Stiles’ mouth pinched into a thin line when Kira followed up her less-than-cheerful greeting with, “Stephen’s attitude is beginning to get out of hand.”
Stiles sighed heavily and rubbed a hand over his face. “What do you suggest?”
Kira shrugged, and the movement made her chair squeak. “I’m not sure there is anything else we can do in regards to him. I’ve had his parents come in for a family counselling session, but kids at this age get their morals and beliefs mainly from parents, so they did nothing but cause more problems.”
Stiles scowled down at his lap. “Yeah, I didn’t think that would do much. Maybe we need to come at this from a different approach.”
Kira perked up and smiled, and seeing the genuine look on her face improved Stiles mood, a little. “What are you thinking?”
Stiles shrugged and leaned back into his chair situated across from Kira’s desk. “Well, we’ve tried attacking the problem head-on by working with the instigator. Maybe we should be working on the victim’s side.”
“The victims… werewolf kind?” Kira blinked, confused.
Stiles’ eyes lit up, an idea hitting him suddenly. “Yes! Educate rather than punish! When there was that rash of cyberbullying a few years back, instead of just tracking down the bullies, the school had a program for all of the students to raise awareness of what bullying does. That’s how we need to approach this!”
“But Stephen is the only one causing problems towards the werewolf students,” Kira pointed out.
“Yes, for now,” Stiles countered. Kira nodded her agreement. “Besides, the school’s history curriculum is sadly lacking in regards to werewolf culture. It would be a good thing for the students.”
“We should talk to Lydia about this, if this is going to become a real thing,” Kira suggested, so the pair moved their meeting to the principal’s office.
Lydia welcomed them both in and they shared their idea with her. She agreed that the program would be good for the student body.
“Do you have any suggestions as to who should lead this?” Lydia asked as she jotted notes down on a legal pad.
“I may have an idea,” Kira spoke up, and Lydia beckoned for her to continue. “My mom has been friends with Talia Hale for a long time now. And Hale Corp recently opened up a new headquarters in Beacon City. Since they’re so integrated in werewolf activism and rights, maybe we could have someone from there come talk to the students. I’m sure they have some kind of presentation for schools.”
Stiles and Lydia shared a look and identical grins. “Kira, that would be awesome,” Lydia complimented. Kira blushed. “Do you think you could get in contact with them by the end of the week? I don’t think we’ll be able to have a whole school-wide presentation, but if a representative could come individually to the classrooms during Social Studies,” Stiles nodded his agreement on using his class time for this, Lydia nodded back at him and continued, “Then I don’t see how we could have a problem scheduling.”
Before any of his students arrived, Stiles rearranged the desks in his classroom so that they made a circle which would allow each student to see everyone to foster an open discussion/presentation from the head of Hale Corp Beacon City branch. Stiles didn’t remember much about Derek Hale. He was a Beacon Hills native but years ahead of Stiles in school, so they never interacted. He’d certainly read a lot about him, though, especially considering Mr. Hale was at the forefront of every rally, every major discussion of rights, and even recently worked with Congress (along with his mother Talia and his sister Laura, of course) to help pass the Lycanthropy Adoption Act. That bill gave werewolves the right to adopt children, whether they were werewolves or humans. Because of that act, several of Stiles’ college friends could finally expand their family.
Stiles watched as his sixth-grade students trickled in for homeroom. They all hesitated upon entering when seeing the new desk configuration, but took their seat without complaint. Stiles had roped off two of the desks at the front and back of the room for Mr. Hale and himself with some folders. Stiles would take the back of the room so that he could watch the entire group and Mr. Hale’s presentation. His homeroom students, however, would not be meeting Mr. Hale for another hour, when they would return for Stiles’ Social Studies class.
Morning announcements soon began and ended and the students shuffled themselves back out into the hallway when the bell rang, signaling first period’s beginning. As Stiles smiled and ushered Jemma out the room with promises that they could discuss extra credit later, someone knocked on the open door. Stiles glanced up and locked eyes with a beautiful specimen. He was wearing a well-fitted suit and bright blue tie, his dark hair gelled back that still looked soft to the touch, as did his scruffy beard, cleanly cut. Stiles’ smile wavered for just a second, drawn down at the edges by the urge to drop his jaw in surprise, but he quickly regained control of his features and returned to smiling.
Derek Hale stuck out his hand towards him and said, “I assume you’re Mr. Stilinski.”
Stiles shook his hand and gestured for him to enter the room. “Yes, that’s me. Call me Stiles. Good to meet you, Mr. Hale.”
Mr. Hale chuckled. “We’ve met before,” he said, which, what? “And please, call me Derek.” Still reeling from Derek’s surprise statement, he almost missed the werewolf ushering in a second man. “This is Boyd. He’s my protection detail. He just needs to be in the room with us.”
Stiles blushed and stuck out his hand for Boyd to shake. “Of course, I understand. Um, I don’t have any extra desks, but you’re more than welcome to sit at mine. I’ll be sitting in the circle with M- Derek and the kids.”
Boyd nodded after breaking their handshake, and silently made his way over to Stiles’ desk and settled into his desk chair.
Before Stiles could say another word, a group of five seventh graders pushed their way through the door and halted at the presence of two unknown men and a new desk configuration.
“Come on in!” Stiles greeted them. “Pick any desk. We have a guest for class today.”
Derek smiled at the group easily, and Stiles may have melted a little.
Seconds before the late bell, the other ten missing students rushed into the classroom and settled themselves in the remaining desks. Stephen was one of those stragglers, though he narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Derek when he took his seat.
As soon as everyone was seated, including Stiles and Derek, Stiles addressed the class. “Morning, everyone. Today we have a guest speaker in class. This,” Stiles pointed to the man across the circle, “Is Mr. Derek Hale. Mr. Hale works for Hale Corp and is an expert on werewolf history and rights activism. Since out textbooks do not go as into werewolf history in the edition we have, I thought it best to have him come in and give us some more information.” Stiles reached for the stack of folders on the desk in front of him and handed them off to his left, and Derek copied his motions, smiling at Josie who sat on his left as he passed them her way. “These folders contain some information about Hale Corp as well as pamphlets that tell you where you can find more information regarding the topics discussed today.” Stiles glanced up at Derek who gave him a small nod. “Mr. Hale, you have the floor.”
Stiles had seen Derek in videos. He’d watched rally coverage where Derek stood and shouted for hours for equal rights. He’d listened to press conferences where Derek declared with confidence his beliefs and why it needed to be the belief of everyone in the country, in the world. He’d even seen Fox News interviews where Derek got into a heated debate with the newscaster and wiped the floor with them. Stiles had never seen Derek talk to children, but it was just as interesting to watch as all the rest.
Even Stephen had no place to interject and bring the class down with the way Derek commanded attention. It was as if Derek had delivered this spiel thousands of times before. He was succinct, persuasive, and the way he approached topics such as the Lycanthropy Adoption Act and the very old Right to Life petitions (back when werewolves had first been revealed to the public, in the 1950s, people had demanded werewolf kind be executed out of fear) were simplified so that his younger students could understand. It was basically perfect and Stiles may have fallen a little bit in love. With the subject matter, of course.
When Derek began to wind down, he glanced up at Stiles with a raised eyebrow, silently asking if he needed to do anything more. Stiles raised an eyebrow back at the man and questioned, in the form of a statement, “Since we still have a bit of time, De- Mr. Hale can perhaps take some questions?”
Derek nodded, and two hands shot into the air. However, Derek zeroed in on Stephen’s raised hand, and Stiles winced.
“Why is Hale Corp trying to shoot down Werewolf Registration? Isn’t it created to aid werewolves? Why would you guys be against something that helps you?” Stephen asked as soon as Derek gave him the opportunity to.
Derek seemed a little taken aback, as did Stiles. Werewolf Registration was a rather recent movement, but very large, and Stiles’ hadn’t heard Hale Corp’s stance on it yet, so this was news to him.
Derek’s eyes narrowed slightly, as if surprised but not wanting to show it. “Werewolf Registration is a very difficult topic. Yes, in one way this could be a channel for werewolves to help other werewolves, but we already have that in today’s society. There is no need for werewolves to have to advertise themselves to any random person by wearing a pin, for example, especially with the prejudice that still rattles our country. There is a better way to go about the benefits of Werewolf Registration without needing to go that far. Studies have shown that colleges of equal opportunity that do not ask its applicants to state whether they are werewolf or human compared to those who do show a rapid increase in werewolf students accepted. Registration would cause reactions like this in every moment of a werewolf’s life, which is unfair.”
Stephen’s mouth snapped shut. Stiles smirked but covered it up with his hand. Derek looked pleased with the silent reaction and moved onto his next question.
Jeffery lowered his hand when Derek looked at him and he asked, voice soft, “Does Hale Corp have, uh, what are they called? Summer jobs? For college students? My sister is looking for one, and she was home for break last week and was hoping to look into summer stuff with your work. Um, so, yeah.”
Stiles hated how restricted it was for young college-age werewolves now to get internships. Barely any internships were offered that accepted werewolves, and if they did, they were specifically for werewolves, and they ended up being mostly labor work, unpaid, with no promise of a job.
Derek gave Jeffry a considering look before he pulled a pen out of his inside jacket pocket and scribbled something onto one of the pamphlets form his own folder. When he finished, he passed it over to Jeffry who took it tentatively. The boy’s eyes flashed gold, assumedly involuntarily, when he read what Derek had written. Derek cleared his throat. “Have your sister email me, and I’m sure we can set up an interview for an internship.” The smile of joy on the young werewolf’s face made Stiles smile as well.
Glancing up at the clock, Stiles realized the class was almost over. He clapped his hands to gain everyone’s attention. “Alright, class is almost over, so that’s all the time we have for Mr. Hale, I’m afraid. Please give the man a round of applause for coming here to educate us today.” When the soft applause died down, Stiles continued. “For next class I want one paragraph about what you learned today, what your favorite parts were, anything important that you took away from our discussion today. You can talk quietly amongst your friends until the bell rings.”
A soft murmur rose up immediately, and Stiles and Derek stood from their seats and made their way to the front of the room. “Have you ever spoken in a classroom before?” Stiles had to ask, the question blurting out without much thought.
Derek chuckled, and Stiles blushed, realizing how his question could have been misconstrued as an insult. Thankfully, Derek understood what he actually meant. “A couple times, but not in a few years.”
“Well, the students really enjoyed it, I could tell,” Stiles complimented. “I enjoyed it as well.”
“Boss,” Boyd interrupted. Stiles and Derek turned their gazes to the man. Boyd waved his phone at them. “I’ll just be out in the hall, shout if you need me.”
Derek waved the man off and then turned back to Stiles with a smile. “It’s probably Erica, his wife,” he confessed. “She’s in her third trimester and enjoys hearing Boyd’s voice periodically throughout the day to soothe her.”
Stiles ducked his head to chuckle, and Derek’s smile widened when Stiles glanced back up at him from beneath his eyelashes. “I don’t remember meeting you before,” Stiles admitted, cheeks pinking.
“I’m not surprised. It was while you were in college. A junior, maybe? Beacon City College was having a protest, something about the newspaper?”
Stiles’ eyes widened, suddenly remembering what Derek was referencing. “Oh my god, you spoke at that!” he whisper-shouted.
Derek nodded, a smirk tilting at his lips. “Mhmm. It was one of my first solo projects without my mother and sister backing me. Your friend— “
“Scott,” Stiles interrupted. “The newspaper refused to allow werewolves to voice their opinions. They got censored, so Scott started up this huge protest that lasted almost a month. You spoke, and then the next week the newspaper went on hiatus because of all the bad press it got. But… when did we meet?”
Derek slowly raised a single brow, and Stiles felt his face flush severely. Oh. Oh.
There had been many after-protest parties that month. And the biggest one followed Hale Corp’s support being announced, by Derek, evidently. Stiles had gotten crazy smashed. Scott had abandoned him for Allison, so Stiles spent the entire evening talking the ear off a leather jacket-clad stranger while simultaneously straddling his lap and making out with him, for several hours.
“I was very moved by your dedication to the Werewolves in Police efforts.” Derek’s words snapped Stiles out of his flashback, and he stared at the grinning man in front of him. The bell rang, startling them both, and they stepped back from each other. At some point they’d gotten very close.
Stiles licked his lips and kept his eyes on the floor. “Is it hot in here?” he muttered, pulling at his shirt collar.
“No,” Boyd responded as he swept back into the room.
“Great,” Stiles spoke sarcastically and Boyd shot him a thumbs up. He risked looking up at Derek and found the man staring at the ground, a light pink dusting over his cheeks. Derek caught his eye and they shared a smile.
“So, uh, sixth graders are next, but then I have my planning period, if you want to maybe get an early lunch together?” Stiles suggested. He worried at his bottom lip, waiting for a response.
Derek swept his gaze up and down his form, and Stiles swallowed thickly. “Sure,” Derek finally responded, and Stiles softly let out a breath.
“Cool,” he replied dumbly and turned back to his youngest students that were beginning to trickle in. “Morning! Pick any seat, we’ll get started when the rest of the class is here.”
A hand settled onto the small of his back, and Stiles pulled back the urge to jump in surprise. He glanced back at Derek who raised an eyebrow at him in question.
Stiles took a deep breath and said, “I still stand by allowing werewolves to join the police force and would love to say more on the topic.”
Derek grinned widely. “Well, if it’s anything like last time, I will very much enjoy having that discussion with you.”