Author: Subtlynice PM
A conversation with Tori leads Derek to believe that maybe... just maybe he has a chance. A missing moment from The Awakening – what happened when Derek brought Chloe hair dye. Chloe/Derek.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Derek S. & Tori - Words: 2,954 - Reviews: 45 - Favs: 57 - Follows: 10 - Published: 11-28-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5541457
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This series doesn't get nearly enough love. Anyone who hasn't read Kelley Armstrong's snarky, scary Darkest Powers triology had better go out and buy themselves a copy of The Summoning now - or I'll set an angry Derek on them. Capiche?
This missing moment takes place between chapters twenty-five and twenty-six of The Awakening. Because there's not nearly enough Derek POV missing moment fics out there. Enjoy.
The alley I found was dark even in the mid-morning light. It stank too – mould grew on one wall, where a leaky tap dripped steadily down the bricks. A grimy dustbin lay on its side, remnants of month-old rubbish still littering the ground around the rim. Aside from the bin and an empty cardboard box, it was deserted.
Completely abandoned. It was perfect. I turned to find Chloe scrunching up her nose in distaste. Apparently even her weaker senses had picked up on the stench of this place. But at least any remaining living scents had long since disappeared.
"Right. I'll be off now. Stay here," I told her.
She glanced around and then slumped down onto the soggy upturned cardboard box. She sighed, almost indiscernibly. To an ordinary human, anyway.
"Oh, nothing. I love dank alleys," she said, feigning enthusiasm. "What a lovely spot. You really know how to impress a girl."
I grit my teeth together. This was hardly the time to think of aesthetics. Chloe didn't usually care about such things, so I knew she was just trying to pick a fight. She was still angry with me.
"It's safe. Just stay here and you'll be fine."
I couldn't help but feel a little resentful of Simon – the perfect spot I'd found yesterday was obviously on Chloe's mind. The sunrise over the rooftops. I'd known as soon as I'd seen it that Chloe would love the view. It was just like a backdrop from one of her movie sets. But I couldn't show it to her. That was Simon's job. She would need to speak to him anyway, to tell him about the knife attack and let him comfort her. Simon, not me. I had enough problems recalling that alley... my anger, how I'd thrown the girl, the nearly-fatal throw almost mirroring my mistake last year...
Yep. Chloe had to talk to someone, and it had to be Simon. I'd made the suggestion and found the spot, but she didn't need to know that.
"The alley from yesterday was more enclosed," she said to herself.
"And we all know how well that turned out, don't we?"
"I'm just saying, it might be safer somewhere a little more – "
"There're no fresh scents here. I told you, it's fine. Just. Don't. Move."
"You know, I've kept my head down and done as I'm told up until now, but I'm starting to think that Tori's got a point."
"You. Ordering us around. I know you're only doing it to protect us, but Derek, it's broad daylight. Really, what do you think is going to happen to me if I move an inch?"
"We're not going to find out," I warned her.
I frowned. She looked innocent enough, but this was Chloe. She looked angelic, but regardless of what she claimed, she wasn't exactly reliable when it came to doing as she was told.
I glanced at my watch. We didn't have time for this. I wasn't keen to get in another row with Chloe. We'd been fighting enough lately. I shrugged my shoulders, rolled my eyes and walked away, not looking back at her as I barked out my final order.
"Yep," she called, and then muttered "good dog" to herself when she obviously thought I was out of earshot. I grinned, despite myself, and speeded up.
Simon and Tori had headed off to the library just half an hour ago. More research. I knew it was a hopeless case. We couldn't sit around here in Buffalo just waiting to get caught. We needed to get out – to find Andrew, and then hopefully, find Dad, if he was still –
No. I couldn't let myself think that. Dad would sort it all out. He had to.
I crossed the road, still keeping all of my senses on red alert as I did so. There were fresh scents now that I moved closer to the high street shops and civilisation, but still nothing but Chloe behind me. Good. That girl was a danger magnet. I doubted she'd even manage to make it through a few hours alone in an abandoned alley without stumbling across a new ghost or a dodgy street urchin. She was far from the scared little necromancer girl I'd painted her as for Simon, but she still seemed to attract danger. The quicker we got her out of Buffalo, the better.
I crossed the street and found myself on a main road, with rundown newsagent stores and boarded-up windows taking up most of the street. Knowing that the library was close by, I started scouring the area for Simon's scent, glancing at the headline on the paper stall in front of the newsagents as I did so.
MISSING GIRL SPOTTED.
I did a double-take. Chloe's bright eyes stared out at me from a fuzzy black-and-white picture underneath the ominous heading.
I dived for the paper and scanned the article quickly. Nothing much. But wait – I was mentioned. A "large dark-haired man" yelling at a younger girl... that had to be me. This was my fault. I'd lost my temper and shouted at Chloe last night, and now we were in trouble again. Front page news again. Great.
"Hey, kid. You paying for that, or what?"
I fished out a few coins and dropped them hastily down on the man's palm, then ran, my mind working fast. Simon would have to see this. It was an annoyance, but perhaps it could work to our advantage – it was an incentive to persuade him into action, at least. I knew that Simon cared enough about Chloe to want to act the hero. And I'd let him.
The library was only a few minutes away now. I could see it from where I stood – though that could have been more because of my heightened senses than actual distance. I knew that the reasonable thing to do would be to go straight to Simon and discuss what needed to be done. But glancing down at Chloe's photo again, a prickling jolt of fear ran through me. I didn't want to waste any time. Chloe was in danger – again. And she needed to be saved. But first, she needed to be hidden.
With my mind made up, I crossed the road and headed into a small pharmacy. Beauty products were displayed in one window. I'd noticed that Chloe didn't wear much make-up – just lip gloss and occasionally mascara. She always looked natural.
But now, she needed to look different. Less conspicuous. The trouble was, even in her dull grey hoodies, Chloe stood out.
Or maybe she just stood out to me.
I shoved that thought away pretty quickly. Right now, that was unimportant. What I needed to do was hide her. I looked again at the bright, smiling picture in the newspaper. What was it that made her stand out? Her most conspicuous feature... her eyes, perhaps? I'd never seen eyes so blue.
I frowned. Something about the picture wasn't right. It didn't match the Chloe I knew. I scanned the article again. Some woman had identified her based not on the photo, but on the description her father had given the police. Blonde hair, red highlights.
That was it: her hair. The picture was old – either that, or Chloe's highlights were pretty recent. But her light blonde hair stood out even without red. It was just so... Chloe. And it needed to be hidden. Keeping her hood up wasn't enough of a disguise anymore.
She'd have to dye her hair. I headed to the cosmetics aisle of the shop. Bright, colourful products greeted me. Almost all of them were pink, and I felt considerably out of my depth. Having grown up with just a few wolves and later, a father and a brother, I knew nothing about women's beauty products. I glared at the stupid, unhelpful displays as I scanned the aisle.
There was a red hair-dye. Chloe liked red, I knew. She already had those red streaks. But we were trying to hide her. To make her different.
But as I scanned the different colours, from the cheap, bland boxes to the glossy, expensive dye bottles, I knew I was at a loss. Somehow, all of the colours seemed so very... Chloe. The red of her treasured amulet, brown like the mud from the crawl space, even an absurd green hair-dye reminded me of the Gap hoodie she'd taken from Lyle House. Nothing seemed to –
The far row of colours stopped me in my tracks.
Of course. Black. It was dull and dreary, as far from Chloe as any colour could possibly be. Perfect. I reached for the cheapest bottle.
"Cosmetics, Derek? Really?"
I jumped, then scowled as Tori's scent wafted towards me, bringing the brat in question in tow. I ignored her arrival and turned back to the hair-dye.
"Thinking about getting a makeover? You could really do with one, of course – "
"Tori, why are you here?" I asked her. "I'm sure you'd prefer to go bug Simon."
She scowled. "But Simon wouldn't really want me bugging him, would he?"
"And what makes you think I would?"
"Hey, I didn't know you'd be here. The library just wasn't my scene. And it's not as if I thrive on your fabulous company either, you know."
"So run along then." I made a shooing gesture.
She scowled. "It's a free country. At least I have a reason to be here." She spun past me and reached for a lip gloss. She glanced around the empty aisle and then slid it up her sleeve in a deft movement.
I raised an eyebrow.
"What?" She asked. "We're low on funds, right? And I doubt you'd want to spend your money on my lip gloss. Plus, I've always kind of wanted to try that. My mom – "
But then she broke off suddenly, as if remembering who she was confiding in.
"Just so long as you don't expect the rest of us to shoplift," I said, knowing full well that I couldn't stop her. Besides, if Tori was caught, it would make my life a lot easier. Then Chloe wouldn't feel obligated to put up with her.
"Sure thing," she said, in a surprisingly cheery voice. "So, you're not seriously buying any of this stuff, are you?"
"Oh," she said. A beat, and then; "Your hair isn't really the problem. Well, it is, but you need to work on your face too, and then think about – "
"It's not for me," I told her shortly.
"Oh. Then who?"
"Oh. Wait – what?!"
I let out a deep breath in frustration, trying to calm myself down before I did something I'd really regret. And then I said, "Here. Look."
I shoved the paper in her face. Tori examined it closely.
"Huh. Cute picture."
I growled. "Yeah, but that's not really the issue right now – "
"But you agree?" Tori let out a childish giggle, clapping a hand over her mouth in surprise. The room was suddenly much hotter. To my utter astonishment, I felt myself blush.
"What?" I asked dumbly. "No. I mean... focus, Tori! Chloe was spotted. Spotted! We need to disguise her, make sure she's – "
"Chloe this, Chloe that," Tori interrupted. "You know, for a guy who barely speaks a word to anyone but his brother... you sure do love to talk about Chloe, don't you, Derek?"
I glared at her.
"What are you saying, Tori? Why don't you just spit it out?"
She grinned, raising herself up to her full height. Though the top of her head still barely reached my shoulders, the gleam in her eye threw me off for a second. She looked... calculating.
"I'm just saying... sweet little girl like Chloe, it's expected that she'll have hoards of admirers gallivanting around after her, waiting to rescue the poor damsel-in-distress. But you... you're not really the knight-in-shining-armour type, are you, Derek?"
I looked away, hands curled into fists, only to be met with my reflection. A mirror hung on one of the cosmetic-testing booths. I glared at it. Lank, greasy hair. Pale, sallow skin. Angry red acne. Sure, I knew I was no prince. But it didn't really do wonders for my ego whenever my looks were brought up in conversation.
"Stop insinuating that I – " I began, but stopped. We were on the run – it would do no good to get into a fight with Tori here, in the middle of a public place. Already, a few lone shoppers had begun to stare. I glared at them and they fled.
"Look, can we get back to the issue at hand, here?" I growled. "Chloe needs a disguise. Hair-dye at the very least. I'll buy one of these. You go back to Simon and show him the paper."
"Why, so Simon can moon over her cute picture too?" Tori responded, scathingly, but I ignored her, dumping the black hair-dye into a basket.
"No no no!" Tori screeched, yanking the basket away from me suddenly. "What are you trying to do to the poor girl? This stuff is disgusting; it'll make her bald before she's twenty!"
"I'm pretty sure that's impossible," I muttered, but Tori ignored me, dropping the cheap hair-dye back onto its shelf as if it had scalded her hand.
"If you want Chloe to keep her pretty blonde locks once all this is over, you're going to have to go for something a little more up-market."
"You mean expensive."
"I mean quality."
"Tori, we don't have money to spare. This isn't about giving Chloe a makeover. It's about hiding her."
"At least with this, she can hide in style," Tori said with a grin, shoving a bright pink, way-too-expensive bottle in my face.
"I could always..." She glanced from side to side and mimed hiding the bottle under her coat.
"No," I said again. "Definitely not."
She snorted. "A delinquent werewolf on the run, and you still hang on to your morals."
"Listen Tori," I said, finally snapping. "I don't care what you do. You can trail around after us to make yourself feel needed. You can shoplift to spite your mother, who really couldn't care less anyway. But don't get the rest of us involved. You're not doing this for Chloe. You're doing this for yourself."
Tori's eyes hardened, all traces of humour gone. She sighed, throwing her hands up in the air. "Fine. I give up. I was trying to be nice, trying to help, but you have it your way. Buy the cheap stuff. She'll be crying on my shoulder by the end of the day."
I couldn't help but laugh at that. The thought of Chloe bonding with Tori over hair-dye was just so ridiculous.
Tori looked shocked. Had I never laughed in front of Tori before? Probably not, I realised. I was always on edge lately. I'd hardly smiled since Simon and I had reached Lyle House. Not that I'd ever smiled much before that...
Maybe Simon was right. Maybe I did need to loosen up a little. Especially where Chloe was concerned...
I tried to shake that thought off, but Tori was still looking at me.
"What?" I asked her, abruptly on edge.
Tori was silent for a moment. When she spoke, it was with a quiet tone I'd never heard her use before. "For what it's worth," she said contemplatively, "I don't think Chloe's the damsel-in-distress type of girl, either."
She shook her head. "Never mind," she declared, snapping into business-like action. "We should be getting back to her. You get the dye. Go ahead and show her the newspaper. I'll get Simon and tell him we're almost ready to go back now. You can fill him in when we get there."
She paused, then pulled the lip gloss from her sleeve and set it back on the counter. Then she smiled, almost nervously, and walked towards the door without another word.
I watched her walk away with confusion. Had Tori meant... what I thought she meant? About Chloe... and me?
A bubble of hope rose in my chest – something I'd never felt before now.
Either way, I thought, it's never going to happen.
A/N: Since I'm not expecting much response to this story, any and all reviews will be very welcome. :)
Anonymous reviewing is accepted too. And yes, this will remain a one-shot.