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None Of It Was Ever Worth The Risk
Chapter 6 - God Bless Erica
"Okay, shoot." Erica said from the kitchen counter. Today is Saturday and the pack just finished their breakfast. The boys are running around Hale's territory to bond, since the weather is wonderful this morning.
"Huh?" Stiles stares at the beautiful werewolf blankly, the movement of the dish sponge in his hand halted.
"What's in the head of yours?" Erica asked, flipping Isaac's National Geography magazine but not really reading it.
Stiles shrugs. "Nothing. I'm fine." He scrubs the plate again with extra power.
Erica smirks. "Really? You've been so focused on the same spot on that plate for about twenty minutes, I think you've made it an inch thinner."
"Oh." Stiles realizes about that now and blushes. He throws the sponge and rinses the plate right away. Erica still looks at him with a knowing smile, like she can read him. Girls. Boys can't hide anything from them, can we?
"Did you and Derek fight?"
The plate slips from his hands, dropping into the sink with a loud clattering noise. Erica snickers from behind. Dammit.
"I'm—we're fine. Should've you tagged along with the others?" Stiles tried to steer away the conversation, but Erica ignores the diversion.
"Derek keeps stealing glimpses your way like some creeper and then huffs like some stressed old man—don't tell him I said that—and then I noticed you haven't talked to him for three days. We're just concerned, because our Alpha's mood goes downhill pretty fast. It shows on the pack's training, you weren't there, he tortured us. Just make up already, days are brighter when Derek is calmer." She complained.
Stiles puts the plate on the drawer not so gently. "Well maybe, if he has even the slightest will to just—simply smile at me, I will talk to him." He said with a hint of frustation.
Erica snorts. "Yeah right, like he ever smiles—wait, are you—oh my God, are you sulking because Derek doesn't smile at you!?" Erica stands up from her counter seat and looms around Stiles, playful grin on her pretty face.
"I am not!" Stiles denied a second too fast and he knows Erica heard the skipped heartbeat, his cheeks blushing furiously. "Erica, just go running with the pack, I have to clean the bedrooms." He goes upstairs. Instead of leaving, of course Erica chooses to follow him around.
"Stiles! What are you so upset about? Derek might not smile at you, but he definitely likes you!" Erica entered Scott's wrecked bedroom, right behind Stiles.
Stiles, who's gathering dirty clothes from the floor, laughs weakly. "Erica, the only reason he doesn't kick me out of the house is because you all like me." He throws the pile in the laundry basket and moves to fix the bed.
Erica helps him by tidying the pile of school textbooks on Scott's desk. "Oh, Honey, you know that's not true. We've been living with Derek Hale for two years before you. Believe me, if he didn't want you here, you wouldn't be, no matter how low we grovel on the ground."
Stiles pauses what he does and faces Erica. "Then why—just tell me why he wouldn't smile at me..?" Stiles' voice catches in his throat, angry tears filling his eyes again. "I tried everything to please him, Erica. Everything. But he still hates me.."
Erica pauses too and stares at him, confused by the reason of Stiles' distress. "Stiles, Derek doesn't hate you, he just doesn't smile."
"Apparently, he does!" Stiles yelled, single drop of tears finally spilling to his flushed cheek.
Erica seems more shocked by the view in front of him than what she just heard. She steps closer to Stiles, who's angrily wipes the tears on his face with his sleeves. She guides him to sit down on Scott's still messy bed before sitting down herself. "Before we jump to any conclusion, now tell me, who did he smile at..?" Erica asked.
Stiles tells Erica what happened at the ramen booth few days ago. When he finishes, Erica just raises her eyebrows at him and smiles in revelation. "You were not upset because he didn't smile at you, you were upset because he smiled at someone else."
More drops of upset tears spills out of Stiles' eyes as the flashback goes on in his head, the memory of Derek's smiling at someone else, while never to him, still leaves unexplainable heartache. Erica just sighs and pulls Stiles into a hug.
"I don't know why you want that kind of smile. If Derek smiled at me like that, I'd probably cry and run away from home, because it means he feels nothing for me." She said.
Stiles frowns in confusion. "What do you mean..?"
Erica pulls away and smirks. "Stiles, what you saw at the ramen booth is polite Derek. And polite Derek is his default for everybody but us, got it?" When Stiles just shakes his head slowly, Erica sighs dramatically.
"That smile was just a social mask, okay? He wasn't actually feeling like he's smiling, which I'm sure is what actually you thought had happened back then. He just did that as a way of saying 'just do what I say and get the fuck out of my face' or he simply doesn't give a shit about the person. He often does that to humans, because he can't practically growl at them, right?" Erica laughs softly.
Stiles doesn't answer, still trying to interpretate the new information. So, Derek doesn't hate him, he just smiled at that waiter because the waiter didn't mean anything to him? Does Derek really never smile at anyone he cares about? Like reading his mind, Erica starts speaking again.
"Stiles, you have stayed with us for more than two months now, don't you see how Derek treats me and the other Betas? He's obviously not the most gentle Alpha in the universe and he probably seems annoyed to hell all the times by our existence, but I know he would hand over his life to protect this family. Derek would just never admit it and that blatantly shows that he loves us. Do you know why..?"
Erica smiles sadly when Stiles shakes his head again. "Because deep inside he knows, if we found out how much we mean to him and used that to betray him, he wouldn't survive the pain," Stiles is startled to see tears forming on Erica's eyes, "and even now, no promises or reassurance from us can ever heal him from that fear, not after what he's been through."
Stiles gulps, that's it, he had enough. He needs to know Derek's past. "Please, tell me. What happened to him, Erica..? What makes him this way..?"
Erica wipes her tears with her fingers and takes a deep breath. "When Derek was your age, he fell so deeply in love with this woman, a human. She was eight years older than him, it made their affair illegal by law. So, she asked him to keep their relationship a secret. Derek was so blinded by love, he never questions anything that the woman asked of him. When she started asking about his family, he trusted her so much that he shared his family's legacy. He told her that his family was a pack of werewolves, living in a house in the middle of the restricted woods. Derek just wanted the person he loved to accept who he is, and she acted like she did. What Derek didn't know back then, was that she was a hunter on a mission. Never once did it cross Derek's mind, that she already knew who he is and—God, I hate that bitch—she got close to him just to get detailed information about his pack and the exact location of their den."
Stiles gapes in shock and finds himself speechless. Erica takes a deep breath to calm herself down before speaking again. "Until in the middle of one night, Derek was sneaking out with his sister to try her new car. When he went separate ways from his sister to sneak into his girlfriend's flat, the woman wasn't there. Can you guess where she was, Stiles?"
Stiles can, but he is too afraid to say it, because even just the thought is too cruel, too evil, too inhuman. The thought itself makes him shiver to the bone, he just let Erica says it for him.
"She was at the Hale's house. She—she was here eight years ago with the other hunters, torching the house into fire with every sleeping member of Derek's family in it. She thought Derek would be in the house too, she didn't know Derek went out to see her. She wanted to kill him from the beginning, Stiles, she never loved him. Derek lost three things that night. His family, his home, and his faith."
Stiles' heart breaks for Derek, he touches his cheeks and realizes that he's been crying. He mourns for Derek's agony, sharing Derek's anger and fear. Stiles still remembers the days when he felt that too. The anger towards life, the fear to let someone in. Only now that Stiles realizes, that he no longer felts that angry and that afraid. These past few months, Stiles was so carefree. So fulfilled.
After finally learning Derek's deepest scar, to think that his life was miserable, he must be the most ungrateful being in the world. And fuck, when he thinks the story is over, a more heartbreaking one is just beginning. When Erica is done with the drama of Derek's uncle and how Derek had to kill the only member of his family left with his own hands, Stiles is hugging Erica and sobbing like it's his own life that's on the brink, not Derek's.
Stiles must have lost his mind, to be angry with dead people. He wants to resurrect them just so he can chase away those people from Derek himself. His wolf snarls in him, pumped with hatred.
Erica rubs Stiles' back to calm him down. "Maybe it's hard to believe, but Derek saved us when we thought all the hope was gone. He took us in and gave us a home, a family. He's a good person, Stiles."
Stiles believe that with all his heart, because Derek saved him too that night in the woods, when all Stiles saw was darkness. "He is. Oh Erica, I'm an idiot.. Derek was right, I'm so stupid." Stiles whispered to Erica's shoulder. Derek's pack unconcsiously healed him, but no one has healed Derek. And here he is, pushing his way in and sulking like a brat when things don't go his way.
"If Derek treats you bad or cold or rough, it means you're climbing over his walls as we speak and he's in his self-defense mode. He notices you, Stiles. You've grown on him and he's afraid, he's afraid you will know and take advantage of that. You wouldn't do that to him, would you..?" Erica asked with a kicked puppy expression.
Stiles pulls back and shakes his head, tears staining his flushed cheeks. "Erica, I would never—God, I'm feeling so stupid for being so selfish—I would never do such things, I would never hurt him.."
Erica suddenly grins widely and kisses Stiles' wet cheek. "I know! Actually, all the Betas know! That's why we approve!" She said cheerily before standing up and fleeing downstairs, leaving a confused Stiles behind her.
Stiles doesn't understand what Erica means, he just sits there with a gobsmacked face and embarrassing hiccups. "A-Approve what..?"
"I'm catching up with the others!" Erica yelled from downstairs, Stiles can hear her giggling.
"Erica! All of you approve what!?" He asked louder.
The slam of the closing front door is what answers the hanging question.
Derek's mind wanders as he runs through the wet floor of his woods. He doesn't know how to deal with Stiles, the Omega still won't talk to him and it pisses him off. He still can't get the memory of Stiles crying out of his mind either. His inner wolf won't get over it, leaving him with sleepless nights.
How much longer will Stiles keep his childish tantrum anyway? Derek doesn't even know why the boy is very upset over a fucking smile at a fucking waiter. It meant nothing, for crying out loud!
Should he smile at Stiles like that? Even though the smile itself is meaningless, maybe the boy would cave in. Nah, what's the fun in that. He should throttle Stiles to the ground and wrestle him instead. Now that is fun. Imagine that slender body, that long curve of a neck, the gasping rosy lips, those wide brown eyes, all submit under him. Okay, what the hell just crossed his mind? Stop. Thinking. About. Stiles.
Suddenly, wolfed out Erica jumps on him from the side. Derek is taken by surprise, but his instinct kicks in immediately and in two seconds he holds Erica down on the ground, growling at her. Erica just snorts and giggles, turning back to her human form.
"Don't get grumpy on me, you're zoning out. What are you thinking about? Or who, probably?" She teased.
"It's none of your business!" Derek barked, though his ears reddening like a culprit caught in the act.
Erica sighs in amusement, looking at her idiot of an Alpha. "It's been two months, Derek, how much longer will you deny him? I bet every fiber in your body itches in need right now, not being close to him."
Derek looks away. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Derek, we all know who he is. What he's meant to be."
Derek's jaws are clenched. "No, we don't. We don't know why he's here." He pressed.
Erica rolls her eyes in exasperation. "And that's the point that you failed to see! Any normal Omega would flee on sight of an Alpha, Derek! And he did! He ran away all his life from territory to territory! But he practically begged to stay with you! What do you think drove him to do that? Look at him! He takes care of your pups with obvious contentment all over his face! And he's still around you no matter how shitty you treat him! It's his instinct, Derek!" Erica pushed, desperate to make Derek understand.
"He is NOT what you all think he is!" Derek growled in wrath, eyes flashing red.
Erica shivers and whimpers under his Alpha's angry glare, but like having a determination, she doesn't back down. She throws her best puppy eyes at him, which somehow calms Derek down. Curse his pups and their lethal weapon to make him cave in.
"Scott doesn't even know the essential of the word and his wolf recognized him right away. Jackson caved in the next day. I did on three days. The others needed a week. Haven't you felt it at all?" Erica asked softly.
From the very first sight of those stupid bambi eyes. He heard his wolf growl softly in his head.
"No." He denied, looking away from Erica again.
Erica scoffs in disbelief. "I can't believe—Derek, Derek, please look at this lowly Beta of yours."
Derek looks at his pup, the one he's very proud of for her bravery and beauty. She smiles so lovingly at him, Derek can see adoration in her eyes. Derek hates it when his pups do that, showing their affection toward him.
"He's not her, Derek. Or any werewolves that came at you for benefits. This time, it'll be different. This time, there'll be no lies and treachery and agenda. I promise you, because I met mine, I know. And yours, not only will he love and treasure you, but he will also love and treasure your family. Just like your father to your mother. Let him in, Derek, and see for yourself." Erica said softly, still smiling at his troubled Alpha.
Derek stares back at her, hearing the truth in her voice, wanting so badly to believe every word she said. Will he take that chance? None of it was ever worth the risk. Is it now?
"Oh hey guys!" Erica suddenly said merrily, looking at the other way. Derek is startled and turns his head to see the other Betas watch them with curiosity in their eyes.
And apparently, their silly brains told them that this is a puppy brawl because they howl in excitement and leap in. Scott and Jackson are the first to throw their bodies upon him, of course. The older betas laugh and join them. They nudge with their head, sniffing, and tugging Derek's limbs, demanding his attention.
"Hey—GET OFF ME! This is not a game!" Derek struggled to break free, but it's not that easy when you have five werewolves strangling you. Scott and Jackson purr happily into his shoulders. Dammit, isn't there anyone here afraid of him anymore?
The Betas are all content when it's time to head back. Derek walks behind, huffing and stretching his back. All his muscles are sore from the earlier 'playtime'. Pups. You can't help it when they get too excited. As they head closer to home, sweet scent of caramelized blueberries fills the air.
"Awesome! Stiles is baking pie!" Scott exclaimed excitedly. Jackson's ears twitch as he silently take a deep breath of the sweet scent, making Isaac grin and lay his arm around the younger pup's shoulder.
"I hope he makes Jackson's favorite iced chocolate with it." He teased, smiling when Jackson glares at him to shut him up.
"Actually, I did!" Stiles said loudly from the porch, grinning and waving at them. The Betas perk up at the sight of the Omega and run ahead to get in the house, leaving Derek far behind just like that. Derek rolls his eyes, his Betas' loyalty can be bought with pie and iced chocolate, good to know.
"Don't eat too much, I roasted lamb racks for lunch!" Stiles yelled over his shoulder, plates clattering from inside the house.
"Don't worry, I always have space for everything!" Scott's voice echoed. Derek snorts, don't we all know that.
"Hey, you look tired." Stiles said to Derek. Derek stops in his track. He almost looks if there's someone behind him to make sure that Stiles was talking to him. But no, Stiles was indeed talking to him. Derek just stares blankly as the boy walks closer to him.
"Here." Stiles offered him a towel and a bottle of mineral water. Derek doesn't say anything. His hands just automatically move to take them, swinging the towel over his right shoulder. Meanwhile, his eyes are still locked on Stiles' face. Stiles is smiling at him, full package with those stupid bambi eyes, rosy red lips, and blushing cheeks.
Derek's heartbeat paces up, his wolf is very excited right now that all his fingers twitch. The urge to touch Stiles is overwhelming. He tenses, trying to surpress his wolf down. If he let go, he's pretty sure Stiles would be pinned down on the ground right now. Fuck, Stiles is really it, isn't he? Derek didn't look for this and the world threw it on his lap.
Stiles' sun-blinding smile fades into a small one, his feet play with the grass and pebbles on the ground. "I'm sorry, I've been acting very immature these past few days. You didn't do anything wrong. I guess I've just been making a fool out of myself again, haven't I?" Stiles laughs nervously.
Derek doesn't dare to open his mouth, he's barely in control right now. His wolf really wants to come out. He feels his fangs poking out of his gum, Derek clenches his jaw to retreat them back. He blinks his eyes as he feels them burning red.
Stiles looks at him, waiting for his response. But Derek is still struggling to calm himself down. Stiles nods and smiles, but this time there are tears in his eyes. "I understand, you're still too angry to deal with me." Stiles clears his throat when his voice gets shaky. "I'll leave you alone, but I hope one day you would forgive me and accept my presence again."
With that, Stiles turns to walk away. Derek shakes his head and growls in annoyance, this boy always misreads everything, it's not even funny anymore. He grabs Stiles' wrist tightly and yanks the boy back to him. Stiles yelps in surprise as his scrawny body is pulled roughly into Derek's arms.
"D-D-De—" Stiles stuttered in shock.
"Shut up, or I'll kill you." Derek threatened half-heartedly. He tightens his arms around Stiles and burries his face on the curve of Stiles' neck, taking deep breaths of Stiles' intoxicating scent. And it works like paralyzer, his wolf calms down right away, satisfied by the direct contact.
"Don't ever ignore me again!" He heard himself growl angrily. Nope, not him. That's his crazy out-of-control inner wolf talking. When it takes control, Derek can be so demanding. There's nothing he can do about it and everyone else just have to fucking deal with it.
Stiles whimpers, nodding his head that's now attached on Derek's broad shoulder. "I'm sorry." Stiles whispered so softly, hesitatedly moving his arms to hug Derek back. When Derek just let him, Stiles burries himself even deeper into Derek's embrace.
Derek can hear his own heartbeat beating fast, but Stiles' is even faster, just like the heartbeat of a racing horse. Stiles' body is trembling, but the boy still grips the back of Derek's t-shirt desperately.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Calm down. And stop shivering." Derek whispered his complaint, still concentrating on taking notes of Stiles' scent and the warmth of Stiles' body in his arms.
"I-I can't.. My wolf.. T-Too happy.." Stiles whispered back shakily. "I'm so h-happy.."
Wrong answer, Stiles, wrong answer.
Derek mentally groans as he feels his inner wolf pushes to come out again, moved by Stiles' reaction. Well, now Derek has no choice but to keep Stiles in this position for another five minutes. What? He needs to calm down his wolf! And this method works amazingly. Besides, it's Stiles' fault that his wolf is so worked up anyway.
What the hell, Stiles just squeezes him. This boy never thinks about the effect of his actions, Derek has to punish him. Make that seven minutes.
To be continued...
(*u*) ~why am I doing this to myself?
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