Allison Argent is twenty-one years old and as harmless as a hunting knife. Her hair is braided close to her head; her face is angular and pale. When she's out in the town, smiling forcedly at the cashier in the grocery store, she wears shirts with collars, sleeves to her elbows.
In her hunting clothes you can see the scar that starts at her left shoulder and disappears under her tank top, four parallel lines, not yet faded to silver. The scar catches and furrows the rise of her breast under her shirt; Derek has never seen the end, which must be near her hip, crossing the dangerous territory of her stomach. She was lucky that she didn't die. That time, and many other times.
Derek thinks that he could smell those marks, under her clothes, even when she covers them. He can always smell the marks of what Peter did.
"I deserved it," she says, not looking at him, knowing where his eyes are resting. She's washing her face at the sink; it's the first time he's been in her room, in the extended-stay suite she's currently camped out in. "I deserved worse for what happened to Lydia." When she turns, drying her face, he's impassive in the chair. "What do you want, Derek?"
It takes a moment for him to answer her, remembering, and then he looks at her and says "Information,"
"I don't know where Scott is," she says, drying her hands and hanging the rough motel towel back on the towel bar.
He huffs out what would have been a laugh from someone else. "I do," he says, "That's not what I'm asking."
If he weren't watching, if he weren't a wolf, he wouldn't have seen the way her eyes flicked to him, the way the muscles in her jaw tensed. She wants to ask where Scott is; she wants to ask if he's healthy, safe, alive.
The Argent in her wants to ask how many people are in Scott's pack now, what they're armed with, where their headquarters are, how well it's fortified. She can't ask, so she doesn't ask. Derek hasn't gotten good with people, per se, in the last four years. But werewolves, and people who hunt werewolves, those he understands.
There's a minifridge in this room, at least: it stinks of old takeout and sour beer, but she probably can't smell that. She walks to it, takes a beer out, pops the top on the edge of the battered formica dresser. She raises an eyebrow, gestures; he shakes his head at the offer.
"What, then?" she says, folding her arms, and leaning against the dresser. She's been reminding him of Kate, more and more, for years, and the way she's standing now is all Kate Argent. It's posturing. He knows it. He can read the flicker of her eyes, hear the rise and fall of her heartbeat. Kate was able to lie to werewolves because deep down she just didn't give a shit about any of it.
Allison cares, and that's the weak edge, that's the reason Derek comes to her instead of finding a random hunter to beat the information out of.
"Deaths and disappearances in the forest," he says. "I need to know what you know."
She looks at him, fingers wrapped around the beer bottle in her hand, a fingernail toying with the edge of the label. That's what he means by weak; her body is stronger than Kate's ever was, her tactics are broader-ranging and sometimes more flatly utilitarian than Victoria's, but she's not good at ruthlessness yet.
He hopes for the sake of his pack and Scott's that it'll still be a while before she catches up, there.
She looks at him, and he knows she knows she's given something away. "Who're you with, Derek?" she says, in a tone that lets on that she knows that it's a pointless question. "How many of you?"
He smiles, wolfishly; his teeth have points, even as human as he is at this moment. "You know I'm not going to tell you that," he says.
She walks over to the little table, pulls her computer out of a drawer. Her hair is coming undone, and it falls over her shoulder when she looks at him. "You know I could make you tell me," she says.
He lifts a shoulder, easy. "You could try," he says. God knows she's probably got needles dipped in mountain ash under her wristband, some sort of horrible electric garotte looped up in her pants pocket, a panic button that'll set off an aconite grenade somewhere in this room. He's wise to the general types of tricks, but not to the specifics of Allison's. She hasn't been around. She's never gone after him, and he won't go after her. Not without good reason.
It would have to be a particularly good reason, with Allison, which is about as much grace as he's willing to give anyone at this point.
"Here," she says, typing in a password. She looks at him, and he comes over and sits on the edge of the bed by the table. It's GIS data, a map, some grisly images from the county morgue. She doesn't flinch when he reaches past her to tap the screen, though he sees her shift her weight right, instinctively. Whatever she'd reach for first, then, it's on her left side, in her pocket. He notes it, gestures towards one of the schematics.
"Not a kanima, then," he says, looking at the marks.
"Not in the first stage," she says. "I don't know about the second." She looks up at him. "Not a wolf, either."
He shakes his head.
"No kind of wolf?"
He tenses his hand; the claws come out. He has full alpha claws now, he has for years; they're two-inch-long daggers. Like the claws that did that to Allison's shoulder.
She's pushed the chair back, has a gun in her hand.
He raises an eyebrow and gestures with his unchanged hand. "This is as big as werewolf claws get," he says.
She tilts her head but doesn't lower the gun. He points at the screen. "Some of those punctures go the whole way through," he says. "I couldn't do that, I don't know a wolf who can." He shakes his hand, balls his fist; when he opens his fingers again it's a human hand, callused from manual work, pale, because frankly he doesn't get outside much while he's shaped like this.
She doesn't sit back down, but she lowers the gun.
"Allison," he says, looking up at her, "If we wanted do the who-leaves-this-room-alive thing, we would." He stands, picks up his jacket from where he dropped it on the bed. "Is there anything you want me to say to Scott?" he says.
She raises her eyes to his; orange light from the parking lot cuts through the gap in the curtains, lights a line across her face. He wonders what else has happened to her in the last three years, since she left Beacon Hills.
"If you tell him to sit this one out," she says, "It won't help."
"No," he says, looking at her. "It won't."
"Okay, then," she says, looking back. "You know where to find me."
He nods. He leaves. From outside he hears her sit back down and start typing. He wonders who she reports to now, and what she'll tell them.