Honestly, the truth of the matter was that all Derek wanted in life was a closed off room, an internet connection, and a little spark of inspiration. It had been a long, long time since he had wanted anything more, a girlfriend (or, to be honest – a boyfriend) didn’t even enter on his list of requirements, because that would mean interacting with people. It was a good day when Derek even managed to leave the house.
Or possibly a bad day when he was forced to leave the house, he never really knew which kind of day it would be until he was living it.
Beacon Hills was a terrible small town – relative to the city of Los Angeles, not to the smaller towns that dotted the coastal area of Northern California leading into Oregon. It was the kind of place where new faces stuck out and if you planned to stay for more than a few days, your business was everyone’s business.
Derek hated it there.
The decision to relocate, a semi-permanent vacation until Derek finished (or started) the storyboard for his unnamed movie was made by the three of them. Allison had fond memories of the place, and it had been so long since she allowed herself to remember the good things, that Derek had been unable to say no to her. He could almost remember the place himself. He knew the Argents had given his family a standing invitation, and he could remember his parents talking about the possibility of going up for a long weekend, but either the town and the house itself had left little to no impression on Derek, or he had never been there, because he knew the moment they arrived that he didn’t have any real memories of the place.
“You never know,” Laura said. “You might find inspiration in the coniferous trees and the fresh Pacific coast air.”
“I’m not going to find inspiration in Beacon Hills.”
That was true. What Derek found instead was a bunch of locals who watched his every move once they realized that he was the third of the three people who moved into the Argent summer home. He couldn’t leave the house without eyes following him and whispers cropping up from behind shielding hands. Women giggled, men sized him up, and if he had to listen to one more veiled reference to threesomes, he was going to storm out of the grocery store.
“It’s not really that bad,” Allison informed him fondly, but he could tell that she thought it was amusing.
It just gave Derek another reason not the leave the house. His work was his life, no matter how slowly it was progressing. He hated to admit it to the girls, but Beacon Hills was actually the perfect place to be if one was attempting to work through the script of a new werewolf movie. It had a certain ambience and charm that fit the characters, and it gave him what he needed – a room of his own, an internet connection, and a spark of inspiration.
Inspiration had actually hit him before their long drive up, since none of them really felt comfortable travelling by airplane and they all agreed it would be nice to have both their cars available. By the time they drove past the quaint Welcome to Beacon Hills sign, Derek was already scribbling notes in a notebook he was forced to purchase at a gas station, Allison looking inordinately pleased with herself that she was not only right that the change of pace would help his creativity, but that she was able to spend five hours driving his car without Derek scowling at her for taking corners too sharply or for edging too close to the white line.
He supposed in a round-about way, she deserved to feel smug, despite the fact that things had been percolating in his mind for a few days.
Allison swore up and down that the town was the perfect setting for his movie, describing a vast forest any kind of supernatural creature would love to get lost in. The spark of inspiration came when, in a fit of boredom brought on by staring at the street for an hour from his office in Los Angeles days before they left, unable to picture the familiar scene of his main character transforming in an imaginary forest, he Googled ‘Beacon Hills horror movie’ to make sure no one else had looked at the supposed idyllic view and saw the same potential Allison had described.
Beacon Hills was where Derek found his inspiration, but it wasn’t in the scenery or the relaxation or the vaguely small-town-sacrificial-murder-conspiracy vibe Beacon Hills presented towards tourists.
It was in a YouTube Video Blog.
Derek was marginally confident that he’d be able to live in Beacon Hills in relative anonymity. One needed to leave the house for the town of Beacon Hills to really learn anything about him other than speculation, and Derek rarely went into the town. In the few days since they arrived, he’d gotten evading the townsfolk down to an art form.
All thanks to his dedication to watching a teenage boy – early twenties at the most – chat about horror movies on the internet.
Yeah, he wasn’t sure if that really showed him in a positive light or not.
Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do if the townsfolk came to the house.
The concept of house calls baffled him. Why would anyone take the time to bake a plate of cookies and come all the way out to the house with them, just to say hello.
“Derek!” Allison said from the couch as he wandered through the living room in search of the kitchen. It wasn’t like he couldn’t find the kitchen, the house wasn’t that big. He had forgotten which door the downstairs bathroom was behind. Twice. But in his defense, all the closed doors looked the same.
Derek was ready to respond to her when he noticed she was sitting with someone. This was the second time it had happened. The first, a woman named Mrs. Long, was exactly the reason Derek had stopped going down to the kitchen unless it was an emergency. The woman could talk.
And Derek kind of understood the house call thing: Gossip.
Maybe he should surround the ambiance of his movie with how terrifying small towns were.
“Come meet Sheriff Stilinski,” Laura said, her tone telling him that he couldn’t find a way out of this one. It seemed a little unfair to Derek, because he hadn’t been able to find a way out of the conversation with Mrs. Long, either, and the woman could talk.
“I suppose I’m not the first visitor you’ve had,” the Sheriff said in an amused tone, looking between the two of them. “I can hazard a guess of what the last few days have been like. Consider me the official welcoming committee. I have the garbage pick-up schedule as well as some FAQ and contact information you may need around the town,” he continued, handing Derek a cheap plastic portfolio folder.
“I didn’t realize that was the duty of the Sheriff Department,” Derek said, wincing as Laura kicked his chin.
“It’s not,” the man answered, rubbing the back of his head in a sheepish gesture. “I’ll let the three of you in on a secret. If you think Mrs. Long is bad, you should meet my deputies and my kid. Well… kids. That brings me to my other order of business…”
“Let’s get a move on,” Laura said, tapping impatiently on the doorframe of his office, her fingernail against the wood a quick tattoo of requesting entry into his inner sanctum that both of them ignored. Him in an attempt to deny her entry and her the social constructs of a door being to keep privacy.
“I’m not finished here,” he told her, pausing the video on his screen.
“Derek,” she voiced, picking up one of the strange office décor pieces the interior decorator had placed in his office. He thought it might be a globe. Or an astrolabe. Possibly a paperweight?
Derek spun on his office chair and dug through the drawer behind him for a pair of headphones. He jabbed the plug into the jack with an angry look in her direction, attempting to get a little privacy.
“Derek, we can’t be late,” Laura said, smoothing out the material of her dress.
And, like, I get the point of the video was supposed to be horror or something, but when I think of the horror genre in general, I expect to be scared. The scariest thing in this movie was the exposition.
“To a wedding, Derek,” Laura said pointedly, giving him a meaningful tilt of her head, eyes conveying a promise to do him bodily harm if they arrived after the bride.
…and I realize complaining about exposition on my vlog is at best an oxymoron…
“Jesus how old is that kid?” Laura said over his shoulder, standing close enough to look over his shoulder. “Is this some kind of weird porn?”
“Unlike you, I have standards of how I spend my afternoon,” Derek responded, his voice sounding strangely muffled through the headphones. “This is work.”
“Work,” Laura snorted. “We’re going to be late for the wedding because of this work. And not just a wedding. The Sheriff’s wedding.”
On a more personal note... Stiles started to say, and Derek perked up, because while he enjoyed hearing Stiles’ opinion on horror movies, he had started to pay more attention to the personal facts Stiles occasionally inserted into his vlog. The move to Beacon Hills had consumed his time for the last week, and he was fifty seconds away from being caught up on the newest episode.
Laura grabbed the headphones off his head and Derek moved to pause the video stream before she could hear Stiles talk about the cute guy in his class or his best friend’s lonely lack of a love life. Instead, she gave him a sarcastic look of suspect, as though she knew he was lying just because she was his sister and knew these things.
Derek hated it when Laura did that. Mostly because she had an annoying habit of being right. “This ‘kid’ has one of the most respected video blogs dissecting horror movies on the internet. I found it through a simple web search, that’s how popular it is, and it’s educational to learn what the target audience actually pays attention to.”
He didn’t need to mention that the search terms had been ‘Beacon Hills’.
“Ok,” Laura said, moving away.
Heh, that was easier than it should be. He looked at her and she was observing him back evenly.
“Come on Derek, I know how seriously you’re taking this whole thing. I’m not going to bust your chops over it unless you make us late for the wedding. Come on, Allison is waiting in the car.”
Derek raised a sarcastic eyebrow at ‘bust your chops.’ “Fine,” he said, closing his laptop and adjusting his tie as he stood.
But he didn’t have to go happily.
“You should dance,” Laura urged, nodding as Allison took to the floor with a guy around her age wearing a blazer that had a seam unraveling on the shoulder. Derek was not a fashion maven and didn’t care if the guy was wearing Gucci or thrifted Gap, but he was fastidious, and the fact that someone would wear an item of clothing that was torn to a wedding really bothered him.
Especially since the guy had been identified as one of the Sheriff’s sons. Derek had yet to meet the other one, but he had low expectations.
“Oh god, you’re focusing on the seam, aren’t you?” Laura guessed.
“It’s disrespectful,” Derek sneered.
“Come on, I’ve heard about life in these little towns,” Laura answered. “Most of these people don’t have reason to dress up in nice clothing. Owning a suit isn’t even a requirement and they can’t be held to our level of consideration. That kid probably had to borrow his jacket from a relative or a friend. You know what happens when you rely on relatives or friends, don’t you?”
Anyone who didn’t know his sister would think Laura was making fun of the townsfolk of Beacon Hills, but Derek knew his sister better than that. Laura was taking part in her number one favourite pastime, which was making fun of him. He was well aware of how it would sound to outsiders. Derek looked around subtly for someone with a shank or a butterknife, or given the state of small-town America, someone with a gun. Not finding an immediate threat, or anyone who even looked like they overheard, Derek relaxed. It wasn’t that he was frightened of people from small towns, or people of lesser socioeconomic means, or Americans. He was frightened of people. Just a little bit. Laura said it was agoraphobia.
Derek just thought that human nature was the true horror story out there.
Besides, the proper term was anthropophobia and Derek didn’t suffer from that. But when he informed Laura, she simply patted his shoulder and said ‘no dear, you’re just shy’ in her most condescending tone.
Laura was terrible. Derek wasn’t shy. Derek just didn’t enjoy crowds of people he had nothing in common with, especially when all the attention was on him, like it invariably was since he, Laura and Allison were the new people in town, taking up in the big house on the outskirts of Beacon Hills. It had been in the Argent family for generations, but Allison hadn’t relished the idea of being in Beacon Hills on her own and Laura had volunteered to stay with her best friend and adopted sister.
So, with all eyes watching him curiously, Derek was tenser than usual.
“How about Scott’s brother?” Laura asked. “I hear he wouldn’t be averse to dancing with a guy.”
Laura sighed. “Allison’s dance partner,” she prompted, annoyed. “I might be tempted myself if you don’t scoop him up.”
“I’m not tempted. That doesn't sound tolerable,” Derek informed her meaningfully, trying to convey with his eyes how stifling the room was starting to get. “Certainly not Scott’s brother, and certainly not out on the dance floor, where all the air in the room is being drawn into the lungs of people doing… what is that?” Derek reached up to touch his tie, stopping himself from loosening it through sheer will. Other people who didn’t have a public reputation to uphold might be allowed to loosen their ties in a situation like this, but Derek was always aware of the fact people were watching him.
“The Chicken Dance,” Laura told him with distraction as her hand came up to rest on his shoulders. “Derek, are you…?”
“I need to go,” he told her. “Excuse me.”
Air helped, Derek realized once he got outside, clearing out the heavy weight that had settled like a rubber band tightening around his chest. He hadn’t been aware of how difficult it had been until he removed himself from the situation.
“Derek!” Allison exclaimed, bursting through the same break in the decorative hedge that Derek had slipped through. The branches snagged on the delicate material of her dress, but she simply laughed as she pulled herself free. Being back in her family home had been tough on her, and Derek was suddenly fiercely glad that this outing had put a bit of colour back in her cheeks. “I’m so glad I found you. Come on, there’s someone I want you to meet. He thought you were sexy and he likes horror movies, so you have a lot in common.”
“A lot of people like horror movies,” Derek pointed out. And a lot of people found him sexy. It wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
“He’s Scott’s friend, and sibling I guess. Like how we’re siblings. Come on, I think you’d really, really like him…”
“I think I’m going to go home. I’ll leave you and Laura the car.”
“You’re going to walk?” She asked with concern, looking back at the party uncertainly. “Was it that bad? I can come with you.”
“No, have fun,” he told her, leaning over and pressing his mouth against the top of her head. ”The air will help.”
“Ok, big bro, enjoy your evening constitutional,” she replied in a teasing tone.
That was right, sometimes he saw Allison more as his younger sister than Laura, probably because Laura needled and mocked him and Allison allowed him to pretend he was useful. That was why Allison was his favourite. “What do you know about this Scott character?”
“Go home to your computer,” Allison bossed. “You have your soulmate and now I have mine.”
Derek’s mouth turned down, but Allison just laughed and slipped back through the hedge, immediately consumed by the crowd of the party.
Maybe Allison wasn’t his favourite.
It looked like the whole town showed up, and Beacon Hills was not somewhere Derek belonged. He had another fifty seconds of Stiles’ most recent video to watch, a more comforting thought to keep him company on the long walk home. By the time he arrived, Stiles had posted a new video, and Derek clicked on it eagerly, watching as Stiles’ face filled up his computer screen.
And as always, he was 100% right about the horror movie he was dissecting this time, even if he seemed a bit distracted, leg bouncing as he spoke. It wasn’t until the last minute that things fell sideways, right out from beneath Derek.
So I’m at this party, ok? Have I set the scene yet? It wasn’t some kind of kegger rager party - not that I go to those. Stiles winked. It was more of a ‘the whole town is here’ kind of vibe. A wedding, specifically, THE WEDDING, but still more of a town affair. Have I emphasized enough that most of the town was there?
Derek froze, looking at Stiles’ face on the screen. He was still wearing an open blazer over a white shirt, but Derek couldn’t remember seeing him at the party at all.
So I’m at this party and these kind of well-known siblings are there. Well known because they’re new to town and stick out like a sore thumb and everyone is talking about them. It’s disgusting the way people gossip about them. So the hot and terrifying sibling approaches the hot and broody-type sibling and is like “hey bro, you should be dancing” with this frightfully direct gaze. Like, you know she’s not making a suggestion. And her bro was like “who here is even tolerable? That guy?” AND THEN POINTED DIRECTLY AT ME WHILE SNORTING IN DERISION.
Really, Derek Hale? REALLY? Stiles asked, directly facing the camera, smiling this false grin that made Derek’s insides curl into fetal position.
To paraphrase Jane Austen: It is a truth universally acknowledged that an asshole in possession of a fortune is a rich asshole.
At least Scott had fun.
“Shit,” Derek said.