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Anchored on the Edge of a Knife

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At first the healing factor seemed like the best part of being a werewolf. Not having to hide the cuts any more. Not needing to be so careful, so secretive. Getting to take his time. Getting to fall all the way into each cut, each flair of pain. Even the flesh knitting back together seemed to enhance things. Minute after minute of concentration on this one thing, on being alive, on being in control over what hurt this time.

After a while, though, it wasn’t quite enough. He’d never realized how much he valued the scars. How much they contributed to how alive he felt. How much they anchored him to reality, to himself. No matter how deep he cut they were gone by morning, like time erasing his claim on himself. He belonged to Derek now, to the pack. He bleed for the pack. He hurt for the pack. Nothing was his own. Nothing was for just himself.

Belonging was good, but sometimes he felt like he was drowning. His wolf had an anchor, but what about himself? What was the boy anchored to if not his own blood and pain? What did he have left to cling to when even that was gone?

In retrospect the silver knife might have been a mistake. He was so used to cutting deep to buy himself precious minutes of relief, of escape, that he forgot to be careful. He forgot to take his time. He forgot not to cut so deep. The pain was blinding, the gush of blood slightly worrying, and then the sweet familiar cotton wool of dissociation came down over everything and he let it tug him to the floor. For a long time all he had to focus on was the throbbing ache of his arm, and the slowly growing trickle of blood.

“Are you trying to kill yourself?” dragged him back to himself. Back to the throb of pain, and the cold floor under him. Shame and horror rose up choking him. Tears flooded his eyes. He tried to make himself as small as possible. To shove himself as far into the corner as he could go.

“Derek,” Stiles said, “back off for a sec. Let’s get him patched up first. Shouting later. He’s hurt.” He heard Stiles pick up the knife and wrap it in something. “Get rid of this. Then wait for us on the couch, okay?” Derek huffed, but his footsteps moved away, out into the station. Stiles shut the bathroom door. “Hey,” he said, “let’s get you patched up.”