I think this chapter contains the longest Gracie/Derek scene. GRANTED, nothing romantic. /cough/yet/cough/. But yeah. Currently, I'm working on chapter twenty... and I'm thinking the mid-twenties are when things are going to pick up a bit. Maybe. I don't know. ANYWAY. I hope you guys enjoy this! :D

This was what she lived for. Feeling the wind flow through her hair, feeling the earth beneath her sneakers, relishing in the burning sensation in her lungs that reminded her just how alive she was, the tense muscles of her thighs tightening more and more with each move, her abs stinging as the muscle was strained, and the happy albeit tired pants that were directly behind her. This was what Gracie Dent lived for; the run. When the human and her pet entered the tree line of the Beacon Hills Preserve, the blonde smiled when one of her favorite songs came on and resounded through her headphones. She slowed down from her sprint to a jog, then a walk. She moved her head to the beat of Wallpapers' 'Stupidfacedd', before her body started to move to it. The dog started to bark happily and jump around her master, seemingly dancing to the song as well.

This was another thing that Gracie lived for. Bonding; whether it is with a person or an animal, Gracie has come to the realization over time that she has a way of forming strong bonds with those she comes in contact with. She cares about people, sometimes more than she should. It's gotten her into a lot of trouble at times, but she always worked it out.

Grace smiled when the song ended and she bent down onto her knees in front of Yuki. She clapped her hands and the white mass came over obediently. The blonde buried her fingers into her pets' fur and smiled as the animal jumped up and put her paws on her master's shoulders, licking her happily. She laughed and fell back onto her ass and tried to get the excited dog off of her.

"SAFETY TORCH!" Her phone screamed at her suddenly before continuing, "Put it on the porch! It's a SAFETY PORCH!" She shoved Yuki away from her and reached into her pocket before accepting the call from Britain quickly. Bentley only called her this late if she had a nightmare.

"Bee! Are you okay?" She asked worriedly into the phone. A soft laugh greeted her.

"Just a night terror." The red-head responded. A small smile crossed Gracie's lips at the sound of her cousin calling them night terrors instead of nightmares. She loved Britain, they had such cute lingo.

"Wanna talk about it?" She questioned, pulling her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arm around her knees as Yuki lay down in the fallen leaves and snuggled next to her. There was a groan on the other end of the phone, and Gracie took that as a no.

"What are you doing?" Once the Leeds accent translated to American in Gracie's head, she responded with a laugh.

"Sitting in the woods like a crazy person." She stroked Yuki's back. "Yuki's with me." She hoped that the fact that her dog-mate was with her would calm the nerves that she knew were building in her cousin.

"You're in the woods. Father told me that there have been a string of animal attacks over there lately. Do you really think it's wise to be in the woods?" Bentley sounded a bit irritated, and Gracie couldn't really blame her. She had thought of that, she really did. The blonde didn't want to be attacked and killed by the Alpha wolf that was roaming around. But she also wasn't going to put her daily routine on hold just because there was more danger involved in a meaningless task such as running.

Though, Gracie had to admit that she felt safer running in the preserve than she did anywhere else. She knew Derek spent a lot of time at his family's old home, and she knew he would be able to tell if Gracie was in the woods. She hoped that he could sense the Alpha and maybe, just maybe, be able to provide a bit of safety for the blonde. Yeah, that's what it was. Gracie felt safe in the woods because of Derek. Her face flushed slightly and she covered her cheek with her free hand.

"I think I'm probably in one of the safest places in town." She admitted out loud with a slight laugh, a small smile on her face. Bentley let out a scoff.

"I don't suppose there is any logic to your argument, is there?" The red-head questioned, a frown in her tone. The blonde rolled her eyes slightly.

"Probably not." She shrugged and stood up slowly, stretching with a slight groan. She heard her cousin sigh on the other end of the line.

"I'm going to try and go back to bed. I just…" The red-head couldn't finish the sentence. She had no problem sharing her feelings or telling people how she felt, but when it came to her appearing weak in any way, she was always hesitant. Gracie understood exactly what her cousin wanted to say.

"I know." She replied softly, smiling. "Call me if they come back, okay?" She asked softly, starting to walk deeper into the woods with Yuki following her in a trot.

"I will. Love you, Gee." Bentley's voice was thick with her accent, as it was when she was sleepy or upset.

"Love you too, Lee." She hung up after that and put her phone in her pocket. She glanced down at the dog at her side.

"I miss her too, Yuki." She ruffled the dog's head, which earned her a lick. "She's been calling an awful lot more lately." She ran a hand through her hair. "I think her nightmares are coming back in full force." She frowned.

Gracie remembered all the summer visits over to Leeds, or when her family came to California. When Bentley was younger, she went through a pretty rough situation. She was eight and was on her way home from school with the driver and her caretaker at the time. A car slammed into the front end of the car Bentley was in and it turned out to be on purpose, a distraction that ended up killing the driver of the Dent family car so the one who caused the accident could kidnap the young red-head for a hefty ransom.

Bentley was in the custody of one Nolan Gray for nearly two weeks. Gray's wife had died in one of the Dent family's hospitals and he blamed her death on the Dents', instead of the disease that really took his wife. He wanted revenge. So he went after the daughter of Gregory Dent, the head of the Dent family. They got Bentley back safe and sound, and no physical damage was done to the girl. But the mental turmoil was imbedded.

Gracie could clearly recall all the nights she spent at Bentley's bed side as she cried, trying to comfort her cousin. All Bentley could see when she closed her eyes was the car crash and then the gun being pointed at her face. The fear was still real to her, and it caused her cousin to realize just how hard being a Dent could be. Thankfully, Gracie never went through that. Her father wasn't as powerful as his elder brother.

But, dear God, Gracie would trade her life with Bentley's in an instant. If she could go back in time and be the one who got kidnapped instead of her cousin, she would. If she could spare her cousin the tears, the pain, and the fear… she would in a matter of seconds. No hesitation.

Taking a deep breath, Gracie continued her trek into the woods. She didn't want to head back home just yet. Beside her, Yuki froze in a mid-step and perked up. Gracie noticed immediately and blinked, staring at the dog for a moment.

"What, girl?" She reached out, but stopped when she heard a small growl come from her dog. She rarely ever heard Yuki growl, at least one that wasn't exactly playful. And that growl didn't sound playful. She blinked and pulled back, standing up.

"Yuki?" She asked quietly. Suddenly, Yuki darted forward and Gracie was hot on her heels. "Yuki!" She yelled after her white fuzz ball. After ducking under some branches, Gracie watched as Yuki tackled a figure to the ground and began to lick at them like it was the only way she could survive.

"No! Yuki!" Gracie ran over. "Bad dog!" She scolded, moving closer. She stopped when she saw that the person Yuki had tackled was the one and only Derek Hale. And, Gracie's face flushed and she looked away, a shirtless Derek Hale. Suddenly, Gracie snapped her fingers and scowled.

"Platz!" She yelled out into the woods. Yuki immediately stopped her kiss attack on Derek and dropped to lie on her stomach beside him. Gracie snapped her fingers once again and pointed to the ground beside her. Yuki walked over with her ears folded down and sat down obediently. Gracie walked towards Derek as he sat up. He wiped the dog saliva off his face with a scowl. Gracie held her hand out to help him up. As he accepted her hand and she helped hoist him up, she noticed the red marks on his stomach and the fact that he was breathing heavy. Something else was different too. She narrowed her eyes at him and watched him silently as he stood there, eyeing her the same way. Then she realized. There was something different in his eyes. Something she hadn't seen before.

"Are you okay?" She questioned quietly, barely a whisper. But she knew his hearing would catch it. At the sound of hearing her master's voice calm once again, Yuki trotted over and nuzzled her face into Derek's jean-clad leg affectionately. Derek made no move to stop her and seemed to actually relax a bit at the contact. Gracie couldn't help but wonder if it was an animal thing. She arched her eyebrow as she watched Derek. He had yet to respond to her question, and she couldn't help but wonder if he actually heard her. He did look pretty lost in his thoughts.

Hesitantly, she reached forward and placed her hand on his muscular forearm. It seemed to jolt him out of his stupor as well as startle him because the next thing she knew, his eyes flashed ice blue and sharp fangs were jutting from his mouth and she was shoved back a couple paces. A look of fear mixed with hurt filled her eyes as she clutched her forearm, which now had three red lines screaming at her from where his claws scratched her. Realization crossed his face and his eyes went to normal and all his wolf features left. He took a step forward.

"Grace." His voice was deep and had a trace of concern in them, his eyes zeroing in on the scratches. He sighed roughly and ran a hand through his hair, looking away from her. She watched him quietly, her eyebrows furrowed and a frown upon her face. Gracie felt a stinging in her eyes and she began to blink rapidly, feeling the tears build. She didn't want to cry. Not over something like this. They weren't deep, and they weren't bleeding too much. They stung, sure, but it wasn't a reason to cry. She didn't understand. She bit her lip and sniffed when she felt her nose start to run. Derek's green-gray eyes snapped towards her and she looked away quickly, bringing her wrist to wipe at her eyes, which had betrayed her and started to leak the clear fluid.

"I—" Derek started, but didn't really know what to say. He had just made a girl cry. What does one say to make it better? She shook her head.

"No. It's okay." She sniffed again. "I'm just a baby." She muttered with a frown. The sun was starting to go down and it was getting pretty late. She should head home. "I shouldn't have made any sudden movements." Werewolves were dangerous, she thought. Derek was the one that told her that, and now she knew how easily it was for them to hurt someone. Even if it was just a little scratch. He took a step forward again, so close that his body heat was radiating towards her. She started to move back, but his hand grabbed a hold of her wrist quickly and he examined the wound he caused.

"It'll heal pretty quickly." He was quiet, his gaze on the red lines. "I'm sorry." He was even quieter when he said that. She nodded, accepting his apology. She knew it was an accident. He was obviously in La-La Land when she went to touch him. She's thankful that he only scratched her and didn't do any more damage. Because he could have. He could have destroyed her. She shrugged, laughing it off weakly.

"It's my bad. You were obviously somewhere else." She said softly, glancing up at him. "Are you okay?" She inquired. His eyes widened slightly and he shook his head in disbelief.

"I just attacked you, and you're asking me if I'm alright?" He couldn't believe this girl. She shrugged again, pulling her arm from his grasp and rubbing her wound with her hand gently, wincing slightly.

"You looked pretty intense there for a moment." She reasoned, giving a lop-sided smile. "What were you thinking about?" She pestered him gently, not being too demanding about it. They didn't know each other too well. However, she knew that she was the only one being remotely friendly to him, so she was really the only person she knew of that he had to talk to. She didn't mind. She liked being a friend, liked helping people, and liked having a relationship, a bond, with another living thing. He watched her with furrowed brows and his eyes became glazed over once again, as his thoughts drifted off. His pupils started to jump around like he was having an inner conversation with himself.

She didn't pressure him. He would tell her if he wanted to. She gave him a small smiled and turned her body slightly and rubbed her fingers together to get Yuki's attention, who had taken to lying across Derek's feet when he stopped moving. She jumped up and went over to her. She bent down and ruffled the fur on her pet's neck and smiled when she got licks in response. She stood up and decided she should probably head home. But a voice grounded her to her spot.

"My sister." His voice was quiet, his gaze focused on the direction of his house, which was to the east of them. She followed his gaze curiously. They were too far away to actually see his home, so she turned back towards him and was surprised to see his gaze was locked onto hers. She gave him a hesitant smile.

"Oh?" She prodded softly, hoping to encourage him to continue on. He didn't. Her gaze drifted away from his eyes and back to his stomach, where the red marks were slowly going away. She gestured to them with her hand.

"What happened there?" She inquired, curious. His gaze drifted away once again, a deep frown imbedded onto his face.

"Argent." He growled out. She tensed up, her eyes narrowing. She didn't know which Argent he was talking about. Definitely not Allison, she was skipping with Scott today. It could have been Chris Argent, Allison's father. Or Kate Argent, Allison's aunt and, as Gracie found out, the one who had shot Derek a couple days back. She watched as his fists clenched and he closed his eyes tightly, trying to push the emotions out of his head. She took a small step back as she watched him start to wolf out again, but the sound of her stepping on a twig brought his head snapping towards her, his eyes ice blue once again.

They faded to green-gray and he sighed, closing his eyes again and pinching the bridge of his nose. She licked her lips hesitantly.

"Did they attack you?" He nodded at that question. "I see…" She trailed off, pushing her hands under her tank top to rest on her stomach as they started to get chilly. It was weird, she knew it, but it kept her hands warm in the cooling air. She couldn't stop the yawn that escaped her lips, causing her to wrinkle her nose and her eyes to water. She shook her head to try and wake herself up some more.

"But you're okay, right? You'll heal." He opened his eyes and lifted a brow as he took her stance in, his eyes on her hand and her slightly exposed stomach. She shifted uncomfortably, but didn't move her hands because they were too cold.

"I'm fine." He responded curtly, giving a short nod. She rolled her eyes.

"Physically, anyway." She corrected him. "I saw that look on your face. Something happened." She shrugged, not wanting to push it. "You seem like a pretty strong guy, you'll get over it." He watched her quietly for a minute. He took in a breath and ran a hand through his dark hair, not sure why he wanted to tell her.

"The Alpha killed Laura." He informed the blonde. She nodded, feeling slightly bad at the fact that she couldn't have a more emotional response. But she didn't know Laura well, wasn't close to her, so she couldn't find that connection to express a more firm emotion. She took in what he said and thought back to everything that had happened.

"You thought the Argents had killed her." She didn't ask as much as she stated, but Derek nodded anyway, confirming her thoughts. She bit her lip and nodded her head awkwardly.

"I guess that means you want the Alpha dead more than ever now, huh?" She questioned, watching as Derek clenched his fists. He looked away from the younger blonde as his eyes started to change colors in his anger. She blew air out of her mouth and brought one of her hands out from under her shirt to run it through her long blonde hair.

"That's understandable." Her words caused him to glance at her, to relax. She thought back to Bentley, her eyes glazing over slightly as a smirk crossed her feature without her knowledge.

"If someone ever hurt my family, I would want to use all of the power inside myself to make sure that person felt the same amount of hurt they caused, if not more." She spoke the truth. To this day, Gracie still has a deep seated hate for Nolan Gray and the pain he's caused her cousin. He's in jail still, had a ten year sentence. He had two years left to serve. And if Gracie ever happened upon him… she didn't know what she would do. She knew she wanted to attack him, to hurt him just like he hurt her baby cousin. But she didn't know if she had the heart for it, didn't know if she could be that vindictive. The male in front of her tilted his head slightly, catching her attention. Her eyes focused on him and she felt her pupils dilate when her mind was fully out of the haze she had dove into. She felt a bubbling in her stomach that she couldn't identify, something she hadn't felt before. She watched as Derek shifted slightly, his pupils retracting to small dots and his eyes flashing blue for a split second as he took in a deep breath to calm himself down. It didn't seem to work because he let out a groan and clenched his fists.

Gracie wanted to move, wanted to head home. But she couldn't, not with him looking at her like that. She took in a shaking breath, watching as he lifted his head into the air and seemingly sniffed. He literally sniffed the air. He let out a rather low growl from deep in his chest and the blonde felt the feeling she felt grow stronger, the bubbling feeling spread and she felt her body tingle slightly. His eyes were blue once again as he glared her down. She couldn't move. But she could talk.

"I should go home." She whispered into the darkening woods. Between them, Yuki had stood up and started to whine slightly, seemingly feeling the building tension between the two of them. Gracie stop as her eyes traveled from Derek's eyes, over his defined jaw and stubble, to his broad shoulders. Then they went over his chiseled chest and abs. The bubbling lurched forward and she let out another shaky breath, closing her eyes and clenching her fists. Not being able to see the object of her new found emotion caused her to calm down. She shook her head.

"It's late." She opened her eyes once again, and blinked when she saw that the werewolf was gone. Panicking slightly, she turned around to look for him, her hair whipping around her as she tried to catch a glimpse of his retreating form. There was no use, she couldn't really see very far anymore due to the darkness. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair, focusing her gaze on Yuki.

"What the hell just happened, googie?" She questioned her pet. When Gracie was younger, she called dogs 'googie' instead of 'doggie' and it just stuck, even now. She shook her head once again and began her trek towards the highway. She knew where she was in the woods, and the exit by the highway was closer than the way she entered. She could just follow the highway up a mile or two to get back to her house. No biggie.

It only took her a couple of moments to reach the pavement and she reached into her pocket, pulling out her phone. She really didn't want to walk home right now. She tried Tyler's phone first, but it went straight to voicemail. That meant he was studying. She continued walking, Yuki trotting along in the dirt beside her happily, and tried Stiles' number. He didn't answer either. That worried her. Stiles always answered his phone. Something was wrong. She felt panic seep into her veins and she bit her lip. She tried to call Scott to see if he had his phone on, but it went straight to voicemail. She let out a small cry from her throat. She tried Stiles again, but no answer. She let out a frustrated scream and thrust her arm back to throw her phone, when her ringtone filled her ears. Quickly, she brought it to her ear.

"Stiles? Stiles! Jesus! Why haven't you been answering? What's going on?" She knew she sounded like a paranoid, overreacting creeper, but she didn't care. Stiles always answered the phone. And he didn't answer his phone, twice. There was a shaky breath on the other end of the line.

"My dad's in the hospital. He got hit by a car at the school." Stiles was going to say more, but Gracie was already in panic mode. She felt her heart-rate quicken and tears form in her eyes.

"What?" She practically screamed, putting a hand in her hair. "Jesus! Is he okay? He's okay. He has to be okay! Shit! I'm on my way now! Jesus!" She didn't know how to handle this shit. Stiles started to talk.

"Gracie! He's fine! He's just—" But she hung up on him. She started to jog down the side of the highway. She had a while to go to get to town, and then she would have to go to her house to put Yuki up and catch the keys to her Altima. She winced as she felt a burning sensation in her legs as she started to sprint instead of jog. She was stretching her limitations today. During track practice, she knew she had to have run two miles straight on, and jogged another two. Then the run she went on after school was nearly two miles. Her body was starting to fight back at the over-use it was undergoing.

She had been running for nearly five minutes when she saw headlights coming down the road. She didn't think anything of it, but she slowed down to a jog so the car could actually see her and not accidentally hit her. There didn't need to be another accident today. The car seemed to slow down when the lights hit her and then, it suddenly jerked over and stopped in front of her. It was a very familiar car. A black 2010 Chevy Camaro. The window rolled down quickly and Derek leaned over slightly. He was now clad in a shirt and his leather jacket.

"Get in." He demanded. She blinked slightly, but the growl that followed caused her to move. She opened the door and let Yuki jump in before she got in and buckled up. Derek then took off in the direction he was coming from.

"How did you know?" She didn't understand how he knew she needed a ride. His eyes were on the road as he drove.

"I could hear your heartbeat all the way back at the house." He shook his head, glancing at her momentarily before going back to the road. "It wasn't natural. Faster." He shifted gears as he picked up the speed. She gripped the edge of her seat as the adrenaline flowed through her veins. She had never been in a car that was going over seventy miles. She was lame like that. And Derek's car was the definition of fast and sexy. She laughed weakly, glancing at him.

"So you're saying you know what my heartbeat sounds like most of the time." She tried to joke to calm herself down. "I don't know if I should be flattered or creeped out." She admitted, running a hand through her hair

"I need you to take me home." She glanced back at Yuki. "Sorry that your car might get a bit messy." She nodded back to her. Derek shrugged, not really caring as he swerved around another car to get in front of it. When they hit the edge of town, he slowed down significantly. She waited until they got close to a street he needed to turn down and spoke.

"Take a left—" She was interrupted.

"On Wilson, I know." He took a left on Wilson. She eyed him for a moment, and then it registered.

"You know where I live." She stated. He shifted, but didn't deny it. He took a right on the street he needed and Gracie let out an incredulous laugh before shaking her head. "I'll be damned." She muttered as he pulled over in front of her house. She glanced at him hesitantly.

"Thanks…" He nodded in response. When she opened her door, she was trampled by Yuki as she jumped out of the car first. The human grunted in response and glared at the dog. "Rude." She spat out, flicking the dogs ear as she panted happily. Derek watched her.

"You'll get to the hospital faster if I take you there." He reasoned. She turned towards him and blinked.

"How—" She shook her head. "I'm just not going to question it anymore. I'll be back." She got out and closed the door behind her before running to the front door of her home.

I feel like I keep breaking character for Derek... I'm trying really, really hard to keep him as he is. Tell me if I'm doing good? ;D