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Physician, Heal Thyself

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Stiles goes to medical school because he's damn well smart enough, because he's got straight A's in high school (despite disciplinary problems that his guidances counselor manages to pin on family issues, which is something that Stiles doesn't really appreciate but whatever, it'll get him into the local UC, so he keeps his mouth shut and points at his sparkly four-point-oh whenever an interviewer asks about his arrest record, a record that is pretty spotless for the amount of time he's spent with werewolves and outlaws during his high school career) and college (which surprises nearly everybody, even Stiles, but then again, Stiles has always been good at school, good at figuring shit out: he's good at solving puzzles and forming plans... so, yeah: he's good at school). He buries himself in the library for about three months to study for the MCAT, and when he gets a 38 he nearly cries with relief and gratitude that he can pretty much go wherever the fuck he wants for med school, but there's really only one place he wants to avoid: Beacon Hills Med.

He's been in Beacon Hills for his entire life (high school, and then college), and he can feel its small town vortex slowly but surely sucking him in. He doesn't want to stay there forever: he needs to get out. His friends don't really feel similarly, though. Sure, Stiles made a few new friends at college (he's always been a genial guy), but his core group remained the same from high school: Scott, Allison, Lydia, Jackson, with just an occasional spattering of Danny. And Derek? Well. Derek is a ghost that from time to time pops up in Stiles's life to cause mayhem and be a huge pain in the ass. Maybe that was part of what made him feel so much like he had been put in stasis mode: that nothing seemed to ever change. College felt so much like high school, except with more sex (thank all the gods) and more drugs and possibly even more stressful and dangerous situations than in high school.

Because when your best friends are werewolves and hunters and humans that think so little of their own lives that they go galavanting around with supernatural beings because they want to (I need new, better, safer friends, Stiles thinks to himself), situations tend to get a little run-for-your-lives dangerous. Derek remains the alpha, and Scott eventually gives in to joining the pack because (and he admits this after a particularly harrowing night of witch hunting and it's just Scott and Stiles together, driving back to the dorms wondering what the fuck they're doing with their lives) Scott really doesn't want to become an omega, and he can feel the extra power that Jackson and Danny have attained since joining with Derek's pack, which already had Isaac, Erica, and Boyd (people that Stiles doesn't really consider friends but ends up going out in the middle of the night to save more often than not). So they become pack, and Stiles is left alone. Again. He tells Scott that maybe Beacon Hills isn't the place for him anymore, and Scott gives him this look that is a bizarre mixture of hope and misery that Stiles can't identify, but it leaves Stiles with a steely taste in his mouth and a clenched feeling around his heart. Stiles's dad has a feeling that Scott and him are growing apart and tries to talk to Stiles about it, but it's not like Stiles can really tell him what's going on, and lying to his dad hurts so he just shuts him out.

What surprises him is Lydia.

First and foremost, she's pack. But she's also a math major in college, and she takes all the pre-med classes too, so she and Stiles suffer through most of it together. They're the brains of their group of friends, and Stiles is glad that college has allowed her to drop her act of I'm-too-dumb-to-tie-my-shoelaces in front of a cute guy. Lydia will be Valedictorian and could probably go work for the NSA or something with that math major of hers.

"You got into Columbia P&S," she tells him over coffee, and it's half a question, half a statement. He looks at her quizzically.

"Yeah," he tells her.

"Are you gonna go?" she asks, quirking an eyebrow.

"It's the best school I got into, so probably," Stiles says, punctuating his sentence with a sip of coffee.

"Beacon Med wants you," she says. "I just accepted there."

"I'm not going to Beacon Med," Stiles says, and it's almost a growl. "And I'm sure you got in loads of other places, Lydia.  You shouldn't be there either."  Lydia's eyes widen, and she backs off. They don't talk for a long moment, and when Lydia opens her mouth again, her words are quiet and subdued.

"I'm staying for the pack. I can't leave them behind. If you can leave, leave now. But don't come back," she says. Stiles tilts his head to the side, but he's temporarily forgotten how to formulate thoughts, let alone string words together to defend himself.  "You can't go home again. Don't make things harder than they already are. Things change. People change."

"That's the plan," Stiles finally says, letting bitterness fuel him, but her words chill him to the bone. "Change." So he leaves: the coffee shop, Beacon Hills, California.

The night before he leaves, though, Stiles receives a visitor. Of course it's not in the normal, human, knock on the door and I will open it for you and then you will come inside way... no, it's in the I will scare the ever loving shit out of you by popping up behind your bedroom door and you will scream like a four year old girl, Jesus fucking Christ.

"You're leaving," Derek says. Stiles catches his breath, holding out a hand to steady himself against something, anything: he needs to remember what normal breathing feels like. One would think that being surprised by Derek Hale is something Stiles would get used to, but fuck, it always feels like the first time with this dude. His hand ends up holding onto the edge of his door, and he grips it until his lungs expand and contract in normal patterns, and then he slowly closes it. Stiles turns toward Derek, who is in perhaps his only set of clothing that he owns: a dark black v-neck shirt, his leather jacket, and dark jeans. Not that it's a bad look for the alpha. But, you know, monotony.

"Tomorrow morning," Stiles says, feigning brightness. "Neeeew York."

"Scott told me," Derek nods. "Medical school."

Stiles fidgets. "So, do you uh, need my help? Because that's what these visits are generally for. You know. Life-threatening danger and the like."

Derek looks at him peculiarly, and tilts his head to the side like a lost puppy.

"No," he growls. "I don't need your help." He looks conflicted, like there's something he wants to say, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

"Obviously you're here for a reason. Spit it out," Stiles sighs, flopping down onto his bed and looking up at Derek.  Derek stares down at Stiles, and suddenly Stiles feels incredibly vulnerable: belly-up before the beast.  He sits up a little while Derek tries to look anywhere else but at Stiles.

"Ignore Lydia," Derek finally grits out. "She doesn't rule this pack—I do. So if you ever come back to Beacon Hills, you'll be welcome. As long as we're around." Derek looks uncomfortable, then picks up a little wolf stuffed animal that Allison had gotten Stiles as a gag gift a couple of years back. "You're pack," Derek says distantly, fondling the small toy.

Pack. The word holds so much weight in the world of werewolves: it means more than just the people you hang out with. It means family, the people you protect, that you care for. But Stiles isn't a werewolf, doesn't want to ever become one, and even though he understands that there can be humans in a pack, it's never really been something that's clicked in his mind. Stiles likes his freedom. He doesn't want to be owned by anything. But there's something about having a large family that is appealing. About being a part of something that makes you stronger and raises you up. But why the fuck is Derek Hale even telling him this?

"Did Scott put you up to this?" Stiles asks, because he's confused.

Derek snorts. "Do you really think Scott has his mind on anyone besides Allison right now?" and Stiles balks because oh yeah, Allison's pregnant, there's change for you. Stiles hugs the toy to his side (he named it Sour Wolf when Allison gave it to him, but there's no way in hell he's telling Derek that little piece of information, thank you very much) and frowns. "Anyway, I just needed to keep my betas in line. Lydia usually knows better." Derek pauses. "New York's a good place to learn how to be an adult." He lets out a low chuckle. "I know I did."

"Well, thanks," Stiles finally replies, because uh, what else are you supposed to say to that? He looks up at where Derek had been standing, but the wolf is gone. Stiles groans and throws himself back on the bed, taking a look at Sour Wolf and raising an eyebrow. "You are much easier to deal with than your real life counterpart." He ends up packing the toy wolf in his backpack, and Stiles tells himself that it's definitely not because it smells like Derek. Definitely not.

The first two years of medical school are similar to college in that it's mostly studying his ass off and taking tests. And then third year hits and rotations start and Stiles starts to feel like a real doctor (not yet, he tells himself, not yet). He keeps in touch with the Beacon Hills crowd through Lydia, who apologizes almost the day he arrives in New York via a text that reads I didn't know how to say goodbye to one of my best friends, I'm sorry and it had hurt his heart so much Stiles had almost jumped back on a plane to Beacon Hills immediately. But he doesn't. And he learns.

Stiles has always been a little bit ADD, seriously he thinks he's been on adderall since the age of twelve, so the Emergency Room appeals to him in a way that nothing else does. Everything is new and fresh and exciting, and he only has to deal with patients until he sends them along to their respective services (medicine, cardio, oncology, home, whatever) so that even if the patients get annoyed with him (or, more likely, if he gets annoyed with them) it's not a long-term relationship. So he has an idea of what he wants to apply for in terms of future residencies. It's a nice feeling, knowing what he wants. It's a far cry from the floundering he was doing in Beacon Hills. A far cry.

His world comes to a screeching halt when his dad gets sick at the end of his internship (Mass Gen, in Boston; he's not really sure why he stays in the North East, but he does; maybe it's the crispness of the winter or the fact that there's actual snow or that it's the farthest away he can get from Beacon Hills without really trying): a subtle MI that makes the sheriff feel ashen and grey but that is still, totally, one hundred percent a heart attack. He has Beacon Hills General Hospital transfer his dad to a fancy cardiothoracic surgical clinic in Los Angeles, and he flies across country without taking his final boards to be with him while he gets cathed and put on medications that he'll be on for the rest of his life. It's scary, but it would be a lot scarier if Stiles had no idea what was going on, so that's a plus. He grills all his dad's doctors until at one point, after a particularly vicious questioning, his dad pulls him back by the scruff of the neck and murmurs, "Stiles, I know you're concerned, but if you don't let the nice doctors do their job I'm going to excommunicate you from this hospital room." So Stiles shuts up and lets the nice doctors do their work.

Stiles spends the rest of his silent afternoon reconciling himself to the fact that his father will need someone to take care of him. Even if his recovery went one hundred percent perfectly, there needs to be another body in the house to make sure that the man did just keel over and die. Stiles can't keep his dad in LA forever: Beacon Hills is his home, where his job is, where his life is. It's where Stiles's life was. Stiles rubs his eyes groggily and grabs at his phone, sending a quick text to Lydia. Think Beacon Gen has a desperate need for an ER resident? He gets a response from her almost immediately. Oh thank god. I thought you were going to leave me with these idiots forever.

Stiles' first day at Beacon Hills General Hospital ER is a mixture of familiarity and confusion. There's an overall Emergency Department that's divided into the Emergency Room and the Psychiatry Emergency Ward (Psych has locked doors and scares Stiles, but that's where Lydia works so every so often he heads in there to check on her and ask if she wants to flee the scene for a few blissful minutes of reprieve). The waiting room is physically detached from the ER, and the triage nurses (bless their fucking hearts, they are worth their weight in gold—and that's not only because one of them is Mrs. McCall) determine who comes in because they're about to have a heart attack and need immediate attention and who has a stuffy nose and can wait to be seen until the emergent (key word: emergent; dear fucking Christ on a stick, Stiles never understood why people came to the ER for their weird little shit like runny noses or itchy feet) patients have been seen. There's no separate pediatric ER, but Stiles is great with kids, and honestly when they come up on his docket, they're a bright light in his day. It's probably because deep down (or not so deep down) he's still a little kid. Whatever, he needs the energy to push through a twelve hour shift, so better a little jumpy than snoozing on the job.

Scott and Allison come to visit (and get a free check up for their little tot, Matthew) and they almost balk at the sight of Stiles in a white coat. "It's weird, man," Scott laughs, plopping Matthew down on a bed as Stiles draws the curtain around the four of them. "You look like a real doctor!"

"I am a real doctor," Stiles sighs, pointing to the stethoscope around his neck. "Mostly." He's not an attending yet, but he's nearly there: just two more years. Matthew grabs at the thing and nearly strangles Stiles with his own medical instrument (damn werebaby) but then the comm bursts on: "CHEST TRAUMA, OPEN ABDOMEN, T MINUS TWO MINUTES." Stiles drops Matthew's thin chart and starts to run. "Be back soon!" he calls over his shoulder, but knowing what the call meant, he probably wouldn't be. The doors to the ER burst open, and a stretcher is being pushed in by some EMTs and Danny (Danny! when did Danny become an EMT?) is sitting on top of the patient's chest, doing CPR and trying to staunch the blood gushing from the wound.

"HIV, Hep C status?" Stiles shouts out over the tumult, shoving his hands into latex gloves and slipping a surgical mask on. Vague movement in his periphery catches his eye, and then he sees Derek Hale and Isaac Lahey huddling in the hallway, Isaac covered with blood and Derek looking furious. Stiles locks eyes with Derek, and he can't move. 

Somewhere, someone yells back, "Both negative, can you give me a hand?" and Stiles shakes himself back into existence. "Alright, all the gauze in the world, if you please," Stiles commands, hopping up to take Danny's spot: and now he's straddling the patient (the victim, Stiles thinks to himself) and packing him in a mad dash to recover some sort of semblance of blood pressure. "BP?" he asks the trauma room. "Not good," he hears Lydia's voice reply, and he hisses, because she only comes out of Pysch for the most interesting cases, and the most interesting cases are generally the most fatal. He continues to pack until the bleeding wanes a little, and finally he sees what the problem is: three huges gashes across the chest, like some huge beast—a wolf? no, this is too big—has swiped at this poor man like a cat would with a ball of yarn. Stiles manages to stabilize him, but the man's lost a shitton of blood, and he won't make it without intense medical intervention.

"Fuuuck," Stiles groans. "He needs surgery, STAT." No one moves: either they're in shock, or they don't think that he has a snowflakes' chance in hell. Either way, it's Stiles's responsibility to make sure that this guy makes it up to surgery in the next two minutes, and everybody standing around with their heads up their asses is ticking him off. "Does no one know what the word STAT means? MOVE, PEOPLE!" 

Everyone moves.

Stiles hops off the gurney and finds that he is soaked to the superman boxer-briefs (whatever, sue him) with blood. "Damn it," he says, looking down at himself. He glances up at Danny, who isn't in much better shape. "Wait here," he says to the EMT, "I need a minute, but I've got some spare clothes in my locker." Danny nods and starts talking to Lydia, while Stiles stalks towards Derek and Isaac. At least the two have half a sense to look apologetic.

"Tell me this isn't you," Stiles hisses, pulling them by their cuffs into the empty MRI room. Derek looks affronted that Stiles has deigned to drag him, but Isaac still seems mortified.

"It wasn't us," Derek growls, and immediate relief floods Stiles.

"Oh thank god," he word vomits. Isaac bites one of his finger nails. Stiles quirks his eyebrows. "But then why do you look so. I dunno. Guilty as fuck?"

Isaac looks at Derek helplessly. "The human was on our territory when the beast attacked," Derek grits out. "Isaac wasn't in control."

"What the hell does that mean, not in control? I hope it doesn't unclude any bite-y action," Stiles sighs. Isaac still looks petrified, and Stiles can only imagine the punishment Derek had doled out as alpha.

"It did not," Derek assures Stiles. He looks down at Stiles's bloody garb and takes a deep inhalation. "You should change. You don't smell like you." Derek tilts his head at Stiles, almost as if he doesn't recognize him. The alpha takes a step forward, sniffs deeply behind Stiles's ear, and then steps back, nodding to himself, assured. Stiles just takes a small what the actual fuck just happened moment and decides to move on.

"Well, I am covered in about three quarts of that guy's blood, so I'm unsurprised," Stiles says, and he's about to walk away from the two of them when he stops, retraces his steps, and lifts up a single, questioning finger: "A beast?"

"It was huge," Isaac whispers.

"It's not your concern, Stiles," Derek says with authority, shooting Isaac a glare.

"With wings. And these claws, God—" Isaac manages before Derek snarls at him and shuts him up.

Stiles purses his lips together. "Are you taking care of this?" he asks Derek, and the alpha nods.

"There will be a pack meeting tonight. Midnight," he says. "If you're off work by then, you should come."

Stiles smiles a little then. "So I'm still pack?" he asks, a little indulgently. Derek rolls his eyes.

"Clearly." Derek stalks off with Isaac in tow. Stiles nearly skips off to Danny, who is waiting with Lydia.

"How's Miguel?" Danny drawls, and Stiles groans.

"Will you never get over that? How was I supposed to know you'd get the bite eventually? Jesus Christ on a cracker," Stiles sighs, leading Danny toward the resident locker room for a change of clothes and attitude.

Stiles gets off around midnight, but he's doing paperwork until one-thirty, so by the time he gets to the Hale House, the pack meeting is in full session. Stiles enters the semi-reconstructed house freaking exhausted, but by the look on Derek's face, the feeling is mutual. He ends up standing next to Derek, because everyone else is bickering about what the hell the beast could actually be, and all Stiles wants is peace and quiet, and Derek isn't talking.

"So you're back," Derek says quietly.

Derek wasn't talking.

"Yeah," Stiles yawns. "You heard about my dad?" Derek nods in understanding, and the two of them turn back to the argument amongst the betas.

"So it's not a wolf," Scott says helpfully.

"No shit, Scott," Lydia says smartly. "It had wings." Scott glowers at her. Stiles looks around for Allison, and then realizes that she must be with Matthew at home. Then a tinny voice pipes up from Scott's speakerphone, "What about some kind of mystical creature? Isn't that what we tend to attract around here?" Stiles thanks God every day for Allison, because Lord knows what Scott would do without her.

"Allison's right," Stiles agrees, and the group turns to him, a little confused at his presence. It's okay, Stiles understands; it's been a while since he's been at one of these important group sessions. He's just gotta prove himself again. "Isaac," Stiles says, turning to the blond, "did you manage to catch a glimpse of the creature's head?"

Isaac looks at the ground. "You're going to laugh at me."

Stiles can feel Derek's hackles raising to his left. "Answer the question."

"It looked like a woman's head," Isaac says immediately. Stiles's neck twists to Derek, and they both know.

"Erinyes," Derek murmurs. Stiles nods: he took a bunch of Classics courses in college (Classics minors for the win!) and he understands what this means.

Nobody else does: even Lydia looks a little confused.

"Furies," Stiles says in a shaken voice. Now Lydia looks concerned. "They're ancient Greek monsters that go after oath-breakers. Or people that murder their own kin."

Everyone looks at Derek.

"Fuck," Danny says.

"But Peter was crazy!" Jackson whines, and the other betas agree readily, and they start offering up stories of different ways in which Peter made each of their lives a living hell. Stiles runs his hands through his hair (he's let it grow out a bit longer since high school, so he can let it flit through his fingers now) and looks at Derek, who looks like he's trying to make a decision. "Enough," Derek says in a quiet voice, and the betas hush. "The fury is after me. It's my responsibility to kill it." Isaac nods, and Jackson nods, and even fucking Dannynods, and Stiles thinks Scott's about to nod and he's had it.

"Bullshiiiiit," Stiles blurts out, and the room stares at him, even Derek. Especially Derek. Because okay, whatever, Stiles isn't used to being in the pack, but he doesn't want to put up with stupid alpha grandstanding because one for all and all for one, and he kind of misses doing research, and classics is his thing! other than medicine. really. "We're going to help you. At least I am. Can't stop me. So there." And Stiles crosses his arms and stares Derek down. For a moment, Stiles thinks Derek might deny him, but he just sighs and throws his hands in the air. "I could never stop you before."

"We're all helping," Stiles says to the room. Jackson growls, and Lydia growls back at him. "Everyone."

Stiles stays up most of the night researching the furies so that his next twelve hour shift is a fight in itself to keep his eyes open. Lydia brings him what she calls "a pace-maker in a cup of coffee" which apparently has about five hundred shots of espresso in it, so that, by the grace of God, Stiles is able to function until the end of his shift. He drags himself out to his Jeep (he hasn't been able to get rid of it, not after all of these years, even though he could probably afford a new car eventually... actually, with his student loans and medical school tuition, he's never going to purchase a new anything in the next forty years, good grief), sits down, and tries to remember how to start a car.

"You put the key in the ignition, and turn," says someone sitting in his passenger seat. Stiles lets his forehead slowly fall against his steering wheel and he closes his eyes.

"Insert me flailing about," Stiles groans. "I'm too tired to be scared right now, sorry."

"Long day?" Derek asks, a smirk trailing across his lips.  Stiles wouldn't qualify it as a smile, but for the sourwolf, it's about as close as you could get.

"The longest, perhaps," Stiles mumbles. He yawns loudly and sits up: he was too lazy to change out of his scrubs, so he imagines that he still smells like the ER. Derek is looking at him pityingly like Stiles is about to keel over and die. "If you can keep me awake on this drive home, I'll tell you what I found out about the fury that's hunting you."

"Coffee it is, then," Derek says. "I'll drive you home." He leaves the passenger door open while Stiles protests to his empty chair. Sighing, Stiles unbuckles his belt and stumbles around the Jeep. He then proceeds to take what he perceives to be a five minute power nap.


Stiles is asleep, he has never been more asleep, this car is the most comfortable thing he has ever half-sat, half-lied down in.


"No Stiles here."

"Wake up. Now."

Stiles's eyes snap open at the urgency in Derek's voice. Derek's eyes are right in front of Stiles, and Stiles freezes. "The fury is here," he whispers.

"What?" Stiles hisses, because he is not awake enough for this.

"We're out of gas, and the fury's here," Derek growls, because he's nearly wolfed out. Stiles is bogged, and then realizes that he must have been asleep for a while, because yeah his tank was running on empty but Derek must have felt a little bad for him and let him keep on sleeping once he returned with the coffee. But now Stiles can feel his adrenaline starting to pump and he quickly shrugs out of his sleepy stupor.

"Okay," Stiles starts, closing his eyes and attempting to recall what his research had revealed. "They're nocturnal, tree-dwelling, they hunt alone—okay, this is important, yes—smell. They're drawn to the smell of their victims. Once they catch it, they're like bloodhounds." Stiles turns toward Derek, who looks grim. 

There's a loud screech in the darkness outside. Stiles jumps and wings beat against the car window. A claw comes out of no where and cracks the window.

"Where are we?" Stiles asks tensely.

"Three miles from the Hale house, two miles from your house," Derek says. Stiles turns his brain on overdrive and—

"Idea," Stiles says immediately, opening his glove compartment and taking out a bottle of rubbing alcohol. He unscrews the bottle and douses Derek with it. Derek hisses at the smell: and it's true, the blunted smell of the liquid is pungent and horrible smelling, but at least it's not the masculine, salty, wolfish, attractive (okay, whatever, Stiles admits it) smell that is Derek all over. The fury seems to hesitate in its attacks, and Stiles takes that as a point for Team Staying Alive.

"What was that for," Derek seethes, drenched and clearly not happy about it.

"Masking your scent," Stiles hisses. And then the fury claws at the car again, and Stiles has to take matters into his own hands. Because what smells less like Derek than Stiles after a long day of work at the ER?

"Please don't hurt me for this," Stiles says preemptively, and then he climbs into Derek's lap and wraps himself around the alpha wolf. Derek stiffens beneath him and Stiles honestly would not be surprised if he threw him out of the car for fury fodder. But he doesn't.  Wings flap above them, and Stiles holds his breath.

The fury leaves.

At this point, Stiles has fully entangled with the werewolf that is Derek Hale: one of his arms is wrapped around his torso, another around his neck so that his fingers can reach the hair at Derek's nape. Derek isn't hugging him back, but whatever, baby steps. Stiles's face is buried in the crook of Derek's neck, and he is surprised at how much he doesn't want to pull away. This is Derek, the alpha of the pack, Stiles's pack (maybe), the (he's fairly certain) heterosexual werewolf that probably doesn't like him. But he's not throwing Stiles off his lap. At least, not yet.

"Derek?" Stiles asks into Derek's skin.

Derek doesn't say anything, but he makes this bizarre humming sound that Stiles hopes is a pleased noise. Stiles allows himself a long moment of heavy breathing and then pulls back. With grace and poise.


"Owfuck," Stiles groans, falling onto the consol between the front seats of his Jeep. "Can we fucking call Scott or someone to get us gas? I need to get home, shower, and sleep.  You know, human things." And now that he's not touching Derek, Stiles is remembering how tired and cranky he is. Fuck.

Derek already has his phone at his ear. "Danny, I need you to pick up some gas and some new clothes in my size and drive to the location coordinates I'm about to text you ASAP." Derek ends the call without saying goodbye, which is just plain rude. Stiles almost tells him so, but then Derek is looking at him.

"The hug was completely functional," Stiles says defensively.

"So the fury hunts by smell," is what Derek says in response, and Stiles flushes.

"... Yeah. And I think I might know how to kill it," Stiles grins. Derek flashes a smile, and holy crap: that's new.

"I knew I always liked you," Derek grins, teeth white in the dashboard light, and Stiles flushes a little and is happy for the little darkness he has.

Danny shows up fifteen minutes later with the gas and clothes.

"Pack meeting tomorrow night," Derek tells Danny. Danny raises an eyebrow at Stiles, who waves at the EMT-werewolf like it's an everyday thing to be parked on the side of the road with Derek Hale. "Make sure everyone's there. We'll be holding it in Stiles's house."

"We'll be what," Stiles squawks, but Danny is in his car before he can protest any more.

Stiles collapses onto his old bed while Derek stalks around the room, looking for predators.

"I'm pretty sure the furies don't know you're here," Stiles groans, face fully muffled by his pillow. "Now can I sleep?"

Derek throws a pile of clothes at him, and Stiles is temporarily blinded by boxers and v-neck tee-shirts. "Sleep on these. If I need to mask my scent, I can start by wearing clothes that smell like somebody. But that won't be enough."

Stiles frowns beneath the boxer shorts and eventually pulls one of the legs down over his head. "Plus it will just lead the furies to me," he points out, and he purposefully ignores the fact that Derek might be laughing at him right now. "That would be the opposite of good."

That sobers Derek slightly. "We're actively trying to avoid that. Which is why I'm going to get a job at the ER."

"Quoi?" Stiles chokes out, sitting up straight after his brain has fully processed the information.

"Security," Derek elaborates. "I'm good at that kind of thing. I think. Plus that place either smells like disinfectant, patients, or puke. A perfect scent mask." Derek pauses like he wants Stiles's approval, but all Stiles wants to do is sleep and pretend that he isn't wearing boxer-briefs around his neck like a scarf (boxer-briefs that Derek will be wearing around his dick tomorrow, good fucking Lord, and Stiles tries to calm his heartrate down before Derek notices anything off).

Stiles lies down.

"Whatever," he tells Derek. "Good plan."

Derek growls a little. "It's a great plan."

"Don't you even want to kill this thing?" Stiles asks the ceiling, a little smugly. Maybe.

There's a pause. "I was just going to ask you that."

"Pretty straightforward," Stiles says, but there's no way that he's coming out with it that easy, he's absolutely going to make Derek work for it. At least let the poor doctor sleep for a couple of hours before giving away Final Jeopardy. Doesn't Stiles deserve that reward for saving Derek's ass tonight? Stiles yawns and curls up, and he's just about settled down into sleep when Derek pounces.

"Really?" Stiles yelps, loudly enough to nearly wake up his dad. Derek is on all fours on top of his bed, pinning him by the arms and legs.

"Tell me how to kill it," Derek growls in a voice that Stiles finds kind of turns him on. Fuck! Fuck, no, no turn ons, offs, nothing with Derek Hale.

"First sleep, then info session!" Stiles pleads, but Derek's having none of that. Stiles can feel his heart beating erratically quickly as Derek ducks his head to huff against Stiles's neck.

"What if I ask nicely," Derek murmurs.


"How nice are we talking here," Stiles blathers, because he's two-fold delirious from exhaustion and arousal, "like, please and thank you nice, or like do my charts for a month nice, or—"

"Or," Derek affirms, nuzzling his nose against Stiles's neck, and suddenly Derek's torso is pressed up against Stiles's crotch and abdomen, and the friction is just heaven, and Stiles rutts against Derek until he almost can't take it anymore—

And Derek pulls back.

"How to kill it," he heaves, breathing heavily. Stiles can tell that it's just as hard for him to stop as it is for Stiles, but fucking hell, that man has will of steel.

"Decapitation with a sword that's been soaked in poison oak for one month," Stiles spills out. Derek smirks and leans back down, completely smothering Stiles with his body.

"Was that so hard," the older man asks in a low, dead sexy voice.

"Hnngh," is all that Stiles can say, because he's near enough to creaming his pants that words are no longer part of his vocabulary. Derek paws at Stiles's crotch, and then he is gone, jutting his hips and spurting until there's nothing left but a wet spot by the seam of his scrubs.

"Good boy," Derek says, patting him, and he curls up around Stiles, who gives up on the idea of having a normal night's sleep and closes his eyes, listening to the sound of Derek breathing and wondering when the world got so goddamn weird.

Stiles has a joke with his dad that in his bedroom, there are two temperature settings: arctic circle, and hatching baby chicks. Today is certainly a hatching baby chicks day, but Stiles is certain that he set the AC on cool yesterday morning. Stiles attempts to move, and then realizes that something—someone—has clamped his leg around his knees like vice grip and that another arm is cradling his upper body. Ladies and gentleman: Derek Hale, big spoon. Stiles glances at the clock and thanks Mrs. McCall for not scheduling him a shift for today, because it's already nearly noon.

There's a note by his alarm clock, written in his dad's handwriting. "Fuck," Stiles hisses. Derek moves a little, but doesn't wake up. The note reads: 

Nice to know my son still has a social life. 
Invite him over for dinner. 
Didn't I arrest him once? 
Get some rest. Be safe.
Love you. 
- Dad

"Well now I am definitely awake," Stiles mutters. Derek groans and buries his head into the space between Stiles's shoulder blades and Stiles makes a noise that is between a moan and a hiss.

"I think your clothing plan is a failure," Stiles tells him lightly, while Derek pulls the boxers off Stiles's head. "They definitely, one hundred percent smell like you. I definitely, one hundred percent smell like you." Derek wraps his arms around Stiles's chest and grips him tightly.

"Once this fury is dead and gone, I want you to smell like me all the time," Derek tells him in a hot whisper. "I don't want a day to go by where my scent leaves you." He pauses, and Stiles can almost feel the frown in the silence. "Is that okay?"

"Okay?" Stiles asks. He ponders the question. "Honestly, it's kind of hot." He grins. "But it's a little sudden. Have you... felt like this for a while? Because I've thought for a while that you are, uh, the bees knees. Whatever."

Derek talks into Stiles's back. "I almost told you that night. The night you were leaving for New York. I almost asked you to stay." He moves and lets Stiles fall against the bed, and then Derek is looming over him: his face is sad and desperate, a memory of what was obviously a terrible night darkening his expression. "I didn't realize what you were, what you are, until many years after we met. You had some growing up to do, I think. And I was so distracted with starting my own pack, I didn't realize I had my mate within my fingertips until he was packing to leave Beacon Hills forever."

Stiles shivers at the word. Mate. He knows that wolves mate for life, but honestly with Derek, that doesn't scare him. Because he knows that whatever he ends up deciding, Derek won't force him to do anything, because, Derek Hale, at his core, is a good man. Werewolf. Whatever.  And Derek knows what's it's like to be forced, to be coerced.  Derek would never force Stiles to do anything he didn't want to do, and Stiles knows it.

"I'm surprised you let me leave," Stiles whispers.

"So am I," Derek laughs. Stiles looks away and he begins to feel the horrible, overwhelming guilt at leaving Beacon Hills: now for both his dad and Derek's sakes.

"I can smell the guilt radiating off you even more than before," Derek says. "Stop—I made my choice. You needed to find your own path. Plus, isn't there that stupid saying about setting things free and shit."

"Seriously," Stiles says, finally sitting up to face Derek. "If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."

"So you're mine," Derek says with a grin, triumphant.

"Whatever," Stiles says with a laugh, but he kisses Derek softly, and then realizes that this is their first kiss. It's sweet and tender and everything a first should be. "Okay. Let's get you a smelly job."

"Pack meeting tonight, too," Derek reminds him, pressing another kiss against Stiles's lips: this one is a little rougher.

"We'll put it on our to do list," Stiles says a little breathlessly.

Derek is hired on the spot, and Stiles breathes a sigh of relief. And the pack meeting later that night is to the point: Derek and Stiles explain the scent masking strategy—"so that means avoid the pack house for now"—and the plan of attack—"poison sword, chop off its head, done and done"—and that Derek will be staying with Stiles for the duration of the fury's habitation in Beacon Hills.

And then, of course, because mothers have nothing better to do, it falls to Allison to find a sword, and Stiles and Lydia end up tagging along because they'll have to brew the poison together (well, Lydia will brew the poison and Stiles will pester her with questions about mates and Derek). Allison managed to collect a small arsenal of her own (a hunter's daughter, always prepared), and when they ask for a sword, she is happy to oblige. "Long or short?" she asks, leading them to what Lydia has dubbed "the War Room," with Matthew running at their heels. Scott's working at the vet's clinic today (old habits die hard, apparently) and it's just the wee McCall and Allison at home to welcome Stiles and Lydia and help them make a weapon (not forged in the fires of Mount Doom, just in some pretty nifty poison water, if Lydia does say so herself).

"Long," Stiles requests, and Allison unsheathes a sword that is nearly as tall as Stiles himself.

"Holy shit...take mushrooms," Stiles corrects, looking down at Matthew. Allison rolls her eyes.

"Don't worry, he dropped the f-bomb the other day, I am going to kill Scott," she sighs, handing over the weapon to Lydia, who looks delighted to have a weapon in her hands.

"We need a cauldron," Lydia requests.

"Do I look like a witch?" Allison deadpans.

"Alright, alright, we'll go get something from the hardware store," Stiles appeases, shooing Lydia out and thanking Allison again for the blade.

"Her nose is pointy," Lydia shrugs as they hop into Stiles's Jeep.

"NO MORE SWORDS FOR YOU, LYDIA," Allison calls out the window.

"Damn werebabies and their superhearing," Lydia hisses. Stiles just laughs.

So they end up brewing the poison in Lydia's apartment, which is pretty close to Beacon General: it's mostly poison oak, with a bit of wolfsbane (that bit Stiles puts in, as Lydia really does not want to touch) and bizarrely, a few sticks of cinnamon, so that Stiles's mouth waters as the concoction boils. He leans over the pot to take in a deeper whiff, but Lydia slaps him away.

"Do you have a death wish?" she asks amusedly. And then: "So this boils for a month?"

"No, just for an hour. Then we keep it in the fridge for a month. Needs time to absorb or something," Stiles sighs. Come on internet. Please be right.

Lydia looks Stiles up and down. "So you smell like Derek and sex. Please tell me that all this pining is over and done."

Stiles runs his hands down over his face. "Okay, first: why is this the first I have heard about the pining, because hello, that's generally my thing. Case in point, you."

Lydia rolls her eyes. "Why do you think I tried to get you to stay? Derek forbid me from saying anything to you about the whole mate situation, but I knew that it would nearly kill him to see you go. As my alpha, I couldn't disobey, but as my friend, I couldn't directly obey him. So I was kind of a bitch to you on your last day before you left for med school." Lydia looks at the ground. "Not that I'm not always a bitch, according to the world. Sorry."

"You're not a bitch," Stiles says. "You're Lydia. You're... you're right." Stiles has so many questions, and Lydia is giving him the oddest expression, so he tries one: "So... everybody knows, I'm guessing?"

Lydia gives him a dead-eyed glare. "Of course. Not because Derek would ever tell us about his feelings, but as wolves you can smell that kind of thing. Funnily enough, it's part of what Derek taught us."

Stiles sighs. "When's your next shift?"

Lydia grins. "Not the question I was expecting, but: tomorrow. You're on too, I checked."

"Brilliant. It's Derek's first day. Knowing our luck, the day should either be boring as hell or a shit show."

Derek's first day is boring as hell.

It's the second day that's the shit show.

Stiles generally tries to avoid taking two shifts in a row, but at least once a week it's unavoidable. So Stiles walks in early the day following the monotonous Monday of routine nothings a little groggy, but he's done worse during his internship. All hell breaks loose around noon, when a few of the nurses go on lunch break and there are just too many patients and not enough staff to cope with them. A suspect encephalitis case in bed fifteen, a recurring malaria case in bed six (that one was really cool, Stiles would have to tell Lydia about that one later), and about sixteen other cases that were all just about as emergent. No bullshit cases for Stilinski today. Except for the guy in bed three begging for narcotics. That guy was bullshitting. Derek keep on side-eyeing him like he was about to get up and molest Stiles, but the man is about sixty and harmless, as far as Stiles is concerned. Also Stiles is pretty sure Derek growled at him when the older man came a little too close to Stiles, and since then, the man had backed off.

"Nice work, Officer," Stiles murmurs as Derek passes behind him, and he catches a glimpse of a lupine smirk in his periphery. He continues to fill out paperwork until a noise distracts him from his zen-like reverie.

He hears faintly the sound of a faucet running, and then he realizes that it's someone puking violently. His head jerks around for the source of the noise, and some of the unoccupied nurses are pointed towards a pulled curtain where a patient is just heaving his guts out into a tray that is just not holding the sheer amount of liquid he is expelling. Stiles takes off at a run and half gets on his yellow protective gear when someone holds out a bowl for him, and he gets to the patient and says, "Here, try this," and the patient grabs the bowl and continues to puke, but the patient misses, and instead of puking into the bowl, he pukes all over Stiles's face.

"Fuck!" Stiles curses, reeling backwards and wiping the vomit off quickly, but it's gotten into his eye and it burns. There's a large, warm hand on his shoulder and a small voice to his left that says, "Oh god." The hand clenches around his shoulder.

"It's never a good 'oh god,'" Stiles grunts, and he blinks his eyes open to see Lydia standing there with the vomiting patient's chart in her hands, hands that Stiles swears to god are shaking.

"He's HIV and Hep C positive," Lydia says all at once: like ripping off a bandaid. Stiles's mind blurs with the possibilities: he's more worried about the Hep C than the HIV, honestly, it's much more communicable, but the outcomes for both are clearly in the not good category. He gulps. "Come on: let's get you in the eye wash and showered." Stiles follows Lydia out of the ER, and by some strange miracle no one stops Derek as he tags along with them, his hand never leaving Stiles's shoulder, continuing to massage and squeeze it for reassurance and strength. Stiles first hops into the shower, fully nude, in front of the two people he has felt most attracted to in his entire life, but at this moment in time he has never felt less erotic. He scrubs his skin until it turns red, and Lydia tells him, "Enough." Derek hands him a towel and new scrubs, and Stiles shrugs into them quietly.

"Lie down," Lydia sighs. Stiles does as she tells him, and Derek positions himself at Stiles's hand, squeezing and kneading his knuckles, trying to press his tension away.

"This is going to suck," Lydia tells him honestly. She holds up one of the eye washes, and it's like a contact for the entire eye that is hooked up to cleaning fluid that floods the eye continually. It isn't pleasant: Stiles has used it on patients before, but never on himself.

"Just do it," Stiles grits out, squeezing Derek's fingers. Lydia inserts the washes, and it fucking hurts, and he manages to close his eyes around them and god, god this is definitely one of the most unpleasant experiences of his entire life, he is one hundred percent, absolutely certain about that.

"You need to stay like this for an hour," Lydia says sadly. Derek growls. "We need to make sure that whatever got into his eye gets cleared. Even so, he'll need to be on retrovirals and other meds to make sure he doesn't contract anything." Lydia pauses. "It's going to be okay, Stiles. The tests will come back within a few weeks. You'll be in the clear before we kill the fury." She leaves.

The wash that floods his eyes runs down his face like tears, but Stiles wants to cry, to sob for real and the wash is stopping him from letting out his anger. He's angry at himself for being so stupid as to not put on some kind of protective eyewear, something—usually he's more careful, but he heard the guy sounding so sick, and something inside Stiles just went for him. Fuck, fucking hell.

Suddenly Derek is nuzzling his scruffy head against Stiles's stomach, and the weight is warm and wonderful and calming. Stiles lets out a choked sob, and Derek squeezes Stiles's fingertips.

"Do you want me to call your dad?" Derek asks softly.

"No," Stiles sniffles. "If... if I contract anything. Then I'll tell him. But I don't want to worry him otherwise." They're both quiet for a long time, until Lydia comes back to remove the washes. Stiles's eyes are red, but his breathing is calm and normalized. He leans forward and presses a long kiss against Derek's brow. "Let's go home."

The fury shows up again a few days later. Isaac and Boyd are roughhousing in the woods and they spy it flying above them around nine in the evening. But then Allison swears that she also sees it at nine-oh-two at her house.

"Maybe it's really fast," Stiles suggests to the pack at the emergency meeting later that night.

"Maybe," Derek muses.

Everyone is very quiet for a long moment.

"Or maybe there's two," Scott says.

It is as if Scott has started speaking fluent French, or declared war against Argentina: either way, the group is too dumbstruck at his passing brilliance to say a single word.

"Okay, okay," Scott says, a little embarrassed. "Dumb idea."

"No," Stiles breathes, running up to Scott, grabbing him by the hands and twirling him around, "Scott, you magnificent bastard, you just had a brilliant idea! Remember what this moment feels like, McCall: you might not have another one of these for a long time." The group laughs, and Allison kisses Scott soundly. But Derek looks troubled, and Stiles can understand. One fury isn't good. Two isn't better.

So they start scouting the mountainous area around Beacon Hills for a potential fury nesting site: during the day, and only when they're not working or sleeping, which is almost never. Most of the scouting falls to Allison, who is working part-time at this point, and Jackson, who's never had to work but does occasional analyst dealings with Bank of America over the phone every other week. Jackson thinks he found something promising, but it's been abandoned for over a week: so it seems like the furies make a nest and then move on. Interesting, Stiles thinks to himself. They're transient.

Stiles's tests come back a week before the sword is ready: negative and negative.

"Holy fuck thank god," he breathes, legs collapsing beneath him. Derek gathers him up in his arms there on the floor and holds him close. Stiles feels a dampness on his cheeks and realizes that he's crying.

"I didn't realize that I was so worried," he whispers into Derek's neck, and the alpha holds him tighter. "But the relief is so, so staggering."

"I would have turned you if they had been positive," Derek says resolutely. "Werewolves are free from human pestilence."

Stiles pulls back. "No," he says. "I want to be human till the end of my days, Derek. You know that. I've told you that before." Stiles clears his throat and takes a deep breath. "But thank you. I appreciate the sentiment."

Derek cocks a pointed eyebrow. "The... sentiment?" He growls, and the hum reverberates against Stiles's chest. "I don't think you truly understand what the word mate means to me." He bites at Stiles's neck, and the feel of teeth against his flesh makes Stiles hard almost immediately (not that he isn't already halfway there, just sitting in Derek's lap). "I'm marking you as my own not because I own you, but because you're mine. There's a difference. You have a part of me that no one else can own." Derek nips at Stiles's jaw, and lord is Stiles going to have to wear a scarf to work tomorrow.

"I think I'm starting to get it," Stiles whispers, and Derek rumbles against him. "And I'm glad it's you."

Stiles falls asleep quickly that night, mostly because he's emotionally exhausted, and the last thing he remembers doing is cuddling into Derek's chest and murmuring, "I love you," which earns him a pleased grumbling, and then Stiles passes out into sweet, dreamless sleep.

When Stiles wakes up, Derek is gone. There's a note on his nightstand:

sword is ready early
lydia is sure
went to pick up
see you at work
i love you too

Stiles tries not to be a teenage girl about it, but he holds the note against his heart for a long moment before eventually tucking it in his jeans pocket. Whatever, he's allowed to have feelings for his boyfriend, fuck you. He packs his scrubs and hops in his Jeep, starts the engine, and promptly gets knocked out from a blow to the head.

Stiles wakes up in a nest—the furies nest, he tells himself—and tries to struggle, but his legs are pinned under the biggest fucking rock he's ever seen and they fucking hurt, and he's pretty sure at least one of his ankles are either broken or sprained. So moving's a no go. The nest is less a bird's nest and more of a cave with a nest inside of it: Stiles looks at the mouth of the cave, and two bird-like creatures are silhouetted against the sunset. One is much smaller than the other, but both are pretty menacing. The smaller one turns toward Stiles, and it's true: a woman's face stares at him, and it's the kind of face that will haunt his dreams.

"There's a storm coming," the little one titters in a scared voice, looking back up at the clear colorful sky. They can talk!

"We'll weather it, we always do," the big one bites back. Stiles is pretty sure that they're talking not about the meteorological weather but about some sort of prophecy, but either way, it sounds like bad news bears. Still, nothing really sounds worse than being used as bait by giant bird ladies.

Stiles the hostage. Oh boy.

The furies leave and come back during the night, and Stiles is hungry as fuck and his legs have long since lost circulation. "Please," he asks them. "Water. Food. Help me."

"He will come for you dead or alive," the big one tells him matter-of-factly. "And then I will kill him."

"There's a storm coming," the little one pipes up again, but the big one apparently ignores the little one on a regular basis, because the big one makes no notice of this announcement.

"Fuck you," Stiles spits at the big fury, but the bird lady doesn't respond, simply ruffles her feathers and curls herself into a light sleep.

Stiles closes his eyes and envisions Derek: sees his face and his hands and his chest, sees his eyes and his lips and his teeth. Stiles thinks about his smell and his touch and the way he held Stiles close at night. He thinks about how Derek is courteous to his dad and about the way he treats his pack—our pack—and about how Derek treats him. He can almost imagine Derek standing there in front of him, he is that far gone.

So when Derek does actually show up, Stiles isn't really sure if he is awake or hallucinating.

"My name is Derek Hale," growls a beast at the mouth of the cave. "And I've come to take back what is mine."

"The storm has arrived," the little one caws. And Stiles realizes that Derek is the storm, and he has hope.

Derek has the sword, and the rest of the pack at his heels, but there might as well not be a pack, because Derek with about two deft swings has cut the head off the little fury. Scott runs over to Stiles with Danny, Boyd, and Jackson, and the four of them lift the boulder off of Stiles's legs: all four of the boys wince, and Stiles groans as the pressure comes undone.

"I need," Stiles hisses, "I need Lydia," and then Lydia is there:

"We need to assess if there's been any broken bones or paralysis, or more importantly toxic build up over the course of the day," Lydia lists quickly and efficiently. "He needs to get to the ER right now."

Derek is circling the larger fury at this point.

"You killed your own kin," the creature accuses.

"Because I had to," Derek spits back.

"And now I have to kill you," the fury hisses, rearing back and unfurling her wings.

"I'd like to see you try," Derek roars, raising his poisoned sword. The two charge at each other, and the rest of the pack just stands and watches while the two powers clash. The fury scratches Derek's side, and Stiles feels himself cry out, because seeing Derek get hurt is almost like getting hurt himself, but then Derek has the fury by the throat with his sword, and in one huge stroke he has cleaved its head clean off.

Derek is bleeding from where the fury clawed him, but he doesn't seem to care or notice, and he sweeps Stiles up over his shoulder. "Hospital, now," he grunts, Stiles passes out on Derek's shoulder quite happily.

"Stiles, wake up, you're late for school," says a familiar voice to his right. Stiles shudders awake.

"I'm up, Dad," Stiles stutters, jerking awake. The room laughs.

"I told you that would get him up," his dad tells Derek, and Stiles scowls.

"You two are not allowed to tag team. That is the opposite of fair," he says, pointing at the two of them. "I see what you did there."

And then Derek and his dad high-five. "I'm definitely still dreaming," Stiles tells them. "That or I'm on incredible amounts of morphine right now. Speaking of which, do I still own both of my feet?" Stiles flips back his covers, and, sure enough, there are both his feet. He tries twitching them: left foot, hunky dory, right foot, "OWFUCK."

"Your right foot's sprained," Derek tells him, a little amused. "Not broken, though." Stiles sighs.

"Odd thing, an avalanche in the middle of Beacon Hills," his dad sighs, running his hand across his temple. "Lucky Derek was there to bring you in." He looks gratefully at Derek, who smiles curtly. "Alright, folks, I'll get out of your way. Station needs me." And he ducks out with a wave.

"A rockslide? Really?" Stiles asks, as Derek slips onto the bed, cutting off any further inquiry with a heavy duty make-out session that Stiles thinks makes up for the rather lame excuse.

"You're mine," Stiles murmurs when his lips are free for a moment. Derek makes a sound that Stiles will swear to high heaven is a purr, and then pounces.

Stiles could get used to this.