Uncle Peter’s death was confusing. He had been young, healthy, and vibrant. Now he was dead and Laura and Derek were sitting before a lawyer hearing the reading of his will.
“Laura, Derek, Cora, if you're hearing this will from anyone but me, it means I've died too soon to explain it to you myself and for that I am deeply regretful. You are the only remaining Hales and as such you are to receive everything I have to give you that I in turn received from your mother. As per Talia’s wishes, Laura is to be the sole beneficiary of the stocks, preserve, and life insurance money. Derek and Cora will split the entirety of the Hale family savings between the two of them. If it works out as it should, all three of you will receive roughly equal inheritances.”
“Excuse me, what?” Derek asked, baffled to hear about this inheritance. “Stocks? Savings? Our family doesn't have money like that.”
The lawyer smirks knowingly. “Oh yes you do. That preserve you live on is worth millions in both land value and environmental value. You have some of the only wolves in the state there plus other endangered flora and fauna. The manor alone is worth several million, and the Hales have been investing in stocks practically since they emigrated from Ireland.”
Laura’s lips parted slightly in shock. “How much are we talking here?”
“The life insurance from your uncle and mom combined comes to 10 million, the savings distributed among several accounts and ancient bail bonds comes to about 150 million and the stocks are currently worth another 50 million, though your family never touches those outside of emergencies.”
Derek and Laura simply sat dumbly for a few moments as they let that information sink in slowly. The manor had always been very nice, but they had never been aware that their family owned the whole preserve, nor ever been given any inclination as to the extent of their wealth.
They both walked out of the office half an hour later and hundreds of millions of dollars richer, not quite sure what to do with themselves and a little confused about what else their family hadn't told them.
“You aren't going to sell the house are you, Laura?” Derek asked nervously over coffee after the meeting.
“Of course not, Der. That house has been in the family for like two centuries. I couldn't imagine selling it.” She paused and then a concerned look mirroring Derek's crossed her own features. “You're not going to move out now that you have millions of dollars of your own now are you?”
“Derek returned her fond smile. “Course not.”
They smiled at each other fondly and ignored the elephant in the cafe. Cora.
“What do you mean, what, Derek? We emailed about this week's ago.”
“Uh, no we didn't.”
“Oh, sure we didn't. It was definitely Laura who wanted me to come home and she emailed me from your computer. That must be what happened.”
“Well it wasn't me.” Derek persisted. He loved Cora but he hadn't written her again after the initial email telling her about her inheritance. She was a free spirit on a wildly alternative path and he hadn't thought she'd even want to come home.
“Well I think you're messing with me, but either way I'll be home in a few hours.
Derek’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Well I'm not sure I can put together a proper welcome home in that much time but I'll cook some of your favorites for dinner. See you soon, Cora. I'm glad you're coming home.”
“I'm home!” Cora cheered with forced enthusiasm when Laura opened the door. The older sister simply stared in horror for a moment before slamming the door shut.
“Derek!!” She screamed into the kitchen where he was cooking the surprise reunion dinner.
“Uh yes, Laura?” He peaked his head out from the kitchen.
“Cora’s here.” She said shortly.
He rose his eyebrows in mock surprise. “Oh. She's early.”
“You knew about this?” Laura asked the second Cora burst through the front door yelling, “She didn't know did she?”
Derek crossed his arms imposingly, planting his middle child feet stubbornly. “I only found out a few hours ago. She thought I organized it, but I had nothing to do with it.”
Laura groaned. “Agh! This is absurd. Our crazy little sister has dropped on our doorstep and you somehow knew nothing about it?”
“I'm not crazy!” Cora burst, crossing her arms aggressively. “I'm just not content to sit in a classroom and stare at pretentious artwork for hours on end.”
“Nothing is wrong with liking art, Cora. At least I have a degree.”
“Degrees aren't that important! I have survival skills. I know four languages!”
“Hey, guys. Cool it.” Derek interjected nervously. “The dinner I made is going to get cold. Can't you just try to get along? For Peter maybe?”
Suddenly the house grew colder and the dining room filled with a hazy blue glow. The glow began condensing into a bright nebulous shape that hovered beneath the chandelier.
“Jesus!” Laura cried, pressing her palm to her chest as Derek tensed in shock and dropped his mixing spoon. “What's going on?”
The light began morphing until the brightness faded into a transparent figure hovering slightly above the dining room table.
Suddenly a voice boomed so loudly from the figure that all siblings winced and the chandelier rattled.
“I contacted her.”
“Uncle Peter?” Cora asked, squinting curiously at the still morphing shape. She appeared significantly less distraught by his sudden ectoplasmic appearance than her older brother and sister. “Are you a ghost?”
“Surprise!” Peter sang dramatically as he settled his finally formed ghostly figure needlessly into one of the chairs, “Kate Argent offed me before I could pass on Talia’s alpha powers.”
Laura shook her head disbelievingly. “Argent? Our old neighbor? Mom’s powers? What do you mean?”
“Yes, our old neighbor. The one Derek played make believe with as a kid no less. Your mother and I were werewolves and she, being the eldest, was the alpha. The strongest. She safe guarded her alpha powers with a special ritual before she died. I was supposed to give them to Laura when Cora graduated and came back home. I thought I would get a chance to explain this in actual person, but that Argent woman knew about it somehow and killed me before I got a chance to explain. I've been working on my control since I died so I could take matters into my own hands and get Cora home myself.”
“And why did you need me?” Cora asked.
“Because an alpha can only be so with its siblings all together, and once the alpha powers are conveyed, the betas may receive their powers.”
Derek's eyes opened wide. “Excuse me what? Betas? Like subordinates? We're going to be werewolves?”
Peter turned an amused look on his nephew. “Did you never read the Bestiary, Derek?”
“The old book in the attic?” Cora interjected. “I thought those were just things mom came up with.”
The ghost laughed. “Hardly. She read them to you so you would know all about the supernatural by the time you received your Gift.”
“Gift?” Laura asked incredulously. “You're trying to tell us we were born to become werewolves and that's some kind of ‘gift’?”
Peter put a fist to his cocked hip. “It is and you can't reject it.”
“Well why not?” Derek asks. “Cora just leaves and everything returns to how it was.”
The ghost began chuckling and the sound reverberated around the room. “Now, Derek. You can't possibly believe I wouldn't have accounted for that can you? The process began the moment the full moon rose and Cora walked through the door.”
“You tricked us?” Laura demanded angrily.
“Well, yes.” Peter responded shamelessly. “But only because I had to! This is your destiny. The Hale pack exists to guard Beacon Hills from supernatural crises and I'm not allowed to pass on until your powers have been conferred and you learn how to control them.”
“Not allowed by who?” Cora asked. She still seemed largely unphased by the whole business and mostly just appeared to be curious.
“By the Druid council of course.”
“They're real?” Cora asked incredulously. “Magic tree and all.”
Peter rolled his eyes so far back they could all see the ghostly whites. It was vaguely unnerving even if the sassy eye roll was nothing new. “Of course they’re real. Everything in the Bestiary is real, including the ‘magic tree,’ which is called a Nemeton by the way, and it’s very real self is in Beacon Hills which is why it's essential you become a functional pack again.”
“Is that why our family never moves?” Derek asked, finally starting to catch on. “Because we're stuck here?”
“Essentially yes. The original Hales, werewolf immigrants straight out of Ireland, knew quite a bit about Druid magic and built this house here because it sits on a convergence of powerful energy lines. Over time, the family absorbed that energy until they were literally stuck here. I believe that's why you two wouldn't sell the house after I died. It wouldn't let you.”
“Come on, guys, this could be cool! Special powers and stuff! Destined to guard our city from the forces of evil.” Cora was letting the idea run away with her. “I remember all those old stories mom read out of the book. We'll be super strong and have amazing senses and-”
“And lose our minds and turn into ferocious, blood-thirsty monsters once a month.” Laura interjected.
“Not,” Peter amended with an uplifted finger, “once you learn control. Tonight is your first full moon. You won't shift completely, but the transformation will take effect. By morning, you will be full fledged werewolves and then the control exercises will commence.”
Derek shook his head disbelievingly. “This is ridiculous. Werewolves? Magic trees? You might be a ghost but I can probably explain that away on cooking some bad meat or something. I'm going to bed.”
With that, Derek spun on his heels and stormed into the kitchen to pack away his wasted meal before falling into a frustrated and restless sleep. Laura had not been far behind him, but Cora had stayed up the rest of the night chatting with Uncle Peter in the attic while pouring through the Bestiary that she finally saw in a new light.
Derek woke the next morning groggy and uncomfortably warm, having thrown the blankets off himself in the middle of the night. It was later than he'd anticipated so he skipped making the bed and ran downstairs to make coffee and breakfast. Cora had already done so apparently and his mouth watered at the intense combination of bacon, eggs, and coffee that met his nose as he ran down the stairs.
“Morning, big bro.” She said cheerfully, despite the massive dark circles under her eyes.
“Did you sleep?” He asked.
“Nope. Spent all night reading the Bestiary with Uncle Peter.” Oh, right. Derek had forgotten about that. Or thought he'd dreamed it. Either way, apparently it really had happened. “You feel any different?”
“No.” Derek lied. The intense body heat, food smells, and overwhelming urge to check on Laura were definitely not new. Not at all.
“Uh huh.” Cora replied skeptically. “Well you better keep your temper at work today. I know how much you hate your boss.”
“Why does my temper matter?” Derek asked wearily.
“Uncle Peter says we’re more likely to shift if we get angry.”
“Right. Because we're werewolves now. Have a nice day, Cora. Look for a job please.” Derek grabbed a travel mug of coffee and strip of bacon before heading out to the Camaro.
His boss was an asshole. Derek literally hated him with every bone in his body, but apparently today he hated Harris so much they were in physical pain. All day it was ‘Derek, omelettes don't take that long why are you so slow?’ and ‘Derek, when were you planning on telling me our pepper supply was low’ and ‘Derek, your pesto is looking a little anemic.’
“Is there anything I haven't done wrong today, Harris? How would you even know I'm doing anything wrong? You don't eat the food.”
“Look, Hale. I took you on on the assumption that you'd learned a thing or two about proper gourmet cooking at ICE. If you can't prove to me that you earned that over priced New York degree fair and square I'm going to have to let you go.”
The threat of being fired made an anger so hot flare within him he felt the heat in his eyes. He looked into the side of one of his large stainless steel pots and saw his eyes blazing yellow. Before Harris, who blessedly wasn't looking, could see, he shut his eyes and willed his temper into submission the best he could. When he reopened his eyes and not only were they still yellow but he could see his teeth sharpening.
“Oh my god.” He whispered to himself putting his hand over his eyes and letting his head fall forward to hide the teeth.
“What did you say, Hale?” Harris asked, spinning around on him. “What is the matter with you?”
Seeing the opportunity for escape, Derek took the chance. “I th- I think I have a fever. The room is spinning a bit.”
Harris sighed angrily but couldn't do much about it. “Go home, Hale. I don't need you getting the rest of the cooks sick.”
Derek nodded meekly, making sure to keep his head down and eyes closed until Harris left him. Once he heard his boss leave, Derek bolted to the bathroom where he stared at himself in the mirror. As his heartbeat calmed the canines shortened and yellow eyes faded back into their standard pale green. Cora was going to be so delighted.
“Peter, make it go away!” Laura was calling when Derek stepped in through the front door. She was hopping around the dining room in her underwear, a bushy black tail wagging behind her.
“You have to calm down, Laura.” Peter said in that agonizingly calm way he had about him.
“I'm only getting furrier!” Laura whined. She was indeed, as dark black fur spread farther up her back and the tail grew thicker. Derek stifled a chuckle as it waved back and forth aggressively.
“That's because you’re getting anxious about it.” Peter replied calmly though he frowned when Laura continued trampling the dining room rug. “Oh for crying out loud, Laura! Stop moving and take a breath.”
His flared temper seemed to stun Laura into temporary stillness and she looked at him expectantly.
“Ah Derek, you're home early. I take it you had your own little run in with some teeth and claws?”
“Not claws.” Derek said, shaking his head. “Eyes. They were bright yellow!”
“Ha! Well at least you can hide that!” Laura cried. “My tail almost popped out the bottom of my skirt at my interview. I had to fake being sick to get out fast enough.”
“That's what I did, too. Pretended I had a fever. My boss was railing on me all day and I finally lost it. I got lucky enough to see my eyes in a reflection before he did.”
The conversation seemed to calm Laura down enough that the tail receded and she pulled her skirt back on.
“Now do you believe me?” Peter directed at Derek's direction.
Derek pursed his lips tightly, his nostrils flared in frustration. “I don't see how I can avoid it.”
“I don't know big bro.” Cora said as she appeared on the stairway. “If anyone could successfully deny something so obvious it would be you. Remember that time you convinced Parrish to go to prom with you as ‘best bros.’”
Derek bared his teeth at her but his mouth fell open in surprise when a full fledged growl escaped his throat.
“Woah, there.” Peter interjected, holding his hands up peaceably. “You guys have to get a handle on this.”
“Well why isn't Cora having issues?” Laura whined.
“Because Cora lives in a constant state of go with the flow.” Peter explained as though it were obvious. “Little things don't bother her because she's so used to adjusting to whatever happens.”
“See, Laura. My lifestyle has its pros after all. Namely not growing a tail every time someone doesn't agree with me.”
Laura bared her teeth, eyes flashing an angry red and suddenly Cora was cowering in the stairwell with her neck bared to the side.
“What the hell was that?” Derek asked, amazed at Cora’s bizarre show of subordination.
“Aha!” Exclaimed Peter. “And the alpha finally rears its head. Congratulations, Laura. The passage of power from your mother to you has finally taken place.”
“Wait. So I can just make Derek and Cora bow to my will?” She asked incredulously.
“Well, yes. But that's highly inadvisable. Forcing your betas to do anything breeds resentment, which weakens the bond and therefore weakens all three of you. The happier and more unified you are, the stronger and more difficult to defeat you will be as a pack.” He held up a finger as if something had occurred to him. “Which reminds me. You must all be very careful to not reveal yourselves. The Argents are still out there and they will not stop until they kill you if you harm even a single human. Not to mention all the other creatures and packs out there who would do anything to take out a young alpha and claim this powerful land.”
“Woah woah woah.” Derek said. “You mean we've inherited some kind of turf war?”
“More like your mere transformation has created a turf war. Werewolves will want Laura's power and other creatures will want this land.”
“Why didn't they just take it all those years we were human?”
“Because the land belonged to me and I made myself very difficult to find. That's why I wasn't very present all those years after your mom died, and why Deaton was always taking care of you. In these days, the land must be passed legally, which can't be done if no one can pin down the man who owns it. If I had been captured by anyone who wanted this land, they would only need to torture or threaten me in just the right ways to make me sign it over.”
“So you're saying we have to protect Beacon Hills from supernatural creatures, keep ourselves safe from other werewolves, learn how to control our powers, and get along?” Laura asked.
“Precisely.” Peter said with a grin. “And I'm here to help.”
The doorbell rang then and Derek strode across the front hall to open the door. Under the porch lamp stood the hottest man Derek had seen in quite some time. He had wide, whiskey brown eyes, close shaven hair, and an impish grin. Oversized flannel covered broad shoulders that lead to giant hands and around his narrow hips he wore a tool belt.
“Uh, can I help you?” Derek finally managed to say after he'd probably looked the man up and down at least two times more than was appropriate.
The man, seemingly unaware of the massively inappropriate things happening in Derek's head simply smiled and held out his hand to shake. Derek met his firm hand without looking away.
“My name is Stiles, and actually I'm here to help you.” Stiles grinned up at him, a twinkle in his eye, and Derek was done for.