"Sir! You can't go in there! Sir!" A bewildered looking guard shouted as the tall figure swept past him.
"Mr. Hale!" The guard shouted after him.
Without a backwards glance, the man slammed his large hand down on the scanner.
One beep later, and the heavy door swung inwards, revealing a shirtless man sitting on a cushion with his back to the door, glowing a warm gold.
"Derek Hale? How pleasant it is to finally meet you in person. Divination tell us..." the man paused, inhaled deeply, and continued, "...that you, like I, are not supposed to be in here."
He smirked to himself as the guard finally caught up to Derek, doubled over and half-panting admonishments.
"Mr. Hale, we have- have to leave now. Right now." The guard breathlessly implored Derek from outside the vault.
"No. I have to know." Came the predictable reply.
"Before you ask me, you should know, should you open this door, the consequences could be dire for those who were involved." The man said with raised eyebrows.
"Aren't they always?" quipped Derek impatiently.
Slowly, gracefully, the man stood up and turned around.
"Shorter than you thought?" He asked, cocking his head.
"I've never met a Seraphim, I've only read your file." Derek admitted, his look was one of intrigue and awe.
"Oh ho!? My file?" He laughed raucously.
Derek was taken aback by the peal of laughter.
"What? Thought I couldn't laugh? Feel joy? Happiness?" The man smiled sadly when he asked.
"The restrictor..." Derek started
"Was your mother's idea. Brilliant idea really. Unfortunately, our magic comes from a far deeper place, and that was the downfall of the restrictor device." The Seraphim started, shaking his head sadly.
"I destroyed mine with my own magic. Burned like a bitch, I'll tell you! But as my file reflects, the price of destroying the restrictor device was never feeling any emotion again, yes. Also, my powers were short circuited." A tear dripped down his face.
Derek's brows furrowed, and he took a step back.
The Seraphim smiled sweetly.
Just as Derek turned to bolt out the door, it slammed shut. A barrier sprung up around the door, spreading across the walls, floor, and ceiling as the Seraphim raised his hands.
Derek turned back around, Alpha shifted and ready to fight.
He froze though, when he saw the Seraphim back on his cushion, sitting with his eyes shut.
"They told you I'm dangerous, didn't they?" The Seraphim asked quietly.
"Yes." Derek said flatly, his eyes searching the room for something, anything.
With a gentle nod, the Seraphim acknowledged him.
"They're right, you know. We are supremely dangerous. Especially me, because I was built for this."
Derek did a double take at this information.
"You read my file, so you know my name. Why don't you use it? Do you wish to dehumanize me? Too late honey, I'm an angel already." The Seraphim asked, opening his eyes to look at Derek.
"Peter always said not to." Derek admitted.
The Seraphim rolled his eyes and giggled, "Well, this is a special occasion. You're giving me a conjugal visit!"
Derek's lips twitched upwards slightly, and the Seraphim closed his eyes again.
"Ask." He stated simply.
"You can feel again?" Derek asked, not really needing the answer for confirmation.
"Obviously, as you've seen. Looks like my abilities were just suppressed, not short circuited." The Seraphim quipped.
"Will you help me Ethan?" Derek rushed, looking pained as he asked the question.
"Wow." Ethan said shortly.
There was a very pregnant pause, where the two of them locked eyes, Derek's blue-green, and the Seraphim's, or rather, Ethan’s, gold-brown.
Then, he stood up and held a hand up.
He gave Derek the finger, "Fuck the Hale family, who put me in this hole, fuck the war that I was supposed to lead, by the way, fuck the human condition, the human presence, the human existence."
Derek stood there, stunned.
"Oh, and finally, fuck you for asking for my help. I offered it to Peter when the pieces were still being placed. He told me that everything would be taken care of."
Ethan sat back down as silent tears poured down his face.
He raised a hand and snapped his fingers, causing the barrier to evaporate.
The door slammed open and security guards rushed in, grabbing Ethan and roughly taking him to the ground, burning a sealing rune into his back as he shouted in pain.
Derek watched as Ethan let the guards beat him, burn him, and leave him bruised and bloodied. He never raised a finger to fight back, although he could have easily wiped them out of existence.
When the guards finished, Derek ordered them out, much to their dismay, and over many protests.
They shut the door behind them, and Derek approached Ethan. Peter had told him to never even come down to this cell, let alone enter it or approach Ethan.
"Ethan?" He asked softly
"Pillow under head please?" Ethan croaked from where he was curled up bleeding on the floor.
Derek paused for a second, and realized that Ethan wasn't healing quickly and was really hurt.
"Ethan, you're in pretty bad shape." Derek said, his voice laced with concern.
"Why? Why do you care? You're- a Hale." He spat from the floor.
"Why didn't you fight back?" Derek asked softly as he picked up the pillow and approached Ethan.
"Why should I? They aren't evil, aren't harming the innocent, other than me, and they're just doing their job. There's no righteousness in harming them." He replied slowly and quietly after Derek slipped the pillow under his head.
"But- you're a fallen angel." Derek said in confusion.
Ethan let out a snort of disgust, "'Fallen' is the propaganda that your family derived from my emergence to paint me and my brethren in an evil light."
Derek frowned, and studied Ethan's back for a minute.
"Are you checking me out or something? I know when someone is looking at me..."
"Your ink." Derek said simply.
"Ah, yes. I had almost forgotten how much of it there was. I can't use any of it in here really." Ethan explained, “I’ll heal, albeit just slowly now. That's part of the 'designed' bit I was talking about earlier. But none of it matters now." He finished bitterly.
As the door swung shut behind him, Derek heard Ethan say, "Look into my emergence, the truth. Ask Peter about Dallas, New Year’s 2017."
Derek shook his head as the door sealed behind him, but so much of what he had seen contradicted Ethan's file, and even Peter's own statements.
Derek headed upstairs to begrudgingly investigate Ethan's claims. He needed help winning this war, and the only piece left to play it seemed, was the Seraphim, supposedly the highest and most powerful of angels.
Derek walked up to the elevator, pondering what he was going to ask Peter about first, if anything. He was saved the trouble, however, when the doors opened and Peter was standing inside, smiling in that knowing way he does.
"Derek! What brings you down here?" Peter exclaimed, holding his hand out in greeting to Derek, who shook it, albeit reluctantly.
"Interrogating the Seraphim." Derek said simply, knowing that Peter was listening to his heartbeat.
"How coincidental, I was coming down here to do the same thing. I heard that he seems to have reacquired his powers?" Peter probed.
Derek scanned his hand and pressed the button for the executive suites when Peter didn't step out.
"Well, if he has, let's hope that we are safely not in his sights." Derek said, sidestepping the issue.
"Quite, my young nephew. The amount of power the Seraphim wield is frightening, and you would do well to remember that."
Derek nodded pensively as he waited for the awkward elevator ride to end. He let out a small sigh of relief when the doors opened to the Hale Enterprises executive level.
Derek strolled through the executive lobby of the company run by his mother's pack. As he walked up to his office, he stopped for a moment to give Cora and Laura a hug.
Derek had gained notoriety in the early days of the war, when he aided hunters in a spectacular op designed to destabilize the opposing forces by removing a new Alpha Pack that aligned itself with the Nemeton.
The op was a success, but with one twist: the hunters were unable to trap and kill one of the alphas, so Derek tracked down the wounded alpha and eliminated him, thus gaining alpha status of his own.
After that, Derek built his own pack as an adjutant pack to his mother's. Everything was working out really well, except for the fact that they were rapidly losing the war.
Erica, his secretary and personal muscle, sat at her desk, filing her nails stereotypically. She gave him a wink and he rolled his eyes.
Erica was flirty, even with the executives, but everyone knew she and Boyd were involved. She was also dangerous, sweetness was a mask she wore to hide the ruthless, beautiful woman beneath.
Isaac and Boyd sat in the conference room together, poring over a folder.
Boyd ran the covert ops forces under Hale control, and he was good at it. Isaac was Boyd's second, using his good looks and charm out in the field to gather intel.
Derek stopped at the head of the conference desk and leaned against it.
"What's up guys?" He asked as Isaac and Boyd looked up.
"New threat assessment. The divination division doesn’t seem to be trying to make friends with this..." Boyd remarked darkly as he handed the folder over.
Derek glanced at it and sighed, day by day, things were getting worse.
"Boyd. I want all the files on the Seraphim in here in 30 minutes." Derek said as he handed the folder back.
He ignored Boyd's questioning look and walked out.
Ten minutes later, his phone rang. Derek sighed and looked down at it, knowing what was coming.
"Hello." He said flatly.
"Derek. Why have you pulled the Seraphim files?" Peter's saccharine voice came through the earpiece.
"Because I want to review them. Why do you care?" Derek asked back snappily.
"I just thought you'd be more concerned with the actual goings-on in the war that you seem to be losing." His uncle's tone changed, becoming more sneering and acidic.
"Of course I am. I just finished reviewing the newest threat assessment. I'm sorry, but I have a lot to do, I've got to go." Derek concluded the conversation, hanging up before Peter could muster a reply.
"Ass." Derek muttered to the phone after hanging up.
Derek went back into the conference room to find it only had a couple boxes on the table.
"Wait, is this it?" He asked in confusion.
Boyd nodded and shrugged, "These are the hard files, data, observations, and the personal effects of the Seraphim."
Derek looked at the boxes, "Boyd, that's what it says on the side of the box. What's actually inside?"
"I was going to leave the honor of opening the boxes to you, actually." Boyd said, pushing a box to Derek.
With a flick of a claw, Derek sliced open the tape and lifted the lid.
"Holy shit." He said, looking inside.
Boyd and Isaac stepped over, peering down into the box.
"Dude, you're not actually going to..." Isaac asked, turning to Derek.
"You'd do it for intel, I'd do it to win this war." Derek said, reaching in and grabbing the iPad in the bag labeled "Seraphim Personal Journal - Confiscated"
Derek opened the bag and pulled out the tablet, trying in vain to turn it on, finding the battery to be dead. He sighed and plugged it into the wall.
He walked back to the boxes, which Boyd and Isaac had begun to rummage through.
"Wow, he likes to lift." Isaac said as he hefted a gym bag out and opened it up.
"You've never seen him in person. He's pretty jacked." Derek said without looking up from inside the box.
Boyd and Isaac both stopped, turning to Derek in surprise.
"You've actually seen him?" Boyd asked, a frown crossing his mouth.
Derek looked over to the conference room doors, and strained his wolf hearing for a second to ensure they wouldn't be overheard.
"Today, for the first time. He actually could've killed me down in the vault, but he didn't. Then he voluntarily lowered the barrier that he trapped me in there with, and he didn't fight back when the guards beat the shit out of him. All he wanted was a pillow for his head as he lay there, bleeding and in pain. It was... the opposite of what his file indicated, and what Peter said."
Isaac let out a low whistle as he and Boyd exchanged significant looks.
"Derek... why were you down there?" Boyd asked quietly.
Derek paused, then sat down and buried his face in his hands, a rare sign of exhaustion from the alpha.
Boyd and Isaac sat down as well, silently waiting to hear what Derek was going to say.
After a large sigh, Derek began, "I can't find a way to win this war without playing him, the Seraphim. It's just not possible. I needed to know if he would help us."
Isaac raised his eyebrows, "And...?"
"What do you think? The Hale family has really done a number on this guy. He was pretty forceful in saying no." Derek explained, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Derek, it sounds like you're questioning us detaining a powerful enemy." Boyd explained.
"No, what I'm questioning is whether he really is an enemy or not. He told me to look into his emergence and to ask Peter about Dallas, New Years’ Eve 2017.” Derek calmly replied.
"Last year, the day when he was detained?" Isaac asked.
"Precisely. Peter was in the elevator at the vault level when I left, then he called me when I pulled these files, and he was much less pleasant on the phone. Something has got to be going on." Derek recounted darkly.
Boyd and Isaac looked at each other, then back at Derek, "You know we've got you one hundred percent always. Me, Isaac, Erica, Scott, Stiles, all of us.
Derek chuckled and looked at Boyd, "You know, for someone who runs ‘covert’ ops, you're making the circle on this one pretty big."
"Big, but still just pack." Boyd added.
"Well, two packs actually. Scott's been busy building his pack with Stiles in San Francisco ever since he became a True Alpha." Derek said with a small smile.
"You're really proud of him aren't you?" Boyd asked, grinning back at Derek.
"Absolutely. I never thought that the loser kid who nearly died of an asthma attack in our woods would become a True Alpha." Derek admitted with a chuckle as he shifted through some papers.
"Finally glad your mom gave him the bite?" Isaac asked snarkily.
Both Boyd and Derek glared at him and he threw his hands in the air, "Look, I'm just saying what everyone was thinking. We all know it was rough there for a bit."
Derek shook his head in annoyance, "Obviously I'm glad he got the bite. He's essentially my brother. Leave it."
Isaac looked down at the floor in submission as Derek and Boyd returned to the boxes.
"Well, let's go through more and see if there's evidence to support Ethan being a good guy." Derek said as he pulled out a folder.
Derek spent the next week poring over Ethan's journal, learning everything he could.
With each word and each entry, Derek became more and more certain that Ethan was truly good, and not a fallen angel as Peter, and his file, made Ethan out to be.
The journal became an insight not only to the power of the Seraphim, but the gentleness, kindness, and purity of heart Ethan had to possess to be chosen to emerge as a Seraphim. One of the most beautiful things he described in his journal was how almost everyone he came in contact with came to love him, platonically or otherwise. The power of love, the power of which Ethan had become the avatar, radiated from him, almost infectiously, enriching the lives of those he came in contact with, even just in passing.
The transition for Ethan hadn't been easy, as his journal indicated. The amount of emotional trauma caused by being empathic had taken its toll. However, Ethan refused to give up, he loved everyone and everything, so he persevered through the process and eventually became ready for his role.
For a while now, Ethan had known war was coming, and had been gearing up for it. The very last entry was one of sadness. The day the war started, nearly a year ago. Ethan could feel it start, according to his own description it literally had brought him to his knees, the pain and despair that was emanating from the first moves were like a sharp knife twisting his his chest. Then, the knife was removed and liquid fire was poured into the hole leftover.
Derek put down the journal at that point and had to walk away. He went out to his bedroom balcony and leaned against the rail as the sun set out at sea.
A tear unwillingly rolled down Derek's cheek and he cursed himself. He knew that feeling Ethan described all too well. It was the same feeling he felt when Paige rejected the Bite and he had ended her suffering. The same feeling he had when he found out that Kate Argent had been manipulating him and had nearly succeeded in using him to massacre the whole Hale family.
The journal told Derek one thing, Ethan was on his side, the side of good, not the Nemeton's. This raised a highly uncomfortable question for Derek to confront. Why had Peter created this fake file, locked Ethan up, generated propaganda around him, tortured and interrogated him?