Some of you might have wondered why Stiles knew Derek from school, considering the six year age difference between them. I know that High School in the US is usually only 4 years, from 9th to 12th grade. But since Beacon Hill is such a small town, they have no middle school. At least not in my story …

Chapter 4

Stiles' first thought wasn't 'Damn, I'm busted'. No, it was 'Damn, he turned out nice'.

It's not that Derek Hale hasn't always been good looking. Even at the age of eleven Stiles had been able to notice that, along with quite a few girls. But as far as he could remember, Derek hadn't dated anyone back then. Or at least not anyone from school.

"What are you doing here?" Tall, dark and handsome repeated, sounding even grumpier than before.

True, initially Stiles had felt bad for trespassing on his property, but now … not so much. Derek's scolding tone of voice was more than a little irritating. The only person allowed to speak to him this way was his father. And even then Stiles rebelled, each and every time. No matter what, he certainly wouldn't back down now.

But it wasn't just the chiding that didn't sit well with Stiles. It was also Derek's posture. Standing there, a few feet away with his legs slightly apart and his arms folded against his chest, and, to top it all off, a very disapproving look on his face. Actually, that was the worst. For one it didn't suit him. It made him look … sour. But more importantly it made Stiles feel like a child. He might be six years younger, but he was still almost of age.

Stiles straightened his back in defiance, raising his head, glaring right back at his opponent. "I heard you the first time."

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. Derek unfolded his arms, taking a few deliberate steps forward, effectively closing the distance between them. As much as Stiles appreciated Derek's physique – his strong features, his muscular legs and arms, not to mention his abs – he felt a little intimidated by his rough demeanor. But there was no way he was going to admit that, ever.

"I'm not scared of you."

Derek smirked, arching one of his thick eyebrows. "Your heartbeat is telling a different story."

"Yeah, right." Stiles snorted. "Like you are able to hear that."

Derek was right about it, though. His heart was actually beating quite a bit faster than normal, but there was no way he could determine that without using a stethoscope or laying a hand on his chest. Not that Stiles would have minded either one or the other, quite the opposite actually. He would have gladly volunteered to be the patient, as long as Derek was the doctor in that scenario.

'Like that was ever going to happen … but one could dream …'

Hopefully unaware of Stiles' wanton thoughts, Derek rolled his eyes, huffing in annoyance. "Maybe I am, maybe I'm not … but that's not the issue here."

"Which is?" Stiles shot back, already knowing the answer.

"You are trespassing."

"Well, that's not my fault. I just lost my way." As excuses went, it was a very lame one. And Stiles knew that. But given the circumstances, it was the first thing that came to his mind. And going by Derek's expression, he didn't buy it either.

"You are lying." He growled, obviously running out of what little patience he'd had to begin with. "Do us both a favor and leave."

"Or what?" Stiles challenged, knowing very well that he was tempting fate. But he just couldn't help himself. His father always said that his mouth was would get him into some real trouble one day. And maybe he had been right about that all along.

"You really don't want to find out."

Derek certainly meant what he said. To tell the truth, it was obvious that he was fighting to stay in control, not just going by the way he was clenching and unclenching his hands. There was also a strange glint in his eyes, one that Stiles had witnessed only twice before – once with his mother and shortly after with his uncle. Maybe that was something that ran in their family. In Talia's case Stiles had interpreted it as approval, with Peter it had been the complete opposite. And with Derek it seemed to be a combination of both … which made him none the wiser.

Stiles didn't know what it was – maybe his gut feeling, maybe his intuition, maybe just a glimpse of hope – but something told him that Derek wouldn't actually resort to violence if he refused to heed his warning. But even so, he didn't want to stick around to find out what might happen if he was wrong. True, Derek wasn't that much taller, maybe an inch or two, but he was most certainly physically stronger. No way, Stiles would stand a chance against him.

Without another comment – snide or otherwise – he moved past Derek and took flight. Only when he was about a mile away, he dared to look over his shoulder, checking if he was being followed. But he couldn't see anything but trees and bushes. To be honest, Stiles was a little disappointed, but he didn't linger to wait if Derek would change his mind and pursue him after all. Instead he hurried to get back to his car. Forgotten were his original plans – finding the other half of the body and his wolf. All he wanted now was to get home as fast as possible. Not out of fear or anything along that line, but because he suddenly had a new project.

Finding out everything there was to know about Derek Hale.

It was about five thirty when Stiles finally pulled into the driveway in front of his house. He was surprised to find out that he'd actually spent four hours in the woods, especially considering that his outing hadn't been very fruitful. Well at least not by gaining any new insights. If anything, he only ended up with more questions. Questions that needed to be answered, but not right now …

Stiles was very glad though that he made it in time. His father would be home pretty soon, having the early shift for once. And dressed as he was right now it would be very hard to hide the truth from the Sheriff. One look and he would easily figure out where his son had spent the afternoon. And Stiles couldn't have that, which was why he didn't stop at the kitchen and get something to eat – even though he was starving – but went straight upstairs to his room.

Deciding to take a quick shower before getting changed, Stiles stripped down to nothing. After all the running he felt the need to freshen up, before putting on clean clothes. Standing under the hot spray of water, he had a hard time keeping the shower short and efficient. Not truly surprising, seeing as the shower was one of his favorite places to jack off. And especially now, with the new fodder for his spank bank, so to speak. Just imagining Derek's strong upper arms and his big hands was enough to make him hard. He knew it wouldn't take much for him to come, just a few firm strokes. But he didn't give into his hormonal urges, reaching for the cold tap instead.

For one, Stiles preferred to take his time, teasing himself, very thoroughly, until he simply couldn't take it anymore … But more importantly, his father was due to home any minute. Just the thought of being interrupted by his parent, was enough to kill his erection.

He quickly soaped and rinsed, finishing his shower in record time. And just as he started to get dressed, he heard the cruiser turn into their driveway. By the time he made it downstairs, his father was already in the house, taking off his jacket and locking away his gun.

"Hi." Stiles exclaimed, using far too much enthusiasm than considered normal, considering they last saw each other just that morning.

"Hi." John replied, eying his son suspiciously. "What have you been up to?"

"Nothing." Stiles replied with a shrug, playing dumb. "I'm just not used to you being home so early, that's all. I'm planning to start on dinner. Are you hungry?"

"What do you think?" John snorted.

Stiles laughed, somewhat awkwardly, but mostly feeling relieved that his father didn't grill him further. "Did Nora didn't share her food?"

"Not after you gave her specific orders not to." John grumbled. Stiles didn't even try to hide his grin. Officer Nora Williams was known for her cooking skills. Her food was always delicious, but sadly generally unhealthy, which was why Stiles had a serious word with her when he decided to put his father on diet. She'd promised to keep his father away from her food, no matter what, and so far she hadn't broken her vow, much to the Sheriff's dismay.

"No worries. I'm making lasagna tonight."

Stiles hadn't planned to cook something big, but he was feeling generous, especially after deceiving his father. It was a low fat recipe, of course, but his father loved it nonetheless. Seemingly appeased by his son's bribery, John excused himself to change into something more comfortable than his uniform.

Feeling rather hungry himself, Stiles didn't lose any time, quickly gathering all the ingredients he needed. Fortunately, he'd cooked this meal numerous times before therefore he didn't have to really concentrate on what he was doing. If he'd actually had to consult a cook book, he probably would have screwed up the meal, ending up ordering pizza. And that was something he wanted to avoid at all costs, even though he was very fond of the cheesy stuffed crust.

Considering what happened earlier that day, it wasn't really a surprise that Stiles' thoughts were anywhere but in his kitchen. Not for the first time he wondered if Derek was actually staying at his old home. He truly hoped that wasn't the case. Not just because it was unsafe, which it was, despite the obvious firm ground structure. For the most part Stiles thought it was sad. Well, more than sad actually. To be literally surrounded by the ruins of one's life must be terribly devastating. He might not know Derek very well, but he surely felt sorry for him. Stiles knew what it felt like to lose one family member, but to be robbed off almost one's entire family in one fell swoop … that was a fate he didn't even wish on his greatest enemy.

Only Derek and Laura had survived, leaving town shortly after the tragic event. Understandably, given that they had lost not only their family but also their home. According to rumors they had relocated to the east coast, somewhere in Vermont or Maine, but nobody knew for sure exactly where. Not truly surprising, considering that the Hales had kept to themselves, for the most part. On the other hand, Stiles doubted that anyone had bothered to find out where they went and how they were doing.

But that was no longer an issue now. Derek was back and he looked okay. Well more than okay, actually he looked scrumptious … but only on the outside. It didn't take a genius (like Stiles) to figure out that he was still hurting, big time. One look into his brown eyes was enough to realize that. Stiles didn't blame him. He'd probably looked much the same for the first few months after his mother's death. Even though the circumstances had been completely different, the pain of loss was equally unbearable.

Even now, years later, he could catch that exact same look on his Dad's face, or on his own in the mirror. Not very often, but every once in a while, especially around certain dates. Why should Derek react any differently? Returning to his former home, seeing the destruction, being reminded of the worst day of his life … no wonder he'd been in such a bad mood. Sure, trespassing on his land might have also been an explanation for his less than courteous behavior, but Stiles was sure that the main reason was something else entirely.

Maybe Derek was here to determine the damage, to see if there was a chance to rebuild the house. Or maybe he has been coming here on some sort of yearly pilgrimage, to mourn his losses. Maybe the grave-like patch was some kind of symbol …

Whatever the reason, right now Stiles had a far more pressing question. If Derek was back, did that mean that Laura was here too? He hadn't seen her. But maybe she had been hiding from sight, somewhere in the house. Not that she had any reason to do that. From what Stiles remembered about the eldest of the Hale children, Laura was very capable to take care of herself. One time, she'd beat up two guys almost twice her size, without suffering any kind of injury herself. Come to think of it, that incident had been the reason why she and her brother had ended up in detention on the day of the fire. Derek hadn't taken an active part, other than pulling Laura off her unworthy opponents. But the headmaster had deemed them both guilty. Stiles was sure that Derek had been very mad at his sister at the time. But in hindsight, he was probably thankful. Both their actions had saved their lives.

Stiles thought about asking his father whether there had been any sightings in town, of either one of the Hale siblings. But that would have meant full disclosure, telling him about (pretty much) everything. The Sheriff would probably be sympathetic to Derek's plight, but he would be far less understanding about his son's decision to disregard the rules. And as things were right now, Stiles certainly didn't want to take any chances. Which was why, he decided to keep the dinner talk casual, talking about mundane things, like everyday happenings, rather than approaching delicate subjects.

'There is time for that later …'

Another day passed before Stiles got a chance to check his father's secret stash of files. He had been right, though. Deciphering the password was a cakewalk. It took him only four attempts. When he finally figured out the right password – his mother's name plus the date of his own birthday – he almost considered to give up and leave things be. Almost. But he was simply too curious, too invested already, to stop right there and then.

Unfortunately, he didn't find much. Well, except for one interesting piece of information.

Before driving a school bus Garrison Myers used to be an insurance investigator. The very investigator, who had ruled the Hale fire an accident. Needless to say, Stiles thought it was very strange that Myers had changed careers shortly after. Really, who in their right mind would trade such a prestigious position for a job with minimal wage and no perspectives? And especially for no apparent reason according to the Sheriff's own, private notes.

There was no mention of it in the official file, of course, since the case had been already closed by this point. But apparently John Stilinski had deemed that detail just as suspicious as his son that he thought it was worth pursuing once again. According to the time stamp the file had been opened and edited very recently, just two days after Myers untimely demise. Unfortunately, the Sheriff hadn't found any new evidence, just making a short note, like he was planning to look into it further at a later point. Maybe he knew more, but just hadn't gotten the chance to update the file. Considering how busy he was lately, it was a valid explanation.

Nevertheless, since he was already planning to do his own investigation, Stiles copied all files regarding the Hale fire on his memory stick. Sure, he could have easily sent everything to his laptop via email, but he didn't want to leave any evidence behind, at least not anything too obvious. Before leaving his father's study he even made sure everything was in its place, just like he found it … the mouse, the keyboard, even the chair.

'Better safe than sorry …'

Unfortunately, Stiles didn't get the opportunity to dig up more information about the issue. Due to an important upcoming game Coach Finstock had insisted on extra training hours. Which were of course mandatory, be there or be off the team. No one doubted the Coach's determination to follow through with his threat, not even Greenberg.

Stiles didn't want to wait until the weekend. Something told him that time was of the essence, that if he didn't act soon, something bad was going to happen. But perhaps that was just his impatience talking. He still went to lacrosse training each and every afternoon, despite his uneasiness, because he didn't want to raise any suspicion, from anyone.

"Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing." Scott grumbled, fidgeting with his lacrosse stick.

"You're not the only one." Stiles remarked, dryly.

"Hey," Scott protested, for once catching on right away. It was rather rare that he understood sarcasm. "I mean, what I'm doing here, sitting on the sidelines. Don't tell me, you don't want to be out on the field?"

"Maybe." Stiles shrugged.

"Maybe? We've been on the team for what … two years now … and all we do is sitting on the bank, watching the other guys have all the fun. It's not fair." Scott complained.

"True." Stiles agreed, evenly. A couple of weeks ago his response would have been much more emphatic, but with everything going on his priorities had changed, dramatically.

"What's with the single word responses? You usually have far more to say." Scott commented, sparing his friend a significant look. There was no accusation in his eyes, only curiosity, but Stiles still went right on the defensive.

"So what? It's not like things will change all of the sudden."

Scott recoiled at friend's less than friendly reaction. "Dude, what's wrong with you today? Come to think of it, you've been acting very strange lately."

"Like you had time to notice …" Stiles shot back, leaving no room for interpretation.

"Oh, I get it. It's my relationship with Allison. Is that what's bothering you? I thought you were okay with it. I thought you like her." Scott pointed out, adding, "Are you jealous?"

"Please," Stiles snorted. "You know as well as I do that I'm not jealous."

"Okay," Scott conceded, sounding anything but convinced. "Then what is it?"

For a moment Stiles considered confronting his friend about spending all his free time with his girlfriend. But even though it was certainly a significant reason for his bad mood, it wasn't the main one. And what good would it do to put all the blame on Scott? Their relationship was already strained as it was. No need to make things worse.

"I don't know … maybe I'm just grumpy because of my sleeping issues. It seems to get worse. Too much on my mind, I guess." Stiles explained, being rather evasive, sure, but telling the truth nonetheless. It was obvious by Scott's expression that he wanted to ask for more details. And even though Stiles appreciated the sentiment, he couldn't have it. Hiding things from his best friend on purpose was one thing. Lying outright to his face was another thing altogether. Which was why, he quickly stood up.

"Where are you going?"

"I have to take a leak." It was an excuse to escape the situation, but Scott seemed to buy it. As usual Coach Finstock didn't pay them any attention, which meant that Stiles could sneak away for a few minutes without being caught. Not that he cared. Lacrosse was so low on his priority list right now.