Chapter Seven: Pain

Sleep didn't come easy to Darcy that night. She had Thursday, Friday, and the weekend to work on her article and hand it in to Sam. He had called her after her trip to the gun range with Jared to ask her how the article was going. He wanted her to work in the angle about the bus driver as well, a request that Darcy was grateful for.

With the addition of the attack on the bus driver the story could be less about what had happened to the Hale family and more about the animal attacks in general. She liked that. She hadn't felt comfortable about about digging into Derek Hale's personal life from the beginning and now she had an excuse not to do it.

After dinner she spent the rest of the evening reworking what she had managed to write before her phone call with Sam - taking out personal details about the Hale fire and instead putting together a profile on each of the victims - Laura and the bus driver, Garrison Myers. They didn't have much in common - different gender, age, occupation. Laura had just returned to Beacon Hills, Garrison had never left.

There were only two things they had in common. And even then, she had to squint to draw the connecting line.

One: They both seemed to have been killed by an animal. Though, there was the worrying detail that after Laura had been killed by the animal, something - or someone - had cut her in half and hid her halves in different areas on the preserve.

Two: Before he was a bus driver, Myers had worked for an insurance company. He had been the insurance investigator after the Hale House fire. A quick, only slightly illegal, search of the insurance company's records told her that his investigation had only taken a brief two days before he determined the cause of the fire to be an accident - electrical malfunction.

Darcy's brows furrowed as she typed the words. She had already been withdrawn from Beacon Hills High School and was living with her aunt during the fire; she was only allowed to come home for a few weekend visits that year, but she could remember that her father had helped investigate the case. He had never liked that designation - electrical malfunction. He hadn't believed it. He suspected arson.

One of the reasons she hadn't been allowed back in town after the day the house burned down. He kept her away for the rest of the year.

It wasn't a strong connection - Laura being a Hale and Myers being the man who had investigated the Hale fire, people changed jobs all the time, but it was something. And Darcy had to believe that an insurance investigator got paid a hell of a lot more than a school bus driver. Why had Myers left the insurance company?

Another only slightly illegal search through their employee database and she had her answer. He was let go, fired, two weeks after he closed his investigation under suspicion of fraud.

She bit her lip, that was something.

Though she wasn't quite sure what that something meant.

She glanced at her watch, it was almost one in the morning, time to get to bed. She'd write more in the morning and then in the afternoon she planned on stopping by the animal clinic. Her father had mentioned that he had asked Dr. Deaton for information regarding the attacks and she thought maybe he'd be willing to answer some questions for her article.

She was about to climb into bed when something stopped her. She turned, her right ear toward her open window, she couldn't be certain, but she thought she had heard something.

Something completely impossible.

A howl.

She shook her head, "You're losing your damn mind, Stilinski," she told herself as she climbed into bed. "The sooner this article is done the better."

A little more than an hour later she woke up, sitting straight up in her bed, her left hand clamped over her right inner elbow, a scream tearing its way up her throat.

Wincing she bent her right arm, her left hand still clamped against her skin, to lift her right hand to her lips, pressing against them in an attempt to silence herself as tears sprang to her eyes. But it was too late, someone had already heard her. She watched, her gaze blurred with tears, as the hall light turned on and her bedroom door opened.

Stiles ran into her bedroom, his eyes wide and wild, clutching his lacrosse stick like a club. His dark eyes immediately went to her window, as if he expected someone to be climbing through it. There was no one there. His gaze moved toward Darcy and his brows furrowed as he watched her, trying to understand why she had screamed.

Her arm still hurt, a strange burning sensation that radiated from beneath her elbow, spreading in both directions. She had no idea what had happened and was afraid to remove her left hand from the wound, afraid to look. She took a deep shuddering breath and glanced up at Stiles, tears slipping down her cheeks.

A noise out in the hallway - their father. Stiles didn't need to see her shake her head to know that she didn't want their dad to worry about her. He nodded and turned toward the door, closing it slightly and sticking his head through the small opening so that he could see their dad. He kept the lacrosse stick hidden from sight. "It's fine, Dad," he told him with a nod. "Darcy was playing … Call of Duty and someone killed her, she got very angry. Yup. You know how invested people get in video games. It's like it's real life. No? You didn't know Darcy played? Oh she's obsessed, it's all she does when she's not at work. Alright, I tell her to keep it down. Between you and me, she's a bit over dramatic. You too. Night Dad."

He slammed the door shut and turned back to Darcy, his chest heaving. "I think you're getting a gaming headset for your birthday," he warned her as he moved across her room, tripping over something on the floor. He sat down on the bed, gently pushing against Darcy to make her shift so there was more room for him as he turned on her bedside lamp. "Make sure to act like you're excited, all right?"

Darcy nodded silently. Her left hand still pressed against her arm. It still hurt, though the sharp pain had shifted, now more of a dull pain than the initial sharp slice of it that had woken her up. The edges weren't as sharp anymore, they were softer, spreading. As if it were in her veins. Stiles turned, watching her for a moment, "What happened?" he asked her.

"I don't know," she told him, taking a deep breath. She hated that it shook and she closed her eyes taking another deep breath.

Five things she could see: Stiles. Her computer. Her bedspread. A picture of her and her dad at her high school graduation. A bouquet of dried roses from her first dance recital.

Stiles nodded, his dark eyed gaze dropping down her arm. "Something happen to your arm?" he asked, an eyebrow raised.

"I think so?" she asked him. She shook her head, "I don't know, I'm afraid to look."

Four things she could feel: Her sheets rubbing against her bare legs. Her skin, warm underneath her left hand. Her hair brushing against the back of her neck. The breeze coming in through the open window.

"Can I look?" Stiles asked her, gesturing toward her arm. Darcy nodded and Stiles gently pried her hand off her arm. It was quiet for a long moment before he finally spoke, "Darcy, there's nothing wrong with your arm?"

"What?" Darcy asked, her neck cracking with the speed she tilted her head to look at her arm. He wasn't lying, there was nothing wrong with her arm. The pain had her believing that her skin had somehow been ripped open, she had expected blood and gore. There was nothing. It wasn't even red.

Three things she could hear: Her heartbeat in her ears. A wolf howling outside her window. Stiles shifting closer to her so that he could wrap his arm around her shoulders.

"Did you dream about something?" he asked her, watching her face carefully. "Like did you dream that someone shot you or something?"

Shot. The word triggered something and Darcy's wide eyes snapped to her brother's face. She had never been shot before, but that was the closest thing she could compare that pain to. It had felt like she had been shot. But there was no wound. No bullet. No blood.

There was nothing.

Had she imagined it?

Two things she could smell: Her shampoo. The laundry detergent she had used to wash her bedspread last week.

"It wasn't a dream," she told him, shaking her head. "I was sleeping and then -" she cut herself off and shook her head again, grimacing. "The pain woke me up. I had no control over it."

"And are you still in pain?" Stiles asked her.

She nodded, "But it's different," she told him. "Dull. Like a -"

"Like a what?" Stiles asked when she didn't finish her statement.

"Like a phantom pain."

"A what?" Stiles asked, his eyebrows lifting.

"A phantom pain. Like when you get a limb amputated, but you can still feel it. A pain that's not really there."

She bit her lip. Hard.

Hard enough that her teeth cut through the skin and it started to bleed.

One thing she could taste: Blood.

"Fuck, Darcy," Stiles cursed as he turned, climbing off the bed so that he could grab a tissue from the box on her desk. "Don't do that. You know your therapist told you not to do that." He handed the tissue to her and watched her until she pressed the tissue against her lip. He was quiet for a moment, "Well, we know it's not a phantom pain because you still have your arm. Could it be a stroke?"

Darcy scoffed and shook her head, "It's not a stroke," she told him. "Whatever it is, it's not that."

"A blood clot?" he asked.

She shook her head.

He sighed, "Ebola?"

That earned him a smile at least. "It must have been a dream," she told him. That explanation didn't feel right, but it was the only one that made sense. "It had to be." Her brows furrowed as she turned her gaze on the lacrosse stick, "What did you think was happening?" she asked him. "When I screamed? What did you think was happening?"

"I thought someone was breaking into your bedroom," he told her honestly.

Darcy's brows lifted, "And you thought you would beat them back with a lacrosse stick?"

She thought she saw a light blush burn its way across Stiles' cheeks, "I didn't have a baseball bat." He watched her for a minute, "Are you going to be okay?" he asked her. "Or do I need to -"

"Stiles!" she groaned, pushing against his shoulder and knocking him off her bed. "I don't need you to sleep in my room. Get out of here!"

He laughed, "I was actually going to offer to spray the room with monster spray like you used to do when I had nightmares as a kid."

Darcy smiled and shook her head, "That might actually work," she joked. Her smile softened as she watched Stiles walk across the room toward the door. "Thanks Mischief," she told him, her voice soft. "For coming to check on me."

He smiled at her, the door already open, "Any time, Doodles."

He laughed and slipped out of the room quickly, the door shutting before the pillow she threw at his head hit it.

…..

"Doc!" Darcy called out, knocking on the front door of the animal clinic. "Doctor Deaton! Are you here?" The sign on the clinic door said that it was closed, but that didn't make any sense. Evening was setting in, but the animal clinic was usually open until at least seven. It was only a little past six.

"Doctor Deaton?"

Nothing.

Darcy cursed, wincing as she lowered her arm. It still hurt after whatever had happened to it the night before. The pain was still dull - a whisper instead of a scream, but it had spread down to her fingertips and up her arm and into her stomach. She had been feeling nauseous for the last hour.

Her phone buzzed in her back pocket. She reached back, wincing again as she pulled her phone out of her pocket. Mischief flashed on the screen and she answered it. "Stiles? What's going on?"

"Uh - nothing?" Stiles' voice came from the other end of the line, but he didn't sound sure of himself. "I was just wondering where you were?"

Darcy's brows furrowed, was he really calling her to see where she was? Did he think she was with Derek again? He had been obsessed with that for the last week. "I'm not anywhere near Derek Hale or the preserve if that's what you're worried about," she told him

He laughed, a shrill, nervous chuckle. "No, you're not. I know that."

How did he know that?

He was talking again, but Darcy had the distinct impression that he wasn't talking to her. Probably Scott if she had to guess. "No," he hissed at his friend. "I'm not going to ask her that. And you, looking the way you do, are not going anywhere near her!"

Darcy's brows furrowed, maybe he wasn't talking to Scott.

"Dude, you could be rabid for all I know. You're not going near my sister. She wouldn't want you anywhere near her anyway. You smell like death."

Whoever was with him growled out a response. Darcy couldn't be sure, but she thought she heard them threaten to rip his throat out with his teeth. Her eyebrows raised.

"Stiles, are you okay?"

Her brother sighed, "Fine! Fine! Fine! But if you touch her - Darce? Where are you?"

"The animal clinic," Darcy told him, still confused.

"That's actually perfect!" Stiles practically cheered. "You're exactly where I need you. Listen, there's a spare key in a box behind the dumpster? Can you grab it and wait for us by the back door? We should be there in ten minutes." He paused, there was a growl in the background. "Five minutes."

"Who's we?" Darcy asked.

"Uh - me and a friend," Stiles told her, he still sounded so unsure of himself. "Alright! Stop it! I'm going! We'll get there!" he wasn't talking to her any longer.

"What friend, Stiles?"

"Umm … my friend Miguel? You don't know him."

"Miguel?"

"Yup. See you in four minutes. Back door." And then he hung up on her.

Darcy shook her head, she was going to kill her little brother. But, all the same, she walked around to the back of the building and slipped behind the dumpster where there was a small box mounted to the brick wall. Deaton was very trusting apparently, because there wasn't even a lock on the box and she was able to grab the key easily.

They hadn't arrived yet so she unlocked the rolling delivery door and opened it. She had just gotten it open when Stiles' jeep squealed into the parking alley behind her. She turned, squinting, but couldn't see past his bright headlights. The drivers' side door opened and Stiles hopped out.

"Stiles?" she asked, lifting her hand to shield her eyes. "What's going on?"

Stiles frowned, his jaw clenching as he walked over to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, "I'm really sorry about this, Dee," he told her as he steered her toward the passenger seat. "But he was insistent. And he's kind of scary on a normal day. Today he's a bit terrifying."

"Who?" Darcy asked, shaking her head as she stepped out from under her brother's arm. "Who is Miguel?"

"About that," Stiles sighed as he opened the passenger door and Derek Hale started to fall out of the passenger seat, as if he had been leaning against the door, unable to hold himself up.

Darcy moved instinctively, there was no thought, no pause as she reached out, her hands grabbing on to Derek's arms to help steady him. "What is happening?" she asked, her head whipping back and forth to look between her brother and the man who was now leaning heavily against her as if she was the only thing keeping him up. "What's wrong with him?"

He didn't look good. His skin was pale and covered with sweat, making his dark eyebrows stand out even more than usual. The skin around his eyes was red and shiny. She didn't remember much from her first aid classes when she wanted to be a babysitter, but she remembered that that wasn't a good sign.

"Are you alright?" she asked him, regretting it the second the words left her lips. Of course he wasn't alright, all she had to do was look at him to know that.

She reached up to brush the back of her hand against his cheek, meaning to comfort him, but he tried to dodge her hand "Don't -" he whispered, meaning to tell her not to touch him, but it was too late.

Her knuckles had already made contact with his skin.

The pain was back in her arm. No longer dull and soft, but hard and sharp like it had been the night before. Her skin warmed, as if she had come down with a fever in a matter of seconds and she felt sweat begin to to slide down her forehead. She groaned, her hand still pressed against his cheek as she leaned forward, coughing. The nausea was back.

Even as she suffered she thought she heard him sigh, as if her touch had brought him some relief.

He moved, his hand wrapped around her wrist, holding it gently for a brief moment, before he pulled her hand away from his face and dropped his hold on her. The second they were no longer touching the nausea disappeared.

Her skin cooled.

The pain in her arm lessened.

"What the hell?" she heard Stiles whisper behind them. "What just happened?"

Darcy couldn't take her eyes off Derek. His were closed, his breathing shallow and rapid. He didn't seem inclined to answer. "I don't know," she told her brother. "But he needs to go to a hospital."

"No," Derek groaned out. "No hospital."

"He's been saying that all afternoon," Stiles told her. "And Scott told me to bring him here!"

"Scott?" Darcy asked, turning now to stare at her younger brother. "Scott told you to bring him to the animal clinic and you listened?" Stiles nodded. Darcy shook her head, trying to turn them back toward Stiles' jeep so that she could shove Derek back in his car and drive him to the hospital herself. "I'm sorry! But when did Scott McCall get his medical degree?"

Derek was heavy. And he wasn't cooperating. Darcy wasn't able to get him more than a step or two toward the car before he had turned them around again and began to lead her, stumbling toward the animal clinic.

"He's been saying not to bring him to the hospital all afternoon," Stiles told her again, defending himself. "That's pretty much all he's been saying. Besides death threats and -" he cut himself off, his dark eyes darted toward Darcy's face for a moment before he looked away.

"And?" Darcy asked, glancing at him over her shoulder. She didn't approve of this plan, but she was outnumbered and out muscled. She gently helped Derek to a seat on a pallet of dog food as she waited for Stiles to open the interior door so they could get in the clinic.

Stiles watched her again, "And he's been saying he needed to get to you. To find you."

Darcy's eyebrows raised as she turned to look at Derek. Why had he needed to find her?

Stiles sighed, "Listen, Dee -" he cut himself off when his phone made a noise and he pulled it out of his pocket, quickly reading a text. The next time he spoke it was to Derek, "Does Nordic Blue Monkshood mean anything to you?" he asked.

Derek sighed, his green eyes bright and glassy as he glanced toward Darcy, "It's a rare form of wolfsbane," he told Stiles. He closed his eyes and sighed again, "He needs to bring me the bullet."

"Why?" Stiles asked.

Derek's eyes opened again and his gaze landed on Darcy. He looked worried, "Cause I'm going to die without it."

Darcy watched him carefully as Stiles turned to open the door. "What's going on?" she asked, still confused. She still moved, despite the confusion, to help Derek stand again. Stiles held the door open for them and she helped him stumble inside. "Bullet? You were shot?"

Stiles was the one that answered. "Yeah," he told her. "In the arm. I'd call him a pus - a wimp - for being such a baby about it. I mean for him it should just be a flesh wound. But you should see it, Dee, it's so disgusting!"

"In the arm?" Darcy asked, turning to look at Derek. "Which arm?"

Derek caught onto her line of questioning faster than Stiles did. He stopped walking and lifted his gaze to look at her. He took a breath, "My right arm," he told her. "Just below the elbow."

Darcy's gaze shifted, glancing down toward her own arm. "When?" she asked, her voice shaking slightly. He didn't answer, just watched her. She glanced back up at him, "A little after two in the morning."

It wasn't a question.

He nodded anyway.

"How did you -" Stiles started, turning to look at her, pausing just outside the exam room doors. The realization hit him and his own skin paled as his eyebrows lifted, "Your arm hurt last night!" he gasped out, gesturing toward Darcy. "In the same place!" He turned toward Derek, "What? How? Why?" His jaw clenched, "What the hell did you do to my sister?"

"I. Didn't. Do. Anything. To. Her." Derek ground out through his teeth.

"Are you sure?" Stiles asked him. "Because apparently she can feel your pain!"

Darcy's mouth dropped open. Was that what was happening? Was she really somehow feeling his pain?

"She's going to feel a lot more of it if we don't take care of this!" Derek roared.


Author's Note:

I gotta say, this chapter and the next one are some of my favorites to write. I kind of love almost everything about them!
And I hope that you do too!
Thank you so much for your patience over the last few weeks. I've finally got all of my computer issues figured out and am feeling pretty comfortable wit where we are right now. I am also pregnant again because apparently my husband and I are extremely fertile rabbits. So between the nausea, the exhaustion, the doctor appointments, work, and the living baby we currently have ... life has been an adventure as of late.
And a busy one at that.
But not so busy that I can't keep writing an occasionally give you guys a hopefully awesome update!
Was it awesome? You guys tell me by using that super nice box down there and leaving a review. With my hormones the way they are right now, good reviews could make me cry, so you know ... there's that added bonus.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed and favorited this story after the last chapter, this update is for you rockstars!

RHatch89: It's so nice to see you over here on one of my other stories! I stan someone who's read more than one of my stories!

That's all I've got for now.
Until next time - happy reading,

Chloe Jane