Chapter Six: Leverage

"What the hell happened to you last night?" Stiles yelled at her the next morning when Darcy came downstairs. He had his backpack thrown over his shoulder, the keys to his jeep in his hand, ready for school. But all of that seemed forgotten when he saw her.

He threw his backpack down on the ground and marched up to her, using every inch he had on her to try to intimidate her. It was a waste - after what she had seen last night Stiles was fighting a losing battle. "I thought something had happened to you!"

"Something did happen to me," Darcy told him. "My car broke down."

"Did it?" Stiles asked her, his eyebrows lifted. He half turned, gesturing toward the front door with a wild waving hand. "Because it's parked on the driveway. Completely fine. I went out to look at it this morning and it started right away. Purred like a kitten."

Darcy's brows furrowed. The car had been on the side of the 162 the last time she had seen it. She had woken up planning to call a tow truck to get it home for her brother to look at when he was done with school. She shook her head, her hand lifting toward Stiles' forehead, "Are you sure?" she asked, checking for a fever. "Are you hallucinating?"

"No," Stiles told her indignantly. He gestured over his shoulder again, "Check for yourself."

She dropped her hand from his forehead and walked uncertainly across the living room, a quick glance through the window and sure enough, her little Kia was parked on the driveway next to Stiles' jeep.

She glanced back over her shoulder toward Stiles. He sighed, his hands spread out at his sides, "What happened last night?" he asked her.

"N-nothing," she told him, stuttering a bit over the word. "I thought my car was dead and I was going to need to hitch a ride home with Derek. But - umm - it turned out the battery was just dead? He jumped my car and I came home."

"He jumped your car?" Stiles asked, eyebrows raised. He didn't believe her.

She nodded, not sure why she was lying to him. "Yeah," she told him. He needed more. She sighed with a shrug, "I left my headlights on in San Francisco," she told him.

He still didn't look like he believed her, "But if the car started in San Francisco the battery should have recharged itself as you drove home?"

"I don't know, Stiles," Darcy told him with a groan, tilting her head back to look up at the ceiling. "I don't know how to explain it. My car stopped on the side of the 162. He jumped it and it worked. He followed me home to make sure I got here safely and that was it."

Stiles swallowed, he looked panicked, "He followed you here?" he asked. He sounded panicked. "He knows where we live?"

Darcy's eyebrows lifted, "We live with the Sheriff, Stiles. Everyone knows where we live," she deadpanned.

"You didn't let him in, did you?" Stiles asked, panicking again. "Like he didn't cross over the threshold. You didn't give him permission to enter the house?"

"Didn't give him what?" Darcy asked, shaking her head. "He's not a vampire, Stiles."

"He's close enough," Stiles muttered back.

For some reason his gaze remained locked on her neck, as if he was looking for something in particular. "He didn't -" he stopped, letting his half-finished question hang in the air between them.

"Didn't what?" Darcy asked him. "Sell me drugs? Attack me? Force me to commit a crime with him? No. Nothing happened. He jumped my car and made sure I got home safe. That's it."

Stiles watched her for almost a full minute before he nodded. "You're sure?" he asked.

"Yes," she told him. Though she wasn't sure at all. How had her car gotten home? Had she dreamed the car ride home? The gas station? The panic attack?

It had all felt so real.

She glanced over her shoulder, back toward the front door, "You need to get going," she told him, falling into the role of responsible older sister, the reason she had returned to Beacon Hills. "You're going to be late for school."

Stiles nodded, pausing for a moment to drop both of his hands on her shoulders. He gave them a gentle squeeze, "The bus driver died last night," he told her, his voice soft. "Thought you'd want to know."

Darcy nodded, "I'm not surprised," she told him, though she did feel sorry for the man. "His wounds were pretty brutal. They're going to have to catch this wolf soon, it's getting out of control."

"Wolf," Stiles agreed sarcastically as he moved away from her, stooping to grab his backpack before he continued toward the door. "What's your plan for the day?" he asked her. He was trying to sound nonchalant, but Darcy knew that he was holding his breath, hoping to hear that she had no plans to go anywhere near Derek Hale.

Another lie.

"I'm going to write," she told him.

Stiles nodded. "So home?" he asked. "That's it."

Darcy nodded, "That's it," she told him, her fingers crossing behind her back in childish superstition.

"Good."

She waited five minutes after Stiles left, just in case he forgot something before she grabbed her keys off the kitchen table and headed out. The theory that she had dreamt up her time with Derek gained more weight when she climbed in the car. Her seat was exactly where she had left it. All six-foot-something of Derek Hale would not have fit in the seat without moving it back and that was the only way she could understand her car making it home unless she had imagined everything else.

But … that wasn't right. Because she could smell him. It was faint, faded and old, soft around the edges. But it was definitely him. Feeling silly, she inhaled, turning slightly in the seat and pressing her nose up against the headrest. He had been in her car.

Her next movements were instinctual. She didn't think about starting the car, backing out of the driveway, and driving toward the Hale House on the edge of the preserve. She didn't think about it at all, but within twenty minutes she was carefully driving up the driveway without even remembering how she had gotten there.

His car was parked out front.

He was nowhere to be found though.

She hesitated now, climbing out of her car quietly, gently shutting the door so that he wouldn't hear her. Then she moved toward his car, her lips tugging down into a frown. Something wasn't right.

His window had been fixed.

Or had never been broken in the first place.

She reached out, gently touching it with her fingertips, shaking her head. None of this made any sense.

He moved so quietly that she didn't hear him approach her. She didn't know she wasn't alone until she caught sight of his reflection in the dark window. Maybe Stiles was right, maybe the man was a vampire.

She didn't feel any panic or fear though when she saw him. She had come here for a reason, she had expected to find him. She took a deep breath and turned slowly to face him. "Derek," she greeted him.

"Darcy," he returned her greeting with one of his own.

Her brows furrowed, her name on his lips tugged at something, a thread of a thought. "How do you know my name?" she asked him, suspicion coloring her tone. "I never introduced myself." He had used it the night before too, but she had been too freaked out to realize that he shouldn't have known her name.

"You're the sheriff's kid," he told her with a shrug.

She shook her head, "No," she argued. It wasn't enough. "I wasn't the sheriff's kid the last time you were in town. I was a freshman your senior year. Gangly and awkward with braces and frizzy hair. I wasn't worth anyone's time or notice. You certainly wouldn't have noticed me." And besides, she thought, the words on the tip of her tongue, but she held them back. I wasn't here long enough to be noticed. She had been shipped out of state by the end of the first month of school.

She shook her head again, "And I never told you my name."

His brows furrowed and his head tilted to the side as he studied her. It was the same strange feeling she had before, as if he was listening to something she couldn't hear. After half a minute he sighed, taking a step forward, "I might have asked around about you," he told her, his voice gentle.

Darcy's brows furrowed. "Why?" she asked him. She didn't believe him for a second.

He gestured toward the side of the house, "The first time I met you, you were poking around my sister's grave, getting ready to write a story about us. You don't think I wanted to know who you were?"

Alright, she decided, she'd give him that. Maybe it wasn't so strange that he had asked about her. She turned back toward the car, tapping his window. "This is going to sound strange," she told him. "I know, it's going to sound strange. But I need to know that I'm not going insane." She tapped the window again, "And I swear the last time I saw this window it was broken."

She turned to look at him over her shoulder, her finger still resting on the tinted glass. He stood behind her, watching her carefully. He was going to make her ask. She sighed, "Was it broken yesterday?" she asked him. "Or did I imagine everything at the gas station?"

He didn't leave her wondering for long, at least he wasn't cruel. "It was broken," he told her with a sigh. His voice was gentle, almost warm, "You didn't imagine your car trouble. Or the gas station. It all happened, Darcy."

Darcy nodded, at least she wasn't completely crazy. She turned back to the window, watching his reflection in the dark glass. "How did you fix it so quickly?" she asked him, her brows furrowed.

He shrugged, "I know a guy."

"And my car?" she asked him. "You know a guy for faulty alternators too?" He nodded. She nodded too, "You got my car fixed and drove it back to my house?" she asked.

"I didn't want you to be without a car," he told her, as if this behavior was somehow normal.

None of this is normal, she thought.

She turned, leaning against his car, her arms crossed over her chest as she studied him. Again, with the t-shirt and leather jacket. "What happened last night?" she asked him. "At the gas station." Her eyes narrowed when he opened his mouth, as if she knew he was going to lie to her before he even spoke. "Those guys … I couldn't hear what they were saying when I was in the car, but the message was clear. They were threatening you."

Derek nodded.

"Why?"

He shrugged, the only answer he was willing to give her, it seemed, because he crossed his arms over his chest and stared silently at her until she spoke again.

"Does this have something to do with Laura?" she asked.

A silent nod.

"Did they hurt her? Did they kill her?"

His jaw clenched, "I don't know," he told her.

That, at least, wasn't a lie.

"But you think they did," she guessed.

He nodded.

"Who are they?"

"No one I want you involved with," he told her, his voice cold and determined.

Darcy tilted her head to the side, watching him, "That's not an answer," she pointed out.

"It's the only one you're going to get," he promised her.

She sighed, the last thing she wanted to do was make him angry. She had come here to thank him - at least she thought that was why she had come here. She just needed some answers and he was the only one she could get them from. "They wouldn't … hurt you would they?" she asked him, hesitant.

"I'd like to see them try."

Another non-answer.

Darcy bit her lip and Derek's green eyes landed on it again. She sighed, releasing her lip and gesturing a bit with her hands, "I don't know why I'm here," she told him honestly with a bit of a laugh. "I just got in my car and without thinking I came here. I guess I wanted to thank you for last night. For picking me up on the side of the road, for helping me -" she cut herself off for a moment before she gestured toward her car, "Apparently for fixing my car and returning it to me. Just … thank you."

Derek nodded, watching her for a long moment before he finally moved. He walked toward her car and opened the driver's door. "Take care of yourself, Darcy," he told her. He glanced around, his gaze landing on the trees behind the house. "Please stop coming here," he asked her, his eyes bright and earnest. "It's not -"

"Safe," Darcy cut off, interrupting him with an eye roll. "I know. People keep saying that."

An almost smile. "Then maybe listen to one of them?" he asked her, waiting until she was seated in the car before he shut the door. He waited, leaning over the car as she started it and rolled down the window so that she could say thank you one more time. "Don't worry about the car," he told her. "I owed you a tank of gas."

Darcy gasped, glancing down in surprise at the gas gauge. She hadn't even thought to check in when she got in the car. It had been hovering around a quarter of a tank the night before. Now it was full.

"Derek Hale!" she gasped out.

He shook his head and stepped away from her car, "I'll see you around, Darcy Stilinski." And then he turned, walking up the steps to disappear into the ruined house.

…..

"Maybe he's a drug dealer," Darcy mused, swinging her legs back and forth, her heels kicking against the counter she was sitting on.

Jared stopped loading her pistol to look up at her, his eyebrows raised, "Who?" he asked.

"Hale," Darcy told him. She had gotten to the station just at the end of Jared's shift and he had offered to take her to the shooting range with him while she told him about her adventures the previous evening.

Jared shook his head, his gaze returning to the gun in his hand, "Derek Hale is not a drug dealer," he reassured her.

Darcy nodded, "You're right," she agreed. "He's pretty sure those guys had something to do with what happened to his sister. And cutting his sister in half and whatever happened at the gas station last night are more give us our money than please sell us drugs vibes. Right?"

She gasped, "What if he's a drug addict?"

One of Jared's eyebrows lifted, "Does he look like a drug addict?" he asked.

She shrugged, "Maybe one addicted to steroids."

"You don't really get addicted to steroids," Jared pointed out. "You can get addicted to the results, I guess, but that's more of a psychological issue than a chemical dependency."

"Alright Doctor Thuma," Darcy laughed sarcastically. "Spent a lot of time studying drug addictions?"

He shrugged, "Wrestled in high school, Darce," he pointed out. "You don't think kids on that team were taking HGH?" He nodded toward the counter she was sitting on and reached out, gently hitting her hip with the flat of his hand, "Down."

"Who?" Darcy asked as she hopped off the counter. She lowered her voice to a whisper, "Was it Clayton Perry?" she asked. Before Jared answered she was already nodded, "You know Lainey James did always say he had a little -"

"Ears," Jared interrupted, gesturing toward Darcy's ears.

She sighed and shook her head as she lifted her earmuffs from where they hung around her neck and put them on so that they covered her ears. She didn't need him to tell her to put her glasses on either to protect her eyes. This was not the first time she had been to the shooting range. Once she was sufficiently covered she reached out toward Jared, her palm facing up as she waited for him to put the 9 mil glock in her hand.

The next time Jared spoke his words came through the bluetooth speaker in her earmuffs. "What stance do you use?" he asked her as he moved away from her, giving her space to get situated in the booth.

Instead of answering him she showed him, her right foot stepped back, a slight bend in the knee, while her left knee bent a bit more drastically. The stance was a wide-legged stance that gave her a sturdy base and allowed her to lean forward in a preemptive response to recoil. Jared chuckled and shook his head, "Chapman - just like your dad." He moved over to her right, "Right hand dominant?" he asked.

"And left eye," she told him as she lifted the gun.

It had been a few years since she had been to the range, but this felt familiar. Her body slipped right back into it as if it had only been a few days. Her right hand found its usual high grip, the webbing between her thumb and index finger jammed against the backstrap, her thumb angled forward. Her instinct was to angle the wrist, but her dad had trained that out of her, she straightened out wrist, allowing her forearm to line up completely with the barrel of the gun, another fight against recoil.

Her left hand raised next, slight bend in the elbow to cover the rest of the grip. This one could be angled, almost at a 45 degree angle, thumb pointing forward, resting just below the slide.

She glanced down her arms, her right index finger still off the trigger until she was ready to shoot, this stance brought the sight closer to her left eye, her target was straight ahead.

"A little more bend in your left elbow," Jared told her, circling around her to study her stance. She felt his leg slip between hers, his foot nudging her feet a little further apart. "Tighten your grip," he told her, nodding to the gun in her hands. "Not to the point of shaking, just strong enough to break someone's hand."

Darcy nodded as her right index finger moved toward the trigger. The first time her father had taken her shooting she had hooked the trigger below the second joint, jerking the trigger back when she pulled, forcing the gun to shift and buck in her hands. She was better than that now, more comfortable. Only the pad of her index finger touched the trigger, above the first joint.

She took a breath, shooting a handgun was a lot different than a rifle, heartbeats and breaths didn't matter nearly as much as trigger control and wrist placement. But her father had still trained her to pull the trigger between her breaths. He said that if she got into the habit of shooting between her breaths every time she shot, she wouldn't have to readjust for long-range weapons.

Slow, she could almost hear her father's voice in the back of her head. Gentle. Take your time, kid.

The bottom section of her finger, below the second joint and the knuckle, remained absolutely still as she pulled straight back, slow and gentle - smooth just like he had taught her. She kept hold of the trigger until after the shot broke and instead of releasing her stance to check the target she slowly eased the trigger forward until it reset - an easier starting point than the first pull.

That's it, kid, her father would have whispered if he were there. The hole will always be there. Again.

A breath and then she shot again.

And again.

Fifteen bullets in a clip. Fifteen shots. Fifteen holes in the target.

Her arms shook when she finally lowered them, relaxing her stance as she ejected the now empty clip and thumbed the safety just as a precaution. Jared was standing beside her, watching her with wide, surprised eyes.

"What?" she asked with a smile as she leaned forward to hit the button that would pull the paper target forward so that she could see how she had done. "Is there something on my face?"

"Okay, Annie Oakley," he told her with a chuckle.

Darcy shook her head, "She shot a rifle," she told him.

Jared nodded, letting out a low whistle as he looked at her target. There weren't fifteen holes - instead there was one large one, its edges ragged, right at center mass. "You sure you're a newspaper reporter and not, I don't know … a CIA Agent?" he asked her, glancing back toward her.

Darcy smiled, "I'd tell you, but I'd have to kill you," she told him with a wink.

She held out the gun and a new clip, "Your turn?"

"No," Jared told her, shaking his head. "Not after that. I'm not about to try to embarrass myself now." Darcy shrugged her shoulders and turned away, facing the bench at the back of their booth where her gun case sat. She'd clean the gun before she put it away and they headed out. Jared was still watching her, "Did you want to come out here because of what happened at the gas station last night?" he asked her.

She glanced up at him and nodded as she took her earmuffs off. He followed suit, still watching her as he waited for more of an explanation. "One of the guys had a military grade weapon," she told him with a shrug as her gaze returned to the gun in her lap so that she could start cleaning it. "I didn't get a good look at it, but I think it was an M4 -"

She cut herself off when Jared groaned slightly, shifting away from her so that he could lean against the counter toward the front of the booth, putting some distance between them. "I'm sorry," he apologized when he caught her gaze. "You just have no idea how hot it is that you can just … identify an M4."

Darcy shook her head, "Boys and their toys," she muttered. Her gaze returned to her own gun as she continued talking. "And Derek didn't even blink. They break his window with an M4 and he doesn't even react. He was so calm, so in control." She shook her head, "And all I could do was scream and have a panic attack."

"So it's about control?" Jared asked her. "You want to feel safe and in control?"

Darcy nodded.

"You know the easiest way to feel safe would be to just stay away from Hale, right?" Jared asked. "If these guys are really after him, for whatever reason, the only reason they would come after you is if you were with him."

He had a point, but he hadn't been there at the gas station the night before. He hadn't seen the way the man had looked at Darcy. It wasn't as angry and overtly threatening as when he looked at Derek, but it was calculating. He saw her as a tool, leverage he could, and she imagined he would, use to get Derek to do whatever he wanted him to.

"I don't know if staying away from Hale will be enough," she told him honestly as she started to pack up her gun case. The man's words from the night before echoed in her head.

Make sure you take care of her too, he had said. You have a habit of losing the things that are important to you.

She glanced up at Jared, "They think I'm important to him," she told him. It was all she needed to say, Jared was young, but he had been working long enough in law enforcement to know that attachment was often viewed as weakness.

He nodded, "So we'll work on getting you a concealed carry permit," he told her. He reached out, his hand closing gently around Darcy's, she fought the urge to pull her hand free. "Nothing's going to happen to you, Darce," he told her. "I promise."

This promise didn't calm her nerves as much as Derek's had the night before.


Author's Note:

Hello friends! Happy Thursday!
I just thought that I'd stop by with a little treat for you guys to celebrate that it's almost the weekend!
Anyway, thank you for reading this chapter (and all the chapters before it) I sincerely hope that you enjoyed it.
(And I hope that you're super excited for the next chapter ... I know I am! (I'm winking right now through the screen))
Anyway, if you enjoyed this chapter, do everyone a favor (especially me!) and leave a review! They make me happy and encourage me to write more!
So it's a win/win for everyone!

Cadarella: Thank you so much for your review on the last chapter! I'm so happy that you're enjoying this story so far and I hope that you continue to do so!

And that's all I've got for now.
Happy reading,

Chloe Jane