Derek wasn’t the type to believe that everyone had a mate out there, especially since the past two women he dated turned out to be psychopathic killing machines. So, naturally, he ran into his mate in the middle of the farmer’s market and she turned out to be a faerie. What even is his luck?
Braeden is beautiful and strong, proudly wearing her scars from the Dark War when one of her brothers had tried to kill her for choosing the Nephilim over the Fair Folk. She had been in the middle of bargaining over fresh apricots when Derek had literally fallen for her, or rather on top of her after tripping over a child’s forgotten toy.
His instinct as he tried to push up was to say he was sorry, but then he saw the way her brown eyes almost looked like caramel, and then he took a deep breath and got a lungful of smoke and Calla Lilies. The apology withers away on his tongue, remembering what the Nephilim would do to him if they thought he was mingling with the faerie. He scrambles back to his feet as quickly as he could and helped her up before basically sprinting back to his car, not saying a word.
He keeps looking over his shoulder the entire way back to his loft, afraid that a Shadowhunter would pop out and have him shipped to the Silent City or killed at any moment. Hell, the Clave had sent one of their own to Wrangle Island—a fucking dead zone where she would never progress through the ranks—just for being born half-fey. He didn’t want to think of what they’d do to a ‘wolf that was mated to a faerie.
He decides to just put the incident behind him and carry on with his life, pretend that he didn’t have a mate out there just like he always had. It was the best thing to do for them both, after all. The safest thing.
“Dude,” Erica complains when Derek walks inside half an hour later, looking up from the recipe book in front of her. “How am I supposed to make cobbler without the peaches?”
“You had one job, D,” Isaac adds, using Erica’s disappointment as a distraction to snag one of the cut up pieces of potato. “You’ve failed us. Go to the shame corner.” Erica doesn’t look away from their Alpha as she whacks Isaac’s hand with a nearby spoon, the younger Beta letting out a sharp yelp before retreating out of the kitchen.
“What happened? You look like someone slapped you.”
“It’s nothing,” Derek mumbles. Because how hard could it be to live without his mate when he’s been doing it for thirty-two years now?
Turns out it’s pretty fucking difficult.
There’s a steady ache in Derek’s chest that had never been there before, fluttering under his collarbone like an insistent butterfly bent on driving him insane. He tried to ignore it at first, but the feeling was growing stronger and the skin there is an angry red from how often he scratched at it to try and make the feeling go away.
He made it a full week before he hopped on the first plane to LAX and then rented a motorcycle to get to Beacon Hills. Peter and Stiles are in the nursery when he makes it to their house, cooing over Alex as the baby tries to stuff both feet in his mouth. “Derek, come look at this,” Peter says distractedly, waving him over. “If he can feet all ten of his toes, then Chris owes me twenty bucks.”
“Uncle Peter….” Maybe it’s because his voice sounds raw or maybe it’s because he actually referred to Peter as his uncle out loud—something he hasn’t done since the fire—but Peter’s head snaps up and he’s crossing the room in two long strides, cupping Derek’s face with gentle hands like he used to whenever Derek was upset as a kid.
“Stiles, why don’t you go pour Derek some of that Scotch we got from South Carolina a few years ago?” Stiles doesn’t need to be told twice, scooping the baby up and sweeping out of the room with only the faint scent of sandalwood left behind. Peter steers Derek to the room across the hall, forcing him to sit on the edge of the bed before kneeling in front of him. “Alright, what happened, cub?”
“You haven’t called me that in years.” In fact, the last time had been when Derek was nine and decided he was too old for childish nicknames. He wanted to throttle his younger self for that. He’d do anything to get that innocence back, to curl up in the pre-Kate years and never leave them or the family he no longer had. “You look worried.”
“Wouldn’t you be worried if your baby sister showed up without warning and looked like she was about to be ripped apart at the seams?” Derek thinks he’d probably tear the world to pieces if Cora ever looked like that. “What happened? Who do I need to maul?”
“I found my mate.” Peter’s eyes do their best impression of dinner plates, nearly bugging out of his head at the news.
“She’s one of the Fair Folk.” His eyes go even wider if that’s possible, and a small part of Derek’s mind wonders if they would pop right out and roll down the stairs. Peter was quiet for a moment, staring down at the carpeting with a sort of blank look as though his mind needed a complete reboot. Then, when Derek was starting to think he’d broken his uncle, Peter glanced back up at him.
After the shock has worn off and the baby had been handed off to his godparents for the night, the three of them sit at the kitchen table with a bottle of wolfsbane-laced scotch being passed around. Of all the ways he’d thought he’d spend his Sunday night, it wasn’t getting drunk with his uncle and a warlock.
“You’re sure you don’t want to find her,” Stiles asks after a while, looking up at Derek through his lashes. Derek takes a minute to swallow before dipping his head in a slow nod. He couldn’t contact her, it went against the Cold Peace. “Then why do you look so awful?”
“Because they’re already tethered,” Peter murmurs in realization. “That’s it, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Derek says truthfully. His parents hadn’t been meant for each other, not true mates, so they had no real way to explain the concept to Derek when he was growing up. Laura found her mate, but she was killed a few days later and hadn’t reported any weird feelings beforehand.
“Does it feel like you’ve got a bird trying to beat through your chest?” Derek nods, leaning forward in his seat as if to hear his uncle better. “And it hurts, but in the same way a good massage hurts at first. If you can just get through the initial burst of pain, it’ll all be worth it?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what it feels like.”
“It’s something that happens in honest-to-God mates, to the ‘wolves anyway. I felt it the first time Stiles and I touched, and it didn’t ease until we were married. I still feel it, but it’s more like a pleasant humming in my bones.”
“It’s driving me insane. What do I do?”
“We can’t tell you what to do, Nephew. The next step is up to you in all of this.” Derek frowns, staring down at the bottle as if it held all the answers in the world. How was he supposed to know what to do about all of this? He was still a child compared to most Alphas, and the only true mates he knew about were the people sitting across from him and Erica and Boyd back in New York.
Turns out he didn’t have to worry long because his mate tracked him down to his loft on a Wednesday when the Betas and Lydia were gone. She looked just as beautiful as he remembered, marching confidently inside without waiting for an invitation. “This is fucking nuts,” she states, plopping down on his couch. “I should hate anyone with connections to the Clave after the punishment they handed out.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I don’t agree with what they decided.” She considers that for a moment, full lips pursed until her gaze flicked back to him. Derek sits on the other end of the couch, torso angled towards her and hands clasped tightly in his lap to keep from scratching at his breastbone. “Not all of the Fair Folk should be punished for their Queen’s mistakes.”
“Join the club, we can make T-shirts.”
“My uncle’s mate would buy about fifty of those on principal.” That makes her laugh, a faint breathy sound that made Derek’s heart speed up. It was a sound he wanted to hear more of, wanted to listen to everyday for the rest of his life. And, oh fuck, he was in deep. “My name’s Derek Hale.”
“Braeden.” She holds out a hand and Derek reacts to it without even thinking, clasping her smaller hand with his and nearly flailing off the couch when an electric shock makes his hand tingle and his breath catch in his throat. It wasn’t painful or anything, more like when you drag your socked feet over the carpet and then touch someone.
“Are we really going to defy the Clave? They’re made up of trained killers.” Braeden arches a brow, the fire in her eyes making him want to raze the world to the ground as long as he could stay at her side. And that’s when he noticed it, that the fluttering ache was beginning to calm down. Just having her so close to him made him feel less like he was floating above the earth and more like his feet could finally touch the ground without things going screwy.
“Before we decide what it is we’re going to do, why don’t we go out on a date first?”
“Alright, I can live with that.”
Their first date is in Sparks and Lightening, the back room done up in twinkling fairy lights (Stiles had seemed so pleased with himself at the joke that Derek’s already decided to put glue in the warlock’s hair gel) and unscented candles. It was romantic enough for the pair of them, sitting across from each other at a small table with Peter’s famous spaghetti for supper.
They talked about their families—Derek’s pack and Braeden’s close circle of friends—and they talked about the mischief they had caused growing up. Braeden had been high up in the army, a warrior through and through, and it hurt her that she could no longer fight without the possibility of being slaughtered. Derek told her about how his family and their home were burned to the ground by a Shadowhunter, how he and his uncle had captured the one responsible and murdered her and her father in retribution when it became clear that the Clave would do nothing to help.
Afterwards, when the food was gone and the candles burning low, Derek and Braeden curled up together on the little nest Stiles had made and just shared memories—good ones, bad ones, the one about Jackson shaving Erica’s hair while she slept and then Erica shaving his eyebrows in retaliation actually made Braeden snort with laughter.
Derek would do anything to hear that carefree sound again.
Their second date is three weeks later when Braeden can slip back into the city, taking him deep into the woods on a full moon so they could dance in the moonlight. Derek’s uncle had always cautioned him about dancing with faeries, said that even a ‘wolf could be ensnared by them, but he’d never mention that silver moonlight made brown skin glow or dark hair look like the waves of the sea whenever Braeden spun.
The dance reminded him of the nights he and his family spent camping, watching the campfire sway and curl so gracefully and rhythmically. He felt clumsy in comparison, but Braeden was smiling and showed him the steps without complaint. She didn’t even mind when he stepped on her toes.
By the time the sun was rising in the east, Derek was breathless and exhilarated and wondering how he’d lived this long without his mate. They walk through Central Park together until they reach the entrance to the Courts, Derek reluctant to release the light hold he had on her hand. Everything, all of his instincts, were screaming at him to keep her with him, to take her to his pack and let them scent her so she smelled like safety.
Those thoughts were derailed when her lips brushed his cheek, the only thought left in his brain a soft murmur of family.
It’s not until they’ve been together for nearly a year that she moves in with him and the others, looking freer than he’s ever seen her before. There was a shift in the hierarchy, but his Betas never once whined about the fact that their Alpha’s mate wasn’t a ‘wolf or that they had to give Braeden the same respect they gave him.
If anything, they offered the fey respect easier than they had their Alpha. Derek would probably be miffed if he wasn’t so delighted at the prospect of having his mate’s scent all over his home or coming back from work to find her at the center of a puppy pile while she told them stories of what New York had been like two hundred years ago when she was just a child.
Magnus and Alec took some convincing, but Braeden won them over with her dry wit and archery skill, and Alec’s siblings came around after a few lunches. Derek wasn’t worried about them reporting the pack’s treachery to the Clave, not when they had been so against the Cold Peace to begin with.
Javier and Theodosia came to visit one weekend in late fall with the excuse of wanting to see the leaves change. Javi spent most of the week training with the Betas and getting scented after having been away for so long, and he hadn’t hesitated to give Braeden his number, so they could text.
Theo had accepted Braeden right away, the fey and mermaids intertwined by magic and ancient relatives. The Fair Folk wouldn’t be alive if not for mermaids and vice versa, so it was no surprise to anyone when they discovered the pair of them tangled together on the couch and criticizing Ghost Hunters on Syfy.
Braeden, as it turns out, has never been around babies before. Faeries weren’t exactly popping them out left and right since they were a long living race, so it really shouldn’t come as such a shock to Derek when she asks him if there’s a special way she should hold Alejandro when she meets him for the first time.
“Not really,” Derek says, frowning as he tried to remember what he’d read about babies when Theo had been pregnant. “He’s able to support his head by himself now, so you basically just hold him like you would a puppy.”
“Babies are nothing like puppies, Der.”
“They’re loud, they cann’t use a toilet, and they have Peter whipped within five minutes of being around him. The only real difference is that babies have the possibility of growing up to be assholes. Like Jackson.” She nods and doesn’t say anything else for the duration of their flight or the drive there.
Stiles is waiting for them on the front porch when they finally make it to Beacon Hills, Alex settled on his hip in the cute little outfit Lydia had sent just a few weeks ago. “It’s about time you two decided to come see us again,” the warlock greets. “I was starting to think you’d forgotten how to get here.”
“No such luck.”
“Well, damn, I guess I better go hide Melissa’s cake.”
“I’ll sniff it out like a bloodhound.” Stiles grins, clapping a hand against Derek’s shoulder and giving it a squeeze. “You remember Braeden.”
“Of course I do, she’s the one the made you so nervous that you ate all of my ice cream in less than two hours.” He gives her a solid once over, seeming satisfied with what he saw in her. “Dude, she’s way out of your league.”
“I wouldn’t be if he’d stop scowling at everybody,” she comments. And there it is, the very moment Stiles accepted her as his new best friend and the world domination plotting would begin. “It’s nice to see you again, Stiles.”
“You too.” There’s a loud crash inside, followed by Scott’s yelp which meant the Beta had found a way to screw up whatever it is that Peter’s cooking. The string of cursing and the yell of my lasagna, you moron really drove that point home as the three Downworlders cut their gazes to the open doorway. “Alright, time for my favorite game.” He hands Alex off to Braeden and rushes inside to interrupt the building tantrum.
“Derek, what do I do? Oh God, he’s staring at me. Derek, he’s staring at me.” She looks absolutely panicked, brown eyes wide with fear as she shifts her gaze between him and the squirming baby.
“Relax,” he says, arranging the baby in her arms better so that she wasn’t holding him away from her. “He’s not going to bite you.” She doesn’t actually relax until Alex smiles up at her, a single white tooth visible and a little coo leaving him. Braeden frees one of her hands to smooth down some of his bright blue hair, the kinky curls tickling the pads of her fingers.
“He’s so beautiful.” Derek nods in agreement, pressing a kiss to Alex’s forehead and allowing the baby to smell him. He seemed content as he watched them, chewing on one of Braeden’s fingers and babbling every now and then. “Hey, what’s Stiles’ favorite game?” She looks up when Derek lets out a huff of laughter, brows furrowing.
“It’s a joke from when Alex was really gassy as a newborn. He would start to stink, and Stiles would play Hot Potato with anyone close enough to foist him on. He did it to Isaac once and I thought the poor kid was going to cry before Boyd took mercy on him.”
“Both of them, really.”
The Clave finds out about their relationship three years down the line and a lengthy trial ensues. By the end, after extensive questioning and even more thorough poking and prodding, it’s decided that the Hale Pack would no longer receive any sort of support from the Nephilim and they were effectively outcasts.
Of course, that didn’t stop their extended family of Downworlders and Shadowhunters from stopping by every chance they got. Derek liked to think it was a silent protest on behalf of the Fair Folk that hadn’t participated in the Dark War, but he also knew it was the others’ way of giving the Clave the finger.
Derek found he couldn’t care about the ruling, not when Braeden told Inquisitor Lightwood to go fuck himself in front of the entire Council and half of Alicante.