Stiles dropped into the hospital chair with a heavy sigh, slumping forward to cover his face with his hands. Unfortunately, the darkness provided by the barrier of his palms, clammy skin pressing uncomfortably against his cheeks, did little to comfort him. The room had already been blurred by a quivering film of tears that he was, frankly, too scared to let fall. Stiles had a suspicion that once he allowed himself to cry, it would be a long while before he stopped.
The door was shut and the room was silent but for the steady beep of the monitors hooked up to his father's sleeping form.
He couldn't do this again.
This, sitting at the bedside of one of his parents. After everything that had just gone down with Theo and the Dread Doctors and Donovan and the growing list of deceased teenagers. Not to mention what happened with – with Scott. Shit. A sob lurched from his throat before he could stop it. The mounting list of problems that had been weighing on him had finally grown beyond his capacity. Now, with the possibility of losing his dad hovering over him, he knew with utter certainty that what had previously seemed unbearable was now… impossible. He couldn't do this. Everything was wrong and he couldn't do this.
"Fucking hell," Stiles muttered with an unattractively wet sniff, dragging his fingers across the damp skin of his cheeks in an effort to stem the now-steady flow of tears.
His eyes caught the vulnerable figure of his father, appearing frailer and more fragile than Stiles had ever seen him, laying prone in the hospital bed. It made him want to scream.
This shouldn't have happened. Dammit it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Scott trusting Theo. A surge of anger burned through him. He still couldn't believe Scott hadn't listened to him. Past experiences had proven that Stiles was generally right about these things and Scott had to learn that he couldn't keep giving away his trust so easily. Not if this was where it landed them. Because this was where it always landed them. If he had just listened to Stiles and not fucking left him in that parking lot after he… after he…
The memory of the fight was seared into his mind. The total betrayal in Scott's eyes, like Stiles had just let him down in the worst way possible. And who was he to judge Stiles for what happened? It wasn't like he meant to do it. Dammit he didn't mean to do it.
He released a shaky breath and recalled what Theo had said about Scott needing help. As angry and hurt as he was by his best friend, he still needed to know if he was okay.
Slipping a hand into his pocket, he fumbled for his phone, drawing it out and quickly thumbing through the contacts. When he reached Scott's number he paused, thumb hovering over the screen uncertainly. Could he handle a conversation with Scott right now? Part of him wanted to strangle the werewolf, while another was terrified of all the things he'd said in that parking lot.
He released a shaky breath. No, he needed to do this.
Tapping the screen, he pulled the phone up to his ear and waited. The phone rang for almost a minute before Stiles heard a familiar dial tone.
Hi, you've reached Scott McCall, I'm afraid I can't get to the ph-
He hung up. Then tried again.
Hi, you've reached Scot-
He slammed the phone down onto the table beside him.
Okay, he thought nervously, he had to be reasonable about this. Scott probably just left his phone somewhere, or was simply (hopefully) being a prick and refusing to talk to him. But still… the terrifying image of his best friend lying in a ditch somewhere flashed across his mind and before he knew it, Stiles had picked up the cell phone and was once again thumbing through the list, only this time he was looking for a different contact.
The phone barely rang before it was picked up.
"Melissa?" his voice cracked.
There was a beat before Melissa responded. "Hey Stiles, what's wrong?"
The care and concern bleeding through her words caused an alarming prickling at the back of his eyes and Stiles sniffed, blinking rapidly in an attempt to avoid crying again.
"Um," he fumbled, not sure where to start. "I tried to call Scott? He didn't answer and, well we had a fight so I thought he might not be answering because he doesn't want to see me but I just wanted to make sure he was," he swallowed again, before asking warily, "Is he alright?"
Melissa paused a beat too long. His stomach lurched and twisted with concern. He didn't know what he'd do if something was seriously wrong. He couldn't deal with that. Not when his dad was already in a hospital bed.
"He's…" her voice sounded startlingly rough, "You probably couldn't reach him because his phone was smashed when…" she trailed off and Stiles heard her sniff. Shit, she was crying. Why was she crying? "I'm sorry Stiles, it's just that I've been holding it all in today and Scott well… he died Stiles. Theo killed him."
The air left his lungs. The world around him tilted alarmingly and all he could manage was a strangled, "What?"
"He's alright now," she hastened to assure him but only somewhat easing the pounding of his heart. Not quite reassurance enough to return all the lost air to his lungs.
"He was dead for fifteen minutes," she continued, shakily. "I managed to revive him but it was… really close Stiles. Closer than it ever has been before."
He heard her swallow and take a breath. She then continued on to inform him that Scott was actually asleep at the moment, resting and healing. Recovering from being dead.
But honestly Stiles was only half hearing her after that.
His best friend had been dead for fifteen minutes.
But he was alive now? That scarcely seemed possible, how could anyone be revived after a quarter of an hour of being dead? Stiles couldn't believe he'd come so close to losing his best friend. All of a sudden his previous grasp on the human respiratory system was lost to him and it seemed far more difficult to breathe, the air growing thinner each time he inhaled. Scott died and Stiles wasn't there for him. He'd died before he and Stiles could make up. (Because of course they were going to make up, they were Scott and Stiles. They just didn't make sense if they weren't together.)
Of course, his stomach lurched, Scott just had to go die before they could. The very thought sent a shiver down his spine; pulled the air from his lungs.
"Stiles?" Melissa's once-again worried voice interrupted his thoughts, having apparently noticed his lack of response. "Stiles are you okay? You sound like you're hyperventilating."
It seemed he was. Panic pounded in his chest – or was that his heart? – and dread twisted his gut. Tears burned his eyes and the room was closing in on him. The air was too thin. Scott had died and he couldn't – he couldn't-
"Breathe Stiles. Scott's okay, you're okay. You've got to calm down and breathe slowly. Come on Stiles, breathe."
He couldn't – he couldn't-
He did. Something about the conviction in Melissa's commanding tone – eerily reminiscent of Scott's – calmed him enough that he was able to regain his composure. He sucked in a lungful of air and released it slowly, shakily. His eyes slid shut and squeezed out a few more tears, leaving them to dribble down his cheeks.
He sucked in another breath. "Sorry," he mumbled, "Sorry, it's just what you said." He looked back at his dad, still sound asleep through all his son's panic, "It's been a long day."
He could practically hear Melissa's frown before she asked, "Stiles, where are you?"
"Oh Stiles," she sighed. "Tell me what happened."
So he told her. He told her everything from what happened with Donovan to the fight with Scott to the truth about Theo. Then, finally, he told her about what had happened to his dad.
Hours from then, Scott would come to see his father at the hospital and Stiles would, having been informed of his friend's health and still stumbling under the weight of fear and betrayal and rage, attack him; and he would yell at him and hate him for his part in all of this. But in that moment, talking to the woman who had, over the years, become like a second mother to him, all he could feel was relief.
Relief that Scott was alive and they still had time to be angry with each other before gradually making amends. Like they always did.
But most of all, relief that after all those weeks of keeping secrets, he had finally begun to talk.