When a week goes by and Stiles' condition doesn't improve, John sinks so low that he begins to contemplate something pretty unfathomable. The teen hasn't come straight out and offered it yet, but John has a feeling Scott has been trying to figure out a way to broach the subject for a while now. Probably ever since that first night in the waiting room when he found out about how this all could end for his best friend.
Stiles' respiratory therapists have been trying to reduce his dependency on that damn vent, but they're just not getting the results they had hoped for. From what John has been able to glean from the doctors and his own late night Google searches, a week seems to be the standard unit of measure to tell if a person who's been paralyzed is going to recover any function. Well they've reached that proverbial line in the sand and Stiles still isn't showing any signs of improvement. His neck has had a week to heal and still he lingers on in some kind of limbo. They all do, really, and it's enough to set any father to thinking about that one crazy thing that might make all of this all right again.
He gets his chance to ask one rainy Saturday afternoon after Lydia leaves to go in search of something to eat. Things have been a little awkward between John and Scott ever since their conversation the other day. He suspects its because they're each still trying to digest what the other one had to say. John still doesn't blame Scott for any of this, despite the teen's best efforts at convincing him to the contrary, but the kid is so desperate to try and make things right again that there's no doubt in John's mind that he'll do exactly what he wants. There's no doubt in his mind that, were he to ask the agitated alpha sitting before him, picking at some invisible spot on his jeans, that the kid would agree to give Stiles the bite and end this nightmare once and for all.
There are only two things that are keeping John from just blurting out the request like he's ordering takeout. Two things that make him pause and really think about what it is he's about to ask of Scott. Firstly, he's not entirely sure that being a werewolf is something that Stiles would ever be interested in. And second, there's still a chance that his boy could pull through all this and be perfectly fine. The longer his condition goes without changing, the more remote that possibility becomes, but it's still there and John can't just ignore it. He can't deny his only son the chance to decide his own fate, so John makes one of the hardest decisions of his life, and doesn't do it. God help him, he decides to wait, and sits in the quiet of Stiles' room long after trying to decide if he's just made the biggest mistake of his life.
It takes two more days, but John eventually does get his answer. It comes with a visit from Melissa who's been such a source of strength for John through all of this that he's kind of started looking forward to her visits. She breezes in about five minutes after John arrives in Stiles room after a much needed night at home sleeping in his own bed with a huge smile stretched across her pretty face. It's infectious and John can't help but return it with a small one of his own as he throws his jacket over the back of his usual chair.
"What are you smiling about?" He asks and the grin only gets wider.
"I have some good news for you." Melissa knows him well enough to know that she should never, ever screw around with him, especially when it comes to Stiles, so he can't help but let in a little hope.
"What is it? What's going on?"
Melissa steps around him and goes to stand at the edge of Stiles' bed, resting her hands lightly on the bars. "He made some really good progress this morning with the respiratory therapist," she beams but John's not sure what she's getting at. "He started breathing on his own, John."
For a moment it's John who can't breathe. "Really?" She nods. "So what does that mean?" He has half a mind to pull Melissa into his arms and whirl her around the room, but he doesn't do it. He's been at this job for far too long to just assume that this means everything is going to be okay.
"It's nothing definitive, but it's a good sign. Next step will be to reduce his sedation and try and wean him off the ventilator completely." John remembers this procedure from his internet searches and nods absently.
"But he could still be paralyzed." It's meant to be a question, but comes out as more of a statement.
Melissa's face falls a little but she doesn't lose her smile entirely. "It's a possibility, but they won't know for sure until they wake him up and find out from him directly."
It isn't the resolution he was hoping for, but it's something and John scoops one of Stiles' clammy hands up into his own. It's still hot from a fever he's developed over the past few days, but it's warm and alive in his grasp and John will take that any day over the alternative.
"When's he going to wake up?"
"After the shift change they'll get started," Melissa explains. "I'm off in an hour so I'll come by and stay with you today. If you want." She adds the last part like an afterthought, but John isn't about to say no.
"I'd like that, thank you Melissa," he smiles a little shyly, unwanted color rising in his cheeks. God damn it. What is he, 12 years old? He clears his throat when she notices a moment later and just barges on. "Have you told Scott about what happened?"
"Contrary to popular belief, Sheriff," she smiles a little curtly, leaning into his space, "I don't share everything about my patients' conditions with my son."
"Come on, you know that's not what I mean," John sputters stupidly. "I figured you tell him everything." Her eyebrows shoot up. "No, that came out wrong." Oh hell. "Look, what I'm trying to say is, that kid's practically family, so I wouldn't take offence if you wanted to keep him in the loop." He ends on a huff and Melissa actually starts to laugh at him. Her eyes crinkle around the edges when she does it and John runs a hand over his face in embarrassment.
"I have to call him about something else anyways," Melissa replies, amusement still coloring her voice. It's nice that things like laughter are starting to trickle back into John's life again, even if it is at his own expense. "I'll let him know so he can pass it along to rest of the pack."
John nods and Melissa leaves to go and finish up the rest of her shift. John's body is beyond exhausted, even after last night's sleep in his own bed, but he doesn't sit down in his chair like his tired limbs want. He stands instead at the edge of Stiles' bed, his kid's warm hand pressed tightly between both of his, and runs through all the things that are possible this morning that weren't yesterday.
Stiles is breathing on his own and that's caused John to hope. If his boy can pull that off then maybe, just maybe he can defy it all and make a full recovery. Maybe John will come in to tomorrow and find that Stiles can move arms and legs and even the hand that John holds between his own so tightly that his fingers are beginning to ache.
"You got this, kid," John whispers out, bringing the warmth of Stiles' hand up to the side of his face. "No matter what happens, I'll get you through this. Even if nothing is ever the same again, we'll make it, okay? Just keep fighting and come back."
There's no visible change, there never is when John talks to him like this, but there's no denying the atmosphere in the normally heavy room has altered somehow. Instead of the oppressive silence, the air feels lighter and freer and for a moment, John can imagine glancing down at his boy's face to find his eyes open and Stiles smiling up at him. It doesn't happen, of course. Stiles is still intubated and hasn't regained consciousness since this whole thing started. It's been over a week since those titanic, wheat field colored eyes of his have been open or since John's heard his voice, but the hope that he might some day soon is enough to chase all the fear and doubt away.
"Come on, kiddo," he entreats one final time before pressing a light kiss into Stiles' palm in a way he hasn't done since the kid was a toddler, "let's show 'em all there's no keeping down a Stilinski."
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