The first time Derek met Stiles, he almost killed him.
Not on purpose, of course. Derek had been on shift, patrolling a rather dull cul-de-sac in the middle of the night. The kid had walked right into the street, heedless of the cruiser headed directly for him. Only Derek’s lighting fast reflexes saved him, slamming on the breaks and jerking the wheel to the side, the headlights illuminating the kid lumbering in the middle of the road.
Derek jumped out of the car, eyes scanning the darkness for danger, but only seeing the rows of cookie cutter houses, their occupants all fast asleep. That and the kid, who was still standing in the road, swaying slightly, but making no attempt to move, barefoot but dressed in jeans and a hoodie.
Derek took a step forward, cautiously. He sniffed the air, smelling for anything out of the ordinary. It smelled sharp, like ozone, like rain was on the way, though the sky was clear. Nothing else stood out.
The kid himself looked harmless, but that didn’t mean he was. The most dangerous monsters looked innocent. Though the semi-vacant expression, thin, sharp cheekbones, and general lack of body fat, suggested that Derek was by far the larger predator.
The kid smelled, as Derek moved closer still sniffing the air, like drugs and humanity, which explained the expression. Something heavy, definitely a downer, but Derek couldn’t ID it. He took another step, one hand outstretched, the other on the holster of his gun, prepared for anything.
“Are you alright?” Derek kept his voice steady and calm, not wanting to spook the kid.
The kid turned to face him, face still blank, and eyes wide in the dark. He was cute, with moles scattered on his pale skin and a slightly upturned nose. His foggy eyes almost looked the golden color of a beta wolf as they shone in the headlights. If he didn’t look so sick, he would be beautiful. Hell, even sick, he was gorgeous, but so brittle and so vulnerable it almost hurt.
“What’s your name? Do you have an ID?” Derek took a step closer, completely sure now that the human was of no danger to him.
The kid still didn’t speak, but blinked a few times, like he was confused by what Derek was saying.
“Como te llamas?” Derek tried Spanish, but still only to a blank face, though the human’s scent was starting to become more potent, the bitter scent of nerves coming out from behind his slack face.
“Fuck.” Derek swore so quietly no human would be able to hear it. He should really call this in. The kid probably needed medical attention. But he hated to get him into trouble over drugs, or whatever. Kids made mistakes, but lives didn’t need to be ruined over it, not if no one had gotten hurt. It had nothing to do with the wolf inside him, howling at him to protect this kid.
He should to see if there was an emergency contact. Someone who could get him off the street and get him the help he needed, not throw him in jail.
“Alright kid.” Derek moved slow. “I’m going to reach in your pockets, see if I can find your ID. There’s nothing in them that’s going to hurt me, right?”
No answer, but at this point, Derek didn’t expect one. He found the wallet in the back jean pocket, laying it on the hood of the cruiser as he continued to search. The other pocket contained a pill bottle full of something called Zarontin. Derek frowned, not recognizing the name or the smell. The pocket of his hoodie had a plastic baggie with pills in it as well.
Derek frowned harder, recognizing these. A quick sniff conformed it. Mountain ash.
He should really call it in. He didn’t know about Zarontin, but mountain ash was a controlled substance, though it generally wasn’t sold in pill form.
There was no cell phone for contact information. Instead, he opened the wallet. There was a bit of cash, and library card with no name. Finally, in a back flap, he found the ID. It was a state ID, not a driver’s license. Interesting. He pulled it out reading it carefully.
Stiles Nowak. Age 19 but with a birthday coming up. Classification-human. Safely color-yellow. Control level- 3.
Yellow. Level 3. Shit. Derek took a step back, hand on his silver lined cuffs.
ID’s had gotten more detailed since the introduction of the supernatural to the general population, nearly fifteen years ago now. There had been a lot of fear and hate in the beginning, on both sides. The ID’s had been a compromise to the original idea of forcing supernatural to all wear badges on their clothes.
Everyone’s classification was listed and could be requested at any time by an officer of the law. The safety color had to do with an individual’s abilities, not their species. Red, yellow and green, all based off how much damage they could do to a human and assigned by a council at sixteen, though it was reviewed every two years to make sure no one changed categories.
Most human’s and humanoid types were green. Werewolves, centaurs, vampires, every type of fae, just to name a few, were all listed as yellow. Only a few creatures were classified as red, though that did include alpha werewolves.
But colors didn’t really mean anything, only how much potential was there. The real issue was the control level. It was a scale of how well any creature had control of their powers, with one being perfect control and 5 being dangerous, to the point of being locked up. Lots of supernaturals said it wasn’t fair, because humans were automatically set at one, no matter if they were inclined to violence or not.
Derek was a beta werewolf, yellow, level one and proud of his perfect control. Out of his pack, only his mother also had a level one classification.
If this kid, if Stiles, was a yellow level 3, he was something. Probably a magic user of some sort, a witch or mage and one with shaky control. If he was a level 4, he would have to wear a monitor. If he was a five, he would be on house containment or in an institute.
He was going to call it in.
“Sir, please put your hands on the hood of the car.”
Stiles, who eyes had cleared up at some point during Derek’s internal freak out, looked confused but obeyed.
“What’s the nature of your abilities?”
“You can’t ask me that.” Derek blink, surprised by the fact that he spoke as much as the answer.
He was right. Suspects were under no requirement to divulge their abilities unless they were officially charged, though he was surprised the kid knew that. Most people didn’t.
“Am I under arrest?”
Derek had one cuff on, when another teenage came running down the sidewalk, looking frantic and dressed in PJ’s. He was wheezing and carrying extra shoes.
“Stop.” It was probably suppose to be a shout, but it was more of a whine.
Derek finished the cuffs but didn’t put Stiles in the back of his car as the new teen finally made it to the car.
“You can’t arrest him. He didn’t do anything wrong.” The other teen looked outraged, at least as well as he could panting for breath, hands on his knees.
“He is carrying controlled substances.”
“Well, yeah.” He took an inhaler out of his pocket and took a puff. “He has a permit.”
“What’s your name?”
“Scott McCall.” The teen held out his ID out without being prompted. It was driver’s license, classifying him as a harmless little green level one human. The address on it was the same as Stiles.
“He’s my brother.” Scott supplied helpfully. “Where’s his wallet?”
Derek gestured to the hood where it still sat. “You have different last names.”
Scott just shrugged, then went through the wallet, pulling open an inside pocket Derek didn’t even see, and presenting a permit to carry mountain ash, up to ten ounces. Stiles had been carrying three, tops.
Derek unlocked the cuffs reluctantly. The whole situation felt off to him, like he as missing something.
As soon as Stiles was free, he crossed over to Scott, who wrapped his brother in a tight hug. Stiles snuggled into his neck in a wolflike manner, as Scott bent down and pushed the shoes on Stiles’ bare feet.
“Why was he in the road?”
“I have episodes sometimes.” Stiles answered voice muffled by Scott’s neck, but not slurred. His scent was becoming sharper, fuller, smelling more of paper, ink, and cinnamon and less of chemicals and ozone.
Scott was a little more helpful. “He sleepwalks. I usually wake up if he leaves the room, but tonight he was sneaky. It normally doesn’t matter. There isn’t any traffic around here this time of night and he tends to wander back home.”
Derek didn’t like it. Stiles clearly wasn’t well. He shouldn’t be wandering around at night. The wolf in his chest bristled at the idea.
“Well do better next time. I don’t want to see him out again.”
Scott nodded, leading a pliant Stiles to the sidewalk. Derek got back in his car, hoping the rest of his shift was exciting enough he wouldn’t have time to think about those soft brown eyes.
It wasn’t. He was called back to the station shortly after meeting Stiles and Scott to find his desk piled with the paperwork the other deputies didn’t want to do.
Derek growled softly as he worked on it. He wanted to call speciest bullshit on being treated like this. He always got the worst shifts, the worst patrols, and all the grunt work. He didn’t become a cop to be treated like shit. He became a cop to help people.
But, then again, he wasn’t sure it was all because he was a werewolf, because he was a ‘sup’. Jordan Parish, his direct supervisor and head of the supernatural of the department, wasn’t treated poorly even though he was a hellhound, which was way more interesting than a werewolf. He was respected by everyone, in fact. It was probably just because Derek was new. He was fresh out of the academy and only had two weeks on the job.
He had been hired as part of a push to be more inclusive of the supernatural in public servant jobs. There weren’t many in the department. Besides him and Parish, there was only three other sups on the force; a half ogre named Greenburg who sucked way worse than Derek, a half fae named Claire who didn’t actually have any increased abilities, and an almost ready to retire selkie, Randy, who was incredibly strong, but had no increased healing factor.
There were also a couple of consultants who worked with the police, though weren’t actually cops. So far, Derek had only met Lydia, a terrifying banshee who had more confidence in her little finger than Derek did in his whole body, but he knew there were several more. Sups tended to prefer a little distance from the cops. Too many of them had been treated unfairly in the past, but Beacon Hills was fighting to change that. Starting with Derek.
It was a start. The public had to learn that wolves were people too. And what better way to show that, then by working in his hometown to make it a safer place.
His mom and the rest of the pack had been happy to have him back, after his college days in New York. He had learned a lot and had many good life experiences, but he had missed them all. A wolf isn’t meant to live without its pack.
He grabbed another cup of bitter coffee, refilling the pot as he finished it up, then went back to his desk, paperwork finished. He looked at his computer, mind wandering dangerously.
Stiles Nowak wasn’t a common name. One little search, and he could learn a lot more about him. It wasn’t exactly legal, since he didn’t arrest the kid, but how could it hurt. No one would know. He should double check. Make sure that Scott really was his brother, that he would take care of Stiles.
Mind made up, he began to type, but before he could hit enter, a hand slammed down on the desk, making him jump.
“Damn it Laura.” He growled, looking up at his sister who was way too cheerful for five in the morning.
“Now, now, is that anyway to talk to your sister who comes baring breakfast?”
She plopped a still warm homemade muffin on his desk. Derek tore into it like a, well, wolf.
“I take it back. You’re a saint.”
She smiled and tossed her hair. “You know it.”
Laura was his older sister and also worked with the public, as a nurse in the ER. The difference was, no one there knew she was a wolf, expect a few friends and her supervisors. They had more of a don’t ask, don’t tell policy than the department. Everyone here knew exactly what Derek was.
“As much as I appreciate breakfast and some halfway decent coffee,” he took the cup from her hand, ignoring the playful snarl and making a face at the sweetness of the camel she always added, “I know you aren’t here just for a visit.”
Laura made a face and stole her coffee right back. “It’s Cora.”
Of course it was. He should have known. The youngest Hale was always getting into some sort of trouble. She was aggressive, though kind, but never thought ahead. She hadn’t come back from school yet, even though the spring semester ended three days ago. Normal she was one of the most tactile and clingy of the pack. If she wasn’t home yet, he should have known something was up.
“What did she do and why can’t we let Mom handle it?”
“She got arrested.”
“Fuck!” Derek swore loud enough that even the sleepy remains of the night shift looked up. “What the hell?” Derek amended more quietly, glaring at the officers until they looked away from what was clearly a private family discussion.
“There was some sort of sup/human sit in the last day of school. It was non-violent, according to all the media outlet, but all the sups got arrested anyway. They have had everyone in holding the past two days. She was just now allowed to call. She sounded really freaked out and begged me not to tell Mom.”
Derek was trying not to panic. Jail wasn’t a good place for wolves. General population was bad enough, the cells lined with wolfsbane that burned if a wolf even brushed against it. But they also had special cells for wolves, cells that blocked all scent and sound and weakened the pull of the pack bonds. It was like being in a vacuum. There were reports of wolves going ferial in only a few days.
“I can’t get her out Laura.” He tried to keep the fear out of his voice. “I’m brand new. I don’t have that kind of power. I might be able to get Parish to talk to the Sheriff but even he won’t have much pull in LA.”
If the Sheriff even listened. Sheriff Berns was a dick. Derek didn’t know where the department’s idea to start incorporating sups into the force came from, but it wasn’t from him.
Laura put his hand over his, where it was now crushing the poor muffin to crumbs. “You don’t have to. I don’t want you to risk your job and neither does she. I just want you to ride with Uncle Peter while he goes to arrange bail.”
Uncle Peter was the reason Derek always said danger came in pretty packages. He was one of the most attractive wolves, hell most attractive people, around. He hair was always prefect; his swagger made all the ladies and gentleman pant after him. His fashion sense was divine and, of course, he was rich. He was the perfect catch, which was funny because he was singe as single could be. After an affair that left him with a daughter when he was only eighteen, he had no intention of settling down. Malia was the only person he truly cared about it.
He was the most ruthless person Derek had ever met. He was a fierce wolf, fighting with both strength and brains, doing whatever it took to win. He was Talia’s left hand in every way. He was also a lawyer and not just any lawyer. He was one of the best prosecutors in the State. He fought bigotry in every way and Derek was glad he was on the side of the pack, though sometimes he got the feeling that if the opportunity arose, that wouldn’t be the case.
“You want me to ride with Peter. All the way to LA. While he is furious at Cora.”
“Why can’t you?”
Laura’s eyes were wide, and she was practically pouting. “Because I have to work, and I couldn’t get anyone to cover my shift. You're off today and I know you don’t work tomorrow night.”
Derek signed, knowing he was going to do it. “Please tell me Cora didn’t drag Malia into it.” The girls were only a year apart and in the same year of school. They fought like siblings but protected each other fiercely as well.
Laura smiled. “Apparently Malia ran as soon as the arrests started. Then proceeded to spend the next two days gathering as much media attention on the arrests as she could. So, Peter is both pissed and proud.”
Derek rubbed his hands over his face. He was tired. It had been a long night and wanted to go to bed. Maybe he could catch a little nap before the terrible car ride, if Peter wasn’t expecting him yet. Generally, inmates couldn’t post bail until a certain time of day, anyway, so being there early wasn’t going to get Cora out any faster.
“When do we have to leave?”
“Right now.” Peter popped up next to his desk from nowhere like the creeper he was. Derek jumped and Peter rolled his eyes. “Come on.”
Derek made Peter stop by the house so he could change. He wasn’t about to roll up in another district wearing his uniform. They would think he was trying to throw around his weight and that was the last thing he wanted.
That was the last concession Peter made for him. Once they were on the highway, Peter drove like a man possessed. He wouldn’t even stop from breakfast or coffee on the way out of town and with the way his hands creaked around the steering wheel, Derek wasn’t about to ask again.
They found the jail the protesters were being held at easily. Malia was there waiting, and Peter wrapped his up in a hug, then snarled at her to stay with Derek while he fixed their stupid mistake. After that, Derek got to sit back and watch Peter work his magic. It took most of the day, but in the end, Cora was released with twenty hours of community service that could be served in Beacon Hills and no mark on her record.
Derek hugged Cora for ten minutes straight, his nose burning with the smell of metal and others on her skin. He ignored Peter’s huff but smiled when Malia wrapped her arms around both of them, trying to cover the stink with the smell of pack.
“I’m fine Derek.” Cora said. “They didn’t but me in solitary or anything. I’m okay.”
Derek didn’t say anything. Instead he relished the feel of his little sister safe in his arms.
Peter rubbed a hand over Cora’s shoulder and through her hair, the most affectionate he ever was with anyone besides his daughter, and for a moment, everything felt alright.
They stopped at the girl’s dorm to get their stuff, only to find most of it gone. What was left was destroyed. Cora looked sad, as she picked up her books with the covers torn off and the broken picture frames. Malia looked angry and argued with the RA’s about having to pay for the damages. Peter stepped in when his daughter’s eyes flashed gold, promising not only would they not being paying damages, but that the college would end up paying for the lost possessions. The poor RA ran to get a supervisor, who quickly agreed with the angry werewolf. But Peter was fuming by the time they left, angry at the school for letting it happen in the first place.
Derek waited until they stopped for an early supper and were back on the road with reasonable blood sugars before he launched into big brother mode.
“So, what exactly were you thinking, getting mixed up with protesters?”
Cora had the decently to look ashamed, but met his eyes, as he twisted around to look at the girls from the front seat.
“I thought I was standing up for my people Derek.”
“Standing up? By marching on the campus? You’re lucky you didn’t get hurt. Riot police are issued wolfsbane laced pepper spray, you know.”
Malia stepped in. “You don’t know what it was like on campus. Someone leaked the names of all the sups enrolled. It was awful. We were being taunted in all the time. Even the half borns, the one who don’t even have abilities, were being targeted. We had to help them.”
“By getting arrested?”
“It was a peaceful protest. Cora never should have been arrested.”
“That’s not what the cops said.”
Cora snapped back in. “Of course, you would take their side. Perfect Derek and his perfect cops.”
Derek’s eyes flashed blue at her. “It’s not about sides. It’s about safely. Your safety. If things were getting bad on campus, you should have let us know.”
“Yeah, so you could rub it in my face how you could handle New York while I can’t even handle LA.”
Derek snarled, his anger getting the best of him. Both girl’s eyes flashed in return, and Malia began to growl.
“Enough!” Peter’s voice was dangerously calm. “Cora, you were stupid to not tell the pack what was going on. Pack watches out for pack. You were also stupid for getting arrested. It looks bad on all of us, when one wolf does something like that. People will say the Hale pack is out of control, and you know how bad that could be. Malia, you were stupid for not telling me what happened the fucking second the police showed up, though I am proud of you for not getting caught. And Derek, just shut up.”
It was quiet for the rest of the drive, until Beacon Hills was in sight.
“You’re not going to tell Mom, are you?” Cora asked, sounding eight years old again.
Derek sighed, but shook his head. He wouldn’t tell unless she directly asked. Then, well he could never go against his alpha directly.
“You’re damn right I am.” Peter looked downright cheerful at the idea, like it was the best thing to come out of all of this. “I would have told her the second I found out what happened, but I was worried she would go to the station and rip out throats.”
Talia would too, if she thought Cora had been hurt. She was a wonderful person, strong and diplomatic, which served her well as the alpha as well as being a lobbyist for supernatural rights, mostly on a state level. But, when it came to her children, she was dangerous.
They pulled into the Hale house and Derek braced himself for a long night. The boy he had almost hit was officially the furthest thing from his mind.
Talia smelled jail on Cora the second she walked in. She reacted just like Derek thought she would, wrapping her youngest in a huge hug while screaming at her for not calling her first. The yelling didn’t last long, though, and ended with another group hug.
Derek didn’t stay downstairs for Cora’s explanation. He had heard enough in the car. Whoever had leaked the identities of the sups should be found and punished, but it was unlikely that it would. Clearly, interspecies relations still weren’t going well in the cities. He suspected as much both from the news and the police reports that came across his desk. But it wasn’t his fight. His fight was Beacon Hills.
He got Cora’s involvement too. People, sups and humans alike were important to her. They were important to him too, hence the whole cop things. But, if it came down to strangers or even friends, and pack, it would be pack every time.
He had figured it out when he was sixteen. Hopefully Cora would get it soon. Before she had to face the same sort of tragedy he did.
Derek fell into be in his bed grateful to finally, finally, be laying down, the soft smell of ‘home’ filling his nose and letting him relax after the events of the day.
The guys at the station liked to give him shit for still living at home, but they didn’t understand pack. It was possible for wolves to live apart in separate houses, but they would never be fully relaxed until they were safe at the den. The Hale pack was small, but strong. A good portion of it stemmed from how close they were physically as well as emotionally.
Laura still lived at home. Cora and Malia came home from college ever chance they got to sleep in their own beds. Even Peter had a room, though he split time with his apartment downtown next to his law firm.
Derek had been asleep for only a few minutes when the warmth of a body curling up next to him woke him. He didn’t have to open his eyes to know it was Cora. She smelled upset, and he pulled her close, making comforting noises as she finally broke down to tears. Moments later, his door opened again and Laura came in, slipping in behind him.
His older sister didn’t speak until Cora had drifted off, exhausted by her tears. “Rough day huh?”
“Mom doesn’t want them to go back next year. Peter and she were arguing about it when I got home.”
Derek surprised himself by saying “She shouldn’t go.”
It was times like this, when Laura used that questioning but interested tone of voice that Derek was reminded of how good of an alpha his sister would be one day. “Because. Because it feels wrong out there.”
“Wrong?” Laura was getting tense.
“Electric. Like a storm is coming. The people on campus, they genuinely hated Cora, just because she was a wolf. I think things are going to get bad again.”
They were both quiet and he knew they were both thinking of all the things lost in the Riots, the things lost after them as well. Of how both their careers would be tanked if supernatural were prosecuted again. Of how quickly even the strongest pack could fall, when attacked by humans with the right kind of power.
“There is no point borrowing trouble. We will deal with it when it come. Relax. Go to sleep pup.”
Derek wished it were that simple. That he could let tomorrow come without any worries. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t relax when there was so much danger gathering so close.
For now, he had to satisfy himself with the comfort of his sibling around him and the smell of pack in the air.
The next evening, Derek rushed through his normal pile of paperwork, too distracted to be annoyed by how much of it wasn’t his.
As soon as it was done, he started pulling up reports. It wasn’t as bad as he feared. There were tons of reports of violence against sups, werewolves in particular, which he expected. The Accords after the Riots had calmed things down, but it hadn’t fixed all the problems. Still, according to the statistics, the amount of sup/human incidences were actually going down across most of the county.
They only exception seemed to be in college towns and a few other more liberal cities. Which didn’t make any sense. The more liberal the city, generally the more accepting the supernatural population. They should have less incidences.
Derek found the answer on a rather conspiracy ridden website. The website blamed it primarily on one faction. The Humans for Freedom Faction. HFF. Every city that had a large presence of the HFF had higher than average violence rates across the board. Of course, the next article was on how aliens would soon be visiting the President, so Derek took it with a grain of salt.
Derek narrowed his search to just the HFF. It took some digging, but Derek managed to find a pretty good amount of information on them, from more credible sources.
They were a hate group masquerading as a club on campuses. They claimed they wanted freedom from the “oppressive laws” the Accords had brought about, like the increased information on ID’s and the creation of the Councils, that monitored all supernatural people and humans alike, to make sure no one was hiding powers or lying about them.
In reality they just wanted humans to be free from the restriction because they wanted all sups to be taken out of society. By segregation or death, they didn’t seem picky.
And on every campus across the country that had a strong HFF presence, there were increased reports of supernatural violence. He wondered how much of it was provoked. Or even being staged by the HFF.
Derek was getting ready to dig into how much of what happened on Cora’s campus was fueled by the HFF, they had a strong presence all across California as it seemed to be the birthplace of the movement though he couldn’t get an answer about who founded it, when Parish sat down, making him jump slightly. He really needed to start paying more attention to his surroundings, but he spent so much time with the other man that his automatically associated his scent with safety.
Parish raised his eyebrows at the jump. “Quite a pile of info you’ve got going there.”
Derek fought to keep on his normal impassive face. He didn’t like to give any of his coworkers any chance to find out anything personal. It was safer that way. “My work is done. I’m working on a report to pass on to the LA police.”
“I’m sure it is. That’s not why I came over here.”
“Why did you come over here?”
Parish’s eye narrowed slightly at the tone. Derek tried to look apologetic. He like Parish. He was a good cop and a good man. They got along well, on the rare occasions they got to ride together. Berns like to have the sups ride alone. Said they didn’t need backup.
“Berns wanted to list Cora’s name in the paper for her arrest. Said it should be public knowledge, even though it didn’t happen in the county.”
Shit. Peter was right. This would look bad on the whole pack, on the supernatural community in general. Derek felt the familiar anger in his gut. It wasn’t fair to put that kind of pressure on a college student. She was trying to help. That is all Cora ever wanted to do.
“I told him that it was discrimination. I wouldn’t allow it. If people want to know, they can look it up in the LA papers.”
“Can you do that?”
Parish smiled like he had a secret. “I have some connections. It would never make it to publishing.”
Derek was surprised. “Thank you. The Hale pack is in your debit.”
“No, you aren’t. I did it for everyone. None of us need that kind of bad press. Besides, I did some digging of my own. Cora didn’t do anything wrong. Not really.”
Derek wondered if he had the same reports on the HFF that he did. He didn’t quite trust the man enough to ask. Not yet.
“So, consider this your warning. Berns is about to make your life a nightmare. Be prepared for the worst duties and the worst hours. I’ll do my best, but I can’t fight every one of his decisions.”
Derek nodded his understanding. “I’ll have Laura and Cora bring you some cookies, as a thanks. It’s the least we can do.”
Parish’s scent sweetened at the mention of the cookies and he flushed slightly, before he went back to his own desk.
A few days went by. Cora started her community service, in the form of trash pickup by the side of the highway and Malia got a job at a local restaurant. Derek tried to do his job, reminding himself that he wanted to be a cop. That he wanted to help people. But, it was hard, considering what an asswipe he had for a boss.
Berns kept him on night shift, no surprise. The policy was to have one sup on every shift as best they could and as the rookie, Derek got nights. Which was fine. He was a little nocturnal anyway, with the whole werewolf thing, and his sleep schedule adjusted easily enough.
But he was always on patrol in the most boring neighborhoods, never seeing anything interesting. Or he ran sobriety stops, where he dealt with angry sober people and belligerent drunks. And more paperwork than ever was added to his stack, with more and more reports being handed back to him as incorrect, so he had to them all over again.
It was enough to drive him crazy. Berns knew it too. He would sit in his office, smirking as Derek stayed late shift after shift, fixing the so-called errors.
He didn’t do much more digging on the HFF. Cora and Malia wouldn’t be going back to school in LA, so it didn’t seem to matter. They weren’t happy about it, but Talia and Peter had put their feet down. The girls would have to find another school, through Talia didn’t really want them to leave Beacon Hills at all.
Derek felt bad, but not bad enough to try to convince his mom of any different. Besides, he had his own problems.
Derek didn’t see Stiles out of the streets again, thankfully, though he thought he caught a glimpse of the kid a few times around town. But Beacon Hills was small, and Derek didn’t think anything of it. Until he saw Stiles again at the grocery store and everything changed.
Derek had the day, or rather night off, and he was thankful.
He was really starting to hate his job. Berns had intentional lost all the paperwork he had done the night before and so Derek didn’t even get to leave the station all night. He had to do it all again. He was starting to understand why so many sups hated humans so much. He certainly hated the Sheriff.
He couldn’t sleep much that night, his body had already adjusted to being on nights, so he found himself up at two in the morning, without anything to do or anyone to talk to. If it wasn’t a full moon, most of the pack was in bed by midnight. He watched some TV in his room as not to wake anyone, before going to make himself a snack, only to find that out that they were basically out of everything.
Lucky, the best supermarket in town was open twenty-four hours. He made up a list that included all his favorite things, grabbed the pack credit card, and headed out.
Shopping in the middle of the night was an odd experience. There was almost no one in the store other than a few clerks stocking shelves. It was just Derek and the buzzing of the fluorescent lights. It felt lonely but, with no one there, he made it through his list in record time.
He had finished checking out and was pushing his cart out to his car when he saw Stiles standing on the sidewalk by the road, gazing out into the dark dressed in too many layers for the beginning of summer.
He wasn’t on duty. It wasn’t his business. He signed, left his cart because there was no one in the lot to mess with it anyway, and walked over.
“Hey.” Derek said when he was close enough. “Stiles right?”
The kid turned to look at him, and Derek was once again surprised by how attractive he was, with those beautiful eyes and soft skin. He looked healthier too, though his gaze was still a little unfocused as he smiled uncertainly at Derek.
“Do I know you?”
Derek hesitate. He wasn’t sure if Stiles had been too messed up to remember him, or if he just didn’t recognize him.
“It’s Derek. Hale. Office Hale. The one who picked you up the other night. Not picked you up. Arrested you. Well, not arrested. Detained.” God, he was doing such a bad job of fucking speaking. His sisters were right. He needed to talk to more people outside of work.
But, Stiles’ eyes lit up anyway. “Oh yeah! Scott said a hot cop helped us out. Thanks for the save man. I really appreciate it. It’s always the worst when my dad finds out I’ve been wandering again.”
They were almost the same height. Stiles could look Derek in the eye, something not many could do. He had such pretty eyes. Derek wanted to see them in the day, to see how the sunlight would sparkle off them. The silence drug on a little too long, and Derek forced himself to focus on the conversation.
“No problem.” So, whatever Stiles was into, his family knew about it. It wasn’t a one-time things. “Are you alright right now? What are you doing out so late?”
Stiles held up a container of coffee grounds. “I drank the last of it on a research binge and Melissa will kill me if she doesn’t have coffee before her shift. It starts at like five, so I figured I better get it now.”
Melissa. Must be a girlfriend. Derek ignored how his stomach dropped at that. “Do you have a ride? Do I need to call someone?”
Stiles smiled, and damn, it was a nice smile. He gestured at the street sign that mark it a pickup spot. “Nope. Bus will be here soon.”
“Alright.” Derek turned to leave but stopped himself. He couldn’t let Stiles disappear into the night without saying something this time. “You know they have programs out there. If you need help. I can connect you with people who know how to treat you.”
“If I need help?” Stiles said slowly, like he was trying to understand.
“Yeah. I mean, with your problem. I don’t mean to judge, but clearly you aren’t alright. You were wondering around barefoot for God’s sake. Don’t you think your family would be happier if you were, well normal?”
Stiles scowled and puffed out, clearly angry taking a step forward and getting in Derek’s face, but not quite touching. Derek got a sharp whiff of cinnamon mixed with the same sharp smell he had last time, the one he couldn’t place, but was too distracted by the pure furry in Stiles’ eyes to dwell on it.
“Look man, just because you helped me out once, doesn’t mean you know anything about me. There is nothing wrong with me. I don’t need fixed, and I don’t need help from you or any of your fucking programs. And my family loves me fine the way I am.”
Stiles breathe was hot on his face. Derek held his hands up in surrender, but Stiles kept going. “And it’s asshats like you who think anyone who is different needs fixed, that’s the real problem. I don’t hurt anyone, in fact, I help people, more than even you do Mr. Dickwipe cop man. So, don’t do me anymore favors. If you see me out, feel free to arrest me. See how that goes for you. Fucker.”
Stiles stormed away, hopefully walking to another bus stop and not trying to make it home in the dark alone.
“Well that could have went better.” Derek muttered to himself. That was what he got for trying to help. Next time, he would just arrest him. Maybe some time in jail was what it would take for Stiles to realize he had a problem.
Derek tried to forget about Stiles and get back to his life. He enjoyed both girls being home. It always felt wrong when any one of the pack was away for a long time. They all spend as much time together as possible, happy just to hang out and watch movies all piled up together.
Talia in particular was clingy which was unusual for her. She wanted to know everyone’s schedules and kept track on a calendar hung on the fridge. Derek assumed it was because of the tension that they all could feel in the air. The anxiety she was feeling trickled down through the pack bonds, and soon everyone was on edge. Even Peter tried to spend as much time as possible at the pack house, hardly ever staying the night at his apartment.
The pack had dinner together nearly every night, the only time that everyone schedules allowed them to be home. Talia was a terrible cook, but Derek and Cora did alright. When Peter elected to actually help out, supper was pretty tasty, especially when they added in Laura’s baking.
On their days off, the kids would hang out in the woods, like they were children again. There was a creek that was perfect to swim in and miles of woods where they could play tag in their wolf skins without judgment.
Even with the tension all around them, Derek couldn’t remember a better summer. Cora and Malia, who had always fought growing up, had bonded at school and were now close. Laura had come into her own, finally accepting her title as future alpha and it showed in the way she treated her siblings like pack instead of rivals. His mom was happy at her job and Peter was being less of a dick, even though he was working much than ever.
If only Derek’s work didn’t suck so much. Just as Derek got used to nights, he got moved to swing shifts. His sleep schedule was all fucked up and he was constantly grouchy. Not to mention, Berns’ hatred towards him was starting to trickle down. He was having problems besides shitty patrols. Things went missing off his desk, his car never had gassed up when another shift used it, his requests for time off were ignored. Some of the guys were even going out of their way to shove him in the hall. It was like high school again, and he was grateful for his perfect control or else there would be blood.
He reported each incident to Parish. Parish filed the reports to have a recorded, but asked him not to escalate it, to simply take it and be the bigger man. Derek hated it, but he did.
The icing of the cake of to all of this was now that he was sometimes on days, he was seeing Stiles everywhere. He was at the coffee shop where Derek had been sent to pick up some decent drinks for the force. He was at the dinner where Derek went for lunch. Hell, he seemed to hang out at the library that was right across the street from the station.
What kind of teenager hung out at a library?
Derek watched him come and go while he was stuck working on paperwork, never driving, always walking, though sometimes a pale blue jeep picked him up. Derek wondered if it was his girlfriend’s.
Through all of it, Stiles ignored him, eyes brushing over him like he wasn’t even there. Derek didn’t do such a good job overlooking. He always watched him, pleased to see that he looked healthy, that there was a little color back in his cheeks, a little more meat on his bones.
It was infuriating to see Stiles, though it was inevitable in such a small town. Every time he did, he felt the sting of his rejection, the hate in his eyes. He couldn’t help but watch him though. As angry as he was, he still wanted Stiles to be safe. He ignored the voice in his head that questioned why.