A/N: I have a hard time remembering to post here now that I'm over on AO3 all the time, but I made it. This fandom is sadly lacking in Isaac fic. This is my first attempt at remedying that situation. If you have any good Isaac recs for me, please let me know.

Everyone has a story.

Derek keeps his to himself, guarded closely. It's etched in the echo of joy, laughter and happiness most people surround themselves with. It's in the imagined heat of an all-consuming flame that licks against his skin when he sleeps at night.

Isaac's wears his story differently. It's written in scars across his chest and back. Not visible to the human eye, some so old they've healed years before Derek even met him. But they're there nonetheless. Irrefutable evidence of a previous life of torment and torture; broken scar tissue that will never be right again under skin that's knitted itself back together for appearance sake only.

Derek is not a good Alpha. This is unarguable fact, just as birds fly and fish swim and the goddamn sky is blue, Derek was not born to be a leader. But he's learning. He's carefully and slowly putting together the missing pieces of the puzzle he calls life, figuring out what it is he's supposed to accomplish to become the leader he needs to be.

The one thing he can be sure of is how fiercely protective he feels over his first beta. And when Derek sees Isaac, curled in the corner of the basement in his father's old house, knees tucked up to his chest and arms covering his head protectively, Derek sees red. He wants to tear everything in this place to shreds, rip apart the very molecules that make up its existence and send every phantom memory fleeing through the gates of hell.

He's cognizant enough to know how that would look to Isaac, though. How the frightened boy would only be pulled further into the haunting memories of his marred past. So instead, Derek lowers himself to the cold cement floor, crosses his legs as if he's meditating, and concentrates on calming thoughts, steady breaths.

There's nothing here anymore. Nothing in this house that can hurt Isaac but his own thoughts. But sometimes, he needs those. Needs them so that he doesn't forget what it meant to be human, so that he knows what it was for him, and what it will never be again. Every story is different. Isaac's past is painted with fear and betrayal, misplaced trust and something that he had been led to believe was love.

Minutes pass, and when Isaac begins to rock, still curled in on himself, Derek knows the pattern of thoughts playing out in his beta's mind. He's gone from simply remembering, to re-living.

"Isaac," Derek says, voice low and commanding, a rumble that cuts through the thick silence.

The boy jerks, flinches away from the echo of Derek's voice, but seems to pull out of his trance, his heartbeat slowing minutely as the rocking stops.

"He isn't here," Derek says. "No one is going to hurt you like that again." It's the only thing he's certain of, the one promise Derek can offer.

He waits, gives Isaac the time he needs to pull himself completely back to reality after following the lifeline of Derek's voice he'd been offered. Nearly an hour passes. Derek isn't sleeping—not in this place—but he's jolted out of his quiet reverie by the shuffling sounds of Isaac moving across the room, crawling on hands and knees.

His face is pale, dark smudges under vacant eyes, and it looks like he's lived a hundred lifetimes in the span of the last few hours since they'd arrived here.

He stops just in front of Derek, resting back on his haunches, gaze downcast.

"Isaac," Derek says again, and the boy's heartbeat skips. It isn't fear; just acknowledgement.

Derek reaches out, curling his hand around the back of Isaac's neck. His fingers rest there for a moment, a reassuring presence meant to ground him. Both of them.

He feels the tension easing out of Isaac just from the small amount of contact from his Alpha. And then Isaac is inching forward, hands gripping Derek's thigh, twisting into the front of his shirt as he brings himself closer.

He's careful not to raise his head above Derek's as he settles into his lap. It's an instinctual show of submission Isaac probably isn't even aware of. He rests his forehead against Derek's shoulder and breathes in his scent there.

Derek runs careful fingers along Isaac's jaw, down his neck, calming him, soothing his fears. Isaac is tentative, slow and gentle when he brings his mouth to Derek's neck and presses a kiss into his skin. This isn't new, and Derek knows it's not meant to be a challenge.

He's never exerted dominance over Isaac in these situations, just leaves himself open and waits. Isaac will always come to him when he's ready, and Derek thinks that, for all he fails at being an Alpha, this is one thing he is doing right.

He presses his lips to Isaac's forehead, takes a moment to breathe in the scent of him; the residual fear and anxiety fading now, leaving in their place only comfort, gratitude, arousal, and love.

"Bring me home," Isaac whispers.