The door slammed shut as Derek toed his boots off, then leaned back against it, sighing heavily. He was clenching and unclenching his hands, eyes closed. He took another deep breath before walking into his living room.
He didn't get very far, though. The muffled sound of the TV reached his ears and he lowered himself down into a crouch, claws growing sharp and fangs piercing through his gums.
A loud, wet pop and a sigh sounded. "Welcome home, sourwolf."
Derek pulled his brow down as he slowly made his way into the living room. He could only see the silhouette of a person sitting on his couch, a commercial quietly playing. The sour smell of alcohol wafted up his nose, a hint of worry and fear following suit.
"Who are you?" he demanded, stepping a little further into the room.
"That's a nice welcome," came the sarcastic reply. Derek let out a low growl. "Oh, don't get feisty now. I'm not looking for a fight."
"Then what are you doing here? And who are you?"
The TV suddenly turned off, sending the room into blackness save for the street light attempting to shine through the blinds. The silhouette on the couch vanished and Derek's eyes darted around the room. He moved slowly, cautiously, hunched over and ready to pounce.
The light flickered on overhead and Derek spun to face the entrance. A young lanky man stood beside the light switch, one hand holding a bottle of champagne and the other resting on the switch. Amber eyes met his, a flicker of amusement dancing across them.
Derek growled and darted toward him, but the man vanished, causing him to scratch paint off the wall.
A whisper sounded behind him, "Missed me." Derek twisted around, thrusting his claws out, then stopped. The man was standing a few feet away, unaffected. "Is that the best you got?"
"Who the hell are you and why are you in my home?!"
"I really shouldn't tell you. But I'm already close to getting fired, so who cares?" The man threw his head back, lips tight around the champagne bottle and he took a few gulps. He wiped the back of his sleeve across his mouth once done and smirked. "I'm a cupid called Stiles. I'm here because you are going to literally ruin my life."
Derek raised one eyebrow, but stayed in his predatory position. "Cupid is just a myth. Now, who are you really?"
Stiles rolled his eyes. "Fine. Don't believe me. But my name really is Stiles and you're screwing up my life."
Claws shortening and fangs receding back into his gums, Derek crossed his arms over his chest. "How so?"
"Because if I can't get you a mate, I'm gonna lose my job!"
"You heard me!" The younger man moved into the werewolf's personal space, an accusatory finger inches from Derek's nose, the strong scent of champagne filling his nostrils. "This is all your fault! If you could actually communicate and not constantly have your head up your ass I wouldn't be here!"
A growl slipped past Derek's lips as he glared back at the boy. "You have the guts to talk to a werewolf like that in his own home? An Alpha werewolf?"
"Damn right I do!" Derek let another growl slip out as he dropped his arms to his sides and stood a little straighter, getting himself an inch away from Stiles' face. The boy narrowed his eyes, not backing down. "Don't flash your angry red eyes at me. That does nothing."
The boy's heart-shaped lips lifted into a smirk, that spark of amusement flaring in his eyes. "Nope." Derek snarled and shoved past him, making his way toward his bedroom. "I know about Paige." He came to a halt, his blood freezing in his veins as his eyes widened. A loud gulp sounded, quickly followed by a loud sigh. "I know she's the reason you gave up on dating. But you keep torturing yourself because of your pack. That and you're the last Hale. Kinda need some kids to keep that name going."
Derek pulled his lips over his fangs as they dropped down and spun around, practically flying across the room and slamming both fists into the opposite wall, caging Stiles in. He roared in the boy's face, a flicker of smugness igniting in him when the boy flinched and cowered against the wall.
"How dare you!" His voice dripped with anger, words slightly muffled through his fangs. "You come into my home and act as though you own the place. I don't care who you are or what you want. Just get out or I'll throw you out!"
Wide amber eyes stared up at him as he breathed heavily through his mouth, trying to keep his wolf at bay. He could feel it pacing and howling in the back of his mind, and if he wasn't careful, it would slip out and do who knows what.
He paused when he noticed tears filling the boy's eyes, bottom lip trembling. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean any trouble. It's just... my dad... I had to..." Before Derek could blink, panic surged up his nostrils and he reared his head back at the sudden change of smell. He faintly heard the champagne bottle crack as it hit the floorboards, the sound of quickened breathing and a rapid heartbeat overpowering anything else.
Stiles was gripping his head as tears rolled down his cheeks, body shaking, chest heaving. Derek heard his wolf let out a loud whine and he quickly turned human again, mind going a mile a minute. Inhaling once to calm himself, he gently grabbed the boy's biceps and bent over slightly.
"Stiles!" The boy's heartbeat skyrocketed, causing Derek to clench his jaw in frustration. "Stiles, calm down! Breathe with me! In and out. In and out." He pulled one of the boy's hands over onto his chest, right above the heart, and continued his mantra until the boy had calmed down.
"Thanks..." The boy muttered, his gaze lowered.
"What was that about?" Derek tried to make his tone gentle, but it came out harsher than he intended and his wolf growled.
Stiles slid down to the floor, wrapping his arms around his legs. "It's so stupid. We were so stupid. I didn't know what was gonna happen... Or that it would..."
Derek put a firm hand on the boy's knee as he crouched down in front of him. "Slow down before you throw yourself into another panic attack. Start from the beginning."
A sigh escaped the boy's lips and glanced up at Derek through his lashes. "I recently got into supernatural stuff. Like werewolves, witches, demons, all that jazz. One night, I convinced my friend to do a ritual with me. The website I'd found it on had said it was fake, a fun game or something. I'd even checked other websites and none of them said it was real!" The werewolf squeezed his fingers slightly on the boy's knee when Stiles breath hitched. "Well... we did it. Nothing happened, we laughed it off and just hung out like we normally would.
"But the next day, a deputy showed up at my place and said my dad, the sheriff, was gone. His cruiser was still at the station, his desk still in use as if he'd just walked away. So I went to call my friend for help, but when I got to my room, some woman was there. She told me I had do this for her or she would kill my dad.
"I didn't want to do it, I really didn't. I did all the research I could on her and the only thing that pulled up was... was that she's a demon. She said she'd let him go if I found you a mate." Stiles eyes met Derek's, fear and panic dancing just beneath their surface. "Look, dude, I didn't even know who you were, but she has my dad and she won't let him go until this is done!"
"So you made a deal with a demon," Derek summarized, his voice void of any emotion. "A demon that you summoned."
Stiles' heart skipped a beat, then started pounding in his chest, panic permeating off of him. "All my resources said it was a fake!"
The werewolf took a breath and leveled his gaze with Stiles'. "If you made a deal with a demon, why did you call yourself a cupid?"
Pink colored the young man's cheek as he turned away. "I didn't have much time before she sent me here... It was the best I could come up with."
"And the champagne?"
"Mostly for looks." Derek raised an eyebrow when Stiles glanced at him. "Okay, not really for looks... I've been freaking out this entire time and I found some in your pantry - seriously, dude, your pantry? What if you had kids?" Stiles swallowed nervously at the look Derek gave him. "I didn't get a chance to take my Adderall and it helped calm me down, okay?"
"How do you know all that about me?"
"The demon told me. I swear I wasn't stalking you! I mean, not that I would, 'cause I'm not a stalker! My best friend, Scott, on the other hand-"
"Stop talking," Derek snapped as he stood, glaring at the wall. His wolf was pacing again, restless. One thing didn't seem add up, though. He glanced down at the mole-dotted boy. "How did you move across the room so fast earlier?"
"Uh, it's a secret?" Stiles gave him a hopeful grin that quickly vanished when a low, rumbling growl vibrated in Derek's chest. "Okay, fine. The real reason I got into the supernatural is because I have a spark. Not like fire or anything. But like a spark of-"
"Magic," the werewolf finished for him. Stiles eyes widened in surprise and he stumbled to his feet.
"Yeah, how'd you know?!" Derek gave him an incredulous look. "Right, werewolf. Guess I drank a bit too much of the champagne..."
Rolling his eyes, he stepped away from the boy and started to pace the room, his wolf itching underneath his skin. "Did the demon give you a time limit?"
"Not that I remember. Why? You familiar with them?"
"Not really. I've only heard stories. But I wouldn't be surprised if it did."
"Oh. Well, how are we supposed to stop her then? Unless you have a mate in mind?"
"It doesn't work like that for us, for werewolves. We all have mates, a person that we're destined to be with for the rest of our lives."
"Like a soulmate."
Derek stared at him for a moment, sorting through his thoughts. "Similar, yes. We don't get to pick our mates. They're chosen for us. But not all werewolves have mates."
"And you thought you didn't have one, even after Paige..."
Stiles jumped back slightly when the wolf gave him a sharp look. "How do you know that?"
"Based off all of the information the demon gave me, I just kinda figured it out," he mumbled, voice shaking slightly.
Derek stalked over to Stiles, heartbeat racing. "What all did it tell you about her?"
Stiles seemed reluctant, his eyes shifting as he fumbled with the hem of his shirt. Derek let a growl slip and the dam opened, "She said that you two had been dating for a while and you were convinced she was your mate. But on prom night, you two got into a car accident and she was on the brink of death. You rushed her to your mom, who was the alpha at the time, and begged her to turn Paige, but she didn't. She told you that Paige was too weak and the best thing you could do was put her out of her misery. But your dad did it for you and-"
"Enough!" The room seemed to shake at Derek's roar, his voice breaking slightly from emotion. He turned away from the human as he tried to pull himself back together.
Stiles voice was quiet when he spoke again. "Paige told you to move on. But you promised her you wouldn't, even if you found your mate. Why?"
Derek closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths. His chest felt like it was being squeezed, like he couldn't breathe. "Because she was my first love."
"But isn't your mate supposed to be everything to you? Even trump any love you have for someone else?"
Derek sighed. "Yes. That's how I felt about her."
"Which is why you suck at dating," Stiles concluded. "You don't want to because you think you met your mate and she's gone." Derek remained silent, refusing to look back at the boy. "You're not going to help me, are you?"
The smell of salt wafted up his nose and he glanced back at the boy. Amber eyes shone bright through tears, long fingers gripping the hem of his shirt as Stiles gave him a longing stare, his lower lip stuck between his teeth to keep from trembling. His wolf whined in the back of his head as sadness and despair hit him.
Either this kid was a damn good actor or that champagne seriously messed with his emotions.
"Where did you last see the demon?"