Fandom: Teen Wolf
Characters: Melissa McCall, Stiles Stilinski, Scott McCall, Isaac Lahey
Word count: 3,199
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Wolf or any related properties.
Warnings: Spoilers for "Silverfinger," angst, hurt/comfort
Summary: Stiles has only ever called her “Mom” once. Until now.
If you asked anyone in Beacon Hills how many kids Melissa McCall had or how many sons the Sheriff has, inevitably the response was “two.”
Melissa has a lot of sons these days actually, although only one of them is biological.
Scott, despite acquiring claws and fangs and red eyes, will always be her baby boy. (And hadn’t the fact that werewolves were real been a shock all on its own? To add to that the fact that her little boy was a werewolf who people wanted to hunt down? That had taken time.) He was one of the few good things to come out of her relationship with Rafael, and she takes pride in being his mother, whether it’s in his accomplishments, like pulling his grades up and making first line, or in seeing the man he’s becoming, like when he begs her to let them take in an orphaned Isaac Lahey.
Isaac has been an interesting addition to the household. The boy has a bad habit of raiding her closet for scarves (he’s mumbled something about them smelling like home and that she has good fashion sense when she catches him at it for the umpteenth time), but he also does the dishes, does a fair share of other chores, and always thanks her, even for the littlest kindness.
And Melissa has to admit, even though the house is taking a beating, she’s never had more fun yelling at teenagers. After all, what mother in the country could find a way to tack “supernatural” onto every threat? (She wonders sometimes about Talia Hale, but she never knew the woman and she doesn’t really have the courage to ask Derek or the desire to ask Peter about her.)
But before Isaac, there had been Stiles.
Stiles, the too-smart-for-his-own-good kid with ADHD.
Stiles, the boy with a brain overflowing with too many schemes that he kept dragging Scott into.
Stiles, who had had a panic attack at her house one night while he and Scott were having a sleepover. Melissa had heard him gasping in the bathroom when she went for a glass of water and the first words he had managed to get out after she had got him to open the door had been a plea not to tell Scott for fear it would make him abandon him for being “all messed up.”
Stiles, who instigated The Great Gummy Worm Incident of ’08, for which they have all vowed a solemn pact of silence.
Stiles, who had helped Scott through more asthma attacks than any of them could count.
Stiles, who had made copies of her house key without her knowledge.
Stiles, who was loyal to a fault and truly saw Scott. He saw Scott when no one else did, when they were just invisible, nerdy kids, and Scott did the same for him. Melissa had never really seen a friendship like theirs before or since.
So, yes, Stiles is sort of her son.
But Stiles has only ever called her “Mom” once.
Scott calls her “Mom” all the time, of course.
Isaac doesn’t really do it all that often, but every once in a while, he’ll call her “Mama McCall,” like it’s a nickname. She never really calls him on it because Isaac always sort of clams up after he does it, rubbing the back of his neck and flinching just the tiniest bit when anyone moves, like he’s afraid they’re going to hit him.
Stiles had occasionally come close to calling her “Mom.” He’d be laughing or giggling with Scott, and start to call out “Hey, M…” And then he’d suck his lips back into his mouth, sealing the word inside. Sometimes he’d snort and play it off, and other times he’d look so upset and despondent that Melissa broke out the vanilla ice cream and sundae toppings and let Stiles and Scott go nuts, regardless of how much of a mess they made of her kitchen.
But Stiles has only ever called her “Mom” once.
Stiles had been having a sleepover with Scott at the McCall home, although sleepover had been something of a misnomer since there was little sleep involved. He and Scott had stayed up late playing video games and Melissa had fallen asleep to giggling smothered by pillows.
Scott had been the one who had shaken her awake; his wide, watery brown eyes shining with the light reflected in through her bedroom window from the streetlamp outside.
“Stiles is crying, Mom. He’s really hot, too, but he won’t wake up. Please, you have to fix him.”
She’d stumbled out of bed, thrown on her old, threadbare black terrycloth robe over her faded mint green paisley pajamas, and followed Scott downstairs to the living room. In among the remains of a pillow fort were two sleeping bags, one unzipped and empty, and the other, decorated with a smiling animated character that Scott had told her the name of at least a dozen times but which still evaded her, was inhabited by a small, shaking figure.
Melissa had fallen to her knees beside him, unzipping the bag enough to be able to get at the huddled body. She’d cursed under her breath when the zipper got stuck, and she instantly knew how scared Scott was because he didn’t immediately say, “Mom said a bad word,” as he was wont to do whenever she slipped up.
“He’ll be okay, sweetie,” she said, but she didn’t spare him a look, too focused on the bloodless pallor of Stiles’ skin.
She’d pressed a hand against his forehead, the skin dry and hot. She’d ran a hand down the side of his face to his cheek, smearing the sweat at his temple so she could stroke his cheek.
“Hurts,” Stiles had whimpered, voice cracking with puberty and fear as he shivered. His eyelids had fluttered briefly before lowering again, forcing more tears from his eyes.
“I know, sweetie. I know,” she’d soothed. “We’re going to make it better, I promise.”
“Don’t feel good,” he’d said, pushing his face into her hand, seeking the little comfort there.
“You’ve got a fever. That’s what’s making you feel icky.”
“Don’t like it,” Stiles said.
Melissa had turned to find Scott wringing his hands together.
“Scott, go get the thermometer out of my bathroom cabinet, okay?”
He’d nodded quickly, obviously grateful to be given something to do.
“Grab the Tylenol too, sweetie!” she’d called as he scampered upstairs.
“Got it!” Scott had called back.
“I’m going to get you all fixed up, kiddo,” she’d said to Stiles, stroking his hair again. “World’s Best Nurse, remember?”
The year prior, Stiles and Scott had pooled their allowances for Christmas and she and the Sheriff had both gotten two coffee mugs each. His had borne the inscriptions “#1 Sheriff” and “#1 Dad,” while hers had “World’s Best Nurse” and “#1 Mom” on them. Both Scott and Stiles had smiled whenever she’d used them, so sometimes she’d get some water in a mug instead of a glass (there was only so much coffee she could take) just to see them light up and then rib each other for five minutes on who she liked best depending on which mug she was using.
“I trust you,” he’d mumbled. “Very best, right?”
She’d thumbed away a tear at the corner of his right eye.
“Yeah. They wouldn’t let me keep the mug otherwise. Do you want me to call your dad?”
Stiles had started to struggle then, trying to get up. Melissa had had to push him back down, avoiding his skinny flailing limbs.
“No,” he’d yelled, before he’d started coughing. “Please don’t. Please. He can’t…can’t…my dad…not back to the hospital. Please don’t take me there.”
She’d tried not to wear her scrubs any time Stiles came over, because he’d developed a fair amount of anxiety about anything related to hospitals. She couldn’t blame him, not after they had all watched Claudia (sharp, brilliant, kind Claudia) waste away from a sickness that made no sense. Melissa knew Stiles had been alone in the room with her when she died, and she couldn’t imagine what that had done to him.
And Melissa had known that Stiles was a smart kid. He’d known that his father wouldn’t go near the hospital unless he had to for work, and that when he had to do that, he usually took a bottle with him to the dining room table after and didn’t get up for a long time. Melissa had seen it herself.
“Sssh, ssssh. I don’t think we’ll have to take you to the hospital, but you have to calm down, okay?”
“Got ‘em!” Scott had announced as he’d hurried back into the room, the pill bottle tucked into his blue plaid pajama-clad left elbow and the thermometer and a glass of water clutched in either fist. He’d been wheezing slightly, but Melissa had learned early on to take her patients one at a time. “Is he gonna be okay?”
“Thermometer first, okay?” she’d said instead, and Scott had handed it over before crossing around and kneeling across from her by Stiles’ chest. Stiles had still been struggling to rise, so Scott had taken his hand and started patting it like he had the rabbit at the petting zoo they had visited once, moving his fingers as gently as possible.
She’d inserted the digital device into Stiles’ ear, counting down the time needed in her head so that she was already looking at the reading when the thermometer beeped.
“102.3,” she’d said. “You are definitely sick.”
“Don’t tell him,” Stiles had whispered. Melissa had squeezed her eyes shut when Stiles had wrapped his small hand around hers, his grip weak. “Don’t.”
“Count out two pills, Scott,” she’d said instead. “Stiles, we’re going to sit you up so you can take some medicine, okay?”
“Okay,” had come the quick response from Scott, followed by a duplicate one from Stiles a few beats later.
“Good,” Melissa had said, slipping her hand behind Stiles’ back to help push him up. The threadbare Beacon Hills County Sheriff’s Department T-shirt he’d been using for a pajama top had been soaked through with sweat and she had made a mental note to tell Scott to grab him some fresh ones of his to change into.
Stiles had cried out as they got him upright, but Scott had already start trying to distract him.
“Once you get better, I am totally going to beat you at Mario.”
Stiles had had to pant for breath for a long moment before he’d gathered enough to retort, “Fat…chance.”
Scott had handed Melissa the pills, and she’d slipped them into Stiles’ mouth before letting Scott help him with the water. When he’d downed half the glass, Stiles had batted his hands out, pushing Scott and the glass away.
“Can I go back to bed?” he’d begged. “There’s no need to…” He’d stopped to suck in a heavy breath before he’d finished with, “no need to call my dad.”
Melissa had studied him for a long moment, then looked up at Scott, who was worrying his lower lip between his teeth as his gaze darted from his best friend to her and back.
“Why don’t we get you some dry clothes and move you up to Scott’s bed, okay? Scott, you’re going to be my official on-call nurse, so go grab those clothes and get the cot out of the hall closet, okay? That’ll be your bed for the night.”
“I’m on it,” he’d said, scrambling to his feet after patting Stiles on the shoulder. “You’re going to be better in no time, Stiles. And remember, you’ve got a big ass-whoopin’ ahead of you!”
“Language!” Melissa had said, but Stiles had tried to smile at that, so she let it go.
“Sorry, Mom,” Scott had said before he scurried out of the room.
Stiles had flopped back down on his sleeping bag without Melissa and Scott to support him.
“You just have to let the medicine work,” Melissa had said as she pulled a brown knitted afghan off the remains of the pillow fort. “I promise you’ll feel better. A good night’s sleep and you’ll be right as rain.”
Stiles’d curled onto his side, shivering despite his fever. He’d pressed his forehead against her knees and stayed there.
“You believe me, don’t you, Stiles?” she’d said as she started stroking his hair again, what little of it there was with how short he kept it.
“I believe you, Mom,” he’d said, and Melissa had sucked in a startled breath and not said another word as Stiles’ breathing started to even out into a restless rhythm that indicated an uneasy slumber.
She’d ended up carrying him up the stairs. It’d been no easy task, but he hadn’t woken. And just as she’d promised, he’d been feeling better by morning, although she’d still made him call home to reassure his dad that he was okay before letting him and Scott engage in their promised Mario tournament.
Melissa wonders if she should do that now, with Stiles begging her to see his doctor when she knows he should be at school. He’s not 18, and his father deserves to know about any medical problems his son may be having.
But Stiles is hers, too. He’s a (patient, surrogate son, guardian — because his sacrifice had saved her just as much as Scott and Allison’s, and his bat had kept a root cellar from caving in and burying them) to her.
And he’s not okay. It’s hard to say that any of them are okay these days. But it’s obviously worse for Stiles if the frustrated tears in his eyes are any indication. And Melissa knows she can do what’s right for Stiles when it comes to his medical care. This is her job, and she’s repaired that “World’s Best Nurse” mug three times, because glue can fix broken handles but it can’t do a thing about sad smiles.
Melissa takes him to a private room because she so rarely sees Stiles looking so strung-out and scraped hollow (really only ever on the days when he’s either been abusing his Adderall or not taking it at all).
She feels a little sick when he tells her how much sleep he’s been getting, has to count the hours on shaking fingers before he can confirm it. But when she adds that fact to the other answers she’s gathered (the Adderall not working, the anxiety, the sleepwalking, the panic attacks, the illiteracy and the blackouts), the diagnosis is easy.
She draws up the sedative, measuring out a dose that she knows shouldn’t react negatively with the amphetamine in Stiles’ system from his ADHD medication. As she taps out the air bubbles, she muses that it’s sort of nice (if morbid) to be able to share an easy laugh about the time they were either about to be or were human sacrifices to a magical tree.
Melissa asks Stiles if he trusts her and gets a joke for an answer, not like the immediate answer she got all those years ago that had a ceramic conviction behind it. But she injects him with the sedative anyways, because he needs it. He needs the healing that will come from some decent sleep, the recuperation time to bounce back from the exhaustion caused by nonstop panic and bizarre dreams.
As she helps Stiles stretch out on the bed, a thought starts niggling away at the back of Melissa’s head, like a terrible case of deja vu. Because she’s seen the symptoms she’d written in Stiles’ chart before, and she’s hoping, praying really, that she’s misremembering them, that there’s no way the two files, each with “Stilinski” at the top, will be the same.
Stiles snags her hand in his before she can get too far in thoughts or distance. She wonders when his hand got to be so much larger than hers, when the gangly limbed boy who used to drag Scott into leaf piles just because filled out and grew up. She thinks it may have started here, in this hospital, as his mother rambled on about dreams and reality, and picked up speed when her own son became a werewolf and the pair became involved in a world so much bigger and harsher and deadlier than the one they used to inhabit.
Melissa puts her hand on Stiles’ forehead and strokes his hair back (and what happened to the buzz cut he used to be so fond of? When had he grown up and why hadn’t she noticed?). His warm, clammy fingers twitch where they’re wrapped around her own, pulling her a little closer.
“Get some rest,” she tells him, and means it as sincerely and completely as she can. The young man in front of her is more tired in body and mind than anyone his age should be, and he needs all the rest he can get. If she can give him even a small bit of that comfort, she’ll consider that “World’s Best Nurse” title well-earned.
Stiles lets her go after a moment, settles back and settles down as the sedative takes effect. She turns away, so she’s not looking at him when he says it, something he hasn’t said since that night at her house.
And it hurts to hear, because Stiles is life and happiness and sneaking back into her house through Scott’s window when she throws him out for the night because he can’t stand to be away from his best friend for more than a few minutes. He is not the hollow-eyed, exhausted shadow of the boy she knows that is currently sleeping on a hospital bed he shouldn’t be in. The Stiles she knows doesn’t call her “Mom” because Melissa will never take Claudia’s place, and neither of them want her to.
So it hurts her to hear, even as it makes her the tiniest bit glad that she can offer him that sort of warmth, that sort of comfort when he’s hurting so badly himself, when his actual mom should be able to offer him it to him and can’t.
Melissa McCall has many sons, even if only one of them is biological. And as she takes Stiles’ chart and heads for the records room to find another, one with a “Stilinski, Claudia” label, one thought settles firmly into her mind, blooming purely from maternal instinct. Because she had seen what Claudia’s illness had done to the Stilinski family, seen how her death had fractured it in a way the two survivors had never been able to pick up all the pieces from.
She knows exactly what it will do to the Sheriff, what it will do to Scott, do to her and do to every other member of the strange, supernatural group they’ve found themselves part of to lose Stiles like they did her.
So when she locates Claudia’s folder and flips it open, sets Stiles’ on top of the pages so she can do a side-by-side comparison of the information there, that one thought crystallizes as each symptom matches up.
Not him, too. Please, not him, too.