Derek sat silently on the steps leading to the second floor. He flipped to the next page of the book resting on his knee. He was trying desperately to ignore the less than subtle planning going on in the living room. Scott's inside voice was would have been audible without supernatural hearing.

"I'm just saying, he can't take all of us at the same time," Scott said.

Scott's anger and concern were almost choking; the scent practically obliterated what everyone else was feeling. Derek closed his eyes, tried to think of all the ways he'd keep himself from hurting the beta too badly if he got close. Derek wasn't in the mood to be challenged.

"I think that he can. Unless you have a better idea than letting Derek beat us all until we roll over in submission, I think you should just sit down." Lydia stared Scott down, waited until the upset werewolf sat down on the couch next to Allison before going back to filing her nails.

Derek didn't smile, but he wanted to. Lydia was far more aware of the balance of power in the room than any of the others seemed to be. Scott's heart was in the right place, he just didn't know that it wasn't the right time.

"I could try to distract him, lead him away?" Jackson offered. The blonde nodded at Scott.

Derek admired that Jackson was willing to stand by a member of his pack. It wouldn't stop him from stomping the newest werewolf into the floor if he tried.

"I don't think that will work since I'm almost positive he can hear you guys." Allison said. She patted Scott's leg consolingly.

Derek sighed, turned to the next page of his book. Why couldn't the two girls have been the werewolves? His pack suffered from a distinct lack of brainpower, especially with Stiles down for the count, still resting upstairs. At least the plan that Stiles would have come up with would have made him laugh inside instead of roll his eyes.

"I just want to make sure that Stiles is okay," Scott said.

"I know you do, but maybe Derek is right and we just need to give him some space." Allison told Scott as she laid a restraining hand on his arm. Tension drained out of Scott's shoulders and neck, he slumped down further into the couch.

'Good girl,' Derek thought. He didn't want to wash blood out of any more clothes, especially since he hadn't gotten any sleep. His patience was balanced on the edge of a knife. When Stiles was ready to face the pack again he would come down. He had a right to feel the way that he did, but knowing the teenager's sense of compassion, he would feel incredible remorse at the things that he had said, even if many of them had been accurate.

"Stiles's dad called me," Scott told the other teenagers, "he said he was worried because he called Stiles yesterday, but he didn't answer. I told him everything was fine, but at the time I was worried because we didn't know where he was."

"I'm sure Stiles will call his dad when he wakes up" Allison said, "for all we know Stiles is doing that right now."

Derek glanced at Scott as the beta shook his head.

"No, he woke up a little while ago, he hasn't called anyone. I'd have heard him talking. He just spent the last fifteen minutes-"

Scott cut off at Derek's warning growl. It was one thing to be aware of what his friend was doing; it was another thing for Scott to blab that Stiles had been crying again. That wouldn't help the situation at all.

Scott glared at him, but looked away after they locked eyes for a few moments. The young beta was a spirited guy, which was good sometimes. Other times it made Derek want to strangle him.

"Spent the last fifteen minutes doing what?" Lydia asked. She glanced at the hallway at the top of the stairs, twisted her fingers in her lap.

"Nothing," Jackson said before Scott could open his mouth.

Derek caught the newest beta's gaze and nodded. Jackson was picking the dynamics up a lot faster than Scott. Hell, Stiles, Lydia, and even Allison were picking up everything faster than Scott. Derek would never admit it to them, but sometimes he wished it had been Stiles that had gotten bitten by his uncle. It wasn't that Scott was bad at being a werewolf; it was that sometimes he didn't want to be a werewolf at all.

Derek turned to the next page of his book, but he couldn't focus. His brain was flooded with thoughts of the teenager who was fighting a battle against his own emotions upstairs. Stiles was strong. Derek was sure he would be fine, and stronger than ever having faced his feelings. He closed the book with more force than was strictly necessary. All the teenagers in the living room jumped at the sudden noise.

He felt like a hypocrite, commending Stiles for the strength to face what was inside him when Derek wasn't willing to do the same thing. There were times when he thought this new thing growing inside of him was going to get out of his control. Laura was the one who was meant to be the Alpha, not his uncle, not him. In a way he wondered if his struggle was similar to what bitten wolves had to go through. He knew they had to fight harder to learn things that came naturally to those who were born wolves.

Laura…

She'd been so strong. She kept them alive when everyone else in their family had been killed. He missed her, thinking about what had happened to her made him angry. Fury boiled up; he felt the burn under his skin. The Alpha form struggled to be allowed to vent its rage. The room reeked with the smell of fear. He glanced at the rest of the pack, eyes burning crimson orbs.

Lydia looked like she wanted to bolt, blood drained from her skin. Scott moved between Derek and Allison, crouched low to the ground. His eyes were alight with amber energy. Jackson twitched in place, dropped his face into his hands. His mouth fell open, his fangs extended. He shook his head as he struggled with the sudden flare of anger from Derek. Allison's eyes scanned the room for an escape route.

With years of practice at controlling his emotions Derek reeled in the beast, forced it back down into his chest. It was harder now, harder even than when he first had to learn to control himself, but he was the Alpha now. That meant that he had to be the Alpha, had to master it, had to use it to protect his new pack. He wouldn't let anything happen to them, would protect them, even if that meant he'd have to protect them from himself sometimes.

He closed his eyes, took a few more deep breaths. He cracked the book open again. It wasn't the same page he'd been looking at before. It didn't matter; it was just to distract him. Slowly the tension eased out of the room.

"I feel like an ass," Scott said.

"I never meant to take you away from him," Allison took Scott's hand, gently stroked her fingers over his knuckles. "I just, I was falling in love. I wasn't thinking about anything else."

Scott smiled at her; Derek hoped that Allison and Scott worked out with a far better ending than he and Kate had. He realized his mistake as soon as the thought crossed his mind. The Alpha Wolf was back, stalking the edges of his control, trying to hamstring it, bring it down. The wolf wanted out. It wanted him to give in. He ground his teeth, focused on the pack's conversation.

"I never really knew how he felt until Prom," Lydia confided to the others, "I mean I just always thought he was a little weird. I didn't mean to hurt him, not as badly as I have. He's probably the kindest guy I've ever gone on a date with."

Jackson bowed his head, but didn't say anything at first. He ran a hand over the back of his neck, stared out the glass doors that led to the beach. "It's not like I want to be a dick," Jackson said to himself more than anyone else, "it's just… I'm supposed to be this person, this specific person who acts a specific way. I've got to do better than everyone else because that's what people expect from me." The young werewolf took a shaky breath, "I guess I just… I just don't always see who I'm stepping on to get to the finish line first."

Derek watched Lydia's reaction more than he watched Jackson's admission. She was guiltier than almost anyone of pushing Jackson to be like that. She had her own reasons. Derek didn't know what they were, but both of them had been changed by their exposure to Scott and Stiles, each in their own way.

Lydia's emotional transformation had been more complete than the physical one that Jackson struggled with. She had been shown true compassion and unconditional caring from Stiles, she had almost died. Those things changed a person. She was struggling; he could see it in her eyes. He thought they all could.

"I should have done more though," Scott insisted, "I'm going to do more."

Derek hoped he held to that, it would do Scott some good to take better stock of the good things in his life besides Allison. One person couldn't be another person's whole world, no matter how strong Allison was. She'd crack under that pressure, anyone would.

The Alpha heard Stiles start to move in the room upstairs. He knew that if Stiles was confronted by all of them at the same time he may panic and bolt. Scott and Jackson froze as well when they heard the noise; the two females quickly picked up on the sudden tension.

"This is what all of you are going to do…" Derek said. This time, more than any other time in the past he meant it, and the unblinking gazes of the four teenagers locked on his told him that they understood that this was not something to challenge him on.

The Alpha was the Alpha because he or she made the plans that would benefit the pack, because the pack was more important than the individual. The Alpha helped keep everyone aligned toward one goal, on one course of action. He laid out their course of action, and for once, the teenagers seemed to be listening to him.