Day 2 Word Total: 2,427/1,667
Overall Word Total: 4,201/50,000
Words Left To Write: 45,799/50,000
Bed sheets rustle under his hands and a wealth of unexpected smells assault him. Something bites at his left hand and the skin on his chest feels wrong. Digital beeping drills into Derek's brain and when he opens his eyes, he figures out where he is – a hospital. Derek has only ever seen hospitals on TV. His family members all go to a special doctor for their care, even the human ones. Sometimes being a wolf skips a generation and wouldn't that be perfect, having a human doctor deliver a baby who could wolf out at any moment unless given a strict mixture of diluted Wolfsbane?
The pain in Derek's hand is a needle. Who would put a needle in him? Who would save him? Derek is supposed to be dead, but he's in the hospital with needles in his hands and sticky tape everywhere holding it on and something on his chest that itches so bad, Derek wants to tear his hair out. Derek pushes the sides of his hospital gown open and pulls the sticky pads off, stopping to put a finger over where he can vividly remember the knife sliding into his flesh. There isn't even a mark, almost like it never happened.
Derek should have known it wouldn't work. As soon as someone pulled the knife out, he must've started healing. Shit, someone saw him heal! The EMTs, the doctors, whoever found him. Someone knows he isn't normal. Hunters are probably on their way right now to finish him off.
Wincing as he pulls out the needle (and half of the hair on his hand with the tape holding it in place), Derek flings it aside and starts looking for his clothes. They have to be in that wardrobe under the TV, or in those drawers. Or somewhere!
"Whoa, there!" a woman's voice says from the hallway. She has curly black hair that reminds Derek of his mother's, so he ignores her and looks in the cabinet next to his bed. "Hey, calm down! It's alright! You're safe! You're fine!"
The cabinet door comes off when Derek pulls on it and he lets it drop to the floor. "Where are my clothes?"
"There," the woman – a nurse, Derek guesses – says, pointing to a closet next to the door. Before he can get there, she puts a strong, but non-threatening hand on Derek's chest and says, "But hold on. You're recovering from a traumatic ordeal. You should be in bed, young man."
The nurse seems nice and Derek doesn't want to hurt her, but he doesn't want to be caught here by hunters either. So he does the only thing he can think of and growls. "Let me go!"
With a quick gasp, the nurse snatches her hand away from Derek and moves out of his way. Huffing, Derek finds his clothes in a plastic bag and rips it open. He is not prepared for the smell of smoke that pours out of them and makes him stumble back, gagging. It isn't just any smoke smell, either. It's the exact mixture of scorched wood and varnish, of wallpaper turned to ashes and upholstery melted, of paint bubbled and hair and flesh cooked – it is the smell of Derek's home.
And it's his fault.
The bag falls from Derek's fingers and he stumbles back into the room. Water blinds his vision and he finds himself knocking into the bed. He falls into it and suddenly the nurse's arms are wound tightly around him. "Shh," she says. "You're okay. You're okay."
Derek is anything but okay. Fuck not letting the hunters catch him. They can have him. He deserves whatever they want to do to him. He deserves the shame of being caught.
He gives himself the indulgence of curling into this stranger's hug and breathing through the tears that haven't quite fallen. After a moment, she loosens her hold and tentatively starts petting his hair, settling into a rhythm when he doesn't flinch away. She must do this a lot. "I'm Melissa. Can you tell me your name, sweetie?"
"Derek," he says before he lets himself over think the consequences of giving away his name. It's just his first name. It doesn't matter.
"Okay, Derek," she nods. He hears footsteps stop at the door and Melissa shifts, her arm moving like she's waving the person there away. It's a man, Derek can tell by the deep timbre of his heart. He takes two steps, probably enough that he can't be seen in the doorway, but Derek can still hear him there. "What's your last name, sweetie? Where are your parents?"
Derek thinks about withholding this piece of information. Information is sacred, it's important. Information in the wrong hands can be deadly, Derek. Don't ever forget it. Well, he forgot it alright. No point to much secrecy now. It's not like he has anything left to lose and it's not like people don't know his name. He goes to school here. He has friends. They'll find out eventually. "Hale." He doesn't answer the question about his parents. With his last name, it should be obvious.
The man in the doorway steps back in and cries, "Derek Hale?" Derek looks up and sees that the man is wearing a Sheriff's Department uniform. Of course he is. Derek has no idea if he's actually the Sheriff, or if he's just a deputy, but he looks old enough that Derek guesses Sheriff. People don't make it to that age in a dangerous life without being good. And only the best becomes Alpha. Unless everyone above them gets wiped out.
At the man's question, Derek nods.
Wide-eyes narrowing, the cop tilts his head and sticks his tongue against the inside of his cheek for a few seconds before saying, "Not possible. You can't be older than, what? Seventeen? Eighteen?"
Derek looks at the nurse – Melissa – to try to figure out why he can't be who he knows he is. "I'm sixteen," he insists.
Melissa nods and stands up, though she keeps a hand on Derek's shoulder like she knows he needs it there. He does. "We did X-rays when you brought him in, Sheriff." Ah, so he is the Sheriff. "He can't be older than sixteen. Not with his bone development. We were guessing fifteen."
"Son." The Sheriff steps further into the room. "Derek Hale was born in 1988."
Derek doesn't see what the problem is, so he nods. The Sheriff doesn't believe Derek is who he says he is, and Derek feels the irresistible urge to prove himself. "November 27th," he says, tilting his chin up defiantly.
"Yeah," the Sheriff says slowly, like Derek's the one who's not getting it. "Which makes him twenty-two years old. You, my friend, are not twenty-two, no matter what some fake ID might say."
"I don't have a fake ID!" Derek cried, standing up, but not stepping so far away that Melissa has to let go of him. He feels the anger bubbling up in his throat, tightening it and making power hum through his veins. His fingers feel tingly and his skin itches, but no. He can't shift here. Not in public and definitely not in a fucking hospital. "Check my stuff! My license was in my wallet. It's not my fault if you people lost it! It'll say I was born in '88. Sixteen years ago."
"Shh, sweetie," Melissa says, her other hand coming up to pat his shoulder. "It's okay. It's just..."
Derek turns to study her and what he sees in the nurse's face scares him. Something is very wrong. "It's just what?"
"Son, what year is it?" the Sheriff asks, taking a step even closer, which Derek does not like at all. Sure, his eyes seem kind, but Derek recently learned not to trust first impressions.
He feels trapped, like anything he says is going to be the wrong answer. He just wants to go home, except home smells like the clothes in the corner and no one is there. No one is ever going to be there. Derek hates how small his voice sounds when he says, "2005."
The adults have a silent conversation that Derek can tell amounts to, "This kid is nuts," and he steps away from Melissa. He misses the contact, but right now, all he can trust is himself, if that. Derek doesn't stop his arms from wrapping around each other and squeezing. He doesn't care that it makes him look weak and stupid and not like the predator he should be.
Eventually, the adults must come to a decision, because the Sheriff says, "It's 2011. Derek Hale has been missing for six years."
"Missing?" he asks before he can stop himself. This isn't right at all. "No! Quit shitting me. It was 2005 yesterday! My family just died and I have to go live with my aunt in New York next week. This isn't funny!"
"Believe me, Derek," Melissa says, her voice serious, but still motherly and Derek almost hates her for the way it makes him want to curl back into her. "No one thinks this is funny."
When Stiles wheedles it out of Janine, the dispatch operator, that his dad had texted him an excuse to get out of dinner and milkshakes at Pete's because he'd found a missing kid, Stiles decides to forgo homework and show up at the hospital instead. Hey, maybe he can help? He's great at running the copy machine in the doctors' lounge. That can be his job. Make five-thousand posters saying, "Child Found! Is he yours?"
Stiles finds his dad talking with Scott's mom in the pediatric wing, just a few feet down from the game room. During his mom's longer stays in the hospital, Stiles used to wander down here to play Connect Four and Battleship with the other kids. The nurses made him wash his hands with smelly soap and wear a hair net, but Stiles didn't mind. He pretended he was an astronaut on a mission to outer space and it was his job not to infect the indigenous life forms with harmful Earth bacteria.
Using the food cart as cover, Stiles manages to sneak close enough to hear what his dad is saying to Mrs. McCall. "...know he looks just like the yearbook picture, Melissa, but I don't see how it's possible. That's not Derek Hale."
The name sends a shiver down Stiles' spine. Everyone knows about Derek. His family died in a fire and then the next week he went missing from his foster home. Stiles had to go stay with Mrs. Ngyuen next door on the night his dad had organized the search party in Beacon Hills Preserve, looking for the kid. Well, teenager. When they didn't find him, everyone assumed he'd run away.
Wait. Derek would be old by now. Like, graduating college old. Why is Stiles' dad in the pediatric wing if he found an adult? What's going on?
"Maybe he's a cousin?" Mrs. McCall suggests, leading the way down the hallway, toward Stiles. Stiles ducks into a doorway and out of sight as they pass by. "I don't know why he's not admitting to it. Maybe it's part of his psychosis? Believing he's his missing cousin? The psych consult is already on the way."
"How long is that going to take?" the Sheriff asks. Stiles sneaks forward into the next room, narrowly missing being seen when his dad glances over his shoulder. "The mayor is on my ass to figure out who this kid is. He wants to play up the fact that I found him and use it to look good."
Mrs. McCall snorts and touches the Sheriff's arm in a way Stiles definitely does not approve of. What the freaking hell? "No good deed, huh? The psychologist should be here tomorrow, barring acts of God."
Stiles' dad says something else, but Stiles can't quite hear it. By the look on both their faces, he's sure he doesn't want to hear it. Ew. So not cool. At least it'll give something for Stiles to tease Scott about. Stiles might even give his dad the old birds-and-the-bees talk. Imagining his dad's flush of embarrassment makes Stiles grin.
And then he stumbles into the room he'd first seen the adults standing outside of and sees a boy sitting on the bed, picking at his nails. He looks like he's about Stiles' age and is awkward-looking in that way you can tell he's going to grow out of, like the rest of his face is still catching up with his ears and nose. Unlike Stiles. Stiles knows that despite both of his parents being reasonably attractive people, he's going to end up looking like his Uncle Howie – like a giraffe mated with a hippo and nobody won. It's unfair, sure, but Stiles has come to terms with it.
When Stiles realizes that the boy knows he's there and is staring at him, he raises a hand in greeting and says, "Hey."
The boy's impressively dark eyebrows knit together and he demands, "Who are you?"
"Candy striper," Stiles responds without thinking. "Sorry, I forgot to wear the skirt." Stiles chuckles so the guy knows he's joking, but he doesn't laugh. His eyes widen before he looks down and he blushes red over his olive-tinted skin. Yeah, the mental image of Stiles in a candy-striper's uniform must be giving him some wicked second-hand embarrassment. "Joke." Stiles explains. "That was a joke. About the skirt. I mean ... can I get you anything?" He runs a hand back over his hair and wonders just how long it will take this kid to toss him out.
The kid shrugs and opens his mouth, but ultimately closes it again.
Okay, maybe a different strategy. "I'm Stiles. What's your name?"
"Complicated, apparently," he says before sighing and turning his intense glare back on Stiles. Wow, those eyes are lighter than Stiles expected them to be, given "Complicated's" skin tone. And they're not quite blue, like Stiles' dad's. The effect is almost jarring and then Stiles realizes that he's staring again. "Derek."
What? Oh, that's the kid's name. Derek. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Derek." Then Stiles' brain screeches to a halt. That's just not possible. Is it? "Derek Hale?"
"I told you it was complicated," Derek says with a nod. He hitches one knee up against his chest and rests his chin on it.
Maybe Derek isn't going to grow into those ears after all.