Chapter 1: What Derek Knows
He loves grilled cheese. The two of them have a stash of microwave dinners and wilting leftovers in the warehouse, and Isaac hasn’t complained about their diet. But the few times they’ve gone to a diner for dinner, Isaac doesn’t even look at a menu. He orders chocolate milk and grilled cheese. When the waitress comes with their food, Isaac’s heart rate picks up and doesn’t go down until he’s taken the first bite. It’s probably the oddest thing about him.
Isaac is an insomniac. Derek had warned him that the bite would make him sleep less, to which Isaac laughed. Derek assumed he didn’t sleep much before—having been forced to dig graves at night—and would be fine without a full night’s sleep. But even on the rare incident free night, Isaac paces the warehouse basement and taps his fingers against the walls. His restlessness makes it hard for Derek to sleep, so sometimes he drags Isaac over to the mattress and forces him to lie down. It doesn’t seem to help.
He doesn’t like Boyd. The first time Derek brought Boyd to the warehouse Erica grinned and ran her fingers over his chest. Derek did everything he could not to react to the way Boyd’s eyes widened and he immediately stood straighter. Isaac hung back, doing his best not to leave the subway car. Boyd noticed, and Derek wished he hadn’t. He’d promised the kid instant friendship.
Derek knows that it’s not just that Isaac loves hurting people. He loves that he’s able to hurt them.
Isaac loves it when Derek holds him. It began as necessity when Isaac reacted badly to the bite, and Derek was worried the kid would start seizing. When Derek pulled him to the ground and in his arms, Isaac’s heart stayed steady for the first time since the graveyard. The bite—and his father’s death—all but eliminated Isaac’s anxiety. But he still hovered around Derek and seemed happiest when his alpha rolled his eyes and opened his arms. “Is this normal?” Isaac asked once. “Do all alphas do this?” Derek didn’t answer, because the truth would embarrass him.
His bike is six years old. There doesn’t seem to be a sentimental story behind the bike, but Isaac bristled when Derek suggested it was too small for him and he should get a new one. The day Isaac realized he could bike miles in minutes, he ran into the den to tell Derek, like a kid with a new drawing. Isaac bikes everywhere, even if Derek and the others are taking the car. Isaac won’t get in Derek’s car because his alpha would make him wear a seatbelt.
French is his favorite class. Even when he wasn’t going to school, Isaac lay on the mattress conjugating verbs out loud. He overheard Erica ask Isaac if he wanted to go to France one day, and Isaac said that if he lived, that sounded good.
Isaac kissed him first.
Chapter 2: Grilled
Derek learns, among other things, that Isaac loves grilled cheese.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The diner is called “Hackney’s.” The shamrock stickers peeling from the windows remind Derek that it’s March. Months seem irrelevant most of the time. It’s tactfully a mistake to lose track of days and months, but it seems unavoidable.
Isaac is looking around Hackney’s like he’s on a scavenger hunt. He twists around in their booth and begins to pick at a sticker on the window next to him. Derek catches his eye, and one look is enough to makes Isaac sit still. The feeling of power hits Derek’s spine like a wave he controls. Somehow Isaac makes him feel more powerful than the others.
The waitress is wearing a black shirt with the neck cut out, and a miniskirt. He voice is throaty. “Welcome to Hackney’s where everyone’s Irish. Can I get you a Leprechaun Platter? It’s guacamole with baked—”
“No,” Derek stops her. She is beautiful, which is inconvenient. Derek looks at Isaac while he orders. Isaac glances at him, but looks away quickly. "Rare steak with baked potatoes. Green tea."
When she asks for Isaac’s order he grins at her, showing all his white teeth. Derek wants to reach over and smack him, but the girl doesn’t seem to mind. She tips her head and laughs even though Isaac has said nothing but an order for grilled cheese and chocolate milk. Derek immediately decides she is a moron.
The diner is nearly empty, save for a wrinkled woman with a spray tan drinking Bailey’s in the corner. She talks to another waitress like she’s her daughter, telling her “That shirt is just too much, dear. Now I have a sweater in the car. I can run and get it for you right now.”
Isaac’s voice is too loud when he says, “I haven’t come here since I was a kid.”
“You’re still a kid,” Derek says, then almost regrets it when Isaac shoulders hunch defensively. Saying sorry isn’t an option, or anywhere near necessary. “When did you last come here?”
If anything that makes Isaac more uncomfortable and he starts picking at the window sticker again. “We used to come here after Camden’s swim meets. All of us, I mean. Camden drove me here alone a couple times, when it seemed like Dad was going to start in on us or my mom.” Isaac’s face crumbles a little. “We should have brought her with us.”
The moment has quickly become private, and one Derek doesn’t know how to handle. His father would have reached across the table and put his hand over Isaac’s. Told him he did what he could, given the circumstances. His uncle would have shrugged and told Isaac he probably screwed up. Derek doesn’t know which one to emulate. So he settles for resting his foot on top of Isaac’s. The kid jumps, and stares at Derek with the kind rawness that makes being alone with Isaac a bitch. A blush comes over the kid's cheeks and Derek retracts his foot.
Once again, that seems to make things worse. Isaac’s hands are gripping the edge of the table and within seconds his nails elongate into claws. They scratch deep grooves into the table. Derek reaches out and claps his hands over Isaac’s. “Stop. Not here.” And just like that, Isaac’s nails retract.
The waitress brings their food, and Isaac is instantly sitting straight and grinning at her. He’ll probably ask for her number when they leave, and Derek will be too tired to explain that romantic attachments are a distraction and are to be avoided. Isaac exhausts him. Not just keeping Derek up at night, but the way he swings wildly from excessive confidence to a stepped on rabbit.
Right now Isaac is neither of those things. Derek hasn’t even cut into his steak and Isaac has scarfed down half his sandwich. He eats with his eyes closed, and inhales deeply.
“You wanna slow down?”
Isaac chews quickly and swallows. He eats the next half more slowly, but is still done before Derek has taken three bites. In seconds he downs the tall glass of chocolate milk. Derek momentarily wonders if he should start buying actual food and not frozen crap—because he’s never seen Isaac do anything but pick at food before. Setting the empty glass down, Isaac is already looking for the waitress. He seems to remember who he’s with, and slowly looks at Derek for permission.
“Just don’t inhale the next one.”
Isaac smiles at Derek for the first time.
I've decided to write a chapter of each of the seven or eight things Derek knows about Isaac, because I can't stop thinking about the first chapter. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 3: Thirsty
Isaac doesn’t have nightmares. He doesn’t have flashbacks. He doesn’t think he’s in the freezer when the lights go out. He doesn’t cry into his pillow. Isaac is not traumatized.
As far as not sleeping, that’s been happening since he was a kid. And it had nothing to do what the things that Ms. Morrell called his “traumas.” That was bullshit anyway. It’s not like with Derek, whose entire family died in a fire. Or Erica, who had a disease so out of her control. Everyone had something.
It was normal nights that he woke up thirsty. Mostly nights when Mom was on a business trip, or the house felt too quiet. He’d wake up gasping—but because he was thirsty, not scared. And he’d go to the blue painted bathroom and drink form the faucet. Mom used to find him a lot when she’d come home around three and he was sitting on the front steps. She gave him chocolate milk and took him to the living room. She’d feed him some klonopin and everything would slow down until he woke up on the couch alone.
The best was when Camden noticed. It only happened a few times, because Camden was gone by fifth grade. Sometimes Isaac let him notice. Stood over Camden’s bed and maybe started coughing. Camden was always pissy for a few minutes, but he’d walk Isaac to his black car and they’d drive to the Food Mart. They’d roll all the windows open and Camden sings Offspring songs. Isaac stuck his head out the window, because everything is nicer in the dark.
Dad found him once, a few weeks after everyone died. He didn’t do anything. There was no trauma. He just said that if Isaac was going to be up all night he should be useful. That’s when he started digging graves. It was good, Dad paid him $9.00 an hour, and he’d need the money for when he got out. He didn’t have to be scared of not falling asleep when sleeping wasn’t an option.
Sometimes Isaac’s guts started to burn when he hadn’t slept in a few days, and food tasted like blood. But he didn’t worry about it.
Derek brings him back to the den on the first full moon. Isaac is a fugitive after all, and can’t exactly go back to that house. Isaac stands around like a moron and Derek hands him a sleeve of Oreos, then disappears into another room. Isaac waits for him to come back, before figuring out that Derek sleeps like a normal person, and figured Isaac would go to sleep too.
He wouldn’t mind sleeping on the floor, but everything is too enormous and he’d get hurt if he lay down right now. So Isaac explores the basement room and the subway car while eating the Oreos. He finds two locked trunks, a mini-fridge and a collection Chekhov plays. It’s too dark to read them, so he puts the book back exactly where he found it.
His skin is starting to hurt when Derek touches his shoulder. Isaac jumps, and he isn’t scared, just surprised. “You’re not sleeping,” Derek says.
“Sorry. Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up. I’ll be quieter.”
Derek rubs his forehead and Isaac feels like throwing up. “It doesn’t matter how quiet you are. You’re my beta. I can tell when you’re distressed.”
“I’m not distressed.”
Derek raises an eyebrow. “Does this happen often?” Isaac swallows hard. “Tell the truth.”
“Most nights.” His skin is really hurting now. It’s been a couple days since he lay down.
His alpha nods, and Isaac flinches when he pulls Isaac’s hand into his own. He finds himself led through a dark door. Derek’s room. There is a mattress on the ground with a mess of blankets. It’s illuminated by a standing lamp with a pink shade. There’s a stack of books in the corner, and kettle on a hot plate.
Derek’s hands are on Isaac’s back, and his heart starts pounding when he realize what’s going to happen. He is gently pushed onto the mattress. Panic starts up, but somehow dissipates when Derek lies down next to him. He puts and arm over Isaac waist and everything smells safe.
The smell fills his body and his skin stops hurting. Calm runs over his bones and Isaac can’t even wonder the last time he felt like this. It’s too good.
Isaac wonders if this is why other people are able to sleep. Feeling safe. Maybe even cared about. He could deal with that.
Chapter 4: Boyd
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Boyd doesn't take anything. He can’t believe they’re even doing this. But Erica discovered she couldn’t get drunk anymore, and wanted to see if she could still get high. Boyd doubted there was even a “still” or that she had even tried to get drunk in the first place, but he didn’t say anything. If she and Lahey wanted to pretend they weren’t always losers, he’s not going to stop them. So he’s in Erica’s basement, watching Lahey chew some white pills. He wishes that Lahey was gone, and it was just him and Erica.
He doesn’t complain when Erica kisses him after taking some narcotic, even if this is all kinds of illegal. Legality has been the least of his worries since the bite. Especially now that there was a beautiful girl on his lap, touching his ears.
“Erica!” some kid yells from upstairs.
She sighs and falls off Boyd’s lap. “Shit. That’s my….shit.”
“That’s your Carson Enrique Reyes,” Lahey supplies from where he is lying on the carpet. Boyd looks down. He has no idea what Lahey took, but for once he makes eye contact without making a face likes he wants run.
“Yeah…yep, yeah I need to go check on my Carson Enrique Reyes.” Erica jumps up the stairs, leaving them alone. Lahey is staring at Boyd like he was a butterfly display. Like Lahey had never seen him before.
Now that Erica is gone, even for a second, the night sucks. Boyd is used to people not liking him, or complete indifference. But it’s somehow worse coming from someone who was supposed to be like family, to be in his pack.
But Boyd isn’t some irrational kid. He knows Lahey is jealous of Erica being all over him. It was clear the first day Derek brought him to the den, and whenever they all trained together. And he needs to get over it.
Upstairs Erica is telling her brother to go next door and play with Julian. Boyd is so focused on listening to her that he barely notices Lahey pull himself onto the couch until he’s slumped against Boyd’s side.
“Christ, Lahey.” His head is on Boyd’s arm, his skin cold. This isn’t exactly the context in which Boyd wants to form a friendship.
“I think the drugs work,” he says, slowly. Boyd sighs and tries to find Erica’s voice but Lahey’s pushes over it. “Feels like Klonopin.”
“They’re both depressants,” Boyd offers.
Lahey finally pulls away. He’s frowning. “That’s why he likes you. You just know shit.”
“Dereeek,” Isaac says, in a voice that is definitely a whine. “He doesn’t like Erica or me but he likes you because you’re not stupid.”
It’s a compliment, and he should take it, then go upstairs and find Erica. See if they can go to her room and maybe watch TV. Let Lahey do whatever weird shit he needs to by himself. Boyd owes nothing to Lahey, but it’s clear his life has been pretty shitty and for some reason he needs to be liked. It’s sad.
“I don’t think Derek likes anyone enough to have favorites.” Isaac nods vigorously. “But you live with him. I don’t think he’d invite me or Erica to do that.”
Isaac laughs, hard and short. It sounds more like wheezing than anything. “That’s cause I’m a fucking orphan. We live in a train station.”
Boyd shifts and tries to find Erica’s voice, but as far as he can tell she’s on even in the house anymore. Isaac is staring at him. He’s blinking pretty fast. “He could have let you go into foster care.”
The next thing he knows, Isaac’s head is on his thigh, like he’s a little kid. Isaac is breathing deep. “I just want him to like me. Do you think he likes me?”
Erica and Boyd like Derek less and less as time goes on. Since he broke Isaac’s arm, Boyd has been trying to figure out a way to have a pack without Derek as their alpha. Erica doesn’t trust him either. But Isaac does, probably way too much. He doesn’t have any family, and as far as Boyd can tell Erica is his only friend. Derek has become his whole life. And he’s jealous, because he thinks Derek likes Boyd more than he likes him. It’s fucked up.
“Yeah, Isaac. I think he likes you.”
He has to like Isaac, if only so he doesn’t think Derek is the only person who cares about him. No one should live with Derek Hale as their anchor.
This was difficult to write! I had a hard time figuring out how to address the third thing Derek knows: Isaac doesn't like Boyd, without being too on the nose, and also addressing others view on Isaac's relationship with Derek.
Chapter 5: Suspended
Derek knows why Isaac knocks kids out in French class.
Being Isaac’s guardian is a formality. It’s not something Derek wants to be by any means, and eventually they’ll get him emancipated. But for now it’s a necessary evil. They tell CPS that Derek was a good friend of Camden’s and always did what he could to watch out for Isaac. That wasn’t quite enough, but Derek hasn’t told Isaac the measures he took to get guardianship. Isaac would read too much into it.
Isaac is sixteen and has been taking care of himself for years. So Derek isn’t going to go to teacher conferences, or to doctors’ appointments. And he isn’t going to pick him up from school when he gets suspended.
But the school calls anyway.
It’s a grudge match. Derek knows that Beacon Hills didn’t just decide to start punishing kids for fighting. Ending violence is ostensibly part of their mission statement, but once the fight is broken up, nothing happens. That’s how it was when Derek was in school, and according to Scott that’s how it is now. Gerard can’t hurt Isaac on school property, not directly. But with him as principal, every mistake Isaac makes is overreacted to. He has detention every day and has already been suspended twice in three weeks. Derek assumes the same would happen to Boyd and Erica, if they went around knocking kids out in French class.
The last thing he wants it a call from Gerard’s secretary telling him to pick up his “child.” That’s the word she used: Child. As if he didn’t already feel like a creep.
The only thing keeping him from immediately relinquishing guardianship is remembering the two years he and Laura spent in foster care. Isaac would survive, but he wouldn’t be as powerful. Weakness must be avoided. Even so, it’s getting old. They’re going to the library and figuring out how to start the emancipation process tonight.
As Derek pulls up to the school, he feels an immediate difference from the other days Isaac got suspended. Usually Derek can feel Isaac’s anxiety from the parking lot. Today there’s only one thing he can feel from Isaac.
He’s sitting outside the administration office, apparently deciding against a screaming match with the guidance counselor today. Isaac is slouching, staring at a vase of flowers on the reception desk. His heartbeat is low and steady.
The beat speeds once they get outside, and Derek knows what Isaac thinks is coming. He’s scared. Staring right at Derek, maintaining a constant set distance. He knows Isaac'd just come up with horrifying scenarios the entire bike ride home. So they have to talk now.
“Who was it?”
“What did he do?” He knows why Isaac does this. If it’s not for adrenaline. It’s not for respect.
“He used to pull my hair out.”
Derek nods shortly and gets in the car. He knows Isaac won’t get in, and watches him unlock that ridiculous bike. Later they’ll have to talk about self-control, but for now Isaac has too many grudges to settle.
He knows how it feels.