Derek felt good. He hadn't liked being…well, he hadn't been human, as it turned out, but diminished, however temporarily.
But now, he felt good. He felt like he'd finally cleared his nose, taken off his sunglasses, removed a straitjacket. He hadn't felt this good when he was an alpha; when he was an alpha, he'd always felt stretched, puffed up, taken beyond his natural limits. This, this body was all his.
It was a shame he was driving when he just got his body back, but there wasn't any good place to stop between La Iglesia and Beacon Hills, and the Sheriff and Melissa and Deaton would be anxiously awaiting the whole pack. Peter needed to be put away. There were obligations to fulfill, responsibilities to enact.
But he still felt really good.
"Do you want to talk about…?" asked Braeden.
"What's there to talk about?" asked Derek. "The deadpool is closed. Peter's stopped and Kate's on the run. We're all alive and in one piece." He tapped the steering wheel. "This is happily ever after." He rolled down the window and spit, just for good measure.
Braeden snorted and curled up in her seat. "It's not that simple, Derek. It's never that simple."
Can I talk 2 u?
Derek thought about ignoring Scott's text, but after that time he was gone for two weeks and no one noticed, he'd resolved to more fully embrace social media. Or at least texting.
Pick me up after school
That text Derek didn't respond to.
There was always a traffic jam getting in and out of the high school, so Derek didn't try to get there when the bell rang. He was glad of it when he finally did pull up to the front of the school, only to see Scott and Kira attached at the face. He looked away, but he said, "You've got five minutes, Scott," and started tapping out the rhythm of the Jeopardy! song.
The goodbyes were grossly mushy, but Scott was throwing his bag in Derek's backseat inside of three minutes, so Derek couldn't complain. "Thanks," said Scott.
"Am I taking you somewhere?" asked Derek.
"I have to be at Deaton's by five, but we could—." Scott's stomach rumbled. Loudly.
Derek licked his teeth and smiled. "I know a place."
It took ten minutes of companionable silence to get to the best fish taco stand in the county and another ten minutes waiting in line to walk away with a whole box of deliciousness. Derek handed Scott three to start before taking one for himself. They both sat on the hood of Derek's car and chewed with awed appreciation.
Derek waited for Scott to finish his tacos and reach for another one before he said, "Talk."
"I was…changing. Before Kate took me, I mean. Since we brought you back from Mexico, I guess."
Derek made an encouraging noise without saying anything else.
"More fangs. More, uh, more animal face. But not, like, more wolf-y. More monstrous."
Derek nodded. "Have you changed since we came back?" He didn't look at Scott straight on, more out of the side of his eye.
Scott shrugged, ducked his head, and scratched at the back of his neck. "Was there any need? I mean, everything's been cool since we got back. And," he shrugged again. "When I got Peter, it felt…more normal. Less…heavy."
"Bitten wolves," started Derek. "I'm not a human being who sometimes turns into a monster or a creature. I've never been anything other than a werewolf, so my change always reflects that."
"People who were bitten don't feel like that. You're feeling out what you transform into. If you join a pack, if you accept a pack, with the bite, then you get," he tapped his fingers on his knee, "it's like peer pressure? Your body knows what to do because you're following your alpha and your other pack members. But a bitten omega is…unpredictable. The kanima is an extreme form of that, but something like what happened to Kate? Not uncommon."
Scott actually raised his hand for a second, but then he seemed to notice what he was doing. "But I'm not…new. I know I'm a werewolf. I've been a werewolf since I was bitten."
Derek cocked his head. "But all the alphas you've known have been monsters."
Scott gave him a confused look, adorable frown and raised eyebrows.
"I sexually manipulated a teenage girl and repeatedly broke the bones of a child abuse survivor. All the alphas you've known have been monsters." He scratched his nose. "I like to think I'm a better person now, but only time will tell."