Chapter Eight: Connected

Derek started to struggle as Stiles opened the doors to the exam room. Darcy turned and watched him as he tried to take off his long-sleeved shirt. An odd thought crossed her mind as she stopped walking so that she could help him pull the shirt over his head, this was the first time she had seen him in anything other than a tight t-shirt.

Once the shirt was off she tossed it on the ground and reached out for him again, ready to help him walk further into the room, but he shook his head and stepped away from her. "Don't," he growled at her, stumbling forward, out of her reach.

Darcy's jaw dropped open as she watched him, her gaze moving over the strong, taut muscles of his back. His muscles were spasming. Whatever was happening to him was causing him to lose control of his muscles. They relaxed and tensed at odd intervals. She shook her head and stepped forward, "I'm trying to help you," she bit out, her eyes narrowing into a glare.

The only reason she was still here was because Stiles had told her that Derek had said he needed to find her. She didn't know why, but it had to be important. She didn't think that he would have been focused on finding her just to yell at her for trying to help him.

The muscles in his jaw ticked and he turned to look at her as he reached the exam table. "Darcy," he ground out, his teeth clenched. "I'm trying to keep this from you."

Darcy's brows lifted. He was trying to keep what from her?

His green eyes landed on her face, "I'm trying. But I can't - I can't control it when you touch me. I need you to stay back. So I don't hurt you."

None of it made any sense to her. And she was still angry at him for growling at her, for pushing her away. It had been his idea to find her. She was not going to stick around just so that he could growl at her and use her as an emotional punching bag. Still, she nodded and moved to the other side of the exam table, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned against a set of cabinets and watched him.

Her eyes narrowed into a glare as she bit out, "If you pass out, I'm not going to catch you."

She was allowed, she decided, to be bitter.

Most of the bitterness disappeared a moment later when he turned his arm over and laid it flat on the exam table so that he could get a better look at his arm. Her mouth dropped open and she whispered a quiet, "Fuck," as her gaze moved up his arm.

The wound itself was relatively small, about the size of a dime. But the inside looked rotten and black. She could smell it now that his shirt was off and Stiles had been right earlier, the only way to describe that smell was death - it was a cold smell, a heavy one. But there was something, almost cloyingly sweet about it. She pursed her lips and swallowed, trying not to gag.

There was fresh blood smeared across the wound and his veins were dark and angry. They looked black as if whatever was rotting in the wound was spreading throughout his body.

If he hadn't sounded so certain, she wouldn't have believed him when he said he was only shot the night before. There was no way, this was a normal bullet.

Stiles moved closer to Darcy, standing in front of her as if he could block her view of his wound. As if she hadn't already seen it. As if she wouldn't see that wound every time she closed her eyes for the rest of her life.

"Okay," he sighed out. "You know, that really doesn't look like anything some echinacea and a good night of sleep couldn't take care of."

Derek's gaze remained on his arm, traveling up, following the dark veins. Darcy's chest tightened, she realized what he was thinking, what he was trying to calculate. He was running out of time.

"When the infection reaches my heart, it'll kill me," he told Stiles. His jaw clenched and he looked pointedly down at the exam table, as if he was forcing himself not to look at Darcy.

Stiles stared for a moment, "Positivity just isn't in your vocabulary is it?" her brother asked.

Derek didn't raise to the bait. He turned toward the cabinets and started opening doors and drawers at random, looking for something specific. It wasn't pain killers, those were kept in a labeled cabinet to Darcy's right. He was looking for something else.

"If he doesn't get here with the bullet in time -" he finally turned, glancing toward Darcy. She swallowed a lump in her throat and dropped her gaze. "Last resort."

He turned back to the cabinets.

"Which is?" Stiles asked.

Darcy's hands clenched at her sides when she saw him pull something out of one of the drawers. He had found what he was looking for. He turned around, holding up the bone saw so that both she and her brother could see it. Darcy held her breath, hoping she was wrong about what his next words would be. Derek nodded toward her, "She's going to cut off my arm."

Nope, she had not been wrong.

Stiles gulped audibly and his wide eyes landed on Darcy, "I'm sorry, she? As in my sister?" He shook his head. "No. She's not going to do that. You're not going to make her do that."

"She has to," Derek growled out as he dropped the saw down on the exam table and turned back to the drawers. He was looking for something to make a tourniquet now.

Stiles' hands flew around at his sides, "But you pretty much just said that she can feel your pain!" he yelled. "If she touches your bare skin you apparently can't keep it from her. How is she supposed to cut off your arm without touching it? And you expect her to cut off your arm while feeling like she's cutting off her own arm?" His jaw snapped shut and he shook his head. "No. I'm putting my foot down."

And he actually stomped his foot against the floor.

"It has to be her," Derek told him, his jaw tight as he turned to look at Darcy. "If she does it, it won't hurt her."

"How do you know that?" Stiles asked, his brows furrowed. He wasn't freaking out as much anymore. Her brother had always been curious, he loved a good mystery or puzzle. As worried as he was about what cutting off Derek's arm would do to Darcy, he was intrigued too, trying to figure out how this worked.

"I just do."

"How?" Stiles asked again, his own teeth gritted together. "I'm not going to let her without being certain. Is there some were-" he cut himself off as Derek turned, glaring at him. "Some rulebook about whatever's going on that I can read?"

"Not in the next ten minutes," Derek told him.

He turned, his gaze landing on Darcy, "Will you be able to do this?" he asked her. He looked sorry that he had to ask her, like this was the last thing he wanted her to have to do. A brief thought crossed her mind - he was more upset that she would have to be the one to cut off his arm than by the fact that it was going to need to be cut off at all.

"I just said I won't let her," Stiles argued, stepping forward.

Darcy reached out and gently pushed Stiles out of her way. "Stiles," she told him, her voice soft as she moved around the table. "We've been through this. You don't let me do anything." She stopped next to Derek, making sure to leave enough space between them so that she didn't accidentally touch him. Not that it mattered, if everything went to hell within the next ten minutes she'd be doing more than touching him. She took a shaky breath and clenched her fists to keep her hands from shaking too, "I can do this."

"No! No!" Stiles practically shouted as he moved closer to them. Darcy ignored him as she grabbed the rubber tourniquet Derek had pulled out of one of the drawers. Her hands shook and she tried not to touch him as she tied it around his upper arm. He winced, but made no sound. "Oh. My. God." Stiles continued. "What if you bleed to death?"

"It'll heal if it works," Derek growled.

Darcy glanced up sharply, that was something to unpack at a different time.

Stiles sighed, glancing at her. "I know I can't stop you," he told her, his voice softening. "But I don't think you should do this."

"Why not?" Derek and Darcy asked him at the same time.

"Well," Stiles sighed. "Because of the cutting through the flesh, the sawing of the bone, and especially the blood!"

"You think I'm going to faint at the sight of blood?" Darcy asked, arching an eyebrow at him.

"Well … no?" Stiles asked, a blush rising to his cheeks. "But I might at the sight of a chopped off arm!"

Derek sighed, his fists clenching on the table. When he next looked up he was glaring at Stiles, "All right, fine. How about this? Either you shut up and she cuts off my arm, or I'm gonna cut off your head."

"All right," Darcy muttered, glaring at Derek as she tried to step between them, to separate them.

Derek reached around her, caging her in between his body and the exam table as he reached for the collar of Stiles shirt. "Okay, you know what?" Stiles asked, reaching up to try to pull his shirt out of Derek's grasp, he wasn't strong enough. "I'm so not buying your threats any -"

Derek's hand slipped from Stiles' shirt and he gently nudged Darcy to the left as his body turned to the right, his muscles tensing. Darcy watched with wide eyes as his mouth opened and something thick and black poured out of it and splashed on the floor.

She turned away, swallowing slightly. It smelled the same as the wound on his arm. Rotten and wrong.

"What? What are you doing?" Stiles asked. "Holy God, what the hell is that?"

Derek's back heaved as he nudged Darcy again and she slipped out from between him and the exam table. He pressed his chest against the metal surface and stretched his arm out on the table, a silent signal to her. "It's my body. It's trying to heal itself," he told Stiles.

Stiles looked disgusted at the puddle of black, putrid liquid on the ground. "Well, it's not doing a very good job of it." His gaze landed on Darcy as she reached for the bone saw. "What are you doing?" he asked.

But Derek knew, "Now," he told her, turning to look at her. "You gotta do it now."

Darcy felt sick. She could feel the bile rising up in her throat and she couldn't understand why she was doing this. Why had she allowed her younger brother and this practical stranger to override any sort of common sense she had and drag her into the animal clinic. She should have forced Derek to let her bring him to the hospital. And if he didn't want to go she should have left. There was absolutely no reason she should be cutting off his arm with a bone saw.

But it was too late now. The black liquid he had just thrown up was a sign of that.

It was this. Or he'd die.

She lifted her gaze, her blue eyes meeting his green ones. "It's going to hurt you."

He nodded. "But it won't hurt you," he promised.

She nodded too and pulled the trigger on the saw, wincing as it roared to life. Somewhere on the other side of the exam table Stiles was freaking out. "Oh my God!" she heard him gasp out. She clenched her jaw, trying to drown him out as she brought the saw closer to Derek's arm. "Okay, okay. Oh my God. All right, here we go! You're doing it, Dee! You're going to cut a man's -"

Somewhere in the clinic a door slammed open. Darcy turned the saw off and turned slightly toward the door, hoping that it was Dr. Deaton, he would at least know what to do. "Stiles!" she heard Scott yell.

"Scott?" Stiles yelled back, letting him know where they were.

The doors opened and Scott rushed inside. His brown eyes widened as they swept over the room. From Stiles, to Derek, to Darcy with the bone saw. "Stiles?" he asked again. "Darcy? What the hell are you doing?"

Stiles looked like he was going to cry and laugh at the same time as he reached out to grab the saw out of Darcy's hand. He dropped it on the table, far enough away from it that she would not be able to grab it from where she stood. "Oh," he breathed out, looking at Scott as if he was the embodiment of Christmas morning, "you just prevented a lifetime of nightmares."

"Did you get it?" Derek asked, straightening up as he turned to look at Scott. He still looked terrible, but there was a determination in him now. There was a light at the end of this terrifying tunnel.

"What are you going to do with it?" Stiles asked as Scott dug in his pocket and pulled out a bullet. Darcy's brows furrowed as Derek held it up, it looked like a regular rifle round. There was absolutely nothing special about it.

Derek held it up, "I'm gonna -" he started, swaying slightly on his feet. "I'm gonna -" he swayed again.

"No. No, no, no, no, no!" Scott yelled, realizing what was going to happen a second before Darcy did. The bullet fell to the ground, a quiet metallic clink the only sound in the room for a moment before Derek started to fall.

Darcy remembered her warning from earlier. If you pass out, I'm not going to catch you, she had told him. But now, as if she had no other choice, she moved, her arms wrapped around him, holding onto him as she helped him into a controlled fall down to the ground.

The pain was instant and excruciating. Apparently Derek being unconscious did nothing to keep her from feeling his pain. Her teeth bit into her bottom lip, grinding it between her upper and lower jaw, but it did nothing to keep the scream of pain inside as tears filled her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. The scream seemed long and unending, echoing in her ears as she slumped against the cupboards, Derek's head cradled in her lap.

"What's happening?" she heard Scott yell. He was on the ground as well, laying on his stomach, trying to reach something underneath a shelf. "Did he hurt her? Darcy - is she okay?"

"Just get the bullet!" Stiles yelled at Scott as he practically jumped over the exam table to get to Darcy and Derek. "I don't know! It's something weird! He did something to her! She can feel his pain! We have to stop this!" He turned toward Darcy, reaching out to pull Derek from her lap so that she was no longer touching him. "Darcy let go of him!"

"No!" Darcy ground out, her teeth still clenched. She had stopped biting her lip and was now biting her tongue. Her mouth filled with the metallic taste of blood. It made her want to throw up, but she refused to let go of him. "No."

Stiles stared at her for a long moment, surprised. "All right," he told her, holding his hands up in surrender to let her know that he wasn't going to make her let go. "I'm just gonna -" he gestured toward Derek and waited until Darcy had nodded before he dropped down on the ground next to him and tried to wake Derek up by gently slapping his cheeks.

They were both freaking out and Darcy couldn't handle it. She couldn't take their panic and Derek's pain. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, it didn't matter that it shook. And then she counted her heartbeats, pulling her focus in. She couldn't and wouldn't pay attention to anything besides her heartbeat, and the feel of Derek's warm, clammy skin underneath her hands.

She thought she heard Stiles apologize to her. But she couldn't be sure. What she was sure about was the sudden, sharp pain on her face. As if someone had just punched her. She looked up to see Stiles, shaking his hand and grimacing. He hadn't punched her, but he had punched -

Derek shifted in her lap, his eyes opening. He stared at her for a second before he turned, trying to find Scott, "Give me -" he started.

Scott nodded and moved forward, "Up!" he ordered and grabbed Derek's reaching arm to pull him up off the ground. Stiles reached out for Darcy, but she shook her head, using her hands to push her across the floor, out of their way. She wasn't touching him anymore, but she could still feel his pain. Not as strong, not as sharp.

A whisper of it.

Phantom pain.

Tears still filled her eyes, making everything blurry as she watched Derek bite the bullet out of the casing. He poured what should have been gunpowder out of the round and lit it on fire. A strange blue smoke rose from the table and he gathered up the burnt remnants in his hand. His muscles tensed and just like before Stiles had punched him, she thought she heard Derek apologize to her.

Her brows furrowed in confusion, her brain was feeling slow and fuzzy. Why was he apologizing to her?

She knew why a second later when he pressed the ash into his open wound, the one she could still feel on the inside of her own arm. He screamed, she did too.

Her voice was raw and hoarse.

And then it stopped and everything went black.

…..

She wasn't out for long. Maybe not even longer than a minute.

The first sense that came back was her sense of touch. She could feel someone crouching over her, hovering. Her first assumption was that it was Stiles, but that became obviously wrong when he lifted his hand to her cheek, his fingers brushing her hair gently away from her face. Stiles' hands weren't that large.

They weren't that warm.

They didn't make her skin tingle, like there was lighting just under the skin, the way his did.

Derek.

The second thing she realized was that she was no longer in pain. Whatever had been happening was over now. Her body ached, but it was a tired, muscle-deep feeling, like she had just run a marathon. On a scale of one to ten she would have barely rated it a one.

They were in the middle of a conversation, she didn't want to interrupt it so she kept her eyes closed, focused on her breathing.

"What do you mean?" she heard Scott ask, he sounded suspicious.

Derek sighed, "I'll show you tonight," he told him. "Meet me at Beacons Crossing Home," Derek told him. "In an hour."

"The Care facility at the hospital?" Scott asked.

She felt Derek nod as his hand slid across her skin to cup her cheek. His thumb brushed across her cheek bone, catching a leftover tear.

"Umm no?" she heard Stiles ask. He was trying to sound sure of himself, hard. "Not until she wakes up and someone explains what the hell just happened with the two of you."

His thumb brushed over her cheek bone again, "She's waking up," Derek murmured, his voice quiet.

"How can you tell?" Scott asked.

Derek shifted. He had been watching her face, and the only reason she knew that was because when he turned she could feel his gaze move away, as if a weight had been lifted. "Use your senses," he told Scott. "I can hear her heartbeat."

That had to be a lie, Darcy thought, shaking her head slightly against his hand, giving up at pretending to still be knocked out. A lot of weird things had happened since last night, but she refused to believe that he could actually hear her heartbeat.

That was impossible.

He turned back to face her and his voice was just as quiet, just as gentle as it had been at the gas station, "Darcy?" he asked. "You're safe. You're all right. Nothing's going to hurt you anymore. You can open your eyes."

Despite everything she believed him.

Though he had been wrong about one thing. The bright overhead light hurt her eyes as she opened them and blinked up at the ceiling. She groaned and closed her eyes again, wincing away from the light and unconsciously curling into Derek's side.

He made some soft, shushing, soothing noise as he reached out to gently help her sit back up. His arm slipped behind her, helping to hold her up. At some point he'd put his shirt back on.

That's a shame, she thought.

A blush burned on her cheeks as she glanced at him, her eyes wide. Could he hear her thoughts?

Stupid question, but weirder things had happened in the last twenty-four hours.

He didn't seem able to read her thoughts, but he was watching her carefully as if he was waiting for her to start screaming or hyperventilating again. She didn't do either. After a minute he nodded and stood up, holding out a hand to her so that he could pull her off the ground. "I'll take you home," he told her, his voice still gentle. "You shouldn't drive by yourself right now."

"No," Stiles argued again, shaking his head as he moved across the room so that he could wrap his own hand around Darcy's upper arm. "She's my sister. And you've got this weird wolfy thing going on with her -" he waved his hand at the space between Darcy and Derek. Her brows furrowed, wolfy thing? "You are not going to be in a car alone with her. I will drive her home."

Derek's eyebrows lifted, "How are you going to drive both your cars back?" he asked .

He had a point. Both the jeep and her kia were here at the animal clinic.

Stiles shrugged, "Scott will drive her car back."

"I gotta get my bike," Scott interjected unhelpfully.

Darcy snorted and shook her head, gently pulling her arm out of Stiles' grip and her hand out of Derek's. "This is fun, boys," she told them as she stepped away from them. "But I'm pretty sure that I just imagined the last hour and a half of my life and that I'm going insane. What I would really like is a little time alone to process all this shit."

Her eyes narrowed into a glare as she turned to look at her brother, "You don't get a say in who drives me home, I do." Then she turned to Derek, still glaring, "And I have no idea what happened between you and me, but I want you to stay the hell away from me. I will get a restraining order against you. I'm getting a concealed carry permit and I will not hesitate to shoot you. Regardless of whether or not I feel it afterward."

She paused, glancing between the two of them. "Do I make myself clear?"

She waited until they both nodded before she nodded as well and stormed out of the exam room. She thought she heard Stiles clap his hands together as the doors shut behind her, "Well, she's taking all this much better than I expected."


Author's Note:

And I'm back with another update!
I hope that you guys had as much fun reading this chapter as I had writing it. Because this one was a blast to write.
It looks like right now Darcy is still struggling to understand what is happening between her and Derek, but she's definitely going to start figuring things out soon (right after she does a quick WebMD search and comes up with a medical reason that has absolutely nothing to do with what's actually happening :D).
Anyway, if you enjoyed this latest update, why don't you drop on down to that friendly empty box down there and let me know!
Reviews are my lifeblood right now. And I need the validation!
Speaking of validation ...

mercury30: I'm so glad that you are hyped about this story! I am too! And this update is for you!

Thanks to everyone else who has reviewed this story, added it to their favorites list, or added it to their alerts lists! You guys are wonderful!
Until next time, happy reading!

Chloe Jane