Detective Adrian Harris glared through the two way mirror at the man casually reclining in the uncomfortable chair inside the interview room. The tailored, dark blue suit and crisp white shirt that Hale was wearing probably cost more than Adrian earned in six months; it made him look like a male model posing for a photo-shoot, rather than a career criminal about to be interrogated by the cops.
His indifference just pissed Adrian off even more.
Here he was; a sworn officer of the law, working long hours for shit pay and little glory, and since his divorce, he could barely afford the one bedroom apartment he rented a few blocks from the station. And Hale, the Derek Hale, wore nothing but suits worth thousands of dollars, had a chef, multiple town cars and a brand new Camaro for personal driving every year. He was also the face of several consulting and architecture firms in downtown Seattle, was doted on by the city’s powerful elite, and was the darling of the tabloids despite his less than stellar personality. But behind the scenes, he was the head of the Hale Family, one of the oldest and most influential crime syndicates in the country.
For years, Hale and his family had escaped justice, but the day of reckoning had come. His comfortable life was about to come crashing down about his ears and Adrian was going to relish every single second of it.
The door opened, and Adrian turned to see his partner enter. Bobby Finstock was around Adrian’s age, with insane hair that never laid properly on his head and an addiction to caffeine and bad movies. Bobby shuffled in, juggling two large folders stuffed with papers whilst drinking the last of what had to be his sixth cup of coffee of the day. He drained the cup and threw it in the trash before running a hand through his already messy hair.
“So, this is it, huh?” he asked, coming to stand next to Adrian and to take a look through the mirror at Hale. “Three years of work, and it’s finally coming to a close.”
“Finally,” Adrian answered, and turned back to look at Hale, who was staring at the mirror as if he could see through it. Adrian smirked; the bastard had no idea of what was about to hit him. He straightened his tie and smoothed back his hair before taking the folders out of Bobby’s hands.
“Don’t get all sentimental on me, now,” Bobby toldhim as he reached for the door.
“As long as you don’t start quoting Independence Day at me, we’ll be fine,” Adrian said as he led the way out. “Let’s do this.”
“Are you sure about this kid?” Bobby asked, looking up from the computer screen. “I mean, from the looks of it, he hasn’t had any contact with Hale in years, not since Hale came back to Seattle. And I’m guessing they weren’t that close to begin with. I mean, his father was the Sheriff of Beacon Hills, for Christ’s sake. There’s no way he would let his son get mixed up with Hale, even before the fire.”
“No, they knew each other,” Adrian replied, eyes on the old photo of Stilinski. “Beacon Hills is a town pretty much in the middle of a tug of war between the Hales and the Argents. From what we can tell, the Sheriff was clean, but the kid was definitely involved. After Laura turned up dead, Derek came back home. He’s a suspicious fucker and was convinced that someone in his Uncle’s pocket had something to do with her murder. But he couldn’t prove it was Peter, so he got rid of all his lackeys instead and took over. As coups go, it was pretty bloody.”
Adrian winced at the memory of the crimes scene photos. Hale was a monster to be able to do that and still sleep at night. He got up and poured himself another cup of coffee, not even asking before he refilled Bobby’s cup. He’d long ago learned that when it came to caffeine, Bobby Finstock never, ever said no.
“Hale recruited some of the kids from Stilinski’s class when he got rid of the old regime, got to them while they were young,” he said, sitting back down. He plucked a photograph from the pile on the table, and slid it across the table to his partner. “Isaac Lahey was in pretty deep with him; he was the perfect candidate: lonely, abused kid wanting power and control. From all the reports, Lahey was pretty loyal to him and was getting to the stage of being Hale’s right hand man. But we think he realised what kind of life he was going to be leading, and after a few months, managed to get out. He just upped and left the town one day before graduation, and ended up in San Francisco. He’s had no contact with Hale since he left Beacon Hills, we’ve had people keep an eye on him. He worked a couple of dead-end jobs before starting as a bartender in a gay bar. That’s how he met up again with Scott McCall.”
Bobby was rooting through the piles of pictures and papers on the table, and made a little triumphant noise when he found one of the only current ones they had of Scott McCall. It was just under a year old, as surveillance had been scaled back on him in the past few months when he made no effort to contact anyone from the Hale or Argent family at all.
“McCall is Stillinski’s best friend and also got mixed up with Hale when they were kids,” Adrian continued. “He was recruited by Peter Hale just after Laura died but kid had a hard on for Allison Argent; probably thought it was some fucking ‘Romeo and Juliet/ Meant-To-Be’ bullshit and he got in with the Argents as well. Then, Victoria Argent killed herself and Gerard began to take a ‘special interest’ in his grand-daughter and, with the help of his psychotic daughter, Kate, started grooming Allison to take over the Argent family. McCall did some double dealing, passing information to Argent and all that shit, and I’m surprised that Hale didn’t put a bullet in the kid’s head when he found out. Maybe he realised that building up his business with a bunch of hormonal, moronic teenagers was a bad idea and had a moment of weakness, but Hale let the kid live. I think it was something of a wake-up call for McCall in the aftermath of Allison deciding to take over the Argent family, and Derek Hale threatening to kill him, but when Stilinski got accepted to Berkley, he went with him. He hasn’t been seen with anyone from the Argents or the Hales since, aside from Lahey. From all accounts, they met again a few months after he and Stilinski got to Berkley, and have been together ever since.”
“Look, I get that Hale’s fucked over a lot of people, but what the hell does that have to do with Stilinski?” Bobby demanded, gesturing to the piles of paper and folders spread out on the table between their two computers. “We have no record of him ever working for either family - ”
“Don’t you get it, Bobby?” Adrian interrupted, exasperated beyond belief. “Scott McCall, Isaac Lahey, Allison Argent, Erica Reyes, Vernon Boyd.” With each name he jabbed at their picture on the table. “They were all in this mess. Beacon Hills was practically a war zone back in the days after Laura died, and these were the soldiers. More importantly, these were Stillinski’s peers; his friends. He was in their orbit and in Hale’s. He may never have worked for the family, probably because of his father, but you can be damn sure he knew him.”
His partner looked at him, and then at the papers in front of him. “If he didn’t want it, what they hell makes you think he’ll be willing to help us take him down? From what you’re saying, he stayed out of that, never got involved. If he does his for us, he’s fucked, gets put in Witness Protection for the rest of his life and will have to leave everything behind. Why would he help us?”
“Because of his father,” Adrian told him, pushing a photo of younger, smiling Stilinski with one arm wrapped around an older man in a cop’s uniform. “Benjamin Stilinski was killed in the crossfire of an Argent/Hale clusterfuck two years ago. The kid had just turned twenty one when it happened. From all accounts, he and his dad were close. He’ll want to help us. “
“Alright, if you’re sure…”
As he crossed into the interview room, Adrian saw the blonde bombshell of an enforcer sitting in the bullpen, filing her nails with malice and intent, if such a thing were possible. Her eyes narrowed when she saw them enter and made some truly scary movements with the metal nail file. Behind him, Bobby started muttering about ‘terrifying she-wolves’ and, loathe as Adrian was to admit it, he had a point. Reyes was unnerving.
Hale straightened slowly in his chair when they entered, his eyes narrowing when he saw who was going to be interviewing him. Keeping his face neutral in order to prevent his disdain from leaking through, Adrian threw the files down onto the table. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Bobby take up a place near the side of the room, leaning casually against the wall, hands in his pockets.
Hale took all this in and smirked.
Adrian felt his teeth grind together as he pulled out the chair and sat down, as casually as he could manage.
For a long moment no one spoke.
Hale stared at him without blinking; Adrian refused to be the one to break eye contact first. Hale hitched a brow at him, condescending smirk still in place, and Adrian longed to punch that smug expression right off his face. At the side of the room, Bobby coughed and shifted in place, and when the younger man shifted his eyes to the side, Adrian sneered in victory.
“Derek Hale,” he began, reciting from memory, “twenty-nine years old. Youngest child and only son of Richard and Eleanor Hale, now deceased. Younger brother of Laura Hale, now deceased. Older brother of James Hale, also now deceased. Sole living relative of Peter Hale, who, let’s face it, is crazier than a bag of cats.” He grinned as Hale narrowed his eyes at the crack on his uncle. “Come on, you know it’s true. He hasn’t been the same since the manor explosion.” Adrian saw him clench his hands into fists, but Hale said nothing.
Leaning back in his chair, Adrian pulled one of the folders into his lap, shielding it from view. He skimmed over the front page, needlessly really, as he had memorised every detail of the case. He settled back in the chair and looked at Hale again. “But you, however, you’ve thrived since you became head of what was left of your family, despite a rocky year after your sister died. You pulled yourself together, surrounded yourself with gullible idiots willing to do your bidding, and here you are.”
“Are you ever going to tell me what’s so important that I was all but hauled out of a board meeting and dragged down to the, admittedly charming, headquarters of Seattle’s finest?” Hale asked, gesturing around the sparsely decorated room. “Or did you bring me all the way down here just to give me my family history? Because honestly? You’re not telling me anything new here.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Derek. We’ll get there,” Adrian replied, and then paused, as if considering. “I can call you Derek, can’t I?”
“No, you can’t,” Hale narrowed his eyes at him before he sat back in his chair again, visibly forcing himself to seem composed, as if someone had taught him how. That was new. Hale’s temper was legendary, his fuse notoriously short. “When are you going to accept that I am just a simple businessman, Detective?” he began, and Adrian scoffed. “I almost wish I could have done everything you have accused me of over the past few years, if only for the bragging rights, but frankly, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
Adrian smirked and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.
“Well, that’s just a load of bullshit, and we all know it,” he replied, using his most condescending tone and making Hale bristle. “After all, a ‘simple businessman’ doesn’t need the host of young and terrifying bodyguards, most notably Reyes and her husband, Boyd.”
Hale laughed. “Erica? Erica is my P.A. The only scaring she has to do is when clients won’t take no for an answer about a meeting, though I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to hear that you find her so intimidating.” He relaxed further back in his chair. “Personally, I think it’s the leather and the heels that could kill a man. Boyd seems to like them though. He’s an old friend, and my driver for when I’m in the city and on business. They have lunch together a lot when I’m in meetings.”
“That’s sweet,” Adrian smirked. “Giving your friends a job together like that. It’s a load of shit, but it’s sweet all the same. We know that you’ve got your finger in most of the pies around, from extortion, to money laundering. We know that your major-domos’ are Erica Reyes and Vernon Boyd. We know about the shipments and deliveries you thought you had hidden from us. We even know that the only things you don’t have a major hand in in this town are drugs and girls, though considering your proclivities, I’m not surprised about the latter. No sense in getting into involved in something you can’t enjoy yourself, is there?”
After a long moment’s silence where Hale’s glare could have drilled holes through Adrian’s skull, the door burst open and a blond haired young man in an impeccably cut suit stalked into the room, his briefcase slamming on the table shortly after.
“My client is an upstanding member of this community,” he began as he came to stand behind Hale. “He employs almost 200 people from all over the city, gives thousands to charity every year, and enjoys a close relationship with many key people, including your boss,” he spat out. “Dragging him out of a public meeting like you did with groundless accusations has irreparably tarnished his reputation and standing in this town and believe me, we will be pursuing a case for defamation of character, as well as harassment from public officials, and, were those homophobic slurs I just heard you sling at my client?”
Adrian blinked at the torrent of words and sat back in his chair, glancing to the open door where his boss, Chief Thomas, was glaring at him. He shifted his eyes meaningfully to the two way mirror, and Adrian swore internally. Bobby didn’t even bother.
“This is Jackson Whittemore, from Martin and Whittemore Attorneys at Law,” Chief Thomas told him. “He’s Mr. Hale’s legal representation.”
Stiles didn’t even bother to turn on the lights when he pushed open the door to the apartment and simply dumped his messenger bag onto the floor before face-planting onto the couch. God, he was exhausted. The coffee shop had been over-run with Stiles’ fellow students late into the night, and it had taken Stiles and his co-worker, Tony, two hours to get everything sorted and cleared. He knew he should get up and try to make a dent in the paper that was due in two weeks, but he really couldn’t move.
He heard a huff of laughter and went so far as to move his head to track the sound. Scott stood over him, laughing at his completely boneless pose, but Stiles could see the concern in his eyes.
“You ok, dude?” Scott asked.
“Yeah, sure, you betcha,” Stiles grumbled, pressing his face into the couch cushion. “Just… long shift. Paper due. Can’t really move. The usual.”
Scott nodded his sympathy and Stiles closed his eyes. He must have dozed a bit, because the next time he opened his eyes there was a fast food bag and a soda on the table in front of him and Scott was sitting on the coffee table, poking him in the shoulder.
“Hey, Isaac’s finished work in about an hour and I said I’d meet him for a drink. You gonna be ok?”
“I’m good, dude,” Stiles said, sitting up and rubbing a hand over his face. “Go, meet your curly-haired cherub.”
Scott laughed and shoved at his shoulder. “Shut up,” he grinned and pushed the bag of food closer to Stiles. “I got you some food cos I’m sure you haven’t eaten since this morning. We’ll see you later.”
Stiles opened the bag and the aroma of curly fries and burger hit him, making him groan. Scott was right: between his classes and his shift at ‘Java the Hutt’, he hadn’t had time for more than a pack of M&M’s for the sugar rush before his shift. “Dude, this is why I love you,” he moaned around a mouthful of fries. “If you didn’t have Isaac, and weren’t like my brother and therefore making it akin to incest, I’d totally make a play for you.”
The absolutely horrified face that Scott made had Stiles snorting with laughter into his soda.
“Go, go, have fun,” he giggled, taking a massive bite out of the burger.
Scott pulled on his coat and waved at Stiles before he slammed the door behind him. For a few blissful minutes, Stiles ate and drank until he thought he’d burst. Pleasantly full, for now anyway, he lay back on the couch and kicked up his feet. It was still early, only 11.30. He should totally get up and get a start on that paper for his cryptography class, or do some of the reading he needed to do for computational geometry, but right now, he was too comfortable to care. He’d get up early tomorrow and make a start. For once, he was having the night off. He pulled the blanket off of the back of the couch and tucked it around himself before settling back into the cushions, and closing his eyes.
Stiles was just on the cusp of deep, and much needed, sleep when a loud knock startled him awake. He flailed, body jerking in surprise and tumbled onto the floor. Whoever was at the door knocked again, louder and more impatiently as Stiles struggled to untangle himself from the blanket.
“I’m coming,” he shouted before the knocking could start up again. Finally righting himself, he stood and stomped over to the door, yanking it open with force.
“Yes?” he snapped, sharper than he intended, but come on, it was almost midnight on a Thursday night. Who in their right mind called at this hour? Two men stood in front of him, dressed in dark suits and ties, though both suits were rumpled and tired looking. One of the men was tall and thin, with short, dark hair and a pinched, permanently pissed off looking face. Basically, he looked like a dick. The other was slightly heavier with insane, gravity defying hair and a widow’s peak.
“Mr. Stilinski?” The tall one asked.
“Yeah…” Stiles replied warily.
“Jesus kid, how the hell do you pronounce your first name,” the one with crazy hair muttered, looking down at a file in his hands.
“You don’t,” Stiles snapped, too tired to deal with this shit. . Even after all this time, his name was a touchy subject. “Call me Stiles.”
“Ok then, Stiles”, the taller one snapped and yup, Stiles was right about him being a dick. “My name is Detective Adrian Harris. This is Detective Bobby Finstock,” he gestured to the man behind him. “We want to talk to you about Derek Hale.”
Whittemore smirked at him. “That’s right. I’m Mr. Hale’s attorney. Now, I have to ask, you weren’t planning on interrogating him without his lawyer present, were you?”
“Of course not,” Adrian glared back, getting to his feet. “We were just getting to know each other while we waited for you to arrive.”
Hale snorted, but didn’t say anything.
“Sure you were,” Whittemore smirked, before pulling over a chair to sit next to his client. “Well, now that I am here, do you care to enlighten us all to the reason why we’ve all been dragged down to the depths of the SPD?”
“Fine,” Adrian said, feeling a flush of embarrassment and anger creep up the back of his neck. He knew of Whittemore, everyone in Seattle did. Jackson Whittemore and Lydia Martin were two more Beacon Hills High School graduates. Both had attended Harvard Law before opening up their own firm in Seattle and quickly making a name for themselves as a ruthless business that took no prisoners and never, ever lost. It would made sense that Hale would hire them, especially because of their link to Beacon Hills. Adrian wouldn’t be surprised if that had been planned all along.
“Mr. Hale,” he began, flipping open one of the folders, cop voice coming out automatically “we’ve asked you to come in today to discuss some very serious charges that have been levelled at your door. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?” He asked, flipping open a folder. He was very much aware that his boss had closed the door behind him and was now standing next to his partner, gaze not missing a thing, for once.
"Sure thing, Fraulein Maria,” Whittemore smirked, and Adrian glared at him. The kid was half his age, a lawyer, a good one at that, and was a raging douche, so Adrian couldn’t punch him, no matter how sorely he was tempted.
"Indeed,” he drawled, flicking through the documents in front of him. “I have here copies of several of your business accounts, invoices and meeting minutes. We’re having forensic accountants looking over these as we speak, but I have a few questions for you about one or two little points…”
The shoebox of photographs that Stiles kept on the top shelf of his closet lay open on its side, spilling its contents across the desk that he’d wedged into the corner of his bedroom. Stiles sat hunched over the table, hand running through his already messy hair, staring at the smiling faces in the photograph in front of him.
He didn’t know how long he had been sitting there since the cops had left, but his back was killing him. He’d heard Scott and Isaac as they’d stumbled tipsily to their room a little while back. Scott had been giggling like a loon, just like when they had been kids in kindergarten, though back then it was minus the alcohol, loudly shushing Isaac when they had passed Stiles’ bedroom door.
They didn’t know that the police had been here for over an hour, and Stiles knew that had been intentional. The cops had waited until they knew Stiles was alone, when Scott and Isaac were out of the apartment, before they had approached. That alone made him nervous. They were watching him. They were watching Scott and Isaac and Stiles was really uncomfortable and worried about that level of scrutiny.
He dug through the box of photos and pulled out the last one that had been taken of his mom. She was sitting on a park bench, arm wrapped around his twelve year old self’s shoulders, the both of them pulling stupid faces for the camera. His mom had been awesome, very much like Stiles in personality and humour, but she’d had so much more patience than Stiles would ever be capable of. She had always seen the best in people, and had tried to teach him to do the same. He tried but, sometimes, people were just assholes.
Like Harris. Stiles’ first impression about the detective had been right. He was a condescending dick. Stiles did not like him one bit, maybe because he reminded him of his asshole chemistry teacher back in high school, but either way, he hated the cop already. Stiles was twenty-two years old, he was in his final year in college, on track to graduate with honours, and this Harris guy thought it was ok to speak to him like he was sixteen years old again? Nope. Not going to happen.
And what they wanted him to do, it was terrifying. If he did this, nothing would ever be the same again. His life would change forever, and not just his life. Everything would change for Scott and Isaac too. But then Harris had brought up his dad.
Stiles had never understood when people said they had a burning desire for revenge until his father had died at the end of an Argent gun. A red hot desire for vengeance on everyone involved burned through him every time he thought of his dad, his honesty and integrity, his absolute refusal to get involved in the shitshow that was the Hale and Argent war.
And he had died for his principles.
He scrubbed his hands through his hair again, eyes drifting to the photo he’d been staring at for so long. If he did this, if he went undercover, his life as he knew it would be over. He traced the smiling face from the photo and his heart lurched.
He’d made his decision.
Standing abruptly, he crossed the room to the dresser behind the door and rooted through the top drawer stuffed full of papers, note cards, years of accumulated paperwork until he found the card he was looking for. It was a plain white card, the only writing was a hand scrawled phone number that Stiles hadn’t let himself memorise all those years ago.
He dialed quickly, not letting himself think about it. It rang for a long time, or so it seemed to Stiles, before a sleep roughened voice barked out a ‘What?’ down the line. Stiles cringed and, flailing a little, looked at the clock, realising that it was past three am. He’d spent a long time angsting like a teenager over his decision.
‘Look, whoever the hell this is…’
‘Derek’, Stiles interrupted, bringing Derek’s rant to a halt.
“Stiles? Is that you?”
“Yeah, Derek. It’s me.”
“My client has nothing to hide,” Whittemore said when Adrian had finished with his questions. Hale had answered all the questions with ill grace, and often only after nudges from his lawyer. Hale had an answer for everything, and Adrian narrowed his eyes in suspicion. His answers sounded prepared, or rehearsed somehow. Adrian’s suspicions rose. Had he been warned by someone?
“If you’re so interested in my business dealings,” Hale said, a ridiculously smug expression on his face, “you can bring your ‘forensic accountants’ to Hale Consultancy HQ for them to get a proper look at the books.”
“No one likes someone who uses both verbal and literal air quotes,” Bobby said from the side, the first time he had spoken up in the interrogation.
“So I’ve been told,” Hale replied, almost fondly.
“What I’m interested in is how you got so much information on Mr. Hale’s private business dealings,” Whittemore said, still scanning the documents.
“Well, it’s called an investigation, Councillor,” Adrian replied, suddenly exhausted of the pretence. “Mr. Hale, your client, is a suspect in several criminal investigations. We do something called investigating and research.”
“That still doesn’t explain the documents in front of me,” Whittemore replied, pushing the papers back in front of Adrian.
“Well, as it happens,” Adrian started, glad he had called Stilinski to let him know to get his ass to the station so as to get into protective custody, “we had someone on the inside.”
“You’re late,” Adrian snapped at Stilinski when the kid finally decided to grace them with his presence. Stilinski rolled his eyes and dropped into the lone, unoccupied chair at their table. Adrian took in his appearance with surprise: a nice, but not too nice, suit, a crisp white shirt and navy blue tie. It was a big change from the jeans and flannel that the kid had lived in when they had first met him. Then again, he had been undercover for three months already, and this was the first time they had been able to meet up for an information drop. The change was startling, and left Adrian just a little bit unsettled.
Sure, Stilinski was just an underling, had to dress the part, but something didn’t sit right with Adrian about the whole thing. He had been starting to regret proposing Stiles for the job, especially after they had found out that he had gone and contacted Hale himself without speaking to them first.
But, it was on Adrian. He’d suggested the kid in the first place. He’d made his bed and now was not sure he was too comfortable, or safe, lying in it. That’s why he and Bobby had chosen this crowded café in the middle of a market, why they had staked out a secluded corner table with almost unobstructed views of all exits and entryways. Stilinski was twenty five minutes late to their meeting; a meeting he had suggested in the first place.
“I know, I know,” Stilinski waved it away, slipping a briefcase down beside his chair. “You try telling Derek that you’re late for a meeting that’s not on your calendar, that you have no plausible reason to be going to and see where it gets you. The guy probably thinks I’m out on a booty call right now,” Stilinski shrugged uncomfortably and Bobby snorted in amusement beside Adrian.
“Knowing the details of that conversation would be more disturbing that anything I could imagine,” Bobby said, gulping down some of the perfectly made French roast coffee that the little café was famous for.
“Thanks. Your concern is touching, it really is,” Stilinski quipped. They shared a grin while Adrian had to physically restrain himself from smacking them both upside their heads.
“If you two are done flirting,” he said tartly, making both Bobby and the kid flinch, “how about we get down to business. What do you have for us?”
Stilinski glanced around him, in an innocent, but completely conspicuous, manner before he pulled up the suitcase from the floor and taking out some papers
“It’s not much,” he told them, sliding the papers across the table “but it’s a start. Shipping manifests that don’t add up, money coming in from unknown sources for ‘services rendered’, with no actual details of what those ‘services’ are. No names yet, but I’m still new, and Derek doesn’t exactly welcome you with open arms and tells you all his secrets. No, he makes you work for it.”
Adrian narrowed his eyes at him. “You almost sound like you’re enjoying this, Stilinski” he said, flicking through the small stack of papers.
The kid shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “No?”
“That shouldn’t be a question, Stilinski,” he snapped.
“Well, I’m sorry for liking the fact that they actually value my expertise and input,” Stilinski said sulkily.
“As long as you don’t lose sight of the objective here.”
“Oh don’t worry.” Something in Stilinksi’s voice made Adrian look up from the papers he was examining. Stilinski was sitting straighter in his chair, knuckles white from the grip he had on the handle of his briefcase, a strange, determined light that had been lacking before now in his eyes. “I know exactly what it is I’m doing.”
Stilinski sighed and glanced at his watch, breaking the strange, almost powerful gaze he seemed to have on Adrian and Bobby.
Adrian exchanged a look with his partner, who just threw his hands up in the air in a ‘Hell if I know’ gesture that he seemed to use a lot.
“I’ve got to go,” Stilinski said, standing suddenly. “I can only be away for so long. Derek doesn’t give much time for booty calls.”
“Well, in that case,” Bobby said, also standing and then running his hands roughly through the kid’s hair a few times, before pulling Stilinski’s tie out of place and settling it back against his throat sloppily. “Gotta look the part,” he said with a wink and Stilinski laughed before turning back to Adrian.
“I’ll be in touch when I have more,” he said before walking out of the café without looking back.
“What the hell was all that about?” Adrian asked, mouth pursed into a thin line of displeasure.
“Eh, I like the kid,” Bobby replied, shrugging expansively. “He’s going out on a limb for us, and if he came back from his ‘booty call’ looking like he’s just stepped out of a board room, Hale would get suspicious. He’s not stupid, and Stiles is still new. He’s got to be watching him like a hawk.”
“Yeah, well, just… don’t, ok?” Adrian didn’t want to explain the twist he got in his gut at seeing them interact so freely.
“Sure,” Bobby replied easily, bumping Adrian’s shoulder with his own. “You know I only have eyes for caffeine.”
Adrian laughed, feeling his partner’s eyes on him as he carefully packed away the information in a briefcase of his own, not meeting Bobby’s eyes.
“Let’s head back to the station. Last one there buys the coffee.”
“You have someone one the inside?” Hale asked. “Inside of what?”
“Don’t play dumb,” Adrian snapped. “It doesn’t suit you and its fooling nobody here. We’ve had someone undercover for a long time. Getting us information on you, your companies, your shady deals and pretty much every part of your life.”
Ok, so he was lying, sue him. Stilinski hadn’t gotten half the stuff that Adrian had just said he did, but it would be a cold day in hell before he admitted to that, especially to Hale.
“Who was it?” Hale asked, a look in his eyes that Adrian couldn’t decipher.
“Right, like I’m going to tell you confidential information.
“That’s no problem, I can guess,” Hale said, leaning back in his chair. “Let’s see, someone new. Hale consultancy has hired about fifty new people this year, but somehow, I don’t think you’re talking about that. So, someone on my personal staff then. I know.”
A cold sweat broke out on Adrian’s brow, and he cursed himself for not making sure that Stilinski was out safely before getting Hale in for questioning.
“It’s Stiles Stilinski, isn’t it?” Hale asked after a long moment and Adrian’s heart sank.
“You need to get us more!” Adrian shouted, frustrated beyond belief. The kid had been undercover for nine months, and all he gave them were tired names, and little new information.
“I’m trying, okay?” Stilinski yelled back. “He doesn’t trust me. He doesn’t trust anyone, except Erica or Boyd. He’s got me running milk runs, driving places, that sort of shit. I’m getting you what I can.”
“Are you, though?” Adrian asked, slowly, coming closer to stand over Stilinski. For once, they weren’t in some crowded café or park. Adrian’s choice, this time, and he had chosen a meeting room in one of those virtual office buildings, the ones people who worked from home hired out for meetings to make things look more professional. He needed to have it out with the kid with no one else around. Bobby wasn’t even here this time. Adrian wasn’t sure his partner would like what he was about to do. Hell, Adrian didn’t like it, but they needed more.
“You seem to be enjoying the life,” he said, gesturing at Stilinksi’s suit and tie. “You seem quite comfortable wearing fancy suits, driving flashy cars and carrying a gun. Do I need to remind you why you’re there?”
“Don’t go there,” Stilinski warned, turning away from Adrian and pacing the length of the room.
“You are there for your father,” Adrian ignored Stilinski’s warning and the tightening of his gut when he saw the look on the kid’s face, but he had to continue. “These people are responsible for his death and you’re enjoying working with them.”
“Don’t you ever speak about my father again,” Stilinski said, his hands shaking where he held them stiffly down at his side. “You don’t know anything about him.”
Adrian sighed. “Look, I just need to remind you that these are not good people. They may seem friendly, and nice, but if they knew you were working for us, you’d be dead in a heartbeat.” He paused and said deliberately slow, “We don’t want them to find out you’re working with us.”
Stilinski froze in place, staring at Adrian.
“Is that a threat?” he asked, voice flat and hard like flint.
“I don’t want it to be,” Adrian said, hating himself, “but we’ll have to wait and see how the cards fall”.
Stilinski stared at him long and hard, before he strode forward and grabbed his ever present briefcase off the table. “I’ll get you as much as I can,” he said, fury in his voice, “and I won’t forget this.”
As the door slammed behind him, Adrian sat down onto one of the conference room chairs, hands shaking as he burying in his hair. The loathing he felt for himself was overwhelming and all encompassing, but he’d had to do it. He had to take Hale down.
“Don’t worry, kid,” he said to himself, “I’m not going to forget this either.”
“Never heard of Stiles Stilinski before,” Adrian stalled, motioning under the table at Bobby towards the door. “What the hell is a Stiles, anyway?”
For some reason, Hale and his lawyer found his hesitance hilarious and exchanged a private look of amusement before bursting into laughter.
“What?” Adrian demanded.
“You’ll see soon enough,” Whittemore replied cryptically and a jolt of unease slipped down Adrian’s spine. Had they found out about Stilinski before the kid could get off Hale’s property and to safety?
Bobby took advantage of Hale’s distraction to quietly slip out of the room to check up on the Stilinski. Adrian hoped like hell Bobby could get hold of him. Dammit, Adrian should have tried harder to confirm he was safe before starting the interrogation. He just needed to take Hale down so badly -
“Thank you for being so informative,” he snapped back tartly.
“You’re very welcome,” Whittemore replied, motioning to get up. “Are we done here? I have to confer with my client about the law suit we’re going to pursue against the police department for loss of reputation and defamation of character after your little stunt in the board room earlier.”
“Jackson, don’t worry,” Hale said, also standing. “I’m not going to sue. It was all just a big misunderstanding, right Detective?”
“Wrong on so many levels,” Adrian said, pulling out a smaller file from beneath the pile. “Sit back down. We are not done here.” He waited until they had settled again before continuing. “Mr. Hale, are you familiar with a woman called Kate Argent?”
Hale’s entire body froze and a blank mask slipped over his face. His lawyer leaned forward to say something to him, but Hale brushed him aside.
“You know I’m ’familiar’ with her,” he said, fury barely contained in his voice. “She tried to get me in bed when I was fifteen goddamn years old and she was twenty two. And when I told her no, and that I didn’t find craziness an attractive quality in someone I slept with, she tried to hit me with her car. And a few weeks later, she blew up my house with almost my entire family inside. Then the police fucked up the investigation and she bought a jury and got off scott free for the murder of my family. So yes, you could say that I’m familiar with her.”
“So, you have a reason to hate her, then.”
“Obviously they have a history,” Whittemore interrupted, looking concerned. “Look, what’s this about, detective?”
“Kate Argent turned up dead yesterday,” Adrian replied, flipping open the last file. “She was a real mess when we found her: contusions, lacerations, signs of electrical burning - she was properly tortured for days before she died. Someone obviously had a real axe to grind with her, a reason to go to these extreme lengths of torture and risk the fallout from her psychotic family. Now, Mr. Whittemore, I would like to ask your client some questions about his whereabouts for the past two weeks.”
Adrian sat at his desk, reading through the latest information that Stilinski had gotten to them. It wasn’t much. Looked like the kid wasn’t as smart as he thought he was and hadn’t gotten very far into Hale’s confidence, or far up the chain of command. Stilinski had been undercover for almost a year and a half and was still on the bottom rung of the ladder. The files contained a few names and dates that stood out, but nothing that they didn’t already know. It was mostly inconsequential details of Hale’s ‘legitimate’ businesses and even investigations into those files showed up nothing.
Was he missing something? Maybe Stilinski hadn’t been the best choice for undercover.
The phone on his desk rang, but Adrian ignored it. He was on to something with these files, he had to be. Besides, Bobby would answer if eventually when the ringing pissed him off enough.
Sure enough, eight ring tones later, his partner huffed a sigh and leaned across his desk to grab Adrian’s phone.
“Organised Crime, go for Finstock on Harris’ phone ‘cos he’s a lazy dick,” he said, and Adrian suppressed a grin. After listening for a few seconds, Bobby lurched to his feet and even Chief Thomas’ head popped out of his office when he shouted ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’
“What?” Adrian asked, quickly locking the files inside his desk drawer.
“You’re never going to believe this,” Finstock said as he hung and leaned over his desk. “Never in a million years.”
“Kate Argent’s just turned up dead.”
Bobby was right. He didn’t believe it.
The clichéd, filthy ally where Kate Argent’s body had been dumped was kind of fitting, Adrian thought, considering the kind of woman she had been in life - saying that she’d not been a nice person was the understatement of the millennium. Kate Argent had been a sadistic, psychopathic monster responsible for many un-provable acts of wanton death and destruction, including the bombing of the Hale mansion back in ’05. She’d been the one that had started this whole Hale/Argent feud and had a lot of blood on her hands. Adrian couldn’t honestly say he was sorry she was dead.
Her pretty blonde hair was matted and filthy with blood and other assorted fluids that he really didn’t want to focus on at the moment - he’d just read it in the M.E.’s report, thanks. Her eyes were staring wide and her face was a frozen mask of fear, very telling of her final moments and she was completely covered in blood. Cops and members of the forensics’ team swarmed around her, taking photos of everything in sight that could lead to a clue. Adrian didn’t envy them the job of sorting through it all.
“Jeeeeeesus,” Bobby swore from beside the body. “Her throat’s been ripped out.”
“By someone’s bare hands, from the looks of it,” the M.E. said from his place beside the body. Dr. Alan Deaton was the Zen-like medical examiner for the city; nothing had ever phased him in all the time Adrian had been working with him and even he looked a bit ill at the state of the body. “Liver temperature and rigor mortis indicates she’s been dead for over 48 hours. It looks like she hadn’t had a good time of it for a few days before that either. These bruises are several days old,” he pointed to the severe bruising on her face and chest, “and these are cuts are deep, but not fatal.”
“Enough to cause agonising pain, but not enough to kill, even with all the blood loss combined,” Adrian murmured.
“She was tortured,” Bobby said, standing up and ripping off his rubber gloves.
“I think we can safely assume that this was personal,” Deaton said, standing and indicating to his personnel to come and collect the body. “This was a revenge kill.”
“Wow, that should narrow down the list, considering how sweet and kind a person she was,” Bobby said from beside him, and Adrian snorted a laugh.
“She did like to cause pain,” he agreed. So much pain. She was a thug that revelled in the misery of others, killing entire families, children included…
“Hale,” Adrian said, the truth of it smacking him in the face. “Derek Hale did this.”
“What makes you say that?” Bobby asked.
“Come on, she was crazy,” Adrian told him. “She tried to give him the bad-touch when he was fifteen years old, then she blew up most of his family. She may have bought a jury and gotten away with it, but he doesn’t need that for proof. We all know she did it.”
“Calm down,” Bobby said. “You can’t just go accusing Hale of this. He’s kept that side of him hidden for years. He’s a respected member of the community. We can’t just go accusing him of murder, especially one as gruesome as this. We need proof.”
“No, no, he did this,” Adrian insisted, heading back to the car. “I know he did. We can get him this time.”
“Adrian,” Bobby called after him, running to catch up with his fast pace. “Wait, Adrian!”
“Why do you want to know where I’ve been.”
“Well, the autopsy report I have in my hand tells me that Ms. Argent was killed less than seventy two hours ago, but that she had been severely tortured for several days before her actual death. The things that were done to her, I almost feel sorry for her. This kind of rage shows that that it was definitely personal. Someone who lost a loved one, possibly more, was taking their revenge. Now, you yourself, Mr. Hale, have just indicated that you hated her, that she took everything from you by killing your family and getting away with it. It’s only logical. So I ask again; where have you been, and what have you been doing for the past two weeks?”
“I didn’t kill her,” Hale protested. “I hated her, despised her more than anyone I know. But, I did not kill her.”
“Where were you, then?”
“I have spent most of the past two weeks in New York.”
“Right, of course you have. Very convenient. And I suppose you have the plane tickets to prove it?”
“Oh I have much more than that,” Hale replied, smiling and brandishing his left hand. A heavy white gold band sat on his ring finger. “I got married. My fiancé and I flew out there about two and a half weeks ago, and we got married. He’d always wanted to see New York. So, we went, got married in front of some close friends, our family really, and stayed there for ten days. We only got back into town a few days ago. I haven’t even been in the state for most of the past two weeks, so I couldn’t have done this.”
Silence descended on the room. Adrian felt like he couldn’t breathe and his mind spun. His entire case… Hale hadn’t been in the state but he still could have ordered it done. No, he would have wanted to do it himself. Who the hell would marry someone like Hale?
“Who the hell would marry you?” He blurted out, flinching at Hale’s laugh.
“Someone I’ve known and loved for a very long time,” Hale replied, smiling easily. “We’ve been practically engaged for years. I finally got him to say yes a month ago. Aren’t you going to congratulate me?”
“I’m assuming you can provide a certificate of marriage?”
“Of course he can,” Whittemore said, opening up his briefcase. “I had the certificate in my office while we filed some papers and when I got the call about Mr. Hale being marched out of the boardroom on charges of fraud and embezzlement, well, I thought it might come in handy.” He handed the document over to Adrian, who studied the embossed print and the imprint of the New York State coat of arms over their names. It was legit. When he skimmed the name and saw who Hale had married, he feared he would actually have a stroke.
“Wait one goddamn fucking second. You got married to Stiles Stilinski?”
“Told you you’d get the joke soon enough,” Hale laughed.
Stiles’ bedroom was nine steps long and thirteen steps wide and it took him eleven seconds to pace a complete circuit of his room. Stiles knew this because, despite the deep purple bruises on his thigh and side from where he’d been slammed into the ground a few days ago, he’d spent the last two hours pacing from one end to another, scrubbing his hands through his short cropped hair and trying not to panic over the fact that no one was answering his calls.
Stiles was man enough to admit that he was scared. But not of Derek, who would never, ever hurt him, Stiles was sure. Still, Derek had been so angry when he had found out that Scott had betrayed them to the Argents that Stiles had thought he’d shoot Scott there and then. It was why he’d thrown himself in between the two of them as soon as he could. Derek had, of course, holstered his gun immediately, and even his most ferocious glare hadn’t been able to get Stiles to move until Derek had heard him out.
Stiles understood his position; he really did. Scott had betrayed them all, Stiles included. He was furious with his best friend for thinking with his dick rather than his brain, especially since Allison had turned around and double crossed them in turn. But still, Scott was his best friend, his brother from another mother, and Stiles couldn’t imagine his life without him in it. Besides, Kate and Gerard Argent had been threatening his mom. He was a moron, but he didn’t deserve to die for it. Stiles had tried to convince Derek of this, had practically begged him for Scott’s life, and promised him anything if he let Scott live.
Derek had looked him straight in the eye.
“He’s really that important to you?” he’d asked, cutting off Stiles’ babbling.
“He really, really is,” Stiles had insisted, and Derek had nodded once.
“Boyd, Erica,” he’d called, and the two broke from the loose circle they, along with Isaac and Jackson, had made around the trio, and stepped forward. “Take Stiles home. The Argents are still around and we know now that they are willing to target bystanders. Make sure he stays safe, but stay out of sight until I get there.”
“Sure thing, Boss,” Erica had smirked, grasping Stiles around the wrist and had started to drag him towards the car.
“Wait, Derek!” Stiles had protested, pulling against her surprisingly strong grip and hissing at the flares of pain as his bruises and scratches had made themselves known.
“Go home, Stiles. I’ll sort this out and come see you soon.”
“Go, Stiles. It’ll be alright.”
Stiles had managed to break Erica’s hold and had pulled Scott into a tight hug. Scott had hugged him back fiercely, but the look in his eyes had scared Stiles. He’d looked broken and couldn’t meet Stiles’ gaze; he’d looked like he had given up.
“Bye, Stiles,” he’d whispered when Erica had huffed out an impatient breath and started pulling Stiles towards the jeep again.
That had been two hours ago and Stiles was freaking out. His dad was at the station, which was good because he really, really didn’t want to have to explain his nerves. Ben Stilinski was a good man; a man who believed in upholding the law at all costs, and though he had his suspicions about the crowd that Stiles ran with, he didn’t have the time or the resources to watch Stiles’ every move, not with the Hale/Argent war going on. Stiles hated lying to him, hated that he was part of a world of violence and power that unfortunately stood against everything his father believed in, but Stiles was eighteen years old, a legal adult. Ever since Laura had been killed and Derek had come back into town six months ago, it was a world that he had gotten involved in through his friends and through choice, and through love.
And, if he was honest with himself, it was a world he enjoyed
He checked his phone again, cursing when he saw that no new messages had arrived in the two minutes since he’d last checked it. If either Scott or Derek didn’t answer him soon he was going to go out of his frickin’ mind. Erica and Boyd were of no use either, simply ignoring his texts and calls, despite being more in the loop than he was. He didn’t even bother to try Isaac or Jackson. Isaac was too loyal to Derek, and Jackson was just a dick. He threw the phone onto the bed and slumped down into the desk chair, burying his face in his arms.
“You should be more careful with your phone, you know,” Derek said from halfway through the open window. Stiles scrabbled to his feet while Derek slid the rest of the way in and shut the window silently behind him. Stiles threw himself at him, fingers clenching into his leather jacket.
“What happened?” he demanded, trying to hide the waver in his voice.
“Don’t worry,” Derek told him. “Scott is alive, and he should stay that way as long as he doesn’t tangle with the Argents again.”
Stiles slumped into Derek’s arms, and buried his face in his chest, relishing the feel of Derek’s arms around him.
“Thank you,” he whispered. “I know he betrayed us, and that you wanted to kill him for it, but he thought he was saving his mom. And he loves Allison, though not the Allison she’s become since her mom died and Kate came back to town.” Derek’s arms tightened around him at the mention of Kate Argent and Stiles pressed a kiss to his cloth covered chest.
“We’ve made a deal, Scott and I,” Derek told him, steering them towards the bed. He lay back and settled Stiles carefully against his chest. Stiles gratefully buried himself in the warmth of Derek, almost purring when Derek started idly playing with his hair. “We talked it over, and it’s because I know he’s as loyal to you as you are to him that this will work.”
“What’s going on?” Stiles asked warily, leaning up on his elbow and looking Derek straight in the eye. Derek had difficulty meeting his gaze, and Stiles’ stomach dropped. “Derek, what did you do?”
“I hired him,” Derek began, sitting up so he was leaning against the headboard. “From now on, he’s working for me. In exchange, he has the protection of the Hale family. And, more importantly, we’ll look out for his mother too. She’ll be as safe from the Argents as we can make her.”
“What will he be doing?” Stiles demanded.
“He’ll be your bodyguard when you’re in Berkley,” Derek said, once again not meeting his gaze.
“WHAT? No, Derek,” Stiles yelled, “I already told you, I’m not going to Berkley. I want to be with you in Seattle. I can’t -”
“Stiles, no. You are going to college. Berkley’s an amazing school, and you wanted to go there long before you met me. You’ll regret it forever if you don’t. You need to go.”
“Don’t you want me anymore?” Stiles asked, trying desperately to maintain his calm facade. He had thought Derek loved him: he’d said he did. And Stiles loved him so much. Derek had promised they’d be together. He flinched back when Derek was suddenly right in front of him, hands gentle on Stiles’ body. Derek pulled him close and kissed him gently, confusing Stiles even more.
“I love you, Stiles,” Derek said, warming Stiles down to his very soul. “And it’s because I love you so much that I’m letting you go. For now, at least.”
“I don’t want to be let go,” Stiles whispered, and Derek sighed, resting his forehead against Stiles’ own. His hands gently trailed Stiles’ body, tracing the bruises and scratches that he knew were there underneath Stiles’ clothes.
“Trust me, I hate this as much as you do,” he said, finally meeting Stiles’ eyes again. “But you need to do this. It’s only four years. I’m giving you four years to decide what you want. You’re eighteen Stiles, and I want - No. I need to know that you are in this fully. That this life is it for you.”
“You’re giving me four years?” Stiles asked, confused. “And a choice? You didn’t give Erica or Isaac or Boyd, or even Scott that long to decide.”
“That’s entirely different,” Derek said. “Erica, Isaac, Boyd, even Jackson and Lydia, they made the choice to work for me and I’m glad that they did. They will be amazing someday, more so than they are now. But I don’t want you to work for me. I want you to work with me. I want you to help me run the things, to be in charge. But to be in charge is to also be a target. And they don’t have the same choice to make as you do. Your father is the Sheriff, and a good man. I know you love him a lot, that he’s the only family you have left. If you do this, you’re making a choice between us, between me and your father. I can’t have you deciding now to be with me, and then resenting that decision in the future. Resenting me. I can’t -”
Derek’s voice finally broke and he kissed Stiles, who wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck and pulled him back so they were both lying on the bed. Derek settled over him, careful of Stiles’ injuries, hands so gentle on his skin that Stiles wanted to cry. A few tears slipped out despite his best intentions when he realised that Derek was right. Stiles loved his dad, and while he loved Derek just as much, he didn’t know if he could live without his father in his life. Plus, the fact Derek trusted him enough to want him to run things with him…
He shoved Derek’s jacket off his shoulders roughly, wrapping his legs around Derek’s waist. Derek gasped and pushed at Stiles’ hoodie, bunching it up under his arms and licking up his stomach. Stiles moaned, burying his fingers in Derek’s hair, yanking him up for a deep, filthy kiss.
“Four years,” Derek panted, pulling back to nip at Stiles’ throat and collar bones. Stiles groaned in protest, tightening the grip his legs had on Derek. “We can do this.”
Stiles simply whined in the back of his throat and pulled Derek closer for another kiss.
Later, as they lay panting in the cool night air, Derek started speaking again. Stiles was silent beside him, not used to Derek talking so much, especially about something so personal. He was a taciturn man by nature, rarely speaking but always observing. With Stiles, he was different, but never this communicative and especially not about his feelings.
“Believe me, I like it even less than you do,” Derek told him, tracing his fingers lightly down Stiles’ bare back. “But take that time to decide. You’re eighteen. You need to see what’s out there. As much as it kills me, you need to date other people, try and live a normal life. If, at the end of four years, you decide that you don’t want this life - ” The ‘that you don’t want me’ went unspoken, “Then I’ll let you go. I won’t have you with me out of a sense of guilt or resentment. Stiles, tell me you understand.”
“I don’t want anyone else,” Stiles insisted, tightening his hold on Derek’s waist.
“And I hope that will always be the case. But see what else is out there. See what others can offer you that I can’t.”
“What could they possibly give me that yo-”
“Safety. A normal life, Stiles. I can’t offer you those things.”
“You’re sending Scott with me,” Stiles reminded him. “You want him to protect me. That’s pretty safe.”
Derek nodded. “I’m sending Isaac too.”
“But Isaac is your go to guy,” Stiles argued.
“And he always will be. Isaac is loyal to a fault; I have no doubt about that. That’s why I’m entrusting him with you. In a couple of weeks, Isaac is going to go. He’s going to leave and go to San Francisco. He’s going to get a job, live a normal life and let anyone watching think he’s managed to get away. When you and Scott move to Berkley in the fall, he and Isaac have instructions to meet up after a couple of months, and make it seem like an accident. Just two friends in a strange city running into each other.”
“Do we really need all the cloak and dagger stuff?” Stiles yawned.
“Absolutely. The cops know how close Isaac and I are, and that Scott was close to Allison. They’ll be watching you all, at least for the first few months. That’s why we can’t have any contact at all.”
Stiles froze beside him.
“None… at all?”
“None. No phone calls, no emails, no meetings. They’ll be watching you all closely, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve tapped my phones and check my call history on a daily basis. The point of this is to give you a normal life. We can’t talk.”
“But how will I get in contact with you after four years to let you know I want to be with you?”
A small grin flickered over Derek’s face at Stiles’ certainty. “Isaac will know how. We have a system.”
“Nope, that’s not good enough,” Stiles argued, sitting up. “I need to be able to get in touch with you in case anything goes wrong. Something like the Argent’s showing up,” he said when Derek opened his mouth to argue. “I won’t save the number to my phone, but I need to have it.”
Derek looked at him, took in his stiff posture and the stubborn tilt of his chin and sighed. He leaned out of the bed and reached for his jeans, shuffling through the wallet in his back pocket. He plucked out a blank white card, grabbed a pen from Stiles’ dresser and quickly wrote down a number on one side.
“This is my new number,” he said, holding out the card to Stiles. “I only got it a few days ago after my last phone got smashed and not many people know it. You keep this safe, and if you need me, if anything goes wrong, you call me immediately. Okay?”
“Okay,” Stiles agreed, carefully taking the card from him. Derek sighed and swung his legs off the bed, resting his face in his hands. Stiles leaned forward, resting his chin on Derek’s shoulder and wrapping his arms around his waist. “You’re leaving soon, aren’t you?” he asked. Derek nodded once.
“I have to go back to Seattle,” he said. “I’ve already been here too long. I don’t know what Peter’s up to, and I have to get Eric and Boyd settled in and trained up.”
“When do you leave?”
“Tomorrow?” Stiles’ could practically hear the heartbreak in his voice. “Why so soon?”
“It’s a good time. The Argents are out of town, for now. Kate and Gerard have taken Allison to Chicago and even Chris is gone. Scott has been handled. People are in place. I can’t stay any longer.”
“I’ll miss you. So fucking much,” Stiles said, hugging Derek hard.
“Me too. But, it’s only four years.”
“Only four years, he says,” Stiles snorted.
“It’ll fly by. Trust me.”
“So, as you see, my client has been out of town while Argent was being kidnapped and tortured. It can’t have been him. Now, we’ll make arrangements for your legal team to go over the Hale accounts, but I really think we have nothing further to discuss, do we?”
Whittemore ushered Hale out the door of the interview room and Adrian followed closely, fuming. He’d have to rethink his strategy, but he knew Hale was responsible for Kate Argent’s death. He just knew it. His inner fuming was brought up short by shouting in the bullpen. He pushed his way past Hale and Whittemore to see Stilinski, once again dressed in a five thousand dollar suit and flanked by Reyes and Boyd, arguing with one of the uniformed officers about speaking to Hale.
“Mahealani, let him through,” he called and the young officer nodded and stood aside. Stilinski strode past him and straight to Hale, ignoring the looks he got from the other officers and detectives as he went. Though not many people knew the identity of the informant that Adrian had hired, they all knew that something was going down, and from the look on Adrian’s face that the interview hadn’t gone well.
“Hey, Sourpuss,” Stilinski said, stopping a hairsbreadth away from Hale. “You okay? I heard you got hauled out of a meeting to come down here.”
“I’m fine, Stiles. I was just telling Detective Harris here about our wedding in New York. I think he was jealous.”
The room was suddenly so quiet after Hale’s announcement that it would have been possible to hear a pen dropping to the floor.
“Of course he was,” Stilinski grinned up at him and kissed him lightly. “It was awesome. Even the frickin’ mayor was there. How the hell did you swing that?”
“Old friend,” Hale replied, slipping an arm around the younger man’s shoulders.
“We’ll set up that meeting later on,” Whittemore said to Adrian, breaking the awkwardness. “Right now, we’re leaving. Good day, Detective Harris.”
Derek kept an arm securely around Stile’s shoulders as the group left the precinct building and headed towards the parking garage, anchoring him and stopping the shaking fuelled by the adrenalin in his veins.
“You did so well, Stiles,” Derek told him, kissing the side of his head. “Thank you.” He pulled back a little, eyeing him critically. “You alright?”
“I’m fine,” Stiles smiled back, slipping an arm around Derek’s waist. “Just a bit pumped up. Did you see the look on Harris’ face? I thought he’d have an aneurysm there and then.”
“That would have been hilarious,” Erica said, linking her arm through Boyd’s. “He’s always gotten on my nerves.”
“Finstock is worse, though,” Boyd commented. “Dude is crazy.”
“They’d have to be to work in Organised Crime,” Jackson said as they reached his car. He unlocked it and threw his briefcase inside. “I’ll head back to the office and get that appointment booked. We don’t want to keep them waiting. I’ll see you at the mansion later.” He peeled out of the parking lot moments later, already talking into his Bluetooth.
“I brought the Camaro,” Stiles said, waving the keys in front of Derek’s face. His husband smirked, and grabbed the keys out of his hand.
“Erica, have Boyd take you to lunch,” he said, pulling Stiles close. “You both deserve it for sitting around for so long in there. I’ll drive us home.”
Erica didn’t need telling twice and was dragging Boyd towards the town car he drove Derek around in before her boss was finished speaking.
“So, Mr. Hale,” Stiles grinned, kissing him again, “what’s the plan for the rest of the day?”
“Well, I was thinking of going home and using one of my ties to - ”
They both turned to see a furious Harris storming towards them, Finstock jogging to keep up with the fast pace.
“Harris.” Derek had dropped the previous veneer of politeness and he moved to stand slightly in front of Stiles. He rolled his eyes and stepped around him and to his side, standing with him shoulder to shoulder. He saw Derek grin in the corner of his eye, and smirked back.
“What the hell was that, Stilinski?” Harris demanded. “You’re married to this creep.”
“Watch it,” he warned. “That creep is my husband, who, by law, you cannot force me to testify against, by the way. Just putting that out there, in case you had forgotten.”
“Are you kidding me? I send you in to get me information and you end up married to the fucking ringleader.”
“I was always going to end up here,” Stiles said, slipping his hand into Derek’s. “You just gave me the push I needed to get back in touch.”
“How could you do this? After what he’s done to your family, to your father.”
“I warned you before to never speak of my father again.” His voice was cold as ice. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Then why don’t you enlighten us,” Finstock demanded. “Cos from where we’re standing, it looks like you’ve gotten into bed to be royally fucked by the guy who murdered him.”
“Watch it,” Derek growled beside him.
“The Argent’s put out a hit on my father,” Stiles told them, using every ounce of his fraying self-control not to punch the detective right in the face. “Derek tried to get to him to save him, for me, but the information arrived too late. It wasn’t his fault. It was Allison and Gerard Argent. Why don’t you got after them for a change.”
He turned to leave but Harris grabbed his arm.
“Let him go,” Derek warned, advancing on Harris.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Harris said, pulling Stiles towards him. “I’ve got some questions to ask Mr. Stilinski about wasting police time and resources, to start with.”
“I said, let him go!”
Stiles reached into his pocket and pulled out a small flash drive.
“Hey, Harris,” he said sweetly. “You remember the time we met in the office?”
Harris froze and Stiles broke from the grip the man had on his arm, smoothing down the sleeve of his new suit. Stiles threw the flash drive at him and Harris caught it, gulping loudly.
“That briefcase I always had on me has come in really handy a few times. The best part of it though is the built in voice recorder and video camera. Derek gave it to me.” He smiled at his husband, who visibly relaxed and stood back. “It’s great. It picks up every little sound, every background noise. Every threat.”
“Threat? What threat?” Finstock demanded, trying to grab the flash drive out of Harris’ hand. “Adrian, what is he talking about?”
“Dammit, Adrian. What did you do?”
“Keep it, I have copies,” Stiles told them as he turned to walk to the Camaro, Derek by his side. Derek opened the door for him and Stiles slid in, oddly graceful for someone who’s heart was beating at a thousand miles an hour.
“You okay?” Derek asked as he slipped into the drivers seat.
“I’m fine,” Stiles replied, resting a hand on Derek’s thigh. “Let’s go home.”
Derek followed Stiles into the living room, nodding at Joel, one of the discreet bodyguards he had stationed around the house. Joel slipped silently out of the room, closing the door behind him, and Derek had to admit, it wasn’t as bad as he had thought; having bodyguards around the place. When it had just been him in the house, he really hadn’t cared enough for extra protection. He could handle himself, and had guns hidden in every room if anyone dared to try anything. But now that Stiles was finally where he belonged, living with him, fucking married to him, then Derek wanted all the protection he could get. Unsurprisingly, Erica and Boyd had done a good job with the hiring, as they did with everything else, and he didn’t want to punch the bodyguards for invading his personal sanctuary every time he saw them.
He unbuttoned his suit jacket and slid it off his shoulders before collapsing onto the couch. His back ached from the tension of the interrogation, and the two hours Harris had made him wait in that tiny room before he’d finally gotten the show on the road. He rolled his shoulders and stretched, eyes tracking Stiles from where he’d been pacing since they’d gotten back home.
“You alright?” he asked, voice not hiding his worry. Was Stiles ok? Was he regretting this? By showing his allegiance to Derek, he’d painted a target on his back, visible to both other families and to the cops. What if…
“Yeah,” Stiles replied, still pacing, interrupting Derek’s panic. He flashed a quick smile in his direction before he threw himself down onto the couch beside Derek. “Just, you know, adrenaline.”
Derek did know. The first time he’d gone to a fight, he’d had enough adrenaline flooding his system when he’d come away victorious that he’d wanted to run for days. And Stiles showing up like he did at the station, showing his hand and declaring himself on Derek’s side, declaring himself Derek’s had been intense. It hadn’t been a physical fight but the stress of the situation, the urge to protect yourself and those you love, the surge of victory when they’d both walked out of there, was exactly the same. Derek smiled when Stiles moved to snuggle into his side, and placed a kiss on his husband’s temple.
After a moment or two of silence, Stiles moved and swung a leg across Derek’s lap so he was straddling his thighs. Stiles grinned down at him, amber eyes full of amusement and love, and looped his arms around Derek’s neck.
“As awesome as the snuggling is,” he told Derek, shuffling closer, squirming when Derek’s hand’s settled at his waist, “we have the house to ourselves for the first time in a good long while. We really need to take advantage of that.”
Derek licked his way up his husband’s throat, grinning against his jawline. “Oh yeah?” he murmured, planting gentle kisses. “And how do you suggest we do that?”
“I was thinking of starting with us thoroughly defiling this couch, and then going from there,” Stiles replied breathlessly, tilting Derek’s head back and kissing him with fervour. Derek groaned into the kiss, wrapping his arms fully around Stiles’ waist and pulling him closer. Stiles was just getting to work on his tie when the front door slammed shut and they heard the terrifying clack of undoubtedly tasteful heels on the hardwood floor in the hall. They both groaned, this time in frustration, when they heard Lydia’s sharp voice talking over one of the hulking bodyguards and Stiles slid off Derek’s lap and settled beside him just before she pushed past Joel and opened the door.
“From the expressions on both your faces, I take it I’m interrupting something,” she smirked at them, smoothing down her skirt as she sat in the armchair opposite them.
“You always were the smart one,” Stiles commented from where he had sprawled out, feet up on the coffee table, uncaring of the state of his five thousand dollar suit.
“I would tell you not to stop on my account,” Lydia smirked, “but I have a feeling that Derek would have me taken out if I even suggested it.”
Damn straight he would. Stiles’ epic crush on Lydia was still a sore point even though he swore he was Derek’s and had been since he had been eighteen.
“What do you want, Lydia?” asked, attempting to school his expression. From Lydia’s expression it seemed he hadn’t been very successful at hiding what he had just been thinking.
“I want a lot of things, Derek,” Lydia sighed, “but mostly I want you to tell Peter to keep his god-damn mouth shut. He’s still insisting he wants to go to the cops and confess to Kate Argent’s murder. I think he’s dying to brag about it, he won’t listen to me and I am done with him. Just done.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Stiles muttered beside Derek, standing up suddenly to start pacing again. “He’s going to ruin everything.”
“I know,” Derek sighed. He wished he could get rid of Peter. His uncle hadn’t been the same since his wife and young son had been killed in the manor explosion. A large part of him, mostly his sanity, had died that day along with Jenny and Alex. But, no matter how much trouble he was causing now, he was still Derek’s uncle: the only blood relative he had left in the entire world. It was the only reason the man was still alive, especially since Derek was pretty certain that he was responsible for Laura’s death. But he had no damn proof, and he couldn’t kill his own blood without undeniable proof. He’d be dead himself within days.
“I mean, it’s not like we asked him to do it,” Stiles continued, rant gathering speed, “who the hell calls someone on their goddamned wedding day and says ‘Congratulations. Here, I got you the still beating heart of your sworn enemy. Have a nice honeymoon.”
“He didn’t exactly put it like that, Stiles,” Lydia sighed.
“He may as well have,” Derek snapped. “By killing Kate, he’s brought a metric ton of crap down on our heads. We’ll be under even more scrutiny than before, which is something we really did not need.”
“He waited until you were in New York before he got at Kate,” Lydia reasoned. “He made sure that you were out of the state before killing her. If you had ordered Kate’s death, you would have insisted on being the one to kill her yourself, and Harris knows this, Derek. He knows you too well. But he made sure that nothing could be traced back to you.”
Derek scrubbed at his face, suddenly exhausted.
“I know. It’s just one more complication that we didn’t need. Harris is already too close, especially now that we have everyone back again...”
Stiles sat down beside him again and slipped his arm through Derek’s. “I finished the virus just before we went to pick you up,” he said, resting his forehead on Derek’s shoulder. “I hacked the system and implanted it right into the coding so, you know, the next time anyone tries to access your files, or anything to do with us, it will wipe it all. And knowing Harris, I’m guessing they’re all gone already.” Stiles smiled up at Derek. “He’ll have to start from scratch which isn’t much, but it’s something.”
Derek kissed him softly. “Thank you.”
“Perks of being a computer science major,” he grinned back.
“He really shouldn’t have underestimated you.”
“As pathetically adorable as this is, we still need to deal with Peter,” Lydia interrupted, though her tone was not as sharp as usual. “If he keeps insisting on confessing, it will give the police legal rights to go through everything, not just the Hale Consultancy books. They’d go through everything and that would not be good. Jackson and I are gods of the law, and regularly make the legal system our bitch, but even we can’t stop that kind of scrutiny.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Derek promised. “He won’t stay a word.” And he wouldn’t. Derek was not above threatening his uncle if it meant keeping Stiles safe, at least for now.
A part of himself hated the fact that he hadn’t let Stiles go, for hanging on to him all these years. Derek should have just walked away four years ago when he’d first realised that he was starting to fall for Stiles. He should have taken Isaac, Erica and Boyd and just left. It would have made life a hell of a lot easier. He had been too weak to leave without giving Stiles the choice, however. He’d needed Stiles with him, in his life and in his bed, and now that he had him, it felt like he was breathing properly for the first time in almost six years. It was a heady feeling.
Their discussion was interrupted by the front door opening and the loud, happy voices of Scott and Isaac bickering echoed down the hallway. Derek just sighed and nodded when Joel poked a head through the door with a raised eyebrow, and Derek waved them through.
Derek hadn’t fully trusted Scott again after what had happened in Beacon Hills with the Argent girl, and he doubted he ever would. But Scott had done a good job keeping Stiles safe when they had been in Berkley, and he made Isaac happy. Derek was grateful to him for that. Isaac was so much like his brother, and while the similarity to Jamie sometimes made Derek’s chest ache, he was grateful for Isaac’s tenacity, and loyalty. He hadn’t complained much when Derek had sent him to San Francisco, knowing that this particular job was the most important thing that Derek could have ever asked of him. It was good to see him happy, even if it was with Scott. That they had gotten together after a few months of friendship hadn’t surprised Derek in the slightest: Isaac’s crush on the other kid had been pretty epic and noticeable when they were eighteen.
“We’re all packed up,” Scott grinned, flopping down onto one of the other couches in the room. “Crazy it took so long to box up the apartment. I didn’t think we had that much stuff.”
“Some of it was from my Dad’s house,” Stiles reminded him. “Just the stuff I couldn’t make myself get rid of when I sold the house. Still, it kind of spread out. Sorry.”
“No problem, dude,” Scott waved away the apology. “You know we don’t mind that.” Stiles grinned at him from where he had taken up his position next to Derek once again. “So now, all you need to do is send some guys to pick up the boxes -”
“Nice try,” Derek smirked, “it will do you good to move everything yourself. Character building.”
“Oh, come on Derek,” Isaac whined. “You don’t really mean that. There’s a shit ton of boxes!”
In truth Derek really didn’t mean for them to move everything themselves, but half the fun of being the boss was making his underlings work for it.
“You get two guys,” he said after a moment, hiding his smirk at their fist-bump of victory. Seriously, those two still acted like fifteen year olds, despite being nearly twenty five. He would have given them more if they’d stuck at it, but no. Two guys it was. “Go talk to Joel. Tell them to get Tony and Mike to help you move everything into the mansion. Tell them to use one of the trucks from the department store. You’ll be able to make it in one run then.”
They nodded enthusiastically and settled back in the chair. Derek raised an eyebrow at them.
“What, now?” Isaac asked after a long moment.
“No time like the present.”
“But we just finished packing,” Scott whined.
“All the more reason to finish the job in one day. We can get a crew in tomorrow to wipe down all traces of you guys from the apartment.”
“Fine,” Isaac huffed, standing and pulling Scott to his feet. “If we hurry, we can get there before Tony and Mike and have one more time on…”
“Out!” Derek ordered, suppressing his laughter at the cheeky grin on Isaac’s face. Yeah, he really had missed the kid. Isaac left, pulling a laughing and blushing Scott in his wake. On the way out, they nearly knocked Jackson over as he walked into the room, phone in hand.
“I’ve heard from Danny,” Jackson told the room at large, as heset his briefcase down next to Lydia’s chair and kissed her briefly.
“And how is our future Police Commissioner?” Stiles asked nervously.
“Laughing his ass off, currently,” Jackson said, sitting on the arm of Lydia’s chair. “Harris and Finstock are getting reamed out by Chief Thomas so loudly that everyone can hear it, even through the closed door. He had to leave the bullpen in case he started giggling like a three year old. They’ve also discovered that the Hale files have been wiped. Strange, that.…”
“Why, thank you,” Stiles laughed, polishing his nails on his jacket and looking smug. “I am pretty good at those viruses if I do say so myself.”
“That you are,” Derek smiled at him, gaze zeroing in on Stile’s lips.
“And that look is our cue to make a swift exit,” Lydia said, standing and pulling Jackson to his feet. Derek barely heard them leave, his sole concentration on the soft, fullness of his husband’s lips and the glimpse of tongue that flicked out to wet them.
“Stiles,” Derek groaned, wrapping a hand around Stiles’ neck and pulling him in for a kiss. Stiles enthusiastically kissed him back, tugging Derek down to stretch out on top of him along the length of the couch. Derek settled in the cradle of Stiles’ thighs, hands quickly undoing the buttons of the shirt. He cried out when Stiles wrapped his legs around his waist and pulled their clothed erections together.
“God, I love you,” he gasped into Stiles’ mouth, panting heavily. “Don’t know what I ever did to deserve you.”
“You were just you,” Stiles answered, peppering his face with kisses. “Wonderful, dependable, amazing you. You’re a good man, Derek Hale,” he said seriously, pulling back to look him in the eye. “You’re a good man, and I love you.”
“I’m a lot of things, Stiles, but I’m not sure ‘good’ is on of them.”
“You’ve never been anything but good to me and mine for years,” Stiles argued. “You trusted Scott again after the whole Allison debacle, you looked after his mom, you did everything you could not to involve my dad in the business and to look out for him - ”
“I’m just sorry I couldn’t get to him in time.”
“I know,” Stiles said, a hitch in his breath that had nothing to do with how they were lying. Any mention of Ben Stilinski always brought out the pain in Stiles, and the guilt in Derek. He’d wanted so much to go to the funeral, but it would have been too dangerous. The Argents had all but taken over Beacon Hills at that point, and if he had shown his face at the cemetery, people would have been killed in the crossfire, of that he had no doubt.
But he’d found the men that had shot Stiles’ father, and he’d killed them himself, nice and slowly. It was the least he could have done for Stiles, to give him the comfort of knowing that the men who killed had his father were dead. And Derek had plans for Gerard who had ordered the hit in the first place. Now that Stiles was with him and safe, they could plan the takeover.
“No more talk about my father,” Stiles said, squirming beneath him. “I’m trying to get into your pants here before we have any more interruptions.”
“Seriously, love you,” Derek laughed, leaning down to kiss his husband thoroughly.
Derek had never believed in soul mates.
Then he’d met Stiles.