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It starts with his name.

“Christopher.”

Nobody else has ever said his name like that, letting it roll across their tongue like they’re tasting it, savoring each syllable as though it’s some sort of fine wine. Letting the notes linger in the air afterward, each one falling as softly as rain.

Nobody has ever said his name like it’s a prayer, or an incantation, like the word itself is imbued with some kind of magic and has to be spoken with infinite precision.

Nobody.

Chris stands with his shoulders back, his breath held in as though it’s the only thing keeping him upright. It might be. He thinks that if he lets it go he’ll deflate with it, his bones and muscles crumbling into dust. He feels thin enough, brittle enough. He feels like a dry husk, like a single whisper could shatter him.

He stares out the window, or thinks he does, but at some point he pulls his gaze back and he’s watching the reflection of the man behind him instead. Just a vague shape at first, and then he comes closer. Chris expects to see a narrow gaze, sharp as cut glass, and a smirk on the curve of a familiar mouth that’s somehow sharper still. He’s expecting to hear a laugh.

He doesn’t expect the weight of a hand against his shoulder. He doesn’t expect that touch to be gentle.

“Christopher.”

He’s expecting to feel claws against his throat, to feel a sudden burst of bright, blinding pain, and to gasp out his final seconds drenched in his own blood.

He’s too tired to fight it.

He’s expecting to die, because hasn’t it always been leading to this? Since the first moment they met? Chris doesn’t believe in fate, exactly—he’s too much of a pragmatist for that—but he believes in symmetry.

Chris wants to shake him off. There’s a part of him still clinging to all his old prejudices that thinks Peter is only here to gloat. To draw him in with the warmth of his voice, and of his touch, and the press of his mouth against his throat. To weaken him before attacking.

There’s another part of him, a part that Chris can’t silence, that reminds him Peter has lost just as much as he has. Just as many voices that once brought him joy, silenced forever.

Forever.

His breath hitches as hears Allison’s laugh in his memory. Hears it there where it only brings him pain, when he’ll never hear it aloud again.

He holds the wolf’s reflected gaze in the dark window.

He’s not expecting Peter to lean forward and press his mouth against his skin at the juncture of his throat and shoulder.

Christopher, Christopher, Christopher, murmured like a prayer.

Like it’s an anchor.

A cornerstone.

Like it’s something some fool would put his faith in.

Some fool who doesn’t know better.

 

***

 

When he was twelve years old, Chris’s father took him on his first hunt.

Everything changed that night.

Chris had thought he’d feel grown up afterward, stronger, braver. He didn’t.

It was the most terrified he’d ever been in his life.

It took weeks for the nightmares to stop.

 

***

 

He’d always been aware of the Hale family, even before he’d known what they were. His father had never liked them. When Chris found out that they were wolves, his father’s enmity made sense. Gerard never trusted that the Hales were harmless. How could they be? They were monsters.

 

***

 

“Let me go! Let me go!”

Let him go? Chris is currently being half-crushed to death by the kid who came charging out of the trees, smacked right into him, and sent them both crashing to the ground.

“Hey,” he says, trying to grab the kid’s flailing arms before he does them both an injury. “Hey!”

The kid stills suddenly, and curls his lip and growls.

Chris’s heart freezes.

Wolf. Not a kid, a wolf.

Hunter,” the kid hisses, and his eyes flash yellow in the darkness. The kid draws his hand back, his claws extended.

Shit.

“Don’t you fucking dare.” Somehow Chris manages to get the barrel of his handgun pressed against the kid’s chest.

The kid is breathing heavily, that skinny chest expanding and touching the end of the barrel every time. His hand, still held back ready to strike, is shaking.

Chris doesn’t know what to do.

He’s so little. Weighs next to nothing, now he’s shifted back off Chris’s ribs. What is he? Nine? Ten? No older. Chris can’t shoot a kid, but he doesn’t know what to do.

In the distance, he can hear the other hunters calling for him. Chris can’t answer them. He can’t even break the kid’s gaze. They’re both wide-eyed, both terrified the other one will make the first move. Both certain they’re already dead.

Chris doesn’t want to die, but he doesn’t want to shoot a kid.

The kid’s heaving chest kisses the barrel of Chris’s gun again and again.

Somewhere close by a branch snaps, and Chris and the kid both turn their heads toward the sound.

The wolf is huge. It’s totally black, as far as Chris can tell. Its eyes glow alpha red. It steps toward them, and as it moves it shifts. Chris has never seen a more seamless transition from wolf to human. The woman the shift reveals is naked and unashamed. She stands in the clearing bathed in bright moonlight.

Caroline Hale.

She fixes her gaze on Chris. “Put your gun down.”

Chris doesn’t move.

“He won’t attack you,” Caroline says, and Chris almost believes her. “Put your gun down.”

The kid’s hand, claws still extended, is still shaking.

“Mom,” he says in a trembling voice.

“It’s okay, Peter. The hunter is going to put his gun down, and you’re going to put your claws away, and everybody is going to walk away.”

The alpha’s tone is so calm, so quietly certain, that Chris actually starts to think that it can happen the way she describes, that a hunter and a wolf can meet without bloodshed, without death.

It’s a dangerous idea that threatens to subvert everything Chris has been taught to believe.

The kid—Peter—is shivering with fear now, and the barrel of Chris’s gun rises and falls with each shallow, panicked breath he takes.

“Put your gun down,” Caroline Hale says. “Please.”

Chris can hear Gerard calling for him. Closer now.

Please.”

This might be the biggest mistake of his short life.

Chris holds the kid’s terrified gaze as he very slowly lifts his hand away. He moves the gun to his side, and holsters it against his thigh. His hand drops, empty, to the carpet of pine needles on the forest floor.

The kid scrambles off him, a knee digging into his stomach and driving all the breath out of him. Fear twists his guts; if the kid wanted to attack, he’s moving so quickly that Chris would be dead before he even knew it, choking out his blood in the dark Preserve with one swipe of those claws across his throat. But the kid’s gone, flinging himself sobbing into his mother’s arms.

Chris’s heart thumps.

Oh Jesus.

Is this what a truce feels like? Or was it all lies, and now the alpha will tear him apart?

Caroline folds her arms around her son, and steps backward, shepherding the boy toward the cover of the trees.

Chris watches her, his stomach clenching, his hand twitching near his holster.

She’s looking at him like he’s the dangerous one, like he’s the predator.

It should make him feel strong, but instead something twists inside him, twists and breaks and floods him with sour shame.

He didn’t stare down a wolf.

He scared a little kid.

It takes a long time before Chris can forget that sick feeling.

But he does his best.

Forgetting is necessary.

 

***

 

Peter Hale grows up to be the most dangerous of all the Hales. Chris can see the wolf in him at all times. He carries it close to the surface of his skin, as though the animal is always poised ready to attack. Chris can see it in the cruel curve of his smile, in the way his body moves, and always, always in his eyes.

 

***

 

Chris has always believed in the Code. It’s his cornerstone. It’s his only faith in a world that’s sometimes too chaotic to understand. Later, he wonders if his rigid adherence to the Code is less because he’s a moral man, and more because a part of him knows, and has always known, that Gerard is a zealot, and so is Kate. They take enjoyment in hunting, something Chris has never done, or at least not in the same visceral way. He kills because it’s necessary, and takes pride in doing it right, in making every kill a clean one. He doesn't do it because he likes to inflict pain. Strange that it takes him so long to see the truth about his father and his sister.

But there are none so blind as those who will not see.

The Argent name is an old one, and a proud one, but it comes with a legacy of horror and of heartbreak.

It costs Chris everything.

His sister, his father, his wife.

It costs him the one thing in the world he would have thrown everything away to protect.

It costs him Allison.

He’s done.

In that moment he tells himself he’s done. He’s done with hunting, he’s done with this ancient fucking battle he never asked to be born into, and what better way to demonstrate that than by making Isaac his responsibility?

A wolf.

A kid.

Same thing.

Chris sees a loss that echoes his own. Sees a reason to give himself permission not to quit breathing. Not yet, and maybe not any time soon. He needs Isaac as much as Isaac needs him.

They leave town together.

 

***

 

It’s months before Chris is back in Beacon Hills again. Which isn’t bad for a man who swore he’d never step foot near the place again. It’s hard seeing the places that are familiar to him, that were familiar to Allison. Maybe there will always be a part of him that feels surprise when he remembers why she’s not in the places he expects to see her. It’s a little like torture, but Chris is used to pain. A part of him welcomes it. He’s afraid that the day it stops hurting is the day he loses her for good.

Chris is unpacking his bag in his new apartment when he senses it. A footstep, maybe, or maybe the quiet click of the door. Maybe something as slight as a shift in the air.

Instinct and muscle memory, and the sudden rush of adrenaline.

He turns, arm extended.

Peter inhales, and his chest kisses the barrel of Chris’s gun. His mouth curls in a slight smile. “Christopher.”

Chris feels the corner of his mouth tugging up a fraction in response. “What do you want, Peter?”

Peter tilts his head and narrows his eyes, looking curious. Chris doesn’t lower his weapon. Curiosity, in a killer like Peter, can so quickly become predatory. “Aren’t you pleased to see me?”

“I can’t think of a time in my life that’s ever been the case,” Chris tells him.

There’s a flash of amusement in Peter’s eyes that might the closest thing Chris has ever seen approaching sincerity from the wolf. “Not ever?”

“Not ever.”

“I’m wounded, Christopher,” Peter says.

Chris tests the resistance of the trigger under his finger. “Not yet, but you could be.”

He’s missed this.

The sudden realization is shocking, but this is who Chris is. A hunter. He feels alive, sharp, when he’s facing a predator. Grief has dulled his edges recently, slowed his reflexes and smothered his instincts, but this is who he is, this is what he needs. This is all he knows, and it’s time he accepted that without feeling sorry for himself.

He’s a hunter.

He’s an Argent.

He was born for this, and he’ll die for it.

Peter raises a hand and runs his fingers along the barrel of the gun. He pushes it down so that it’s pressing against his abdomen instead of his chest. It drags against the fabric of his shirt, whisper quiet.

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay away from this town,” Peter says, his voice low. “Knew you wouldn’t be able to escape it.”

“Maybe I’m back to finally put you in the ground where you belong,” Chris says.

Peter tilts his head, and smiles his infuriating smile. “I tried the ground. Didn’t like it.”

Chris narrows his eyes. “What do you want, Peter?”

Peter smirks. “Really, Christopher? Like you don’t know exactly where this is going.”

Fuck it.

Chris jams the barrel of the gun hard into Peter’s stomach, and relishes the look of surprise that flashes across Peter’s face a second before he pushes him against the wall and crushes his mouth against his.

 

***

 

Chris is twenty-five, and his wife Victoria is beautiful.

“Is that one of them?” she asks him, leaning close, her eyes narrowing.

They’re at the school, sitting in the bleachers. The tri-county swim meet has been going on for hours. Kate’s race is next. She’s already lining up, the same look of determination on her little face that Chris knows means she’ll win, or die trying.

The Beacon Hills High boys have finished their relay.

Peter Hale levers himself out of the water with an easy grace.

He’s all slim lines and long limbs, his body shining with water. He’s laughing as his teammates crowd around him to celebrate their victory. He’s arrogant and proud. The light makes his wet skin gleam. Chris suddenly remembers the weight of the frightened little boy on his chest, and imagines it now. Older, heavier, stronger, his naked skin cool and slick. Chris imagines pinning that body underneath him, and making him hurt. Making him howl like the animal he is.

“Yes,” Chris says, the word catching in his throat as he pulls his gaze away from the boy. “That’s one of them.”

 

***

 

Chris has never kissed like this before. There’s nothing gentle about it. Nothing loving. This kiss is about anger and pain and fuck you and fuck everything. This kiss is about wiping the goddamn smirk off Peter Hale’s face once and for all.

Peter growls and grabs Chris’s head. Chris expects to feel claws slicing him open, but it’s fingers instead, tugging his hair roughly and urging him closer. Their lips clash, their teeth do, and Chris feels a sharp, sudden burst of pain as a fang cuts his lip. His blood tastes metallic, and Peter pulls his head back for a moment and licks at the tiny wound. Then he’s pushing back into the kiss again, mouth open, their tongues moving against one another. Hot breath and the scratch of stubble.

A man could drown in a kiss like this.

 

***

 

Chris is twenty-eight and Peter Hale is nineteen.

It’s the night of the full moon, and Chris has tucked Allison into bed and gone hunting. He’s alone. He prefers to hunt alone, and Gerard lets him, for now. Gerard is busy training Kate up, training a recklessness into her that Chris worries about in silence, because she’s his baby sister and he doesn’t want her to take risks. She’s his baby sister and he doesn’t recognize the gleam in her eye when she talks about killing. So he hunts alone.

Beacon Hills is quiet. Talia Hale is the alpha now—Caroline’s death at the hands of a rogue was unexpected. Unexpected that he got the drop on her. Chris suspects wolfsbane poisoning was involved, but there’s no way of knowing. Whatever happened, the Hales keep it to themselves. Talia is the image of her mother. She’s strong, and graceful, and stable. It’s not secret in the hunting community that things would have been different if it had been Peter who’d killed the rogue omega and won back the alpha power the omega had briefly stolen from Caroline. Peter is not stable. How much of that is his wolf blood and how much of that is typical teenage rebellion, combined with losing his mother, Chris doesn’t know. It’s not his job to worry about the mindset of the Hales. Just his job to kill them if they break the Code.

Peter rides a motorcycle. Of course he does.

Chris sees it parked in the lot of a dive bar out on the back roads behind the Preserve, so he stops. Pulls into the lot and sits in his car for a moment, the engine idling before he cuts the ignition.

Later, he wants to pretend it took him a while to go inside, but that’s a lie. He’s drawn straight to the door, straight past the juiced-up bouncer, straight into the darkness and the stench of beer and the discordant twang of whatever shit Country music is blaring from the jukebox. Straight to Peter Hale, like he’s being pulled into his orbit. Like Peter is the sun and Chris has been spinning for too long in the darkness.

Peter Hale is bright eyes, a smirk, and tight jeans. He’s leaning against the bar like some spoiled child king with a fawning audience. He’s beautiful, despite the wolf lurking just under his skin. Maybe because of it. Chris can’t tell anymore. He only knows that Peter is a predator in a pretty boy’s body. His full, pouting mouth hides fangs, and Chris is probably the only other person in the place who knows it.

Peter’s gaze finds him immediately, and his expression shifts into something that Chris can’t read.

Chris leans on the other end of the bar and signals the bartender for a beer.

When he feels Peter’s body slide in behind him, then into the space that opens up beside him, he’s not surprised. He has no idea what the fuck he’s doing, but somehow he’s not surprised.

“Are you going to buy me a drink, Christopher?” Peter asks him in a low, amused voice.

Arrogant little fucker.

Chris signals for a second beer.

Peter takes the bottle when it arrives, and holds it up in a brief mock toast. Then he darts his tongue out to lick up a bead of moisture that’s slipping down the neck.

His gaze holds Chris’s.

That’s when Chris knows for sure exactly what’s going to happen next.

 

***

 

Chris slams his back against a slab of rough brick wall between the back door of the bar and the dumpsters. He’s still holding his half empty bottle of beer, but it’s dangling from his loose grip like he’s going to drop it any second now.

Peter glances up at him, eyes flashing gold for an instant before he looks back down to where he’s working the button of Chris’s fly open.

“Got something for me in here, Christopher?”

Chris curls the fingers of his free hand into Peter’s hair. “Shut your fucking mouth and do it, Hale.”

“Mmm.” Peter tugs his fly down. “Does your wife suck your dick like this?”

Chris twists his fist in Peter’s hair. “Shut up.”

Peter grins, and slips his tongue across his bottom lip. “Yes, sir.”

Chris fights to keep his eyes from squeezing shut as Peter leans in and licks the head of his dick with his tongue.

Because Peter is a wolf. Peter has fangs. And Chris is the dumbest fuck in the world for letting something with fangs this close to his dick, but he can’t... he can’t stop now. He needs to watch as Peter’s lips close over the head of his dick and he starts to swallow Chris down. Needs to watch, needs to make sure Peter doesn’t start to shift. Needs to grip his beer bottle tighter, slam him across the head with it if he wolfs out, for what good it’ll do. Needs to... mostly he needs to watch that smart mouth working over his dick because it’s the most incredible thing he’s ever seen in his life.

Peter’s lips closed tight around his shaft, his tongue playing under the head.

Peter’s eyes half-closed.

Peter’s hand shoved down the front of his jeans as he kneels in front of Chris.

Peter’s moans are like music Chris has never heard before.

Dangerous.

So dangerous.

And so fucking hot.

Chris tightens his grip in Peter’s hair, and Peter groans in approval and redoubles his efforts.

He doesn’t do this with Victoria. She’s sucked him off a few times in their bed, but Chris could never even imagine putting her on her knees and twisting his fingers roughly in her hair. Could never imagine using her like this. He respects her too much to ever use the words he finds himself growling now: “Take it. Take it, bitch. Choke yourself on my cock.”

Chris drops the beer bottle, and it shatters into pieces onto the cracked pavement.

Peter’s hand moves faster and faster as he jerks himself off.

He gags when Chris pushes deeper in, and tears slide down his face.

Chris comes the second he sees them gleaming like silver under the light of the full moon.

 

***

 

It’s a thing that happened.

It’s a thing that happens.

Full moon nights mostly. Sometimes Chris will hunt the wolf down, and sometimes Peter will appear out of nowhere when Chris is on patrol alone. The first time Chris fucks him is in a filthy room in a rundown motel a few miles out of town.

Peter growls and shows his teeth. He shreds the stained pillow with his claws as Chris pounds into him from behind.

Afterward he sits in the open doorway of the hotel room, looking out into the parking lot, smoking a cigarette while Chris gets dressed.

They meet at the same motel the next month, and the next. 

Chris never asks what they’re doing. To ask the question would destroy what they have. Not trust, exactly, but the sort of balance that comes with the promise of mutually assured destruction. Gerard would kill him for fraternising with a Hale, with a wolf, and Chris can’t imagine that Talia would approve of Peter’s actions either.

They don’t discuss it.

They fuck and they leave.

Sometimes Chris thinks of Peter. Thinks of what Peter means to him. In every other aspect of his life Chris is quiet and contained. He is a husband and a father and a son. Those are the roles he was born to play, and he’s been trained into them since he was child. He is a hunter. He is bound by tradition, and bound by the Code. Chris’s life is one of rules and order.

Peter is everything his life is not.

Peter Hale is violence and hatred and contempt. He growls and snarls and turns Chris’s skin electric with the promise of a fight. He is sarcasm and snark and a hundred shades of disrespect, every edge of him sharp and unpredictable.

He makes Chris feel like an animal too.

He makes Chris feel alive.

 

***

 

It goes on longer than it should, probably.

Whenever Peter is back in town from college, he’s there.

His smirk and his knowing, narrow gaze.

His swagger.

Every part of him that Chris can hate, can hurt.

Peter laughs whenever Chris growls.

 

***

 

Chris is thirty-eight and Peter is twenty-nine.

Peter is lying in a hospital bed, destroyed by fire.

If Chris hadn’t known every inch of his body, every angle of his face, he wouldn’t recognise him now.

Chris shouldn’t even be in here.

The beep-beep-beep of the heart monitor makes him want to scream.

He doesn't know if Peter is going to heal or not. He tells himself he doesn’t care. Whatever he and Peter were, it’s done. The Hales are dead.

Chris is angry though. So angry.

Whatever Peter was, he was something, and nobody deserves to end up like this. Not even a monster. Whatever Peter was, he’s nothing now, and maybe a part of Chris mourns that a little. Mourns the... the fire that was in him?

Bad choice of words, but what’s one more bad choice when he’s been making them for years now?

He’s angry that Gerard and Kate are celebrating this. For all that they were monsters, Chris never found any evidence that the Hales had harmed innocents. Not even Peter, and Peter was always the most dangerous of them. He’s angry that Kate laughed when he asked who could have done this, and told him not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

He’s angry that he’ll never see Peter’s arrogant, self-satisfied smirk again, and feel it fire up his blood like nothing else ever could.

 

***

 

Strange, that he could spend his life learning about monsters and never know that he was living with them himself.

Katie...

His father.

They cost him everything, because they broke the Code and Peter comes back more monstrous than he ever was, and everything spirals out of control. Kids get bitten, they die, Victoria dies, Allison dies, and as much as Chris wants to hate Peter for it, to blame him, how can he?

In Peter’s shoes, Chris would want revenge as well.

 

***

 

“Christopher,” Peter says in a low voice, pulling back to hold Chris’s face between his hands. His blue eyes are wide, pupils blown. “Christopher, please fuck me.”

Please.

Chris has never heard that word out of Peter’s mouth before. He lets his handgun drop to the floor, and then Peter has one hand hooked through the belt loop of his jeans and he’s pulling him toward Chris’s bedroom.

It’s been a lifetime since their first time, but this feels like something new. Peter isn’t smirking, isn’t swaggering. They’re not the hunter and wolf in this moment. They’re two men carrying more heartbreak than they should. Two men carved out and torn apart by loss and bitter experience. They’re lonely, Chris thinks. They’re lonely.

Not once has Peter ever shown Chris his soft underbelly. Not until now, in this moment, in the quiet of Chris’s bedroom. No smile, no smirk. Just a steady gaze and shadows under his eyes.

Chris sits on the end of the bed and draws Peter closer. Reaches up and tugs at the button on the fly of his jeans.

Peter draws his shirt off, and shows Chris the planes of the body he once used to punish. Used him roughly, to try and wipe that grin off his face. Never could, though not through lack of trying.

There’s no fire left in either of them now, probably.

Chris lifts his hand and lays his palm against Peter’s chest, feeling his heartbeat thrum under his skin. Peter closes his eyes briefly, and sighs.

Lonely.

A lifetime ago, Chris was rough with Peter and Peter loved it.

A lifetime ago, Chris was filthy-mouthed.

Take it. Bitch. Dog. Slut. Take it.

But tonight Peter says his name like a prayer, and Chris can only echo back, “Peter. Peter.”

He lays Peter naked on his bed. Opens him gradually with lube-slicked fingers. Kisses him. The heat between them builds slowly, as though this is a new, uncertain thing. When Chris finally enters him, Peter shivers and arches his back. He tips his chin back, and Chris leans in and presses his mouth against the wolf’s jugular. Peters shivers again, his breath catching in a gasp.

Chris rocks into him, and Peter tilts his hips to meet each thrust.

Peter closes his eyes tightly when he comes, shuddering, tears squeezing out of the corners.

Chris brushes them away with his thumb, and kisses him until they stop.

 

***

 

Peter sits on the balcony with a cigarette, and Chris leans in the doorway and watches him, and thinks of that teenage boy from years ago, in a dirty motel room on the other side of town.

“You still smoke?” he asks in a quiet voice.

Peter glances at him, and then back at the view. “It’s not like it can kill me, is it? And I’ve always been of the opinion a man should cultivate a few vices.”

“Just a few, huh?”

Peter’s mouth quirks in a slight smile. “Just a few.” He tosses the pack toward Chris.

Chris catches it against his chest. “No, thanks. They can kill me.”

“That’s been my plan all along,” Peter says. “Get you hooked on cigarettes so you die slowly of lung cancer. It’s the perfect crime.”

“Diabolical,” Chris agrees, and sits down on the chair beside his. He is silent for a long while before he speaks again. “I think we should talk.”

“About what?” Peter asks.

“About this,” Chris says. “About us.”

“Twenty years later and you want to talk about it now?” Peter huffs out a small laugh. “Slow down there, Romeo.”

“Tonight was new,” Chris says.

Peter’s smile fades, and he glances at Chris for a moment before looking away again. “Was it?”

“You know it was.”

Peter doesn’t meet his gaze, but nods slightly.

“I’m done with our past,” Chris says. “I’m done with all that bullshit. I’m done with holding onto old grudges. It’s cost us everything, Peter, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being alone.”

The ember on the end of Peter’s cigarette flutters like a firefly in the darkness as his hand trembles.

“How is this going to end, Peter?” Chris asks.

“I always figured one day I’d go too far and someone would put me down,” Peter says, his voice low. “Maybe Derek. Probably you.”

“Is that what you want?”

“This was never about what any of us wanted,” Peter says. “Never.”

“Maybe I won’t have to kill you,” Chris tells him, turning the pack of cigarettes over in his palm. “Maybe I’ll stop you from going too far.”

“Maybe that’s a fool’s errand.”

Chris shrugs. “Maybe I’m a fool.”

Peter turns his head to look at him, and smiles. It’s not the sort of smile that Chris has ever seen from him before. It’s warm. A little uncertain. Maybe even genuine. Chris wonders if anyone has ever seen Peter Hale smile like this before.

He likes to imagine that smile is new as well, just like everything

 

***

 

It starts with heartbreak, but it ends somewhere a world away.

It ends with Derek’s glower and Scott’s dropped jaw and Stiles’s eyes bugging out of his head.

“You’re...you guys are a thing now?” Stiles asks. “Dude, that’s weird and gross!”

Peter lifts his chin and sniffs the air. “Seems to me that you like the idea, sweetheart.”

Stiles squeaks and flushes, and backs out of the loft as quickly as he can.

It ends with Peter rediscovering his smirk and his swagger, and Chris rediscovering his edge. It ends with days where they are sharp and alert. Days where they are formidable, the hunter and the wolf. It ends with nights where the walls tumble down between them, the masks come off, and they are two men who are slowly learning to fill the empty spaces grief carved out inside them with something soft and new.

It ends with Peter saying Chris’s name like a prayer.

It ends with Chris falling into faith.