Stiles had been acting weird all day. Normally, Derek would attribute this to his normal attitude issues, but this was just ridiculous. Being an asshole for no reason and then storming out a pack meeting was more than ridiculous, it was maddening. And Derek intended to find out what was wrong with him.
“No,” Chris Argent snapped, stopping Derek from standing up all the way from his chair. “We need to figure this out now. You can deal with him later. If you walk out now, you have no say, and if what happens isn’t what you like, then you have no room to argue.”
Shit, the man had a point. Derek settled back down into his chair.
Tomorrow. Derek intended to find out what was wrong with Stiles tomorrow.
It was a Saturday morning, but it wasn’t that early. There was no reason for Stiles to not answer the front door. There was only one person in the house, and going from the rapid heartbeat Derek knew it had to be Stiles. But there was something else off about it, too. Like Stiles was terrified. But of what? What could be so scary in his own home?
Derek moved to his bedroom window instead, and as soon as he picked the lock and the seal was broken, the smell of blood hit him. Derek was immediately on high alert, throwing open the window so fast that he feared it may have cracked form the force of it hitting the top. He pushed himself into the room, shouting for Stiles. He could hear the boy’s heartbeat in the house, close by, but he wasn’t in the bedroom.
What was, however, were blood-soaked sheets. It was fresh blood, too, and all Stiles’.
“Stiles!” Derek shouted again, rushing from the room and tracking Stiles by his scent to the hallway bathroom. Derek pounded on the door once he found it locked. “I will break down this door, Stiles!” Derek threatened, hand already twisting the lock to the point of breakage.
Stiles’ breathing was erratic, like he was having a panic attack, so Derek didn’t waste another second. Kicking in the door, Derek almost lifted it off of its hinges as he flew into the small bathroom.
Stiles was sprawled on the floor in a fetal position, curled towards Derek. He was indeed having a panic attack. Derek fell to his knees and reached out towards him, but as soon as he touched Stiles his instincts kicked in and his veins turned black, immediately sucking pain. If Stiles was in this much pain for Derek’s instincts to override him, something was truly wrong.
“Stiles, what —”
It was then that Derek noticed the wings.
Sprouting from Stiles back, above dried blood drips down his spine, were two small blood-soaked pairs of wings.
Derek continued taking Stiles’ pain even as he stared in utter confusion at what he was witnessing. Stiles’ breathing picked up again, the panic seizing his lungs, and Derek snapped into action. He moved Stiles so that he was sitting rather than lying and took one of Stiles’ hands into his own. Ignoring the fact that it was covered in dried blood, he brought it to his neck and sought out his pulse point with Stiles’ fingers.
“Follow my breathing, Stiles. In, out. In, out, Slowly. Let’s do this together, okay? In for seven, out for twelve. Can you do that for me? Stiles?!”
Stiles looked blearily at Derek, eyelids fluttering, but he nodded and followed Derek’s instructions. Slowly, they managed to push away the panic attack. Derek continued to take Stiles’ pain the entire time, but seeing the hunched shoulders and the furrow of his brow, he knew it wasn’t doing as much as he’d hoped.
Once Stiles got his breath back, Derek asked, “Stiles what is this? Why do you have wings?”
Stiles swallowed thickly. “You tell me!” he hissed. “I just woke up this way this morning! My back was killing me yesterday, and now, suddenly- wings!”
“Do you. Do you think they’re still bleeding?” Derek asked, not wanting to touch them and cause Stiles more pain or blood loss.
Stiles shrugged his shoulders and winced at the movement. Derek took the swell of pain away from him. “I think, maybe, it stopped.”
“You lost a lot of blood, going by your sheets. Think we should —” Hospital wasn’t an option. Whatever was happening to Stiles, Derek wanted it far away from human or hunter eyes. “Call Melissa?”
“Maybe. Can you get me a drink?”
Derek reluctantly let go of Stiles as he stood, swaying on his feet slightly from all the pain he’d taken. “Of course. I’ll be right back.”
Derek dashed down to the kitchen and retrieved a glass of water. In a split second decision, he also grabbed the jar of peanut butter left out on the counter and a spoon from the drawer before going back upstairs.
“Drink all of the water. But then I think you should eat some peanut butter, get something in you,” Derek suggested as he entered the bathroom.
Stiles downed the glass in one go. He must have been feeling better, because he smirked a little and said, “Can I have it with toast, maybe?”
Derek suddenly felt embarrassed. “Oh, um, I can —”
“Teasing, Derek,” Stiles assured him, winced as he scooted closer to Derek as he settled himself into a crouch. “This is fine. Thanks.”
“I’d like to clean up your back, make sure you’ve stopped bleeding.”
“You know where the towels are. Grab the old ones this time, please. Preferably ones with blood stains already on them.”
Derek mock saluted him. “Sure.”
Stiles grabbed for the spoon and peanut butter and unscrewed the jar as Derek ducked out of the bathroom. He stopped in Stiles’ bedroom to strip the bed of the blood-ruined sheets. He tossed them in a pile in the corner and fitted the bed with new sheets. Then he grabbed the worst towels he could find before going back into the bathroom.
Stiles was propped up against the sink, head tilted back against the base, eyes closed.
Derek immediately dropped to his knees, shaking Stiles’ shoulders to rouse him. It took nothing for Stiles to stir awake, because he hadn’t been asleep. “Aw, look who cares,” Stiles slurred, his speech showing his exhaustion more than he ever would.
Derek snorted. “Of course I do,” he replied as he turned on the taps in the bathtub and wetted the towel. “Now, face your back to me and eat some more. No passing out on me. You can sleep when you’re clean.”
Stiles was silent but for the scraping of a spoon on the edges of a plastic jar and the smack of his lips enjoying the spread. Derek cleaned around the wings, first, and found that they seemed to have sprouted out from between his shoulder blades. The skin around them was raised and bumpy, like thick veins connecting Stiles’ back to the wings. The wings were stained too, though Derek moved to clean those second, gently brushing wet fingertips over each delicate feather to reveal the chocolate brown color that they were naturally.
“Derek?” Stiles spoke his name so softly Derek probably wouldn’t have heard it had he not been a werewolf.
“Mhmm?” he responded, fingers gently caressing the skin around Stiles’ wings, taking pain where he could.
“What is happening to me?”
Derek stilled, dropping his hands to the stained towel in his lap. “I don’t know, Stiles. But whatever this is — if it’s a curse, if you’re a were-bird, if it’s permanent — we will figure it out together, okay?”
“Okay,” Stiles breathed, head ducking towards his chin. “Thanks.”
“We’re pack,” Derek said, thumbs brushing the tails of each feather on the right wing. A shudder ran through Stiles’ body. “No need to thank me. Do you want me to call Melissa?”
Stiles hesitated and then shook his head. “Not right now. I’d rather it just be you who knows, for now.”
Derek, though he knew he’d stumbled into this situation and that it could have easily been anyone else in the pack in his position, found himself flattered. He felt his cheeks heat up.
Pushing away the thoughts, Derek helped Stiles to his feet and lead him into the bedroom, where he would be more comfortable.
“You should get some rest,” Derek suggested, settling Stiles down onto the edge of the bed.
Stiles ran his hands over the cover sheet. “You changed the sheets,” he said, reverently.
“Of course. Now try to get some rest. I’ll be here when you get up. I’ll do some research,” he told Stiles as he tried to smile comfortingly. He wasn’t sure if he achieved it.
Stiles inchwormed his way up the bed until his head came in contact with one of the pillows. He snuffled into it, eyes unable to even open when he responded, “Good idea.”
Stiles passed out a second later, the room filling with the sound of his loud sleep-breathing. Derek sat down in Stiles’ desk chair, looked at his computer open to a new tab, and turned away from it. He rolled to the edge of Stiles’ bed and reached out for Stiles’ hand. He held it and began to take Stiles’ pain once more. He could research on his phone, one handed.