Derek let out a long breath as he hissed out the last syllables of the incantation just as he had practiced. The candles carefully placed in all four cardinal directions flickered and the flames diminished for a split moment before flaring high with an audible crack.
The hairs on the nape of his neck stood up and a slow tingling traveled down his spine. Holding his breath, Derek snuck glances from the corner of his eyes, and turned carefully around, tense and ready to spring into action.
The barn was empty.
Defeated, he sighed and closed his eyes and dismissed the prickling on the back of his head. He had hoped — believed — it would work but he had been wrong. Again. All the research he had done, all the exotic ingredients he had bullied Deaton to order, all the careful preparations — it had all been for nothing.
The story of my life, he thought bitterly as he picked up the ’blessed stick’ (for lack of a better name for the thing Deaton had given him) and poked at the salt-and-mountain-ash ring to break it. The only reason he even had the stick was to get out from the summoning ring, but it didn’t make him feel any less stupid.
Laura would’ve probably called him Don Quixote and pissed herself while laughing. Then again, Laura would’ve called him many a thing — mostly an idiot to let his situation escalate into this.
As the line broke, the air around him shifted a little and Derek couldn’t suppress a shiver. He had drawn the special double barrier as per Deaton’s instructions, and even though he had known how to break it, he was more than happy to be free from the containment.
He blew the candles out, swiped the floor, rubbed off the symbols, and aired out the incense. When he was done with cleaning and packing his stuff up, he took one, last look at the barn, making sure he hadn’t forgotten or overlooked anything. Pressing his lips together in a tight line, he breathed out through his nose, turned, and walked out.
If he had stayed and looked, he might have seen a dark shape in the corner, staring after him with head cocked and eyes burning in liquid gold.
Derek was beyond tired. He was exhausted both in body and mind, but he knew he had no choice but to keep going. His ragtag pack was in shambles, and if he didn’t come up with some miraculous idea to get his betas back home, they’d all be dead by the end of the summer.
Ever since Isaac had returned to them with his mind all fucked up by the alpha pack, Derek had felt as if a clock had started counting down the days they had left. The sense of impending doom hung over him, making him irritable and snappish, which effectively led to Scott and Isaac avoiding him. He had no idea where Lydia and Jackson currently were, but even if he managed to get a message through them, they wouldn’t make much difference anyway. No, it was better they were away, sorting their relationship out. At least they’d survive. Hopefully.
In all honesty, even if they somehow managed to rescue Erica and Boyd, they’d probably still end up dead. The pitiful remnants of the once formidable Hale pack were nothing compared to Deucalion’s pack. It didn’t matter whether Isaac managed to get his head straight or not, he, Scott, and Derek weren’t anything the alpha pack needed to take seriously.
Derek sighed. They were in serious trouble.
He parked his Camaro by the curb and just sat still for a moment, gripping the steering wheel until it cracked. He had no idea what to do.
Summoning a demon had been his last resort. He hadn’t consulted Peter because as cunning as his uncle was, he was also clinically insane, and Derek knew better than trusting anything he said. He had gone to Deaton instead and suffered through the condescending lecture from his mother’s former emissary. Deaton had been his usual smug, enigmatic self, but he had provided Derek with the necessary items.
Why it hadn’t worked, Derek had no idea. He had triple checked everything, and he was absolutely certain he hadn’t fucked up the incantation. Somehow, it seemed fitting that not even creatures of Hell wanted nothing to do with him.
Letting out a silent snarl, he exited the car and headed inside. The air was cool with a hint of rain with some spicy undercurrent, and if Derek hadn’t been so wrapped up in his impending, painful death, he would’ve stopped to enjoy the scents of the night. He had no time for such luxuries, though, so he headed inside, slamming the sliding door shut with way more force than was necessary.
He was grimly pondering whether to order his betas to run or call them for the last, stubborn stand before the alpha pack ripped them to shreds, when someone knocked on the door.
Derek blinked and glanced at his alarm system. It hadn’t been triggered which meant… he didn’t know what it meant. The lights were still on so the someone hadn’t cut power. There was no reason the alarm wasn’t working: it was supposed to react to both werewolves and humans alike.
Carefully, he walked to the door and cocked his head, trying to listen through the thick steel.
He could make out only one heartbeat, a frantic fluttering that didn’t sound panicked or nervous, but more like… excited?
The pattern was unfamiliar and didn’t fit that of a werewolf. Besides, Deucalion had promised he would have time to decide what to do (as in to kill his own pack or to be killed with them), and his deadline was still several days away. The burned-down Hale house had attracted daring teenagers every now and then, but he had never had that problem at his loft — most likely because the loft area didn’t have the same air of romantic tragedy and homicide as the old house.
Curious despite himself, he yanked the door open and caught his arms full of flailing limbs.
”What the hell?” he snarled, shoving the limbs and the person attached to them at an arm’s length.
”Sorry, sorry!” the person — a boy, really — said breathlessly and flailed a bit more before he pulled himself together with a visible effort.
Derek didn’t bother with common courtesy but asked, blunt, ”Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?”
”Um… Hi, I’m Stiles!” the boy said brightly and shoved his hand at Derek who stared at it blankly. When it became obvious that Derek was going to neither shake his hand nor bite it off, Stiles used it to shove Derek aside a bit and marched straight into the loft.
”Well, this looks nice,” he said in the same, bright voice. ”A little industrial and spartan, but hey, if that’s the way you roll, I’m not going to criticize.” He paused and pursed his lips. ”Well, not much anyway.”
Unperturbed by Derek’s lack of answer, Stiles darted aimlessly around the loft, poking at random stuff. He sniffed at the day-old coffee grounds in Derek’s coffee maker, peeked into the fridge, cocked his head at the maps on the table, and starfished with a bounce on Derek’s bed.
As he trailed after Stiles, Derek wasn’t sure what to make of the strange boy. He was a lithe form of long limbs and barely contained, vibrant energy with an unruly mess of dark hair and eyes that looked way too big to his face. At first glance, he had looked like a high schooler, but on a closer look, he realized Stiles was older. He had no idea how much, though.
”What are you doing here?” he asked, unable to keep the growl out of his voice.
Still lying on Derek’s bed, Stiles raised his head and gave him a confused look. ”What do you mean?” he asked. ”Shouldn’t you, like, know?”
Scowling, Derek crossed his arms across his chest and let out a long breath through his nose.
”Huh, way to look all judge-y and intimidating,” Stiles huffed and rolled his eyes. ”Does it ever work on anyone?”
It actually didn’t work even on Isaac, but Derek wasn’t going to admit it.
Stiles rolled onto his stomach and leaned his chin on his hands, giving Derek a considering look. ”How can you even function as an alpha when you have no idea what you’re doing in the first place?”
Derek bared his teeth, but there was no malice in Stiles’s voice. He was genuinely baffled, looking at Derek like he was some kind of an oddity Stiles couldn’t figure out.
”What I can’t understand is why in Hell an alpha werewolf would want to summon a demon.”
Derek blinked. ”What?” he asked flatly.
Stiles cocked his head and made a sweeping gesture at himself. ”You called, I came.” He paused and seemed to retract his words. ”And that came out way dirtier than I meant.”
”You,” Derek said, dubious.
”Um, what about me?”
”You’re a demon?”
Stiles frowned. ”Why are you asking?”
”You don’t look like a demon,” Derek said. It sounded surprisingly accusing.
Stiles rolled his eyes. ”And you’re an alpha wolf, but you don’t look like Balto,” he said. ”Appearances can be deceiving, you know?”
He jumped up and bounced closer to Derek, stopping in the middle of the room. ”Would it be better if I looked like this?” he asked and raised a brow.
The air around him shimmered and his features blurred a little, and Derek felt like he had sand in his eyes. He rubbed them and, when he glanced back at Stiles, the lanky boy had transformed into a scantily clad, lithe but muscular humanoid with a luminous gray-blue skin. His eyes were golden amber with slitted pupils and Derek could’ve sworn he saw a pair of tiny horns peeking from the mess of hair.
”So?” Stiles asked and tipped his chin up in a defiant move, flashing his eyes briefly as a challenge.
His pose had an odd sense of sensuality and Derek felt a sudden urge to step into his space and bury his nose into the crook of Stiles’s neck. He closed his eyes and shook his head a bit like a dog to get rid of the foggy feeling. When he looked at Stiles again, the boy — no, the demon — looked like a regular teenager again.
”Was that a satisfactory demonstration?”
Derek scowled and didn’t bother answering.
”Whatever,” Stiles exclaimed and waved his arms in a dramatic move. ”Some people you just can’t impress. Fine,” Stiles continued with his monolog as he wandered into the kitchen where his commenting was accompanied by opening and closing of various drawers and doors. ”I get it. You need to keep up the appearances and act like the tough alpha all the time, otherwise you might forget what you are. Do you have toilet paper? Ooh, Hot Pockets!”
”What?” Derek asked, slightly bewildered of why Stiles asked for toilet paper. ”That’s my kitchen.”
Stiles poked his head from the kitchen door. ”I know,” he said slowly. ”But do you know it’s your kitchen? It seems a bit unused.” He had a Hot Pocket in his hand. It was steaming even though Derek hadn’t heard the microwave go on.
”By the way, what’s your name?” Stiles asked. ”You never told me. You just growled and scowled, which might just be your MO. I could call you ’alpha’ or ’hot shots,’ but I don’t think your pack would appreciate it. I mean, I don’t mind, but in a long run it could grow a bit awkward.”
”What?” Derek asked faintly.
Stiles walked out of the kitchen, looking slightly worried as he stopped in front of Derek. ”What. Is. Your. Name?” he articulated slowly.
”Derek,” Derek said.
”Excellent!” Stiles beamed. ”Wasn’t so hard now, was it? You didn’t even flash your teeth!”
Derek crossed his arms across his chest and scowled.
”Don’t be such a sourwolf,” Stiles chided, patting his arm.
For a split second, his hand lingered and his heartbeat stuttered, and it was almost like he swayed slightly closer to Derek. Then he seemed to catch himself, snatched his hand back, and his pulse returned to the somewhat fluttering beating that seemed to be normal for him.
”Ah, right. Deal! We should make a deal,” Stiles said, backing away a couple of steps. ”The demon deal. Yeah.”
”Okay,” Derek said slowly, feeling slightly shaky and, therefore, annoyed after the touch. ”And what might that be, exactly?”
Stiles blinked and swallowed. ”Um. You know,” he said waving his hand in a vague move. ”The standard ’In exchange of my services you pledge your firstborn to me?’”
”Was that a question?”
Derek sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. ”Shouldn’t the deal be a bit more specific? ’Services’ sounds a bit half-baked.”
Stiles cocked his head and grinned. ”Are you looking after my interests?” he asked, sounding delighted.
”Someone has to, and it seems that you’re not doing it yourself,” Derek pointed out dryly.
”Huh,” Stiles huffed. He narrowed his eyes at Derek, staring at him for several moments with focused intensity. Then he seemed to still and, when he spoke, his voice was oddly formal. ”What do you need?” he asked.
Derek breathed deep and held it for a moment before slowly releasing it. If Stiles really was able to help, Derek would gladly pay the price he asked. After Paige and Kate, he was done with relationships and had no intention to seek a new one, let alone produce an offspring. Pledging his firstborn was an easy promise to make.
”I need to get rid of the alpha pack,” he said carefully. ”They’re on my territory and keeping two of my betas hostage.” He paused for a moment to close his eyes. ”I need to keep my pack safe.”
When he opened his eyes he met Stiles’s gaze and held it, even though it felt like it bore through his skull.
”Deal,” Stiles said softly as his lips drew into a small smirk. Then he stepped right into Derek’s space, cradled his face in his hands, and kissed him.
”Demon deals are sealed with a kiss,” Stiles declared, completely straight-faced before he turned and darted back into the kitchen.
Blinking, Derek stared after him, wondering what in the Hell he had just agreed to.