The girl who had trusted him, his own girlfriend, was lying lifeless in his arms, covered in black goo and blood, bathed by moonlight. He let out a choked sob, words failing to come out of his tight throat. Monster. Soiled hands, forever. No redemption. Unforgivable. He was a monster. The boy cradled her limp body against his chest, burying his face in her messy black hair. Tears slid down his cheeks, his chest burning. He numbly felt Ennis place his hand under his chin and tilt his head up. Derek kept his eyes shut for a moment, a burning ache resonating in his head, and his eyelids snapped open. His irises glowed blue.
He was hot and cold at the same time. His hands were sweating, even after repeatedly wiping his palms on his pants. His breathing was short and fast. He didn't feel like enough oxygen was reaching his lungs. He was shaking. So much that his legs wouldn't hold him anymore. Derek slid down the wall until he found himself crouched on the floor, his arms wrapped around his knees, his head bent forward, trying to breathe. The sound of water pattering against the tiles of the locker room floor and wall was hazy in the background of his mind. It felt like blood sliding over his skin, weighing him down.
Derek felt sick and dizzy. He couldn't breathe. There wasn't enough air in the room. It felt like the walls were closing in on him. Panic kept him conscious. Derek could feel the adrenaline rushing through his body, making it alert. Yet he still felt so numb. Panic. There was only panic. Monster. He heard the blood pumping through his body. He heard his own heartbeat, faster, so much faster, than it should be. Derek tried to breathe in, but there was no air. He pulled his legs closer to his body, tried to hide his face. His mouth was dry. He ached for water. But there was none. No water, no air, no gravity. Derek felt dizzy. He wasn't sure where the floor was, where the ceiling was. His vision became blurry. He needed air. But there was none.
"Derek? Derek!" someone called his name. He didn't recognize the voice. He could barely hear it over the sound of his own heart pumping blood through his veins at rapid speed.
"Derek!" the voice called again. Louder. It sounded nearer than before. Derek still felt dizzy. He still couldn't breathe. He was cold, and he was sweating. Freezing and on fire.
"Derek, can you hear me? It's me, Peter," the voice told him.
He opened his eyes. His vision was still blurry. The world around him was spinning. He couldn't talk, his mouth was too dry. There was no air. A figure was crouching beside him, heedless of the water colliding with the side of their face and the droplets ricocheting off of Derek. Brown and black. The figure moved towards him a little. Then they spoke to him. A man's voice. It sounded familiar.
"Derek? Don't worry. I've got you," they said. He heard the man speak, but his words didn't make any sense. "Hey, can you hear me? It's Peter! Your uncle. Derek, are you okay? You look pale."
He blinked a few times. A face, blurry, but still recognizable, came into view. A familiar face. Pale blue eyes, worried blue eyes, were looking at him. A hand pushed some of the short brown hair that framed his face back, his damp hand shoving his soaked locks out of the way.
"Uncle?" Derek managed to say. His throat was dry, and his tongue was sticking to the top of his mouth.
"Yes, it's me. Are you okay?" Peter asked him.
The boy shook his head. He could barely breathe. It was hot. He was sweating. His head was spinning. Water thudded against his back dully. He barely noticed it.
"Is it okay if I touch your arm?” Peter asked, and Derek nodded.
A warm hand was placed on his bare right forearm. Derek flinched and closed his eyes.
"It's okay," his uncle's voice said next to him. "Look at me."
Derek did what he told him after a few seconds and turned his head a little. He could feel his eyes lighting up, that unholy blue shade, but Peter didn't say a single word about them.
"Very good. Now breathe with me," Peter told him.
He started to breathe deeply in and out to demonstrate what he wanted, and Derek tried to do the same but it didn't work. There was no air. Tears started welling up in his eyes as he hastily gasped for air. The grip on his forearm tightened for just a second.
"Easy there. Just one breath at a time," his uncle said. He showed him again, and this time Derek managed to take in some air. "Good. Try it again, like this." The older werewolf breathed, and then Derek sucked in another shaky breath.
It took a few minutes until his breathing steadied but with it the spinning eventually stopped. His heartbeat calmed down a little, and he now realized that he was sitting on the floor of the shower in the locker room at his high school. He had no idea how he had gotten there. All he knew was that his uncle was sitting beside him, his hand still on his arm. Peter gave him a gentle smile.
"Feeling better?" he asked quietly.
"A little," Derek coughed. His mouth was still dry.
"Hold on, I'll get you some water," Peter said.
He stood up and returned just a few seconds later with a bottle of water, that he opened for the boy. Derek took the bottle in his still shaking hands and while drinking the cold water greedily, accidentally spilled some on himself, soaking his tank top further. He had almost emptied the bottle when he handed it back to Peter. He felt a little better now, not as dizzy but still slightly shaken. His thoughts were less frantic than before, but that raw ache in his chest, the guilt and horror, still ate away at him. Peter lightly touched his shoulder. Derek noticed just how wet his uncle had gotten while trying to calm him down. It looked like he had just jumped into a lake.
"Are you feeling well enough to get up now?" Peter asked. "How are you doing?"
"I - I'm fine," Derek mumbled. He shivered. His uncle gave him a look.
"Don't lie to me, Derek," Peter said.
"Fine! I'm pretty fucked up, okay?" Derek admitted. Peter shifted on his haunches and leaned forward, pulling Derek into his arms. He stroked the back of the boy's head, holding him close. Derek normally would have gotten upset about being treated like a baby, but he was too emotional right now to really care what Peter did. It felt kind of nice.
He really should have seen it coming. Based on how the rest of his day had gone, Derek really should have seen the entire cup of hot coffee being knocked into his shirt by a careless stranger. Of course, everything would go wrong today. It really was no surprise to now find his steaming hot, dark chocolate mocha now staining his jeans, soaking into the fabric and earning him first degree - no, borderline second degree - burns on his thighs. His enhanced healing was already starting to clear up the coffee burns, but it was a painful shock, not to mention the state of his clothes.
Honestly, with how well he had been able to predict his day, all he needed was a job as a fortune teller on some rundown boardwalk on a desolate beach and he would be set in life. He should have seen it all coming. And as that stranger turned around with a curse on their lips, Derek had no idea what was in store for him now. Little did he know that cup of coffee to the chest would change his whole life. And definitely not in the way that he would have been hoping.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Derek hissed. Ah, it hurt.
"Oh my God! I am so sorry!" a decidedly female voice cried.
His eyes snapped up, and they landed on a really hot girl. Her blonde hair fell in curls a few inches past her shoulders, bouncing as she leaned forward, napkins procured from out of nowhere, dabbing at his coffee soaked clothes. Derek cringed at the feeling of them getting clammy and cold as the coffee cooled off. He batted away her hands after a few moments of useless attempts to dry it up. He would just have to change when he got home.
"I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going," the woman said. "I can buy you a new shirt."
"No. You know what, it's fine, I'll take care of it. Just leave me alone, okay?" Derek told her. She hesitated a moment, indecision written all over her features, before taking a step back.
"Sorry again. Uh, I'm Kate, by the way," she said.
"...Derek," the boy responded. Kate nodded and pressed another bunch of napkins into his hands. She turned on her heel, the soles of her boots clicking, and the bell above the door chimed as she disappeared from view.
Peter had bought his lunch, having snuck into Beacon High again, and was walking through the school cafeteria, his nostrils flaring as he caught his nephew's scent. He turned his head, pale blue eyes blinking as he saw Derek sitting in a corner at a bench all by himself. Feeling slightly mischievous, Peter went across the school grounds, swung his legs over the bench, and sat down. He put his own tray down on the table, pushing Derek's own tray several inches over in the process. The boy looked up in surprise, and for an instant there was irritation on his face, until he saw who it was. His expression then turned amused and speculative.
"Hello, nephew," Peter said casually, biting into his cheeseburger.
"Uncle," Derek responded, the single word warming Peter's chest. He always loved when he got his nephew to talk to him. It was so much better than that horrible period of silence he had gone through after Paige's death. "Do you know that I can get you banned from school grounds?"
"No one would ban me from anywhere. I'm too good looking," Peter said with a little smile. He reached over and grabbed a handful of his nephew's fries.
"Hey, you've got your own!" Derek pointed out indignantly.
"Ah, but they taste so much better when they're stolen," Peter told him, tossing them into his mouth and chomping down. Derek, with a scowl, defiantly reached out and snatched a handful of Peter's fries, eating them in an exaggerated motion.
"Mmmm. I guess you're right," Derek said.
Peter looked at him with an expression that seemed more like a smirk than a smile, and he leaned forward to see what else was on Derek's tray. His eyes lit up at the sight of a chocolate cookie on a plate. He reached out, and his nephew's left hand clamped firmly down on top of Peter's right hand, pinning it to the table with a solid thunk. His nephew must have been working on controlling his reflexes lately. Peter smiled slightly and met Derek's dark green eyes.
"Uh uh," Derek said.
Peter relaxed his hand, and Derek loosened his grip momentarily. However, as soon as the older werewolf tried to break free, Derek would press down firmly. It felt rather as if they were engaged in a a game of arm wrestle. Of course, Peter could break free if he really wanted to - he was older and more experienced - but he was more amused than anything.
"Have I finally found your sticking point, nephew?" Peter asked smoothly. "You'll do anything to defend the honor of your chocolate cookie?"
"Absolutely," Derek responded. His tone was perfectly serious, his face blank.
The teenager picked up fries with his right hand and ate them, staring straight at his uncle defiantly. The little shit. Peter did the same with his left, mimicking him. The two of them ate in silence for a minute. The older werewolf experimentally flexed his knuckles, but Derek didn't budge an inch. Peter waited for him to reach for his milk before he made his next move, his left hand jerking out at an unnatural speed to snatch the cookie up from his nephew's tray. Derek let out a surprised sound, and his milk nearly sloshed over. He let go of Peter's hand and frowned at him.
"Dick," Derek growled.
"Ah, don't be like that now, nephew. We can share," Peter said. He lifted the cookie up and neatly snapped it in half, plopping the slightly larger piece onto Derek's tray.
"Every. Time. Why do you keep doing that?" Derek asked him.
"Perfect combinations are rare in an imperfect world," Peter said. His lips tilted up at the edges, and he bit off a piece of his cookie. "Like mint chocolate and peanut butter."
His nephew wrinkled his nose at the suggestion, and Peter chuckled.
"Yeah, no thanks," Derek told him. "And where the heck are you even going to get the mint from?"
"One should always be prepared, Derek," Peter replied with a crooked smile. He pulled out a small carton of mint ice cream from his jacket and popped it open, dunking his cookie half into the half melted desert.
"Okay, you know what? I'm not even gonna ask," Derek said.
"Your loss," Peter told him. He licked off a stray drop of melted ice cream and laced his fingers together on the tabletop. "Where are those little friends of yours?"
"Oh, they, uh... Troy's with his girlfriend, and Jared has some club meeting. Why don't you like them anyway?" Derek asked.
"No one should like your friends. They're a bunch of hormonal halfwits," Peter remarked.
"Well, it's not like your's are any better," Derek said.
"What do you mean?" Peter asked.
"Do you even have any friends? And you can't say that I count," Derek said.
"Low blow, little man. Low blow," Peter responded with a small pout. "And here I thought we were best pals." He placed his hand over his heart and sighed. "You wound me." Derek rolled his eyes, but Peter saw a hint of a smile start to form. Peter grinned.
His sister should have been doing his combat training, but he had managed to convince her to let him teach her son to fight. And, oh, how he did love to teach Derek. He was an excellent student, very quick and bright, and he got to spend more time with his beloved nephew. It was something that all of the members of their pack needed to learn, and Peter had no problem to step in and get Derek up to snuff on all things fighting. For the past few months, Peter had been going over various defensive and offensive tactics, but his favorite thing to do was straight out spar and see what his nephew came up with.
Kick. Duck. Punch. Repeat. Dodge. Grab. Repeat. Peter watched as his nephew's body slid away, sometimes dodging his advances, sometimes getting sent flying backwards. He felt a sharp ache in his muscle when Derek landed a blow on his arm. Peter latched his hand on the younger werewolf's forearm, and he tugged him forward, so close their noses almost touched. He shoved him backwards again, and his nephew let out a frustrated noise. He hadn't yet managed to beat Peter. Derek ran at him again, and Peter smoothly stepped out of the way. He hit him in the side, careful not to hit too hard, causing the younger werewolf to lose his balance and fall over, landing on the mat hard. Peter lowered himself to his knees to kneel and help him back to his feet.
"That was better, nephew. But we still have a lot of work to do. A few more times, and then we can call it a night, alright?" Peter suggested. Derek looked at him, blinking, and he shook out his hands, falling back into a fighting stance. Fierce as ever. Peter's lips twitched as he resisted the urge to smile.
"Let's go then," Derek said.
The younger werewolf darted forward on his bare feet, lunging, and Peter smoothly sidestepped his motion, moving away just before he could touch him. Derek exhaled through his nose, circling around his uncle. The younger werewolf made the next move. His fist swung out, but Peter caught it, forcing him back and landing a punch to his stomach. His nephew grunted, taking the blow, and refocused. He had to duck or be hit, and ducking would leave him open to another hit. Peter didn't bother playing around with blows to test out his speed and reaction times. They had been doing this particular dance of theirs for a few months. He knew Derek's reactions fairly well by now.
Peter found the first opening, his leg sweeping out to knock the younger werewolf's out from beneath him. Derek fell down with a grunt, and even his attempted roll to ride out the impact didn't protect him from his uncle bearing down on him, wrestling an arm behind his back and driving his face into the floor. He steadied his grip, and then he bore down when the younger werewolf struggled against his grip. He was all but straddling Derek's midsection, pinning him down against the black mat.
"You will have to try harder than that, nephew," Peter told him. The younger werewolf jerked against his hold, growling lowly, but he grit his teeth and kept him in place. There was a long moment of strain as Derek attempted to force it, but then he subsided.
Peter drew back and leapt up to his feet, already falling into a ready stance as his nephew flipped up and surged to his feet, wheeling around to face him once more. Peter stood still and ready while his nephew paced around him. The intimidating, ranging stride he was trying for stuttered just slightly, and Peter's eyes dropped to track his gait. He had the slightest limp from his right leg. Perhaps that kick from earlier had landed harder than he had thought. He felt a twinge of sympathy. He hated when his nephew was hurt. At least it would heal quickly. Peter licked his lips, and he shifted on his feet, cocking his head at the younger werewolf, a challenge in his blue eyes.
He smirked when his nephew moved to swing at him again, and he parried the blow with his forearm. This time he managed to roll him, and then they were wrestling, each of them scrambling to find a hold. With both of them on the ground, they were fairly equal, with them both on the same level, neither taller than the other or having better footwork. Peter wrestled him down. His nephew surged up again, and he pinned Peter down with a grin, his fangs showing again with his excitement, eyes glowing blue. With a grunt of effort, Peter forced him back. They rolled again, and the momentum carried them until Peter came up on top again. Dropping an arm across the younger werewolf's sternum, he forced him down.
Peter bared his own fangs, letting his face morph, when Derek growled at him, allowing a growl of his own to rumble in his chest, deep and throaty. Prideful as ever, it took a while before Derek went still, returning to a more pliant state, submitting to the older werewolf. His eyes faded from gold back to pale blue, and Peter stared down at his nephew. He waited patiently until Derek had calmed down enough before he climbed off of him again. He bit back a smile at the kind of grumpy sigh that his nephew made, and he helped the boy to his feet again.
"Again, nephew," Peter said with a grin. "And if you do good, I'll let you practice with claws next time." A little incentive never hurt.
"Oh, game on, Uncle," was Derek's response.
Peter smirked. He came at him from the left with an open palmed strike, only to divert at the last moment and aim a sweeping kick at Derek's legs. The younger werewolf managed to dodge it but only just barely. He stumbled for just one step to regain his balance, his enhanced reflexes keeping him from falling flat on his face, and that was the only opening the older werewolf needed. He caught Derek's shoulder hard and then backed away. Derek winced slightly, bouncing on the balls of his bare feet. He breathed out through his nose, focusing, and he twisted around, catching Peter on the jaw. His head snapped back with a painful crack, and Peter just let out a laugh, turning his head to spit out a mouthful of blood.
"That was good!" he praised his nephew. He grinned as Derek ran at him again, swiftly sidestepping his next blow. And so their dance continued.