Derek didn’t have any intention to revisit Beacon Hills.
In fact, on the day he and Laura left town he made a pledge to never return.
But when his sister doesn’t answer her phone or respond to any of his numerous text messages, he instinctively knows something is wrong. The whole way from Maine to California he prays that he is just jumping to conclusions. That Laura just lost her phone and didn’t have the chance to buy a new one. It wouldn’t be the first time. She is practically losing stuff on a daily basis. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating things a little bit; it’s was more like every now and then. But that isn’t the point here.
Deep down Derek knows there has to be more to it than just her occasional absentmindedness.
Something must have happened to his sister.
Sure, Laura is an Alpha and therefore stronger than most werewolves, but Derek knows from experience that being an Alpha doesn’t mean you are invincible.
Actually, it isn’t that hard to kill one, if you know how. Even a human can do it. You only need the right kind of weapon and the element of surprise, and that is in fact the only tricky part. Sneaking up on a werewolf without being noticed is nearly impossible, nearly, but not completely. An experienced hunter knows how to move without making a sound and how to disguise his scent to stay hidden until he is ready to strike.
It’s a bit different for werewolves. True, moving silently isn’t a problem, but masking their scent is rather difficult to achieve, especially in their second skin. As humans they may be able to fool their kind, but not as werewolves. If truth be told, their natural scent is rather unique, hard to miss, and only concealable by something that smells really strong; like feces, which of course would defeat the purpose.
Anyhow, in terms of worthy adversaries – human hunters notwithstanding – there aren’t a lot. Omegas are known to be stupid and reckless, trying their luck but always failing. To this day, Derek hasn’t heard of even one successful attempt. To rival an alpha you actually have to be an alpha or at least a very skilled beta. Any less than that, you would surely lose, no matter how inexperienced the alpha in question is.
It is simply a matter of power.
Derek doesn’t doubt Laura’s physical strength. She has always been strong. Even before she put on the mantle of supremacy, she could always hold her own. But sometimes she acts without thinking. To put it frankly, she is a hothead. But then again so is he. Apparently that’s a family trait, something they must have inherited from their father’s side, because Talia Hale had been anything but short-tempered. In fact, she had always been the voice of reason in their family, acting as an intermediary whenever the children had one of their petty disputes, or as a spokeswoman for the whole pack. She had a knack for defusing even the worst situations.
Needless to say, losing their father, their younger siblings, their nieces and nephews, as well as their uncles and aunts had been unbearable. But Talia’s death had hit them twice as hard. She wasn’t just their mother. She had been their Alpha, their anchor, their everything.
With his mother Derek had always been able to sense when something was up, whether it was big or small, like an invisible cord tying him to his Alpha. But it isn’t quite the same with Laura. Yes, it has been over six years now since she became the Alpha, but Laura is still struggling with her role as pack leader. Then again what pack? It’s just the two of them now, living in a small house right outside of Jackson, Maine.
Of course, she tries her best, but unlike their mother, Laura hadn’t been prepared to fulfill that role from childhood.
Which is probably why he waited so long to go after her.
She never became his Alpha.
+ + +
Derek leaves his car at the motel outside of Beacon Hills.
Something tells him that keeping a low profile is vital. Not that anyone would recognize him. He changed quite a bit in the last six years. But driving into town in a black Camaro would definitely defeat the purpose of staying under the radar.
He knows where to start his search. There aren’t exactly a lot of places in Beacon Hills where his sister could be.
The woods are quiet. Too quiet. Something happened here, not long ago. Something terrible.
Tapping into his other senses, Derek picks up a scent. Well, actually two scents. One belongs to the person he is looking for; the other one is foreign to him.
But there is more.
He can smell blood, a lot of blood. It’s not fresh but it’s hers.
Derek frantically tears through the woods, desperately hoping he is not too late. But unfortunately he is.
He finds his sister lying in a meadow, right next to a giant tree trump. Actually, he finds only one part of her, her upper body. Something literally tore her apart. Her eyes are still open, a clean sign that the attack happened very quick. It’s a small relief, but it doesn’t really matter.
His sister is dead and he is all alone now.
Dropping to his knees, Derek throws his head back and howls.
He doesn’t know how long he sits there, next to his sister’s body, maybe an hour or two, before he finally manages to put himself together. His grief is overwhelming, staggering even, but he knows he has to do something. He gets on his feet and searches the area, but he can’t find the other half of her body. Did someone take it? Was it her attacker? Why would he do that? Unfortunately, whoever it was didn’t leave any food prints. Maybe he did, but the rain probably washed them away.
But those things don’t matter right now.
Derek returns to the meadow and pick up his sister’s body. He carries her home. Well, what used to be their home. He buries her next to the house in a shallow grave.
She deserves better, but until he finds the rest of her body, this will have to do.
And then he leaves.
+ + +
Derek doesn’t return to Beacon Hills for two days.
But he doesn’t just sit around in his motel room doing nothing. He checks the local news, looking for clues. That’s how he finds out that the other half of his sister’s body was found by hikers more than two weeks ago, just a few days after Laura left Maine, which means she was killed shortly after she arrived in Beacon Hills.
Why they didn’t discover the rest of her body is beyond him, but he is glad they didn’t. This way they can’t determine her identity, which gives him the chance to do his own investigation.
The official police report says it was an animal attack, and on the whole they are correct. It’s an animal, just not a mountain lion like everyone assumes. It’s something much worse, something that is still in the area.
There was another attack a few days after Laura’s untimely demise. A human died this time. Maybe he is wrong, but it seems like the thing is on a mission, still searching for something or someone.
Derek sneaks back into town, mostly at night, in his other form, hoping he would be able to pick up the scent he discovered in the woods. Unfortunately, even though he can find its scent pretty much all over town, Derek doesn’t have much luck pinpointing its location. It’s smart, moving very fast, most likely shifting back and forth to conceal its scent. He is pretty sure it already knows it’s being followed, but so far it hasn’t shown any sign that it feels threatened by him. Which makes sense. Derek is just a Beta, not nearly strong enough to go up against something that just killed an Alpha. But it doesn’t mean he lacks motivation.
Not at all.
Revenge is pretty much the only thing that matters to him right now.
+ + +
That is until the third night, when Derek picks up another scent.
One that arouses his wolf’s interest, but for a completely different reason.
Derek doesn’t want to go and look for the source, but he has no choice. His wolf is in complete control.
That’s how he ends up in the Sheriff’s backyard … the first time.
Even though he doesn’t need to, financially speaking, Derek isn’t above hunting down a rabbit or digging through someone else’s garbage, but breaking and entering?
That’s not him.
Fortunately, the back door is open and no one is home.
It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there are only two people living in the house. The Sheriff and his son. Sure, there are several pictures of a beautiful, dark-haired woman on the mantle and the walls, but it’s obvious that she doesn’t live here anymore. At first Derek surmises she simply left them, but then he remembers. Shortly before the fire, she died of cancer. His mother attended her funeral.
Shaking off the feeling of hurt and loss, Derek follows the scent upstairs and finds the Sheriff’s son’s bedroom. It’s not perfectly tidy, but not a complete mess either. There are few clothes lying around and books. Lots and lots of books. He is clearly smart, which actually appeals to both his human and his wolf’s side, but he is also a normal teenager, who obviously had some fun with himself the night before.
Or that morning.
Probably both times.
His wolf wants to roll around in the sheets, but for once Derek has the upper hand. He doesn’t want to leave any evidence that he was here, but try as he might he can’t stop himself from taking a shirt and a handful of cookies on his way out.
He promises himself it’s a onetime thing.
But how goes the saying?
Promises are made to be broken.
He goes back a few more times, never leaving empty handed.
+ + +
Derek hasn’t given up on finding the creature that killed his sister.
Of course, he hasn’t.
But since he spends more time in his other form, his wolf is essentially in charge.
Of course the wolf also seeks revenge for the death of his pack mate, but the urge to find the boy and make sure he is safe, is stronger. Derek doesn’t get it. He doesn’t even know the boy’s real name, has only seen him from afar, but the wolf is adamant. The human part of him hates Stiles – that’s what the boy is calling himself – for diverting his focus, but he knows since early childhood there is no point in trying to fight this.
The wolf always gets what he wants, one way or another.
That’s why he is hiding in bushes, waiting for the teenager to come out of video store, instead of roaming the town for his sister’s murderer.
The boy has good instincts, though. He doesn’t linger in the dark parking lot, but quickly gets into his car. He can’t see Derek but he definitely knows he’s being watched. Derek can sense his curiosity, but also his fear, which doesn’t sit right with him, or rather with his wolf. He growls and steps out of shadows.
Their eyes meet for just a few moments, but it’s long enough. Derek finally understands why his wolf is so obsessed with the strange boy.
The Sheriff’s son is his mate.
Derek knows what that means, theoretically, but it doesn’t mean that he has to like it, or accept it. Especially right now.
There is a monster out there, indiscriminately hunting down people. He has to find and stop it, not stalk some sixteen-year-old boy. That’s why Derek returns to the motel, gets his things and his car, and moves into the Hale house.
As long as he stays human, he is the one in charge, making the important choices.
Or so he tells himself.
+ + +
The third victim is the night clerk of the video store, Stiles just visited a few days ago.
Thanks to the eyewitness, a boy named Jackson Whittemore, it’s clear now, at least to Derek, what they are dealing with.
Whether it has always been an Alpha, or just inherited the power from Laura, is still an unanswered question.
But there is more.
Derek found out that he is not the only one who knows about the truth behind the animal attacks. There are hunters in town. And not just any hunters, but the Argents. She isn’t with them, though, and neither is Gerard. It’s just Chris, his wife and their teenage daughter.
It’s something, but not enough to make Derek feel at ease.
They may be able to fool everybody else, pretending to be a certified arms dealer, a housewife and a normal sixteen year old child, but Derek knows better. It can’t be a coincidence that they decided to move here just when the killing started. In fact, Derek is damn sure they know more than he does, maybe not daughter, but certainly her parents.
Too bad, he can’t just knock on their door and ask for their assistance.
They may have a code, but Derek knows damn well, not everybody is inclined to follow it.
Sure, Chris always seemed to be more unprejudiced, more flexible than the rest of his family when it comes to dealing with supernatural creatures, but Derek has been wrong before, and his trust has cost him dearly.
There is no way, he is putting a life, even his own, into the hands of an Argent, ever again.
+ + +
His wolf demands that he checks up on Stiles that night.
Derek listens but only to appease him.
Well, more or less.
Actually, after meeting him in person, Derek understands why his wolf is intrigued by him.
The boy is cute, gorgeous even. That much he could already tell from afar. But a beautiful face doesn't mean anything without a beautiful heart. Derek learned that the hard way.
But Stiles is different.
He is kind and caring, even though he has quite the mouth on him. Derek isn’t sure whether he likes it or not. But the wolf certainly approves. He actually prefers defiance over blind obedience. And Stiles clearly doesn’t take crap from anyone.
Derek didn’t plan to stay, and he certainly didn’t plan to jerk off outside his mate’s window, marking the glass with his spunk.
Of course, it feels great, cathartic even, but those feelings don’t last long. Once the fog lifts and he is able to think clearly again, Derek feels nothing but shame for giving into his baser instincts. And why wouldn’t he?
He is a werewolf, but no pervert.
+ + +
There is a curfew.
So why is his mate across town instead of home?
Then again it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Obviously, Stiles rarely ever follows the rules. After all, he went into the woods, alone, without a weapon, even though everybody knows there is some creature out there, slashing up people.
Derek wants to stop him, but that would mean revealing himself. And he isn’t ready to do that, not just yet anyway. So, he just follows his mate to and from the public library, as always staying out of sight.
When they pass through the industrial area, Derek suddenly picks up the scent of the Alpha. He is close by, moving in the same direction. Derek can sense his anger, his urgency and something that almost feels familiar.
Because his entire focus is on the Alpha and his mate, Derek doesn’t realize that there is someone else out there. When he hears the shot, it’s already too late. He has no time to step out of the line of fire. He gets hit in the upper left arm, well front leg, since he is currently a wolf. It hurts like hell, more than it should, and he knows why.
The bullet is laced with wolfsbane. If there has been a bullet …
Fighting the urge to cry out in pain, Derek strains his ears, listening for movement. The Alpha is gone and so is the hunter, but he could be wrong. The poison works fast and it’s dulling his senses.
Derek gathers all his strength and crawls towards the street.
He is equally furious and glad to he sees his mate coming to his aid. When Stiles calls him a baby, the wolf is insulted. Derek, on the other hand, is amused.
Somehow they end up at an animal clinic, one Derek knows very well. When Deaton comes into view, he can’t help but growl. In fact, if he had another choice Derek would have walked away, but right now the veterinarian may be his only hope. Well, at least the man has the decency to look ashamed.
Stiles stays, and not just because Deaton insists on it. He wants to stay, even though he knows there isn’t much he can do, other than providing comfort. He has no idea how much it actually helps.
Derek tries to stay conscious, but when Deaton is done with his work, he finally stops fighting and succumbs to the darkness.
He dreams, of his mom and dad, his sisters, even his uncle. They all smile at him. There is no anger or blame, just love.
‘Don’t waste your time looking for the Alpha, Der,’ Laura urges, ‘You found something much more important.’
‘I can’t.’ Derek replies, and then he wakes up.