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The discussion had started out innocuous enough. Mundane dinner time chatter about school work or friends. There was the sly inquiry about the details for the next social event on the calendar that lead to talking about the upcoming lacrosse championship game for the district. The kinds of conversations parents try to have with their teenagers in order to avoid the real topic at hand. Talk of preliminary college decisions masking as insinuations for casual drug use or unsafe sex. The dialogue was drifting closer and closer towards the near constant parental worry about hanging with the wrong crowd, the bad kids, the losers.

In this family's case, it was werewolves.

Granted, they were the only family in the town that knew about werewolves. All the other families were the lucky ones, perhaps wondering if their kid was doing late night whippets at their new job at the ice cream parlor. This family, in particular, had to worry that their only daughter was dating a sixteen year old boy with psychopathic tendencies once a month.

Scott sat on the roof of the Argent family's house, a familiar spot near the window to Allison's bedroom. He hadn't meant to, but was listening in on the discussion taking place inside. He had rushed through his closing duties at work in order to come over to see his girlfriend. In hindsight, he was wishing he had done a more thorough job, seeing that coming here so quickly would not yield the results he had been fantasizing about all day.

Allison was upset. He hated to see Allison upset because, more often than not, he knew it was his fault.

If he brought it up, she would steadfastly disagree. It was her parents, they made her feel this way, she would tell him. Her heartbeat didn't lie; Scott knew she believed it to be true. He also knew that she wouldn't have these problems if she was able to date a normal boy. A boy that wasn't a werewolf hunted by her family.

Scott sighed, head resting in one hand, as he listened to Allison's parents trying to calmly tick off the reasons why she should not see Scott anymore. He reluctantly agreed with all of them. Yes, she could accidentally get bitten. Yes, he could kill her. Yes, she would be a target for anyone else trying to hurt Scott.

Wait. What? Scott wasn't expecting that one. Who else is out to get me? Peter and Kate are both dead.

Allison had the same thought, since she asked her father the same thing. She demanded it again, when Mr. Argent remained silent, Scott imagined a hard determination etched into his face, like usual. Finally he spoke, still avoiding answering the question directly.

"You've been put in harms way enough already and it could have been avoided if you hadn't been involved with Scott."

On the roof, Scott cringed.

Argent continued. "Scott already told me how Peter Hale was tracking you to get to him." Scott heard him sigh, the gulp of beer he took breaking up the conversation. "I believe Scott when he says he's trying to protect you. But when he turns-"

"But," Allison interrupted, "Scott didn't let him. Scott stopped-"

"Barely!" Scott felt the thump on the dining room table, as Mr. Argent's fist came down, commanding attention. "You have no idea what the potential of this problem is. Scott is the only bitten werewolf you know. Derek Hale might be able to control himself, but Scott? You don't know what can happen. I do. And I'll be damned if I allow it under my own nose."

Scott stewed on the roof, hearing that piece of information. Everything came back to that. No matter how hopeful he got about getting back together with Allison, that was the one fact he couldn't change and everyone involved knew it. Scott felt like his wolf was a ticking time bomb but no one would tell him which wire to cut to diffuse it.

Before Allison could speak again, Mrs. Argent was the one to issue the ultimatum and end the discussion. "You are not dating Scott McCall anymore! It's the best for both of you. Now, you either do as we say or we'll be forced to move you back to San Francisco." Scott bristled, not sure whether it was because of the tone she used with Allison or the threat of taking her away from him. His fists clenched as claws threatened to come out.

His listened to his girlfriend's steady voice, surprised to hear it crack, pleading with her mother to get her to understand. Pleading doesn't work with Mrs. Argent. She demanded the family get back to eating dinner. Allison still tried to protest, to assert her opinion, just trying to get her parents to listen to her one last time.

"Allison." Scott could practically taste the venom in Mrs. Argent's clipped tone. "It's over."

The sinking feeling Scott had since he'd arrived hit a new low. He heard Allison get up from the table and place her plate in the kitchen sink. She would be coming upstairs to her bedroom within a minute. Suddenly, Scott realized that he didn't want to be there when she did. He didn't want to avoid her, but rather, the thing he knew he should have the balls to say to her if he wasn't so damn selfish.

He left his spot on the roof, allowing his shift to over take him as he jumped from the eaves of the Argent home and began to run into the woods, away from the very thing he desired. He wanted to run, to fight, to hunt some stupid animal, anything other than to think of the girl in that house behind him.

If he had stayed back another thirty seconds more, Scott might have chosen to go home instead of retreating into the woods. Scott wasn't the only one to run from the house that night.

***********************

His wife was angry; his daughter upset, Chris Argent could not stand being in the house any longer. He was never one to sit and mull things over and over again. He needed action. His hands had to be doing something instead of mindlessly running through his neatly trimmed hair. He needed a weapon in hand. Target practice worked out his problems best. Chris enjoyed the handling of weapons, the feel of a trigger waiting for his precise touch and the perfect aim. Chris didn't relish killing things for sport or to feel superior. He killed things out of necessity, protection, and duty. When it was for those reasons, killing another living thing wasn't so wrong.

Chris had many kills in his lifetime, all for the sake of humanity. Following the family legacy to hunt those that hunt their kin, Chris embraced his responsibility. He understood it to be his lot in life at a young age and took it up wholeheartedly. The dangers in the world that his family alone was trusted to fight and keep at bay ebbed and flowed over the years. Recently, there seemed to be quite a flow of it. He had followed this surge back to Beacon Hills, bringing his family with him. Which may have been, he conceded, a mistake.

The older he got, Chris had found it more and more difficult to reconcile the many sides of his life: Hunter, husband, brother, and father. The job he held was difficult enough without worrying about the constant safety of those he loved. But, isn't that why he did what he did? To protect? Others told him he was mad for marrying so young, madder still for continuing a surprise pregnancy with his new wife, despite the precarious lifestyle of Hunters. Collateral damage, others chided him. But not Kate. Kate had been thrilled to be an aunt. At twelve, she only saw the fun parts, taking for granted the power the family held to protect itself and others from monsters.

Chris thought it would be easy in the beginning. Lock them up tight in the house and he would come back to them when he was done. The same lips that kissed his wife goodnight had already issued orders to kill a cursed man on sight. The same hands that gently held his tiny daughter had earlier been firing a round of bullets into the head of a wayward werewolf. He protected his family's identity well enough, knowing that it did not provide a normal upbringing for his only child. It may have been abnormal, but it was safe. Yet years later, Chris found himself wondering where his daughter was, who she was with, what she was doing.

Karma's a bitch. His daughter ended up dating the very werewolf he'd been trying to hunt down.

They'd eaten dinner at the same table and he couldn't tell. They sat next to each other in the same room and Chris hadn't caught on. He hadn't gotten a good look at the smaller beta that first night in Beacon Hills, but the beta certainly knew who he was when their paths crossed again.

Of course, Chris assumed his intimidating personality was what put Scott off, made him on edge in any situation they shared. Later, when he pieced everything together, the cautious looks and furtive glances made complete sense. He should have been more suspicious of Scott's insanely talented moves on the lacrosse field. How could he let himself believe a high school kid was that good? Chris hated that it had taken weeks for him to find the beta that had been right in front of him all along. He had become one of the best Hunters in his generation and a newly bitten werewolf, some teenager, had thrown him off his game.

Perhaps it was because this time, everything had hit too close to home. Maybe, he didn't want to believe that boy needed to be hunted. In his entire career, Chris Argent had never doubted himself more.

His sister made mistakes, big ones, and it had cost her life, as sad as that made him. He also made mistakes and now he had more problems headed into Beacon Hills for him to deal with and they were not necessarily of the supernatural variety. His slip up here had alerted people higher than him in the chain of command. He did not stop the Alpha; he could not keep the Hale pack from growing. It was an understatement to say that he wasn't looking forward to his father's impending visit. Along with his associates, the situation would become...difficult; not just for him, but for Allison, and ultimately, Scott. Chris regretfully could tell Beacon Hills was on the edge of becoming another battlefield.

Walking through the woods of Beacon Hills, he wasn't sure what he was looking for. Maybe he'd find a nice tree stump for target practice. If the Beacon Hills pack hadn't already scared half the wildlife out of the area, maybe he'd find a deer to track to keep his skills on par. Or maybe even Derek Hale, the new alpha, would be keeping late hours, like him. He hadn't seen hide nor hair of the new Alpha and Chris wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. If Derek had left, it was possible Chris would be reassigned. He dreaded the thought of moving his family again.

And suddenly, there was movement. He turned, the view from the outside of his eye catching his interest. Chris could hear it, the tell tale loping footfalls up ahead in the Beacon Hills preserve; the small twittering of night birds being disturbed by a predator inconveniencing their own prowling. Holding his cross bow steady, he took off in the direction his training told him to go, following whatever creature was sharing the woods with him tonight. Every bit of his instinct began to tell him it was a werewolf. What it didn't tell him was if this was a werewolf he'd already met. Derek? Scott? A new threat that Derek could have created? His thoughts jumped to Jackson Whittemore, the teen he found blubbering in the woods about wanting the bite. What a fool...

The familiarity of the hunt came back easily to Argent. He followed its rhythm, readying the flash arrow to be fired at just the right moment. He could see the movement now, the body running yards ahead. Based on speed and distance, Chris made a judgment call where to aim, just the right spot to blind and confuse so he could get close enough to capture. Then he'd worry about exactly who he had caught.

He depressed the trigger. A flash went up, Chris seeing the outline of the werewolf stop and stagger backwards, shocked by the light and sound. Chris reached behind him to grab the bola he kept on his person for every hunt. Other Hunters laughed at his methods, but this was how he worked. A simple reminder of his impeccable track record would eventually shut them down.

Unraveling, he swung it around above his head, letting it fly to wrap around his target's ankles. The werewolf let out a yelp, a growl of surprise as he was brought to his knees, face meeting the dirt floor of the woods. Chris could hear snarling come from him, the typical reaction he was used to. He walked surely towards his target, reloading his crossbow with another arrow, this time, one with a sharp point on the end of it. The light from his first arrow was swiftly dying, but Chris could see hands trying to free its lower half from the bola that was tightly bound around him. He noticed the snarling was reduced to grunts and gasps, more human-like noises. The crossbow was lowered and Chris stood in front of his prisoner. The werewolf was in the process of shifting back to his human form, eyes still wild, and teeth still sharp. It was a form Chris Argent knew too well. He had expected this was what he had been chasing, but, in all honestly, hoped it would be someone else.

He sighed. "Hello, Scott."

Scott McCall looked up at his girlfriend's father. He huffed and gave up trying to release his legs. Shoulders slumping, he leaned all the way back to rest on the ground, giving up. Resigned, he looked up at his attacker.

"Are you gonna kill me now?"

Argent answered the question with a question, staring the teenager down with a knowing gaze. "Why?" He couldn't help the small smile that crept over his face. "Are you going to let me?" He didn't bother making any move to free Scott. He didn't last this long as a Hunter without having some sense of self preservation. "Is Derek with you?" The Hunter cast a glance around, assessing his surroundings for any other threat.

At the mention of the new alpha's name, Scott bristled. "No," was the response, terse and quiet. He sat up and began another attempt at freeing himself. His now human hands reached to his ankles. "What the hell is this thing?" It wasn't so much a demand; Scott genuinely seemed confused as to how he got caught by something so simple. He picked at the strong cord of leather, trying to find a way to free himself.

Argent knelt in front of the boy's feet, still grasping the crossbow in his hand, resting an elbow on one knee. He made no move to help him. "Where is Derek then?"

Frustrated, Scott shot back, "I don't know and I don't care!" His eyes cast downward as he attempted, again, to focus on his current dilemma, even though he knew would be hopeless without the older man's help.

Argent studied the adolescent in front of him for a moment. He always studied people before making his next move and Scott McCall at first had seemed to be such a quick study. 'Horny kid waiting to get into my daughter's pants' was the first conclusion he had come to upon meeting him, formally, for the first time. He had observed Scott of course, in strange tender moments that passed between him and Allison before that awkward family dinner. Argent did not approve of how much stock Allison had placed in the boy, but he had never been easy to please in the boyfriend department to begin with.

Noting that everything about Scott now was quite human, apart from his attitude, Argent began to free him from the bola. "Isn't that a little odd? A beta not knowing what his alpha is up to?" That same wry half-smile tugged at the corners of Argent's mouth. He watched Scott carefully, seeing how far his buttons could be pushed.

Scott sat back and watched as the cord was strategically unwound from his feet. "If you're trying to get information about Derek, I don't know anything." He paused, glancing up to the sky and leaning back on his elbows. "I haven't talked to him in two weeks. And I don't want to," he finished flatly, now eyeing the cross bow lying on the ground next to the Hunter.

Argent stood back up. "Why is that, Scott?" This little run in might turn out to be more valuable than he originally thought.

Scott snorted somewhat derisively, now tentatively standing up and rotating each ankle, one at a time. "You were there, you saw. I had a chance at being cured and he took it right out from under me. He told me he would help me if I helped him get Peter Hale." He shook his head, aggravated. "It was all bullshit. And then, with Jackson..." Scott trailed off.

The look in Scott's face told him all he needed to know. "Jackson," Argent repeated. Perfect, another one. He nodded in understanding, rolling his eyes, irritated at the turn of events in Beacon Hills. "When?"

"The night after he killed Peter." Scott didn't seem to be thrilled to have a bigger pack in Beacon Hills either. He stood there, his body turned away from Argent, though his face still watched him, as if waiting for permission to go.

The man sighed. "Great," he said, non-plussed at the new development. He turned a critical eye towards Scott. "Why are you so sure killing Peter Hale was a cure?" As far as Argent knew, the bite was irreversible.

Scott's mouth dropped open a little to let loose a retort but his reasons halted after being confronted with the obvious. "You mean, why did I trust Derek to tell me the truth?" Scott's raised his arms in defeat, letting them fall hopelessly by his sides. "I guess I'm just stupid, like everybody says." Scott leaned back against a tree, palms to his thighs and eyed the Hunter cautiously.

Argent raised an eyebrow, took a few steps to the side all the while keeping Scott in his view. He got that familiar tingle on the back of his neck as Scott, predator that he now was, watched him. Wary, the boy straightened up and crossed his arms across his chest in defense, becoming closed off.

"What brought you out here tonight, Scott?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. Why are you out here? And alone?" he fired back. "Why has everything you've said to me tonight been a question?"

Argent nodded, conceding. "What's fair is fair, I suppose. Sometimes a man just needs to think. I tend to do that well when I'm busy."

Scott remained still. "Hunting?"

"Why? Were you?" came the quick reply from the Hunter. Argent smiled, enjoying the way he could get under Scott McCall's skin so quickly. It was much easier when he thought of him as a werewolf to be taken down, and not as the boy his daughter brought home for dinner and study dates.

Indignant at the implication, Scott turned away. "Well, maybe I needed to think too." His brow turned downward, annoyed. "I'm done then. I'm leaving."

Before Scott could take two steps towards the direction of home, he heard Mr. Argent call out.

"Wait."

It wasn't a request. It was a command, a command that made Scott freeze. It wasn't like an order from Peter Hale or even Derek, where some type of invisible string tugged at him to obey. As dangerous and calculating as Scott knew him to be, Mr. Argent was still a parent, his girlfriend's parent and that role still held importance to him, despite the supernatural power that coursed through his body now. Scott turned around to face him, waiting.

"I cannot allow you to see Allison anymore."

Scott had been expecting to hear those words from this man for quite some time. Stiles had said something like them; Derek had, too, but they didn't count. All the expectation in the world could not have prepared him for the feeling it left, an ice cold stabbing that gutted him through. He placed a hand over his torso, as if to cover up some invisible wound suddenly inflicted by the Hunter's crossbow. He brought his eyes to meet the Hunter, intent on making contact.

"You can't do that," he said, trying to avoid sounding so plaintive and raw; somehow not succeeding. For a brief second, the idea of overpowering the lone Hunter was entertained in his head. A building anger brought the wolf to the forefront, wanting to attack. His vision darkened and narrowed. Scott knew he could shift and leap faster than an arrow could be deployed. He could be upon the older man in less than a heartbeat. But Scott knew he shouldn't do it, not to him.

Because it would devastate her.

He clenched his teeth, steeling himself for a battle he knew he wouldn't win. Because he wouldn't let the wolf out. For her.

"Yes, I can. You know it's for her own good." Argent's finger ached on the trigger of his gun, still pointed more down than up, watching the mess of emotions tumble over the younger man's face. "And yours," he added, hoping this discussion would not take as long as it was promising to be.

"Like you even care about what happens to me?" Scott let the accusation fly out of his mouth before he could clamp it down. "You were ready to run me over with your car!" Argent made a motion to protest, but Scott cut him off. "You never liked me. You never wanted me around her, even before you knew." He declared it with such finality, like a lawyer in court.

To his own surprise, that accusation caused a stir within Argent. It had never been a matter of not liking Scott. That was not how Argent saw it at all. "The original intent the night of the formal was not to run you over. And I didn't like you because you were dating my only daughter, not because I thought you were a werewolf. If it makes you feel better, I never liked any of the boys she brought home." Argent noticed Scott scowl at the admission that there had been others before him to date Allison. How much of that was simple teenage jealousy and not just some type of lupine possessiveness, he wasn't sure. A small part of Argent wanted to harp on that knowledge, seeing how far he could use it to confound the younger boy. He decided against it though; it wouldn't be the smartest choice for him tonight, not if he was intent on getting the boy to agree to his offer. "If anything, I felt sorry for you, Scott."

Scott didn't say anything at first. He appeared doubtful, still on guard and chewing on the corner of his mouth. "Why?" he finally asked. "Why would you feel sorry for me?"

Argent spoke slowly, as repeating himself seemed necessary when talking with Scott. "When I discovered you were the second beta, I felt sorry for you," he repeated. "But I don't hate you. Some like to say you can hate the sin but not the sinner."

That statement seemed to rile Scott up, a little more than Argent would have anticipated. Scott came forward swiftly, his normally baffled face twisted with anger. Argent readied his crossbow, making sure Scott saw. While the weapon halted his advance on the Hunter, it did not lessen his turbulent mood. "That's what you think this is like? Like I did something wrong? Like I ran out in the woods, in the middle of the night, begging some werewolf to bite me?" As he spoke, he had veered away from the Hunter to take his frustrations out on the large oak tree. His fist pounded the bark, splinters of wood falling soundlessly to the ground. "I am not Jackson!" he yelled at the tree, practically begging his words to do as much damage as his fists. His forehead came to rest on the rough bark with a thud, while he could feel his bloodied knuckles begin to heal.

No, Scott is not like Jackson, Argent mused, watching Scott take his frustrations out on the innocent pine tree. He'd seen it before, the anger and rage. It only led to worse things. Carefully, he posed his next question. "What if that tree had been Allison?"

Turning his head, Scott glared at the man. "It wouldn't be. She doesn't say things to try and piss me off," he accused, nostrils flared in anger.

"How can you be sure, Scott?" he challenged, the clever smile now gone from his expression.

Scott was silent, unsure whether to stay or go. He shifted his focus away from the Hunter and onto the forest floor, studying the intricacies of a half chewed acorn instead. He balled his fists up, feeling the claws grow just enough to pierce the skin. He wanted pain, just enough to keep him level headed for the moment. Letting Argent see him so out of control was not smart right now, he knew this much. There had to be a way to make him understand, he thought. Argent was still talking, something about making a deal with him. Scott was grasping at straws, trying to come up with a rational solution that would allow him to keep seeing Allison when the next words out of Argent's mouth made him halt.

"There are others coming, Scott."

He questioned Argent's statement with a confused brow. Scott remembered the earlier conversation he overhead at the Argents' house.

Argent bore his gaze into Scott's. "There are many more Hunters out there, more than just me and mine. But, due to my sister's..." Argent paused to consider the correct word to use, "transgressions here, the werewolf situation in this town has been deemed precarious. Others will be coming and I can't guarantee that they'll be willing to offer you what I am." He watched as Scott began to process that, panic growing on his face, a million thoughts racing across his eyes. He wondered if it had ever occurred to Scott that there were more Hunters than the handful he'd come into contact with in the past few months. By his reaction, apparently it hadn't. He continued, taking a cautious step towards the young man.

"Scott, let me explain what I mean."

Scott turned away from the man, his face hidden in dark shadows from the trees. Argent was sure he was still listening.

"You are very much caught in the middle of this. You hate your alpha, you have no pack to speak of, and you have no protection. As long as you continue to date Allison, she will be caught in the middle as well. That's the last place I ever wanted to see her. I would think you would, too." Argent remembered the last time he had tried reasoning with a werewolf. It was long ago and it had ended by putting a bullet in his, no, its brain, he corrected himself. There's a line that any victim of the bite crosses over before its humanity is gone. It was curious to Argent, suddenly, how Scott made it through not one, but two full moons without causing a fatality. Even he had to admit how rare that was, given his long line of experience. It was strange to say the least, the strangest thing Argent had come upon.

He couldn't help the words that came out next. "You are such an anomaly, Scott." He chuckled quietly at the defensive way Scott whipped his head around to face the Hunter. Composing himself, Argent took another step closer. "There's only so much I can do. But if you can stay away from Allison, we can stay away from you. Isn't that what you want? Safety? For you, your friends, your mother?" Now only feet away from Scott, Argent wanted to see his face, needed to see that Scott understood the deal he was offering.

It was apparent Scott understood it very well; however, it did not mean he liked it. His head tipped toward the ground and away from Argent when his response came.

"You can't keep her from me."

It should have been a threat, said with a snarl rippling across his lips, fangs bared. That's what Argent was used to seeing, and had seen so many times before. Instead, it had come out as a pathetic plea, stricken with pain. Scott tried to explain. "She's the only thing that works."

"Works?" the Hunter asked. He narrowed his eyes, trying to process the idea of how else his daughter fit into Scott's life now. "What does Allison do?"

Scott's shoulders slumped and he turned his body back around. "She gets rid of it, somehow. When I shift, when I can't think straight anymore, she brings me back. Just hearing her voice, thinking of her...hell, even smelling her. It..." Scott trailed off for a moment, a wistful look seemingly coming over his face. "Its like, she's like a...a..." he paused, unable to find the right word. His eyes searched the air in front of him, as if the word he wanted would spell itself out with debris from the forest floor.

Argent drew his lips into a thin line. His daughter seemed to be far more entrenched in Scott's life than he thought. "Like an anchor?" he prompted. He knew what that felt like, having an anchor to keep him tethered to the real world. Reluctantly, Argent had to confirm his suspicions about the young relationship, but his patience was beginning to wear thin.

"Yes! Like an anchor." Scott nodded, relieved he was able to finally articulate why Allison was so important to him. The relief was short lived as he remembered who had helped him come up with it. Scott continued anyway. "If I can't see her? Even talk to her? I - I really don't know what I'm gonna do. Stiles can only do so much."

Argent thought back to the night of the formal, when he confronted Stiles in the hospital, looking for Scott. He remembered trying to decide if the kid had guts or was just plain stupid, voluntarily hanging around werewolves and getting mixed up in their problems. By the end of the night, guts had won out. Argent had been left both impressed and worried. Worried because he knew how this might end for Stiles - bad.

Argent tried changing the subject. "Stiles is a smart kid," he said. "He's helped you a lot, hasn't he?"

Scott gave a slight nod. "He told me about your friend, you know."

Argent felt a tight lipped smile run across his face. A smart kid with a big mouth, apparently. Scott was watching him again, that predictable prickle at the base of Argent's neck reminded him. He was about to change the subject back to his proposal when he heard:

"Why did you have to kill him if he was your friend?"

Argent sighed and could only give Scott a reproachful look, somewhat aggravated that he needed to explain the reason. "He was bitten, Scott. That's why."

"But," Scott pressed, "was he trying to kill someone?"

"Yes, me," Argent replied, growing more annoyed with every question Scott threw out at him. Even though the memory lay buried, far away from other, happier times, he could still smell the acrid flavor of his friend's blood on his hands. The weight of the gun that delivered that particular bullet hung on his arm, familiar, like a phantom pain of a removed limb. He never once used that weapon ever again. He never spoke of his friend again once the funeral had passed. Argent had to smirk now at the irony of divulging these things to another werewolf. "Killing him was the only thing left that I could do for my friend."

Scott only stared at the Hunter in the wake of his admission; the moral weight of the deed he had done hit home. He warily considered what Argent had just told him, trying to connect the pieces of how that story related to his own. "So, was he getting revenge for something? Or craz-?"

"What part of this don't you understand, Scott?" the Hunter barked, blue eyes blazing with anger. "There is no rhyme or reason to it, they just kill!" The second the words left his mouth, he cursed inwardly for losing control like that, in front of one of them.

"Well, I don't!" Scott insisted. While angry at the Hunter's insinuation, Scott wasn't about to let these judgments pass on him without some type of defense.

Argent pulled himself back and closed his eyes for a moment to refocus. Very quietly, he replied. "But you could." He leveled his gaze at Scott, took in a deep breath and let it out slow but steady. "I'm sorry. It's inevitable, Scott. Those who are bitten can't fight it forever."

"But fight what?" Scott yelled, exasperated, his arms spread wide in front of him. He began to pace back and forth in front of Argent, as if being in constant motion could possibly calm him down. "No one can give me a straight answer on exactly what the hell is coming next! What should I be waiting to have happen to me?" He then jabbed a finger at his own chest, puffed up with an increment of pride. "I've felt it inside me and I was able to hold it back. And it was because of Allison! You take her away, it's like you're setting me up to be murdered!"

Argent began to shake his head, disagreeing immediately. "We don't murder, we-"

"Its murder," Scott persisted. "I'm still me, and you know that I don't want to hurt anyone! I haven't hurt anyone!" he reiterated forcefully.

"But you could, that's the point I'm trying to make."

"But I can protect her!" Scott still wouldn't let himself believe what Argent knew was as certain as the stars in the sky.

"Really? From yourself?"

Scott didn't respond. He only stood there; mouth half open, whatever retort he had was dying on his lips. He ran a hand through his dark hair, clutching the roots in frustration. Finally, a shuddering breath left him and he swore quietly to himself, turning back to the pine tree. Instead of attacking it like before, he simply leaned against it, turning his back to the Hunter, grateful for its support.

Argent felt something like success bubbling up in his chest. He knew with those words, he had all but sealed the deal. It was time to drive it home.

"This is the last and only time I'm going to offer this to you. Let her go, Scott. If you love her at all, you'll let her go."

He stood there, watching the young werewolf for a response. A few moments passed by and Argent grew impatient with Scott's inaction. He took in a sharp breath, ready to demand an answer if he had to, when surprisingly, he got what he wanted.

"Fine." The one word answer was delivered stiffly.

Argent wanted to ignore the way Scott's voice cracked. From his vantage point, Argent could just barely make him out in the dark, but he could see the back of Scott's hand quickly brought up to his face. Winning shouldn't feel this guilty, he thought to himself.

"We have an understanding then?"

Scott's head nodded up and down. "Yeah."

Argent nodded. "I'll do my best to keep them away from you. Don't do anything that might make that difficult for me."

Scott's head turned to the side, profiling his face. "Then I guess I'll do my best to stay away from Allison." He steeled himself before facing the Hunter one last time, his spine lengthening as he turned, no longer slouching in defeat. A hand, now tipped with claws, scratched at the bark of the tree that seemed to keep him tied to the spot he was in. Scott's face though, and the emotions splayed on it, were very human, disturbingly so to Argent. To say the boy looked tortured was an understatement.

Scott forced his eyes to look straight at Argent before he spoke. "You know, someday, you're gonna have to let Allison go, too."

He left before the Hunter could say anything in reply.

Argent deftly approached the tree where Scott had just been, carefully alert for any signs that the werewolf was still nearby. Looking around, it was clear that he wasn't. He knew it was time to leave these woods tonight; there wasn't anything left out there to hunt. But he didn't. Instead, his hand was brought up to trace the marks left carved in the bark of the tree. Small spots of blood dotted the wood in front of him, hard as it was to see in the dimness of the woods, Argent knew they were there.

He absently picked at the tree, flecks of bark breaking off at his touch. He was going to great lengths to protect a werewolf and he wasn't sure why. If you asked him twenty years ago, he would have steadfastly argued that a deep grave was far better than a lifetime in cruel captivity for a human mind riddled with bloodthirsty animal instincts; or living with the guilt of the unwitting act of murder.

That fact alone confused the hell out of him. He, Chris Argent, was allowing a known werewolf in his area to roam free, based on nothing more than a promise. It went against his better judgment, but Argent couldn't see a more successful outcome at this point. He did not want to imagine a scenario where he'd have to put a bullet in the boy's brain.

Argent knew he shouldn't do it, not to him.

Because it would devastate her.

He left the woods, his pace strong and steady. Not even the mournful howl echoing far behind him made his steps falter.