The first time Derek met Stiles, he almost killed him.
Not on purpose, of course. Derek had been on shift, patrolling a rather dull cul-de-sac in the middle of the night. The kid had walked right into the street, heedless of the cruiser headed directly for him. Only Derek’s lighting fast reflexes saved him, slamming on the breaks and jerking the wheel to the side, the headlights illuminating the kid lumbering in the middle of the road.
Derek jumped out of the car, eyes scanning the darkness for danger, but only seeing the rows of cookie cutter houses, their occupants all fast asleep. That and the kid, who was still standing in the road, swaying slightly, but making no attempt to move, barefoot but dressed in jeans and a hoodie.
Derek took a step forward, cautiously. He sniffed the air, smelling for anything out of the ordinary. It smelled sharp, like ozone, like rain was on the way, though the sky was clear. Nothing else stood out.
The kid himself looked harmless, but that didn’t mean he was. The most dangerous monsters looked innocent. Though the semi-vacant expression, thin, sharp cheekbones, and general lack of body fat, suggested that Derek was by far the larger predator.
The kid smelled, as Derek moved closer still sniffing the air, like drugs and humanity, which explained the expression. Something heavy, definitely a downer, but Derek couldn’t ID it. He took another step, one hand outstretched, the other on the holster of his gun, prepared for anything.
“Are you alright?” Derek kept his voice steady and calm, not wanting to spook the kid.
The kid turned to face him, face still blank, and eyes wide in the dark. He was cute, with moles scattered on his pale skin and a slightly upturned nose. His foggy eyes almost looked the golden color of a beta wolf as they shone in the headlights. If he didn’t look so sick, he would be beautiful. Hell, even sick, he was gorgeous, but so brittle and so vulnerable it almost hurt.
“What’s your name? Do you have an ID?” Derek took a step closer, completely sure now that the human was of no danger to him.
The kid still didn’t speak, but blinked a few times, like he was confused by what Derek was saying.
“Como te llamas?” Derek tried Spanish, but still only to a blank face, though the human’s scent was starting to become more potent, the bitter scent of nerves coming out from behind his slack face.
“Fuck.” Derek swore so quietly no human would be able to hear it. He should really call this in. The kid probably needed medical attention. But he hated to get him into trouble over drugs, or whatever. Kids made mistakes, but lives didn’t need to be ruined over it, not if no one had gotten hurt. It had nothing to do with the wolf inside him, howling at him to protect this kid.
He should to see if there was an emergency contact. Someone who could get him off the street and get him the help he needed, not throw him in jail.
“Alright kid.” Derek moved slow. “I’m going to reach in your pockets, see if I can find your ID. There’s nothing in them that’s going to hurt me, right?”
No answer, but at this point, Derek didn’t expect one. He found the wallet in the back jean pocket, laying it on the hood of the cruiser as he continued to search. The other pocket contained a pill bottle full of something called Zarontin. Derek frowned, not recognizing the name or the smell. The pocket of his hoodie had a plastic baggie with pills in it as well.
Derek frowned harder, recognizing these. A quick sniff conformed it. Mountain ash.
He should really call it in. He didn’t know about Zarontin, but mountain ash was a controlled substance, though it generally wasn’t sold in pill form.
There was no cell phone for contact information. Instead, he opened the wallet. There was a bit of cash, and library card with no name. Finally, in a back flap, he found the ID. It was a state ID, not a driver’s license. Interesting. He pulled it out reading it carefully.
Stiles Nowak. Age 19 but with a birthday coming up. Classification-human. Safely color-yellow. Control level- 3.
Yellow. Level 3. Shit. Derek took a step back, hand on his silver lined cuffs.
ID’s had gotten more detailed since the introduction of the supernatural to the general population, nearly fifteen years ago now. There had been a lot of fear and hate in the beginning, on both sides. The ID’s had been a compromise to the original idea of forcing supernatural to all wear badges on their clothes.
Everyone’s classification was listed and could be requested at any time by an officer of the law. The safety color had to do with an individual’s abilities, not their species. Red, yellow and green, all based off how much damage they could do to a human and assigned by a council at sixteen, though it was reviewed every two years to make sure no one changed categories.
Most human’s and humanoid types were green. Werewolves, centaurs, vampires, every type of fae, just to name a few, were all listed as yellow. Only a few creatures were classified as red, though that did include alpha werewolves.
But colors didn’t really mean anything, only how much potential was there. The real issue was the control level. It was a scale of how well any creature had control of their powers, with one being perfect control and 5 being dangerous, to the point of being locked up. Lots of supernaturals said it wasn’t fair, because humans were automatically set at one, no matter if they were inclined to violence or not.
Derek was a beta werewolf, yellow, level one and proud of his perfect control. Out of his pack, only his mother also had a level one classification.
If this kid, if Stiles, was a yellow level 3, he was something. Probably a magic user of some sort, a witch or mage and one with shaky control. If he was a level 4, he would have to wear a monitor. If he was a five, he would be on house containment or in an institute.
He was going to call it in.
“Sir, please put your hands on the hood of the car.”
Stiles, who eyes had cleared up at some point during Derek’s internal freak out, looked confused but obeyed.
“What’s the nature of your abilities?”
“You can’t ask me that.” Derek blink, surprised by the fact that he spoke as much as the answer.
He was right. Suspects were under no requirement to divulge their abilities unless they were officially charged, though he was surprised the kid knew that. Most people didn’t.
“Am I under arrest?”
Derek had one cuff on, when another teenage came running down the sidewalk, looking frantic and dressed in PJ’s. He was wheezing and carrying extra shoes.
“Stop.” It was probably suppose to be a shout, but it was more of a whine.
Derek finished the cuffs but didn’t put Stiles in the back of his car as the new teen finally made it to the car.
“You can’t arrest him. He didn’t do anything wrong.” The other teen looked outraged, at least as well as he could panting for breath, hands on his knees.
“He is carrying controlled substances.”
“Well, yeah.” He took an inhaler out of his pocket and took a puff. “He has a permit.”
“What’s your name?”
“Scott McCall.” The teen held out his ID out without being prompted. It was driver’s license, classifying him as a harmless little green level one human. The address on it was the same as Stiles.
“He’s my brother.” Scott supplied helpfully. “Where’s his wallet?”
Derek gestured to the hood where it still sat. “You have different last names.”
Scott just shrugged, then went through the wallet, pulling open an inside pocket Derek didn’t even see, and presenting a permit to carry mountain ash, up to ten ounces. Stiles had been carrying three, tops.
Derek unlocked the cuffs reluctantly. The whole situation felt off to him, like he as missing something.
As soon as Stiles was free, he crossed over to Scott, who wrapped his brother in a tight hug. Stiles snuggled into his neck in a wolflike manner, as Scott bent down and pushed the shoes on Stiles’ bare feet.
“Why was he in the road?”
“I have episodes sometimes.” Stiles answered voice muffled by Scott’s neck, but not slurred. His scent was becoming sharper, fuller, smelling more of paper, ink, and cinnamon and less of chemicals and ozone.
Scott was a little more helpful. “He sleepwalks. I usually wake up if he leaves the room, but tonight he was sneaky. It normally doesn’t matter. There isn’t any traffic around here this time of night and he tends to wander back home.”
Derek didn’t like it. Stiles clearly wasn’t well. He shouldn’t be wandering around at night. The wolf in his chest bristled at the idea.
“Well do better next time. I don’t want to see him out again.”
Scott nodded, leading a pliant Stiles to the sidewalk. Derek got back in his car, hoping the rest of his shift was exciting enough he wouldn’t have time to think about those soft brown eyes.
It wasn’t. He was called back to the station shortly after meeting Stiles and Scott to find his desk piled with the paperwork the other deputies didn’t want to do.
Derek growled softly as he worked on it. He wanted to call speciest bullshit on being treated like this. He always got the worst shifts, the worst patrols, and all the grunt work. He didn’t become a cop to be treated like shit. He became a cop to help people.
But, then again, he wasn’t sure it was all because he was a werewolf, because he was a ‘sup’. Jordan Parish, his direct supervisor and head of the supernatural of the department, wasn’t treated poorly even though he was a hellhound, which was way more interesting than a werewolf. He was respected by everyone, in fact. It was probably just because Derek was new. He was fresh out of the academy and only had two weeks on the job.
He had been hired as part of a push to be more inclusive of the supernatural in public servant jobs. There weren’t many in the department. Besides him and Parish, there was only three other sups on the force; a half ogre named Greenburg who sucked way worse than Derek, a half fae named Claire who didn’t actually have any increased abilities, and an almost ready to retire selkie, Randy, who was incredibly strong, but had no increased healing factor.
There were also a couple of consultants who worked with the police, though weren’t actually cops. So far, Derek had only met Lydia, a terrifying banshee who had more confidence in her little finger than Derek did in his whole body, but he knew there were several more. Sups tended to prefer a little distance from the cops. Too many of them had been treated unfairly in the past, but Beacon Hills was fighting to change that. Starting with Derek.
It was a start. The public had to learn that wolves were people too. And what better way to show that, then by working in his hometown to make it a safer place.
His mom and the rest of the pack had been happy to have him back, after his college days in New York. He had learned a lot and had many good life experiences, but he had missed them all. A wolf isn’t meant to live without its pack.
He grabbed another cup of bitter coffee, refilling the pot as he finished it up, then went back to his desk, paperwork finished. He looked at his computer, mind wandering dangerously.
Stiles Nowak wasn’t a common name. One little search, and he could learn a lot more about him. It wasn’t exactly legal, since he didn’t arrest the kid, but how could it hurt. No one would know. He should double check. Make sure that Scott really was his brother, that he would take care of Stiles.
Mind made up, he began to type, but before he could hit enter, a hand slammed down on the desk, making him jump.
“Damn it Laura.” He growled, looking up at his sister who was way too cheerful for five in the morning.
“Now, now, is that anyway to talk to your sister who comes baring breakfast?”
She plopped a still warm homemade muffin on his desk. Derek tore into it like a, well, wolf.
“I take it back. You’re a saint.”
She smiled and tossed her hair. “You know it.”
Laura was his older sister and also worked with the public, as a nurse in the ER. The difference was, no one there knew she was a wolf, expect a few friends and her supervisors. They had more of a don’t ask, don’t tell policy than the department. Everyone here knew exactly what Derek was.
“As much as I appreciate breakfast and some halfway decent coffee,” he took the cup from her hand, ignoring the playful snarl and making a face at the sweetness of the camel she always added, “I know you aren’t here just for a visit.”
Laura made a face and stole her coffee right back. “It’s Cora.”
Of course it was. He should have known. The youngest Hale was always getting into some sort of trouble. She was aggressive, though kind, but never thought ahead. She hadn’t come back from school yet, even though the spring semester ended three days ago. Normal she was one of the most tactile and clingy of the pack. If she wasn’t home yet, he should have known something was up.
“What did she do and why can’t we let Mom handle it?”
“She got arrested.”
“Fuck!” Derek swore loud enough that even the sleepy remains of the night shift looked up. “What the hell?” Derek amended more quietly, glaring at the officers until they looked away from what was clearly a private family discussion.
“There was some sort of sup/human sit in the last day of school. It was non-violent, according to all the media outlet, but all the sups got arrested anyway. They have had everyone in holding the past two days. She was just now allowed to call. She sounded really freaked out and begged me not to tell Mom.”
Derek was trying not to panic. Jail wasn’t a good place for wolves. General population was bad enough, the cells lined with wolfsbane that burned if a wolf even brushed against it. But they also had special cells for wolves, cells that blocked all scent and sound and weakened the pull of the pack bonds. It was like being in a vacuum. There were reports of wolves going ferial in only a few days.
“I can’t get her out Laura.” He tried to keep the fear out of his voice. “I’m brand new. I don’t have that kind of power. I might be able to get Parish to talk to the Sheriff but even he won’t have much pull in LA.”
If the Sheriff even listened. Sheriff Berns was a dick. Derek didn’t know where the department’s idea to start incorporating sups into the force came from, but it wasn’t from him.
Laura put his hand over his, where it was now crushing the poor muffin to crumbs. “You don’t have to. I don’t want you to risk your job and neither does she. I just want you to ride with Uncle Peter while he goes to arrange bail.”
Uncle Peter was the reason Derek always said danger came in pretty packages. He was one of the most attractive wolves, hell most attractive people, around. He hair was always prefect; his swagger made all the ladies and gentleman pant after him. His fashion sense was divine and, of course, he was rich. He was the perfect catch, which was funny because he was singe as single could be. After an affair that left him with a daughter when he was only eighteen, he had no intention of settling down. Malia was the only person he truly cared about it.
He was the most ruthless person Derek had ever met. He was a fierce wolf, fighting with both strength and brains, doing whatever it took to win. He was Talia’s left hand in every way. He was also a lawyer and not just any lawyer. He was one of the best prosecutors in the State. He fought bigotry in every way and Derek was glad he was on the side of the pack, though sometimes he got the feeling that if the opportunity arose, that wouldn’t be the case.
“You want me to ride with Peter. All the way to LA. While he is furious at Cora.”
“Why can’t you?”
Laura’s eyes were wide, and she was practically pouting. “Because I have to work, and I couldn’t get anyone to cover my shift. You're off today and I know you don’t work tomorrow night.”
Derek signed, knowing he was going to do it. “Please tell me Cora didn’t drag Malia into it.” The girls were only a year apart and in the same year of school. They fought like siblings but protected each other fiercely as well.
Laura smiled. “Apparently Malia ran as soon as the arrests started. Then proceeded to spend the next two days gathering as much media attention on the arrests as she could. So, Peter is both pissed and proud.”
Derek rubbed his hands over his face. He was tired. It had been a long night and wanted to go to bed. Maybe he could catch a little nap before the terrible car ride, if Peter wasn’t expecting him yet. Generally, inmates couldn’t post bail until a certain time of day, anyway, so being there early wasn’t going to get Cora out any faster.
“When do we have to leave?”
“Right now.” Peter popped up next to his desk from nowhere like the creeper he was. Derek jumped and Peter rolled his eyes. “Come on.”
Derek made Peter stop by the house so he could change. He wasn’t about to roll up in another district wearing his uniform. They would think he was trying to throw around his weight and that was the last thing he wanted.
That was the last concession Peter made for him. Once they were on the highway, Peter drove like a man possessed. He wouldn’t even stop from breakfast or coffee on the way out of town and with the way his hands creaked around the steering wheel, Derek wasn’t about to ask again.
They found the jail the protesters were being held at easily. Malia was there waiting, and Peter wrapped his up in a hug, then snarled at her to stay with Derek while he fixed their stupid mistake. After that, Derek got to sit back and watch Peter work his magic. It took most of the day, but in the end, Cora was released with twenty hours of community service that could be served in Beacon Hills and no mark on her record.
Derek hugged Cora for ten minutes straight, his nose burning with the smell of metal and others on her skin. He ignored Peter’s huff but smiled when Malia wrapped her arms around both of them, trying to cover the stink with the smell of pack.
“I’m fine Derek.” Cora said. “They didn’t but me in solitary or anything. I’m okay.”
Derek didn’t say anything. Instead he relished the feel of his little sister safe in his arms.
Peter rubbed a hand over Cora’s shoulder and through her hair, the most affectionate he ever was with anyone besides his daughter, and for a moment, everything felt alright.
They stopped at the girl’s dorm to get their stuff, only to find most of it gone. What was left was destroyed. Cora looked sad, as she picked up her books with the covers torn off and the broken picture frames. Malia looked angry and argued with the RA’s about having to pay for the damages. Peter stepped in when his daughter’s eyes flashed gold, promising not only would they not being paying damages, but that the college would end up paying for the lost possessions. The poor RA ran to get a supervisor, who quickly agreed with the angry werewolf. But Peter was fuming by the time they left, angry at the school for letting it happen in the first place.
Derek waited until they stopped for an early supper and were back on the road with reasonable blood sugars before he launched into big brother mode.
“So, what exactly were you thinking, getting mixed up with protesters?”
Cora had the decently to look ashamed, but met his eyes, as he twisted around to look at the girls from the front seat.
“I thought I was standing up for my people Derek.”
“Standing up? By marching on the campus? You’re lucky you didn’t get hurt. Riot police are issued wolfsbane laced pepper spray, you know.”
Malia stepped in. “You don’t know what it was like on campus. Someone leaked the names of all the sups enrolled. It was awful. We were being taunted in all the time. Even the half borns, the one who don’t even have abilities, were being targeted. We had to help them.”
“By getting arrested?”
“It was a peaceful protest. Cora never should have been arrested.”
“That’s not what the cops said.”
Cora snapped back in. “Of course, you would take their side. Perfect Derek and his perfect cops.”
Derek’s eyes flashed blue at her. “It’s not about sides. It’s about safely. Your safety. If things were getting bad on campus, you should have let us know.”
“Yeah, so you could rub it in my face how you could handle New York while I can’t even handle LA.”
Derek snarled, his anger getting the best of him. Both girl’s eyes flashed in return, and Malia began to growl.
“Enough!” Peter’s voice was dangerously calm. “Cora, you were stupid to not tell the pack what was going on. Pack watches out for pack. You were also stupid for getting arrested. It looks bad on all of us, when one wolf does something like that. People will say the Hale pack is out of control, and you know how bad that could be. Malia, you were stupid for not telling me what happened the fucking second the police showed up, though I am proud of you for not getting caught. And Derek, just shut up.”
It was quiet for the rest of the drive, until Beacon Hills was in sight.
“You’re not going to tell Mom, are you?” Cora asked, sounding eight years old again.
Derek sighed, but shook his head. He wouldn’t tell unless she directly asked. Then, well he could never go against his alpha directly.
“You’re damn right I am.” Peter looked downright cheerful at the idea, like it was the best thing to come out of all of this. “I would have told her the second I found out what happened, but I was worried she would go to the station and rip out throats.”
Talia would too, if she thought Cora had been hurt. She was a wonderful person, strong and diplomatic, which served her well as the alpha as well as being a lobbyist for supernatural rights, mostly on a state level. But, when it came to her children, she was dangerous.
They pulled into the Hale house and Derek braced himself for a long night. The boy he had almost hit was officially the furthest thing from his mind.
Talia smelled jail on Cora the second she walked in. She reacted just like Derek thought she would, wrapping her youngest in a huge hug while screaming at her for not calling her first. The yelling didn’t last long, though, and ended with another group hug.
Derek didn’t stay downstairs for Cora’s explanation. He had heard enough in the car. Whoever had leaked the identities of the sups should be found and punished, but it was unlikely that it would. Clearly, interspecies relations still weren’t going well in the cities. He suspected as much both from the news and the police reports that came across his desk. But it wasn’t his fight. His fight was Beacon Hills.
He got Cora’s involvement too. People, sups and humans alike were important to her. They were important to him too, hence the whole cop things. But, if it came down to strangers or even friends, and pack, it would be pack every time.
He had figured it out when he was sixteen. Hopefully Cora would get it soon. Before she had to face the same sort of tragedy he did.
Derek fell into be in his bed grateful to finally, finally, be laying down, the soft smell of ‘home’ filling his nose and letting him relax after the events of the day.
The guys at the station liked to give him shit for still living at home, but they didn’t understand pack. It was possible for wolves to live apart in separate houses, but they would never be fully relaxed until they were safe at the den. The Hale pack was small, but strong. A good portion of it stemmed from how close they were physically as well as emotionally.
Laura still lived at home. Cora and Malia came home from college ever chance they got to sleep in their own beds. Even Peter had a room, though he split time with his apartment downtown next to his law firm.
Derek had been asleep for only a few minutes when the warmth of a body curling up next to him woke him. He didn’t have to open his eyes to know it was Cora. She smelled upset, and he pulled her close, making comforting noises as she finally broke down to tears. Moments later, his door opened again and Laura came in, slipping in behind him.
His older sister didn’t speak until Cora had drifted off, exhausted by her tears. “Rough day huh?”
“Mom doesn’t want them to go back next year. Peter and she were arguing about it when I got home.”
Derek surprised himself by saying “She shouldn’t go.”
It was times like this, when Laura used that questioning but interested tone of voice that Derek was reminded of how good of an alpha his sister would be one day. “Because. Because it feels wrong out there.”
“Wrong?” Laura was getting tense.
“Electric. Like a storm is coming. The people on campus, they genuinely hated Cora, just because she was a wolf. I think things are going to get bad again.”
They were both quiet and he knew they were both thinking of all the things lost in the Riots, the things lost after them as well. Of how both their careers would be tanked if supernatural were prosecuted again. Of how quickly even the strongest pack could fall, when attacked by humans with the right kind of power.
“There is no point borrowing trouble. We will deal with it when it come. Relax. Go to sleep pup.”
Derek wished it were that simple. That he could let tomorrow come without any worries. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t relax when there was so much danger gathering so close.
For now, he had to satisfy himself with the comfort of his sibling around him and the smell of pack in the air.
The next evening, Derek rushed through his normal pile of paperwork, too distracted to be annoyed by how much of it wasn’t his.
As soon as it was done, he started pulling up reports. It wasn’t as bad as he feared. There were tons of reports of violence against sups, werewolves in particular, which he expected. The Accords after the Riots had calmed things down, but it hadn’t fixed all the problems. Still, according to the statistics, the amount of sup/human incidences were actually going down across most of the county.
They only exception seemed to be in college towns and a few other more liberal cities. Which didn’t make any sense. The more liberal the city, generally the more accepting the supernatural population. They should have less incidences.
Derek found the answer on a rather conspiracy ridden website. The website blamed it primarily on one faction. The Humans for Freedom Faction. HFF. Every city that had a large presence of the HFF had higher than average violence rates across the board. Of course, the next article was on how aliens would soon be visiting the President, so Derek took it with a grain of salt.
Derek narrowed his search to just the HFF. It took some digging, but Derek managed to find a pretty good amount of information on them, from more credible sources.
They were a hate group masquerading as a club on campuses. They claimed they wanted freedom from the “oppressive laws” the Accords had brought about, like the increased information on ID’s and the creation of the Councils, that monitored all supernatural people and humans alike, to make sure no one was hiding powers or lying about them.
In reality they just wanted humans to be free from the restriction because they wanted all sups to be taken out of society. By segregation or death, they didn’t seem picky.
And on every campus across the country that had a strong HFF presence, there were increased reports of supernatural violence. He wondered how much of it was provoked. Or even being staged by the HFF.
Derek was getting ready to dig into how much of what happened on Cora’s campus was fueled by the HFF, they had a strong presence all across California as it seemed to be the birthplace of the movement though he couldn’t get an answer about who founded it, when Parish sat down, making him jump slightly. He really needed to start paying more attention to his surroundings, but he spent so much time with the other man that his automatically associated his scent with safety.
Parish raised his eyebrows at the jump. “Quite a pile of info you’ve got going there.”
Derek fought to keep on his normal impassive face. He didn’t like to give any of his coworkers any chance to find out anything personal. It was safer that way. “My work is done. I’m working on a report to pass on to the LA police.”
“I’m sure it is. That’s not why I came over here.”
“Why did you come over here?”
Parish’s eye narrowed slightly at the tone. Derek tried to look apologetic. He like Parish. He was a good cop and a good man. They got along well, on the rare occasions they got to ride together. Berns like to have the sups ride alone. Said they didn’t need backup.
“Berns wanted to list Cora’s name in the paper for her arrest. Said it should be public knowledge, even though it didn’t happen in the county.”
Shit. Peter was right. This would look bad on the whole pack, on the supernatural community in general. Derek felt the familiar anger in his gut. It wasn’t fair to put that kind of pressure on a college student. She was trying to help. That is all Cora ever wanted to do.
“I told him that it was discrimination. I wouldn’t allow it. If people want to know, they can look it up in the LA papers.”
“Can you do that?”
Parish smiled like he had a secret. “I have some connections. It would never make it to publishing.”
Derek was surprised. “Thank you. The Hale pack is in your debit.”
“No, you aren’t. I did it for everyone. None of us need that kind of bad press. Besides, I did some digging of my own. Cora didn’t do anything wrong. Not really.”
Derek wondered if he had the same reports on the HFF that he did. He didn’t quite trust the man enough to ask. Not yet.
“So, consider this your warning. Berns is about to make your life a nightmare. Be prepared for the worst duties and the worst hours. I’ll do my best, but I can’t fight every one of his decisions.”
Derek nodded his understanding. “I’ll have Laura and Cora bring you some cookies, as a thanks. It’s the least we can do.”
Parish’s scent sweetened at the mention of the cookies and he flushed slightly, before he went back to his own desk.
A few days went by. Cora started her community service, in the form of trash pickup by the side of the highway and Malia got a job at a local restaurant. Derek tried to do his job, reminding himself that he wanted to be a cop. That he wanted to help people. But, it was hard, considering what an asswipe he had for a boss.
Berns kept him on night shift, no surprise. The policy was to have one sup on every shift as best they could and as the rookie, Derek got nights. Which was fine. He was a little nocturnal anyway, with the whole werewolf thing, and his sleep schedule adjusted easily enough.
But he was always on patrol in the most boring neighborhoods, never seeing anything interesting. Or he ran sobriety stops, where he dealt with angry sober people and belligerent drunks. And more paperwork than ever was added to his stack, with more and more reports being handed back to him as incorrect, so he had to them all over again.
It was enough to drive him crazy. Berns knew it too. He would sit in his office, smirking as Derek stayed late shift after shift, fixing the so-called errors.
He didn’t do much more digging on the HFF. Cora and Malia wouldn’t be going back to school in LA, so it didn’t seem to matter. They weren’t happy about it, but Talia and Peter had put their feet down. The girls would have to find another school, through Talia didn’t really want them to leave Beacon Hills at all.
Derek felt bad, but not bad enough to try to convince his mom of any different. Besides, he had his own problems.
Derek didn’t see Stiles out of the streets again, thankfully, though he thought he caught a glimpse of the kid a few times around town. But Beacon Hills was small, and Derek didn’t think anything of it. Until he saw Stiles again at the grocery store and everything changed.
Derek had the day, or rather night off, and he was thankful.
He was really starting to hate his job. Berns had intentional lost all the paperwork he had done the night before and so Derek didn’t even get to leave the station all night. He had to do it all again. He was starting to understand why so many sups hated humans so much. He certainly hated the Sheriff.
He couldn’t sleep much that night, his body had already adjusted to being on nights, so he found himself up at two in the morning, without anything to do or anyone to talk to. If it wasn’t a full moon, most of the pack was in bed by midnight. He watched some TV in his room as not to wake anyone, before going to make himself a snack, only to find that out that they were basically out of everything.
Lucky, the best supermarket in town was open twenty-four hours. He made up a list that included all his favorite things, grabbed the pack credit card, and headed out.
Shopping in the middle of the night was an odd experience. There was almost no one in the store other than a few clerks stocking shelves. It was just Derek and the buzzing of the fluorescent lights. It felt lonely but, with no one there, he made it through his list in record time.
He had finished checking out and was pushing his cart out to his car when he saw Stiles standing on the sidewalk by the road, gazing out into the dark dressed in too many layers for the beginning of summer.
He wasn’t on duty. It wasn’t his business. He signed, left his cart because there was no one in the lot to mess with it anyway, and walked over.
“Hey.” Derek said when he was close enough. “Stiles right?”
The kid turned to look at him, and Derek was once again surprised by how attractive he was, with those beautiful eyes and soft skin. He looked healthier too, though his gaze was still a little unfocused as he smiled uncertainly at Derek.
“Do I know you?”
Derek hesitate. He wasn’t sure if Stiles had been too messed up to remember him, or if he just didn’t recognize him.
“It’s Derek. Hale. Office Hale. The one who picked you up the other night. Not picked you up. Arrested you. Well, not arrested. Detained.” God, he was doing such a bad job of fucking speaking. His sisters were right. He needed to talk to more people outside of work.
But, Stiles’ eyes lit up anyway. “Oh yeah! Scott said a hot cop helped us out. Thanks for the save man. I really appreciate it. It’s always the worst when my dad finds out I’ve been wandering again.”
They were almost the same height. Stiles could look Derek in the eye, something not many could do. He had such pretty eyes. Derek wanted to see them in the day, to see how the sunlight would sparkle off them. The silence drug on a little too long, and Derek forced himself to focus on the conversation.
“No problem.” So, whatever Stiles was into, his family knew about it. It wasn’t a one-time things. “Are you alright right now? What are you doing out so late?”
Stiles held up a container of coffee grounds. “I drank the last of it on a research binge and Melissa will kill me if she doesn’t have coffee before her shift. It starts at like five, so I figured I better get it now.”
Melissa. Must be a girlfriend. Derek ignored how his stomach dropped at that. “Do you have a ride? Do I need to call someone?”
Stiles smiled, and damn, it was a nice smile. He gestured at the street sign that mark it a pickup spot. “Nope. Bus will be here soon.”
“Alright.” Derek turned to leave but stopped himself. He couldn’t let Stiles disappear into the night without saying something this time. “You know they have programs out there. If you need help. I can connect you with people who know how to treat you.”
“If I need help?” Stiles said slowly, like he was trying to understand.
“Yeah. I mean, with your problem. I don’t mean to judge, but clearly you aren’t alright. You were wondering around barefoot for God’s sake. Don’t you think your family would be happier if you were, well normal?”
Stiles scowled and puffed out, clearly angry taking a step forward and getting in Derek’s face, but not quite touching. Derek got a sharp whiff of cinnamon mixed with the same sharp smell he had last time, the one he couldn’t place, but was too distracted by the pure furry in Stiles’ eyes to dwell on it.
“Look man, just because you helped me out once, doesn’t mean you know anything about me. There is nothing wrong with me. I don’t need fixed, and I don’t need help from you or any of your fucking programs. And my family loves me fine the way I am.”
Stiles breathe was hot on his face. Derek held his hands up in surrender, but Stiles kept going. “And it’s asshats like you who think anyone who is different needs fixed, that’s the real problem. I don’t hurt anyone, in fact, I help people, more than even you do Mr. Dickwipe cop man. So, don’t do me anymore favors. If you see me out, feel free to arrest me. See how that goes for you. Fucker.”
Stiles stormed away, hopefully walking to another bus stop and not trying to make it home in the dark alone.
“Well that could have went better.” Derek muttered to himself. That was what he got for trying to help. Next time, he would just arrest him. Maybe some time in jail was what it would take for Stiles to realize he had a problem.
Derek tried to forget about Stiles and get back to his life. He enjoyed both girls being home. It always felt wrong when any one of the pack was away for a long time. They all spend as much time together as possible, happy just to hang out and watch movies all piled up together.
Talia in particular was clingy which was unusual for her. She wanted to know everyone’s schedules and kept track on a calendar hung on the fridge. Derek assumed it was because of the tension that they all could feel in the air. The anxiety she was feeling trickled down through the pack bonds, and soon everyone was on edge. Even Peter tried to spend as much time as possible at the pack house, hardly ever staying the night at his apartment.
The pack had dinner together nearly every night, the only time that everyone schedules allowed them to be home. Talia was a terrible cook, but Derek and Cora did alright. When Peter elected to actually help out, supper was pretty tasty, especially when they added in Laura’s baking.
On their days off, the kids would hang out in the woods, like they were children again. There was a creek that was perfect to swim in and miles of woods where they could play tag in their wolf skins without judgment.
Even with the tension all around them, Derek couldn’t remember a better summer. Cora and Malia, who had always fought growing up, had bonded at school and were now close. Laura had come into her own, finally accepting her title as future alpha and it showed in the way she treated her siblings like pack instead of rivals. His mom was happy at her job and Peter was being less of a dick, even though he was working much than ever.
If only Derek’s work didn’t suck so much. Just as Derek got used to nights, he got moved to swing shifts. His sleep schedule was all fucked up and he was constantly grouchy. Not to mention, Berns’ hatred towards him was starting to trickle down. He was having problems besides shitty patrols. Things went missing off his desk, his car never had gassed up when another shift used it, his requests for time off were ignored. Some of the guys were even going out of their way to shove him in the hall. It was like high school again, and he was grateful for his perfect control or else there would be blood.
He reported each incident to Parish. Parish filed the reports to have a recorded, but asked him not to escalate it, to simply take it and be the bigger man. Derek hated it, but he did.
The icing of the cake of to all of this was now that he was sometimes on days, he was seeing Stiles everywhere. He was at the coffee shop where Derek had been sent to pick up some decent drinks for the force. He was at the dinner where Derek went for lunch. Hell, he seemed to hang out at the library that was right across the street from the station.
What kind of teenager hung out at a library?
Derek watched him come and go while he was stuck working on paperwork, never driving, always walking, though sometimes a pale blue jeep picked him up. Derek wondered if it was his girlfriend’s.
Through all of it, Stiles ignored him, eyes brushing over him like he wasn’t even there. Derek didn’t do such a good job overlooking. He always watched him, pleased to see that he looked healthy, that there was a little color back in his cheeks, a little more meat on his bones.
It was infuriating to see Stiles, though it was inevitable in such a small town. Every time he did, he felt the sting of his rejection, the hate in his eyes. He couldn’t help but watch him though. As angry as he was, he still wanted Stiles to be safe. He ignored the voice in his head that questioned why.
Derek was about to lose his shit. Someone had changed the frequency on his radio in his patrol car. He didn’t notice until he needed back up to help deal with a domestic dispute. By the time he figured it out and fixed it, the woman had scratched up his face, while the man rained blows on his back. Derek couldn’t stop both of them without hurting the humans, so he just had to deal while he waited and waited for help.
He came back to the station to change uniforms, because his was covered in blood, sweat and liquor that the man had spilled on him. He saw Sheriff Berns in his office lounging with his feet up, and he made a decision.
He had put up with this long enough. Shitty shifts, boring patrols, and practical jokes were one thing. Messing with his radio could have put people in danger. It needed to stop, or he needed to find a new job.
He was feet from the Sheriff’s door, taking deep breaths and focusing on his anchor, on his family, to keep his control, when another man in uniform that Derek didn’t recognize breezed by him, looking even angrier than Derek felt.
“What the hell do you think you are doing Officer Berns?” The man thundered, clearly audible from outside the office even without supernatural hearing.
Berns stood, looking shocked. “I’m, acting as Sherriff?” It came out a question.
“The hell you are.”
All the officers in the bullpen were listening now. Berns looked terrified, eyes darting for a way out that wasn’t through the rather imposing officer blocking the door, arms crossed and legs wide.
“I.” Berns swallowed hard. “I was following instructions. I was told to run the force.”
“By who? Clearly not me. Because I recall putting you on desk duty to run the paperwork while I was gone.”
Derek snorted. He had been running the paperwork for weeks. He liked this new guy already. He was on the older side, a few white hairs scattered in with his brown and plenty of wrinkles, but he carried himself the way only a man with years on the job could.
“I was doing what I was told. By the Mayor, in fact.” Berns looks almost smug when he said it.
“Jesus Christ, a man can’t even go on a honeymoon without everything going to shit.” The older officer puffed up, clearly preparing to rip Berns a new one, when nearly everyone’s radios went off.
Derek cussed, then turned to run to the cruisers, even though he wasn’t technically on patrol. The call was for an explosion. It was an all officer’s on deck situation, the kind that they trained him of at the academy but one he hopped would never happen.
Parish grabbed his arm in the parking lot, throwing Derek into Parish’s cruiser that was parked at the front of the lot. They drove like mad men, sirens blaring as people raced to get off the road and out of their way.
The call came from a neighborhood on the edge of town. It was a poor one, filled with old worn out houses and tired people.
They pulled up on the scene first. There were only two other officers on site and they were frantically trying to keep people away from the burning wreck that used to be a house. People were screaming, some on bleeding on the ground after having been hit by shrapnel.
“Hale, Parish get me a perimeter. West, Miller, start triage. The ambulances are a minute out.”
The older officer from before, Stilinski his name plate read, was barking orders and everyone was jumping to obey them. Derek did as well, pushing back the neighbors and noisy onlooker out of the street so the firetrucks could get through. One guy with a camera was particularly aggressive and refused to move until Derek threaten to arrest him.
Things came together quickly under Stilinski’s supervision. They got the area roped off, the wounded out of the way, and the firetrucks in.
No one was hurt too badly. Most victims just had scratches and scrapes, though one woman broke her arm when she was thrown by the blast. The fireman didn’t try to enter the house. It was already basically rubble. They were simply trying to keep the flames from spreading.
“Do you think someone did this on purpose?” Derek asked Parish, as they stood to the side, their presence enough to keep most people back now “Or some sort of meth explosion?”
Parish shrugged. “No idea. It will be a mess if it was.”
“I don’t smell anything unusual.”
Parish have him a long look. “Make sure to put that in your report.”
Derek nodded, looking out into the crowd. Suddenly a rather beat up old car screeched to a stop and a woman threw herself out and pushed through the crowd, screaming.
“Tyron!” She yelled, trying to push past them as well and into the now smoldering ruins.
“Hey.” Derek caught her easily. “You can’t go any closer.”
“No you don’t understand.” The woman was frantic. “Tyron was there. I have to get to him.”
“Ma’am was that your house?” Parish asked.
“Yes.” It was a wail. “I left my son to run to the store. Is he alright? Where is he?”
Derek froze up. This was the part of the job he was terrible at. Parish took over. “Ma’am let’s go over and talk with the Sheriff.”
He led the poor woman away, though Berns was nowhere to be seen. Derek continued to scan the crowd for anyone who looked guilty or out of place. He was rattled, the idea of a child being in that explosion was almost too awful to think about. If it had been one of his sisters, he shuttered as he imaged it. He tried to focus on his simply doing job, but right now it wasn’t exciting enough to keep his focus and his mind kept wandering.
He spotted a familiar face and went from upset to furious. He and stalked over, all his adrenaline and fears bubbling over.
“What the actual fuck Stiles.” It wasn’t really a question. He jerked the kid out of the crowd and over to his cruiser. The kid had no reason to be here. He didn’t live in the neighborhood. Either he was stalking Derek, a real possibility considering how often he saw the kid, or he had something to do with the explosion.
“What are you doing here?” Derek demanded, giving him a chance to defend himself.
Stiles looked high as fuck. His eyes weren’t focused, and he was swaying hard enough that it was only Derek’s grip that kept him upright. He reeked of drugs and burn metal. There was no scent of cinnamon that Derek had begun to associate with the boy.
“He wasn’t there.” Stiles slurred out finally, as a shutter ran through his thin frame.
Derek signed. “Put your hands behind your back.”
Stiles didn’t, but he also didn’t fight when Derek did it for him, clipping the cuffs around his wrist once again.
“What are you doing?” Parish was suddenly there, no sign of the crying woman and he pushed Derek away from Stiles, unlocking the cuffs and adjusting so he was the one holding most of the kid’s weight.
“He’s been following me around Parish. Now he’s here right when there is an explosion. He needs to be taken in for questioning.”
Parish’s eyes were blazing, and his skin smoked faintly. “No”
Derek bristled at the word. “You can’t protect him. He is a person of interest. He needs to be taken in.”
“I thought I told you officers to man the perimeter.” Stilinski stalked over as the crowd began to surge forward as the officers were distracted. His face softened and eyes wide as he saw Stiles in Parish’s arms. “Shit, kid. What’s going on?”
Stiles’ rolled his eyes over to Stilinski but seemed too confused to speak. It wasn’t until the officer gently pushed his chin up to meet his eyes that the kid spoke. “He isn’t here. It was an accident, but he wasn’t here.”
“Alright, alright,” Stilinski soothed Stiles as he began to shake in earnest, eyes darting so fast they looked like they looked almost white, before they rolled back into his head. It was eerie. Derek didn’t know much about humans, but he was pretty sure that wasn’t normal. The older man waited until Stiles’ eyes refocused and took several deep breathes before asking “Do you have your pills?”
Stiles nodded, pulling an orange prescription bottle out of his pocked and shaking one pill out. He dry swallowed it, then seemed to go almost limp in Parish’s grip.
“I’ll call Melissa, tell her what happened. Parish, you get him home.”
Parish nodded, and carefully maneuvered Stiles into the front seat of the car. Derek was stunned, unable to process what had happened. Stilinski was in on whatever Stiles was into as well.
“Hale.” He was pulled from his thoughts by a yell, any softness in Stilinski’s face gone “Don’t you have a job to do?”
Derek went back to manning the perimeters, mind whirling over the implications of what he had seen. Clearly both Stilinski and Parish were in on something, something that Stiles was a part of. He watched the crying woman hold Tryon, who had snuck over to a friends house while his mother was out and was completely fine. He watched the fire inspectors declare it a gas explosion and an accident. He watched and he made a decision.
Derek went into the work the next day with his resignation letter in his hand and a blank face that he hopped hid how furious he was.
They shouldn’t be enabling Stiles like that. He clearly needed help. And if both Parish and Stilinski were in on it, he was out.
He didn’t even stop at his desk. He marched past the bullpin and straight into the Sheriff’s office, ready to hand Berns his letter and storm back out. He had no idea what he would do for a job, but anything was better than working for crooked cops.
He slammed the letter on the desk before Berns even turned around, chest heaving with the effort of keeping his temper under control and not shattering the desk.
Derek took half a step backwards, confused. Berns wasn’t there. Instead Stilinski was standing behind the desk wearing the Sheriff star, looking surprisingly unconcerned to have an angry werewolf in his office.
The other man’s face twisted into a smirk. “His orders from the Major didn’t hold up as well as he thought. In fact, it appears that weren’t even from the city at all. He has found himself a job in a different precinct. Very far away.”
They stood and faced each other for a long moment, before Stilinski opened the letter and skimmed it. “Is that what this letter is about? Because Parish told be how terrible he treated you sups. And trust me when I say, it won’t be happening again.”
“Yes, I mean no. I mean, are you the Sheriff now?” Derek eyed the star on the man’s chest.
“Son, I’ve been the Sheriff since you were in diapers. I happen to take a little personal time and I find out that dickface has been in my chair and running this department into the ground. So, no I’m not accepting your resignation. Not until you see how I run this department.”
“No. It wasn’t about how Berns treated me. Not entirely.” Derek had to stand firm. “It’s also about Stiles.”
And all the other poor souls like him. People who needed help, people that weren’t getting it because of the police.
The Sheriff looked surprised. “You know Stiles?”
“I picked him up once, wandering the streets barefoot, stoned out of his mind. I gave him a warning, two actually, and then I found him again at the scene yesterday. He needed to be taken in. He needs help before he hurts someone or himself."
The Sheriff sat and motioned for Derek to as well. He did, but sat on the edge of his chair, ready to storm out at any moment.
“What if I assured you that Stiles was already under treatment? That I have personally made sure he is as safe as possible?”
“I would. I would feel better.” Derek didn’t know what to make of that. Stiles didn’t seem like he was in treatment, but it was hard to say. Maybe he had had a relapse. Or his recovery was just slow. He wanted to believe the Sheriff, he wanted to believe Stiles wasn’t in trouble, and the Sheriff’s heart was steady. Maybe it was true.
“Better enough to stay?”
“Yes. Sir.” He added, remembering belatedly that he needed to show respect to the man who was apparently the in charge of the station.
“Good. Tear up this letter and get to work. And don’t worry about Stiles. He’s fine.”
Derek frowned, hearing the blip in the Sheriff’s heart, but didn’t say anything. That would be rude. He went back out and got his assignment from Parish, please to see he had a downtown patrol for a change.
He would stay for now.
Derek’s work life got way better. He was still on swing shifts, but now with decent patrols littered in with bad ones. He was only in charge of his own paperwork, instead of everyone’s. Even things he didn’t notice had been happening, like the other officers avoiding him and snickering under their breath, stopped.
He got to use his ability as a werewolf as well. Patrol needed to find drugs in a car? Derek. Cops needed to find what building was being used to store illegal guns? Derek. Suspect running through the woods? Derek.
It finally felt right to be a cop, thanks to the change in leadership. He was helping people and using his natural born gifts to do so. He could see the change in the community from having Stilinski in charge as well. Even though sups were still coming to the area, drawn in by the fairness of the politics, and the constancy of living in a territory with a stable pack, the mentality of the town wasn’t hateful. The air didn’t feel so tight and he could breathe again. The feeling carried over to the pack, which Talia didn’t feel the need to pull as tight. It was nice, comfortable, having everyone contented at last.
His family noticed the change in him more than anyone else, probably because he had such a reputation for being a grump. He was singing in the shower, humming while he cleaned up dishes. Cora asked if he had a new girlfriend. Peter asked if he was getting laid. He ignored them both. He was happy and that was all that mattered.
He still saw Stiles around, who was also starting to look healthier and happier, as if to prove the Sheriff’s promise that he was getting treatment.
In fact, Derek started seeing him more and more. Stiles still hung out at the dinner and library, but he was also apparently very familiar with the officers in town, something Derek hasn’t noticed before when all he could think about was how Stiles needed help.
Stiles waved hello to Officers Smith and Shoulders when he walked past them on the street. He sat with the deputies at the dinner, arm around the Sheriff’s shoulder. He showed up at the office a few times with cupcakes and other goodies.
The other cops went crazy for the treats and Derek could see why. They were amazing. The chocolate chip cookies were sent from the gods. Laura only wished she could bake like this.
Derek had five and regretted nothing.
It made him feel better, knowing that the whole force was looking out for the kid. Whatever treatment he was getting, surely having such a widespread support system was good for him. And if Derek found it hard not to growl when Parish stopped Stiles on the way in to the library to hand him a sack lunch, well that was no body’s business. He didn’t have a crush. He didn’t.
Derek’s crush came out on a perfectly beautiful Thursday evening right after dinner. It was messy and loud. And it was all Cora’s fault.
The whole pack was home. Derek had worked the evening before but had grabbed a quick nap, as had Laura. Cora’s community service was in the morning, and Malia didn’t work at the restaurant that night.
Talia and Peter were all in her office, talking over the girl’s futures once more. As the only two adult Hales left alive, they co parented more often than not, relying on each other more than most siblings could. Peter was determined to send Malia back to school, even if it wasn’t the same one that they had left. Talia was dead set against it. The tension had left their town, not the cities.
While the adults argued, the kids hung out in the kitchen. Laura had a new brownie recipe to try out. Cora was helping, while Malia played on her phone, legs dangling off the counter where she had placed her ass, directly in the way and loving it.
Derek was sketching at the table, something he hadn’t done since college. It had been a good outlet after Paige and he continued it through school, even winning a few awards. It had stopped when he went to academy though. He had just been too busy. But he had found a few old sketchbooks and was giving it another go, remembering how it used to ground him and thinking he could use a little stability in his life.
“Brownies are up!” Laura said, placing the hot pan on the stove.
“Gimmie.” Malia launched herself at them, Cora holding her back by the shirt.
“No fair. You didn’t help so you have to wait.”
Malia’s eyes flashed. “You never want my help.”
Cora growled and they began to play wrestle on the kitchen floor, partial shifted and loud.
Derek stood and walked over to the stove, avoiding the fight while smiled at their bickering and went to grab one for himself before they were gone. Food never lasted long around here, even though Laura made a double batch.
Laura watched him chew. “What do you think?”
“Not bad.” He answered honestly. “But I’ve had better.”
Laura puffed out. “When have you had better?”
“Around.” It was actually at the station just the other day when Stiles had brought in some double chocolate brownies that were melt-in-your-mouth amazing. Stiles had smiled at Derek as he dropped them off and Derek had spent the rest of the thinking about it.
The girls had stopped fighting, Malia having won the right to the next brownie, and Cora was at the table, flipping through his sketchbook. “Derek who is this?” she asked, stopped a few pages in.
Shit. He had drawn Stiles’ smile from that day, all warmth and beauty, his eyes glowing and looking so happy as he laughed at something Parish has said, though his eyes had been on Derek.
The sketch wasn’t finished. There was no way they would figure out who it was. No way.
“He’s cute.” Malia remarked, sliding over and looking as well.
“No way, it’s way too pretty for a boy. It’s a girl. Awww, our little Der Bear is growing up.” Laura said, joining them.
Derek felt his face flush. He growled and reached for the sketch, only to have it pulled away by Malia, who ran across the kitchen.
“Actually, he looks familiar.” Malia said, stopping and looking at the paper way too hard. Derek ran at her again, only to be pushed to the side by Laura.
Derek stomach sunk at the idea of anybody figuring it out. He gave up running, the girls outnumbered him anyway, and glared at his family, hoping they would get bored. “It’s nobody. Just a random person I thought of to practice.”
Malia shrugged, then went to hand over the book to Derek, only to have it snatched away yet again by Cora.
“Oh, I know who it is! It’s Stiles.”
Derek kept his face blank, but his heart stuttered so hard Laura looked at him with concern. He could smell himself reeking of embarrassment and anger.
“Who’s Stiles?” Laura asked, face no longer teasing but curious, looking between Cora and Derek.
“He’s a boy that works with my community service sometimes.”
“Stiles works community service? Really? I thought he had an in with the cops because of his dad or whatever.” Malia asked.
Cora rolled her eyes. “Yeah he goes with us in the morning. He like, helps the officers? But only sometimes. I don’t know, it’s weird. But he is super cool though. Weird, but cool.”
“I know he is. He comes by the restaurant at least once a week to eat with his dad. He makes me laugh. He always tells these stupid jokes.” Malia said, grinning somewhat predatorially. “I like him.”
“Wait, you all know this guy?” Laura was back to amused. “Aww, Derek why don’t you introduce him to the rest of the family?”
Jealousy was rolling in his belly. Derek didn’t like how Malia was grinning, or that Cora got to see Stiles almost every day, or that Laura wanted him to share. He snarled and shoved his sister, ripping the sketchbook out of her hands, tearing the picture in the process.
Cora fell hard, as she tripped over the rug on the way down, knocking the dishes that had by drying on the counter to the ground. Her eyes flashed as she fell. She beta shifted and threw herself at her brother.
Derek roared, claws out to meet her. The kitchen descended into madness as Malia joined Cora, giggling at first but what started as a play fight, quickly became serious when no one refused to give. Cora was fast and Malia was brutal but Derek was strong and, with his training, a much better fighter. Laura stood to the side and screamed at them all to stop, trying to pull them apart without getting clawed herself.
“What is going on in here?” Talia thundered at the door, eyes flashing red.
Derek let go of Cora’s hair and Malia climbed off his back. There were broken dishes all over the floor, the brownies too. The table had been knocked over and the chairs overturned. Each of them were splattered with blood from already healed gashes. Derek keep his eyes on the filthy floor, feeling ashamed and wilting under the disappointment rolling off his alpha.
Cora glanced at her brother and opened her mouth, but Talia held up her hand. “I don’t want to hear it. I thought you were all adults, something Peter had almost convinced me of tonight. Clearly, he is wrong. Neither of you girls is going back to school in the fall, unless it is here in Beacon Hills.”
Both Malia and Cora began to complain instantly, Laura jumping to their defense. Derek stayed quiet. Personally, he wanted his whole pack close.
“Enough.” Talia said, throwing just a bit of alpha into her voice. They silenced immediately.
“It’s been decided. Clean this up, then go to bed.”
The kids hurried to obey. Laura grabbed the broom, Cora wiped up the blood, Malia fixed the chairs and table that had been overturned, while Derek gathered up what was left of his art supplies, looking sadly at the ruined sketch.
They were on the way up to their rooms, when Cora bumped his shoulder as he tried to go to his room.
“Sorry.” She said, looking contrite. “We shouldn’t tease. I was just excited. Stiles is one of the only people in town who didn’t act like I was a freak for being a wolf, or a monster for having to do community service. And Malia has told me about how he is so nice to her at the restaurant. It would have been cool if you knew him too.”
“It’s ok.” Derek’s anger had faded and now there was only embarrassment. “I don’t know him, not really. I don’t know why I drew him.”
Stiles had just looked so beautiful the other day, eyes alive with life. Stiles made him feel something. Made him feel protective and free all at the same time. Derek didn’t know what to make of it.
Cora gave him a long look, arms crossed and leaning against his door. “You should talk to him. I think you would like him. And you could use a good friend.”
She kissed him on the cheek before going to bed.
But that was the problem, Derek though as he laid in bed. He didn’t want a friend. He wanted more. And he wanted it from Stiles. Who was beautiful, and apparently funny and kind. Who had already charmed half his pack.
Stiles who was battling addiction. Who may or may not like guys. Who every single cop in the city seemed to love. Stiles who had a girlfriend.
Derek huffed, rolling over and trying to sleep. He didn’t stand a chance.
Derek went to his early morning shift the next day in a terrible mood. Talia had still been mad this morning, and made sure everyone knew, stomping around and growling if anyone spoke too loud.
The whole thing had been stupid. Derek shouldn’t have reacted like that over his sisters finding out about Stiles. It wasn’t like there was anything to find out about. It was a pathetic little crush that would go away soon enough.
Derek’s shift helped improve his mood, almost to the point he could pretend the night before never happened.
The new Sheriff, or rather, the old Sheriff, had been switching up shifts like crazy. He rotated them more evenly but also sorted the sups in with the humans. Now, the only time Derek was on his own was when he was on an easy assignment. But the Sheriff had insisted on body camera’s anytime they were out, so Derek would still have proof if anyone tried to pull any speciest bullshit. And today was the easiest shift there was.
May had creeped into June and the tourist season was in full swing. Which meant today Derek got to patrol the preserve, the closest thing to freedom he could have on the job.
The Hale family didn’t own the entire preserve, nowhere close. They owned a few good miles, about a hundred or so that surrounded the house so they would have plenty of room to run, not to mention privacy. But there were still huge swaths of land that had been turned over to the state and made into trails and camping.
The city liked to keep a cop near the woods because tourists had a tendency to make trouble. Sometimes it was just getting lost. Other times it was getting drunk and starting a fight, or setting the woods fire, or causing property damage to the other campers.
It was considered an easy shift because it was mostly driving from campground to campground making sure there were no issues. Derek personally tried a little harder. He liked to spend some time running the trials to, in be sure that no one was out there and hurt, in addition to the campground sweeps. There were park rangers who did this as well, but it helped morale to have a police presence.
He had a good run and a great shift. He came back to the office to finish his paperwork feeling a million times better. He rushed through his paperwork, eager to get home and tell his sisters that everything was forgiven.
He was so focused that he didn’t notice the hummingbird heartbeat until it was directly in front of him. He looked up in time to see a paper plate loaded with brownies dropped into the middle of his desk.
“Hi.” Stiles was standing there, smiling somewhat shyly.
“Hi.” His stomach fluttered nervously, and he frowned, trying to get a hold of himself.
“So, Cora said she owned you some brownies.” Stiles’ fingers were drumming a pattern on the edge of his desk. Derek had to force himself not to stare at the long beautiful things.
“Yep.” He popped the p. “She said you guys had some sort of fight last night and your mom got mad and no one got any of the brownies Laura made. Totally unfair if you ask me. So, I agreed to make you some, under the condition you share. But personally, I don’t know if Cora deserves brownies. She was in a bad mood today. So, actually maybe she needs brownies more than usual. Self-care and all that.”
Jesus, Stiles could talk. Derek kept waiting on him to take a breath so he could interrupt, but he didn’t, words continuing to spill out his mouth an an impressive rate.
“Anyway, so yeah food. Speaking of you probably eat sometimes right? Like of course you do. But do you?”
Stiles finally paused for Derek to speak but his mind was still stuck on Cora and Stiles. On what she might have said to him specifically about how Derek might feel about the human.
“You talked with Cora about our fight?”
“Well no not about it. She just seemed down today and so I asked why and she said she was a jerk but it’s cause and direct quote here’ you can’t get your head out of your ass’ and I felt bad because Cora is so cool and so I made food. By the way, did not put it together that you guys were siblings until today. I knew Cora had a brother but had no idea it was the hot police officer that thought I ‘needed help.’” Stiles put air quotes around the words. “But my dad says you really are a good cop and seem to care about your job and I figured we should maybe give each other another chance. Plus, Cora says you are a total marshmallow but she is such a nerd, so how can she talk? Like she totally loves DC. Personally I’m a Marvel guy and I like movies and the comics and she just does movies but to each there own. Anyway, food?”
The amount of information being thrown at Derek was overwhelming. He blinked hard, trying to focus on the words and not the lips saying it and those fingers literally never stopped tapping. He honestly couldn’t remember the question that Stiles had started with.
Stiles looked a little disappointed but before he could start up again, the Sheriff yelled from his office.
“Stiles. Why are you distracting Officer Hale? He is here to work, not talk to you.” The Sheriff shot Derek a unnecessarily dark look. “Go home. Now.”
Stiles shot Derek a playful grin. “Until next time then Officer.” He saluted the Sheriff, who rolled his eyes before going back inside.
“That was weird right” Derek asked Greenberg, who was just coming on shift.
“I don’t know man. That’s Stiles. He had always been like that.”
Derek finished up his work and headed home with a smile. Stiles had made him brownies. Brownies that he was not going to share with his sisters. Maybe his crush wasn’t as hopeless as he thought.
Stiles started coming around the station more and more. He usually just bugged the Sheriff, but he always shot Derek a smile before he left.
Derek was starting to think that Stiles didn’t have a drug problem, or maybe that he had kicked it unnaturally fast. He never smelled like any of the regulars, pot, meth, or coke and although he sometimes seemed out of it, he didn’t act quite right for stoned. Derek just didn’t know what else it could be. Maybe a metal disorder, bipolar or schizophrenia or something. Hell, maybe it was just magic causing him to behave weirdly. He was a level three, after all. He didn’t have full control of something.
But the more time he spent around Stiles, not with because it wasn’t really with, Stiles just came into the station like he lived there, the less he cared.
Stiles was amazing. He was the most optimistic person Derek had ever met. He was always smiling and almost cheerleading the other officers, pulling them up when they had a bad day. He was smart. He spent fifteen minutes taking to Officer Smith about his string of break-in’s before figuring out it was the son of a local security guard. And he was funny, in the sharp, quick way Derek could never be as he danced from desk to desk, making even Randy laugh.
The only problem was after their odd conversation, Stiles didn’t seem to be in a hurry to talk to Derek again. Sure, Derek caught his eyes on him more often than not, as he talked to the Sheriff or Parish for whatever reason and he always smiled at him before he left, but never came over to Derek. Which sucked. Because Derek wanted to try again. And actual say something that wasn’t one word answers this time.
Because his crush wasn’t getting better. He was falling and falling hard.
The full moon came in went. The pack all ran. Even Derek had managed to get the evening off. The pack ran in their wolf skins, howling at the moon and playing. It was nice to have them all together; the girls had missed several moons while they were at school and Laura tended to work at the hospital on full moons. They didn’t have to shift on the full moon, but it felt good, like stretching after a long day, and Derek felt more centered then he had in a long time the next day, even though he hadn’t gotten to bed until the sun peeked over the horizon.
The next day Derek was on patrol at the preserve again. He had been pulling a lot of shifts out there lately, likely because the campground staff had requested him, ever since he saved them from a family of skunks.
He rushed through his rounds, eager to get back to the station. He had a plan. He had brought Stiles dish back. He was going to give it to him and say thanks. And then ask him if he like coffee’s as well as pastries. And then, if Stiles did, he would invite him for a coffee sometime. He had practiced with Cora, without using names of course, who didn’t even laugh at him. He was ready.
Until he got back to the hiking check in station to find an extremely worried mother crying about her daughter. Her three year old daughter. Who she thought was with her siblings, who in turn thought the baby was with their mother.
“Slow down, ma’am.” Derek said, trying to sound reassuring and failing, if the increase in sobs was anything to go by. He struggled with the more human side of police work, though he did try. He just didn’t have a reassuring face. “How long has she been missing?”
“Sara. Her name is Sara and it’s been almost four hours.”
Four hours was a long time in the woods for a toddler. Derek sniffed the air and helped the mother check all the usual places, bathrooms, cars and playground, but he didn’t find anything. If she was somewhere on the trails, he would have smelled her while running them just an hour or so ago. She had to be in the woods.
It was getting dark. He radioed it in.
The Sheriff was good. Within thirty minutes, he had volunteer search parties ready to go, each one with an officer on point and all the sups on the force were on hand. All the other hikers had been cleared out of the paths and the family was being comforted while an ambulance waited, ready to go.
They were gathered at the trail head where Sara had gone missing, where the parties would branch out.
Derek flexed his hands, letting the blue bleed into his eyes as the wolf creeped out. He wouldn’t do a full shift, not here, but if there was ever a time for a beta shift, it was now. He was scenting the woods constantly, trying to get any hint of which direction to start.
“Hey.” A familiar voice said as Derek turned around, caught off guard while his focus had been on the missing girl. “I’m in your group. So is the Sheriff.”
Stiles was standing there, eyes a little vague and tone almost dull. He smelled wrong, sharp, like burn sugar and iron, and Derek didn’t like it at all.
“Are you sure you should be out here? You don’t look so good.”
“I’m fine worry wolf.” Stiles blinked hard, and his eyes cleared marginally. He pushed a forced grin on his face and held up his flashlight and yellow safety vest like that qualified him.
“Do you have any training at all?”
“Hey, I’m an honorary officer.”
Derek rolled his eyes but smiled a bit as his mind briefly filled with a vision of himself finding Sara, who is safe and sound, and Stiles being so impressed that he would accept Derek’s offer for coffee.
The Sheriff yelled out the go ahead and the groups file into the woods, branching out and going slow, as not to miss anything. Derek shook his head, mildly ashamed of himself. This was about a missing girl, not Stiles. No matter how good it felt to have him walking beside him, his body warm and scent returning to cinnamon.
The search teams covered plenty of ground, the woods filled with the sound of people crying out Sara’s name, but no one found any sign of her. It was starting to get dark and it could get cold out in the some of the rock formations. Derek was worried. He considered calling up his mother and getting some other wolves out here, if the Sheriff would let him, but fear of what the many worried and well-armed humans in the woods might do to one of them kept him from it.
Stiles did well. He never fell behind or disobeyed any of Derek’s, or the other officers’ orders, through Derek noticed the Sheriff watching him closely. Stiles stayed focused and his scent remained normal, if a little anxious.
They had been out it for hours, when Derek finally caught a scent. It was coming from the direction of the creek that ran through the area, a jolt of concern ran through him. If Sara had fallen in the water….
He motioned to the Sheriff that he was going to break off when he felt Stiles hand on his arm. He was impressed by the size of it. Because Stiles was young, somehow, he expected him to be small. But Stiles had long fingers and a strong grip, matching his thin but tall frame.
“Don’t. She isn’t that way.”
“What?” Derek finally had a lead. He wasn’t going to throw it away.
“She heard the creek, but her mama told her never to play by water. She went the other way. Into the rocks. She’s close.” Stiles gaze was distant again and his grip went limp as he stumbled slightly.
The Sheriff was there to catch him before Derek could move. “You heard him. Move out.”
Their group broke away from the other and began to move quickly across the woods towards the rock outcropping. Stiles was being pulled along by the Sheriff, but he was keeping up.
The rocks were in sight when Derek caught the girl’s scent, even stronger than before. He broke into a run, faster than any of the humans could, though he could hear them following close behind.
Sara was there, wedged between two large rocks, shivering with scraped knees, but other than that, smelling uninjured, or at least pain free. Derek let his beta shift fall before he approached her, not wanting her to be scared.
“Hey. You’re alright. We’re here to help. I’m a cop. I’m going to take you to your mom.”
Sara sniffled, then held out her arms. Derek picked her up, holding her close. His werewolf body temperature would warm her faster than anyone else’s might, though he wished he had thought to grab an emergency blanket.
The rest of the officers burst into view only moments later.
“Is she okay?” the Sheriff asked, looking about as relieved as a person could be. He shucked off his coat and wrapped in around the girl.
“I think so.” Derek stuck his nose in Sara’s hair and got a better smell. “She smells fine.”
“She is.” Stiles was standing a little bit apart but spoke with complete confidence watching the scene with a pleased look on his face. “She is just fine.”
They made good time back to the trail head. Derek didn’t want to run and jostle Sara unnecessarily just in case she was hurt, but he walked as quickly as he could, the rest of the search parties coming back as well. He could hear them, excitedly chattering as word spread the girl had been found and the scent of joy filled the air. It felt good and he wanted to howl for happiness that it had all turned out alright.
The Sheriff radioed ahead and let the family know Sara had been found. Her mother was crying when she took Sara from his arms, thanking him with every breath as she held her little girl close. The other officers, even the ones who barely knew him, were clamping him on the shoulder and telling him good job.
“It wasn’t me ma’am.” Derek blushed, not liking all the attention. “It was everyone. I was just the fastest to get to her.”
It was Stiles, but Derek hesitated to say it. Clearly Stiles had some sort of gift, but Derek didn’t want to oust him, especially not knowing the whole story. Derek had known that he had something since he saw Stiles ID, but he never smelled like magic, not like Deaton and the other mages did. He had never given any real thought to the magic being why Stiles acted a bit off but it seemed obvious now.
His modesty was ignored, and he had far more attention on him than he wanted. He accepted the thanks, hoping it was the sort of good publicity that might help sups, and smiled awkwardly. The Sheriff started shutting the scene down, so Derek drifted away from the crowd only to find Stiles there as well, leaning against the Sheriff’s cruiser and smelling exhausted.
“They look happy don’t they.” Stiles said wistfully, gesturing at the family all gathered around the girl as the EMT’s pronounced her healthy.
“Yeah.” Derek had the sudden urge to wrap his arms around Stiles. “I’m going to be really rude.”
Stiles snorted. “Go for it. It will make a change from how you are always glaring at me with those killer eyebrows. Or worse ignoring me.”
Derek frowned then frowned harder when he felt his eyebrows furrow. He didn’t ignore Stiles. Ever. If anything, he watched him too much. “Are you a banshee? Like Lydia Martin? Is that how you found Sara?”
Stiles didn’t look offended at all. “No, dude. And don’t ever let Lydia catch you comparing my little gift to hers. Hers is awesome and badass. Mine sucks. Besides, a banshee wouldn’t be any help. Sara was alive.”
“What is yours?” He shouldn’t be asking. It was rude and illegal and Jesus, he wanted to kiss those lips that were pouting as Stiles smirked.
“It’s nothing really” Stiles turned to Derek and stepped closer, the smell of cinnamon and a hint of desire as those amber eyes met his own. “It’s just.” Stiles trailed off, eyes going blank, then rolling up in his head completely as his scent shifted to burning metal and hurt. He let out a soft cry of pain as his eyes shut.
“Stiles?” Derek asked worried.
Stiles didn’t answer. Instead, he went limp, listing to the side and falling like a tree in the forest. Derek caught him before he came close to hitting the ground and pressed him against his own chest, terrified by the kid’s racing and stuttering heart.
“Medic!” Derek screamed.
Stiles was so light as Derek caught him, eyes flickering back and forth under their lids, body trembling like he was freezing, even though the human was warm in Derek’s arms.
The EMT’s came running, and so had the Sheriff, looking more than a little concerned. Stiles went still as the EMT’s moved him out of Derek’s arm and onto the ground, bracing his neck and taking vitals. Derek stood up and took a few steps back like that would distance him from whatever was happening.
“His heartrate’s high but respiration is even. Did he miss a dose?” A small Asian woman dressed as a paramedic asked the Sheriff as she took Stiles vitals and moved him from his back to his side. The Sheriff, who had taken Derek place by Stiles head, and was holding his hand. Derek was missing something here.
“No. Melissa says he is taking his meds regularly.”
“We could take him in. Try Diazepam. I know it’s worked before. Or I can try mountain ash injections, but you know the risk there.”
The Sheriff shook his head. “No. Let’s give it a second. He’s been doing so well lately. This could be a onetime thing.”
Derek could hear Stiles heart beating furiously, like he was running for his life. He didn’t understand why no one was doing anything. Someone should have been doing something. Stiles was a human. He needed help.
Derek didn’t realize he was whining until Parish, who had come to stand beside him but was decidedly not looking at Stiles, gave him a weird look. Derek shut up, surprised by his own small lapse in control.
Then all at once, the burning smell was gone. Stiles opened his eyes and immediately struggled to sit up. The Sheriff and the female paramedic helped him up, though the woman seemed to want him to lie back down.
“Dad?” Stiles sounded so young. “Dad. We found her? Sara’s okay?”
The Sheriff pulled Stiles against his chest, wrapping a hand around the back of his head. “Yeah. We found her.”
Things were clicking into place for Derek.
Stiles was acting more and more cognizant as he began to hug back. He pushed the EMT’s who were hovering away, though he didn’t leave the Sheriff’s arms. “I’m fine.”
The woman huffed, then looked at her partner, who grabbed their things and left, calling out about Stiles not missing his next doctor appointment.
“Jordan. I have to finish up here. I can’t leave yet. Take him home for me?” The Sheriff stood slowly, making sure Stiles was stable before handing him off.
“Of course.” Parish swung an arm around Stiles, who was steady of his feet now, recovering from whatever it was that happened quickly.
Derek felt a little bit like he was in shock. His hands were shaking, like it had been Cora or Malia who had been hurt. His mind wasn’t working right, jumping from thought to thought randomly.
“Take Hale with you.” The Sheriff suddenly was in his face, looking him over with a critical eye. Derek drew back, his instincts screaming run, as though the Sheriff was a predator. “He’s had a long day.”
Parish drove, while Stiles sat in the backseat, sitting almost motionless, though he stayed awake the whole time.
Derek stayed in the car when Parish pulled up to an old-fashioned two-story house on the edge of a decent neighborhood. He shamelessly listened in while Parish walked Stiles up to the door, though Stiles was steady and already acted like nothing had happened.
“You’re not home alone are you? Your dad has a few more hours before he's finished up.”
“Nope.” Stiles popped the p. “Scott’s home. Melissa had night shift again.”
“Good.” Parish clapped him on the shoulder. “You did good out there today. But you didn’t have to go in the field. You could have called it in.”
“It was a kid. I had to go. It’s just frustrating. I was doing so good then I.” Stiles made a hand gesture that conveyed his collapse. “Everyone saw.” Stiles eyes darted to the car where Derek was watching. He didn’t look away.
“You’re adjusting to being back. You’ll get back to being steady.”
“Yeah.” Stiles looked down, scuffing his shoe on the sidewalk. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Anytime. Call if you need anything.”
Parish climbed back in the car but didn’t turn it on. He signed and ran a hand over his face, looking tired.
“Go ahead and ask.”
“The Sheriff is Stiles’ dad.”
“Even though they have different last names.”
“Yeah. I’m not sure why, honestly.”
“Stiles has magic. He is magic.”
Parish made a face. “I’m not telling you that.”
“Fine. But it hurts him. Makes him act off sometimes.” Derek fingertips itched, like his claws wanted to come out.
“Can he be trained? Get better control or something.”
Parish looked pissed at the insinuation. “Stiles has the best control of nearly anyone you will meet.”
“He’s only a Level 3.”
“You saw his ID.”
Derek nodded, impatient for answers.
“Yes he’s a level three but only because the system of measuring isn’t fair to him. Just like it’s not fair to a lot of us.”
Derek was quiet for a long moment. He didn’t want to know anything else. He didn’t want to think anymore. “Let’s go.”
Derek let the warm water rush over him, washing away the memories of the night. Washing away the scent of pain and Stiles.
“Derek, are you alright?” Derek flinched as his mom knocked on the bathroom door, sounding concerned. He had though everyone was asleep. It had been late by the time he had gotten home.
“I’m fine.” He wasn’t. He was tired and worried, so worried, about Stiles. He didn’t know how much about the search party his mother had heard through the grapevine, but he didn’t want to talk about any of it. Not the worry of the missing girl, the joy of finding her, the heart wrenching fear when Stiles had collapsed.
“I don’t know what is making you upset, but I know you did the best you could. You always do. I love you.” Talia said, before Derek hear her move away, giving him space.
That was what made her such a good alpha. She always knew when to push and when to reassure. Tomorrow after Derek had a chance to decompress, she would ask again. She would ask what happened, how she could help. For now, she would reassure.
Even though it was almost dawn, Derek still went into his room and laid down, trying to catch a little sleep before his shift started. He had been moved from morning shift to afternoon, so he had a bit of time, but his mind just kept replaying Stiles collapsing into his arms.
As he laid in bed, Derek didn’t feel any better. He felt almost sick himself, worried about Stiles and how he was doing this morning, if he was still ill, if he needed anything. He wanted to talk to him, really talk, but he didn’t even know what to say.
Human’s with magic were in an awkward place. They weren’t sups, but humans still didn’t trust them. Add that in with the fact that most of the Councils were magic users and it led to a lot of discrimination, more than for sups even. Stiles likely kept it a secret for a reason. He probably didn’t want Derek to know.
Derek huffed, then rolled over. It wasn’t like it mattered. He and Stiles weren’t even friends. They were barely acquaintances. The Sheriff said Stiles was fine. He was fine.
An hour later, Derek gave up on sleep and stumbled downstairs, still exhausted. He went to the kitchen, praying for coffee and hoped no one was still home.
“You look like shit.” Peter was there getting coffee as well, unfortunately, and as considerate as ever.
Derek grunted and showed his human teeth, too tired to beta shift just to piss off his uncle. He grabbed a travel mug and a pop tart. He didn’t have time to eat at home, already running late.
“Eloquent as always nephew.”
“Fuck off. One of the guys collapsed last night. I was.” Derek hesitated. It was never a good idea to give Peter ammunition. He might use it anytime. “I was worried about him.”
Something clicked in Peter’s bright blue eyes. Peter surprised him, grabbing the scuff of his neck and pulling him in tight for a hug. Derek froze. Peter wasn’t usually demonstrative. Though he accepted touch, he almost never initiated with anyone besides Malia.
“It’s hard, working with humans. You should talk to him.” Peter walked out of the kitchen, leaving Derek feeling just a little better as he went to get ready for his shift.
Derek’s shift was uneventful. He had to file his report for Sara but that was about it. After that, he was put on a general downtown patrol and wrote three speeding tickets and one for failure to yield at a stop sign. It was boring and good for his tired brain.
It was dark when he clocked out, more than ready to head home. He had the next two days off and he planned on making the most of them. Maybe he could grab one of his sisters for a camping trip or something. Get out of town and recharge away from all his thoughts.
The Sheriff was still in his office, working on paperwork, eyes down and sipping coffee. He had a brown bag with a sandwich half eaten on his desk.
Derek knew he should leave. The pack was waiting on him for supper. He could leave and it would all be over. He knew the truth about Stiles. There were no more mysteries, no more worries.
Derek knocked on the doorframe. The Sheriff looked up and waved him room.
“How can I help you Hale?” The Sheriff’s expression was cautious, almost wary. Derek didn’t know what he had done to deserve it.
The Sheriff motioned for him to sit, but Derek shook his head. “I don’t mean to bother you. I just wanted to check on Stiles. Make sure he was alright. Parish told me he was your son, so I figured you would know.”
The Sheriff’s scent shifted to something sour, almost angry but his expression was blank. “He's fine. Thank you for asking.”
“Alright.” Derek shifted uncomfortably. “I’ll just. I’ll go then.”
The Sheriff nodded. “You did good last night Hale.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Derek left, wondering once again how he could be so bad at basic communication.
No one wanted to go camping with him. For wolves, the girls sure didn’t enjoy the dirt if they weren’t in their fur. They all laid on the couches after supper, complaining about how they weren’t going to spend their days off covered in bugs.
“We should go to the beach! All of us.” Cora said, after Derek’s camping idea was completely shot down.
Derek groaned. He liked the beach well enough, but a beach trip with his sister was always a headache. They were pretty girls and it always turned into cluster of catcalling and sickening scents of arousal. More than once, there had been a drunk idiot who grabbed at them only to find out that any of the Hale women could snap his wrist.
But Cora was officially done with her community service. She hadn’t been able to find a job yet, though she claimed to have some feelers out. Laura had the day off too. She worked twelve-hour shifts, so she managed four days off a week more often than not. Malia was supposed to work, but she was able to switch shifts with another girl. The next thing Derek knew, they were officially going to the beach the next day.
They piled into Talia’s SUV because no one else had a car big enough for them all. She had wanted to come, but a problem had come up with one of their rental properties and she had to deal with the landlord and tenants. Derek was pleased that Peter was coming too, so he wouldn’t be the only guy. Malia wasn’t upset about her dad tagging along. When he wasn’t in full on lawyer mode, Peter was pretty cool, cracking inappropriate jokes and leering at the other beach-goers, evening out the stares the girls got.
They spent the day sunbathing and drinking wolfbane spiked beer until they were all as sloppy drunk as the humans beside them. They burnt then healed, then burnt again because no one remembered to bring any umbrellas or sunscreen, though they did have plenty of towels.
Cora screamed when Malia scooped her up and dumped her in the ocean. She pouted, soaking wet, until Peter came to her recuse, throwing Malia into the deep with a playful growl. Laura grabbed Derek’s hand and dragging him away from the sketchbook he had brought and into the water was well. The whole Hale family played and laughed like they didn’t have a care in the world, because for this one day, they didn’t.
No one talked about the darks looks they got from the humans who have clearly figured out they are werewolves from the growls and eyes flashes. They ignored the muttering that someone needs to call the cops and kick them off, though Derek was glad he grabbed his badge and handcuffs when a few of the men looked more lustful than angry.
“Stop looking so upset nephew.” Peter laid on a beach towel and looking more relaxed than should be possible.
“Let them stare. You and I both know we have every right to be here."
“And if they don’t agree?” The men were whispering together now, but Derek couldn’t hear them properly over the waves and the laughter of his sisters as they swam, racing out to the peer and back.
“We can take them.” Peter’s eyes flash blue and he looked deadly serious before he burst into laughter and tossed Derek another drink.
As the sun began to sink down, Laura bought then tacos off a food truck. It should have been enough to feed a small army, but for a family of werewolves, it was only just enough.
Derek and Peter were fighting over the last of the chips when he caught Cora and Malia looking over at him and giggling before typing something on Cora’s phone.
“What’s so funny?” He asked, relinquishing the chips to Peter.
“Nothing.” Cora said with a smile. “Why would you think something is funny dear brother? Can’t I just be happy because we had this amazing day?”
Derek growled, knowing she was lying, but also that she was right. They had had an amazing day. He wasn’t going to ruin it now by bitching about her texting.
Only the glances didn’t stop and neither did her all-knowing smirk. She watched him drive the whole way home, staying awake even though everyone else passed out. She watched him at breakfast the next day, then while he was catching up the pack’s laundry, his chore for the week, then later when they were all hanging out in the living room. She would occasionally show her phone to Malia who would laugh or grin before nodding.
Derek didn’t know what they were planning but he knew it wouldn’t end well for him. He waited until bed before he burst into her room unannounced.
“Derek!” she screeched, eyes on her phone of course then darting up as she hid the screen “What if I had been naked?”
Derek raised an eyebrow. He had seen his whole family naked plenty of times and they had seen him too. Modesty wasn’t really a thing when everyone transformed into wild beasts and ran through the woods once a month.
“Okay, bad example. But you should still knock. Privacy isn’t just a human thing.”
Derek grabbed her desk chair and spun it around to straddle the back and settled his arms over the back, eyes watching her.
“So, is this one of your cop tactics? Watch me until I confess? New flash, I’m not doing anything wrong. So, sit there all night.” She went back to her phone.
It lasted less than five minutes. “Even if I was doing something it’s not like it’s any of your business. Stop watching me.”
“So, it’s not alright to stare at people?” Derek raised his eyebrow in the way knew drove her crazy.
Cora rolled her eyes. “I know you need to work on your people skills Derek, but even you know that.”
“Then why do you keep watching me?”
“You noticed that huh.” Cora looked down and picked at the bedspread.
Now they were getting somewhere. “Yeah. And I would like to know why.”
She squirmed and her scent went from annoyed to guilty. “I can’t tell you.”
Derek immediately went on high alert, worried that the trouble from college had followed her home. He began to make plans to protect her, to hunt down the threat, but before he could demand she tell him, Cora smelled the spike in his anxiety and put her hand on his arm, trying to calm him.
“It’s nothing bad. It’s just not my secret to tell. Trust me, it’s not bad. I promise.”
“Cora, I want to trust you. I love you. But you’re my little sister. I can’t let anything happened to you.”
She sighed. “Nothing bad is happening. I’m just texting some guy I met. He’s funny. And no, it’s not serious- he doesn’t like me like that. And no, he isn’t a threat.”
Cora’s heart said she wasn’t lying, but it didn’t feel like the truth. But he was her brother, not her parole officer. He stood up from the chair and pounced on the bed, making her laugh.
“Derek.” She squealed, still giggling.
“I only want you safe.” He buried his nose in her neck, taking in the scent of pack and home. “That’s all I ever want.”
Work was uneventful for the next week. The Sheriff watched him but there was no hate there, just a sort of wariness. Most people looked at him like that. Derek still did paperwork and went on the occasional patrol. The campgrounds had been quiet, though he had free drinks anytime he was there, cutesy of the staff. They made a mean lemonade.
Stiles didn’t come in, but Derek tried not to worry. He probably still didn’t feel well. Or maybe he had gotten a job. Or maybe he was visiting a friend. Malia said he and his dad hadn’t been to the restaurant in a few days either, so it was nothing to worry about. He wasn’t worried about it.
Which didn’t explain why Derek’s heart jumped so hard when, on Friday, Stiles walked through the doors, looking healthy and as happy as ever. He swung into the Sheriff’s office, though without even stopping to joke with Parish and the normal goofy smile was gone from his face. Even from his desk, Derek could see the large hand gestures and the Sheriff’s running a hand over his face. Derek made a conscious effort not to listen, though he could almost hear them without his enhanced hearing.
Stiles didn’t stay in there long before he walked out with a frown. Derek could smell the anxiety from whatever argument they had had drifting out of the office and into the bullpen. He was surprised. Stiles never fought with anyone. Pester and annoy, wheel and cajole, but never fought.
Derek went back to his papers. What the Stiles and the Sheriff, his father, talked about was none of him business. He’s cruiser had been pulling to the left and he wanted to have a mechanic take a look, which meant like five different forms.
It didn’t mean he didn’t notice Stiles walking towards his desk. Derek glanced around, but no he was the only one on this side of the office. He watched Stiles as he ambled across the room, before sitting awkwardly on the edge of Derek’s desk.
Derek could feel himself glowering, but he couldn’t help it. He was confused. Stiles looked calm, or as calm as he ever was, fingers drumming on the desk and knee bouncing and eyes focusing on anything besides Derek’s face. But his heart was pounding, and he scent was flooded with so many emotions that Derek couldn’t get a read on one.
The silence stretched on. Derek was beginning to wonder if Stiles was having another episode. Maybe he should go get someone.
Derek had never been so grateful for one word. “Hi.”
“So, I didn’t like where we left things. I mean, we were having a completely normal conversation before I bailed out on you. And it was nice.”
Derek didn’t like the implication that Stiles somehow chose not to finish their conversation in the woods. “It wasn’t your fault.”
Stiles shrugged. “I had a plan you know. I was going to ask if you wanted to get some coffee after you got off shift. Warm us up.”
“Oh.” Derek face flushed as he realized how close it had been to his own plan. Stiles smiled softly at him.
Derek grinned with just a hint of fangs, both pleased and annoyed at the complement and forgetting for a moment that he was at his job, not at home with his pack. “Don’t you know wild things bite?”
Stiles gaze went cloudy as his scent became bitter but both cleared before Derek could even stand up in a panic. “You’re not wild. No matter what they say.”
“I would never hurt you. Never bite you.” Derek said, abruptly, then flushed even darker when he realized how inappropriate he sounded. “I have perfect control, I mean. And I would never allow myself to be in a position where you might be in any danger. With me, I mean. I wouldn’t let you be with me if that happened.”
“Okay. Anyway.” Stiles stood up, face suddenly hard. “I think this has been sufficiently awkward. Message received.”
Derek was confused. What message? He thought they had been flirting. It felt like they had been flirting. And Derek had done the right thing by assuring his potential mate that he wouldn’t never be in danger with Derek around.
Stiles gave a small salute and stood, turned to go, then turned back around, looking fiercely determined.
“No, you know what, fuck it. We are never going to get anywhere like this. I don’t think you have any idea of what I’m trying to say.” Stiles looked Derek in the eyes. “Derek, I like you. I think you’re cute when you do that little half smile. I like that your eyebrows can have their own language even though you can barely carry on a conversation. And don’t even get me started on those muscles, because I don’t know who you sold your soul to for those, but damn you are getting your money’s worth. Anyway, do you want to go out on a date with me?”
Derek’s mind screeched to a stop. This was not how he expected this conversation to go. Stiles was looking at him so damn hopefully and those fucking eyes were practically sparkling with optimism.
“Um. Yea. I mean, yes. Yes, I want to go on a date with you.”
“Great.” Stiles smiled widely. “You work late tomorrow, so let’s say brunch on Sunday. Meet me at the little place on 5th about 10:30. You know where it is?”
“Alright good. And I expect you to show. Or else no more cookies. Or brownies.”
Stiles left, looking much happier than he had coming in. Derek sat in his chair, dumbstruck. He was going out with Stiles.