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My chest is full of chains (quick, throw away the key)

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The betas were either too new to notice or too polite to mention the stench of old blood on the chains. Either way Derek was confident that they didn’t know enough to understand why the chains were dusted in Derek’s blood, and that was the important thing.

****

Derek’s a born wolf; his wolf as much a part of him as the birthmark on his left buttock. He never lost himself on full moons, never needed an anchor, never really understood what some of his turned cousins meant when they talked about fighting for control. The wolf was Derek was the wolf, at least until the fire.

The fire destroyed everything, especially Derek.

****

Everything rushed by: first meeting, first touch, a cloud of hair on the pillow. Derek knew he would be happy forever. He hadn’t told her much, wasn’t allowed to, but he told her about him, asked her to be his mate. The smile on Kate’s face as she accepted lit his world for days - would have been his guiding star for life, but smoke has a way of tarnishing everything it touches.

****

Mated wolves, when separated, will spend months and even years searching for each other.

****

He tried, after the fire, to hunt her down. If anyone was going to bring Kate to justice it should be him. Derek didn’t care about the code, the hunters could have him, so long as he could rip out her traitorous heart first.

A week after the fire he slipped out, followed her trail to an abandoned motel upstate. The door was flimsy and weak, splintering easily beneath his strength. There was a knife in her hands even as he slammed her against the wall, tip pressed beneath his ribs ready to take him with her.

Derek dreams about the smirk that slipped across her face then, wakes up to shredded bedding and would gladly set the entire world aflame just to make it go away. “Just you Derek?”

“You think I’d let anyone else kill you?” he snarls, knowing something’s wrong as her smile spreads, full of malicious joy, and the knife drops.

“Don’t you know Derek?” Her voice poison in his ear, “a wolf will never hurt his mate.”

Even as Derek fights his wolf takes over, leaping into the kiss forced upon his lips. Derek can’t snap her neck the way he’s spent days imagining, all he can do is throw himself back, falling away even as his wolf battles to curl at her feet.

Her footsteps are light, almost dancing over the splintered wreckage as she walks to him. Backed into a corner, Derek jerks away from the hand that relentlessly curls into his hair, pulling his face towards hers in a cruel mockery of their last meeting. “Why not kill me too?” he snarls. “You can’t really want to be bound to a monster forever.”

“But you see Derek, I’m not bound to you. You’re bound to me, and it’s so much more fun to let you live that way.” Feeling ill, Derek lunges for the door. Her taunt, “See you next moon cupcake,” follows him out the door as he runs, hell bent for Laura or destruction, he doesn’t care which.

****

Laura’s the one who recovered the chains, pulling them from the sooty basement when he’d begged her to chain him - told her he couldn’t be trusted to stay in control. She chained him up and let him be. Where he’d once run gleefully through the woods with his family, loving the moon more than anything, he now stayed boxed in, howling for his lost family, for his mate.

****

Yet, separation changes the wolves and reunited pairs are rarely able to recognize each other.

****

It took two years, and more anger than he would have ever thought possible to possess as a child, before he was able to truly control himself again. Going away helped. While he could still feel the pull to seek out his mate, having her so firmly out of reach was a relief. The Argents stuck to the west coast, so Derek did all he could to stay east.

****

Instead of reforming a pair unit, the estranged wolves will refuse to associate, going so far as to become hostile if kept in close quarters.

****

Much as he hates her, seeing Kate again is almost a relief. That he can see her and hate her, not have to fight the urge to crawl at her feet is proof of how much control he’s gained. Derek doesn’t mourn at all when Peter kills her; he’s thankful for the release.

****

The wolves will continue to wander alone until either finding another compatible partner or dying.

****

Once upon a time, when Derek was a very little boy, Peter told him the story of Prometheus, who had his liver torn out each day for the crime of giving man fire. Derek had nightmares for a week and he remembers his mother boxing Peter’s ears when he teased Derek about it.Laura, on the other hand, loved that story; really she loved all mythology, so long as it was bloody and full of grisly justice. In his darker moods Derek wonders if she’s pleased her death brought him back to Beacon Hills, tied him there with bonds of vengeance and responsibility.

Derek’s run so long and so far and tried so hard to forget, and now he’s back and every day guilt and loss rip a hole in his gut all over again. He’s surrounded by teenagers who are stupid, self involved, and occasionally funny or distracting. Somehow that’s the worst part, being distracted, because all he wants is to be left alone, and they draw him out with their drama or seek him out in their peril. Stiles, Stiles drives him particularly nuts - happy and sad, terrified and fearless in equal measure - emotions all jumbled up in a conflicting cloud of scents, with words going in a million different directions to distract everyone from seeing some of his more terrifying truths.

Stiles’ chaotic nature is contagious, and when Derek is with him he feels a million things: rage, frustration, amusement, protectiveness, aggression... attraction. His wolf claws to come out, but if there’s one thing Derek has learned it is to bind his wolf tightly, lest someone else should bind it for him. So he locks his wolf down with anger and does his best to forget there ever was a key.