Stiles dragged himself up into a sitting position, his knuckles turning white from his grip on the headboard.
His entire body seemed to protest the effort, muscles straining. He bit back a groan once he was finally up, closing his eyes and resting his head against the wall behind him. He itched to get up, itched to move, but it was proving to be much more difficult in practice rather than in theory.
He swung his legs over the edge of his and Derek's shared bed. Their grey sheets were rumpled by his lying in them, and only got worse with all his movement. Stiles glared at them accusingly when they impeded his motion, and shoved them aside.
Once he got his feet on the ground, he attempted to push himself up into standing, hoping that his unsteady legs would be strong enough to hold him.
He gave himself a mental pat on the back when he didn't fall.
Stiles moved towards the bathroom, limping heavily. Every step was a small battle to be won, every motion was a victory in his ultimate goal of getting to the mirror so he could see how bad it all was.
The overworked muscles in his legs twinged painfully, and he bit his lip so hard it bled.
He stumbled slowly over to the mirror, wincing at his appearance.
He kinda looked dead, to be honest.
His hair was mussed and messy from sleep and rest and battle, dirty and in need of a good wash. His face was peppered with small cuts and bruises, his now split lip adding to the damage. Stiles was shirtless and so he could see every bandage Derek had put on him after the fight, could account for every wound and injury by the marks they left on his pale skin. He knew that he had one of his calves wrapped in gauze, even if he couldn't see it.
He didn't make a pretty picture.
Stiles tensed when he saw movement behind him out of the corner of his eyes, reflexes instinctively preparing to battle for his life. He relaxed once he saw it was only Derek, his boyfriend's eyes flashing red a bit once he saw he was up and out of bed.
He approached Stiles slowly, gently wrapping his arms around his waist from behind him and kissing the back of his neck, nuzzling.
"And what do you think you're doing up?" Derek asked, a smile in his voice.
Stiles huffed at him, and squeezed his wrists where he held them.
"I'm injured, not incapacitated, Sourwolf."
"Oh, trust me-- I'm aware."
He winced at the alpha's tone, and mentally prepared himself for the lecture of a lifetime.
"What were you thinking, baby?" Derek asked against his neck, voice quiet and brittle, like any inflection might break it. "You could've been killed."
"You almost were, Der," he said, and turned with difficulty in the embrace to face him.
"I would've been fine. I can heal," he nuzzled Stiles' temple, scenting him and frowning briefly at the smell of pain and wounds.
"You can't always rely on that!" Stiles exclaimed. "What if you take a hit you can't heal from, huh? Something that's too much, even for you? What then?"
"Stiles--" Derek began, but he was not having that.
"You can't, Der. You can't leave me. What if you die? And I'm all alone? What then?" He took a shuddering breath, stubbornly holding back tears.
"I refuse to be sorry for going out there. If it's between me getting hurt and you being dead, I'm gonna make the same choice every time. Because I can't lose you, Derek. I can't take it," he whispered.
Derek pulled him closer, careful of his wounds and his hurt, combing his fingertips through his hair and down his back soothingly. He rumbled protectively, his wolf purring in his chest at his mate's bravery. At Stiles' heart.
"I'm not asking you to be sorry, Stiles. I don't expect you to be. I just want you to be careful, to be safe. I'd be absolutely lost without you, baby, and I hate to be even close to that. I hate it when you get hurt." Derek told him.
Stiles sniffled and Derek carefully wiped away the tears from his bruised face.
"I guess we both need to work on not being self-sacrificing idiots," Stiles joked, giving Derek a watery smile.
Derek chuckled, nosing at his hair affectionately.
Stiles tilted his head up for a kiss and Derek met him in the middle. It was sweet and tender, conveying every emotion from worry and concern to anger at injury to absolute love for one another.
Stiles hissed a bit when his busted lip protested the pressure, which was enough to have Derek pulling back with an anxious expression, green eyes careful and soft.
"I'm fine, Der. Just busted my lip," he explained.
Derek focused his gaze on his lips, and brought up a hand to delicately cradle Stiles' jaw with his palm, long fingers resting along the side of his face. The alpha dragged his thumb over the other boy's bottom lip, little grey veins racing up his arm and into his chest as he stole the sting.
Stiles watched him, both his mouth and his amber eyes wide with anticipation.
Derek pulled his thumb away to fully cup Stiles' face, and bent down to cautiously kiss him again without agitating the wound further.
Stiles melted in his arms, relaxing. Derek pulled away, a small smile on his lips at Stiles' serene expression.
"Come on, pup-- let's get you cleaned up and into bed, okay? We could both use some more rest."
Stiles hummed his agreement sleepily when Derek tugged him closer to help him move towards the shower.
"Love you," Stiles murmured happily against Derek's collarbone.
"I love you too."