Disclaimer: Obviously I own nothing, or I'd be making Chloe/Derek canon.

Written in one hour, and unbeta'd. Any mistakes you find are my own, and I ask that you please point them out in a kind manner.


Things were busy now, as people gathered at the safehouse Mr. Carson had taken them to. Friends were reunited after years while plans were being made, and Chloe felt slightly overwhelmed by it all. She wasn't familiar with this world, with these people. Derek and Simon recognized a few of the people as supernaturals their father had introduced them to, and they were busy helping with the planning and catching up anyone that had recently shown up. She felt alone and uncomfortably shy, aware that she knew less than any of the other people here. For the first time, she wished she had been raised among the supernatural community.

But she couldn't complain -- these people were busy trying to put an end to the Edison Group and their terrible experiments, and she refused to be a burden. She was tempted to go find Tori and stick with her, but Chloe didn't feel up to dealing with her barbed tongue. As vulnerable as she was feeling, one sharp comment from the other teenage girl would probably send her into a sobbing fit. She wanted to help, really she did...but she was aware that there wasn't really anything she could do. She wasn't formally trained and had little control over her power -- to go into battle against the Edison Group was foolish.

So Chole sat in a corner and watched, fetching food and drink when it was needed and staying out of everyone's way when there was nothing to do. Even with her mostly sitting around, she still fell into bed each night exhausted. She watched Simon laughing with a young man around his age as they playfully wrestled one another in the yard while the adults stood around and talked, catching up on what they had been spending their time doing. There seemed to be such camaraderie between everyone; like a force field that a newbie like her could never break into. Chloe brushed a lock of dark hair out of her field of vision and briefly wondered where Derek was. She wouldn't go look for him. He was finally among other werewolves that were willing to sit down and talk to him, and she wouldn't take his attention away from soaking up all the information he can from those more knowledgeable than himself.

Sighing, she stood and drifted through the house, politely responding to people's greetings and smiling in acknowledgment when someone waved to her. She ended up in the back of the house, where the study was. It was a medium sized room, though it was made to seem smaller by the large desk in the middle of it and the huge, leather chair behind it. The walls were crammed with bookshelves, the only break from them where the single window and the fireplace was located. There was a small lamp on the desk, which she turned on as she moved around the desk to settle into the chair. The murmur of human voices was distant in here -- she could almost pretend she was at home, listening as her father entertained a business partner. Almost. Thoughts about her Aunt and her current life kept intruding, demanding attention. With no one around to distract her, she returned to mulling over the chances that her aunt was still alive.

It could have been an illusion. Her aunt seemed to be somebody important in the organization anyway -- but would the Edison Group really forgive her for helping Chloe escape? Perhaps. But even if they did, they wouldn't let her return to her usual duties. She was a risk now, and Chloe had the horrible thought that she was locked up somewhere, possibly drugged. If they were going to have a confrontation (a word much more calming than "attack") with the Edison Group, would her Aunt be injured? Would one of the people currently just down the hall from her treat her aunt as one of those callous scientists who hid behind the claim of making supernaturals "better"?

Chloe bit her lip. It was a scary thought. These people had lost loved ones to that group; some had even been experimented on by themselves. They weren't likely to show mercy, especially if her aunt had been a willing participant until it was her own niece in danger. Maybe she could ask Derek to protect her? It was unlikely he would. She just couldn't picture him jumping in front of his father's friends and associates, demanding that her aunt be allowed to live.

Of course, that only worked if her aunt was even still alive. She could be dead, and all the assurances that it had been an illusion could only be delaying the inevitable realization. If her aunt was dead, what would she do? Tears stung Chloe's eyes, but she stubbornly held them back. She wouldn't cry, not now. When everything was all over, then she'd mourn her aunt. She needed to be strong, as strong as Simon and Derek, who were also facing the possible death of a relative.

"Chloe, what are you doing?"

She jumped and banged her elbow on the desk as she jerked her arm to cover her chest protectively. Derek stood framed by the doorway, his face impassive as he stared at her. She opened her mouth to answer, but couldn't really think of a response. The teenage boy stepped into the room and closed the door softly behind him. He stood there for a second, and a flicker of uncertainty crossed his face, but it was gone before she could blink.

"Are you alright?" The words seemed to burst forth suddenly, and even Derek looked surprised to hear them. He generally wasn't good with people, and nearly crying people even less -- or so Chloe imagined. She blinked back the tears that were still lingering and nodded.

"Yeah, I'm fine. A little overwhelmed, but that's not too surprising." She said. Derek nodded and took a seat in one of the chairs on the other side of the desk.

"Everyone is very impressed with how well you've done," he said quietly. "Most people would take the news they were a necromancer with a little less acceptance than you, let alone...everything else."

She smiled, pleased despite her down mood. "I'm glad. I've done what I could, though I still feel more of a burden than a help."

Derek shrugged. "You did enough. I was grateful to have you along, especially when I was changing." Chloe couldn't help but think he looked sort of cute sitting there with a slight dusting of pink coloring the bridge of his nose and his cheeks. He was blushing, and she wanted to go and give him a hug so badly.

"Thank you," She said sincerely. "That means a lot to me." Derek nodded and tapped one finger on the arm of the chair. A nervous gesture, maybe? Or maybe an annoyed one.

"So what are you doing in here?" He asked.

"Oh, I was just thinking. You know, about the plan of attack and...and everything."

"You mean you were thinking about your aunt." It wasn't a question, and she felt herself flushing red, which really said everything.

"It was probably just an illusion. They know how you feel about her, so they wanted to use her to lure you to them."

"Why not just have my aunt come along in person?"

Derek shook his head. "She helped you escape once -- they aren't stupid. She isn't likely to willingly help you get captured again." Chloe nodded; she thought the same thing, but she had been hoping...she sniffed a little and fought agains the irritating burn in her eyes that spoke of tears. She didn't want to cry in front of him. Though he didn't mean to say harsh things, sometimes they escaped his mouth before he thought about them. Which meant that everything he said was honest and only made it hurt all the more when he said she had done something stupid.

Which really wasn't helping her tears go away. They spilled over her cheeks and tickled as they slid down. Chloe hid her face in the crook of her arm, careful not to let Derek see her face.

"I'm just so worried," she said, and was proud to hear her voice shake only a little. "I want Aunt Lauren to be okay, but I know there's a good chance she isn't. And you and Simon are going to insist on fighting with the others, and what if you get hurt? I couldn't stand that. I don't want anybody to get hurt, but this isn't like the movies where only certain people are at risk for dying. Everyone can die, it doesn't matter if they're the hero or the quirky sidekick."

There was the soft sound of clothing rubbing against cloth, and then a second later Derek's large hand was resting on her shoulder, squeezing in gently. She lifted her head a little to peek up at him, and he looked so lost and out of his depth that she couldn't stop the small giggle from escaping. He really was a cute boy, she thought. Maybe not all that much physically, but he was consistent and up front about who he was, and so smart. There was no way she could have made it this far on her own. And he was funny too, as she learned on her trek to Mr. Carson's house. He was strong -- he had protected her, bandaged her wounds. They had laughed together, and exchanged personal experiences with one another. She knew things about him that nobody but Simon knew, and truthfully...that made her feel special. A good special, not like the one where she discovered she was a supernatural with powers far beyond what she should have at her age.

Chloe reached out and rested her fingertips on Derek's hand. A small noise of surprise escaped the boy's mouth, but he didn't remove his hand.

"Derek...." she murmured, unsure of what she was doing. She felt all soft and warm, and safe too. She was comfortable with him, and though she was a little afraid of him when he lost his temper, she wasn't so afraid she wouldn't stand up to him. He made her feel different than any boy had before. She liked it...she liked him. Chloe slid her hand over his until her entire hand was covering his, and then curled her fingers around his palm, tucking them under as he continued to touch her shoulder. She liked it when he touched her. He was so gentle.

That soft, warm feeling was intensifying. She felt sort of weird...almost like she was sick really. Her heart was pounding and her skin felt flushed, and she felt this overwhelming urge to snuggle up to him and fall asleep. She lifted her head out of the crook of her arm a little more and watched as Derek stared at her hand holding his. His eyes were a little wide and his lips were trembling, like he longed to say something but couldn't get his voice box to work. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze and his eyes flew from their hands to her face. His expression was carefully neutral and she had no idea what he was thinking.

Not that she ever could. Couldn't he be open about what he was feeling just once? She'd love to see him knocked for a loop.

It was probably that last thought that made her do it, as well as the gooey feeling in her chest. But she tightened her grip on his hand and leaned forward, pressing her lips against his in an inexperienced kiss. The feeling of his lips touching hers sent a jolt through her, and she pressed against him more. She wasn't sure what to do now, but she was sure Derek didn't know either. Anyway, it didn't matter -- she liked how this felt and she didn't regret doing it. She pressed her lips against his with a little more force before pulling away, but she still didn't let go of his hand. Probably a good thing too, because the werewolf looked like he wanted to bolt out the door. The kiss hadn't been that bad had it? She had never kissed before, but she didn't think he had either, and ---

"Chloe," Derek said slowly, his voice deep and rumbling in his chest. "What was that?"

Feeling very nervous, she nonetheless managed to quirk an eyebrow at him. "I think that's called a kiss, Derek." Even with her tight hold, he managed to jerk his hand away. He was much stronger than she was, naturally. She fought to not let her disappointment show at the loss of contact.

"Why would you do that? What about Simon?" He asked, his voice trembling. He ran a hand through his hair and took up pacing around the room, carefully avoiding looking at her. She would feel really dumb if he wasn't still red in the face and reaching up to touch his lips ever few seconds with a shaking hand.

"What about Simon?" It was odd how calm she felt. "I never agreed to date him, and he hasn't said anything about wanting me."

"He shouldn't have to! It's obvious! He...all the comforting and the hand holding...he doesn't do that with just anybody!" Derek snapped. Chloe fought not to keep that weird calm that had filled her only moments before.

"Well I...Simon's great." Chloe said lamely. "But I couldn't help but feel that you --"

"That I what?" Derek snapped. "Like you? Well, maybe I do. But I would never take Simon's girl away from him." He spun toward her suddenly, his eyes bright with anger. "Unless you've just been teasing him? Or trying to make me jealous? Is that it, Chloe? Or maybe you wanted to see two guys fight over you."

Well now she was angry. Was he accusing her of being a tramp? "What is your problem?! No, I haven't been leading Simon on or trying to make you jealous. I didn't know what I felt. I like you both! Simon's really sweet and you're...you know, good too." God, couldn't she think of something better to say than that? "I thought...I don't know what I thought. I acted on instinct! I wanted to kiss you, and I did. I've never wanted to kiss Simon!"

Derek swallowed. "You can't just...switch between the two of us. It has to be one or the other. No, that's not right. It should be Simon. You're just confused and scared and overwhelmed. Once you calm down, you'll see that Simon is the right choice for you."

"Why? Why is he the right choice and not you?" Chloe cried.

"Because he's a nice guy, and not likely to hurt you! He wouldn't throw you against the wall if you made him angry!"

"Both times you did that you were protecting someone! You wouldn't hurt me."

Derek laughed, a harsh sound that didn't sound happy at all. "Would I? Would I, Chloe? Even I don't know what I'd do. I can't...I would rather die than hurt either of you. But I can't control myself, I just stop thinking."

Chloe forced to keep her voice down. "But you have all these werewolves around you. Couldn't one of them help you learn control? How have they managed to get by if they didn't know what they were doing?"

The werewolf stared at her, at a loss for words. He seemed unable to come up with a response to that. Eventually he seemed to think of something, because he opened his mouth to speak. "It's true I could learn control from one of them. But even if I did, Simon likes you. It'd hurt him if you and I got together, especially since he knows that I know how he feels about you. I would much rather the two of you be happy together. And you would be."

"And just leave you to be alone for the rest of your life?" Chloe snapped. Tears were stinging her eyes again, but she ignored it.

"There...there's someone out there for me," Derek said, his voice unsure. "Out of everyone in the world, there has to be."

"Doesn't that work the other way too? There's bound to be someone out there for Simon. He's good-looking and smart and sweet. He even managed to get someone like Tori in love with him!" She felt bad for saying that, but she needed to get her point across. "If he loves you, he wouldn't stand in our way. He'd be happy that you found someone who likes you the way you are!"

"I couldn't be happy knowing I had taken the one my brother likes away from him. I just...he's always stood by me. I won't be the one to do that to him." Derek said, his tone sad. He started to back away, and Chloe knew if he left the room she'd never get him alone again. So she followed, and threw herself at the door when Derek opened it. It slammed shut, and she glared up at him with as much anger as she could.

"Derek Souza," She snapped. "I have been through hell these past couple of weeks. I've been told I was a schizophrenic, a necromancer. I've seen a werewolf change -- not once, but twice -- and I've been shot at, nearly stabbed, and betrayed by a precious family member. I've finally found a boy that I like that likes me back, and you are not leaving this room. Simon would not begrudge you one thing that makes you happy! He cares about you. How do you think he'd feel if he found out you liked me and he took you from me? He'd be no more pleased than you are now! I like you, I want to be with you. I don't understand why my heart decided to like you more than Simon, but I know that's how I feel. How could you think I'd be happy with him the entire time my heart is telling me that I should be with you? All you're doing is setting Simon and I up for heartache!"

Chloe panted from her speech. She wasn't used to putting so much emotion into what she was saying, but she knew she had to get him to stay. And staying he was; he seemed to shocked to move, really. She reached up and touched his jaw. She didn't see a boy who was covered in acne and smelly, she saw a stubborn, quiet, intelligent guy who lacked in enough common sense to know that you can't just shut your heart down like that. She stood on tip toes and managed to reach his bottom lip, which she kissed gently.

"I want you," she whispered, and then wrapped her arms around him and hugged him. A shiver ran through his body and he pulled her close, his chin resting on the top of her head. It felt nice, being wrapped up in his arms. Safe and warm, and she clung to that feeling, which had been so rare recently. Eventually they had to step back, and now both their faces were pink and Chloe couldn't stop fidgeting. She cleared her throat and shuffled her feet, but was at a loss of words. What more could they say?

Derek sighed and reached down to gently clasp her hand into his bigger one. "So...we tell Simon?"

She nodded. "As soon as possible. I don't want him to think we've been hiding it from him,"

The werewolf frowned. He looked scared, and Chloe knew it was because he didn't want his brother and best friend hating him. She squeezed his hand and snuggled up against him. "It'll be fine, he'll understand."

Simon had apparently knew all along what his brother was feeling, and though he was disappointed he and Chloe weren't going to ever get together, he was happy for them nonetheless.

The next day, the war on the Edison Group officially began.


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