Derek felt the burning in his legs as he ran, but he didn't fumble, didn't slow down in the slightest as he weaved through the trees of the Beacon Hills Preserve. You'd think it'd be difficult to do so while carrying another person in your arms, but Stiles weighed as much as a bag of feathers thanks to the adrenaline rocketing throughout the alpha. Or maybe it was because of the fowl, dark mass that had been expelled from the young boy's body not but five minutes ago.
That damn demon… As soon as it had sunk the gleaming blade into it's own, or in this case Stiles', stomach, Derek screamed. In actuality, the werewolf had let out a strangled gasp, but everything on the inside felt like it was being ripped to shreds. He wondered briefly if that's what Stiles was experiencing while being possessed by that putrid, unholy offspring of Satan. The image was still so vivid in his mind - a twisted column of smoke spewing from the seventeen year old's lips like a polluted geyser, the black in those evil eyes being sucked right out along with it. Derek half expected some sort of color to return to Stiles' face after being free from that creature's vice, but the knife wound denied him of that relief. Blood was rushing towards the opening, and it wasn't going to stop just because the alpha made good time to Deaton's veterinarian center.
A choked gargle came from the teenager in his arms. He was still conscious, at least for now. It'd been so long since Derek had seen Stiles, the true Stiles, through those familiar chocolate brown eyes, but he couldn't break his stride now. All he could do was what Stiles did best - talk.
"Stiles! Stiles, it's me, Derek. Stay with me, okay? Just stay with me..."
"I…" the boy started in a hoarse voice as if he hadn't used it for days, which technically he hadn't. "I feel so… tired…"
"No no no, talk to me! You gotta stay awake, just look at my face."
The younger man winced from his injury before speaking again. "I f-feel pretty okay, actually, heh heh… That thing… is it gone?"
"Yeah. Yeah, he's gone." Hopefully for good.
"I'm sorry… for all the things I… did." It was getting increasingly harder for Stiles to breath normally at this point, but he pushed through his words as best he could. "I-I… hurt you…"
"It's okay, Stiles. That wasn't you back then. You're alright now. We're gonna fix you up."
The alpha waited to hear what else Stiles had to say, but a quick glance to the boy's face showed that he'd passed out again. "Stiles! No, you gotta hang on, don't go dying on me, you little asshole!"
It was practically midnight, so no one saw Derek break the glass to the Vet's front doors and slip his way inside like a madman. Luckily there hadn't been an alarm. The last thing he wanted were the police to swarm this place and keep him from making sure Stiles would live through this.
He didn't need to call the doctor's name. The smell of anesthetics and latex gloves led him straight to the man, who had been sorting through some files until he heard Derek's desperate cry. He took one look at the alpha and another at Stiles' limp form, noticing a dark red stain on the boy's shirt that kept blooming through the threads of fabric.
"Please. Help him."
Deaton didn't need to be told twice.
A week later, it seemed Stiles had made a healthy recovery at Beacon Hills Memorial. After Deaton had cleaned and sewed up his wound as good as any veterinarian could, he was immediately driven to the hospital for the care he couldn't have received at an animal clinic. At Derek's protest, the doctor had asked he stay behind since he was still a wanted criminal and could possibly be recognized. "Don't worry, he's stable now", is what Deaton had said nearly fifty times to calm the werewolf down. It wasn't so much that he wasn't sure Stiles was going to live, but that after months of being trapped inside his own body by that god forsaken demon, and being put through who knows what else… Derek felt like he had to be there for him. He needed to.
And for some reason, it didn't surprise Stiles when he found the grumpy ol' werewolf sitting in a clanky chair next to his hospital bed. The awkward tension was enough to get them talking, whether it was about the pack, Stiles' condition, the demon… It was difficult for Stiles to breach that particular subject. After all, he'd shut down every so often during his possession, but the rest of the time he'd been awake always happened to be when he'd hurt those around him, as if the demon had woken him up just for the occasion. They were hard memories to bear.
The fact that it was finally all over was rather surreal. Stiles asked Derek questions no one could possibly have a sure answer for, such as "will the demon come back", or "is there a way to stop it from happening again". Apparently, Deaton knew a little on the subject of demons and said he'd look more into this occurrence while everyone was recovering. It put the teenager at ease, if only a bit.
"Derek…" Stiles began, crinkling the sheets between his hands as he spoke. "Thanks for being there. I don't know what would've happened if you hadn't exorcised that thing. How did you know that would get rid of it?"
"My uncle told me. He's run into some demons before and had to deal with them, or at least that's what he said. But he knew how to pull them from their host." The older man looked down at Stiles' abdomen, which was bandaged and draped with the standard hospital gown. "I just wish I'd gotten there sooner so…"
Stiles stopped him before he could start. "Don't. You saved my life, man. Even I didn't know the thing had a knife on him, er, me. The doctor said it didn't hit anything vital, so that's good, right?"
Derek was still deep in his spiral of self pity for not doing this or that or whatever else he couldn't have possibly predicted would happen anyway, so Stiles turned the conversation around. "I was scared," he said softly. "I was scared that I'd never be normal again. That the demon would never leave. That I'd… that it would keep hurting you…"
Derek sat up a little straighter in his seat at the reference to those times, when Stiles became so distant, so cruel in his words that the alpha had sensed something was wrong as soon as he'd been denied the simple everyday gesture of a kiss between two lovers. Touching the boy in any way, shape, or form had become taboo, and it left Derek feeling more empty than he'd been in years.
"You don't have to worry about that anymore."
"Oh yeah? How do we know the demon is done with me? What if I'm just part of his sick little game, and the moment I start getting close to my friends or my dad or you, he rears his ugly head and ends up slaughtering half of Beacon Hills? What then?" He asked, the full force of his anger held back by the stitches in his side.
"You'll be fine because I'm here, and I'm not letting it take you away from me again."
Well. That was certainly poetic, and very unlike Derek Hale, to be honest. Stiles felt a heat in his chest rise up to inflame his face, like a teapot whistling on the stove. Of course, he too had missed the alpha terribly during his mental hiatus. If they weren't in a public setting then perhaps their reuniting would go a bit differently…
The teen smiled for the first time in what seemed like years, and laughed. "How the heck am I supposed to respond to that?"
"You don't." Derek reached out and took hold of the boy's hand, his eyes hardened with as much fervor as he put into his words of promise. "Just stay with me."
The rest of the pack came to visit that day and get the full story on what happened, but once they saw Derek and Stiles cozied up on the hospital bed together like two tangled sloths, it was decided that their visit could wait another hour or two.