Derek has never really fit in anywhere. His real parents died in a car accident just after his birth so he was stuck in the adoption system for a while until finally getting a real home. It was okay, he uses this term loosely, for the first few years growing up there, but as he got older he also got stronger and his eyes changed color when he felt intense emotions. He was labeled a freak by age 7 and things just never get better.
As he grew into his teenaged years, his body changed like his eyes, hair and teeth growing when he became angry or scared- all of that on top of puberty! The new features were sort of controllable, not the best thing to have to handle on top of high school, but manageable. He got hot though, which should be a good thing. It elevated his social standing to somewhere above Greenberg, but that’s not saying much. The issue then became him not knowing his own strength and accidentally hurting people or smelling and hearing things he probably should not be smelling or hearing and then completely embarrassing himself by saying something stupid once he gets caught.
The “freak” label lasts all the way through senior year with the addition of new names like “loser” and “monster.” There’s no way his parents could be proud of him when his classmates scream these while he walks to get his diploma at graduation.
That’s why Derek chooses to go far away from his so-called home in New York. He starts college in Georgia before realizing that even that isn’t far enough to get away from the people who won’t accept him. He’s not naive, he knows that anywhere he goes there will be people who lash out at what they don’t understand. There will always be people that view him as lesser because of what he is. He understands, but that doesn’t mean he’s okay with it. There has to be somewhere where he belongs.
At night Derek dreams about a far away place where people will welcome him with open arms. A place where he will be revered instead of feared. Somewhere that makes him feel like he belongs. A place that feels like home.
So, every morning he wakes up and starts a new day knowing that all the hell he goes through will be worth it when he gets there. It takes time and several school transfers before he sees any sort of validation for holding out hope. At the University of Washington he meets a girl named Kate who makes him feel like a normal person. This is what I've waited for, he thinks.
He’s been hopeful and open for so long that it never really occurs to him that the first person to accept him would only be pretending. She sleeps with him, gets what she wanted, and then records him in the tender moment after with his yellow eyes and everything that comes with them. She shows everyone the video, even puts it online, just to show people what a freak he is- how he’s unnatural.
He transfers out of there as soon as possible. He hadn’t thought it would be easy, it’s an uphill battle after all, but he hadn’t known the level of cruelty out there. He stays strong because he has to. He doesn’t look back. Derek knows that some day some time he will find somewhere that makes him feel safe, protected, and loved.
That’s how he ends up at Beacon Hills University. It’s there that he meets a pale boy with sad eyes and a big smile. Derek can relate. Despite all that he’s gone through he still manages to move on with boundless hope. This sad-eyed boy with spotty moles seems like the kind of person who can understand.
They get lunch and have class together and for the first time Derek feels like he has a friend. He can hear Stiles’ heart beating a little quicker than normal when they’re together which leads Derek to the conclusion that Stiles likes being around him too and that’s a first.
One day, Stiles asks Derek to come along and meet his other friends. He calls them a pack at first but when Derek questions it Stiles just laughs it off.
When Derek meets Scott, something inside of him feels- different. He’s pretty sure it’s a good different. Definitely more than an indifferent different. It’s like his skin is itchy or tingly whenever Scott pays attention to him. Maybe it’s just because now he has another friend? It’s not. They’re all hanging out together- the pack- at Scott’s apartment when someone bursts in. Scott’s eyes turn red and Isaac, Erica, Boyd, and Liam all have yellow eyes like Derek’s. Like Derek’s.
There’s a fight with this creature, later called a Windigo, and then there’s a lot of explaining. Scott and the others are werewolves. Scott is the alpha and the others are betas. Stiles, Lydia, and Allison are a part of the wolf-pack too, they’re just not wolves. Derek, as it happens, is a wolf. Apparently the pack-wolves all knew as soon as Stiles introduced them to Derek. Scott tells him that he’s been what’s called an omega for his whole life and that’s one of the reasons control has always been so challenging.
The McCall pack offers him a place, and who is he to say no? A pack means people like him who don’t think he’s a freak. Stiles yells at him for calling himself one, even if it was just used to explain what his life has been like.
The night he officially becomes a member is on a full moon. It’s super cliche but with this pack there’s no better way to go about it, they’re all about the cliches. As soon as he accepts Scott as his alpha it’s like the weight he’s been dragging around for forever is lifted. His friends- his pack- each touch him in some way scenting is what Erica calls it. It’s almost unspeakably nice, almost. Stiles is the last one to approach him. He gently reaches for Derek’s hand and intertwines their fingers. In the light of the full moon he speaks quietly.
“Welcome home, Derek.”