***I actually had most of this written before I even thought up "No Control". Then I realised I couldn't use this one because it was pretty much the same theme. But after that, I decided that with a little re-working, this would be a good sequel to "No Control". And here we are now.
This is not entirely timeline-compliant, but it's basically set around the first part of this fic series (both before and after it).***
The first time Derek noticed the circles under Stiles' eyes, really noticed them, was while the kanima was running loose. He didn't pay them any attention considering the fact that the kid was not only a hyperactive high schooler, but one with a bad habit of spending his nights getting into shit that humans had no need to be near.
It was Stiles' own fault if he wasn't smart enough to get enough sleep, so Derek just told the kid what he needed researched and promptly bailed from his house, not giving the dark circles another thought.
After that, the tired look seemed to come and go. Sometimes when Derek would see Stiles, he would look perfectly fine; other times, he practically looked like death walking. Derek knew Stiles wasn't sick, because there wasn't a reeking stench of disease or infection surrounding the kid, so he just figured that Stiles' hyperactivity made it hard for him to sleep sometimes.
It would definitely explain why he was usually awake when Derek would climb through his window, whether it was nine in the evening or three in the morning. He still didn't give a shit about the whole thing, because there always seemed to be something more important to worry about than some kid who didn't want to mind his own business.
Stopping the kanima, getting rid of Gerard, the goddamned Alpha Pack: the wellbeing of a human who was only barely a pack member didn't even rate against those.
And then the panic attack happened, and the dark circles stopped going away. Even with no immediate threats on the horizon, and presumably nothing out of the ordinary for Stiles to be worked up about, they got worse each time Derek came across the younger male. Whether he was spending time with the pack, in his room while Derek asked him to look things up, or just in the grocery store at the same time as Derek, Stiles always looked haggard.
Derek knew that the other pack members had noticed, had heard them mention it in passing. The common consensus was that Stiles was just feeling the usual senior year stress, worrying about getting into a decent college while pulling all-nighters to get through major piles of homework. If the other pack members weren't seriously worried, then Derek wasn't about to be concerned. He'd heard Scott promise to talk to Stiles about it anyway, so he figured that would be that.
Of course, it wasn't. Nothing would ever be that simple in Derek Hale's life.
It was a Saturday afternoon when Stiles dropped by the abandoned depot, looking for Scott. Erica had smirked, told the kid that he would always be second best when Allison was around and smelling like sexual frustration, and had immediately shooed him off. Derek walked past Stiles as he was leaving, and from a distance it looked like the kid had finally pulled himself together.
It was only when Derek got a bit closer that he saw the makeup under Stiles' eyes. A human probably wouldn't have noticed it, and maybe even his betas had missed it, but his enhanced eyesight meant that it was obvious to Derek. Obviously, Scott hadn't managed to pull his best friend into line.
Sadly, that made it Derek's problem now. Stiles had somehow managed to worm his way up into full pack member status, though he was still beneath the werewolves, and so it was Derek's reluctant obligation as Alpha to make sure that everyone in his pack was okay.
It was late- early morning, really- when Derek managed to steel himself enough to actually check on his annoying human pack member. He took his time getting there, previous experience telling him that Stiles would most likely still be awake; but when he got close enough to the Stilinski household, he had to force himself not to shift.
The only thing he could smell was fear. His pack member's scent was practically dripping with it, and every Alpha instinct Derek had was telling him to get there as quickly as possible.
The sound of the kid's racing heartbeat made Derek's head pound with every frantic thud. It was very similar to the night in the grocery store parking lot, except there were some subtle differences that told him that Stiles wasn't exactly having another panic attack.
It still seemed like a serious issue, though. Beneath his pack-driven worry for Stiles, he could tell that there was no one else in the room. Considering the time of day, Derek could only assume that the kid was actually asleep for once, and that he was having an absolute shocker of a nightmare.
He broke into a run, fighting to stay in his fully-human form, before vaulting up and through Stiles' open window without even checking if the Sheriff was home. Derek knew from personal experience that there were very few things in the world that were worse than what the mind could come up with at night. He'd been there himself, years ago, when his mind would replay the sounds, sights and smells of his entire family dying at the hands of Kate Argent. They had faded away after a while, only to return at full strength when Laura had been torn into two fucking pieces.
Derek had truly hated Stiles for disturbing his sister's body, but none of that mattered now. He was part of Derek's pack, and unlike the majority of the betas, Stiles didn't have anyone to help him through the dark times. Derek had no choice but to follow his instincts, and they were screaming at him to help the kid once again.
Stiles was drenched in sweat, his body jerking and pitiful whimpers spilling out of his mouth. Derek really didn't want to know what he was dreaming about, but it was no surprise that the kid looked practically dead if this was happening on a regular basis.
Even though Stiles was completely human, it almost seemed like he could feel Derek's presence in the room as his whimpering quieted slightly. The werewolf wasn't sure if it was some part of Stiles' subconscious mind reacting to his Alpha, or if Stiles somehow knew that a non-threat was watching over him, but he found himself more willing to help the young pack member.
Moving quietly to the bed, Derek only hesitated momentarily before gently resting his palm on Stiles' head, fingers lightly rubbing across the spiked fuzz there. It was what he'd seen his mother do for the younger members of his family many years back, and it seemed to have the same effect on the teenager that he remembered it having for the pack children.
Stiles didn't wake up, but he quieted and stilled, curling up on his side as his fear receded and his sleep became peaceful. Just like after the panic attack, Derek didn't leave the moment Stiles was back to normal: pulling back, he took a seat at the desk, spending a fair time making sure that the nightmares weren't going to immediately return.
Eventually, when he was sure that Stiles would most likely get a decent rest for the next few hours, Derek slipped out the window.
Stiles never even knew he was there.
The next day, Derek cornered Scott in his own room, glaring darkly at the teenager.
"I thought you spoke to Stiles about his exhaustion."
Scott tilted his head to the side, obviously confused. "He told me he was fine! And he's been looking almost totally normal lately…well, as normal as he'll ever be, I guess."
Huffing out an irritated sigh, Derek pinned the beta with an expression that perfectly conveyed his thoughts, which were something along the lines of, 'Are you fucking kidding me?'
"Nightmares. A panic attack. He's been wearing makeup to hide the dark circles."
Eyes widening almost comically, Scott shrank back against the wall Derek had him pushed up to. "He never told me about any of that…wait, if he didn't tell me, why did he tell you? No offence, but you're not the easiest person to talk to."
Even though he knew that to be perfectly true, Derek growled at the disrespectful statement, enjoying the way Scott tried to make himself even smaller. "Sorry! Sorry, I promise I'll talk to him again. Tomorrow at school, okay? I'll get it sorted."
Derek raised an eyebrow. "Why not now?"
A slight blush made its way up Scott's cheeks, and he looked down at his feet, mumbling, "Allison's coming over in fifteen minutes."
The Argent girl. Of course Scott hadn't noticed anything wrong with his best friend: Derek knew better than anyone how all-consuming an Argent could be. He wasn't prepared to sympathise, though, and he slapped Scott across the side of the head with enough force to concuss a human. The younger shifter just yelped in pain, no actual damage taking place.
"Forget it. I'll do it myself." Tapping Scott across the head once more for good measure, Derek took his usual exit out of the window, leaving the beta spluttering in angry confusion.
However, he wasn't planning on actually talking to Stiles. Conversations with him were usually the equivalent of Derek banging his head against a brick wall, all while dosed up on enough wolfsbane to completely stop his elevated healing.
He figured that he would just repeat what he'd done the previous night until he found a better way to keep the nightmares at bay.
Now that Derek had pointed it out, Scott couldn't unsee the powdery makeup covering the skin beneath Stiles' eyes. He really couldn't figure out how he'd missed it before, because it was now painfully obvious.
By the time Monday's first period was half over, Scott had already made the decision to pay more attention to his best friend. Stiles had been there for him through everything, including several accidental murder attempts, but Scott had been too wrapped up in having Allison back to be there when Stiles needed him.
Firstly, he decided to figure out what was wrong, but to do it, like, subtly. Even though Stiles was his best friend, he didn't particularly want to step on Derek's toes. Dude was scary.
He decided to bring it up in history, leaning forward to tap his friend on the shoulder and whisper, "Hey, have you seen Derek lately?"
Stiles didn't react too much, but Scott's hearing made it easy for him to pick up his friend's quiet mumbling. "Not since I was looking for you at the wolf den on Saturday. Didn't talk to him, but his eyebrows were doing that weird evil caterpillar thing at me. Can't tell if they love me or hate me."
Huffing out a quiet laugh, Scott sat back in his chair. He'd figured that Derek would've put whatever grand master plan he had into action by now, given how insistent he'd been.
Alright. He'd give Derek a week at most. If there weren't any improvements, Scott would step in and fix his best friend. If Stiles got worse, though, Scott definitely couldn't be held accountable for his actions.
He didn't particularly want to be the Alpha, but if worst came to worst, he was fully prepared to try and kill Derek for daring to hurt his best friend.