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When Derek wakes up, before he even opens his eyes, the first thing he hears is a voice in his head saying, “Uh, hey. Good morning.”

In his sleep-addled state, Derek’s eyebrows just furrow in confusion. His eyelids are heavy, and he can’t quite blink them open, like his upper and lower eyelashes are glued together. 

“Yeah, uh, I’d keep ‘em shut if I were you. I don’t have full control, obviously, but, you probably wouldn’t like what you’d see.”

Derek’s mouth opens fine, and he licks his chapped lips. He feels his heartbeat pick up, like his body is going into a panic-mode, but his thoughts haven’t caught up yet. “Why not?” he croaks out. His throat feels parched as well.

“Let’s just say that it wouldn’t be you looking out.”

Derek’s brain begins to catch up. “Are you talking in my head?”

“Sort of.”

“Then what are you doing?”

“I possessed you.”

Derek’s thoughts snap into place and he feels himself jolt up. His claws dig into the dirt around him, and blades of grass brush his fingers. Had he fallen asleep outside again? His memories are a bit jumbled. But now that he’s awake, he can tell that whatever is talking to him is in no way human. 

Derek bares his fangs, eyes still closed. He growls out his words. “Get the fuck out of me.”

If Derek didn’t know any better, he would have said the demon or whatever parasite is in him had whimpered. “Shit, man.” The thing sounded offended, what the fuck? “I just needed a host to stay in for a while. Mine is a little, uh, damaged. And I can’t go back yet.”

Derek is seconds away from clawing his eyes out. He still can’t get them open, like someone is holding them shut. 

“Dude, stop fighting!” the voice shouts. “I’m keeping them closed for your own good!”

“Since when is it in my advantage for me to not be able to see?” Derek hisses back.

“Because, I’m currently lodged in your ocular nerves, so If I could just--” The thing grunts, Derek feels a stinging in the back of his eyes, then a thumping in the left of his head. The thing then sighs in what sounds like relief. “Okay, there. Now you can open them.”

Derek slowly twitches his eyelids, but the resistance that used to be there is gone, and he snaps them open, feeling a bit of relief fill him. He is indeed in the woods. He’s also not far from his house, if he’s correct in recognizing the trees and land around him. 

“I wasn’t sure what you’d see if you opened them when I was over in that part of your head, and I didn’t want to risk you loosing your eyesight permanently.”

Derek still has his claws and fangs drawn, but there is no threat for him to physically fight, so he can’t do much other than get this thing to tell him what its evil plan is and hopefully stop it. But the way the demon sounds... it’s like he actually does sort of want Derek okay.

“What for? You want to use me, but need me in full health for it?!”

“No! Er, well yes--” Derek snarls. “--But! But not like you think! I just need your body, dude, like I said, I just need somewhere to chill for a while, and since you’re part-wolf, you have like point-zero-zero-zero-zero-one percent chance of having damage from me being in here.”

Derek huffs in outrage. “You said your body is damaged. Someone try to exorcise you? Maybe I should find them and have them do it to me too.”

Derek feels a thump at the back of his head, and he winces, rubbing at the abused area. “Hey! That’s offensive! Not all demons are horrible all the time. I’ll have you know that I have lived in Beacon Hills for almost two decades now and have not once killed a person. My vessel died at the age of one. I saved his parents form heartbreak and started a new life. I was not exorcised. I got in a car crash. It would be too suspicious if I healed quickly, so I exited my vessel for a while to allow for normal human healing. I’ll go back in, like, two days.”

Derek arched an eyebrow and he hoped the demon could sense his judgement. “I do not believe you one bit. But say that what you said is true, wouldn’t your vessel end up dead?”

“Dude.” The demon sounds offended, almost amused by it, though. “I know a little bit of magic. My vessel is very gangly, very accident prone. I’ve learned some magic here and there to reduce my healing. But with an accident of this magnitude, me being in the body while the magic is in place... that would do more harm than good.”

“Healing magic is pure,” Derek says, shaking his head in confusion. “Demons are dark. You can’t be both at the same time.”

Derek’s head jerks forward, as if someone had slapped him upside the head. “Exactly, genius. Ergo, why I’m here right now. I can give you proof. Go to the hospital, ask to see Stiles Stilinski. That’s me, by the way. Hi, I’m Stiles. Your name is on the list of people to admit to see me.”

Derek stands and dusts himself off. “Why would you do that?”

Derek suddenly envisions someone’s feet shuffling along the ground, as if bashful. “You’ve kind of been my back-up for a while now. I keep track of the supernatural activity. When you moved back into town a few years ago, I knew you’d be a safe place to stay if something happened. So when you needed proof, I would have to ability to grant it.”

Derek growled, “ I am not a hotel, you can’t just stay at me.”

“I know that! Sorry, sorry. I just...” He sighed. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I will not hurt you, control you, or do anything to you in any way. You’re my best chance of staying alive. You know hunters, man. And I give off more magic energy than a sonic boom in my natural form. They’d come after me in seconds whether or not I had done anything, if I wasn’t in a vessel.”

Derek can sympathize, a little, at least when it comes to hunters. 

This is probably a really bad and horrible idea. 

“Fine.”

Stiles cheers. 

“But only after I check in at the hospital. And I swear if anything happens to me, if my arm so much as twitches and I didn’t mean it to, you are gone.”

Derek envisions a finger crossing in an x over a chest. “Cross my non existent heart, man. No harm.”

*

Derek does get his proof not a half an hour later. A nurse leads him back to a room in the hospital, granting him entrance with a wave of her hand. She pats his shoulder, gives him a sad look, then lets them be. 

There is a man lying on the bed, many machines hooked up to him. An IV stretches out from oen arm. A tray of medicine and injectors sits off to the side.

Stiles makes a retching noise in his head, and Derek does his best to glare mentally. “Sorry,” Stiles says. “I just have a thing about needles. Too many bad memories.”

Derek feels a shiver run down his spine. Hell must be quite a place. 

The chart next to the bed does declare the man to be Stiles Stilinski; 20, cause of injury: car accident. His chestnut brown hair is covered slightly by a bandage, and Derek snorts, imagining that Stiles will wake up with some bald patches.

“That’ll be fun to grow back,” Stiles grumbles, and Derek chuckles. 

There are scratches across the man’s face, some bruising, but nothing stands out quite as much as the cluster of moles on his pink flushed cheek. The rest of him is covered with a pale white sheet, arms flanking on top on either side. They both look bruised, a few broke fingers, but nothing worse than that.

“Mostly head trauma,” Stiles tells him. 

The heart monitor beeps steadily and Derek watches it for a moment. It never changes, not even by one beat. 

“Magic,” Stiles whispers, and Derek shudders. The words had sounded like they had been breathed directly into his ear.

He clears his throat, gaze snapping away from the admittedly nice-looking man on the bed and over to a blank wall. 

“You believe me now?” Stiles asks.

“Yeah. I believe you. Still don’t trust you, though.”

Derek envisions plush pink lips stretching into a fierce grin. For just a second, an inky black film covers his vision before it snaps away with a blink. 

“Didn’t think you would, sour wolf.”

This is going to be a disaster, Derek thinks.

“This is going to be fun.”

*

Stiles spends the next twelve hours taking non-stop in his ear about a multitude of subjects. 

He regales his childhood memories in this vessel as Derek peruses down the grocery isle at the local Target. When at the pet store, Stiles bitches about college work and it being, “so much worse than it was the first time,” though he would not say when that was. Derek almost had to hang up on his boss whom he was telling he would be taking a couple sick days (there is no way he is going to work with Stiles in his head) because he couldn’t hear the poor man due to Stiles going on about how dumb Beacon Hills’ population is to not notice that supernatural creatures exist.

As Derek is brushing his teeth later that night, Stiles suddenly goes silent. Derek arches an eyebrow, spits, and then rinses the sink as he asks, “You done?”

“I’m honestly surprised you lasted that long,” Stiles responds, sounding like he’s smirking.

“Wasn’t like I could do much to stop you,” Derek defends, stabbing his toothbrush back into the holder and shuffling into his room. 

“If you’d told me to stop, I would have.”

“Stop,” Derek says in a deadpan as he crawls into bed.

Stiles snorts. “Convincing. But I’ll stop for now. Expect more when you wake up. I have a lot of questions about your dog--”

“Ruby.”

“Yeah, Ruby. She looks familiar.”

Apparently, Ruby is familiar to Stiles, because Stiles has seen her at the vets where his best friend apparently works. Derek finds this out the next morning when, as soon as he wakes up, rubbing black spots out of his vision, Stiles begins to speak again, saying, “Morning, sourheart.”

Derek finds it oddly pleasing, having someone to talk with (or be talked at) for most of the day. Normally he’s not a social person (see: the house in the woods and a dog companion), but something about Stiles’ openness with everything draws him in.

“Are you always this verbose?” Derek blurts out.

Stiles goes silent for a moment, then speaks tentatively. “Um, maybe?I mean, I guess I’m still pretty nervous. I’ve never been in a temporary host before, only vessels-- er, I guess, I mean, without intent to kill.”

Derek tenses up.

“But that was a long, long time ago! Back when that was my only defense! I know some magic now, like with health things. I don’t need to kill to protect myself anymore. It’s weird not having a body. I can’t even see anything, it’s like I’m in a dream.”

Derek arches an eyebrow. “You can’t see what I do?”

“Not unless I do it on purpose, but I don’t know exactly what will happen if I try to peek in. I don’t want to have anything go wrong, so I’m playing it safe.”

Derek mumbles, “Thank you,” so softly he wonders if Stiles would have even heard it had he not been in his head.

Stiles hums, as if uninterested, but Derek feels contentment fill his body, and he smiles softly.

*

“What’s the appeal of being a human?” Derek asks a day later as they drive to the hospital. They had visited once yesterday, for a brief moment, but Stiles’ father had been in the room, so Derek had just peeked in the door and assured Stiles everything was still fine. But Stiles plans to restart his body today. His dad is scheduled to work, so Stiles said, so there shouldn’t be any interruptions.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean what I said. What’s the draw? You have more power in your natural form, why take a semi-permanent vessel? Besides, you know, not being hunted.”

The car’s engine is the only thing Derek hears for a long minute. Finally, Stiles speaks, and his voice is softer than Derek’s ever heard it. “When Stiles, the baby, died, I was trolling the hospital. I was hoping to find refuge in the morgue, some old guy I could walk out in, and then just seclude myself until the hunters in town at the time left. But I heard Mom’s cries, and... I thought... I’ve been trying to be better, right? So maybe I could be something better for this family. You know, give them a model kid. He was a baby still, you know? Not much of a personality to speak of yet, so I didn’t feel as guilty sneaking in right before he passed. And I could sense... the death on her. She didn’t live more than eight years after that, but I got to give her that happiness, and I guess... It’s more appealing to do the mundane.”

Derek says nothing while Stiles speaks, and when he pulls into the parking lot, he turns off the car but stays seated, waiting until he’s finished. 

“I’ve seen and done a lot, I won’t lie. But the world is fascinating, and I want to experience it, and there’s no better way to experience things than actually interacting, right? So, here I am.”

“Here you are,” Derek agrees and gets out of the car.

*

When Stiles wakes up, before he even opens his eyes, the first thing he hears is a voice saying, “Uh, hey. You back?”

Stiles blinks his eyes open, turns his head, and sees Derek standing at his bed side. His eyes are dazzling up close. He feels his lungs catch a breath, and though he technically doesn’t breathe conventionally, he feels he stutter of his heart. 

“Good morning, sourheart,” he croaks. “You stayed?”

Derek shrugs, shoves his hands into his pockets. “Had to make sure I made the right choice.”

Stiles’ brows furrow. “With what?”

Derek looks up from beneath his lashes. His small smile makes Stiles feel warm. His heart-rate monitor deviates for the first time in three days. “Letting you stay.”

“You don’t regret it?”

Derek shakes his head. “Nah. You’re not so bad.”

Stiles smirks and lets his demon come forth, and his eyesight suddenly goes red. He knows Derek is seeing nothing but black staring back at him. He can feel his healing kicking into high gear, the brain suddenly waking up again. “Nah, I’m mostly bad. Just a little bit good.”

Derek flashes his bright blue eyes at him, and Stiles definitely feels his heartbeat skip that time. 

“’s same thing. Your dad’s here.”

Stiles blinks at the sudden subject change, shaking away the demon, eyes flickering over to the door. “Oh. Should--”

“I’ll come back later,” Derek promises, door already half open. “Might get a little quiet around here without you.” He knocks on his forehead for emphasis. 

“I think I like it better when I can see you,” Stiles admits.

“Me too,” Derek agrees with a small smile. 

He slips out the door, and seconds later his dad enters. When he sees his son is awake, he rushes to let a nurse know, but then is right back at his side.

“You have to be more careful, son.”

“It’s alright, Dad,” Stiles assures him, patting his father’s hand as a nurse administers him more morphine. He speech slurs slightly when he adds, “I had a plan.”

The sheriff snorts, squeezes his unbroken fingers gently. “Okay, and what was that plan? A deal with the devil?”

Stiles can’t help but laugh this time, groaning between each chuckle at the way it hurts his chest as it contracts. “Exactly, Dad. Exactly.”