. “How is that fine? How would you feel if Megan got injured like this?”
Scott flinched harder. “That’s not going to happen, I won’t let her near any of this. She’s just a human.”
“And I’m not?” Stiles said lowly. Derek knew Stiles, knew by the way he was clenching his fists that he was barely hanging on to his anger. Derek was kind of surprised that Scott hadn’t picked up on it yet, but, well. Maybe he shouldn’t be surprised.
“You are different. You are in the know, you willingly put yourself into dangerous situations like this all the time.”
“Just… go home, Scott,” Stiles said. Now he just sounded tired, and Derek hated that almost as much as he hated when Stiles sounded in pain.
Scott opened his mouth, but Stiles just shook his head and turned his back to him. Turned to look at Derek. The anger melted off Stiles’ face, turned to concern in a second. Scott slumped his shoulders, darted a quick look in Derek’s direction, then turned and walked away from them both.
Stiles’ shoulders sank, and he sighed as he began walking over to Derek. He tried to give Stiles a reassuring smile, but judging by Stiles’ raised eyebrow, he didn’t succeed.
A low growl sounded from behind Derek, but before he could even brace himself, something sharp swiped across Derek’s back. Derek stumbled as he bit back a cry. Next thing he knew, he was falling towards a tree and Stiles was crying out in pain. Then everything went black.
Derek groaned as he opened his eyes. He must not have been out long because his back was still on fire, and he could feel himself trying to heal. There was a ringing in his ears, and it took Derek a few seconds to realize that it wasn’t actually ringing, but Stiles’ cries. Derek jerked his head up to look at the clearing and had to shake the blood away as it dripped down to his eyes. There was a creature, one twice the size as what they fought earlier, straddled over Stiles. Stiles was struggling hard, obviously trying to shake it, but his cries were getting weaker, and Derek knew it was only a matter of time before the creature managed to get its claws or teeth into Stiles’ neck.
Derek tried to stand but crashed back down to the ground in pain. It must have been more than a scratch that he got. Judging by how crippling painful his entire back felt, he probably had a few broken bones, not to mention a lot of blood loss. That was an alarming puddle of blood underneath him.
Derek whimpered as he heard Stiles cry out Derek’s name. He pushed his arms in front of him, allowed his claws to come out, and shoved them into the dirt. Slowly he began crawling and dragging himself across the ground, trying to get to Stiles. Growls and whimpers left his mouth as he inched his way closer. Stiles’ cries had slowed down to grunts and whines, and the world around Derek became blurry as tears filled his eyes.
A snarling blur sped in front of Derek and tackled the creature off of Stiles. The snarls sounded familiar, but Derek was too focused on getting to Stiles to try and figure out who it was.
By the time he finally reached him, the snarls had stopped. Derek finally felt strong enough to get up on his hands and knees, and he cradled Stiles’ face. There was so much blood, and he was so, so still. But he was still breathing.
Derek slowly lowered himself into a sitting position and brought Stiles’ head into his lap. He stroked his fingers through Stiles’ hair but eventually had to stop because the blood was matted and he didn’t want to tug on his hair, cause any more pain than what he was already in. Speaking of pain, he really should try to take some from Stiles.
The world was starting to spin and his stomach was rolling when he was startled by a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Scott, his face filled with worry.
“Can you stand?” Scott asked Derek. Derek took a deep breath, shook off the dizziness, then took stock of himself. He was still in a lot of pain, but, nothing he wasn’t used to. He could move through the pain. Wasn’t the first time, and it definitely wouldn’t be the last.
Scott carefully picked Stiles up from the ground when Derek nodded, and Derek let out a growl. He wanted to be the one to carry Stiles, wanted to have him close to him so he could hear his heartbeat and feel his breaths. Scott gave him a weird, confused look but handed Stiles over to Derek.
Together they ran out of the woods with Stiles cradled against Derek’s chest, his head resting against Derek’s shoulder. He could hear each shallow breath Stiles took, and he focused on Stiles’ heartbeat as they got closer to the hospital.
“I’ll call mom, have her meet us outside,” Scott said, and Derek nodded. Stiles was starting to groan by the time they got to the hospital, and Melissa was waiting for them in the back. Derek carefully placed Stiles on the gurney, and Melissa lifted the railings.
“Go home and clean yourselves up before coming in. He’s in good hands. I’ll call John once Stiles is taken back. Go,” Melissa said, shooing them with her hands before rolling Stiles inside the hospital.
Thirty minutes later Derek was back at the hospital with John. He had hopped into the shower just long enough to wash the blood away, then put on fresh clothes and left. Scott was nowhere to be found.
Derek paced the waiting room and glanced at the clock every two minutes. Eventually, John called his name and made Derek sit down beside him. It didn’t stop him from watching the clock, but having John’s presence beside him helped ground him a little.
Finally, the doctor came out to see them. Stiles was being transferred to a room. No major broken bones or internal injuries, though he did lose a lot of blood. But he was in stable condition and could receive visitors once he was completely set up in his room.
John and Derek had to wait for another hour before they were finally allowed back to see Stiles. Derek braced himself before he walked in, but it didn’t help. Nothing could have prepared him for how pale and still Stiles looked in the hospital bed, with IVs attached and machines beeping all around him. He could see stitches on Stiles’ cheek and arms, and his neck was turning an ugly color of black and purple.
“We’ve already labeled this as a dog attack,” John said quietly, and Derek nodded. He took a deep breath, then let it out with a shudder when John placed his hand on Derek’s shoulder. “He’ll be fine,” John said, and Derek nodded again.
Derek pulled a chair up to the side of the bed and carefully pulled Stiles’ free hand into his own. He lost track of the amount of time he sat there, rubbing his thumb over and over the top of Stiles’ hand. He was just starting to let himself doze off when he felt a squeeze to his hand. He snapped his eyes open to see Stiles blearily looking at him.
Derek let out a shaky breath as he smiled at Stiles. Stiles gave a wobbly smile back and shifted in the bed, then winced hard. Derek immediately started pulling pain and Stiles sunk back into the bed with a sigh and a smile.
“Are you okay?” Stiles asked, voice hoarse. Derek huffed.
“You are asking me if I’m okay when you are the one in the hospital?”
“I’m fine, Stiles,” Derek said as he shook his head. Stiles hummed as he looked over Derek, then nodded.
“Did you kill it?” Stiles asked as he closed his eyes.
“No. I’m not sure if Scott did, or if he just drove it away.”
“Is he here?” Stiles asked, peeking an eye open to look at Derek. Derek shook his head and Stiles sighed and closed his eye again.
“Do you want me to go, let you get some sleep?” Derek asked quietly, and Stiles tightened his hand around Derek’s.
“No. Please stay?”
Derek squeezed Stiles’ hand back and settled deeper into the chair. Stiles’ breathing became steady and his hand twitched in Derek’s as he fell asleep. John walked in a moment later with coffee for both himself and Derek. Derek thanked him, took a sip of his coffee, then finally dozed off.
Derek woke up later to the feeling of Stiles’ thumb running over his hand, and he opened his eyes to see Stiles staring at him. He was more alert and had clearly been awake for a while.
“Hi,” Stiles said when Derek caught his eye.
“Hi,” Derek replied quietly. Stiles smiled softly at Derek, a smile that Derek had only seen a small amount of times, and he couldn’t help but smile back.
“So,” Stiles began, staring hard at Derek. “Being in the hospital fucking sucks, and being hurt sucks even more. But, it did make me realize something.”
“What?” Derek asked as his heart started pounding in his chest.
“I don’t know about you, but, I’m kind of tired of dancing around whatever we are,” Stiles said as he waved his other hand between the two of them.
“Yeah,” Derek said. Stiles gave him that small smile again, and Derek knew he’d become addicted to that smile, and quickly.
“Good,” Stiles said. “How do you feel about dinner and a movie?”
Derek huffed a quiet laugh. “As long as you are with me, I feel good about it.”
Stiles brought Derek’s hand up to his mouth and pressed a kiss against it. Derek opened his hand and cupped the side of Stiles’ face, and Stiles pressed deeper into Derek’s hand and sighed.
“Good,” Stiles said again, and yeah, Derek agreed. Good.