Derek dragged his feet up the stairs to the fifth floor. The elevator had stopped working long before they had moved in three years ago so he and everybody else in this stack of shoe box apartments had to climb the stairs. Which shouldn't be a problem for him, he was a young werewolf after all, normally he would sprint the stairs up and down without breaking a sweat but he just had finished an eight hour shift flipping burgers and he had only three hours to take a shower, in the futile attempt to scrub off the scent of grease, and a short nap before he had to head over to the Three Barrels for his second job as a bouncer. Derek hated both jobs and he would quit in a heart-beat if his main job would earn him enough money to get by. Which it didn't. Or it would if it wasn't for Peter. Derek sighed.
When Derek reached the door, he strained his ears for any noises coming from inside the apartment but with all the background noises it was impossible to hear if Peter was home or not. His neighbors to the right were arguing again, a floor beneath him a baby was crying and somebody had their TV on loud.
Derek entered the tiny apartment he shared with Peter but the paper-thin walls didn't do anything to keep the noises out. His alpha wasn't here but Derek hadn't expected him to be home anyway. Nowadays Peter came only home to sleep or to demand more money.
Peter made some money himself with odd jobs Derek didn't want to know about but he spent it faster than he could earn it. Feeding it to slot machines or burning it on the roulette tables in the few casinos where he hadn't reached his credit limit or had been banned from because he had tried to play at the human poker tables. Hearing heart-beats and smelling anxiety counted as cheating if the other players didn't have the same advantage and Peter knew that.
Lately Peter had been limited to sleazy backroom poker tables and some smaller casinos. As far as Derek knew the Red Riding Hood was his current favorite but it was only a matter of time until he would have reached his credit limit there as well. But at the moment Peter carried every cent he could get to the Red. Derek had a hard time hiding enough money to pay the rent and get food on the table.
Feeding two grown werewolves wasn't easy but if he got caught one more time stealing a burger he would get fired, his boss had been every clear about that, so he kept that as a last option.
The bathroom was too small to do more than stand in so Derek stripped in the living room and then squished himself in the shower stall. Up on the fifth floor the water pressure was next to none existent and lukewarm was the best he could hope for. Besides, the water didn't look right and it smelled metallic. Derek only hoped that his healing abilities would keep him from dying of lead poisoning or catching something nasty from this germ cocktail.
Derek finished his shower, he still smelled the grease on his skin but that was something permanent by now, and then searched for more or less fresh clothes. He needed to do the laundry but he was too exhausted for that.
He set his alarm and dropped on the couch. The apartment had only one bedroom and that was Peter's. Even if the alpha was rarely home to use it.
Drifting off to sleep Derek thought of his childhood home, where he had a bed for himself. Where he had a room for himself and where he hadn't been tired and hungry all the time. Even the first years after the fire had been better than how he lived now. They had been traumatized kids back then, Derek only fourteen and Laura seventeen and suddenly the alpha of their little pack of three. Peter had been the one who had brought them through those first years.
Then the arguing had started. Peter and Laura had always argued and always over money. As the alpha Laura had control over their family money and what they had gotten out of the insurance and she kept a tight lid on it. Much to Peter's disappointment.
When Derek had been sixteen Laura got murdered. Hunters, Peter had said with a flash of red eyes. Derek believed him. He had to. But in moments like this, exhausted and on the verge of sleep he knew better.
Derek woke up when somebody entered the apartment. He blinked his eyes open to confirm that it was just Peter and he only hoped that his uncle would let him sleep until his alarm went off, every minute of sleep counted, and he was about to drift back to sleep when he noticed that there were two men following Peter into the room.
"Peter?" Derek croaked out and sat up. Rubbing his face he tried to get awake enough to grasp the situation. They never got visitors. But there were two men standing behind Peter, eyeing Derek over Peter's shoulders.
"Good, you're here." Peter said too cheerfully.
"What's going on?" Derek asked and stood up. At least he had bothered to get dressed before he fell asleep.
The men hovered near the door while Peter stepped farther into the room. They looked completely out of place in their nice suits but the way the carried themselves Derek knew they knew how to fight. Derek dubbed them Vincent and Jules but so far there had been no guns and the black guy hadn't recited any bible verses so this wasn't too bad.
"Peter, what's going on?" Derek focused on his alpha. "Are you in trouble?" Because the only reason he could think of for these guys standing in his living room was that Peter had pissed off the wrong people. Again.
If they were here looking for money, good luck. Derek would get paid after his shift at the Barrels tonight but he needed that money for food. Fran's Burgers payed on Fridays and the big check from Casino Solutions would come in at the end of the month. And by big he meant big enough to pay the rent and the power bill, not big as in "It covers my uncle's gambling debts".
As it stood, Derek had about two dollars in his pocket, one dollar and seventy-two cents to be exact, and he intended to spent that on a coffee on his way to work.
"Kind of." Peter answered the trouble question with a delay and a glance over his shoulder at the two strangers. "You see, I had this awesome lucky streak …"
Derek pinched his bridge of his nose with his fingers.
"A little over one-hundred thousand." Peter said. His shoulders dropped and he didn't look Derek in the eye.
"And them?" He pointed at Vincent and Jules who so far had failed to introduce themselves or explain what the fuck they were doing here. "If you're here to collect." He addressed them. "Too bad, we don't even have ten dollars."
That seemed to make them uncomfortable, they shifted on their feet and shared a glance but didn't say a word. Derek turned his attention back to Peter.
"They are here to collect." The way he emphasized the last word made Derek uneasy.
"To collect what?" Derek shot back. He should be getting ready for work and not wasting his time with his uncle's problems. But he also was his alpha which made every problem Peter had Derek's as well. "If you don't have a secret stash somewhere hidden there is nothing to collect."
"Well, Mr. Stilinski, the owner of the Red Riding Hood, offered me …" Peter made a vague gesture while he searched for the right word. "… an alternative way of payment."
Derek narrowed his eyes on him. His uncle was good at keeping his heart-beat under control but right now he had slipped up. Derek doubted whatever kind of payment they were talking about here had been this Mr. Stilinski's idea.
"What kind of payment?" Derek dared to ask. He didn't like where this conversation was heading. And now Vincent and Jules looked more like they were blocking the door than just casually standing there.
The guy with the curly hair, Vincent, was holding something behind his back. Derek couldn't tell what it was but his money was on a weapon. If he had money to bet on this.
"You see." Peter said in a forced conversational tone. "Mr. Stilinski is a very busy man and he needs some stress relief from time to time."
Derek absolutely didn't like the direction this conversation was going. He crossed his arms over his chest and gave his uncle a stern look.
"What have you done?"
"We came to the agreement that my debt can be worked off." Peter cleared his throat. "By you."
Now Vincent and Jules made a point of showing the tasers in their hands. And they were definitely blocking the door now.
"Derek." Peter sighed as if Derek was the unreasonable one here.
"No." Derek repeated, not backing off under Peter's gaze. "Your debts, your problem. Now excuse me, I have to get ready for work." He tried to shoulder his way past his uncle but was stopped by a clawed hand on his shoulder.
"Don't forget who's the alpha here." Peter said with a flesh of red in his eyes. "You are going to leave with these gentlemen and you will do whatever Mr. Stilinski wants you to do until you've worked off this debt."
Derek felt his own claws growing and his mouth was full with teeth when he growled: "I'm not your little bitch you can rent out."
"You're my beta." Peter said in a low voice, his eyes glowing red. "And if you want to stay my beta you are going to do what I say."
Derek clenched his fists, not really caring that he was slicing up his own palms with his claws, and stood his ground. Without breaking eye contact Peter stepped closer.
"Do you want to become an omega?" He didn't raise his voice but the challenge was there.
Derek lowered his gaze.
"Good boy." Peter patted his cheek and then turned to the two men who had watched the scene with tense alertness. "He's all yours."
Peter gave Derek a push to make him move in their direction.
"Shouldn't he at least pack a bag or something?" Jules asked. He had a soft voice that betrayed his hard expression. He and his partner both reeked of uneasiness and neither of them looked in Derek's direction.
"I doubt that he will have much use for clothes but by all means." Peter made a gesture as if all this was beneath him.
While Jules stayed at the door, taser still in hand, Vincent followed Derek around the apartment and even held the tattered bag open for Derek to stuff in his belongings.
Derek didn't know what he would need so he packed all his clothes, he was an optimist here, he knew that, and he really should have done the laundry earlier. Then he gathered his things from the bathroom and with that he was done with packing. It was pathetic.
There were a few personal things he would have liked to take with him but he didn't want to lose them and since they were of no monetary value they were safer with Peter.
"Is this all you want to take with you?" Vincent, more like a boy in a suit if Derek was honest, asked with a pitiful look at the meager contents of the bag.
Derek gave him a nod. He wasn't sure if he was able to speak right now.
When they returned to the living room Derek made a point of not looking at Peter and headed straight for the door instead.
Just when he was about to leave a heavy hand landed on his neck and Peter drew him close to whisper in his ear.
"Don't do anything stupid." He said, his claws digging into the soft skin of Derek's neck. Then Peter let go of him and gave him an almost friendly pat on the back. "Just lie back and think of England."