Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairing: pre-slash Derek/Stiles
Warnings: Mentions of canonical deaths, guilt, grief, and Derek’s general emotional trauma.
Summary: Derek drives; Stiles texts. Also on AO3.
He couldn't remember the walk to the car, except for one moment, a sudden crisp jolt of there-ness as Peter said, "Derek," and tried to put a hand on him.
"No," Derek said, not wanting comfort, not from him. He slammed the car door, shutting Peter out, and then he drove and drove and drove, aware of the steering wheel against his palms, the dark tunnel of the road revealed by the headlights, the monotonous shush-shush of the tires on bitumen. Nothing else for a long time.
When dawn began to dull the world -- blurring together the headlight beams and the grey of the road so that it was wearying to drive -- Derek pulled off into a deserted rest stop. He stepped out onto the crunching gravel and listened, scented, and when all he could sense were the stirrings of animals, he stripped, locked his clothes out of sight in the trunk of the car, and jammed the key up behind the tire rim.
He welcomed the wolf, and slipped silently through the last shreds of the night, pacing his way between the trees until he found a grassy hollow at the edge of a sweet-smelling glade. He curled up, nose to tail, and let the welcome amnesia of sleep claim him, not even bothering to keep his usual half-an-ear open as he slept.
He jerked awake from a nightmare of black blood in his mouth, already mid-snap at a pesky fly buzzing at his ear, but still a fraction too slow; it zoomed into a sunbeam far above his head. Around him the clearing was morning still, dew on the ground, long shadows barely breached by the sun. Putting his snout back onto his paws, he dozed again.
When he woke again, it was to sun-warmed fur and a good stretch, the sweet smell of grass, honey bees buzzing, the sound of water tripping over stones, the pick pock of a grazing rabbit. Rising silently, he stalked the incautious rabbit, staying downwind until it was in his sights; then he pounced. Unlike the fly, the rabbit did not escape. Its warm, sweet meat took the edge off his hunger, along with the last phantom memory of the taste of ash. Afterwards, he slaked his thirst and cleaned himself at the creek.
He felt lighter afterwards, as though more than dirt had been washed away.
The car was still sitting as he had left it, and once he was clothed and back in the driver's seat he dug out his phone so he could look up his location. He ignored the message alerts, and went straight to the GPS and waited for the pin to drop.
He stared at it for a while, only a little surprised at where his instincts had been leading him. Fuck it, he thought. He didn't want to go back to Beacon Hills yet, and there was one other place he wanted to go. It had been far too long since his last visit.
When he hit the main road, he made the turn that would get him back on I-5, heading away from Beacon Hills, and south towards the sun.
He drove with a sense of purpose, foot heavy on the gas, just edging over the speed limit. At about the half-way point of his journey, the red warning light of an empty tank blinked on; he pulled in at one of the enormous space-dome style gas stations, complete with KFC, MacDonalds, Starbucks and a convenience store. He'd been driving for bit over three hours by then, so after filling up the car, he parked in one of the temporary bays and went inside. Everything smelled like sweaty humans overlaid by too much bleach. He held his breath and made use of the amenities, then bought some water, a double shot cappuccino, a couple of chicken wraps, and a cookie.
He stood by the car while he ate the wraps (the rabbit had tasted better) and drank the coffee, mind almost blank as he watched the cars hum by on the Interstate. His phone chirped with a text as he was stuffing an empty food wrapper into the carry bag the meal had come in; he was tempted to ignore the message, except for the sudden guilty realisation that it could be Isaac.
Abt 2 send out srch pty. Txt someone if ur not dead, asshole.
Derek frowned and scrolled back.
Scott just confessed shitacular Gerard masterplan. U ok?
Stupid question. R u poisoned/vomiting black goo/dying?
Srsly. R u alive? Gerard worryingly MIA. Every1 else accounted 4.
Where r u??? Peter said you looked like shit and drove off. Isaac is pining. Txt him.
Are you ok? Stiles thinks you're missing. He's trying to get Danny to hack your phone.
Y r u in Kettleman City? Imagining u kidnapped by undead psycho grampa & stuffed in trunk of own car. Not as much fun as u'd think.
Abt 2 send out srch pty. Txt someone if ur not dead, asshole.
Sighing, Derek texted back, Getting milk, back soon. He hesitated for a moment, and then added, Call off the dogs. Petty, yes, but he knew Stiles would take it as an insult to Scott. Stiles seemed to think he had the sole right to make werewolf-related dog jokes. No doubt he'd rant at Scott about it, passionately, on-and-off over several days.
The thought made Derek feel ever so slightly better. Scott totally deserved to be ranted at by Stiles.
OMG. Ur such a dick!
Derek smirked, turned off the phone and got back into the car.
He rolled into Acton after dark, and headed straight out to the wolf sanctuary. After a twisting drive through the hills, and still with several miles to cover, he parked in a deserted, weed-covered picnic area, and repeated his preparations from that morning. As soon as he'd welcomed the wolf, he scented the air, searching for the familiar call of pack, but the evening breeze was in the wrong direction. He set off at a ground-eating lope over the scrubby terrain, quickly covering the remaining distance.
Just as the moon was rising he came to the chain link fence that marked the boundary he was looking for. The scent of wolves was ripe in the air now, and he tipped his head back and howled, long and loud. Then he leapt the fence with little effort and sprinted towards the central compound, towards the familiar howl that cut through the night in reply to his own.
He saw her first -- Lois was pressed up against the inner fence, waiting for him, ears cocked, tail up, fur thick and tawny, shining in the moonlight. She spotted him a moment later as he left the shadows of a row of shrubs, and as soon as she saw his eyes, her head and tail drooped. She pawed at the ground and whined, a mournful sound that struck at his heart.
Derek sped up, barreling at the eight-foot fence separating them. His leap cleared it with a good foot to spare, and he immediately turned and playfully pounced on Lois. She cuffed him around the head as she went down, showing him her belly, and licked his jowls while he snuffled her fur.
"Sorry," he muttered, as he changed back into his human skin, so that he could thread his fingers into her fur and curl around her, breathing her in, the way they had as cubs, before anyone had known she was one of the rare ones -- always a wolf, unable to welcome her human form. "I'm sorry. I should have come sooner. Laura and I should never have left you here."
Lois stuck her nose into his ear and snorted.
"Hey!" He flailed away, hunching his shoulders. "You know I hate that."
She rolled her eyes.
"I take it back." Derek said, sulkily, "I remember why we left you here now."
Before he could retaliate, Lois darted forward and licked his face, then tried to sneak her nose up to his other ear so she could snort in it too. Derek pushed her away and grabbed for her tail. She yipped and danced back, nipping his ribs, right in the ticklish spot, making his whole body flinch.
Derek bit off a curse and changed back into his wolfskin; he pounced, knocking Lois off balance so that they both went rolling across the yard, growling and biting, fur getting filled with sand and saliva. Derek didn't realise until too late that Lois was angling them towards a half-full water dish, until he slammed into it with enough force to flip it over. It landed on his head, the tepid water drenching his fur and getting up his nose.
Lois skipped out of reach, laughing at him as he sneezed.
You think you're so funny. Derek thought as he shook his head, sending out a sphere of droplets.
She thought back an exaggerated memory of Derek as a cub, all paws and eyes, tripping over his own feet and landing in a mud puddle; it was a memory filled with fondness. She closed the distance between them and touched her nose to his gently. With an obvious effort, she thought her curiosity at him in words: Why have you come? Is it safe to go home yet?
No, it's not safe. Derek shook his head, turning aside from her touch. Laura's dead. Peter killed her, and then the new pack killed him. Lois whimpered, but Derek stayed turned away, unable to look at her. There's no-one else left. No one else to be Alpha. No one who deserves it.
Even without looking at her, Derek could feel Lois' sadness at Laura's death and their lost pack, confusion-fear-sadness for Peter's betrayal, misery for Derek's guilt, and beneath it, a small but constant thread of joy at seeing him, and contentment in her new pack. No anger, though; no anger at all.
Derek felt more tired than he'd ever felt. Why aren't you angry at me? This is my fault.
Lois pressed in close against his side. Do you blame me for being a only half a sister?
What? Derek frowned. You're not half a sister. You're the way you're meant to be. It's not your fault you're a wolf.
Lois nodded, her fur brushing softly against his neck. And it's not your fault there are hunters, she thought. Don't blame yourself for their crimes. Might as well blame the moon. It was a saying their mother had often used when one of them had railed about the unfairness of having to hide their nature from the human world. Or blame me for being half a sister. She faked a nip at his ear, and ignored his half-hearted snap in return.
Stop making this about you, Derek thought. It's not about you. And you're not half a sister. Stop saying that.
Stop this cub thinking, then, Lois replied. You're meant to be an Alpha, not an addle-headed beta in her first heat.
Derek distinctly heard several wolves sniggering from somewhere in the shadows at the other end of the enclosure. You suck, he thought. I hope you get fleas.
If I get fleas, I'll share them with you, Lois thought; when Derek rolled his eyes, she surged forward and snorted right in his ear. Come and meet my new pack, Cub.
Derek glared at her, flicking his ear several times, trying to get rid of the tickle. Whatever, Beta. As soon as Lois turned and trotted off towards the sleeping area housing her pack, he darted forward and yanked her tail with his teeth.
Derek arrived home three days after he'd left, having holed up in an Palmdale motel for a day so he could spend another night with Lois' new pack. They were nice enough, and Derek had formed a definite suspicion that Lois had decided to take Beau, a rust-coated former Omega, as her mate.
It was well after dark by the time he parked at the subway station; late enough that he could do a perimeter run of the town in his wolf form without attracting undue attention.
He went downstairs to get a drink before heading out again, but stalled halfway to the make-shift kitchen. Sitting on the scarred old table Erica and Boyd had scavenged from the side of the road was a large white envelope with Derek's name scrawled on the front. Derek scented the air, but nothing seemed out of place. He picked up the enveloped and sniffed it: paper, ink, glue, and the pungent hormonal soup that indicated Stiles had handled it extensively.
The flap wasn't stuck down, so he flipped it open impatiently and let the contents slide out onto the table. There was an official looking form -- a Dog Registration form -- and a dogtag with the name HALE engraved on it. Fucking Stiles and his dog jokes. Derek could feel his teeth prick against his bottom lip. He threw the envelope down and turned away, trying to regain his earlier peacefulness. Then he stopped, backtracked, and picked the enveloped up again.
Inside the flap on the envelope Stiles had written something in his almost illegible scrawl.
Deaton has a lot of strays. One more won't be noticed. SS.
Derek stared at the message. It didn't actually sound like a dog joke. Or if it was, Derek didn't get it.
He pulled out his phone, turned it on, and was greeted by the buzz of a handful of incoming messages. Derek scrolled back to the last one he'd read.
OMG. Ur such a dick!
Why have you stopped in the middle of the desert?
Did your overcompensationmobile break down? LOL.
Srsly, do u need a tow?
Palm motel, huh? Classy.
Y r u even there? Visiting the nature reserves? Getting frisky with the local wolfdog pack? Or maybe the cougars? ;D
"Fuck," Derek said, and scrolled down to the next message with trepidation.
Shit. Just realised... shutting up now.
Let me know if u need help.
Derek looked down at the registration form again, and considered how someone might go about hiding a wolf in plain sight, if, say, they knew a vet who processed paperwork for a lot of stray dogs needing new homes. Or maybe two dogs needing new homes.
After a moment of thought he tapped out a reply and sent it off.
Back in one piece. The cougars say hi.
This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/396043.html.