“You know, Dad, when you said you needed to beef up the force I wasn’t expecting this.”
The Sheriff favoured his son with a particularly unimpressed look. “You told me this… this dead tree stump thing is attracting supernatural creatures into Beacon Hills. Murderous supernatural creatures. How can the police force protect this town from them, when we can’t even protect ourselves?”
“That’s our job,” protested Stiles a little weakly.
“Your job is to go to school, so that you can actually get a job.”
“Yeah, but.” Stiles flailed a little, pointing towards the outer office. “You hired a werewolf.”
Sheriff Stilinski glanced towards the source of his son’s consternation. Even through the blinds, he could see Derek Hale’s raised eyebrow. No doubt his newest deputy had heard everything. He rolled his eyes. “Your best friend is a werewolf,” he reminded Stiles. “Don’t tell me you of all people have something against werewolves.”
He lowered his voice. There had to be a limit to this superhuman hearing thing, right? “I thought you trusted Hale. Or is there something you want to tell me?”
“I do!” yelped Stiles, without a single moment of hesitation, and he breathed a sigh of relief, because whatever else his son might be, a consummate liar was not one of them. He deflected, he omitted, but he couldn’t tell a straight lie. Good. For a moment he had been afraid that he’d made the wrong decision to hire Hale.
“That’s good, because those other werewolves that came rampaging through, Dandelion or whatever –”
“Deucalion,” corrected Stiles automatically, cringing.
The Sheriff waved it off. “Yeah, from what you’ve said, they’re much worse. Hale’s quiet, polite, and hasn’t even killed anyone.”
In the outer office, Hale’s eyes snapped down to his computer, but there was a tiny confused smile playing about his lips, making him look far less like a homicidal murderer and much more like the teenaged boy Stiles had dragged back from Mexico before the whole deadpool debacle. Had it only been six months since then? It felt like a lifetime.
The past few months had been quiet, but he couldn’t shake the fact that ever since he’d woken up with Melissa and Argent in that dilapidated cellar beneath the tree roots, Beacon Hills had experienced more homicides than he’d witnessed during his entire career. He had to do something about it.
Not to mention, Jordan needed a new partner after Haigh. The Sheriff wasn’t about to send someone with a newly-discovered supernatural side out alone, not after the bits and pieces Stiles let slip about newly-turned werewolves, and he didn’t want to bench the man for something he couldn’t control. Precisely because he couldn’t control it. What if he accidentally set something on fire?
Derek Hale seemed to be the obvious choice.
So what was his son so concerned about?
And then the first homicide began, and there was no time to worry about Stiles. As much as he hated to admit it, his kid had been doing this for longer than he had. Stiles could take care of himself. Meanwhile, he had a date to prepare for, one that he couldn’t cancel again.
“Thanks for meeting me here, it's been a hectic day at the station.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Derek Hale stand up. Ever since the homicides had started up, Hale had been working the night shifts just in case. Now his newest deputy was circling around the empty desks, looking wary. “Sir –” he started.
The door burst open, Kira and Lydia tumbling in, and drowning out whatever Hale had been trying to say. “Mom!” shrieked Lydia, grabbing Natalie’s arm. “Mom, she's coming. Tracy's coming for you.”
“What? What do you mean for me?”
Hale’s head snapped towards the entrance, the movement drawing Sheriff Stilinski’s attention, and so he was staring right at it when Tracy Stewart appeared at the door with a strange hissing sound. He squinted in vague confusion, even as his gun found its way automatically into his hand. Was that… a tail?
“The tail contains a paralytic venom,” Hale murmured, politely letting him keep whatever-Tracy-was in his line of sight, but clearly positioning himself between the threat and the humans. Almost as an afterthought, he added, “And she’s very fast.”
Given that he was sure Hale had never met Tracy before in his life, the Sheriff wasn’t exactly sure how he knew that, but he wasn’t about to question the expert. Especially when Kira was thrown aside like a ragdoll in a blur of motion far too fast for him to catch, and then Tracy was advancing upon Natalie, her tail – and it felt odd to say that, even in the safety of his own mind – swishing in agitation from side to side. Lydia clutched her mother’s arm, trying to drag her away, but Natalie was rooted to the spot. He didn’t blame her.
Then Derek tackled Tracy, and the two of them went down in a tangle of limbs. The Sheriff belatedly lowered his gun, not wanting to shoot Hale by accident, and went to help Lydia persuade her shell-shocked mother to sneak around the desks to get out of the station.
In a mere few minutes, it was over. Hale was kneeling on top of the girl, her tail caught in one hand, his other hand pinning her down by the throat. Sheriff Stilinski caught a glimpse of blue eyes and oddly-pinched cheeks, before Hale turned away, probably to spare Natalie’s nerves.
“Call someone who can do something about this.”
“Scott isn’t picking up,” said Kira.
“Stiles isn’t picking up,” said Lydia.
Hale looked as though it was physically paining him not to be able to roll his eyes. “Someone who can do something about this.” Tracy thrashed underneath him, and the Sheriff could see Hale’s muscles bulging in his effort to hold her down.
“She broke through a mountain ash circle like it wasn’t there, so I don’t think there’s anyone who can do something about it.” Malia marched through the doors, making a beeline for Tracy and keeping well out of reach of the twitching tail. Her voice gentled as she crouched down in front of the immobilised girl. “Hey, it’s Malia. Tracy, you’re not asleep. This isn’t a dream, and you need to open your eyes now.”
“What.” Hale’s tone was flat.
Malia ignored him. “Yes, that’s right. You’re not asleep, all of this is real. Let us help you.”
“We can help you if you stop fighting,” coaxed Lydia, crouching down beside Malia. “It’s me, Lydia. Remember me? I’m the only one who believed you, remember? Let me help you again. It’ll get better, I promise.”
“All of this is real,” repeated Malia patiently.
“We just want to help,” added Lydia.
Something must have gotten through, for Tracy gradually stopped thrashing in Hale’s grip, and finally went limp. “Real?” she croaked, the first word he’d heard her say all day.
Lydia’s smile was tinged with sadness, but it was genuine. “Yes, Tracy. This is real.”
At a word from the girls, Hale cautiously got off her.
The doors slammed open yet again, and Scott rushed through, closely followed by Alan Deaton. The Sheriff didn’t understand the small huff of exasperation Hale gave until his newest deputy went out and came back in with one of Stiles’ arms slung over his shoulders, half-supporting half-dragging his son into the station.
“I hate kanima venom,” he could barely hear Stiles mutter over the eddy of reassurances everyone else was giving Tracy, or Hale’s answering hum.
Paralytic venom. Right.
Stiles’ next words were so soft, he only caught them because he was already looking at the two of them. “Thanks for looking after my Dad.”
Hale shrugged carelessly, but his motions were careful when he deposited Stiles into one of the chairs before wandering back towards the Sheriff. “Don’t move, I’ll drive you home later.”
“Har har,” griped Stiles. “Very funny!” he yelled at Hale’s retreating back. Something about their interactions niggled at the back of his mind, and he filed it away for examination later. For now, he had a job to do, one that involved the kids discussing a guard rotation on Tracy right there in his office. At this rate, he might as well make them all honorary junior deputies.
When he got home the next morning, the Camaro was still parked in front of the house, but he paid it no heed. Despite their best attempts, Tracy Stewart was dead, killed by some guys wearing masks – though he didn’t see any of them, must be another supernatural thing – who’d swatted Scott and Malia aside like flies. It was probably a good thing that Derek Hale had crashed at his house for the night, because that meant Stiles at least was safe.
He had far more important things to worry about right now than wonder exactly why Hale felt the need to stay the night.