Tomorrow’s Yesterday – 1/2 – Chera

Title: Tomorrow’s Yesterday
Author: Chera
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Genre: Drama, Episode Related, Paranormal/Supernatural, Pre-Relationship, Shifters, Time Travel
Relationship(s): Gen
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Major Character Death, Violence – Graphic, Typical Canon Themes, Typical Canon Violence, Discussion of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Beta: PhoenixRising253
Word Count: 71,125
Summary: After dying in Mexico, Derek is given the opportunity to correct past events that have left the future of Beacon Hills in peril. He takes it.
Artist: Twigen



Chapter 1

February 2012

La Iglesia, Mexico

Derek sat back against the crumbling wall, pulling in ragged breaths. Around him, the sound of gunfire reported loudly. The berserkers and Kate weren’t going down and the hunters weren’t giving up. Stiles and the others had gone inside the church to save Scott and Kira. Derek was stunned for a moment at Stiles’ reluctance to leave him.

Braeden sat down hard beside him, her ammo-less gun hanging useless in her hand. He’d told her to save herself, but the headstrong woman refused to leave him.

He was in so much pain that every breath was excruciating. The berserker had inflicted fatal damage and with no healing ability, he felt every bit of agony. He’d never realized how much he’d depended on his werewolf healing.

He could feel himself growing weaker. Swallowing was almost impossible, but the blood kept welling up in the back of his throat. He didn’t want to die this way; indirectly at the hands of the woman who’d taken everything from him, leaving her to terrorize his friends, his family; his pack. Once again he’d failed his pack.

He struggled for another breath, turned his head towards Braeden, and offered her a slight grin as he felt his eyes fall shut.

***

A moment in time

Unknown Location

The sound of Derek’s name strangely echoed as his eyes fluttered open. He sat up slightly anticipating pain and was shocked to find none. He looked around, realizing that he was no longer in the middle of a demolished city; he was lying on the grass-covered ground.

The sound of a throat clearing drew his attention behind him. He sat up fully and turned to see a dark-haired man standing several feet away. He was dressed in a blue buttoned-down shirt, grey slacks, and oddly enough, a pair of lime green Nikes.

Derek climbed to his feet and asked suspiciously, “Where am I? How did I get here? Who are you!”

The man arched a brow and replied, “So many questions, yet not once a polite greeting. There is so much anger and distrust running through you, yet you have no clue who I am.”

Derek arched his own brow said, “And you haven’t answered my questions.”

The man chuckled lowly and replied, “So like the wolf; never backing down. As for whom I am, I have had many names. Most have been forgotten or relegated to myth. But you can call me Howard.” he said with a smirk.

“As to where you are, you are at a crossroads if you will. You are being given an opportunity. The choice you make in this moment may change everything as you know it. Or it may change nothing. But the choice is yours alone to make.” Howard continued.

Derek stared at Howard wondering just how much blood loss it took to hallucinate.

Howard shook his head and gestured behind Derek saying, “Let’s have a seat and discuss things like educated men, not feral animals.”

Glancing behind him, Derek saw two chairs that weren’t there before. He approached the chairs and sat down, while Howard did the same. Before Derek could demand answers again, Howard began speaking.

“Many millennia ago wolves were merged with man. The reasons no longer matter as it was based on arrogance and anger on both parts. The result is what’s important. Lycaon and his sons were the first.

“The sons had children, and so on down through the ages until we come to you.

“All werewolves can trace their lines back to the individual sons. At the time they were turned into wolves, Lycaon and his sons sought a way to turn back to men. The druids taught them the skill to shift, but they discovered that they were drawn to their wolf form with the pull of the full moon. Over time they discovered how to control the full transformation to the wolf. It evolved into what you call the shift today while retaining the ability to shift fully into wolves.

“Through the years, the lines of Lycaon have lost the ability to shift to the full wolf. Your line has been the only one to retain it. Do you know why?”

Derek shook his head, not sure if that was a rhetorical question or not.

“You can trace your heritage back to Oenotrus, Lycaon’s youngest son, who made his way to Italy. His descendants, who carried the curse, eventually made their way to the New World. And finally came to what is now California, particularly the area of Beacon Hills. They were drawn there by the power of the beacon. They guarded it, with the aid of their emissaries, ensuring that nothing harmed the vessel of power. And the power of the beacon allowed them to retain the ability to take full wolf form.

“But the beacon has been harmed, and the power that used to flow from it, by way of Telluric Currents, has become stagnant. Too much darkness has filled the conduit and doesn’t allow it to flow properly. It will eventually poison the land to the point that nothing can be sustained there.

“The guardians of the beacon have neglected their responsibilities over the last several years. Your mother was influenced by the druid she chose as an emissary. She protected the territory but the beacon was allowed to languish. Laura chose to run and abandon her territory, leaving a vulnerable pack member behind. She neglected her responsibility completely. Peter…” Howard trailed off.

Derek shook his head, “Peter is selfish, manipulative, and vengeful. He never considered what responsibility he had to the territory. He was all about revenge.”

“Yes.” Howard agreed. “So you understand the issues with your family. And your own choices haven’t been stellar.”

Derek replied, “And that goes back to not being trained to be Alpha. Mom picked one successor and never considered what might happen. That was a major oversight on her part.”

“And would you do things differently if given the chance? Would you see to the security of the beacon, ensure the territory was protected? Prevent the darkness from threatening all that exists there.”

“Why me? That’s a huge responsibility for anyone. And you said I made poor choices. Why not allow Peter to redeem himself, or Cora? Or even Malia?”

“Because at this time you are the best choice and you’re in the perfect position for this offer to be made.” Howard informed him.

Derek cleared his throat and said, “So what is this choice I have to make?”

“You can choose to go back to where you were, evolve into a werewolf with the ability to shift into a full wolf. And carry on as you will. And the darkness of the poisoned beacon will spread. And the destruction it leaves behind will be unimaginable.

“Or you can return to the past and correct the mistakes that were made that led us to this point in time. Stabilize the beacon and restore the flow of the magical currents. If you chose to return to the past, you will retain your memories. No sense sending you back just to make the same mistakes again. You will regain the abilities that were lost to the ritual Kate Argent performed on you.” Howard explained to him.

Derek’s mind was turning all that over. He could go back. Erica and Boyd. He could save them. Be a better Alpha to them. Or not turn them at all, depending on when he went back. His family… he could save them; prevent the fire. He’d have to figure out how to ensure the stability of the beacon, whatever that was. Could he do this? Was he capable? Howard’s words of him being the best choice resounded in his head.

His gaze met Howard’s and he said, “I choose to go back. Do I get to pick when?” Before his sentence was complete, a blinding light came from Howard, and Derek’s eyes squeezed shut in defense.

***

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Arriving in California

Derek felt a hand shaking his shoulder and heard a soft voice say, “Sir, you need to wake up.” He opened his eyes and the flight attendant said, “You need to sit up and get buckled in sir, we’re landing.”

As he sat up and buckled his seat belt, he realized he was on the plane he’d taken from New York to California. He looked across and saw that the sun hadn’t set yet, so maybe he could get to Beacon Hills and…and what? What could he do? Laura was already dead. Peter was crazy, well crazier than usual. He’d just have to see when he got there.

The plane landed and Derek disembarked, by-passing baggage claim as he’d only brought a carry-on. He went directly to rent an SUV and hit the highway to Beacon Hills. He was two hours away from the city. He looked at the clock and saw that it was 6:15 pm and moonrise was at 9:21 pm tonight. So he pushed the accelerator a little harder.

He began considering his options. The first thing he was going to do was stop Peter. That’s number one on the list. Peter’s rampage did a lot to cause instability in the area. The hunters and Alpha pack converged due to his actions.

Derek also had an idea of what the beacon was. He was beginning to think it was the Nemeton. Derek wondered if the Nogitsune sitting there for so long was the reason it had declined. Then he had the thought that Deaton was supposed to be in charge of that, wasn’t he? He’s a druid, why was he unable to see the decline? Or had he and his idea of ‘keeping the balance’ meant letting what happened, happen? Howard said his mother was influenced by a druid.

He then shook off those thoughts and began planning on how to deal with Peter.

He had idolized Peter as a child, but it wasn’t until after Laura’s death that he’d realized he’d been manipulated by him his entire life. He knew that Peter wouldn’t give up his desire for vengeance, and that wouldn’t benefit his task. The only way to proceed would be to end Peter. His heart ached at the thought of losing another member of his family, but he saw no other option. But he did know it wouldn’t be like last time; there would be no fire involved and there would be no coming back for Peter.

He continued his planning and by the time he’d reached the city limits of Beacon Hills, he had a plan.

***

Derek stood outside the window that he suspected Peter would be coming out of at moonrise. When he’d arrived in Beacon Hills, with an hour to spare, he immediately went to the burned-out house to find the powdered wolfsbane Lydia had used to sedate him for Peter’s resurrection. He had it, along with a pair of rune-covered shackles that had survived the fire.

He planned to bring Peter back to the house and take care of him there. He heard the nurse enter Peter’s room, stood back in the shadow of the building near the side of the window, and waited for Peter to climb out. He didn’t have long to wait and once Peter’s head cleared the window frame, Derek blew the powdered wolfsbane, from his glove covered hand, into Peter’s face and leaped back. The fine purple powder fluffed around Peter’s face and Derek saw the flash of Alpha red before Peter’s eyes rolled up in his head and he slumped half out the window.

He pulled Peter the rest of the way through the window. As he threw him over his shoulder, the nurse put her head out and said, “You’re ruining everything.”

Derek frowned and replied, “You’d have been dead in a week. Consider yourself saved.” He then turned and walked to his rented SUV and tossed Peter in the back. He grabbed the shackles and clamped them on Peter’s wrists, then got in and drove to the family home.

***

Pulling up to the house, Derek got out, walked to the rear of the SUV, and opened the hatch. Peter was still unconscious so he pulled him out, threw him over his shoulder, and walked to the pond that was behind the remains of the house. He braced Peter against one of the trees near the pond, and using the chain he’d brought from the house that had been used to restrain young werewolves, he chained the Alpha to the tree and waited.

He passed the time thinking about all the things he needed to do once he dealt with Peter. He was going to be busy just getting the succession tended to.

Lost in his thoughts, he was startled when he heard a groan coming from Peter. Derek stood as the werewolf regained consciousness. He watched as Peter realized the situation he was in.

Looking around Peter shook his head and taunted, “You seriously brought me here? What, you’re going to make me beg?” Derek stepped out of the shadows of the trees and Peter’s eyes flashed red as he struggled against the chain holding him in place. The wolfsbane had weakened him considerably.

Peter spewed threats at Derek until he came fully into the light of the full moon and his identity was revealed. He demanded softly, “Give me one reason why I should let you live, Uncle Peter.”

Peter’s threats ceased and he stared at Derek in shock, “Derek? What are you doing? I’m the Alpha now. You need to release me and let me tend to the business our former Alpha refused to do.”

Derek shook his head and replied with a frown, “That’s your answer? That’s not a reason. You killed my sister, MY ALPHA, so you could get revenge. That’s all you’re concerned with and you think I’m going to just release you to do that?”

Peter gave Derek a shrewd look “There will be a place for you. You will be my enforcer, my right hand. I’ll start over. Like a vengeful God, I will raze this earth to the ground! I will take out all of them! Not just the wolves, but the Wendigos, the Banshees, every shapeshifter. I will obliterate the weak and I will remake the supernatural of Beacon Hills in my image.

“I will raise an army and take back our rights from the hunters, the right to survive. And we will make them all pay for what they’ve done. I will scorch the earth and leave it dripping in their blood!”

Derek gazed towards the east and saw the first tinges of pink lighten the sky. He turned to face Peter, snorting in derision. “You believe that you will lead this pack into glory? That you will right the wrongs inflicted on our family? That you will eradicate the hunters?

“You will see us decimated! There will be NO Hale Pack with you leading it,” Derek roared out in anger.

“I have figured out a lot of things sitting here waiting for you to wake up. Tell me, Peter, did you work with Kate Argent to trap our family? Did you make a deal with the devil, to kill my mother and become Alpha, in exchange for letting her kill the rest of us?”

Derek inhaled harshly and asked, “Did you know what was happening between us and use that to get her cooperation? Is that why you are so focused on revenge? Not because she killed our entire family, but because she went back on your deal and trapped you as well?”

Derek had thought about Peter’s motivations in the past, on his drive from the airport. And a lot of things didn’t add up. Peter was willingly working with Kate Argent to teach her control and to kill Scott. He heard about that from Chris Argent, who got it from his sister.

Why Peter was the only one inside the house to survive? And why were her claws the only thing left of his mother? Had she been fighting with someone? He’d begun piecing things together and it formed a very ugly picture.

Peter paled at Derek’s accusations. His heart raced and he pulled against the shackles and chain. Derek watched his silent struggle and said as he walked over to his uncle, “Your silence and your heart tell me more about your guilt than your voice ever could.”

Derek leaned into Peter’s space, towering over him he declared, “You have been judged by the pack and have been found lacking.” Derek slashed with a clawed hand and tore out Peter’s throat. The Alpha gazed up at him with disbelief and as blood flowed from his severed jugular, the red bled from his eyes. With a gurgling gasp, Peter’s eyes turned their natural blue, and then his gaze fell vacant. Derek heard his heart take one last fluttery beat before it stilled completely.

At the same moment Peter’s heart stopped, the alpha power slammed into Derek. He’d felt this before but it was more intense than he remembered. He forced it down, reciting the mantra his mother had taught him years ago, “Alpha, Beta, Omega.” He repeated it until he felt more in control and then sat on the ground and stared at his uncle’s body, tears streaming down his face. Even though he knew there was no other way, it still hurt to lose another part of his family.

Chapter 2

January 10, 2011

Beacon Hills, California

Derek dusted off his hands and replaced the shovel he’d gotten from the shed behind the house. He was surprised it was still there after all this time.

He’d buried Peter beside the pond, where so many Alphas had held their ascension ceremonies, as tradition dictated with the wolfsbane infused rope spiraling over him. Peter might not rest in peace, but he was certain he wouldn’t be coming back again.

He got into his rental and drove into town to rent a room to clean up before making an appearance at the Sheriff’s Station. He knew he wouldn’t have the same issues as before because he hadn’t moved Laura’s body. He’d decided on the drive from the airport that that had been what drew attention to him the last time. He would also have to project surprise when he was informed of Peter missing from the Long Term Care Unit.

After showering and changing clothes, he grabbed his keys and jacket and headed off to the Sheriff’s Station.

***

Derek pulled up at the Sheriff’s Station and watched as a tow truck pulled Laura’s car into the impound yard. He would eventually get it out, but right now the SUV was better suited to his needs.

He went into the building and spoke to the deputy manning the front desk and she’d said the Sheriff would be right with him.

Noah Stilinski came out of his office, trailed by his son who was arguing about having to go home to do homework. He watched as Noah turned and said, “You did something I have told you several times NOT to do! You endangered yourself and Scott being at a crime scene. You are grounded. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and no helping me look for remains. Go home, Stiles.” The man turned and walked away before the young man could say anything else.

Derek stood as the Sheriff approached him. “How can I help you son?” Noah asked as he shook his hand.

Derek replied, “My name is Derek Hale and I want to report my sister, Laura, missing.”

He heard Stiles choke as he made his way out of the building.

Noah squinted at him and said, “I remember you. You’re Talia’s boy. I’m sorry about what happened to your family. Your parents were much respected in the community and their loss was greatly felt.”

Derek lowered his head, and nodded saying, “Thank you, sir, it’s just me, Laura and Uncle Peter left now.”

Noah gave a nod and said, “Well let’s go into my office and see about some paperwork. When did you last see your sister?”

The two entered the office and Derek sat down, explaining that he’d last seen Laura on the twenty-eighth when she left New York. He explained that he’d talked to her last on the sixth and her phone was now going straight to voicemail. They had a deal that she would call every day she was away, and she didn’t miss a day until the seventh. He got on a plane the morning of the ninth.

“Do you know why she came out here?” Noah asked him.

“She didn’t explain, just that it had something to do with our Uncle Peter. She said she’d tell me more when she found out,” Derek said.

“So you believe she’s missing? Have you checked the hospital, to see if she’s been there?” Noah asked, making notes on his report.

“No sir,” Derek admitted. “But you have her car in the impound yard.”

Noah’s head snapped up and he rose from his chair, “Well let’s go check it out.”

When they got outside, a deputy was going through the car. He had a pile of Laura’s things and was currently going through her bag.

“Sheriff,” the deputy said as he noticed the Sheriff and Derek’s arrival, “We have identification here that shows Laura Hale as the owner.”

Noah nodded, “Yes, we figured that it was her car since this is her brother here reporting her missing,” indicating Derek beside him.

The deputy nodded at Derek, replying “I haven’t found anything that indicates foul play, but we still have to dust for prints.”

“OK Haigh, get on that and let me know when you’ve finished your report,” Noah ordered.

Noah walked Derek back to the front of the building and explained that they didn’t have anything to lead to a crime, but they would keep looking. Derek asked when he could claim her car. Noah told him that he’d be called once they finished processing it.

Derek nodded and left the Sheriff’s Station. He’d made the report and they should be completing the search by late this evening or early tomorrow and then they would discover it was Laura. He had the rest of the afternoon free; he was going to get some rest, while he still could. There would be a lot to do in the coming days.

***

After getting back to his hotel, Derek ordered room service and changed into a pair of sweats. By the time his food arrived, he was feeling wiped out. As he sat eating his steak he considered what he needed to do. He would make simple arrangements for Laura’s burial in the family plot. She would get the proper burial she should have had before.

He would need to rent a temporary apartment while he had a new pack-house built. He also needed to have the old house demolished and figure out what to do with the tunnels. While they offered a secure space for out of control shifts, his family had been trapped in those tunnels. And he sure didn’t want a recurrence of Crazy Kate hanging out there.

With a solid plan for the next day, Derek finished his dinner and got ready for bed. Turning off the lights he climbed into bed and fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.

A few hours later, Derek was awakened by his cell going off. He rolled over and grabbed the phone, answering it without even checking the caller ID. The Sheriff asked him to come down to the Sheriff’s Station, as he believed they found Laura. After telling the Sheriff he’d be there as soon as possible he got up, dressed, and headed out, trying to mentally prepare himself for seeing his sister’s dead body, again.

Derek positively identified Laura at the coroner’s office, and then went back to the sheriff’s office to answer some more questions. The sheriff informed him that the preliminary autopsy on the body placed her time of death on Jan 6, so he was probably the last person to talk to her. He asked Derek a few more questions and then assured him that Laura’s body would be sent to the mortuary as soon as the coroner was finished with the autopsy. Once that was finished, he returned to the hotel to try and get a few more hours of sleep.

***

Derek tossed and turned, not getting any real sleep before his alarm went off. He got up, showered, dressed, and hit the nearest coffee shop for a large coffee, before going to the funeral home to make all the arrangements.

He informed the funeral director that he wanted his sister buried in the family plot in the preserve. He arranged for a simple pine casket and transportation to be handled through them.

The director informed him that they would be able to transport her to the preserve as soon as she was ready. Derek thanked the man and left to run his other errands.

Climbing into the SUV, he sat there thinking about how it felt like it did the first time he went through this. The pain at her loss felt as fresh now as it did then. He leaned back and let the sorrow flow through him, using it to build his determination to see this through and move forward. Slapping the steering wheel, he then started the car and headed off to the Realtor that had the loft.

As he passed the high school, he remembered the family vault. He needed to get in there and pull those bearer bonds out before that nightmare began as well.

He also gave Malia a passing thought but decided he’d deal with her once he was more settled. The Desert Wolf was still unaware of her at the moment, so she was safer where she was.

Pulling into the realtor’s office he went in and two hours later, he had a contract for a year’s rental and keys to a warehouse with a loft apartment. It wasn’t the same huge warehouse he’d had in the past, but he didn’t need that as his plans were different. The realtor was arranging for the electric, gas, and water to be turned on.

Glancing at the clock on the dash, he realized it had been hours since he last ate, so he stopped in at the diner and took a table. He grabbed a menu and browsed the selections, and as he spied the curly fries, a slight grin crossed his face. He remembered the many times that Stiles proclaimed curly fries were a gift from the gods, but only for him, Sheriff Dad’s weren’t allowed.

He was looking forward to different interactions with Stiles. He knew he was rather harsh with the guy when they first met, even downright bullying, and despite that Stiles always had his back. It wasn’t until later that they began developing a friendship. That was one of the things he was determined to change. Because Stiles was the kind of friend that everyone needed.

The waitress interrupted his musings and took his order. As he waited for his food, he called the Sheriff and let him know about the plans for Laura, as he asked to be notified. When asked, the Sheriff said they didn’t have any leads on who killed his sister, but he promised he wouldn’t stop investigating.

Once he finished his call, his food arrived and he spent the next twenty minutes enjoying his lunch. As he ate, he had a sudden thought to contact Satomi. She may be able to help him with a few things.

Finishing his lunch, he headed to the Ito Pack meeting place.

***

Derek made his way through the forest, headed to Lookout Point. The forest it was located in was roughly twenty-five minutes from Beacon Hills. It was not connected in any way to the Hale Territory. He knew this was the meeting place for the Ito Pack. He didn’t have to wait long before a werewolf appeared flashing his golden eyes and asking, “What are you doing here?”

Derek flashed his own red eyes replying, “I’m here to request a meeting with Alpha Ito. I’m Derek Hale, Alpha of the Hale pack.”

The Beta looked at him closely, saying, “It’s been a long time Derek, it’s good to see you.”

Derek looked him over, noting the dark curly brown hair and blue eyes, his offset nose gave him away, “Bobby? Bobby Hansen?” He was staring at one of the non-family members of the Hale pack. The Beta nodded and reached out to shake Derek’s hand.

Derek took the offered hand and as he shook it the Beta explained, “Yeah after the fire and so many pack bonds snapping, Alpha Satomi took us in. We would have gone with you and Laura, but she’d taken you and left by the time most of us could recover to get to her. I guess I don’t have to ask where she is.”

Derek shook his head, “It’s a long, complicated story.”

“Well come on, I’ll take you to Alpha Satomi,” Bobby said and led the way deeper into the forest.

They walked for several minutes following nothing more than deer trails when they broke into a clearing. A two-story sprawling house with a pagoda-style roof set nestled in the trees. Several young children were running around, who stopped and stared at the two as they crossed to the front porch. The door opened before they climbed the steps and Satomi Ito met them at the top of the steps.

“Alpha, I have brought a visitor. I believe you may know him,” Bobby spoke respectfully.

Satomi tilted her head saying, “Yes it’s been a few years, but the resemblance is there. Come in Derek Hale and let’s have some tea, or you can have a soft drink and I’ll have tea.”

Derek grinned as he climbed the steps “Of course Alpha Satomi.”

Derek followed the older woman into the house, wondering how such an elder Alpha kept her hair as dark as it was. She was shorter than him, but she carried herself with the strength of an Alpha.

She settled him at a kitchen island while she prepared their drinks. When she handed him his she said, “I take it that Laura is no longer with us?”

Derek took a drink of his soft drink and sat it down, “No, she’s dead. Her body was found early this morning. She’s being buried as soon as I prepare a space in the family plot.”

Satomi shook her head; her sadness reflected in her brown eyes, “I am so sorry for your loss. You have been through so much at such a young age. Was it hunters?”

“No, it was Peter. He managed to come out of the coma, feral and I guess he attacked her when she came out here. I tracked him from the house and put him down,” the partial lie spinning easily from his lips. He wasn’t certain it was luck, his ability to control his heart, or Howard’s help that prevented the old Alpha from picking up on it.

“So you are a new Alpha that is going to need a pack. I believe that some of the former Hale pack would be willing to join you. And I must contact Cora. She came to us a few weeks after Laura took you away. She stayed here for a few days but kept saying she had to hide. So I made arrangements for her to go to a pack in Brazil when we had no way to contact Laura. Alpha Aronis has his pack in the mountains outside Brasilia. From what I understand she has been attending school in the city, and she is doing very well.”

Derek didn’t have to feign shock. “I didn’t know she survived. I thought…” He never knew that Cora had come to Satomi for aid.

“Yes, you are not alone in the world,” Satomi assured him. “Now what are your current plans?”

Derek finished his drink slowly and placed the glass on the counter. “I’m going to bury Laura, and then I’ll return to New York and pack up our apartments. I’ll ship everything back here to a building I’ve rented. Long term plans are to build a stable pack, rebuild a house on my family’s property, and tend to the territory as it should have been.”

Satomi nodded, “Sounds like a solid beginning. I will speak with the members of my pack and see who is interested. I do suggest that you not return to New York alone. A lone Alpha is almost a challenge. I will see if someone will be willing to accompany you. If you don’t find it as an intrusion, I would like to join you in burying Laura. It is a tradition that neighboring Alphas are present at the burial of a deceased Alpha as a sign of respect.”

Derek responded, “Of course I will let you know once I make the final arrangements. Thank you for your assistance with Cora and with the aid to our extended pack, it is greatly appreciated. I wish Laura had considered approaching you.”

“I wish she had as well. Things could have been different for all of you.”

“I need to be on my way. It’s been a rough twenty-four hours and I still have a grave to dig,” Derek said, standing up.

Satomi escorted Derek to the door and after exchanging numbers, promised to be in contact with him about an escort to New York.

“You have a good afternoon and I’ll speak to you soon,” Derek said as he walked out on the porch.

“You as well. Robert, please escort Alpha Hale back to the Lookout.”

Bobby stepped over and nodded respectfully, “Yes Alpha.” Then turning he said, “If you’ll follow me, Alpha Hale.”

Derek followed the Beta back through the forest, talking back and forth of what they’d been doing the last few years. Once they reached the lookout Bobby said, “If you’re going to reform the Hale pack, Danni and I would be pleased to join you.”

Derek was speechless. While he appreciated Alpha Satomi’s offer to speak to his former pack-mates, he didn’t believe they’d join him after Laura’s abandonment.

He shook off the thoughts and said, “I’d be glad to have the both of you. But let’s discuss that once I’m settled back here. I still have a trip to make back east to close up things there. But I’ll get in contact with you through Alpha Satomi.”

Bobby agreed and after a slap on the shoulder, he said goodbye and turned back into the forest.

Derek walked to his SUV, feeling a little accomplished for it having only been 24 hours.

***

Derek looked up to see several people walking through the preserve. He’d finished the rough grave for Laura the evening before, and was waiting for the funeral director to arrive with her body.

Satomi was leading several people towards the house where Derek was waiting. He’d called her when he heard from the funeral director and told her Laura was to be buried the next day and she promised to be there.

There were several werewolves that Derek recognized as being non-family members of the Hale pack. Satomi greeted him and introduced the others, and when he was introduced to Bobby’s wife, Danni she hugged him around her overly pregnant belly. The others merely nodded in acknowledgment at the introductions.

The wait for the hearse was short and when the director asked where to drive to, Bobby walked up and said they’d carry Laura to the gravesite, as it was a private matter. The funeral director shook his head as he pulled open the door and slid the coffin out on the rails.

Two other wolves joined Bobby and Derek in lifting the coffin and carrying it to the gravesite. Derek had laid two nylon straps across the hole, to divert from the fact they could lower the coffin without aid.

Once Laura was lowered into the grave, the funeral director left and when the wolves were certain of his departure, Derek placed the wolfsbane infused rope in the coffin with his sister.

He said a few words and then thanked everyone for coming and began filling the grave. The Ito pack left Derek in peace to bury his sister. In the silence of the preserve, Derek once more laid his sister to rest.

Chapter 3

January 12, 2011

Beacon Hills, California

Once he finished burying Laura, Derek went to his hotel room, showered, and then drove to the Sheriff’s Station. He went in and asked to speak to Sheriff Stilinski.

The deputy called the Sheriff, letting him know that he was there.

Sheriff Stilinski came out and leaned against the counter, telling the deputy to get the paperwork on Laura’s car. He then turned to Derek and said, “Are you going back to New York now?”

Derek watched as the deputy organized the papers, and then handed them to him for his signature. As he signed them, he replied to Noah, “I’m going to go back and close up our apartments and then I’m going to relocate here. Uncle Peter is all the family I have, so I want to be close.”

Noah nodded and replied, “Let me know when you have an address so we can keep you updated on the investigation. I promise that I won’t stop looking until I find her killer.”

Derek finished the paperwork and slid it back to the deputy and turned to Noah saying, “Thank you, sir, I appreciate it. I have rented a building with an apartment that I’m going to be moving into. I can give you the address now, but I won’t be taking up residence for at least another week or two.”

Noah nodded and instructed the deputy to update the contact info for the Laura Hale case. Once that was done, the two shook hands, and Derek went to the impound yard and spoke with the deputy in charge and made arrangements to come back and get Laura’s car.

He planned to store it at the old house in the detached garage. So after the arrangements were made, he drove back to the hotel, left the SUV there, and walked back to the Sheriff’s Station and picked up the Camaro.

The interior smelled like a combination of dust and cleaning supplies. As he drove to the preserve, he lowered the windows to allow some of the smell to escape. By the time he reached the house, the embedded scent of his sister filled the car. He pulled up to the garage and just sat in front and soaked up her scent. All the issues from the last two years before coming back had erased it from his mind. Now he immersed himself in it, committing it to memory, giving in to his grief.

He didn’t know how long he sat there before he realized he needed to put the car into the garage, so he got out and approached the door. The padlock on the door twisted off easily enough and he pushed the door open. Sitting in the garage were his Mother’s Mercedes and Peter’s Jaguar.

He looked over the vehicles and shook his head. How was it these weren’t taken care of after the fire and how was it he’d never even checked the last time? Looking around the garage, he found the box mounted on the wall that contained the keys for both. He’d have to have maintenance done on them, but that was for another day.

Seeing he had enough room, he pulled the Camaro into the garage and shut the door. He’d have to get another lock on it before he left. With that done, Derek took off running through the preserve surrendering to his wolf, letting the rhythm of the run soothe his weary soul. He eventually made his way to the hotel and decided a nap was in order.

Right after he climbed into bed, he got a text from Satomi saying that Bobby and another werewolf, Alex Bishop, had agreed to accompany him to New York. With that settled, he drifted off to sleep.

***

Derek was pulled from his nap by the ringing of his phone. He reached over and saw it was from the Sheriff’s Department. He sat up and answered. He listened to the sheriff apologize for bothering him, but could he come down to the station, as they had a situation they needed to discuss with him.

Derek agreed and got up, dressed then drove to the station to see what was going on. When he got there he was offered coffee and Danish and then told to sit in the interrogation room. This had an ominous feeling he didn’t like at all. The Sheriff and a man he didn’t know entered the room and took seats across from Derek.

“Derek the reason we called you down here is that the hospital has reported Peter Hale missing. This is Mr. Thompson, the administrator from Beacon Hills Memorial, and he was the one to report his disappearance,” Noah explained.

Derek glanced between both men and then focused on the Sheriff and asked, “Am I being accused of something?”

Noah shook his head and said, “No son, we just wanted to let you know and see if you knew anything about it?”

Derek nodded, and made a show of looking around and said, “And we’re in an interrogation room why?”

Noah rolled his eyes and said, “Oh for god sakes, the conference room was painted yesterday and still stinks, I figured this would be better.”

Derek relaxed and said, “No I haven’t seen my Uncle Peter. I was planning to stop by the hospital before I went back to New York tomorrow. He’s the reason Laura came out here, and last I was told his condition hadn’t changed, so I assumed he was still bedridden and uncommunicative.”

Mr. Thompson nodded, saying, “Yes, according to his chart, his mental condition hasn’t changed in six years. He’s made progress as far as physical healing, but he’s still comatose. His disappearance wasn’t noticed until his regular nurse didn’t show up last night.”

Derek and Noah exchanged glances and Noah said, “You mean to tell me the man has been missing since last night and you’re just now reporting it?”

Mr. Thompson glared at the sheriff and replied, “We did a full search of the hospital and all annexes before we called you. We had to ensure he wasn’t just misplaced.”

Derek would have been horrified if he didn’t know where Peter was. “Misplaced,” he echoed.

Mr. Thompson nodded, “Yes, unfortunately, we occasionally misplace a patient for a few minutes while they are in transport for one test or another, or if there is a reason for them to be moved from their room. It usually resolves itself, but it does sometimes happen.”

Noah cleared his throat and said, “And you’re certain he hasn’t been ‘misplaced”?”

Derek could almost hear the quotes around the word misplaced in the Sheriff’s tone.

Mr. Thompson replied saying, “Yes Sheriff we have done a thorough search.”

Noah rubbed a hand across his face and said, “Well how about this, I’ll send a couple of deputies over, and they can give it an official search, and ask a few questions.”

Mr. Thompson sighed and said, “Fine. I’m just ensuring that Mr. Hale is aware, that you are aware that Mr. Hale is missing.”

Derek arched a brow and said, “What you mean is you want to make sure I don’t sue your hospital for his disappearance.”

Mr. Thompson sighed again and said, “That too.”

Derek stood and said, “I’m done. You aren’t even certain he’s missing. After my last two days, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when you figure out that he is missing, and not just misplaced. Sheriff, have a good evening.”

Noah stood and said, “I’ll keep you notified Derek, have a good evening.”

Derek got to the SUV, left the parking lot, and made it to the first red light before the laughter burst out of him. Misplaced. It should have been terrible, but it was hysterical seeing the man try to justify misplacing a patient. He got control of his laughter and focused on driving.

Well, this was going to put a screw in his plans; then again maybe not. There would be an investigation into Peter’s disappearance, and Derek had an alibi. And it’s not like you could hide taking a comatose man from the hospital. The question of the nurse’s location remained. She was at the hospital when he took Peter, and he knew she didn’t end up in the trunk of her car.

Turning into the hotel parking lot, he parked the SUV and went up to his room. He had a few plans to make for his return to New York.

***

Derek had made all the arrangements for the trip to New York. He’d verified the names with Satomi and had tickets waiting for them in Sacramento. He also made arrangements to have a rental car waiting at the airport in New York.

He had a list of things to do once he got to New York. He needed to pack up the apartments, meet with the family attorney to get everything transferred over to him and go visit his grandparents’ house and vault in North Carolina. He was going to be busy getting everything situated and shipped back to California.

He wasn’t sure if anything was coming from his Grandparent’s place, as Laura had never dealt with it that he knew of.

Ordering room service and watching a movie, he settled in for the evening just relaxing and trying to acclimate to being back in time. This new chance allowed him to make things better for himself and the people of Beacon Hills.

Going to bed early, he had no trouble sleeping through the night.

Chapter 4

January 13, 2011

New York, New York

Derek looked around at Laura’s apartment and almost cried. He’d never come back the last time, so he hadn’t had to deal with this. He’d had the attorney pack it up and put it into storage. He’d done the same with his apartment as well. But now he was going to have to deal with it.

He, Bobby and Alex had arrived in New York after a five-and-a-half-hour flight. All three of them were edgy from inactivity and the crush of people on the packed plane. They talked a little on the flight, Derek getting to know Alex, but there was a lot they couldn’t discuss. Alex and his parents had also been non-family members of the pack, but Derek vaguely remembered him, as he’d been away at school those last few years. To be honest there were few of the non-family pack members he did remember.

They disembarked and since their luggage consisted of carry-on bags, they bypassed the baggage claim part of the experience. They’d picked up the rental and were out of the airport in under an hour.

Derek navigated the streets and got them to Laura’s apartment in just under forty-five minutes. There was more room in her apartment than his, so they would be staying there.

After a long run in Central Park, where they blended in with the other runners, they’d ordered take out and watched a ballgame for the rest of the evening.

Organizing sleeping arrangements, after calls were made to Beacon Hills, the three werewolves collapsed into bed. It was obvious that werewolves didn’t fly well.

***

After waking the next morning and having breakfast, Derek began sorting through Laura’s desk. He found the address for the family attorney and called him. When he informed him of Laura’s death, he was able to get an appointment that morning.

The three wolves loaded up in the SUV and went to the attorney’s office. They didn’t have to wait long, as Dawson Cumberland waved them into his office after only a few minutes.

Derek watched as the man settled into his chair. His blue eyes glanced over the Alpha and Derek noticed a small twitch at the corners of his bearded mouth. Dawson gestured for all of them to be seated and he began pulling out folders. Derek watched as his dark head was bent over his work, trying to determine if the person before him was man or wolf. He couldn’t draw a scent from him, so he assumed he was human.

Dawson pulled Laura’s file, as he explained that his firm had been serving the Hale Pack for almost one-hundred years, so it was no problem to make the transition from one Alpha to the next.

He informed Derek that he’d received a copy of the death certificate, and when the original came in it would be placed in Laura’s file. He added that Laura’s checking account balance would be transferred to his account, and the portfolio of the assets of his family, including the life insurance benefits, would be transferred into his name as he was the beneficiary.

He informed Derek that he would handle the transfer of all Hale property in California and North Carolina, as it was all his. He also informed him of his financial responsibilities to the Preserve.

He explained to him about the Hale Foundation, which was financed by a percentage of the yearly earnings of the portfolio. Dawson also informed him that he would continue to handle the foundation matters unless Derek had an objection. Derek agreed with his plan and Dawson then brought up the responsibility for Peter’s care.

Derek looked at him and said, “Peter’s dead, so we need to finalize his assets as well.”

Dawson glanced at him as asked, “Is there a death certificate?”

Derek frowned and replied, “You said you received a copy of Laura’s death certificate. It’s his cause of death.”

Dawson sighed and said, “I can draw up the paperwork now and finalize it once a death certificate is issued. Does anyone know he’s dead?”

Derek shook his head and replied, “No, they think he’s missing as he disappeared from the hospital.”

Dawson shook his head and said, “Alright, I’ll take care of it,”

Dawson slid the finished paperwork over to Derek, he read and initialed where he needed and signed at the bottom. Dawson took back the papers and made copies of the paperwork. He gave the copies to Derek and put the originals in a new file with a temporary label with his name on it.

He then pulled out a file with Peter’s name on it and began going through it.

“We consolidated Peter’s holdings after the fire when Laura took over. All his assets were put into high yield mutual fund and 25% of the interest is used to pay for his care in Beacon Hills. The remaining interest is returned to the fund. We had Laura as the beneficiary. With her death you automatically become beneficiary.

“The 25% goes into a bank account in Beacon Hills, which automatically pays the hospital each month. We will need to take Laura off that account and add you to it. I will have the bank pay the final balance on the hospital bill and then put a temporary stop on the payments until they find him or he is declared dead.

“Once he is declared dead, the assets will become yours as you will be the beneficiary,” Dawson explained.

Derek asked, “How much money is in Peter’s fund?”

Dawson pulled a page out of the stack in front of him and handed it to Derek saying, “As of December 31, 2010, there is $4.3 million in the Peter Hale Portfolio. The balance on the account for his care is $134,000 and some change. Peter enhanced the assets left to him by your great grandparents significantly before the fire. I believe he also worked with the assets of your parents and grandparents.”

Derek swallowed and asked, “And how much are the assets I just signed papers for.”

The attorney cleared his throat and said, “The Hale Portfolio, as it stands at this moment, contains $10.8 million in investments.”

Derek paled and muttered, “Fuck me.” He’d never seen any of that since he’d never made it back to handle it.

“Do you have an inventory for the family vault in Beacon Hills?” Derek croaked.

Dawson pulled out yet another file and pulled out a page, sliding it over to Derek asking, “Is there something, in particular, you’re looking for.”

Derek scanned the page muttering “Bearer bonds.”

The attorney replied, “I believe the bearer bonds are item #12, $117 million in bearer bonds.”

Alex let out a choked noise, the first sound to come from either of the Betas since they arrived. Derek glanced at him and then frowned as he was trying to total up the three amounts.

“With the addition of the bearer bonds, the total amount of the assets is $132 million, that you have limited access to,” the attorney explained.

Bobby let out a gasp at that statement. Derek huffed in amusement. He knew the family had money, he just didn’t know they had this kind of money.

“I need to get those bonds out of the vault. What do you suggest I do with them?” He asked the attorney.

The man frowned and said, “I asked Talia about that when she took over, and she told me her father said to always leave them as they are. The threat of hunters having the ability to hack your accounts is real. Access to ready funds that can be used anonymously is important. So, if you can’t leave them there, move them to a safe place that you have easy access to.”

“Okay I can understand that reasoning,” Derek said. “I also need access to the North Carolina vault and the house as well,” Derek told the attorney.

Dawson pulled out a small box and a file of papers, handing both to Derek, and saying, “Those are the keys to the entire North Carolina compound. No one has been in that vault, that I’m aware of, since the last time your grandfather went in. He made a complete inventory that was supposed to be updated after his death, but Laura never took the time.”

“I’m going to visit before I head back to Beacon Hills. I’ll note any changes to the inventory and send it to you. I need to set up an account for the rebuilding of the Hale House.”

The attorney took some notes and said, “We can set up a high yield interest account for that. I can sell a few shares of stock and open an account in the same bank that handles Peter’s care. How much do you wish to deposit initially?” Dawson asked.

Derek sighed, “Put $500,000.00 in the account. If needed we can add more later?”

“Yes, I’m more than willing to assist in the pack-house being rebuilt,” Dawson assured him.

“I can have the account set up by end of business today, and have your account packages couriered over to you for it and access to Peter’s account in Beacon Hills,” he continued.

“I’m at Laura’s, so they’ll need to be sent there. I’m packing up our apartments and shipping everything to Beacon Hills,” Derek said.

Dawson grimaced and said, “Mr. Hale why don’t you let me arrange to have both apartments packed and the contents shipped. You mentioned going to the North Carolina Compound. Take some time to go through the vault and the house. Spend the full moon there; relax. The company we use will have both apartments packed and on its way in a week.”

Derek shared looks with Alex and Bobby, who both shrugged as if to say it was his call. He turned back to the attorney and said, “That sounds like a great idea. I’ll pack a few more things from my place and leave the rest to your crew.” He’d made the same arrangements last time by phone. He didn’t see him getting through packing up all of Laura’s things.

“I will make arrangements for them to meet you at Laura’s tomorrow morning. They’ll need keys and door codes for both apartments but they can take care of everything,” Dawson explained.

“Now do you have a residence while the house in the preserve is being built?” the attorney asked, putting all the papers back into their folders.

“Yes, I rented a building that has an apartment, in the warehouse district. That’s where I planned to ship our things.”

“I’ll need the address so I have current information for you,” Dawson said, sliding a pad towards him.

Derek wrote out the address and his phone number and then slid the pad back.

Dawson looked it over and said, “I think that takes care of everything.” Handing him a card he continued, “If you think of anything else you need, just give me a call. My office, home, and cell numbers are listed so don’t hesitate to call any time.”

Derek took the card, stood up gathering his files and the box, and said, “Thank you for all your help, Mr. Cumberland.”

“You’re more than welcome, Alpha Hale,” Dawson said.

Derek left the office, Bobby and Alex followed him; into the elevator, through the lobby, and out the doors without saying a word. They walked down the street to the parking garage and got into the SUV. Derek started the vehicle and then said, “Crap, I forgot to get him to validate the parking ticket.”

Bobby let out a noise that sounded like a croak, while Alex started laughing. When Bobby was finally able to speak without sounding like a frog he said, “I don’t think you’ll have any problem paying for the parking.”

Derek shot him a glare and replied sullenly, “Yeah, I guess not.”

***

Derek woke early, preparing for the arrival of the packing/moving crew. He’d packed a few things from his apartment and some personal things of Laura’s.

After the morning at the attorney’s office, the werewolves decided to do a walking tour of New York. Derek showed them all the sites, including the World Trade Center 9-11 Memorial, Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State building. They went by Derek’s apartment, and then came back to Laura’s.

They had a good time overall and were slowly building friendships. Derek realized early on that these two were probably some that Satomi was setting up to join him. He was trying to let go of his distrust of anyone not family, but it was a work in progress.

Bobby had been around more as he was growing up, as his father worked with Derek’s father in the preserve. But Alex had been a peripheral member. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Beta had been away at college in the years leading up to the fire. So Derek was working on getting to know him better.

The two werewolves woke up shortly after he did and they were working around each other making breakfast, straightening up the apartment, and getting ready to leave. They had plans to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina and be at the Hale Compound by evening for the full moon.

Getting the movers situated when they arrived; the werewolves made their flight to Charlotte and arrived at the Compound by 5 pm, in more than enough time for moonrise.

The keys opened the lock on the iron gate and Derek drove through. He drove past the trail that led to the metal buildings that hid the vault and turned down the dirt road that led through the trees. Following the road back into the woods, they finally came to the clearing where Derek’s grandparents’ house sat.

The werewolves exited the car, feeling edgy from being cooped up this close to moonrise. Not even bothering with their bags, all three took off at a run through the woods. Derek howled his joy as he shifted, the other two joining in.

The three werewolves spent the entire night running, hunting, and mock fighting with each other; bonding as friends. They ran in the moonlight until they were exhausted, then went back to the house, piled on the loungers sitting on the back porch, and fell asleep.

Chapter 5

January 16, 2011

The Hale Compound, North Carolina

After their moon run the three wolves greeted the morning with a camaraderie that close friends often do. They entered the house and both Betas were supportive of Derek as he faced the memories of his grandparents in their abandoned home.

The house was dusty after being left for six years and needed to be aired out. They went around opening windows. All the furniture had been draped in dust sheets, but the air was stale. Derek checked his phone to see how far they were from the nearest town. He had visited the compound once when he was younger, as his grandparents always came to Beacon Hills to visit. The nearest town was ten miles away so they drove there and rented a motel room and showered. They found a place for breakfast and after stuffing themselves on a breakfast buffet, grabbed a few groceries, and headed back to the compound.

The air was clearer in the house and the three wolves began exploring. First thing was to find the generator and get it going. Once the house had lights, the true exploration began.

Derek walked into his grandfather’s study and sat down at the desk, moving the cover and looking through the drawers. He found bills and receipts but nothing of any importance, just mundane life. He saw his grandfather’s journal in the top drawer, but he let it be; some things were private, even to a species that couldn’t hide much from others.

He met up with Alex in the library and saw him looking closely at the books. “Anything interesting?” he asked curiously.

Alex turned, saying, “There are some pretty rare books here. Some of them look like they go back to the founding of the Hale Pack. Genealogies, journals, and the like; all the information you could want if you were researching your distant past. There are some obscure texts on different topics; druids being a main topic and also various bestiaries. And this one is very interesting,” Alex reached up and pulled down a thin book with a fleur-de-lis on the spine.

“This seems to be about the Argent Hunter Clan. Handwritten. Now, what’s the former Alpha of a werewolf pack doing with this in his library?” Alex asked arching a brow.

Derek took the book and opened it. Then he shook his head as he thumbed through it. It was written in French, which he didn’t understand. Handing the book back to Alex he said, “I don’t know, and my French is non-existent. We’ll take it back with us though. It might be useful.”

Derek was looking over the other books when Bobby called out, “Derek, you might want to look at this.”

Derek and Alex went to see what Bobby found. He was standing in front of the bay window with the window seat raised, revealing storage space. Bobby pointed to it and said, “Take a look.”

Derek walked over and looking in saw the storage space contained a military rifle and three clips of ammo. Derek reached in and pulled the rifle out. He exchanged glances with the two Betas and went back to his grandfather’s study. Laying the rifle on the desk, he opened the drawer and found the journal that he’d passed over. He’d intended to leave it alone, but there might be an explanation for the gun in it.

Opening the journal, he went to the last entries. His grandfather wrote of his increased vigilance of protecting the compound. There had been sightings of hunters in the area from the members of other packs that were nearby. He wrote of his disagreement with his daughter on how she handled hunter incursions. He believed that they needed to stand their ground. He also wrote of his belief that the days of defending against the hunters with tooth and claw were over. It was time to match them in weaponry if they stood a chance of survival.

The last entry was the day they’d left for Beacon Hills for the wolf moon. He told of how he hoped to convince Talia that Peter was right, that the pack was in a perilous position. But that was the only thing Peter was right about. He wrote about how he believed that Talia was the perfect Alpha for the times, but she needed to be more suspicious of those who claimed balance.

Derek laid the journal on the desk and stared at the gun. His grandfather probably cussed when the house was attacked. If he’d had his rifle he could have taken out a few of them, perhaps bought the family time, the what if’s and could haves were going to drive Derek crazy.

He was curious as to what was in the vault now. He got up and told Alex and Bobby they were going to the vault, and went out to the SUV and got in.

***

Derek drove them back towards the front of the compound where the sheet metal buildings were located off the road, deep in the trees. He got out and sighed. There were seven metal buildings of various sizes and he had no idea which one hid the vault entrance.

With no other option, Derek walked to the closest building and unlocked the padlock. He continued the process of elimination; unlocking buildings until he found the one that hid the vault entrance. He knew he’d found it when he saw the triskele on the back wall that stood out in bas-relief.

He pushed the symbol and the wall popped open, exposing the hole in the floor. Using the flashlight on his phone, he climbed down the ladder and walked over to stand before the vault door. He slid his claws into the mechanism that allowed the door to open and gave a satisfied grin when he heard the lock click. Walking into the vault he found the switch that turned on the generator giving power to the lights.

He looked around thinking that every Hale vault had a basic design and that it was good they did. You only had to learn once how to navigate them.

He saw shelves were lining the walls of the vault; some with books, others with jars, and cases. As the three wolves began to explore the vault, Derek began looking through the cases. Some contained ground mistletoe; others had wolfsbane in various states. He found one that contained six vials of yellow fluid. There was a folded sheet of paper tucked into the lid and he pulled it out.

He read the page that described the vials as liquefied Aconitum Vulparia or yellow wolfsbane, which was the strongest known and the rarest; it could also be used to counteract bite rejection. The only cure was to burn it from the wound.

He sat down hard on the floor. Counteract bite rejection stuck in his mind. This could have been used to save Paige. He shook in his rage. All this time there was a cure for bite rejection. He sat there wondering why no one ever mentioned this. He wondered if his mother knew; if Peter knew.

His thoughts were spiraling out of control. Who knew and didn’t tell, why didn’t… “Derek!” jolted him from his thoughts. He looked up and saw Bobby kneeling in front of him.

“Derek, are you alright? What happened?” Bobby asked rapid-fire as he held him by the shoulders.

Derek shook his head and climbed to his feet, saying, “I’m fine. Just found something unexpected.” He replaced the page and closed the case then looked at the others. They each had a species written on a label on the front. Fifteen cases contained vials; some having three or four vials others having up to ten. There was a single sheet of paper tucked into the lids of every case. He turned to Bobby and said, “These go with us if nothing else does.”

Bobby nodded his agreement and said, “We found some other things that you need to look at.”

Derek followed him to the back of the vault and stacked on the floor were crates of guns and ammo. Alex turned from inspecting a crate of ammo and said, “Looks like Grandpa Hale was preparing for war.”

Derek huffed and let a smile spread across his face. He knew what was possibly coming, now that he was Alpha again. Deucalion would come whether Scott McCall was bitten or not. Looking around at the different guns and the wolfsbane behind him, a plan was beginning to form. He could see what his grandfather had planned and he agreed with it. What was it Chris Argent said, ‘You always bring claws to a gunfight?’ Maybe it’s time the wolves bring guns to the gunfight. And he knew Kate was going to show up. Nodding he made a decision.

“Close those crates. We’re going to leave everything here. I need to call Dawson. We’re going to need a truck,” Derek announces.

Bobby tilted his head and said, “You planning on going to war as well?”

Derek shook his head, “Remind me to show you Grandpa Seb’s journal. He was preparing for war. He was preparing to make a stand here, but when he went to Beacon Hills to join us for the wolf moon, he left his guns here, to appease my mom. He wrote that he was going to try to convince her. If he’d taken even one of these guns, he might have been able to save them all. It might not have been, but we’ll never know. I’m not going to make that mistake. It’s time the Hale Pack joins the twenty-first century.”

Alex stared open-mouthed at Derek’s statement and then said, “You do know that Satomi fights with a sword right? So I can’t see how bringing wolves to equal footing with the hunters would be any different.”

That decision made, the three continued to explore the vault. They found a lot of interesting stuff. They even found a safe with an electronic keypad. Derek thought for a while and then punched the four digits of his grandmother’s birthday. The lock clicked and the light turned green. He flipped the handle and the safe opened. There were several small bags and a briefcase in the safe. Derek pulled the briefcase out and popped the latch, as Bobby whistled lowly. Derek turned to see him pouring loose diamonds from the bag he held.

Derek huffed and resigned himself to there being more wealth in the briefcase. He opened it and there was a note that said, ‘Peter found the bearer bonds, the lawman has the code.’

Derek sighed and said. “I guess the bearer bonds used to be here, but they moved them. Not sure about the lawman thing though. Okay, put all this back in the safe. We’re going to leave that here. Just like Dawson said, anonymous funding.”

Bobby poured the diamonds back in the bag, laid the bag in the safe, and Derek laid the briefcase on top. He closed the safe and turned the handle and the light flashed red then went out.

Derek pulled out his phone and checked the time. They’d been looking through both the house and the vault for five hours and it was past time for a break.

“Let’s go find something to eat. I need to call Dawson and let him know that there were some things not on the inventory and see how we can go about getting the guns back home,” Derek said as he walked back towards the entrance.

Bobby and Alex both agreed, following him. He gestured them through the door and they climbed the ladder. Derek turned back and scanned the vault. He thought with a smile, Peter had to get it somewhere. Gramps was just saner about it.

He switched off the generator, killing the lights and left the vault, closing the door behind him and made his way to the exit. His companions were waiting outside the building for him and he locked it up before they got in the car and drove to the house.

While Alex and Bobby made up sandwiches, Derek grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. He went into the study to make his call to Dawson.

***

Derek pulled out the card Dawson gave him and made the call. Sitting at his Grandfather’s desk he waited for the answer.

“Good afternoon. Cumberland and Associates. This is Michelle, how may I direct your call?” a female voice answered the phone.

“Hello Michelle, this is Derek Hale. I need to speak with Dawson Cumberland please,” Derek replied.

“One moment please, Mr. Hale,” Michelle replied.

He was put on hold and classical music began playing in his ear. He was waiting seconds before Dawson’s voice came through.

“Alpha Hale, how’s North Carolina?” Dawson asked.

“It’s interesting. I need to update you on the inventory list. There were a few things not on it,” Derek replied dryly.

“Alright let me pull that list up and I’ll be happy to add to it,” Dawson replied, as Derek heard typing in the background.

“I have the list ready, what do we need to add?”

“The first item is 5 crates of AR-15’s 10 per crate,” Derek stated.

There was silence on the phone. Not even typing could be heard. Then he heard a throat clearing.

Dawson cleared his throat and said, “Can I call you back? I won’t be a minute.”

“Sure, I’ll be waiting,” And Derek disconnected.

Alex came in with a plate that had a huge sandwich, with some chips and a soft drink. He placed it on the desk and arched a brow and opened his mouth when Derek’s phone rang. Derek held up a finger to pause Alex and answered the phone.

“This is Derek Hale,” he said answering the phone.

“Yes, Alpha Hale, this is Dawson Cumberland. I’m sorry, there was no way I could answer your questions on that line. I am aware of the guns and accessories that the former Alpha Hale purchased. I believe there are clips, ammo, and scopes along with the guns.”

Derek sighed, “So what was he doing? Preparing for war or building stock for the arm’s trade, because I wasn’t aware that my grandfather was so militant.”

“He wasn’t exactly militant; he was ensuring the protection of his family. He’d heard rumors of packs being attacked. There were several packs in the Blue Ridge Mountains that had been annihilated. He wanted to ensure his pack was safe so I helped him facilitate the purchases and shipping.”

Derek had a feeling that was what he was going to hear. Now he had to see if Dawson would continue to help.

“Are you willing to facilitate the moving of a few crates to California? Because these do me no good here, and I agree with his reasoning and his plan, for obvious reasons.”

“I would be happy to ensure the safety of the future Hale Pack, Alpha Hale,” Dawson said solemnly.

The two spent the next five minutes discussing how to get the guns moved across the country, and how to procure Derek a license for the guns. Dawson informed him that the guns were part of his grandfather’s estate, and they were legal. They reached an agreement and had a plan.

“Was there anything else you needed answered, Alpha Hale?” Dawson asked.

Derek froze at the wording of that question. It seemed to be a little leading. Like Dawson knew he had a question about something. Then it clicked in his mind. Lawman…man of law…lawyer.

“Yes, actually I do. What is the code?” Derek asked, stepping out on the proverbial limb.

“07748”

“And what does that code go to?” Derek asked cautiously. This call had already surprised him; he wasn’t sure if he was ready for more surprises.

“There is safe in the basement, behind the freezer,” Dawson said. “He wanted to ensure that only the successor could get to what was in the safe. I don’t have an inventory for that.”

Shaking his head Derek said, “I guess I’ll see what’s so important. Let me know when you have all the arrangements made.”

“Of course Alpha Hale, have a good afternoon,” the attorney said before he disconnected.

Derek placed his phone on the desk and glanced over to see Alex sitting on the small sofa, eating a sandwich of his own.

“If I find out the safe in the basement contains the deed to California, I’m going to be pissed,” Derek took a big bite of his sandwich, as Alex almost choked on his laughing.

***

Once they finished lunch, the three wolves went down to the basement of the house. You could hear the generator running outside, and the lights lit up every corner. Walking over to the freezer, Derek grabbed it on either side and effortlessly slid it forward, giving him enough space to get behind it.

The safe was built into the wall and had a numeric keypad on the door. Derek punched in the code, and the audible click was heard and the door popped open.

Opening it completely, Derek saw two leather folios and a few boxes that looked to be ring and bracelet boxes. He pushed the boxes to the side and pulled out the folios. Their removal revealed a recessed area in the bottom that contained a leather pouch. Handing the folios to Bobby, Derek pulled the pouch out and took it over to the laundry folding table.

When Alex looked over his shoulder and whispered, “It’s big enough for a deed.” Derek growled lowly and unzipped the pouch. He reached in and pulled out a hand full of papers. He leaned against the table and began flipping through them. There was the deed to this property and house, the deed to the house and land in the preserve. There were also deeds to several properties in Beacon Hills and Fairview, California. All the deeds to the properties the Hales owned. It wasn’t exactly California, but it was a lot of Beacon County.

There were also lease agreements for each of the properties, and the contract for the donation of the land to Beacon Hills School District, with the condition that the vault would remain accessible to the Hale family in perpetuity.

Derek glanced up at Alex and said, “It’s not the deed to California, just the properties we own. But I’m wondering why they are here and not at the attorney’s office. I would think that he would be handling this.”

He laid the deeds on the table and pulled the rest of the papers out. He began thumbing through them and saw they were more bearer bonds. There were 25 pages with different amounts, set up with different banks and organizations.

Putting those back in the pouch, he handed it to Alex and said, “That goes back in the safe. Grab those boxes out of the safe too, please.”

Alex took the pouch and did as he was asked.

Taking the folios from Bobby, Derek laid them on the table and opened one. Inside were the bill of sale and the manifest for the guns that were in the vault. The manifest listed the guns, ammo, clips, and scopes. There was another bill of sale for a reloader press kit. He wasn’t sure where that was. He closed that one and put it with the deeds, and opened the other.

Inside were typed instructions on how to distill wolfsbane. As he read he realized that the process took several weeks and a lot of wolfsbane. There were specific directions for preparing wolfsbane for use in bullets as well. He paled when he read the results of each method of delivery. When he got to the last page, he saw a handwritten note.

I hope this aids you in your endeavor and you never feel the bite of a bane bullet. Alexander Argent 

Derek slumped back against the table. His grandfather had worked with an Argent. What is it with this family that the Argent family is always involved? Three generations have done this.

He looked up from the paper and saw the concerned looks coming from Bobby and Alex. He simply handed Bobby the papers and walked away. He walked past the washer and saw in the back corner a cloth-covered item. He walked over and pulled the cloth off and it was the reloader. It looked as if it had never been used, or had been meticulously cleaned.

Shaking his head, he turned back to Bobby and Alex and said, “My grandfather was either crazy or he was planning to use wolfsbane on hunters. My god, he was going to give them back what they’ve given to us over the years.”

Bobby cleared his throat and said, “Did you read all of this, where it gives descriptions of the results. If this is true, it will harm them almost as badly as it does us. Derek this could change the way werewolves deal with hunters. We can protect ourselves and our packs better. This…”

“This can’t get out. Can you imagine what will happen if other packs find out? They’ll accuse me of turning on them, of taking sides with the hunters. I will admit there are a couple of hunters that I’d love to use it on, but I can’t let anyone think I’d ever use this on other wolves,” Derek stated authoritatively, while in the back of his mind he had already made the bullets that would eliminate Deucalion, Ennis, and Kali. But that was something he was going to keep to himself as long as he could.

Bobby exchanged a look with Alex. “That you would take that stance shows your determination to protect your pack. I… I need to make a phone call,” he said as he pulled out his phone and went back upstairs.

Derek turned to Alex who had a small grin on his face. “Do you know you’re sexy as hell when you pull the Alpha Card?”

That statement caused Derek to flush from his ears to his neck in embarrassment. Alex walked over to him and said, “That’s adorable, and I had to go and promise Satomi I wouldn’t stalk you,” as he patted Derek on the arm. He stepped away as Bobby returned. Bobby noticed the blushing and rolled his eyes and told Alex to stop flirting.

Bobby stood in front of Derek and said, “On behalf of my wife and Mate Danni, I request entrance for her and I into the Hale Pack, if you’ll have us. This also includes the pup in the oven.” He then lowered his head, exposing his neck in submission.

Derek was stunned. He knew it was possible, but he didn’t imagine it would happen this soon. He glanced at Alex who had a proud grin on his face. Turning back to Bobby, he rested his clawed hand on the exposed neck, as he’d seen his mother do in the past, and replied, “I grant you entry into the Hale Pack, may we offer protection and succor to each other all of our days.” He then pulled his hand back and watched as Bobby lifted his head.

The werewolf grinned, saying, “Just like Talia did it. I can’t wait to tell Danni. Thank you for accepting us Alpha.”

“You’re welcome.” and I hope we all don’t regret this, he thought.

Alex started laughing, “Man you’re a natural. It’s in your blood. And you have the firepower to back up your edicts.”

Derek rolled his eyes and said, “Let’s go, I need to call Dawson about this. Looks like I’m moving the reloader press as well. ”

Derek put the deeds inside the folio with the gun papers, handing it to Bobby and gathered up the boxes. He opened each box as he put it in the safe. It was as he suspected, his grandmother’s jewelry; her rings, necklaces, and bracelets. There was one necklace with a medium-sized triskele on a masculine chain. It had been his grandfather’s. That he kept. He closed the safe, slid the freezer back into place and the three of them went upstairs to make their phone calls.

***

They made their calls, Bobby to Danni and Derek to Dawson. The attorney said it should be no problem to move the reloader as well. When Derek asked about the paperwork, he was informed that Dawson had copies of the bill of sale on the guns and accessories, but the deeds should be in his office. Derek assured him when he reached Beacon Hills that he would FedEx the paperwork to him.

He also told Derek that he’d obtained him a temporary Federal Firearms License so there would be no problem with him having the guns. By the time he got home, he would be temporarily registered as a gun dealer in the State of California, with the final licenses issued in 60 days after processing and background checks. He was being added to the Hale Foundation license that had been obtained when his grandfather purchased the guns. All the paperwork would be sent to his home address.

Dawson also gave him the information for the people who were going to transport the guns and said they should arrive on Tuesday.

Derek thanked the attorney and ended the call. He turned to Bobby and Alex and said, “I’ve had enough! Let’s close the house up and go back to the motel. I want a rare steak and a hot shower.” Both wolves agreed and they began shutting down the house. Once finished they headed back towards the gate to leave.

They took turns showering and once ready, located a steakhouse and spent the next two hours enjoying rare steak and good wine.

Once they finished their meal, they went back to the hotel. Derek settled on the bed and made a phone call to Beacon Hills.

Throughout the trip, he kept up the pretense of a concerned nephew. He called the sheriff every other day to see if there had been any news, so far they hadn’t found anything.

Once he ended the call he looked over to Bobby and said, “They found Peter’s nurse. She moved to Sacramento. When they brought her in for questioning she told them everything. That Peter was a werewolf, who killed Laura and that Laura turned into a real wolf. She also said that I took him out through the window, that I probably killed him, and that I was probably a werewolf too.”

Bobby and Alex stared at him dumbfounded. Bobby shook his head as if clearing his thoughts and asked, “And what did the Sheriff say?”

“That she’s been remanded to Eichen House for a 72-hour evaluation, and that she probably killed Peter and is setting herself up for an insanity plea,” Derek replied with a grin.

“Do you have any idea how that’s going to play out?” Bobby asked.

“Not a freaking clue. But however it does we’ll get through it.”

Leaning back against the headboard Derek began reading his grandfather’s journal. He started at the beginning and read almost half before he lost his focus. Putting the book on the bedside table he announced he was going to bed. He turned off the light, climbed under the covers, and was asleep in seconds.

Chapter 6

January 16, 2011

Hale Compound, North Carolina

Derek looked around the house and was satisfied with their progress. They had everything in one place that was going on the truck to be delivered to Beacon Hills. He had crates of guns and accessories stacked in the living room. He’d boxed up some of the wolfsbane, in particular the yellow, and that was going as well. While going through the vault, he found carefully bagged seed for the different varieties of the plant and he was considering a greenhouse out in the preserve.

He’d gone through the Library and Study and pulled all of his grandfather’s journals, boxing them up. There were over one-hundred of the leather-bound books, holding a wealth of wisdom from a former Alpha. If anything he would get an in-depth view of a successful Alpha and maybe learn a few things.

He’d explored upstairs, and in his grandparents’ bedroom, he found another crate of guns. There were 15 Sig Sauer.45 caliber handguns with the matching ammo crate in the closet.

Derek wandered from room to room upstairs, remembering the time they’d visited. Running in the hallway chasing Cora, being chased by Laura, and finding places to hide when both sisters were chasing him. The time he’d spent here had been fun and carefree, none of the coming horrors even imagined.

Walking to the end of the hall he opened the door that led to the last bedroom. It was the room he and his sisters had shared. Walking in, he stopped and stared. The large bed had been removed and there was a desk with a computer set up and printer.

He sat at the desk and looked through it, finding nothing more than the usual contents. He took the PC downstairs, then went back for the guns and ammo from his grandparent’s bedroom and put them in the ever-growing stack of things going back.

***

Once they finished going through the house, the werewolves had lunch then ventured out to the garage. Derek wasn’t surprised to see his grandparents’ cars in the garage. But he was surprised when Bobby grabbed a set of keys off the rack and got into the Escalade and it started.

He and the Beta exchanged a look and Derek nodded. It looked like they were going to be driving back to Beacon Hills.

Derek pulled out his phone and made a call to Dawson to ask about insurance on the car and he was informed that all the cars the Hale Pack owned were insured under one policy and it had been kept current. So the Escalade was insured. All Derek had to do was get it inspected and tagged. Derek informed him that he was leaving his grandmother’s car there for the time being but he was taking the Escalade. Dawson assured him he’d email him a copy of the insurance card for the vehicle.

There was nothing else exciting about the garage; no new surprises or intriguing items. The three werewolves walked around the property, enjoying the break from exploring the house. They talked out plans for their return trip home as they walked along. They found where his grandfather had practiced with the guns. A bullet-riddled weathered piece of plywood with the tacks still in it that he’d used to hang the targets, the paper long gone, was laying on the ground where it had fallen over.

Walking back to the house they made plans for the next day and decided an early night was a good idea. They closed up the house once more and drove back into town, had dinner, and watched television. Bobby called Danni, and Alex called Satomi to check in and let her know that everything was going fine.

Before they went to bed, Derek got a text from Dawson that the movers had finished packing up the apartments and the truck was on its way. ETA for the truck to arrive at the loft was four days. Derek texted him back, then settled down to sleep. He was ready to go home; he had things to do and a house to build for his growing pack.

***

They’d arrived at the house early the next morning and Derek found the registration and title in the study and took the car to get it legal.

The truck arrived to load up things that were going back to Beacon Hills, so they watched that process. Once everything was loaded, they arranged to meet up with the drivers on the outskirts of Charlotte, after they returned the rental.

They had decided the night before to follow the truck back to Beacon Hills for added safety. The drivers agreed to drive straight through to cut down on time on the road. They also agreed with the extra pay Derek offered them.

Closing up the house once more, ensuring that access to the vault was locked up, Derek closed the iron gate to the North Carolina compound. He knew he’d be back sometime, but he needed to put this behind him for the moment. He got into the rental and led the way to the airport to turn it in.

Once that was accomplished, they met up with the truck carrying the guns and began the trip back home.

Chapter 7

January 20, 2011

Beacon Hills, California

The silver Escalade pulled up to the warehouse around 6 am, with the moving truck pulling up beside them. Derek reached back and shook Alex awake, telling him they were home. The three werewolves got out of the vehicle and stretched. They had been in that car for forty-two hours and needed a run.

The trip had been tedious for the werewolves, driving and talking and only stopping to gas up and eat. They would switch out drivers and sleep in shifts, so they made it with no problems.

The drivers of the truck had done the same and Derek figured they would take their time on the return trip. He knew they were being paid very well for their services.

Derek opened up the dock door of the warehouse and they began unloading the truck. Once everything was offloaded, Derek gave the drivers the extra money he’d promised and they left.

Derek went up to the loft apartment on the fifth floor. The realtor had come through and the utilities were turned on. He looked around the empty apartment. He was going to have to clean before he brought his furniture up, but right now he wanted to run.

He walked back down and offered to drive Alex and Bobby to the Lookout. They both said they would prefer to stretch their legs, so they grabbed their bags and after goodbyes were made, the two werewolves headed towards their homes.

Derek locked up the warehouse and headed towards the old house. He ran through the preserve feeling his muscles stretch after the long hours of driving. He ran to the house and stopped, breathing deeply. He had missed his workouts. Walking around the house, he couldn’t detect any new scents in the area. Everything was just as he’d left it. He’d been gone almost a week, but nothing had changed.

He thought about the plans he needed to make in regards to the house and the tunnels. He’d have to find a contractor to handle that. But it wasn’t happening today.

He walked through the preserve, headed back to the warehouse. He’d run the stiffness out and now all he wanted was a shower and bed. The truck from New York was supposed to arrive tomorrow, so he needed to be rested for that. He decided one more night in a hotel would work.

Once he got to the warehouse, he climbed into the Escalade. The drive to the Marriott was short and check-in was even quicker. After a long shower, he collapsed on the bed and fell into an exhausted sleep.

***

Derek woke to the sound of the alarm on his phone. He turned it off and then got out of bed. He’d slept soundly for six hours and felt more like himself. After getting cleaned up he grabbed his phone and called Dawson to let him know they’d arrived and everything was good.

He then called the Sheriff and updated him on his return and asked if there was any news on Peter. The Sheriff informed him that the nurse was still telling the same story and that they were looking at her being committed.

They hadn’t decided how they were going to proceed at this point, as there wasn’t a body to prove her guilt. He said he’d let Derek know when there were any developments.

Derek hung up the phone and sat back on the bed. He needed to think about this. And he needed to talk it out with someone. He decided he’d talk to Satomi and ask her opinion.

He called her and asked if he could come to speak with her. She agreed and said she’d have Alex meet him at the lookout. He dressed and headed out.

Alex was waiting for him to arrive and they walked to the Ito pack house. Before they got to the house Alex reached out and grabbed Derek’s arm to stop him.

Derek turned to face the werewolf and Alex spoke, “I request entrance into the Hale Pack if you’ll have me.” He bowed his head, offering his neck to the alpha.

Derek wasn’t surprised; he’d expected it after the week they’d spent together. He reached out and laid a clawed hand on Alex’s neck and replied as he did with Bobby, “I grant you entry into the Hale Pack, may we offer protection and succor to each other all our days.”

He removed his hand and Alex met his eyes, grinned, and said, “Thank you, Alpha. Now let’s go, Satomi is waiting.”

The two wolves met Satomi at the top of the steps and after Derek greeted her he asked if they could speak privately.

She led him to her office, and once inside sat behind her large desk. Derek began explaining his dilemma and asked her opinion.

Satomi sat there staring at Derek. She was eyeing him as if she was reading his mind and he knew that wasn’t possible. She sighed and pulled out a small tin, opened it, and offered him a mint. When he took one she took one herself and placed it in her mouth, then gave her opinion.

“This would be an opportune time to bring the Sheriff into our world. Your Grandfather had the ear of the Sheriff of his time; it made dealing with issues much easier. Of course, call your attorney before you do this, so he is aware of the situation and can help you if needed.”

Derek nodded in agreement and replied. “That sounds like a good idea. I’ll call Dawson tonight and then go to the Sheriff tomorrow. Thank you for your advice Alpha Satomi. And I have another request to make. It seems there is a Nogitsune buried in the roots of the Nemeton located in Hale Territory. My grandfather mentioned in his journal that he felt it was affecting the land the last time he was here. I need to find a way to destroy it.”

Satomi gasped, “She buried it in a Nemeton? I’ll kill her myself! I will contact some people and see how best to dispose of it.”

“Thank you for everything Alpha Satomi, I truly appreciate it.”

He stood to leave and the older woman stood as well saying, “Just Satomi, Derek. I believe we are well on our way to being allies. I am aware that you have taken three of my Betas into your pack. You have them with my blessing, but I would advise you to meet with Dannielle as soon as possible to accept her as well. She is most anxious, and that is not good for the pup.”

Derek grinned replying, “I’ll do that. She strikes me as being the type to come to me if I don’t get to her first.”

“Yes, she is.”

The two Alphas left the room and Satomi escorted Derek to the door. As they stepped out on the porch Satomi said, “If you go around the house, you will see a path that will lead you to the highway. We don’t share this path with many, but I feel I can trust you with it.”

“Thank you for your trust Satomi, it is not misplaced,” he replied.

Derek walked down the steps and was joined by Alex. The blond werewolf grinned and said, “Let’s go Alpha, I promised Danni that I’d talk you into going out to their house tonight.”

The two werewolves walked around the house and headed towards the highway to make their way to Derek’s car and the hotel. The evening was spent in fun, laughter, and plans for the future.

Chapter 8

January 21, 2011

The Hale House

Derek and Bobby stood beside Peter’s grave in the early morning chill. Alex and Danni were at the warehouse, cleaning up the loft apartment for the arrival of Derek’s belongings. When the two werewolves had left, Danni was sitting cross-legged on the floor telling Alex what he needed to do.

Derek sighed and glanced at Bobby, saying “Are we ready for this?”

“You called Dawson right?” Bobby asked.

“Yes, he said he’d catch a flight. He’s probably here in California already.”

“Then we’re ready.”

Derek pulled out his phone and dialed the Sheriff’s Station and asked to speak to the sheriff. When the man came on the line Derek told him he was out at the old house, and back behind it there was something that looked like a grave. The sheriff told him to stay there and he would be right out.

Derek turned and walked back to the house. Knowing this was going to be intense, no matter how it went, he went to the garage and opened it up and got into Laura’s car. He was still missing his sister. He wondered who the last person to talk to her was. The sheriff never found her phone, but Derek had an idea about that. He opened the center console and used a claw to wedge the plastic liner out. There sat Laura’s phone. He tried to turn it on, but the battery was dead. Putting the liner back, he closed the console then got out of the car.

He looked over at the other two cars in the garage and wondered what he was going to do with them. The sound of sirens reached him and he exited the garage and walked to the front of the burned-out house.

Noah and the deputy got out of their cars and met Derek. He led them past the house, back to the pond, and showed him the grave.

Noah turned to the deputy and said, “Haigh, get the shovel, let’s see what’s here.”

While the deputy did as he was told, Noah began asking Derek what they were doing out there. Derek explained that they had come out to pick up the Camaro since he had stored it there while he was gone. He and Bobby were walking around talking about where he planned to build and they came out to the pond and found that.

The deputy returned with the shovel and Noah told him to start digging. The deputy dug and when he hit Peter he said, “I’ve got something.”

Noah turned to Derek and said, “Son why don’t you go back to the house and let us do this. You don’t need to see this.”

Derek nodded, and he and Bobby went back to the house. About twenty minutes later, the deputy came past looking a little green, while Noah followed, talking on his radio. He told the dispatcher to send the coroner.

Noah stepped up next to Derek and said, “I can’t be sure of a positive identification, but there is a body. And with the degree of decomposition, I would say that it’s been there for about ten days, but that’s just an estimate. So it could possibly be Peter.”

Derek dropped his head and Bobby laid a hand on his shoulder. Looking back up to Noah, Derek asked, “So what’s the process now?”

Noah explained that the coroner would do an autopsy and make a positive ID and then they would release the body for burial. As for the investigation, it was looking like the nurse did it.

Derek nodded, “If you don’t need me for anything else, I’d like to go home.”

Noah gave his shoulder a supportive squeeze and said, “No you don’t need to be here, if I need anything I’ll call you. I’m so very sorry son”

Derek nodded and walked towards the garage. He got in the Camaro, while Bobby drove the Escalade and they went back to the warehouse.

***

Noah sat at his desk going over the coroner’s report. He’d put a rush on it, but it still took seven hours to get it in. The cause of death was exsanguination, due to the victim having his throat ripped out. The coroner did positively ID the body as Peter Hale. He picked up Laura Hale’s file and read the cause of death and it was the same. Her body had been cut in half post mortem.

Leaning back in his chair he thought about what the crazy nurse said and he was baffled. He couldn’t believe he was considering her story had some merit. But it did, and she said that Derek Hale pulled Peter from the window. He needed some answers, now.

He picked up the phone and told Tara to get Derek Hale up here now. Comparing the reports, he saw that Laura had bite marks on her arms and legs, indicative of a canine type attack, possibly a wolf. But the matching throat wounds pointed to something bigger than a wolf. There hadn’t been wild wolves in California in sixty years.

He was still puzzling over the reports when Tara called and said Mr. Hale and his lawyer were here. He told Tara to send them in.

***

Derek had called Dawson after they left the preserve and let him know that the sheriff would probably have questions. Dawson informed him that he was on his way to Beacon Hills and should arrive within the hour.

Dawson was at the warehouse, going over some paperwork when the call came from the Sheriff’s Station. He put away his papers and grabbing his suit jacket, followed Derek to the Escalade, and rode with him to their meeting.

They went in and Derek spoke to the deputy informing her they had been called in. They were immediately escorted to the Sheriff’s office.

Derek and Dawson entered the office and sat down. Noah arched a brow as the introductions were made and asked, “Do you believe you need a lawyer Mr. Hale?”

Before Derek could answer Dawson said, “In the last two weeks two members of the Hale family have been murdered, Sheriff. When Derek called this morning to tell me that Peter had been found, I flew out here. It was inevitable that he would be questioned, after the accusations of Jennifer Rawlings. As I represent not just Derek, but the entire Hale Family, it’s my duty to be here.”

Noah nodded and replied, “OK then. And how is it you know the suspect’s name? That isn’t common knowledge.”

“I know her name because I’ve had to authorize her paycheck every two weeks. She is not a hospital employee, but a private care nurse,” Dawson informed.

Noah began explaining the similarities between Laura and Peter’s injuries. He didn’t get graphic since he wasn’t sure the lawyer wouldn’t have a tizzy. Then he explained how some of the accusations of the nurse began to seem plausible.

But he believed that Peter did kill Laura and Derek killed Peter since Derek was in New York when Laura died. He just couldn’t make sense about the animal bites on Laura and there weren’t any on Peter.

Derek and Dawson exchanged a look and Derek said, “Because I didn’t bite Peter.”

Noah sat back in his chair and said, “Excuse me?”

Derek exchanged another glance with Dawson, who nodded, then turned back to the Sheriff saying, “Nurse Rawlins is not entirely crazy. There is a measure of truth in her statement. Yes, I took Peter from the hospital. That Peter killed Laura is the truth. That I killed Peter is also the truth. But I don’t believe for a minute that she ever saw Laura as a wolf. Peter would have killed her if she had. Sheriff, my family were Lycanthropes, except for a few that were born human. Lycanthropy has gone back generations through the Hale Family.”

Noah shook his head and said, “Son, an insanity plea isn’t going to work in this. This feels more premeditated to me.”

Derek sighed and let his face shift. His teeth lengthened, claws came from his fingers, his brow ridge expanded and his eyes glowed red. He refrained from roaring.

***

Noah sat back in his chair to get as far away from the monst…wait. Those red eyes. He remembered seeing eyes like that before…what was his name? Ellis… Ennis? He was trying to see a friend at the hospital who died. He was a huge man and his eyes glared red. He’d put it down to a trick of lighting, but he was seeing the same eyes staring at him now.

Did that mean that Ellis…Ennis… whatever his name was, was a werewolf too? And the friend he said was family…was that his pack? Do they even have packs like real wolves? What the hell?

***

Derek watched as the Sheriff processed what he was seeing, then reverted to normal. He shared a look with Dawson and just waited.

When Noah regained his composure he said, “Alright, say I believe that werewolves exist. How do I explain Laura and Peter’s deaths? And how do I explain werewolves to a judge?”

Dawson cleared his throat and replied, “You don’t. You can’t begin to compare the acts of werewolf culture to human culture. In werewolf packs, challenges to the Alpha are accepted, sometimes even encouraged if the Alpha is weak or a poor leader.

“According to werewolf tradition, Peter, who considered Laura a poor Alpha because she abandoned him, was justified in killing her. By the same right, Derek was justified in killing Peter because he was not a good leader since he was crazy. ”

“Sheriff, my uncle had spent six years suffering in his coma,” Derek explained. “He had devised a plan to kill all those involved in the fire that killed our family and then planned to build an army of werewolves. I’m not certain what he was thinking beyond that. He was raving about scorching the earth and beginning anew. He would have been a danger to anyone he came across.”

“He also used his human nurse to begin his plan, and as a rule, werewolves do not involve humans in their pack business,” Dawson added.

Noah looked skeptical and said, “You’re human and obviously involved in pack business.”

Dawson arched a brow and replied, “Am I?” He then flashed his gold eyes.

Derek’s eyes widened and he exclaimed, “Seriously?”

“Of course Alpha Hale. We’ve been serving the Hale Pack for one-hundred years.”

Derek sat back, stunned. He’d never scented anything from Dawson. A whiff of scent brushed his nose and he glared at the werewolf. Dawson had been repressing his scent!

“Be that as it may, I have two high profile cases and a nurse as a person of interest, being confined for being loony tunes and how do we explain this?” Noah shouted.

Dawson shook his head, “You don’t. You let them go unsolved. The nurse can be transferred to a facility that deals with the supernatural and sent on her way. There is no evidence to hold her. And no one will believe her story if she chooses to repeat it, which she probably will not. ”

“They have places that deal with that type of thing? Never mind. And he gets away with murdering…the murderer,” Noah trailed off.

“Yes, you see now werewolf justice is no worse than human justice, except that ours is swift. Our offenders don’t languish in prisons for years,” Dawson explained.

“I don’t agree with this, but I can’t take it before a judge because the evidence shows an animal attack and what am I going to say, ‘He’s a werewolf?’ They would be sending me to Eichen House along with the nurse,” Noah stated.

“I have seen eyes like yours before, years ago. Before I was sheriff, a guy came to the hospital causing a fuss. He was a huge man and his eyes glowed red. I thought it was just the light,” Noah reminisced.

Noah sat up and said, “How many murders in this County have been caused by werewolves? I’m going to have to go through all the cold cases.”

“Were there any other questions you had for my client, Sheriff?” Dawson asked.

“No, I have to try to figure out how to spin this; werewolves and loony tune nurses. Werewolves… don’t let my son know he’ll be seeing werewolves everywhere.”

Dawson stood and said, “Then we will leave you to it Sheriff, and if you need any advice on how to handle both of those I would be happy to assist you.” He then handed the man his card.

Noah stared at the card and shook his head, “I might take you up on that.”

Derek stood as well and said, “Have a good evening Sheriff.”

He got a muttered reply of “You too.” as he walked out the door.

Chapter 9

January 22, 2011

Beacon Hills, California

Derek received a phone call from the mortuary about Peter. Out of spite, he gave them Dawson’s number and told them he was handling the arrangements. Twenty minutes later there was a text from Dawson saying he was downstairs.

Derek had moved into the loft the night before, after getting back from the sheriff’s office. The truck had arrived and Derek had asked Bobby and Alex for some help, and between the three werewolves and the driver, they got everything unloaded. His bed was set up in the upstairs area and the rest of his furniture was scattered across the fifth floor, but he was moved in.

He went downstairs and made his way through the boxes and furniture from Laura’s apartment, and the North Carolina compound, to open the door.

Dawson arched a brow and said, “Really Derek, the funeral director said, you said, I was handling the arrangements? I had to tell him I was unsure of your wishes and hang up.”

Derek arched a brow and said, “Don’t I pay you to handle those things?”

Dawson rolled his eyes as he pushed past Derek and entered the warehouse. He’d given up the attorney persona when they left the sheriff’s office. He wasn’t behind a desk.

“Sulking because I didn’t tell you my heritage isn’t the mature alpha attitude.”

“I’m not sulking,” Derek said sulkily.

“Yes, you are.”

“Just answer this. Why didn’t you tell me? Why hide?”

“That’s simple really, you’re not my Alpha,” Dawson admitted.

“Who is?”

Dawson sighed and said, “My Alpha died six years ago and the successor made it clear she had all the pack she wanted. I assumed you were of the same mind and did not wish to go through that humiliation again.”

“Motherfucker,” Derek swore.

“Now that the ugliness is out, what are your plans for Peter?”

“The same as Laura and it will just be the pack. I’ll go out and dig the grave after breakfast. All he has to do is deliver him to the preserve.”

“And what are your plans for the future of the Hale Pack?” Dawson questioned.

“I’m going to rebuild the pack and take care of the territory as my predecessors have before me.”

“Then you are going to need more than what you have now for funds. I will see about liquidating more stock. I’ll be returning to New York tomorrow.”

Derek turned to the dark-haired werewolf and asked, “Do you want to join the Hale Pack?”

Dawson’s left eye twitched and he swallowed. “I request entry into the Hale pack, if you’ll have me.” He lowered his head, exposing his neck to Derek.

Derek could kill his sister if she weren’t already dead. Dawson must have requested inclusion and she’d rejected him.

Reaching over and placing his clawed hand against his neck Derek recited the traditional words. “I grant you entry into the Hale Pack and may we offer protection and succor to each other all of our days.” He then squeezed Dawson’s neck slightly, letting the claws graze the skin before he pulled his hand back. He wanted the werewolf to know he was wanted.

“Thank you, Alpha,” Dawson said as he raised his head, meeting Derek’s eyes.

“Now I have to go see which office building we own in this podunk town that has an office available. Then I must find an apartment,” Dawson proclaimed as he walked towards the door.

“Are you moving your practice?” Derek asked.

“It’s either move or have you purchase a Gulfstream. You haven’t been Alpha a month yet, and I’ve had to solve more of your issues than I ever did Talia. You are going to be a mess…Alpha,” Dawson said as he stalked out the door, snapping it shut behind him.

Derek frowned at the door, thinking that Dawson and Stiles never needed to meet. That much drama just wouldn’t be safe.

***

After Dawson left, Derek returned to his loft, had coffee and breakfast, then pulled his shoes on and ran out to the Hale House to dig the grave for Peter beside Laura. He found it rather ironic that they were buried next to each other, where before they weren’t.

Returning to the warehouse, Derek began to look through the things on the first floor. He found the crates with the guns and located the crate with his grandfather’s Sig Sauers.

He thought about the time Braeden had taught him to shoot. He remembered the sex afterward too. And it was sex, nothing more and it left him feeling satisfied but empty. He wanted something a little more real. Shaking off those thoughts he tried to remember her instructions. He pulled the clip out and checked the chamber, making sure it was empty.

Then he raised the gun and aimed at a spot on the wall. He remembered her saying, just squeeze the trigger. He did that and heard the click. He needed to practice, and get some earplugs.

Putting the clip back in the gun and making sure the safety was on, he found the crate that had the ammo for the Sig in it. He grabbed a box and went back up to the loft.

He put the gun on the counter and picked up his phone. He called Bobby and asked if he and Danni were busy. When the Beta said no, he asked if they wanted to come over and help move furniture, Bobby agreed and said he’d pick up Alex as well. He called Dawson to see if he wanted to join them and he said that he could do what he needed to at the loft as well as his hotel room, so he’d be there soon.

Derek looked around the loft and thought back to how it was the last time. He may have been in a different building, but the layout was much the same. But this was a completely different situation. He had a lot more furniture and Beta’s who weren’t teenagers trying to prove a point. He’d made progress he thought.

Bringing himself back to the job at hand, Derek grabbed his luggage and carried it up to his bedroom. There was a lot of moving to do.

***

The pack had spent most of the day, after laying Peter to rest, getting the loft apartment organized and spending time together as a pack. They were waiting for the new moon to build the pack bonds, as was tradition.

Danni had sat in Derek’s overstuffed chair, shouting out instructions and arguing with Dawson about furniture placement. Dawson was all about feng shui; Danni was not. They had a great time. The small, dark-haired woman had no problem standing up to the taller, older werewolf, her brown eyes flashing in merriment.

Bobby went with Derek back to the Hale House, to take a few practice shots with the handguns. Alex refused to carry one of the Sigs. He said he would aim at one person and hit someone else. The Alpha and his Beta went through a box of ammo and had become passable with their shooting. The earplugs were almost useless though.

After their target practice, they stopped by the store to do some shopping for groceries. They were arguing over types of beef when Derek caught a familiar scent.

Turning, he saw Chris Argent glaring at him. Derek arched a brow at the hunter, then turned and went back to his discussion. The two carried on their shopping, knowing they were being shadowed by the hunter.

Once they left the store and were loading the Escalade, the man approached them.

Before he could offer the threat Derek knew was coming, he said, “Do you always stalk your prey, Argent? Or is that only reserved for members of the Hale family?”

Chris looked shocked for a split second, then his expression turned to anger, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. But I’m giving you warning that we won’t tolerate a rogue Omega running around attacking innocents. It may be best for you to find your way out of Beacon Hills.”

Derek snorted and said, “You obviously haven’t done your homework, I’m neither Omega nor leaving. I rented a place until I can rebuild on my family land. There will be a Hale living in Hale Territory from now on. So get over yourself, you’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are.”

He turned and got into the SUV, and pulled away, leaving fuming Chris Argent standing in the parking lot.

Chapter 10

January 23, 2011

Beacon Hills, California

Dawson found an office in one of the buildings owned by the Hale Family, and he was in the process of moving in. He’d flown back to New York earlier that morning to arrange for his office and apartment to be packed up and shipped and to arrange for his secretary to find other employment.

Bobby was keeping up with Derek as a bodyguard, after the run-in with Argent, and Danni was miserable and letting everyone know it. As she grew closer to her due date, the more emotional she got. Derek tried to avoid her as much as possible, as she had a habit of snapping at him over the slightest thing, then crying hysterically after she did. He could handle the snapping; it was the crying he couldn’t deal with.

Alex was busy helping Derek organize the fourth floor. Alex had studied Construction Management in college and apprenticed during summer breaks. Once he graduated, he started his own small business, doing renovations and partial new builds, so Derek hired him and his crew of three from the Ito Pack to work on the warehouse.

When Derek rented the warehouse, he wasn’t aware it was owned by the Hale Family. When Dawson discovered it, he rolled his eyes and called Derek an idiot. Dawson dealt with the issue and now Derek was free to make changes in the interior of the building. They were in the process of turning the open area on the fourth floor into individual bedrooms with ensuite baths. There was going to be a large bedroom for Cora, then several smaller bedrooms for individual packmates, if needed. There was also going to be a communal kitchen and a den. It was just a matter of getting interior walls up then plumbing, electrical, and gas installed.

Once the new house was completed in the preserve, Derek and Cora would move in there and if a family of the pack or others wanted to stay in the warehouse, it would be available. It was also possible that it could be rented out as a communal living property.

Derek, when not working on the fourth floor, was organizing the first floor. All of Laura’s things were still packed up and they were being neatly stacked in the far corner until Cora got there to see if she wanted any of it, then the rest would be sold or donated.

The weapons were being kept in the crates for the moment, but Derek had plans for a temporary armory. Once he got it organized, he planned to bring the cars in from the preserve and store them there.

Satomi had let him know that Cora had been notified and was on her way to Beacon Hills. They weren’t aware of when she would arrive and Derek offered to go get her, but Satomi suggested he let Cora come on her own.

He wanted to begin demolition and construction on the new Hale House, but Dawson said to wait until he returned so he could deal with the contractors. This way he wouldn’t get taken to the cleaners. The Beta ruled the Hale’s finances with an iron fist.

Derek had asked him once about his other clients and he gave him a small smile and said, “We have served the Hale Pack for one-hundred years, exclusively.” Derek stopped worrying after that.

The pack was gelling nicely, of course, there were a few snags, but that always happens with any group of people, but overall they were getting along great. They would be even better once there were active pack bonds. The new moon was coming up fast, so it wouldn’t be much longer.

***

January 26, 2011 (New Moon)

The Preserve

The pack was headed out to the preserve for the new moon. They were anticipating forming the pack bonds. Derek was nervous as well as excited. It had been so long since he felt the bonds of a pack. The bonds he had with his first Betas had been nothing like he had with his family, but he was optimistic about tonight.

They were in three cars and they arrived at the house together. Derek got out and looked up at the skeleton of the old house. It was scheduled for demolition next week. He and Dawson had already come out and gone over what needed to be done, and Dawson hired a contractor based on Alex’s recommendation. The house would be demolished and the tunnel entrance filled in to prevent anyone from entering.

Derek led the group out to the pond, to the opposite side of where Peter had once been buried. Once Bobby, Danni, Alex, and Dawson were situated, he cleared his throat then began speaking.

“We’re gathered tonight to begin our journey as a Pack, as a family. We’re here on Hale Land, which has seen many join and many leave the Hale Pack. On this night, the beginning of the lunar cycle, we begin our path as one, with many parts.”

He turned to Bobby and asked, “Robert Hansen, will you accept me as Alpha, will you offer loyalty as I offer it to you? Will you offer protection as I offer it to you? Will you offer companionship as I offer it to you? Will you join us as part of the one?”

Bobby’s simple reply carried on the slight breeze, “Yes, Alpha, I will.” He then bowed his head and exposed his neck to Derek.

Derek bared his fangs, leaned in, and bit down on the back of his neck, breaking the skin leaving the imprint of his teeth.

The instant his teeth broke the skin, Derek felt the bond snap into place. The instant they came out he felt the tension drain from Bobby and a sense of completeness fill the Beta.

He turned to each of them and offered the bond and they accepted. When his teeth left Dawson’s neck, the last to accept, the pack bonds were thrumming through him and he felt true belonging for the first time since the day his family died.

All of the members of the Hale Pack shifted to their Beta shift and howled their joy, which echoed throughout the preserve. They ran for the first time as a pack, playing and bouncing through the preserve.

Danni was not any more comfortable in her shift than she was out of it and when she snapped at any unsuspecting werewolf, it was with sharp teeth. But she didn’t whine afterward; she was past caring at this stage of her pregnancy. They ran back to the house, shifted back to their human forms, and drove back to the loft to celebrate.

If any of the spirits of the Hale Pack had played witness to the pack bonding, they were howling in joy as well.

***

Derek was working on shifting the guns to their temporary storage place in the warehouse when Alex came over and said, “We’ve got a visitor. I saw him from upstairs lurking around. It’s the vet.”

Derek’s head snapped towards the door and dropped the crate into place. He told Alex he’d handle it; the guy was harmless. Derek walked outside and approached the druid.

“I heard wolves last night. The new moon gives an auspicious beginning. Welcome home, Derek,” Alan Deaton said with a smile.

Derek arched a brow and asked, “Why are you here?”

“I had hoped to meet the new pack and offer any assistance, as I did for your mother,” Deaton’s smile disappeared.

“You failed at helping my mother, my sister, and my uncle. I fail to see what help you could be to me.”

“I gave Talia the best advice I could.”

“And it got her killed, just like your advice got my sister killed. If she hadn’t come back here, she would still be alive.”

“As Hale Alpha, she had a responsibility to the territory, just as you do,” Deaton informed authoritatively.

Derek snorted, “I know my responsibilities to the territory. You see I’ve been to North Carolina. I have my grandfather’s journals, which he wrote in extensively. I don’t need the assistance of a druid whose only interest is keeping the balance. How did that work when my family died? Was the balance restored as you hoped it’d be?”

“I had nothing to do with that tragedy.”

“You did nothing to stop it either.”

“You are one to talk, you led them right to the house,” Deaton accused.

Derek’s brow rose at that admission. He’s always wondered if the druid knew about what was happening with Kate.

“And you did nothing to help a sixteen-year-old boy who was being preyed on by a hunter. I’m done. Get off my property. I have no need for you.”

“I only came to offer assistance. I will not bother you again,” Deaton turned to go back to his car.

“And by the way, I’ll have my attorney send you a list of books you borrowed from the Hale Library. Peter was very thorough about keeping track of that. I found his ledger in the safe at the house. We want them back.”

Deaton stiffened and then continued to his car.

Derek turned and found Alex, Bobby, and Dawson staring at him. He sighed and said, “Better call Danni, I’m only telling this once and then we will never speak of it again.”

***

After Danni arrived, the pack gathered in Derek’s living area and listened as he explained what had happened to him at the hands of Kate Argent. Of how he was too naive to understand how she was using him to get to the pack. And how he believed he was the cause of the fire. How the deaths of Laura and Peter were related to that. Because if there were no fire, they’d still be alive.

Once he finished he went to the kitchen, unable to face his new pack. He poured a glass of water and stood at the sink as he drank it.

Dawson came in and leaned against the counter, looking down at the floor. The two stood there in silence for a few minutes before Dawson began speaking.

“The day the Hale Alpha died, I felt the bonds snap. I was in my shiny new office over on Birch. I closed the office and went out to the house. Of course, there were fire trucks and ambulances, but the thing I noticed first was the new Alpha glaring at her younger brother, who was almost catatonic. The sheriff was talking to you and Laura and your eyes were fixed on the house, you didn’t even blink. You never responded to the sheriff’s questions. Laura pulled you away, and the glare never left her eyes.

“I wondered then if there was a connection to you and the fire. Then Laura decided to take you to New York. She said the hunters were going to hunt down the rest of the Hale pack; she wouldn’t listen to reason. I requested admittance and she refused me. So she left Beacon Hills and I moved my office to New York because I had a responsibility to the Hale Pack.

“When the investigator’s report came in that it was faulty wiring, I hired a private investigator to look into it. He, of course, started with the investigator who filed the report. It didn’t take much to get the man to talk. He said that she paid him $50,000 to say it was an accident. I knew then that she had used the most vulnerable of the pack to get the information she needed. But I never found out her name.

“And judging from the remains, she spread Mountain Ash around all entrances, including the tunnels, to ensure no one escaped. She didn’t intend for there to be any survivors, but she didn’t count on the school having an assembly. That you and Laura survived was a twist of fate. For Peter and Cora to have survived was a miracle.

“The blame for the Hale Fire, which annihilated a family, rests solely on the shoulders of Kate Argent. She went after the weakest of our pack; she went after a child. There was no way you, as a young werewolf, could have discerned her motives. I’m sure she didn’t say ‘Hi, I’m Kate Argent’ when she introduced herself. And I’m sure she used every trick she had to get you to talk.

“So to end this terrible conversation, you weren’t responsible. It was not your fault. And if I have to tell you that every day for the next one-hundred years, I will do that. Do you understand me Alpha? It was not your fault.”

Derek looked up from where he’d been staring at the floor. He saw the golden glow of Dawson’s eyes and felt the determination through the bond.

He wasn’t sure if he deserved this pack. There was no disgust coming through the pack bond, just love and support.

Derek looked back down and said, “You might have to do that.”

Dawson nodded and replied, “Then I will set an alert on my phone. 8:00 am tell the Alpha it’s not his fault and berate him for twenty minutes about being an idiot.”

“I’m not an idiot.”

“If you’re going to carry the guilt for something Kate Argent did, then yes, you’re an idiot.”

Alex came in at that point and said, “He’s not an idiot, he just hasn’t had anyone tell him it’s not his fault. We’ll get through to him, one way or another. Now come back out here so Danni can hug you. She’s found a comfortable position and refuses to move. I was sent to fetch you.”

Derek arched a brow, “Fetch me?”

Alex shrugged, “Her words not mine, and you can take it up with her.”

Derek shuddered and muttered as he went out the door, “Not even going there.”

Derek sat beside Danni and wrapped his arms around her. She hugged him as best she could and whispered, “Not your fault, never your fault. You were just a pup.” Then the female burst out crying.

Derek sent Bobby a pleading glance. The Beta sighed, sat on the other side of his mate, and whispered, “Come here Danni, you’re freaking out the Alpha.”

Derek glared at the beta saying, “I’m not freaked out.”

Danni said between sobs “Yes you are!”

Derek just shook his head.

Chapter 11

January 29, 2011

The Warehouse

The pack had made themselves at home in Derek’s loft since his confession, surrounding him with support, loyalty, and compassion. They were determined that he realized that he was not at fault for the fire.

After two days of the onslaught through the pack bond, he was beginning to believe them. He was making peace with himself. He didn’t get that before. He carried that guilt right up to the time he came back. But he was letting go of it, slowly.

He and Alex spent time working on Cora’s room, making sure it’d be ready when she got there. They were at the point that someone needed to go buy the fixtures for the bathroom. Alex and Bobby dragged Derek and Dawson with them, to pick out a tub.

They were looking at the different tub choices when a cold voice came up behind them, “So you are planning on staying.”

Dawson stepped between his Alpha and Argent and spoke loudly, “Chris Argent?”

“Yes?” the man answered with a frown.

“I represent the Hale Family and I’m wondering if you are aware there are laws against harassment and stalking in this state?” Dawson asked loudly.

“Are you deaf that you have to shout?” Argent growled.

“No sir, I hear perfectly fine. I just want to ensure that any witnesses around, hear as well,” Dawson smirked.

“I will continue to watch him. He’s a monster! You have no idea what he’s capable of.”

“I beg to differ, sir. I know exactly what he’s capable of,” Dawson replied, flashing his yellow eyes. “Now you have thirty seconds to remove yourself or I’m calling the sheriff.”

Chris reached into his jacket and before he could pull his hand out, he felt the press of cold steel against the back of his head and heard the hammer being pulled back. He slowly pulled his empty hand out of his jacket and his confused eyes met Derek’s.

Derek arched a brow and said with a smirk, “There is a new Hale Pack, and we don’t bring claws to a gunfight.”

Chris wouldn’t recognize the irony of that statement, but Derek would forever treasure the look on his face.

The four werewolves watched Argent stomp away and then continued with their shopping. They picked out the tub and arranged for it to be delivered.

They pulled out of the parking lot and headed to the loft. Derek turned in his seat and lowered his brow at Dawson, saying, “What was that about?”

“The sheriff and I had a conversation yesterday. I told him about Argent accosting you at the grocery store. Sheriff Stilinski said he’d have no problem getting a restraining order sworn out if there was another incident. After all, you’re the lone surviving family member of two victims of unsolved, violent crimes. You have the right to go shopping without being harassed.”

“Wow is that your superpower, shoveling the shit until everyone thinks it smells like lavender?” Bobby asked sarcastically.

“You better believe it is, Bob-O. And I get paid by the minute to shovel that shit. It’s a very lucrative arrangement,” Dawson replied just as sarcastically.

***

Dawson walked into the Sheriff’s Station and approached the desk. He asked to speak with the Sheriff and was immediately shown to his office. The werewolf wrinkled his nose at the remaining Tofu Parmesan, sitting on the edge of the desk, as he took a seat.

“I hope I didn’t interrupt your lunch,” he said as he sat.

Noah moved the bowl to the top of the file cabinet and said, “No, I was done with that. What can I help you with today?”

“Chris Argent,” Dawson replied. “He is becoming worrisome. He approached us at the hardware store today. This is the second time he has harassed Derek.”

“We can get a restraining order, and the next time he approaches, charge him and prosecute, but you know as well as I do it will probably be nothing more than a slap on the wrist.”

“Yes, I’m aware. But there is something you need to be aware of. Chris Argent is a member of a family that hunts werewolves. They are supposed to live by a code of conduct that says they only hunt those that pose a threat to the general populace and leave the peaceful packs alone. There are several large hunter clans throughout the world and this code is universal. The Argents seem to follow a code of their own. Because they are the reason there are only two members of the Hale family left.”

Noah set back in his chair and said, “Hunters that hunt werewolves.”

“Yes.”

“And that is why this joker keeps harassing Hale?”

“Yes.”

“How do they get away with it?”

“They have numerous ways. Werewolves don’t report them, they bribe law enforcement, and they replace law enforcement with one of their own. It’s like all other types of corruption in your occupation,” Dawson explained.

Noah sighed saying, “Okay, I can see that. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on this.”

Dawson stood up and offered his hand, “Thank you, Sheriff. I just wanted you to be aware of the situation since it seems we have a problem brewing. The Hale’s have, up until recently, kept these occurrences in- house. But the current Alpha is dragging us into the twenty-first century. I believe his exact words were, ‘What are they going to do, tell them werewolves exist?’ The hunters are as vested in keeping our secret as we are.”

Noah stood and shook the offered hand and replied, “Yeah I can imagine why. We’ll get this under control.”

“That’s all we ask Sheriff, to be treated by the justice system the same as anyone else. Have a good day,” Dawson offered as he left the office.

He wondered what Derek would say when he found out he’d let slip about the Argents being responsible for the fire? He shrugged to himself; it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to seek permission.

***

The tub had been delivered the following day and they finished the bathroom. They were admiring their work when Derek’s phone rang. He pulled it out and answered it. Satomi was on the other end.

“Derek, I have someone here who is very anxious to see you. I would like to invite you and your pack to a small party I’m having this evening,” Satomi said.

“Cora?” he breathed.

“Yes, she arrived an hour ago. But she is not alone. I wanted to give you a heads up. A representative of the Calavera Clan escorted her and two other werewolves up through Mexico. Cora is fine. And you and your pack will be safe. I promise,” Satomi explained.

“I trust you Satomi, what time should we be there?” he asked.

“I think six would be good, gives you time to reign in your excitement. We’ll see you then Derek,” with that Satomi hung up.

Derek stood stunned holding his phone. Cora was back, he thought. And she came on her own and hadn’t been caught by Deucalion. She wasn’t almost feral this time. He was almost ready to run over there until a shoulder nudged his. He pulled from his thoughts and said, “Cora’s back. We need to go to Satomi’s for a party.”

Bobby nodded and said, “And?”

It then hit Derek that he had no privacy on his phone. “The Calavera hunters, a representative brought Cora back, but Satomi says it’s safe.”

Bobby nodded, “Yeah they are ones that strictly follow the code. Satomi helped once with an issue they had. She had a book or something, and let them read it. They weren’t so bad. I’ll get the Sig’s, just in case. And let everyone else know.”

Derek arched a brow at the Beta, “You just said they weren’t so bad?”

Bobby shrugged, “They’re Hunters man, ‘nough said.”

Derek huffed as Bobby left to go get the handgun and let the others know. Turning back to the bathroom, it was finished just in time. There were still some minor touches needed, but it was ready. He left the room and took the elevator back to his apartment.

He walked over to the kitchen, got a bottle of water, and sat at the island counter. The Calaveras… he remembered them being in Mexico, briefly. Chris Argent showed up with them. A very different Chris Argent. But they were after Kate, not him. But his most prominent memory is them looking for La Loba and he and Peter being questioned. Araya Calavera cutting off Peter’s finger. She was as vicious as Kate, but not as homicidal. Oh yes, torture is fine but we do not kill… Yeah, Bobby needs to bring the guns.

Derek went up to his bedroom to get cleaned up. He stared at the face in the mirror. He didn’t see the same reflection he did the first time through this period. Before, he wouldn’t even look in the mirror because of his guilt. But now he had no trouble.

With a stable pack, the guilt was easing more every day. Dawson was determined to pound it in his head, with his 8 am calls. He’d gotten two of them so far, and he was willing to admit to himself that they helped. And now Cora was back and he was excited, but also a little apprehensive.

Shaking off those thoughts before someone barged into his bathroom; Derek took his shower and got dressed. He made it downstairs before any of the others arrived.

Chapter 12

January 30, 2011

Ito Pack House

The pack arrived at Satomi’s, after parking in the lot that Bobby showed him. They walked in from the highway and could hear the laughter before they got to the house. Children were playing in the yard and some squealed when they saw Bobby, Alex, and Danni. The three betas greeted the Ito pups as they made their way to the house.

Satomi was standing at the top of the stairs and Derek froze when he saw who was standing next to her. Cora… she was here. Derek watched as Satomi gave his sister a slight nod and the young female was down the stairs and throwing herself at her brother. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. He buried his face in her hair, burning her scent deep in his mind, never to forget.

She was sobbing in his neck, and he felt his own tears as they fell down his face. It hadn’t been as long since he’d seen her last, but he’d missed her all the same. All this rehashing of the fire left him with reopened wounds concerning everything that happened. And leaving Cora behind was one of them.

Derek put his sister down, forced her back by the shoulders, and cupped her face as he said with a croak, “I’m so sorry we left you. So very sorry.”

Cora rubbed her face and then sniffled, saying “You should be. I had to hide in that dirty basement for two weeks, and drink that nasty creek water. It was gross.”

Derek pulled her close again and laughed through his tears. Of course, she would complain about the basement and creek water, he thought. She hated both with a passion.

He pushed her back again and said, “I promise, I will never leave you behind again. I will look for you Cora. As long as I can walk, I will look for you.”

Cora nodded and replied with a soft “Pinky swear?” Derek lifted his hand and extended his little finger, “Pinky Swear.” Cora hooked hers with his and they were once more hugging, not willing to let each other go.

Bobby slapped Derek on the back and said, “Well that’s all fine and good there Alpha, but we’d like to say hello to her too. You know Danni’s gonna get cranky if we don’t find her a place to sit soon.”

Derek pulled back from his sister, wrapped an arm around her shoulder, and introduced her to the pack. Once the intros were done, they made their way into Satomi’s house to join the party. Bobby ruffled Cora’s hair and said, “You’re still pretty short there Cor.”

Cora arched a patented Hale eyebrow and asked, “Didn’t I punch you in the nuts once when you told me that?”

Bobby paled, and then pulled Danni in front of him for protection. The rest of the pack laughed, while Danni offered Cora a fist bump. Derek didn’t care if Bobby pissed his sister off in the past, she was home and that was all that mattered.

***

The party had lasted longer than Derek thought it would and it was after midnight before they got back to the loft. Cora, Dawson, and Derek were the only pack staying there. Since Dawson’s things hadn’t made it from New York yet, he was staying at the loft with Derek.

Derek grabbed Cora’s bags as Dawson unlocked the door, letting them into the warehouse. Seeing the cars Cora asked, “Are those their cars? You still have them?”

Derek shrugged as he led the way to the elevator, “They were in the garage when I got back. I moved them over here, so they’re not just rusting away. And that’s Laura’s car.”

They got on the elevator and took it up to the fourth floor to Cora’s room. Dawson hadn’t seen it yet so he followed them. “Alpha Satomi told me what happened to Laura and Uncle Peter. She said he went feral when he came out of the coma,” Cora said.

They entered the bedroom and Derek sat her bags on the floor, and turned to her and said, “He wasn’t exactly feral, but he wasn’t right either. He was so full of rage, pain, and vengeance. He told me he was going to eliminate all supernatural creatures and raise an army of werewolves. He said a lot of things that made no sense. If it makes you feel better, like it does me, when I killed Peter, it was a mercy killing.”

He wasn’t ready to tell her that Peter had as much to do with the fire as his gullibility did, not yet.

“Derek, why didn’t Laura look for me? Why didn’t either of you look? Was Uncle Peter not able to tell you where I was?” Cora asked, imploringly.

“What?” Derek asked suspiciously.

“I wasn’t in the house when they set it on fire. Uncle Peter came in and told me he left me a surprise in the treehouse. I went out to see what it was. He’d got me some apple twist. Didn’t he tell Laura?” Cora explained.

Derek shared a look with Dawson and turned back to Cora and said, “No, he didn’t tell us. He was so badly burned they wouldn’t let Laura see him.

“Then he went into a coma and we left. We thought you were dead. I’m so sorry Cora.” Derek pulled her into a hug.

“Why don’t we go upstairs and get ready for bed. I know I need my rest if I’m going to badger the truck driver’s tomorrow,” Dawson suggested.

The siblings separated and Cora looked around the room and said, “Nice room, where’s the bed?”

Derek pulled his sister from the room and to the elevator saying, “Laura’s stuff from New York is downstairs. I figured you could look at it; see if you wanted to use it. And if you decided you wanted something different, we’d go buy it.”

“Okay, I’d rather sleep with you tonight anyway. Der… you haven’t asked if I wanted to be in your pack. Why?” Cora asked as they got off the elevator.

“I wasn’t sure if you wanted to be,” Derek replied softly

Cora huffed and said, “I want to join your pack, bite me already.” and she lowered her head, offering her neck to Derek.

Derek smirked at Dawson, then leaned forward and bit his sister. He felt the bond snap into place and felt the familiar thrum of Cora.

Dawson huffed, “That was not the traditional protocol for obtaining pack membership.”

Cora arched a brow and said, “What are you the protocol police?”

Dawson lowered his brow and said, “No, but I am the Trustee of your trust fund until you’re 21 years old.” and with that, he stalked off to the kitchen.

Cora followed him with her eyes until he disappeared, then turned to Derek, “Where did you find him? He’s awesome!”

Derek snorted, “He’s the family lawyer.”

Cora nodded and said, “Even more awesome.”

Derek had a feeling that he wasn’t going to like Cora and Dawson spending a lot of time together. He wasn’t sure who would be a bad influence on whom.

***

Derek woke up to an arm thrown over his chest. He looked over and saw that Cora was snuggled up to him, drool running from the corner of her mouth. He smiled slightly as he took in the sight of his baby sister. He didn’t have this last time. She’d come to Beacon Hills expecting one thing and was disappointed with what she got. Derek vowed this time would be different.

Cora snored and snorted, waking herself up. Derek watched as her eyes fluttered open and her brown eyes met his.

“Morning,” Derek said a smile

“Were you staring at me while I was asleep? You know that’s creepy right?” Cora said as she climbed out of bed.

Derek’s smile dimmed and he said, “Not creepy. Happy.”

“Yeah whatever, when’s breakfast?” the Beta asked as she stretched.

“Whenever you want to eat. We don’t stand on ceremony around here. Everyone fends for themselves,” Dawson said as he came out of the bathroom.

He left the room and Cora whispered, “He’s kind of grumpy in the morning.”

“I heard that,” Dawson called back from the kitchen.

Derek shook his head as Cora left the room, saying, “I wanted you to.”

He laid there in bed and thought about his day. He had a lot to do. Get Cora furniture, either Laura’s or new. Go grocery shopping. Go check on the house site. Lots of plans. He climbed out of bed and started getting ready for his day.

He stretched the kinks out and considered taking a run. That would be good, run out to the preserve, maybe Cora would go with him, he thought.

Quickly dressing, Derek left the bedroom and went into the living room. Cora was doing sit-ups as Dawson ate and read from his phone.

“Cora, you want to go run with me out to the house? I need to check the site,” Derek asked as he grabbed a glass and poured some orange juice from the pitcher in front of Dawson.

Cora jumped up and said, “Yeah, let me grab my shoes.”

Dawson glanced up at Derek and said, “One day, we are going to have to find out what she saw.”

Derek nodded in agreement; though he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Cora never told him what she saw of the fire before.

Cora came back out with her shoes on and said, “Ready.”

Dawson put his phone down and said, “Before you two run off, Cora I need to get in contact with the Alpha in South America you stayed with. I need to see if they can get me your school records so we can get you enrolled here.”

Cora frowned, “I’m not going to school. I don’t need to.”

Derek arched a brow at the attitude.

Dawson folded his arms and said, “Did you graduate already?”

“No.”

“Did you go to school while you were down there?” Dawson asked patiently.

“Yes, but I don’t want to go back,” Cora stated.

Dawson sighed, “In the state of California, it is required by law for all children 18 and under to complete their education, either in public school or an accredited private school. You have the choice of either one, but you will be finishing your education. And perhaps attending college.”

Cora turned to Derek and whined, “Derek, you’re the Alpha! Tell him I don’t have to go to school.”

Derek put his glass on the table and said, “Look. I know you don’t want to go, but I want you to think of something. What would Mom say?”

Cora deflated, “She’d say to get an education and don’t be ignorant. Because stupidity is going to happen without you being ignorant as well.”

“That’s right. I did it, Laura did it. So you can do it too. Plus, you’ll make friends. We all need friends,” Derek said wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Now give Dawson the information before he threatens to cut off your trust fund.”

Cora glared, “He wouldn’t dare.”

Dawson smiled sharply and said, “Try me.”

***

The siblings had set a brisk pace running through the preserve. They ran the boundaries of the Hale property before stopping at the house. Walking around the remains of the house, Derek kept a close eye on his sister.

She walked over to the steps and sat down, resting her arms on her knees. She looked up at Derek and asked, “You’re tearing it down?”

Derek sat beside her and said, “It gets demolished on Wednesday. The tunnels will be sealed up afterwards. We haven’t yet decided where to build the new house. We need to wait until it comes down for the contractor to see the best place to put it. Dawson’s been working on the design with the builder. I told him what I wanted, the others gave their ideas, and we let him handle it. We’ll get him to go over the current plans, and you can add your ideas too. It’s going to be your home as well.”

Cora nodded and standing up she said, “I think I’d like that.”

Derek stood up and said, “Come on, we have a lot to do today. Let’s head back to the loft.”

He and Cora had begun running back when Derek felt the vibration of his phone. He slowed to a stop and answered it.

“Mr. Hale, this is Deputy Graeme, with the Beacon County Sheriff’s Department. This is a courtesy call to inform you that Chris Argent was served with a restraining order this morning. The Sheriff wanted to advise you that if he approaches you again, for you to call us immediately.”

“Thank you for your call Deputy, I will certainly do that,” Derek replied.

“Have a nice day sir,” Graeme said

“Thank you, you too,” Derek said before disconnecting the call.

Turning to Cora, he said, “Come on, we need to get back to the loft. I need to let Dawson know about this call.”

Taking off running, the siblings made it to the warehouse in less time than it took for them to get out to the house.

When they arrived, Dawson was sitting on the sofa talking to someone in Spanish. When Cora came in Dawson said something to the person, and then handed the phone to Cora saying, “He wants to speak with you.”

Dawson got up and dragged Derek to the bedroom, to give Cora some privacy. He told Derek what he’d learned from the Brazilian Alpha and that he was going to have Cora’s records faxed to them. He told Derek that it would probably take a few days, but then they could get Cora enrolled.

Derek told the Beta about the call from the Sheriff’s Station and Dawson suggested that Derek not go anywhere alone, or unarmed. Derek agreed with him.

Cora came in and handed Dawson his phone and told him thanks for letting her talk to the Alpha, then she said she needed a shower. Derek told her the one downstairs in her room was functional and he watched her leave.

Derek turned to Dawson and said, “We need to upgrade the security on this building. We need to make sure that if any Argents come around they know that we know they’re here. Get lights, sirens, cameras, everything. All the doors and windows, on all floors and the roof access, wired. I don’t want to be caught unaware.”

“Alright, I’ll get with some security contractors and see when they can get out here to do an estimate. You might consider getting one of the other rooms downstairs finished and have Alex move in so there’s someone on that floor with Cora. Unless you plan to pile up with her.”

Derek frowned and said, “I think this morning was more about insecurity than anything else. She needed to be sure I’d still be there when she woke up. I have no intention of having a pile bed…she kicks in her sleep, and sometimes she shifts when she does it.”

Dawson laughed and said, “And that is why I slept on the sofa. It runs in the family because you kick too. I learned that the first time I stayed at the pack house after a moon run. You were about six I believe and you and Cora were in the basement and your mother had us all go down there after the run. Werewolf healing is a wonderful thing or I’d have scars from you kicking me in your sleep.”

Chapter 13

February 2, 2011

Beacon Hill, California

The past several days had been busy for everyone. Derek and Cora had gone through Laura’s furniture and Cora had decided to use her sister’s bedroom set, and they planned to put the other furniture in the den of the fourth floor. Then they went shopping for linens and clothes and a cell phone for Cora.

Dawson had been busy getting estimates on security systems and getting Cora enrolled in Beacon Hills High. When the truck with his belongings from New York arrived, everyone pitched in unloading it at his office and the apartment he rented. Danni would set up by the truck, out of the way, to direct traffic, while Dawson did placement in both the apartment and office. It worked out great.

Alex agreed to move in on the fourth floor, so they were working on finishing one of the rooms. He’d already taken up residence, sleeping on the sofa where the den was going to be.

Now the entire pack was out at the Old Hale House. The burned-out house was being taken down. They had a place set up for Danni to sit and the others were standing nearby, well away from the house.

Tears rolled down Cora’s face as the large bulldozer pushed over the first wall and when the chimney came down, Derek’s eyes were tearing up. It was the last physical reminder of their family, and while the new house would be home, it was hard for the siblings to see their childhood home come down, even if it was a burned-out shell.

They watched as the rubble was loaded into dump trucks and taken to the landfill. It was beginning to grow dark by the time the house had been taken down and the rubble removed. Derek and Dawson talked to the contractor and the man said they would be out the next day to level the site so the building contractor could come out and find the best location for the new house and begin to fill in the tunnel entrance.

It was an emotional day for the entire pack because at one time or another they had all spent time in the old house. While they were going to cherish the memories of times past, they were looking forward to the future.

They all went back to the loft, where Derek called an impromptu pack meeting and set up the pack hierarchy. He named Dawson as second, and Bobby as an enforcer.

They decided to order take out and watch a movie, before Danni, Bobby and Dawson went to their own homes.

Derek, Cora, and Alex turned in early for the night since Cora was going to be in school the next day. The only thing that was making that trip bearable for her was that Derek said they could drive Uncle Peter’s Jaguar.

That was the way to make a statement.

***

February 3, 2011

Beacon Hills High School

Derek pulled up to the front of the school and parked the Jaguar. He and Cora got out and waited for Dawson to arrive since he had all of Cora’s paperwork, and wanted to make sure there were no issues.

He leaned against the car staring back at the student’s staring at him. Cora was next to him, making comments about people under her breath that only Derek could hear. He had to hold back laughter at some of her snarky remarks.

Jackson Whittemore strutted up to Derek and said, “Nice ride. It’s a classic.”

Derek lowered his shades and said gruffly, “Yes, it’s a nice ride.” Then he pushed his shades up and turned to his sister, dismissing Jackson’s presence.

It wasn’t that he disliked the young man; it was more like he had forgotten that he was so annoying. His was another whose fate had changed with Derek’s return. There would be no bite for Jackson, so no Kanima.

Dawson pulled up in the silver Mercedes that had been Talia’s and got out with his file, and said, “Well Ms. Cora are you ready to start at this fine institution?” gesturing for the siblings to follow him.

Derek snorted when Cora muttered under her breath, “Institution is right.”

Dawson turned his head as he continued walking, and asked, “What was that?”

Cora fake smiled and replied, “I said my future’s so bright.” then she dropped the smile, frowning.

“That’s what I thought,” Dawson shot back.

Derek almost choked holding back his laughter. Cora was not excited, and Dawson was insistent; they’d already argued over it this morning.

Dawson led the way to the building and when he opened the door, he was almost knocked down by a student rushing out. Derek shook his head as he saw Stiles trying to grab Dawson to steady him, apologizing profusely.

Dawson pushed his hands away and said, “It’s alright, I’m fine.” and stepped out of the way of the flailing teenager.

Once through the door, Cora whispered to Derek, “That will teach him. He should know teenagers are clumsy. He’ll be lucky if he escapes with his suit intact.”

“I heard that,” Dawson responded. Cora stuck her tongue out at the back of his head as they continued down the hall to the office.

Once in the office, Derek let Dawson handle everything, signing papers where he needed to. Shortly later, Cora had a schedule, locker assignment, and homeroom assignment. The counselor said she’d show Cora to her first-period class, so Dawson and Derek left her there, with Derek saying he’d pick her up.

The two exited the building and found Bobby leaning against the Mercedes. Bobby told Derek that Satomi needed to talk to him, so he’d offered to deliver the message.

Dawson said he’d be at his office, and got in the Mercedes and left. Bobby got in the Jag and rode with Derek to the Ito Pack House. Derek entertained Bobby with the exploits of Dawson and Cora. The Beta said he’d wished he’d seen it.

They pulled up to the lot, parked the Jag, and walked to the pack house to see what Satomi wanted.

***

Lunchtime in Beacon Hills High School was chaos. Cora looked around for a seat and found an empty table near the back. She put her tray on the table and sat down to eat.

She had pulled out her chemistry book and was going over the reading assignment the teacher had assigned, when she heard a high pitched voice say, “You’re the new girl?”

Cora raised her eyes from her book slowly and looked up to see a strawberry blonde with perfect hair and make-up offering her an insincere smile.

“Yes, I’m new. Is there something you want?” Cora replied, arching a brow.

“Was that your boyfriend who brought you to school?” Lydia asked.

Cora huffed, “No, it was my brother. Look whoever you are, I’m trying to eat what this school calls food, so if you’ll excuse me.”

Lydia held out her hand, saying “I’m Lydia Martin, and you are?”

Cora looked down at the hand and then looked back up, “Not interested. I don’t associate with shallow people.”

She turned back to her book, dismissing Lydia much like her brother had done Jackson. When Lydia huffed and went back to her table, Cora’s eyes followed her and saw her sitting with the blond jock that tried to talk to Derek and a brunette, who was focused on a guy trying to catch his breath.

A tray landing on the table in front of her drew her attention. The guy that took the seat was the guy that almost knocked over Dawson. She thought she’d give him a chance since he’d entertained her this morning.

“You have to excuse Lydia, she thinks everyone wants to be her friend, especially if they arrive at school in a Jaguar,” he announced. Sticking out his hand, he said, “Stiles Stilinski.”

Cora nodded as she shook his hand, “Cora Hale.”

“Yeah, I know. You’re in my AP History and Chemistry classes, so far,” he informed her. He began eating then stopped with his fork in the air.

“Cora Hale…crap I’m sorry. About your sister…and your Uncle…I’m sorry about them being murdered,” Stiles said without taking a breath.

“Thanks, I hadn’t seen them in a while, but…,” she didn’t know how to continue that. She was still trying to deal with the fact that her sister had left her. She wasn’t as stupid as the adults in her life thought; for all that Derek was older than her. She knew how pack bonds worked. She knew that Laura probably felt her before she left. And that was what had her in such turmoil.

“Oh god, I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have even mentioned it. I’ll stop talking now,” Stiles rushed out.

Cora huffed and said, “It’s ok, you’re just the first one to say anything about it.”

Stiles nodded and continued eating. Cora followed suit, eating, and turning back to her book. A burst of laughter drew both their attention to the table where Lydia was sitting.

Cora caught a whiff of what seemed to be a mixture of longing, frustration, and sadness coming off Stiles, as he turned back to his plate.

Cora jerked her head in Lydia’s direction, asking, “Who are they?”

Stiles swallowed his mouthful before speaking, “You met Lydia, and the other girl is Allison Argent. She’s dating my best friend Scott, who’s sitting beside her. The jock is Jackson Whittemore, who made Lydia turn into a vapid idiot, for appearance’s sake. They are the popular people.”

Cora arched a brow, “He’s your best friend but you’re not sitting with him?”

Stiles looked over at the group, then turned back to Cora and said, “You know how it is; when it’s teenage love everything else takes second place. I gotta go.”

Stiles got up, took his tray to the dish dump, and left the cafeteria. Cora looked back over to the so-called popular people and saw Lydia looking back with a little smug smile that Cora wanted to slap off her face. Putting her book in her bag, she stood up, grabbed her tray, took it where it belonged, and left the cafeteria as well. She hated high school.

***

Derek was sitting in Satomi’s kitchen, listening to her ramble about how his mother used to love the tea she made and didn’t he want to try it? He was wondering what was going on as she didn’t normally do this. The older woman set her tea on the table and sat down across from him.

He arched a brow in silent question and the other alpha huffed and said, “You were supposed to play along.”

“With what?” he questioned in dismay.

A wolf entered the kitchen, “She was attempting to distract you so you wouldn’t feel my presence. I wasn’t certain I could read an Alpha I am not familiar with.”

Derek looked between the two, stood and growled lowly, “Why would you want to read me? Satomi, what’s going on?”

Bobby came running into the kitchen, responding to his Alpha’s upset. He took up a position behind Derek’s right shoulder.

Satomi glared at the wolf and said, “I told you it was a stupid idea. It would serve you right if he clawed you. Derek, you have to forgive my brother; he has horrible ideas about what are proper interactions with others. Sit down Kazuo.”

Derek watched the wolf take his seat and he sat as well, with Bobby remaining behind him. Glaring at the wolf Derek asked, “What was that about?”

“I apologize for causing any upset; I simply wished to get a feel for you before I spoke with you. I am Kazuo Ito,” the wolf said.

“Derek, Kazuo believes he can deal with the issue at the Nemeton. He has offered to transport the container back to his home in Japan, where he and his group of Sōhei will tend to the Nogitsune,” Satomi explained.

“What are Sōhei?” Derek asked. He’d never heard that term before, in either time.

Kazuo explained that Sōhei was the name of the warrior monks that he was associated with. They’d began as Buddhist warrior monks of both medieval and feudal Japan. Over time, they disappeared from mainstream Japanese culture and now only the supernatural sect remained. Kazuo was a Buddhist mystic.

Satomi declared proudly, “He taught me the swordplay of the Sōhei.”

Kazuo said, “All I need is for you to show me where the Nemeton is and I will do the rest. I would also like to discuss with you the Spark in your midst.”

Derek feigned shock and allowed Kazuo to explain to him how he came to the conclusion there was a Spark.

“I was at the party that my sister had for the arrival of your sister. One of your Betas, I believe his name is Dawson, literally glowed with Spark magic. He had been in direct contact with a spark or with someone who had. And for that type of residual magic to cling like it was, it has to be a powerful Spark,” Kazuo stated.

Derek offered a nod in agreement, but he wasn’t going to reveal the name. He knew from reading his grandfather’s journals just how coveted a Spark’s power was. He also knew that Dawson had been spending time helping Sheriff Stilinski with some cold cases, so that would have exposed him to Stiles’ magic.

“It is imperative that this untrained Spark receive training as soon as possible so they can contain their power. That kind of transference could draw the wrong type of attention to themselves,” Kazuo continued.

“I think I know who you’re talking about, but I believe he is unaware of his powers. Do you have any suggestions on how to get him trained?” Derek asked.

It seemed that was the question both Kazuo and Satomi were waiting for. They explained to him that as the Alpha of the territory the Spark resided in, tradition dictated that he would be responsible for his education. Satomi had an instructor in mind and agreed to contact them.

With that situation resolved, Derek stood and said, “When do you want to tend to the Nemeton?”

Kazuo stood as well and said, “I have a few things to prepare for the containment. I require two hours and I will be ready.”

“We’ll meet you at Lookout Point in two hours,” Derek replied.

Kazuo gave a bow and left the room.

Satomi stood and said, “I apologize, Derek, I should have known better than to go along with his idea. With the things you have been through, trust is hard wrought with you and I fear I have damaged it.”

Derek shook his head, “No we’re fine. I knew I wasn’t in a dangerous situation and I may have overreacted. A by-product of all the rehashing of the fire I guess. It’s put me on edge.”

“Then sit, have some tea before you venture into the preserve with Kazuo. It will help calm you,” Satomi said, as she went to the stove to start the water to boil.

“Satomi I couldn’t…,” he trailed off as she met his gaze with a smirk.

“I will make you Jasmine tea; I know you aren’t fond of Reishi tea,” the alpha assured him.

Derek sat with a sigh, and Satomi grinned puttering around her kitchen. Once the tea was ready, she set a mug down in front of Derek, and then retook her seat, asking, “How is Cora settling in?”

Taking a sip of his tea, which wasn’t too bad, he replied, “She seems to be doing OK. Today was her first day of school, and Dawson almost had to threaten her trust fund to get her to go. I think she’ll be alright once she gets settled in. She and Dawson are twins separated at birth, I swear, with the way they bicker back and forth. It’s all good-natured and their snark gets pretty funny. I think she’ll do alright with Danni as soon as the baby comes, and she’s not as miserable. So yeah, she’s doing well. She’s had a few hard questions, but we got through it.”

“That’s good, I always wondered about my decision to send her to Brasilia, but I’m glad she has you now and you can answer her questions,” Satomi said.

Finishing his tea and this conversation Derek stood, explaining that he and Bobby needed to take the car back to loft and change if he was going to be traipsing in the woods. Satomi agreed and Derek and Bobby left the pack house and walked back to the car.

They drove back to the warehouse and Derek changed while Bobby checked to see what Alex was up to. As the time to meet Kazuo drew near, both werewolves grabbed handguns on their way out. After being notified that Argent had been served, Derek wasn’t going out unarmed. He had no idea when or if Kate would arrive in town, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

Bobby and he ran to Lookout Point to meet Kazuo.

***

Cora was at her locker putting away her English book when Stiles walked up and asked her what class she had next. His locker was three down from hers.

She pulled her schedule out of her pocket and said, “AP Biology.”

“Me too, I can show you where it is.”

“OK,” Cora said as she shut her locker. “Thanks.”

They walked along the corridor in silence, dodging people as they went. Stiles pointed out the Library and the Music Room as they went past them, but that was the limit to their conversation. Turning to go down another hallway they finally got to the room, and Jackson and Lydia were outside kissing goodbye.

When Jackson turned to leave Lydia, he shook his head, saying, “She’s out of your league Stilinski, you should have seen the ride she came to school in.”

Cora hated bullies, almost as much as she hated hunters.

She stepped over, blocking Jackson’s way, and said, “You know how we got that Jag? We inherited it when my uncle got murdered. So you need to shut your mouth, asshole.”

Then she stepped around him, grabbed Stiles by the arm, and dragged him into class. He flailed his way behind her as she dragged him to the back of the room, and shoved him into a desk. She took the one beside him and glanced at him hissing, “Not a word.”

The biology teacher, Ms. Mathews, gave Cora her book and then began the class by collecting the homework. She gave Cora the option of doing it or not, since she wasn’t there when it was assigned.

Once she began getting into the lesson for the day, the class became more interesting. The time passed quickly and the teacher assigned homework right before the bell rang.

Cora got up and shoved her book and notebook into her bag. She left the room, glad that this day was over. She didn’t realize that Stiles was behind her when she heard a voice tell him, “What did you do to piss Jackson off? He says he’s going to make you eat turf at practice today.”

Cora shook her head. That was her fault. She just couldn’t help herself. Her old Alpha kept telling her she needed to rein in her temper, control it like she did the shift on the full moon.

She continued to her locker and began loading her books into her bag that she needed for homework.

Stiles stopped at his locker, opened it, and started gathering his stuff. Cora watched as he tossed books in and took others out. She took a deep breath and the scent of resignation waft over from the guy.

Cora slammed her locker shut, startling Stiles enough that he dropped his bag.

“Sorry didn’t mean to startle you,” Cora said.

“You didn’t startle me,” Stiles denied, “I lost my grip.”

Cora nodded and “Okay.”

She hoisted her bag on her shoulder, “Well thanks for all the help. See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, see you tomorrow,” Stiles said distractedly.

Cora walked out of the building and looking around, didn’t see Derek or the Jag anywhere. She heard a sharp whistle, and turning her head she saw Alex leaning against the Camaro.

She walked over to the car and said as she got in, “Where’s Derek?”

Alex started up the car and waited in line to get out of the parking lot, saying, “He’s playing with a tree. He wasn’t sure if he’d make it in time so here I am.”

Cora looked out the window and saw Scott and Allison walking toward the field house with Stiles following behind.

She shook her head and said, “I hate high school drama.”

Alex finally cleared the parking lot and asked, “Trouble on your first day?”

“Not trouble, just the same crap. If you have money, or a dead uncle leaves you a Jaguar, then all the entitled people want you. It’s a status thing. If I survive the month without choking someone, we’ll be lucky,” Cora explained.

Alex laughed, “And this is just the first day. It’ll be worse on the second day because everybody will have gossiped about you overnight.”

“Yeah, I know. You’re going to have to be my support when Derek and Dawson get called up there after I punch some jock in the face,” Cora declared.

“At least you didn’t do it on the first day.”

“No, I just called him an asshole when he was bullying someone. I swear Alex I’m going to lose it on this guy. I can just tell.”

“What’s his name?”

“Jackson Whittemore.”

“Ouch, you might want to be careful. David Whittemore is the County Prosecutor. He might decide to press charges if you hurt his son too much,” Alex advised as they pulled into the parking area of the warehouse.

Cora opened her door, and then looked at Alex and said sassily, “I have the most awesome attorney; he won’t let me get in trouble. He’ll turn it around so it’s the asshole’s fault.” She got out, while Alex sat laughing.

***

Derek and Bobby arrived at Lookout Point to see Kazuo waiting, holding a small bag. Derek asked if he was ready, Kazuo said yes and they began their trek to the Nemeton.

They walked for what felt like hours, in circles before Derek was able to find it. The stump was huge and the base looked like it had begun to rot.

Kazuo tilted his head, “I have been to the Nemata in Zhengzhou, China. And it was nowhere near as large as this. But the power coming off it was greater. I think that imprisoning the Nogitsune is pulling on its power, or something else has been.”

Derek and Bobby watched as Kazuo began searching for the container the fox spirit was trapped in. At one point, Bobby asked if there was anything they could do to help. Kazuo said no, it was a process of meditation and trial and error, but he was patient and would find it.

Derek pulled out his phone and saw the time. He shook his head and called Alex to see if he could go get Cora. He even offered the Jag, Alex said he’d take the Camaro; he would have to go buy new clothes to feel right driving the Jag.

Once he hung up, he turned back to Kazuo and watched his continued search.

It took Kazuo three hours to navigate around the Nemeton, and he was close to where he’d started from when he exclaimed success. He dug down and was finally able to pull the jar free of the roots it had been cocooned in for forty years. The fly lay in the bottom of the jar, seemingly dead, but Kazuo knew not to open it. He reached in his bag and pulled out a box wrapped in plastic. He pried off the lid of the box and slid the jar in. He then pushed the lid back on and said, “Done.”

He stood up and showed both werewolves the box and explained it was wrapped in plastic to allow him to handle it, as it was constructed of Rowan Wood.

Kazuo was repacking his bag when they heard rustling through the trees. Both wolves pulled their weapons, cocked them, and dropped them by their sides. Kazuo arched a brow at the two of them but said nothing.

Derek let out a frustrated sigh when Alan Deaton came from behind a large Birch. He saw the guns and said, “Alpha Hale, what are you doing?”

Flipping the safety on, and tucking the gun at the small of his back Derek replied, “I’m taking care of my responsibility to Hale Territory.”

“I wasn’t aware that you knew of that responsibility,” Deaton stated as he came closer.

“I’ve learned a lot from my grandfather’s journals.”

“I see,” Deaton said.

“Yes, I’m sure you do.”

Turning to Kazuo, Derek asked, “Are you ready?”

Kazuo nodded and gathered his bag.

Something pulled at his wolf. On instinct, Derek laid a hand on the tree stump. He felt thrumming through the wood, which settled after a few seconds. He removed his hand, stepping away from the Nemeton, saying, “Let’s go.”

The three werewolves walked through the preserve in silence, paying close attention to their surroundings, until they reached Lookout Point.

Kazuo gave Derek a bow and said, “I will ensure this is dealt with Alpha Hale. My sister also asked me to inform you that she has found a tutor for your spark. Satomi gave her your contact information, so you should receive a call soon. Take care of your charge, guardian.” He then turned and walked towards the pack house.

Bobby glanced at Derek and then followed Kazuo’s progress saying, “Well this whole afternoon has been weird, but that was definitely cryptic.”

Derek shook his head and turned to go home. “Yeah, it was. Let’s go see how Cora made out at school. Find out if she punched anyone on the first day.”

Bobby shuddered as he followed Derek. “I’ll tell you what, she had a nasty punch as a ten-year-old, and I’d hate to feel what she could do now.”

Derek laughed as he took off running for home.

Chapter 14

February 11, 2011

The Hale House Construction Site

The pack was once more adjusting to a new addition. Four days before the full moon, Danni had gone into labor. Bobby had called Derek to tell him they were at Satomi’s and they weren’t doing this ever again. Danni had struggled to deliver a healthy baby girl that they named, Krista Colleen. Mother and baby were doing fine. Dad, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck.

The pack had gathered at their home to greet the new baby after her arrival, and Bobby had handled the infant as if her head would fall off any second. The child had been passed around and scented by the members of the pack as was the tradition to welcome newborn pups.

Derek had been horrified by the thought of biting a baby to form a pack bond. After a conversation with Satomi, who explained that the bond he formed with Danni would also connect him to the child after its birth, he was pleased with the addition to the pack.

The pack was gathered at the construction site of the new house for the full moon. The construction company had fenced off the large area they’d be working in, and the initial dirt work had begun. Almost the entire pack was there, as Danni had opted to stay at home with Krista.

When the moon rose, the pack felt its pull and they all shifted and howled in celebration. Then they took off running. They ran through the preserve yipping and playing, surrendering to their wolves and the moon’s influence. They fought and hunted and ran some more.

Derek guided the pack around the preserve ensuring their safety. He was vigilant in their protection as they were enjoying the night. They were running back to the house site when Derek picked up a familiar scent. He began driving the pack toward the construction site faster.

A bullet ricocheted off a tree in front of him. He roared his anger and continued to encourage the pack. Several bullets had been fired at them before they reached the site. Derek and Alex shoved Cora behind a bulldozer, while Bobby pulled out the bag with the gun’s they brought out with them.

The wolves had shifted back to their human form and Bobby was thrusting handguns at them. Derek saw Kate Argent step out from behind a tree with a crossbow and as she let the bolt fly towards Alex, Derek raised his gun and fired. His bullet hit Kate in the shoulder, right after her bolt pierced Alex’s abdomen.

The gunfire between the hunters and the werewolves filled the air until sirens could be heard coming down the road. The firefight ceased as the hunters left through the preserve. Derek pulled Alex over to the bulldozer and examined his injury. He met Alex’s blue eyes and said, “Wolfsbane.”

Alex nodded in resignation, “Yeah, I feel it.”

Sheriff Stilinski called out for them to drop their weapons. Dawson tucked his gun into his waistband and approached the sheriff. The two had a conversation, and the sheriff sent the other car back out on patrol.

Derek hoisted Alex to his feet, pulling his arm around his neck. Noah approached and saw the bolt protruding from Alex’s abdomen and said, “Holy shit. Let’s get him in the car; we’ll take him to the hospital.”

Derek helped Alex to the sheriff’s car while Dawson explained that a hospital wouldn’t be able to help Alex. They had what they needed at the warehouse if he’d give them a ride.

Bobby packed up the guns and tossed the bag on the seat next to Alex and told Derek they’d make sure Cora got home safe.

Derek turned to his sister, who was still shifted. Walking over, he grabbed her shoulders and shifted to nuzzle her face. She calmed enough to shift back human and said, “What the fuck Derek, since when do you have guns? And gunfights with hunters? What the hell?”

Derek roughly said, “I’ll explain when we get back home. Right now, I need you to go with Bobby and Dawson so we can get Alex home, ok?”

“Alex? What’s wrong with Alex?” she demanded as she searched out the blond Beta.

“He’s got a bolt in him Cora and it’s coated with wolfsbane. Now if you’ll stop arguing, we can get him home,” Derek demanded.

Cora drew back, surprised by the force of his words and the alpha influence that coated them. Derek watched as the fight drained from his sister as she lowered her eyes and exposed her neck. Derek reached out and placed his hand on her neck, hoping it offered comfort against the bite of the reprimand. Cora’s eyes met his and he saw pride shining back at him. He nodded and Cora went off to join Bobby and Dawson, while Derek climbed in the sheriff’s car and they all returned to the warehouse.

***

When they arrived at the warehouse, Dawson had already opened the dock door and the sheriff drove his car inside. Derek got out and helped Alex out of the back and up to his room, the beta shifting uncontrollably.

Bobby came in with the big bag they had set up just for this situation. Sheriff Stilinski stood out of the way as Bobby and Derek worked on the bolt in Alex’s side.

Derek looked down at Alex, who was already beginning to sweat profusely as the wolfsbane made its way through his system, still shifting sporadically. Bobby pulled out the small case they’d set up with the different varieties of the dried flowers. He pulled a blossom out and set it on the table. Looking at Derek, he nodded.

Derek grabbed the bolt with a pair of pliers, meeting Alex’s glazed eyes and said, “Ready?”

Alex nodded, and Derek pulled the bolt out. Alex arched off the bed with a roar then fell back. Bobby used a lighter to reduce the blossom to ash, and then pushed the ash into the glowing wound. Black smoke rose from the wound, and it slowly began to heal.

Derek turned to Bobby and asked, “How’d you know the right one?”

Bobby began packing up the bag, saying “The most common wolfsbane used by Argent hunters is Nordic Blue Monkshood. It was a guess.”

Alex croaked, “You guessed?”

Bobby took the rag Cora offered and started wiping Alex’s side clean, “It’s one of their favorites. I had Danni read that book that we found; she speaks and reads fluent French. The Nordic Blue is practically their trademark.”

Derek shook his head at their conversation. But he was relieved that Bobby had done what he had. They could have very well lost Alex.

A clearing throat drew his attention and Derek’s head snapped to see the sheriff standing there. He’d forgotten about the man.

He stood up and said, “Thank you, Sheriff, for getting us here in time. The Hale Pack is in your debt.”

Noah gave him a nod, saying “You can repay that debt by explaining to me what the hell happened, and I want that bolt. It’s evidence of a crime. Not sure what crime, but I’ll bet I figure that out later.”

Dawson produced a clean towel and wrapped the bolt up and handed it to the Sheriff, saying, “Let’s all go up to Derek’s loft and let Alex rest. He may have healed, but the wolfsbane has weakened him.”

Cora walked over and sat on the edge of Alex’s bed saying, “I’ll stay with him.”

Derek nodded and giving Alex one last look, led the others to his loft, to offer the sheriff an explanation.

***

Once they gathered in Derek’s loft and took seats, Noah began asking questions. Derek and Dawson explained the events, up to the point the sheriff had arrived.

“So let me get this straight, they use not just guns, but bow and arrows as well?” Noah asked.

“They have a wide variety of weapons they use against us. Flash bangs, repurposed tear gas canisters with wolfsbane, signal emitters to drive us where they want us. The list goes on,” Dawson explained.

“And you just happened to take a bag full of guns out on your peaceful run?”

Derek looked down at the floor, reining in his temper at the accusation, and then said, “Sheriff, the Argent’s have hunted werewolves for a long time. Chris Argent has made it clear that he’s keeping an eye on us; me in particular. We were on my family’s land, where Kate Argent burned my family alive. I was going to take every precaution to protect my Pack.”

“Son, I just want to understand. That’s why I was out in that area tonight. I’m not stupid. After Dawson gave me the rundown, I figured a little extra diligence on the full moon wouldn’t hurt,” the Sheriff explained. “Now do I need to look for any hunters with bullet wounds?”

Derek looked up and said, “I think I hit Kate when she fired her crossbow at Alex. It looked like her shoulder jerked.”

“I’ll head over to the hospital and see if there’s been any admittance with gunshot wounds. You said that bolt had wolfsbane?”

“Yes, hunters sometimes coat their arrows with wolfsbane and they pack their bullets with it. It ensures a painful death for the werewolf.”

Picking up the wrapped bolt, Noah said, “I’m going to have this tested for contaminants. I can’t put it in an official report…well I could but then I’d look crazy. But I’m going to create a file for this that I’ll keep in my safe. Documentation of evidence is always good.”

Noah stood to leave, and Derek rose as well saying, “Thank you for all your help, tonight Sheriff. We do appreciate it, even if there is nothing official you can do.”

Noah nodded, “I’m going to do all I can. Just don’t put me in a situation where I have to turn my focus on you. Keep doing as you have been, play the defensive game. I can work with that, I think.”

Dawson walked the sheriff out, offering to help him plan a scenario if he wanted to pursue this legally. He explained that he had extensive experience in making the supernatural look normal.

Derek sat down hard on his sofa, resting his head on the back. The night had started out great and then went to shit. He’d been so concerned for his pack that he’d not even noticed the bullet he now felt in his leg. His body was slowly coming down off the adrenaline rush and he was beginning to feel the pain. He looked up when Dawson reentered the loft.

Derek stood saying, “Need to get the bag. This bullet has to come out.”

Dawson let out a huff and stormed off, muttering, “Stupid Alpha’s never thinking of themselves. I swear he’s going to drive me crazy.”

Derek smiled at the Beta’s rant. Dawson might not have meant it that way, but Derek took it as a compliment. Bobby coughed and Derek turned to the large Beta and arched a brow, “Do I need to burn more wolfsbane?”

Derek nodded, “Probably a good idea,” he said as his legs gave out beneath him.

***

The sun warming his cheek drew Derek awake. He turned over and bumped into a body. Opening his eyes, he saw Alex lying peacefully beside him. He watched the beta’s chest rise and fall in deep sleep. He felt contentment through the pack-bond, which was usually what came through when the pack slept.

He remembered telling Dawson about the bullet in his leg, and he had vague memories of it being dug out, but other than that he didn’t remember how he got in this bed. He felt weak, but he figured that was to be expected. He also thought that there was a lecture somewhere in his future about putting himself last. But it was going to be a useless lecture because the pack came first.

He’d almost lost his beta, and it sent a jolt of fear through him he hadn’t felt since he came back. But this time was different he told himself. He’d been prepared. He had the tools to protect them, and ensure their recovery, to a point. He wasn’t going to lose them. Not like last time. He felt that fierce determination he’d felt when this first began when he’d reported Laura missing, rise up strong. He would not lose Alex or any of them.

Reaching out, he ran a hand down Alex’s arm, feeling the warm skin beneath his touch. He had ignored his growing attraction to the blond beta for weeks now. The werewolf was quickly coming to mean more to him than Derek had anticipated. Not that he was averse to it. He just didn’t want it to be meaningless.

The bed shifted behind him and he felt pain as his calf was brutally kicked. He rolled over and Cora was sprawled on what remained of the king-size bed. Her hair was a mess and she was snoring softly into the pillow. Shaking his head, he rolled over onto his back, getting lost in the memories of how close he came to his sister being hurt. He startled as the door opened and Danni walked in, with Baby Krista strapped to her chest in a sling.

She stood at the foot of the bed and arched a brow, saying, “Seriously? You can’t even take them for a run without getting into trouble? What am I going to do with you? Now get up and get cleaned up. And bring those two with you.” She then turned and walked out.

Derek lay there stunned. He hadn’t been talked to like that since…well since his Mother. He felt the bed shift again and heard Cora laughing into her pillow. He reached over and poked her in the ribs.

“She said you too chuckles, get up,” he told Cora. She rolled out of bed, still laughing, and went to her room. Derek turned to face Alex and saw his blue eyes gazing back at him. Derek flushed under the scrutiny while Alex smiled broadly saying, “That’s still adorable.”

“How are you feeling?” Derek asked.

“Still weak, what about you? Dawson said you were in a similar situation, except you kept it to yourself like an idiot.”

Derek closed his eyes and said, “Dawson is making a big deal out of it. I had plenty of time. You, on the other hand, didn’t.”

“Yeah well, next time you don’t wait. You seem to forget that we suffered the same loss you did. So we might be just a little invested in your survival. Besides if you had died, I wouldn’t have gotten to do this.”

Alex leaned forward, and placed a tender kiss on Derek’s lips, then pulled back. “Been wanting to do that since North Carolina.”

Derek’s eyes popped open, his lips still feeling the warmth of the kiss. He felt through the bond with Alex the amusement and contentment, but he felt no fierce desire or affection. Derek continued to stare into Alex’s eyes, then sighed with resignation.

“You know this would never work. You are looking for a playmate, and I’m not. I want something real and meaningful at this point. I think…I think I’m looking for a mate,” Derek stated.

Alex slowly nodded, “I know. But it was just something I wanted to do, at least once. Besides I’m not ready to settle down. There are too many experiences left to enjoy.”

Before Derek could form a reply, the door opened and Bobby came in saying, “Danni said to get up. She slaved over a hot stove for you and you need to come and tell her how awesome her food is. I think she’s a little miffed about the whole getting shot thing.”

Alex laughed and sat up swinging his legs off the bed, saying. “Yeah I can relate to that, I’m a little miffed about it too. Come on Alpha breakfast waits for no man or werewolf.”

Alex stood up wearing pajama pants and no shirt. Derek followed as they went to worship at Danni’s culinary altar. Derek was confident he’d made the right choice, and was secure in the fact that he hadn’t offended one of his betas.

***

Noah sat at his desk, going over the toxicology report of the bolt he took from the Hale Pack. It showed traces of Aconitum. The report also went so far as to identify the exact variety. Aconitum noveboracense, otherwise known as Nordic Blue Monkshood.

What he was going to do with the information, he wasn’t sure. Hell, he didn’t even know what he could do to help the werewolves. He’d come to terms over the last few weeks that werewolves existed. And through observation, he’d determined that they just wanted to live life like everyone else.

Stiles had come home talking about Cora Hale and how she was kind of snarky but fast becoming a friend. She was just a normal teenager.

Dawson had offered his help in going through cold cases to see if any could be attributed to the supernatural; several were.

He had started a file on supernatural occurrences in the County since he’d become sheriff. He wondered if Sheriff McKinsey had been in the know. He’d have to check the former sheriff’s files; they were down in the basement.

He glanced back down at the report and then slid it into a file that contained the scan of the fingerprints lifted from the bolt. He had other paperwork to do, and there was nothing he could do with this at the moment.

Picking up the next file, he opened it prepared to get back to work when his phone buzzed. Answering it, Tara told him Chris Argent was here to see him. With a sigh, he told Tara to send him in and hung up. This was just getting better and better.

Tara opened the door and showed Chris Argent in. The man took a seat and said, “Sheriff, I want to report a shooting.”

Noah arched a brow, “Alright where were you shot?” he didn’t have time for this. But he pulled out an incident report and began filling in the information.

Argent replied, “I wasn’t shot, but my sister got grazed last night while out in the preserve.”

Noah leaned forward, “Your sister got grazed? What’s your sister’s name?”

“Katherine Argent.”

“What time did this happen, Mr. Argent?”

“Around 2:30 am.”

Sitting back in his chair Noah couldn’t help himself. “What was she doing in the preserve at 2:30 in the morning? That’s a little late for a nature hike don’t you think?

Argent ground his teeth and replied, “It doesn’t matter what she was doing, she was shot and Derek Hale did it.”

Noah sat forward and replied, “I see. Was she grazed before or after she shot the bolt into Alex Bishop?”

Argent froze. So Noah pushed on, “I was out there last night, Argent, responding to shots fired, and they were shots that I heard myself. And I can tell you there was more than one gun firing. I got to the scene and Alex Bishop had a crossbow bolt sticking out of his body. This bolt actually,” he said, pulling the evidence bag that contained the bolt out of the drawer.

“Now, I have a set of prints off of this bolt that I haven’t run yet. But I can. And if you insist that I arrest Derek Hale, then I’m going to insist that Katherine Argent be arrested as well, since I’d bet my next healthy meal that her prints are the ones I found.”

Chris paled, “You know.”

“Yes, Argent I know. I know that you and your family hunt people who have done nothing more than exist. I know they have done everything by the book since they arrived in my County. They register their guns, they have licenses to have and carry them, they register their vehicles, and they even enroll their children in school. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen your license to carry the one you have under your jacket or your registration for it,” Noah stated.

“You know what they are? They are dangerous animals that need to be put down before they hurt someone,” Argent argued loudly.

“The only dangerous person I see is you. You have gone out of your way to harass Derek Hale. You’ve done it so publicly that getting that restraining order was easy. Your sister trespassed on private property last night to attack innocent people. They weren’t even in the preserve proper; they were within their property lines.”

Chris stood up suddenly and shouted, “They are werewolves and it’s our duty to hunt those who hunt us!”

Stiles, who’d opened the door, not realizing his dad had a visitor, said, “Wow, you need some real help, dude. They have drugs that can help with those delusions. I did a research paper on it last month.”

“Argent sit down, Stiles what have I told you about knocking, and get in here and close the door,” Noah snapped, frustrated that this conversation had completely escaped his control.

“Dad, I didn’t know, sorry,” Stiles said.

Noah pointed to the other chair in the room and said, “Sit, and don’t say another word.”

Turning back to Argent he said, “Now here’s how it’s going to work. If I find you, your wife, your sister, hell your dog anywhere near Derek Hale or his family, I will arrest whoever for stalking. And while I investigate the stalking allegations, I will search for anything I can find to make your life as uncomfortable as possible. You want to hunt werewolves, go someplace else. Because you will not be doing it here in Beacon County. Do I make myself clear?”

Argent’s jaw tensed as he nodded.

“Good, now get out of my office before I have you up on charges of carrying a gun in a government building, which is illegal in Beacon County,” Noah snarled.

Argent got up and slammed out of the sheriff’s office.

Noah turned to Stiles and said, “Don’t ask. I’m entitled to a hamburger and fries before I explain this to you.”

Stiles ran his fingers across his lips mimicking a zipper.

Noah shook his head and gathered up the file and the bolt. This evidence was going in the safe at home. After the conversation he’d had with Dawson, it wouldn’t surprise him if someone tried to take it.

“Come on menace, I’ll buy you a burger and a shake, maybe curly fries,” Noah said as he walked out the door, Stiles following behind him.

 


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Chera

I am a middle aged female who has been writing in my original universe off and on for 15 years. I am looking forward to this new experience.

3 Comments:

  1. O. M. G. This new pack for Derek – surrounding him with support, loyalty, and compassion – is everything I never knew I needed for him. I mean, I love stories where the Erica, Boyd, Issac, and Jackson are good, mature, balanced characters and the pack is an actual working thing. But this? Where Derek gets adult wolf pack members who give him loyalty and support and compassion and laughter? And where there is the epic snark of Dawson, Danni & Cora?!? And a baby and a sheriff in the know? My heart is so happy and full . <3 <3

  2. I liked how you constructed the story and the pack. Dawson is my new crush and I want to see him and Stiles together forever in a mentor kind of relationship because I can see Stiles as a badass lawyer.

  3. Sending you lots and lots of love. Derek with a plan is so fantastic. Thank you

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