The picture of Derek on the front page was a profile. He was looking out a window with a sad smile on his face. The headline was bold and took up most of the top line.
Derek Hale: The Inside Story
I sat across from him at the diner, the only place he felt comfortable seeing me. This interview was set up carefully, privately, both because I had asked for it to be that way, and because he seemed to do everything privately. I think things would have gone a lot differently if he hadn’t been open to the idea, but he assured me he felt the need to speak far outweighed his personal feelings.
The whole time he didn’t laugh. I managed to see a few smiles, but mostly he just looked sad, and lonely. That was, until the end. We have to start at the beginning though.
My name is Sandy Webber. I’ve been giving you personal interest stories for the Beacon Hills Reporter for nearly five years. Most of my articles make the sidelines, sometimes a brief headline tells you to look on page C4 for a news article about the local teams. This is my first time getting an interview with someone, all while knowing the article will make the front page. The pressure is daunting, but I thought I was ready for the challenge. Turns out, he was just as nervous as I was.
“Sorry for the location,” he said with a frown. “I just don’t trust any other place right now. Not with privacy anyway.”
“Why’s that?” I asked him, not quite ready to delve into all my questions until we both had something to drink.
He looked at the counter, where the owner of the diner, John, was working on making two shakes. John’s been known for making the best ice cream beverages in town, and is apparently a friend of Derek’s.
“Because I don’t trust many people,” Derek finally said.
“At all?” I asked, surprised because we see him around town a lot these days. Sometimes he’s shopping, sometimes he’s talking with the group of kids he’s taken under his wing, occasionally alone. It doesn’t seem like he would have trust issues.
“No. You have to understand, this is all related.”
He finally looked at me then, and the shakes arrived. His was vanilla, mine was chocolate, and if you haven’t had them before, you should visit sometime. They really are the best shakes in town.
“Fire away,” he said with a wave of his hand.
“Alright. The whole town knows the bits and pieces of your family, what happened, can you tell me where it began?”
“Began?” He shook his head at me and shrugged. “It began when I was sixteen. I was a stupid teenager, and I fell for someone much older than I was. She was a high school substitute teacher, her name was Kate Argent.”
Admittedly I didn’t expect that at all. I knew bits and pieces myself, but I think my shock was written all over my face, because he went on.
“I know,” he said. “I never told anyone before.” I tried to reign in my emotions, but before I could say anything more, he continued. “I never told *anyone*. It’s… this is the first time I’ve admitted it like this. Openly, honestly. I’ll hint, sure. I’ve made comments about things, but I never just said it. I was Kate’s lover, and I thought she hung the sun I was so head over heels for her.”
He went silent and I gave him a moment before prodding. “What changed?” I asked.
“She burned my family alive,” he said, face calm in a way that hurt me. He nodded a few times. “That’ll kill any relationship, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, of course. Do you know why she did it?” There was a part of me that didn’t want to ask. Even though I had wanted to do this interview, to get this story straight once and for all for the town, I knew that the barriers he had put up were strong, and not easy to break down. In that moment, I wasn’t sure if they should be broken.
“She was a sociopath? I knew it was her. I mean…” He licked his lips. “Who would have believed me though? The inspection all said electrical fire. Everything seemed so cut and dry, it didn’t strike many people as odd, just tragic. But I knew it wasn’t an accident, I knew they had been killed.”
“Didn’t you tell anyone about your suspicions?” I asked.
“Who would believe me? No, that wasn’t even the biggest problem.” He took a deep breath and looked me straight in the eye. I shivered as he did so, the very weight that he felt so obvious that I couldn’t look away. “I knew, that I had killed them. It was my fault they died. I thought, if I told anyone, I’d lose everything I had left, which was only my sister. Laura.”
“Are you saying you thought she wouldn’t forgive you Derek?” I asked.
“I knew she wouldn’t. It’s why I never told her I was with Kate in the first place. I’d always snuck around, I wanted to tell my family about her, I thought… I was in love. She didn’t want me to tell anyone, and when I knew why, it was too late.”
“You feel this was premeditated. She planned this.”
“From the first time she talked to me,” he nodded.
We had veered a little off track, but it was hard not to keep talking about this. Maybe because it seemed so sad to me, or maybe it was because I felt like telling me, knowing I was going to write this article, was his way of apologizing, of asking for forgiveness.
“You know you wouldn’t be considered at fault by any judge or jury, right? You were a minor, manipulated by an adult, no one could fault you for that.”
“It didn’t matter to me. I still felt that way, and so I kept it a secret.”
“Until now,” I said softly, and he nodded.
“So what then, where did you go?” I asked, determined not to stay in that sad place anymore.
“Laura took me to New York. We got a place, started a life, we mended. It wasn’t easy, I was stubborn, but we found a way of life.” He shrugged. “Things started to feel, almost normal.”
“She got a letter. There was a change in our Uncle Peter it said, and when she tried to call the hospital, no one there had any news that suggested anything had happened. So she told me to stay there, she was going to to visit herself. We hadn’t heard anything for a long time, so it was really confusing for her.” He licked his lips. “We didn’t expect him to ever come out of his condition. He’d just seen too much.”
“I’m sorry for your losses,” I said, watching as his face became grim.
“It’s… no, it’s not fine, but it will be okay,” he said finally. “She came back home, and she died. When she didn’t answer my phone calls for a day, I came down myself. Right down, first flight here. Found some of her, buried her in the only place I thought she… I thought she would want to be buried.”
“Then someone…” I started and he huffed.
“*Stiles*,” he said. “Not someone, I have permission to use his name. I don’t know how he found out, I didn’t care. He thought it was obvious I had killed her, probably because I never smile.”
I frowned at him, confused at where he would get that idea. “Smile?” I asked.
“It’s what he said later. I looked like a serial killer because I never smiled. Anyway, I was just back, just lost my last family member, and was accused of murder. It wasn’t a great homecoming.”
“That must have made you angry,” I offered. To my delight, he nodded.
“Of course it made me angry, I’m human. This little runt came into my life and seemed determined to make as big of a mess as he could to it. I wanted to throttle him. All the time, so many times.” There was silence as he looked out the window.
“What happened next?” I asked.
“I knew I had to figure out what had happened. I thought maybe it was Kate, but I couldn’t prove it, couldn’t find all the details. Then there was this little runt, who kept showing up. I’d be searching for something, and he’d be there. If I thought I found something new, so did he, sometimes at the same time. Kate came back to town, I kept running into her. It was like she was mocking me, just by being there.”
“How’d you figure it all out?” I asked.
“*I* didn’t. The Sheriff did. He found all the pieces, figured out how they went together. I think Stiles helped him, I know his friend helped Stiles, occasionally I did too. It wasn’t something we talked about, just dropped hints or messages left on phones. Eventually, the Sheriff pieced it all together, and then, everyone died.” Derek took a breath. “I was alone. My Uncle Peter had come out of his coma and just disappeared, along with his nurse. Kate was dead, as was everyone who had helped her. It was over.”
He went silent for a time but motioned at me. “All the papers were right on that then? About how she was found dead? What do you think happened there?”
Pursing his lips together, Derek shrugged. “Honestly? I wouldn’t be surprised if she met with Peter at the house and he killed her. I don’t know. She was dead, he was gone.”
“Some say that your friendship with Stiles at this point is a little strange,” I inquired. “Can you explain that?”
“He’s strange. One minute he’s accusing me of murder, the next he’s apologizing and telling me his father was going to find whoever did it. Even now, I don’t know what to think about him sometimes.” This was when he smiled, the first time it wasn’t sad. “But he is true to his word. When he apologized, I knew he meant it. There was nothing faked or forced in how he did it. He’d searched me out, found where I was staying, didn’t tell anyone he was coming to meet me, and just came out with it. Stiles is like that. If he feels he’s made a mistake, he does what he can to fix it.”
“You admire that about him?”
“Yes. He’s a lot like his father. His mind is sharp, and he thinks quickly. It doesn’t matter if the logic doesn’t make sense to me, he can make connections that lead to discoveries I would never understand. One day he’s going to be a detective. If he wants to be.”
“Some would say that your relationship with him sounds like a repeat of what happened with you, only in reverse. How would you comment on that?”
“It’s not. For one, I never intended to keep it a secret. I asked him right from the beginning if he wanted to hide it, if he had, I wouldn’t have even started it. For another, I talked to his father right from the start. I didn’t want there to be lingering questions or suspicions. If the Sheriff hadn’t wanted me to date his son, I wouldn’t have done it. Not until Stiles was eighteen. I’m not interested in a secret affair, or a lover situation. There’s a connection between us that’s tangible and real, not at all related to physical attractiveness. Not that I don’t think Stiles is attractive,” and when he said that, he blushed. “Because he is. Very. It’s just, that wasn’t what drew me to him in the first place. No matter how hard I tried to push him away, he always stood his ground. If I tried to tell him to leave me alone, he wouldn’t. Honestly I don’t think I would have been able to help those other kids if it hadn’t been for him.”
“Let’s talk about those kids for a moment. One was running from the law himself, a suspect in the murder of his father. What happened there?”
“He came to me. I mean, I’d already talked to him one night after… things had been bad with his father. Then he was accused and he came to me, asked me for help. I knew I shouldn’t, harboring a fugitive and delinquency of a minor and all that, but I just knew he didn’t have anyone to turn to. I tried to convince him to go to the Sheriff, but he was so scared. The minute he was able to, he came out of hiding, and I helped him get his independence.”
“So you’ve been there for him?”
“The most I could,” Derek nodded.
“How about the other two?” I asked gently.
“Both of them were lonely. I could understand that. I met them after school one day, when I was meeting with L. I spoke to them separately, and then they ended up hanging out with L at the school sometimes. In a way, they became fast friends.”
“You say this is possible because of Stiles?”
“If Stiles hadn’t talked to me, I wouldn’t have been ready to help anyone else. I was so wrapped up in my own life, that I couldn’t see what I could offer others. He, I guess you could say, he brought me out of my shell.”
“So it all just happened?”
“Sometimes that’s all there is to it. Sometimes, we get lucky like that.” Now his smile was growing.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that he helps me see the things I’ve lost as a way of being stronger, instead of a way of being damaged. I don’t think he’s ever seen me as damaged, and I felt that way a lot. There’s no question that I feel that I’m a better person with him in my life.”
“Do you have any plans for the future? Perhaps with Stiles?”
“Yeah,” he said with a full out grin. “But I’m not telling anyone.”
It had started grim, walked through pretty sad territory, but if what Derek said was true, things must be looking up for him, and it might all be because of the actions of our very own Sheriff, and his son.