“I really appreciate you guys coming with me,” said Derek as he, John, and Stiles climbed out of the Camero to stand in front of the burnt-out husk of the old Hale manor.
John walked over to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Nobody should have to face something like this alone, Derek. Besides, I thought you said we were Pack, so we kind of have to be here to support you.”
Stiles walked to the base of the porch stairs—or what remained of them—and shuddered slightly. “Yeah, you shouldn’t really be out here alone, Dude. The creepy factor is high.”
“Don’t call me ‘Dude’,” said Derek as he approached the stairs. “And be careful where you step. I’ve been inside and walked through part of the house, but I haven’t gone over everything. The main staircase is still pretty solid, and the first room at the top of the stairs is intact—even though the roof is missing. But most of the second floor is gone, and the attic is mostly dust and ash.”
John nodded grimly. “Okay. So why are you here, then?”
Derek turned to face the older man. “My family was trapped in the basement safe-room; kinda like a dungeon rather than a root cellar. We kept all sorts of stuff there. There were cells with chains, to confine newly transformed Wolves before they got anchors and control. There was also a vault. It wasn’t the main vault, but my mother kept some photo albums and family records there. If the vault managed to survive the fire, then I might be able to salvage some of my family history.”
John nodded and wrapped one arm around Derek’s shoulder. Together they walked carefully up the porch stairs and into the gaping maw that once was the front door. Stiles followed slowly, eyes drifting over the form of the once great house. John was here because he felt it wasn’t healthy for Derek to search the house alone. Stiles was here because he wanted to try and use his Spark to locate the important things that Derek had hoped to find.
“You said you were already in here?” asked Stiles when he caught up with the other two. “Did you look around then?”
“Not really,” said Derek. “I came here mainly to see if Laura had been here, but her scent was not here. At least, I couldn’t find it.”
“I imagine not,” said Stiles as he wrinkled his nose. “I don’t have your super-sniffer, but all I can smell is dust and ash.”
“Yeah,” Derek said thickly, swallowing hard. “There’s ash, dust…and death. It’s all almost as fresh as it was six years ago.” Derek turned in a wide circle, looking forlornly around what might once have been a living room. “That’s another reason I wanted to get a better look at the place. Regina suggested—and I think it’s a good idea—that I might want to tear it down and rebuild. Not in the same spot, but close. That way, I can truly regain my family’s territory and land.”
Stiles walked forward and bumped his shoulder against Derek’s. “Yeah, and you can honor your family, too. Putting a Pack house near where the other one stood—that’s pretty cool.”
They stood in silence for a long moment, each remembering—in his own way—the Hale family before they died. Derek remembered family gatherings in the large family room; opening presents in front of a Christmas tree or dividing candy hauls after trick-or-treating. John remembered sitting with Talia Hale in the park across from City Hall, talking about supernatural happenings or the Sheriff’s Department fund raiser. Stiles remembered visiting the Hale bakery with his mother and choosing brightly frosted cupcakes for a special Saturday picnic on their lawn.
Different perspectives of the same family, all serving to draw the three men closer together.
Finally Derek snapped out of his reverie. “So,” he said, “If you and Stiles want to check out this floor, I’ll head carefully upstairs to see if anything survived.”
John nodded. “Is there anything we should be watching out for?”
Derek shrugged. “I think most of the photos are long gone, so just concentrate on checking the supports and floors. I’d like to see just how easy it would be to tear this place down safely. Later, I’ll try to find the sub-basement entrance. I’ll need…support…with that, because that’s where they were all trapped.”
John nodded and headed toward the back of the house. Before he made it into the hall, however, Derek called for him to stop.
“There’s a car headed this way,” he said. “It’s still far enough out, but I think it’s pretty clear they’re headed to this house. There’s nothing else out here.”
John frowned and Stiles stepped forward so that his arm was touching Derek.
“Do you want me to stand with you?” asked John.
Derek shook his head. “No, not yet. I went to see Christopher Argent a few days ago, just to let him know that I’m sticking around and that I’m being nice enough not to petition the Hunter Council to have him removed from Beacon Hills. If there’s a Hunter in that car, it will be to my advantage if they don’t know you’re here with me.” He pointed to the hall to the left of the entryway. “Can you wait there? You’ll both be out of sight, but you’ll be able to hear clearly.”
“Alright,” said John as he pulled Stiles along with him. “I’ve got my back-up weapon, so don’t do anything stupid, okay?”
Derek offered a small grin. “I won’t, I promise. I’m doing better about being smart now.”
With an encouraging smile from John and a small fist bump from Stiles, Derek turned and walked out onto the ruined porch of his former home. A few moments later, a silver Porsche roared into view and parked roughly close to Derek’s Camero.
Derek watched as a tall, well-muscled blond boy—almost a man, but for the petulant look on his face—climbed out of the over-priced ego-boost and shoved his hands into his pockets. A small noise behind him told him that Stiles and John had crept slightly closer to the door so they could see the intruder. Stiles’ whispered “Jackson!” told Derek who is visitor was, but not why the boy was there.
Derek walked to the edge of the porch, staying on the higher level, and carefully leaned against a scorched rail post, thumbs hooked carefully into the front belt loops of his dark jeans. He knew, from practicing this pose in a mirror in New York, that he looked imposing and dangerous, and he wanted the advantage.
“What do you want?” he asked the interloper.
The boy, Jackson, squared his shoulders and quirked an eyebrow. “I know your little secret.”
Derek snorted. “What secret? That this was the house I used to live in? Or that I’ve moved back to Beacon Hills? Neither one is a huge secret. I’ve even been seen around town. I’ve had job interviews, and I’m buying a house. You’re behind the times.” A soft snort behind him let him know that Stiles was enjoying Derek’s snark.
“I know the big secret,” said Jackson with a smirk. “I know you’re a werewolf.”
Derek paused and Jackson laughed. “Yeah, not so funny now, is it. I know about you, and I know about McCall.”
“So what?” asked Derek.
“So—I want in.” Jackson struck a cocky pose that made Derek want to rip his head off. “I know it made McCall stronger and faster, and I want in.”
Derek stepped forward onto the first step, and Jackson backed up a few paces. “Or what? I give you the bite, or what? That’s why you’re here, right? To threaten or blackmail me?”
Jackson recovered his cockiness and straightened his shoulders, planting his feet firmly in the ground. “I can tell. I can tell my dad—he’s the D.A. around here. Or I can tell the Sheriff. I’ll tell everybody, unless you give me what I want.”
This? He could handle this.
Derek stepped backwards onto the porch and took his previous post against the porch rail. “Go ahead. Tell them. Better yet, why don’t you let me tell them?” Jackson seems to stumble in his place, so Derek continued to mock the boy. “Who do you think will believe you? After all, Werewolves just. Don’t. Exist. So why don’t you just run along and play your little game elsewhere.” Derek once again stepped forward and had the pleasure of seeing Jackson stumble toward his car. “And you might want to leave Scott McCall alone, or I might have to deal with you anyway.”
Jackson tripped over himself to get into the Porsche, and when he finally turned over the engine, he sprayed dirt and leaves in a wide circle as he peeled away from the house.
Once he was out of sight, Derek slumped onto the front steps and dropped his head to his knees. John and Stiles wasted no time getting to his side, and each Stilinski sat on either side of him on that ashy porch, arms around him in support.
“Jackson Whittemore is an ass!”
John chuckled at Stile’s announcement. “I’m not even going to argue with you.”
Derek looked up to meet Stiles’ eyes. “What the hell was that?”
“That,” said Stiles with a sigh, “is something I was hoping to avoid. I overheard Jackson talking to Scott in school, and he was making noises about knowing what had happened to Scott. Jackson’s not totally stupid; you can’t date Lydia Martin and be totally stupid. It’s been two months since Scott was Bitten, and he’s gone through two Full Moons since then. He’s been really stupid since then, too, attacking me in the locker room and thrashing players on the Lacrosse field. Jackson had to have noticed something. Even with all the bullshit stuff on the internet, I was able to look up stuff that was real.”
Derek nodded and sighed. “Right, so Scott threw me under the bus. Great!”
John patted his shoulder and stood up. “Well, we’ll have to figure out a way to deal with Scott later. Right now, let’s check out this house so we can get home and eat. You promised me real meat tonight, and I’m not forgetting it!”
One week after the Full Moon, and two days after Jackson Whittemore attempted to goad Derek into giving him the Bite, Derek walked past Stiles at the end of the school day—on his way into the school.
Stiles back-tracked to follow, ignoring the questioning look from Boyd. “Hey, Derek! Whatcha doing?”
Derek turned toward the locker rooms and said, “I’m going to deal with the Jackson/Scott issue. And, no, I don’t need witnesses.”
Stiles huffed. “As if! But, as Emissary and Pack member, it is my job to support you in whatever foolhardy thing you do, so I am coming with you. I won’t interfere, but I will stand with you.”
“Stiles,” said Derek patiently, “I can do this on my own. I’m not going to kill anyone, you know.”
“Well, yeah, not on school grounds.”
Derek stopped at the locker room door. “Look, Stiles, for now, Jackson doesn’t know about you or your connection to me. And Scott doesn’t know about your Spark, right?”
Stiles shook his head. “Nope. Scott can’t keep a secret—obviously—so I never mentioned it. What are you going to do?”
Derek smirked. “I’m going to make a very large show of walking into Coach’s office, so that Jackson and Scott both see me. And then I’m going to remind Bobby Finstock who I am, and who my mother was.”
Stiles flailed for a second. “Wait! Coach knew your mother?”
“Yeah,” said Derek. “I know he dealt with her for legal purposes. My mom was a lawyer that specialized in family law. Coach had some trouble way back before I was in high school, and Mom helped him out. None of it was his fault, I do remember that.”
“Huh. Did he know she was a Werewolf?”
Derek shrugged. “I don’t know if he knew about her, but I’m going to make sure he knows about me—and about Scott. Scott isn’t Pack, but if he’s being hassled he could bring trouble to me by default. I need to make sure Jackson stops giving him grief.”
“He won’t thank you, you know,” said Stiles. “Scott is still trying to find a way to blame all of this on you. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he actually went to Allison’s father and tried to plead his case against you.”
“Yeah,” Derek sighed. “Well that wouldn’t work because I’ve already spoken to Christopher Argent.” Derek listened to the door for a few moments before turning back to Stiles. “Look, practice is going to start soon, so I have to get in there. If you want an assignment as Emissary, why don’t you talk with your father about confronting Argent yourself. If he insists, take your father as back-up, but Argent knows I have an Emissary and it isn’t Deaton anymore.”
Stiles nodded. “Yeah, okay. I’ll talk to him tonight at dinner. As long as Christopher Argent isn’t a danger to me, Dad should be okay with me speaking to the man.”
“Okay,” said Derek as he pushed open the locker room door. “Take any magical precautions that you need to. I don’t want you unnecessarily hurt.”
Derek tried very hard not to inhale deeply once he was inside the locker room. There were some scents that just never left once you caught them.
He did manage to stride purposefully into the midst of the Lacrosse team, not making noise, because that wouldn’t have been heard over the regular din anyway, but by standing tall and walking at a sedate pace and pausing in front of Coach’s office door. By the time he knocked on the closed door, Jackson and Scott were eying him warily from opposite sides of the room. Derek didn’t acknowledge them at all.
Coach Finstock called for him to enter, so Derek pushed open the door and walked in.
“Who are you?” asked the frazzled man behind the desk.
Derek smiled as he took in the visage before him. Bobby Finstock had wild blue eyes that always seemed to be focused miles away and dark hair that was in permanent disarray from agitated fingers running through them.
Ten years prior, Finstock was a junior assistant coach for the basketball team, and he had a bit of a drinking problem. One night, after a long bender, a young lady went to the police to tell a tale of how Finstock attacked her. She looked pretty rough, and the police were almost willing to take her seriously—until Talia Hale found surveillance video evidence that place Finstock at a local hotel sleeping off his drunk, and the woman in another part of town with known drug offenders. The reason for the lie was never uncovered, but Finstock was released and Talia found him a rehabilitation center, and she paid for it herself.
“I’m not sure if you remember me,” said Derek. “I’m Derek Hale.”
“Of course I remember you!” Finstock stood and held out his arms, pleading for a hug. Derek awkwardly stepped into the embrace and returned the gesture. “I’m so sorry about your sister. It was in the paper, of course. And after what happened to the rest of your family, too.”
“Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.”
Finstock sat back in his chair and asked Derek to sit as well. “What brings you to my hovel in this hellhole?”
Derek chuckled. “Well, I’m here to tell you about a problem you might have with one or two of your players.”
Finstock frowned. “They’re not doing drugs, are they? I knew McCall had to be doing something to get that good so fast.”
“Coach,” said Derek, “as far as I know, nobody is doing drugs. But McCall is one of the players I’m talking about. What do you remember about my family?”
“Well,” said Coach thoughtfully, “your mother was a fine lady, who saved my life. And your father baked the best scones. I didn’t really know the rest of them. You were a fine ball player, as I recall.”
Derek smirked. “Thanks. But what do you remember about what they were—what I am?” As he spoke, Derek allowed his eyes to bleed Alpha-red and his forehead to broaden into Werewolf ridges.
Finstock didn’t bat an eye. “So…McCall?”
Derek’s appearance faded back to normal and he rolled his neck to release any tension he had felt. “Scott McCall had the misfortune of being in the very wrong place at the very wrong time, and he was attacked by the monster that killed my sister. Very long story short, I’m Alpha, but McCall is not part of my Pack. And Jackson Whittemore somehow figured it out, and he tried to blackmail me into giving him the Bite.”
Finstock ran his hands over his face in exasperation. “Oh, yeah, that’d be just what we need: Whittemore with super powers.”
Derek snorted. “Yeah, well his big threat was to tell everyone that we were Werewolves, like anyone would believe him. But I think he might want to goad McCall into acting stupidly, and it really wouldn’t take much. I need you to take precautions with Scott. He’s been dangerous already and he’s refused any help from me.” Derek reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out four of Regina’s magic pendants and placed them on the desk in front of him. “These are like magic bombs—they explode on contact and will contain Scott if he gets out of control. If you need…other, magical help, my Pack Emissary is a student at this school. He might be willing to help you.”
Finstock raised one eyebrow. “You’re not turning into some kind of Fagan are you, Hale?”
“No, sir,” Derek laughed. “The Emissary was chosen because he has incredible magical power—more than you could imagine. I would never have chosen him myself, but a witch friend of mine said he was the best of all possible choices, and he’s incredibly loyal to me and those he cares about.”
“So, who is it?” Finstock asked.
Derek shook his head and stood up. “Oh, if you need help in any way, he’ll find you. But I’m not giving out his name. Jackson would find out and make his life miserable—until he had to defend himself.” Derek opened the office door and stepped half-way through. “It was good seeing you again, Coach. I’ll be in touch.”
With that parting word, Derek fully stepped into the locker room and made eye contact with Jackson Whittemore and smirked meanly. Then he nodded to Scott McCall and walked over to him. “You’ve got a problem, and it’s coming back on me. You either get it under control, or allow me to help you—or I will take care of you permanently. Do you understand?”
Scott nodded mutely, and Derek left the locker room.
Finstock left his office and began screaming to get his players onto the field.
“Derek? It’s Melissa McCall. I need you to get to the hospital right away!”
The phone call came in the middle of the school day, while Derek was unpacking his new kitchen. He was reading the instruction manual for his new high-tech coffee machine (how he let Stiles talk him into it, he never knew) when Melissa’s frantic voice sent him flying out his front door—almost bypassing the car altogether.
When he pulled into visitor parking, Derek realized that he had no idea where he was supposed to go once inside the hospital. He paused to ask someone at the information desk to page Melissa, and then he paced frantically in the lobby until she arrived.
“What happened?” he asked when he saw her. “Is it Scott? Stiles?”
Melissa grabbed his hand and began pulling him toward the elevators. “It’s not them, Derek. It’s something else. Something I think you can help with.”
Derek was confused, but he allowed her to lead him through the halls until they reached the MRI Imaging Center. She held him back just outside the waiting area, where an anxious couple were huddled together in a couple of chairs. Derek turned to Melissa and asked “What’s going on?”
“Derek, inside the MRI is a young girl in Scott’s grade at school. Her name is Erica Reyes.” Melissa gestured to the huddled couple. “Those are her parents. Erica has severe epilepsy. She’s in and out of the hospital so much she has her own assigned room. The medications aren’t working, and her parents are thinking about brain surgery.”
“So?” said Derek. “What does that have to do with me?’
Melissa grabbed his arm in a hard grip. “I think you can help her, Derek,” she hissed. “I think, since the surgery might actually kill her, she might be better off as a Werewolf!”
Derek pulled away from the older woman. “Melissa, I just can’t go around biting kids! Stuff like that will bring Hunters, and we just got rid of the lot of them!”
“But…Derek,” she said desperately, “that’s why I asked you to come. Talk to her parents—tell them what you are and how you can help Erica.”
“Melissa,” said Derek forcefully, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but it was great luck that Scott actually Turned. The Bite does not always take! I lost a very….a very dear friend when an Alpha’s Bite poisoned her instead of Turning her.”
Melissa’s expression softened. “Then tell them that, too, Derek. Give them the choice, and then give Erica the choice. Bring in a new Beta that is yours by your own hand.”
Derek shook his head and leaned against the wall to think. “I need other advice on this matter, Melissa. Can I make a phone call from here, or should I leave and return later?”
Melissa nodded toward the couple and said, “They’ll be on this floor for a while, I think. Call me when you come back—if you decide to come back.”
Derek nodded and called the elevator again.
Thirty minutes later, Derek was walking through the Sheriff’s Station toward John’s office. He knocked on the door and entered when called.
“John? Do you have a minute?”
John looked up and smiled in surprise. “Derek! I thought you’d be unpacking right about now!”
Derek closed the door behind him and took a seat in front of the desk. “I was, until I got a call to go to the hospital.”
John leaned forward. “Who’s in the hospital?”
Derek held up a hand and said, “Nobody that you know. At least, I don’t think you know her. Some girl named Erica Reyes. Melissa says she’s in the hospital a lot.”
“Okay,” said John. “So why did she call you to the hospital, and what did you need to talk to me about?”
Derek sighed. “It’s the same thing, actually. Melissa thinks that if I give the Bite to Erica, it will cure her epilepsy—and it might. It might also kill the girl. Melissa wants me to talk the girl’s parents and explain the risks and benefits and let them choose.”
John stood and crossed in front of his desk so that he was closer to Derek. “Do you think she’ll survive if you give her the Bite?”
Derek looked at John and shook his head. “I don’t know. She might. I just keep thinking about Paige, and how I felt to hold her as she died. I don’t want to put anybody else through that, John.”
“But you think it will work, don’t you?”
Derek nodded. “Maybe. Paige might have had some health concerns that I wasn’t aware of back then. Scott wasn’t totally healthy, and he survived the Bite.”
John leaned forward and rested his hand on Derek’s shoulder, squeezing gently. “Do what you think is best, Derek. If that means walking away, then do that. Nobody will blame you. If Melissa tries to strong-arm you, I’ll deal with her.”
Derek smiled a little. “I just feel the strong Pack bonds between myself and Dennis and Stacy, and it feels right. The kids are too young for it, but I can feel the bond forming with them. The Pack is strong, and I am strong because of that.”
“I never asked; did you need or want to have a claiming mark on me or Stiles? I don’t know if humans in a Pack did that.”
Derek shook his head. “The only time a human gets a Mark is if he or she is married to an Alpha Werewolf. We inter-marry with humans all the time, and sometimes divorce happens—but with Alphas, the union is permanent. So the Alpha will give a Claiming Bite to the human spouse, unless the human wants to be Turned. My mother gave a Mating Mark to my father before he was turned.”
“Hmmm,” said John. “I thought the choice for the more optimistic of newlyweds was to get tattoos instead of wedding rings, but that works, too. Go on, Derek, and do what you’re going to do. I’m behind you, no matter what”
John prodded Derek out the front door and into his Camero, and Derek thought long and hard on his return trip to the hospital.
His first order of business was to collect the Reyes family and take them away from the hospital. He could talk until he was blue in the face about Werewolves and their healing abilities, but they would never believe him unless he transformed. Derek was not about to transform in the middle of a hospital room.
Melissa performed the introductions right before her shift ended, so that she was able to go with them for The Talk. Alberto and Cheryl Reyes were confused to be meeting him, but Erica was sleeping and Melissa told them that Derek might be able to help her without surgery, so they left their daughter behind and followed Derek to an abandoned car park near the Preserve hiking trails.
“What are we doing out here?” asked Mr. Reyes. “Are we going to talk about an exercise program for Erica?”
“Not exactly,” said Derek as he removed his leather jacket despite the chill in the early March air. “I brought you out here to show you how I might be able to help Erica.” Derek stood in front of the confused couple and held out a hand, slowly allowing his claws to extend from the tips of his fingers. “Melissa knows about this, because her son was attacked just after Christmas, and he became like me.”
Mrs. Reyes gasped in shock as she watched the partial transformation. “What are you?”
Derek looked up, eyes glowing red, and said, “I’m a Werewolf. Almost my entire family were Werewolves. Scott McCall was bitten by a rogue Alpha—the only type of Wolf that can give a transforming bite—and he became like me.”
“And you want to do this to our daughter?” asked Mr. Reyes. “You want to turn her into a monster?”
Derek ceased his transformation and reverted back to his human form. “I’m not a monster, Mr. Reyes. Scott McCall is a sometimes-dumb kid, but he’s not a monster. In fact, most Wolves in healthy Packs are safe and sane and not monsters at all.”
Derek leaned back on the hood of his car and crossed his arms over his chest. “There are some exceptions to the rule, however, so Melissa was acting very foolishly by asking this of me. She came to me as a last resort, because if the Bite takes and Erica survives, her epilepsy will be a thing of the past. No more seizures, no more medication. There is the risk of failure, just like with anything, and she could die. I’ve personally witnessed that kind of death, and it’s not pretty or painless.
“But I decided to bring you out here to show you what I am—to explain away from the hospital environment, because you were so focused on Erica that you would not have heard me. You needed to see for yourselves. I’m not going to take this choice from you; you’re her parents. But if I do this—if you give permission, and Erica gives permission—then I’ll be her Alpha, and everything she does will be a reflection on me.”
Mrs. Reyes stepped closer to Derek and hesitantly reached out to take one of his hands in hers. She poked the fingertips lightly until Derek allowed claws to grow out. She ran her thumb lightly over the claws. “What does that mean—that you’d be her Alpha?”
“It means that I’d be more than a parent to her. I’d be responsible for training her how to control her Wolf, and how to fight. If she got out of hand, I’d be the one to punish her. And if she went feral somehow, I’d have to be the one to kill her.” Mrs. Reyes moaned in distress, but she never took her eyes off of Derek’s claws. “Mrs. Reyes,” Derek said softly, and she looked up to see his human, hazel eyes watching her closely. “Mrs. Reyes, if you give permission, and if Erica chooses for herself, then I will do everything in my power to make sure she stays grounded and in control. I’ll make sure that she finds an anchor and that she stays as human as is possible.”
Mrs. Reyes nodded and reached behind her for her husband. “Do you honestly think this will work and that she’ll survive?”
“I think there’s a very good chance, Mrs. Reyes.”
She gave a tremulous smile. “Then let’s go back and talk to her.”
Erica Reyes could have been a very pretty girl if her disease hadn’t taken its toll on her body. Her blonde hair was limp and straggly due to the medications. Her eyes were dull and lifeless, when they should have been a bright green. There were dark circles under her eyes and her cheeks were sallow, giving her the gaunt appearance of a POW survivor.
She still smiled when she saw her parents.
“Hey, Mom! Usually you bring me flowers. Today, you brought me a hot guy! I like this better!”
Derek snorted in spite of himself, so he let Mr. Reyes introduce him. “Erica, this is Derek Hale. We think he might be able to help you”
“Help me how, exactly?” she asked as she struggled to sit higher in the hospital bed. “You gonna take me to the prom?”
Derek smiled down at her. “You’ve got spunk, I’ll give you that. I think my friend, Stiles, would like you a lot.”
Erica’s eyes widened. “You know Stiles? I had the biggest crush on him in middle school.”
Derek smiled wider. “Yeah, I can see how that could happen. Well, Erica, how would you like to never have another seizure again?”
Erica’s smile faded quickly. “That’s not funny, teasing me like that. Seizures suck!”
“I imagine so,” said Derek seriously. “But I showed your parents how I could possibly help you to never have one again. But it’s dangerous, and there is a small possibility that it could kill you.”
Erica looked past Derek to her parents. “Is he for real, Dad? Can he really help me never have a seizure again?”
Mr. Reyes reached out and settled his hand on Erica’s leg. “Honey,” he said, “I think, if you are willing to go through some serious changes, then this will help you.”
Erica eyed Derek suspiciously. “What kind of changes?”
Derek allowed his eyes to glow red and his fangs to extend and sharpen. “You have to become a Werewolf.”
Erica’s eyes grew almost comically huge. “Are you serious? That’s really a thing??”
“It is,” Derek said, “And I’m an Alpha Werewolf. And if you agree, I can give you the Bite. If you survive, you’ll be a Werewolf as well.”
Erica nodded. “And it could kill me? That’s for real, too?”
Derek stepped back and shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “Yes, that’s a very real danger. I already told your parents all of the risks, and they agreed that it would be your choice.”
“Uh, huh. And if I agree?”
“Then there are rules and training that you have to follow. Your parents are still in charge of you, but I will be, too. You have to keep your nose clean and not do anything to draw attention to yourself as a Werewolf. You have to stay calm and train hard. It won’t be easy, but I have a strong Pack and we’ll all help you.”
Erica licked her lips as she thought it over. “You know,” she finally said, “I always figured a seizure would kill me. And there was no guarantee that the surgery we were thinking about would work.” She nodded to her mother. “I think we should go for it, yeah?”
Mrs. Reyes gave her a watery smile. “Okay, baby. We’ll make arrangements for when you get out of the hospital.”
Derek left Mrs. Reyes to talk with Erica and he pulled Mr. Reyes into the hallway to speak with him. “Mr. Reyes, it would be best if she was given the Bite in a place she’s comfortable. And I would rather give her the Bite well before a Full Moon, so I can give her a lot of training before we have to deal with that.”
“Is the full moon a big deal?” Mr. Reyes asked as he tried to get his mind around what was about to happen to his daughter.
Derek nodded. “Werewolves can transform at any time, really. Especially during times of stress or panic or pain. When our emotions are high, it’s easy to lose control, but during the Full Moon, we really feel a pull on our inner Wolf.
“When I was younger, my mother had to lock up the younger kids during the Full Moons until they got control. Some Bitten Wolves have the same issues no matter how old they are. If I can begin training early enough, I might be able to avoid using chains.”
“You won’t hurt her, right?” Mr. Reyes asked. “I couldn’t stand it if she was hurt after all of this.”
“I’ll be a careful as I can, but the first transformation is going to be painful. She might lash out and try to hurt you or herself. If she gets upset—and you and I both know teenagers get upset easily—she’ll be stronger and more able to hurt people. That’s why training is key.”
“What kind of training are you talking about?”
Derek shrugged. “Ideally, she’s going to need a lot of physical exercise. I’ll have her running the trails in the Preserve a lot. And I’ll start her on Judo and maybe Tai Chi, to teach her control. Martial Arts are good for body and soul, and I started studying in New York after my family was killed. She’ll have to learn meditation techniques as well, so that she’ll be able to control her Wolf.”
Mr. Reyes nodded. “That sounds good. Maybe you can train me as well, huh? My doctor says I need to get more exercise.”
Derek smiled at the older man. “I’m just starting a job at a clinic in Beacon Heights—physical therapy—so, let me concentrate on Erica before I add you to my training schedule, okay?”