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no honor in suffering

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Allison doesn’t know where the hell she’s supposed to go. She can’t go home - god, fuck, she can’t go home - not after - after her mom, it’s too much, she can’t do that to her dad, not again. She has no one left. No one she trusts, not with this, not really. Not close. Lydia’s at MIT, and that’s thousands of miles away.




Not that a phone call with her wouldn’t ease Allison’s nerves right about now.



Her shoulders are wound tight, stiff and unyielding. Mud sticks to her back, and her bow hangs loosely in her left hand, easy to take up and shoot in under a second if something sounds wrong. But nothing will. The threat is over - dead, not buried, but she can feel it in her bones, the wolf is dead.



One of them. One of the wolves.



The tree line ends up ahead, and Allison’s feet pick up, boots squelching in thick mud, so black it looks like solid oil, like she can crush its inky blackness beneath her toes. Her feet stick just a little, and it bothers her more than it should - she knows this, in a clinical, detached sort of way. But all she can think about is the fact that she isn’t moving fast enough, not the way she wants to, and it’s just another change she doesn’t want.



She knows with a kind of clarity, even as she gets out into the open, that she can’t go to Scott with this. Allison wants to, desperately, with everything she has. She and Scott ended years ago, but she still trusts him so implicitly, and it’s only a few hour’s drive from Berkeley to UCLA (alright, five if she breaks every highway law known to man), and a very short plane ride. She has the money. But taking money from that account means notifying her dad, and he’d know where she was going. If she doesn’t, she’ll have a few days’ respite. 



Allison chooses the option that won’t earn her father’s steel-blue eyes, looking at her with something akin to fear. He’s looked at her a lot of ways, especially since her sophomore year, but never with fear and suspicion in his gaze, the kind that runs through your veins no matter how long you’ve spent trying to purge it.



The kind Allison feels now, in spite of years combating the same feelings in her fellow hunters. Ex-fellows, she supposes. Few will deal with her now. 



It doesn’t matter that she’s soaked to the bone. That her black, flexible hunting gear clings so tightly to her skin she thinks she might burst out of it just to have some relief. It doesn’t matter that her crossbow sits on the passenger seat, stained with blood, practically waiting for someone to pull her over and straight into the police station for inquiries. It doesn’t matter that she can barely see through the downpour, that the seat cradling her is caking with mud as she floors the gas. Nothing seems to matter much at all, in these moments, these fragments of time when there’s nothing to think of but the inevitability of what tomorrow will bring.





She feels it bone deep, the world shifting beneath her feet. Allison has always found a close friend in change: schools, houses, cities, states, lives. It’s the first time that change has felt, to her, like the enemy, and that in itself makes her feel uncomfortable. It only takes a moment and things are crumbling down around her. One single instant for her world to tear itself to shreds, to rewrite her fabric until she doesn’t feel like Allison, doesn’t feel herself. She feels like a code in the middle of a processor, waiting to be spit out.



No, that’s not right. She feels like a virus, running wild and unchecked in a hard drive someone hasn’t bothered to boot up in years. What she feels like is a stupid statistic - just one more in a sea of stupid mistakes.



She honks the horn, long and loud, because no one else is on the road at 3am and it just, it fucking hurts. It still physically hurts, which is irritating, but mentally, it absolutely burns. Scorches its brand in fiery red across every single particle of her being, slowly but surely, and she can feel it. Feel that power working its way into her system like it’s something to be afraid of, because it is.



It’s rewriting her DNA. If that isn’t scary, she doesn’t know what is.



Driving is mindless, but Allison is still surprised when she stops. She isn’t at her house. Not that she could go to her house – or maybe she could. Maybe it still hasn’t started yet. Maybe she has time.



She stares at her shaking hands and realizes that she could go, but she doesn’t want to be alone. Not with this. And there’s only one other person besides Scott that she trusts to help her. Someone who she knows, without a doubt, would be worse in this situation than she is.



He already has been.



She steps out of the car, and her weapons are still inside. She won’t be able to touch most of them in the morning, anyway - why bother? She’s shaking, freezing cold, but Allison knows that will go away, too. She’ll be faster, and stronger, run hotter. She’ll have claws that can rip the hearts from men and tear holes in the heavens, according to the myths.



The myths are wrong, about most things, but she can still feel the alpha’s claws on her throat. She remembers all too well the way she panicked, arrow sinking through his heart before she realized his fangs had sunken into her flesh, made her hollow, broken her, somehow. She knows that’s not true, but it feels that way, somewhere deeper than logic or knowledge, somewhere clinical thoughts cannot penetrate.



Allison steps up onto the porch. It’s a nice house - admittedly, it has to be, because Allison suspects that Cora would settle for nothing less now that she actually gets to attend college. The doorbell rings too loudly in her ears. Her breathing speeds ever so slightly, and it feels deep down like an omen.



She waits.





It isn’t Derek who answers the door. It’s Cora, eyes sleepy and hair mussed, but somehow just as fierce, just as intense. Cora has always been such a puzzle to her and it’s the same now, though she’s known the girl for years, and most of them have been spent on the legs of an unspoken truce between them. I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me.



Pack housing has always been weird to her. They’d offered, of course, since it seemed so strange - Allison following them to Berkeley while Scott and Isaac went to UCLA and Lydia to MIT. Out of all the schools Allison managed to get accepted to, Berkeley felt like the right choice. It doesn’t matter - she knows her degree in political sciences won’t get her a job. But she’ll take over her father’s firm eventually, and until then, it will help her to be a diplomatic leader as the matriarch of the Argent family.



Only now that dream has crumbled, and she’s right on their doorstep.



"Allison." Cora’s tone is sharp - it’s always sharp. She is always sharp. Allison can’t tell if that’s a reaction to her or just generally, to the world, but either way, in this moment it makes her flinch back. Cora isn’t what she was looking for. She wants Derek - she’s never liked Derek, that’s not a secret, but out of any of them, he’s the only one who could possibly understand. Who could sympathize, even a little, if he made the choice. Then again, why would he, when she’s made it no secret she refuses to sympathize with him, no matter what information has come to light?



Allison just stares for a moment; dumbstruck by a hitch in her admittedly vague and terrible plan. “I need to see Derek.” She’s surprised her voice stays steady.



Cora’s face shuts down. She knows everything about Derek and Allison’s history, and while Cora’s had her own problems with her brother, she’s never made it a secret that on that front she wants Allison gone. "He’s asleep," she tells her, "It’s almost 4am."



In response, Allison stiffens into a glare. “It’s an emergency. Do you think I would be here if it wasn’t?”



There are footsteps on the hardwood behind her, and then Stiles is peering over her shoulder, blinking blearily like he’s still too tired to see. The sight of him saps a little tension from both girls’ spines.






Cora rolls her eyes. “Nothing. Allison apparently doesn’t understand that there’s proper visiting hours for non-pack." She emphasizes it, as if that’s supposed to make Allison feel guilty. It doesn’t. She hasn’t been pack to anyone in years, not since Allison chose Berkeley and Scott said, "It just doesn’t really work long distance." Not since the warm press of his cheek against hers, not since Isaac’s far too awkward post-breakup hug. She’s never minded before. It’s never mattered before.



Apparently, in Stiles’ eyes, it doesn’t matter now. “Allison’s still family,” he says quietly, tone gone serious and mostly drained of the sleep-softness it carried before. She nods her thanks at him, but he isn’t looking at her at all - he’s looking at Cora, and she at him. A moment passes between the two of them, and Allison realizes she’s never had that - never been with someone long enough to just get them the way these two do. They’ve been together since senior year, and most of their old friends are getting BA’s this year. Something twists in her gut, and the added pressure makes her want her daggers back, to dig them into her wrists. Just one, now that it would heal, maybe, so the pain would eclipse the thoughts racing through her mind.



The remaining tension seems to be leeched from Cora through Stiles’ eyes alone. When she turns back to Allison, she isn’t soft, isn’t any less protective, but there’s a resignation there. Something that says, I will do this for him, but I will never do it for you. Allison knows - she understands what Cora is trying to tell her, and tries to respond with a look of her own. She’s not sure it gets across in her state.



"Come on in, Allison," Stiles says with a yawn, "I’m sure you’ve woken the others by now. And what’s all over your clothes? Come on. Take off your shoes; I’ll get you some of Erica’s." 



Allison’s never wanted in on Derek’s pack, but as they come filtering in one by one, she can’t help but be hit, again, by a wave of solidarity. No, not a wave – a wall, and it blocks her out, prevents her from quite reaching in and being with them in the way that she wants to.



Then again, maybe that’s instinct creeping up on her. None of her thoughts feel her own… despite the loneliness she’s resigned herself too over the years.



Derek’s in last, of course. She thinks he’s probably been listening this entire time. He only takes one look at Allison before knowing something’s wrong, more than any of the others manage to sense. Maybe that has something to do with being the Alpha. “Out,” he orders, then, quieter, starts delegating. “Erica, go get Allison some clothes - try and find ones that will fit her. Boyd, get some towels and bring them out here, along with the first aid kit. Cora - ” and at her name, he turns sharply to her, something in his eyes signaling a kind of anger she’s never noticed before, not in Derek, not over her. ” - You’ve done enough. You and Stiles go back to sleep.”



Cora is seething, baring her teeth. “But - “



"No," Derek growls, and for all that he’s become gentle lately, his voice is hard and rough in this moment. "Allison needs privacy. You would be able to smell it on her, what’s happened, if it weren’t for your -”



"It’s not unjustified!" Cora whisper-shouts, cutting in. Allison doesn’t know why they’re bothering to be quiet, but she’s almost grateful for it, except…



They’re talking about her like she isn’t even there.



"It’s not your call," Derek points out quietly, "To hate people on my behalf." Allison thinks that’s probably true, but she’s shocked Derek would say it. That Derek would defend her to his sister. It seems he is constantly surprising her - she’s just never paid enough attention to listen.



Though she supposes her senses could be kicking in, and human ears might not have been able to hear. Old habits die hard.



There’s a tense, quiet moment before Stiles slips his fingers between Cora’s. “C’mon. You can growl at Derek later. Allison really does look like hell, and I know you love me a little less when I’m running on no sleep and grouchy.” 



She does follow him up the stairs, though everyone can tell it’s a little forced. Stiles seems to calm her - anchor, she realizes, remembering the way it was with Scott. There’s still a dull ache at the thought, even after all the years that’ve passed them by.



As soon as she’s alone with Derek, Allison tenses. She doesn’t actually think she’s ever been alone with him before, not in almost seven years of knowing each other. They’re both stiff, and Derek, for all he looked like he knew what he was doing only a moment ago, looks unsure. They’re saved by Boyd’s return, a few towels in one hand and a clunky box in the other. “Erica’s right behind me with clothes,” he tells them, giving each a significant look. Allison has never known Boyd, but she realizes she should have, maybe. He seems strangely similar to her, in a way she can’t explain, but recognizes when his eyes catch hers.



Erica is right behind him after all - not a moment passes before she’s through the door, handing the clothes to Derek and pointedly not looking in Allison’s direction. They have a lot of bad history - and it would be hard, but not impossible, to get past it. Neither of them has actually tried.



Allison takes the clothes from Derek without a word, padding over to him to retrieve them. It’s not like they haven’t been this close before, but it was rare, and everything feels awkward. Tense and confused. She knows he isn’t going to ask her about anything until she changes, and Allison hasn’t been modest in years - she keeps her own bra and underwear, but slips on Erica’s jeans, rolling them up once at the hem, tank top doing nothing to hide the bite marring her shoulder. She keeps her back to him the entire time, twisting a towel into her hair, ruffling it and trying to dry it as much as possible so it won’t drip. Allison spreads another one over the couch and folds it, just over one cushion. Just in case. She looks at Derek, who’s watching with curiosity in his gaze and sits promptly on the couch, back ramrod straight and hands placed carefully in her lap.



Derek doesn’t sit down. She didn’t really expect him to. But now that he can see her, the curiosity in his eyes has twisted to resignation.



"You were attacked." Allison shakes her head, because it’s not the right word, not really.



"No. I was hunting. He was hurting people - turning omegas and setting them loose, forcing them to kill. I killed them before I realized it was him, making them, and not their own free will. I tracked him to the park off 83rd, and then into the woods behind it. I couldn't just - children play there, I couldn't let things go on that way."



Derek waits, but she doesn’t say anything. She can’t make her mouth move, because it hurts too much to say it out loud. But she knows. She knows it won’t heal yet, not for at least a good 8 more hours. That must be what the first aid kit was for.



It’s not clean, not the way Derek did his on his betas, and she knows it. Her shoulder’s torn to shreds, blood only just dried, accelerated healing already kicking  in slightly. She shudders when he takes her in, stepping closer to confirm it’s a bite, not a claw wound. It’s so torn it could’ve been either.



"The alpha bit you," he murmurs, and something has changed in his voice, something Allison doesn’t understand. It doesn’t matter that her first instinct took her here - she’d never expected what she sees in his eyes, now. What she hears in his voice. It’s something very similar to sympathy.



Something breaks inside her, then and there, because Allison has never, not once, shown Derek any sort of sympathy. Not when she found out Kate burned his family alive, destroyed him, body and soul, and she never knew a thing. Not when she almost destroyed everything he worked for based on the words of a prejudiced woman - one that she loved, but one that she knew in her heart of hearts couldn’t be trusted to tell the story the way it should’ve been told. Not when Erica and Boyd were taken, not when they rescued them (and Cora) from the bank, not ever. Yet he does it without a second’s pause, like it’s second nature, for him, to offer her his sympathies. And maybe Kate wasn’t her fault, maybe her grief got the best of her and it happened to everyone, maybes, maybes, but that never meant she had to treat him the way she has. And she’s never known how to fix it. Never felt like it was worth it.



Derek, it seems (for once in his life), starts fixing it easily. Like it really is nothing. Water under their forgotten little bridge. She’s trying not to cry - she hasn’t even, told him the worst part. 



"Yes," she agrees, because it’s true, but there’s so much more to the truth. She meets Derek’s eyes for this part. "And I killed him."



Stunned. That’s the only word Allison has for the look on Derek’s face. It’s subtle, the way all his facial expressions tend to be when they’re sincere, but it’s written plain as day. They know what happens, now, when you kill the alpha that bit you. They helped an omega do the same thing just that last year.



It’s not a cure.



"You’re an alpha? Allison, I - “



"I know," she bites out, jaw clenched. "It was stupid. It went against five years of training, but when I looked at him, I wanted an arrow through his heart. It was only about five seconds after the bite happened." She paused. "I’m hoping it didn’t take." Another, longer stretch of silence.



"Derek, tell me it didn’t take. Please." Her voice breaks, and she feels so tired, exhausted and broken.



Neither of them says anything for a very long time. “Allison,” Derek gets out, and she knows that voice - it’s his alpha voice. Will she have one, too? “I only wanted to tell you I’m sorry.” 





Tears slip down her cheeks, but she does not sob. She does not collapse into his arms like something wilted and broken and fading. But she does cry, and he does stand and stare, and there is something that passes between them. A communication of sorts.



I will do what I can. 




Derek gives her a spare room. It isn’t like the others - each of them has had years to personalize theirs, worm their love into every corner. The only thing Allison has is a day. Hours, really, until her life changes forever. Until it’s over, and something new takes its place.



She makes a plan. Derek’s kind enough to give her a pen and paper, and she makes a list. It’s not enough, not nearly enough, but it’s something. 




(in order of least to most daunting) 

1) Call Lydia.
2) Get Stiles to clean weapons. No wolfsbane does not mean useless.
3) Move necessities from apartment. Throw away non-essentials and let lease run out.
4) Ask Derek if you can stay. He can teach you how to control it.
5) Go over the Bestiary again. Also get Stiles’ opinion. Bestiary = bias.
6) Call Scott.
7) Find chains for full moon. Derek might not have them.
8) Call Dad.



It seems less… insane, listed that way. Nothing can seem crazy in a list. Calling Lydia is her top priority - if she knew that Allison was keeping something like this from her… it would be a nightmare. Not that the dramatics are her main reason for calling. She misses her friend. She didn’t realize, before, just how much she would miss Lydia in the years that college has pulled them apart. 



Lydia would know what to do, in this sort of situation.



Allison doesn’t even think before she’s scrambling for her phone. Lydia would be awake on the east coast by now, right? It’s almost five, so eight there… yes. She’s probably been awake at least an hour. Allison takes a shuddering breath, and it feels like such a relief.



She dials Lydia’s number.



For a moment it rings, and Allison is horrified, because what if she doesn’t answer? What if she doesn’t – what if there’s no one to talk to, what if she has to do this alone –






Allison breaks down into a sob at the sound of her voice.



“Allison? What – are you crying? What’s going on? What happened?”



She takes a shaky breath. “It’s all – I fucked up, Lydia. I fucked up, and now –“ She can’t stop crying, this is awful, she hasn’t cried like this in years. She hasn’t cried like this since her mother died.



“Slow down.” Lydia’s voice is firm, like an order, and it helps just a little bit. Lydia’s always throwing out orders. “What happened. It’s 5am there, Allison, have you been up all night?”



Allison laughs, a little hysterically. Up all night. She has been, but the thought that sleep deprivation might be the problem is laughable. She would trade everything to have that as a problem. “Yes,” she admits, “But that’s not – Lydia, I – I did something stupid.”



“Everyone does, without me to guide them. Now are you going to tell me what happened so I can actually be helpful?”



Right. She has to say it, out loud, again. “I don’t know if I can say it again.”



“Again? Who knows already?”



Allison starts crying all over again. “Derek, and maybe – whoever he told, I don’t know, maybe he didn’t tell any of them – “



“Derek? Wait, are you with Derek right now?”



“No,” she gulps. “Not exactly. I – he let me stay in his house for tonight. Maybe longer.”



There’s a pause where no one says anything at all. “Allison, do you need me to fly out there?”



It’s such a relief, to have someone that would, someone that would fly 3,000 miles just to make sure she’s okay. She breaks down again, quieter, but she can’t – she’s been so afraid, so alone, and even the sound of Lydia’s voice helps. “No, I don’t – I’ll be fine. But I…” she takes a breath. “I was bitten.”



The line goes silent. “I’m coming immediately. I’ll book a flight tonight – “



“No, please, I don’t – I don’t want to make anything harder, it’s too… I’m already inconveniencing Derek. I killed him, Lydia, and now I’m – now I’m an alpha, and I haven’t even turned yet, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, what if I hurt you?”



“You wouldn’t.” But Lydia sounds resigned all the same. Like she’s taking it in and placating her anyway.



The fact that Lydia still loves her after this… it helps more than most things would.



“Don’t you have class today?” Allison asks.



“In a half hour. But I’m not leaving you.”



Allison shakes her head. “Yes you are. Live your normal life, Lydia. I’ll call you.”



“… Promise me.”



Allison laughs. “I promise.”



“Every night. Early, mind you – I’m not staying up until midnight just to hear your voice.”



“Maybe even twice a night,” Allison agrees through a watery sort of smile. “Before and after dinner.”



“You better.” Lydia’s voice is fierce, but there’s love there, and it makes her feel like she can make it out of this alive. “I love you.”



Allison feels like crying again. Her voice is thick with it. “I love you, too.”



She doesn’t cross it off her list, even after the line has died. She’ll have to call tomorrow, anyway.




It’s clear she can’t do any of it in order, no matter how badly she wants to call Lydia again first thing when she wakes up. Her skin is clear of blemishes - not even a scratch is left. She imagines everyone is probably out - Allison knows that Erica and Boyd work, they only bothered with AAs before buying the abandoned mechanic’s garage down the street. She knows that Stiles and Cora are both double majoring, so they probably have classes today. But it’s after noon, so they might be home soon.



Allison had classes today. God, how is she going to graduate? She can’t go to school like this, she can’t, she’s - she’ll hurt someone - 



She’s crying, crying on the bathroom floor, and even though she knows Derek’s the only one home he doesn’t come in. She can’t tell if he’s trying to respect her space or if he genuinely doesn’t care. It doesn’t really matter, does it? She wants to be alone.



She’s never felt so lonely.



Allison doesn’t know how she got here. She doesn’t know how she became this person, this person who’s life feels like a job with no off hours, who doesn’t have a single friend she can rely on that doesn’t live too many miles away. She doesn’t know when she stopped having anyone to pretend to be busy for, doesn’t remember the last movie she watched or the last book she read for pleasure. She doesn’t remember how it got this far, can’t imagine what pushed her to be this way. Maybe nothing did.



She doesn’t know what it says that the only person she trusts to help with this is Derek.



In high school, Allison never thought much of Derek. She still doesn’t think much of him. He’s too quiet, too abrasive, he never thinks anything through. He’s become a better alpha… maybe even a good one, as the years have come and gone, but she has never liked him. So why did she come to him in the pouring rain with no sanctuary left?



Because he doesn’t require your dignity. 



Allison has always been a disaster with Derek. After her mother’s death, she was a mess, and he knew it. Wrong in all the worst ways. Even after she found out about Scott, he’s always pushed her buttons, always forced something inside of her to force the words from her throat before they form fully in her mind. 



He is a man born of wolves, and something about him has always called to something wild in her, that side she’s consistently tried to suppress. Allison craves control. 



If she wants to get out of this alive, she’ll have to embrace that part of her that’s always called from the distances of her heart. She doesn’t know if she can. But she must, and this means that she will. Duty is a strong point of pride that Allison can’t quite seem to shake.



She does, eventually, leave the bathroom. Dresses for the day, in something Erica left on the dresser. She wants her clothes, but her house will remind her of everything she's giving up, now, and she can no longer enter her own ring of mountain ash. She’ll need Stiles to break it.



Derek is in the kitchen. He’s leaning against the counter, and there’s a plate of eggs and toast slid across the counter, exactly how she likes it. Coffee, black, to the side. Cautiously, she sits at the island, and it’s only a moment before she’s pulling the food towards her. She hasn’t been so hungry in a long time, can’t remember ever feeling so worn out, like she’s been sick for weeks.



"Your senses will heighten today," Derek tells her. She pauses only slightly, fork halfway to her mouth, before finishing a bite, the fork clattering slightly on the plate. "Soon," he adds, sipping his own surprisingly light caffeine source. Do wolves still respond the same, to caffeine stimulation? She opens her mouth to ask, then closes it with a slight clack of teeth.



Allison is pointedly focusing on his eyes. There’s plenty more to look at - she’s never been in Derek’s kitchen, and he has his shirt off, both of which are impressive - but she knows that she is an alpha. Alphas do not look away, do not submit - they stare you down, like a challenge. Why not start practicing?



This time, when her mouth opens, she manages to speak. “I want you to teach me.” There is a very pregnant pause. “Please.”



Derek looks moderately interested. “I don’t want to be a danger. Until I’m… under control, I request sanctuary.”



His raises his eyebrows, and she knows he wasn’t sure that would be in the bestiary. It’s a fair assumption - it isn’t. But Allison has played hero for packs before, and she’s learned a few things about how they work. Allison is a newly turned wolf with no pack to speak of, and it happened closest to Hale land, which this is, now. This means it’s Derek’s responsibility to take care of her, but Allison can come to him, and it protects her. He can’t kill her without violating the wolves’ version of the Code. 



Not that she thinks he would have. Sanctuary has the added benefit of moving into the pack house and receiving proper training from Derek and the others. She’s hoping it’ll be mostly him, but suspects that at least until the full moon it will probably include all of them. After all, she won’t turn until that first night - and it’s over a week away. Until then she’s no stronger than any of them half of the time, and the rest of her senses will come in varying pace and strength the closer things get.



The silence between them is heavy. She knows Derek’s refusal is impossible, but there’s still something that manages to unwind in her chest and unclench in her stomach when he says, “Okay.”





It isn’t as weird as she expected it to be. Stiles comes home at around 1:30, and Allison is close with him, closer than she is with any of the others. She doesn’t have a problem asking him for help - the only problem she has is the need for help at all. It’s just another reminder of what’s changed, what is changing inside of her, rolling in as inevitably as the tide.



Stiles is good to have around, because he’s the same. He hasn’t changed - he’s blunt and he’s sarcastic and she loves him, for not being any different, even though as soon as she asked he had to be suspicious. It takes him all of two minutes in the car before he’s asking.



"Not that I’m complaining, but why do you need me to get into your own house?"



This is the first time. The first time Allison will have to say it. The first time she’ll be the one to admit to it out loud. It’s terrifying, and her hands tighten on her seat belt until her fingers clench to fists, knuckles white. She feels as though she is about to jump from a cliff, with no knowledge of what lies below.



"I was bitten." 



Stiles swerves. The car behind them honks, and it’s long and loud, ringing in her ears. Enhanced hearing, poor reaction to sounds of high pitch. She tucks her hair behind one ear, fingertips tracing the outer shell. She doesn’t feel any different - but she is, somehow, she is. 



"You were what?" She just looks at him, then. Doesn’t say anything, waits for what he said to sink in - she knows that if anyone can carry on a conversation with themselves, it’s Stiles. "Okay, no, I know what you mean, but Jesus, Allison. Was it the alpha that’s been shitting all over our territory? You should’ve come to us.” Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. She hated coming to them before. It made her feel weak.



She would give anything to go back and leave him on Derek’s doorstep.



“You didn’t need to go after him," Stiles continues, "we were taking care of it."



Allison scoffs - she can’t help it. “You were going to take care of it. In the meantime, more people would’ve died.” She pauses. “You don’t need to worry about him anymore.”



"What, he left?" Allison realizes in that moment that her life is slowly filling with awkward, pregnant pauses. It’s the curse of needing people who don’t particularly enjoy you. People you never thought you would need to be close to. Stiles isn’t one of those people, but it strikes her in this moment, in this conversation, that the reason Stiles never got too close to her, even after living so close together so many years, is simple. Stiles is pack. Allison is not, and has never wanted to be. 



He breaks the silence. “Tell me he left, Allison.” There are moments when Stiles gets serious, and she hates those moments, because it means things are very bad. Even in moments that are serious, that he takes seriously, Stiles is still snarky and bitter. But his true form is calm and quiet - and this is that.



"I put an arrow in his heart."



Stiles slams hard on the breaks, narrowly avoiding running a red light. “Fuck!” 



Derek’s reaction was something soothing - something she didn’t have to deal with, something she could just accept. Stiles reacts in a way that’s so him, and in a way that manages to completely sum up the situation, and it’s - it makes her laugh, helpless giggles fizzing on her lips and she realized she hasn’t laughed like this in years.



The best thing about Stiles is that he laughs with her. She figures that, out of any of them, he’s the one who has the most practice with laughing when all you really want to do is break down and cry. There’s a few heartbeats, when the sound quiets down, and she wonders when she’ll start to hear the rhythms. If it will be confusing, all those sounds overlapping until she can learn to control what she’s hearing.



"I’ll try really hard not to say anything if you think it’ll help." Allison bites her lip on a smile. She doesn’t know why she’s never bothered to go out of her way to hang out with Stiles. Maybe it’s the way he brings back too many painful memories - or maybe it’s the way he fell in love with a girl who so openly despises her. Whatever happened, in this moment, she misses him. She misses Scott, too, but that’s a bridge she still isn’t ready to burn.



Instead, she lets him have it. “Go ahead. I was expecting a lecture from Derek, but I’ll settle for a Stilinski Slammer instead.”



Stiles snorts. “A, you’re the best and I’m calling it that from now on, B, you don’t know Derek at all, and C, we’re here.” 




Only Stiles could manage to distract her from seeing her house again. She knows she’s going to have to move - god, she built mountain ash into the porch steps, it already feels wrong. There’s a safeguard, under her nightstand in her bedroom, but she knows that no matter what happens, this house will never again be comfortable. Never be home. It should bother her more than it does. People are supposed to become attached to their living space. But when she tells Stiles how to break the circle and she follows him inside, it’s only having someone else come beyond her living room that makes her notice how sparse it is.



The biggest room is her armory, for fuck’s sake. How did it get this bad?



Allison has known for a long time what hunting in populated areas means. It means giving up most of the things people are searching for, moving to a place like this - it means you’re becoming a ghost. But her walls are painted bland and white, her room clear of clutter, or pictures, or anything, and the fact that Stiles’ tone hitched when he said she didn’t know Derek manages to bother her more than leaving this place forever can. 



Maybe it’s the darkness in her. It made Scott stronger, more willing to do what was necessary. It made Stiles calmer, and being with pack allowed the hallucinations to stop, mostly.



It’s only her, now, that’s still having trouble. They all feel it, but it’s Allison who wakes up with Kate straddling her hips, a knife at her throat. It’s Allison who realizes it’s her own hand holding the blade, steady, firm, ready to kill.



It’s Allison who’s stuck.



She wants to ask him what that meant. About Derek. What it means that he can talk to her like that, but not about anything else. About Derek. What has changed between them so vastly. There was a time where Stiles wanted Derek dead, she thinks. But not anymore.



She only keeps her mouth shut because she knows she doesn’t have the right. Derek is doing her a favor - she knows no one would actually take her side, if he contested her sanctuary request. She’s a hunter - ex, now. And Derek, for all of the trials he faced at the beginning, has proved himself to be a strong leader in the years following their graduation. Apparently Beacon Hills was just that - a beacon, a magnet for horror and destruction. 



And if seeing Derek makes something inside her wind tight and tense, no one needs to know.



They pack her clothes into a duffle. She notes that while she has a lot of normal outfits, for classes, the majority of her wardrobe runs from grey to black. She doesn’t know when that changed, either - in the moments where Allison feels most different, the minutes her DNA spends unraveling and taking new shapes, she realizes that she hasn’t known herself in a very long time.



Or maybe she hasn’t quite found herself worth knowing, of late.






It’s easier when she has her clothes and her car. Stiles cleaned it out of anything wolfsbane related, and those weapons that could be cleaned were. She feels… more like herself, surrounded by her weapons and locked in her car with her iPod.



She doesn’t actually get out of the car, often. Allison starts appreciating the fact that coffee shops have a drive through option, because if she didn’t have those quiet moments in the parking lot with her coffee and her music, she’d probably go insane - not even considering the fact that the coffee doesn’t do anything for her system anymore.



She expects their visits. Has expected them since junior year, since she blurred the lines between dead and just near it, offering herself up to the otherworld. It’s still a surprise when she parks the car and settles in, only to see Kate in her periphery.



“You’re better off dead, you know.” She says it like it’s nothing, like it’s that simple. “I mean, if I was a fucking monster, I’d blow my brains out before the full moon came, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with that pesky alpha healing trick.”



Allison takes a sip of her coffee. It tastes like nothing. Like darkness, like tendrils that wrap around her heart, coil in her stomach and burst from her throat.



“You see, if I was in your position… I get it, sweetheart, I really do. The guy clawed at you and sunk his teeth in – who wouldn’t want to kill the bastard?”



Kate leans in, and Allison knows it’s not real, but she can smell her perfume, spicy and overpowering. She thinks she liked it, once. Remembers warm hugs and the scent reminding her of apple cider. She's so close her mouth almost touches Allison's ear.



She does not exist. She doesn’t have hair, she doesn’t have perfume. Her face is covered in ash. She’s buried six feet underground.



“The damage was already done. But baby, don’t you think it’s time you put yourself out of your misery?” Allison is shaking so hard that her coffee spills onto her lap, just slightly, burning her thigh. It’s still warm. It’s still hot. She puts it in the cup holder.



“I get the other part too,” Kate tells her, and Allison is shaking, her whole world is shaking, she can’t see, her heart feels like it’s going to explode. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he? A work of art. And you’ve always known. Always thought about it.” Kate is smirking, she knows without even looking at her. “You always loved to play with other people’s toys.”



Allison doesn’t want to think about this. Allison is not Kate. Allison is not this.



“It’s almost cute. Like a bitch in heat. Can't help yourself. That’s what you are, isn’t it? You’re an animal.”



No, she’s not. Allison is still a person, she’s still human – half, anyway. And Kate isn’t Kate. She’s just the darkness beneath her ribs.



Allison starts the car and tries not to think of anything at all.





She never bothered learning what Derek did to train his betas, when he first gave them the bite. She expects it’s changed, now, but it’s not like she’d be able to tell the difference. He hasn’t done anything. It’s killing her. He’ll answer her questions when she actually gets the courage to ask, and he doesn’t avoid her in the house, but he doesn’t ever tell her anything specific. Nothing about control.



She knows, of course, about anchors. The problem is that she doesn’t have one. Lydia calls, but it’s not enough, not nearly enough. Thinking of her dad makes her want to cry – she ignores all his calls, and he doesn’t know where Derek lives, so there’s comfort in that.



Allison has spent so much time pretending to be emotionless, trying to keep the darkness at bay, that she has nothing left.



Can you anchor yourself to the opposite of feelings?



She’s doubtful.



It doesn’t help that most of them hate her. She doesn’t know how to identify scents (another thing she wants to ask Derek about but won’t, since he refuses to teach her), but her senses are fully enhanced now, and everyone smells sour when she walks into a room except for Stiles. It’s genuinely awful being around Cora, because her hate eclipses the rest - even Erica is easier.



Boyd smells the least like sour candy. In fact, he sort of… it’s not really sour, exactly, not as distinct. It’s not hatred, or revulsion. She doesn’t have a name for it, but if there’s a choice, she’ll take sitting with Boyd over anyone else. It’s worth it, even though Erica will always take the other side, glaring daggers over his shoulder. Boyd never glares. He seems indifferent to her presence altogether - it’s utterly refreshing. It’s also a sad thing to want, when she thinks about it.



Allison gets to know Stiles a lot better, in these 8 days before the moonrise. She hears more of Scott than she ever did before, and Isaac too, and the rest of their pack, the ones she can’t ever remember the names of. She also learns a lot about Cora.



It’s not like he talks about her. He knows better. But he’ll casually mention her, in that way you can’t help when someone becomes so intertwined with your life. How much he hates his professor - and how he gave Cora better grades because she’s hot, back when she had to take the class. How he’s glad Allison lets him drive, because Cora won’t even though she’s a monster behind the wheel. Insignificant details.



Allison hates them.



She doesn’t care about Cora. Cora hates her, and every detail she gets makes her seem more like a person, not this cloud of hatred she’s grown to think of her as. She hates them because she doesn’t want to see Cora as a person. It’s easier to be okay with her hating Allison when she thinks of her as consumed by it.



It’s only when she’s lying awake in bed on the night before the full moon she realizes how fucked up that is. She has no idea what Cora thinks of her, but whatever it is, Allison has spent so many years dehumanizing her she never bothered to consider that maybe she could fix things. And why would she, when there was never any reason to bother speaking to Cora in the first place?



She’s starting to realize how caught up she’s been in everything since she graduated high school, since she moved away from Scott and Isaac and Lydia. It’s stupid, to get caught up in your high school friends, but they’ve never been normal, have they? She feels like someone’s dunked her head in a barrel of water and she’s finally waking up after being drunk for years.



It’s nothing but loneliness. And she’s been getting used to it, because she was so used to it for her entire life growing up. Moving, always, never settling, never getting the chance to make a home. Only now she doesn’t have her mom, or her dad, or Kate to ground her (don’t think about them, don’t think about them and they won’t come). Allison has only herself - that’s what being an adult means. She is alone if she does not make the effort.



She hasn’t. Made the effort, that is.






The full moon makes her skin itch. Her blood feels like it’s crawling through her veins half the time and racing far too fast to be healthy the other half. She doesn’t understand how they can stand it, the others - they go to class, they go to work, and all Allison can manage is sitting on her hands on Derek’s beat up couch, alternating between pacing and sitting utterly still. Every time Derek comes in to get a snack or do something in the living room, he’s smirking.



God, he’s fucking smirking, and it takes absolutely all of her willpower not to wonder if he smirks like that when he remembers he killed her mother. Oh, wait, she’s thinking about it.



He thinks she deserved to die, she knows it because Derek follows that old Argent code better than she ever could. We hunt those who hunt us. 



What right does he have to laugh at her? She was bitten against her will - all choice taken away. She never wanted this, she’s had to stay in a house full of people she hates, people who’d rather she was dead, and he won’t help her. She thought maybe he was starting to get over his dislike for her, but it’s clear he hasn’t. It feels like torture. He won’t help herwhat kind of asshole does that? Promises something only to go back on it?



Allison believes promises are binding, like contracts. A broken promise is a breach of trust.



She wants to call Scott. She knows he’d come rushing - hell, Scott was chosen as alpha by the fucking universe, he’s bound to do a better job than Derek will. Derek, who won’t even tell her how to control her hearing. Derek who won’t even tell her how to control her shift. 



Allison locks herself in the bathroom at exactly 6 o’clock. She knows the moonrise isn’t for another hour and a half, but she needs to be alone. Away from the quirk of Derek’s mouth and the twist of Cora’s every time Allison gets up to pace, the way Erica smells sour and Boyd smells soothing, and it contradicts itself at every turn. She hates them, she hates them. 



She sits in that bathroom, trying to find an anchor. Something, anything to hold onto. But every time she thinks of something good she’s sucked back into her rage, and it fills her up. Derek promised her - not explicitly, but the understanding was there. He’s done nothing to help her, and if she breaks anything in this room it’s going to be his fault.



How much time has passed? She can’t tell. Has the moon risen? She feels like it should have, by now, but there are no claws, no fangs to be seen, just that ever present itch under her skin, like something’s trying to claw its way out.



This should be impossible. She hasn’t found her anchor yet. Unless –



There's a hard knock on the door, two quick raps, and she knows who it is, knows enough of smells to scent him by now. Something coils ugly inside her, threatens to spring, and she knows that if she looked in the mirror her eyes would shine, bright and bloody red.



Allison doesn’t unlock the door. She does not tell him to come in. Instead, she pushes it open so hard the doorframe splinters around the lock, fuming, eyes aglow as her hands meet Derek’s chest. Her claws don’t come out, but it’s because she doesn’t want them to - because anger is always where she has found her control.



She has him against the wall in a moment; hand tight around his neck despite the fact that it’s almost too thick to get a good grip on. Her hands don’t shake, and her legs are strong - she knows she could cold him off the ground with this hand alone. But she doesn’t. 



They look at each other for a long while. She feels her teeth extend, opening her mouth in a snarl. He left her, and right when she thinks she has it under control he has the audacity to knock on the door? Like everything’s okay, like he didn’t promise her something, like he actually followed through. 



"You lied to me," she says through the thickness of fangs. 



"I gave you an anchor."



The silence is deafening. Derek just - looks at her, pond-water eyes searching hers. But Allison is not a puzzle. She’s not his puzzle. 



Her fingers must slacken, because in a moment he has her pinned, hands on either side of her head, his eyes flashing red in response to hers. Finally. “Anger,” she says, “Like yours.”



"Like it was," is what he says back, and how had she missed that? She keeps telling herself he’s changed, he’s different, yet every time she says something he manages to tell her she’s wrong. Or Stiles will. Any of them take the opportunity, really. You’re wrong about him. You don’t know him at all. 



"You didn’t have the right to lie to me. I trusted you!” Allison doesn’t quite know what this is about anymore. There’s animal instinct simmering under her skin, heat boiling in her blood, and all she can think about is Kate telling her werewolves were monsters and Allison willing herself to believe they weren’t. About using Derek’s wanted posters for target practice, about burning her mother’s suicide note and keeping that stupid pen Scott lent her on her first day at BHH. 



"So trust me to do what’s best for you. You told me you wanted me to help you control it, and I did. I gave you something to hold onto so you could use this next month to find something real.



Does he remember the bank vault? Find something real. She doubts it - she doesn’t think he’d bring up a moment like that here, right now. Allison growls at him anyway, because she can, because it feels good. Shifting feels good, like letting something out. He doesn’t seem to notice, or mind, though she notices his fangs come out to play as well. Like the power in her has called to him, too, alpha to alpha, and something in her rises before she shoves it down.



"I let you into my pack."



Allison sees her moment, twisting her way out of his hold exactly like her dad taught her and slipping her dagger from her boot as she turns. She has him up against the wall in seconds (they’re dancing across it, really, a complicated, powerful twist), knife at his throat, fangs bared and eyes red. “No, you didn’t. That’s not how it works. I’m not some wide eyed beta - I don’t submit to you. There’s only one way for a pack to have two alphas, and we aren’t mating, so let’s get one thing straight: I do not submit to you.



She pushes off him and the wall, taking two steps back, chest heaving as her eyes return to normal and her teeth recede. “I’m an alpha.” The dagger clatters to the ground.



Derek steps forward. “Good.” The statement throws her off, and he can tell – his mouth twitches. “You need to embrace your power - otherwise this isn’t going to work."



Even after he leaves the room, her hands shake, and her skin tingles. She doesn’t sleep well, that night. But she tells herself it’s the moon pulling her awake.







It gets easier, after that. Derek starts training her for real, and the betas… they change. They have no love for her, and they aren’t shy about that, but they don’t get in her face anymore. No one steals her food and everyone sits just a little away from her on the couch. It’s instinctive - Allison knows she’ll be exuding power, now, like a beacon. Bright and dangerous.



Derek teaches her to fight. To use her claws and teeth and tear people apart. They spar for hours some days, lunging and ducking and twisting around each other like they’re dancing. It’s hard to get used to. Allison feels naked without weapons, without her bow or her daggers, but Derek explains that her weaponry is what’s going to make her unique - if she can learn the basics first.



She still hates him, for a while. Something inside of her has always thought of Derek as… honest. Someone who told the truth, someone who held no secrets. The fact that he’s learned how to manipulate people makes her like him less, and she didn’t like him to begin with. But there’s something in the way he moves, the way he takes her down, that she recognizes, that she can see in herself. Something in his teeth at her throat, just in that moment, where she concedes her loss, that feels a lot more like trust than anything she felt before the full moon.



Like she’s passed some sort of threshold, and everything’s changing too quickly to make sense of.



It gets easier, living in the pack house. The scents become familiar to her, and the more time passes, the less they bother her. They allow her the invisibility she’s been craving since she got there. Allison’s not used to having people constantly around, and it’s aggravating, especially when she has to listen to Cora gasp Stiles’ name (and doesn’t she wish she could talk about that to her face) at night, or hear Boyd’s claws scratching at the headboard. It’s too personal, and she doesn’t like knowing their private lives, these people she doesn’t want to know at all. The house is soundproofed, but it only really works well on beta ears – Allison can hear them just as easily as she can hear the cars on the street.



She goes back to school after that first week, and it isn’t too bad, for a stretch. She’s learning quickly how to control her hearing, and it can actually be helpful to her, when she can focus - hearing important information she missed being whispered between friends, interesting points raised in private discussions to mark for later. 



It helps her at home (Derek's house, it's Derek's house) almost more than it does at school. The more time she spends in this house, the more time she spends actually getting to know them, and it’s confusing, muddles her thoughts whenever she spends any time away.



Allison notices her way of thinking is… shifting. She stops thinking of them as a Them, and starts thinking of the people in the house as… Us. She thinks it’s probably instinct - a wolf is stronger with a pack, and she can’t really join theirs, not as an alpha, not unless –



She cuts off that thought altogether, because it’s not one to have when she’s sparring with Derek. Their claws are out, sharp red eyes cataloging each move, but right now they aren’t touching. Just circling - Derek wants her to practice with her new eyes, noting the way the muscles in someone’s body tense before they move to fight. He’s deliberately slowing himself about a second waiting for her to catch up, but so far it hasn’t been successful.



Allison was always bad at chess, too.



Watch me,” he lisps from between fangs, and Allison can’t resist rolling her eyes.



"I am. Maybe my alpha eyes are defective." She makes ‘alpha eyes’ sound like a joke, a stupid one, but it almost makes Derek laugh.



Instead, he sighs. “Or maybe you’re not embracing what you have. I told you, Allison - it only works if you let go.”



But that’s the problem - she can’t. She can’t let go, because that means she will be out of control, and Allison refuses to sacrifice her control for the simple sake of power. Wolves are always under the thumb of the moon’s pull, their own instincts, but Allison refuses to give in.



She refuses to let the bite rule her. 



Instead she snarls, “Again!”




She thinks she probably saw this coming, if she really had to look through her thoughts and guess. But it was never at the forefront of her head, never something she actively thought about, until it was far too late.



It was an idiotic thing to do, anyway. She’s been seeing them for years, her aunt and her mother, and it hasn’t inhibited her ability to remain calm since she was in high school. But being a wolf changes everything. She sees them so clearly, now, their voices practically echoing in her ears as she tries to get through the day. They’re coming more frequently than they have in years, the darkness in her most likely magnified by her newly supernatural state.



She’s in the middle of the quad when Kate lunges for her, out of nowhere.



She fumbles, shocked - this has never happened in school before. When she searches herself for the anger, the hate that controls her shift, it doesn’t come. She’s grown complacent, with the pack. Even considered trying to make friends, trying to apologize. Somewhere along the way, somewhere in that short stretch of time, she’s lost her anchor. It was only meant to be temporary – she can remember Derek telling her that, vaguely – but she doesn’t have anything else. She doesn’t have anything else.



“Is that any way to behave in this situation, Allison?” Her mother growls, voice firm and filled with disappointment. Allison wants to cry. Her hands are fists, and she can feel them, claws pricking into her palms. The pain feels almost good. Like her knife digging into her wrist for a moment, just a pinprick for the blood during a hunt. She thinks she knows what this is, but she doesn't know how to deal with it - she's never felt so overwhelmed before. 



She needs to leave.



“Going so soon?” Kate calls, and Allison can hear her footsteps (she’s not real, they aren’t real) as she jogs to keep up. She wonders why the darkness does things like that, puts that much detail into it. Or maybe that’s her trait; her order and need for control it’s sucked right inside and made into a part of its tattoo.



Allison needs to get in her car. She needs to drive, she needs to go to Derek’s, she can’t be in class like this. She keeps her eyes trained on the pavement so no one will see how her vision’s gone red.



She doesn’t know if she can drive.



Allison doesn’t see her until it’s too late, until they’re almost touching, and she screams and it hurts, her ears are ringing, and she crumples to the ground. Class has already started and the stragglers seem too afraid of her to ask what’s wrong. Allison curls her head against her knees and pretends they aren’t there.



“Talk to me!” her mother orders. Allison pulls out her phone instead. Her throat feels dry, her face is wet with tears, she can’t – she can’t find her car, she can’t –






“Derek,” she breathes, and it turns into a choked sob.



“Allison?” He sounds genuinely concerned. No wonder her hate is fading away, into nothing, into less than nothing, she can hear Kate cheering her on just behind –



“I need you – I need you to pick me up, I can’t drive, I can’t – “ when she gasps for air there's nothing to pull in, nothing but the ashes Kate breathes out in clouds. 



Derek doesn’t ask her anything. He says okay, and he hangs up, and fifteen minutes later his car is pulling up. It sounds like every other car, but he opens the door, and his scent is overwhelmingly comforting in a place where everything smells foreign to her. 



He offers her a hand, and she takes it, lets him pull her into the car and put her hands firmly on her thighs so she wont claw the seats, buckling her seat belt and shutting the door. They drive, but only a few minutes, to a different section of the parking lot. They drive aimlessly. It takes a while, to wait out the shakes, the gasping breaths, stop seeing Kate crawling towards the windshield.



Derek parks the car, and somehow she knew he would, but she can’t say anything. What would she say? Oh, hey, I’m the only person who never stopped seeing the ghosts of my past after we did that whole sacrifice thing back in Beacon Hills?It’s stupid. It’s – weakness, she realizes. She doesn’t want to show him weakness. That, more than anything, is Allison, not wolf.



“I lost control,” she admits, because it's easier. That’s happened to all of them. “No anchor.” That part is harder to say aloud, because it means she doesn’t hate him, doesn’t hate them, and she’s not sure she wants Derek to know. It feels like there’s been a wall between them all these years, and now it’s crumbling and she still doesn’t know how to live without it. How to live without hating him, not when he’s so close.



She’s not looking at him, but Allison can hear the way his clothes rustle slightly as he nods. It’s still strange, parsing people’s body language without looking at them. It feels like she’ll never get used to it.



“What triggered it?” he asks, after too long of a pause, but his voice is achingly gentle. It tears her apart, and she looks at him for the first time since she got into the car, heartbeat thrumming in her own ears. He looks so much like an alpha, then, not like her, not raw power and strength and control, but like a caregiver. Like a leader, gentle and steadfast. The wall has been falling down, and she feels the bricks of it choking her, robbing her of that control, if only for a moment.



“The darkness.” She squeezes her eyes shut, so she won’t cry again, though she knows he can smell her saltwater tears already. “I still see them.”



She doesn’t have to clarify. Stiles and Scott saw people; they all know what happened. But Scott and Stiles went into packs, and those respective packs helped them through it. They found people to ease the burden, to focus on instead of drowning in themselves.



Allison has no one.



Derek doesn’t ask all the questions she’d expect from someone else – someone like Stiles. Why didn’t you say anything sooner? What did they do to you? Are you safe now?



Instead, he sits, and he thinks. He gets this look when he thinks particularly hard, and Allison struggles to remember when she noticed that. When she noticed anything about him. Thinking about it, about Derek, gives her a headache, so she gives up pretty quickly.



“We can help,” he says, and it’s such a shock to hear his voice after the silence they’d become that she jolts. “What?”



“The pack. We can help.” He looks her in the eye, and she finds she can’t look away – if this is her or if this is the wolf, it doesn’t matter. “But you have to let us.”



Allison doesn’t know what that means. Derek doesn’t force her to understand – instead, he starts the car and drives them home, and when she curls into her sheets, the scent of her and her alone is both comforting and makes her feel like she’s about to cry.







Allison goes to the mall two days later. She buys lipstick and a book. The lipstick’s expensive, MAC counter, and though she hardly wears the stuff, when she opens it she knows it’s nice by the fact that it smells delicious. The book is one she knows Erica will appreciate, some kind of harlequin romance – they’re her guilty pleasure, as far as Allison can tell.



When Allison gets to the house, Erica and Boyd and sprawled out on the couch watching TV. She pauses, unsure, and then clears her throat. Boyd looks up. Erica’s fingers tighten on his arm.



“Can I talk to you, Erica?”



She looks up like that was the last thing she suspected, suspicion coiling into each and every muscle. Boyd nudges her, and she rolls her eyes, hard, but she stands anyway. “Sure.” It’s possibly the most sarcastic agreement Allison has ever heard.



She’ll take it.



They go outside, to the woods behind the house, because it seems like a conversation to be had in private. Derek isn’t home, but even so, they go well out of reach even to Allison or Derek’s ears.



“What?” Erica asks, almost a statement, arms crossed over her impressive chest. Allison sighs, digging into the bag at her hip. She gets the bag with the book and lipstick inside and pulls it out, biting at the inside of her cheek a moment before holding it out.



“I’m sorry for hurting you,” she says, and there’s nothing in her heartbeat that suggests a lie.



Erica looks confused and genuine, more genuine than she’s seen her since she took the bite. Perhaps a little curious, too. She steps forward to take the bag from Allison and look inside, the corners of her mouth pulling up at what she finds.



There’s a moment of silence where Allison fears the worst, but –



“I’m sorry I almost killed you and tried to steal your boyfriend.”



Well, neither of them is perfect, but… it’s a start.






She tries to apologize to Boyd, too, but it’s far easier than apologizing to Erica. He waves her off, but she stands there and makes her speech anyway. I’m sorry for hurting you, you didn’t deserve it, none of you did, I’m sorry.



Allison had no idea Boyd had lost anyone until he told her he understood what it was like, to spiral downwards in the wake of loss. He’s surprisingly kind as much as he is firm, and she realizes she’d like to get to know him, would like to be friends. He might be the best idea for a friend she’s had in a very long time, save for Lydia.



After that, the only person left is Cora. Erica’s slowly been warming up around her, and no one smells sour anymore when she walks into the room, but when she approaches, Cora clenches her teeth. “Don’t bother,” she says.



Allison frowns. “But – “



“Just, don’t.” Cora puts up a hand. “Seeing you with Derek is… helpful. Just keep training. I don’t want an apology.”



She can feel the familiar stubbornness coursing through her, but Cora is already gone, up the stairs and slamming the door to her bedroom in her wake. Stiles follows, patting Allison’s shoulder as if he knew exactly what was going to happen.



That’s completely unfair – it was him who encouraged her to do this in the first place.






Training gets easier, with time. The others start pitching in, though they take her in groups instead of on their own, since training with Derek has at least left her able to dispatch a beta fairly easily. Allison grows more and more comfortable with the shift, allowing the familiar scents all around her to anchor her, ground her in her humanity, her identity.



The pack helps too, now that none of them want to murder her. It’s good, having familiar scents, good emotions, all around her. Whenever she sees movement out of the corner of her eye, she can plop down onto the couch next to Stiles or call Boyd just to listen to him talk while he works on a bike. It’s more than she’s managed to deal with in years, but somehow it doesn’t feel as overwhelming as it should.



She understands the animal side of her longs for a pack, but she didn’t realize just how powerful that instinct was until she started to live it. Now she can feel it, how even small touches ease the tension in her spine; leak the heat from her skin. She feels calmer the more time she spends in the house, and even though school is sometimes harsh and overwhelming, she’s learning to anchor herself to the memory of that scent.



It gets her through. As do the movie nights where Erica bitches every time she picks a movie and loves it halfway through, Stiles throwing popcorn until it catches in her hair, even Cora laughing when she thinks Allison isn’t looking.



Derek, sitting on the arm of the couch until she scoots over and tugs him down into the tight space left, the warmth of his side pressed against hers enough to make her shudder as he sits, slowly relaxing through the night. He falls asleep halfway through the second movie, and when she turns, his head is thrown back onto the top of the couch, throat bared, just inches away from her teeth.



She’s getting through this. Somehow.






The thing about Derek is he’s confusing. She has nightmares, sometimes, and he’s the only one who hears her when she whimpers, his footsteps slipping through the door just as she jolts awake. He doesn’t say anything, but he looks at her, and something in her ribcage slows and eases. When she tries to sleep again, he sits on her bed. Sometimes, in that dreary place between sleep and still awake, she remembers his hand on hers, a comforting weight.



He’s gone by morning, every time.



His scent is her favorite, if she had to pick, because it reminds her most of home. Of growing up deep in the woods playing Robin Hood for target practice, nights pouring over books because they taught her more than her brief stints at school ever did. His scent is pine needles and rich earth and the lignin of old books, and sometimes when he’s close she thinks he knows. That somehow she’s drawn to him.



Of course, she’ll blame it on instinct. The only two alphas, drawn together because neither of them have a "mate". To her wolf, Derek must look perfect - a strong, competent alpha with a large pack, mate-less and not even really on the market. It makes sense, that she would be drawn to him.



This is what she tells herself. This is not how it happens.



Derek, as usual, creeps up on her. She’s not even sure what she feels when he’s around, but it’s something coarse and volatile that runs through her like electricity. Except it isn’t, either – she feels like the crashing storm in her mind eases when he’s around, turns to something similar to the gentle tide. Tension oozes from her pores until she melts to sea foam.



He’s quiet, but not the opposite of talkative - he simply prefers to listen to his pack over talking. She realizes this early on, that Derek loves them. It’s in his eyes and in his skin and it’s all that he is, this love, and she thinks, I never lost my father. I never had to know what it was like, not to have family. 



Only she has lost him, now. She won’t take his calls, she doesn’t reply his emails. He doesn’t push and she’s thankful for it. Someday… someday she’ll be able to tell him. Maybe at the year mark, maybe more. When she feels under control, she will tell him. She will.



Derek is good with his betas, now. It’s probably taken him years to learn, but he knows just how to talk to them, knows exactly what they need. Allison thought at first that it might be hard, having couples in the pack - couples fight, and they all live in one house - but whenever there’s a fight Derek is there for both sides. He talks it out and offers whatever help he can (with Erica, Allison notices, his hands always smell like chocolate), and whatever he says, it works, because they make it better and make it up to each other in the end. 



(That was always her problem with Isaac - they were good together, good in bed and good in battle, but when they fought it was with unbridled ferocity that left them both in tattered pieces. They never could quite figure out how to apologize.)



He’s gentle in all the areas she thought he would be rough. When she thought of Derek before, she thought of tensed arms crossed over chests, of the man who shouted in her face because he didn’t believe he killed her mother (he didn’t, really, but he did in all the ways that mattered to her mother), who refused to tell Scott anything important until it was too late. She’s thought of 22 year old Derek Hale as someone immovable - incapable of change.



She’s been wrong about them so many times she’s not even surprised anymore when she realizes the truth is far more complex than she’s made it out to be.



Because Derek isn’t a monster. He isn’t more animal than man. Sometimes he’s so human it makes her ache, because every time she sees it is another reminder that in her quest to remain true to herself and true to her species, Allison had become little more than a shadow. A dark stain of who she should’ve been, who she wanted to be. Derek is more real than anything she’s seen in a very long time.



He reminds her of Scott, really, in all the ways that matter but not in the ways that made sure fate would never bring her back together with him. He is human and he feels, he watches out for everyone, and she doesn’t have to see them fight to know he would die for them. All of them. But Derek is not kind in the same way Scott is - he is harsh edges and softer insides, and he is the knife blade that can clang against her daggers.



Sparks fly into the air, and Allison forgets, for a little while, that she hates him at all.



Of course, then he’ll push her too hard. Then he’ll tell her she’s an idiot for refusing to let go, refusing to give in to the nature of the wolf and feel the raw power that lies dormant in her veins. This is the only time Allison and Derek are equal in strength - the only time her righteous anger is powerful enough to call to life the buzzing howl in her ears, coax out her fangs and claws until what they do becomes less of a training session and more of a battle.



Tooth and nail, claw to claw. Allison doesn’t always win, but when she does, when she sits astride his lower torso with her claws at his wrists and her fangs on his neck, he pulls her up and smiles. He’s too many complexities and variables for her to figure out, and she cannot imagine anyone so difficult to deal with.



When her two months of sanctuary are over, Derek comes to her at midday. She’s in the middle of a pretty huge sandwich, and when she looks up, there’s something in his eyes that makes her body sing.



"It’s two, today," he says quietly.



Cora comes through the kitchen like a hurricane, which is how she always enters a room, and when she passes, she squeezes Allison’s wrist. They’ve come a long way. She smirks at Allison sometimes, over Derek’s shoulder, and she thinks she can hear Stiles whispering gossip to her at night.



It’s inconsequential. Allison tried to kill him, and Derek indirectly killed her mother.



What the others think doesn’t matter. It’s a mantra she’s been repeating for weeks.



"I know," is all she says, instead of blurting out all her most inconsequential thoughts. She swipes her sleeve across the back of her mouth, not noticing until then just how comfortable she’s become here, in this house and with Derek and Cora and all of them, even Erica. She borrowed a book from Boyd the other day, and he smiled.



Derek rests his forearms on the counter. “Are you going to leave?”



Allison pushes the last bite into her mouth and washes her plate in the sink, avoiding having to look at the technicolor of his eyes for any length of time. If she looks at him, she won’t have any kind of objectivity.



The plate clatters to the sink when it occurs to her she doesn’t really have any to begin with.



"No," she says, with a kind of finality, turning her back on the running water and resting her hands on the counter behind her. She looks Derek straight in the eye, and she turns just in time to catch the widening of his eyes, the way tension escapes his body in waves. The corner of her mouth goes up.



"Do you remember," he says, slightly uncertain, "When you first shifted? What you said to me?" He asks as if it’s a deterrence – as if he’s trying to remind her why she’s making the wrong decision.



Derek’s come a long way in every area except his own self-hatred.



Allison takes a step forward, then another, walking around the kitchen island so she stands in front of him. She’s tall for her sex, but Derek is still taller, and it’s something she only notices in moments like these, when she has to look up at him for full effect. 



She puts a hand on his shoulder, and Derek blinks rapidly, pupils full against his supernova irises. Huffing a laugh, she follows the line of his neck up to his hair, and then pulls gently until he tilts is head back, baring his throat. She wraps human teeth around his jugular, and Derek shudders.



"I told you I don’t submit to you," she whispers, moving her head back and letting go so he can look at her. His eyes are heavy, and red begins to trickle into his irises even as she speaks. "And that there was only one way it was possible to have a pack like this."



For a moment, it feels like the world stands still. Everyone takes a collective breath, and the planet forgets to tilt on its axis, because Derek Hale and Allison Argent stand here, in this beat between breaths, on the cusp of something powerful. Something unforgettable and final.



She cups his face between her hands, and the 3 day beard on his cheeks is surprisingly soft as she pulls him down into meeting her halfway. When their mouths touch, she feels as though this kiss could sear the flesh from her bones - like she’s being torn apart and remade, again and again, exactly in the image of this moment. This kiss isn’t just mutual attraction and desire. It speaks to a kind of acceptance for both of them - Derek learning to let go and see Allison without seeing Kate behind her eyes, and Allison realizing that her mother killed herself, and the only people to blame for that are the parents that died before Allison was born, who raised her mother into thinking that it would be better to be dead than a wolf.



When she kisses him, the voices do not come, and the tension seeps from her body in a tidal wave, crashing to the ground.



Allison feels the animal inside singing in every exhale. She doesn’t feel torn in two. Rather, she feels as though she’s finally been reborn, and come from the other side as neither wolf nor human, but something more. 



She wonders if this was always meant to be. Then again, there’s no such thing as fate, is there?



“Stop thinking,” he murmurs, dragging his hand up, up, up, under her shirt, slipping over her skin with hands that heal too fast to be calloused. Hands that have always been soft, and gentle, somehow, and how had she not seen that before?



There’s so much of him she never had the chance to notice. So much she wants to explore. She pulls him to the staircase, ignoring the rude comment Erica makes from the living room, and they make it to the landing before she has him against the wall, muffling the sound of his surprise with her mouth. It isn’t easy, she’s almost too short for it, but then Derek slumps just a little, bending his knee and slipping a thigh between her legs and that’s – it’s good, it’s really good, she can’t even remember the last time she’s done this, and she wants –



That isn’t exactly true. She’s – done what she wants with almost everyone she’s had over, in the past several months, maybe a year, maybe over a year. Time is relative. It’s only been since she started living with Derek that things stopped. 



This is different. This isn’t just something easy, it isn’t about getting off. Derek threads his fingers through hers and lets her press him into the wall, the intensity of her strength possibly lifting him slightly, and he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care – because he trusts her, because the wolf in him trusts her, and that is so much more, so much more of everything. She hasn’t let herself have anything like this in a long time.



Allison doesn’t know how to do this, anymore.



They do make it to the bedroom. Derek’s, actually, ignoring the sounds of the pack outside, because they can’t hear them anyway, it doesn’t matter, nothing matters but this. His hand is big enough it almost covers the back of her head when he sinks his fingers into her hair, the first touch of his with even a hint of something rough, with an edge. They’re full of edges. It tears something wild from her, a sound she’s never made, maybe never could have, before, but she feels like it’s practically vibrating from her skin.



Being bitten has kindled something inside of her that’s lain dormant. She doesn’t know when it happened, how it took so long to see that this – it isn’t perfect, it isn’t what she wanted, but it’s good. It’s so good, to be free, not to be lonely, and she can feel Derek’s beard scratched against her skin when he kisses her, rough as his hand is gentle on her waist, pushing the door open with her body and falling through.



They do fall, they really fall, stumbling over each other’s feet until her back hits the mattress, but only her back, right in the middle, and they slide to the floor, Derek on his knees and Allison’s legs splayed wide, laughing into his chest. She feels him shake with laughter, hears it in her ear with his breath ghosting over her cheek, and she doesn’t know how the hell she’s lived without it. Without this, without laughter, without touching someone and feeling like it’s tearing her apart and putting her back together all at once.



Derek cups her face in his hands, runs his fingers through his hair and watches the fading sunlight from between the strands. Derek is watching her and Allison is watching him, his face, his warm and careful eyes on her the way they’ve always been. She’s felt pinned by his gaze since that stupid party, when he lied to her, and it’s strange to think that one of the most honest relationships she’s had started out with a lie.



He kisses her forehead, trails his nose down her cheek, shaking his head. “I didn’t – think, really, I just wanted you here.”



Allison grins, sliding a hand up to his neck. “I wanted to be here. If you were any slower I’d have carried you.”



He laughs at that, too, and it never fails to surprise her – Derek’s laughter is warm and quiet, like rumbling thunder, and it strikes through her like lightning every time. “I wouldn’t mind,” he admits, voice quiet, and she slides up until she can push herself onto the mattress, mouth quirked up and holding a hand out to him.



Derek takes it, and she pulls him over her like a blanket, like a wave crashing over her shore. She wants to drown in him, almost, sink under until she’s gasping and grow gills so she can stay, breathing the clean, cold water of his sighs against her mouth. She pulls his lip into her mouth, teeth sliding across his skin, a little too sharp. She can barely taste his blood before he heals, and she knows that if she opened her eyes, everything would be in high definition.



Lower lip sliding down the column of her neck, Derek pauses, focusing his attention on her collarbone – the mark will fade… in an hour. For now, it’s a reminder, a place he fits his thumb against while he smiles into her skin.



She likes that – the smiling. It’s been a long time since she’s had anything to smile about, especially in bed with someone else. She drags her hand through his hair and he hums into her skin, sliding a hand under her shirt until she assists in tugging it off.



They take things slow, but it isn’t gentle. One moment she laughs as something he does tickles at her skin, and the next he’s sliding the lace from her thighs and his tongue between and she can’t – there’s not enough air in the room, her lungs refuse to expand, everything is muzzy and intense and she’s gasping with it. “Oh – fuck, what – “



It’s not what she was expecting. How has – she wonders if he’s been like, practicing, and something fierce and jealous rears inside her, growling ferociously. She tamps it down and focuses on the sensation, tilting her hips up, toes curling into the sheets. She wonders if she’ll lose control enough to grow claws on her toes, like Kali had. She hopes not – the thought of growing claws on her hands is bad enough, digging holes into the mattress, through the sheets –



Derek slides his finger inside her and she decides she doesn’t give a fuck.



He eats her out like he wants to drown in her, too, dark hair brushing pale thighs before he pushes them apart, and she can take it, god, she can take it. She could take everything, if he offered.



Allison arches from the bed and thinks maybe this is her offering. Most of her experience shows that foreplay is perfunctory – she hasn’t come from this since she was seventeen, but she can feel it building in the way she twists her body, writhing against the sheets. He touches her like he has to feel it, to taste it, like that will somehow make it real for him. She wants him to have that clarity, and he wants to bring it, needs it, somehow desperately.



She crests somewhere between her leg wrapping around his shoulders and the whines she didn’t realize she was making until they turned to crescendo, her body unwilling to stop moving as he guides her through, slows things down. He drags his teeth over her clit and she jolts, legs shaking when Derek slides into her kiss. It would steal her breath if she had any left to give.



Bouncing back is easier when you’re a werewolf – this discovery has already been made, but now it seems crucial as she presses her hand into his shoulder, rolling until his back hits the mattress and the wet slide of her hips is nestled over his lower torso. His eyes are wide and stunned, for a moment nervous before he relaxes, hands brushing her thighs and up to her hips. His eyes are red, and so are hers, probably, but it doesn’t feel like a loss of control.



It feels free.



She wants to feel the weight of him, suddenly, on her tongue. Wants to find if he is salty or bitter or both at the back of her throat. Allison digs into his nightstand, getting a condom before setting it aside and sliding down to take him into her mouth.



Derek’s head hits the headboard, hard, and she wonders if maybe that’s why they called it a headboard instead. He doesn’t seem to mind, but he does sit up slightly, on his elbows so he can watch, and it gives her an idea, makes her slide one hand up, propping herself on only one elbow so she can circle his nipple once, twice, and then press her fingers to his mouth.



She doesn’t push, but Derek opens up for her so easily, chasing the salt of her skin and almost matching her rhythm. Allison pulls off just long enough to smile, lapping at him with little kitten licks while he moans around her fingers. He looks wrecked, hair sticking out in all directions and his mouth shiny with saliva and her. She waits until she feels the wet sensation of something sliding down her wrist before pulling her hand away, and Derek puts his hands beneath his knees, tugging, opening up for her again. His head hits the pillow with a thump, and Allison smiles before she takes him in her mouth again, sliding down, down, down.



She teases at him, circling his hole and getting him wet before flitting in, once, and pulling out again. Now that Derek doesn’t have her hand to muffle him he sounds wild, high, tight noises escaping from his throat until she sinks one finger in and he goes breathless.



He also rocks into it, and she swirls her tongue around him, lifting up at the same time her finger pushes in before alternating, never leaving him with any less stimulation. The second finger is a stretch, but she tongues at his slit for that part, and it goes in easily enough.



Allison thinks he’s probably never done this before, not even to himself, and something carnal slides into place and tightens in her belly. She curls her fingers and speeds her pace, wanting to feel him tighten around her, but she won’t make him come. Not yet.



He’ll come when he’s inside her, and not a moment before.



It doesn’t take long – he’s rocking easily with her movements, abdominal muscles moving like there’s a sea beneath his skin, just as desperate to be free as he is to find relief, but she can’t give it, not yet. The noises Derek makes are a cross between quiet and broken, like he’s trying to hold onto them harder each time but can’t help it, has to let them go and crawl their way out. He doesn’t speak, but she thinks he will, if she presses hard enough.



Maybe another time she’ll take it slow enough.



She winds him tight like a box about to spring, then eases off, listening to him whine in displeasure and the sound of him tearing the sheets beneath his claws. In the moments while he gathers his bearings and eases off the edge, she opens the condom, crawling back onto the bed before rolling it on. He hisses, shifting and growling a little petulantly, which makes her laugh and bring a clawed hand to her mouth, kissing his palm.



Derek runs a hand down her cheek, and she feels like she’s sliding home when she slides down onto him.



His hands are tender on her hips, claws nicking her skin every so often, but he doesn’t control her movements, instead lending her his strength in aiding them. Allison doesn’t need it – she’s strong enough to do this for hours, though she knows she won’t last that long – but somehow the fact that they’re doing this together amplifies everything.



Derek sits up, hands tightening on her hips to move her back without jostling her too much, and the change in position makes her moan, drives him further inside her. She wonders wildly if it would hurt to have him claw inside, and decides between one breath and the next that she doesn’t care. How can she, when all it takes is a single twist of her hips before he makes a wounded noise, like she’s knocked him down with a single touch.



She comes with human nails digging into the back of his neck and shaking thighs, and when he flips them, careful not to over-stimulate her even as he chases his own release, she arches her neck, letting him come with his teeth buried in her skin.



Derek’s teeth are as gentle and sharp as the seal he’s made across the vulnerability of her heart.

















An arrow sings as it flies through the trees, easily dodging every trunk that appears to be in its way and lodging itself just above the head of the omega. He spins wildly, trying to see the hunter who’s gotten the best of him.



"Turn back," a voice calls, and he can scent the overwhelming stench that is alpha and power. 



He turns to flee, but there’s a girl behind him, and when he looks the other way a man stands between him and his freedom, arms crossed over his chest. “This land belongs to the Hales and to the Argents.”



The omega snarls. Argents do not claim territory - Argents are hunters, they have no right.



The next arrow buries itself in his leg.



"This is our land. My next will be in your heart - and don’t think I’m not prepared to use my claws, if it comes to it."



He turns, and there she is, eyes glowing red even as she strings her bow with an arrow that smells of wolfsbane. How is that possible? How can an alpha hunt too, with arrows deadly to herself and to her pack? He catches sight of her black gloves and a thrill of fear goes through him.



They were right about this place, in the East. He’d thought it was merely rumor - how could one stretch of land be so dangerous almost no omegas traveled through it anymore? He thought it would make it easier, not to have to deal with competition.



He sees it now; why they all spend so much time running from this place.



This land is for Argents and for Hales, and for any who reside upon their honor. And they will protect what is theirs with a fury unbridled.



The omega runs.



Allison’s laughter echoes, following him through the trees like the ghost of her revenge.