Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. Lyrics belong to Lana Del Rey.
A/N: Hey y'all! Thank you all so much for the support and response to the first chapter! This season has really started off with an action-packed bang and it's utterly superb. Ergo, I feel the need to work twice as hard to make the fic match the awesome quality so far.
Minor pet-peeve and what seems to be a popular opinion on tumblr: I just really can't get behind the Ms. Blake and Derek meeting. We'll see if things improve and maybe I'll be able to get behind the pairing and eventually come to ship it. For now, I just feel like Jeff was relying on heteronormative expectations of romance and cliche tropes instead of legitimately building a relationship based on chemistry. I'm a little disappointed, to be honest. I was originally very interested in the potential love interest for Derek and seeing him in at least a semi-happy state. But that being said, we'll just have to wait and see how things pan out.
In terms of my fic, Derek and Ms. Blake haven't met yet and I am deviating a bit from canon. It physically hurts me to deviate but it's kind of necessary at this point.
Thank you all so much for reading!
Big Ugly Lofts
I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin' hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I've got a war in my mind
So, I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, just ride
There's a body. It's... she's blonde.
Derek dropped Isaac off at home and then idled in the parking lot behind his loft.
It had been a month since Paige had also been taken. After all that, Isaac had finally stumbled on the the place they were being kept. Derek should have been happy. He knew where they were. Scott and Stiles were arriving in a different car with the bank vault blueprints in order to come up with a plan. Even Peter had volunteered to sit in the corner and make snarky comments.
But... Isaac had also seen a body. Long hair - maybe blonde, maybe not.
The summer gave Paige highlights that lighten the overall look of her hair. Derek had first noticed them a few weeks before she had been kidnapped. He had been so busy in his own head and then one day they were driving to some diner or another and the sun had hit her hair in just the perfect way to make it seem like gold was intertwined in her hair. Absently, he had reached over and entangled his hand into her hair, grasping for the gold, mesmerized by the fact that he hadn't noticed it before now. Paige had turned to him, startled. And quickly, Derek had removed his hand and turned his attention back to the road.
Of course, later that same day, Isaac had visited for the first time in weeks.
"Did you dye your hair?" he had asked Paige.
"No," Paige had responded. "My hair always gets lighter in the summer."
"You look almost like a blonde - hope you don't become a dumb blonde," Isaac had joked.
It was true though - Paige's hair had significantly lightened and now she was could be mistaken for a blonde in the right light.
Isaac said he had found a body - a blonde body.
It was very likely that Erica or Paige were dead. One of them, at least. It could be either, Isaac couldn't tell. Derek had been too late to save them and either his beta had died or his mate had died. Either way, it was his fault.
He left his car and climbed the stairs up to his loft. Pausing outside the main door, he placed his forehead on the metal and took (what seemed like his millionth) deep breath.
When he had first returned to Beacon Hills, when he had first visited his childhood home, he had stood outside the place and envisioned what it had looked like before it had burned down. He had entered the main door and imagined his cousins running down the staircase, his aunts chatting in the parlor room just off to the left. As he toured, he had pictured each member of his family in that restored house, happy and smiling. His mother in the kitchen. His sisters in the living room. All of them, exactly where they should be.
Now, he opened the door to his loft and imagined Paige snuggled up on the couch watching some chickflick. Or, at his desk, trying organize the mess into something more usable. Or, in their bed, napping after a long day of training. Everywhere in that loft had been touched by her somehow, she belonged in every corner of this home and then he blinked.
It was empty again.
"You know, this is getting old," Paige sighed.
"We've been here a lot longer than you," Cora reminded her.
"I know, imagine how you feel," she muttered. The three of them talked - had developed some kind of bond, perhaps. But after a month of seeing someone for so long, constantly... well, it got very old, very quick. Paige had picked up both of their figures of speech and was slowly also becoming annoyed with herself.
"Another full moon tonight..." Cora commented.
"Shit," Boyd cursed.
If Paige had thought transforming with the moon was difficult, not transforming with the moon was even worse. Her first (and only) time had just felt... wrong. It was like her entirely body was in rebellion of just sitting there, in her human form. Everything itched and then ached and finally she had burned all over. The following morning, Cora and Boyd had explained that it got worse with every time.
So, she leaned deeper down and closed her eyes. She knew she couldn't sleep through the moon, but maybe she wouldn't be so tired and upset tomorrow morning if she got some rest now.
Two hours later, the itch was so bad that she woke up. Rolling over, she groaned. Already, Boyd and Cora were growling - not the werewolf growl, but certainly the human-in-tremendous-pain growl. Both of their eyes were glowing, also. It was like everything in their boyd was telling them to continue the natural transition. They weren't human anymore - they were also a wolf and that wolf needed to be free. But their puny little human bodies couldn't handle the transition.
Paige gasped and sat up. She felt... something. Her wolf? Was the shewolf trying to push free, out of her chest? There was a pressure there, and it hurt. It ached and it was spitting fire into her throat.
A swift boom echoed up and down the walls of the vault. For a moment Paige thought one of the other occupants had banged their head against the vault wall - as they had done in the past - anything to knock themselves out. If they couldn't give into the beast, give into the darkness.
But Paige found the source of the noise: the other side of the vault. She stood on shaky legs just as another boom sounded. It was definitely inside the wall. It was coming from inside the vault wall. She took a step forward just as cracks spread from the dent now forming in the stones. Suddenly, a hand punched clean through the wall. And just like that, the rest of the wall came crumbling down.
A figure rolled through the debris and rose into a strong stance.
She knew instantly the pressure in her chest - the mate bond was trying to tell her that he was close.
"Derek!" she shouted.
He instantly tried to take a step towards her, relief washing away deep lines in his face. Then, he seemed to catch sight of something behind her, "Boyd?"
Paige turned. Boyd was breathing heavily - more heavily than before. And... no. His fangs had grown out. He was... transforming?
"Stiles, this really isn't a good time," a voice said. Scott. Scott was behind Derek.
Something was wrong though. Boyd was transforming and something felt wrong - or maybe, it was right. Something was very, very right.
"It will be dangerous," Cora had said. The next time they transform. They were being allowed to transform, how? What had changed?
Little glossy fangs poked up at her own lips, she realized. She was also giving into the moon. But she had been very good about transforming with the moon - Derek no longer needed to tie her up and so long as she wasn't stressed, sometimes she didn't even transform completely. And she never lost control.
"Derek..." a voice spoke up.
His face dropped, his mouth gaped open and his eyebrows lifted in shocked disbelief. "Cora?" he answered.
Scott was saying something, but Paige felt her whole body jerk forward at once and she knew what was happening. Knew she couldn't control it.
"Cora?" Derek asked once more, voice small and confused.
She tried to warn him - Paige opened her mouth to tell him that they were savage and crazed and would kill them. Instead, a roar echoed from out of her mouth and the shewolf was now in full control.
Like an observer, she watched some unfamiliar woman put down some mountain ash to lock the werewolves all together and then watched as she walked away, arm and arm with a blind man. She watched Cora jump at Derek, watched Derek toss her to the ground. Watched herself claw down Derek's back, watched him grunt and stretch away from her reach.
"Boyd!" someone shouted. Paige pulled herself from the ground - she didn't know how she had ended up there - and watched Allison break the mountain ash circle.
All instinct told her to get out.
She didn't want to bend to the will of her alpha - leave this circle, hunt prey that didn't hunt you back.
And just like that, she was in the woods.
Paige didn't know how long they ran - all of them, the other betas. It was like their own pack. But very quickly Paige decided that she had enough of running. She wanted to kill - wanted to rip into someone and taste their blood. This whole running around wasn't doing anything for her.
Growling, she abruptly halted. Boyd and Cora both took their lead from her and paused. She lifted her head up to the moon and sniffed. There - a soft scent of human. Once again, they were running. Cora split off and bounded around up a hill. Paige caught a stale scent and went left. Only Boyd stayed straight on the path. He sprinted past the stream and jumped clean over a fallen tree. Despite being separated, Paige could keep track of both of them and their location using their scent alone.
Alone, she bent over and gave into the stride of the werewolf. The dirt clenched in her hands with each flex of her body. Her claws scraped into the undergrowth and vaguely, she realized she lost a shoe. It felt better that way so she yanked the other one off. As the moon hit a halo into her head, she gave a pleasurable growl under her breath. Is this what she had always been missing?
The hunt was on, she was on and only death would turn her off.
Unfortunately, her trail was a dead end, she realized very quickly. Letting out a frustrated growl, she rounded around and decided to reunite with Boyd - maybe he found something.
And he had - little children.
It seemed they had tried to hide in some kind of shed. Boyd easily lifted the thing and Paige was able to catch sight of the scared kids. It was a boy and girl - obviously a little brother and his older sister. She was clutching her brother in one hand, trying to protect him. In the other hand she was holding a jar of fireflies.
Something inside Paige clenched, just lower than her gut. Every summer night, when she was younger, she had gone hunting for fireflies with her little brother, Wyatt. They would run around and when Paige had been too scared to touch the little bugs, Wyatt had always very patiently, scooped them into her jar. She hadn't seen him in months and had barely called him for fear that the alphas would track him.
Sweet little Wyatt.
Paige stumbled back, one step and then another and she felt the rough bark of the tree behind her and she tried to catch her breath.
She was human - well, she was a werewolf. There were two sides to that coin, Derek had taught her. Why was she giving in to this instinct so readily? There was something about the moon, she remembered. She hadn't transformed...? She couldn't remember. But something had happened and her grip was so slick with rage, she couldn't hold onto her humanity.
Groaning, she pushed herself away from the tree, only to hear Boyd's roar of frustration. His prey had escaped... he had lost the flesh they were supposed to rip in to. All thoughts of humanity slipped away as she joined in his cry of outrage.
They took off again.
There wasn't any more clear scents to follow and Paige was beginning to get frustrated again. They changed direction toward the residential area - there were definitely going to be humans over there. Cora and Boyd instinctively followed her. She was the oldest, of the three. But Cora had been a werewolf for longer and Boyd was physically stronger. Paige didn't know why they chose to follow her, but they did. And she let them, because she liked it. She felt powerful - like the leader of the pack.
Cora gave a dense roar and Paige swiveled her head. There was some kind of high note ringing in the air. The three betas exchanged glances and followed the noise.
Paige knew it was a trap - some part of her did at least - especially when they reached the high school. Did they think these wolves were lambs for the slaughter? It was laughable. So, when Cora jumped clear upwards, up toward the roof, Paige was only a beat behind her.
The roof was clear and gave them all a chance to take some pure night air into their lungs. Dropping off the other side, they seemed to be in the clear. Paige had just barely stuck her nose in the air, trying to decipher which way would be best to move next, when an obnoxiously bright flash nearly brought her to her knees. Someone was shooting things at them - bright things that hurt. As a last ditch effort to keep the whole group of them safe, she corralled them into the high school.
And there was Derek.
In the middle of the long and dark hallway, was her alpha. He already had his claws out and was just waiting for them, a look of trepidation on his steps forward, and Paige realized Isaac and Scott were also there.
It was a trap.
And they had walked right in.
When Derek took off, so did she. He wanted a fight, she'd give him a fight. They had locked these wild animals in a high school, they had better be prepared for the backlash of that mistake. Cora and Boyd were right behind her as she followed behind Derek steadily. They all four rounded a corner and came upon a staircase. Going into the basement was dangerous, but there were three of them and one of Derek. Paige didn't even register Scott.
The boiler room was dark and hot and Paige quickly lost track of Derek and Scott. They seemed to have disappeared until - she caught movement and took off. Too late. The giant steel door closed behind them. Paige whined and scratched at the door. Boyd and Cora were much more vocal and roared loudly. So loudly in fact, that Paige only barely caught the beating heart of a stranger. Deftly, she reached over and silenced the other two betas with a deathgrip on their throats. Slowly, the anger faded from the noises they were making in the back of their throats as they also heard the beating.
Maybe Derek had meant to lock them in with prey?
No, Paige rationalized. He wouldn't do that. He was too good.
Didn't matter now - whoever was here was as good as dead once her little pack stumbled on them. It didn't take long for them to do so - some teacher Paige didn't recognize was just standing there like an idiot, mouth gaping. She growled and took a step forward.
Warm hands landed on her back and yanked her straight off her feet. She was airborne momentarily before she landed - her head bouncing off the ground. There was a sickening crunch and her vision went black. Slowly, the spots left her eyes and she was able to stand and glance around.
A fierce roar rang out, the kind of roar that nearly made her fall back to her knees.
Cora and Boyd had Derek by the arms, holding him tightly. With one arm they restrained him. With the other, they had begun to swipe at him. The sound of unzippering flesh bounced off the walls and Derek just... bowed his head.
Everything came crashing down. The alphas had somehow prevented them from shifting and as a result, they were crueler and more savage. With the mountain ash put in place, the alphas had meant to lock Scott and Derek in with them - had hoped either they would kill Boyd, Cora, and Paige, or vice versa. Paige clutched her head. She couldn't remember how they had escaped the mountain ash - but now, it didn't matter. They were locked in with Derek once again and they would kill him.
He had given up. He refused to kill them. And Cora and Boyd were merciless.
So they would kill him.
They were killing him. Long, ugly claws catching strips of flesh and tearing through them. Blood was spattering upwards with every strike.
They were killing Derek.
"Stop!" the word was out of her mouth before she even realized that she had unshifted. There was a sharp pain right in the middle of her chest and maybe that had made her return to normal. "Stop!" she repeated when they did nothing. "Stop it!" her voice came out like a hoarse wail.
Suddenly, she was across the room, pulling Boyd off of Derek. She slammed his head into the concrete, once, twice - and then he stayed down. Derek was slumping to the side that Boyd had just vacated as Paige rounded on Cora - grabbing her by the throat and jerking her up and off her mate. Cora went flying and tried to get back onto her feet. Paige was on her in a second, slashing savagely from the girls left shoulder to her right hip. The blood sprayed but she also stayed down.
"Derek?" Paige whispered. She came to kneel down before him, gingerly trying find a part of him she could touch without hurting him. He swayed dangerously, and out of desperation she clung to his shirt to keep him upright. His head was still lowered and a single droplet of blood was snowballing down the side of his face. "Derek?" she asked again, she voice still were already hot tears warming her cheeks as they slid down.
Groggily, he lifted his head, though it still leaned heavily to the right.
"Paige?" he breathed.
"Yeah." Paige lifted her hand to cup his cheek. She tried not to think too hard about the blood that was sticking her palm. "I'm here," she told him. "I'm here."
He nodded into her hand a little bit and closed his eyes. His body shifted forward a bit and she caught him. His breath was deep and steady, and he melted into her like it was the only thing he'd been thinking of doing this whole month.
"Derek!" the steel door banged open and Scott and Isaac came stumbling in. "The sun is up!"
The two of them caught sight of Paige and Derek. Paige turned and watched as they took in Boyd and Cora sprawled on the floor and then her and Derek kneeling on the ground together.
Before either of them could open their mouths, Paige commanded, "There is some teacher in the back - Isaac, take care of her. Scott, grab Cora and Boyd. I've got Derek."
Despite her entire body protesting movement after her night of stalking prey, she managed to stand and pull Derek up with her. Already she could see his major wounds closing, but the way he sagged against her told her just how tired he was. The stairs were the most difficult, as Derek kept missing a step. Paige just wrapped her arm around him tighter and pulled his arm farther across her shoulders. She would carry him if she had to.
Chris Argent was the last person she expected to see as she left the building and greeted the sunrise.
Paige nodded to him. His cold blue eyes didn't lessen in sharpness but Paige had bigger problems to worry about.
Where was the car?
"I got the teacher out of the boiler room," Isaac's voice suddenly appeared behind her. "She was kind of shaken up."
"Where is she now?" Derek asked.
"Her classroom, packing up," the beta explained. "Don't know what she was doing at school at four in the morning, though. That's just weird."
"We can discuss what's weird later," Derek snapped. But he still sounded so exhausted that the bite was taken out of it.
"Where is the car?" Paige cut in.
Isaac blinked. "Oh, we've been on foot for most of tonight."
"That isn't what I was asking," it was Paige's turn to snap. "Go on foot, get the car. Bring it back here. He can't walk."
"Yes I can," Derek answered as he began to push away from her. She let him loosen her grip on his body, but didn't let go completely.
"Fine," she said shortly. "I'm not letting you walk. Isaac," she commanded. "Car. Now."
He gave Derek one last withering glance but did as he was asked. Paige watched him go and then shuffled Derek to the nearest curb. He sat down heavily. Stiles was just pulling up to the high school and Scott gingerly placed Boyd and Cora in the back.
"Your place?" he asked Derek.
The alpha nodded lazily, reached into his jeans and tossed his keys at Scott.
Once they were gone, Paige brushed her fingers through his short black hair. The action seemed to startle him, though it was something she always did. "I'm sorry," she muttered.
"I should have found you before any of this could have happened," Derek said, tensely. "Or better, I shouldn't have let you get caught in the first place." His head lolled down again.
"Stop," Paige whispered. He glanced up, only briefly. "This stops now," she decided. "This isn't your fault, Derek. At all. I saw you in there - you just... gave up. You just accepted that it was our lives or yours and you laid down and took it. No. Stop that right now, because it doesn't have to be that way."
"It might," Derek claimed. "That's what the alphas want and they will stop at nothing to finish that goal. It is very likely that it will come down to my life or my packs life. What do you honestly think I would choose in that situation?"
"And what do you think that would do to the pack?" Paige asked, harshly. "To me?"
"Right, because you dying instead would be better," Derek pointed out.
Paige frowned at him and then away. In the distance, she heard the hum of the Camaro.
For a moment she thought she imagined the feather-light pressure of something against the side of her head, but when she looked she saw that Derek was trying to pull her closer. She helped him by shifting until she was now the one leaning into him. His lips pressed against her right temple.
"I don't want to lose you," he told her softly. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she sighed. "How about neither of us dies?"
There was a slight rumbling in his chest as he laughed. "Sounds like a plan."
At that moment Isaac swung a left and pulled into the parking lot. "Need help getting him in the car?" he asked.
Derek frowned and stood up all on his own. "He is right here and healing just fine, thank you," he snarled.
But despite his protests, Paige still watched his movements with trepidation. His legs still shook with slight tremors and when he went to grab the car door handle, he overshot and had to grasp for it a second time. Paige and Isaac shared a look before she followed him into the car.
They mostly drove in silence, Derek rode shotgun and leaned his weary head into the seat cushion. Paige sat right behind him, lost in her own thoughts.
"Hey," she suddenly asked. "There's something I've been wondering. How did the alphas keep us from transforming? Was it some kind of magic? Wolfsbane? The mountain ash?"
"No," Derek shook his head softly. "It was the kind of stone the vault was made of - it breaks up the moonbeams. Prevents a wolf from fully transforming, which, as we saw tonight, is a very dangerous thing. And the mountain ash circle wasn't complete until Scott and I got there."
Paige squinted out the window. "I... I don't remember even a little bit of mountain ash being put down," she confessed. "It wasn't there when I first arrived... But I don't remember the alphas putting any in that circle - actually... I don't remember any of the alphas. Surely, I'd remember the ones who took me? Or someone coming in to put the ash down?"
"They can take memories," Isaac threw in from the drivers seat. She met his eyes in the rearview mirror. For some reason she knew he was speaking from experience.
"Well, that's not terrifying," Paige snarked and tried to focus on the blurred shapes of the road.
"Do you remember anything about your... captivity?" Derek asked.
She tried to grasp onto something - there were still questions she had, now that she thought about it. How did she eat? Who fed her? How did she use the bathroom? And how long had she been locked up?
"Now that you ask... No," she answered honestly. Everything was swimming away from her, like waking up from a dream and not remembering why you were so terrified to begin with. "How long was I gone?"
"About a month," Isaac told her, after Derek said nothing. Paige did however, hear the popping of his jaw while he clenched it.
A month? It didn't feel like a month. By all mean, that should disturb her more than it actually did, but something was still bugging her... "That girl," she spoke up. "She's really your sister, isn't she?"
"I... yeah," Derek finally breathed. "Don't ask me how she escaped or survived. Last I knew, she died in the fire."
Paige nodded, though he couldn't see. So, Cora had been telling the truth. At this point in the game though, Paige hadn't been likely to doubt her. Did that mean that Cora was going to be staying with them at Derek's loft? That seemed like the best option. Surely, Boyd would go home to his family, and Erica... Paige closed her eyes but she knew that she needed to ask about that other thing she had learned while being locked up.
"Erica is dead, isn't she?" Paige's voice was small.
Derek didn't turn around and Isaac focused harder on the road.
"Okay," she murmured. That answered her question. She had had nearly a month to adjust to that knowledge - by all means, it shouldn't have hit her that hard. But she had been so desperately hoping that Boyd and Cora were mistaken - that the alphas had kept her alive for the fun of it, for bait, something.
Paige remembered Erica, before all this. She had been vibrant, if a little mousy. She had been kind and gentle in her own desperate way. And while she hadn't been totally happy, she had been alive. Erica had been her first friend her own age, here in this new town. They had bonded over their mutual fear of human interaction and it had been Paige who had suggested that Erica should have the bite. God, Paige remembered when Erica and Boyd had finally made the decision to leave that pack, "I want to get my license. I can't do that if I'm dead." And yet, here they were.
There was an empty spot in her stomach.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she tried to close them to prevent any of the droplets from falling. This seemed to have the opposite effect. And then suddenly, Derek had undone his seatbelt and was climbing into the back of the car with her. Gently, he pulled her closer until she could bury her face into his bloody shirt.
Later, after they had gotten back to the loft and taken care of the other betas, Paige wandered into the bathroom to clean up. There was some of Derek's blood smeared onto her cheeks from where she had pressed close to him and two tear tracks cutting pale lines into that blood.
That seemed to be the theme of her life at the moment: tears and blood.
Dying young and I'm playing hard
That's the way my father made his life an art
Drink all day and we talk 'til dark
That's the way the road dogs do it – ride 'til dark.