"Moving in the Dark"
"Lost and Found"
"That is not even the point. God! You are freaking impossible!"
"Your face is freaking impossible."
"What? There's nothing wrong with my face."
"Are you kidding me? Have you never seen your jaw?"
"Hey! This is my grandmother's jaw and I happen to like it. Besides, I can still bite just fine. You need a demonstration?"
Derek closed the book he was reading and laid it in his lap. Charles Dickens would just have to wait. The living room had previously been very quiet and perfect for reading but the arrival of Scott and Cora quickly disrupted that.
Cora burst through the front door in a huff, leaving her sweatshirt in a heap by the entry and stomping up the stairs without so much as a greeting or an apology. Derek followed her with his eyes until he couldn't see her, and then with his ears. She must have been off to take another shower, by the sounds that were coming from the hallway bathroom upstairs. She'd always loved to run and exercise but never really took to being sweaty. Derek sighed. He'd have to talk to her about running up the utilities while they were here. There was no way Melissa could conceivably support all of them on her nurse's salary.
Scott was scowling as he came in and slammed the door behind him. He growled and kicked Cora's sweatshirt, sending it flying in the direction of the kitchen. He turned and advanced on Derek, annoyance written plainly on his face. He dropped his motorcycle helmet and jacket in a chair on his way across the room.
"What the hell is wrong with your sister?" he asked, flopping down in the middle of the couch next to Derek. He moved to prop his feet up on the broken coffee table only to see that it was no longer there. "And where did the table go?" he asked with a gesture toward the empty living room floor.
Derek shrugged. "I can't even begin to tell you what's wrong with Cora," he answered. "And I took the table out to the garage for your mother."
"Oh," Scott replied. "Wait, why?"
"I thought I'd try to fix it for her," Derek said, opening the book again and trying to find his place, now that he was sure he wasn't going to have to break up an actual fight. The way Scott and Cora's arguing had been escalading, he was a little worried they'd be literally tearing into one another before much longer.
Scott raised an eyebrow. "Wait, you can fix stuff?"
"Is that so surprising?"
"Considering how you're always surrounded by broken things, yeah, kind of," Scott answered.
Derek frowned and kept his eyes on his book, even though he could no longer make his brain process the words in front of him. Of course he could fix things. He and his father had always had one project or another going in the shed behind their house. They'd started with birdhouses when Derek was little, from a kit that he'd gotten for Christmas one year. Making things with his hands had felt amazing and they'd gone on to a lot of other small projects. Eventually, by the time he was in high school and taking woodshop with the other jocks, he and his father were making intricate spice racks, tables, chairs. Derek had made his older sister, Laura, a heavy oak chest for her graduation present. He liked working with his hands. He always had.
But then the fire had happened and Derek hadn't really touched a tool since. The shed behind the house had been spared in the fire, but he hadn't been able to make himself go in there. Far too many memories. He knew there would be a project on the workbench, a jewelry box that he'd been making for his mother. The tools would probably be covered in dust and cobwebs but should otherwise be in good condition, since the shed was watertight. There was the chance that miscreants had broken in and stolen the tools, but Derek wasn't overly worried about that. Luckily, he was pretty sure the McCall's had what he needed to fix the coffee table without having to make a visit to his family's old home. After all these years, he still wasn't sure if he was ready to go in there if he didn't have to.
Scott was correct in his assessment of the situation though. Derek really was surrounded by broken things these days. There were the physical, obvious things like his family's burnt shell of a house and Derek's water-logged loft apartment, still in the process of being assessed for water damage. But there were also the less obvious things, the people in his life. His sister, still recovering from the death of her previous pack. Isaac, shaking off the long-reaching effects of a brutal and abusive father. Erica and Boyd, both so broken that they couldn't be fixed and were now lost forever.
Broken things. Too many broken things. Derek hadn't been able to fix any of those.
But this table? He was pretty sure he could fix that. He wanted to fix a lot of things in his life but he was going to start with the small ones and work his way up.
"Can I ask you something?" Scott ventured, breaking the silence that had now stretched for a few minutes. "You know, about Alpha stuff?"
Derek nodded. Despite the fact that he hadn't been an Alpha for very long, he would probably still know more about being an Alpha and pack dynamics than anyone else that Scott could ask. Having grown up in a family of werewolves had its perks in that department.
Scott sighed and leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees and cracking his knuckles. "Did you ever feel like your wolf was…god. I don't even know how to explain it. Like, making decisions for you…kind of?"
Derek furrowed his brow, frowning. "What do you mean?"
Scott shrugged, looking down at his hands. "I don't know. It's a lot of things. Most of them are little but it's just…just kind of weird. Almost like a part of my personality has changed or something. Like, okay. Like with the Isaac and Allison thing. I should be really pissed about that, right? I mean, he's my friend and she's my ex. He's my Beta…and she's my ex. She should be totally off limits and I should want to knock Isaac into the wall, right? But I don't. I don't even want to. I'm not even mad. In fact, it's like my wolf wants them together because it makes them both…happy? How am I not mad about that? I don't get it. It's weird, right?"
"That's kind of normal, actually," Derek said. "As an Alpha, you're going to want very little conflict in your pack. You're going to naturally be the peacekeeper within your group."
"You mean, the Alpha doesn't see Isaac as, kind of like, you know. A threat? Usurping power or something?"
Derek raised an eyebrow.
"PSATs," Scott said with a shrug.
"Anyway, no. Probably not. It would be different if your wolf saw her as a potential mate. Or if still had feelings for her," Derek answered.
Scott frowned. "Huh. I thought I did."
"Well, apparently you don't."
Scott leaned back into the couch and crossed his arms, thinking. "Huh."
Derek glanced down at the book in his hands but he was pretty sure he was done reading for the day at this point. "Was there anything else? Or is it just high school relationship stuff?"
Scott narrowed his eyes and frowned at him. "It's not just that. It's also the thing with the twins. My wolf wants them in the pack even though I'm still really pissed about the whole Boyd thing. I mean, I've been making all kinds of excuses to Stiles because he thinks it's a horrible idea. I don't know how to tell him that it's the Alpha inside me that wants to keep them close."
Derek frowned. This was the first he'd heard about the twins possibly being invited to the Beacon Hills pack. He'd gathered that the wolves were still in town, given that Stiles and Isaac had mentioned them over breakfast the previous morning. But he hadn't seriously considered the idea that they would end up a permanent fixture in Beacon Hills. He wasn't sure he liked it but then he was also pretty sure he wasn't being asked his opinion on the matter.
"Look," Derek said. "When I first became an Alpha, I was in constant turmoil. My wolf wanted a pack. A strong pack. So I went out and made one for myself," he paused and frowned, thinking of Boyd and Erica and how badly that all turned out for them. "I didn't temper that desire, even when I probably should have. You're going to have to decide which things are worth arguing with yourself over and which things aren't."
"But how do I know what's worth it?" Scott asked, finally turning to make eye contact.
Derek shook his head. "That's something you have to figure out for yourself," he answered. "But you have something going for you that I didn't."
"And what's that?"
"People to tell you when you're screwing up," Derek said. "People you trust. You have your mother and Stiles. You have Isaac and Allison and Lydia. Just listen to them. When you're second guessing your decisions, listen to them. They won't let you mess it up too bad."
Scott grinned for a second and then sighed, the amusement melting from his face. "You know, you had us too, right? We really were trying to help."
Derek felt his jaw clench and his eyes darted away. "I didn't realize that until it was too late to undo the damage I'd already done."
He was startled as a throw pillow hit him in the side of the head. He whipped his eyes toward Scott, who had a cheeky smile plastered on his face.
"Don't go getting all sour wolf over there," Scott said, standing. "You still have us, damages or not. Pack is pack, right?"
Derek scowled and opened his mouth to say something, but closed it instead. He still had them?
He still had them. They still wanted him around. The pack still wanted him to be…in the pack? Despite all the mess, despite all his failings, he was still wanted. He was still valued.
He still had them.
But before his mind could even process the information he'd just been given, Scott changed the subject.
"Hey, where is my mom anyway? I thought she had the day off," he asked from the doorway to the living room.
Derek shook his head and swallowed, trying to focus and not show Scott the profound effect those simple words had had on him. "Oh, she uh. She got called in to work. Really big car accident. They needed all hands on deck for a few hours. She said she'd be home later this evening."
"Oh, okay. You know, I think I'll call Ethan and Aiden over, since she won't be here for a while. Figure out this whole pack thing or whatever," Scott said as he started up the stairs. "Guess we're doing pizza for dinner. Unless you know how to cook."
By the time Derek had the presence of mind to shake his head no, that he didn't know how to cook, Scott was already upstairs and out of sight.
The sounds of juvenile bickering and slamming doors from upstairs faded into the background for Derek as he pondered what sort of future he and Cora could have here.
Allison could feel herself waking up slowly, which was a very welcome change from the violent awakenings she'd become accustomed to this week. She felt warm and comfortable and sated, for the first time in a long time. She wasn't sure how long she'd been asleep but judging by the angle of the sunlight outside her window, it couldn't have been that long.
She hadn't even remembered falling asleep. With that thought, she suddenly realized that she couldn't be sure that she was actually awake.
Isaac, who was sprawled on his back behind her, must have heard the uptick of her heartbeat because he stirred, rolling to face her and draping his naked arm across her equally naked hip. "Hmm, Allison?" he asked, his voice thick from sleep. "What is it?"
She swallowed hard, trying to keep her breathing even and her anxiety low. She wrapped her fingers around his, squeezing them a little more tightly than she had meant to. "Oh, you know. The usual," she said, her voice shaking a little. "Just trying to figure out if I'm actually awake or if you're going to spontaneously combust here in a minute and leave me with more nightmares."
"Hey," he said softly, scooting backwards from her a little. "Hey, roll over and look at me."
Allison squeezed her eyes shut. "Do I have to? I'm pretty sure you'll be covered in blood or missing a limb if I do."
Isaac moved his hand to her shoulder and tugged on her until she gave in, rolling toward him but still not opening her eyes. He took her hand and placed it on his chest, just above his heart, pressing her fingers against his skin.
"Do you feel that?" He asked.
And she did. It was his heartbeat, strong and steady. That's when she remembered. He had promised her that she would never have to wonder whether or not she was awake. He would always tell her, he'd said. He would always help her to know what was real and what was a dream. He would show her his heartbeat and then she would know that this was real.
She opened her eyes and met his bright blue gaze. He was staring at her like he'd never seen her before, as if she might be a figment of his imagination. Allison could feel herself blush but she didn't turn her eyes away.
"What?" she asked, feeling the corners of her mouth turn up to a smile against her will.
Isaac moved his hand from hers and reached forward to brush a lock of dark hair behind her ear. "You're beautiful," he said simply.
Allison rolled her eyes and leaned herself up on her elbow a little. "That's kind of a cheesy line, you know that right?"
Isaac's brow furrowed. "It wasn't supposed to be a line."
She opened her mouth to say something, anything, but she couldn't. She had an eye full of him now, naked and laying against her pillows, hair tousled, her sheet pulled up around his waist. She knew her heart was speeding up again, knew that she couldn't hide it from his preternatural senses.
Isaac sat up, staring down at her with concern. She tried, really tried, not to notice how enticingly the sheet fell around his hips. But her own body was betraying her, now that it had an intimate knowledge of what that sheet was hiding.
"Allison, you know this is real, right?" he asked, taking her increased heart rate as fear rather than attraction. "You're really awake, I swear. What can I do to prove it to you?"
Allison shook her head and swallowed hard and suddenly couldn't take it anymore. She moved, quick as a snake, using all her hunter's skills to pin him back against the bed in one smooth movement. His shocked expression quickly dissolved into amusement as she straddled his waist and leaned forward to kiss him. The smile on his lips fade as her intent became apparent.
Sheets and modesty were quickly forgotten as Isaac tangled his fingers in her hair, kissing her deeply before rolling them and knocking the breath from her lungs.
"See?" He said huskily, grinning as he laid hot, open-mouthed kisses along her collarbone, the weight of his hips pinning hers to the bed. "Two can play the surprise game."
Allison smiled and her eyes rolled back in her head as he reached down to grip her thigh with his long-fingered hand. Her hips bucked toward him of their own volition and she could hear him growl lowly in his throat, hovering over her momentarily and devouring her with his eyes.
And then he froze.
"Shit," he said quietly.
Allison's eyes popped open in confusion, watching as Isaac seemed to be listening to something in the distance.
"Isaac," she whispered. "What is it?"
All at once, Isaac sprang back and leapt off the bed.
"Shit, shit, shit," he was muttering as he searched frantically for the articles of his clothing that were strewn around her room. "Your dad. Allison, your dad is getting off the elevator."
Allison moved as quickly as Isaac, attempting to put her clothes back on in a semblance of normalcy. Isaac had on pants and one sock, hopping as he attempted to put on the other. She couldn't find his shirt, only to realize she'd put it on herself by accident, and inside out. She pulled on her pants in time for Isaac to groan and she could hear, with her own human ears, that her father had just come through the front door.
"Closet!" she said, breathlessly, pushing him toward the open door. He stumbled over his own shoes and fell, face first, into the closet with a loud crash.
Allison cringed and was about to tell him to be quiet when her bedroom door swung open, revealing a concerned Chris Argent, holding a tray of sodas and a bag of fast food.
Allison froze. Every possible excuse for this situation flew from her mind as Isaac righted himself.
"This isn't what it looks like," Isaac said quickly, gesturing between himself and Allison.
Mr. Argent cleared his throat, purposefully averting his eyes from his improperly clad daughter. "You mean to tell me that you aren't trying to escape into my daughter's closet, which, mind you, does not have a back exit, after having sex with her?"
Isaac blinked twice before reaching a hand up and scratching the back of his neck. "Oh," he said. "Well, I guess it's exactly what it looks like."
"Out!" Mr. Argent shouted and Isaac grabbed his shoes, darting past the ex-hunter without meeting his gaze.
Allison sank onto the edge of her bed and pulled her knees up, tucking her legs inside Isaac's shirt.
Her father strode across the room to put the food down on her desk.
The silence between them seemed to stretch forever. Finally, Allison decided to be the first one to speak.
"We were careful, you know," she said softly, still looking away from where her father was standing. "Neither of us are ready to be parents. We're not stupid."
Mr. Argent sighed and took a seat next to her on the bed. "I never said you were stupid."
"You implied it," she snapped. "Treating us the way you just did."
Out of the corner of her eye, Allison watched as her father hung his head, staring at his hands instead of looking at her.
"I just want you to be careful," he said. "That's all."
Allison frowned. "Dad, I just told you—"
"I know what you said," her father interrupted. "And I'm not talking about physically. I trust that you'll be careful physically. I'm talking about being careful with your heart."
He nodded. "Sex is never just sex. You always trade a piece of yourself away to someone else. I just want you to make sure you're not giving away pieces without getting anything in return," he paused and was quiet for a moment. "I always thought it'd be your mother, giving you this talk," he said. "I never thought I'd be the one doing it."
Allison scooted a little closer to her father and leaned her head on his shoulder. "Yeah. Me neither." She bit her lip, deliberating. "You know, I am getting something in return. Isaac and me…we're working out the particulars. But it's pretty serious, I think. Just so you know."
"I trust you to make good decisions, Allison," her father said. He reached over and patted her knee before standing and walking over to her bedroom door. "As long as you understand what I'm trying to say."
"Oh, and Allison," he said as he turned to leave. "If I catch Isaac in your room again, he's dead."
Allison smirked as her father left. She could hear him muttering about goddamned werewolves along the way.
"If you never lose nothing, if you never really lose nothing, then you never lose."
General Ghost "If Only"
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Wolf, nor do I profit in this story other than working at becoming a better writer. I do not claim to own any of these wonderful characters. They belong to the creative genius Jeff Davis and the various copyright holders.
A/N: This chapter felt really short to me. Sometimes the dialogue heavy chapters feel that way to me. It certainly took long enough, lol. Anywho, thank you so much for all the reviews guys. We're creeping up on 300! Holy moly guys. I can't believe it. To know that so many of you are picking up what I'm laying down is amazing. Dream come true. You guys are the reason I keep pushing along at this story, even when I'm sick and tired and, well, really really tired. I stay tired, lol. I work a full time job and am a parent so writing this eats into my sleep time. But it's entirely worth it because sharing it with you guys is the best. Thank you to all the loyals who have been here since day one and to all of you who have wondered in along the way. I love you all.