This, Allison thinks as she opens the front door and finds Derek Hale standing on her welcome mat, is just perfect. No, it's great. Her summer's already going so well.
Derek's eyes go wide at the sight of her and really, what the hell was he expecting? This is her house. She lives here. If anyone should be surprised its her.
"What do you want?"
He licks his lips and opens his mouth but all that comes out is a choked off, "Allison."
"Tell me what you want and then get the hell away from my house." Allison can actually feel the involuntary way the corner of her mouth curls up to expose just a little canine, turning her words into a snarl that's more animal than Derek seems now. It's a fury drenched version of the way her Aunt Kate used to smile. Worst of all, Allison knows that it's something she never used to do before she found out about werewolves, her mom died, before- just before.
"I need to talk to Chris."
"He's not here." She goes to slam the door shut but Derek catches it with his palm open. She tugs but it doesn't move.
"Do you know how long he'll be gone?"
She could lie but he'd hear it. It's not worth it. "Twenty minutes. Move your hand."
Derek drops his hand and shoves his thumbs in the pockets of his slacks, not jeans. She doesnt actually think she's ever seen him in something other than jeans before. "I'll wait in my car."
"You can wait inside." She opens the door and heads down into the basement and grabs the first handgun she sees. Nine millimeter, not too much kickback, with a discharge that's loud but bearable.
She puts a half-empty clip of wolfsbane bullets inside, making sure there's at least one in the chamber. She pads back upstairs and finds Derek sitting comfortably in the loveseat in the living room. He gives her a look that says that the sight of a teenage girl carrying a loaded weapon, barefoot, and wearing Paul Frank monkey pajama pants she's been wearing for three days and one of Scott's old t-shirts that she can't bear to give back is totally normal. She sits down across from Derek, safety off, gun loaded and aimed directly at him and they look at each other with cold wells of calm behind their eyes. She can see his and feel her own like ice water in her brain.
Somehow, a situation like this has become totally normal too. Allison feels outside herself in moments like this, looking down at her life now compared to where it was last summer. She looks at the devastation of her life, her dad's, her mom's, Lydia's, Jackson's, Scott's, even Derek's, and she wants to cry. She wants to turn into a little girl cover her eyes and sob in protest but doesn't.
She's not a little girl, and she is not afraid even if she is desperately sad. What she does instead is hold the gun steady on a completely unmoving Derek until her father walks in the door, not twenty minutes later but an hour.
Her dad freezes in the hallway at the sight of them and assesses the situation. She can feel his eyes pass over her, the gun, Derek. He lets out noise that would be a sigh if it weren't so strangled. "You should've called and told me we had a guest."
"Dad, we have a guest," she says, and cocks the gun and lifts her arm so it’s no longer resting on the furniture. "Should I shoot him in the chest?"
"Lets find out what's going on first, all right?"
"You're going to talk to me first?" Derek mock gasps, rolling his eyes. "Wow, Chris, its almost like you're learning from all the mistakes and murders your family's committed against my kind. Have you got a guru now or something?"
"Dad, I can-"
"Allison, be quiet. Derek, what do you want?"
"I want the notes from the hunter heat experiments." He crosses his arms over his chest. "All of them."
Allison watches her dad's face go pale. His expression is horrified shame and yes, she's seen it often enough now that she can recognize it. Allison hates that she can do that. She gnaws on her lip as she watches her father shake his head.
"We don't do that. Not in generations. No one alive has-"
Derek shakes his head. "You know what? Turns out that I don’t actually care what you think your little cult has or hasn't done in the last fifty years. You've proved repeatedly that you've got no idea what other hunters are really doing - what with your sister burning my family alive, your wife trying to kill Scott, and your father using me as his get out of cancer free card. I just want the notes."
"You know those are delicate."
"Yeah. Things as ugly as what’s in those notes usually are, what was it you called them - delicate? But you have a copy of the bestiary so you have a copy of the notes too. They're a package deal for you people. So just go get them for me and then I'll see myself out."
Her father narrows his eyes looks between them then gives Derek a curt nod. Then he turns and looks at her. "Put the safety on that. I'll be back as soon as I can." They both sit in silence as Chris descends the stairs into the basement.
The door clicks shut and his footsteps get out of range of at least Allison's hearing. She turns and glares at Derek. "Why are you lying?"
"Why's the safety still off?" Derek retorts and for a moment she's sure he's fucking with her, but his eyes are suddenly soft. "You should really listen to your dad, Allison. All he wants in the world is to keep you safe."
"And you'd know that."
"But you'll lie about my mom?"
"Out of everyone in this insane little town, I lie less than almost anyone. Your mom tried to murder your ex. I stopped her. Those are facts. You don't like facts go watch Fox News."
"You killed her."
Derek shakes his head. "I bit her. From what I've heard, she died from a self-inflicted knife wound."
"Because you bit her!" Allison shouts, on her feet before she knows what she's doing. She's holding the gun with the technically perfect stance her father drilled into her and her hands have never been so steady. "I should just shoot you now." She doesn’t realize she's crying until tears drip off her face. "She was my mom and you're the reason she's dead."
"No, I'm not," Derek growls. "She made a choice. She chose to die rather than be a werewolf. I bit Isaac, Erica and Boyd just like her. They're more than alive; she decided to die."
His jaw is tight but he doesn’t look down at the gun, doesn’t look scared. Allison wishes for a second she could hear his heartbeat like he could. Then she'd know if he was scared or angry or hurting like she was now.
"She had to."
"Bullshit. If she had to then Scott should've had to, too," Derek spits and Allison feels like Derek's just slapped her across the face. She doesn’t know why that hasn’t occurred to her.
The gun trembles a little in her hands. "No."
"Yes. He's a bitten wolf. He should've stabbed himself two weeks into knowing you, right?"
Her whole body sags and her arms drop. The gun dangles from her limp fingers. She looks at him through the haze of tears and wishes she could hate him like she did a couple of months ago. "You destroyed my life," she protests but it’s weak and even she knows it.
Derek laughs at that. He laughs so hard that he chokes and covers his face and she thinks that maybe he's crying to. She can't tell. When he drops his hands he's coughing and shaking his head. When he stops coughing he runs a hand through his hair, making the spikes even messier and says, "Sucks doesn’t it, Argent?"
Allison flashes to all the schools she's been through in her life, all the poetry she's read in the dozens of disjointed and unfinished English classes, coming to rest on one in particular. She can't remember the writer but she remembers the verse, about the world ending in fire and ice. The way he says her last name like the way most people would say "motherfucker" reminds her of that line from what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire.
"Oh." She remembers the husk of the Hale house, her Aunt Kate and Peter Hale, and oh God.
"I know what it's like to lose your mom at sixteen, Allison."
A sad smile tugs the corner of Derek's mouth up, just a tiny bit. "Lucky you."
She rubs at the tears on her cheeks with her weapon hand and sniffs. This is so fucked up. Her dad is downstairs. She shouldn't even be having this conversation. It feels like she's breaking and getting put back together in jagged pieces that don’t fit quite right.
Her father saves her from having to answer by returning with a folder. The papers inside are thicker than the last book she read. He holds them with white knuckles and looks at the pair of them, sadness in his eyes. "Allison," He says, "Bring me the gun, sweetheart."
She obeys because she doesn’t want it touching her anymore. It feels heavy and ugly in her hands. It's a relief to give it to him. He clicks on the safety and tucks it into the waistband of his pants before wrapping an arm around her. He kisses the top of her head and Allison presses her face into his shirt for a five count. She still has him; he still loves her, is taking care of her, even if sometimes she hates him for it or thinks he's wrong. When she pulls back he gives her a squeeze before letting her go.
As soon as she's curled up on the couch Derek asks "That all of it?"
Derek rises to his feet to take it but Chris steps back. "How far along are you?" he counters.
Derek turns the color of printer paper as all the blood drains from his face. "Just give me the notes."
"Chris," he grits out through clinched teeth that are sharper than human.
"Two?" Derek's eyes flash red and her dad sighs. "Derek, who's the father? There aren't many people who would even know it's possible to trigger a heat like that, let alone have the capability."
"I'm well aware."
"Then you're aware of how dangerous the situation is?"
"It's not an issue."
"Isn't it? Think about-"
"Why do you think I'm here, Chris? It's not to admire your crown molding."
Allison watches as her father pinches the bridge of his nose and close his eyes. "Jesus Christ."
"Dad?" Allison asks, shocked. Her dad doesn’t curse. He just doesn't. She's seen him hunt her friends recently but not even that drove him to swear.
"He's not the father; not that it's any of your business."
"But he triggered it."
"Give me the damn notes," he growls, rumbling supernatural and harsh from his chest. "So I can go."
"Derek, I'm not a threat to you or your child."
"What? Dad?" Allison tries again but neither of them give any indication of having heard her. Fine, if they're ignoring her, she can figure this out for herself. She traces the treads of the conversation back to the very beginning, back when Derek first spoke to her father, before he threw her off with talk of her mother.
What she comes up with, using logic and connecting the dots with simple reason, is insane and as far Allison knows, biologically impossible. Then again werewolves and giant toxic lizard men should be biologically impossible too so why the hell wouldn't Derek Hale be pregnant? What isn't madness or magic in her life?
Derek snorts. "Sure. I feel super safe."
"You should. Just because my father and sister committed crimes against your family-"
"And me-" Derek snarls. "Me personally, Chris and it wasn't just Kate and Gerard who did it. Both of you tried to hunt me down and turn me into a rug in revenge for the collateral damage that came from me daring to protect a Code-abiding teenage boy from being murdered for no reason." He waves at him then at Allison. She prickles but its true. She's many things, but she's always been able to face reality. She just wishes she didn't have to deal with so much of it all at once.
"We didn't have all the details."
"That is the least of it." Derek growls. Suddenly he's in her father's space, a razor sharp claw pressed against her father's throat.
The fact that Chris doesn't even flinch is the only thing that stops Allison from moving. Every instinct she has is screaming for her to attack but she knows it’s pointless. Her father has the gun. If he needs to use it, he would and her getting in the way would only make that harder for him.
"You and yours tortured my pack and caused the death of everyone I loved. Argents aren't going to take my family away from me. Not again."
"I'm sorry, Derek," Chris says. "I truly am."
"Fuck your sorry," Derek hisses, but maybe Allison hears tears beneath his anger. Just a hint because she knows that same kind of heartbroken anger herself although on a smaller scale, thank God.
Chris just shrugs. "If that’s how you feel. That doesn't change the fact you now have my support and resources if you need it. I'm not losing any more innocents either."
Derek sags and grabs the folder out of Chris's hand. He doesn't say anything else. His claws retract and he storms out of their house, slamming the door shut so hard the glass window panes shake.
Allison and Chris are frozen in quiet for almost a full minute before Allison speaks. "Werewolf men can get pregnant?"
"Under specific circumstances," Chris replies. "As far as I was aware, it hadn't happened in America in over a hundred years."
"Oh." Allison nods because right, of course. She wishes she were more surprised. She really does. Instead she's more interested and concerned. "Dad, what's in the notes?"
He sighs and pulls a USB drive out of his pocket. "I had a feeling you would ask. You're on your way through training so I knew you would ask and you have every right to know." He crosses the room to her. He makes to hand it to her then pulls back. "This is part of our history but you should consider this similar to being German and knowing that your ancestry includes direct involvement in the Nazi party. As far as I know, no one in our family who has been alive in my lifetime was involved in anything on these notes but-"
He tries again, succeeding in dropping the drive in her open palm. "Of everything in our history, this is the thing I think we should be the most ashamed of, Allison." He covers her hand with hers and squeezes. "I'm sorry."
Allison squeezes back. She waits until he's gone to get off the couch and climb the stairs to her room. She sinks into hundreds of pages of PDF files and finally pulls herself out long after dark.
She feels disgusting, like her insides are putrid and the shower in her en suite only helps a little. Fresh clothes help too but it doesn't change the fact that she knows so much now --things about her mother, herself, her family, her history and the wolves -- that she didn't know a few hours ago. They are things she didn't want to learn but can never be unknown.
She doesn't remember making the decision to leave the house. She manages to drive her dad's car without wrecking it despite being blinded by tears. Her sight only comes back when the door of the house sharpens before her eyes. She stares at the wood for a moment then pushes the bell and does start crying when the door opens.
Scott looks confused when he sees her but he smiles so wide and so bright it could light up the night. "Allison! Hi! What are you doing here?" He tilts his head like a curious kitten and God, she still loves him so much. She really does.
She doesn't say anything. She just steps forward and presses her face into his shoulder, breathing the smell of his t-shirt deep. He smells like laundry soap, a little sweat, Scott, and something faintly dog-like that she knows is from when he changes. It makes her tears come faster, and she tries to push her face harder against him but it just makes him move back a step.
His arms come up around her, holding her tight. "Hey, it's okay. Allison, I'm right here okay? Whatever it is, we'll fix it. It'll be all right, I promise. It'll be okay."
He means it. He thinks he can fix things, for anyone who needs it and that is so ridiculously stupid and ridiculously sweet that Allison laughs. It's a mistake because it unlocks the sobs she's had chained up since Derek brought up her mother. They shake her bones but Scott's strong enough to hold her through them. He kisses the top of her head and murmurs reassurances into her hair until she's calmed down enough to talk.
"Can we go to your room?" she asks.
"Allison." Scott's frown is audible in his voice. He's worried about her, what she's doing right now as upset as she is.
"I want you to hold me Scott. Can we do that?"
"Yeah. I just gotta-" He reaches for the door with one arm, the other still stubbornly clinging to her. He has to lean far and almost falls over in the process of closing. She smiles, can't help it, and lets him lead her upstairs to his room just like he used to.
Allison toes off her shoes and crawls into Scott's bed without a second thought. She pulls the covers up to her neck sinking into the softness of his mattress and his smell until the contrast of his firm muscles are pressed up behind her.
"Is this okay?" He asks, like he always used to before he touches her and she nods. Then he drapes an arm across her and she laces her fingers with his and clutches his hand to her chest, squeezing so tight it would hurt if he were human. He noses behind her ear then whispers, "Are you okay?"
"No. I'm-" She stops because there's so much to say. She can’t talk about her mom, about Derek, about her father's eyes. She's not ready yet. She hopes she can, later.
She can tell him about the hunters though, about the history. He needs to know those things, what her people are really capable of, and she doesn't know if Derek will tell him. "We did horrible things, hunters, other Argents, so much worse than anything that-" She chokes and he holds her just a little tighter.
"It can't be that bad."
"It is. Oh my God, Scott."
"Do you want to talk about it? Or not talk about it?"
"I don't want to talk about it," she admits. The information pours out of her anyway. She feels like every word is one more drop of filthy water in a flood from broken pipes in a dirty cellar.
She tells Scott about how things used to be, in Europe when born wolves would go into mating heats and her family and others like them would catch them alive like rabbits in box traps. Hunters waited for their captives to become desperate to the point of madness before they ever touched the wolves again. They never touched them until the men and women in heat were asking their captors to be bred, begging on their knees, reaching through the bars of their cages or past the chains around their throats towards the men holding them with pleading fingers for relief. The female hunters in charge at the time always chose which of the soldiers would take the heat-crazed victim, usually as a reward for exceptional service, which made it even worse to Allison.
Not that any of the journal records ever called the couplings that went on for days rape. Allison read descriptions of stamina and mindless sexual pleasure in both the male and the female werewolves that implied willingness but she knew better. It was like taking advantage of someone too drunk or high to say no only a thousand times worse. Everything happened in cages or chains. It was calculated, cold and in some places flatly malicious on a mass scale.
There were answers in the notes, too. Compared to Aunt Kate, the system makes what she did to the Hales seem spur of the moment. Dealing with heat-captives was just another element of training, passed down from mother to daughter, father to son. There were celebrations after a birth, the father honored but always sent to another branch or clan to avoid attachment, and it was never the child itself they were happy to have but one more chance to find out more about their enemies.
There were records on the males in heat too. Their pregnancies were basically magic, plain and simple. Werewolves were beings of transformation and as far her ancestors figured from hundreds of years of observation, that same transformative magic made male pregnancies possible. A full wolf change during labor altered a male werewolf's organs, internal and external, making natural birth possible. The notes had also had drawings of the process. Detailed drawings. They were both gross and also made a kind of anatomical sense that general concept on its own didn't. The etchings had also confirmed for Allison that medicine, human or veterinary, was just not the field for her.
It certainly clarified the Derek situation but it made Allison's chest clench in a whole different way. She couldn’t imagine at how out of control he must feel, of his body and his life although she can empathize, at least a little. She doesn't feel sorry for him but she does feel heartbroken for him and for all the born werewolves her family destroyed.
She rolls over, pressing her face into Scott's neck. "They kept them. They kept them until they gave birth and after they gave birth they'd interrogate them using their babies as leverage."
"Women had human children sometimes and hunters would adopt them and raise them to hunt their own families." Mostly they didn’t though, and the males never had anything but werewolves. "They threatened to experiment on them in front of them. In front of them, Scott, so they'd ask to trade places with their babies." Scott's hand caresses her face, wiping away her tears. It reinforces the steel that's let her start talking about this at all. "The records says it allowed them to find your weaknesses and follow the Code but by the time the released them they were always..." She searches for the right word. "Broken."
"Doesn't sound like a very good Code."
"It's a lie they told themselves so they could justify figuring out ways to hurt you." Like the arrows, like the wolfsbane poison, like the electricity levels although not until the 1800s.
She presses her lips to the soft skin under his jaw. "I'm sorry I hurt you."
"You didn't mean to. It's okay."
"It's really not." Not meaning to cause pain doesn't negate the damage.
Scott scoots back and tips her chin up. His dark eyes meet hers and when he smiles, it’s not the big beaming one she's used to. This one is small and gentle. "I'm the one being apologized to so I get to decide if it's okay. I'm pretty sure those are the rules."
"It's okay and I told you already, I love you." He brushes away more tears from her cheek with his thumb. "Forgiveness is supposed to be part of that isn't it? I thought that was the rule."
She laughs because that is so Scott, naive but genuine and kind. Allison kisses his mouth this time and oh, she missed his mouth, the way he tastes, the way his hands thread in her hair and hold her close without ever making her feel trapped. Allison feels safe for the first time since before her mom died. There's no surprise that she's rediscovered it with Scott. He always made her feel sheltered.
When they break apart, neither of them are panting for breath. Scott's mouth is red and her own lips ache pleasantly but mostly they just look at each other in the low light. Scott tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear as they lie in silence for awhile.
Scott breaks it with the one of the least expected things he could say. "I hate to say it but I think you need to tell Derek all the stuff you told me." He looks like he bit into a grapefruit expecting an orange. Scott dislikes Derek, maybe more than Allison because her anger was rooted in vengeance while Scott just seems to genuinely not like him as a person. If he's suggesting this, he has to know.
Direct is always best with Scott so she says, "I guess you're in the know then, about his werewolf baby situation."
"You are?" Scott asks, eyes wide with shock like a manga drawing. "How do you know?"
"He got the same notes I did, today at the house." There's a low rumble in Scott's chest that might be the beginnings of a growl. "We talked some stuff out." Allison puts her hand on Scott's chest and when the vibration stops she looks up at him and says, "It was-" Good was the wrong word. Nothing was good about that conversation but it dislodged broken pieces in her heart so that maybe she could start to heal. "It was right so that’s what I'm trying now, talking things out. I want to, with you."
There's the smile she missed, white and wide and blooming across his face like a flower. "Yeah?" he asks. She can practically feel the hope pouring out of every cell in his body.
Allison nods then curls against him again. "Yeah."