The second semester of Stiles’ sophomore year in high school had certainly been a wild ride. Between the school’s most popular lacrosse jock turning into a vicious, murderous were-lizard, and a psychotic “holier than thou” ex-werewolf hunter showing up to kill everybody in sight, Stiles had received more than he bargained for when his best friend became a creature of the night.
Lucky for him, the Kanima’s reign of terror was over and Gerard was gone—hopefully dead and rotting in a pool of black blood somewhere. The pile up of mysterious, supernaturally related murders in the local Sheriff Department’s office were back down to stale zero. Beacon Hills was back to being just as average and as boring as it had always been. The air in the town had cleaned out, and a beautiful silence of peaceful relaxation had settled around. Stiles felt like he could move on with his life—move onto fantasizing about how cool being a junior would be when school started back up in August.
It was late in the evening. The sun was low in the sky, leaving a gradient of yellows, oranges, and pinks to fill the darkening sky. The trees had already begun to turn back as they became silhouetted. It was the perfect time to cruise around the town, because all the main roads in Beacon Hills were fairly empty. Everybody was back at home after a long day’s work, resting, and eating dinner.
Eating dinner was something that Stiles knew he should probably be back at home doing, but he had elected to drive around the town and wind down a little bit. He would have probably hung out with Scott—playing video games or practicing lacrosse at the open field near their neighborhood—but Scott had signed up for summer school classes and was putting all of his free-time into studying for PSATs.
It felt good to be alone with his own thoughts for a change. He took a couple hours to himself, and when his stomach started to cause a commotion due to hunger, Stiles decided to head home.
As Stiles made his way back to his house, the gas indicator light on his jeep’s dashboard flashed on. He figured that since he was already out and about, he’d stop by the nearest gas station and fill up. That way, he wouldn’t have to do it the next day when he wanted to go somewhere.
Stiles pulled into the gas station and parked his jeep next to a vacant pump. The gas station was one of the smallest in town—only four available pumps, and a small convenience store connected to it. It was Stiles’ favorite fill-up station to use because the prices were typically cheaper when compared to the other big named gas stations in town. And while he wasn’t really required to pay for his own gas—his father did so for him—Stiles didn’t want to waste his father’s hard earned cash.
Stiles walked into the convenience store so that he could pay for his pump. There was an elderly woman in the front of the line, who was paying for her items and striking up a conversation with the cute cashier boy that looked entirely bored out of his mind. After the woman finished paying, she left, and Stiles moved up to the front of the cashier counter.
He dug into the back packet of his jeans for his wallet, but the tightness of his pants brought him a little trouble with successfully retrieving his cash. While the cashier continued to stand there, looking just as unmoved as he had beforehand, he watched Stiles shuffle around in a battle with his own pants. Stiles looked up and tried to give a small smile to ease the awkwardness, but then something caught his attention.
Behind from where the cashier was standing, there was a small corkboard mounted on the wall. The corkboard was littered with tons of business cards, advertisements, “lost pet” flyers, and a calendar that hadn’t been updated in about two months. However, what actually caught Stiles’ attention were the two “missing persons” flyers that were front and center on the board.
They were missing person flyers for Erica and Boyd.
Erica and Boyd? Missing? Stiles couldn’t manage to wrap his head around it. He had gone back to the Argents’ house after the Kanima and Gerard had been finished off, and Chris had proved that Erica and Boyd had been safely released from capture. A dull ache struck Stiles’ gut as the realization that something else may have happened to Erica and Boyd washed over his body.
“I—I just remembered that I don’t have enough money to pay. I’ll come back later. Sorry!” Stiles quickly explained, stuffing his wallet back into the pocket of his jeans as he raced out the door.
Stiles got back into his jeep, hurriedly. He switched on the engine, ignoring the gas indicator light, and pulled out of the convenience store parking lot. Instead of heading home, Stiles took the back road that led off to the outskirts of Beacon Hills—since that was where the Beacon Hills Preserve was located.
He figured that Derek would want to know about Erica and Boyd’s disappearance, if he wasn’t already clued in. After all, he was their alpha and they were his betas. He didn’t even know if Derek would be home, but it was worth a shot. He could always try the old abandoned subway station. Either way, Derek could and should do something. In fact, maybe he already knew where Erica and Boyd were and they were perfectly fine—hiding out at the old Hale house.
Stiles drove for a good ten minutes before he reached the turnoff point to get to the old Hale residence. It was at the edge of town where no street lights shined. The road that Stiles turned onto was essentially nothing but an eerie, shadowy heap of leafless trees from the surrounding preserve. The dirt covered path was only illuminated by the headlights of Stiles’ jeep. If only the sun hadn’t been so low in the sky—blacked out by the thickness of the woodlands—navigating on the road would have come by easier.
As Stiles continued down the road, the scorched Hale house appeared in Stiles’ view. He quickly scanned the surrounding area for Derek’s car, which was parked off in the front yard— or what was once a front yard. As it stood in the now, it was just a collection of wild, untamed weeds.
Stiles pulled his jeep up alongside Derek’s car and shut off the engine. He opened his door and swung around, jumping out to plant his feet on the ground. It was a bit creepy being alone all the way out in the woods, especially when the sun was just about gone. However, to Stiles’ knowledge, all the big bad monsters were gone and out of Beacon Hills. He had nothing to really worry about, except maybe Derek.
With his eyes trained on the front entrance of the house, Stiles walked up to the door. His palms were slightly sweating as he mentally rehearsed what he was going to say, and how he was going to say it. He didn’t really know what to expect from Derek. Most likely, Derek wouldn’t answer the door and would pretend that nobody was out on the front porch knocking rapidly on the door. Or, he would answer the door, but tell Stiles to get the fuck off of his property.
As Stiles approached the front porch, he noticed a strange symbol that had been painted on the surface of the red front door. It looked fairly similar to the spiral that Stiles knew Derek had tattooed on his back, although it was slightly different. It was less of a spiral, and more triangular. It looked...threatening, actually. It had been boldly sprayed onto the door with black spray paint, which was still clearly visible despite the lack of light.
Stiles dismissed the symbol as being some sort of supernatural ward of some sort. Perhaps witches actually existed and Derek was guarding what was left of his home from their magic. He didn’t know for sure, but there was an explanation lurking around somewhere. He knew that he’d eventually figure out what it was.
Just as Stiles’ hand drew up in the air to take the first knock against the door, the door flew open to reveal Derek in all of his statue-esque broody glory. He just stood there—completely still—arms crossed authoritively. Not much of an expression was painted on his face, although Stiles could see a small glimmer of ‘surprise’ in Derek’s face. Not even Derek’s stern locked jaw and thick eyebrows could hide that. Derek was obviously confused as to what Stiles was doing on his front porch.
“What are you doing here?” Derek asked inquisitively, his stern composure remained unaffected. He let his eyes and senses wander the surroundings behind where Stiles stood— as if he were making sure that nobody else was lurking around his property.
“Erica and Boyd—” Stiles started, but was quickly interrupted.
“They’re missing. I’m aware of the situation.” Derek explained
Stiles scoffed at Derek’s nonchalant attitude. “Well, don’t concern yourself too much there, Derek. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” He sarcastically bit back. “Are even you looking for them?”
Derek squinted and nodded slightly. “Yes, I am. Why do you care?”
“Because I was one of the last people that actually saw them before they disappeared. They were at the Argents’.” Stiles admitted, crossing his arms.
Derek’s eyes widened in interest at Stiles’ words. “Why were you at the Argents’?” He asked, allowing himself to become more attentive to what Stiles had to say. He looked directly at Stiles, but kept occasionally looking out into the darkness of the woods as if he were on high alert. Still, Stiles didn’t understand why.
“I was kidnapped from the lacrosse game by Gerard and his goons—before the whole showdown with the kanima, by the way.” Stiles added, hesitantly. Taking a pause to swallow before continuing. “Anyways, Gerard threw me down into the basement where he had Erica and Boyd shackled up and...electrocuted.” Stiles’ voice lowered at the last word, as if verbally cringing. He wasn’t fond of the memory.
“What happened after that?” Derek asked.
“Eventually, they let me go….and I went home.”
“What about Erica and Boyd? You just let them stay there and get tortured?” Derek’s voice grew louder as he spoke. He was angry, and rightfully so. These were the people that had tortured him many times before, and now he was receiving news that his pack had been tortured by them as well.
Stiles looked to the ground—a feeling of shame began to weigh down on his shoulder. “I wasn’t thinking, okay? I was just glad to be alive. I was glad to be home. He could have killed me in that basement and nobody would have known. When they threw me out, I just went home and stayed silent. I didn’t want my dad to know what really happened.” He paused. “Maybe I was embarrassed about not being able to do anything about it. I don’t know.”
Derek stayed silent, letting Stiles’ words settle in-between the two of them. Stiles just looked to Derek, not really sure of what to say. He felt like Derek should be furious, but Derek looked fairly calm— almost as if he could be sympathetic.
“They were let go, though.” Stiles confirmed, still tracking Derek’s reactions. “Right after Gerard was finished off, I went back to the Argents’. Allison’s father showed me the basement and all of the equipment was gone. Erica and Boyd were gone.”
“And you honestly thought that you could trust what an Argent says?”
“The first thing I did was accuse him of lying, but then he showed me the surveillance footage from the camera in their frontyard. Erica and Boyd walked out of there, alive.”
“Fine. Is that all you came here for?” Derek asked.
“I want to help find them.”
Derek rolled his eyes. “Goodbye, Stiles.” He huffed, closing the door in Stiles’ face.
Stiles wanted to help, and that was…well, whatever. Derek had already figured out that loyalty was in Stiles’ blood. Nevertheless, he didn’t have the time to deal with Stiles while he tried to focus on finding his missing betas. Stiles would be nothing but a distraction.
They were his betas—his responsibility. Derek knew that the responsibility shouldn’t fall on Stiles, nor should it fall on anybody else. After all, Derek was the one who let them leave in the first place. He truly regretted not fighting for them to stay. He had wanted them to, but things had gotten too heavy and Derek let his frustration get the better of him.
Stiles’ tip off about the Argents did nothing special but scratch off the only lead that Derek had been trying to follow, anyways. Derek had searched the woods with the scents of his missing betas on the tip of his nose, right after he first found out that they were missing. He had followed the scent trail to a barren clearing in the woods, where he found splatters of blood and spent arrows. He had been quickly able to determine that the majority was Boyd’s blood, but Erica’s blood was also present.
He had continued to follow their scents, and eventually found himself at the Argents’ residence. He figured that they were being kept there, but to Derek’s own misfortune, Allison and her father appeared to have put the house up for sale. The house was empty, and there wasn’t a possibility that his betas were still at that location. Still, he hadn’t crossed the Argents off of his list and continued to search for ways to locate Christopher. That is, until Stiles’ information shut down Derek’s hope that the Argents still had his betas.
As Derek turned away from the front door to walk back into the innermost part of his home, another knock on the door sounded. The sheer persistence of Stiles was enough to drive anybody mad.
Derek opened the door, eyebrows creased in utter annoyance. “Go home.” He grit through his teeth.
Stiles’ face grew tainted with displeasure. He frowned and crossed his arms. “Listen, I just want to help. I need to do this. If I had just told my dad what happened that night, he could have had like...twelve squad cars down at the Argents’. Erica and Boyd would have been rescued and taken home safely. It’s my fault that they’re missing.”
“I don’t have time to babysit you while I’m trying to find them. What you did and didn’t do, isn’t of my concern. Go home, and stop looking for trouble, Stiles. This is my problem.” Derek closed the front door again, this time, locking it behind himself.
Derek leaned in towards the back of the wooden door, focusing his hearing on the activity outside of the house. He wanted to know if Stiles was actually going to leave or not. To Derek’s surprise, Stiles did. He listened as Stiles’ footsteps tapped off down the front porch of the house and back to the field of crispy weeds where the jeep was parked. The sound of that old, beat up engine firing up and driving off into the distance eventually struck Derek’s ear drum.
Stiles was gone, and Derek could finally get back to what he was doing before he was so frustratingly interrupted.
The next day, Derek was still hanging around the old Hale house. He had spent most of the morning carrying out boxes and pieces of furniture—ranging in various sizes—and packing everything up into a medium sized moving truck. The process of packing up the truck stretched on into the mid afternoon, but Derek didn’t stop. Even as the summer sun took its highest place in the sky, cruelly blasting down heat onto Derek and his property, Derek continued on.
Just as Derek stepped out of the house with the last box that he needed to place into the moving truck, Stiles drove up and parked. Derek could only close his eyes and huff out an audible breath of aggravation as he placed the box into the back of the truck and pulled down the metal door to a solid, clean shut. He was already mentally anticipating a swarm of questions and opinions from Stiles, despite not wanting to actually hear them.
Reluctant to speak with Stiles, Derek started back towards the entrance of the house—pretending as he hadn’t just seen Stiles park his massive blue jeep in front of him. Stiles wasn’t discouraged, though. He just hopped out of the jeep, clutching a handful of white papers, and followed Derek up to the porch of the house.
“You’re packing? What, are you leaving?” Stiles eyed the moving truck as he passed by it, trailing after Derek.
“What do you want now, Stiles?” Derek asked, having reached a spot underneath the porch roof where the sun could no longer beat down on his back.
“I did a little research. That symbol on your front door—that triskelion.” Stiles gestured over to the bleak red door with the terrible black symbol painted onto it. “The sharp edges and triangular angles suggest it’s a threat of some sort. Are you being threatened? Is that why you’re packing up? You’re running?”
“I’m not running.”
“Really? So, there’s no urgency in clearing out of this place, huh? You just decided to pack up everything you own and load it all into a truck during the hottest day we’ve had this year?” Stiles scoffed. “You just woke up today and decided to let yourself get soaked in sweat for fun.”
Derek wanted to toss Stiles back to his jeep and tell him to go back home, but he had a feeling that even if he did that, Stiles would come wandering back with more questions. The problem was that Derek didn’t have time to play twenty questions with anybody, let alone Stiles. There were dangers lurking around the corner—dangers that Stiles was entirely oblivious to—yet he wanted to get involved. Derek couldn’t say that Stiles’ persistence wasn’t a least a tiny bit interesting, because it was. He hadn’t met many humans that acted in such a way, but Stiles was clearly different.
“You don’t want to help because you actually care, it’s because you feel guilty. It’s to better your own conscience.” Derek spat, watching Stiles’ face fall flat.
“It is my fault, but at least I’m trying to do something to fix it.” Stiles argued back, stepping closer to Derek’s frame. “Don’t stand there and act like you’re so noble. You’re not trying to find them because you give a shit what happens to them. You’re trying to find them because you feel guilty that you didn’t have the strength behind your alpha title to keep your betas safe. It’s to better your conscience, because if you save them, then it means that you didn’t completely fuck up!”
Derek just looked away towards the floorboards of the porch he was standing on, refusing to look at Stiles. He was at a loss of words. He feared that perhaps Stiles was right. Maybe he really was just looking for Erica and Boyd because he felt guilty and wanted to prove himself as an alpha. He did feel guilty, there was no denying that. If he had never bitten the two of them, they’d be safe. However, Derek honestly just wanted to bring them back home. It wasn’t that he needed to prove to himself that he was a good alpha, it was that he wanted them safe.
“You still can’t help. You’re a liability.” Derek said.
Stiles held up the papers in his hands. “I did even more research than I initially anticipated.” He paused, pulling the papers down to flip through them. “These are about one-hundred and fifty police reports; most of which are unfollowed or uninvestigated reports that may or may not be supernaturally related. Any of which might be a clue as to who might have taken Erica and Boyd.”
“You got these...how?” Derek asked.
“You’re too pretty to ask such stupid questions.” Stiles deadpanned. “My friend, Danny, taught me how to hack into my father’s personal ‘work-related’ computer.”
Derek was at a crossroads. He didn’t want, nor did he need Stiles’ help. However, those police reports could in fact possess possible tip-offs as to where Erica and Boyd were. Those police reports could be the key to bringing Erica and Boyd home.
“It is a threat.” Derek forced out, looking away from Stiles. “It’s a threat from a rival pack...of alphas.”
Stiles looked back at the front door, taking in the sight of the threatening symbol once more. “A pack of alphas? A whole pack consisting of only alpha werewolves? Do you think they took Erica and Boyd?”
“Yes.” Derek mumbled out.
“Do you think that I know the answer to that question, Stiles?” Derek snipped, looking to face Stiles.
Stiles exhaled. “I don’t know! I’d expect that you should know something by now, considering you knew that that symbol on your front door meant to clear out and lay low.”
“These alphas are among some of the most ruthless, savage, and powerful. That symbol is theirs, and I know what it means. They’re announcing their arrival to the resident alpha of this town.” Derek explained. “They took two of my own...to make me weaker and wary...I don’t know, but I need to focus on finding them. I don’t need you in my way.”
“That’s good, because I won’t be in your way. Plus, you need all the help you can get. Do you think that you and your little scent tracker nose is enough manpower to find them quickly enough?” Stiles asked, pointing to Derek’s nose. “You can gripe and groan all you want about me not helping, but I’m not gonna run home discouraged with my tail between my legs.”
Stiles shrugged, stepping off of the wooden porch and onto the crumbly dirt yard. Derek watched solemnly from afar, mentally torn as to what to do and say, as he watched Stiles walk back towards his jeep to leave. It could be easier to find both Erica and Boyd with some more help. Though, it was Stiles’ help, and would that kind of help even be valuable?
“Fine.” Derek called out, stopping Stiles dead in the process of jumping into his jeep to leave. “You can help, but this isn’t an open invitation. Keep this to yourself and don’t open your mouth to Scott. There will be nobody else besides you and anybody else that I find fit.”
Stiles scoffed. “Why not Scott?”
“This pack of alphas is planning something. I can feel it.” Derek paused. “I want you to let Scott get away with a decent summer before all of this turns back to shit. He wanted to be a normal teenager, so let him be one.” He stated solidly.
Stiles looked up and down Derek’s body, carefully eyeing his posture and facial expression. Was this the real Derek Hale? Since when did Derek care about somebody else having nice things? Since when did Derek become so giving, especially since what happened back when Gerard was being stopped.
“You want Scott to have a nice summer, is that what you’re saying? Even after what he did to you to take down Gerard?”
Derek looked to the ground as if suddenly struck with an emotion that he didn’t know how to physically display. Stiles stood silently, waiting for a vocal response, but Derek came back with a strong nod.
“Okay.” Stiles said, shaking his head in agreement. He was just about to get fully into his jeep and drive off when he looked over to the moving truck beside him and remembered. “Oh, wait. If I’m going to work with you to find Erica and Boyd, we’re obviously not going to be operating out of this place. Where’s your new ‘Bat-Cave?”
Derek mentally cringed over the comedic flare that constantly radiated from whatever Stiles said. He forced his hand into the pocket of his tight black jeans and pulled out a white napkin—one that he had used to wipe his forehead free of sweat as he packed away boxes under the heat of the sun. It was gross, but it was all that he had to write on.
He turned his back to Stiles and placed the napkin up against the side of the Hale house so that he could write on the surface of it without tearing through the paper. From his back pocket, Derek pulled out a pen and quickly wrote down the address of his new residence, including which floor his new apartment unit was located on.
With Stiles waiting patiently at the door of his own jeep, Derek briskly jogged over to where Stiles stood and handed him the napkin with his new address.
“I’m not the new local bar, so don’t just show up whenever you want.”
“Does that mean you’ll have alcohol to sip on, cause—”
Derek ripped the napkin out of Stiles’ hand with a vicious look of discontent on his face. This was exactly why Derek was reluctant to add Stiles to his search party. If he couldn’t take things seriously, then he wasn’t of any use.
“Okay, fine. I’ll listen.” Stiles said, holding out his hand for Derek to give him back the napkin. Derek eyed him judgingly before slowly handing him back the napkin.
“You’ll come over when I say.” Derek explained. “When you leave to come over, don’t tell anybody where you’re really going. Lie. Do you understand?”
Stiles nodded in compliance, and hopped into the jeep. He started the engine and pulled off of Derek’s property, leaving Derek to brood and ponder over whether or not he made a wise choice in trusting Stiles.