Distillation (The Hand That Feeds Remix)Fandom:
apocalypse-related illnessAuthor's Note
: Remix of it's in the water baby (it's between you and me)
written for Remix Redux 12.Summary
: The thing is, in the event of an apocalypse, your priorities start to shift.
Everything old was eventually new again, but if Derek had learned anything from being a werewolf, it’s that most of the time new things are just old things in disguise. Unfortunately, this particular disguise resisted attempts to unravel it long enough to throw suspicion off of supernatural causes.
By the time Dr. Deaton, ashen and exhausted, showed up at Scott’s house during a pack meeting, half of Beacon Hills was infected. “Not malaria,” he said, pressing a leather-bound book into Lydia’s hands and promptly collapsing. They buried him the next morning.
Though the woman’s heartbeat had slowed to almost nothing, she still looked at Derek while he read aloud. If the hand that rested on her arm next to the IV happened to be siphoning away some of the pain, well, no one had complained. And maybe Derek had spent more than his quota of time with this one patient, but Stiles wasn’t allowed to visit (quarantine rules), and when he’d said, “Liza used to babysit. She introduced me to The Princess Bride
,” Derek had made it his business to come.
The pack had all begun putting in volunteer hours at the hospital and the emergency clinics that had sprung up around town. Perhaps too many hours: Kira and Scott often had to be reminded to sleep and eat.
“What happened… next?” Liza wheezed, breath rattling in her throat.
Derek turned his eyes back to the page and kept reading.
Derek heard Stiles pacing before the house even came into view. He stepped out of the Camaro and submitted to Stiles’ usual ritual: checking him over for bruises, bloodshot eyes, a fever—anything that might indicate he was getting sick.
“I’m fine.” Derek stood still, knowing better than to try to stop him. “You know we can’t get it.”
“Not yet. We don’t even know what it is, really. What if it evolves? Mutates or something? That happens all the time. Here you are, thinking you’re immune, and then one day—wham! Out of nowhere, whole pack’s infected. Don’t act like that’s not a possibility. I have all day to sit here and think of worst case scenarios, so don’t tell me--”
Derek stopped the tirade by the simple expedient of pressing his lips to Stiles’, then pulling him in for a deeper kiss.
In the back stairwell of the hospital, Scott sat with hands pressed between his knees and eyes squeezed shut. If Derek listened for it, he could hear the insistent beep that signaled another heart had stopped up on the fourth floor. Scott scrubbed a hand over his face, nearly managing to hide his tears.
Derek dropped down onto the stairs next to Scott. He leaned his shoulder against Scott’s, sharing his weight. Words never did what he wanted them to at the best of times, but he had to make an attempt. “You can’t save everyone.”
“That’s what I told Stiles.”
Derek stood up and offered Scott a hand. “Then for once we agree.”
Derek’s eyes snapped open as he felt a cough shudder through Stiles’ chest. He automatically tightened his arm around Stiles’ waist and buried his nose against Stiles’ shoulder. Something didn’t smell right.
“Don’t be such a mother hen-wolf,” Stiles muttered into the sheets. “It’s just a cold.” Another flurry of coughs shook his narrow body in Derek’s embrace.
Derek waited before it was over before rolling Stiles onto his back so he could loom over him. He traced a finger across Stiles’ lips, which were stretched in a chagrined smile; his hand came away red with blood.
“We don’t know what it would do to him,” Scott whispered, glancing towards the living room where Stiles sat with his dad, staring into the tea Melissa had made. “This isn’t a normal virus. The Bite could kill him.”
“I can’t do it myself, or I would have already.”
“I won’t. Not until there’s no other choice.” Scott turned back to the sink, a casual dismissal.
Derek held down the rage that screamed at him to attack Scott, to kill anything in his way to get to his goal. He’d had to bargain and threaten and deceive to get even a little taste of what he’s wanted in this life. If what McCall wanted was his submission, it was a small price to pay for the chance to save Stiles. He made himself bow his head. “Alpha McCall, I formally request that you give my human the Bite.”
Scott turned back, eyes narrowed. “Your human?”
“Scott. I will do anything.” He looked to the living room, where Stiles’ grin had dissolved into a coughing fit, then back at his Alpha. “Please.”
Derek paled when he saw Lydia standing in the doorway. He couldn’t say anything—his lungs had stopped working.
Sheriff Stilinski rushed in from the kitchen, eyes wide and panicked, and Lydia patted him on the arm. “Just checking in. Not here on banshee-related business.”
The two disappeared down the hall, leaving Derek to go back to staring at his hands. Time passed, or it didn’t, while Derek turned out the too-rapid heartbeat and agonized groans from upstairs.
Derek snapped out of his self-imposed stupor to find Lydia staring down at him.
She dropped onto the couch beside him, picked up his unfinished glass of whiskey, set it out of reach, then turned back to Derek. “You can’t lose it if Stiles doesn’t pull through.”
“It won’t matter,” Derek snapped. If the Bite killed Stiles, nothing would matter.
“Hey.” Lydia grabbed him by the shoulder and made him look at her. “We still have work to do. I am busting my ass looking for a cure, and you will not give up. Understand?”
He swallowed hard, but he nodded. “Yes.”
Derek could tell from the heartbeat the very moment that Stiles woke up. He put a bookmark in The Princess Bride
, set it aside, and took Stiles’ clammy hand in both of his.
Stiles’ cracked his eyes open. They glowed blue in the moonlight that poured in from the window. The first thing they focused on was Derek
“I can smell you,” Stiles panted. “You smell delicious. Oh my god, how do you ever get anything done?”
Derek growled and kept rolling his body against Stiles’, mingling their scents and marking his claim. He would never have enough of this. He would keep Stiles here, keep him safe, chain him during the full moon if he had to. Stiles was his.
Stiles clutched Derek’s arms; the sharp tips of his claws, barely shifted, dug into Derek’s skin. “It’s okay. I’m here. I’m alive.”
“I’m not losing you,” Derek growled.
“No, you’re not.” Stiles shoved hard, throwing Derek to the side and pouncing on top of him. He pinned Derek to the bed with a thorough kiss, then pulled back to look at him. “Listen, it worked. It’s okay.”
“Yeah.” Derek felt the tiniest stirring of hope somewhere in his chest. “It is now.”
“Uh…” Stiles turned a full three hundred sixty degrees, squinting at the endless trees. “North, I think?”
“You’re guessing.” Malia put her hands on her hips. “Don’t kid a kidder.”
“I’ll have you know I am excellent at multiple choice questions,” Stiles said, exaggeratedly feigning offence. “West?”
“Stiles, come on, concentrate.” Scott had on his best patient Alpha voice. “Use your senses.”
“Okay, okay.” Stiles closed his eyes and breathed in, scenting the wind. To Derek, the smell and the sound were as obvious as if the refugees they were tracking had set off fireworks, but Stiles was still learning. “West.”
“That’s what I thought, too.” Scott beamed, proud as a parent whose kindergartener had finally hit the t-ball. “Good work.”
“Let’s go. If we hurry, we can catch up with them before dark.” Kira set off in the lead, with Scott following close behind, and Malia trailing after.
“Hey.” Stiles slowed down to walk next to Derek. “Brooding again? You know helping out other groups of survivors is the right things to do.”
“I know,” Derek grumbled. That didn’t mean he had to like the pack being out in the open, courting danger like this.
“Come on.” Stiles punched Derek in the arm, surprisingly strong. “That’s what separates us from characters in a George Romero movie. The fact that we don’t revert to violent savages in the face of an apocalypse. We know what’s important.”
“Yes.” He breathed deep, calming himself with the smell of Stiles at his side, Derek’s scent still clinging to his clothes. “We do.”
When Stiles raced off after the others with a grin, Derek followed.