Technically Derek wasn’t allowed to bring humans back. Anymore. Not after the last time he had done that, which had resulted in their house almost burning down to the ground. It was never exactly put in so many words though. There had been no speech about the dangers of letting strangers in nor had his family straight up refused to let him go out ever again. It was more like an unspoken agreement; a certain way his parents turned their eyes on him whenever he went outside.
He had been twenty back then and Kate had been desperate and crying. Derek had always been easily swayed by tears—a weakness his sisters knew very well, and regularly took advantage of. Their parents had been gone for the weekend and Eric and Cora had welcomed the pretty blond with open arms, doting on her while Laura had voiced some concerns.
An unclaimed human out in the woods during a full moon? Foolish, if not careless. But his sister wasn’t any less a softie inside than the rest of the family on the surface, so she still offered Kate shelter for the night.
They had woken up to the smell of burning wood and maniacal laughter from outside the house; Kate spinning on the lawn in an abstract dance, while the werewolves fought their way outside with Eric in the middle, protected from the blazing flames.
They were lucky Paige had been there.
After Kate, there had never been another unclaimed or unmarked human wandering the woods of the Hale territory; mostly because it was banned. It was dangerous too. The Hale’s had always been isolated from the other packs, even more so after Kate’s attempt to kill them. Talia had a law invoked that would allow them to deal with unclaimed humans, however they saw fit, in their territory without any questioning from second parties. The other packs had to submit to her will, all protest be damned. It wasn’t like she would have ever acted on it. It was more like a warning for everyone trying to get too close to them.
Now, Derek considered himself not particularly wiser but at least two years older. Told himself that he had learned from his mistakes. That he was allowed to make decisions again. Even decisions as stupid as this one.
Why, exactly, was he standing at the edge of the clearing, looking at the family mansion and hesitating to move forward?
Derek turned his eyes to the human, his hand tightly wrapped around the younger’s bicep, while the boy kept on gnawing, scratching and biting on his arm.
Might be because of that.
As he returned his attention back to the mansion still wondering what to do, he spotted Laura standing on the porch, burning holes into his chest with her glare. She opened her mouth, but then closed it and went back inside. Before Derek could take another step closer, her voice rang through the house: “Mooom! He did it again!”
There was a collective groan coming from his home. Derek frowned, a little offended, while the boy was busy trying to chew his way through his upper arm.
Yeah, he probably had done it again.
Talia was traditional, she stuck to the roots. She disliked the bigger packs where members barely knew each other’s names. She preferred it small, familiar. If someone didn’t sit well with her she wouldn’t even claim them.
Marking was worse. It took months of wooing the pack. An act that not many humans and even less werewolves were willing to perform when they could get a mark so much easier with other packs. Which was why humans usually turned to the Whittemores. They would mark whoever asked.
It was common knowledge: the larger the pack, the stronger the Alpha. What most didn’t consider was that with a large pack, more conflicts were prone to breed, members turning against each other, destabilizing the pack and thus weakening the Alpha. It takes a strong and unrelenting hand to guide them.
Jackson Whittemore as one of the youngest, if not the youngest—but not exactly the most able if you asked Derek—Alpha in modern history, showed such a strong hand after he had challenged and defeated his father at the age of sixteen and claimed his Alpha status.
Another common fact: a pack was stronger with more werewolves than humans. However, more werewolves meant more challengers to the Alpha, more struggle for power among the betas. Alpha challenges were thrown almost on a daily basis with too many overachieving betas. They weren’t in the middle ages anymore, had become more civilized over the centuries. An Alpha challenge usually didn’t end in fights to the death. If the Alpha lost, he would have to willingly give up his Alpha Status and transfer it to the winner. It didn’t mean that there weren’t severe injuries and near death encounters reported.
It was the reason why even big and power-hungry packs like the Whittemores chose wisely who to give the bite, who to turn and especially how many. There was a law that stated no more than twelve humans a year, breaking that law would end with the pack’s forced disband. Usually there were no more than three or four bites a year in most packs, mostly under severe circumstances, for example a sickness or as a replacement for a werewolf that had died. Alphas try to keep their packs stable and secure. For their own good.
Facing his mother wasn’t easy. He could barely meet her eyes. But she just took a long look at the boy before waving them inside. Derek relaxed slightly, the tension he didn’t know had been there left his body. He’d rather not see the boy get maimed because Derek had decided to bring him to his home against his will. Laura rolled her eyes and turned away, while Cora trampled down the stairs.
Eric didn’t even look up from his book from where he was sprawled on the couch, but waved at him in greeting.
The human continued to gnaw on Derek’s arm.
By now his skin started to feel raw and the scratches itched where they were trying to heal again.
“I didn’t know there were any unclaimed humans left in Beacon Hills. Apart from the Argents,” Peter suddenly said as he came out of the library, watching with visible amusement as the boy tried to pry Derek’s finger from his arm one by one, apparently having given up on the biting approach.
“Who’s that,” Cora asked, approaching until she was en par with her older brother, leaning slightly forward to get a better look at the boy. “Jesus, he looks like he has been living in the woods for weeks.”
“I think he has,” Derek guessed.
Cora’s head jerked up. “Nuh uh,” she disagreed. “We would have noticed, right?”
“He’s been around here for three days,” Eric said from the living room and everyone backtracked to the archway, staring at the man who was still not looking up from his book.
“You knew?” Talia asked.
“You telling me you didn’t,” he asked, resting his copy of Gulliver's Travels on his chest and squinting at them in irritation. “I’m pretty sure you have these hypersensitive noses and ears. Because, hey, just human here.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
Eric rolled his eyes before dropping back against the pillow. “Figured you knew. Because, again, me human, you werewolves. There’s not a lot that gets by you. Apart from a teenage boy living in the woods. Apparently.”
Talia brushed off her son’s statement, looked at Derek, then to the teenager still struggling against the unrelenting grip.
“Call Deaton,” she decided with a heavy sigh, and waved in dismissal. “Don’t let him out of your sight.” She pointedly stared at the tight clasp around the boy’s wrist. “Or grip.”
“Yes,” Derek replied dutifully.
“And when you’re done, lock him in the cellar,” Laura sneered from where she leaned against the wall, one leg propped up and foot pressed against the old-fashioned flowery pattern. “Feed him once a day and leave him with a bowl of water.”
Their mother frowned at her but didn’t comment further and instead retreated into her study. Laura pushed herself away from the wall, closing in on the boy and yanking him forward by his tattered collar. He yelped, eyes wide in fear as he struggled against her firm grip, clawing at her hand for release.
“He’s dirty,” she stated, curling her lips into a sneer. “And he stinks. Get him cleaned before Deaton sees to him.” Ignoring Derek’s growl of protest, she pushed the human back against him, her eyes glowing blue and fangs poking out as she roared at the boy until he submitted to her, lowering his head and almost curling into himself as he simultaneously tried to hide between Derek’s legs.
“Laura,” Derek snarled at her smug expression. She ignored him and walked past her siblings, provokingly knocking one foot against the boy’s ankle before she took the stairs up.
“She’s kind of right, though” Cora said as soon as Laura was gone. “He does stink.”
“Second it!” Eric called. “Even I smell him.”
Derek rolled his eyes and forced the boy back up into a straight position. “Call Deaton, Cora. I’ll get him clean.”
His sister nodded.
Peter just chuckled in the background before he returned to the library.
The Whittemore pack had the most werewolves in all of Beacon County. In terms of manpower, they were the strongest. But the pack was barely stable and the Alpha had to put all his power into keeping order, leaving most of the politics and diplomacy to his former Alpha and father. David Whittemore.
The Martin pack was mostly human. Smart ones too. Rumor had it there was some kind of intelligence test involved in the claiming or marking application. Derek wasn’t sure but, knowing some of the Martins, it wouldn’t surprise him. There were some nasty tongues spreading rumors that Natalie Martin, the Alpha of the pack, was just a puppet; played by her highly intelligent daughter Lydia, who maybe was a banshee.
The Mahealani pack were all smiles and dimples, happy go lucky and heart warming. They embraced with a big heart - and ruthlessly kicked out betrayers of their well-meaning friendliness. Even the Whittemore pack showed more mercy on traitors than the Mahealanis. Iolana Mahealani, the Alpha, wasn’t someone anyone wanted to mess with. Ever.
Being kicked out was mostly considered shameful. Finding a new pack was difficult, considering that there had to be a big fall out to get kicked out in the first place. If there was a mark, it was crudely scratched out by the Alpha’s claws. For werewolves, the claws were dipped in aconite.
The scars were always ugly. But the bigger the fall out, the uglier the scars.
The Hale pack was the smallest among the packs residing in and around Beacon County. But they were the oldest, strongest and most influential. They originated from an old Irish family line and were considered one of the very, very few that could shift completely into a wolf.
Getting into Talia’s good grace and actually receiving the Hale mark was both nearly impossible and an honor. There had been a few outsiders who received her mark, earning it by showing undeniable loyalty, strength of will, and by making it clear they would be willing to abandon everything if it was for the pack.
The easiest way into Hale pack was through marriage. Everyone knew: a Hale’s mark came with a ring attached. It was a joke among the town’s people and the other packs and the reason why the Hale siblings chose very carefully who to go out with. Which was a disappointment for Nonna and Nonno.
They wanted great-grandchildren.
And they wanted them now.
Even with his werewolf strength it was a fight to get the boy in the shower. When Derek’s last thread of patience snapped, he undressed to his underwear and pulled the boy with him under the streaming water, boxing him in between his arms.
Shampooing was a fight, soaping was a fight, everything was a fight while the boy snapped after him, tried to bite into his chest and shoulder and whatever part he could reach. At one point Derek just let him ram unusually sharp teeth deep into his left bicep. At least that way the boy kept still when Derek shampooed his hair and blood and dirt pooled at their feet.
The man ignored it. After a while the boy withdraw his teeth, jaw clenching and twitching in a dull ache.
But if Derek had thought getting him in the shower was going to be his biggest problem, he was sorely mistaken when he tried to dry the brunette with a towel. In the end he just plugged the hairdryer in and let the warm bursts of air dry the boy’s skin. The werewolf simply sat on the lid of the toilet with a resigned frown, hand steady around the other’s wrist while he struggled and fought against the gusts, wriggling and trying to get out of the way.
The dark-haired man grunted in annoyance and waited until the boy was dry enough to avoid him dripping all over the expensive kempas floor in the hallway. It would make his mother much less inclined to throttle either of them as soon as they left the bathroom.
They were both almost the same height, their stature however differed. Eric was taller than Derek but slimmer; so he pulled the other into his brother’s room instead of his own and threw clothes at the human’s face.
The brunette growled at him.
Derek had to forcibly dress him. Getting him into shorts and pants was almost as bad as pushing the sweater over his head. The boy’s hands were defiantly batting at Derek’s and the man was about fed up and ready to hit him unconscious when he finally managed to pull the arm through the sleeve and the sweater down to the rim. The sleeves of the sweater and pants legs were too long, showing only the tips of the fingers, and the collar too wide, revealing one shoulder completely.
It looked sloppy and messy.
Derek just shrugged.
It would have to do.
“Maybe you should talk to him,” Cora advised, standing in the door.
Derek could almost see the brunette’s hackles rise at her voice.
“We all know you’re not good with strangers, but you shouldn’t manhandle him.”
“Derek, I could hear you in the shower. And you are dragging him everywhere. I know you mean well, but maybe explaining what you’re going to do would make it easier? At least scare him less,” she continued, taking a step forward. Her approach was met with low, warning growls, and she lifted her palms in surrender. “I’m not going to hurt you,” the girl said soothingly, her voice warm and gentle as she pushed past Derek. The snarling lessened and eventually stopped altogether and, confidence boosted, Cora moved to touch his shoulder. As a reply, she got a snap that didn’t hit skin as the boy backed away and out of her reach. It was victory enough for her to look at Derek with a smug expression anyway.
“Now you try.”
Derek opened his hands, palms facing the boy, mimicking toneless: “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Cora slapped her hand against her face. “God, you’re so awful at this.” A car pulled up the gravel driveway, before Derek could defend himself.“Must be Deaton,” his sister stated superfluously, spun on her heels and went downstairs, leaving Derek alone with the boy who was petulantly scowling at him.
“Look,” he began, rolling his head back and staring at the ceiling for a few suffering seconds before he established eye contact again. “We are going downstairs.” His voice lacked compassion, gentleness and everything Cora had put into her own to calm the boy. As expected he received another growl in reply. “Do you understand words?” he asked, feeling foolish. He couldn’t talk to people who did understand him, and now there was someone who maybe had never heard a single word before and Derek was supposed to talk to him?
This could only end in disaster.
“Down,” he repeated, pointing to the floor.
From the entrance hall, Derek could hear Cora laughing. He rolled his eyes, then impatiently grabbed the boy by his hand again in exasperation. The younger evaded his grasp, took several steps back, snarling, lips curling. “There’s someone who will help you.” The snarl turned into a low growl. “He’ll find your family.” The growl was a bark as soon as Derek had captured the wrist. Frustrated, the werewolf just pulled the boy along and down the stairs. If he had to, he would have carried him bridal style to get this over with.
“Buy him a leash,” Laura’s voice reached him as soon as he stopped next to Cora. His younger sister rolled her eyes at the words but Derek just ignored Laura. Eric came out of the living room, book tapping against his shoulder, halting in his steps as he curiously watched them.
“Hey, are those my clothes?”
“Do you even have to ask,” Derek answered dryly.
“Urgh. You owe me, little bro.”
The first strays Derek had picked up were a group of three children, who were lost in the woods. One was a boy with curly light blond hair and big blue eyes, crying while clutching the hand of the blond girl next to him. The girl was glaring at Derek with a protective fierceness he had only ever seen in a mother’s eye. In front of them stood a tall boy with dark skin, arms and legs akimbo, expression stoically calm, heartbeat steady and hard.
Derek had been fifteen back then.
He had looked at them, before he turned around. The teenager wasn’t very good with children, especially crying children and for a split second he thought about simply abandoning them.
Instead he sighed, jutted his chin in the direction he was going hoping they would pick up on his non-verbal request, and then headed back to the mansion.
The shuffling had been hesitant, slow and uncertain at first, but the crying and presence of the three kids grew closer and stronger until he knew they were right behind him. Derek tried to ignore them, until a shy hand suddenly clasped around his wrist, fingers first lightly brushing the skin, before closing in determination.
Derek let his hand drop out of his pocket and another one, smaller, latched right onto his little finger.
The little blond boy never stopped crying, but his wailing turned into muffled sobs until they reached the house. Upon arrival his mother baked them cookies, Cora played with them in the backyard, his father called the police and an hour later their parents arrived and crushed them in tight hugs.
“I sense a pattern,” Deaton stated when he entered the house five minutes later with his familiar leather doctor’s bag, eyes already trained on the boy.
Cora counted on her fingers, before a pained smile spread over her lips. “Six. I guess you can call it a pattern.”
“You might want to sedate him. He’s a little fierce,” Laura spoke up, looking down at them from the upper story. Derek was just about to tell her to shut it and leave them alone, when the boy growled at Deaton before barreling into Derek’s back. Surprised, Derek stumbled forward into the doctor and before anyone could react the boy slipped past them and out through the open door. A moment later a gray shadow brushed past them and bolted after the brunette. When Derek got his balance back to follow, there was a roar echoing in the clearing of their front yard. Laura had the boy pinned under her heavy wolf form, snarling and growling in his face. Huffing out a noise that sounded like a laugh when he whimpered in reply.
Derek stormed over, pulling her off. “Stop it,” he ordered.
Laura just shifted back into partial human form. “I caught him for you.”
The boy was trembling, curling into a tight ball and when Derek touched his shoulder he let out another pathetic whine.
“Go away,” Derek ordered. Laura scoffed, then turned around and went back into the house. The man took a deep breath, before he looked back at Cora who was standing on the porch, head tilted to the side as she moved aside to let Laura pass. After an encouraging nod from his little sister, he returned his attention to the human.
“I’m going to lift you up,” he warned, waiting for a reaction. There was none. “Now,” Derek added and then pushed his arms underneath the brunette to heave him up.
Cora was right, Derek was bad at this.
He wasn’t empathetic, nice, gentle, communicative or anything, really. He usually brought the strays in, and his family took care of the rest. After Kate though Laura had become bitter and suspicious. The burned skin on her legs and arms had healed over the past two years, slowly but steadily, yet the anger was still festered deep inside her like a scar. Cora was willing to help, but had an extensive social life that left her rarely home and Eric was busy preparing for his final exams.
The kids had been easy. He had scowled at them and they had laughed and hugged him anyway.
Julia had been easy because she had been sleeping most of the time. Couldn’t even remember who had helped her to begin with, so she didn’t feel obliged to make more eye contact with Derek than the rest of the family and Derek didn’t feel obliged to look after her at all.
“Put him on the couch,” Deaton said before he had even entered the house again. Peter had come back out of the library and Talia out of her study, arms crossed as part of the family suddenly gathered in the living room, Cora flinging herself on Eric’s legs.
Derek looked at them, frowned, and then shook his head. “Cellar,” he decided and walked past the room and down the stairs.
The Hale Pack had a sort of infirmary at a corner of the cellar to treat more demanding wounds. It was right next to the shackles and cage. The make-shift infirmary was needed after Erica had been turned, when she had been unable to control her shift on the Full Moon, her self-harm reaching horrendous proportions. It was unused ever since she had learned to control herself.
Derek put the boy down on the operating table then took a step back.
He didn’t move to run away, just hunched in on himself.
Deaton was professional and fast. ‘Human, Caucasian male, probably in late teens, about 5 ft 11, malnourished, eye responsive, reflexes working’ he told his recording device, while he probed and prodded, snapped his fingers on both sides of the ears. Several badly healed wounds, parasites’, at the last word Derek could hear his whole family groan at the ground floor, his mother telling Eric to go and find his hair clipper.
Derek looked at the boy’s semi-long, tousled, completely shaggy and still wet hair. Not even the shower had helped to get all the dirt out. They probably couldn’t get a comb through without tearing out whole bushes. It would be for the best to shave it, he wasn’t sure how the human would feel about that.
‘Doesn’t communicate with words, unsure if capable of human speech. Probably lived for years in the woods without further human contact.’
“We didn’t feel his presence,” Derek added.
Deaton stopped his recording device, looked at the dark haired man, and pushed the red dot again. ‘Probably spelled,’ he noted. “We should call Julia,” the emissary suggested, “she knows more about spells than I do.”
From upstairs, Cora told him she would take care of that. Derek relayed the message.
“We’ll have to bring him to a hospital for further examinations. They’ll call the police and take care of the rest.”
The second time Derek picked someone up he was eighteen and her name was Julia Baccari. Her body was covered in claw marks, her mark and face rendered unrecognizable. She was weak, barely breathing, bleeding from open, infected wounds, haphazardly and inexpertly treated.
He lifted her unconscious body, arms falling limply to the side, and brought her home where Eric tended to her wounds until Deaton showed up. The emissary didn’t say anything, merely finished the treatment, cleaned the gashes while Talia tried to find out what mark could have been beneath the torn skin.
Julia slept for two days straight. When she stirred Eric had been beside her bed, changing the bandages.
She introduced herself with a weak voice, told them about the fall out with her pack, how she had fought when her late Alpha had tried to instigate war in the packs around her.
Talia allowed her to stay.
The Hale Pack became known as the only pack with two emissaries working frighteningly well together.
Another rumor started that day: If you wanted to get the Hale’s mark, let yourself be found by the retard.
Julia said it was maybe an ancient spell most likely gone wrong.
She said she could fix it.
After the fifth attempt, Derek put as much space as possible between the woman and himself. Whenever presented with a challenge Julia became scary. She was intrigued and frustrated at the same time, captivated but easily distracted by annoyance. Like a child, she would throw a temper tantrum. Derek was openly scared of Angry Julia. The last time she threw a fit, the walls of the house had started to crack and the stone foundation still had fissures to serve as proof to never mess with the emissary.
“Derek, come here.”
Derek took another defiant step back. “No.”
She scowled at him and with a wave of her hand, Derek’s body was pulled forward by an invisible force.
Sometimes Derek hated Julia.
Considering how the boy had started to huddle in the corner of the cellar the second she walked in, eyes wide with fear; he probably hated her a little too. Or maybe he was just afraid of her face, scars unconcealed behind magic as she had done in the beginning. Julia wore them like war trophies now, a reminder of what she had been fighting for, pride mixed with a devil-may-care attitude.
She had stared death in the eye, had been strong enough to walk through hell not with a smile but with sheer inhuman determination; there was nothing to be ashamed of.
“You have to calm him down.”
Derek snorted in derision.
“His whimpering is distracting me.”
The dark-haired woman gave him a withering look that promised another painful inflammation of his bladder if he didn’t do her bidding. He hung his shoulders then slowly approached the boy with his hands up, body stiff, face schooled in something hopefully none-threatening. When he finally reached the brunette, he sat down cross-legged on the cold stone floor, still out of arms reach. The human was curling his lips in a silent snarl, but didn’t lash out which Derek for whatever reason chalked up to his increased social skills and not the boy’s exhaustion.
It was probably the exhaustion.
It took a few seconds that felt like an eternity, with Julia almost boring holes into Derek's back like he could force the other to shut up, until the growling and snarling stopped.
The emissary still couldn’t lift the untraceable spell.
Even after her tenth attempt.
The stone foundation had another fissure, a crack beneath Derek’s ass the only forewarning he got before Julia threw an invisible force at the ground in frustration.
“Not your fault,” Derek found himself muttering to the suddenly panicking teenager, before he turned to block the view of Julia’s tantrum until his mother came downstairs and kicked her out, complaining loudly about magical damage not being covered by insurance.
Derek didn’t like to talk about Kate.
Mostly because it upset his family.
Derek had to carry the still fighting, albeit less violently so, boy up the stairs where the police were already waiting. Surprisingly, as soon as the brunette caught sight of the uniformed men he stopped struggling for a few precious seconds, which Derek used to put him on his feet, so he couldn't bite into his shirt anymore. There was already a wet spot in his back. It was getting slightly disgusting.
Deputy Parrish introduced himself to the boy with a warm smile and gentle voice and honest eyes. Deputy Bungalon simply offered a curt nod.
The boy remained mute, but he didn’t growl or chomped at the men’s face, so Derek counted it as a civil greeting. He was actually quiet until he was led outside to the police car. The second he spotted it he turned and tried to run away again, but Deputy Bungalon had him by his wrists, cuffed in a second and pushed into the back of the car.
Derek was back in his room before the deputies had started the engine.
The next stray Derek had found had been another boy, around sixteen, foolishly dehydrated and shivering to his bones as the nights were severely colder than the days.
It had only been a month after the Kate incident.
Derek had turned around and walked away.
An hour later he returned with a water bottle and a blanket, absolutely pissed at himself. He sat down a few feet from the boy, staring into the black nothingness of the hidden full moon, while the other – Greenberg, his name – had started to chew his ear off about how he had ended in the preserve – a stupid dare – and how Derek had probably saved his life.
As soon as morning dawned and the ramping werewolves returned home, Derek heaved the by now sleeping boy over his shoulder and brought him home.
Greenberg never left the Hales alone after that.
The next time Derek saw the peculiar boy, he was strapped to a hospital bed, heavily sedated, his hair shaved into a buzz-cut, complexion pale in the lucid white artificial light, almost invisible against the bright walls and sheets.
Derek was glaring through the window, staring at the motionless form, when Laura stepped up next to him, fully clothed in her deputy uniform, which meant she had come straight from work.
“His name is I don’t even know how to pronounce that Stilinski,” she opened.
“Awful naming choice,” Derek drawled. His sister slapped a folder against his chest and Derek stared at the gibberish of vowels and consonants stuck together in a combination that was defying every linguistic rule and had to be illegal at least in some parts of the world. “I prefer your suggestion.”
Laura ignored him. “He turned eighteen barely a week ago, father and mother John and Claudia Stilinski, no other relatives. His family used to live here.”
His sister was silent for a moment, before she moved closer, shoulders touching, her voice low. “They used to be good friends with the McCalls,” she whispered conspiratorially with a voice indicating it should mean something. It took a moment before it did.
“The True Alpha Pack.”
Laura nodded in confirmation. “Both families vanished the same night without a trace.”
Derek furrowed his brow. He had heard about a young boy granted the bite because of some sickness. About how the Whittemore pack had agreed after his mother had pleaded for months. About how Talia had realized the moment the bite had taken that the boy had been special. How Deucalion had noticed, too.
Scott McCall had been promised his own pack as soon as he turned eighteen. Whittemore hadn’t liked it. As the Alpha who had given him the bite, he was responsible to ensure the True Alpha Pack had territory to live in. By giving up parts of his own.
“They are presumed dead,” Laura continued, but didn’t repeat the words that had been going around at that time. That everyone suspected the Whittemore pack behind the disappearance, that the power hungry Alpha didn’t want to give up even one hectare of land.
“That either leaves him the only survivor—”
“Or they are hiding,” Derek finished.
“If they are alive, if they are in hiding, which would explain him being untraceable, the McCall kid will turn eighteen in a few months and if he does, they’ll return and claim what is rightfully his.”
“What about him?” Derek asked, nodding his chin at the boy.
“He’ll be sent to Eichen House until then,” his sister explained. “He’ll be put together with other unclaimed humans, so he should be fairly safe.”
Until someone found out. Until the Whittemore Alpha learned about his existence and had him marked for his own. “Who knows?”
“No one,” Laura replied, and suddenly it made sense that she hadn’t changed out of her uncomfortable uniform before coming to the hospital, why she had been in a rush. “Yet. But I won’t be able to keep it secret for long. So if you want to convince mom to take him into our pack, you should do it fast.”
After Greenberg there were several other kids, all lured in by the lurking danger of getting caught by the Hales; a dare for high school kids and a death trap for idiots. Derek found them all, one by one, month after month. They screamed like they saw a deadly ghost when they spotted him.
The only ghost in the woods was old lumberjack Jenkins, who was still trying to axe the newly grown tree on a stump of an old oak that had killed him a few hundred years back. The ghost couldn’t care less for squealing fools.
Derek mostly stayed hidden in the dark, watching and keeping an eye on them in case something happened.
“Claudia Stilinski,” his mother saved him impatiently after he had tried to repeat the boy's name several times. Making it a garble of Uaszdgiasd Stinski. Or Kaksdhkasd Bilinski. Like someone had hit the bottoms of a keyboard randomly and decided it was the best name in the whole universe.
For the record, it wasn’t.
“Yeah, Something Stilinski,” Derek agreed in relief of being spared from trying the real thing out again. Somehow.
“I gave her the bite as a personal favor to the Martin Pack.”
Derek nodded in understanding. It could only mean that the woman had been sick. And that the Alpha of the Martin Pack had turned her share for the year.
“It was a bad year,” his mother explained, “terrorist attacks, riots, demonstrations. Everyone was begging for help. She was my last for the year. She had been almost dead.”
Derek didn’t ask were the other eleven werewolves were his mother had bitten that year. Most likely, none of them had been for her own pack. It wasn’t uncommon for Alphas to appear with their claimed, petitioning for a bite. The bite, it seemed, was mostly used as a cure these days.
“I think she called the boy,” her face wrinkled in concentration, lips slowly moving to a faded memory. “Style.”
“Style?” Derek asked, trying to come up with any way how the atrocity he had seen written on paper could be somehow phonetically translated into an almost equally terrible verbal abuse.
“It had something to do with fashion and I’m pretty sure she didn’t call him Design or Draft,” his mother defended herself, uncertain though. Derek was proud to detect the left-out question mark after the words. Talia used his quiet moment of self-praise to give him a skeptical once-over, then crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Why are you interested anyway?”
Before Derek could answer, Eric entered the living room. He stopped when he spotted them, looked from one to the other, before he took an anxious step back, then another. “Oh no,” he said, leaving the room again. “I’m going to get another brother,” he complained as he headed up the stairs. Derek and Talia tilted their heads. “I don’t need another brother. God, he’s more a wolf than Laura.”
Derek wasn’t always sure whether Eric was aware that they could perfectly understand him even if he was muttering under his breath or if he actually wanted them to hear what he was grumbling about.
“This could drag us into politics,” Talia pointed out. “You’re aware of that?” Derek nodded with an added shrug and his mother narrowed her eyes at him. “And he will be your responsibility. You can’t just bring him home and hope one of us takes care of him like we have done before.” Derek internally cringed at the words but then gave a sort of half nod, hoping she was going to forget her own words. Maybe if Derek was clumsy enough, she would get frustrated and do it herself. “And,” Talia continued, locking their eyes. “You have to housebreak him.”
Derek rolled his eyes at her, turned on his heels and walked away, his mother’s laughter following him up to his room.
Actually, Derek wanted to talk about Kate.
The teenager had to stay in the hospital for two more weeks. Paperwork had been a hassle for their mother, so had been the treatment payment and the interview with Deucalion discussing her intention claiming that boy for her pack.
Talia had stated that he was their responsibility, considering they had found the boy and that he was already used to the family. Which was a big lie but the human in question hadn’t been around to counteract their point. And Talia was Alpha enough to lie to another Alpha’s face without letting anything slip.
When Derek and Laura picked up the boy from the hospital, he wasn’t fighting them. He wasn’t really cooperating either. He let Derek clothe him with passive aggressive resistance and only calmed down when Derek refused the collar and leash the nurses offered.
The hospital staff and doctors had called him a feral human, but no one really knew what that meant or what had happened to him, what made him behave the way he did, or how long he had been like this. Neuroscans showed an ever-changing brain, as if it was slowly evolving. They had never seen something like that and further examinations would be necessary to determine anything.
Furthermore, the unknown spell used to make him untraceable was a tricky one. There was no doubt that when Julia couldn’t lift it, that no one else would be able to. The hospital tried anyway. They even called in several experts.
All of them failed.
The human had watched them in wary smugness.
The spell was neat, Julia explained. It made it impossible to trace a person’s specific scent, made it impossible to detect emotions or listen to their heartbeat or breathing. In short: the spell rendered the higher werewolves senses to nothing. Around the boy, everyone was human.
Which irked Derek more than anyone else.
Derek was bad with facial expressions, with emotions and empathy. He relied solely on his senses. They were the only reason he had survived through High School unscathed. Well, his senses and Paige.
Mostly Paige probably.
But now he was stuck with a kid whose feelings he couldn’t even smell. As he led the boy into the house under the watchful eyes of every present family member, Derek wondered if it was too late to give him back, to nullify the paperwork his mother had to go through for hours and the questioning she had been forced to endure.
She would probably kill him.
At least now he knew why Laura had kept chuckling to herself the whole drive home even though the boy had continued to scratch on the fake leather seats of her cruiser.
His sister had probably realized what Derek only had the second it was too late.
That he was completely screwed.
Derek had found the human by accident.
He had been strolling through the woods, when the snapping of twigs caught his attention. He had assumed it must have been far away, as quiet as it was, and was surprised when he turned to face the direction of the noise just to see a shadow running past him.
Usually there was nothing that could creep up on him.
He wasn’t able to shift, but his senses were sharper than the rest of his family’s. Even his own Alpha couldn’t sneak up on him. Derek bared his teeth in a threatening gesture, lowered his body to the ground before he leapt and followed the trespasser.
The werewolf was fast and strong and had caught up to the boy in the blink of an eye, pounced and hauled him to the ground, trapping him under his weight. The human was twisting and turning and kicking under his body before he eventually stopped, viciously glaring back, not a hint of surrender.
“Who are you?” Derek snarled, confused and irritated at the lack of uniqueness, only smelling forest and leaves and dirt on the boy. No hint of sweat or body odor, his heart beating only under Derek’s hand on his chest and breath just a too quiet hitch.
The stranger remained immobile, glaring defiantly at him.
Under the dim moonlight Derek could make out his grimy face, hollow cheeks, scratch marks, filthy, messy hair, and dirt over clothes and skin Derek wasn’t willing to analyze closer. The dark-haired man let his eyes wander further down as he began to scan the thin body with his fingers, taking in the skinny frame, before taking one of the surprisingly big hands and bringing it to eye level. The nails were broken and chapped, superficial wounds marring the palm and arms. Derek dropped the limb, took a closer look at the clothes, which were in tatters, damp from the moist air of the forest, sleeves ragged, holes everywhere. The boy was barefooted and there were more injuries on the soles of his feet.
In a beat Derek scrambled off the teenager, taking several steps back.
Cautiously, the other got up too, slowly bending forward to kneel with one leg on the ground, the other bend like he was about to flee, though eyes firmly trained on Derek’s every movement, before they flickered around, veering off to the sides as if he was contemplating escape routes and options. But before he could make a run for it, Derek rushed forward, wrapping his hand around the alarmed boy’s wrist. The brunette was fighting the grip for a moment until he finally, grudgingly gave in.
“Name?” Derek asked.
He got bared teeth in reply.
Rolling his eyes, the man dragged the weird teenager back to the main house. Whatever had happened, Derek knew someone in his family would be able to make him spill the information.
It took ten minutes of low, short shrieks for Derek to realize that probably not even his mother would be able to get anything out of that human.
“Malia?” Peter chuckled, when Derek had left the brunette teenager in the living room with the rest of his siblings and instead hauled Peter out of there. “I love my daughter but I wouldn’t trust her with a cactus. Let alone a feral human.” The man turned sideways about to head back into the living room, before he stopped and took a step back to face his nephew again. “You know how often she comes over and just yesterday her mother voiced great displeasure. Now if you would give Malia a pet, I don’t believe she will ever leave. And we don’t want her new dad to get jealous, do we?”
Derek furrowed a brow.
Peter’s ex, commonly referred to as The Shrew ever since the fall out, wasn’t someone Derek wanted to deal with if it could be avoided. Thanks to her, the divorce had been nasty, all on account of who was going to get custody over Malia. In the end it was Peter who backed off, going against Talia’s wishes and letting his daughter go with her mother. Stubborn daddy’s girl that Malia was though, it hardly made a difference in the end; Derek was sure she spent more time with the Hale family than with the Tates.
Malia was naturally curious, cheerful and playful. She loved pet projects—her latest had been poor Liam—loved spending time with other people no matter what age. It made her a better caretaker than Derek. And she was totally in puppy love with her big cousin anyway. It wasn’t even a question whether she would jump at the opportunity to own a new ‘pet’ if Derek asked. But Peter was right. The three gold fish she once possessed all died mysterious deaths and Derek suspected at least one was eaten while she was in her coyote form.
Derek didn’t want the boy to get eaten.
“She will play with him, if that helps you,” his uncle started again with a shrug. “Keep him occupied and out of your hands for a while. Just don’t let her mother know.”
Peter Hale never bowed down to anyone.
Except to his pushy ex and daughter.
There were different types of ranks in a pack.
Simplified, Omegas were the lowest and barely above the Claimed, then Bitten Betas. It was racist, but Bitten ones were a little looked down on considering that they did not inherit unique family traits. After all, a full wolf shift would not be transferred to a Beta just by bite.
Marked and Born Betas were at the same level in a pack, as they hold the most influence in inter-pack relating issues.
At the top was the Alpha.
There was a chart somewhere in the mayor office, with a lot of what ifs and who was in command in a pack when something happened to the Alpha and stuff like that. It was confusing with arrows pointing everywhere.
As stuck to the roots as they were, the Hales didn’t care for hierarchy. Whoever was pack belonged to the pack and had a voice equal every other beta.
Except for Greenberg.
The boy sat hunched on the floor, knees hugged to his chests, eyes darting from one Hale to the other. Everyone currently at home was gathered in the living room, keeping a hopefully acceptable distance while they stared at their new addition to the family.
“So,” Eric started, coughing once for show, “Is he my brother or nephew?” A pointed look at Derek. “Or my—”
“If you finish that sentence, I’m going to maim you,” Cora declared, snapping teeth in a threatening gesture. Eric didn’t even have the grace to fake intimidation, instead just rolled his eyes, because that was a family trait handed down from grandmother to father and to every Hale sibling around.
Dramatically sighing with added eye-roll for emphasis.
Derek suppressed the urge to sigh. And roll his eyes.
“Question remains though,” Eric continued. “And what do we call him? Are you finally telling us his real name or should we continue calling him Stilinski?”
Derek shrug in reply. They had only used ‘Stilinski’ when they talked about the teenager, simply because neither Laura, Talia nor Derek knew how to pronounce the given name. The expectant silence was interrupted by every mobile in the room vibrating or going off with their respective obnoxious ring tones.
Peter hummed to Wall of Death for a few seconds as he languidly pulled his phone out of his pockets. Derek’s phone was upstairs, somewhere between magazines and books and clean laundry. Probably. He hadn’t seen it for a few days, so the battery must be empty anyway and he wasn’t sure where his charger was.
As soon as everyone had checked their received messages, they turned to stare at the armchair across the room, where Laura had settled down, grinning at them.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cora asked her older sister.
“It’s his name,” Laura replied cheerfully. “I don’t know how to pronounce it, so,” she left the sentence hanging, shrugging in a nonchalant manner.
“Laura, I think your auto-correct messed this up,” Cora suggested helpfully.
“That’s his real name?” the youngest Hale exclaimed incredulous.
“That’s not a name. That’s a tongue twister,” Eric claimed.
“It’s Polish and means ‘successful or—”
“We don’t care,” Eric interrupted their uncle. “We want to know how it’s pronounced.”
“—lucky’,” Peter finished. “And I don’t know.”
“Mom said they used to call him,” Derek scrunched his nose in contemplation, “Glamor or Trendy—”
“Style,” his mother corrected, choosing that moment to walk into the room.
“Do you really want to call him that?” Cora asked skeptically.
“You got a better idea?” Derek shoot back.
“John? Richard? Sam? You know, common names?” she continued to argue.
“Or you read him a book of names until he reacts to one and call him that.”
“Or you can call him ‘successful’ in a language you can pronounce. How about Nala?”
Derek rolled his eyes at Eric’s and Peter’s suggestions, while Cora snickered next to him.
“Or call him Lassie. Though Lassie is better behaved,” Laura had to add her two cents.
Derek ignored them and decided to continue calling him Stilinski for the time being. At least with his surname he was sure it was right.
Derek’s room was rather large. The flue went through it and parted it in two. The smaller space only fitted a bed which created a sort of almost hidden cave. It wasn’t visible from the door, but from the desk at his window or partially from the couch. The larger area held his cupboards, desk, TV—which he rarely used—couch, bookshelves—where he stored all the books he couldn’t let his parents have in the library downstairs.
The werewolf was sitting on his desk chair, almost motionless while Stilinski prowled up and down in a safe distance, exploring the room, frowning at the bed before he settled down in front of the closet and started to build something that sort of resembled a nest.
Derek didn’t stop him, just watched him curiously.
He had read on the internet that untamed animals usually needed a place where they felt safe, where they could hide and retreat and Derek was rather lucky the boy was clean and wouldn’t lose hair or parasites all over his clothes.
He continued to watch the on-goings for a few seconds as Stilinski dragged pillows and blankets from the bed into the closet, spreading them out on the ground after throwing shoes and several boxes out in arbitrary directions behind him, uncaring where they would drop. Luckily, there was nothing important in there. Old school books mostly, Lacrosse gear and shoes.
After everything was arranged to his satisfaction, the brunette boy tried the handle a few times, opening and closing the door, before he gave Derek one final glare and slammed the door shut behind him.
Derek blinked, watched the closed door for a few moments, before he turned around and googled ‘how to tame a human’. After stumbling upon a couple disturbing articles about owner/property relationships and contemporary consensual slavery Derek closed all his tabs, deleted his browser history, cookies, uninstalled the whole browser and everything related to it before re-installing and looking up ‘how to tame wild animals’. At least that did not involve the use of whips or sexual punishment.
He had been reading for an hour or so when he heard the closet opening. Stilinski stuck his head out, squinting at the werewolf, who was still sitting at his desk, before carefully crawling out, restlessly walking up and down along the wall furthest from Derek, turning in a corner, before staring at the door leading out.
Derek had it locked, the key was right next to him on the desk in case the boy tried to get away again. They would be able to easily catch him, but the man really wanted to avoid a situation like last time with Laura almost spitting drool in his face in a show of superiority.
The teenager started to bounce on the heels of his feet.
“Oh,” Derek finally realized when Stilinski changed from bouncing to stepping from one foot to the other. Oh! “Bathroom?” he asked, earning himself an evil glare. Wide eyed, the man stood up, pulled the boy at the wrist out of his room and hauled him immediately into Eric’s.
“You have to house break him,” Derek announced to his brother who was sitting up from his bed in mild bewilderment.
His big brother was the best choice. Eric had potty-trained all of them over the years, dealing with tantrums and claws and snarling and whining. Derek really didn’t know how well behaved Stilinski was and he really, really didn’t want find out.
“Do it or I let him pee in your room,” Derek threatened. He wasn't proud about it, but he was desperate.
Eric rolled his eyes, before he pointedly laboriously brought himself to stand up. “You owe me. Again,” the man said, jabbing one finger into his brother’s chest before gently navigating the twitchy boy on his shoulders to the bathroom.
Derek followed them, but waited outside.
A few seconds after the door had closed behind the two humans, it opened again and Eric was pushed out of the bathroom, almost stumbling hard into Derek before he braced himself to a stop and the door was slammed shut in their faces. Surprised, Derek turned with raised eyebrows to his brother, waiting for an explanation.
“Looks like he knows how to do it,” Eric assumed, shrugging. “You just had to show him the bathroom.”
“He knows where the bathroom is. We’ve been here on his first day.”
Eric just gave him an unimpressed eye-roll. “Don’t. Ever. Ask me strange stuff like that ever again. I mean, I know you will anyway because I’m living with annoying werewolves. But as a matter of principle.”
After his brother had left in a fit of indignation, Derek continued to hover in front of the bathroom like a worried creeper. He listened to the flushing of the toilet after a few bangs that almost made him barge in there to see what the noise was all about. He restrained himself. Then the running water in the sink. Derek felt slightly uncomfortable and majorly invasive checking on the boy like that, but he figured it was a necessary evil.
If Stilinski fled or something happened to him, his mother would be held accountable for it. So would his mother if Stilinski fled and did something stupid or illegal. In case of the teenager Derek could practically smell an arrest for indecent public behavior, theft or other petty crimes. His mother didn’t care much for her reputation but Derek was sure she wouldn’t want a member of their pack arrested for urinating in public. Or something equally embarrassing.
Derek paused his thoughts when he realized the water was still running. With a frown he threw the door open—luckily it wasn’t locked, maybe because the boy didn’t know the mechanism behind it—and then froze on the spot when he spotted the brunette attempting to brush his teeth. With someone’s tooth brush. Pink. Cora’s. The bristles were obviously gnawed on. Cora was so going to kill them as soon as she found out.
“Sorry,” Derek mumbled, ignoring the feeling of his face heating up in embarrassment, and started to retreat backwards but stopped at the desperate look he received from the other. “What?” he asked, stopping in his flight attempt. The human was working his jaw, opening his mouth wide without closing it again. “You have to spit it out?” Derek suggested helpfully. In reply a toothbrush was thrown at his head. He caught it reflexively. As soon as he realized that whatever was on the toothbrush neither smelled like the peppermint paste most in his family used nor like the green tea variety Laura favored, Derek took a closer look at the bristles, which were stuck together like glue.
“What did you use?” he asked, rushing to the sink were the boy was rubbing his fingers against his teeth in a futile attempt. When Derek spotted the open adhesive cream he groaned.
“Mom,” he called out to the house at large, “is adhesive cream in large quantities dangerous?”
“Why?” she replied immediately.
“He might have brushed his teeth with it.”
It didn’t come as a surprise when the whole house erupted into laughter and Cora and Laura actually rushed out of their respective rooms and leered into the bathroom. Eric left his own to see what the commotion was about. Derek had the presence of mind to hide the pink tooth brush behind his back.
“No way,” his youngest sister squealed.
Derek went and shut the door in their faces, before they could gloat any further and then turned back to the boy who was walking restlessly in circles now.
“Why was that even out? Nonna hasn’t been home for months,” Derek muttered under his breath, throwing the toothbrush into the sink before he approached Stilinski, completely ignoring the warning growls. Before Derek could reach him, the brunette barreled past him, threw the door open and went into the hall where his siblings made way for him. Derek followed in confusion. Stilinski looked around until his eyes finally settled on Derek’s open door and proceeded to storm off, a telltale click revealing when he was back in the closet.
“It’ll dissolve in a few hours,” Eric offered helpfully while ushering his still chuckling younger sisters away.
“Do I even want to know?” Derek asked.
His brother shrugged, a secretive smile playing on his lips as he dumped Cora and Laura in their rooms. “Clean the bathroom. It’s a mess.”
Derek just stood there stupidly for a couple seconds, before he dared another look into the bathroom, just now noticing and groaning at the mess. He went and locked his door from the outside, then headed back to the bathroom and began to clean the water from the tiles around the toilet and the sink, picked up the unrolled toilet paper, which was partially dumped into the bathtub and partially wrapped around the toilet seat, then scrubbed the remains of the adhesive cream off the porcelain.
Apparently, he had to help Stilinski with the bathroom for a while.
Derek seriously wasn’t looking forward to it.
There was a knock on his door a few hours later. Stilinski had remained silently in his hideout while Derek had thrown himself on the couch to read Wolf Children, a book about a pack around the Alpha Akhuna, and sort of completely forgot the teenager was even there. The werewolf was used to rely on his senses, yet he could neither hear nor smell another person and almost had a heart-attack when the closet door suddenly opened once while Derek was completely immersed in his book.
Shortly after the knock, Laura poked her head in.
“Dinner’s ready,” she said. “Called you awhile ago but we forgot your door is closed, so you better hurry.”
Usually the doors of their individual bed rooms were open during the day, after all they were sound-proofed. According to his parents, everyone deserved their privacy, as long as whatever they did stayed in the bedrooms and not the bathroom—sharp eyes on Eric who had blushed furiously before slowly etching out of view.
Derek put the book away with a sigh and approached the closet, walking up and down in front of it before he decided to knock, feeling utterly stupid. It was his closet after all. It took several impossibly long moments, Derek already prepared to just yank it open, when it suddenly stood slightly ajar and the boy peeked through the small opening. After another moment the gap widened a little more.
“Dinner,” he explained. When Stilinski just blankly looked at him he added, “food.” The suspicious glare of the boy was completely uncalled for. “Downstairs,” he amended, just to say something, pointing down. The teenager followed his finger to the ground, then let his eyes flicker up again. “How much do you even understand?”
Derek wasn’t used to people being silent. Usually others tried to drown out his silence by talking non stop. Rolling his eyes, he grabbed for the boy’s wrist and hauled him up. They stopped at the bathroom, where Derek tried to examine his teeth. It was fairly easy considering the annoying habit of growling at everything, revealing the row of white in the process. There was still some cream left but the werewolf figured it was alright, when the brunette could act like that.
Derek rummaged through the cabinet for a new tooth brush, put peppermint paste on it and pushed it at the teenager who looked at it for a moment, before putting it in his mouth, grimacing at the taste but then brushing with a little too much vigor.
Derek continued to watch him surreptitiously.
He really didn’t know what Stilinski could or could not do. Laura had gotten a hold on the hospital file but as far as they knew, they had him strapped to the bed most of the time, concerned with some self-harm issues. So far, Derek had not witnessed anything like that, but he didn't know what Stilinski was doing in his closet anyway. He made a mental note to check for fresh wounds as inconspicuously as he could, as soon as he had a chance.
“Sam!” Cora called out as soon as they entered the dining room. Derek wondered what she was talking about until he remembered the conversation from the morning. “You sit here,” she continued, pointing to the open seat next to Derek’s. It was suspiciously void of cutlery. Cora sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck when she noticed his look. “Because we don’t know if he remembers how to use silverware. Maybe he eats with hands?”
“How did they feed him in the hospital,” his father asked, face hidden behind a SCC mag.
“Infusions,” Laura replied, bringing a bowl with beans and putting it on the table. “I’ve read his file. They said, he was refusing food so they had to force feed him.”
“We’re not doing that,” Peter decided immediately.
No one argued back.
Stilinski pinched Derek’s hand and he let him go with a sigh, watching as the boy sat down on the chair Cora had previously indicated, then looked to left and right before he took Derek’s plate and fork to put it in front of himself, while defiantly—and the werewolf thought he spotted an edge of smugness—glaring at Derek.
“Guess he remembers that, too,” Eric said.
When the rest of the family joined the table and sat down, Derek rolled his eyes and left for the kitchen to get himself new tableware and then sat down next to Stilinski, watching him warily out of the corner of his eyes as bowls changed hands. The brunette was worrying his lips, hungrily eyeing the food. Derek wondered how much truth was behind the nurse’s words and report and when the last time was the boy had real food. Not whatever he had been eating in the woods. Or what the nurses had forced down his veins. Eric carefully handed the potatoes to the teenager, making sure that he had a steady hold on it when he gingerly accepted it before letting go.
Derek noticed his family purposefully not looking at Stilinski, while continuing to chat about their day, his mother taking the tuner magazine out of her husbands hand, whacking it over the back of his head.
Meanwhile, the brunette pressed the bowl tightly against his chest with one hand, taking the spoon in the other. The grip around the metal was of a toddler learning to hold his utensils, fist tight and clumsy on the handle. Derek wanted to correct the grip like he had done with Malia a long time ago, but had the tiny feeling the boy would bite his hand off if he so much as tried to get close to him.
Stilinski growled in frustration when potatoes halfway to the plate toppled down, some of them tumbling over the rim of the plate and rolling over the table, stopping at Eric’s hand, others dropping down to the floor. Eric looked up in confusion for a moment, but didn’t comment when the boy quickly reached for the fleeing potatoes to put them on his plate.
Usually Cora would snicker, Laura would laugh, Eric and Peter would raise their eyebrows in silent judgment but neither of them made a sound or grimaced. They behaved like nothing unusual happened. Who knew, apparently his family did know tact. Too bad they never used it on Derek.
The human boy pushed the bowl at Derek’s chest. Apparently he had been the only one who had continued to watch the struggle with the spoon. That was until Cora kicked him against the shin. Unaware of any wrongdoing he glared at her but she just kicked him again, rolling her eyes at him in exasperation.
His mother gave a low warning growl.
Derek stopped blatantly staring after that, but let his eyes drift over every once in a while. The boy avidly watched their every movement with hawk-eyes, brows furrowed deep, biting his lips in focused distraction. After a moment the brunette picked the fork up, glared at it for a few seconds like it offended him. But then his glare skipped back and forth from Peter’s hands—who must have noticed because his movements were deliberately slow now—to his own. With every glance he adjusted and corrected his grip around the fork before he picked up a potato, a successful and proud smirk on his lips as he brought it to his mouth.
He was a fast learner.
Or maybe he was just fast at re-learning. He had spent at least his first nine years as a human. That should count for something.
To say that Derek was strangely fascinated with the boy was probably an understatement.
Derek couldn’t look away if he wanted.
Derek would have given him the bed to sleep in. Or the couch if Stilinski felt better about that. Nevertheless, the teenager chose to stay in the closet. Not for the first time, Derek contemplated giving him the guest room. However his mother had made it clear that they would lock it because she didn’t trust him alone in the house yet. Neither did Laura who was still of the opinion to lock him up in the cellar for the nights.
No one was really sure how to handle the boy.
The nurses hadn’t been much help, when they asked. Strapping him to the bed was out of the question. Locking him in the guest room maybe not the best idea considering it was sound-proofed too. Locking him in the cellar not even an option Derek wanted to think about.
The doctor in charge had said something about nightmares, restless sleep that sometimes led to self-harming in form of clawing nails into his skin or scratching his arms raw.
Derek wasn’t sure if it was a good thing to let the boy sleep in the closet either.
In the end he decided to go with what Stilinski was most comfortable with and if that was sleeping surrounded by his wardrobe he would let him. The man knocked at the closet door for the last time before he settled in for the night. Apparently he was getting over the embarrassment, only feeling slightly foolish by now but still glad no one else in the house knew he had to do this. How was this supposed to work out when he needed to get dressed in the morning anyway? Would he have to ask for permission first? What if the human used one of his shirts as a pillow? Would Derek ever get it back?
It took a while before the door was opened.
Derek had a feeling he was being tested, that he had to wait longer every time he knocked on the door. So far it had been three times since dinner, once to retrieve something, once to ask if he wanted to use the bathroom again and another time just to make sure he was still breathing in there. Derek really didn’t know about the oxygen circulation in a closet and he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to.
“Sleep?” He asked, grimacing when he put his hands together and then tugged them under his cheek in a gesture he hoped meant the same to everyone and wasn’t something offending in the boy’s animal language. “Bed. Sleep?” He started again, pointing to where his bed was.
He earned himself a low, fierce howl-screech thing.
Apparently the boy was offended by beds.
“Couch?” he asked instead, pointing to the black couch stuffed with several pillows and blankets because Paige liked it ‘comfortable’, and no, Derek, the armrest doesn’t count as a pillow.
The boy slammed the door shut in his face with a final snarl.
Claiming was fast and easy and repeated once every year or with a change of packs. It was just an Alpha’s claws dipped into skin, a simple symbolic procedure. The wound would heal within days with a werewolf and a few weeks for humans.
Claimed Humans were free to go wherever they wanted, free to change packs at whatever leisure. They were part of a pack, but strictly speaking they weren’t. They didn’t belong to the inner circle, weren’t trusted or relied on and didn’t have any vote in pack related business.
Most humans didn’t care who claimed them, as long as they were protected. However, there was some status in being claimed by exclusive packs like the Hales or Deucalions. Some chose a pack based on their general reputation that fitted their own character. Strong like the Whittemores, or smart like the Martins or easy-going like the Mahealanis.
“Maybe I should collect leaves and dump them in the closet?” Derek asked his sister after the first restless and mostly sleepless night with Stilinski. The werewolf had never shared his room with anyone before, not even his siblings and he was uneasy knowing someone else was there now. Especially when it was some weird brat, who behaved like an animal and whose presence he could neither hear nor smell.
One time during the night he had woken up to the sound of the closet door opening and only a few seconds later the brunette hovered over him at the end of the bed. Admittedly, Derek was proud that he had shown enough restraint to avoid instinctively attacking the boy during his silent freak out. Luckily the werewolf was strong and there was nothing a puny human—no matter how feral—could do to him. It was still a shock to his system and made him contemplate really locking the boy up.
Stilinski only wanted to use the bathroom, though.
“I think he’d like leaves,” Derek tried to reason. Cora paused her game, skeptically looking him up and down, probably trying to figure out if he was serious. “For his nest?”
“Derek, he is not a real animal.”
“You don’t say,” the man drawled, rolling his eyes.
She threw her controller at his face, but he caught it easily and threw it back. He hadn’t really aimed but it hit her shoulder hard. Cora growled and jumped at him in retaliation. When their father walked by with a hamper he stopped at the door, watching them wrestling on the ground, Derek pinning his snarling sister down at the floor with a smug expression.
“Kids,” he sighed fondly and continued downstairs.
“Maybe you should try leaves,” Cora agreed beneath him. Derek let her wrists go and she rammed her leg into his stomach with a sly smirk, before kicking him off her. His sister had always fought dirty, Derek remembered when he tried to wheeze a deep breath in but didn’t try to retaliate. Instead he stood up, brushed a hand over his stomach, where he still felt a lingering stab of pain.
Derek did try the leaves. When he stood in front of the closet, he knocked, then turned away to sort his clean clothes on the couch. He figured if the boy wanted to make him wait literally minutes he could at least be productive by doing something else instead of just stupidly standing in front of the door. As soon as it opened, Derek presented the basket with the collected foliage. Stilinski simply snorted, looked at the dark-haired man like he was stupid and slammed the door shut with a bang.
Derek had to knock again.
He still needed his underwear.
Derek was sure Stilinski let him wait about half an hour just to piss him off.
Biting was a tedious affair, lots of bureaucracy and both parties involved had to sign a fifty paged contract. The suitor stating that they willingly chose the bite, were of a sound state of mind to make a life changing decision like that, adhere to every law and regulation that came with becoming a werewolf, that they would be allowing themselves to be put into shackles for every full moon until they had complete control over their bodies, that their families were informed, present, approved and wouldn’t sue in case the initiated died because of natural resistance to the bite or some incompatibility issue that scientist were still trying to crack to prevent death by bite. Derek had never witnessed a death by bite. It was unusual, but not unheard of.
The Alphas would by contract pledge that they took care of their members, were held responsible for whatever might happen and so on. All Alphas of a region were present for the bite, free to interview the initiated, though commonly done beforehand. If the majority was against the bite, the suitor had to leave as human.
It took about a week until the boy felt comfortable enough to leave the closet for longer periods of time with Derek still around in the room. He still kept his distance but Derek left his door open when the family was home so the boy could wander the whole house if he wanted and not just the bed room. He had done so after two days, figuring it wouldn’t matter much as the boy refused to leave the closet anyway. Slowly but surely though Stilinski was widening his comfort-zone. First the closet, then it was Derek’s room, which he didn’t leave for another three days even though the door was open.
Unless, of course, he wanted to use the bathroom.
Derek took more entertainment from watching the teenager sneak around—hiding in every crook and nook of the house until he reached the bathroom, sprinted the last couple of feet before throwing the door shut with a bang—then was probably acceptable. Until he remembered his struggle the first few days when he had insisted to show the boy how to operate the toilet and shower.
The shower had been a disaster though. It had been just like the first day and eventually Derek simply gave up and threw the teenager in the bathtub. Which had been an utter success. Strangely enough. Stilinski loved it, loved getting comfortable and playing with the bubbles, sometimes suddenly jumping up to chase an escaping one, and spilling water all over the ground.
Derek had stayed the first four times, making sure the boy didn’t drown himself in the bathtub, but gave him as much privacy as he could, even letting him leave his boxers on. Though the boy wasn’t very shy about it. Derek was, though. He could admit he really didn’t need to see another guy’s junk. Especially if said person wasn’t even in the condition to voice proper consent.
The werewolf had bought children’s shampoo in the store for the boy, remembering the fuss Malia had always made when he had to wash her hair. He didn’t need an eighteen year old whining over burning eyes or whatever. When Derek showed him how to use it there was more shampoo all over his clothes than in the other's hair, because, and Derek really wasn't surprised about that at all, the brunette boy kept fighting him every step of the procedure. Eventually Stilinski got it though and accepted Derek massaging the shampoo in his hair with his arms crossed in front of his chest and a grumpy pout on his lips.
He loved the bath sponge, though. Derek wouldn’t say he was purring when the werewolf used it on him but he did make some strange noises, more a satisfactorily humming than anything else, with a few thrown in purrs for good measure.
Now that Derek was sure the boy wouldn’t kill himself in the bathroom—Derek had thrown the adhesive cream into the trash together with Cora’s tooth brush after she had whacked Derek over the head with it—he was allowed to use it whenever he wanted without supervision. Though sometimes Derek still worried, considering the boy was an utter klutz and almost brained himself on the bathtub several times by slipping on the wet ground as he was about to climb out.
It took another few days until the boy started to roam the house. Derek was trying to track his footsteps as far as he could. Which was, thanks to the spell, not very far. He lost track of him before he even reached the stairs most of the time. But all the doors in the house were open and his whole family had an eye on him. They kept Derek updated whenever they spotted him somewhere.
Eventually Stilinski discovered the library.
It was mostly Peter’s domain, where he worked on his thesis or whatever the hell kind of research he did there. Derek only frequented it whenever Peter wasn’t around, because his uncle had the annoying habit of constantly muttering under his breath when he reached a deadlock. Apparently it helped him refocus and refresh his ideas or whatever. It drove Derek insane.
Now Peter had to share the library with a scrawny, noisy teenager who nested in one of the corners. Derek was surprised when the pitter patter of bare feet reached his ears and just a second later, the boy stumbled into the room and into his closet, taking a few selective items—one blanket, one pillow and five of Derek’s shirts—before hurrying out of the room again.
Curiously, Derek followed him to the library, where Stilinski spread the fabrics on the ground, contently getting comfortable before flipping through some books.
According to Peter, he didn’t read. Maybe he didn’t know how to. But it was apparent that the brunette liked books, which was why Derek approached him one day in the library with Malia’s old picture books. He got himself a haughty huff when he wordlessly put them down beside the nest. An hour later, Peter informed him that the Stilinski brat was making some seriously adorable noises, obviously enjoying himself with them.
After that Derek went to the attic and got more of their own childhood books out. He left them in front of the closet together with a flashlight. That night, when he returned from the bathroom, the teenager was already in the closet, books and flashlight gone.
During the night he was woken by loud snarling and hissing, the clatter of something hitting the wall hard and then a steady drumming against the door. Derek argued with himself whether or not to get up. Eventually he did and knocked on the door, already expecting to be back in lalaland before it even opened, but to his surprise the human poked his head out immediately. Derek wordlessly held out his hand and the flashlight was in his fingers a second later. He showed Stilinski the rotary mechanism a couple of times, and before he had the chance to return it the boy had stolen it from his hand and had already retreated into his hideout.
Derek gave a tired sigh and dropped back into bed.
Marking was formal. A ritual with incense, purification, runes for healing purposes and a big feast followed by an optional cuddle session for everyone who cared enough for the neophyte. Which should be the whole pack, but as the size of some packs – Whittemore and Martin namely – was too large it would be narrowed down to friends and family.
The marking symbol was chosen weeks beforehand. It was usually a slight derivation of the family symbol, diverse in style or size, mostly depending on which body part the tattoo was going on.
The Mahealani's symbol was a simple tribal lotus; Whittemore chose something that represented power and strength: four circles, touching at the base with the two outer parts disrupted by dots. With the Martins being all over wisdom and intellectuality, it wasn't a surprise that their symbol was a simplistic, yet filigree and rather beautiful version of Yggdrasil. The Hale's family crest was a triskelion.
Derek’s was done in simple black tribal style between his shoulder blades. Laura chose a white ink tattoo on her hip which had nearly driven their mother insane with the logistics. Cora had her mark done in dottwork on the ankle, while Eric had a white tribal with gray wash highlights on his upper arm.
Depending on marking a human or a werewolf, they used common ink or aconite ink both spiked with a few drops of an Alpha’s blood. Everybody had assumed Laura’s tattoo would be a horrible red splotch because of the blood but it turned out pale against her tanned complexion, making it look like a scar. Seemingly the effect she had been going for.
Marking werewolves was uncommon as it was mostly considered a form of atonement, but after Kate, Derek thought it was only appropriate. His mother told him he didn’t need to, that it was too painful for a werewolf, but Derek didn’t mind pain. What surprised him the most were his siblings following him in on his decision, Eric loosely looping an arm around his shoulder and telling him it was as much their fault as it was Derek’s. Cora had been fourteen back then, legally too young for the Marking. She was the most badass, talking her mother down until she got a special permit and after about five interviews with every Alpha in a hundred mile vicinity she was eventually allowed to receive the mark.
It had been weird.
Their mother torn between proud affection over her children sticking together, worrying that something might go wrong and angry that they chose to take this way of atoning and limiting their future to the pack at such a young age.
Laura had just laughed and told her siblings that they wouldn’t ever get rid of her now as soon as she became the new Alpha.
There were worse fates than that.
The cuddling session was even more awkward. Everyone was in pain but still tried to ease whoever's was closest, with Eric in the middle as the only human and the one who was most likely in least pain but still everyone’s person of interest. It got even more awkward when Erica had heard about the ritual, dragged Boyd and Isaac along and all but pounced on the bed and the squirming werewolves. Paige just stood in the doorway, her arms crossed in front of her chest, eyebrows arched, as she shook her head and jumped right after the three teenagers onto the bed with a delighted squeal, affectionately kissing everyone on their temple.
Marking was a commitment, it was a pledge for life and only a few humans followed through with it, proving their loyalty to their Alpha. Changing packs after receiving the mark was almost impossible, but it brought political and inter-pack relation advantages, which, to some, was worth the commitment.
Three weeks after the arrival of Stilinski, Eric was fed up with Derek’s not at all sneaky clothes stealing attempts. Worn one day by the teenager and the sleeves were gnawed on, leaving tiny holes or stretch marks when he tried to fit his knees underneath the shirts, too.
His mother was fed up with the too long sleeves always dirty with food when the boy carelessly let them fall into his soup or whatever he was eating.
They sent Derek shopping.
It was bound to be a disaster.
He left the teenager at home, obviously, walked into the first shop he saw and bought some plain white shirts in a size that should maybe, possibly fit, added a set of trackies and underwear and avoided eye-contact when the clerk offered a weak smile in greeting and then told him the price. There were quiet whispers behind him, followed by laughing, which Derek studiously ignored.
He hated going out into town.
Hated the way people thought he wasn’t able to hear them, when it was obvious that he did.
Upon returning he threw the bag of clothes at Stilinski’s head.
Cora rolled her eyes at his shopping acquisitions. Derek simply shrugged, it wasn’t like the human was leaving the house or getting dressed for anyone. Derek was sure the brunette had a slight aversion against clothes anyway, considering the way he kept tugging and picking on them. Which made him wonder why the teenager had worn clothes when they first met him.
“How long has he been like that?” Derek asked, arms crossed in front of his chest as he watched the boy sniff the new clothes, grimacing before pawing at them.
“A few years?”
“When we found him, he had clothes that fit,” Derek pointed out. They had only been scraps, torn and ragged, but clearly not old and small enough for him to have lived in them for several years.
Cora made a silent ‘oh’. “Maybe he stole them?”
“Maybe,” Derek repeated, pushing thoughts of other people who might have taken the boy under their wing out of his mind. Thoughts that might explain the scars and badly healed wounds Derek had spotted when he bathed the teenager; might explain his distrust in other people that Derek strongly suspected was not solely based on feral instincts.
The full moon did strange things to werewolves. Some felt the tug more than the others. According to law, werewolves were allowed to go wild once every month—it was their nature after all. For three days—before the full moon, the day of the full moon and the day after the full moon—werewolves had an excuse for almost everything, doing whatever they wanted without fearing consequences, receiving special permits to take the days off.
After all it was stressful, being a werewolf, trying to keep an inner monster locked inside.
Talia just scoffed at the propaganda wielded around like a sword.
The problem was that many humans, and most werewolves, actually believed it.
Once every month, werewolves went on a rampage. They called it a Full Moon Run. There were sometimes human’s among them, mostly the marked ones, though some claimed were allowed to attend too. They were protected by the scent of their pack.
Teenagers under sixteen weren’t allowed outside, teenagers above sixteen had to chose a pack, if they wanted to stay safe during those days.
Derek had always been detached from the mysterious magic the big stone in the sky had on living beings and oceans. He had never felt a pull or a tug or whatever the other werewolves described.
Derek Hale was considered malfunctioned.
A werewolf who couldn’t shift.