Stiles doesn’t even care that his father is eating bacon with his breakfast. His father is a werewolf. Life is suddenly amazing, and he can’t stop staring at his father, waiting to see if he’s going to sprout claws and fangs right there in the diner.
“Stiles, will you cut it out?” Tom asks, annoyed. “It’s hard to eat with you staring.”
“Oh, right, right. Sorry.” Stiles taps his fingers against the table, making little drumming noises. Then he bursts out, “Dad! Tell me what happened!”
Tom sighs, and Stiles nearly goes out of his mind with anticipation. His father had refused to say much on the car ride to the diner, saying he needed time to gather his thoughts. Stiles hopes he’s managed to gather them, because he can’t wait to hear the story any longer.
“Yes, apparently, the animal that attacked me was a werewolf.” Tom’s mouth purses on the word. “Apparently I am now also a werewolf. Last night, yes, I did shift into some sort of nightmare creature because I got upset when I came home and found out that you had left the house despite my explicit instructions otherwise.”
“Oh, crap,” Stiles says, and winces. “But I had to, didn’t I? You could have been in danger!”
“What the hell did you think you were going to do about it if I was?” Tom replies, exasperated.
“I, uh, I hadn’t thought quite that far ahead,” Stiles admits.
“Well, color me completely shocked.” Tom rubs his temples for a few moments. “Look. We are going to be fine. There’s obviously a lot that we need to figure out, and we’re going to figure it out, and we’re going to be okay. But I don’t want you telling anybody about this. Okay?”
“Okay,” Stiles says.
His father eyes him suspiciously. “Not even Scott.”
Tom sighs. “You know I don’t believe you, right? I mean, you could at least put in a token protest or something.”
Stiles makes a face. “Scott doesn’t want to hear about it anyway, because all he can talk about right now is Allison. I mean, it’s kind of adorable, but I have to hate her on general principle because she’s stealing my best friend and I’m bitter. And salty. I’m both bitter and salty. Packed with flavor, that’s me.”
“Eat your breakfast,” Tom says, and Stiles does.
“So how are we going to catch the other werewolf?” he asks, his mouth full of eggs.
“‘We’ are not going to do anything,” Tom says, and Stiles groans like he’s in real, physical pain. “I’m working on a solution, and it’s one that will not involve high schoolers. Is that clear?”
“Okay, but you can’t leave me out of this completely. I mean, I need to know that you’re safe. That this whole lycanthropy thing is under control. I mean, what about the full moon? Did you just wander around in the forest? Do you need to be locked up? Or chained up? I saw a movie once where they chained a monster to a radiator. Will I have to chain you up and feed you live mice? I had a boa once. I could do it.”
“Do you really want to bring up the time you traded your Pokemon deck and came home with a snake and I had to talk your mother off the ceiling?”
“Um, no. I probably don’t want to remind you of that. But still, all I’m saying is that I have to be sure that you’re okay.”
Tom sighs. “I’m going to be fine. And I’ll keep you in the loop as much as I can. I didn’t figure out a lot last night besides how not to lose my mind and go running around looking like something from a fifties B movie. Hopefully, I’ll learn more today, and then I can tell you about it when I get home. Okay? And I want you home today. To be sure that you stay home, I’m going to write down a list of chores for you. If they aren’t done when I get home, tomorrow I’ll be chaining you to a radiator. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Stiles moans.
“Good.” Tom finishes eating his breakfast and then has Stiles drive him home. The cruiser is still in the driveway, so after a quick shower and a change of clothes, he departs.
Stiles waits until his father’s car is around the corner before he grabs his bottle of Adderall. His father said he had to get his chores done – not get them done well. And the faster he can wrap this up, the sooner he can keep his dad safe.
~ ~ ~ ~
Tom calls every hotel in Beacon Hills, and none of them have a Derek Hale registered. Without any better ideas, he heads out to the Hale house. Derek Hale seems like an odd duck, to put it mildly, so he wouldn’t be surprised to find that he’s living in those ruins.
Now that he’s a little more in his right mind, he takes the time to explore the premises more carefully. The wood creaks uneasily underneath his feet. There’s no sign that anyone’s been living there, but he can smell that Derek has been there. It’s hard to explain exactly how or what that smells like. It’s a specific scent, a Derek-scent, that permeates the atmosphere.
Outside, though, he smells blood. Blood and freshly disturbed earth.
He follows the scent around to the side of the house. It’s been covered well, but someone has definitely been digging. That’s not what catches his eye, though. Instead, what draws his attention is a bluish-purple flower. He reaches out to it, and the moment it touches his skin, he hisses in pain and jerks his hand back.
“Dad! Don’t touch that! It’s poisonous!”
Tom spins around, looks at his son, and then looks at the Heavens. “What part of chained to a radiator was hard for you to understand?”
“The . . . part where I knew you wouldn’t actually do that because it would be child abuse? Anyway, don’t touch the flower. I think it’s wolfsbane.” Stiles jogs over and kneels down so he can get a good look at the offending plant. Tom thinks about telling him to back off, but then figures if Stiles is going to show up and make trouble, he might as well make himself useful. “That’s weird, it’s like it’s tied to something.”
He pulls on the flower gently, and along with it comes a rope. It disturbs the fresh earth, coming up in a spiral pattern that makes Tom’s skin crawl for reasons he can’t explain.
“Uh, Dad?” Stiles says, jerking Tom’s attention back to the present. “Am I disturbing a grave here?”
“I think you are,” Tom says grimly, and gets on his radio. Animals don’t bury their victims, and they sure as hell don’t plant flowers to mark the grave. Once he’s talked to dispatch and they’re sending people with equipment to see what they’ve found, he gets his hand around the back of Stiles’ neck. “Now. What. Are. You. Doing. Here.”
Stiles hesitates. “Well, uh, I called to check on you and Sandy said you’d gone out to look for a suspect, and I thought you might need help. You know. In case you went all werewolfy.”
“We’re not going to have to have a talk about you using the phrase ‘blood lust’ again, are we?”
“No. Absolutely not. But I thought you might be looking for werewolf stuff, not murder stuff, and I did all that research, so – come on, Dad! You didn’t even know that was wolfsbane. You’re woefully unprepared for this. You’ve gotta let me help!”
“Apparently I do,” Tom says, and gives up. “Fine. But you stick right by me or I’ll duct tape you to the car.”
“Again with the threats of child abuse, I – okay, right, what are we doing here?” Stiles asks.
“I was here last night. Derek Hale found me. Apparently he’s a werewolf too, but he’s not the one who bit me. I need to find him. He lied to me about where he was staying, and now I’m pretty sure there’s a body buried on his property. I think he’s been staying here. There are tire tracks over there, and I can smell him in the house.”
“You can smell him? That’s awesome!” Stiles is practically overcome with glee. “I can’t believe my dad is a freakin’ werewolf!”
“You’re enjoying this way too much,” Tom says, feeling his headache looming again. He looks up as a cruiser pulls up and two of his men get out. “Go sit on the porch while we work, do not leave my sight,” he tells Stiles, who obeys. He greets the other officers, one of whom looks quizzically at Stiles. “I couldn’t find a baby-sitter and apparently he still needs one,” Tom says.
“Not cool, Dad!”
They get to work. Two more men arrive, and they take turns. It’s a shallow grave, so it doesn’t take long to reveal the half of a body that’s there. It’s a woman, with long dark hair and more bite marks on her body. Tom looks at the one across her throat and thinks about what Deaton had said about wolves. He doesn’t know if that applies to werewolves or not.
The medical examiner shows up, and takes careful pictures before they lift the body out of the grave. She’s still working when a black Camaro shows up and Derek Hale gets out. His expression is neutral, carefully closed off.
“Ah, Mr. Hale,” Tom says. “I’m afraid I’m going to need you to come with me and answer some questions.”
Derek looks at the grave. He looks at the police cruisers. Then he nods silently.
Tom gestures to Stiles and then points at the car. “You, in the front.”
“Yes, sir!” Stiles springs to his feet and practically bolts over to the car, throwing himself into the front seat. Tom has barely shut the door on his own side before Stiles is saying, “So you’re a werewolf? What’s it like? Can you transform all the time or only at the full moon? The sources I found on the internet conflict.”
Derek just stares at him.
Stiles, who’s used to such behavior, isn’t fazed. “How did you become one? Were you bitten? How old were you when you got bitten? Do you know any other werewolves? What about the girl who died, was she a werewolf?”
“Stiles, for God’s sake, how much Adderall – never mind, I don’t want to know.” Tom focuses on the road. He has a lot of questions for Derek, but he’s not going to ask any of them in the car with his son present.
That doesn’t stop Stiles from asking questions, pretty much the entire drive. He’s completely unperturbed by Derek’s refusal to answer them. He seems to think that if he just keeps finding new things to ask, eventually he’ll hit on something that Derek is willing to talk about. This gets him exactly nowhere. When they reach the station, Tom ushers Stiles into his office. “Now, you’re going to stay here, right? You’re not going to sneak out and watch the interrogation, and you’re certainly not going to go running off. Right?”
“Right,” Stiles agrees.
“And you understand why I don’t believe you when you say that, right?”
“So you’re totally okay with the fact that I’m going to handcuff you to the desk.”
“Ri – what?”
A few minutes later, Tom walks into the interrogation room, secure in the fact that for once, his son will be where he left him in an hour. He sits down with a pad of paper and a pencil. “First things first. I’m going to advise you of your rights. Then I need you to sign a statement saying that you’ve been advised of your rights and that you understand them.”
He launches into the practiced spiel. Derek signs the paper without a word.
“So who’s the girl?”
There’s that moment of hesitation again, where Derek is thinking about what to say. “My sister. Laura.”
“Okay.” Tom knows that at least two deputies are watching this interrogation, and one of them will already be going to pull up everything they can find on Laura Hale. “How did she come to be buried on your property?”
“I don’t know.”
Tom taps his pencil against the desk. “Are you sure about that, son? Because I have a feeling that your fingerprints are going to be all over her.”
Derek shrugs. “She’s my sister.”
“Mm hm.” Tom files that away, thinking about what they can and can’t prove. A lot is falling into the second column, unfortunately. They can’t charge him with the murder. The body being on his property is suspicious, but nowhere near evidence, let alone proof. Given that the ME is almost certainly going to rule that an animal killed her, there’s no way Derek could be held responsible. If they could prove that he moved the body, they could charge him with disturbing a crime scene and other related things. But that will be difficult to prove, especially with no motive that Tom can ascertain. “Do you want your sister’s killer caught?”
“Yes.” This time, Derek answers without hesitation.
“Then why would you hide her body?”
Derek says nothing, avoiding the trap.
Tom taps his pencil against the table again. “What was your sister doing here in Beacon Hills?”
“She came to visit friends.”
“And when was the last time you talked to her?”
“A couple days ago. She texted me, letting me know she had gotten in okay. But I didn’t hear from her after that, so I came to see if I could find her.”
“Do you have any idea who might have wanted to hurt your sister?”
Derek shakes his head.
“No ex-boyfriends, jealous coworkers, nothing like that?”
Tom sighs. This case is going nowhere fast. “Okay. Why did you lie to me about where you were staying?”
At this, Derek actually flushes a little and looks away. “I, uh . . . I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to stay at the house. It’s been condemned and it’s not safe. So I said I was staying at a hotel. It had nothing to do with my sister being dead, I just . . .”
Tom waits. He’s found that sometimes it’s better to just let a suspect talk.
“I hate the way hotels smell,” Derek finally mutters.
Tom’s eyebrows go up, but actually it makes sense. He knows his own sense of smell has made it difficult to tolerate a lot of things lately. “Okay, Derek,” he finally says. “You’re not being charged with anything, right now, but if your fingerprints are on that body, you’re going to have a lot to answer for. Whether she’s your sister or not. And legally, you can’t stay on that property. So you’re going to stay here until my shift is over, and then you’re coming home with me.”
“I’m . . . what?” Derek asks.
“Coming home with me. I have a perfectly serviceable sofa. And I don’t want you going anywhere.”
Derek looks so befuddled by this that it’s a little entertaining. Tom gathers his notes and leaves the room. He’s gratified (and honestly a little surprised) to find Stiles where he left him. “I can’t believe you handcuffed me to a desk!”
“I can’t believe I had to!” Tom takes out his keys and gets the cuffs off of him. “Okay. You’re the . . . werewolf expert,” he says, wrinkling his nose. “Why would a werewolf tear someone in half and then run off?”
Stiles chews on his fingernail. “Well, it was probably another werewolf, right? Maybe you have to do that in order to make sure they’re dead.”
Tom nods slowly. “Okay. The deceased is Derek’s sister, Laura. Can werewolfism run in families?”
“Werewolfism isn’t a word. You’d want to say lycanthropy – oh, right, and yes. I think so, anyway. I mean, I’m not sure how I would know if any of what I read on the internet is true, but if it is, yes. There are families of werewolves.”
“Then why would Derek hide her body?” Tom is frowning. “Wouldn’t he want her killer caught?”
“Well, in the movies, it’d be because he wants to catch the killer himself,” Stiles says.
After a moment, Tom nods. “That makes sense, actually. Whoever killed Laura Hale is a werewolf. I know that, because they compared my bite wound to the ones on her legs. So it might be impossible for a human to capture it, let alone imprison it.” He considers that for a minute. “Okay. I’m not going to get Derek to talk about that while he’s in an interrogation room. So if I promise to let you contribute to that conversation later today, will you promise me that you’ll go home, do your chores, and make something for dinner?”
“Yes, sir!” Stiles springs to his feet. “I’ll need time anyway. To compile my questions. I’m going to have a lot of questions.”
“I bet,” Tom says, but he can’t keep the fondness from his voice.
~ ~ ~ ~
Stiles not only compiles questions, he does the grocery shopping, cleans the house, and starts making dinner. He’s had a lot of Adderall, so sitting down and doing nothing is intolerable. It’s just past five thirty when he hears the door open, and he jogs over to make sure that everything’s okay. His father looks the same as always, and a little pulse of relief goes through him.
Then there’s Derek. He saw him in the car, but he has to stop and take a minute to soak in his attractiveness again. Derek Hale is hot like the sun. Or the moon, Stiles supposes, and chuckles despite himself. His father gives him a look but then just rolls his eyes. “What’s cooking?”
“Uh, beef stroganoff,” Stiles says, dragging his eyes away from Derek. “Do you have any allergies? Or are you a vegetarian or anything? Is there such a thing as a vegetarian werewolf? Or a werewolf with food allergies? I mean, you obviously heal, so – ”
Derek is again looking at him like he’s from another planet. He looks awkward and out of place in the cozy Stilinski home, like he’d rather be back in the forest. “I’ll eat whatever,” he finally says.
“Okay, good,” Stiles says. To his father, he adds, “Did you figure out anything else?”
“Not yet. But I have a lot of questions for a certain someone.”
Derek looks like he wants to crawl out the window.
Ten minutes later, they’re sitting around the dinner table. “Okay, Derek,” Tom says, not touching his food yet. “I’m going to ask you some questions that, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t ask you at the station. This is not an official interrogation. But I would like to advise you very strongly to cooperate, or else I will let my son start asking questions, and you do not want that.”
“Dad, you said I was going to be able to ask him questions,” Stiles says.
“Shush,” Tom replies, and Stiles sulks.
Derek doesn’t look up from his plate. “What do you want to know?”
“You said that you didn’t know who bit me. Right?” Tom says, and Derek nods. “What about whoever killed your sister? Is that the same werewolf?”
“Yes. It’s the alpha.”
“The alpha is the head of the pack,” Stiles can’t stop himself from chiming in.
Derek glances at him and rolls his eyes. “It’s more than that. The alpha has power beyond any beta werewolf. They’re stronger, they heal faster. Laura . . . my sister . . . she was my alpha. But whoever it was in the forest killed her and stole her power. That’s what made him so strong, and why he bit you. He’s trying to build a pack.”
“So he’ll probably attack others,” Tom says.
Derek shrugs. “That would be my assumption.”
“And why would he be doing any of this?” Tom asks.
“How should I know?” Derek asks.
Tom decides to let that slide in favor of asking a question Derek will like even less. “Why did you bury your sister?”
Derek says nothing.
Tom sighs. “Off the record. I’m not going to throw you in jail. I need someone to help me out with all this werewolf garbage. Anyway, your fingerprints weren’t on her body. I assume you were wearing gloves. I’d have a bitch of a time proving it, and this conversation would be inadmissible because I haven’t read you your rights. Now talk. Why did you bury your sister?”
“It’s a werewolf tradition. If someone we love is killed. You bury them and mark their grave with a spiral to show that . . . you’ll avenge them.”
“And you plan on doing that how exactly?” Tom asks, and Derek shrugs. “I assume you plan on finding the alpha and killing them,” he continues, and Derek shifts uncomfortably, “which isn’t going to fly, legally speaking.”
“But Dad,” Stiles speaks up again, “I know you’re all like a lawman and stuff, but you can’t just put an alpha in jail. A prison cell wouldn’t even hold a regular werewolf, let alone an alpha.”
Derek blinks at Stiles, clearly surprised that the teenager is on his side. He clears his throat as he sees Tom’s eyes narrow. “He’s right. And any attempt to catch the alpha would only result in a lot of cops being killed.”
“Yeah, which is why I ask how you intend to do it,” Tom says. “I don’t see you coming out of that fight a lot better, to be honest.”
“It’s none of your business,” Derek says. “I don’t have to answer to you. He murdered my sister. I’ll find a way.”
Tom regards him in silence for a long minute before he decides to change the subject. “Why is the alpha trying to call me out? What does that mean?”
“Just what it sounds like.” Derek settles back into his chair, jaw setting into a mulish expression. “But don’t ask me why he’s doing it, because I don’t know.”
“Do you know anything?” Stiles asks.
Derek’s scowl becomes even more ferocious. “No, okay? No, I don’t. All I know is that my sister was murdered and whoever killed her stole her power and is using it to hurt innocent people. That’s it. That’s all I know. Are you fucking happy now?”
Tom winces, and Stiles’ jaw sags a little. “Whoa, dude, I didn’t mean – ”
“Never mind. Whatever.” Derek pushes back from the table.
“Derek,” Tom says, also standing up. “I meant it when I said you can stay here. I don’t want you staying in that house, it isn’t safe – ”
Derek snarls at him.
Tom doesn’t flinch. “At least let me loan you a sleeping bag and a tent, if you don’t want to sleep on the sofa.”
At this, Derek slumps back into the chair. “No,” he mumbles. “I’ll stay.”
~ ~ ~ ~