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Queer Eye for the Werewolf-kinda Guy

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Season 1, Episode 5: “Don´t Be Such A Sourwolf”

‘The Loft’ was the most pretentious thing Stiles Stilinski had ever laid his eyes upon.

Entering the vast space in the former factory building you were instantly struck by how impersonal everything appeared: There were no pictures on the wall, no pieces of clothing all over the place, no half-finished bottles of juice standing around nor were there any other indicators that you didn’t just enter a IKEA catalogue for the suburban 25+ hipster.

For fucks sake, there was even a bowl filled with avocados on the spotless kitchen counter. Enough for at least seven or so slices of toast.

Stiles was pretty sure that there were quite a few millennials out there who would cry at that sight.

Maybe he was still so salty about it because the producers just wouldn’t allow him to actually use the oven in order to make himself some curly fries because it would ‘ruin the aesthetic’. Objectively speaking, the base from which the Los Angeles ‘Fabulous Five’ operated was a stylish and tastefully furnished loft that would make any suburban mom cry in joy (“Josh, there´s even a walk-in closet!”), but it was nothing new, nothing that expressed the personality of the people who were supposed to work from here.

Stiles didn’t even know why he was spending so many thoughts about it: It wasn’t as if the team was spending much time here, anyway. For most of the show they would drive to whoever needed them and would stay in a motel nearby until they were finished filming the episode. But that wasn’t as fabulous as The Loft.

“I can hear you gnashing your teeth from over here,” Lydia remarked from where she was sitting on the couch, typing furiously on her phone. Out of all of them she had by far the biggest social following and especially loved to engage with bigots who came at her for either being gay, being a woman or being supernatural until they deactivated their account because they just couldn’t stand up to her intelligence and wit.

Honestly, casting Lydia and Allison as part of the Fabulous Five for a spin-off of ‘Queer Eye’ after the smashing success of the first two seasons had been a master stroke of Netflix. It opened the show up for new target groups and added a new flavour to the team dynamics. Together with the relocation to LA from Atlanta, the LA ‘Queer Eye’ was exactly the right mixture between the things that had made the first seasons so exceptional and new stuff to keep the viewers from getting bored. But honestly, Stiles didn’t believe that anyone could ever get bored of Jonathan, Karamo, Anthony, Tan and Bobby. Which is why they were still doing their own thing in Atlanta while Stiles and Co. were ‘only’ a spin-off.

“I´m not gnashing,” Stiles replied. “I´m just bored.”

“Tell me something new,” Isaac drawled, leaning against the fridge while also sipping from his orange juice. If you didn’t know him you could easily mistake him for a Grade A douchebag with his ridiculous scarves, sarcastic remarks and way too blue eyes that looked at you as if they could uncover your every secret. But underneath he was all about happiness, romance and vests. “I´ve already read through all of my blogs, discovered four new trends and reblogged the ‘Hi Jeffrey, I´m afraid’ mail, like, twice.” He sighed. “When has the world become so stale?”

“Laying on quite thick, aren’t we?” Stiles snarked back.

“Boys!” Lydia exclaimed. “Dial down the testosterone, will you?” She rolled her eyes. “Allison and Boyd are in a meeting with the producers. They´re giving us our next candidate.” Her gaze fell back onto her phone after the characteristic swooshing sound had announced the arrival of a new message. “And she´s just texted me to collect you and come down to the car.” She stood up, straightened her skirt (which was already perfect), picked up her purse and walked towards the door, obviously expecting Isaac and Stiles to follow her.

“I hope it´s not a Christian Wendigo again,” Isaac mumbled as they walked down the stairs. Stiles shuddered when he remembered the episode Isaac was talking about. That had been downright weird on so many levels.

“Thanks for reminding me,” he muttered. Isaac just laughed at him.

When they walked out on the street Boyd and Allison were already waiting for them in the car, Allison sitting behind the wheel while Boyd had taken his customary seat behind the front passenger. Without hesitation Lydia opened the co-driver´s door and got in the car.

Stiles looked at Isaac. “Last time I had to squash myself between you and Boyd, so this time my delicious bubble butt´s gonna get that sweet left seat.” Isaac rolled his eyes but made no attempt to fight Stiles for the seat, which he would have won, seeing as he was a werewolf while Stiles was a fragile bundle of ADHD and sarcasm who couldn’t even walk straight without tripping over his own feet.

When everyone had finally found their respective seat, Allison started the engine and then they were already rolling through the streets of Los Angeles.

“How are you doing, Boyd?” Stiles asked, turning towards the least outspoken of the Fabulous Five. “Finally going for that stand-up comedy routine?” The other man just looked at Stiles like he was the most stupid being in existence, but by now Stiles was immune it, so he kept Boyd´s gaze…until it got, like, weirdly intense and he had to look away out of fear that he would spontaneously combust.

“Who do we have this time?” Isaac asked the question that was burning on everyone´s tongue. Lydia grabbed the tablet from the glove box, but before she unlocked it, she bent forward to switch on the dashcam as they were contractually obliged to do. The moment they started discussing the candidate they needed to film so that the postproduction crew had enough material to choose from.

“This week we have Derek Hale, werewolf, aged 27,” Lydia informed them after she had skimmed over the short introduction text with the most important pointers. Before she could continue, Stiles had bent forward and snatched the tablet right out of her hands. Lydia sent him an evil glare, but she was powerless to stop him unless she wanted to ruin her outfit by ungracefully manoeuvring in the car.

“He´s a total sourwolf,” Stiles continued. “His sister says that he never leaves the house for more than a few hours and only has one friend.”

“Sounds like someone who really needs our help,” Allison remarked thoughtfully. “Who nominated him?” Now it was Isaac´s turn to snatch the tablet out of Stiles’ hands.

“The aforementioned friend,” he answered. He hit play and the application video started playing. Derek´s friend was a bombshell of a woman: Lush blonde hair, model proportions, but also green eyes that shone with kindness and a smile that was a hundred percent honest.

“I´ve turned to the Fabulous Five because I´ve seen what great work they did in Atlanta and I really hope that new Los Angeles Fab Five continue that,” she spoke. “Their message about acceptance and self-love came at a time in my life when I was at my all-time low and really helped me to turn my life around. Especially Jonathan made me laugh when no one else could.” She paused for a moment, collecting herself. “But Derek played an even more important role in my life. Without him I wouldn’t even be here. My whole life I´ve suffered severe epilepsy attacks, which became so bad that the doctors only gave me a few more years to live. And even though Derek barely knew me back then, he offered me the Bite and went through all the bureaucratic loops, just so that I could have a new chance at living. He´s always giving and giving, but now I want to give him something in return. And I guess that´s where you five come in.

Derek´s been a real recluse ever since nearly his whole family died, because he blames himself for it, even if it isn´t true. I´ve tried to tell him that, Cora tried to tell him and even his douche of an uncle Peter doesn’t blame him, but Derek just won´t listen. Maybe he´ll listen to you. Derek really needs someone to tell him to get off his cute ass and go get the life he deserves.”

The video changed, now showing a derelict house, its paint job flaking off, its windows coated with a thick sheen of dust or broken while slowly but surely nature was encroaching on what had once been a well-kept garden. From somewhere inside the house a voice was shouting: “I don’t need any help! I´m fine!” The state of the house belied that statement.

“He didn’t seem to be very cooperative,” Boyd stated without emotion.

“He has to be, at least a little bit,” Lydia remarked. “After all, he did agree to star in the episode, otherwise we wouldn’t be travelling all the way to…where are we driving to exactly?” She turned towards Allison.

“Beacon Hills,” Allison replied. “Somewhere North of Sacramento.”

“That´s a six-hour drive at least,” Stiles moaned.

“What are you whining about?” Isaac snapped at him. “You´re not the one being forced to endure the whole drive in the middle seat.”

“You´re allowed to choose the music, what do you say about that, Isaac?” Allison chimed in.

“Noooo!” Stiles exclaimed. “I won´t survive six hours of Halsey and The Chainsmokers.”

“I always thought I´d be revolutionising the fashion industry by the time I turned twenty-three, but now I´m here, having three children on the backseat of my mini-van, like some suburban mom whose husband is cheating on her with their gardener because he never got the chance to explore his repressed sexuality in college,” Lydia sighed. Boyd harrumphed. “You´re fine, Boyd.”

“What do you want to listen to, Isaac?” Allison asked. The blonde devil just grinned wickedly at Stiles before he opened his mouth and replied: “Closer.”

Stiles screams of anguish must have been heard throughout the whole city.

 

Beacon Hills was the perfect serial killer town.

It was big enough that new faces didn’t stand out, but not big enough that you could get lost in the anonymity. It was surrounded on all sides by either forest or mountains with only one street coming from the west, cutting through the town and connecting it with the faraway Pacific coast in the East. There were a few villages along its course, but the next town was at least a one-hour drive away, meaning the that Beacon Hills Police station had to cover a lot of ground by itself. Additionally, there were rumours about all kind of wild animals surrounding the barely tamed nature and even some about of various kind of supernatural beings that were supposed to live there, too.

The perfect environment for a mysterious serial killer.

At least that was what Stiles thought. Also, you had shitty reception, at least with his carrier, so you couldn’t even call the police if said serial killer came for you.

“Why are you even in this show?” Isaac grumbled. “And not in CSI:LA as the annoying forensic doctor who´s got exactly one witty line before he´s shoved in the background again?”

“Because without me the show wouldn’t have the Stiles Factor, obviously,” Stiles shot back, relishing the annoyed eyeroll his statement elicited from Isaac.

“Our first stop is at Derek´s friend´s,” Lydia interrupted them. “The camera team´s already waiting there for us. We´re gonna do some shots where she tells us something about Derek and then we´re gonna pay him a visit.”

“Sounds good,” Boyd voiced his approval.

Erica Reyes lived, well, not in the suburbs, because Beacon Hills wasn´t big enough to have them, but she lived in a part of the town where the fences where white, the lawns were cut and all the houses were painted in near identical cream colours, the only thing distinguishing them from each other the big numbers hanging next to the front doors.

“It´s like the Stepford Wives,” Lydia commented as they drove over another junction with the same houses in every direction.

“It´s nearly as worse as back in LA,” Stiles agreed with her.

“That´s her house,” Allison said, pointing at one of the generic houses. Stiles would have completely overlooked it if there wasn’t the big white van of their camera crew standing in front of it. “Everyone ready?” Everyone nodded.

They parked the car at the side of the street and walked towards the house. Stiles nodded at Dave, one of their camera men who he may or may not have kissed once when they both had been drunk. Dave was pretty cool about it, though. Besides, he had a girlfriend now and they were, like, sickening cute and adorable.

“I wanna ring the bell,” Stiles proclaimed. “I have the cutest face out of all of us. If she sees Isaac first, she might just shut the door in front of our faces.” And without waiting for the others’ reply (which in Isaac´s case would have probably been only a dark glower, anyway) Stiles pressed down on the button underneath the ‘Reyes’ lettering. Behind him Dave shouldered his camera and began shooting.

It only took a few seconds and the door was opened by Erica. If Stiles wasn´t as gay as a rainbow he would have made a double-take, because, hot damn, the woman was the bomb! Honestly, she could probably walk over men everywhere in her ten-inch-heels and they would thank her for the honour. She was just surrounded by an aura that screamed her confidence in the world. A ‘touch me and you´re dead’ vibe that parted crowds everywhere.

“Wow,” Stiles mouthed. Erica just quirked her eyebrows at him.

“Sure you´re gay?” she teased. “Because for someone worshipping dicks you´re really staring intensively at my boobs.”

“Well, they´re really great…y’know…boobs,” Stiles defended himself lamely. He could practically hear the other four rolling their eyes at him.

“So much for a good impression,” Isaac muttered.

“What Stiles was trying to say before his primitive testosterone manbrain took over was that we´re the LA Fabulous Five and we´re here and we´re ready to turn your best friend´s life around,” Lydia interrupted, shoving herself in front of Stiles.

“I kinda guessed that already,” Eric replied with a bright smile. “Well then, come in, come in. My folk´s currently not around, so I guess you just have me to interview for a sob story.” Erica´s home wasn’t furnished in a special or outstanding way. It was a well-cared and lived in family home, evident in the random things that were lying around, like a barbie doll or a Lightning McQueen replica which Stiles nearly tripped over. Erica led them into the living room which was dominated by a large couch on one and a wide flatscreen on the other side. It was turned on, the pause screen showing the first episode of the Atlanta Queer Eyes season.

“I thought I´d prepare myself as best as I could,” Erica explained when she noticed Stiles gaze. “So that I have answers to all embarrassing questions you might ask.”

“We´d never!” Stiles exclaimed mock-scandalised. Then he plunged himself onto the couch, right between Isaac and Boyd.

“So,” Allison started. “Why don´t you tell us why you called us here.”

“Well, it´s a long story,” Erica answered. “It´s about my alpha but also my friend, Derek Hale. You´ve seen my audition tape, so you know the rough gist of it. I´ve had a severe case of epilepsy which would have killed me eventually. The doctors only gave me a few years to live and…it was the most horrible time of my life.” Erica swallowed. “It was like this shadow suddenly loomed over everything I did and wouldn’t go away, no matter how happy or not I was. My family would treat me like I´d fall apart at any moment and that in turn made me angry at them and angry at me for being angry at them.

Then one day, Derek offered to give me the Bite. One thing you have to know about Derek is that he´s not very subtle. One day I was shopping groceries and suddenly he stood next to me and made me his offer. Right in the middle of our Walmart!” She laughed.

“It didn’t happen right then, of course. There are a lot of bureaucratic hurdles before an alpha can give anyone the Bite, but in the end, Derek was allowed to. And I´ve never looked back since then.”

“Why did he choose you?” Boyd asked.

“He knew I was sick,” Erica replied. “He could smell it on me. He said that if he decided to bite someone, it would be someone the Bite could help. Someone who would see it as the gift it was and not as some membership card for an exclusive club.” Stiles liked what he heard. Derek seemed to be a very thoughtful guy.

“Tell us more about Derek,” Allison spoke up. “You´ve told us that he lives as a reclusive ever since his family died.”

“Yeah,” Erica started, “It´s not something we usually talk about, but I think you need to know it so that you can give Derek the help he needs.” She swallowed. “Nearly all of Derek´s family died in a house fire about six years ago. Only his uncle Peter and his sister Cora survived. But that´s not the worst: The fire wasn’t an accident. As it turns out, Derek´s then girlfriend secretly was a Hunter.”

A collective gasp went through the Fab 5. Like the KKK, the Hunters was a bigoted society slash political party whose members were bigots on a range from ‘harmless’ ‘I don´t hate the supernatural but my daughter´s only allowed to marry a human’ to ‘It´s our job to finish what Hitler started’ aka genocide. All around just pleasant people to be around, for sure.

“She circled the house with wolfsbane before she laid the fire,” Erica continued, obviously wrestling with her composure. “Derek was sixteen back then and she twenty-two.” Stiles hadn’t thought it was possible, but he felt even sicker than before.

“That´s horrible,” Lydia whispered. Isaac wore a grim expression, his lips set into a thin line, Allison looked like she wanted to bridge the gap between her and Erica and hug the pain away while Boyd´s face was as expressionless as ever, only his eyes betraying the emotions that raged in his mind.

“Derek blames himself for it,” Erica finished. “Has ever since then. He still lives in their old home, even though it’s a burnt-out husk of a house. Peter, Cora…we all tried to make him understand that he´s not to blame, but what use are words of others when you yourself are the one giving yourself the most grief?” Now the tears were running down her cheeks. Allison, no longer able to hold herself back, stood up, walked around the living room table and engulfed Erica in a fierce hug.

Having been recipient of quite a few of Allison´s hugs himself, Stiles could only attest to their effectiveness at chasing away any negativity you might harbour in your mind.

“I just want him to be happy,” Erica sobbed.

“And we´re gonna help you make that happen,” Allison promised. “Do you want to come with us? We´re going to Derek next. Maybe he´d like to have your support?” Lydia offered Erica a tissue which the blonde took to wipe away her tears and her smudged mascara. Then she nodded.

“I guess I should go with you,” she mumbled. “Even though Derek agreed to it, he doesn’t do well with strangers.” She laughed, still a little bit shaken from her prior emotional outburst. “Hell, half the time I want to strangle him and I´ve known him for years.”

“Sounds like a hell of a guy,” Stiles commented.

“Oh, believe me,” Erica replied. “He definitely is.”

Stiles would ask Dave to give him a copy of the expressions Lydia and Allison were currently wearing. This mixture or disbelief, incredulousness and straight-out horror was pure gold and Stiles would set it as background to all of their computers back at the loft, even if it meant that both girls would kill him in a most painful way.

“Oh my God,” Lydia whispered, too exhausted for anything else.

“I can´t work with this,” Allison added. She looked like she was about to burst into tears at any given moment. “I quit.”

“It´s not that bad,” Isaac tried to lift their spirits, but he failed miserably.

“That´s not a house, that´s a ruin,” Allison continued. “Does it even have electricity? Or running water?”

“Yeah, in one room in the cellar,” Erica supplied. Allison just closed her eyes and counted to ten.

“At least that Christian wendigo had an apartment,” Lydia commented. “This is nothing.”

Stiles had to agree with her: To call the structure that loomed in front of them a house was a wide stretch. Once it probably had been both a house and a home, housing the whole Hale pack in its many rooms, but now its windows were broken and clouded by dust, its walls cracked open and coated in grime and its ground covered with ash. There were many footprints that led into and out of the house, evidence that someone still lived there, but otherwise it looked like the set for a horror movie.

“Why don´t you see it in a positive light, Allison,” Stiles suggested. “You don´t have to spend any time on clearing it out. You can start straight with the renovating.” From the doubtful expression on her face, Stiles doubted that Allison was seeing it the same way.

“Well, let´s meet this illusive Derek, then,” Stiles proclaimed and took the steps that led up to the house. There was no front door – the rotten remains of what had been one hanging on the hinges – so he just stepped in. The inside of the house was as dreary as the outside. Everything was burnt down and black and from what Stiles could see the remains of the furniture hadn’t been moved probably ever since the fire had taken place. To his left he could see what had once been a dinner room; the table broken in halves, chairs positioned around it, some nothing more than chair legs held together by whatever the fire hadn’t burnt down while others were nearly untouched.

It was eerie, if Stiles was honest. As if the inhabitants of the house just had stood up and left, maybe even intending on coming back. But they never did and now the house stood here as broken monument to their lives.

“Derek!?” Stiles called out. The werewolf must know that they were here, probably ever since they had driven up the gravel way that led up the house. Werewolves did have super hearing after all. “I know that you know that we´re here and you know that I know that you know, so why don´t you come down and greet us like any civilised being would?”

Stiles looked up the stairway that led up to the first floor. The sunlight streamed through the dirty windows, separating the light into hundreds of rays that pierced the suffocating atmosphere that lingered inside the house. Stiles had to squint as the light shone directly into his face.

Suddenly there was a blur up at the stairs and before Stiles could even react someone came down the stairs in one jump and stood right in front of him. Stiles let out an undignified squeak as glowing red eyes looked him up and down as if he was just a deer in front of the big bad wolf. Stiles was so scared that it took him a while to register that he wasn´t being attacked, but that it was a man standing in front of him.

A very attractive man. Even in the dimly illuminated room Stiles was able to recognise that the man barely a breath away was sculptured like one of those Greek statues: Not a single ounce of fat, biceps as wide as Stiles’ head, his torso-hip-ratio like a tortilla chip. His shirt clung so tightly to his chest that Stiles imagined he could see it tracing the outlines of his abs. Derek – Stiles at least hoped it was Derek and not some deranged serial killer because that would be a serious mood killer – had cheek bones that could cut glass and stubble that Stiles just wanted to sink in. His eyes were still bright red, but Stiles wondered what Derek´s natural eye colour was. If it was as breath-taking as the rest of him.

“Man, I just got a fear boner just from watching that.” Of course it was Isaac who broke the charged atmosphere.

“Derek, don´t scare them away before you even exchanged even a single word,” Erica chided her alpha as she pushed herself in front of Allison, Lydia, Isaac and Boyd. “You agreed that you would do it.”

“I didn’t expect them to actually come,” Derek replied, the red in his eyes fading. “I figured there were more deserving people out there than me.” Ah, so there was the self-deprecation Erica had been speaking about.

“Well, you were especially lucky then, because here we are!” Stiles emphasised his statement by stretching out his arms in a wide arc as if he was a show master introducing his main act. Derek´s very expressive and intimidating eyebrows managed to perfectly convey, though, that he thought of this as anything but luck.

“Why don´t we introduce each other?” Allison suggested, trying to diffuse the tense situation. “I´m Allison, that´s Lydia, Isaac, Boyd and you´re already well acquainted with Stiles, it seems.”

“What´s a Stiles?” Derek wanted to know.

“That´s me,” Stiles retorted. “I´m Stiles. Always have and always will, because Americans are many things, but able to pronounce my real name isn´t one of them.”

“And who´re they?” Derek asked, nodding towards the camera crew standing in the doorway.

“That´s Dave and Kim,” Isaac spoke up. “They´re harmless.” Stiles knew for a fact that Kim possessed the black belt in a martial art he couldn’t remember, so he wouldn’t say that she was harmless, but he kept that to himself.

“So, Derek, you…live…here,” Allison stated as she took a cursory glance at the space around here.

“I don´t mind,” Derek replied.

“It´s not really a home, though,” Allison spoke kindly. “It´s a roof above your head – and even that just barely – but it´s no home of yours. A home needs warmth, it needs light and it needs people. And we´re here to give you that.”

“And how are you supposed to do that?” Derek challenged her. “You´re not taking down my house.” He was met with what Stiles liked to call ‘gay silence’ by both Allison and Lydia.

“We´re not your enemy, Derek,” Boyd, who until now hadn’t said anything, spoke up. “We´re here to help you, even if you don´t think you deserve it. But Erica thinks you deserve it. Your sister thinks you deserve it. And even your uncle thinks you deserve it. So, if you can´t bring yourself to care, then do it for them. And maybe along the way you learn to care about yourself again.”

Honestly, Boyd was the least talkative of them, but when he bothered to express himself in more than monosyllables he delivered some raw honesty that made you feel like you just discovered Jesus on a burnt toast.

Derek, too, didn’t seem to have expected that, because he just looked at Boyd like the man had just punched him in the guts, completely lost for words.

“Derek, please,” Erica pleaded. “Just give it a try?”

“Alright,” Derek finally conceded.

“I already see that this is going to be so much fun,” Stiles crooned.

Derek looked at him like he wished something would incinerate Stiles on the spot. Well, Stiles wouldn’t give him the satisfaction; he would stay on until the end.

Lydia knew that Stiles thought Beyoncé´s line ‘I woke up like this, flawless’ referred to her, but unlike the Goddess of Pop, Lydia had to spend time in front of the mirror in order to look like she hadn’t just stood in front of the mirror for half an hour. Talk about societies’ unrealistic expectations towards women.

After they had left Derek back in his ruin of a house (and honestly, Lydia sure as hell hoped that Allison had a masterplan for that derelict building, because Derek deserved better) and parted ways with Erica they had gone back to the motel they would stay in during their stay here in Beacon Hills. Lydia shared a room with Allison while the boys shared another. They could have a separate room each, but it was more fun with a roommate.

Everyone had been thinking about Derek and what they were going to do about him. Lydia had come to the conclusion that she would treat him like any other participant: With though love. By default, she wasn’t an overtly emotional person, preferring ratio and logic over the mess that were emotions. That could come off as cold and bitchy, but Lydia honestly didn’t care about what people she was never going to meet thought about her.

Besides, she had come to learn that some people needed to be treated like everyone else. They didn’t want to be handled like they were fragile or breakable; they needed to be reminded that they were able to meet life like everyone else. And Lydia was there to more or less gently steer them there, even if she needed to use the blunt truth to do it.

She didn’t know what the other were planning, but Lydia would give Derek the beauty routine he needed and deserved and maybe also discreetly check out if Derek was into guys, because she had seen Stiles’ Look™.

Lydia had had Erica relay to Derek that she would meet him at the only Starbucks in town, first of all because she needed her Frappuccino and secondly because she refused to drive up the whole way back to the Hale house only to drive back into town again. Dave and Kim were sitting at the table next to her, their filming equipment having caught the eye of quite a few patrons, but not enough to disturb the atmosphere. If there were too many people, they needed to shoot elsewhere because they needed everything to look natural.

Lydia recognised Derek the instant he entered the coffee shop. He wore a baseball cap, a black monstrosity of a leather jackets, faded-out jeans and working boots. Isaac would throw a fit if he saw that, but Lydia was not Isaac, so it was not her job to care about his choice of style – or his lack thereof.

“I was unsure if you´d come,” Lydia greeted the werewolf when he sat down opposite of her.

“I promised Erica I would,” was Derek´s reply. “And I keep to my promises.”

“Never claimed anything else,” Lydia remarked. “I guess we should get started then.”

“What do you have planned for me?” Derek wanted to know with the fatalism of someone who had long ago learned to roll with the punches life threw at him.

“Surprisingly this town has a lot more hairdressers than I expected,” Lydia admitted. “I´ve made an appointment at the one with the best reviews on Yelp.”

“Why?” Derek asked defensively.

“I´m responsible for grooming,” Lydia pointed out. “That means going to a hairdresser.” When she noticed Derek´s reluctance she added: “Derek, we don´t have to. This isn´t one of those ‘my way or the highway’ make-over shows where we waltz over everything you are and replace it with what we want. If you don´t want it, then we don´t do it, simple as that.” She paused for a moment, waiting for her message to sink in. “But think about it: What do you have to lose? In the worst case you get a bad haircut that you can grow out within a week and in the best case you might discover something in you that you might actually like.”

“Erica would want me to…” Derek added hesitantly.

“Screw what Erica wants,” Lydia interrupted, which earned her a shocked look from Derek. “I love that girl and I can see that she only wants the best for you, but you should do this because you want to, not because she thinks it´s the best for you. This show doesn’t work if you aren´t in it for yourself. Because in the end, you have to be willing to change, not Erica.” She leaned back and sipped from her Frappuccino as she watched the wheels in Derek´s mind turn.

“How about this?” she suggested. “You accompany me to the hairdresser. Afterwards if you still think that all this is a waste of time, we´ll leave and delete all the footage we have so far.” She ignored the noises of protest coming from Dave and Kim. “If I manage to change your mind, you´ll see this whole week through with all of us.”

Derek seemed to mull about it for quite a few moments before he finally nodded in agreement.

“Great!” Lydia exclaimed. “Then let´s go.”

The hairdresser Lydia had chosen was only a few blocks away from the Starbucks, so they walked over there, which only took them around ten minutes. Derek didn’t speak the whole time while Lydia used the time to watch the werewolf and catalogue everything she noticed about him. Like the fact that even though he was an alpha he walked around with his shoulders pushed inwards and his gaze locked to the ground. That he tried to be as unobtrusive as possible even though he was a man whose attitude could make whole crowds follow him if he only wanted to.

She didn’t say that out aloud, though, even as they entered the hairdresser’s shop and Lydia steered Derek towards the empty seat at the back of the shop where she beckoned him to sit down.

“Well, like I already told you, I won´t do anything big,” Lydia told Derek as she ran her fingers through his black hair. “I could tell you that it´s because I don´t want to change you into someone you aren’t, but it´s simply that you are a lot easier on the eye than most of our usual clients.” She walked around Derek to look at him from all sides. “I´d shorten your hair a little bit and thin it out, so it won´t stick up everywhere. I´ll also define your edges a little bit more and contour your beard. A well-kept beard is the secret to looking smart.” She sat down on one of the stools and pulled out her work equipment. “Are you alright with that?” Derek just nodded.

“Then let´s get this thing moving,” Lydia proclaimed and started trimming.

“So, Derek,” Lydia spoke after a while of silence. “How do you want others to see you?”

“Why do you ask?” Derek replied, confusion marring his face.

“Because all this,” Lydia started and made a gesture that encompassed his whole body, “defines how people view you. If they respect you, follow you, ignore you or are outright hostile towards you. How you present yourself influences how the world treats you. So, that´s why I´m asking. I want to know how you want to interact with the world.”

“I don´t really want to interact the world,” Derek muttered.

“Why?” Lydia didn’t let go. People needed to speak their truths out loud so that they could learn to live with it.

“Because it´s easier that way,” Derek admitted. “If you don´t interact with the world around you then the world doesn’t get a chance to hurt you.”

“But that´s not true, isn´t it?” Lydia replied as she continued to cut Derek´s hair. “You can´t remove yourself from life completely. There will always be a part of you that´s exposed, that could be hurt.” Another curl fell on the ground. “So, wouldn’t you say that it´s better to meet the world on your own terms instead of waiting for it to come to you? And your appearance is just one facet of that, but an important one nevertheless.”

“Why would my appearance matter?” Derek asked.

“Because it´s a way to announce to the world who and what you are,” Lydia told him. “It tells us if you´re confident or shy, if you take care of yourself or not. If you don´t take care of yourself, then how can others expect that you take care of them?”

“You don´t think I take care of my pack?” Derek gritted out.

“Oh, I know you take good care of them,” Lydia was fast to assure him. “Erica has nothing but the highest praises for you and her history speaks volumes about how much you care. I haven’t met your sister or your uncle, but I think they won´t have any complaints either.” She rolled a few inches back to look at her half-finished work. “But think about how your lifestyle looks to them: You refusing to take care of yourself while simultaneously shouldering so much for them. It must hurt them to see how you don´t see the worth in yourself that they see in you.”

“I can´t be that selfish,” Derek admitted quietly. “I was selfish once and look how that turned out.”

“Taking care of yourself isn´t selfish,” Lydia disagreed with him. “No man is an island. You can´t expect one person to shoulder everything, to never complain and not break apart. Taking care of yourself is taking care of others because if you´re taken care of, then you also have the strength to take care of others.” She flipped back her hair so that it wouldn’t bother her while she put the finishing touches to his hair. “I know it sounds like a Hallmark card, but I´ve seen enough to know that it´s actually true. Taking care of yourself is the most selflessness thing you can do and maybe I can even make you believe that.”

They spent the rest of the time in silence. It wasn’t awkward, rather it was contemplative as Derek thought about Lydia´s word while she put the finishing touches to his beard.

“All done!” she finally proclaimed. Derek leaned forward to look at what Lydia had done with him while Lydia leaned back and examined her work. She hadn’t changed much, but it was still recognisable: Derek looked neater, more confident and smarter even though Lydia had only done his hair and beard. There was an underlying sense of self-assurance that hadn’t been there before, an awareness of himself that Lydia had known was there, but now was fully out in the open.

“It looks good,” Derek admitted.

“Of course it does,” Lydia remarked smugly. “I´ve done it after all.” She ran her fingers through his hair to loosen it up a little bit. “So, what do you say? Do we get to stay or should we leave?”

“I think you should stay,” Derek said after a while. “I´m willing to see this through.”

“I´m glad,” Lydia replied with a smile on her face. “Remember, always proudly proclaim to the world who you are because then you´re way harder to strike down.” She was rewarded with a hesitant smile from Derek. “Also, this would have been really awkward if you had said no.”

The bell above the door chimed and suddenly the rest of the Fab 5 as well as Erica and another girl Lydia hadn’t met before crowded around Derek and her.

“Wow, Derek, looking neat over there!” Stiles exclaimed as he came close-up into Derek´s space and examined him. “I mean you were a looker before, but Lydia turned you into an even bigger one.”

“He´s right, Derbear,” the girl Lydia didn’t know chimed in. “Now, if you actually smile the boys and girls in town would lay at your feet.” From the way that comment made Derek´s cheeks turned red as well as the obvious similarities in their appearances, Lydia concluded that this had to be Derek´s sister Cora. An assumption that was proven to be correct when the girl came over to Lydia and introduced herself.

“Hi, I´m Derek´s sister Cora and I´m so relieved that there´s been finally someone to get him see a saloon from the inside.” Lydia shook the offered hand.

“You look sharp,” Isaac agreed with the others. “Like you´re just waiting to make the world your bitch.”

“Isaac,” Allison hissed.

“What?” the curly-haired man replied. “I´m a werewolf, so I´m allowed to use that word. And tell me that this –“ he pointed at Derek “- doesn’t scream ‘ready to slay some’?” Allison looked conflicted, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to disagree with Isaac.

“You do look very nice,” Allison finally said. “Though I also dug that hobo look you spouted before. It kinda made a girl fantasise about you throwing her over your shoulders and run into the forest to have your wicked way with her.”

Stunned silence.

“Allison, I didn’t know you had it in you,” Stiles crooned.

“I´m bi not blind,” Allison just retorted.

“I think you´re my new favourite now,” Stiles proclaimed.

“I hope Lydia gave you a little bit more than a haircut,” Boyd spoke up.

“Yeah, she did,” Derek replied. “We had an interesting talk.”

“Every talk with Lydia is interesting,” Stiles agreed with him.

“Unlike Stiles who is as likely to talk about something interesting as he is about the history of male circumcision,” Isaac quipped.

“I reject your implication that the history of male circumcision isn’t interesting,” Stiles exclaimed indignantly.

“Anyway,” Isaac continued, completely ignoring Stiles outburst, “I can´t wait until it´s my turn with you. I´m gonna dress you up so sharp that it cuts diamond.”

“That’s the worst comparison I´ve ever heard,” Stiles complained. Lydia just rolled her eyes, even though deep down she couldn’t quite help but feel fondness for the idiots in her life.

Allison took a deep breath as she took the place behind the wheel of their car. She closed her eyes, counted up to five and opened them again. Nothing had changed, but she hadn’t expected it, anyway. Today it was her turn to meet up with Derek and go over the changes she wanted to enact on the house he currently lived in.

Though, Allison was hesitant to call it a house. It was more of a tomb, a silent and looming reminder of the people that had once lived there. An oppressing presence that seemed to suck out joy of everything around it until there was nothing left but melancholy and a sort of hollowness that ate itself into your chest and wouldn’t let go.

It would be hard to turn this grave into a home, especially as she had only a week to work her magic, but she was confident that she and her crew could make it.

If Derek let them. And of that Allison wasn’t sure, especially after he heard what she had to tell him. The revelation that had dawned on her the moment Erica had told her about how Derek had lost his family. That was also the reason why she would go to Derek alone, without Dave or Kim or anyone else from the Fab 5, even though Stiles had been really desperate to come with her.

But Allison had stayed resolute: This was something between Derek and her; something neither cameras nor Stiles had any place in, at least until Derek said something else.

With a roar the engine roared to life. Allison rolled out of the driveway and started her drive to Derek, which led her straight through the town until she reached the edge of the preserve that surrounded much of the town and inside which the Hales had lived. She took the turn that led her away from the street onto the gravel path that led up to Derek´s home. It took her another seven minutes until the clearing upon which the house stood appeared in front of her.

As the car came to a halt, dread and anticipation coiled in Allison´s stomach. The palms of her hand suddenly felt so sweaty and even wiping it away on the car seats didn’t seem to change that. Steeling herself, Allison opened the door and stepped onto the gravel. When she threw the door shut again, the sound tore through the silence like a gunshot.

Determined, Allison walked up to the house and even though there wasn’t a door that could refuse her entry, she carefully knocked on the doorframe, even though Derek had probably been aware that she was coming minutes ago already, but the courtesies her mother had taught her were hard to shake off.

“Come in.” Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest when Derek´s voice suddenly came from the room on her right. Carefully, Allison threaded the ground towards the room that had once probably been a living room. There was a fireplace on one side of the room which bore a macabre irony, but otherwise there was only dust and grime. Derek was leaning against the wall, his eyes following her movements as she entered the room.

“Where´s your crew?” he asked when he noticed that Allison was the only one having come here.

“I´m alone,” Allison replied. “I thought it´d be better that way.”

“For whom?” Derek inquired.

“You…me…I don´t really know, I guess,” Allison spoke hesitantly. “It´s not a topic for the cameras.”

“You still haven’t said what it´s about,” Derek pointed out.

“It´s about what Erica told us,” Allison started. “About how your family died. I think…I think it was my aunt who did it.”

“How?” Derek asked. His expression was closed off, nothing indicating what he was feeling. If he was shocked, angry, vengeful or just sick and tired of it all. Allison choose to take it as a good sign.

“My family has been member of the Hunters since their founding,” Allison admitted. “My father left them when my mom was pregnant with me, because he didn’t want me to grow up in such an environment, but he still kept in contact with his sister, Kate. Kate Argent. She would drop by every now and then and take me to the zoo or go shopping with me. She was my favourite relative, mainly because she was practically the only relative on my dad´s side I knew, but also because she sometimes she seemed to be the only who truly understood me. But one day, my dad just told me that she died somewhere in Northern California – I remember him telling me that it was Beacon Hills – because she killed an innocent family. And when we came here, and I heard your story I connected the dots.” She swallowed.

“I know what my aunt did to you was unforgivable. It was vile and horrible and abominable, and I can understand if you hate my family for it. And I didn’t come here to ask for forgiveness, but to offer that I´ll leave if you want me to. Just…just standing here in the carnage my aunt wrought feels like a sacrilege and I can understand if you don’t want me to come back.” She finished her speech, waiting for Derek´s reaction with bated breath.

“I know,” Derek finally replied. “I´ve known since Erica made the suggestion to me.” Allison´s jaw dropped.

“Then why did you agree if you knew who I was?” she wanted to know.

“It was difficult,” Derek admitted. “And I nearly refused Erica because of it. But I researched you and all the work you did for a better understanding between the species and it became clear to me that you aren´t your aunt. You´re the complete opposite and I shouldn’t blame you for the crimes someone else committed. Besides, it bears a sweet irony that an Argent will build this house up again after an Argent burned it down.”

Allison couldn’t help but let the tears flow down her cheeks when she heard the closest thing to forgiveness Derek would be ever able to give. The heaviness of her aunt´s crime had pressed down on Allison ever since they had come to Beacon Hills and she couldn’t help herself but feel responsible for it – at least a little bit. Questions plagued her mind, like why she had never seen behind Kate´s façade, never seen the hate and the violence she had harboured underneath the sweet surface. Was she herself to blame for not having recognised her aunt´s true nature.

Derek had been right, though: Her aunt had destroyed this place, but Allison would build it up again, grander than it had ever been. She would make it a home again, that she vowed to herself.

She pulled a tissue out of her purse and tried her tears. Derek was staring out of the window, having averted his gaze from her so that she could have her moment of weakness without anyone watching.

“So, tell me,” Allison asked, “what do you want this place to be?”

“I want it to become a home to my pack again,” Derek replied quietly. “I want it to be the centre of pack live again. I want it to have an open door to all of my pack and their friends. I want them to look forward to coming here.”

“That´s a nice vision,” Allison agreed. “The fire did much damage to the house, but I think I can save most of it. We don´t have to tear it down completely. It´s got a nice layout with this giant living and kitchen/eating area down here and smaller, private rooms upstairs. We could convert some of them into guest rooms when your pack stays over.”

“There isn´t much privacy to be had in a house full of werewolves,” Derek pointed out.

“Oh, believe me, I know,” Allison laughed. “My fiancé is a werewolf, too, and I can´t keep any secrets from him. If I want to gossip with Lydia he has to leave our apartment, so that he doesn’t get the chance to listen in on our conversations. Usually he just goes and visits Stiles, because, they´re – in their own words – each other´s ‘brother from another mother’.” She rolled her eyes fondly at their antics.

“I´d make the fireplace the new focus point of the downstairs area,” Allison continued. “It´s such a great piece and it should be used to add some cosiness to the living area.” She walked over to the fireplace to take a closer look while she continued speaking. “You´re a very caring, a very warm person. I want to transport this warmth into the house by using various kinds of woods with a few clean and modern accents, so it doesn’t get too frumpy. This house should be a refuge for you and your pack.” She turned back to Derek. “Is there anything you want to stay exactly the same?”

Derek mulled over that question for a few moments, while Allison walked around the room and mentally catalogued the changes she wanted to make.

“No, there isn´t,” Derek replied. “There isn´t anything I want to keep. Everything of worth is gone, anyway.” A little bit hesitant, Allison walked over to him and carefully – as if she was approaching a frightened animal – she laid her hand atop his shoulder.

“I´ve known Kate my whole life while my father knew her even longer, and yet neither of us could imagine that she would ever do something horrible as this,” she told Derek. “And if her own family couldn’t see through her, how were you supposed to?” Derek didn’t reply. “Kate managed to deceive all of us. You weren´t especially gullible or stupid or weak. You were just there, a victim of opportunity and if it hadn’t been you it would have been someone else.”

“You don´t know how I feel,” Derek said, barely above a whisper.

“No, I don´t,” Allison agreed. “But I loved Kate, too. She was the person I went to when I had problems at school or with my parents. She was the person I entrusted with all my secrets because I thought she was the only who understood. She knew all about my fears, my hopes and my dreams and she was the one who gave me strength to do my own thing when my parents couldn’t.” Allison swallowed. “I loved her so much, nearly as much as I loved my parents and then, one day, she just turns around and leaves me with the knowledge that it´s always been a lie. So, yes, I don´t know how you feel and I don´t claim that we´re anything alike, but I know Kate and how she works. I know what she does to you and I know how it feels when you realise that, in the end, you´ve been only a fool in her game.”

“She made me feel so special,” Derek admitted and Allison´s heart broke for him because that was probably the first time that he could talk about it. “There was my big, successful family and out of all of them she chose me, an unremarkable beta. When she was with me I felt like I could take on the whole world.”

“She always used to tell me that out of all Argent she knew I was the most remarkable,” Allison replied. “I´ve never had contact with my extended family, but Kate used to tell me that my cousins weren´t as smart or as strong as me. Everything I showed her she praised in the highest tones. I was a lonely girl, my parents social pariahs, but Kate made it all go away. She was everything I wanted to be once I grew up.”

“She made me feel like a man,” Derek continued. “While my family saw me as a child and laughed at me whenever I tried to be more, she encouraged me to test my boundaries and become more.”

“My parents didn’t want me to take up archery,” Allison said. “Kate paid for all of my equipment and for the lessons I took in secret. And when my mother found out and we fought about it –“ Tears started to flow “- I told her that I hated her and wished that Kate was my mother instead.” Allison sank to the ground, sobbing. “She was one of the most important persons in my life, but she was never real. And I didn´t see it. Maybe if I had your family would still be alive.” She sniffed and picked herself up from the ground. “So you see, we all have our regrets when it comes to Kate. Let´s use those regrets to fix what she broke.”

She extended her hand. And after a few moments, Derek took it.

Isaac could feel it in the air that today was going to be his day. It didn’t matter what Stiles said or how sceptical Lydia looked at him or how Boyd just stared through him, but he would get Derek his groove back.

Today he would get Derek a new style and the corresponding self-confidence that came with wearing something you knew made you look hot as fuck. It was Isaac´s opinion that a fashionable wardrobe could solve nearly all of your problems. ‘You are what you eat’ what a fucking stupid saying, it should be ‘You are what you wear’ and Isaac would make sure that Derek was the sexiest piece of ass north of San Francisco Bay.

Maybe he was a little too much in your face about it, but Isaac truly believed that clothing could change how a person sees themselves. If you felt uncomfortable and ugly in your clothes, then the people around you would pick up on that and use it against you if needed. On the other hand, if you felt good about yourself then others would find it much more difficult to throw you off your course. It was all about self-confidence and most of the time that came with the right assortment of clothing.

“Please, put him in skinny jeans,” Stiles begged him for what felt like the hundredth time this morning already. “It´s gonna make everyone around swoon.”

“Stiles, stop objectifying the people were supposed to help,” Lydia snapped at the most obnoxious of the Fab 5. Turning to Isaac she added: “Henleys are the way to go. Everyone looks, like, a hundred percent hotter in those. I think greens and blues would go very well with Derek.”

“Definitely no leather,” Allison chimed in. “He´s twenty-seven not seventeen. Class, not swag.”

“Tell me again who out of us is the fashion expert,” Isaac gritted out.

“Well, definitely not you, because what self-respecting fashion expert would wear scarves even at the height of summer?” Stiles teased. Isaac just glowered at him.

“You, too, have anything to add, Boyd?” Isaac asked, turning towards his favourite member of the Fab 5 because he was the only one who never gave Isaac grief over his choice if accessories. Mostly because he was above the bickering between the other four, but Isaac would take whatever victory he could get his hands on.

“Henleys would work really well with his toned arms,” Boyd remarked. Behind him the others erupted into roaring laughter while Boyd just gave him a shit-eating grin.

“I hate all of you,” Isaac proclaimed as he picked his messenger bag from the table and made his way towards the door. “We´ll see how much you´ll be laughing when I bring Derek back looking like he stepped straight out of a GQ cove and you all fall over your feet to kiss his.”

“If you say so,” Allison replied, all smile and dimples. Isaac just held his head high and walked towards their van. Dave and Kim as well as the rest of the crew were already waiting for him.

“Kim, you´re wearing the bracelets I gave you,” Isaac noticed.

“Yeah,” the petite Asian woman replied as she – in a move that belied her small statue – hoisted the camera on her back and put it in the trunk of their car. “I really like them. They´re chic but not in a ‘in your face’ way, you know? And my girlfriend really likes them, too. Half of the time when I want to wear them I can´t because she´s already taken them.” She and Dave sat down on the passenger seats and then Isaac was already driving out of the motel´s parking lot towards the centre of Beacon Hills – if you could even call it that.

At least finding a parking spot wasn’t difficult at all, so at least one positive point that spoke for living out here in the middle of nowhere.

Derek was already waiting for him and with him was his younger sister and Erica. Isaac wondered what they were doing here.

“Derek,” he greeted the other werewolf. It was difficult for him to be around an alpha that wasn’t his own. He was torn between barring his throat as sign of submission on one hand while another side of him just wanted to attack and defend his own pack from what his wolf viewed as threat. It wasn´t as if this was a primary drive of his, it was more of a background noise, but it was annoying nevertheless.

Isaac wondered how Derek must feel with Isaac and Boyd both being here as werewolves who weren´t part of his pack.

“Cora, Erica,” Isaac continued to greet the two women. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”

“Well,” Erica started. “Cora and I were planning to go shopping, anyway, and when we heard that today was Derek´s big day, we decided to come along to rile him up a little bit before you drag him off to whatever hipster store you were able to find in this fine little town.”

“Guess we´ve done enough of that,” Cora agreed. “Though it´s sad that we can witness the first time Derek´s gonna enter a clothing store since the Great Disaster of ’16.” Derek looked like he couldn’t decide whether he wanted a hole in the ground to swallow him or to murder his sister.

“At least get him into skinny jeans!” Erica shouted as she dragged Cora away.

“Man, how do you survive those two on a day-to-day basis?” Isaac commiserated with Derek.

“I just get Project Runway or RuPaul´s Drag Race running and enjoy forty minutes of quiet at a time,” Derek replied drily which just made Isaac laugh.

“That´s how I deal with Stiles, too, when he´s annoying me,” Isaac added. “Which is, like, literally all the time.”

“Then why are you doing the show together if you don’t like him?” Derek asked, his eyebrows raised in confusion.

“I never said that I don’t like him,” Isaac said. “We would totally die for each other. Okay, maybe that´s a little bit extreme; let´s say I´d lent him some of my clothes in an extreme emergency. He just has his way to get under your skin and make you react.

Don´t panic, though,” he added when he saw Derek´s, well, slightly panicked expression. “He´s a total cinnamon roll and cries, like, even at the slightest hint of honest emotion. Anyway, we´re not here to talk about Stiles, but to get you your own style.” He opened the door to the store he had chosen based on what he thought Derek would like and made his way inside.

“Okay, the thing is that I don’t think you´re the type for anything extravagant,” Isaac said as he turned back to face Derek. “Correct me if I´m wrong, but floral patterns – or any patterns in general – aren’t really your thing, are they? It´s the basic you´re most comfortable with: Unicoloured pieces in dark, saturated tones that you can combine with everything.”

“I don’t like to think about what to wear every morning,” Derek agreed. “But I also don´t want to look as if I don´t put in any effort at all, which was a problem in the past.”

“Yeah, I´ve seen your leather jacket, undershirt, combat boots combo,” Isaac replied. Derek winced.

“Don´t get me wrong,” Isaac added. “I love that leather jacket and I think it could be a great piece in your wardrobe which you can use to creatively disrupt a smart casual look to make it more you.” He pulled a few t-shirts from the tables and loaded them on Derek.

“I really love Tan, because, man, that guy is a fashion expert, but please, never wear a French Tuck or patterned shirts,” Isaac continued, earning himself a shocked gasp from Dave and Kim. “It would look ridiculous on you.”

“I didn’t plan to go for patterned shirts,” Derek assured him. “And I don´t even know what a French Tuck is.”

“Keep it that way,” Isaac replied. “As much as I hate to admit it, but I think a good way for you to go would be Henleys. They´re a little posher than your normal shirt but still casual enough so that you can wear them every day. Also, you can combine them with a vest to perfect a smart casual look, which you probably need sometimes for your fancy alpha shindigs.”

“Not many of those around here,” Derek replied. “So, I don´t really know if I really need it.”

“It´s not really about needing it,” Isaac told him. “It´s about waking up every morning and knowing that no matter what might come, you have the appropriate clothing for it. That no matter what you pull out of your closet, you know it´ll look good on you. It´s about having confidence in yourself and projecting it onto the world.

From what Erica and Cora told us, you´re used to close yourself off from the world. Think of your clothes as a kind of amour that helps you project the image of who you want the world to see you as.” Isaac took a deep breath. This wasn’t something he liked to talk about, but he somehow felt that it would help Derek. “I hadn’t the happiest childhood. My father was an abusive drunk who took all of his anger out on me. I had to learn from early on how to best cover up bruises. That´s also why scarves are kinda my signature; they would help me cover up the bruises on my throat.

The way I dressed helped me to hide all that. The people didn’t see a boy whose father didn’t love him enough to not hurt him; they didn’t see a boy too weak to defend himself. No, the only thing they saw was a sarcastic and stylish asshole who couldn’t be cowed by words. My clothes gave me the opportunity to be whoever I wanted to be and in the end that gave me the strength to one day just walk up to the police station and have him arrested.”

“I´m sorry,” Derek said, his eyes shining with understanding.

“Don´t be,” Isaac replied. “What I´m trying to tell you with that, is that the way you dress plays a large part in showing who you want to be. So, I ´m asking you, Derek Hale, who do you want to be?”

Derek swallowed. “I don´t want to be the person I was. I want to be an alpha worthy of the pack I have still left. I want to be someone they can rely on, someone they can come to with their problems. Someone they don´t look at with pity.”

“Then let´s look for the style this alpha would wear,” Isaac suggested.

Boyd sipped on his mango smoothie as he sat in a quaint little coffee shop near the store he knew Isaac was taking Derek to enjoying the sun shining down from above. People were mingling on the sidewalk, everyone laid-back and relaxed unlike the much more hectic folks back in LA. Time did seem to pass slower in small towns, he had come to learn, and he relished it very much.

After all, he was a simple man. Unlike Isaac or Stiles he didn’t need a wardrobe teeming with the newest fashion or a calendar full of the biggest events. The only thing he really needed in his life was a little bit of quiet and something good to eat. Slow movement was something everyone should try to incorporate at least a little bit in their lives. It made it much more worthwhile after all.

His phone vibrated in his pocket, probably Isaac notifying him that he was finished with Derek. Boyd texted him his location and leaned back on his chair, intent on enjoying his last few moments of solitude before it was his turn to turn the alpha´s life around.

Boyd didn’t really have a solid plan. He liked to just go with the flow and see where it would lead him. He hadn’t had much one-to-one time with Derek, so he would just use his time to get to know the other man first.

Said man was currently crossing the street following Isaac, the beta walking like a man on a mission, while the rest of the crew followed behind. Letting out a dramatic huff, Boyd´s colleague let himself fall into the chair next to him while Derek took the other one, sitting down like any normal and civilised person would.

“It´s so unfair,” Isaac whined. “He looks good in everything. I could have put him into a potato bag and he would still turn heads on the street.” Derek averted his gaze and blushed. It was kind of sweet, if Boyd was honest to himself.

“You´re still the most beautiful boy around,” Boyd assured him.

“Then what is he?” Isaac nodded towards Derek.

“He´s a man,” Boyd retorted. Isaac just rolled his eyes at him and then stood up, brushing imaginary dust off his pants.

“I guess I´m gonna leave you two to it, then,” he proclaimed. “There was a cute little store I saw on my way that I just have to visit.” And like the whirlwind he was, he vanished from their sight.

“So, what are we going to do?” Derek inquired.

“Nothing,” Boyd replied.

“Nothing?” Derek repeated confused.

“The last few days must have been stressful for you,” Boyd remarked. “So, why don´t you lean back and order something. The smoothies here are a real treat.” Derek looked sceptical but after taking a look at the menu, he ordered a strawberry milkshake. Boyd didn’t miss the way the waitress would smile extra brightly at the alpha, which the latter of course didn’t notice at all.

“How did you end up in the show?” Derek asked after a while. “You´re so…unlike the others.”

“You mean I don’t act like I´ve been shot up with sugar? Or that I don´t talk in hypotaxis?” Derek nodded.

“I own a restaurant in Santa Monica,” Boyd told him. “I like working with my hands. I like the act of creating, even if it doesn’t last long. When I was asked to teach people how to cook even the basics I was hesitant at first. Why would I exchange the things I knew and was comfortable with for a stressful filming environment? But in the end, I decided to go for it and I haven’t regretted ever since.

Working with people is like working with ingredients. If you´re too forceful or too fast then you ruin the experience, but when you take your time and work with them you can create something no one would expect.”

“That sounds very deep,” Derek commented. Boyd could sense that he was uncomfortable, though. The way he shifted his feet, the way his gaze constantly darted around or the way he looked at Boyd as if he was expecting him to do something.

“You can relax,” Boyd assured him. “I´m not planning to lure you into a conversation full of emotional break-throughs and self-discovery. I´m totally fine with finishing my smoothie and then go teach you how to make a really great pizza for your pack get-togethers. Or cut an avocado. You don´t know how many Instagram hipsters I see every day doing it wrong.” As Boyd spoke, the tension seemed to ebb away from Derek and when he took the next sip from his milkshake, he looked much more relaxed.

“Sometimes it´s enough to just lean back and enjoy,” Boyd said and then he followed his own advice and did just that: Leaning back, sipping on his drink, closing his eyes and letting the sun shine on is face while the background chatter just washed over him like ocean waves.

If he wasn’t a werewolf he probably wouldn’t have heard Derek saying it, small and barely above a whisper.

“Sometimes I don’t think I deserve it.” Boyd opened his eyes and looked at Derek.

“You´re a good guy, Derek,” he replied.

“How would you know?”

“Because the people someone surrounds themselves with as well as what those people think about you, say a lot about that person themselves,” Boyd told him. “I haven’t met your uncle, but Cora and Erica look up to you. You´re their role model. And if these two people love you so much, then you can´t be a terrible person. Easy as that.”

“You really think that?” Derek asked, the smallest trace of hope evident in his voice.

“I do,” Boyd replied resolutely. “And until you do, as well, how about I teach you to make that awesome pizza I spoke about earlier?”

Stiles was nervous.

As if they had a life of their own, his fingers tapped a melody on the steering wheel of their car that he needed a few seconds before he could identify it as “All Things”, the Queer Eye theme song. If they weren’t his own fingers he would have broken them.

He was still sitting in the car on the parking lot outside the motel they had quartered Derek in while Allison was busy with bringing the old Hale house to modern living standards, like, you know whole windows, running water and pastel walls. He should just open the door, walk the twenty metres and knock on Derek´s door, and yet he was still sitting here, drumming the most annoying song (except tit

With all the other people that had been on the show it hadn’t been that difficult. Stiles would turn on his charm, smile his brightest smile and chat them up until they were comfortable enough to do whatever little exercise he had in petto designed to boost their self-confidence, but with Derek using those automatics seemed somehow cheap. Derek had touched something in Stiles, made him want to go the whole nine yards to make sure that the alpha could become the great man Stiles knew he could be. He had watched the footage of the others’ outings with Derek and what he had seen was a conflicted man who wanted to do so much good but didn’t believe he could archive it.

Stiles wanted to do nothing more than to show Derek that he could conquer the world if he wanted to. That there was nothing he couldn’t do if he just dared to dream a little.

But how was he supposed to do that? He didn’t really know, even though he had a small plan in the back of his mind.

There was no use in delaying it any longer, though, so Stiles left the car and walked over to the room Derek was staying in, hyperaware of Dave, Kim and the rest of the crew following him. After he had knocked on the door, it took only a few seconds before Derek opened it.

Stiles jaw dropped. He would never, ever, even in a million years admit it, but Isaac had done an outstanding job in upgrading Derek´s wardrobe. The alpha werewolf wore a dark green Henley that went well with his clear green eyes and hung tight enough on his body that it could emphasise Derek´s muscular built, but not tight enough to appear cheap or obscene. Black pants and shoes complemented the look.

“Wow, the others did a great job with you,” Stiles finally managed to splutter out. “Like, you could walk straight into GQ´s headquarters and look at home there. Honestly, if you ever start modelling, tell me so that I can buy all of your stuff.” Derek just raised his impressive eyebrows at him. “Okay, I´m totally shutting up right now.” Behind him he could hear Kim snort. Stiles was very much hurt by that, okay? He could totally be quiet, if he wanted to. Which honestly, wasn’t just that often.

“So, what is the plan for today?” Derek inquired.

“Well, first we go back to the car and then I tell you more,” Stiles replied, suddenly aware of how close he was standing to Derek. He was standing in the doorway and Derek barely an armlength away.

So, Stiles turned around (totally graceful, of course) and walked Derek back to the car where he took the seat on the passenger´s side. He reversed and drove the car out of the parking lot and then they were on their way into town.

“So, it´s my opinion that you truly know a man only when you know where he was forged: In the fires of High School.”

“You´re dragging me to my old High School?” Derek asked incredulously.

“I wanna know all about it!” Stiles exclaimed. “Where was your locker? Where did the cool kids hung out? What groups were you part of? Where did you have your first kiss? Was it good or bad? And with whom?”

“I´m gonna rip out your throat,” Derek gritted out. “With my teeth.”

“Woah, woah, easy there, dude,” Stiles shouted as he took the next turn with a little bit more speed than allowed.

“Don´t call me ‘dude’,” Derek corrected him.

“Anyway, it´s gonna be so much fun!” Stiles didn’t let his mood be dragged down by Derek´s rather impressive glare. “You can tell me all about the best years of your life.”

“Isn´t that only a myth?” Derek retorted. “High School being the best years of your life?”

“Well, I can´t say my school time was all roses and sunshine, but I met the most important people in my life there, so I guess you can,” Stiles shrugged. “Nothing´s more formative than High School. If I want to understand where you came from, I have to understand High School you.”

“There isn´t much to understand,” Derek muttered morosely. “I was a normal boy like everyone else. Nothing special about me.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” Stiles disagreed. “Everyone has something that makes them special. I know, I know, it sounds like something straight from a fortune cookie, but it´s true, okay. For example, did you know that I can pull my legs behind my head? Or that I can touch my nose with my tongue? See, already special.”

Derek didn’t look very convinced, but Stiles counted it as a win that the older man hadn’t yet jumped out of the driving car. Being a werewolf Derek would totally survive that and probably even look hot as hell while doing it.

The parking lot of the Beacon Hill High School was practically empty, probably because no sane human being would voluntarily go there during break. It had an eerie quality to it, seeing a place usually so full of life so deserted. Even though it just lacked human presence, it looked like it had come straight out of a apocalypse movie. Stiles kind of expected some kind of zombies or monsters awaiting them in order to tear them apart.

Derek and he exited the car.

“So, did you take the bus, or did you have your own car?” Stiles wanted to know as they made their way across the parking lot. 

“My parents got me a car for my sixteenth birthday,” Derek replied.

“What kind?”

“A Camaro,” Derek told him.

“Sweet,” Stiles whistled. “Wouldn´t exchange it for my sweet Roscoe, though.” At Derek´s raised eyebrows he continued to explain: “He´s a blue jeep and while some people may claim that he´s a gas guzzle and totally unreliable, those people just got no clue. He´s got character and when you treat him right, he´ll take you wherever you want to go.”

“Uh, is that a lacrosse field?!” Stiles exclaimed when he spotted the field next to the school building. Excited, he nearly fell over his feet in his haste to reach it.

“Did you play?” he asked Derek as they walked over the grass.

“No, I was more of a basketball kind of guy,” Derek told him, casually kicking at the grass. “But my sister…she played. Laura, the oldest. She was the captain of the team.”

“What was she like?” Stiles asked quietly.

“Fierce,” Derek replied after he had thought about it for a few moments. “If there was one word to describe Laura then it would be fierce. When she stepped into the room she would fill it with her presence. People would just fall in line behind her. Sometimes it was annoying for me or Cora, to always live in the shadow of a larger than life sibling, but Laura didn’t do it in purpose. In fact, she used it help others.”

“She sounds great,” Stiles agreed.

“She was supposed to be the alpha once my mother decided to pass on the mantle onto her,” Derek continued, more subdued. “The power was never supposed to be mine.”

“Well, I personally think you´re doing an alright job at the whole alpha job,” Stiles tried to cheer him up. “I mean, Erica practically worships the ground you walk on and Cora seems to like you, too, even though siblings are, like, supposed to hate each other.”

Derek didn’t reply, but a little bit of the tension in his shoulder seemed to ebb away.

“Do you want to see where I scoured our team the state championship?” he asked instead.

“Hell yeah!” Stiles exclaimed, maybe a little bit too enthusiastic, but Lydia wasn’t here to annoy him about in, anyway. They crossed the rest of the field and entered the main school building through the side. Stiles had gotten himself the keys with ease because the administration was really thirsty for media promotion. If he had asked they would have probably also painted the school in the rainbow colours just to get it on TV.

Inside they were met with empty hallways and rows after rows of lockers, a continuation of the eerie end of the world atmosphere that had already greeted them on the parking lot. A few banners throughout the hallways proclaimed the school to be the home of the Beacon Wolves, which – in Stiles’ opinion – was quite the ironic name for the school´s team.  

Near the entrance hall they came upon a huge-ass glass display with all the school trophies.

“What´s yours?” Stiles asked eagerly as he read the badges on all of them.

“This one,” Derek replied and pointed at one of the biggest and shiniest ones.

“’Winner of the Basketball State Championship 2007’,” Stiles read out loud. “Sweet.” Now he was imagining Derek in those basketball shorts and those undershirts that so perfectly showed off the player´s muscular arms.

‘Bad, Stiles, stop it! Don´t objectify the person you´re supposed to help,’ he chastised himself mentally.

“So, and where did this awesome win take place?” Stiles asked instead.

“In the gym,” Derek retorted, looking at Stiles as if he had quite a few brain cells missing.

“Then let´s go,” Stiles proclaimed.

“It´s a school gym,” Derek pointed out. “I believe they´re the same everywhere.”

“Don´t be such a sourwolf,” Stiles teased. “Besides, you won a state championship there! The only thing I ever won was the record for the most detention in a single school year, something my dad wasn´t as proud of as I was. I wanna soak in the champion atmosphere there.”

Derek rolled his eyes, but he didn’t protest any further and continued to lead Stiles through the hallways of the school.

“You know, this school would be the perfect setting for a supernatural mystery drama,” Stiles chatted as they walked. “A group of unsuspected pupils gets sucked into one dangerous situation after another when ancient forces awaken anew and foes, old and new, come into town to use whatever´s happening for their own nefarious gains.”

“Well, you picked the wrong town for that,” Derek replied. “Something like that would never happen in Beacon Hills. Nothing ever happens in Beacon Hills.” They seemed to have reached their destination, for Derek pushed open a pair of doors and then they were entering the Beacon Hills High School gym.

“You were right,” Stiles admitted. “It really looks the same as the one I was always singled out in dodgeball every week.”

“Well, I have only fond memories of this place,” Derek remarked with a small smile on his face. “I had my first kiss in the locker room over there.”

“Yeah, you go!” Stiles exclaimed. “Who was the lucky one?”

“Another team member,” Derek admitted. “We were curious and just tried it out.”

Stiles’ brain came to a screeching halt as Derek practically admitted to his bisexuality. Of course, Stiles would be the last one to judge – he literarily stared on a show called ‘Queer Eye’ – but he hadn’t really pegged Derek down as anything but straight. His gaydar must be broken. The others had probably known the moment they had laid eyes on Derek.

“That’s the spirit,” Stiles told the alpha proudly. “And that’s also what we want you to have: Happiness. I was supposed to tell you this at the end of our session, but I guess I can do it now as well. Our challenge to you – which is in no way obligatory, so do it or don´t – is to ask a person you like out on a date.”

“I don´t know if I can do that,” Derek admitted.

“You don´t have to, if you don´t want to,” Stiles assured him. “It´s just that we like to give the people we work with an objective they can work towards to. Something they can measure their progress with.” Derek didn’t say anything, but he didn’t seem to be much disinclined either.

“Okay, but now I need to see the love nest,” Stiles exclaimed and was already running off towards the locker rooms. Even though Derek was behind him, he could practically feel the older werewolf rolling his eyes at him.

The locker rooms were as unremarkable and nondescript as any locker room across the country would be, but Stiles didn’t let that take away the fun of trying to figure out where Derek had kissed that mysterious other ‘team member’.

“Was it good? How did it even happen? Did you go on a date afterwards?” he just babbled, storming through the room like a whirlwind. “How did he look?” When he got no reply, he turned around and noticed that Derek wasn’t behind any more.

He walked back through the row of lockers until he caught sight of Derek again.

Derek was standing completely rigid in front of one of the walls, tension just radiating off him. Stiles went over to him to see what had him so on edge. He audible sucked in his breath when he saw what someone had written on the wall.

Laura Hale sucked my dick here.

Stiles winced. He looked at Derek and saw no emotions mirrored on his face. Cold as stone Derek took in the defamation of his dead sister´s character.

“Derek…” Stiles didn’t get to say anything more. With an animalistic roar, showing off his impressive fangs, Derek raised his fist and slammed it against the wall. Cracks sprung forth from where Derek´s hand had hit the wall, pieces of the plaster falling down on the floor like snowflakes in summer.

Stiles heart broke a little bit when he saw the devastated expression on Derek´s face, the way his eyes had lost all their shine. All of his energy suddenly seemed to have gone and so it was no problem for Stiles to take Derek by the shoulders and to slowly push him down onto one of the benches.

Stiles could imagine what Derek was thinking. By now they all had ore or less of a grip on his character and the overwhelming guilt he was always carrying with himself.

So, he sat down opposite of Derek and started to speak the words that someone else should have spoken to Derek years ago.

“Derek, what happened to your family was not your fault. You were a victim, too,” Stiles said with a conviction in his voice that he had never felt before. Derek looked up from where he was sitting in front of the lockers and Stiles nearly recoiled when he saw the anguish and pain reflecting in Derek´s eyes. There was so much self-disgust and shame hiding behind those green eyes that Stiles just wanted to grab Derek and hug him until he could let go off all of it. But he didn’t, because he knew Derek for barely a week and he couldn’t just do that when the other man was at his most vulnerable.

“You deserve a happy life,” Stiles continued. “You deserve someone who loves you as much as you deserve to be loved. You deserve to wake up to someone next to you. You deserve to smile, to laugh, to be happy and to be sad. You deserve family, you deserve friends and you deserve forgiveness if you think that is what you need. You deserve all of it and no one on this world has any right to tell you otherwise.”

“I can´t, Stiles, I can´t,” Derek croaked.

“I believe in you, Derek,” Stiles spoke. “Erica believes in you, Cora believes in you, even that creepy uncle of yours I meet two days ago at McDonald´s who undressed me with his eyes while talking to me believes in you. So, why can´t you?”

No answer was forthcoming.

“Derek, have you ever been able to properly say goodbye to your family?” Stiles asked. “Did you ever visit their graves and mourned them?”

Derek shook his head. “I don´t deserve to be there.”

“Yes, you do,” Stiles insisted. “Derek, I´ve known you for barely a week, but the grief I saw you clutching to your chest makes me feel so sad and unhappy for you. Don´t you think that your family would feel even worse if they were still around?” He offered his hand to Derek. “Come on, I´m driving you to the cemetery and you´re going to get all those things off your chest that you´ve kept to yourself for all those years.”

Derek didn’t take his hand immediately. He looked at Stiles like he was desperate to believe him, to grab the lifeline he was offering, but didn’t dare to. There was a fight inside Derek, between his hope and his guilt and it was a fight Stiles could do nothing but watch. He had said his piece and now it was Derek´s turn to either take him up on his offer or refuse him.

Stiles hoped that Derek would take his hand. That he would see that there was a way out of his inner misery into a better future and that Stiles was willing to show him the way there. He hoped that Derek would find the strength to let go off the demons of his past, even though it was a scary and difficult thing to do as Stiles was all too familiar with.

He hoped that Derek still had hope.

And his prayers were answered when Derek – unsure, shakily and hesitantly – took his hand. But he took it, nevertheless.

Stiles smiled.

The Beacon Hills cemetery was only a ten-minutes ride away from the High School. They had ditched Dave, Kim and the rest of the crew. The whole drive Stiles could feel the tenseness radiating off Derek and his gaze constantly darted between the street and the werewolf sitting next to him, ready to react whenever Derek´s mood would shift. But Derek kept calm and quiet, even though every minute must have felt like an eternity for him.

“My mother died when I was just a kid,” Stiles spoke as they stood in front of the gate. “Frontotemporal dementia. I blamed myself, because I was a very active and taxing kid and I sometimes wonder if it caused her illness to progress faster. It´ll always be a hole in your heart that you just can´t seem to fix, but at least a grave gives you a place to feel connected to them. To talk to them and feel like they can hear you.”

Next to him Derek stood like an unmovable statue. Unchanging, unyielding.

“I guess I´ll just wait here,” Stiles said rather awkwardly, now that the seriousness of the situation had finally caught up with him. “And wait until you get back.”

“No.” It was barely audible, but Stiles caught it anyway. “I need you to come with me.”

“If you´re sure.” Stiles hesitated.

“I am,” Derek replied. Then, taking a deep breath, he stepped forward and opened the gate.

Stiles followed him through row after row of gravestones, silent monuments to people who no longer could tell their stories. Cold stones engraved with names that told of the fate of the people they once belonged to. A chill went through his bones that got nothing to do with the weather.

A different kind of silence hung over the graveyard. It was soaked with melancholy and longing, but also with a certain kind of strength that came from knowing that whoever you were, in here you didn’t need to pretend. There was an otherworldliness to the whole place, like all pretences were ripped off and left nothing behind but the truth. Even though the sun was shining, its light didn’t seem to reach the ground, diffusing around them like it didn’t dare to tread where the dead had found their final resting place.

Even though Derek had never been there, he single-mindedly led them through the newer parts of the cemetery until they reached an area where the tombstones had been weathered down by the elements and ivy clung to them like a lover´s deadly embrace.

They came to a halt in front of a gravestone that stood in stark contrast to those that it was surrounded by. For once it was relatively new, the stone still shining bright and free of any kind of plants, the names in golden lettering still legible…and all of them showed the same date of death.

This was the last resting place of the Hale family. At least of all of them, except for the three that were still alive.

It was a sobering sight.

Neither of them spoke. Stiles felt like the silence surrounding them was too precious to be broken by words that would ultimately fail to express what either of them was feeling. He felt like the silence conveyed – more than any words ever could – what they were feeling, what they were suffering.

A breeze flared up and wafted through Stiles hair, caressing his skin and whispering secrets into his ear he couldn’t understand. It took with it the innocence of the moment and left behind a sort of heaviness that pressured down on his shoulders more than any physical weight ever could.

Hesitantly, Derek took a few steps forward. Stiles stayed behind, feeling like an intruder, witnessing something he wasn’t supposed to. Like a voyeur, gorging himself on the suffering of others. This felt like something that should have stayed Derek´s and Derek´s alone. But now that he was here, Stiles tried to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Then, as if the strings that were holding him upright had been cut, Derek sunk to his knees. At first Stiles didn’t know what was going on, but when he noticed Derek´s shoulders slowly starting to shake, he realised that the other man was crying. Silently, as if he was trying to keep his grief to himself, as if he didn’t want the world to see his vulnerability but crying nevertheless.

Stiles was torn. What as he supposed to do? Stay where he was standing, pretending like Derek wasn´t suffering a break-down and leave him his privacy or step forward and offer a shoulder to cry on, to show him that he wasn’t alone, even though it must feel like it.

The decision was made for him when another round of sobs wrecked through Derek. Slow but determined, Stiles stepped forward until he stood next to Derek who didn’t visibly react to Stiles even though his werewolf senses must have warned him. And then Stiles laid his hand on Derek´s shoulders.

Such a small and simple gesture, but she conveyed more than any words of Stiles ever would. The warmth that Stiles wanted to give Derek, the strength he hoped to convey, the support he wanted to offer, the assurance that he was there and that he wouldn’t go away, not until Derek wanted him to.

Stiles didn’t know how long they were in this position – Derek kneeling on the ground with Stiles standing slightly behind him, one hand on his shoulder. It could have been barely a few seconds or thousand of eternities, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

In this moment there was a connection between them that could not be broken. An understanding that would never have happened otherwise.

And when Derek finally stood up, it was broken, though, just as easily as glass.

But when Stiles saw – truly saw – Derek for the first time without guilt and grief marring his aura, he couldn’t really bring himself to mourn it.

“Come on, hurry!” Isaac shouted as they made their way through the loft towards the big TV screen and the couch in front of it. “I don´t want to miss it!”

“It´s a recording,” Lydia pointed out, rolling her eyes. “They won´t play it before we´re all there.”

“Yeah, go ahead and kill my buzz,” Isaac muttered darkly as he clutched his bucket full of popcorn. “Excuse me for feeling excited about seeing how well our work paid off.”

“I´m excited, too,” Allison, always the agreeable and peace-loving one amongst them, agreed with Isaac. “I really want to see how Derek turned out.” She looked at Lydia. “And don´t lie to us, so are you.”

“Alright, you´re right,” Lydia relented. “You´re coming, Stiles?”

“I´m already two steps ahead of you,” he stated as he poured salt and sugar over his popcorn under the horrified gaze of Boyd.

“How can you even eat this abomination?” he asked quietly.

“It´s salty and sweet,” Stiles replied. “Just like me.” He pointed his thumbs at himself. Boyd just rolled his eyes at him.

Eventually, they were all sitting on the couch and armchair for Isaac respectively and without further ado the TV turned on and the video started playing. It was always like this after they had left the participant of their show behind to a hopefully better life. They would watch them in their new life and look if they had mastered whatever challenge they had given them. Somehow, Stiles had never felt more anxious but simultaneously looking forward to something as he had to Derek´s video.

At first, there were a few sequences of Derek walking through his new home. Allison had done a truly awesome job with it, turning the old Hale house from a burnt husk to a home people would like to come back to, with earthly colours and much wood, interrupted by more modern, sleek accents to break it up a little bit.

It was an experience watching Derek discover his new home; seeing the joy light up in his eyes, the way he ran his fingers over everything so reverently as if he still couldn’t believe it. For the first time since they had started filming the show, Stiles felt a twinge that they weren’t there, instead watching from the distance of their loft. He wanted to be there with Derek and experience his joy first-hand instead of having it dulled by distance and the cold TV screen.

The scene changed. The cutting crew had inserted a slideshow of the pictures they had taken with Derek after each of their outings: Lydia clinging to Derek´s side, proudly looking into the camera. Isaac and Derek both wearing dark jackets and trying to look cool and collected. A close-up of Allison and Derek, laughing loudly into the camera. Stiles and Derek sitting on the ground, looking and laughing at each other. Boyd and Derek, arms slung over each other´s shoulders.

They were beautiful pictures; the black/white effect somehow able to extrapolate the emotion they transported.

“I´m so good at my job,” Isaac mouthed. Stiles silently agreed with him: Derek did look heartachingly beautiful in all of the pictures.

“I really have to thank the Fab 5 for everything they did for me,” Derek spoke and Stiles heart clenched when the alpha smiled at the camera. “They´ve really changed my life and I think I´m ready to be happy and start loving myself again.” He paused, licking his lips, before he continued.

“And since part of this week´s challenge was to try to take someone I like out on a date, I want to ask..” Stiles had completely forgotten about that part of his outing with Derek and he had though that Derek had, too. That their visit of his family´s grave had put it out of his mind like it had been pushed to the back of Stiles’. But apparently Derek hadn’t forgotten it and something dark and bitter churned in his stomach when he thought about the person lucky enough to be asked on a date by Derek. He should feel happy for Derek, for his newfound confidence and thrive to make something better out of his life, but it tasted like ash on his tongue.

“…Stiles, would you like to go on a date with me?” Isaac gasped. Boyd raised his eyebrows. Lydia and Allison were screeching like Banshees (not an exaggeration in the former´s case). And Stiles…Stiles was just sitting on the couch, completely dumbfounded and gaping like a fish on land, which was probably what Derek had intended all along.

He could practically feel Dave zooming in on him, desperate to get his reaction.

“I do!” Stiles shouted. The others were cheering, Allison was crying from joy while Lydia looked like she was bursting with pride. Even Isaac smiled. “I do, I do, I do, I do.”