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Chapter 12 - Epilogue


Pain. He never would have thought that one four-letter word could have so much control over his life.

But pain does control his life.

He wakes up with it. It goes with him to physical therapy. It eats with him. Stays by his side when people come to visit. It's even there when he goes to sleep at night and Stiles can't remember a time anymore when it wasn't his constant companion.

And it's not something he can easily ignore, either. It's not a dull ache or a slight nagging at the back of his mind. No, it's a sharp, slicing thing that never gives him a moment's peace. A never ending throbbing in his limbs that the morphine never manages to take away.

The pain likes to play games with him sometimes, letting him sleep peacefully one night then dragging him kicking and screaming from his slumber the next with spasm in his limbs so bad he cries out in the night. Sometimes his dad is there with him to talk him down from the worst of them. But now, more often than not, he's alone when it happens and on this particular night it pulls him from sleep with cry so loud he's afraid he's alerted the nurses. He tries to work through the pain, you see, knowing it will never let him be until he shows it who's boss, but tonight he's seriously considering hitting that call button and asking the on-call nurse for more meds. He contemplates this for a moment more, until another spams hits him so hard it has him seeing red.

Stiles closes his eyes against the pain, hearing his own voice whimper in his ear as he tries to stretch out the charlie horse taking over his lower half and is surprised when a warm hand wraps around his wrist. The touch should scare the shit out of him, but he's dreamt of this moment for so long that it doesn't faze him in the least. Instead he opens his eyes, expecting (no praying) to see Scott and really is startled this time when he finally sees who it is grasping his wrist under the low light of the overhead light.

"Sourwolf?" he lets out on a breath, relief at the receding pain so great all he can do is whisper the name with a barely there smile. "You came back."

Derek Hale, looking thinner than Stiles remembers him in a black t-shirt and jeans scrapes a chair across the tile floor and plops down into it, never breaking his contact with Stiles' wrist. He can see the thin tendrils of ebony making their way up the milky white skin of the werewolf's pale arm and watches they disappear up under his sleeve.

"Of course I came back." Derek smiles and Stiles gets lost in the pull of old memories for a moment.

"Thought you were off 'finding yourself' or sumthin'," he says drowsily. Without the pain, it's as if he's floating and it's hard to tell if the moment is even real.

Derek laughs lightly. "I was trying to, but then I heard this rumor that my former pack was in trouble, so naturally I had to come back."

"Scott's gonna be so glad you're here."

"I didn't come back just for him," Derek replies quietly, still holding tightly to Stiles' wrist. The relief from the pain is almost euphoric and he has to fight just to stay awake. Warmth like nothing he's ever felt before takes the place of the white-hot agony from before and it's pulling him down, down down…

"What happened, Stiles? Why are you in here?"

"Accident with my jeep," he mumbles, half asleep already. "Someone flipped it over with me still inside."

"Jesus. Are you okay?"

"No," he answers honestly. With Scott not talking to him and the business with Donovan hanging over his head, it's hard to imagine a time when he'll ever be okay.

Stiles looks down at his wrist and the contact Derek still maintains.

"How long can you stay?" He whispers, hating how weak this has all made him as moisture gathers at the corners of his eyes.

The thing is, they're not tears of sadness, but that of relief because he actually feels safe for the first time in months. Maybe even since before this whole mess with the Dread Doctors started. His Dad tries to help, but there's something about the quiet strength of the practically immortal werewolf sitting next to him that blankets him in a warm cloak of security.

"I'll be here as long as it takes," Derek promises, tendrils of black still working their way up his arm. Was there really that much pain? There must be because Derek is starting to show the effects. He's trying to hide them, but Stiles can see.

"Enough," he protests, attempting to pull his hand away, but Derek's hand holds firm.

"Do they have any idea?"

"What?" He feints nonchalance, but he thinks he understands what Derek is getting at.

"How much pain you're really in."

Stiles could cry. Finally someone understands. Someone gets it.

"No," he answers thickly, rubbing at his nose with his free hand. "No one is really talking to me at the moment."

"Oh?" Derek's eyebrows shoot up.

"It's complicated. Please don't make me go through it again."

"Ok, Stiles! Relax," the werewolf chides, pushing him back down into his pillows when he tries (and fails) to push himself up onto his elbows, "I wont… for now."

Stiles can live with that and lets his limbs relax again. His whole body relaxes actually and he's so tempted to just let sleep carry him away.

"Derek?" he mumbles, well on his way.

"Yeah?"

"…Stay?" He knows he sounds childish and completely ridiculous but Derek doesn't make fun of him like he expects. Instead the werewolf just smiles, pristine white teeth catching the light ever so slightly as he nods.

"I'm not going anywhere, Stiles," Derek promises and Stiles tumbles back into dreams that are actually pleasant for once, not entirely sure the werewolf at his side isn't just part of the dreams.

-FIN-


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