Boyd smells like coffee, like the rusted metal of old subway carcasses, like when you press a dirt-soaked stone to your nose and inhale. He smells of strong things, of firm, steadfast things, like a pillar or a mountain. Or an anchor. When Boyd is around, you can tell just from that scent that he’s got your back no matter what, come hell or high water. Still, below that, that signature Boyd smell, there’s something sweet, smooth, warm, young, like caramel or honey; it’s the smell of a pup, a smell that clings to the three of them—four with Scott now. For Boyd, unlike the others, it’s fading faster with each passing day.
Derek’s relieved, though, when he leans in close, sniffs the kid’s collarbone, and still finds it there. He’s never considered himself the fatherly type, but whenever he thinks about his pups leaving the roost too soon, thinks about losing that smell, he can’t help the tightening in his chest. Sometimes, he’ll just watch Boyd watch the other two mess around like the children they are and he can’t help but want to push Boyd to join them, to take time to play. Yes, things are tense now with the Argents and Jackson, but Derek doesn’t want him—them—to miss this, because this is one part of his childhood that he misses most.
A part of him, that parent in him, wants to dote on Boyd sometimes, his second-in-command, his highest-ranked beta. (For now, he thinks, until Scott establishes a place in this pack.) He worries that Boyd doesn’t get enough attention, that he’s out of place in the pack, alone, because he’s adapting far better than the other two who Derek has to keep a close eye on. Boyd’s never talked about his home life to anyone, but when he drops out of high school without a look back, Derek figures that he must not have anyone out there for him.
He’s a little more affectionate with Boyd because of it. When Erica and Isaac are out, he takes him on extra training trips, to strengthen as well as to bond. He takes him to a diner now again, enjoys the happy way he bites into burgers and stuffs his mouth with fries at the same time. He touches him more, pats his back, jostles a shoulder, and sometimes he thinks Boyd’s intimidated, but, no, he only smiles, gives him that slight smile that says, Thanks. And, Derek knows he’s doing right by Boyd, being the best Alpha he can be for him, them.
When they sleep, the four of them all curled together on a makeshift mattress, Boyd’s place is at Derek’s side, his head on his chest, over his heart, with Isaac on his hip, Erica his leg. Boyd is always the last of the pups to fall asleep, his hands splayed over Derek’s stomach, his eyes staring blankly, but content. This is Derek’s favorite moment with Boyd, when his pup tells him about his day not through words, but the smells ingrained in his skin. The dirt under his nails and his deodorant and aftershave and those Boyd smells.
Someday, Boyd will lead his own pack, maybe even this one. Derek can see it and is proud. He just doesn’t want it to happen too soon; he can’t imagine his pack without him.