"Love. I put my faith in Love. I followed where it led. To my personal circle of Hell, it has not worked out well, I wish that I were dead…” - Chip on My Shoulder, Legally Blonde
Derek Hale knows what he looks like.
He has EYES, okay.
And he also knows how to use what he looks like to his own advantage, when he needs to manipulate. He did it with the cop at the front desk so Stiles could sneak past, he did it with Erica to get her to take the bite, he’s done it.
It’s true that he doesn’t do it often – not because it’s ineffective. But because he knows it’s all a lie. Which – manipulation, of course it’s a lie. But his looks work at catching others attentions even when he doesn’t want it.
He knows what he looks like.
And the truth is, most women only want him for his looks.
And the further truth is, everyone judges him by those looks.
And the truest thing of all is his looks are deceiving.
What you would expect is not what you get, with Derek.
He does play sports, and he’s good at them, but he doesn’t really care for it. Except for Baseball. (He loves Baseball.)
He does work out, but not because he enjoys it. (He works out so he can kill the people who want to kill him.)
He looks like a jock. And the truth is? (He’s a nerd.)
He prefers to read, to stay at home, to be around close ones. He’ll skip the club for his couch any day. (not that he has a couch. Fighting to survive here, no time to get a COUCH,)
He liked school, homework and math and English. English was his favorite.
And when he was 13 Uncle Peter took him to his first broadway show and he fell in love. It was The Annie, he remembered.
He complained about it but Peter bribed him with baseball gear and the book he’d wanted, and his complaints ended the second the lights went down.
There was something about the lights and the music, about the emotions in the room and small catches of breath he heard during the high points, the way his own breath caught without his own choice. And there was something about the girl about his age, grinning and covered in makeup, who only showed up periodically, but who’d caught his attention at her only two solo lines,
"Don't it feel like the wind is always howling,” "No one's there if your dreams at night gets creepy"
After the show he’d told his Peter it was okay. But he didn’t tell him all the reasons why.
After that, Peter took him to two shows a year, at least, up until the fire. And then he and Laura in New York, and there were so MANY shows, but he only went to ones in which a certain someone was cast.
Then Laura was dead and he was back in Beacon Hills, and it had been almost a year since he’d gone to a show.
He wondered, mechanically, as he strode down main street, gaze unblinkingly focused in front of him, even as he felt the eyes of passersby on him, as he heard the intake of breath at the sight of him.
He wondered if he should check on St. Ski’s next show. Just in case he made it through everything.
And that’s when he heard it.
He paused in front of an alleyway.
He leaned back, scanning through the garbage, focusing in on someone, a woman, laying on the disgusting ground, the top half of her body obscured by the dumpster she had crawled under.
And she was humming.
He heard scratching, realizing then what was going on, and intrigued, he moved closer. She paused in her humming to mutter, “Come here kitties, to me babies.”
Derek stopped a few feet away and smirked. The woman wiggled her feet, letting out a small grunt as she tried to finagle the cat into the bag. “Aw, screw it,” the woman muttered, and a chorus of tinny mews followed her words, the dumpster shaking as she gave up on coaxing.
Kittens, Derek realized, crossing his arms.
Obviously successful, she wriggled out from under the dumpster, settling onto her knees and dumping her catch into the bag next to her as gently as possible.
And Derek froze.
She grinned into her bag, brown eyes alight, letting out a huff of breath that blew strands of brown hair out of her face.
Derek blinked a few times, still processing what – WHO – was right in front of him, which gave her time to notice him.
She jumped slightly, then smiled awkwardly. “Ah. Hey, I didn’t realize anyone was there.” He reached out a hand to help her up and she took it with a grateful sigh.
He caught a whiff of berries and pine and sheet music and gulped.
“I know that looked weird, probably,” She started with a huff of laughter. “I just, it’s kittens, right? I can’t leave them. You know, what with their mom,” She gestured helpfully towards the dead cat a few feet away and Derek tilted his head.
He hadn’t even noticed.
“Anyway. I’m Cassi.”
“I know,” Derek blurt out. And then he frowned. Because that’s not a creepy thing to say.
But Cassi just grinned and carefully pulled the strap of her bag over one shoulder. “Broadway fan, then?” She guessed ruefully.
He shrugged and then nodded and then frowned, and her smile widened.
“Aw yes,” She agreed, eyes crinkling at the corner in amusement. “I completely understand.”
The silence lingered for a moment and Derek’s mind raced to think of something to say.
“So – you like cats?” Was what came out of his mouth, and he winced. Wow. Nicely done, Hale. But she just smiled and shrugged.
“You could say that,” She agreed. “What’s your name?”
Derek’s eyebrows lowered. That would’ve been a much better thing to say than “SO YOU LIKE CATS?”
“It’s Derek,” He grumbled.
“Derek,” She chirped. “Do you by chance know where the vets office is?” He nodded curtly and started striding out of the alleyway. The Vets. Deaton’s. Yeah. He could do that. It was only when she lurched forward with a grunt that he realized he’d never let her hand go after helping her up. REALLY, Hale? But Cassi just laughed and removed her hand from his to move it to the crook of his elbow.
“Lead the way,” She said gallantly, matching his pace and letting the rest of their walk descend into silence.
The front door tinkled as Derek opened it and stepped in, and Deaton appeared two seconds later.
Probably on high alert, Derek recognized, what with everything.
Deaton glanced first at Derek, expression blank, and then he turned to Cassi, who’d stepped away from Derek and was clutching the handle of her bag with both hands.
“A celebrity,” Deaton said in surprise, a small smile quirking at his mouth.
Cassi huffed. “A broadway fan?” She guessed and Deaton tilted his head, the smile on his face remaining.
“I do believe Cassi St. Ski’s fame exceeds the broadway fandom,” he pointed out lightly, and Cassi brushed off the recognition with a shrug. “And what can I do for you?” He asked Cassi the question, but his flickered to Derek.
Derek shook his head back subtly as Cassi beamed and held out her bag. “Kittens! Four weeks, mom got ran over, it looked like. They were living in an alley, so a general exam for all of them and then supplements?”
“A vet in the making,” Deaton said approvingly as he took the bag from her.
“Just an animal lover,” she snorted. “My nineteen year old ass still hasn’t graduated high school yet.”
“I do believe you were a little busy,” Deaton guessed and she grinned.
“A little,” she agreed. “Do you think you’ll have room to board them for a few days? I still gotta find a rental, so I can’t take them home until I, you know,” She smiled over her shoulder at Derek like they were sharing a joke, and he just stared at her. By the time he’d thought of an appropriate face to make back, she’d already returned her attention to Deaton. “have a home to take them to,” she finished.
“You want to take them all?” He asked in surprise. “There are only four of them,” She shrugged like that was nothing. “And they’ve been through a traumatic experience. Family should stick together after trauma,” She said it like she was speaking from experience, and Derek winced.
“Right,” Deaton pulled the kittens out of her bag and Derek took a small step forward to get a good look at them.
One was a tabby, gray and black striped with a little white nose. Two were gray with white bellies, and the fourth was a bright orange and white splotched. They were cute, Derek could admit. But they were cats. And – Derek had never been around cats. His family were werewolves – they were their own pets. So he was a little interested.
Deaton glanced them over and then nodded. “I’m free, so I’ll do their exams now,” He mused, “and Scott can get them situated for the night when he gets in.”
“Scott?” Derek asked, just as Cassi asked the same question. He shot her a strange look, and she did the same.
“Yes,” Deaton said after a beat.
“My assistant,” he explained to Cassi, who nodded slowly.
“Of course. So I’m good to come pick them up on Monday?” Deaton nodded and she grinned. “Perfect. Do I pay now, or?”
“No charge,” Deaton said with a smile, and she opened her mouth to argue. “You’re taking all of them home with you,” He pointed out. “That’s payment enough. See you on Monday, Miss St. Ski.” He smiled and nodded. “Derek,” He shot Derek a serious look, and then he was disappearing into his back room.
Cassi turned and smiled at Derek. “Well he’s interesting. You wanna go for a walk?”
And Derek shouldn’t. He had fifteen billion other things he should be doing, be thinking about, worrying about.
But it was Cassi St. Ski.
So he nodded.
They walked through town, quiet at first.
And then she took a deep breath and held it. After a few moments she exhaled, smiling. “It’s so different,” she admitted.
“You’ve been here before?” Derek checked, and she nodded.
She walked hands shoved into the pockets of her gray jacket, her white Nike’s scuffing the sidewalk lightly as they walked. “I was born here,” She said with a grin and Derek started. She was? “My mom was a deputy and my dad an accountant, boring origin story, right?”
“Yes,” Derek agreed, and she nudged him lightly.
“Yeah I know. Is it more exciting when I say mom was 32 and having an affair with a 20 year old, who was 98% likely to be my actual father?”
“I guess that spices it up,” Derek said, feigning nonchalance, even as he internally grimaced. It was hard for most people to tell when he was joking. But she threw her head back and laughed.
“Yeah,” She agreed. “It does. Unfortunately I popped out brown, so jailbait was 100% not my daddy.”
“My biological dad was awful,” She admitted. Derek didn’t know what to say to that. So instead, he frowned.
“20 isn’t jailbait.” “No but 15 is,” She shuddered. “And that was when Jailbait and mommy dearest started their illicit affair.”
It was Derek’s turn to frown. That was too similar to his own story.
“Back to your original question,” Cassi quickly changed the subject, “I lived here until dad got transferred when I was 8. And then mom died in a work-related incident,” she rolled her eyes, “and no way in hell was my biological father raising me without supervision.”
Derek wanted to ask when she shuddered at that, and then decided he didn’t need to.
“Is that why you auditioned for the Lion King?” He asked.
She shot him a look, eyebrow quirked in surprise. “Yeah, actually.” She stopped walking and looked at him for a second. “So you’re a big fan then?” She teased, and he grit his teeth, doing his best not to flush. It didn’t work very well, if her wide smile was anything to go by. She ducked her head and wrapped a hand back into the crook of his elbow, propelling him forward. He didn’t know why she kept doing that – But he wasn’t complaining. They walked for a few minutes in silence and then she froze.
“Oh!” She fumbled in her jacket pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. In loopy handwriting, four addresses were written on it. “Do you know where these are?” Derek wrinkled his nose.
He did – one was in the wrong part of town (actually around the corner from his loft, which just goes to show the kind of people that lived in that part of town,), one was a dumpy two bedroom, and one was the Argent’s old house, (and no way in HELL). The fourth was a new construction on the edge of the preserve, a bigger place made in the craftsman style on a huge plot of land. He ripped the paper, separating the first three addresses from the fourth and tossed the larger half into the trash. She watched, trying to hide a smile.
“Well,” She reasoned as he started walking again. “I only need one.”
He led her to his car, opened the door for her, and headed towards the only acceptable place. She’d pulled her phone out and started tapping away as soon as they’d got in and Derek let her, letting himself consider what the hell he was doing.
He was supposed to be coming up with a plan, attempting to process everything that had happened last night, try to find out where Deucalion was hiding – he should be doing anything BUT driving his childhood crush around and helping her rescue kittens.
He pulled into the driveway and she glanced up and grinned.
“I love it,” She agreed immediately. Derek shrugged. It wasn’t bad, about as he’d remembered it. White paint, light wood colors made the home look modern but the large posts and wide windows gave the place a farmhouse feel. The front yard was manicured which contrasted with the wilds of the preserve, clearly marking where the lot began and ended.
She hopped out of the car to move closer, peeking into windows and running a hand down the posts, and Derek considered that it was probably a good time to leave.
But instead of leaving he got out of the car and joined her.
“The real estate agent is on her way,” she chirped when he reached her side. “Wanna jump the fence and sneak into the backyard?”
Which is how he found himself sitting on the back porch an hour later while the real estate explained price and next steps, her eyes bright and her cheeks flushed, obviously star struck. Cassi ignored it to consider the home in front of her.
And then she nodded. “I’ll take it.”
Which was another perfect opportunity to leave, Derek recognized.
Which is how Derek found himself walking in the preserve an hour later, Cassi St. Ski at his side.