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“Derek! Derek, were you at?” The big voice boomed from the porch of the Hale house and Derek emerged from the woods where he had been blowing off steam to see his cousin Alcide waiting for him. He hadn’t properly seen Alcide or anyone from that side of the family since the funerals. Alcide is the only one who really tried to keep in touch. Even though he hadn’t seen Alcide in a few years, he recognized him all the same. He hadn’t changed—same face, same scent.

Derek resisted the urge to use his supernatural agility to bound over to his cousin, like a pup. He hadn’t been near anyone he could call family in so long and his wolf misses the familiarity of it. He misses the familiarity of of it. Still, he meanders casually to the porch. Alcide doesn’t look impressed. But he still clapped a big hand down on Derek’s shoulder in greeting. Derek doesn’t flinch.

“I heard about Laura.” Derek flinches away at that and resists taking two steps back. “For what’s worth I’m sorry.” Alcide doesn’t look away but Derek can’t keep looking back at him. No one who has told him this so far has actually known Laura, until now; no one who has told him this so far was actually sorry for the loss of Laura, a girl they knew, instead of just being sorry that Derek lost her. It makes something inside of him crack.

“You should come to Jackson with me.” Derek decided that it was a good time to disappear into the house, but Alcide just follows him. “Werewolves ain’t made to be alone. We go mad.” And isn’t that just great. Maybe Uncle Peter wouldn’t have turned into a murdering psychopath if he and Laura had just stayed close.

“I’ve got a pack.” Derek starts to stalk around the house and Alcide just waits in the burnt out shell of the living room, like a parent waiting for a child to stop having a tantrum.

Derek’s been too busy traipsing about the house to hear Stiles jeep pull up, but he’s just making his way through the living room for the second time, navigating around Alcide, when Stiles comes in. Alcide sniffs.

“Is this why you’re trying so hard to stay?” Alcide looked at Derek quizzically.

“It’s not like that.” And really, it isn’t. He house had been quite earlier and he ghosted his way into Stiles room and they had talked and Stiles had managed to octopus Derek into a hug, before he left, and maybe it was a little bit like that. “It’s not like that.” Alcide didn’t look like he was buying it. Stiles looked between the two like he was trying to figure out exactly why the older man was there.

“This your pack?” Alcide raises an eyebrow at him, still looking like he’s just waiting for Derek to fold.

“You’re bigger than Derek.” Stiles speaks finally blinking up Alcide.

“This is my cousin. Alcide from Mississippi.” Derek drew the words out slowly and staccato, warning Stiles to stay out of it.

Of course, Stiles didn’t take the hint. “Are you a werewolf, too? Are you an alpha? Did you Derek when he was a kid? or a pup? or a cub? or you know a werebaby? What’s Mississippi like? I’m Stiles from California.” And Alcide gets that look on his face that he gets when he’s dealing with a slightly endearing pup.

Then the rest of the pack is piling in: Jackson and Scott and Allison and Isaac and Erica and Boyd and Lydia and that kid Danny that Jackson had told but Derek wasn’t quite sure about yet. As it is, he’s not quite sure how Alcide will take the lot of them.

“This is my pack.”