|Teen Wolf- "Wildlife Rehabilitation (and Other Conservation Stories)"
||[Jul. 8th, 2013|05:40 pm]
Title: Wildlife Rehabilitation (and Other Conservation Stories)
Universe: Teen Wolf
Character/Pairing/s: the Sheriff, Derek (and Stiles and Isaac by proxy)
Spoilers/Warnings: Through S2
Word Count: 5,820
Summary: Companion piece to “Rewired”- the Sheriff has an idea named Derek and he deals with it.
Dedication: For juin, because HI. HOW ARE YOU.
A/N: I renamed this series because I have too many with the word important in it, which makes me confused. My brain has a very small capacity for things. This also directly references things that happened in “Picking up Strays,” “Grounded,” and "Rewired" so you should probably read those. Maybe. IDK. I’m kind of mentally exhausted so forming coherent though is hard.
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.
Old Mrs. Pritchard lived alone in a rundown little blue house in West Beacon Hills for twenty years after surviving the dual tragedies of burying her only son and holding her husband’s hand as a heart attack took him before the paramedics could arrive. At 87, she had no other remaining family in the world and wasn’t really one to make friends. She was quiet and eccentric and probably incredibly lonely, but stubborn enough not to accept any helping hands from the well-meaning residents of Beacon Hills simply because she hated the thought of dealing with their pity. Her obstinate defiance of these good intentions was what set her apart from the community, isolating her enough from the rest of the normal citizens that most of her neighbors were afraid of her. The neighborhood children called her the Witch on the Corner and there were a fair number of incidents when rocks would be thrown at her windows or when her little gray Volkswagen would be egged from where it was parked on the street right outside her front lawn. She never once complained about these incidents, even though the Sheriff had caught numerous local kids in the act on more than one occasion and had dragged them, terrified and sobbing, up the walk to her front door in order to apologize and clean up the mess.
One afternoon, to everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Pritchard adopted a big stray German shepherd from one of the rescue drives that happened at the town community center every month. She named him Oakley, after the street she grew up on, and never bothered to train the big, wary-eyed dog so that he wouldn’t go crazy barking the minute someone came into his line of sight. He scared the neighborhood kids pretty fierce whenever they dared to creep too close to the chain link fence he was tucked behind, charging right at the intruders like he thought he could bulldoze through the fence and get at whoever was infringing on his territory. Some of the parents complained about her keeping a wild animal like that, and sometimes the Sheriff would have to go out to Mrs. Pritchard’s house to make sure the dog wasn’t as rabid as some of the concerned phone calls seemed to suggest. Either way, the kids stopped throwing things at her house or egging her car after Oakley came into her life, and while that was satisfying because it meant she had someone to look out for her now, Sheriff Stilinski still had to drop by every once in a while to try and convince her to chain Oakley up, because if he ever got out he’d be a menace.
“I know he looks big and scary, Sheriff,” Mrs. Pritchard would say with a rattling old laugh and a smile much spryer than the rest of her, “but he’s really a teddy bear underneath all that bark. Aren’t you, Oak?”
The Sheriff remembers eyeing the slavering German shepherd warily whenever she said that, and he thinks the dog might have even looked threateningly back at him a number of times, except that when Mrs. Pritchard called him to heel Oakley suddenly became the world’s most well-behaved, if badly trained, pet.
The last time he’d seen her alive, the Sheriff remembers having been “encouraged” by a concerned brigade of local mothers to get her to sign Oakley over to the shelter. They didn’t think she could handle taking care of such an unruly dog all by herself. Looking at them like this though, there was no doubt in the Sheriff’s mind that she could.
“Maybe obedience lessons?” he’d suggested instead, because there was no way he was going to deprive the lonely old widow of her only companion if he could help it. It hadn’t helped that he’d known her son, Andrew. Drew and the Sheriff had been deputies together, before Drew died in a motorcycle accident when he was 30. If the menacing German shepherd was what made her happy, the Sheriff would fight tooth and nail with his constituents about letting her keep him. “I know Trudy teaches that Doggy Manners class on the weekends at the preserve,” he added hopefully. “I’m sure she’d be happy to take you and Oakley on for no charge, Mrs. Pritchard.” Mostly in that the Sheriff would convince Trudy to. He could be pretty convincing when he wanted to be.
But Mrs. Pritchard had just laughed at the suggestion before reaching down to scratch behind Oakley’s ears fondly. “We’re both too old to learn any new tricks, Sheriff,” she’d said matter-of-factly, even though Oakley was only 4. “And he hasn’t hurt anyone, so I don’t see what the trouble is.”
Sheriff Stilinski sighed, because it was true. “Well, he could,” he’d offered lamely.
Her eyes had gone sharp at the mere idea of it. “And you could murder someone with that fancy gun of yours, but we’re not going to lock you up for it until you give us a reason to, are we?”
That made sense, because of course it did, and the Sheriff remembers how he’d felt like a naughty school kid all over again under her calm, almost motherly logic. It had prompted him to duck his head a little in his seat to murmur, “No ma’am,” in wry defeat.
Helpless in the face of her cheerful defiance, he’d graciously accepted more homemade lemonade from her and suggested that maybe she could try keeping Oakley inside with her in the mornings from now on, when the kids were on their way to school.
“Noted, Sheriff, noted,” she’d answered over the rim of her own lemonade, hands shaking minutely under the strain of each movement. After that, there hadn’t been anything left in his power to do. At her insistence, he’d taken an extra bag of cookies from her for Stiles on his way out and just hoped that her stupid, half-feral dog wouldn’t jump the fence and eat anyone’s child.
Mrs. Pritchard died in her sleep two months after that last conversation with the Sheriff, and no one but Oakley knew about it for a full week at least, until Deputy Ryan, Mrs. Pritchard’s closest neighbor, made an offhand comment about how the old woman must’ve finally gotten rid of her monstrous dog after all, because he hadn’t seen it terrorizing anyone as it stalked the yard lately. Mrs. Pritchard never had anyone looking in on her regularly, mostly because she’d never condoned it, and the minute the Sheriff realized the dog wasn’t there anymore, he’d worried.
The Sheriff remembers driving out to her little house on the corner during his patrol circuit that afternoon and peering over her unkempt lawn, hoping to catch sight of the dog glaring out from behind the fence as per usual. There hadn’t been any sign of Oakley though, just like Ryan said, and the worry the Sheriff felt at the station had turned to a resigned sort of dread as he’d quietly reached over the fence to push the latch up and head down the front walk.
A few minutes later, he’d found her alone, completely still and peaceful looking in her bed, the only sounds in the house the buzzing of flies and the steady dripping of a leaky faucet from the kitchen. From the looks of things, she’d been gone for a while now.
He’d sighed and called in to dispatch about it, before starting to look around for Oakley, because he knew that if the grumpy animal was still there somewhere, he would probably be hungry, seeing as to how he’d kept from scavenging Mrs. Pritchard’s body for however long she’d been dead.
After confirming that the dog wasn’t in the house, Sheriff Stilinski had gone back outside, wondering if Oakley had jumped the fence and fled to the woods in search of food and water.
It was while he’d been standing by the front door looking out at the tree line that he heard it, the sounds of shuffling earth and nervous huffs of air from right under his feet that meant Oakley was hiding under the porch. When the Sheriff had gone down the steps and peered through the spaces in the boards, the growl and flash of sharp teeth he’d gotten from deep in the crawlspace told him that the dog was indeed there, and that he had been for a while, with no intentions of coming out. Oakley simply glared back at him, completely motionless and looking dirty and scared. He was shivering under the floorboards in a miserable sort of way that meant he was mourning, that he felt lost and hungry and lonely and just wanting to die.
The ambulance and another squad car of deputies arrived on the scene a little while later, and their footsteps on the sidewalk caused the growling noises in Oakley’s throat to grow a little louder, though he still didn’t move from his spot under the porch. The Sheriff promptly stopped the newcomers’ approach with a wordless wave of his hand, eyes trained on the dog the whole time.
“Should we call animal control?” Deputy Wynn had suggested after a beat, glancing warily at the porch from outside the fence, even though he couldn’t really see Oakley from there. “We can tranq him and get him to the shelter.”
“Just give me a minute,” the Sheriff remembers saying back, before going back inside the house and rummaging around in Mrs. Pritchard’s kitchen for dog treats and Oakley’s leash.
That minute ended up stretching out to about three hours, most of which the Sheriff spent just sitting on the bottom porch step tossing Oakley treats and talking to him in low soothing tones, a long rambling string of words about nothing in particular – what Stiles did at school, the speed trap they set up outside town, the new Chinese restaurant opening up – while the paramedics and his deputies looked at him like he was crazy.
He thinks he’d done it out of solidarity with what Oakley was going through, because when his wife had died he’d felt the same as the dog obviously did, had wanted to crawl into a hole and wrap himself in his own misery until he followed after the person he’d lost. Shooting the poor guy with a tranq dart and dragging him away from the only home he’d ever known against his will wasn’t going to help anything. Not today.
Oakley had eventually come out around dinner time, when the Sheriff held out a palm full of treats and shook the leash at him a little bit, the familiar jangling noises that meant going for a walk making Oakley look hopeful for the first time all day. While Oakley was slowly eating bacon strips out of his hand a few minutes later, the Sheriff attached the leash to Oakley’s collar without a word and eventually managed to lead Oakley to the back of his cruiser without too much of a fight. Oakley had only stopped for a moment really, to peer back over his shoulder and whine at the house once, before he’d hopped up into the backseat like he had been trained at obedience school after all. The Sheriff had left Mrs. Pritchard and the house to the paramedics and the deputies respectively after that, and drove straight to Deaton’s clinic to get Oakley looked at. “You’ll be okay,” he said to the dog during the drive over, and Oakley had simply sighed and curled up in the backseat in a tired ball of misery. “Everything’s going to be okay, Oakley.”
Deputy Ryan eventually adopted Oakley, maybe because he felt guilty about thinking that Mrs. Pritchard had gotten rid of her dog and not checking in on her sooner. Ryan died during Matt Daehler’s attack on the Sheriff’s Department last year, one of a pile of bodies that still haunts the Sheriff’s dreams almost as often as the image of his wife slowly wasting away to nothing in front of his very eyes. The Sheriff isn’t sure what happened to Oakley after Ryan was killed, or even if the crotchety old dog is still alive. It’s too heavy a thing to consider right now, especially under the substantial weight of his current burdens. He tells himself he’ll find out about Oakley’s fate after this is all done.
Sheriff Stilinski takes a deep breath as he stands in front of the burned out shell of the Hale house, suddenly remembering Oakley right now only because the situation he currently finds himself in reminds him of the day he’d had to coax the frightened animal out from under Mrs. Pritchard’s porch. Except this time it’s a sad-eyed werewolf staring back at him from the charred remains of his old family home, shifting almost distrustfully from foot to foot as the Sheriff stands in the ankle-high piles of fallen leaves surrounding the property and tries to find something to say.
The sun has just sunk under the horizon for the day and the surrounding forest is quiet and cold with the early autumn chill. The world like this feels almost peaceful again after a day of watching Isaac and Stiles fail at raking leaves, after a night of finding out that one of his kids is a werewolf and that werewolves exist period. Even still, the peace just feels like a façade in light of everything, and the Sheriff can’t ignore the rattling need he has to find out more about what this all means, exactly. He knows the things Isaac and Stiles told him this morning over breakfast are absolutely true, insofar as either of the boys knows them to be, but the Sheriff has always been a big picture kind of guy, and right now, there are some blanks he wants filled in, blanks that he thinks maybe only Derek Hale can give him.
Except Derek looks like that is the last thing he wants. In fact, he looks like he wants to flee back into the dark skeleton of the house and hide from whatever he thinks is about to happen, because people showing up unannounced at his place seems to be a sign that trouble is imminent in his life and bad news is coming.
The Sheriff wonders if he should have brought treats with him, like he had with Oakley. There’s a small bag of beef jerky in his glove box, but he somehow doesn’t think Derek will be that impressed with it. He sighs and eventually just holds his hands up in surrender. “I just have a few questions,” the Sheriff starts, because the truth seems like the best option. He knows Derek would know if he lied.
Derek, eyebrows furrowed and scowling in a way that’s more terrified than aggressive to the Sheriff’s trained eye, eventually takes a long, deep breath and steps back. His shoulders are still tense as he turns and pads back inside, but he leaves the door open behind him, which is as good an invitation as the Sheriff could hope for.
The Sheriff follows with his questions ready.
That night he learns all the secrets of Kate Argent’s sinister relationship with a young Derek Hale and the true circumstances of Victoria Argent’s death. He also learns that for all he’s the alpha, Derek is just as scared a kid as Stiles and Isaac are in the face of this strange monster-infested world.
The only difference is, Derek has nothing besides his fear to guide him.
They end up talking until five that morning, Derek reluctantly, carefully answering all of the Sheriff’s questions in a stilted but heartbreakingly honest way. He winces every so often at certain things, as if he expects to be shot at any second, or that lightning will crack through the skies and strike him dead for his sins now that he’s spoken them out loud. The thing Sheriff Stilinski hates the most out of everything he hears from Derek that night is the guilt that colors every one of the young man’s words, like the horrible circumstances of his life are all, somehow, his own fault. They’re not, but the Sheriff doesn’t think he’ll be able to convince Derek of that, at least not right now. Maybe, definitely, later, because the Sheriff thinks that he’s going to try, hard, and that he can succeed, because he has to, because he wants to.
The Sheriff is exhausted and cold by the time their talk starts to wind down, and he wonders how Derek can spend all his free time here and not feel the chill of it all, especially around this time of year.
“And that’s…that’s it, I guess. Stiles and Isaac must have told you the rest,” Derek finishes slowly, shoulders hunched and arms crossed like he’s trying to make himself smaller under the Sheriff’s steady gaze.
“Okay,” the Sheriff answers, and rubs his hands together to try and get some feeling back into his fingers. When it doesn’t work, he huffs into his palms a few times before he stands and heads to the door. “Well c’mon, then.”
Derek blinks dumbly back at him. “Are you arresting me again?” he asks, looking resigned to his lot in life not for the first time since the Sheriff has met him.
He barely manages to keep from rolling his eyes at Derek’s rumbling dramatics. “Breakfast,” he says simply. “It’s cold and after the week we’ve had, I think we both deserve some breakfast now.” He doesn’t wait for any more questions as he calmly pads back down the rickety porch and away from the smell of burned wood and ashes.
It only takes a minute or two before Derek follows and climbs warily into the passenger seat, curling in on himself like Oakley had on that final drive to Deaton’s all those years ago. The Sheriff's heart stutters at the memory as he starts the car, turning to Derek as he backs the cruiser onto the dirt road. “You’ll be okay,” he says simply, just like he had with Oakley. Derek looks back at him, one part startled and two parts hopeful, and the Sheriff decides it’s something that is easy to believe when he says it, because it’s a reality he’s going to create for Derek, one way or another.
They go to Minnie’s for breakfast because it’s the only place open this early in the morning, and over the course of their meal, the Sheriff learns that Derek likes blueberry pancakes and hot cocoa with a childish sort of innocence that makes him feel relieved somehow, knowing that something like that could survive in Derek even after everything he’d been through. They don’t say much to each other for the entire meal, but it’s okay, comfortable even. Dana does kind of give them an odd look while she refills the Sheriff’s OJ, but wisely doesn’t ask any questions, which is one of the reasons the Sheriff comes here whenever he has a particularly tough night shift. The other is the fact that they have seasonal pancakes and bottomless home fries on Sundays before ten am.
When Derek shyly tries to pay for his half of the meal once they’re finished eating, the Sheriff laughs in his face and makes him carry the two boxes of takeout he’s getting for the pair of idiots currently asleep under his roof. Derek isn’t sure what to do after that, standing in the parking lot with a bag of pancakes and bacon clutched in his hand while the sun starts to rise slowly over the horizon. The Sheriff climbs back into the driver’s seat and looks at the time. He’ll have to be in at work in a couple of hours, and he’s already exhausted.
“Sir?” Derek asks after a beat, twitching uncomfortably at the odd looks they get from some of the early morning joggers and bleary-eyed commuters on their way to work. The townsfolk probably think he’s being arrested again.
The Sheriff just rolls down the passenger side window and peers out of it, looking right in Derek’s eyes as he says, “Well, I could drive you back to the preserve, or you could come back with me and sleep on my couch.” He pauses after a beat, and adds, enticingly, “My house has four walls.”
Derek blinks at him like he’s speaking a foreign language, but eventually, slowly, climbs into the cruiser again and fastens his seatbelt.
He does end up sacking out on the couch and gets a whole three hours of uninterrupted sleep before Isaac and Stiles come tumbling downstairs demanding breakfast. Neither of them bats an eye at the sight of Derek sprawled out on the sofa in a borrowed pair of the Sheriff’s sweatpants, though Isaac’s mouth does curl up into this unabashedly happy little smile that makes Stiles laugh and Derek uncomfortable. The Sheriff has no idea what goes on in the heads of these stupid kids half the time, but at that point he’s caffeinated and ready for work, though he’ll probably take a half day and come back to crash for a bit once he’s made sure the Arachne problem is, in fact, dealt with completely.
He leaves the three of them crammed on the couch together, Isaac and Stiles eating breakfast and watching morning cartoons. Derek looks equal parts grumpy and incredulous from between them, though he lets Stiles elbow him to the middle cushion while Isaac commandeers the remote. Derek gives the Sheriff a helpless sort of frown as he shrugs his jacket on, but the Sheriff just smirks and repeats, “You’ll be okay,” on his way out the door.
If he says it enough, he thinks maybe Derek will start to believe it as much as he does.
When he gets back from work in the middle of the afternoon, Derek is gone and the empty takeout containers from breakfast are still there in his stead, left out on the coffee table along with juice glasses and greasy utensils. Stiles and Isaac just glance up from their Halo game and shrug helplessly from the couch at the look on the Sheriff’s face, the two of them both still in their pajamas and slightly crusty-eyed because apparently teenage boys don’t consider lazy Sundays as a day where they have to adhere to personal hygiene.
Eventually Isaac pauses the game somewhat guiltily and starts to gather the containers up from the coffee table, in a way that would be sweet under normal circumstances but that just kind of break the Sheriff’s heart under these particular ones. Stiles catches on and intercepts, chiding Isaac with a hasty, “Dude, your arm is still messed up from the giant gut-sucking spider venom,” and hustles into the kitchen with his arms full of trash and dirty dishes.
Isaac looks a little sheepish after that, apologetic in a way that means he realizes what he was doing and hadn’t meant to imply those things, that he was afraid of the Sheriff at all.
Isaac, like Derek, is a work in progress.
The Sheriff clears his throat and asks, “How’s your shoulder?” in the meantime, reaching out with a slow, gentle hand to tap Isaac’s elbow a little on his injured side.
“Fine,” Isaac says. Then adds, “Just a little sore.”
The Sheriff nods once in relief. “And Derek?” he asks next, as Stiles clambers back from the kitchen, tripping over the hem of his pajama bottoms and catching himself mid-fall along the way.
“Back to the burned shell of his tragic past, probably,” Stiles reports with a snort that clearly demonstrates how wrong he thinks that is. The Sheriff is inclined to agree.
But then he yawns, and puts that particular scheme on the backburner for now, because he has a lot of sleep he needs to catch up on if he wants to continue being a functional human being come Monday morning. He reaches out, ruffles the boys’ hair on his way up the stairs, and reminds them that they’re still grounded, and that he expects the dishes and laundry done by the time he wakes up for dinner. They can decide what they’re eating tonight as well, since they’ll also be doing the cooking.
They groan good-naturedly at his orders and tell him to sleep well. He can still hear them kind of squabbling about the chores downstairs as he trudges up to his room, Isaac trying to call dibs on dishes because there’s not that many of them and he’s wounded. Stiles complains that the laundry should be Isaac’s domain because most of the dirty clothes are dirty only because of werewolf shenanigans as opposed to regular living shenanigans. Isaac cites the fact that the smell of Stiles’s lacrosse gear is tear-inducing in counter argument, and they devolve into what must be a silent game of rock-paper-scissors to make the final decision for them as the Sheriff shuts his bedroom door behind him.
He changes into his academy sweats and an old T-shirt after that, and as he climbs into his bed, wonders if maybe he should make a chore wheel for those two or something.
He closes his eyes and puts that next on his extensive list of things to do, figuring it can be his second personal project, after Derek Hale.
His alarm wakes him up at six, just in time to hear the clang of pots and pans downstairs that mean the boys are battling about Stiles’s choices in proteins and Isaac’s unreasonable dislike of eggplant.
He groans a little and rubs the crust from his eyes before getting up and trudging into the adjoining bathroom to wash his face and brush the stale taste of sleep from his mouth. By the time he finishes changing into clothes that he can go actually outside in, the boys have settled on rosemary chicken breasts and a salad-in-a-bag from Trader Joe’s that involves arugula. As the Sheriff enters the kitchen, he’s just in time to see Stiles make a threatening gesture with the salad tongs at Isaac and say something dramatic about eggplant parmesan tomorrow, come rain or shine.
“But it’s mushy,” Isaac complains with his head tilted kind of curiously at Stiles, both vaguely mystified and accusatory.
“Mushy delicious,” Stiles rejoins with a cackle, and goes back to emptying the salad bag into a bowl. “Like mashed potatoes but with more vitamins.”
The Sheriff clears his throat as Isaac continues to drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh rosemary over a baking dish filled with raw chicken. “My vote is against the eggplant too, if it means anything,” he says by way of greeting.
“You get no say because you clearly had bacon for breakfast,” Stiles replies without missing a beat, before proclaiming, “Dinner in forty!” as he drops some slivered almonds into the salad. “Healthy dinner. Mmm.”
The Sheriff refrains from rolling his eyes. “Great. Make enough for eight,” he says, mostly because two teenage boys already eat enough for four between them and he figures an almost grown alpha werewolf made mostly of muscles will probably pack away enough for three normal people on top of that.
The boys both pause in what they’re doing to look at him curiously after his announcement, but he doesn’t really have time to explain what’s going through his mind if they’re planning on eating within the hour. Instead he grabs his car keys, tells them not to burn the place down in his absence, and promises to be back with dessert and time to spare.
“Pie!” Stiles shouts after him. “Get pie!”
Sheriff Stilinski gets to the preserve fifteen minutes later and is barely out of the car before he sees Derek’s furrowed eyebrows and worried shoulders lurking in the doorway again, peering out like he doesn’t understand what the Sheriff wants from him, why he keeps coming out here when there are clearly other places he should be, other people he should be spending his time with.
“Is everything okay?” Derek asks, still always expecting the worst, expecting that something is always going to be wrong before it can be good.
The Sheriff sighs. “Do you like pie?” he asks plainly, arms crossed.
Derek’s eyebrows dart up, away from their concerned furrow to a look of surprised confusion, though the scowl on his face remains entirely the same, like he can only emote from the nose up. “Why do you keep trying to take me to your house?” he asks after a beat, tone going for demanding but coming out more boggled to the Sheriff’s ears instead.
The Sheriff considers this for a moment, before shrugging his shoulders and gesturing to the black singed wood of the crumbling ruins behind Derek. “Because this isn’t home, kid,” he says matter-of-factly, letting every word of truth he feels steady his heartbeat, hoping Derek can hear how absolute his resolve in this is. “It shouldn’t be where you go at the end of the day.”
Derek slumps a little, helpless and confused. “That doesn’t answer my question,” he murmurs, sounding grumpy. The Sheriff lets his mouth curl up into a tiny smile at the alpha’s petulant tone.
“So? You didn’t answer mine either,” he says back, before gesturing to the cruiser with a tilt of his head.
Derek sighs. “Yes,” he admits after a beat, and trudges off the porch of the Hale house and towards the passenger door of the cruiser for the second time that day. “I like pie.”
The Sheriff chuckles at that. “Then you and I are gonna get along just fine.”
They stop by the store and he lets Derek pick out a blueberry pie and a tub of vanilla bean ice cream to take back for dessert with them. They splurge on the big one, even.
The Sheriff is right about alpha werewolves’ appetites. Derek eats enough for two Isaacs, who eats enough for two Stiles, and after the plates are licked clean of anything and everything edible, the Sheriff begins to wonder if this was one of his better ideas after all. His wallet probably won’t like it in the long run.
But when he notices the tension slowly leeching from Derek’s shoulders as he and Isaac wash dishes together, he realizes that it probably is one of his best ideas – comparable to Stiles’s idea of Isaac even – and that the only better idea he might have had in recent memory is that chore wheel he needs to start working on over the next few days.
Derek tries to leave again after dinner, and while the Sheriff tells him he’s free to do so, he also tells him that the invitation to stay is a standing one, and while the couch isn’t exactly spacious, it’s comfortable and clean and doesn’t smell like smoke. Then he presses the spare house key into Derek’s hands before the alpha can protest, and the gesture of it is enough to freeze Derek in his tracks as he looks down at the innocuous little piece of metal sitting in his palm like it’s the most terrifying thing he’s seen in his entire life.
“Okay?” the Sheriff prompts, when the staring goes on for a beat too long.
Derek swallows and meets his eyes again briefly, before schooling himself carefully and nodding once, a little uncomfortable but grateful at the same time. Then he mutters something about patrolling the territory before darting out of the front door and back into the cold by himself. The Sheriff watches him go, then slowly closes the door behind him and very purposefully leaves the porch light on.
He leaves the porch light on just like that, all night, every night, for however long it takes, and after a mere five days, Derek finally cracks when the Sheriff finds the alpha snoring peacefully on his couch one morning before work. He takes a moment to look on in satisfaction before he goes to pin his completed chore wheel up on the refrigerator on his way out.
The rest of his day is spent feeling incredibly accomplished.
Over the next few weeks, the Sheriff learns that Derek drinks directly out of the milk carton because he really was raised by wolves, and that he relates well with idiot teenagers because as much as the law thinks he’s an adult, he’s really, really not. (No one who uses that much product in their hair can actually be called a grown up in the Sheriff’s book.)
It’s why he has no compunctions about treating Derek like an idiot teenager too.
When Deputy Juarez looks up at the whiteboard in his office and sees Derek’s name under the heading “Grounded through Nov. 15th” she whistles at him and shakes her head. “You grounded Derek Hale?” she murmurs with a disbelieving look at her boss.
The Sheriff shrugs from his desk and says, “I warned him.” Besides, what would they do for fun at the Sheriff’s department with an empty punishment board? Isaac and Stiles just got off it themselves.
Juarez smirks. “Right,” she says dutifully. “I’ll go tell the boys about it, then. Gotta feeling this will be even more entertaining than the Stiles Driver’s Permit Showcase of 2010.”
“Probably,” he agrees, and salutes her absently with one hand while he continues to sign off on a stack of requisition paperwork sitting on his desk with the other. “Thanks, Juarez.”
“My pleasure, boss man,” she says, and cackles a little bit evilly to herself on her way out the door.
Derek eventually gets added to the chore wheel too, and only puts up a minimal fuss about the fact that once every month, he and Stiles are on grocery shopping duty with one another.
The Sheriff thinks maybe this means Derek will be ready for some Stilinski-sized hugs soon too. He’s biding his time.
Once things are settled, or as settled as they can be in the supernatural powder keg that is Beacon Hills, the Sheriff starts to dig around about Oakley again, just for his own peace of mind.
As it turns out, Oakley is living with Deputy Ryan’s little sister in San Diego now. From what the Sheriff has heard, the dog is still kind of broken, but regardless of all his losses and traumas, Oakley has managed to learn how to play fetch since they last met, and he even lets his owner’s three young kids try to climb all over him like a jungle gym whenever they want without too much of a fuss.
Oakley is old and happy, and more than anything else, he turned out to be pretty okay after all, despite everything.
Just like the Sheriff knew he would.
As it turns out, the Sheriff is pretty damn good at predicting these types of things.
The Sheriff thinks Derek Hale is going to be just fine.
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