Stiles curls deeper into the covers and tries, really hard, to stop shivering. But no, no dice. Not even a single freaking die. Which, speaking of dying, he didn’t do that, so he shouldn’t really be complaining so loudly. But, seriously? It’s a marker that he is simultaneously the most lucky and the unluckiest that he should play an integral role in the final fight against the Alphas, survive, and then be struck down by flu three days later. Like, this is some kind of karmic retribution. He fulfilled his BAMF quota for the month and now his body’s rebelling, warning him in no uncertain terms that he will obey the laws of the universe. The weak shall remain weak. The audacious must pay. With copious amounts of snot and a scratchy throat. THEE SHALL KNOW THINE LIMITATIONS!
“Who’re you talking to?”
Stiles looks up and sees a fuzzy shape that resembles Scott. He burrows deeper under his comforter. The last thing he wants is for Scott to see how pathetic he is. He had looked so Goddamned relieved and proud the other day, all dark, shining eyes and white grin and obsessive touching to ensure that Stiles really was in one piece. It would suck for him to see the truth. Stiles just isn’t capable of that kind of greatness. Not in the long run.
Weight settles next to his left leg and he dips unavoidably closer to delicious, tempting body heat, because his mattress needed replacing three years ago and Scott is a heavy, solid thing, though he usually looks compact. Scott peels down the comforter despite Stiles’ protestations, drags his hand over his forehead. His fuzzy expression is an adorable moue of confusion.
“You should ask my dad if you can become a detective. You can be Turner and Hooch!”
Scott raises an unimpressed eyebrow. It’s pretty fierce. Stiles doesn’t even need to open his eyes wide to see it. Derek would be the proudest. “Don’t think that just because you’re sick I wouldn’t kick your ass. The dog jokes are never funny.”
“This thing with the Alphas has made you way callous, Scott. Plus, they’re a little funny. Everything I say’s a little funny.”
Scott’s expression softens and he rubs his thumb back over Stiles’ forehead. It’s cool and warm both at once, a touch that has Stiles craning up with a barely restrained moan. He smiles up at Scott. It wouldn’t surprise him in the slightest if he looks dopey. His mouth is half-open, his cheeks feel loose, he can’t stop his head from lolling back.
“You have the greatest of all the superpowers,” Stiles informs Scott, seriously.
Or at least, he means to, but the words come out flaky and crusted and he hates, detests, that his sole defensive mechanism has been ravaged by the world’s most annoying boo boo.
He nods his head for extra emphasis, flopping up and back against his pillow. With a solitary touch he can feel pain leeching out of his body, his limbs no longer feeling like dead weights. He wonders what it must feel like to be able to take the pain from someone. He wonders just how much Scott can take --- if, maybe, he’d had this when his mom ---
“I haven’t even done anything yet,” Scott murmurs.
That can’t be right. Stiles squints up at Scott, wishing he could zero in on his heartbeat, hear the lie. But he can’t. Probably would never want to, if his head was clearer. Scott sighs, presses his hand over his forehead more fully, and then, oh, yeah, there’s a difference. Every little tendril of pain gathers into one pinprick point in the center of his forehead and then vanishes. It’s worryingly like the final crest of a long-anticipated orgasm, which fills his mind with connotations and consequences he was happier not considering.
“You didn’t have to do this. I’m a big boy. I can handle a little pain.”
“Don’t try to be a martyr, Stiles, it doesn’t suit you.”
Scott casts an assessing glance over him and then clambers onto the bed on his right side. Tilts him so they’re back-to-chest. He tucks his chin into his neck, wraps an arm over his torso.
“You’re still cold. I can make you feel a little better, but I can’t cure you. So I’m just gonna… cuddle, for a while.”
“You don’t have to,” Stiles says. His voice still sounds wrecked, but his throat no longer aches. It’s the ultimate in cognitive dissonance. “I’m sure you wanna get back to Isaac, try to convince him to join your pack.”
“You’re sure about so very many wrong things. You ever think about being doubtful?”
Stiles doesn’t respond to that, can’t think of what to say. Scott hates it when he disagrees over something he’s stated about himself. Something about Scott knowing his own mind, Stiles. He thinks about how angry he was when his dad said he wasn’t gay and can understand it. It’s invalidation. So he guesses Scott wouldn’t prefer to be with Isaac right now, a realization that sits at the base of his stomach in a shameful squirm of elation that he’s not going to analyze too strongly.
“I don’t like you seeing me like this,” Stiles says, a beat later. “Vulnerable.” It’s half-true.
Scott tightens his arm a fraction, shifts his knees until they’re pressing against the back of Stiles’. “Sucks to be you, then.” His lips are a warm, wet ghost against the nape of his neck.
It’s perfectly warm in Scott’s embrace and Stiles gave up on guilt a long time ago. He buries himself deeper against the sinful comfort of Scott’s body and lets his eyes fall closed. He daydreams about this happening under different circumstances, being the little spoon because Scott just wants to hold him. Nothing about it other than the need for a connection that words can’t express. It’s dangerous to have those thoughts when they’re so close together. It’s when they’re so close that he can’t help but have them.
“I don’t want to be a burden.”
Scott sounds more muted when he speaks again. Less falsely nonchalant. “You’re not. Depend on me for this, please. I depend on you.”
There are thousands of things Stiles could say to that. He wants to. But to be honest, he’s kinda three quarters asleep already and the rhythm of Scott’s breathing is lulling him into a sense of security and comfort. He’s zapped of energy, physically and mentally. He may no longer be sore, but the exertion of every muscle still registers as difficult. And he is right. Scott would have died if Stiles hadn’t intervened against Deucalion. Or worse, his mind would have been wiped and he’d have turned against his friends. Stiles doesn’t want to devote any more time thinking about it.
Worse is yet to come and yes, this is some kind of sign, that he’ll never be good enough —- never be strong enough —- to get away with all he must without some dire consequences, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Scott from harm.
And Scott may not feel the exact same way about him as he does about Scott, but he knows it goes both ways.