Chapter 1: His Fourth Birthday
Summer made him think of pianos, falling leaves, and fast cars.
The summer of his fourth birthday, Talia taught him how to play the piano. Derek had always wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Everyone in his family was naturally gifted in something except for him. His father could sing, his older sister could paint, his mother could play any instrument put in front of her. He asked his mother one day during the summer to teach him to play, and so she did. She purchased a lavish grand piano and sat him down to play whatever came to him. It took him a while to really learn, but he kept at it because she pushed him to try harder.
When she died, he couldn’t bear to look at the piano for more than a second. Every time he heard someone playing the piano, he would tear up and then get angry and yell at them for touching his mother’s piano. After more than a decade, he dragged it out of storage to put it in his new home. Now whenever he sees his mother’s piano, he smiles fondly like he and the piano have a shared secret.
Chapter 2: His Eighth Birthday
The summer of his eighth birthday, Robert wished for fall.
Derek’s father scoffed at the bright green leaves, instead wishing for the radiant colors of autumn. The Hales poked fun at Robert and Derek, telling them to gain some patience and let nature run it’s course. Autumn will come when intended, Talia told them. Robert didn’t listen. He took Derek out into the woods surrounding their house and they talked about how fall was better than any season was for werewolves. They could run around in the brisk air, their noses catching the delicious scents of the season, their eyes spying the many shades, their minds overflowing with the happiness of being with family, of being with pack.
After his pack was gone, Derek despised fall. He wouldn’t allow his mind to wander back to the day he and his father had talked in the forest, wouldn’t step foot outside his house when he caught wind of the crisp smell. When he fell in love, of course, it was fall. He could almost hear his family laughing at the irony of it all. Now he takes his new family and spends hours in the woods with them, enjoying himself once again.
Chapter 3: His Twelfth Birthday
The summer of his twelfth birthday, Laura bought a car.
But not just any car, a camaro, and even better, a fast one. Derek thought he was the coolest kid ever when he would get out of his older sister’s car. Laura would just laugh and call him an idiot, ruffling his hair lovingly as they walked around the mall together. Guys would fling themselves at Laura, and Derek could never understand why. He always thought it was because of the fast car, it must’ve been the thing to make her sexy.
When Derek inherited it, he didn’t dare think it was sexy. It sat in his parking spot collecting dust because he refused to touch it, even after he had it touched up. Laura had named her Tails, a nickname their father used to call their mother, which made Derek even more reluctant to touch it. One day he took it out for a spin around town, and he smiled the whole time as he realized it wasn’t the car that made Laura appealing, it was the fierceness in her eyes. The same eyes that stared back at him in the rear-view mirror.
Chapter 4: His Sixteenth Birthday
The summer of his sixteenth birthday, Derek’s life fell apart before his eyes.
She didn’t smell like Mate, but Derek fell anyways. His parents were cautious, but if their only son was happy, they were happy. Kate was perfection to sixteen year old Derek. Tall and blonde, older, and most of all, she wanted him, him, over the rest of the boys she could have. Derek thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. Kate was sweet and dirty all rolled into one. Twenty-five to his sixteen, she took his virginity and he gladly gave it to her. One day, she ditched one of his basketball games, the one played in front of the whole school.
When Derek got word of the
accident, he ran all the way out to his house, Laura hot on his heels. He smelled the intoxicating perfume of his girlfriend and he knew, he knew at once what she was and what she did. Laura howled, all she could smell was the burnt flesh of her family. The piano was hardly recognizable, as was everything else in his burnt out home. Laura dragged him away that night, their shell of a home left behind in ashes.
Chapter 5: His Twentieth Birthday
The summer of his twentieth birthday, Derek’s life had begun to rebuild itself.
Amsterdam was everything Beacon Hills wasn’t; loud, colorful, and cold. It scarcely reminded him of what he lost and he was forever grateful to Laura for moving them away. He and Laura both held steady jobs, she at a bookstore and he at the coffee shop next door. Their lives had regained semi-normality and they were happy.
When Laura noticed the pictures, she wept. While she was at work, Derek had hung pictures all over their tiny home. Some of Talia playing the piano, smiling widely, others of Robert laughing as he played in the leaves, one of Laura sitting behind the wheel of her car. She screamed at him, commanding him to take them down, that he should never have done it in the first place. Derek resisted, telling her it was all they had left of their family, of their pack. Laura stormed off into the summer night and Derek rolled his eyes. She’d be back, she always came back.
Chapter 6: His Twenty Fourth Birthday
The summer of his twenty fourth birthday, Derek went home.
Laura had been gone for four years and Derek was starting to get worried. She went back because someone informed them that their Uncle Peter, Talia’s brother, was still alive but catatonic. She was only going to stay for a year, to take care of him, pay off his bills. One year turned into two which turned into three. She told him that there was a rogue omega hunting on their property, on Hale property. She stayed to get rid of it, to take it down, to claim Beacon Hills for the Hale Pack and go back to Amsterdam. Derek went back to find her, it had been two months since he heard from her and even though she was the Alpha, he knew she would need help.
When Derek found her, he only found one half of her, the bottom half. He only knew it was her by scent. Her body was cold, meaning it was days maybe even weeks old. He trekked through the woods to find her other half and found her hidden under dead leaves, her brown eyes widened in fear. He took her, both halves, back to their house and buried her under a spiral of wolfsbane. Pianos, cars, and fall far from his mind.
Chapter 7: His Twenty Eighth Birthday
The summer of his twenty eighth birthday, he was thrown a party.
His new pack, his new family, had decided to surprise their Alpha by planning a cookout. Derek’s Mate, his real one, kissed him gently on the lips and smiled at him. His husband put a hand over his eyes and lead him to the backyard of the refurbished Hale house and uncovered them when they arrived. Their daughters ran into Derek’s arms and hugged him tightly, birthday wishes falling from their lips. His betas stood tall and beamed at him, their own children surrounding them.
When Derek heard the piano being played softly by Stiles, he smiled. Stiles had combined two songs that had Derek in tears by the end. Fast Car and Autumn Leaves blended together better than expected and when he finished, Derek took Stiles in his arms and kissed him deeply. The feeling of family, of pack, once again bursting inside of him.
Summer made him think of pianos, falling leaves, and fast cars, and he’s never been happier.