Laura's claws shredded the topsoil as she fought to pull herself out of the ground. Her legs didn't want to work—she could feel her spine still reconnecting from whatever damage had been done to it after she blacked out, the hissing sensation of nerves regrowing, severed connections flaring to life. But they were definitely coming back. She could almost feel her toes again, and her hips were able to wiggle as she clawed free of the last few inches and rolled over onto her back to stare at the stars, shivering in the cold breeze.
When Peter's claws had slashed through her neck, she'd thought for sure she was dead. Usually a carotid strike was fatal—the brain lost blood faster than the body could heal. But somehow she'd made it, against all the odds. Peter must have missed something. Or maybe she'd just been lucky. Laura had always considered herself one of the lucky ones. After all, she hadn't gone down in the fire like the rest of her family had.
Now she just needed to figure out where she was, and where Uncle Peter was so that she could go shred him from neck to groin. And also figure out how he hadn't known he'd failed. Maybe he was so far gone that he didn't notice that he wasn't an alpha yet. Or it could be something else, something to do with the reason she'd ended up underground.
If it was hunters, she was seriously going to never set foot west of the Mississippi river again, pack ties to territory be damned.
And then once she'd done all that and thoroughly ruined her manicure, home to New York, with her nice warm bed and her nice warm brother. Derek had been right. Beacon Hills was nothing but trouble. Central Park might not have been the best place to spend a full moon, but at least the muggers there didn't carry wolfsbane.
Dirt had worked its way to tickle the back of her throat, so she turned her head and spat. The gob splattered against a rock slab, lovingly maintained with a bouquet off slightly wilted flowers. It was dark stone, but the letters etched into it were filled with silver that seemed to shimmer in the starlight.
Beacon Hills was creepier than Laura remembered it, and that took some work. It had never been a normal sort of place, but whatever charm it used to have was gone. She stared at the bank clock that hadn't been there last time she looked. It said two in the morning, but the town still felt dead, not asleep. She couldn't hear anyone. No security guards. No families having a late night, or college kids partying.
She was alone. Not only in the physical sense. Laura could take that. It was just people. But for the first time in her life, she couldn't feel her pack. There was a spot right behind her breastbone that ached like a physical thing, an old wound scarred over but never healed. No matter how she tried, she couldn't find that piece of Derek that had always been inside her.
It was a thousand times worse than it had been after the fire. At least then she hadn't felt so hollow. So much on her own.
Icy cement made her shift from foot to foot—she'd lost her shoes climbing out of the hole. Shivering, Laura stood there while the clock counted away the minutes, arms wrapped around herself against the chill. She'd been buried in a loose, summery dress that didn't do anything to help with winter.
Presumably it had something to do with the scars around her waist. She'd had to use the cover of a tree to pull out the rough black sutures that had wrapped around her, after freeing herself from tape and bandages that weren't even very bloody. There were still some on her back she couldn't quite reach and didn't want to think about. Every time she moved, they itched and tugged. They were not the sort of stitches that were meant to be moved around in.
A county sheriff's cruiser slowed and pulled to a stop behind her. It was the first thing she'd seen move in the forty-six minutes she'd stood there.
The driver's side window rolled down and a deputy poked his blond head out. "Miss? Are you okay?"
Laura skittered away, rising up onto the balls of her feet, ready to drop to all fours and run. He was delicate-looking. Soft, easy to rip open, hard to keep safe. If she'd actually been... what the stone said, then there was no telling what kind of danger she was in. The hollow, wrenched-open place in her chest where her pack should have been—where Derek should have been—said that everything in the world was wrong. That there was danger, that she was a lone wolf and nothing was safe.
But she needed help. Her identity back, for starts. Human authorities were at least a starting place. She had fingerprints on record from some stupid prank in high school. Probably there were photos from the fire, though they'd be dated by now. And there was at least one person who might remember her.
"No. I... need help." Cold concrete bit at her heels as she settled back down and stepped closer to the car. She wrapped her arms around her waist and tried to look small. Helpless. It wasn't something she'd ever been very good at, and it showed when the deputy arched his eyebrows doubtfully. But damn it, she did feel small and helpless. Anyone would. "I need to talk to Alex Stilinski."
Unsurprisingly, the Sheriff—not a deputy anymore—wasn't working at nearly three in the morning on a random weeknight. The deputy that had picked her up, Parrish, didn't seem to know what to do with her, so he stashed her in the break room with a blanket and a cup of truly terrible coffee before leaving her to make some calls. He was so flustered that he didn't even ask for her last name, or notice when she didn't offer it. The Sheriff would know who she was when it counted.
Laura had worried that the sheriff's department break room might have brought back memories, but it turned out the place had been entirely remodeled since the fire. Not just new paint, either. The break room was slightly bigger, a different shape, with more modern lighting and bright new tile. It even smelled new, with that chemical burst of paint and sawdust that would linger for years after a place was built. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't find a trace of the misery and exhaustion and fear that she remembered from before.
It didn't really occur to her to wonder why the state would pay for such an extensive job when everyone knew taxes barely covered salaries some days. Maybe it should have. But she was tired, and still reeling from the implications of everything. She felt like she had a right to be at less than her best.
Regardless, she settled in to wait it out. The Sheriff would be in eventually. He'd recognize her. And maybe he could tell her what had happened to Derek.
At some point, Laura dozed off on the over-stuffed monstrosity of a couch in the break room that, even though it was nearly new, still reeked of cordite and spilled coffee. She woke up to a hand on her shoulder and a paper cup under her nose—fresh coffee, the scent told her, loaded with cream and sugar the way she'd had it the night before. Less acrid than the last pot, so someone must have cleaned the machine while she was out. And they'd done it without waking her. Being dead must have been more exhausting than she'd thought it would be.
Mumbling a half-hearted thanks, Laura grabbed the cup and shoved her nose in it. Heat scalded her tongue and throat. She swallowed it down anyway, letting her healing take care of the damage as fast as it appeared.
Once she could think in consecutive words again, Laura looked up through dirt-gummed lashes.
The Sheriff looked... old. He smelled tired, like someone who hadn't gotten a full night of sleep in a long time. Worry creased his forehead and cheeks, forming wrinkles that hadn't been there before. And behind all that there was a wary sort of recognition that she hadn't at all expected. Coming back from the dead, she'd assumed, should have been somewhat dramatic. People shouting, insistence that it was impossible, that sort of thing. Instead, the Sheriff looked at her like she was just another problem that he didn't have time to deal with.
"I think we should move this to my office. When you're ready, Ms. Hale."
"Now is good." Laura let the blanket fall as she stood up, choosing instead to cling to her coffee. He pressed a hand to the small of her back, just above the scar line, and guided her to a door in the back of the building with Sheriff Alexander Stilinski etched onto the glass pane in black and gold. The gesture looked gentlemanly, but Laura could feel the steel in his touch. He wasn't being kind—he was making sure he knew she was going to move before she actually did.
Wordlessly, the Sheriff settled her into the visitor's chair, then closed his office door with a solid-feeling thunk that resonated down to her bones and made her jerk around to look at it. The rest of the world... vanished beyond that door. She couldn't hear anything—not the conversations in the hall, not the copier whirling away. Nothing.
Werewolf-level soundproofing was not easy to acquire. Laura turned her head to stare at the Sheriff through new eyes.
"Let's cut the crap, Ms. Hale." Wood and leather creaked as the Sheriff sat down in his chair. "You're dead."
Laura smiled at him. Okay, she turned up the corners of her mouth. Nearly smiled, at least. "There must be some mistake," she started, but he just snorted.
"No mistake. I saw your body myself. Your brother identified you—"
"Derek?" The thought of Derek, in Beacon Hills, looking at her corpse, made Laura's stomach run a rat maze of emotions. "Derek was here?" Derek was alive?
The lines around the Sheriff's eyes deepened in... something. Pity, maybe. It wrenched her stomach to see. "He was a suspect, for a while."
Was. That meant he wasn't still. And even if he was, the fact that the case had just lost the presence of a victim should stop that nonsense. Laura took a breath and carefully set down her coffee cup on the desk, before she could squeeze it too hard and spill it. "A suspect in my murder? But I'm clearly not dead."
"You were at the time." She opened her mouth to object again, but the Sheriff just raised his eyebrows, and she let it close slowly, swallowing her words. "Listen," he continued, "that door is to protect their peace of mind as much as it my privacy. Nothing comes in, nothing goes out. And the security cameras are linked directly to my computer, which is currently experiencing an unfortunate audio malfunction.
"Now that you know that, I'm going to give you exactly one chance to convince me that you are who you seem to be, and that I don't need to call my son or any of his friends to handle things."
The meaning of that sifted through Laura's consciousness without actually pinging. There were too many other warning bells going off. She licked her lips, tasting black coffee and dirt. There was still grave dirt in her hair, under her nails, on her skin. She'd crawled out of the ground. What kind of monster did that?
Convince me that you are who you seem to be. Was that what the hole in her was about? She couldn't feel her pack, because maybe he was never her pack at all?
Thinking about it hurt. Which meant that she should probably think about it even harder for the pain.
"I don't know that I can. I thought..." She clenched her fists in the hem of her stupid, impractical dress. There were stains where she'd clawed her way out of her own grave. How was she supposed to be sure of anything? "I don't know that I am. I thought I was. I feel like me."
The Sheriff stared at her. She wondered what he saw, what he thought he knew. Obviously it was something, or he'd be talking about DNA tests and fingerprinting, about calling her family. Not whatever it was they were talking about. Possession, maybe?
"I'm going to have to call your brother," he finally said, pressing his hands flat against the desk. "Is there anything you want me to tell him?"
Alive. He's alive, alive alive alive. Laura prayed the Sheriff couldn't hear the dance of relief her heart had done. Even if she was a doppelganger, or some monster, at least Derek was okay. Better her dead than him.
But the Sheriff was still watching her, waiting for a response. She dropped her eyes, shaking her head. "He'll know me when he sees me. It's... we're family." It was all she had. Pack mates had a hard time keeping secrets from each other. She didn't know anything about Derek that Peter wouldn't, that a dozen other—dead—people wouldn't, and vice versa.
As if he understood, the Sheriff nodded and rose to his feet. "I'll call him. Don't try to leave. The baseboards and door are made of rowan wood."
That answered the question of whether or not he knew. She smiled and settled in, trying to look like someone who could be trusted not to run off. He nodded at her and made for the door.
Before he could get there, Laura heard herself say, "Sheriff?"
A pause. He twisted back to look at her expectantly.
"How long have I been..." She rotated her wrist, the words dead and missing and rotting in the ground sliding to the back of her tongue to choke her.
The words she hadn't said must have come through, because his expression softened a little. "Three years. You've been gone three years."
Three years. Three years where Derek must have thought he was completely alone. Three years missing, where who knew what had happened to her tiny, broken pack without her. Three fucking years lost forever.
She didn't see the Sheriff leave. That was okay. It meant she could pretend he didn't see her cry.
Derek took his sweet time arriving.
Other gawkers showed up way in advance of her brother. A boy opened the door, smelling like paper and hormones and the Sheriff—probably little Ga—Je—Stiles, if she remembered right. Then there was a girl with dark hair and steel in her eyes. A new deputy? A pretty blond girl who grinned to show off her fangs before popping back out of sight again. And then Stiles again. Laura waved at him through the glass inset on the door, but stayed in her chair.
Only after everyone and their grandmother had had their fill of rubbernecking did Derek deign to make an appearance. The Sheriff himself opened the door, just wide enough for Derek to slide through. Then it clicked closed—no one wanted to risk letting her run free. She couldn't blame them. If she wasn't sure she was who she thought she was, how could they be?
Her brother planted himself by the door and stared at her. His nostrils flared wider than would be normal for a human, but it was the only slip.
Laura folded her hands and waited, meeting Derek's eyes challengingly. Maybe she was some... hallucination, or a witch's trick or something, but damn it, she was also his alpha. Or she had been, or the person she thought she was had been.
He looked... Bigger. Broader in the shoulders, harder all the way around. And older, too. Not graying, but there was a steadiness she didn't remember. When she'd kissed him goodbye in their studio apartment in New York, he'd been half-wild. All tooth and claw, jumping at shadows. Now he looked steadier, more mature, and she wondered what had happened to root her little brother back to the ground like that.
"You smell like Laura," he finally said, crossing his arms over his chest belligerently.
"I feel like Laura," she replied. Her eyes changed, vision developing that red extra layer that came with the partial shift. "I am Laura. Or I was."
Derek didn't flinch. She wondered if it was just the years, or if it were... something else. The feeling of pack that was missing. The urge to run and run, that nowhere was home. The utter aloneness.
She swallowed the sudden knot in her throat. "You have another alpha."
Derek tilted his head. "Lone wolves don't survive."
Pressing her lips together, Laura nodded. It was true. Their mother had always said it, and they'd both seen enough to know the wisdom of it. "Right."
Neither of them said anything for a while. Now that Laura knew what caused the missing connection, she kept poking it like a missing tooth, making sure the hole still hurt. All her life, there'd been someone there. As a beta, it had been her alpha, her siblings and cousins and Peter. After the fire, there'd always been Derek. The hollow, aching place where pack used to be was strange.
"I can't prove I'm who I think I am," Laura broke the silence with a whisper. She drew her arms around her knees and curled up in the chair. The world pressed down on her shoulders. Maybe she should have just lain back down in her grave. "Not even to myself."
Derek's chest rose, then slowly deflated. "Check your pocket. Before you were buried, I... Put something there. If it's you—your body, at least, it should still be there."
Pocket? Patting around her hips, Laura searched for the slip, the break in the skirt that would hide a pocket. When she found it, she reached in and pulled out a slip of notebook paper that had been folded into a rough envelope like she'd used to pass notes in high school. Frowning at Derek, Laura tugged open the paper. Inside was a sketch of a spiral.
She swallowed and blinked back tears, smoothing out the note. It had dirt on it, too. Probably from where she'd dug herself out. "Did you?" Emotion cracked her voice, forcing her to clear her throat. "Did you close the spiral?"
"Yeah." There was an odd thump in Derek's heart, a change in his smell that said it was more complicated than that. That whatever had happened had left a mark, and probably still was.
It didn't matter, though. The spiral was closed. Whatever happened afterwards, they could deal with. Even if they weren't pack anymore, if they weren't anything more than pack anymore, they were still family.
Rising to her feet, Laura took one wobbly step, then another, until she could throw her arms around her brother's shoulders. Derek wrapped his arms around her in turn, squeezing her so tight she felt her ribs ache. It was just pain, though. And God knew she'd had worse before, for less reason. His nose buried against her hair, which probably reeked of grave dirt and death. His hands rubbed down her back, the way he used to when they'd spend long nights cuddled in against each other doing nothing more than sharing air.
Neither of them moved until the office door creaked open. Stiles held it open while a boy—curly dark hair, soft eyes, dimples, and reeking of alpha werewolf—poked his head in. "Clear?"
Without letting go of Laura, Derek nodded.
Laura watched them shuffle in awkwardly. Stiles was probably human, but the other was inarguably a werewolf. And probably Derek's alpha, unless there were multiple alphas running around. It wouldn't have been the first time something like that had happened. Deucalion wasn't the sort of warning you forgot.
With a wiggle, Laura turned herself sideways in Derek's grip, still holding into his shoulders. She wasn't about to let him go any time soon if she couldn't help it. "So you must be Derek's..." The sentence trailed out, waiting for them to fill in the blanks.
"Alpha. Scott McCall," the darker boy said, as expected, shoving his hands in his pockets uncomfortably.
"Boyfriend," Stiles said.
For the second time in less than a day, Laura's world crashed down around her ears.
Laura sat very still as she sat on the table and Alan gave her a thorough checkup. Thorough as in, he kept handing her various rocks and blowing weird powders in her face in addition to the usual poking and prodding. It was annoying, but she couldn't really object. People who might be zombies didn't get to argue with the doctor. Even if the doctor was a vet.
At least he'd taken out the stitches she hadn't been able to reach.
Toward the back, some of the kenneled dogs were whining, but not as badly as she would have expected. They must have been used to werewolves. Scott, maybe, from the way his scent lingered under the reek of antiseptic. There were a lot of werewolf scents there, really, but his was the strongest.
Somewhere out in the waiting room, her baby brother was sitting with his new alpha, probably trying not to do that thing with his hands that he always did when he was nervous. Did Scott know how to touch him to calm him down? How new an alpha was the kid? How did a kid that young even get to be an alpha in the first place, much less Derek's alpha?
Maybe Stiles would hold Derek's hand, if Scott didn't know how to.
And she was not going to think about that. Or about how that made her feel like she couldn't breathe because there were still layers and layers of dirt between her lungs and air.
"Well, Ms. Hale, it looks like you're the picture of good health," Alan announced, corking the bottle of some weird slime he'd just smeared on her wrist. "No sign of possession, demonic or otherwise, or of any magical traces left on you that can't be attributed to common local activity. I'd say you need a few days in bed and a good meal, but that's all."
She wrapped her arms around her waist, kicking her bare feet idly. "I was dead, though." Maybe she'd played around with the Sheriff on that, but she was absolutely certain that she'd been dead. Derek wouldn't have buried her if there'd been any hope. Werewolves were hardy, but not that hardy.
"Yes, well, I have some theories on that." Alan smiled kindly, hands still busily putting away his more esoteric supplies. "There's been a lot going on. I suspect that the combination of a local, living Nematon and Derek's self-sacrifice reverted the status of alpha back to you. It was enough to get your healing started again, though it clearly took some time."
"Derek's what?" Laura wrapped her hands around the edge of the table, claws dimpling the metal. "Excuse me, I think you had better start at the beginning."
Derek dodged the book Laura heaved at him. Deaton's waiting room was a disaster, and she knew she'd have to apologize for that eventually. But first, she had to kill her brother.
"What the hell were you thinking, biting a bunch of goddamn teenagers?" The next thing that came to hand was a phone. Laura yanked it out of the wall, sending drywall flying everywhere. It let out a satisfying ring when it impacted the wall just to the left of Derek's head. She was trapped behind the rowan wood counter, but she still had an arm on her. "Taking on Deucalion with just a bunch of freshly bitten babies! Letting our little sister run off to South America on her own after just getting her back? You stupid goddamn fucking—"
"I didn't have any choice!" Derek protested, eyes shifting to blue. His head tilted to the side, showing her his throat, like that would help anything, like he hadn't practically rolled over and dragged a bunch of children with him. "What was I supposed to do? Run?"
"Yes!" Laura's hands patted around, but the desktop was totally bare. There was, however , a chair. It bounced off the ceiling and into the wall, peppering Derek's hair with white powder.
Laura braced herself on the counter, panting, teeth bared and eyes bright red. "Damn it, Derek," she demanded bitterly, "do you think I wanted you dead too?"
There was a hiccup of silence that stretched just a little too long before he finally said, "No." Whatever anger she had left drained out of her, made her wish she hadn't thrown the chair so she had something to collapse back into.
Maybe he was telling the truth. He'd made a half-assed attempt at survival, at least. Laura's head dropped, turning her laugh into a choke. "I leave you alone for a couple of months, and look what you got up to."
He didn't have an answer. The silence stretched out between them, hollow as she was.
After a minute, Scott and Stiles slowly poked their heads out from the public restroom that they'd taken refuge in. "Is it safe?" Scott asked, eyes darting around at the disaster Laura had turned the waiting room into.
"I'm out of things to throw," she sighed, leaning forward to rest her head on the nice oak desktop. Her muscles were actually trembling with exhaustion, which they shouldn't have after such a short rampage. To top it off, her stomach chose that second to growl.
That decided things. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. You're going to introduce me to your pack, and I'm going to crawl into bed and sleep for... maybe a week. Or two. I'm also going to eat everything in your fridge, so I hope you've got more than some ramen in there.
"And then, we are going to have a talk."
Laura smiled. It did her heart good that all three boys flinched. She still had it.
Derek's pack was everything Laura had been afraid of. Kids. Three of them. Three snot-nosed, wild-eyed brats who'd only survived so far out of luck and Derek's occasional flash of inspiration. Mostly out of luck.
Laura stood in the middle of the loft's open living space, her arms crossed and her chin up, eyes straight ahead. Scott stayed back with Derek, neither saying anything, and Laura really wasn't sure how she felt about having another alpha so close when she was so weak. She hadn't even had time for another meal yet. Derek seemed to trust him, but Derek had a terrible radar for assholes.
The girl and the tall one with curly hair—Erica and Isaac—circled her warily, while the big black boy—Boyd—stayed back and assessed. The loft crackled with impending violence. Laura focused on breathing, and collecting her remaining strength and ignoring her stomach. After this, she would swallow down everything in the kitchen, and to hell with Derek and his bad ideas.
Erica made the first move, coming in from behind with a swipe of the claws. Scott shouted at her to stop, but Laura had already ducked forward to dodge. She grabbed the girl's wrist and twisted, throwing Erica over her shoulder into Isaac, who'd been going for a gut-swipe. It left her just enough time to turn and block Boyd from taking out her legs. A quick follow-up with her elbow and another throw landed him right on top of his pack mates. The three of them collapsed together in a pile of groaning, tangled limbs, and didn't make a move to get back up on their own.
"That's enough!" Scott yelled, stepping between Laura and the betas. "What is with you?"
"It's fine, Scott." Derek reached down to haul his former cubs to their feet by the back of their necks. He kept a grip on the more aggressive two, Erica and Isaac, probably from too many years experience working with young, stupid betas. Laura refused to feel sorry for him.
"It's not fine!" Scott insisted, face twisted into a look of sheer stubborn determination was would have looked cuter if his eyes hadn't been alpha red. He turned that look on her like he actually thought he had a chance of pulling rank. Or maybe he was just so new to everything that he didn't even know what he was doing. That was more likely. "I thought you were going to talk to them, not throw them around!"
"I did talk to them. Just not with words." Reaching out, Laura rubbed her palms over their heads, dragging them in for a quick hug one by one that they returned in a daze. "Beta aggression against their former alpha is normal. We got it out of their system, we're all good now. Right, children?"
The betas nodded, glancing at each other uncertainly. It was pretty clear they didn't have any idea why they'd wanted to kick her ass, or why they didn't anymore. Another gaping hole Derek had left in their education. She was going to have to be the werewolf equivalent of a kindergarten teacher. Great.
Stiles poked his head around the dividing wall that separated the kitchen from the rest of the loft. "Is it safe for the human to come out now? Kira and Allison are going to pick up pizza on their way here, and I need to know toppings."
At the mention of food, Laura's head swiveled, but Scott wasn't done posturing at her yet. He grabbed her sleeve before she could turn around. "You're not their former alpha," he said firmly, like it made a difference. "That's Derek. You were dead before they were even—"
Laura was getting a headache. A giant, massive, just woke up from being dead and now have to deal with fucking puppies headache. "They were bitten by a Hale alpha and were part of the Hale pack," she snapped, using the smallest words she could manage. "They're responding to the line of power, not to a specific person. If you were still a beta, you'd probably want to attack me too." She paused, eyes running down to where his claws were just barely avoiding punching through her skin. When she looked back up, he had teeth. "Or maybe you still do. Wanna go, pup?"
"Okay, if you two are going to have an actual pissing contest, do it outside." Suddenly, a scrawny body was shoving its way between Laura and Scott, forcing them to take a step back each. "Seriously, not on the hardwood. Derek just finished getting it replaced after the whole flooding incident." Stiles stood between them with his hands up in the universal signal for unarmed. Which had to be a lie, because a human getting between two alpha werewolves was armed with a giant pair of brass tits, if nothing else.
Scott actually took several steps back, showing admirable control as his face smoothed back into human lines. "Sorry, I'm just..." He shook his head, grabbed Stiles and dragged him—protesting—back toward the kitchen. The betas trailed after, throwing looks back like they weren't sure they were following the right alpha.
"Are you okay?" Derek asked quietly, touching her shoulder.
Laura jumped—she hadn't realized she'd pivoted to watch the other pack leave, but somehow she was facing the kitchen, and had put Derek to her back. It was a natural enough thing to do. Keep an eye on a potential threat, keep Derek safe; that was what an alpha did. But Derek wasn't hers to protect anymore.
"What do you think?" She flashed him a quick smile. "Are you okay?"
Blue edged around Derek's pupils, threatening to fan out. "Why don't you ask the question you actually want to ask?" he demanded, belligerence creeping into his voice.
"Because we're in a building full of werewolf cubs who haven't learned their manners," Laura shot back, curling her lips in threat.
A whole host of thoughts played behind his firmly-stoic expression. Derek had always tried too hard to keep a poker face. It just meant that anyone with enough experience could read him by what he wasn't showing. And just then, he wasn't showing a lot.
Finally, he shook his head and grabbed her wrist to tug her toward the windows. One whole section of them opened up into a door that led directly outside. "Balcony," Derek said. "I had good glass installed. Between that and the traffic, they won't hear us."
Sure enough, when he slid the door closed, the sound coming from inside muffled to the point that Laura had to strain to hear it. They stepped over to a railing off the side, just out of easy view of the people in the loft. She took a deep breath of cold, exhaust-tinted air and looked up. It was only noon, but it felt like it had been days.
"You're happy?" She turned, putting her back to the world so she could see Derek better. "I just—that's all I care about. Are you happy?"
He took a breath, then slowly nodded, shoulders rounding out. "Yeah. I was—I am. But Laura—you don't have to—I can come back—"
Before he could continue down that path, Laura put a hand over his lips. "No," she said, as gently as possible. "We both knew you'd have to find another pack sooner or later. And that Scott kid seems okay. For a brat with authority issues and no clue what he's doing. Kind of reminds me of someone else I know." Laura smiled. At least, it felt like she was smiling. The corners of her mouth pulled back, which mostly counted as a smile. "And don't forget Stiles. He's part of your pack too, right?"
If she'd hit him in the stomach, he wouldn't have collapsed any faster. "Laura..." Derek's voice cracked, taking her heart with it. "I didn't mean..."
"Hey, no, it's okay." Reaching out, Laura pulled her baby brother in against her, slotting him between her knees. He'd been taller than her since he'd turned sixteen, but they'd perfected the way of fitting together, of him tucking his head and her standing up as tall as possible. She held on and tried not to let the lie speak too loudly when she said, "It's okay, you've moved on. I'm happy that you're happy, alright?"
Derek leaned into her, face pressed against her neck like he could drown in her scent. There weren't any tears—Derek had never been much of one for crying. But she could feel the hitch in his shoulders that said they were trying to come.
When he lifted his face and kissed her, Laura felt like the world's weakest, worst alpha for kissing him back. It was hard and simple, a desperate scraping of mouths that hurt to the very core. Her hand slid up the side of his face into his hair, letting stubble scratch her palm, getting his scent good and strong on her skin. Something to cling to later, to wrap herself in when she didn't have anything else. She could feel Derek doing the same, pressing himself tight to her front for a whole-body scent mark.
Arousal tingled through her, a tightening in her stomach that Derek had been able to get out of her ever since puberty had finished gifting him with the best it had to offer. Groaning, Laura spread her legs wider, letting him slide right in. His muscles were different, thicker, harder, clustered in new ways, like he'd traded his bulking up for a less intensive regime. She definitely approved, rolling herself to see how they fit together now.
A hundred thousand memories played out behind her eyelids. Nights spend curled up together in their tiny studio in New York, listening to the rain on the windows. Moonlight on warm skin and, later, fur as they played through the woods. Blood and sex and sweat from the fights for survival they'd faced in those hard, long years after the fire. Too many memories, and all of them coming back like paws pounding on hard packed earth under the touch of his mouth.
The door clicked open behind Derek, sending Stiles spilling onto the balcony, still laughing at someone inside the loft. "Hey, pizza's here, if you..."
Hurriedly, Laura yanked away from Derek's mouth while Derek twisted his head to look at—
—his boyfriend. God, Laura, you really screwed the pooch this time—
Stiles, whose usually open expression had gone still. A shadow of something old and dangerous flashed though his eyes, and for a second, Laura caught a whiff of fox and rotting meat. Then it was gone, locked away behind a casual, easy expression that didn't have even a hint of judgment.
"Pizza," Stiles repeated, hand clenched tight around the handle of the open door, letting sound spill out. Erica was laughing at something someone had said, and there was a clink of glasses being filled, Boyd's voice as he explained the need for an all-cheese pie to a pack of teenagers, which were worse than werewolves for eating anything that couldn't get away. They were all occupied in their own small ways. No one looking at Stiles from the inside would have known anything had happened at all. "If you want any, come get it. Scott and Kira can down a whole pie each if you let them."
Laura gave him a grateful look and wiggled her way free of Derek. "Great. I'm hungry enough to eat a horse. Literally. Just point me at a stable." She ran her hand over Stiles' head as she went past, the one that she'd been busy covering in Derek less than a minute before. Apology or thanks, she wasn't really sure. But Stiles leaned into it like a touch-starved cub, which she had to assume meant they were good. Or at least, that he wasn't going to go running to his alpha about how she'd been stealing his boyfriend.
Laura didn't sleep for a week. Mostly because one morning Stiles came in, flopped on the foot of the couch that was her bed, and said, "Come on, even Jesus rose on the third day."
"Jesus was an overachiever." Laura squirmed over onto her back and raised a hand to block the dawn light streaming through the windows. When she'd had her face pressed against the back cushions, it had been ignorable, but on her back it was like having a very cheerful spotlight shined on her face. "What do you want, Stiles?"
For a full second, he didn't do anything but blink at her. Then his face did something weird and contemplative, like when he was trying the artichoke and spinach pizza Kira shoved at him, trying to decide if he liked it. Eventually, he shook it off with an actual shake. "My dad's been working on getting you your identity back. He needs you to come to the station to give a statement. I offered to drop you off on my way to school."
"A statement? About... what? What I've been doing for three years completely off the grid, with no account activity, sightings or suspicions that I was anywhere other than six feet deep? That kind of statement?" His face was doing the weird thing again, so Laura prodded him with a clawed toe to distract him.
He jerked away from her foot with a yelp, rubbing the spot where she'd nicked him through his jeans and glaring. Laura curled her nose and made a smug face back before swinging her legs free of the blankets. As soon as she stood, his heart spiked up into the stratosphere, and she could smell the sudden spice of teenage arousal, certain as sunrise. She'd borrowed one of Derek's oversized t-shirts for a nightgown, and it basically left her bare from the bottom of the ass down. It was having an effect. Not the one she'd intended—that had been avoiding getting her legs tangled in a pair of Derek's massive sweats. But it would do.
As a bonus bit of distraction, she put an extra swing in her step as she wandered over to the kitchen to see about coffee. Whatever worked to keep him from thinking too hard. She didn't want to take a chance that that look was about her and Derek. That ship had sailed when Peter had clawed her throat out, and damn if she was going to let her little sunken boat keep theirs from making harbor. If Stiles made Derek happy, that was what mattered.
Predictably, the coffee beans were in the freezer, which Derek had always swore kept them tasting better. Three types: normal, decaff and some cinnamon-mocha thing that her brother wouldn't have drank to save his life, all of them in some yuppie organic brand with a name she couldn't even pronounce and whose logo looked suspiciously like a tree with a vagina. She sniffed out the grinder from a lower cabinet, and then the machine itself from an upper. "Seriously, Derek, you can't just keep them together like a normal person?" she grumbled, plugging everything in and measuring out beans. The grinder was too loud, made her want to pin her ears back, but it did its job well. After less than a minute, she had a nice little pile of heaven waiting to be brewed.
Behind her, she could hear Stiles leaning against the wall, still watching her if the unsteady thump of blood trapped in too-small a limb was anything to go by. While the pot was filling at the sink, Laura flashed Stiles a smile over her shoulder, bright and playful and a little flirty. "So. Identity. I figured I'd get a new one. Maybe something French. We have French roots, back a few centuries, and I could rock an accent."
"Yeah, I bet." He had his arms crossed, and he was watching her, but it wasn't... right. A frown tugged at his lips, and Laura had a sudden sharp, stabbing realization that he saw right through her bullshit.
She let her too-cheerful expression drop away and resettled herself, flat on both feet, balanced. "French is out, then. What did your dad have in mind?" Water splashed as she emptied the carafe into the holder. Her eyes stayed locked on it, not wandering back to the boy behind her.
Where was Derek? He should have heard her wake up, and she didn't think she wanted to be alone with Stiles anymore. There was something brewing, and it wasn't just coffee. The kid saw way too much.
"We have some experience with getting people their lives back. There's ways."
Turning around, Laura wedged herself in against the counter and crossed her arms under her breasts. "What kind of ways?"
"The legal kind." It was weird and endearing the way Stiles' face folded into a smug asshole of a grin. The expression faded into a gentler one and a shrug. "But no, seriously. You give a statement, we send some DNA samples off to compare to Derek's for sibling markers, and the body formerly known as you gets reclassified as a Jane Doe."
The coffee pot beeped, and Laura turned to load up a mug she'd found by the sink. It had a paw print painted on the inside. Nothing she'd ever have thought Derek would use, but there it was. "And what was I doing these past three years?" she asked, measuring out the black gold of coffee, downing half the mug black, and then filling it again to fix properly with cream and sugar. "Oversleep? Abducted by aliens?"
Even though she couldn't see it, Laura could imagine him shrugging. "Say you don't know. Act traumatized. Newspapers eat that shit up."
Something in the kid's tone of voice brought her up short. She turned and leaned against the counter again, eying him contemplatively. He barely looked old enough to drive, but... "That sounds like experience talking."
"It's been a rough few years."
There was no clock ticking, but Laura could count the seconds by the beat of his heart as they stared at each other. Comfortable, and uncomfortable, in that way that happened when people knew each other too well too early. She sipped her coffee, letting the sugar-heavy mix sit on her tongue for a long minute before swallowing it along with her pride.
"I'm not going to steal him back," she said quietly, staring down into the mug. An ironic paw-print mug and flavored coffee beans Derek wouldn't drink. Belated realization flushed her cheeks, and she took another deep pull to chase it away.
Stillness wrapped around Stiles' shoulders like an old blanket—not part of him, but too familiar not to hide behind. "He loves you," was all he said, watching her with eyes that were too old for his bedhead-douche hair and the baby fat still in his cheeks.
"I'm his sister. He'll always love me," Laura tried to shrug it off. But the words sat in her stomach like pumice stones, floating on sea of coffee she was starting to think had been a bad idea. A surge of defensiveness rose, making her eyes flash as she said, "Don't—don't hold it against him, okay? Wolves—born wolves don't usually have the same issues with it. He's not weird."
"Oh, he's definitely weird. But not about that." Stiles' eyes darted from her face to the door, then back again, a decision painting itself across his face almost as soon as it was made. He crossed the kitchen to her, taking the coffee mug from her hands and wrapping them up in his own. They were giant things, puppy paws of promise and strength, long fingers that just held on as gently as two hands could. "I'm not going to steal him either, okay?"
A tremble ran through Laura. She curled her hands in his, not really sure why she'd even let him take them. "Stiles..."
"Derek said that you were a fighter," he went on, soft and urgent. "Why are you giving up now?"
There was a collection of freckles just to the left of his mouth. She watched them, rather than look him in the eye. For a kid, he had a nice mouth. She wondered if that was what Derek had seen in him. Derek had always had a weakness for people with mouths on them.
"Some things," she heard herself say, stronger than she felt, "are worth too much to fight over. Aren't you supposed to be telling me to back off your man?"
Another grin, a flash of tongue when he licked his lips, and maybe staring at the kid's mouth wasn't as smart as she'd thought. "I'm not worried about Derek. He's stuck with me."
Laughter bubbled up, fluttered in her throat like a trapped bird. "He didn't give you some line about werewolves mating for life, did he? Because it's total bullshit."
The smile faded, and for a horrible second Laura wondered if Derek had used that cheesy pickup line and maybe she'd broken something precious. But Stiles squeezed her hands and said, "My mom died ten years ago, and my dad hasn't been on a date since. He still wears his ring. Maybe werewolves don't mate for life, but Stilinskis totally do."
"You're not making me feel better about this," Laura admitted. "Not that I'm sure what you're trying to make me feel better about, but whatever it is, it's not working. Good effort?"
Stiles rolled his eyes and leaned in to kiss her. It was a quick, graceless smack on the lips that left her blinking at him, brows furrowed. "Now do you get it?"
"No?" He glared, and Laura spread her hands in his to disavow intent to hurt. "No, really, I have no idea what you mean. Unless you're propositioning me, which..." Her laugh trailed off into silence when his glare just went on. "You were?"
"... How the hell did you land my brother?" Laura wondered, louder than she should have. Stiles shrugged, clearly not certain either, and... okay, knowing Derek as well as she did, that was fair. "Have you talked to him about this?"
He shook his head. Because of course he hadn't. That would have been too mature, and God forbid any of them act like adults. Laura included herself in that.
"Okay, first." Using his hands, Laura reeled him in to place one of them on her hip. She tucked the other one up against the back of her neck. The edge of the counter bit in to the small of her back, and the coffee carafe was warm through the shirt. It was fine. Everything would be fine, or she'd kick its ass until it was, in the long tradition of Hale women. "Kiss me like you mean it, and not like this is just some half-assed scheme to keep Derek from having to choose. Go whole ass or go home."
Nerves soured his scent. He swallowed and nodded, leaning in to touch their mouths together. Laura half expected some clumsy, forced attempt that she could laugh off and walk away from. Instead, he tilted her head up and just went for it. A hint of scraggly stubble that he hadn't yet grown into scraped her skin as he dragged his lips across hers, expertly massaging them open so that she barely registered giving way. Her nose filled with the scent of teenage boy and soap-scrubbed skin, powdered sugar and grass. One of his thighs slid between her legs, pressing her back to the counter. Laura wrapped her arms around his shoulders and held on when her knees threatened to give out on her.
Stiles pulled away, nose wrinkled as he peered at her. Then he grinned proudly. "Your eyes went red."
With instinct born of having a younger brother, Laura shoved him back. "It's been three years since I've been laid. I'd hump the couch if it came on to me right now. Don't get cocky."
"Cocky, huh?" His eyebrows worked up and down, and damn it, that shouldn't have been as endearing as it was.
"Cocky!" Laura shot back, grabbing for her still-warm coffee. She couldn't quite keep from smiling back at him, though, which made for awkward drinking. "Now shut up and let me caffeinate."
Derek met her at the station so they could both give cheek swabs. While explaining everything, the Sheriff had asked if giving DNA was going to be a problem, and hadn't really been convinced when they'd explained that it wouldn't. When they were human, they were mostly human. Unless someone went looking for some specific very markers that were unique to canines, they'd be fine.
As it turned out, it was going to take a little while for Laura's existence to settle back into place. Especially since the Sheriff was kindly working on keeping it quiet. No one wanted it to hit the papers. Not the Sheriff's office, who would have to deal with the inevitable flood of reporters itching for a scoop, nor Laura, who knew it would end up catching the eye of hunters who weren't as friendly as the Argents.
She quietly added that to the list of things she'd never thought she'd think, right next to the one about how old Derek's not-quite jailbait boyfriend had been when they started dating.
After the official work was finished, Laura dragged Derek out shopping. She refused to live her new life in Derek's old sweatpants and shirts. Refused. They were going to have enough trouble adjusting without mixing their scents like that, even if Stiles' idea panned out. She couldn't go shopping by herself, because all the cards were in his name, and they couldn't risk attracting attention. When she put it that way, he couldn't exactly refuse.
And if she took the opportunity to add to Derek's wardrobe while they were out, well. That was just a bonus to the real point, which had been trapping Derek in a small, enclosed space with only one exit while saying, "So, Stiles thinks we should have some sort of timeshare arrangement," and listening to the thunk as Derek fell onto his ass.
Laura grinned and leaned back in the visitor's chair outside Derek's dressing room. Mission Accomplished. "Maybe a full-on threesome," she went on. "He's young. I bet he could take it."
"Laura," Derek hissed, with all the horrified humiliation a baby brother could muster. "We're in public."
"I know." She held up a pair of stonewash jeans and eyed them critically before holding them up to her own waist to measure. Death had cost her a few pounds of muscle mass. Either that or sizing had gotten weirder in the past three years. "It's why you haven't clawed my eyes out yet, or leaped out a window or something else stupid."
"Look." There was a sound of shuffling, and then another thump as Derek tried to rush back into his clothing. "Stiles tries, but he has a lot of stupid ideas. Don't listen to him."
Sinking down, Laura stretched out her legs to prop them against the door. Unlike most, this Macy's had outward swinging doors, probably to compensate for the ridiculously small stall size. In a war between Derek and her leg muscles, only the door could lose. "Does this mean you don't want to see me riding his dick?"
In the awkward silence that followed, she heard a granny-gasp of overinflated outrage coming from a stall down the way. Noticeably, there wasn't an accompanying demand for decency. Grandmas had to get their kicks somewhere.
The door rattled under her feet. When Derek figured out that she had it blocked, he put his shoulder into it, making the wood visibly strain. "Let me out!"
"Not until you answer my question." Her thighs started to burn—she still wasn't up to full strength yet. Wiggling deeper into place, Laura braced herself against the wall and locked her knees. "Tell me you haven't—no, wait, you probably haven't thought about it." Because Derek was the most vanilla person in world to ever have sex with his sister. Sometimes she thought he might think candles and mood music were kinky. "Tell me you're not thinking about it now."
"You're the one who put it in my head!" But he'd stopped pushing so hard against the door. There was still enough pressure that Laura didn't risk letting her legs down, but the risk of breaking mall property had minimized. "You know you two don't have to... do anything to make me happy, right?"
Laura bit her lip. That sounded an awful lot like a no. "I know it's been... A while since we were together," she started, eying the occupied stall. "I was away for a long time. Things change. And it's okay if you don't want this. Really, it is. I don't want to get in your way. But you don't have to choose, either. Not if you don't want to." One foot at a time, she eased away from the door. "Take your time trying on the jeans. I'm going to go look at the bras."
Derek didn't respond, so Laura made her escape while she could. Their little spy friend whispered get it girl as she walked by.
She pretended she hadn't heard.
The rest of the shopping trip was quiet. Quiet even for Derek. He bought what she told him to buy, went where she told him to go, and held what she told him to hold. The closest they came to actual conversation was when he steadfastly refused to try on anything, and that had amounted to Derek planting his feet and saying no, not unlike a stubborn toddler. And like a stubborn toddler, Laura could have just picked him up and carried him in anyway, but not without making a scene.
So instead, they ended up buying an entire suit that she was positive would have to be exchanged. When the time came, she was going to enjoy rubbing Derek's nose in it.
It was almost a relief when she had everything she needed and they could get back to the loft. Derek could go sulk, she could curl up on the couch and mope, and both of them could pretend the day hadn't happened. It had worked for them many times before.
Except this time they were cut off at the self-pity. Stiles was sprawled out on the couch when they got in, bare feet tucked under the blankets she'd been using, reading a text book and clearly half-way to naptime. He startled awake when Laura slammed the door closed, swinging his legs up and holding the book ready as a weapon before even getting his eyes fully open. Once he did, he blinked at them, then sagged back and yawned. "Welcome home."
"Hey Stiles." Laura took her bags from Derek—most of them—and carted them over to the couch. He shuffled over, and she dropped a kiss on his head before wedging herself in on the smallest side so they were pressed together from hip to knee. "Good day at school?"
"No one died, so one of the better ones." Leaning over her thighs, Stiles peeked inside the bag that held shoeboxes. Lots and lots of shoeboxes. Neither of them looked at Derek, who was standing in the middle of the loft slowly turning red. "You drag him to the mall? You should have taken Lydia. She owns the place."
"Yeah, well, we needed some brother-sister time, you know?" Rustling around in the bag, Laura brought out one of the boxes—a set of strappy black fuck-me heels that she still didn't have a dress for, but she did have a bra and panty set for. It was the little things that made a girl feel good. Stiles made appropriately appreciative noises, in that hollow way some guys did when they didn't really know what they were approving of but they wanted to show willing.
Derek's face crumpled in on itself in the most hilariously sour expression she'd seen on him since the Chinese-Versus-Thai argument of 2002. He stormed past toward the stairs that led to a master suite. Stiles and Laura both leaned over to watch his ass flex as he stomped up them.
After Derek was out of sight, Stiles turned to her and raised his eyebrows in question.
She shrugged. "I cornered him in a dressing room," she whispered, knowing full well that Derek could hear it all anyway. It was the presentation that counted, not the body. "I think he's worried that we're being martyrs."
Experienced exasperation settled on Stiles' face. "Pot, kettle," he muttered, rolling his eyes and leaning in closer. "Wanna prove him wrong?" The question was so soft that even a werewolf might have had trouble hearing it with a floor between them.
Laura grinned and fisted his t-shirt, dragging him in against her for a hard kiss. He made a muffled noise of surprise but went with it, pushing her back into the couch cushions. Long fingers skimmed under her shirt, bunching the long tail up between them.
Huffing, Laura pulled away to strip it off, revealing the comfortable cotton bra she'd worn out of the department store. Not what she would have chosen, but good enough. Stiles' face went red, chest puffed out like a bullfrog about to croak. His eyes darted between her breasts and her face. The raw scent of teenage lust rose in a cloud, thicker than steam in a locker room.
Swallowing back her laughter, Laura hauled him in again, biting at his mouth until he let her in. That mouth was just as nice as she remembered, and his hands were hot on her waist. She made encouraging little sounds, scooting down so she could get a knee up to invite him down between her thighs. The boy took to it like a pro, grinding down, the start of a hard-on just starting to be obvious.
It took a little bit of work to get them laid out, legs tangled and bodies lined up just right for maximum impact. But it paid off when Derek came back down and immediately choked on air and his own overinflated sense of judgment.
They didn't end the kiss right away, allowing it to trail off naturally when the air between them started to get a little thick. Stiles rested his head on her chest, idly stroking the jut of her hipbones, and damn, if this panned out she was definitely going to have to see those fingers put to good use one day.
Laura smiled sweetly at her brother. "Hey, bro. Done putting your things away?"
"I..." Derek's eyes slid over them. He was already hard. She chalked up another win in her name. "That's not fair."
"When is anything fair?" Stiles asked, beating Laura to the punch. He held out a hand, head still pillowed on Laura's breast. His voice was relaxed, but Laura could feel the tension vibrating along his back muscles. This was important to him for more reasons than just making Derek happy. "Come on."
Her brother eyed Stiles' hand like it might turn into a sprig of aconite at any second, but he stepped forward, letting Stiles grip his fingertips gently. They shuffled apart to make room, settling Derek between Laura's knees with his back to her. She rubbed her cheek against his shoulder and slid her hands up his shirt as Stiles got the first kiss.
It was a little weird, watching Derek kiss someone else, especially from that angle. She could see more of Stiles' face than her brother's. They were pretty together, a study in contrasts, with Stiles' smooth lines and the scruff of Derek's ever-present twenty-three o'clock shadow. They fit.
Stretching a bit, Laura nibbled on the edge of Derek's ear, reaching behind to unsnap her bra and shrug out of it. Her nails scraped along sharply defined abs to the smoother planes of his sternum. Like he'd been waiting for it, Stiles pulled away to give her a chance to strip it off, leaving the whole wide expanse of Derek's back for her own.
Laura pressed against it, a full-body rub like the one they hadn't gotten to really work in the night before. His ass fit right between her legs, and the thin sweats didn't do anything to keep scent from transferring. She dragged her cheek and jaw up over his shoulder, sliding her chest over his shoulder blades until there was a wide patch of skin that was hers. Not Scott's or Stiles' or anyone else's. Just hers.
There was a wet, muffled sound as Stiles started laughing into the kiss. He pulled away, looking at her over Derek's shoulder. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, shut up and come here." Grabbing the back of his neck, she yanked him over Derek's shoulder enough to rub their cheeks together, ending with a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss. "How do we want to do this?"
"Ladies first." Stiles grinned against her mouth. Metal clinked, and a second later Derek's belt fell to the floor. "Besides, lube's upstairs. Anyone think they could manage stairs right now?"
She let out an affronted noise, reaching around to help with her brother's fly. His cock was already pressed hard against the inside, making the zipper a joy to play with. Laura dragged a nail down the metal teeth, glorying in the way Derek's hips twitched. "You don't keep it in the couch? Gotta say, I expected better from you, Derek."
"I moved it when I brought down the blankets," Derek explained half-heartedly, lifting his hips so they could get him stripped down to glorious bare skin. That was what she'd always liked about Derek. He was so easy once you got him going.
"Poor planning. Classic Derek." Resting her chin on Derek's shoulder again, Laura stroked his dick thoughtfully and hummed. So many choices... "Okay, come on baby bro, on my back." She tugged at Derek until he flipped around to face her.
Laura took a second to ditch the sweats before settling back in against him, skin to skin, his cock hot against her belly. She nipped at his mouth, getting a long, slow kiss in answer. Oh, that took her back.
Behind Derek, she could see Stiles hovering awkwardly, obviously on the edge of feeling like a third wheel. Snapping her fingers to get Stiles' attention, Laura pointed at his tented crotch. "Come on, jailbait, you too."
"I'm legal," Stiles protested, but he was already struggling out of his shirt, like he'd just been waiting for an invitation. Underneath the layers, he was all lean muscle under pale skin and enough freckles to paint a galaxy. "My dad's a cop. You think I'd risk underaged sex?"
"I absolutely do," she snorted. "Just get naked and stand by the arm of the couch. I bet if we do this right, we can manage a modified spitroast."
Derek's entire face went hot, from his collarbone to the tips of his ears. "Laura."
She nipped the brightest red part of his ear lobe. "You're adorable." Before he could get in a retort, she rolled her hips, letting her cunt drag along his dick, leaving a long swath of wetness behind. He choked on air, grinding against her. "Condom?"
Wordlessly, Derek shook his head.
Laura paused to consider, then shrugged. "Take my chances, then." Pregnancy wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. No, that would be dying, and she'd already done that once. Nowhere to go but up.
Arranging things took a bit of work. Laura laid back, wedging her head and shoulders against the arm of the couch so Derek could lean over it. Stiles was tall enough that he couldn't just stand there, he had to lean a little so his dick was in Derek's reach. It felt like directing a porno, which Laura was definitely going to find out if they'd looked into. For research purposes.
Then the head of Derek's cock was pressed against the lips of her cunt, and research flew right out of her head. Slowly he stretched her open, pushing in until there was just no more room. His cock worked in shallow, easy thrusts, dipping in and out like it was his sole purpose on the planet to torture her. It probably was.
Snarling, Laura planted one foot on the ground and wrapped the other leg around her brother's hip, urging him on with a sharp kick to the ass. He made a grumbling noise, and probably would have complained if his mouth weren't full of dick. As it was, it earned her a sharp thrust that had her crying out, followed by another.
Pleasure sang under her skin, the perfect opposite of the full moon in her bones. Laura dug her nails into Derek's shoulders and held on. When her head fell back, she could look up and see his lips wrapped around Stiles' dick, watch the way his adam's apple bobbed when he swallowed, the way Derek's eyes were closed. Stiles had his hand fisted in Derek's hair, obviously comfortable with using Derek's mouth, just riding it like they'd done it a thousand times before.
"I really did get the best seat in the house, didn't I?" she asked no one in particular. Lifting her chin, she licked a line up Derek's throat. His hips ground into her, rolling hard enough to make her see stars. She set her fangs against his skin, pressing in the threat of them and rolled her hips down down.
Orgasm built slowly, like her body had to remember how to do it. It started in her stomach and spread out, until she was vibrating with it, not quite there. Freeing a hand, she reached between them and rubbed at her clit hard, working it.
The soft, desperate sounds of Stiles fucking her brother's mouth filled her ears, a counterpoint to their heartbeats. He came first, heart ratcheting up, orgasm escaping in a little cry of release. Laura looked up in time to see Derek sucking at the tip greedily, eyes bright blue under the shadow of his lashes. He pulled away, licking a stray drop of come off his lips, and Laura was gone.
White noise crashed down, arching between her chest and her cunt, burning her up. Blindly, she arched up, dragging Derek down into a messy kiss as he finally started fucking her the way he used to, hard and fast and careless. It kept her nerves sizzling, made her stomach clench with aftershocks.
She felt more than saw Stiles come up from the side, the dip of a cushion, a brush of skin. "Come on, Derek," she growled, kicking him again, human nails scraping down his back until her hand bumped against Stiles'. "Come on, come on."
Derek came with a choked sob, burying his face in her shoulder. The roll of his hips eased, gentled. Laura pressed her cheek against his ear, murmuring soft praise. Looking up, her eyes met Stiles'.
Something snapped, like a badly set bone coming back to where it should be. She felt it the second it clicked into place, a little bit of the pack hole in her chest filling up. It wasn't quite pack, but it was something less than alone.
Her brother must have felt it, too. His chest shuddered on a long intake of breath, the softest of whimpers breathed out across her skin. There might have been tears. It could have been sweat. For his sake, she was willing to think the latter.
Rolling her eyes pointedly, Laura jerked her head, making a face until Stiles settled in against Derek's back. She loosened a hand to run it through his hair and pull him in closer, making sure they were all snugged up. Her hips were already starting to ache from the position, but it was worth more than her life to move, aches and pains be damned.
Somehow—and Laura would never be sure how—they fell asleep like that, with Stiles curled up against Derek's back and Laura squashed under him. One minute the sun was up and shining in the windows, and the next, it was full dark. At some point, Derek had slipped out of her, and Stiles had slid downward until he was using Derek's ass as the world's least comfortable pillow.
Muscles she had only tangentially been aware of cracked as she stretched. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her painfully that she was still technically recovering from a long bout of death.
A little wiggling and some creative flexing allowed Laura to slip to the floor, leaving her boys stretched out together. Leftover pizza after hosting teenage werewolves was a pipe dream, but she was pretty sure she remembered seeing some sliced ham and a few other things. It had been a while since she'd had to cook, but Laura figured she could manage a sandwich.
And coffee. Definitely coffee.
She started the coffee pot and rooted around for sandwich makings. Derek's bread was some artisan crap that didn't come pre-sliced, and she was definitely going to tease him about that later. The ham looked like leftovers from a roast, which suited her fine, and the cheese was nice solid brick of cheddar. Lettuce, tomatoes and the rest of the vegetable toppings were in surprisingly abundant supply—either an ode to Derek growing up, or evidence that he barely touched them when left to his own devices.
Laura was in the middle of putting together the sandwiches before she realized she was making enough for three. The coffee maker had just beeped to announce it had finished brewing a full pot. She looked down at the slices of avocado in her hand blankly, wondering if Stiles even liked avocado, if Derek still did or if he kept it for the rest of his pack. Pack that wasn't her.
Hurriedly, she blinked away a sudden burn of tears and finished putting together the sandwiches, loading them onto a tray she found wedged between the counter and the refrigerator. Creamer and sugar she balanced on the edge of the tray, hemming in three mugs of coffee. As a last touch, she found a wash cloth and ran it under some warm water, throwing it over her elbow. It smacked against her side as she picked up the tray and headed for the living room. Judging by their heartbeats, her boys were about to wake up. If she timed it right, they'd open their eyes to food. And then she'd drag them to the shower and an actual bed.
Maybe she wasn't Derek's alpha anymore, and she never was Stiles', but if there was one thing she could damned well be it was a big sister.
A big sister with benefits. She liked the sound of that.