Dedication

Thursday

Melissa woke John when she left, explaining she had to work and Scott and Alison both had school to get to. He moved into the kitchen after setting up a baby monitor - John had kept it for whenever Stiles got sick - and made himself breakfast.

A couple hours past dawn a disheveled looking Derek walked in, reticent as ever. He took a shower and changed, then made himself an omelet, as was his custom each morning.

"Where were you?" John asked conversationally.

"Dealing with demons," Derek answered evasively. A fact that did not escape the Sheriff's attention.

He didn't confront Derek on it though, knowing the man could be more bull headed than Stiles sometimes. He did resolve to look into the matter - if Derek had done something stupid, he wanted to be the first to find out about it.

Stiles woke the next morning to a feeling of overall soreness and misery. He felt hot, so much so that he ended up throwing off the sheets he had been wrapped in. Being a little too exuberant in the endeavor he wound up on top of the blankets on the floor, having rolled out of bed unintentionally.

Derek heard the thump more than the Sheriff but he was still folding the paper when John was in Stiles' bedroom, panicked slightly.

Sighing in relief he chuckled in amusement that was heavily tempered with concern. "You alright, kiddo?"

Stiles just hummed noncommittally.

Derek helped John maneuver Stiles back onto the bed with minimal effort, laying a blanket on him.

Protesting Stiles shoved it off.

"Stiles," John pulled it over him again. "You need to stay warm."

"'m too warm," the sick youth muttered, shoving it off again.

"If I may?" Derek stepped in to prevent a fight over the blanket's position. Pulling it off he folded it in half and placed it back on Stiles', only covering the lower part of the boy's body.

Stiles sighed long sufferingly, but he didn't protest or push it off so John took it as a win.

"You hungry?"

"No, 'm Stiles," he smart mouthed back.

"Sarcasm is a good indication you're feeling better, right?" Derek recalled a time that Stiles' had said much the same thing to him.

Stiles must have remembered the time as well because he chuckled heartily, although it quickly morphed into a coughing fit. John went for water as Derek helped Stiles sit up and rubbed his back soothingly.

After downing two glasses of cool water Stiles leaned back into bed, dragging Derek with him. The Were-Wolf didn't complain, happy to provide a modicum of comfort for his friend.

John sat on the other side of the bed, feeling the fevered brow of his son. "Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?"

Stiles nodded, then shook his head.

"No appetite," Derek stated, although technically it should've been a question.

Stiles shook his head again, though only slightly. The fever was making him a little dizzy.

"Nothing sounds good," John guessed, well versed in Stiles' 'sick habits', as Scott had dubbed them.

Stiles licked his dry lips and nodded, relaxing against Derek more completely.

"I'll get the soup warmed up for you," John squeezed his hand, nodding his thanks to Derek.

Derek nodded back, grateful that John understood Derek's desire to help as much as he could.

"Where's S'ott?" Stiles missed the 'c' in his best friend's name, opting to skip it in order to avoid another coughing fit. His throat felt dry, painful, and food sounded like torture, but it sounded so good as well. Being sick really wasn't fair, Stiles decided. It was like his mind and his body couldn't agree on how he should feel so they each did what they wanted without consulting or making provisions for each other.

"School," Derek answered succinctly, as Stiles expected him to.

Swallowing painfully Stiles hummed in slight distress as the action grated on the dry skin.

Shifting slightly Derek took Stiles left hand in his own, gently beginning to draw out the pain he sensed in the young man.

Stiles immediately started squirming, protesting Derek's actions.

"Sit still," Derek refused to release Stiles' hand.

"You don't need to-"

"I want to. You're miserable enough without dealing with this pain. I'm not taking it on myself, I've already explained this-"

"I know, I . . ." Stiles ran out of effort momentarily, relaxing back into Derek. "You're inner wolf deals with it so you don't feel it, like a radioactive waste management plant. I still don't like you taking my pain."

"It's what pack does," Derek spoke softly, almost to softly for Stiles to hear. He quickly drew his hand away when he heard the Sheriff start back upstairs, allowing the black lines on his skin time to disappear. He knew John knew about the supernatural, but he didn't want to worry the man further.

“Here you go,” John set a tray laden with hot soup, a coffee mug filled with broth, and a jar of peanut butter, and three spoons on the bed. Standing up straight his hands landed on his hips in his standard 'I have no idea what to do' pose.

Swallowing painfully again - even were-wolves magical abilities couldn't cure a dry, sore throat - he sighed. “You should go to work.”

Frowning slightly John started shaking his head, then sighed. “Yeah, I should,” he conceded.

“I'll be fine,” Stiles assured him, speaking softly but distinctly.

“You'll take care of him,” John looked to Derek, already knowing the answer.

Derek immediately nodded, understanding John's feeling of obligation to his son, and to his job. “I'll make sure he stays in bed-”

Stiles groaned loudly. “No, I'm not staying in bed all day, I'm just-”

“You are, and that's the end of it. I'll hog tie you to the head board if I have to.”

“Yeah, that's the way to help me get better,” Stiles quipped saucily.

John just laughed, relieved that Stiles was feeling well enough to sass, and confident that Derek could handle Stiles while he worked. “I'll be home for dinner, 'kay kiddo?”

“You always are,” Stiles smiled, sighing as he looked at the tray of food. “I suppose I should try to eat.”

“Drink the broth, it'll soothe your throat a bit,” John kissed Stiles' forehead, then thanked Derek before he went out, put on his uniform and quickly left the house.

“I don't want to sit forward,” Sties stated, laying limp and relaxed on the bed. Every muscle felt sore, but not painful - like he'd overworked just enough to wear them out, but not enough to make them hurt.

He hated being sick.

Derek shifted enough that he could snag the corner of the tray and shift it carefully so he could reach the mug of broth.

“Oh no,” Stiles started protesting.

Derek silenced him with a glare.

Pressing his lips together Stiles subsided.

Nodding once Derek handed the cup to Stiles, keeping a steadying hand near it in case Stiles' grip failed.

Sipping the warm flavorful liquid he sighed in contentment, reveling in the momentary relief from his dry throat.

Derek sat quietly, unmoving aside from the regular rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, watching over the cup of broth to make sure it didn't tip or slip. The headboard was unyielding behind him, but he ignored the slight discomfort with ease. He felt . . . not really at peace, but peaceful.

This was a scene he never thought he'd experience - tending to a younger brother recovering from an illness. He knew Stiles wasn't his brother, and he wasn't sure what the young man thought of him, but he knew that for Derek - Stiles was like a brother. Scott was too, but somehow with Scott it was different.

Scott was confident, self-assured, ready, willing, and capable of taking care of himself and all of those around him.

Stiles was different. Sure, Stiles was confident, and cocky, and he came across as unfeeling and emotionless at times, but Derek sensed that that cockiness was really an act - a cover to hide the truth, maybe even hide it from himself. Stiles was the type of person who spent his life's energy helping other people, taking care of other people, doing everything he could to please select people in his life. Scott, his father, Melissa, Lydia . . . maybe even Derek. He did everything he could to please them and see to their needs because he feared that the minute he stopped pleasing them, the minute someone other than Stiles held the answers they needed, he would become obsolete and they would leave him behind and never look back.

Derek knew that notion was absolute bull crap. Just yesterday, when Stiles had been missing, Scott had been frantic. He'd wanted to track Stiles down himself and tear apart anyone who had even thought of hurting him. But, Scott had known and acknowledged the fact that he couldn't fix everything for Stiles.

Derek wondered if Stiles knew that he couldn't fix everything for everyone. And if he knew it, if he accepted it or fought against it. Derek's gut said Stiles fought against it - did everything in his power to change that fact, and when he failed, a little piece of him doubted his own abilities.

That was what made Derek want to protect Stiles; to shield him and keep him safe from a world that had done nothing but try to break him. Of course, Derek knew that he couldn't protect him completely, but in that way they were both the same way. When they were told they couldn't, they didn't give up. Where other people saw an impenetrable wall they saw a challenge to overcome. An obstacle to beat, a puzzle to solve. Because there had to be a way.

They didn't take no for an answer.

They were to dedicated for that.

Stiles noted Derek's ever ready hand, annoyed by it's presence, yet glad that the Were-Wolf cared enough to . . . well, care. Honestly Derek was a puzzle to Stiles.

When they'd first met him the older man - although still technically a young man, he was older than Stiles - had seemed cold. Hard. A murderer. Now though, there was a warmth to the wolf's actions, his words, even his attitude. Instead of being an unyielding island of solitude he appeared to be more of a lost ship, floating around aimlessly without sail or anchor, searching for a port to welcome him.

Sentimental dribble, Stiles knew - most likely a result of his slight fever. Yet the boy couldn't deny that there was definitely a change in Derek since they had met. Stiles had even caught himself thinking of them as friends, something he wasn't sure what to do with. Sure, he'd always wanted an older brother, yet he was unsure of what Derek wanted.

He'd had his own family, a family that he lost, so Stiles wasn't sure where he stood with the Were-Wolf. And of course there was that. Derek was a Were-Wolf. His idea of family, pack, friends. They weren't always the same thing to him as they were to humans. He'd seemed content enough to settle into the position of beta to Scott's true alpha, so Stiles really had no idea where their . . . friendship, stood.

Setting the empty cup down he sighed, noting with pleasure that his throat was no longer quite as dry.

Derek shifted slightly.

Levering himself up into a sitting position he mumbled an apology.

“You're fine,” Derek spoke softly, stretching.

“You're not a pillow,” Stiles slurred, his eyes growing heavy as the warm broth did it's job.

Smirking Derek gently pushed Stiles over on the bed. Taking the boy's pillows he put them behind him, reclining in a comfortable semi horizontal position before pulling Stiles back into him. “Just go to sleep.”

“How's Lydia?” Stiles murmured.

Leave it to Stiles Derek thought. “Haven't heard from her, I'm assuming well.”

“If this isn't comfortable . . .”

Derek hesitated, then sighed softly. “It's what my father used to do,” he admitted, pulling the covers up over Stiles loosely.

Stiles shifted around to look at him out of the corner of his eyes. “You don't get sick.”

Derek shook his head. “No. But, as I grew older, the moon's effects grew . . . more complete. The shift of bone . . . it could be painful, sometimes. Especially when I practiced controlling shifting.”

“Oh,” Stiles shifted back, relaxing himself as much as he could.

“If you’re not comfortable . . .”

“No, 'm fine,” he assured him. “You're warm.”

Derek chuckled, smiling softly. “Go to sleep Stiles.”

“Yes sir, sourwolf,” he sleepily replied, sinking into a half awake state where dreams came easily.

Derek stayed awake, keeping a vigilant watch over the boy. 'Sourwolf'. The term had started as an insult, but now it seemed to have taken on a . . . a warmth. Like it was an inside joke between this boy and himself.

Derek had to wonder if Stiles was aware of the change in the dynamic between the two. Stiles had been so unwilling to help, so ready to just let him die; in fact Derek distinctly remembered Stiles threatening to drag him out into the middle of the road and leave him to die. He wondered what had changed, and how much had been an act.

Stiles was a fragile person. Not physically. He was quite capable of being active, of taking it and dealing it out in equal measures. No, his fragility was of the mind, and it was somethiing that he hid artfully - he hid it so completely Derek wondered how many people really saw it, and if Stiles even realized he was hiding it.

The meltdown yesterday proved just how fragile Stiles' state was. He did not deal well with change. In fact, he resolutely resisted change to the point of ignoring it until it went away or he was forced to engage and accept it. Far from healthy, but how do you rewrite years of coping mechanisms and protective habits?

Sighing Derek let his eyes slide closed, keeping his mind alert to all sounds and scents. It was a puzzle, a problem, and one that Derek intended to figure out.

Lydia woke to sunlight streaming into her room, the clock on her dresser proclaiming eleven a.m. Her heart skipped a beat as she stared at the digital digits.

She was late for school. More than late, she was practically giving herself a half day vacation from it! Taking a minute to breathe deeply and calm herself she shrugged.

"Might as well just not go then," she spoke aloud, stretching luxuriously like a cat.

"Lydia, honey," her mother's voice came down the hall.

Sighing she snuggled under the blankets more, not feeling like getting out of the cuccoon of warmth they provided just yet.

A light knock sounded on the door a moment before it opened, revealing her mother dressed to go out.

"What day is it? Is it Thursday already?" Lydia sat up, yawning.

"Mm-hmm," her mother smiled at her. "You feeling okay?"

"Yeah," Lydia smiled widely. "I was really tired, so I didn't set an alarm. I think I'll just stay home; not even bother going to school for the afternoon classes . . ."

Natalie just nodded, looking a little lost.

"Enjoy your tea club," Lydia offered, feeling awkward. She never stayed home from school - she always felt guilty when she did. And this is why.

"Thanks honey," Natalie waved a goodbye, then left.

Flopping back onto her bed Lydia exhaled loudly through her mouth, letting the force of the air flap her lips. Lying there thinking she made up a short list of things to do.

· eat breakfast

· call Stiles

· call Alison

· get some research done

· sack out

She smiled as she listed the last one, enjoying the sensation of not having any pressing engagements or obligations she needed to fulfill. Rolling out of bed she checked that her mother was gone, then bounced on her bed once before making it neatly. Running down the stairs as fast as she could she surfed down the hallway in her socks, stopping in front of the radio.

Plugging in her iPod she selected Woodkid's Golden Age album and turned it up loudly, but not so loud that the neighbors would complain. She then went about whipping up one small batch of pancakes and scrambled eggs for her breakfast, eating all five pancakes and three eggs, then downing a glass of orange juice with one glass of water.

Pouring herself another glass of water to drink at a slower pace she turned the radio down slightly, picking up the phone. Crap. She didn't know the Stilinski house number. Shrugging she dialed Alison, figuring she'd be going on lunch soon.

"What's wrong?" her friend's worry was clear as she picked up the phone on the second ring.

"Nothing," Lydia grinned. "I feel great. Never better. Thank you, so much; for sticking with me through this. It means a lot."

"Of course. You're my friend," Alison smiled at the giddiness she could hear in Lydia's voice. It was good to hear her happy. "Did you need something? Not to be cold or anything. I’m planning on coaching Scott on some upcoming tests.”

"Yeah, I totally understand, do you have Stiles' number? I want to call and check on him, 'cause it is kind of not really but sort of my fault that he's sick, I mean, I'm not blaming myself that would be ridiculous," Lydia laughed nervously. "But yeah, I just wanted to call him and see how he was doing, since I probably won't stop by - I don't want to get sick with, you know, all that's going on with me, but I just . . . I wanted to check - do you have his number? 'cause I don't."

Alison smiled and fought the urge to laugh at Lydia's nervous and disjointed speech. "You want to check on him, that's normal."

"Can you just give me his number, please?" there was a note of begging in Lydia's voice.

"'Fine," Alison sighed, smiling widely. "But don't think you've gotten out of talking about why you want his number."

Lydia groaned on the other end of the phone. "Alison," she whined.

"Okay, okay," she smiled at Scott as he walked up, giving her a puzzled look. "His number is 707-555-0139."

"Thanks." Lydia ended the call.

"That's Stiles' number," Scott stated, having recognized it.

"Lydia wants to call and check on him. Realized she didn't have his number so she called me," Alison smiled.

"Don't tell Stiles she called specifically to get his number, please," Scott begged. "He'll never shut up about it and will end up embarrassing both him and Lydia."

Alison laughed. "I promise I won't tell."

"Good."

Lydia huffed a sigh as she ended the call with Alison, shaking her head at her own foolishness. She was usually so poised and in control. What was it about Stiles that made that control slip? She didn't know.

Entering the phone number into the dial pad - she had memorized it instantly, not needing to write it down - she waited for someone to answer.

Derek listened to the steady sounds of Stiles breathing, his own eyes drifting shut with weariness. He hadn't slept at all last night.

A distant ringing of a cell phone brought him back awake. Stiles' phone. The sheriff would call Derek. Scott would most likely call Derek also. That left Lydia, calling Stiles' phone because the house phone in the sheriff's bedroom wasn't ringing and Derek had his phone sitting on the floor beside the bed.

Gently maneuvering Stiles off of him Derek made his way down stairs, checking the caller ID of the now missed call. Unknown number. Derek was surprised Stiles didn't know Lydia's number.

The phone began ringing again.

Answering it he put it to his ear. "Hello, Derek speaking."

"Hey Derek, this is Lydia. How's he doing?"

Lydia felt a little ridiculous after Derek answered the phone, but she figured she had called and it was to late to hang up.

"He's doing fine. A little feverish, dehydrated slightly. He's been sleeping most of the morning."

That makes two of us, she thought to herself. "I'm glad he's okay. I mean, obviously he's sick, but I'm glad it's nothing . . . to serious."

"Yeah. He'll be fine; back to school in a couple of days probably. How are you doing?"

His concern caught her off guard a little bit. "Well, umm. . .," she fumbled for words. "I'm doing well."

"Good," he sounded genuinely pleased. "I'll let Stiles know you called, maybe he'll feel like calling you back later. Oh, and he has some research he wanted to give you."

"Okay. I'll keep my phone on me, and I can pick up the research some other time," she smiled even though he couldn't see it, and then hung up. "What is it with awkward phone conversations today?" she muttered to herself.

It had been a of couple hours since Lydia called.

Derek sat with his back on the head board, eyes closed and legs crossed, dozing as he watched over a still sleeping Stiles.

Inhaling deeply Stiles shifted, licking his lips as his eyes lazily opened for a brief second before sliding closed again. He felt, rested. The kind of rested that made any thought of going back to sleep distasteful, but getting up sounded arduous and unnecessary, yet appealing. He was quite warm where he was, nestled in under three blankets with two pillows and a dozing Were-Wolf.

Blinking owlishly Stiles smiled as Derek came into clearer focus, sleeping beside Stiles on the very edge of the bed.

"Call me a guard dog, I'm not explaining how you fell down the steps and snapped your neck," Derek spoke without opening his eyes, having noted the shift in Stiles' breathing pattern.

Stiles grinned. "Yes sir, Sourwolf," he mock saluted him limply. Groaning he stretched like a cat, flexing his fingers and toes, before curling up on his side underneath the covers again. Sighing he lay still for about thirty seconds before he rolled over, nearly landing on top of Derek.

"Lay still," Derek muttered.

"I'm not tired," Stiles mumbled back.

Sighing loudly Derek finally opened his eyes. He really just wanted to stretch out on his cot at the Hale House and sleep for a solid twelve hours, but he knew that if he continued to ignore Stiles' subtle hints that he wanted to get up the boy would wind up hurting himself trying to do something on his own. "Are you hungry?"

Stiles grinned, quickly hiding it. "No, I'm Stiles - I already told you that earlier."

Growling briefly Derek reached over and ripped one of the pillows away, using it to smack the smart aleck upside the head.

"Ow!" Stiles complained, rubbing his ear where it had hit.

"Be glad I used the pillow," Derek sassed, getting up and stretching momentarily.

Stiles merely glared in response, formulating a fitting retort.

"Do you want something to eat?"

"I don't want anything to eat me," Stiles answered with a deadpan expression, his eyes glinting with well rested impishness.

Smiling despite his effort not to Derek shook his head. "You're impossible."

"No, I'm-"

"Stiles, right - I know."

"Are you finishing my sentence or admonishing me?" Stiles asked, yawning at the end.

That's it, Derek thought. He casually walked over to the foot of the bed and, without warning, ripped the blankets off of Stiles.

"Hey!" Stiles tried to catch the edge of his escaping sheets with no success. "Whoa," he put a hand to his head, closing his eyes to fight the dizzy spell moving so fast had set off.

"Serves you right - I bet it matches the headache you're giving me," Derek plopped the blankets in the computer chair.

"You're a horrible care taker," Stiles muttered.

Frowning in concern at Stiles' not joking voice he sat on the edge of the bed. "Do you want to eat something? Maybe a little food in your system will help."

Nodding carefully Stiles conceded that that was a good idea. Smiling slightly he relaxed into a semi reclining position propped up on his elbows, the dizziness subsiding slightly. "You finally got the wording right."

Rolling his eyes Derek stood, offering a helping hand to Stiles.

Moving slowly Stiles slid to the edge of the bed and took the proffered hand, leaning on Derek heavily to stay upright. "Food is a really good idea."

Derek nodded, pulling Stiles arm over his shoulders and slipping his arm around the boy's waist. "Don't ever speak of this."

"Took the words out of my mouth," Stiles answered, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other all the way to the head of the stairs. Stopping Stiles pulled his arm back. "You go ahead," he gestured for Derek to lead.

"I don't think-" Derek started protesting, knowing Stiles was in no shape to take the stairs by himself.

Stiles shoved him as hard as he could, which was barely at all, and pointed to the steps. "I don't want to wind up taking a header."

"Fine," Derek conceded, going down three steps.

Stepping onto the top step Stiles slid down the wall, extending his legs and bracing himself with his arms. Sliding down one step at a time he began making the descent.

"Smart," Derek nodded, continuing down the stairs but staying close enough to catch Stiles if he slipped or toppled.

"Nobody has ever accused me of being dumb," Stiles said cheerily. "Well," he reconsidered. "Actually several people have, on several occasions, but, I mean . . . they might have been right on those subjects but when it comes to saving myself from bodily harm, I am one of the savants in the world."

"Mm-hmm," Derek helped him stand, sitting him in one of the kitchen chairs at the table. "What do you want to eat?"

Stiles considered for a moment. "Soup sounds, sloppy. Gravy sounds good but tasteless - not to mention weird to eat alone . . ."

"Omelet?" Derek offered, already running a list of ingredients to make gravy and an omelete - maybe two.

"So long as you don't put spinach near mine, Omelet la vista."

"You know that is an awful parody of that line, right?" Derek went about preparing their late lunch.

"Yeah, I know," Stiles relaxed as much as he could, not liking the hard surface of the chair.

Noticing his discomfort Derek pointed at the couch wordlessly.

"Actually, I was thinking of showering," Stiles said.

Derek shook his head. "Not until you've eaten, you're way to wobbly."

"Wobbly? Did Derek Hale just say 'wobbly'?" Stiles made a mock face of shock. "Say wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey spacey-wacey."

"What?" Derek sent him a bewildered look, followed by a glare. "Couch, now."

"Dude, I'm too wobbly," he grinned.

Leveling a death glare at the mouthy teenager Derek silently escorted him to the couch, throwing a blanket on top of his head after he sat down.

"Hey! No fair!"

"I wonder what your basis for comparison is?" Derek quipped, wondering if Stiles would get it.

"Dude, I do not say it that often . . ."

Apparently not.

"Wait."

Or maybe he would.

"Did you just . . . you just quoted Labyrinth!"

"Hmm?" Derek turned an innocent expression on him. "No idea what you're talking about."

"Seriously, you just quoted Labyrinth! That is one of my favourite movies of all time. I actually have one of Brian Froud's books of art. He's the one who did the concept art and puppet . . . look department, I guess you could say . . ."

"Design?" Derek offered, quickly falling into a comfortable zone as he went about preparing two omelets and a pot of gravy - just enough for two.

"Yes! Design, thankyou," Stiles finally got the blanket situated how he wanted it. "I have the soundtrack to it on CD."

"What no trivia on it?" Derek joked.

"Well, I don't want to bore you."

"I'm cooking. Nothing can bore me when I'm cooking. Fills the air nicely."

"Oh? I fill the air nicely do I? In that case I shall just carry onward then. David Bowie, who played Jareth, the Goblin King; people think he has eyes of two different colors but he doesn't. They just look like two different colors because he has anisocoria as a result of getting into a fist fight with his best friend over a girl. His friend's fingernail scratched the lens. What's anisocoria? It's where the pupil is abnormally large or abnormally small and doesn't react to light properly. Usually the pupil is abnormally small. It can be caused by a variety of things, trauma to the eye being one of them.

"And you know the kid they used to play Toby? They had a conceptual drawing of Toby done before that kid was even born, and it looks exactly like Toby did. Seriously. It's kinda creepy. They're thinking of doing another one, you know."

"Another Labyrinth? Really?"

"Mm-hmm," Stiles nodded. "I think it would be cool if they did an origin tale for the Goblin King - that would be awesome."

"That would be cool," Derek agreed, putting the omelets on plates and stirring the gravy one last time. "It's hot, but it's good."

"How do you know, you haven't even tasted it yet?"

"I made it," Derek set Stiles' plate on the coffee table with a glass of water and silverware.

"Oh, so anything you cook is automatically good?"

"Unless I intend it to not be good, yes," he sat cross legged on the floor with his back to the couch.

"Ah," Stiles started eating carefully, mindful of the heat. "That's not uppity and high on yourself."

"Nope. If anyone insults my cooking I can say I meant it to be that way. If they ask why I can say it's 'cause I don't like them."

Stiles froze in cutting a portion of the omelet off. "That is terrifyingly intelligent. And warped."

The wolf shrugged, pretending to brush off the statement even though it stung slightly.

"Just like how my mind works," Stiles grinned, earning a grin from Derek, and a carefully concealed look of relief. "Reminds me of the time I lied to my dad, he caught me, and in order to cover it I said lying depends on your definition."

Shaking his head Derek laughed. "You are truly incorrigible, Stiles Stilinski."

Several minutes later there was a knock on the door.

"Who is it?" Derek called.

"Scott, with Allison in tow . . . and the Argents," Scott's voice came from outside.

"Come on in Scott," Stiles called.

"What about me?" Alison pouted as all four of them entered the house, quickly taking off their winter gear and storing it away for when they left.

"Oh, well . . . I suppose, you can come in too," Stiles gave a longsuffering sigh.

"Good to hear you're better," Scott grinned.

"He's the worst sick person I have ever watched over," Derek muttered.

"Excuse me," Stiles set his empty plate on the coffee table and picked up his water. "I slept most of the morning."

"Yeah, and then woke up as soon as I started trying to sleep," Derek told him, eyeing the Argents as they sat down at the table and pulled out some papers.

"It's hardly my fault you have crappy timing," Stiles retorted, sliding the blanket off to stand.

Scott readily offered an arm to support his friend.

"What do you think you're doing?" Derek eyed the unsteady youth.

"Taking a shower," Stiles stated. "I've eaten, I've slept, I'm cold, I'm dirty, I wanted to take a shower last night and was denied. I'm taking one now."

Hesitating momentarily Derek nodded. "Okay," he agreed. "Scott, you -"

"I'll sit up there and study, keep an ear on him."

Derek nodded in gratitude; Maybe he'd be able to actually get some sleep.

"Eww," Stiles made a face. "I don't want your ear on me!"

Rolling his eyes Derek shooed them out of the room, finishing his omelet in relative peace as the two made their way upstairs and Alison pulled out her textbooks and began studying.

Taking the dishes to the sink he largely ignored the Argents, although he did take note of the map of California they had spread out with notes all over it. Hunting for Kate. They must be sharing notes with the Sheriff.

Tucking the dishes into the dish washer he made his way upstairs into the guest bedroom the Sheriff had insisted he use instead of sleeping on the couch. Shutting the door he changed into a clean set of jeans and a t-shirt before sprawling on the mattress, enjoying the sensation of just laying down completely without having to be aware of anything around him.

Even with the Argents in the house he felt safe, knowing Scott, his Alpha, had his back. He fell asleep listening to the steady pouring of water from the shower.

It was dark out when John finally got home. Greeting the Argents in the kitchen he went upstairs and changed out of his uniform into the more relaxed attire of worn jeans, a going threadbare t-shirt, and an indoor jacket.

Descending the stairs he noticed that Derek's bedroom door was shut - he must be resting. Not surprising, seeing’s how he watched over Stiles all day. Poor man was probably considering moving back to his own house in the interest of finding some peace.

Looking into the living room he smiled at the sight that greeted him. Stiles was sacked out as king of the couch with his laptop on his lap playing what John assumed was a game because he was using his wireless mouse. Scott and Alison were sitting, well, more like laying, in front of the coffee table with their textbooks, notebooks, and homework scattered in a fan like pattern in front of them.

"Hey Dad," Stiles greeted, careful to keep his eyes on the game.

"What ya playin'?" John asked, making his way over to him. "No, Allison. Don't move, you two are fine."

"Beatball," Stiles said, then growled as he narrowed his eyes. "Unsuccessfully trying to win-"

"You mean cheating," Scott interjected.

"Assuring victory goes to me is not cheating. It is using the tools I have acquired in ways that serve my best interests," Stiles responded instantly

"You deliberately looked to see if there was a cheat!"

"I did not look for a cheat! I went to make sure I had downloaded the right game, 'cause I'd read I could start at different levels. I happened to read of the cheat and went on to employ it."

"Yeah right."

"Shut up."

"Real mature."

"Bite me, fangman."'

"Boys," John said in a warning tone, laying a hand on Stiles' forehead briefly. "You're fever is down."

"Mm-hmm," Stiles nodded, thankful for the improvement of his health. "Oh, and Derek prepared dinner. Baked macaroni and cheese, just needs to be thrown in the oven and baked. It's in the fridge."

"I'm gonna have to start paying that kid," John muttered, making his way to the fridge and sure enough there were three pans of the stuff.

"He likes cooking," Stiles said, having heard the comment. "Besides, takeout isn't appealing and soup is getting old."

"You had one bowl yesterday," Scott scoffed, earning a cuff on the ear from Alison. "What?"

"Study," she pointed at his books, hiding a smile.

"Study yourself."

"I am. But I promised Melissa I'd make sure you studied for the upcoming tests, so . . . study and make me look good to your mom."

Stiles snorted. "I think Melissa's already sold on you. You're a good influence on Scott."

"Counter balancing your bad influence," Scott jabbed.

"Hey, it's not my fault you always elect to follow me in my plans."

"You eat anything today?" John asked while there was a lull in their banter.

"Cup of broth this morning, had an omelet with gravy for a late lunch, courtesy of one resident Derek Hale. That guy needs to open a restaurant, seriously. He is a good cook," Stiles rubbed his stomach, remembering the delicious food.

"Working for him might be a little difficult," Scott pointed out.

"True. I can see him being the type to have a ladle attached to his hand all day long in the kitchen so he could crack people upside the head with it if they did something wrong."

Allison laughed.

Scott shook his head, laughing as well. "Yeah, I can see that."

"Still, it could be fun. Bring a TV crew in and have them film it. Sourwolf's Sole Stop. The Triple S."

Derek stood at the top of the stairs, listening to the conversation below. He found himself smiling as they talked about his cooking, even more at the ridiculous opinions of him. Making his way down stairs quietly he held a finger to his lips to silence John.

Smiling and winking John held his silence, setting the three pans in the oven to bake. Starting a conversation with Chris Argent he kept an ear to Scott and Stiles conversation as well - an art he had perfected over the years of being Sheriff.

"Sourwolf's Sole Stop?" Scott was puzzled. "That makes no sense."

"It's alliterative," Stiles defended it, elaborating. "Sourwolf, well, that's self-explanatory. Sole is another word for one, like . . . his sole purpose or goal . . . since I doubt Derek would be willing to enter into a chain business, he'd just have the one restaurant. Stop, 'cause . . . well. It would be a stop. Put it on the highway and cater specifically to truckers. Have a big parking lot where they could park and sleep. 'Stop' for a while."

"Makes sense," Derek decided to enter the conversation, stepping off the steps just in time to catch Stiles gaping in shock and Scott nearly rolling on top of Alison in surprise.

"Hey, Derek," Stiles greeted him, all the while thinking holy crap how much did he hear?

Derek grinned at him. "Which wood do you think would work best for the ladle?"

Biting his lips Stiles tried his best to not let his nerves show. "Olive wood is good. Not cherry though . . . it's got a nice look to it but I wouldn't trust it as food safe. Cherry wood has quite a bit of toxin in it - I don't know if it could kill you, but it could make you feel ill. Apple, oak is good, fir's to soft . . ." he trailed off as Derek just stood staring at him with one eyebrow raised.

"Is there any question you can't answer?"

"That one," Stiles quipped. "Seriously, I get insomnia often, so google and I are very well acquainted. I have found many of its hidden qualities. Did you know you could actually make the page do a barrel roll?"

"Yeah, actually I knew that," Derek walked over and sat down in the space Stiles had cleared for him.

"Really?"

"I am not an idiot, Stiles," Derek rolled his eyes at the layer of disbelief in the boy's voice.

"Debatable," Stiles pursed his lips in fake consideration. "There are moments-"

"You have your own fair share of 'moments'. Like the one right now," Derek levelled a warning glare at the boy.

"Touche," Stiles fell silent, leaning back and closing his eyes. "But seriously, you should consider opening a restaurant."

"Really?" his eyebrow quirked upwards.

"Hey, I was dead serious when I said it!" Stiles defended himself. "Scott's the one who turned it into a joke!"

"Wha-" Scott looked at his best friend in disbelief. "Way to through me to the wolves bro!"

Alison laughed, closing her books. Supper would be ready soon, and there was no way Scott would be able to focus long enough for anything to stick.

"Haha!" Stiles cackled, ending in a coughing fit.

"You need to stop laughing," Derek stated.

"Thanks a lot," Stiles mumbled, fighting more coughs as he took the glass of water his dad was offering him. "Thanks dad."

"Welcome. Wash up," John ruffled his hair. "Only two minutes 'til dinner."

"Mm," Stiles finished his water, handing the glass back and standing up carefully. "Hale cuisine."

"Hale and hearty," Scott grinned, proud of the pun.

"Oh my word," Derek rolled his eyes and got up. "It's not like I've never heard that one before in high school."

"People tormented you?" Stiles was a little unbelieving. "Seriously? You? I figured you'd be king of the roost or some-" he was cut off when his ankle twisted, throwing him off balance.

Reacting purely on instinct Derek grabbed him around the waist, trying to stop his fall.

Scott managed to catch him with an arm across his torso, effectively bracing him.

"Talking and walking," Stiles coughed, waving his right forefinger in a no-no gesture. "Bad idea."

"Yeah," Derek agreed.

"No kidding," Scott straightened him up, pulling an arm over his shoulders. "I'm not letting go."

"Atta boy," Stiles patted his best friend on the back, coughing once as he struggled to catch his breath. "I'm a mess," he mumbled. "And there goes my phone. . ."

"I'll get it," Derek snatched the ringing telephone off of the coffee table as Scott got a still unsteady Stiles into the down stairs bathroom to wash his hands and drink more water.

"Derek speaking."

"He's deliberately avoiding me isn't he?" Lydia's chipper tone smiled.

Derek smiled. "No, just bad timing I guess."

"He's sleeping again isn't he." he could almost picture her 'you've got to be kidding me' look on her face.

"No, he's washing his hands for dinner, but it'll have to set and cool for several minutes, so it's fine," Derek walked over to the bathroom door.

"Who is it?" Stiles whispered.

"Lydia," Derek mouthed, not missing the slight surprise and obvious happiness that brought. "Here he is," he handed the phone over.

"You know I'm gonna die now, right?" Stiles quipped.

"What?” his comment caught Lydia off guard.

“Do you know how many germs propagate on phones?"

"Do I even want to know?"

"I once took a test online that said I have 2,202,060 germs on my phone, okay? phones have eighteen times more germs than toilets. And I'm already sick, so thanks," he joked.

"Well, you're quite welcome. Maybe your dad will let you stay home from school longer. And if you're that worried about germs on your phone wash it, for crying out loud," she joshed back, feeling a weight lift off her chest. After yesterday, she was afraid things would get weird between them.

He laughed, sitting down at the table shakily. "Oh, I have some research for you . . . If you want it, that is."

"Yeah, Derek mentioned that when I called earlier - you were asleep, so he didn't want to wake you . . ."

"Ah, he's considerate like that," Stiles grinned. Derek glared at him, then invited the Argents to stay for dinner.

"How's your day been?" she asked, feeling a little lost for what to say.

"Relaxing," he summed it up. "I slept for half the day, which is always a wonderful thing, then sat on the couch the rest of the day and played games on my computer. After showering. And having an omelet. Have you ever tasted Derek's cooking?"

"Can't say that I have."

"You should find a way to extort him into making you something. He is a wonderful cook, and he's glaring at me right now, so you might want to get something good for it to work."

She giggled.

"Seriously, you should do it. And then you and I can tag team him about starting a restaurant for truckers, and the town, of course," Stiles was surprised when the Argents, after talking it over completely, decided to stay for dinner. "How's your day been?"

"Relaxing," she mirrored him. "I slept until eleven, then ate breakfast. Sacked out and watched The Notebook. Hugo. Started Meet Joe Black but I just couldn’t get through it.

“Mmm,” Stiles nodded, taking note - she liked dramas.

I baked some cookies,” she changed the topic slightly. “I’ll have to have Alison or Scott bring some over to you.

“You bake?” he tried to keep the surprise out of his voice. “Maybe you could open a bakery next to Derek’s Triple S.”

Derek’s what?

"Triple S. It's what the restaurant will be called."

"I'm not opening a restaurant," Derek growled.

"Sure you are - and I'm gonna be half owner," Stiles retorted. "Anyway, the Triple S. Sourwolf's Sole Stop."

"Nice alliteration," she pursed her lips in interest. "You know that would work. I think it's an awesome idea."

"Awesome, so you'll help me convince him the idea is worth pursuing?"

"I hate you," Derek sighed, getting bowls out while John got out the silverware and Alison set the table and Scott cleared the living room for the adults to sit in.

"Sure thing," she grinned.

"Thanks for calling," he was sincere, grateful yesterday didn't seem to have made things even weirder between them.

"No problem. I'll let you get to you dinner; I should probably get around to making my own dinner - can't fill up on chocolate chip cookies and peanut clusters."

"Sure you can," he laughed. "Not exactly advisable, but it's your choice. Oh, and one thing I was going to tell you, don't drink anything that isn't pasteurized - milk, juice, anything like that that doesn't clearly say it's been pasteurized, steer clear of it. The bacteria or whatever that lives in it can be harmful to infants. And sea food too. Careful with cold meats, also . . ."

"Good to know," she nodded, placing a hand on her stomach. "Thank you, Stiles. So much . . ."

"Don't mention it. I'll send the research over with Alison tomorrow, if that works."

"Yeah, that'll work great," Alison started serving the macaroni and cheese. "We have a study date, so I can stop by here and pick it up before going to her place."

"Or, you could take it home tonight and she could go over to your house to study," Stiles suggested. "If that works for everyone, that is."

"Sounds great," Lydia hummed in thought for a moment. "Mom still doesn't believe me. I don't know how to handle it, really. I guess it's just her problem and not mine and right now I have to many of my own to even try dealing with hers. It would be nice to get away to someplace where people believe me - escape the awkwardness of it all temporarily."

"Sounds like a good idea," he agreed.

"Supper," Derek plopped a bowl in front of him, taking the seat across from him. Scott sat next to him with Alison next to Scott as John and the Argents sat down in the living room and started discussing some case related facts softly.

"I gotta go," Stiles said."

"Yeah, me to. Thanks again. See you later!"

"No problem, you're quite welcome. . . if you're going to school tomorrow . . ."

"Yes?"

"Just be careful and don't let Jackson get you alone?"

"I will be vigilant and diligent, and intelligent."

"Best three gents in the world; talk to ya later."

"Mm-hmm," she hummed in agreement, ending the call the same time he did.

"So, I'm thinking Danny and I beside her with Alison in front of her," Scott spoke up.

"But then Jackson could sit in her line of sight," Alison pointed out.

"What about that Isaac kid? Maybe he could help?"

"Just tell Lydia to bring two of her moon-eyed morons," Stiles interjected.

They both looked at him, then nodded simultaneously.

"That's a good idea," Scott looked to Alison.

"Yeah, it is," Alison agreed.

"Just shut up and eat," Derek told them all.

"Give me another," the blond called to the bartender, setting her glass down on the counter with a snick to await a refill. He'd been here. She could practically smell it. The bartender kept looking at her out of the corner of his eye, and he kept eyeing the phone on the wall - he hadn't made it to the back room yet though. His customers were keeping him busy.

"Fourth one tonight Kate," he said conversationally.

"Cuttin' me off?" she took the glass back, sipping the brown liquid slowly.

"Just keeping track," he smiled, putting the bottle back.

"Derek Hale been by?" she threw the question out, watching his reaction.

He stiffened, but almost immediately forced himself to relax and turned back to her with an innocent expression. "Derek Hale? Haven't seen him in months."

"Mmm," she hummed, not believing him for a second but allowing him to think she did. She was a good actress. "Thanks for the drinks," she slapped a fifty on the bar, grabbing her coat off the rack by the door.

"You keep safe now," the bartender called, waiting until she had walked a good way down the road before going for the phone.

Stiles snuggled into the blankets with a contented sigh, his eyes drifting shut as his father tucked him in lightly and kissed his forehead.

"Sleep well, Stiles," John whispered.

"You too dad," Stiles replied, already falling asleep.

"Hey, Derek," John caught the man's attention before he shut his door.

"Yes?"

"I just wanted to thank you, for watching Stiles all day . . ."

"No problem. He was an easy patient," Derek smiled in assurance.

"Still," John shrugged. "Thanks. You do a lot to help around here, and I don't want you thinking I don't notice or appreciate it. 'Cause I do . . . both . . . notice and appreciate, it, so," John inhaled deeply.

"I'm happy to help," Derek nodded, hesitating slightly before continuing. "It's actually kind of nice. Having a . . . helping out, like this. It's a nice, change, from what my life was."

"Lonely?" John guessed, leaning against the wall in a relaxed manner.

Considering the meaning of the word Derek nodded after a moment. "Yeah. Living on my own, by myself. You get used to it, but . . ."

"When it's not something you voluntarily choose to adopt . . ." John filled in. "It can be hard. Having to make an adjustment you weren't planning on having to make."

"Yeah. It can be, difficult."

"Are you two gonna talk all night?" Stiles mumbled from his room, yawning widely. "'Cause if ya are, take it downstairs."

John chuckled, standing up straight. "Go to sleep Stiles. We'll stop."

"Thank you," Derek said before John completely turned towards his own room.

"For what?" John turned back to him.

"For . . . accepting, me."

"Of course, Derek," John's heart broke a little at the unspoken words laying behind those three words. "You know, you're like a son to me," he spoke before Derek could shut his door. "And if you want, you're welcome to stay here, if you wanted."

"Really?" Derek was unsure, taken by surprise at the man's sincerity.

"I mean it. Night," John waved once, then went into his own bed room and shut the door.

"Night," Derek echoed him, processing the things he'd just been told. His phone started ringing obnoxiously, startling him into nearly knocking his lamp over in his haste to silence the ringer. "Hello?" he answered it.

"Hey Derek, it's Griff."

Derek recognized the name and voice of one of the bar owners he had made a deal with.

"She was in this evening. Got mildly drunk, then walked home. Her cars still out front . . . apparently didn't trust herself to drive. She's not that dumb, I guess."

"Lucky for me," Derek muttered under his breath.

"What was that?"

"Thanks Griff, I'll be by before dawn," he quickly grabbed his jacket and went over to his window, sliding it open gently. "See you soon," he hung up the phone, slipping it into his pocket and sliding out onto the porch roof. Carefully he made his way down to the ground, leaving his car in the driveway in favor of not alerting the Sheriff that he had slipped out into the night.

John heard the phone ring, it was a hard to miss ringtone, and he found himself trying to track the conversation. It seemed largely one sided, with Derek being the silent one. Curious, and slightly concerned, he quietly made his way down the hall to listen intently, trying to hear Derek moving in the room.

Not hearing anything he took a chance and opened the door. No Derek. An untouched bed and open window instantly answered all questions he might have had.

"Everything okay?" Stiles sleepy mumble came from directly behind him.

"Everything's fine," John shut the door, guiding his sick son back to bed. "Now go to sleep and stay that way," he ordered, care foiling the edge of his words.

"Is Derek gonna be stupid?" Stiles whispered.

"I don't know," he answered honestly. "But it's not your burden to worry over."

"It's not yours either," Stiles pointed out.

"I'm the Sheriff, and the man is sleeping under my roof. It's my concern. Now go to sleep," he tucked him in a little more firmly with care, then went to his own room and changed into comfortable civilian clothes.

His hand was on the knob of the front door when he stopped. If he left now, Stiles would be left alone, sick, and probably with no recollection of any of the conversations he had held since he swallowed the last mouthful of macaroni.

There was no debate.

Going back up the stairs he changed into sleep wear and climbed into bed, setting his phone beside his bed and his alarm for early morning. If Derek wasn't back by then, he'd call Scott and go after the boy - man, whatever - after Scott got there.

Melissa sat on the edge of Scott's bed, waiting for him to finish in the bathroom so she could wish him good night and hear how Stiles was. Sure, she'd talked to the Sheriff a little bit, but she knew Scott would have his own concerns and wanted to hear them and soothe them.

That's what mother's did.

Hearing him shut the faucet off she looked up just as he opened the door, hair still damp from showering. Smiling she stood up and hugged him tight. "How was your day?"

"Good," he hugged her back, moving to sit down beside her as she returned to her previous position on the bed. "Jackson actually behaved, didn't bother us once. Never looked or spoke at me all day, actually. Danny was obviously keeping his distance from Jackson, which I think upset Jackson, but . . ."

"We can't fix it," she put a comforting hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. "It's something they have to get sorted out themselves. All we can do is support them how we see fit, and be there for them when they need us."

"Yeah," Scott nodded, smiling softly at her wise advice. "Thanks mom."

"Of course," she kissed him on the forehead as she stood. "How's Stiles?"

"Grouchy. Bored. The usual," Scott shrugged, sliding back to lean against the head board of the bed.

"How are you?" she probed, knowing there was something he needed to say.

"Worried."

"Mm?" she sat down on the foot of the bed, squeezing his toes lightly. "Tell me about it."

"Well," Scott took a moment to think of how to articulate what he was feeling. "Stiles is so vulnerable right now, you know? And Lydia is too, what with the Jackson mess, and being pregnant, and facing . . . everything that she's facing. I just . . . I'm worried Stiles is gonna attach to closely, you know? I mean, Lydia has always been the one girl Stiles looked at. Period. Not even looked at twice, 'cause he noticed her the first time, you know what I mean?"

"I know exactly what you mean," she smiled encouragingly.

"I'm just worried he's gonna fall apart. I mean, it took him so long to get to a place where he can get through the day without one panic attack, without one issue, aside from life and ADHD. And this Lydia mess is bringing up all sorts of emotions, and it's tied to a lot of emotions that I don't think Stiles ever really sorted through properly. I mean . . . ."

Melissa waited patiently for him to continue, listening intently to everything he was saying.

"Lydia was the one who helped get through that first day back at school, his first panic attack. She was the one telling him to breathe, and he's been focused solely on her ever since that day. I just, I worry that he'd gonna get hurt . . . he's gonna wind up with the same thing all over again, or worse, and he's not gonna be able to pull through this time," his voice shook, tears escaping his eyes as he stared fixedly at his hands.

"Oh honey," she stood and moved to sit beside him, hugging him tightly and rocking them back and forth. "He's gonna be okay, sweet heart. He's got a good support system, he's a smart boy . . . granted. It's gonna be hard. It has been hard for him, but he's not gonna be stupid. Stiles is anything but stupid."

Scott nodded emphatically.

"Maybe you should talk to him about it," she suggested. "Not confronting him, just . . . tell him your worried, and explain why. Maybe he's worried too, you know? Get him talking, get yourself talking to him. That's the best way to handle situations like this, honey. Just talk, and listen, and get him and Lydia talking. Even if all you do is talk to Lydia and leave it in her ball court of what to do from there. Or, suggest it to Stiles - since you're more comfortable around him. And that way it won't be like you're talking behind his back. Not that that would be talking behind his back, but you know - if you talk to Lydia about talking to him, he might feel a little, abandoned."

"Yeah," Scott nodded, sniffling.

"Here," she dug in her pocket and pulled out a kleenex.

"Thanks," he accepted it, blowing his nose before tossing it into the trash.

"Score," she crowed when it went in seamlessly.

Scott laughed, feeling a lot better after having talked about what was bothering him.

"Friday tomorrow, it's a school day," she kissed the top of his head, pulling the blankets over him as he snuggled down in the bed. "Night sweet heart."

"Night mom," he yawned widely, his eyes sliding closed. "Thanks for listening."

"Always," she whispered, running a hand through his hair lovingly before flipping the light off and going to her own bed room.

Shutting the room she smiled to herself. She was so proud of Scott.

The way he was so protective of Stiles, as if the boys were blood brothers. He cared, truly cared, about his fellow human beings, and that was something Melissa couldn't have been more proud of. Of both of them.

Lydia sat in front of her desk, her diary in front of her with a brush in her hands as she teased out the tangles from her wet hair.

I'm drowning, she read over the words she had written just minutes ago. There's no way out but through and right now I'm not seeing the way through. I have good guides with me though. Alison, Scott . . . Stiles.

I probably shouldn't write this down, but nobody's ever gonna read this anyway right?

I would be lost without Stiles. I wouldn't have survived this week without his unfailing, unflinching support. I'm pretty sure the boy was quite prepared to slug Jackson Wednesday when he got in my face. He dropped his bag on the floor like, 'oh, come at me bro - I'll meet ya in the middle'.

I know that's entirely fanciful and ridiculous, but there you go.

He's not a boy either. The hurt that he has been through - the utter and raw pain in his heart. I just got a glimpse of it and it makes me feel sick, knowing that he has gone through so much and he's still so young. He's my age and he's already older.

And yet, he's younger than me.

He's, not fragile . . . there is nothing fragile about him. He's strong, and sure, and if he loves something you can instantly tell, because he's not going to hide it, for or from anybody. He is the embodiment of Simon Pegg's philosophy - being a geek is about not having to hide the things that you love the most and are therefore the most enthusiastic about.

Stiles Stilinski is a true geek.

And yet, he's . . . human.

He has issues, he fears, and hurts, and fails, and that is what makes him so strong. Because he's been through the crucible, he's walked through the flames, and he came out on the other side, stronger and wiser from the pain emblazoned on his heart.

And that is what makes me want to be strong. Because I want to be like him. I want to be able to look back at the flames soaring into the sky behind me and laugh in the face of their attempts to break me. I don't want to break. But I don't want to break Stiles either.

How am I supposed to do this?

One step at a time, one breath at a time. *breathing deeply*

One second, then another, and never be afraid to admit fear.

It is through admittance that you gain strength to overcome.

Thursday, evening; after a shower - terrified, yet calm

Lydia

Megan

Martin

Pursing her lips she set the brush down, inserting a ribbon bookmark and snapping the journal closed.

Breathing deeply she tucked it into its hidden alcove, sighing. She always felt better after having written her feelings out. It was a therapy, for her. Something she'd done ever since she was a little girl.

Picking up the towel she'd brought from the bathroom she used it to work on drying her hair out, moving to the bed where she flopped down onto her stomach. Pulling her tablet out from under her pillow she considered playing a game briefly, then shoved it back under her pillow. She didn't feel focused enough, plus it was getting really late.

Fighting sleep, even though she knew she shouldn't, she crossed her arms to pillow her head on them and swung her legs in the air, trying to think of a solution to the conflict with Jackson.

Being surrounded by people to cushion and protect her for the rest of her life was not an option, and she didn't like the idea of him being hostile towards his child once the infant was born. Still, it wasn't like she could legally order him to leave her alone . . .

Unless of course, she could.

Obviously she couldn't take a restraining order out, as tempting as it sounded, but maybe, just maybe, she could find a way to alieve the fear that was driving him to hound her so unfailingly. Take away his motivation, sort of. A nicer way to put it would be, put his fears to rest.

So, she propped herself up on her elbows, templing her fingers over her nose. What was Jackson afraid of? Why was he so set on getting rid of the child?

Was he afraid she would force him to help her support the child?

That made sense. He wouldn't want to be financially beholden to her; that would threaten his dreams and could potentially ruin his reputation.

How could she relieve him of that fear? Give him her word that she wouldn't expect any support from him? He might not believe her.

No, she needed something binding. Something, formal. Like a contract, she thought, humming in consideration as she rolled over and slid to her feet, walking over to her desk. Pulling out her address book she flipped through the pages until she found the entry she wanted.

Life ruiner, - Divorce Lawyer. Paul C. J. Green. phone # 555 - 2317

Her mother's lawyer. Maybe he would have some answers?

Memorizing the number she returned the book to its place before returning to bed and pulling out her tablet to enjoy a few minutes of mindless games.

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