Chris Argent isn’t a cruel man.
The night of Allison’s death, when Isaac Lahey turns up on his doorstep looking like the world has ended, Chris doesn’t turn him away. Chris is numb, and he barely has the energy to close and lock the door behind the boy. He watches as Isaac trails silently toward Allison’s room.
He doesn’t follow him.
Chris has seen enough death that he knows crying into the pillows makes no fucking difference at all. Chris goes to his study instead, cracks the seal on a bottle of black label scotch, and proceeds to drink himself into unconsciousness.
When he wakes in the morning, his head throbbing and his guts churning, Isaac is still in the apartment. Chris might not have even noticed him through his hangover, except his hunter’s instincts—ingrained into him courtesy of his father—sharpen at every tiny noise, at every shape flitting past an open door, and at every shuddering breath from another room.
Isaac’s grief doesn’t alleviate Chris’s. There’s no fellow feeling in it. No burden shared is a burden halved. He finds it suffocating. Cloying. He doesn’t know why Isaac is here, wallowing in it. He doesn’t know what he’s seeking here, but he presumes that he’ll go away when he fails to find it.
Isaac doesn’t leave.
It’s the third or the fourth day after Allison’s death when Chris wonders if he should do something. At least ask Isaac why he’s still here.
But he doesn’t.
He can’t bring himself to care.
And neither, it seems, can anyone else.
Chris was fourteen-years-old when he saw his first feral omega. When he saw the truth. It’s not just that werewolves are animals under their skin, it’s that their skin is not enough to keep the animal contained. The wolf will out, always.
Chris has seen it.
There was a time he didn’t want to believe it, but he has the scars to prove it.
The wolf will out.
It’s night when Isaac finally sidles into Chris’s study, hands shoved in his pockets, misery carving out dark shadows under his eyes and hollows in his cheeks. It’s been five days since Allison died. Five days, and it already feels like a lifetime.
“I’m leaving,” Isaac says.
And Chris thinks, Good.
“Beacon Hills,” Isaac says. He lifts his chin. “I’m leaving Beacon Hills.”
And Chris thinks, No.
Strange how it’s Isaac’s small declaration that forces Chris to remember how to act. How to put aside his grief and guilt and anger and despair and a thousand different sickening emotions and remember that he has a job to do. Remember that there are oaths he swore and that now, more than ever, they have to mean something because they’re all he has left.
In that moment, five days after Allison died, Chris remembers how to be the hunter he was raised to be.
“It’s late,” he says, and sets the bottle aside. “Go to bed, Isaac. We can talk in the morning.”
He forces a small smile, and Isaac’s eyes shine with grateful tears. The boy nods quickly, ducking his head to hide his expression, and scuttles back toward Allison’s room.
And Chris …
Chris remembers who he is.
Chris has avoided Allison’s room until now. He expects it to be shocking, somehow, to still see her things laid out on her dresser, her homework on her desk, her jacket thrown over the back of her chair. He expects the pain to stab him, sharp and bright, but it doesn’t. There’s no new crest for his grief to ride. No new peak. Just the same dark, consuming abyss of his loss. Seeing her things where she left them, seeing the boy curled up in her bed still trying to hold onto the shape of her memory, doesn’t sting. It’s possible that nothing will ever sting again.
Isaac doesn’t wake when Chris crosses the floor quietly.
His phone is on the small bedside table. Chris picks it up, and checks for messages.
There are none in the last week.
He checks the call log.
There are none in the last week.
The last person who called Isaac was Allison.
Chris sets the phone down again, and looks at Isaac as he sleeps. The moonlight falls across his face and makes him look almost otherworldly. He’s almost beautiful. The soft, silver light makes an angel out of him, and sleep strips away all his hard, sullen edges. He appears like some ethereal creature who cannot possibly exist in mundane daylight. He looks more like an angel than a monster.
It is, Chris knows, only a trick of the moonlight.
In the morning, Chris starts packing. He’s aware of Isaac in his periphery, watching cautiously like an animal too afraid to approach. It takes a while for Isaac to work up the courage to blurt out: “Are you leaving?”
Chris runs his fingers over one of the family books before setting it in a packing box. It wasn’t that long ago that he and Allison unpacked these boxes, after moving to the apartment. It has been unthinkable to stay in the house where Victoria died. Where her blood still stained the bedroom carpet. It’s just as unthinkable to stay here, where every time Chris looks up he half-expects to see Ally standing there.
“I’m going to France,” Chris says. “My family still has property there. I can’t stay here.”
Understanding flashes in Isaac’s eyes. Understanding, and something else too.
He nods, and ducks his head, and slips away.
They’re not there yet, Chris knows, but the trap’s been set and baited, and it won’t take much to nudge Isaac toward it.
The first trick any hunter learns is how to be patient.
Chris orders pizza for lunch. He showers for the first time in days. Shaves. He looks like a new man when he steps out of the shower. He doesn’t feel like one though. He doesn’t feel like he’s occupying his body at all. He stares at his face in the mirror for a moment, but there’s no jolt of recognition there. Just the same strange disconnect, a sort of a numbness in the back of his skull that’s been there since Allison died. It manifests in a sort of a humming sound, constant, but pitched low, like the drone of insects or some distant barrage. It reminds him of a concussion.
He remembers when he was eleven.
Remembers his father coming at him with a baton, and the sudden sharp crack of it against his skull.
Remembers Gerard screaming at him to get up. To get the fuck up.
And he did, lurching to his feet even though he couldn’t tell which way was up. Like some drunk stumbling from foot to foot, sluggish, moaning, swinging wildly.
Because that’s what he was trained to do.
He swipes a hand across the mirror, leaving a smear of wetness on the steamed-up glass that distorts his reflection, and then leaves the bathroom.
He finds Isaac hovering in the living room.
“Isaac,” he says, to get his attention, and tosses him his wallet. “Pizza’ll be here soon. You mind paying the guy?”
Isaac curls his fingers around the wallet, and jerks his head in a nod. “Okay.”
Chris lets a corner of his mouth quirk up in a smile. “Thanks.”
Chris goes to his bedroom, and waits there until the pizza has been delivered and Isaac has paid. He goes out to the kitchen again, and finds Isaac flustered, just like he knew he would. A kid with Isaac’s history… well, it doesn’t take much to unsettle him. Just a subtle shift in the dynamics of their relationship, and he’s off kilter.
Chris takes his wallet back. “Did you tip the guy?”
“Yeah,” Isaac says, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “A five. Is that okay?”
Chris doesn’t check his wallet. Just slips it into his pocket. “That’s fine, Isaac.”
Isaac’s shoulders sag, and he looks relieved.
Chris gestures to the pizza. “You’re gonna help me eat this, right?”
That drags an almost-reluctant smile out of Isaac, fleeting and uncertain. “Yeah.”
He opens up over the pizza, like Chris knew he would.
No, Scott and Derek haven’t called him, and Isaac hasn’t called them. He seems almost ashamed to admit to it, as though the deficiency is his, and not theirs. Derek isn’t his alpha anymore—Derek isn’t anyone’s alpha—but maybe Scott… Isaac’s brow creases, and he shrugs, hunching over as though he’s trying to hide in the space between his shoulders.
“I thought…” He swiped his tongue over his bottom lip nervously. “It got complicated. Because of… because of Allison.”
Chris swallows down the sour taste in the back of his throat and nods.
“I don’t have anyone else,” Isaac says.
Chris quirks his mouth. “That makes two of us, Isaac.”
And the little animal in the woods inches closer and closer to the trap.
Chris waits until the afternoon. He leans in Allison’s doorway, and Isaac scrambles up from her bed.
“You’re serious about leaving Beacon Hills?” he asks.
“You got anywhere to go?”
He hesitates. “No.”
“Then you’re welcome to come with me,” Chris says. “If that’s what you want. You don’t need to answer right away. But you think about it, okay?”
“Okay,” Isaac says, and swallows. “Okay.”
Wolves are tactile creatures, and Isaac is touch-starved. He probably has been since long before he was bitten, but it must be acute right now. Chris makes sure to brush against him a few times in passing, and he notes how Isaac leans into the contact. Like a leaf drawn into the wake of some larger object in the water. Or something adrift in space, falling into the gravitational pull of a dying star.
He helps Chris pack the rest of the books, and the weapons, and their shoulders brush together as they work. Whenever it happens something loosens in Isaac’s posture, some tension is released, and when Chris puts a hand on his shoulder and squeezes, Isaac almost melts under the firm pressure.
“Thanks,” Chris says. He rubs his thumb over the soft skin at the base of Isaac’s throat. “You’ve been a great help.”
Isaac’s cheeks are pink.
Chris squeezes his shoulder again and then releases it. “Have you thought anymore about whether you want to come with me?”
“I don’t know.”
“There’s no rush,” Chris says. “No rush at all.”
But there are only six days left until the full moon.
In the next few days Isaac is easier around Chris. His smiles remain hesitant, but he no longer ducks his head to escape Chris’s gaze. They eat meals together, and watch TV together, and Isaac finally changes the sheets on Allison’s bed. Finally burrows asleep to the smell of clean cotton, and not Allison’s faint scent.
Chris isn’t sure if this means he’s drawn some sort of line in the sand in regards to his grief or not, but it’s only three days now until the full moon.
He leans in Allison’s doorway, and watches Isaac sleep.
Watches the rise and fall of his chest.
Watches his sleep-smoothed brow.
Watches, and feels the ache of old scars on his skin.
“Isaac,” he says softly, and Isaac’s eyes flutter open. “Come here.”
Isaac blinks blearily at him.
“Come here,” Chris says. “If you want.”
He doesn’t know if Isaac’s done this before. The way he bites his lip and squeezes his eyes shut when Chris pushes into him, maybe not. But a moment later he’s wide-eyed again, clinging to Chris instead of pushing him away, and Chris tries not to remember that there’s a damn good chance this kid slept with his daughter and that the sounds he’s punching out of Isaac now might not be that different from the ones Allison once made.
“It’s okay,” he whispers. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
He’s not sure which one of them he’s trying to convince.
There’s a fragility to Isaac that’s more boy than wolf, but Chris knows better than to be fooled by it. If it’s real, it’s only fleeting. The wolf is a killer, and the wolf will out.
“It’s okay,” he whispers again, and leans down to capture Isaac’s mouth in a kiss. “I’ve got you. I’ve got you, okay?”
Isaac wraps his shaking legs around Chris’s lower back, and urges him deeper. “Please. Please.” His eyes shine with unshed tears, and he lifts his face for another kiss. His breath is hot against Chris’s mouth. “Please, Daddy.”
Chris’s hips snap forward, and his nerves light up. He grips Isaac’s hair, and tugs his head back so that he can draw up marks on his throat. “Daddy’s got you. Daddy’s here.”
There’s something wild about it, something exhilarating, like the sort of fairground ride that leaves Chris dizzy and craving more at the same time. There’s a sort of reckless abandon in the word that drives Chris deeper, faster. He wants to bruise, to own, and he wants to hear Isaac desperate for him. For Daddy.
There’s a sort of sickness in it too, twisted up in both of them. There has to be. The last man Isaac called Daddy beat the shit out of him and locked him in a freezer. Now, like a dog, he’ll take any scraps, won’t he? And Chris can’t pretend he doesn’t feel the thrill of possession when the word tumbles out between them.
Chris leans up, and looks down at where his cock is splitting Isaac open. It gives him a visceral jolt of pleasure to see what he can also feel: that tight, hot pressure squeezing him hard. Isaac’s dick is hard as well, leaving shining trails of precum over his straining abs. His body is undulating, muscles tensing and releasing under his skin as though Chris is driving electricity through him. His eyes are wide, his mouth hanging open. His fingers are claws, digging into Chris’s sheets.
Chris can almost see the wolf just below the surface.
And he owns it.
He drives back into Isaac, fast and hard, and Isaac’s back arches like a bow. “Daddy!”
“You like this, baby?” Chris asks him. He curls his fingers around Isaac’s throat and feels his pulse hammering there. “You’re being such a good boy for your daddy. Taking my cock so well.”
Unease flashes in Isaac’s eyes, so Chris leans back in and soothes it away with a kiss. Isaac exhales slowly, his body moving restlessly, and opens his mouth for the kiss.
“I’ve got you,” Chris says. “I’ve got you.”
He reaches down and, for the first time in his life, curls his fingers around someone else’s dick.
Isaac calls him Daddy when he comes.
It’s been months since Victoria died. Months since Chris slept in a bed with a warm body beside him. It would be easy, he thinks, to be seduced by the quiet warmth of this moment. To sink into it, and close his eyes, and fall asleep with another heart beating in time with his own.
There’s the trap, right there.
It’s the night before the full moon.
Isaac packs his scant belongings in one of Allison’s old backpacks.
“No second thoughts?” Chris asks him, shouldering his own bag.
Isaac smiles and shakes his head. And then his smile vanishes. “You won’t… you won’t let me hurt anyone, will you?”
“No, Isaac,” Chris says, and pulls him into an embrace. He presses a kiss to the top of Isaac’s head. “I won’t.”
When Chris was fourteen, his best friend was bitten, and tried to kill him. Chris remembers telling the Stilinski kid that. Remembers trying to impress on him how Scott would turn on him. That it’s as inevitable as moonrise. And here’s Isaac now, an omega, his blood running hot because it’s almost the full moon, and because he has no pack, no alpha, no anchor.
The moon will rise and the wolf will out.
If Chris believed there was any other choice, he would never have held the knife for Victoria.
They’re about twenty miles outside of Beacon Hills when Chris pulls over. He smiles at Isaac’s questioning look.
“There’s a place…” He clears his throat. “Victoria and I used to bring Allison here for picnics. Would you mind…?”
“No,” Isaac says. “Of course not.”
Chris walks into the trees, and Isaac follows him.
The darkness shrouds them.
Half an hour later Chris drives off alone, and wonders why Isaac never learned not to bare his throat to a hunter.
He made it quick though. Quick and clean, and he hopes it didn’t hurt in the end.
“It’s okay,” he whispered. “It’s okay. Daddy’s got you.”
Chris Argent isn’t a cruel man, but he is a practical one.