It's a small thing, right in the corner of an old paper, one that Stiles has barely paid attention to because it's from several years ago. He really shouldn't have been paying attention at all, but Derek's name caught his eye as he was skimming for information on something completely different.
He wonders if Derek even knows this exists—the paper came out several weeks after the fire, as Stiles finds out when he compares the dates—and it feels almost like it was published by accident, that it was supposed to be pulled but yet made it to print.
It's a small article about Derek's mother, Talia Hale, about her work in the Preserve and the nature conservation that she's been doing in the area. Stiles chuckles when he sees that it mentions the possible reintroduction of wolves to California, a plan to overturn the banishment of them from the state.
"Of course she would," he mutters to himself as he reads through the little thing that's barely more than a blurb.
There's no photo, nothing else that would have drawn anyone's attention to it unless they were looking. But he figures that at the time, the hunters took great pleasure in seeing this printed, knowing the kind of impact Kate's actions had on the Hales and on the town. He wonders if anyone has picked up where Talia left off.
He doesn't show it to Derek right away, not until weeks have passed and Stiles can't seem to get the article out of his mind.
"Hey, so," he starts when they're sitting in the living room, neither of them really watching the show that's playing on the TV.
Derek looks up at him and quirks an eyebrow, then waits until Stiles speaks again.
"Remember when I was looking for the info on Alice's family?" Stiles asks, referring to the girl who turned out to be part fairy.
Stiles takes a deep breath and reaches into the magazine stand on the side of the couch, tugging out the paper that's haunted him for weeks.
"There was something in this one," he says, opening it and flipping to the right page. "I wasn't sure if you knew about it. Maybe it's stupid and it doesn't even matter, but I thought it was important and..."
"Stiles," Derek says with a fond smile, but it doesn't ease Stiles's nerves. "What is it?"
"It's about your mother," Stiles blurts out, then quickly hands the paper over, opened to the article he'd found.
Derek takes it and silently reads it over, his eyes widening but there's no sign of him being upset. Then he smiles, nods, and hands the paper to Stiles.
"She’d be so glad that this ended up in print," he says, staring at the wall behind the TV. "She spent years trying to get the town to notice what she was doing. The parts that were okay for the public, obviously."
Stiles nods and glances at the paper.
He can't help asking that, can't help wondering about how many of the Hales had the ability to fully shift.
"Yeah," Derek says with a smirk on his face. "She wasn't the only one with the full shift ability, but she was the one who wanted to be able to run around the forest in that form without getting shot at. At least not by every human out there with a gun."
A chill runs down Stiles's spine at the thought of how Derek grew up, with the knowledge that there were people out there who'd aim and shoot without a second thought.
"Mostly, she just liked to be a wolf. And thought her kids could do with playmates," Derek says. "She said it would be easier than getting leaves and branches out of her fur."
At that, Stiles can't help but join Derek in laughter.
"No one seems to have continued on with what she was doing," he says a while later.
"Maybe we should," Derek tells him, eyes back on the article in the paper. "Maybe it's time for wolves to return."
Stiles smiles at him and nods, plans already forming in his head. He leans against Derek's side and skims through the article again, then his mind wanders to the Hale vault and he makes a mental note to check it out. If Talia left any notes on what she had been doing, he'll be damned if he can't find them and continue her legacy. For her and for Derek.