Chapter 1: Alpha Undefined
It’s difficult being Derek Hale. He’s not sure that anyone realizes it because he does a good job (for the most part) of hiding behind his icy cold exterior, but he’s incredibly lonely. Sure, he has Erica, Isaac, and Boyd. Pack is supposed to be family, but even his pack can’t fill the void that was left by his original pack. That house fire had destroyed everything and everyone that he loved. How was he supposed to come back from something like that? How is he supposed to deal with Laura, his sister and only real confidante, being gone? He can’t deal with it, as hard as he tries, so instead he shuts himself off to the world. He knows exactly what Laura would say to him, too, if she were still alive. She’d tell him that he was a coward. That he was hiding from the world because that was the easier option. Holing himself up in his makeshift home was an escape, it wasn’t coping. But he isn’t ready. Not yet. He hopes that someday he’ll be ready.
There was a time when Derek Hale was just your average teenage werewolf. Well, maybe average was the wrong word. There was nothing particularly normal about being insanely strong, sprouting fur pretty much at free will, and having to fight the urge to kill people every full moon, but you know… average. He was worried about what his hair looked like. He was concerned about whether his abs seemed a little less pronounced than usual because he’d eaten that second burrito despite his better judgment. He wondered about whether the whiff of Chanel No 5 he was catching in the air was Kate Argent or some random girl. There had been a time when he’d attended Beacon Hills High, when he had one of the brightest smiles around, and when he’d had a laugh so contagious it seemed to fill an entire room. But those times were long gone. Now, he was broody and scary Derek. It wasn’t that he wanted to be all mopey and scary all the time, but the world wasn’t really giving him a lot of reasons to want to be anything else.
Take Scott, for example. Scott McCall was just one of a series of people who had seen fit to take Derek’s trust and crush it under their shoe. When he had come with an offer to join the pack, Derek had taken it at face value. Maybe he should have known better, but he assumed that Scott was concerned about his friend slash acquaintance slash whatever Jackson Whittemore was. To Derek, he was a living reminder that he had, once again, failed. He had failed to recognize that he was being used by Kate Argent. He had failed to save his family from the fire. He had failed to make Jackson into a proper werewolf. He was failing at helping his betas. Now, he could add trusting Scott McCall to the list of failures that seemed to be piling up day after day.
Nobody bothered to take a look at Derek’s life, but if they would, they would see that he was actually in a lot of pain. And maybe the pain of being alone was the worst of all, which was why he was - yet again - putting his faith in someone. Dr. Deaton was still a little sketchy, but he believed the man when he said that he had made a promise to his mother. When someone made a promise to his mom, they kept it. Not because they were afraid of having their throats ripped out, though she could have very well done that were she still alive, but because she just had this way about her. She was the kind of woman that could get you to do anything with just a smile. Or so people had told him.
“I can help you, Derek. I can teach you what you need to know to become the Alpha that I know you want to be.”
Derek pondered the vet’s offer briefly, letting the words sink in. Considering that he had been so determined to steal the Alpha title away from Peter, he had given very little thought to the kind of Alpha that he wanted to become. Sure, he knew it was his job to guide his Betas and teach them the ins and outs of controlling their power, but once they got rid of the Argents (and it was only a matter of time), what would be their pack’s purpose? When he sat down and looked back at his time as an Alpha, what would make him proud of the job that he had done? Derek realized that he didn’t know the answer to any of those questions.
“Alright,” he nodded, letting out a little resigned sigh. “But only because of my mother.”
“She knew that you’d be an Alpha someday, you know. She always spoke of how strong you were, that you were a natural leader,” Dr. Deaton informed him. “Meet me back here tomorrow evening at 10PM. I have some literature that I want to show you. You might consider it helpful.”
Nodding, Derek turned on his heel, eager to get out of the vet’s office. He had a lot to think about. His mind was buzzing with the events of the evening and he really needed to blow off some steam by working out. He also needed to think. To gather some perspective. To figure out what being an Alpha really meant to him.
“Oh and Derek, bring your friend Stiles. He’s a quick study, you’ll want him on your side,” Dr. Deaton called, just loud enough that Derek could hear it as he opened the door. Rolling his eyes, Derek shook his head. Stiles, of course. The kid conjured something one time and suddenly he was a hero. Well, okay, he’d kept Derek from drowning that one time, but tonight he had totally gotten even by being his Alpha self and threatening Matt. They were even, so Derek could officially stop thinking about the force with which the smaller boy had held onto him when they were in the pool. He had clung onto him for dear life and literally kept him afloat. Thank you was not a term that was really part of the Derek Hale lexicon, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t appreciate what Stiles had done. He had been well and truly helpless, and Stiles had saved him. Maybe he’d been wrong about Stiles in the woods that day. Maybe he was deserving of the bite.
Chapter 2: Safety
Derek Hale knows he isn't the ideal Alpha. He knows he's flawed. But he doesn't know how to fix it. All he knows is that he can't quite get past the day when Stiles Stilinski saved his life. Derek's journey of Alpha self-discovery, featuring a large amount of Stiles Stilinski.
Thanks for all the kudos and comments! Hope you enjoy this chapter. It was fun to write.
Of a few things, Stiles Stilinski was certain. He knew that he had conjured up some ash like a badass. He knew that Lydia Martin had the prettiest strawberry blonde hair that he had ever seen. He knew that Danny Mahealani’s Armani aftershave caused him to get strange, yet not unpleasant daydreams without fail. He was totally on track to become Guild Leader in his online gaming community. There were a lot of good things happening in Stiles’ life. Things that should have made him feel over the moon.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of bad overshadowing the good. He’d almost ended up dead a few times. He’d cost his father his job. Lydia’s punch had caused him to have a crazy hallucination that he never wanted to revisit again in his life. Jackson was a freaking lizard man. Matt went around with a gun trying to shoot everybody. But none of those things hurt more than the betrayal he felt at the hands of his supposed best friend, Scott McCall. Stiles had, like a good friend, given his time, his energy, and on more than one occasion his life to help out the other boy. And he had gotten nothing in return for his struggles. To be honest, he wasn’t sure that Scott had ever really thanked him. Even when he had been carrier pigeoning between Scott and Allison, he had never really received proper thanks.
Nothing had made that clearer for him than when he’d been forcibly hurled onto Derek Hale’s chest. Although, in theory, losing complete control over his body should have been scary (and on some level, it was), what had really happened was that it had given him an overwhelming sense of clarity. Feeling numb from the neck down meant that he didn’t have to worry about the constant twitches and ticks that he felt. It wasn’t that he was hyperactive, but being still was something that his body seemed unprepared to handle. Given its forced state of calm, however, the only thing that actually had to remain functional was his brain. And being forced to awkwardly cuddle against Derek had clued him into a few things. First of all, being paralyzed sucked and he hoped that he like, never got into a freak accident involving a squirrel and his jeep that caused him to lose all sensation in his limbs, because that would be hell. Secondly, he had realized just how bad Scott really was for him. Scott had not only betrayed Derek, he had betrayed Stiles. If Stiles was going to go around risking his life on the regular for a werewolf, then he expected to be let in on every single detail of a plan. All Scott ever did was hurt him. And strangely, even though neither of them could move, he had felt safer draped across Derek’s strong frame than he had ever felt with Scott.
Stiles still wasn’t sure that he was really at the point of processing or accepting that yet. Derek Hale was hands down the scariest person that he had ever met in his life – well, maybe Peter was scarier and Jackson was scarier when he was the kanima and stuff – but yet, he somehow was able to protect Stiles in a way that Scott never would. Not that Scott couldn’t protect Stiles, it was that he wouldn’t. Because if push came to shove and Stiles and Allison had both somehow tripped off of the edge of a cliff, Scott would be reaching to grab Allison’s hand over his. That was a tough pill to swallow. But Derek, who didn’t even really like him, had fought for him. He had shown concern for him. He had protected him. A guy who could barely even tolerate his presence. So yeah, that was a little confusing for Stiles. How could the person who claimed to be his best friend leave him hanging while his pseudo-enemy had threatened to rip some guy’s throat out just with his teeth? It didn’t make any sense. What made even less sense was the inconsolable feeling of longing that he’d felt to be pressed against Derek again, getting faint whiffs of the distinctly woodsy smell that he seemed to emanate and feeling the dull pricking of the older boy’s scruff against his neck every so often. If he had been able to move, he was pretty sure that it would have sent a shiver down his spine. Stiles knew that he should have been scared of Derek ripping his throat out or suddenly regaining his strength and doing some major damage, but the only coherent thought that had really been running through his mind as he laid there in silence was how completely and utterly safe he felt being so close to Derek. It should have made him feel embarrassingly uncomfortable, but instead, it made him feel stupidly safe.
“Why’s your heart beating so fast?”
“OH MY GOD!” Stiles yelled because, hello, he’d been on a trip back from the kitchen because the frozen burrito in the freezer had had his name written all over it; he wasn’t expecting for someone to be in his room. Looking to his left, the dark and ominous figure of Derek Hale was looming in the corner, like some kind of mysterious and eerie angel. Or, you know, like a serial killer. “Maybe because you scared me. How do you keep getting in here?”
“It was racing before you knew that I was here and it’s embarrassing that you’re still asking me those kinds of questions,” Derek informed him, his words muffled through the pounding of Stiles’ heart, hard enough that he could feel it thumping in his ears.
“What do you want? Are you here to talk about last night? Have you finally realized that hey, maybe Stiles is kind of a cool guy and I’d like to have a real friend?” Stiles teased, even though he was aware that that could be very dangerous for him. He couldn’t help it. He was a non-supernatural creature. One of about ten, it seemed, in this town. Sarcasm was his only defence mechanism. Most of the time, it was super effective.
“I need... Dr. Deaton told me to make sure that you came by his office at 10. He says he can help me, you know with the pack and becoming a better alpha, and he told me that you need to be there,” Derek informed him, grumbling through his words like he was a child being scolded.
“He wants me to be there? Like as a sidekick?” Stiles inquired, his eyes all but twinkling at the possibility that somebody found him useful and actually recognized that hey, most of the time, he had good ideas.
“Not as a sidekick,” Derek corrected, growling unhappily. Stiles wasn’t sure if that was meant to be a threat, but all it did was elicit an eye roll. Because seriously? That was what he was going with? A growl? Embarrassing. “I don’t know why he wants you there, but you are not my sidekick. I don’t have sidekicks. I have a pack. I’m just following orders.”
Stiles couldn’t help but laugh. “You? Take orders?”
“There was a time when I wasn’t an Alpha. You know what it’s like being a Beta,” Derek retorted, shrugging his shoulders. Stiles wasn’t sure because he didn’t really know what constituted a werewolf insult, but he was pretty sure that it was meant to be degrading, and it stung.
“Fine, I’ll go to your stupid Alpha training,” he sighed, throwing up his hands in resignation.
He got a curt nod from Derek, which was honestly more than what he was expecting at this point. Watching as the older boy moved towards the window, Stiles couldn’t help himself from asking. “Hey Derek,” he said, waiting for Derek to turn around, his body half-way out the window like he was sneaking out after an all-night sex marathon (wait – why was his brain going there?) “Are you okay?”
For a split second, Stiles swore that he saw Derek’s icy facade disappear, but it was back within the blink of an eye, almost like he’d been imagining it. “Don’t ask questions that you don’t really want an answer to, Stiles,” Derek replied, before hurling himself out the window towards the ground.
By the time that he got to the window, Derek had disappeared, but his heart was still racing.
Chapter 3: Of Trust and Betrayal
Thank you for all the lovely feedback. I think this is the most activity I've ever gotten on a story! I didn't proof read this chapter cause it's long, sorry :(
Truth be told, the only reason that Derek was still going to this meeting with Dr. Deaton was because Laura had called him an ally and he still trusted her judgment. Maybe she had known that he would end up becoming an Alpha at some point and that she needed to prepare him to accept the help of others. He still didn't trust Dr. Deaton but he wasn't against letting the veterinarian earn that. After all, Dr. Deaton had his respect, and there were very few people who earned that honor. No one knew better than Derek Hale that the world was a dark, filthy place. He was really just trying to navigate through it at the moment with one goal: avenge the murder of his family and stop the Argents from killing his pack. Dr. Deaton was probably his best shot at making that happen.
In his spare moments throughout the day, he'd been giving some serious thought to the kind of Alpha that he wanted to be, and he'd decided that he wanted to be a protector. Some Alphas just bit people and turned them into Betas for one purpose and then cast them aside, only calling them when they were needed. And yes, he may have created himself a pack to help avenge his family's death, but he didn't want to leave his wolves out there in the world all alone. Derek knew what that felt like, and it wasn't a nice feeling at all. It was against a wolf's natural instincts to be alone, or at least, it was against his instincts. He had grown up in a loving pack and he had purposefully sought out misfits. He wanted to make sure that they knew that they always had a home, that they had someone who would protect them. Someone who could teach them the difference between good and bad, someone who would teach them about pack ethics. Basically, Derek wanted to be a father, but it was hard to be a father when he could barely take care of himself. For God's sakes he was living in an abandoned bus, it wasn't like he could claim that he had it good at the moment.
But he was going to learn to be a better Alpha, he was going to learn to be selective about who he trusted, and he was going to make sure that his pack stayed together for life. Taking a deep breath as he entered Dr. Deaton's place, he wasn't surprised to see that Stiles was already there and bouncing around like a child. "Does he really need to be here?" Derek inquired, shaking his head. For such a smart kid, Stiles really did get on his nerves sometimes.
"Yes, he does. As it seems he is the only non-supernatural entity in your life, he needs to be here," Dr. Deaton replied, pulling out a rack of what look like spices. Derek was already suspicious, but he kept thinking of Laura. "Stiles, Scott should not be made privy to these meetings. He's a nice kid, but you know where his loyalties lie."
"With Allison," Stiles nodded. Derek did not miss the momentary frown that accompanied those words. Good, maybe someone in Beacon Hills was finally starting to pay attention. Allison Argent was trouble, and not just because she seemed set on murdering him now. He assumed that this had something to do with her mother, but there was no reason why Victoria had had to kill herself. Derek would have taken care of her. She would have been pack. Derek couldn't be blamed for Argent family traditions.
"Good, I'm glad you've noticed. Allison may be aligned with Scott now, but don't expect that to last. Eventually, they will go their separate ways, as Allison becomes more involved in her training and Scott is forced to make some tough decisions. If you want to help Scott-"
"No, nobody should be helping Scott! That's why we're all in this mess, because everybody's helping Scott!" Derek growled, unable to keep quiet.
"Okay, someone's a little touchy. Did you and Scott get into a wolf spat?" Stiled mocked, giving him an amused grin.
"No, but he's been working with the Argents, did you know that?" Derek retorted, throwing Stiles a menacing look, his jaw clenched. Dr. Deaton remained silent, a fact that was not lost on the Alpha. It was probably for the best too.
"Scott? No - he would never work with the Argents. They want to kill Jackson and they want to kill the entire wolf population of Beacon Hills. He joined your pack and everything," Stiles defended.
"Well, not yesterday night. I overheard him talking to Gerard. The reason that he joined the pack was because Gerard told him to, and he's been feeding Gerard information. I don't know for how long," Derek informed him, fighting the urge to let his wolf instincts take over.
"He... he wouldn't." The words were coming out of Stiles' mouth, but even Derek could tell that he didn't believe them. Scott had betrayed Derek, but he had also betrayed Stiles. Sheriff Stilinski could have ended up dead. Hell, Scott's mom could have ended up dead, caught in the crossfire of the previous night's events, all because Scott had betrayed everyone. He really was a stupid wolf. And he would not go unpunished.
Not feeling the need to say anything else, Derek turned his attention back to Dr. Deaton, breathing as he attempted to keep himself in check. "Alright, let's do this."
Approaching the table as the vet nodded, Derek stood next to Stiles and tried to focus on the rack of powders, but it was difficult. Stiles' heart was beating so hard that it was pounding in Derek's ears and - "I think I hear something outside," Derek fibbed, looking up at Dr. Deaton. "It's your clinic, you should check if maybe someone's coming with a late night animal emergency."
Deaton shot him a look that told him that he knew that he was full of shit, but he nodded and left the room. "I don't know why Deaton wants you here, but you need to calm down. Your heart's beating so fast that I'm actually having trouble concentrating," Derek informed him. "I know that Scott's your best friend forever or whatever sappy thing you like to call it, but you can't trust him, Stiles."
"I know that. You think I don't know that?" Stiles retorted, more menacingly than usual. "Ever since Allison's gotten to town, he's been hooked on her and I should have suspected something. It was just too convenient, the Argents showing up like that."
Giving him a knowing nod, Derek wished that he had some encouraging words to say, but encouragement had never been his strong suit. He was a practical person, most of the time. He thought of things in a very logical way. He let himself be led by his reason and not by his heart. That was probably the only reason that Derek had survived by himself for so long. But occasionally, things still stung. Scott's betrayal had hurt worst of all. He thought that he finally had somebody he could trust, a nice feeling after so much time being alone, but he was wrong. "You need to protect yourself, Stiles," Derek warned. "You can't put your faith in Scott anymore. If he was willing to betray the pack, to betray Jackson, then he'll betray you at some point and-"
"He already has," Stiles interjected. "It's over. Our friendship, it's over."
The feeling that washed over Derek, the intense relief, was something that he would never come to understand. Stiles was just a human - alright, maybe a human who had saved his life, but it was always pathetic to Derek that he let himself be dragged down by Scott. He was a smart guy, even if he was annoying as hell most of the time. He could have chosen to walk away, but he didn't. Loyalty was a trait that Derek greatly admired, so he was happy that Stiles was waking up and seeing that while that was admirable, his loyalty should not be wasted on someone who wouldn't deserve it.
"I... I appreciate your help," Derek mumbled, feeling insanely awkward because he wasn't the type of person to appreciate anything. Stiles owed him absolutely nothing, and yet here he was.
"I'm not here because of you. I'm here because of me. Ever since I found out that lycanthropy was a real thing, my life has been nothing but complicated. I mean, almost dying a couple of times, causing my dad to lose his job. A guy's gotta draw the line somewhere."
Looking away, Derek was all too relieved when Dr. Deaton walked back into the room. "There wasn't anyone. You must have just heard people walking," the vet mused, his lips pressed together tightly before picking up a few spices out of the spice rack.
"Stiles, you need to learn to protect yourself. Derek is right, you can't trust Scott in your hour of need. That's why I asked Derek to bring you here. Derek, though he has a lot to learn about being an Alpha, has learned to control his abilities and I trust him not to hurt you no matter what we throw at him."
"Derek? You think that Derek won't kill me?" Stiles scoffed.
"I won't kill you. I might maim you, but I won't kill you," Derek quipped, throwing Stiles a toothy grin just to be an asshole. "I only kill people who betray me," he added, equal parts reassurance and threat. Both for Dr. Deaton and Stiles. Derek wasn't a killer. He would get his revenge on the Argents, but he wasn't going to take unnecessary lives.
"Does either of you know what Carbo Lignis is?" Dr. Deaton inquired, arching a brow at them as he moved right past Derek's threat, unphased. Probably for good reason because he imagined that Dr. Deaton knew how to protect himself against werewolves. A fact that Derek kept in the forefront of his mind at all times.
"Charcoal," Derek replied. "Activated charcoal."
"Very good. Stiles, you might want to take some notes and-"
"Do I look like someone who got straight As by taking notes?" Stiles inquired. "I'm guessing that this ties into werewolves somehow."
"Yes. When a wolf is shot with a bullet containing wolfsbane or when they are exposed to wolfsbane in any way, it begins coursing through their system. The charcoal will help act as an antidote. The wolfsbane triggers feelings of pain, and the lemon charcoal help soothe those feelings and neutralize it."
"And how does this help me?" Derek inquired, arching an eyebrow.
"How many times have you ended up in this office because you have no idea how to deal with your own problems?" Dr. Deaton asked. "Your pack need to be able to respect you or they will turn against you. The only way that they will respect you is by knowing that you can handle your own crises."
"That's what I'm doing. I'm helping you to handle your own crises. Your family knew all of these things, Derek. They just never had a chance to show you. So I'm going to show you." Derek wanted to argue against that logic but... it was impossible. He needed to let Dr. Deaton show him what his family would never be able to.
"I'm still confused about how I fit into the picture," Stiles admitted. "I mean, I'm supposed to be learning to defend myself."
"Sometimes the best defence is a good offence, Stiles," Dr. Deaton reminded him.
"So you're saying-"
"He's saying it's safer for you to help me if I come to you than it is for you to shut the door in my face. But I'm still confused about why this is what you're choosing to show him."
"Because, we're going to make you feel a bit of pain. Unhealable pain."
"What are you gonna do, shoot me with a wolfsbane bullet?" Derek mocked.
"No, but you're gonna drink a wolfsbane tea, and then we're going to shoot you with a normal bullet." Dr. Deaton informed him. For a moment, Derek thought he was joking, but the look on the vet's face was dead serious. "Scott told me that on the night of the full moon, he was at Lydia Martin's party and he had an intense hallucination. I believe that the punch might have been spiked with wolfsbane."
"Wait? Hallucination?" Stiles chimed in. "I... I kind of had a hallucination that night as well."
"What kind of hallucination?" Derek inquired, turning his attention to Stiles. Lydia Martin had also caused hell for him on the night of the full moon so... if she was going to become a problem, Derek needed to know how.
"Like a worst fear, secret worry type of hallucination," Stiles ventured. Derek growled, and Stiles reluctantly continued. "My mom got sick and it was bad for a while. I had this strange fear that I killed her and deep down, I worry that I'm gonna kill my dad. Well... my dad-" he paused briefly, closing his eyes. "My dad was at Lydia's party with a bottle of alcohol in his hand shouting that I'd killed my mother and that I was killing him. It was like my internal fear had come true, you know?"
"So you want me to poison myself with wolfsbane so I can't trigger the healing process and you're going to let Stiles try to nurse me back to health? That's your plan? How does this teach me to manage my own crises?" Derek questioned. The man had honestly lost his damned mind.
"You'll see," Dr. Deaton replied. "This is an exercise in trust. This won't work if you can't trust Stiles."
Glancing over at Stiles, Derek gave him the once over. He was uncharacteristically silent and he looked like he was lost in his own head, but also scared out of his mind. He didn't like admitting this, but Stiles was his best shot at an ally right now. "Don't screw this up," Derek warned. "So where's my tea?"
"Should be ready to go right about now," Dr. Deaton informed him, going into the other room and coming back with a small cup of tea. Given that Scott hadn't felt anything, he doubted that he would be feel anything happening to him, but he was a little concerned about the hallucination. But... he needed to make his family proud. Picking up the cup, Derek downed most of the tea in a single gulp, wincing at the sheer scalding heat of the concoction, before downing the rest.
"How long should this take?" Derek questioned.
"It didn't take long for me," Stiles warned.
"If you need me Stiles, call, I'm just doing paperwork in my office."
"Wait what about the-"
"Oh, right. Here you go, Stiles," Dr. Deaton grinned, setting a small shotgun down on the table.
"Me? I-I can't," Stiles stammered.
"Yes. Yes you can. Aim for an arm or a leg. This is the part where I'm really teaching you to defend yourself."
"By shooting Derek? Because I'm pretty sure that that's just gonna make him mad."
"You're not going to kill Derek, but you're going to get over your fear of sooting someone. If an intruding wolf happens to enter your home, you won't hesitate."
And with that, Dr. Deaton walked out of the room. Derek was about to protest, but his head started pounding. "It's happening," Derek warned. That was the best that Stiles was going to get. Suddenly, Derek felt like an idiot for putting his faith in a boy who looked way too nervous to be cool under pressure.