A/N: I wrote this for my sister, a hard-core Teen Wolf fan. I've only seen a few episodes but I've already fallen for Stiles. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the lovely characters in this show.
Sheriff Stilinski watches his son picking at his food, again, and sighs quietly.
"Stiles. Aren't you hungry?"
Stiles looks up at him and offers a wan smile. He's pale; not as bad as when he was being possessed by the Nogitsune, but he looks drawn, washed out.
"Sorry, Dad. I'm just- I just don't have much of an appetite tonight, I guess."
"You didn't eat much last night either," Stilinski points out. Stiles bites his lip and shrugs.
"Sorry," he repeats quietly.
"You don't have to apologize," Stilinski says, his heart breaking. Ever since his son had been returned to him, he'd been apologizing. "I'm just worried about you."
Stiles looks down and quirks his lips together. "Don't be," he says. "I'm okay. Just tired and, I dunno, trying to deal. With everything."
Stilinski nods. He can relate to that. They all can. Things haven't been the same since Alison's death, since Aidan was buried, since Stiles very nearly died. It's been a rough few weeks, even for Beacon Hills.
"You know I'm here, right? If you want to talk about it. About anything."
Stiles nods and stands, offers that sickly smile again that, if anything, makes the sheriff worry more.
"Yeah," he says. "Thanks, Dad."
Stilinski watches him shuffle off to his bedroom and sighs heavily.
Scott isn't surprised when Stiles finds him, because he's been here more often than anywhere else in the last few days.
"Hey," Stiles says, sitting next to Scott. He draws his legs up and lets his arms dangle over his knees, his breathing soft and even. Scott will never admit aloud how comforting it is to have his best friend back, to have Stiles' familiar form at his side, but it's true anyway.
"How are you doing?" Stiles asks quietly. It feels wrong to speak loudly, here. They'd buried Allison next to her mother, in the shade of a tall fir tree; it's a nice enough place to be laid to rest, he supposes. Her gravestone is simple and elegant, but it does nothing to represent the vitality and spark of the person lying beneath it. It feels wrong.
Scott shrugs and laughs without humor. "As good as I can be, I guess," he says. "You?"
Stiles sighs. "Same."
They sit quietly for a second before Stiles speaks again.
"Do you think she's happy?" Scott asks. "I mean. Do you think it's true what they say about going to better places?"
Stiles is quiet for a long second.
"I don't know," he says honestly.
Scott says, "I want to believe that, but it seems too good to be true. You know?"
"Yeah," Stiles answers. "I-I think I believe it. I have to believe it."
Scott blinks back tears and remembers the first funeral he'd ever attended, the one for Stiles' mother, and how Stiles hadn't cried, how he'd stood so still with his hands trembling at his side and biting his lip so hard it bled. He thinks about how if Stiles didn't have something to believe in, something to hold onto, he probably would have crumbled apart.
"'S weird," Stiles says.
"What is?" Scott asks, looking at his friend and frowning. He hadn't noticed how pale Stiles is, and coupled with the dark circles beneath his eyes, Scott is reminded uncomfortably of when Stiles was wasting away before his eyes.
"Death. Everybody- every single fucking human- experiences it, but everybody is afraid of it. Weird, huh?"
"Yeah," Scott says. "I guess so." He glances at Stiles again and shakes his head.
"You sure you're okay?" He asks. "You look kind of pasty."
Stiles grins tiredly. "I'm always pasty," he says. Scott rolls his eyes.
"You know what I mean," he says.
"I'm fine," Stiles says. Scott wraps an arm around his shoulders and pretends not to notice when Stiles flinches before relaxing beneath the touch.
"You'd tell me if you weren't, right?" Scott says.
"'Course," Stiles answers.
Scott knows it's a lie, but he doesn't say anything.
Lydia sits in her car, by herself. The radio is off and she's trying not to look in the passenger seat, where Aidan sits. Sat. It's empty now. It'll always be empty. Aidan, Allison. Best friend, boyfriend. Gone, gone, gone.
She's going crazy. She's going crazy and it's not even supernatural this time, just her head and her heart refusing to admit that she can't fix what's been broken, that there is no going back to the way things were.
Ethan came to her house to say goodbye before he took off to lord knows where. He gave her Aidan's lacrosse jersey- they're retiring his number. Lydia wants to be grateful and lies and says she is, but the jersey is nothing without the person inside. She hangs it up in her closet and leaves it there and pretends not to notice how it makes her closet smell like Aidan.
She manages to smile at Malia in school. It's the first time she's smiled since it happened, so, progress.
She sees Isaac and Scott and Stiles at school. They all look pretty much like she does, like they're swimming through grief and pain and confusion. Maybe death doesn't make sense to anyone.
Stiles looks especially bad, like he hasn't been sleeping, or eating. He stumbles into science class and coughs into his fist and looks at her with dead eyes and a fake smile. Lydia fake-smiles back and decides that she needs to talk to him. She finally corners him after English, glaring at the other students who typically linger after class.
"Hey," she says when it's just them.
"Hi," Stiles says. He sounds tired.
"You look like crap," she says. Stiles winces and half-heartedly clutches at his chest.
"You wound me, Lydia," he says. She brings a hand up to his face, cups his cheek. He isn't cool like he had been when he'd collapsed on her in the tunnel, but rather hot. She frowns.
"I think you have a fever," she says. She can see it now, the faint sweep of red across his cheeks.
"Nah," Stiles says, bringing a hand to cover hers. "I'm okay. Just coping, you know?"
Lydia sighs. "Don't be stupid, Stiles. You need help-"
"Lydia," he snaps. His tone is hard and she jumps involuntarily, heart pounding suddenly. He looks horrified, eyes wide and mouth opening and closing as he struggles to say something.
Finally he lets out a strangled "sorry" and bolts, leaving Lydia standing alone. Her lip trembles and she swipes angrily at the tears that fall and vows that she won't let Stiles deal with this on his own. They're pack, after all.
Stiles hasn't been sleeping. Sheriff Stilinski has entertained the idea of hiding a baby monitor in his son's room, but decides that keeping some shred of trust in their relationship would probably be better. Turns out he doesn't need it anyway, not when he's woken by Stiles' terrified screaming.
He bursts into his son's room and lunges toward the bed, toward his son. He gathers him up in his arms and rocks back and forth, murmuring nonsense in Stiles' ear. This was supposed to have stopped. The Nogitsune had made those scans look like Claudia's had, Stiles isn't sick. This isn't how it goes.
Stiles has stopped screaming and is just sitting limply, coughing and heaving in air as if he'd been drowning.
"I can't stop seeing it," Stiles gasps. "What I did."
"It wasn't you, son, it wasn't you," Stilinski says, but he knows it's little comfort. Stiles had seen and felt everything that son of a bitch had done, and it's going to take a long time to get that shit out of his head.
"Yes it was, yes it was, yesitfuckingwas," Stiles mumbles, hands clapped over his ears.
"It wasn't, it wasn't, it wasn't," Stilinski counters, keeping the litany going even as Stiles continues to chant. After a few minutes Stiles starts to calm, hands dropping and words trailing off in exhaustion.
"You okay?" Stilinski asks. Stiles nods against his chest, breathing still heavy, but easing now, smoothing out.
As Stiles finally drifts off to sleep, his father whispers a plea to Claudia to watch out for their boy.
Stiles stumbles into class late, shoving a wrinkled note at Coach and sitting heavily next to Scott.
"Hey man, you okay?" Scott whispers. Stiles nods, then coughs.
"Just a cold," he whispers. "Got a whole bottle of cough syrup with me."
Scott raises his eyebrows and smiles crookedly. "Tryin' to get drunk?" He whispers. Stiles laughs and flips him off. Things feel normal, almost.
Stiles downs the cough syrup frequently throughout the day. Scott isn't sure what the maximum dose is, but if Stiles hasn't hit it already, he's probably close.
"Hey man," Scott says. "You wanna ease up on that?"
Stiles waves him off. "'M fine," he says. "That's what it's for."
"Okay," Scott says uncertainly. "Just- be careful, Stiles."
"Always," Stiles says.
The kid looks surprised when he lets himself in through the window.
"Derek," he says, blinking. "You're- what- I-"
"Sit down," Derek orders as Stiles keeps stuttering.
"Thought you were dead," Stiles gasps. Derek frowns at the kid's breathless sentence.
"Yeah, well, I'm not," he says. "But you look halfway there."
"I'm fine," Stiles spits. Derek looks at him impassively.
"Bullshit," he says. Stiles blinks.
"Let me guess. You're grieving over Allison and you feel guilty as hell."
Stiles is quiet a moment. "That...about sums it up," he says.
"Then get it through your head, Stilinski. That wasn't you. I know it feels like it was, but it wasn't. You have to let it go."
"I don't think I can," Stiles whispers.
"You have to," Derek says. "Simple as that."
Stiles is quiet for a second before looking up with a frown. "Did you come here just to tell me that?" He asks. Derek looks away awkwardly.
"Scott said you aren't doing so well," he says, "and you're pack. So. Here I am."
"Oh," Stiles says. "Thanks."
Derek walks over to his bookshelf and starts perusing, finally picking up The Art of War. He settles onto Stiles' bed, deliberately ignoring the kid's confused expression.
"Derek? What are you doing?" He asks.
"I'm reading," he says.
Stiles doesn't ask again, apparently resigned to Derek's presence, and turns to his homework. Derek starts to read, but mostly he listens to Stiles, listens to his heartbeat and his congested breathing and his coughing and the occasional sniffle. The sniffles start to intensify, coming more quickly until Stiles is sobbing, shoulders heaving. Derek stands, alarmed, but unsure of what to do.
"Stiles-" he says, and then Stiles is in his arms.
"I can't stop seeing," he gasps. Derek pats him awkwardly on the back before giving in and wrapping his arms around the smaller boy.
"It's- it's okay," he says. It's a lie right now, but maybe it won't be forever.
Sheriff Stilinski has been asleep for a few hours when he hears a thud. It takes a few seconds for his sleep-muddled brain to register what he's heard and then takes off at a dead run toward his son's room. Stiles is on the floor gasping for breath, lips starting to turn blue.
"Oh, shit, oh, Stiles, hang on, hang on," he mutters, but his hands are shaking because it only takes a second to realize that this isn't a panic attack, this is something worse. He calls 911 and pulls Stiles into his arms and whispers to him, tells him to just hang on.
"Dad," Stiles gasps. "Can't-"
"Yes, you can," Stilinski says, tears pricking his eyes. "Just stay with me, Stiles, keep breathing. You hang on, son, you hang on. Stay with me, Stiles. Stay with me."
Stilinski looks up at the soft sound and looks up. Melissa McCall offers him a cup of coffee. He accepts it gratefully and shakes his head.
"Thanks Melissa," he says.
"He'll be okay," she answers. "It looked bad, I know, but we've got him on antibiotics. He'll get through it."
"Pneumonia," Stilinski says. "How the hell did it get so far? How did I let it?"
Melissa sits down next to him and puts a hand on his arm. "It started as a cold," she says, "and got worse."
"Because he chugged cough syrup."
"In part," Melissa admits. "And also because he's worn down."
"He can't sleep," Stilinski whispers. "Or eat. I-I didn't- I couldn't know how to fix it. Still don't. So he comes through this, and then what? He still has all this shit on his shoulders and I still can't do anything about it."
"You can be there for him," Melissa says. "We all can. And we will."
Stilinski looks up, takes in Scott and Lydia sitting together, talking quietly, at Derek lurking near the vending machines, and he nods.
"We'll get him through this," Melissa repeats.
Stiles' doctor comes out and smiles at the sheriff.
"You can come see him now," she says. Stilinski stands and smiles.
"Can they come too?"
The doctor looks hesitant.
"They're family," Stilinski says.
Something is tickling his nose. It smells funny. He pries his eyes open and takes in the stark whiteness of the walls, the aw, damn, IV in his hand. Hospital, his mind supplies. He starts breathing quicker, more than a little panicked, when a hand grabs his.
"Easy there, kiddo, you're okay."
It's his dad.
"Hey Stiles," his dad says. He looks tired, but happy. Stiles blinks and looks around the room. Lydia, Scott, and Derek are all there. Melissa is checking something behind his head before she leans down and rests a hand on his cheek.
"You scared your dad," she says quietly, "but you're going to be okay, sweetie."
Stiles swallows thickly.
"What happened?" He whispers.
"You didn't ask for help, dumbass," Scott says. "Let yourself get hella sick."
"Oh," Stiles says. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Lydia says. "So long as it doesn't happen again."
Derek growls in what Stiles can only assume is agreement.
"Uh. Okay?" Stiles says.
"Nuh-uh, kid, you gotta do better than that," his dad says. "You have to understand that you're not on your own. I know it feels like you are, but you are. Not. And if you ever pull anything like this again, I'll loose Derek on you."
Stiles swallows again and blinks rapidly as tears roll down his cheeks and land in his ears. Melissa wipes them away and presses a kiss to his head.
"We love you, baby," she whispers. Stiles nods and isn't even embarrassed as Scott puts a hand on his leg and Lydia grabs a hand and even Derek rests a hand on his foot.
"Thank you," he whispers, and thinks that maybe, just maybe, things will be okay.