"One last con," Laura had said, and neither of them could ever possibly have known it would truly be her last.
Derek has nowhere left to run, which leaves him with severely limited options. He has no favours left to call in – none that would do him any good, anyway – and he’s shit out of luck as far as disappearing is concerned. He’d know, after all. It’s not like he hasn’t tried.
When he reads a newspaper article detailing Jackson Whittemore’s recently lost fortune, a plan starts to form. It’s nothing short of asking for a leap of faith from anyone he involves, and God knows that Derek has never been a team player, but it’s not like he has anything left to lose.
Laura would know what to do.
One phone call and a red-eye later, and Derek finds himself sitting in a living room that doesn’t look even remotely like it belongs to someone who just lost their entire inheritance.
Jackson doesn’t look particularly pleased to see him when he enters the room, but it’s less impressive when Derek can see how haggard he looks; black craters under his eyes, skin paler than usual and pulled taught across high cheekbones.
Derek knows he doesn’t look much better himself.
“What can I do for you, Hale?” Jackson all but sneers.
Derek takes a deep breath, and then launches into his plan. He doesn’t sell it the way Laura would have, because he’s no good with words. He doesn’t promise Jackson anything he can’t deliver on, and he doesn’t bullshit about the risks involved.
Jackson just looks at him when he’s done, and for a painful moment, Derek thinks he’s read the situation all wrong, and that Jackson isn’t as desperate for the money as he thinks he is.
Then Jackson says, “So, who’ve you got in mind?” and Derek finds he can breathe again.
“No,” Jackson cuts in, so sharply that Derek half recoils in surprise.
“He’s the best there is,” he tries again.
“Find someone else,” Jackson says, flatly. “If you bring him into this, I’m walking.”
Derek is silent for a moment, calculating how serious Jackson is. He’s known Danny for a long time, and he’s nothing short of a computer genius. Derek had been counting on Jackson wanting to work with Danny. He’s not sure what their relationship is, exactly, but he knows it’s never been entirely ...platonic.
Jackson’s jaw clenches obstinately.
“Alright,” Derek agrees. “What about Lydia?”
He knows the antagonistic relationship Jackson has with Lydia has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they used to date.
Jackson considers. “I’ll get you her address,” he says.
He finds Lydia in Marrakech. She takes one long look at him, and tells him he’s taking her to dinner.
They eat at the most expensive restaurant Lydia can find, and apparently she’s on the guest list, because they’re let in and treated like royalty. Derek doesn’t want to know how she managed to swing that.
“So,” she says, curling red nailed fingers around her glass of wine. “What is it this time?”
Her smile reminds him just why Laura liked her so much; pretty and devious. Pretty devious, Laura had said, with a laugh.
Derek’s already on his third whiskey. “I’m putting together a crew,” he says, voice low.
Lydia’s smile widens, and she looks like a Cheshire cat.
Derek’s expression is one of comical surprise when she says, “I’m in.”
They eat dinner, Lydia pays, and they don’t talk about old times. When they get back to her apartment at three in the morning, they’ve worked out the majority of the details to Derek’s plan.
In the morning, she hands him a scrap of paper with a phone number written on it.
“Tell her I sent you,” is all she says, and ushers Derek out the door.
The number belongs to Allison Argent, and Derek finds himself heading back to California.
She has a house in the suburbs, there’s a black BMW in the driveway, and when she answers the door, Derek feels certain that he has the wrong place.
“Come in, Derek,” she says, all dimples.
She leads him into the house, offers him a drink, and then takes him down to the basement. Derek isn’t entirely sure what he’d been expecting, but the arsenal he comes face to face with? Definitely not it.
Allison’s smile widens, a sharper edge to it, as she notices the way his eyebrows raise.
“Tell me what you need,” she says, and Derek does.
He doesn’t say “I need my sister back.”
Isaac and Erica are in California, too, so Derek heads down the coastline to see them.
They pull him into too-tight hugs when they see him, don’t say I’m sorry about what happened, and make him go out with them.
He ends up staying for a week, and almost forgets the hole in his heart and the ache in his bones.
When he finally gets around to bringing up the job, Erica’s eyes light up like he’s just offered her Christmas morning. Isaac is a little more cautious, but it’s obvious that they’re going to take the leap of faith that Derek needs them to.
When he says his goodbyes, his heart hurts just that little bit more.
“Whatever it is, the answer’s no,” Boyd says, and hangs up on him.
Derek heads back to Jackson’s place, and can’t contain the surprise written all over his features when a half-naked Danny opens the front door.
He guesses that answers that question about their relationship.
Danny smiles, gesturing him inside, and Derek numbly goes where he’s ushered.
“Did he tell you?” Derek asks, finally.
Danny nods. “Of course,” he says, like it’s obvious.
“Why won’t he let you in on it, then?”
Danny’s smile falls, and he shifts almost uncomfortably. He’s saved from having to answer, however, when an equally half-naked Jackson strides into the room. He looks healthier than he had the last time Derek saw him, and he wonders if that has anything to do with the third man in the room. Not that it’s his place to be wondering.
“None of your business,” Jackson snaps, predictably.
Derek doesn’t press the issue. “Then I still need someone on intel,” he says, looking between them expectantly.
“I’ve got someone,” Danny says, placing a calming hand on Jackson’s shoulder as he crosses out of the room.
He comes back in a moment later, phone in hand. “I’ve emailed you his address, but uh,” he hesitates.
Derek raises his eyebrows. “But what?”
“He’s a package deal,” Danny answers, finally.
Derek’s not sure his eyebrows can rise any higher, but he tries anyway. “Meaning?”
Danny shrugs. “Meaning that if you want him on the team, you’ll have to hire his getaway driver, too.”
“His driver?” Derek echoes, dumbly.
“Yeah, Hale, his personal escort,” Jackson interrupts, peevishly.
Derek can already feel the headache forming.
“His partner,” Danny says into the silence. “They work as a team. You’ll have to cut him in on it, too.”
“I don’t need a driver,” Derek snaps.
“That’s not what Jackson says,” Danny shoots back, mildly, ignoring the way Jackson shoots him a betrayed look at the same time Derek shoots Jackson one.
Danny’s email gives him strict instructions to arrive with a Caf-Pow and a fifty dollar bill, which Derek does.
The last thing he expects is for the building to be one of New York’s more popular strip clubs and he wonders if Danny, or more likely Jackson, has set him up.
Laura would be laughing.
He figures that explains the fifty, though, and bypasses the queue to slip it to the bouncer. The tattoo covered man looks at Derek for a long moment, then eyes the Caf-Pow, and finally lets Derek through a door nobody else is using.
The steps are long and steep, and the stairwell is dark, and when Derek finally emerges, blinking, into the bluish green light permeating the room below, it takes him a moment or two to adjust to his surroundings.
‘His surroundings’ being a room filled with towering servers and several different types of computer. Derek weaves between it all, trying not to look too closely at various bits of obviously completely illegal tech.
He’s seriously starting to wonder what Danny has gotten him into, in fact, when he finally comes across a bank of computers with somebody working at one of them.
The person in question is wearing a headset, and his fingers are moving so fast that they’re practically a blur.
Derek stands and watches him for a long moment, and then finally clears his throat and gets out, “I’m looking for –“
“Shht!” The kid interrupts, loudly, jabbing a finger viciously in Derek’s direction, but not bothering to look up as he continues typing.
Derek waits for a full minute, scowling, before trying again. “I said –“
“Shhht! Shhhhhht!” The kid interrupts, again, still not looking up at Derek, although he’s definitely making unhappy faces at the computer screen.
Derek rolls his eyes, and then leans back against one of the desks to settle in for the wait. He’s worked with enough eccentrics before to know that that’s pretty much his only option, especially since he’s so desperate for someone to work the technical end of things.
Twenty minutes later, the kid lets out a loud whoop, fist pumping the air, before throwing the headset unceremoniously down on the side.
“Sorry, dude, I had an important thing, you know how it is. What can I –“ he begins, and it’s obviously his turn to be cut off as he finally looks up at Derek who isn’t bothering to hide his scowl.
“Whoa,” the kid gets out, and Derek can’t help but be amused by the way in which he’s gaping like a fish, even if it does make him look completely gormless.
“Are you Stiles?” he asks, when the silence stretches to breaking point.
“Whoa, dude, yeah. Yes. I am. I mean. Wow,” Stiles breathes, still looking at Derek a bit like he’s never seen a human before.
Truthfully, it’s not exactly the first time anyone’s had that reaction to Derek.
He raises his eyebrows, and says, “Danny told me you might be interested in joining my team.”
Stiles nods, leaning back in his chair like he’s trying to play it cool. “If it’s in the realms of possibility, sure, I can do it,” he says, and doesn’t actually sound too much like he’s overselling himself.
“And your driver?” Derek asks.
“Best damn getaway driver there is,” Stiles grins, like he’s got a personal reason to be proud of that.
Derek vaguely wonders if Danny meant that Stiles and his driver were together in the relationship sense when he called them partners.
“Here’s the plan,” he says, instead of asking.