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Good things come to those who wait

Chapter Text

Chris Argent hated having to rely on anyone. And there he was, being helped by an Alpha werewolf get up from the ground after the fight. Scott McCall kept pressure on the wound while the Stillinski kid drove like a maniac to the hospital. Thanks to the two teenagers, the hunter was now walking on his own feet towards a hospital bed instead of being carried on a gurney towards the morgue.

 “Mom, he needs help,” Scott said quietly to the woman who approached them.

 Chris nodded in greeting certain that he looked to all the world like a man who sprained his ankle and needed a bit of support. He was used to putting on a good façade so that the enemy wouldn’t know just how badly he was hurt. It was one of the many tricks that kept him alive. Although it didn’t appear so, at this point Scott was pretty much carrying him. Something was definitely very wrong because he could barely see anymore. He followed the white blur that was probably Scott’s mother. A few minutes later he was laying on a bed while his shirt was being cut away from his wounds.

 “Is there anything special I should know? What did this to him?” a female voice was asking.

 “It was something that looked like a bear. I called Deaton on the way here and he said that we don’t have to worry about anything in particular. Just stop the bleeding and fix his wounds. No poisoned claws this time.”

 The woman’s hands were moving swiftly over his body. Chris could feel the blood still gushing from the wound.

 “I have to call a doctor. He needs surgery, Scott,” she was saying.

 “No doctor,” Chris said in a steady voice. “It’s not that serious.”

 To prove his point he managed to sit up and even to swing his legs off the bed. It hurt like hell and probably made him bleed even more, but he needed to convince her.

 “If you die, I’m going to kill you,” she said and pushed him back in bed.  

 He passed in and out of consciousness after that. When he woke up, he felt sore all over. On closer examination he saw that he was wearing only a hospital gown. He moved his arm tentatively and the IV needle stung him. He debated taking it out because he didn’t like not knowing what substance was being dripped into him. And at the same time grudgingly he had to admit to himself that he trusted Scott with his life so he could assume it was something helpful and not a poison. He saw the woman in the chair next to his bed. She was sleeping with her head on the table trying to find some comfort in what looked like an extremely uncomfortable position. He couldn’t see her face, just her long brown hair, in a loose braid over her back.

 He decided he didn’t need the IV and took the needle out slowly. It hurt but he refrained from making any noise. He looked around the room and saw his clothes on the other chair. The plan was to get dressed and leave quietly. He managed to get out of bed but the plan fell apart when he stumbled noisily at the first step. The woman startled awake. Her head snapped up and he heard her neck cracking at the sudden movement. She groaned in pain but didn’t hesitate. In a split second she was next to him, supporting his weight just like Scott had.

 “Get back in bed and promise to behave or I’m calling an orderly and have you tied to this bed,” she told him.

 Her voice was level, with no trace of humor or threat. He didn’t like to be bossed around. The women in his life had always made the strategy decisions, but they never told him what to do. Chris remembered that despite not telling him what to do, they all managed to get him to do exactly what they wanted. His wife and his daughter used a sort of sweet manipulation, based on the sincere love that bound them. His mother and his sister had manipulated him into doing darker things.

 He obeyed the order and went back to bed, trying to push away memories of his dead mother, his dead sister, his dead wife and his dead daughter.  Why had he even thought about them at all, he wondered. How long had it been since a woman had addressed him in any other capacity than hunting related?

 “Thank you, Mrs. McCall,” he said after she helped him climb into bed.

 She smiled briefly. It was a nice smile, and it lit her face but Chris noticed that it didn’t reach her eyes. She was a good looking woman, and for a split second, he wished he could make her truly smile, not just as a polite, standard response.

 “Now that you’re awake, I’m going to get the Sheriff. He wants to talk to you.”

 The nurse walked out, and soon the Sheriff walked in. It was the beginning of a routine that would go on for months. The kids moved away to college and all the battles that followed, with all the creatures attracted by the beacon, Chris Argent faced alone.

Chapter Text

A month later

He was on his way to the hospital again. He had defended Beacon Hills from the dark and he was still standing. But even a victory had the same aftermath. He ended up in hospital. The adrenaline worked as long as the danger was present. After the fight was over, the pain was there to remind the hunter that he was alive and that he needed to take care of his body.

It used to be simpler when he was part of a family of hunters, he mused. They took care of each other. Learned to patch each other's wounds. Now… they were all dead. Much like the Code he had held sacred for so long. Now he was at the mercy of Scott's mother to sew his wounds without making a fuss. Now he was taking advantage of the Sheriff's influence. At least in this regard, things had gotten a lot easier since the Sheriff had learned the truth about what was out there.

He could feel the blood under his leather jacket. The bleeding had stopped and he had self-medicated to numb the pain enough to be able to drive. He scanned the crowd for Mrs. McCall and saw her talking to the Sheriff. She noticed him immediately and came to take him to one of the examination rooms.

As usual, the Sheriff was already there, waiting. He didn't follow them, just nodded as they passed by him. Chris wondered if Mrs. McCall called the Sheriff every time he phoned her that he was injured. Probably. The nurse was taking care of his body and the Sheriff was dealing with any official loose ends. As soon as she would leave the room, he was going to come in to ask about what had happened and they would script the official version together. It was the new normal.

He took off his jacket and sat on the edge of the bed while the nurse put on a fresh pair of gloves and pulled over a tray.

"Tell me when it hurts," she said.

This request had become mandatory after the time Chris had passed out from pain without saying a word while she was working on a wound that was far more serious than he had led her to believe. He grunted noncommittally and got a stern look in return.

"You've done enough hero-ing for one night," she told him in a calm, no-nonsense tone. "Just say when it hurts so I don't make things worse and have to amputate something."

"OK," he agreed, fairly sure that the part about cutting bits off was just a joke.

She was shaking her head while undoing his shirt and he wondered if his behavior was reminding her of raising a teenage boy. He watched her work, steering his mind away from what she was doing. He would tell her if the pain became unbearable, but he was resolved to push that moment as far as possible. She had become very familiar with just about every inch of his body after all the times he had ended up on a bed in front of her. He almost smiled at the thought that no other woman ever undressed him with such efficiency.

But that was more sad than funny and Chris decided to think about the next part of his evening. In a few minutes, if he didn't pass out from pain or blood loss, he was going to talk to the Sheriff. A good guy, and a resourceful fighter – the land mine he had used to take care of a berserker was all the proof Chris needed to make that assessment. A man he wouldn't mind having next to him in battle. A man he could trust. Chris Argent had developed deep trust issues in recent years, but he learned to trust these two unexpected allies. He couldn't call them friends. Maybe because they had nothing in common except these moments when their lives intersected.

They were just not part of the same world. The Sheriff belonged to the real world, just like the nurse. They were nice people, who were meant to live in the light, not creep in the dark like him. The kind of people Chris Argent thought about protecting when he was facing monsters. Saving the world was too vague. It didn't give him the fuel he needed to fight when things were getting vicious. Thinking that he was protecting people like Sheriff Stillinski and Mrs. McCall kept him fighting.

He had noticed quite a few things about them. Stillinski and McCall were working together just as well, if not better than their sons. Not for the first time, Chris wondered if the two of them were sleeping together. They always seemed so comfortable around one another. They relaxed as soon as the other entered the room. The first time he saw this was during a particularly heated discussion with the Sheriff. As soon as Mrs. McCall came in, Stillinski unwound. Not much, but for a trained hunter, it was obvious. And the other way around was just as true. No matter how stressed she was, when Stillinski walked in the room, she smiled and it was a smile that reached her eyes. The kind that he hadn't been able to get from her even once in all the time they had known each other.

He was purposefully allowing his mind to drift. He let himself wonder if the Sheriff had kissed her that night. They were definitely not officially together, so how would they act? Were they stealing kisses in some broom closet? Would they "accidentally" touch in a few minutes, when she would leave and the Sheriff would come in?

For the second time that night, Chris almost smiled. He was imagining his two respectable allies acting like horny teenagers. He felt the warmth of affection spreading through his chest, reaching his frozen heart. They were good people and deserved to be happy.

He studied the woman while she was busy with his wounds. Her movements were precise and graceful. Even with the gloves on, her fingers looked long and elegant. He looked at her hair, gathered in a messy bun that seemed both comfortable and practical. He wondered how she looked with her hair free. He always saw her when she was at work, when she had to have the hair out of the way. The good thing about that was that it left her neck in view. He looked at the delicate curve of her neck. She was so close now that he could smell her skin. The scent was discreet, almost masked by the hospital smells of soap and disinfectant.

He closed his eyes involuntarily, trying to analyze it, to pry it apart from all the others, to store it as a precious memory. He hadn't counted on her vigilance.

"What's wrong?"

He opened his eyes and found himself the object of a worried gaze. He wanted to say that he was fine, but he found out that his mouth wasn't working. He was looking directly into her eyes. Their faces were so close he could feel her body heat on his cheeks and on his lips. She was the first woman to be so close to him in months. The silence was getting too long and he was beginning to panic because he knew he was about to kiss her. Part of his mind was screaming this was a bad idea, but before he leaned in, she stepped away.

"I'm calling a doctor," she said moving towards the door completely unaware of what almost happened.

His hand darted instantly and grabbed her arm.

"I'm fine," he said.

His voice sounded croaky but he was glad he had snapped out of that awkward silence.

"Are you sure?" she asked. "You realize that I don't really believe you after the time I had to use a defibrillator to bring you back."

"I'm fine," he repeated.

This time his voice sounded more normal, his tone was more assertive, so she believed him. And that was because he was a very good liar. He was not fine. Something unexpected and completely embarrassing was happening to him. His hand was still wrapped around her forearm. His palm was pressed directly to her bare skin. And his stupid body was reacting.

Good thing he wasn't a young man, he thought. Fifteen years earlier, his erection would not have passed unnoticed. At least at his age, the body had a latency to respond, and in that interval he could use his self-discipline to get things under control. He let go of her hand, his fingers brushing against her skin as he did so.

"Did you finish?" he asked hoping to break the spell.

She was still eyeing him with suspicion, but she resumed what she was doing. She was getting too good at this. Whatever she was doing to his wounds, it wasn't hurting at all. Unfortunately, that was making it very difficult to ignore the fact that a beautiful woman was touching his bare skin. His arousal once triggered, all sort of thoughts were popping up without any warning. He remembered that he had woken up in a hospital gown more than once, and this woman had probably been the one to undress him completely. Unless the Sheriff had helped. He hoped not. Where the hell was that legendary self-discipline of his? Instead of calming down he was getting more and more aroused. He was beginning to squirm, trying to think of something he could say to make her stop touching him.

"I need to use the bathroom," he said suddenly.

"Almost done," she said without stopping.

He put his hands on her wrist, a lot gentler than before, to stop her.

"OK, fine!" she said and taped a bandage on top of his half sewn wound.

Before he had time to react, she took off the gloves in a smooth motion and began to button his shirt. Her fingertips were touching his skin when she did this and it had a paralyzing effect. She started on the second button and was working her way down with alarming speed. Most of his body was frozen but if he didn't do something soon, she was going to find the one part of him that was extremely awake and playful.

He stood up abruptly and with his back to her, shoved the shirt in his jeans. The bathroom was a few feet down the corridor and he counted on the fact that if he walked as if everything was fine no one would notice anything.

It turned out to be a good assumption. By the time he got back from the bathroom his body was once again under control.

When he returned, the sheriff was in one of the chairs. He was grateful for that. Talking about technicalities gave Chris something to focus on in a spirited attempt to ignore the attractive woman that resumed touching him. Ministering to his wounds he meant, of course.

"I'm sorry, what?" he asked again.

It was the second time he had to ask the Sheriff to repeat something. A clear sign that he was doing a poor job of ignoring her. At least his body wasn't visibly reacting, but his intellect was a mess.

"There. I'm done," she said.

"Thank you, Mrs. McCall," he said trying very hard to not sigh with relief.

She nodded and gave him the usual polite smile as she left.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later

 

 “I’m fine,” he insisted. “Really, there’s no reason to stay here over night. I’ll go home, sleep and set the alarm to take my medication”

 He was putting on the best method acting effort he could because he did not want to spend another night in hospital. He wasn’t entirely sure that Mrs. McCall believed him, but she knew his body by now and she must have thought he’d be all right because she agreed. What she didn’t know was that she was the main reason for not staying in the hospital. If he spent the night there, she would’ve stayed too. He couldn’t stand being the cause of her exhaustion. Not to mention that he also didn’t like to be the reason why she had to deceive her co-workers. Whenever he stayed, she had to lie to the people she worked with to keep his secrets.

 The Sheriff drove him home, and Chris pretended to doze off in the passenger seat to avoid talking. Just as he promised, he went to bed. He was exhausted and medicated enough to fall asleep instantly.

 It was still night when he woke up. He heard a sound, but not the alarm he set to take the drugs. It was something else, and it was getting closer. He reached for the gun under his pillow and pointed it at the opening door. To his utter shock, in the dim moonlight, he saw Melissa McCall. He couldn’t quite believe his eyes. Maybe it was a supernatural creature pretending to be her.

 “Don’t shoot!” she said.

 Her voice was soft, with no trace of fear. He took his finger off the trigger, but kept it along the barrel and kept the gun pointed in her general direction.

 “What are you doing here?” he asked.

 She advanced slowly.

 “Checking if you’re all right, of course” she said. 

 The flirtatious note in her voice was very clear. She took small, deliberate steps, coming closer. She trailed her fingers on the edge of the bed, brushing over the bed sheets, her eyes never leaving his. Chris didn’t know if he should be glad or worried that he was naked.

 He watched her like she was a tiger circling its prey.

 “Well… are you?” she asked.

 Her voice was dripping honey. His eyes wandered briefly over her breasts. She was wearing her hospital coat, with the first three buttons undone. He saw the curve of her breasts and hoped she wasn’t wearing anything under that. He licked his lips involuntarily.

 “Am I what?” he asked.

 His voice was thick betraying arousal. She leaned over him, put her palm over the hand in which he was holding the gun, and pushed it gently away. Her face was very close to his, her breath caressed his lips when she spoke.

 “All. Right.” she uttered the words carefully, quietly, the sounds barely rolling off her lips. “Are you?”

 It took him a hundred years to process and reply. Was he all right?

 “Yeah,” he answered.

 Chris placed the gun carefully on the bed. Her hand slid up his forearm as he did so. Even in the near perfect darkness of his bedroom, he saw the desire in her eyes. He had no doubt why she was there. He couldn’t help wishing he wasn’t wounded. Or at least not medicated.

 As if reading his thoughts, she whispered.

 “I’ll be gentle.”

 She slid the sheet off him with maddening slowness. A thin bandage was covering half his chest. Nothing else was covered. It was her turn to drop her eyes from his. He watched her lick her lips and his dick twitched in response. She swept his body with a heated gaze, as if it was the first time she was seeing it. When their eyes met again, Melissa undid her hair and it gave her a sensual air of abandonment. He kept growing harder just looking at her. He was surprised to hear the low growl in his throat when she started to unbutton the white hospital coat. He was glad to be proven correct. She had been nude under the hospital uniform. And soon she was truly naked.

 “Beautiful,” he whispered, worshipping her with his eyes.

 “Indeed,” she agreed, caressing him the same way.

 She straddled his hips in a swift, graceful motion, hovering over his erection. He wanted to flip her over, needed to be on top and bury himself deep in her, but he was dizzy. Pain shot through his right arm when he reached out, wanting to touch her. She bent at the waist allowing him to reach her breasts. Her sigh of abandonment when he cupped her breasts gave him as much pleasure as he got from touching her warm skin. And he wanted more.

 “Please,” he said.

 He slid his hands from her breasts down to her hips and gently pressed, trying to convey his desire. His left hand remained on her hip but he moved the right between her legs. She was already wet, and his fingers glided between her folds. The wound was making the movements of his right hand clumsy. He was tracing small circles around her clit but he couldn’t control his fingers as well as he wished. He wanted to feel more of her and apparently she was just as eager. She let herself slide on his throbbing hard dick.

 It felt so good, being engulfed in this tight, wet, hit heaven. She started moving her hips, searching a rhythm. It was excruciatingly slow. Maddeningly out of sync with his need. He tried to move his hips, to set a pace, but Melissa stopped him.

 “Don’t. The stiches,” she whispered, breathless.

 It took long, frustrating minutes until the tension built up to the point of no return.

 At the moment of orgasm, Chris woke up, to find that he had been jerking off in his sleep! And it had been frustrating and strange because he was using his left hand. The part about being shot in the right arm was just as true in reality as it had been in his dream.

 “I have to stop getting hurt,” Chris muttered and groaned getting out of bed to go to the bathroom to clean up.

Chapter Text

A week later

 

 He was driving to the hospital, still high on adrenaline. When he entered the corridor of the Emergency Room, he remembered that he wasn’t hurt. He had no reason to be there. He had turned around to leave when he saw her.

 Without a word, Mrs. McCall came and taking his arm led him to the usual examination room. He wanted to tell her he wasn’t wounded but he didn’t want the other people there to hear that. Just his luck to arrive when the hospital was quiet, there were no other emergencies and everyone was looking at them.

 “Where are you hurt?” she asked as soon as she closed the door behind them and started to put on gloves.

 “I’m not,” Chris said.

 She stopped, the fingers of her right hand half way in a glove. Chris Argent relied heavily on his practiced acting talent not to give away any of his feelings. None of which was in keeping with the badassery he was supposed to radiate in her presence. He needed to know that she felt protected when she was with him, that she could call him if she had any problems. He did not need her to know that he was horny like a teenage boy. Nor did he want her to suspect that he had anything to be embarrassed about. What he did in his shower with his eyes closed and her name on his lips was his damn business. 

 “Oh,” she said, looking confused.

 “I’m sorry. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t hurt. I just… the fight was over so I drove here. It’s the first time in ages when I get out without a scratch.”

 He was floundering. Awkward. Worried that she might be mad at him for bothering her without being in mortal danger. Instead she exhaled. She relaxed. She was smiling.

 “Oh thank God!” she exclaimed and took off the glove.

 He stayed rooted to the spot and for the first time in these encounters she was the one who sat on the edge of the bed. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths.

 “You’re not mad?”

 His question made her laugh. When she looked at him, Chris held his breath. The smile had reached her eyes. The unmistakable, genuine affection was blinding. He just watched her, unable to react in any way. When she saw that he wasn’t smiling, her eyebrows rose and he could hear the smile in her voice.

 “Oh, you’re serious! Why on Earth should I be mad that you’re NOT hurt?!”

 He still wasn’t answering so she went on.

 “I’m glad you’re ok. I wish you’d beat all the monsters that come here without ever getting as much as a scratch! Every time you come here hurt, I worry my help won’t be enough. Every time, I imagine Scott coming in hurt, bleeding instead of you.”

 He was tempted to remind her of her son’s healing abilities. He decided that it wouldn’t do any good. She knew about that of course, but she was a mother and worrying comes natural to parents. Chris, the master of compartmentalization refused, to think about his own failure as a parent. His help hadn’t been enough to save his daughter’s life.

 “Thank you,” he said. “I hope I’m not causing you trouble with your colleagues… Showing up here…”

 Apparently he had said something funny because she was smiling again.

 “Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said casually. “Everyone here thinks we’re having an affair.”

 She was obviously amused by this misunderstanding. And amused by his shock, too. So much for his poker face! He could swear that he did not look anywhere near as shocked as he was feeling and yet somehow she could see through that. It made sense that people would assume an affair, considering that every time he showed up she took him to a private room and stayed with him for anywhere between fifteen minutes to an hour.

  “I thought you and the Sheriff…”

 His voice trailed off, annoyed at himself for letting that slip, and unwilling to pry into a relationship he wasn’t supposed to know about.

 “…raised two beautiful boys together,” she completed the sentence, her amusement apparently increasing.  “But we are not a couple.”

 He was pathetically happy to hear this.

 “For about ten years, we’ve been like a couple of divorced parents who have joint custody of their two children. The boys grew up together, in my house and in his house. He… he is my best friend and the person I trust most in the world.”

 And there it was, the smile that always danced on her features whenever Stillinski was around. Maybe this was even worse, Chris thought. Maybe she was in love with the Sheriff and never acted on it. A beautiful woman like Melissa McCall wouldn’t stay single without an explanation.

 “I’m sorry,” he said.

 She looked at him without understanding for what he was apologizing.

 “That they thing you’re… fooling around when you’re on duty,” he added. “I didn’t mean to ruin your reputation.”

 He heard the words as they came out of his mouth and he couldn’t believe he could sound so corny. She was laughing now and he was embarrassed and glad at the same time. He always saw her so serious, so worried, they always met in crisis situations. It was great to see her laugh. She was still beaming when she let her hair loose. His mouth went dry. So many of his fantasies began with her untying her hair.

 “That’s very chivalrous of you,” she said. “The rumor actually improved my reputation. My colleagues were beginning to think I was a weirdo for not dating. So… maybe I should thank you.”

 “I’m… glad?”

 Her eyes sparkled with mirth at his hesitant tone. He smiled back and for the first time that evening, he relaxed. He sat down next to her on the bed. Her thigh was pressed against his. She was so close… and so forbidden. He was sure of two things. He wanted her. He shouldn’t act on his desire.

 He knew that even if she loved the Sheriff, he could seduce her. But he also knew that if he acted while her heart belonged to someone else, all he would get from her was sex. Too bad he couldn’t do casual. Definitely not with the woman who meant light, goodness and safety for him. No matter what his body was demanding.

 “You think it’s a good idea? To let people believe this?” he asked.

 “I’m not actively encouraging it,” she said.

 She sounded defensive and he felt her body stiffening. He had offended her without realizing.

 “No, no, I meant… if people think you’re dating someone, they might not ask you out. Even if they want to.”

 If anything, her posture became even more rigid. She stood up and he was saddened to see all amusement had drained from her features.

 “Did I say something wrong?” he asked, standing up, too.

 He had to force himself not to reach out to her. His palms were burning, desperately wanting to cup her cheeks. He wanted to tangle his fingers into her hair. To lean in and kiss her.

 “It’s nothing…” she said.

 “But…?” he prompted.

 “My last date was with Peter Hale,” she said and walked out the room.

 Chris sat back down on the bed. Peter Hale?! That was… how many years ago? Three? Four? Five?!? And from what he knew about that incident… that date didn’t even make it to the second base. So the woman that caused him to have wet dreams at night and spontaneous erections in the middle of the day hadn’t had sex in more than five years?

Chapter Text

I borrowed a few names and a few concepts from the TV show Grimm. The characters bear only a passing resemblance. It’s an homage and I give credit where credit is due.

 

 

A month later

 

  Chris had stalked the witch for weeks. The Sheriff’s tip about Catherine Schade had been right on the money. She was dangerous. Chris Argent was used to fighting physical dangers, but one “carefully accidental” conversation with Catherine was all he needed to understand that a different approach was required. That was the reason he dug up his family’s chronicles. He was painfully aware of his isolation. The last of the line of hunters. With no one to advise him. It hurt to think of Victoria’s amazing strategical thinking. It hurt to think of Allison’s instinct and inspiration. His half-trained daughter had found a solution to killing creatures that were considered unkillable.

 He focused on the task at hand. He went through the dusty manuscripts with the patience of a medieval monk. He was trying to ignore the pain. Years had passed but sometimes the pain seemed to have gotten worse instead of subsiding.

 He found a potion that was going to weaken the witch. And after the weeks of observation, he had a good idea how he could get her to drink it without her even knowing.

 A few days later he calculated that the poison had done the job, and prepared for the confrontation. He went into the woods and entered her house. A run-down cottage in the middle of a dark wood. It looked like any haunted house from any horror movie he had ever seen.

 “Not creepy. Nooot creepy at all,” he murmured to himself.

 The inside of the house was in keeping with the outside. It was dark and dusty, cobwebs and all sort of strange smells.  A dark witch’s house. Witches weren’t physically powerful fiends, but they had familiars – animals and spirits. The hunter was prepared to face any other forms of defense she might have in place.

 He killed the bobcat looking thing that jumped from the shadows with a single shot. The eagle looking creature that flew from another dark corner of the house managed to slash him with a sharp talon although he ducked. He shot the eagle and when the crocodile looking bestie lunged at him, he was half a second too late to jump out of the way. He cursed loudly and colorfully when he used the machete to chop off the head and kept cursing when he had to pry its jaws from his ankle.

 “It’s never easy, is it?” he muttered.

 Not that he expected it to be easy. It wouldn’t be Beacon Hills if things were easy. He wondered in passing if he should get out and tend to his wounds. After all, it was very likely that at least one of the creatures was poisonous. He went on, carefully advancing through the darkness, attentive to every squeaky floorboard, weary of every dark corner.

 He found Catherine in a dark room. From the sound of her breath, the poison he had put in her water supply for the past few weeks had worked. She was too dangerous to approach directly and he had to resort to this way of weakening her before confronting her in person. This tactic was out of character for him but he had learned his lesson with the druid. One should never be too confident when it came to any creature of the dark even if they lived in accordance with the rhythm of nature and fed stray cats.

 “Argent,” she said when he walked into the room.

 He felt the surge of power and the blast of psychic energy although he could hardly make out the word. Her voice was rasping, and he knew he was listening to her dying words. He could just shoot her then and there. He should shoot her. He definitely shouldn’t listen. The main reason he had kept his distance from her was that the witch was as powerful a psychic as he had ever encountered. One of the methods she had used to destroy people was by telling them just enough of what she had seen in their minds to make them believe her, and then to twist the truth enough to make it lose its meaning and serve her purpose.

 “I’m dying. But I had enough power to send my sister a message. She knows your name now. She will come after you. Will kill anyone you care about. You will be alone and it will hurt so much… you will long for death.”

 The dying woman had spent her dying moments trying to put fear into his soul with the wrong threat. His eyes were hard when he looked at her. His family was dead. His life was already not worth living.

 “She is too late for that. Everyone I ever loved is already dead,” he said, and turned to leave, not even bothering to wait for her to die.

 “I know about her. I’ve seen into your soul.”

 He froze when he heard the whisper. He didn’t turn. Tried his best to hide the panic.

 “Yesss… I see it and my sister will see it. Killing her will destroy you. So much guilt already… When she is dead, you will have no reason left to live.”

 “I just live for getting rid of the likes of you,” he said and turned around swiftly and pointed the gun to her head.

 The creature smiled. A dark, disgusting, evil grin that shook him.

 “You lie…” was the last thing she said before her head exploded.

 Chris Argent’s hand was perfectly still despite the storm inside him. He lowered the gun. Mechanically, he checked his gear, looked around for any trace evidence he might have left, and made his way out of the house. Alligator head in one hand. From what he could tell, no drop of his blood had dropped anywhere. He still set the house on fire.

 This time, despite being hurt, Chris Argent did not drive to the hospital. Did not call Mrs. McCall. He drove to his apartment and self-medicated with a universal anti-venom he kept for such emergencies. It was an Argent family recipe and he had to hope that neither the “crocodile” bite on his ankle, nor the “eagle” slash on his shoulder had any particularly exotic poisons.

 He went to bed and was blessed with a dreamless sleep.

 For the next month, Chris was particularly careful not to get hurt. And if he did, he stayed away from the hospital. What was more difficult was to control his subconscious. Too often he found himself driving towards her house or towards the hospital although he had no business in that area. He felt like a leaf in the wind. He had to admit that for the past few months he had allowed that woman to become an anchor for him. Or maybe a beacon, showing him the way home.

 He spent most of the night in his office, looking for a solution. The new Schade was going to come for him, and he had to find a way to protect Melissa. He found what he was looking for in a manuscript from the Argent family chronicles. In the eighteenth century New Orleans, one of his ancestors, Nicholas Argent, had fallen in love with a witch. The hunter had chosen to follow the code instead of being with the woman he was not supposed to love. As a punishment, the broken hearted woman, Juliette had created a potion to “freeze his soul” so he would not be able to love anyone.

 Chris Argent read the pages with a heavy heart. His ancestor hadn’t died as a result. He just stopped feeling anything for anyone. Only the sense of duty had remained to him. He read the dispassionate lines written by Nicholas. The hunter had written a detailed account of killing the woman he had once loved because she was guilty of practicing witchcraft. And just as many details about the potion that had changed him. Chris made a note of all the ingredients, and reached out to his connection to gather everything he needed.

 He knew he was running out of time. The Schade sister might already be in town. When the Sheriff’s call came, he answered wondering if the scene he was going to see would be a proof that the new witch had landed. He geared up and went to the coordinates the Sheriff gave him.

 Chris studied the scene. It didn’t take him long to come to the conclusion that they had a werewolf pack visiting. With the beacon active and Scott’s pack away for months, it was only to be expected that another pack would attempt to take over this territory. He called Stilinski and arranged to meet. They needed to get information about the new arrivals as soon as possible. His first concern was to learn if the new guys knew about Scott and his pack. If they knew the boy was the Alpha, they would have a very good reason to use Alpha’s mother as leverage.

Chapter Text

 

 Later that night

  

When Chris arrived at Stilinski’s house, the Sheriff was already two whiskeys ahead. He put a glass in front of the hunter and Chris didn’t see a single reason to refuse. If anything, getting drunk was just about the only thing that would help take his mind off the latest problems.

 “I’m not getting used to this,” Stilinski said.

 Chris nodded. He had seen the crime scene after the bodies were removed, but his experience and his imagination had completed the picture. The attack had been gruesome. The Sheriff had probably been among the first at the scene and got the full effect of freshly eviscerated human bodies.

 “You shouldn’t. I’d be worried if you do,” Chris told him.

 He tried to reassure the other man that it was normal to be shocked. He didn’t even realize that he wasn’t shocked. That he wasn’t disgusted. That for him it was business as usual. The only reason he had for wanting to get drunk that night was to numb that part of his soul that still yearned for a human connection. Chris wanted to forget that the unwanted and unwelcome feelings he was having about Scott’s mother were putting her in danger. Even in his internal monologue, Chris preferred to think of her as Scott’s mother. He was afraid of how much he was going to derail if he started to think of her as a woman.

 “Why do you persist on doing this alone?”

 The Sheriff’s question interrupted his thoughts. Chris was genuinely puzzled by the question. His confusion seemed sincere enough to elicit a bark of laughter from the other man.

 “It doesn’t even occur to you that others can help you!”

 “You helped me,” Chris said. “I came to you more than once and you helped me.”

 “You came after the fight to help with the official story. Or just warned me about what you were going to do. Like burning the witch’s cottage after killing her.”

 Chris saw the other man’s revulsion at uttering the words. He couldn’t completely understand how difficult it was for a man of the law to talk about killing, arson, torture. Chris knew that this help was costing the Sheriff his peace of mind. Maybe even part of his soul.

 “I’m sorry,” he said.

 “No, no, no. You don’t understand. I don’t want an apology. I just want you to know that you can count on me for more.”

 Chris looked at the empty bottles and the man’s red face. He was quite drunk. But looking in his eyes, he saw painful lucidity. And resolve.

 “And it’s not just me. Anyone who knows what’s out there, is willing to help. Melissa and Natalie both told me the same thing more than once.”

 That was not good. The offer of help should please him. Why was he panicking?

 “Maybe we should talk about this another time. When we’re less drunk,” he said.

 “Yeah. Definitely. Just remember the offer. Melissa said you’ll hate the idea. But I thought you should know you’re not alone.”

 Melissa. The name went through him like a hurricane. No thoughts associated with her name. Just sensations. The touch of her fingers on his skin. Her scent. The long dark curls bouncing around her face. That was the first memory he had of her. The night of the lacrosse game. When he was supposed to look for werewolves. When he was supposed to protect his daughter. That night his heart had twitched in his chest at the first sight of the beautiful woman cheering her son and smiling. He had ignored the reaction. He had chosen to forget that.

 He forced his mind back to the present.

 “I don’t to put any of you in danger,” he said and meant it.

 “Pretending there are no things going bump in the night won’t keep any of us safe.”

 “When would you have the time to come hunting with me?” he asked the Sheriff. “There’s so much going on in this small town of ours in broad daylight, how would you explain disappearing for days?”

 “You’re right”, the sheriff said, raising his hands to surrender. “Maybe I can’t come on stakeouts with you. But there has to be more we can do. You have three smart, motivated people willing to help. Don’t just show up at the hospital when you need stiches. Talk to Melissa if you need help with research. She’s pretty good with computers and she has access to all sorts of interesting databases without hacking them. Natalie can keep an eye on things at school, if you tell her what to look for. Not involving us is more likely to get us accidentally killed.”

 There it was. His worst nightmare put into words. This speech from a presumably drunk man made Chris respect Stilinski even more. The man wasn’t afraid to look at the truth and he had the strength of character to say what needed to be said, and do what needed to be done. This man, this brave and honest man, had just pledged his allegiance. At that moment, Chris Argent decided that he couldn’t keep thinking of Stilinski as just an ally. This man was his friend. And with that, he had earned the unfortunate burden of shared danger and knowledge. 

 “Speaking of accidental danger…” Chris said unhappy that he had to broach the subject. “I think that we should do something to protect Mrs. McCall.”

 “What? Why?”

 “The new pack… who did that last night… When they find out about Scott, if they don’t know already… they’ll probably use his mother against him.”

 This seemed to sober up the other man.

 “Oh for crying out loud!” he exclaimed and slammed the glass down on the table.

 “You know her best. How do you think we should handle this?”

 “She can move in with me,” the Sheriff said.

 Chris hated the instant spike of jealousy. He felt like something dark and slimy started coiling in his guts. How could he react so intensely about a woman he barely knew?

 “But then you’ll have to help Natalie bury the bodies,” the sheriff went on.

 He managed to smile at his friend’s feeble attempt at a joke. They were both aware that this was not a bad idea in itself, but it was not opportune considering the Sheriff’s romantic relationship with Natalie Martin.

 “Maybe it might be better if we don’t tell her at all. Just… watch out for her,” Chris said, wondering if the plan sounded like stalking.

 “She can handle knowing the truth. She is the most reasonable person I know. Besides, I wouldn’t be comfortable lying to her,” he added.

 “So, you’ll tell her that the vicious werewolf pack that wants to take over this territory might be interested in her as a possible bargaining chip?”

 “Yes. And I’m also going to tell her that you will show her how to identify threats. And teach her to defend herself. And that generally you will be in shouting distance. She knows she can count on me, but you have to make her believe she can count on you, too.”

 Chris Argent was speechless. It sounded perfectly reasonable. And if this had happened just a few months earlier, he would have been the first to suggest this with a clean conscience. Now all he could think of was that he was going to be in Hell. He considered telling his friend about the other threat to Mrs. McCall. But telling him about the witch meant admitting feelings he couldn’t share with anyone.

 So all he had to do was be around the woman he desired. Act as if he didn’t feel anything for her and at the same time get her to trust him. He had to do something to mask his feelings. More than just act like he didn’t care. Something that would keep his mind and his soul hidden from a psychic witch.

 “She can count on me,” he said when the silence got too long. “And so can you. You know this right?”

 The sheriff slapped him on the back good-naturedly.

 “Yeah, I’m sure you’d kill anything for us.”

 Chris Argent grinned. It looked like the sheriff was getting used to the new reality. Things were going to be easier for him if he stopped thinking of the enemies as people. The Argents had known this for centuries. That’s why they named themselves hunters, not murderers.

 The next morning, Chris woke up on the Stilinki’s living room couch. He thought it would be a nice gesture to wait for the sheriff to wake up with a coffee and some breakfast. His hands shook a little when he reached for the frying pan, remembering that the last time he had prepared breakfast for anyone it had been for his daughter. He slammed shut that drawer. Compartmentalization was the only way he had to stay sane. He went through the motions of making scrambled eggs and toast, he turned on the coffee machine and the TV. He was rewarded with the most grateful expression he had ever seen on the sheriff’s face.

 “Oh, wow!” was all his friend said before he got himself a cup of coffee.

 “Thanks, man! You didn’t have to do this,” he said, starting to eat.

 Chris enjoyed the situation. He was well aware that the situation had the feel of “morning after” and he found it hilarious. It was strange and scary to realize that he had a friend. He tried not to freak out. He could handle a general sense of responsibility. He wasn’t sure if he could handle losing someone else he cared about again.

 A few hours later, he started brewing the potion

 “Nous chassons ceux qui nous chassent.” | “We hunt those who hunt us.”

 The motto was on the page in front of him. But out loud, he whispered his daughter’s words.

 “Nous protégeons ceux qui ne peuvent pas se protéger eux-mêmes.” | “We protect those who can't protect themselves.”

 The decision was made. For once, Chris Argent allowed his selfish reasons to dictate his choice. It wasn’t just Melissa McCall he was protecting by freezing his soul. He was also protecting himself. Feeling nothing meant no more pain for the loss of his daughter and his wife. No more guilt for not being able to protect them or for not seeing what Kate had done to the Hales. Not feeling anything for anyone seemed like a great improvement to his life.

Chapter Text

Later that night

 

It wasn’t the first time Chris Argent had prepared a potion. Barely a month had passed since he had brewed the mixture he used against Catherine Schade. It was however strange to know he was going to mess with his own soul. He knew enough about chemistry and pharmaceuticals to realize that it wasn’t something mystical. He was just using the natural version of ingredients used in treating mental issues. Natural but strong. He was aware that he was preparing himself for a sort of chemical lobotomy. He was going to slice away a part of his brain.

He went through all the photos he had of his family. Watched all the family movies he had on his computer. His cheeks were bathed in tears when he moved the photos and the movies onto an external hard drive. He locked the hard drive in the safe, and went to the bathroom to wash his face. After this, he felt composed enough to reach for the vial in which the soul freezing potion waited for him. For a split second he felt the urge to write a letter explaining himself. As if he was going to kill himself. Which was partly what he was doing.

 He drank the content in one gulp, knowing that the taste was going to be revolting. He also knew that the effect was not going to be instantaneous. And if it worked properly, he wasn’t even going to be able to feel a difference. It was going to be as if he had never loved. As if he had never felt pain. He was going to remember having a family, but not how it felt to be a part of it. He was going to remember Melissa McCall and her usefulness. He was not going to remember how his heart leapt at the mere thought of her.

 

The next morning, Chris made himself a coffee and checked his agenda. He had a call with one of his clients at 9 and at 11.30 he had to drive to the hospital to take Melissa McCall to lunch. He had to bring her up to date about the danger she was in. He made a few notes about a training schedule for her and a list of books it would be useful for her to read. Speaking of useful, the Sheriff and Natalie Martin would be a lot more useful if they knew at least the basics of the supernatural world. So he made two more lists for them.

 “They can form a book club,” he thought amused.

 His smile faded when he realized that he was going to have to answer any questions they might have. The next couple of weeks were going to be annoying for him, but it would be worthwhile if he could use them more afterwards. He looked out the window at the rainy November day. He felt good for no reason. His mind was clear and he felt full of energy. Yesterday seemed a long way away. When he left the apartment, he was whistling.

 Thinking of what Melissa had said a few weeks back, he thought it would be more in keeping with the perceived relationship between them if he brought her some flowers. He stopped by the flower shop, chose something nice and bland, and drove to the hospital in a great mood.

 The emergency room wasn’t crowded when he arrived. Melissa McCall came straight to him as soon as she saw him and he could see the concern she tried to hide from everyone else.

 “Hi,” he said offering her the flowers as soon as she was close. “Is this a good time to ask you to lunch?”

 She took the flowers automatically and seemed unable to answer him for a moment. He was sure he saw her jaw dropping in shock before she gathered herself enough to answer. It was good to see that the reaction time wasn’t very long. Whatever she thought was happening, she was playing along.

 “Yeah, sure. Thank you for the flowers” she said and kissed his cheek. “I’ll put them in some water and we can leave.”

 Chris Argent tried to get to grips with his shock as he watched her walking away. His body was reacting intensely to her touch. That brief, butterfly kiss on the cheek ignited something very familiar in him. He didn’t feel any tenderness, but he felt the same passionate lust that had plagued him for months. He decided bravely that he had to ignore it for the time and go through his agenda for the meeting.

 She came back a few minutes later with a coat on top of her hospital clothes. Her hair was still gathered in a braid he noticed. He couldn’t help thinking she was beautiful. His memories were very crisp now when they were no longer colored by feelings. He remembered he found her beautiful when she was happy, like that time at the lacrosse game, and that he found her beautiful when she was angry, when she was in her lioness-protecting-her-cub mode, as he had seen her after he accused her son of kidnapping his daughter.

 She took his arm without hesitation when he offered it. He liked the feel of her so close to him. Warm and vibrant, a pleasure for his senses. And also, a trustworthy ally as time had proved it. A smart, fearless, motivated ally.

 “There’s a diner around the corner,” he told her. “We can talk while we eat.”

 “I imagine it’s serious if you showed up with no warning. I have to say, I kind of expected something to be seriously wrong. You haven’t showed up needing patching up for a while.”

 She had noticed the disturbance in the pattern of his post-fight visits. Observant. That was good. And she hadn’t lied to herself that his absence meant that nothing bad was happening. Realist. That was also good.

 “Didn’t want to bother you over some scratches,” he said, wincing because at exactly that moment his ankle hurt where the crocodile had bitten him.

 They sat down at a table in a corner of the café.

 “You’ve always been chivalrous,” she said.

 The smile accompanying the words was one of those that didn’t reach her eyes. Which meant that she probably didn’t believe him. Hmm… maybe she was too observant for her own good.

 By the time their order came, Chris had told her about the new werewolves.

 “That’s why I think you should have as much information and training as possible. I assure you that I will do everything in my power to neutralize the threat as soon as possible. These beings are dangerous and my best might not be enough.”

 Melissa nodded, recognizing her own words to him.

 “After what I’ve seen for the past few years, I can definitely understand why even someone like you can’t guarantee the safety of the people of Beacon Hills.”

 She reached across the table and took his hands in hers, looking into his eyes as she spoke. She sounded completely sincere and her statement sounded very much like a compliment. He had to suppress the urge to run his thumbs over her wrists. He was supposed to show her the danger she was in and to get her to trust him with her life when the time came, not make a move on her. It was a little embarrassing that for the rest of the conversation he wondered what her lips tasted like, and what sounds she would make if he kissed her neck, if he buried his face in her shoulder… Out loud, he was completely businesslike.

 “I have some books for you, to help you identify them. And I want to teach you some tricks to defend yourself. I trust you to be smart enough to realize that you are not able to take them on by yourself. And that you will call me as soon as you think you’re in danger. 

 “Of course I won’t think I can kill a werewolf!” she whispered outraged at the suggestion.

 “And you will call me as soon as you think you’re in danger, yes?”

 “If I’m in danger, I’ll call you,” she said.

 “Melissa!”

 His voice wasn’t raised, but he said the word in a tone he remembered he used to say “Allison!” when his daughter would try to get around one of his rules. He didn’t remember his daughter’s breath catching in her throat as it seemed to have happened to the woman across the table.

 “You won’t wait to be in danger to call me! If you as much as think something’s wrong, you call me!”

 She opened her mouth to say something but decided against it.

 “You can call the Sheriff if you prefer,” Chris said, testing if that was what held her back. “More likely you will put him in danger and he will still end up calling me. He has… constraints in what he can do.”

 “And you don’t.”

 He didn’t like the way she said that.

 “I have a Code.”

 He wished he hadn’t said that. He didn’t feel comfortable discussing the Code with someone outside his family.

 “Can you tell me?” she asked softly.

 “We hunt those who hunt us. And we protect those who can’t protect themselves.”

 She squeezed his hands, and only then he realized he was no longer just resting his hands in hers, he was grasping at her hands.

 “I want to help you make this place safe,” she said. “Not just with this threat. If I can help you, please, tell me.”

 Chris relaxed his grip on her hands. Even managed to look into her eyes and smile.

 “Thank you.”

 “You don’t have to thank me!” she exclaimed. “This is my town, too. I’m almost glad about this danger, if this is what it takes for you to teach me more about what’s out there and get me involved in the fight.”

 The woman was amazing. He had profound doubts that she would ever be of any use in a fight, but her spirit was admirable. Her body was admirable, too, and he couldn’t help a thrill of anticipation at the thought of the close combat lessons.

 “As long as you understand that I will do my absolute best to avoid this, you have my word that I will teach you.”

 “Fair enough,” she accepted his promise and smiled.

 “Here’s a book to get you started,” he said handing her a volume in a discrete paper bag. “And I’ll come pick you up tomorrow afternoon for the first lesson. Wear something comfortable.”

Chapter Text

 

Chris spent the morning trying to figure out how to find out when the new witch arrived. About an hour before he had to pick up Melissa for her first lesson, he was forced to accept that he was out of options and called Sheriff Stillinski. They set up to meet at the gas station. They were both aware that the less people knew about their collaboration, the safer for everyone.

 After he filled the tank, he parked his car in a part of the gas station where the cameras had a dead angle and pretended to wash the windshield. The Sheriff parked his car next to his and came over.

  “The witch we talked about last month has a sister,” Chris started abruptly.

  “Hello to you, too,” the other man said.

 “Yes, hello,” he said and went on "She is probably coming here to see what happened to her sister. Please pay attention to any newcomers. She might already be in town. I’m trying to track her down, but she’s not using anything overtly supernatural.”

  The Sheriff was the one to bring Catherine Schade to his attention. It was a safe bet that he could track down her sister.

  “Ever since Stiles clued me in about this, I made sure to pay attention. You think she’ll try to avenge her sister?” he asked.

  “Yes,” Chris answered.

  The man nodded looking even more apprehensive than usual. It took a bit of effort for Chris to be able to understand that his friend was worried about his safety knowing that he killed Catherine. Maybe he was even feeling a little guilty for being the one to point him toward her. For a few years now the Sheriff knew that showing Chris Argent a target was the same as pointing a loaded gun.

  “Ok. Do you have any news about the werewolves?” the Sheriff asked.

  “I narrowed down the possibilities. I have 3 locations to check,” he said and popped open the trunk. He reached inside and grabbed the paper bag with the books he prepared for the sheriff.

  “That’s where you’re going?”

  Chris raised his eyebrows at the question. In response, the sheriff just pointed with his chin to the blankets and bottles of water in the trunk.

  “No. I’m starting training with Melissa today.”

  He tried to read the other man’s reaction in his expression and body language at the sound of her name. He saw a clear tightening around the eyes and maybe just the smallest twitch of the shoulders. Concern, he translated. Not jealousy. It didn’t hurt to check though.

  “Speaking of that, you mentioned Natalie Martin also wants to help. I have some reading material for her, and I can teach her some basic self-defense as well.”

  The reaction was definitely stronger this time.

  “Hey, you can do it yourself if you want, but since I’m already starting from zero with Mrs. McCall… it would be efficient to teach them both at once.”

  He looked at the sheriff who was still silent.

  “If you’re not ok with that, you should do it yourself. But if she’s serious about wanting to help, she needs to be able to do more than dial your number.”

  “Boy, when you’re on board with an idea…” the Sheriff said. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll talk to her tonight.”

  “Then you can also give her this,” Chris said, reaching into the trunk for the book he had prepared for Natalie Martin.

  Chris got back at the wheel of his car and checked his watch. They had spent only 4 minutes talking. Not that the witch necessarily had a way of tracking them through cameras but it always paid to be careful.

  He drove slowly to Melissa McCall’s house. He didn’t have any warm and fuzzy feelings. No cold or painful ones either. But guilt was a product of logic apparently. His reason to extend an invitation to Mrs. Martin for the self-defense lessons was partly the one given to the Sheriff and partly because he wanted to confuse the witch. If she came looking for him and for his weaknesses she might presume that Melissa was special to him just because they spent time together. Having Natalie around would serve to muddy the waters. Using the same reasoning, instead of the one target, he offered the witch two women she might kill thinking it would hurt him. 

  He put these thoughts aside when he knocked on her door. She answered quickly and he was pleased to notice that she was wearing training equipment. He was even more pleased to notice that it wasn’t anything like military gear. She was wearing something more suitable for yoga or Pilates.

  “Hi. I’m ready,” she greeted him with a smile. “Do I need to bring anything?”

  “Hi. No, nothing,” he answered and they walked back to his car. “If you have any questions about the things in the book, or about the supernatural world in general, now is a good time,” he told her opening the passenger door.

 He waited for her to get in before closing the door, like they were on a date. Such small gestures made him feel more civilized. So much of his life was about survival, that he needed to cling to any semblance of normality. A date… he hadn’t been on a date in twenty-five years.

 His civilized mind was lingering on the shape of her legs, nicely flattered by the outfit she had chosen. Maybe he should have been more clear what he had in mind when he mentioned training her. On the other hand… he took a quick look at her face when he got back in the car… maybe she chose the outfit because she knew it was flattering. She couldn’t have misunderstood what type of training he meant and she had chosen to wear something that was not going to absorb any shocks.

  “Oh, I have questions. First though… where are we going?” she asked.

  “Into the woods. You have to learn a few things that have nothing to do with a normal gym. And I don’t have access to a training room anymore,” he told her.

  “I-I’m sorry,” she stuttered and fell silent.  

  It was so unusual for this woman to be anything other than in control, he turned to look at her. Angry or happy or simply doing her job, he had never seen Melissa McCall flustered or not speaking her mind. He was wondering what was wrong, trying to guess from her body language. She had her arms crossed, hugging herself. His eyes focused on a point on her neck where he could actually see her pulse even without preternatural senses. He could see it was faster than should be normal.

  “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked suddenly.

  “Of course,” he answered. “Why do you ask?”

  She took a deep breath. Opened her mouth to speak. Then closed it again.

  “N-no. Never mind,” she said eventually.

  “Maybe you don’t want to do this?” he prodded her.

“I did not change my mind!” she answered immediately in a tone that suggested that she was offended that he might think she was backing down.

 Chris covered a sigh of relief. Seeing Melissa McCall unsure of herself had been unsettling. It was good to see her fiery.

  “Then? What is it?” he pushed.

  “You. I just thought this might bring back memories,” she said.

  She was absolutely correct. He had thought back at training his daughter when he drew up the lesson plans for her. He’d also remembered some of the sessions he had with his sister. Not with Victoria. His wife had been brought up in a hunter family so she was already trained by the time they met.

  Oh! He almost exclaimed aloud when he realized. She was worried he might feel pain associated with those memories because the women whom he had taught or women who fought side by side with him were now dead! Compassion! He made a mental note to watch out for this in Melissa’s training. Feeling pity in combat would definitely not be great for her survival.

  “I learned to compartmentalize,” he said trying to pretend he was covering a pain he wasn’t feeling.

  She reached out to him, gently placing her palm over his. The simple touch went through him like a lightning bolt. His grip tightened on the wheel to stop himself from pulling over and kissing the living daylights out of her. She probably took this as a sign of an inner turmoil caused by painful memories. So much nobler than the sordid reality.

She squeezed his hand a little, then ran her palm over his forearm in what was meant as a soothing gesture. Chris considered himself lucky he was wearing a long sleeve jacket because it insulated him a little from the caress and saved him from doing something stupid.

He sped up, hoping that once they were training it was going to get easier. Chris just could not bring himself to accept that he could feel this level of attraction. He was sure he was going to be able to get himself under control. Even if that meant pushing them both to the point of exhaustion.

 “Ask all the questions now,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll feel like it on the way back.” 

Chapter Text

Melissa was on her back again, muttering words he had heard more than once during his time with the Calaveras. They sounded blood chilling then. Somehow, they sounded funny coming from her.

He offered her a hand to get up. She gripped his wrist without hesitation and stood up quickly. He was almost getting used to his body’s sharp reaction to her touch. He knew he should be appalled by how bad she was at this, but in fact he was grateful. If she were any better, it would mean a lot more contact and he wasn’t sure he could handle tumbling around on the ground with her. It was difficult enough not to think about making out with her when they were both standing and fully clothed. Rolling around in the grass in the middle of the woods… things would be a lot harder.

“Again?” she asked.

 She let go of his hand but she remained close enough to mess with his senses.

 “No, I think it’s enough for this part,” he said and after a look down her cleavage which he hoped passed unnoticed, he added, “You’re going to need different clothes next time.”

 The remark seemed to surprise her for a moment, but she immediately lowered her eyes and stepped away. Chris wondered once more if her choice of clothes had been intentional after all.

 “Let’s try something else.”

 He got out the bow and arrows from the trunk of the care. He wasn’t really expecting her ever to need to use it, but it never hurt to learn. Especially for someone with no innate talent for hand to hand combat, it would be safer to have some skills she could apply from a distance. Allison wasn’t terrible on hand to hand, but her strength was definitely with a bow.

 “Let’s try to hit that tree,” he told her, pointing to a thick tree about forty yards away. “See that big knot it about 5 feet from the ground?”

 Melissa took the bow and held it as she had probably seen in movies. It turned out to be a pretty good posture. Appropriate for bow hunting and downright exquisite in terms of visual effect.

 “Very good,” he said encouragingly before putting his arms around her for some small adjustments. “You have to learn to calculate where to aim,” he said.

 He expected his body to react to the closeness and was prepared to ignore it. He was thrilled to notice her slight shiver. Her eyelids slowly drooped while he spoke. He fought the urge to grate his beard against her neck. But he couldn’t help himself from teasing her just a little, whispering so close to her ear that his lips were almost touching her.

 “If there’s no wind, you have to aim above the target because gravity will act along the way. If there is wind, you have to take into account that it will affect the trajectory,” he was just talking because he enjoyed pretending to have a reason to hold her in his arms.

 Chris watched her how difficult it was for her keep her eyes open, noticed the fluttering of her eyelids when his breath touched her skin. He pulled himself together. Stepped back.

 “Come on. Just look at the tree and hit it!”

 She shook her head slightly, as if trying to dislodge something. Her shoulders and her neck tensed, then relaxed a little, and the arrow flew from the bow and hit the knot dead center.

 “Excellent!” he exclaimed.

 Melissa turned around beaming and just for a split second he had the feeling that she was about to jump into his arms.

 “Yes! Oh thank God I’m not a disaster at this, too!”

 “You are not a disaster,” he assured her. “With practice, your self-defense skills will improve. Actually I’m quite pleased you didn’t get hurt at all on your first lesson. Allison was so stubborn she nearly broke an arm. We told her it was broken and she wore a cast for a month just to get her to learn how to fall without trying to fight back.”

 The long look Melissa gave him stirred something in his depths. He remembered his daughter’s training, he remembered the discussion with his wife and the decision to use this lie in her training. And behind the clean, sterile memories, there was the ghost of something else. It was a strange sensation. Like the itch of an amputated limb. Like he should have remembered something else. He felt something like a dull throb in his chest.

 “Try again,” he said, handing her another arrow.

 Melissa repeated the performance, but did not react as enthusiastically at his praise.

 “Good shot! Looks like you’re a natural at this,” he said and refrained from adding “like Allison.”

 She hit all the targets he pointed at, and when they finished the arrows in the quiver, they went to retrieve them. On route, he showed her the wolfsbane growing in patches, which was the reason he had chosen that particular spot for training. The wild growing plant was as much a guarantee as possible that no werewolves would bother them.

 “Would you really kill Scott if you had to?” she asked.

 She wasn’t even looking at him when she spoke, knowing the answer. He considered lying to her, trying to reassure her. To get her to trust him enough to obey his commands if they would be in real danger. He weighed the advantages of a quick and small step forward, against the slower route and the long term gain.

 “You know the answer. The question is, would you kill him if he starts hurting people?”

 She ignored him, pulling an arrow from the tree. She went on to the next tree. They didn’t talk all the way back to the car.

 “I read the book you gave me. I can understand that you were raised to believe that once a human becomes a werewolf they are cursed to lose the fight with the what you call the monstrous urge. And I can see how good you are at compartmentalizing. So it’s fair to tell you that I will give my life before losing faith in my son.”

 Chris sifted through the speech and decided that her answer was no. Or more likely, not yet. He was sure he had a very good image of this woman’s moral compass and this answer was going to change if she saw just how dark and horrible things could get.

 Starting with the next training session, they were no longer alone. Chris was fairly pleased about this. Having Mrs. Martin around helped him focus on the training and ignore his attraction to Melissa. The downside was that now he was sure that it wasn’t just a general hormonal reaction, because he never felt anything special when he was touching Natalie Martin.

 Having to deal with two permanent pupils, and the occasional participation of the Sheriff to their training sessions, Chris recreated his training room in the basement of the McCall residence.

Chapter Text

A few weeks into their training, Chris was beginning to despair with Melissa’s slow progress. As smart as she was, as sharp as her intellectual reactions were, as well as she was getting to grips with the more theoretical aspects of the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” as Natalie Martin called it, Melissa’s combat skills were just not improving. Fortunately, his other pupil was more adept at this so he didn’t have to work as hard with both of them.  

It took no more than two sessions for Chris to understand that the main impediment to Melissa’s progress was her previous formation. She was a healer and even when he told her that she had to imagine herself fighting for her life, her first instinct told her to hold back. His discontent reached an apex a few weeks later, after he showed the two women a few new moves.

“Very good!” he exclaimed when Natalie blocked his attack using one of the new moves.  

When he tried the same thing with Melissa, she froze and he had to change the direction of the blow himself or he would’ve hit her full in the face. Much to his satisfaction, she took advantage of the unbalance caused by this non-tactical move, and she threw him to the ground using the time honored technique of taking a step aside and pushing him, using his own momentum against him.

He hit the ground hard and was about to praise her initiative when she knelt next to him.

“Oh God, are you ok?” she asked with clear concern in her voice and reached her hand toward him as if to check.

He grabbed her wrist, pulled her to the ground and rolled on top of her.

“What did I tell you about pity?” he growled.

He was so furious with her for such a stupid reaction that he didn’t even notice the usual surge of desire. He pinned her hands above her head and felt like screaming. All the frustration of not satiating the lust she ignited in him, all the bottled up anger for giving up a part of himself to protect her, and she wasn’t even trying to learn to stay alive. He let all that dark energy show in an attempt to scare her, to trigger that stunted self-preservation instinct.

“Until the fight is over, you do whatever the hell it takes to be sure that your opponent is incapacitated. Until the lesson is over, I AM THE ENEMY!”

The darkness in him seemed to have reached critical mass and he was no longer pretending. He saw the fear in her eyes, and instead of letting her go, he squeezed her wrists even tighter, making sure she was feeling pain. If this wasn’t enough to awaken her instincts, it was useless to try to teach her to fight.

She was almost immobilized under his weight, and she strained to lift her head enough to kiss him on the lips. He was completely unprepared for this and his brain shut down for a moment. The sensation overwhelmed his senses and he closed his eyes. Loosened the grip on her wrists. A part of his brain was trying to pull him back to reality but before it had any success, Melissa had pushed him off her, jumped up and grabbed a crossbow from the wall, aiming it at him.

Still dazed from the kiss, Chris looked at the arrow pointed at him, then further up, at the woman holding the weapon. The primitive part of his brain was howling, maddened by the glimpse of pleasure she had offered and snatched away. The teacher part of him was proud of her resourcefulness. The teacher part was winning and with the return of sanity, came the need to test her again.

He extended his arm toward her asking for her help to get up, in a reverse of the usual situation, in which she was the one needing his help to get up. Instinctively, Melissa lowered the crossbow and offered her left hand to help him.

“No!” he heard Natalie’s cry, but the warning came was too late for Melissa to have time to react.

In the blink of an eye, Chris was back on his feet and had twisted Melissa’s arm behind her back, pressing her hard against the wall.

“You just don’t want to stay alive!” he said in a harsh, defeated whisper, resting his forehead against the back of her head.

Her T-shirt had fallen off her shoulder and he felt his beard scratching her bare skin as he spoke.  The disappointment was mingled with arousal, and before he could make a complete fool of himself, he released her and stepped away.

She turned around immediately. He couldn’t read much in her expression. She seemed confused and scared. But maybe that was just the way he was feeling.

“You have to decide if you want to be able to defend yourself. Really look inside and decide. It’s nothing wrong if you don’t do this. As long as you accept that you need to be protected.”

He stormed out before she could reply. In all honesty, he was more than content that he was able to be this articulate. He had to hope that at least she wouldn’t guess just how much she was affecting him. She couldn’t possibly have missed his reaction to the kiss. Hell, he was still hard when he’d pasted her to the wall. She must have felt his erection quite clearly against her ass. Now that he was trying to think more clearly, she probably sensed his attraction if she thought of a kiss as a good way to distract him from the scariest mood in which she had ever seen him.

Something about this attraction was worrying him. He had no satisfactory explanation why he thought that it would be dangerous to ask her out on a date, like any normal people but his instincts were warning him to stay away.

He drove back to his place, hoping that Melissa was going to choose to discontinue their practical lessons. His resolve to keep her safe was weakening. He would protect her from werewolves and witches, but he could no longer protect her from himself.

 

Chapter Text

Chris had the maps laid out on his desk to mark the signs of werewolf activity he’d observed earlier that day. After the field assessment, he had stopped at Melissa’s place for the lesson and this was the first chance he got to update his records. There was something strange about the new pack. He could feel it but he didn’t yet know what it was.

 When he heard the knock on his front door, he reached into his desk drawer for a gun. Not that a burglar or a supernatural threat would be so considerate as to knock, but he had no friends who would just drop by, either. He checked the feed from the security camera and was surprised to see Melissa McCall on the monitor screen. She was wearing a dress and her hair was untied. His first thought was that he was dreaming again.

 A lingering sense of paranoia made him take the gun to open the door.

 “Hi,” she said.

 “Hi, come on in,” he greeted her and opened the door for her. “What’s wrong?”

 She glanced at the gun he held casually in his right hand, but didn’t comment. He breathed in her scent when she passed by, in the close confines of his hallway. He hoped she didn’t notice, aware that adding that to the way he reacted during the lesson, she might think him a total creep. And the only reason she wasn’t already sure he was a creep was because she didn’t know that he had surveillance cameras outside her house and had hacked in the hospital’s CC system. Despite having all the good reasons in the world, his behavior still amounted to creepiness. Except… he didn’t have only pure reasons anymore. He was deriving some enjoyment out of watching her.

 “I don’t know,” she answered and followed him into his office

 “Do you want a drink?” Chris asked, as a matter of protocol, and reached for the whiskey bottle.

 “No, thanks,” she said, but seemed to change her mind. “Actually… yeah, sure.”

 He poured her the drink and did his best not to touch her when he handed her the glass. He was still shaken by the kiss they had shared and the bit of scotch he had drunk before her arrival. They were both was working against his lucidity.

 He focused on her words, valiantly ignoring how beautiful she looked in that simple dress. Stubbornly refusing to hope that she came to him in the flesh for the same reasons she had come so often in his dreams.

 “It’s painful to admit that I just can’t do any better at defending myself. I’ve been in situations where my decisions meant life or death for someone. I’m an ER nurse and I had to do triage when the doctors were too busy. I can’t afford to be ashamed to admit that I’m not getting better. So, the self-defense lessons should stop. You can still come to train Natalie. Here’s the key to my house, you can still use the basement whenever you want.”

 He looked at the key she was holding out for him to take. When he didn’t move, she just placed it on his desk, unfazed by his apparent reluctance.

 “You’re right about the other thing, though. I can play chess well enough to understand that you have to protect me because I’m a piece on the board. I am a weak spot in Scott’s armor, so you have to counteract the threat against me.”

 Chris wondered if she had learned chess from the sheriff. Stilinski and his son were the only chess players he knew in Beacon Hills. If so, the sheriff had been a more successful teacher.

She fell silent. He watched her take a very small sip of the whiskey. He couldn’t help feeling disappointed by her choice. He was going to miss the feel of her body squirming against him. Usually powerless. At his mercy. Bad, bad thoughts! When he spoke, he was in his usual professorial role.

“Knowing our limitations and accepting them is a wise choice. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get rid of the threat already,” he said.

“It’s not just about this threat,” she interrupted him. “I still want to help however else I can. You will find and neutralize this threat, I’m sure. But we both know the beacon is still active. Others will come. Please, Chris, you have to let me help you.”

Such passion in this woman! So much need to stand up against the dark… Chris remembered her son’s decision to fight against the sentence of the dead pool. His refusal to accept any more deaths. He had wondered then where did that strength come from in that boy. He could see the root of his character in the woman before him.

“Ok,” he said.

It seemed to relax her a little. When she spoke again her voice was calmer.

“I trust you. I’ll do what you ask, when you ask it. I trust you even now, when I know you’re keeping something from me. If you give me the chance to prove it to you, I will show you that you can trust me, too.”

“Trust…” Chris repeated the word in a strange tone, as if he was analyzing a foreign word. “You ask for my trust…”

He didn’t want to offend her, but she didn’t know what she was asking. She was standing in front of him. Resolute. Still. Giving him space. Forcing him to fill in the silence. He tried to find a way to explain her just how complex was this issue for him. He did trust her, quite a lot, but that trust could not be absolute. After everything he’d been through, he would never be able to believe that anyone would be on his side no matter what circumstances. Anyone could betray for the right price. Melissa’s price was obviously the well-being of her son. She would betray him to save Scott. If they had to work together, he had to make her see the difference between the emotional, blind trust she seemed to want, and the promise of help and support which was an understanding between allies.

“You know I am a hunter. I was raised to obey orders. To be a good operative. To find the best way to get things done in the field. To win any battle.”

He took his glass but didn’t drink. He needed every scrap of lucidity he could muster. He knew he was on the brink of a bad decision. One that had nothing to do with the fight against darkness.

“I trusted my father who raised me to obey the Code and my trust made me blind to his actions. To his choice to break that very code to an extent I could not have imagined.”

He couldn’t stand still anymore. His nerves were frayed. He started pacing.

“I trusted my wife to make the hard choices for us. And she chose to die after she made the choice to kill an innocent. When she chose to die, I was unable to find another solution.”

He couldn’t tell her who the innocent was. It would serve no purpose to burden her with hatred and darkness. 

“I trusted my sister, and she killed innocents. She lied to me for years. And when she was changed, she was so far gone into darkness, she did not choose to die.”

He had contained his father and his sister. He had not stopped his wife from following the code. He should not allow his connection with this woman to become a weakness for him. 

“You’re right. I’m not telling you everything. You have my commitment, my word. Even my trust to a certain extent. But speaking from experience, you should be careful putting your trust in anyone. Even me.”

“If I don’t trust you… I’d have to give up hope,” she said.

She sounded sincere. She wasn’t trying to persuade him of anything. She was just stating her view of the world. And apparently in her world, he represented hope.

“I don’t have supernatural powers. But I know people. I saw you fight. You stood up for what was right even when it was against orders. Against your training. You followed your soul.”

She abandoned her glass on the table and came to where he was standing. When she mentioned his soul, she rested her palm flat against his chest. With the anatomical precision of a trained nurse, she placed her hand exactly over his heart. With the biological inevitability of a man in his prime, his heart began to beat faster.

The hell with trust! The hell with danger! The hell with overthinking it! He was close to the woman he desired and all he had to do to satiate the hunger was to reach out and take what she was offering even if she wasn’t aware she was doing it.

Her palm was burning him through the thin cotton layer of his t-shirt. Chris had avoided looking in her eyes all evening, afraid that she might see just how far he was from the knight in shining armor she was imagining him to be. He knew that his pupils were probably dilated and she would not miss this against the contrast of his blue irises, nor would she misinterpret it. This woman knew his body from all the times she had taken care of his wounds, and knew his temper from the times they fought together or trained together. Looking into her eyes in his present state of arousal would be the same as a werewolf showing his glowing eyes.

Seconds were passing. Her hand was still on his chest. His heart was beating faster and faster. This was as close as anyone would ever get to holding his still beating heart. He turned his head a fraction to align his gaze to hers. From her sharp intake of breath, he knew that she read him. It was so unfair that her eyes were dark, he couldn’t judge if she was aroused. She saved him the internal debate with another tell-tale sign. Under his scrutiny, Melissa licked her lips involuntarily.

For the first time, Chris allowed himself to touch her with a deliberate sensual intention. He traced her jawline with his fingers, but he was in no mood for tenderness. He had assessed her over the past few weeks and in his loneliness, he had created seduction scenarios. If he gave her the chance to back away, she was going to run. He had to bring her past the point where she could deny she wanted him. He slid his hand into her hair, cradling the back of her head, and gently but firmly held her still when he lowered his lips to hers.

Her first reaction was to try to run, but his left arm was around her waist and it took very little pressure to keep her still. He wanted to savor the moment. He kept the left hand at the small of her back, his right was in her hair. He brought his mouth to hers, but didn’t take the kiss. His lips were tingling from the mere proximity. His whole body was screaming, but he kept still. Her palm was still pressed against his chest, and it was no longer just resting there. She was pushing him away. Not hard, but the pressure was there. He knew he could force the matter. Knew that she was aroused enough to love it. Judging by her reaction to the lesson that went astray, she enjoyed to have him in control. But before all that, he needed her to surrender to him.

It took a few seconds until Melissa’s hand no longer pushed, but fisted his t-shirt and she closed the infinitesimal gap between their mouths. Her lips were touching his, of her own free will and Chris gave up any notions of holding back.

Chapter Text

That first kiss was the only moment he would allow her to be in control. She gave herself to him and he’d been holding back for too long to play nice. It was going to be his show from then on.

So damn beautiful. You drove me crazy.

He didn’t know why the thoughts never turned into words. Maybe it was his because his mouth was too busy exploring her.

You feel more amazing than I imagined. And oh God I imagined it so many times.

She tasted of toothpaste and a hint of the scotch he’d given her. She wasn’t the type to enjoy hard drinks. Not even smooth, 20 year old scotch from a real Scottish distillery.

I’ll teach you about French cognac, made by my grandparents.

He was kissing her shoulder making sure his beard was scratching her, leaving marks on her perfect skin. His left arm was tightening around her waist, pressing her into him. His right hand was tangled in her hair. He gripped a handful of the dark, luxurious tresses, and she let out a moan of delight.

Oh, you do like a bit of pain. Gonna learn everything you like.

He took over her mouth. Plundered it. Slowly. Thoroughly. Leaving her breathless. The more he sensed her desire rising, the slower he moved. 

Yesss… Learn frustration. Learn that you get only what I’m giving you.

He hadn’t said anything aloud. The only sound in the room was their labored breathing until she spoke.

“Chris…” she moaned. “Please.”

The sound of her voice was heavenly. The tone was blistering with desire. He pulled back even more. His movements slowed down more still. His touches became softer. Barely brushing his lips against hers. She tried to deepen the kiss, but his hold on her hair was implacable. Her reaction to finding herself immobilized was delicious - a sigh of delight and frustration escaping her beautiful lips.

He hadn’t restrained her hands and he was surprised to hear the sound of his t-shirt being torn. To feel the cool air on his skin and the touch of her fingers. Her curious, agile, daring fingers.

She was tracing paths over his chest, his abdomen, and despite the apparent randomness, she was moving towards his belt. So eager. If her dry spell had truly been almost five years… and if he was the first man she found attractive who dared to get close to her… postponing her release was tantamount to torturing her.

Maybe someday they would have time for more intricate sex games. All those highly educational summers he had spent in France as a teenager and as a young hunter had formed a refined taste in sexual matters. But when he had to, Chris could do quick and passionate. He could enjoy the sensory overload of a fast orgasm even if he craved torturously slow foreplays.

Cruelty was not in in his nature. He couldn’t deny her what she desperately needed. He gathered her in his arms and sat her on the edge of his desk, on top of the maps. He pushed her dress up around her thighs, positioned himself between her legs. He slid his right hand on the outside of her thigh, then went on under her bunched up dress. She was watching this with an expression of utter shock, as if she couldn’t believe what was happening. When his fingers reached the edge of her panties her breath simply stopped. He paused for a split second, debating if he should continue under or over the lace. For his sanity, he decided to touch her through the lace. The tips of his fingers were learning the way to her core. He knew he had found her clit when her whole body spasmed and she arched her back, offering him her breasts.

“Oh God!” she said, and it sounded like a prayer, either begging or thanking.

This dress has to go,” Chris thought while he buried his face in her breasts on top of the fabric.

He needed to feel her skin, latch his mouth to her nipples and suckle and lick and generally give and take every bit of pleasure he could. He was supporting her arched back with his left hand, and the fingers of his right hand were tracing small circles around her clit.

She was fully clothed, and he felt ready to come inside his jeans. He abandoned touching her in favor of a more practical approach. He reached behind her with both hands and blindly looked for the zipper of her dress. He kept kissing her while he unzipped the dress, while he lowered it over her shoulders, while he undid her bra and helped her taking it off. He let her breathe again when he started to kiss his way down her neck, all the way to her breasts. She gasped sharply at the first contact between his tongue and her nipple, but soon her hands were in his hair, pulling his head closer.

Her hands, so adept at healing him, were now fumbling to undo his belt and unbutton his jeans. She ran her nails over the tight denim that strained to contain his swollen cock and his hips bucked into her touch.

“Fuck!” she exclaimed in whisper as she felt his shape through the taught fabric.

“I will. Promise. I know you need me. Need you, too.”

Instead of saying any of the words he quickly undid his pants and got his cock out. Her hand wrapped around it and he pushed a few times into her fist before he stopped himself with great effort. He was so aroused he was in danger of coming in her hand like a teenager. He took himself in hand and guided his cock to her entrance. He pushed the lace aside and rubbed the glistening head against her clit. Her flesh was hot and slick and his brain was running out of power. He struggled to ask an important, one-word question.

“Condom?” he asked, wishing with all his might that she’d say no and he could finally bury himself in her.

“No sex 2 years. All tests ok,” she said between shuddering breaths. “You?” she managed to ask.

“Same,” he said and entered her in one swift motion.

For him it had been just a few months, but his tests were indeed current and ever since Victoria died all his encounters had been completely safe. He registered one small bit of information that didn’t make perfect sense. Two years? He’d calculated about five. His brain was in no shape to work on this discrepancy.

He was left without any semblance of sanity. He was an aggregation of sensations and physical responses. His thrusts were hard and fast. His hands were holding on to her hips with a grip that was bound to leave bruises. But Melissa’s reactions were spurring him on. She was moaning, digging her nails into his back and pulling him impossibly close with her ankles locked behind him. The words pouring out of her mouth were a mix of English and Spanish and all he could understand over the thunder in his ears was his name.

“Chris!”

“Chris!”

“Chris!”

Over and over again. Like a chant.

With one last, violent thrust, he exploded inside her. He stood still, completely inside her. His cock twitching as he emptied his seed in her depths. Enjoying the feel of her velvet walls constricting around him.

She shouted her orgasm with a loud

“Oh, God!” 

and her body relaxed, except that part of her that kept pulsating, prolonging his own orgasm.

Well, that had been the stupidest thing he could have done! He was sliding out of her when the thought hit him with the force a punch to the face. He’d done so much to protect her, tried to disguise what he felt for her and he had just marked her as his mate. Maybe ten minutes ago he could have lied to himself that the witch might just take this as a casual sexual liaison, but since this was the only sexual encounter he’d had in months, it was more than likely that the witch was going to target Melissa as his love interest.

He was tucking himself back in his jeans, not caring about the mess. He didn’t feel right about taking his pants off after the act if he hadn’t done it before. Something from his concern was probably showing in his body language because he noticed a certain stiffness in Melissa’s posture.

“I’m sorry,” he said, thinking about the fact that he was placing her in danger with his actions, but couldn’t tell her the reason. “It’s been a long time for me.”

“Yeah, me too,” she said and turned around.

Chris was wondering if she meant she was also sorry or if she was saying it had been a long time for her as well when she got off the desk, arranging her dress as best she could. She smiled when she looked at him and he knew he was in trouble. It was the polite smile. The one that didn’t reach her eyes. She stepped around him, putting back the shoes that had apparently fallen or being thrown off her feet. She was putting back the shoes and with her arms behind her back, she was zipping up her dress. Everything in her attitude was telling him that she wanted to leave. Had it been so bad for her? He only hurried because he felt her burning. He could do better. He wanted to do better.

He stepped behind her and gently pushed her hands away from the zipper. He brushed aside her hair and placed a small kiss at the back of her skull, on her first cervical vertebra, then the second, vaguely remembering his training in beheading and the need for precision or luck for the blade would find the small spaces between the hard bones of the spine. It pleased Chris to hijack the knowledge of the human body he had gathered for killing creatures by applying it to pleasing women. Victoria was the harsh ruler of his family, but in the bedroom she was the obedient and happy subject of his experiments and talents.

Melissa’s movements seemed to lose their resolve under his touch. He put his arms around her cupping her breasts and he was delighted to find her nipples poking through the flimsy fabric. He turned her around slowly but firmly and kissed her. Whatever else had been going through her mind, her response to the kiss was enthusiastic.

“Don’t go,” he said, cupping her face. “Have a shower, give me some time,” he went on, brushing her lips with his thumb.

She didn’t answer and he was thinking again how unfair it was that he couldn’t see pupillary reflex in her dark eyes when her lips parted. He felt the touch of her tongue on his thumb like a small electrical jolt. She opened her mouth and inched her head forward, sliding his thumb into her mouth. By the time she swirled her tongue around it his heart was pounding again, his release from the previous orgasm almost forgotten. His body still needed time to recover though and as much as he wished he could bend her over his desk, he needed at least a couple of hours.

“I’ll take that as yes,” he said hoarsely.

Her eyes sparkled and he felt her tongue twitch, wanting to quip back. Apparently his thumb was too delicious for her to abandon in favor of banter. He was going to find a way to keep her entertained until his next erection. He smiled at this thought. When he had that expression in a fight, meant that he was delighted to face a particular challenge.

Regretfully, he took his hand away and kissed her again. He used the kiss as a distraction and she squeaked taken by surprise when he picked her up in his arms. They kept kissing and it was distracting him as much as her, to the extent that he nearly dropped her three times in the few yards from his study to the bathroom.

The bright light bothered them but he made it work to his advantage. His head was clearing just a little and he slid the dress off her. She was so beautiful… and for some reason he couldn’t fathom, she was closing her eyes and blushing. He knelt before her to remove her underwear. Her fine lace panties seemed intact and he was happy they had been elastic enough to stay out of his way. He kissed her hipbone while he slid them slowly down her gorgeous legs. It was his turn to electrocute her when the tip of his tongue came in contact with her skin. Melissa shuddered and her hand was on his head, half petting him, half pressing him closer. When she stepped out of the panties, he dipped his fingers in her pussy. She was all honeyed for him. He thought he could feel wetness from new arousal as well as trickles from his own earlier contribution. The thought passed his mind that they were probably safe from STDs but no contraception method was foolproof for pregnancy. This thought flew from his mind when she moaned his name.

He stood up, feeling weird to still have his jeans on, and the remnants of his t-shirt while she was completely naked.

“So, here’s the shower,” he said between kisses. “I should…” he was about to say leave but couldn’t. “Would you like me to…” he didn’t get a chance to finish the question.

“Yes!”

He took his clothes off so quickly that Melissa burst out laughing. He grinned, too, unaccountably light hearted. There was something he should be worried about, but he couldn’t seem to remember. Just in case anyone would attack, he had weapons in the bathroom as everywhere else, from the gun taped under the medicine cabinet to the various powders inside it which ranged from wolfsbane to mountain ash and mistletoe.

Chapter Text

 

They made love again an hour later. He tried to be nicer. Took her to bed and used his silver tongue, he was an Argent after all, to make her come. She came apart beautifully. It was deeply rewarding to please a woman who wasn’t holding back when it came to expressing herself. He smiled thinking that she had probably had great difficulties to have a sex life at home. Loud as she was, if she brought anyone home it would’ve scarred poor Scott for life.

The smile vanished when he climbed up from between her legs. Looking into her eyes, he felt all the world fall away and only she remained. What was this woman doing to him? It was just lust, and yet it was so intense… it unhinged him.

He lasted longer this time, but everything seemed even more intense. He felt more out of control than before. He tried, he really tried to be gentler but he was unable to do anything other than give her what she wanted. He monitored her responses like the trained operative he was and adjusted his actions to bring maximum effect. She responded much more to force than to tenderness. Every time he tried to slow down, she opened her eyes and he felt her drawing back when she looked into his. As if she saw him turning into a monster. Had she sensed the change in him? Would she expect this to be an act of love?

After this second performance, he was truly exhausted. Despite what he’d told her a few hours earlier, he trusted her. The proof of that was when he allowed himself to fall asleep. If she wanted a chance to prove herself worthy of his trust, the best start was not to kill him while he slept.

When he woke up, the bed was empty. He strained to catch any noises in the apartment telling him that she was still there. Long before he stopped hoping, he knew she was gone.

He also knew he should feel something. There should be a Melissa shaped hole in his heart. There should be more than an offhanded thought that he was hungry and that last time he’d spent the night in someone else’s home, he’d had the decency to make breakfast.

Walking around the house naked was one of the few benefits of living alone. He was brushing his teeth when he noticed an unusual tightness of the skin above his shoulder blades. He used the shaving mirror to look at his back in the bathroom mirror. He raised an eyebrow seeing the bright scratches. How the hell did that happen without him noticing? He replayed scenes of the previous night and he remembered the tiny stabbing pain in his back, but the pleasure had been so intense he hardly noticed it. Another memory made him angle the shaving mirror downwards. True enough, he saw the half-moon marks on his buttocks as well.

He rubbed his beard smiling. He’d wanted to mark her skin with his beard and maybe leave some hickies on her neck but he’d ended up being marked. He enjoyed her participation and didn’t really mind the minor wounds. His cock jumped a little at the memory, but grew a great deal harder at the next thought.

“Someone needs to teach her some manners.”

And by “someone” he was thinking of himself.

With that decision, he put sex out of his mind for the rest of the day. He had to deal with the more imminently dangerous consequences of his actions. He had just singled her out as a target for the witch.

He had to resort to his last recourse for tracking a witch… use a “radar”. He silenced any qualms he had about using his influence and called Eichen House. The Argent name and the Argent money had a lot of sway. He was allowed to pick up one of the inmates who could identify the witch like he had used a pig to find truffles on his grandparents’ estate. 

He was used to being unobtrusive. His extensive training had come on top of his natural talent for camouflage so that he could be as close to invisible as it made no difference. That’s why he had been very surprise to hear a mad howling as he passed by one of the cells.

“Who?” he asked the quiet doctor who was leading the way.

“Peter Hale,” Dr. Conrad Fenris answered.

Strange. There was no reason why Peter Hale would react so violently to his scent. He had been to Eichen House several times since Peter Hale had been committed there and the crazy sociopathic werewolf had never reacted like that before.

He decided to take things one mystery at a time. He tested a few of the mediums, and chose one that seemed to be attuned to the supernatural and at the same time still seemed able to distinguish between reality and his extra sensorial perceptions.

It took a three hours trip around the town for the medium to pinpoint the location of the witch. Chris was dropping him back to Eichen House when he got the call from the Sheriff.

“There was another attack. The survivors are at the hospital, and I don’t think this is over. How fast can you get there?”

He was at least half an hour away.

“Ten minutes,” Chris answered and meant it.

True to his word, ten minutes later he was reaching the hospital. He all but ran to the ER looking for her. He was greeted by Melissa’s colleagues and their knowing glances. He decided to take advantage of the perceived relationship between him and Melissa to ask directly where she was.

She was getting out of the room and looked tired and worried. And she had not called him. Now that the concern started to fade seeing she was all right, he was getting annoyed. Their understanding had been very clear from the beginning. If she as much as thought she might be in danger, she should call him.

“Hi,” he said startling her.

“Oh, hi,” she answered avoiding his gaze.

“Can we talk somewhere?” he asked her.

She looked down at the clipboard and he could read the refusal in her body language before she said

“It’s not a good moment. I have to take care of…”

“Melissa!” he interrupted her with the don’t-bullshit-me tone.

Her shoulders slumped a little and she used her card to open a door. They were in a medicine cabinet! He would lie if he’d say that the thought of a teenage style make-out session didn’t cross his mind.

“Let me see,” she said. “Where are you hurt?”

A diversion? Really? She couldn’t possibly believe he would get sidetracked. No matter how much the thought of her hands over his body was making his pants feel uncomfortable.

“This was not the deal! I had to get a call from the Sheriff to come here?! Why didn’t you call when you saw their wounds?”

Her expression was one of honest confusion.

“What are you talking about? Aren’t you hurt?”

“I am but it’s not why I’m here. The wounded who came in. They’re victims of a werewolf attack. And it’s very likely that they will show up here to finish the job.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

“Yes!” he answered wondering what had she thought was the reason for his arrival.

“I think you’re exaggerating,” she said.

“I’m most certainly not. If you called me when they’re here, I’d be too late.”

She did not look pleased at the news. She had always been very accommodating, and Chris tried to understand what was different. Last night she seemed to understand that she needed to be protected and for Scott’s sake, she had accepted it.

The room was designed for one person to just go in, get the drugs and get out, so they were very close. Now that he’d calmed down a little… his body had time to react to her presence as usual. But her posture was stiff and she looked thoroughly uncomfortable.

“You said you’re hurt. Let me find a room,” she said and reached for the door knob.

“It’s not serious,” he told her and apparently that was the perfect thing to set her off.

She let go at the door and turn to face him.

“Why do you have to be so damn stubborn about getting help?!” she exclaimed. “Do you like walking around with unchecked wounds? Or is it still a matter of trust?”

He was amused to watch her get herself worked up about it, and realized that she was doing it to avoid tackling another matter. Most likely she was embarrassed about what had happened between them the previous night.

“They’re on my back,” he interrupted her.

If this way he could keep her close enough to protect, he was going to humor her. And he was going to enjoy her embarrassment of course.

“Really? I don’t think I ever saw you getting hurt from behind.” she exclaimed. “You’re too damn pigheaded to run away from a fight,” she muttered under her breath.

He guided her arms around him. Her hands instinctively rested above his shoulder blades, on top of the scratches.

“Yes. There,” he said.

It was delicious to watch the emotions succeeding on her face. Confusion. Surprise. Embarrassment. She was blushing furiously and he saw her searching for an appropriate reaction.

“S-sorry,” she said eventually.

“It’s ok,” he answered, trying to soothe her.

“No, it’s not. It should have never happened.”

She opened the door before he had a chance to reply. He was against discussing personal matters in places as public as the hospital’s hallways. She was backing out of a relationship that promised to be the greatest sex of his life! And if he had any doubts after the first time, he was sure that she had absolutely loved the second time.

He was wondering if the reason behind her attitude was her damn crush on the Sheriff, when the very man materialized in front of them.

“You guys all right?” he asked.

“What’s the matter with the two of you?” Melissa exclaimed in annoyance. “There’s nothing wrong!”

The lights went out as soon as she said the words.

Then they heard the screams and all three had the same hero instinct, to run towards them. The Sheriff and Chris both drew their guns, and then looked at her. One of them had to stay back and protect the queen. Melissa reached for the chess player.

“Go!” she told Chris and pulled the Sheriff in the opposite direction.

Chris nodded curtly and left before his friend could argue, knowing that this course of action was likely to end with dead people. He didn’t have time to wonder why she made that choice. His body had reacted to the order the way his brain had been wired since childhood. He assessed the conditions: fighting indoors, multiple possible collateral casualties. Using an ultrasonic emitter, he lured the werewolves out. He was pleased to notice that there were only three.

He drove all the way to the woods, with werewolves trying to break into his car. He employed all the stunt driving maneuvers he knew to hit two to delay them. He stopped the car in the middle of the wolfsbane bushes where he had trained Allison and Melissa. The place was prepared for such a showdown.  

Silver bullets laced with wolfsbane worked well to keep the numbers down after the howl of the dying werewolves brought the rest of the pack there. The traps he had set up for this contingency helped even the odds when they showed up. Even so, the fight was gruesome and it lasted for hours.

Chris had very complex feelings about his father, but in those hours it was Gerard’s training that kept him alive. For a few blood soaked hours, he was no longer Chris Argent. He was a killing machine. And the killing machine took them all out. One by one.

They were all dead. Limbs scattered around the woods. He had made sure that all heads were chopped off before he climbed back into his car and called the Sheriff.

“I need help to clear the scene,” he told him.

“Where are you?” his friend asked.

“In the woods, where I trained Melissa. Ask her for directions. Sheriff? Come alone.”

His friend was saying something but Chris was no longer able to hold the phone or speak.

Chapter Text

When Chris woke up, he was on his back and someone on top of him was patting him down for weapons. He flipped the assailant over, his hand closing around the throat and was beginning to squeeze. He stopped because three of his senses warned him at the same time about the identity of his opponent. Her throat was delicate and her skin was smooth. Her scent was a mix of hospital disinfectant and the perfume she left on his pillow that morning. And from somewhere behind him he heard the cocking of a gun and an amused male voice.

“I told you I should handcuff him,” the Sheriff said.

Chris pulled his hands away from Melissa’s neck and rolled off her.

“Sorry,” he said.

He got up while his friend was helping Melissa, and soon both his friends were supporting him. He hadn’t felt so tired since… since Peter Hale had fixed him to the wall with a metal rod through the torso.

“Chris, are you ok?” she asked.

“You know you’re using my name only when you want something?” he asked leaning into the sheriff, who started shaking with laughter but concealed any sounds, wisely fearing Melissa’s anger.

“Yeah, like every time I have to check if your brain’s intact!” she barked back. “And it shouldn’t have to be so often!” she added under her breath.

Chris held his tongue about other things she wanted from him when she used his name. There were more serious concerns.

“I have a few scratches. Not sure how deep. I… can’t feel much right now.”

“Any from the Alpha?” she asked.

“I’d say… no…”

“What’s the difference?” the Sheriff asked.

Melissa and Chris looked at him shocked.

“What?” Stiles Sr. asked.

“You still haven’t read your books?!” Melissa and Chris exclaimed.

The Sheriff was the least engaged member of their “book club”. He usually learned more about what he should have read from Chris’s books when they met than actually read the book at home as he should have.

“We can’t take him to the hospital like this,” the Sheriff said. “There’s no way he can pass unnoticed.”

“Let’s go to my place. I have a few essential supplies there.”

He could guess from Melissa’s tone that she was not happy about this. Not about helping him, Chris was sure that the could always count on her for help, but she was not happy that she had had to be prepared for treating wounds.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, so softly that his friends didn’t even hear him.

------------

A few hours later Chris woke up from a fitful sleep. He looked around at the room, trying to remember how he got there. He saw Melissa asleep on an armchair at the other side of the small room. There was a photo of Scott on the dresser. He looked so serious, even in that picture which Chris guessed was taken before the change. His look went back and forth between the boy in the photo and his mother. Melissa’s face looked angelic in her sleep. The lines of worry he got to see so often while she was taking care of his wounds were gone. He needed to get out of bed, out of HER bed. It felt wrong to be there, in her bedroom, bleeding on her sheets, sullying what was supposed to be the safest place in her life with his presence.

Melissa was awake before he could even stand up.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she asked.

Chris was sitting on the edge of the bed, willing himself to stand up. He didn’t answer. What could he tell her? That it felt wrong to be there?

She came and sat on the bed, next to him.

“You need to rest,” she said, without any trace of disapproval or command. “Some of the wounds were quite deep, and you lost blood. I’m worried out of my mind that I didn’t take you to the hospital. Please, rest.”

His angel of mercy. Her kindness shook him to his core. This woman, this beacon of goodness and safety, was worried about him. Like he was a human being, not just a shield against the darkness. He wished he could respect her request, but he had little time for resting. He would try to stay in bed and allow his body to recover, but his mind could not rest. He had to find the witch before the full moon. Just in case one of the deep scratches was from the Alpha. The Alpha he had killed. He wondered if this would turn him into an Alpha. One without a pack.

He looked down at what he was wearing. Those were definitely not his clothes. He was wearing a Beacon Hills t-shirt and pair of track suit pants. He looked at her with a raised eyebrow and a crooked smile. She smiled back, a little flustered.

“They’re Scott’s,” she said and stood up. “I’ll bring you something to eat. Do you want anything in particular?”

He took her hand and placed a chaste kiss on the inside of her wrist. She gasped and pulled away. Even in the dimness, Chris could see her reaction was a sort of panicked recognition. He had just felt the need to thank her and he was fighting strenuously to ignore the baser urges he always had around her. They would have to talk about what she meant with “it should never have happened”.  All the more now that she saw her pulling away from intimacy.

“I’m not hungry,” he said, and lay back in bed knowing that she was going to bring him something to eat anyway.

She came back a few minutes later with a plate of sandwiches on a tray. He smiled. Breakfast in bed. At midnight. He looked at the window. Almost dawn.  

Melissa sat next to him and reached for a sandwich. They ate in silence, their shoulders touching, their arms brushing against each other. When the plate was empty, she put the tray away and turned to look at him. Her expression was painfully serious.

“If… if you are a…” her voice trailed off.

“Werewolf,” he helped her.

“Yeah. If you are… will you follow the Code?”

His mind flashed back at night Victoria died. The night he killed her. Now that emotions were no longer influencing him, Chris admitted to himself that he had killed his wife. There was no such thing as helping someone to die. His hands had pressed the blade into her heart. Hers had just been on the hilt. He shook away the memory.

All he had was the Code.

“You already know the answer,” he said.

Her breathing stopped for a moment, then came out in a quiet sigh. In silence, tears rolled from her eyes. Chris watched them glisten on her cheeks in the reddish dawn light. He cupped her face with hands and wiped the tears with his thumbs. She pulled away, again running away from his touch. She took the tray and he knew she was trying to keep her mind occupied with mundane things to avoid thinking about his death.

“You were right. I shouldn’t put my trust in you,” she said before she left.  

 

 

Chapter Text

 

That was the last he had seen of her. The days until the full moon were passing, and she was not around when he had lessons with Natalie Martin in her house. The wounds were healing, so he had no reason to go to the hospital. He wished he could have sex with her one more time, while he was still human. He remembered the last nights with Victoria. Sex in the shadow of death had been more powerful than anything he had felt before. He also remembered the he had been in horrific pain after her death, all the more for those last moments of connection. He couldn’t be the cause of even more pain for her, no matter what his body was demanding.

He decided to deal with the witch. Based on the information from the medium he had borrowed from Eichen House, he identified Adalind Schade. In the two days he had before the full moon, Chris set up the traps for the final confrontation with the witch. He wondered if he should give her the benefit of the doubt.

If he didn’t kill the witch and he did turn into a werewolf, the code said he should take his life immediately. With him dead, there was no reason for the witch to harm Melissa. But she was still a witch and her presence in Beacon Hills was unlikely to be harmless.

The evening before the full moon, Chris wrote a letter in which he detailed what had happened when he had killed Catherine, and described all the measures he took. He wrote about the potion that left him without feelings and the traps he had set for the witch.

The sheriff, his only friend, stayed with him during the full moon. Chris was chained to the wall in Melissa’s basement. The sealed letter was on the table, under a crossbow with a silver arrow affixed in it. On the table there was a bottle of scotch and a vial of yellow wolfsbane potion. By the end of that night, one or the other would be empty.

They stayed in silence, periodically checking their watches, waiting for the moon to rise. They began to relax once the astronomical moonrise moment came, and nothing happened. The laws of lycanthropy were not perfectly bound to the laws of astronomy, so they had agreed to wait another hour after the moonrise before unshackling him.

Chris wasn’t feeling any change, but he couldn’t really count on his senses since he had taken the soul freezing potion.

“You should have shaved. You look like a bit like a werewolf,” his friend said looking at with mock-disapproval at his scraggly beard.

It wasn't the best joke, but Chris found it amusing in the tense atmosphere. He laughed and his friend followed suit. They waited another hour, but nothing happened. The sheriff threw Chris the keys to the shackles and opened the bottle of scotch.

“I don’t want to ever go through something like this,” he said and handed Chris a glass.

Chris downed it in one swig and slammed it back on the table.

“Another,” he said.

While the sheriff was pouring the drinks, Chris looked at the sealed envelope. His friend followed his gaze, and took the crossbow away.

“We trust you.”

Chris gritted his teeth and downed the second glass of scotch. Maybe the sheriff still trusted him, but the lady of the house did not. He reached for the bottle. The amber liquid sloshed in the glass again and this time he drank it more slowly, allowing it to burn his throat.

“We have to deal with the witch,” Chris said.

“Not right now, I hope,” the sheriff replied not quite slurring the words.

“Nope. I don’t even have my light saber.”

It took them a few hours and another couple of bottles to get thoroughly drunk, but they managed it. 

 

 +++++++++++++++

 

The next night, they went after the witch.

Chris signaled the sheriff to follow him and entered the deserted mansion. They cleared room after room in military fashion and stopped when they saw the corpse in the middle of the large dining hall. Chris recognized him as the medium he had used to track down the witch.

The room was large and the body was displayed in a hunter pose, a single beam of moonlight like a spotlight on the crossbow affixed to the dead man’s hands with nails. He realized he couldn’t even remember the man’s name. He had been just a tool to be used as needed. He glanced at the sheriff, trying to see a friend, not just another tool he was using.

Chris heard the whoosh of the arrow flying out of the darkness, and under his eyes, the sheriff fell to the ground. He shot a tight cluster into the corner from where the arrow had come. A cackle answered him and a second arrow went through the sheriff’s thigh, close to the first.

The femoral artery! Chris thought in panic. Out of the two arrows, one of them had to have hit it. He knew that his friend had minutes to live when he heard a woman’s voice.

“Everyone around you dies, hunter!”

Schade! She sounded very much like her sister.

Not today! Chris ran towards the sheriff, but before he could help his friend, another corner of the room was suddenly bathed in light and they saw Melissa gagged and tied to a chair. Halfway between them and her was a glass case filled with snakes. The scene was frozen for a moment. Then a pop, as of a balloon bursting, and a white powder was from falling the ceiling, like snow all over Melissa. Chris couldn’t tell what the evil snow was, but the snakes’ reaction gave him no time to wonder. They began banging their heads against the glass, which was already cracking.

He ran to her and slashed at the ties while the snakes were already out of their cage and slithering across the floor. Once she was free he considered shooting the snakes, but there were so many of them, and they were faster than he expected them to be.

As soon as she was free, Melissa sat up, grabbed his hand and moved toward the door.

“Come on,” she said.

His hand had closed instinctively around hers, but he didn’t follow her. The snakes were close and Chris could see them better, he could identify them. They were deadly. 

“The sheriff,” he said, pulling her toward their friend.

“The snakes!” Melissa said, tugging at his hand again.

For the first time since they first touched, he didn’t feel the instant desire. And of course, Melissa would have never left her sheriff to die. The two thoughts made him let go of her hand. As if by magic, the gun was in his hand. He backed away from her and toward his fallen friend, carefully keeping her in the site of the gun.

“What the hell are you doing?” the sheriff asked, having managed to stand up, supporting all his weight on one leg and keeping his own gun trained on Chris.

“That’s not Melissa,” Chris said.

The sheriff hesitated only a heartbeat. Chris was surprised to be believed so easily, but he didn’t dwell on it, painfully aware of the severity of his friend’s wound. Every second they waste not stopping the bleeding is diminishing the man’s chances of survival. The mathematics was simple. Out of an average of ten pints of blood, Chris estimated that one pint was already on the floor and the sheriff’s heart was pumping out even more. After losing the second pint or at best a third pint, he would go into shock. The drive to the hospital was some twenty minutes, but once they were safe, he would put a on tourniquet and the rhythm of the blood loss would slow down.

Although they were both aiming at the witch, Chris was the one who should have shot first. He was the killer. He was looking at her, willing himself not to see Melissa, knowing it wasn’t her. The snakes had slithered all the way to their feet. Chris stamped on the head of the first one. He kept telling himself it wasn’t Melissa, but he was unable to pull the trigger. He was startled at the sound of the gun shot. Melissa put her hands on the wound in her abdomen, shock and pain on her beautiful features.

“Chris, he shot me,” she said.

“You’re not Melissa,” Chris said through gritted teeth.

He had catalogued all of Melissa’s smiles and none of the them was the horrible sneering smile he was seeing.

“No, but she’s not doing much better.”

“What have you done to her?” Chris asked, but all he got in response was another hideous smile.

“Where is she?”

“She is dead. Because of you. Everyone dies because of y…”

The sheriff shot her again, the bullet shattering her hands as she was pressing on the first wound. Her features changed when she was dead and Chris thanked God silently that he didn’t have to see Melissa dead. For good measure, he chopped her head off.

“Now we burn them down?” the sheriff asked.

“Yes,” he answered.

At least this much he could do. He had prepared for this eventuality and it was the work of a moment to douse her body and the snakes and set them on fire before carrying his friend out of the building.

“I don’t think she’s dead,” the Sheriff said while Chris was applying a tourniquet to the wound. “Let’s go to her house.”

Chris realized that he was sure she wasn’t dead, but he couldn’t shake the sense that she was in danger. Life and death were balancing on the edge of his choice. Take the Sheriff to the hospital might mean Melissa’s death. Going to her house might mean his death.

“Call her,” Chris told his friend and started the car.

It took about twenty minutes of mad driving to get to her house. Melissa was not answering the phone, they were going blindly to her house, not having a single shred of solid evidence that she was there, but instinct was telling both men that she was there.

Chris left the car running and the sheriff laying in the backseat and burst into the house. The signs of struggle made his blood run cold. He stood at the bottom of the stairs, wondering which way he should go. Instinct led him to the basement.

The scene that met him there was unreal. Melissa was in the middle of the room shaking but standing. The crossbow was at her feet, empty. She was holding the big heavy sword they kept for practice, half raised. Laying on the floor, in front of her, was the Sheriff’s unmoving body, his head and jacket covered in an oily, yellowish liquid. The shards of glass around him and the scratches on his body confirmed that Melissa had thrown the vial of yellow wolfsbane potion straight into the Sheriff's face.

She looked at Chris, fear, pain, guilt, confusion, all mixed in her gaze.

“It… it wasn’t him,” she said in a voice he almost didn’t recognize.

There were three of them, Chris realized.

“I know,” he said, and went to her.

If she still looked like the Sheriff, it meant that she wasn’t yet dead. He took the rusted sword from Melissa and chopped off the head of the third witch. Only when the features changed back into their true form he felt Melissa exhale.

“Let’s help the real one now,” he said.

 

+++++++++++++

 

On the way to the hospital, Chris helped her rehearse the story they were going to tell, and a few hours later they were in the room where the Sheriff was sleeping peacefully after his wounds had been tended to and a significant amount of blood had been transfused into him.  

 They were both tired but refused to sleep.

 “How are you doing this?” she asked.

 He heard those words before. Almost the same tone as her son’s. He coached Scott how to answer the police inquiry. He could almost remember something else. The memory was there, at his metaphorical fingertips. The loss. The pain. The absolute madness of surviving those first hours, days, months, years after losing his daughter.

 He said the same words.

 “It’s what we do.”

 It sounded fake even to his ears. His voice was too steady. And yet, he remembered it sounding just the same then.

 He saw an ocean of pity in her eyes and had to look away for fear of drowning in it.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The witches were dead.

The werewolf pack was destroyed.

Life in Beacon Hills became almost idyllic. Chris Argent continued his training sessions with Natalie Martin and Sheriff Stilinski joined them more frequently than before. Mysteriously, the training sessions coincided with Melissa’s shifts so Chris never got to see her. He would leave books for her and when she finished them, Natalie was the one to bring them to their sessions.

With no supernatural threats around, Chris got plenty of time to focus on his consultancy business. He travelled as much as he could. Accepted some risky assignments, and even if he got hurt, his clients had doctors at their disposal.

The night of mind blowing sex with Melissa was haunting him. He was brimming with need to the point that he no longer cared if she was actually in love with his friend. He didn’t care that she was the mother of a werewolf. What kept Chris Argent far from Beacon Hills so much time was the knowledge that she was the reason he hadn’t killed the second witch.

When he was staring at the ceiling, in his frequent sleepless nights, Chris kept reliving that moment. He had his gun pointed at what he knew to be a threat. He had been in a life or death situation. And he had been unable to do what had to be done.

He knew he didn’t love her. He could remember loving his wife. And he had killed her. He remembered loving his sister. And he had hunted her down. He remembered loving his daughter. He remembered the pain of losing her.

He did not love Melissa. He had been rendered weak by whatever connection he had with her.

Every time he walked into her house, he was aware of the sanctuary of her bedroom. He was enveloped by a warm, welcoming energy. He remembered the tears on her cheeks when he practically told her that she didn’t mean enough for him to stay alive. He wondered if that was what was hurting her or she was simply sad that he would die, the same way she would be sad if the family dog died.

He was getting used to want her constantly and to stay away from her conscientiously. The Sheriff tentatively tried to find out what was bothering him, but was discreet enough not to insist and good enough student of human nature to guess.

This pattern of avoidance broke down when the kids came back for the holidays. The invitation to the Christmas party at the McCall house came through Stiles and Lydia. He tried to get out of it, but faced with their enthusiasm and their annoying prying into his possible motives for refusing, he capitulated.

That’s how it came to pass that on Christmas Eve he knocked on the door to a house for which he had the key. Scott opened immediately.

“Mr. Argent, so great to see you!” Scott greeted him.

Chris nodded a surly hello and tried to hide that he was assessing Scott in terms of potential threat. The young werewolf seemed to have grown into his power. He followed him into the living room were the rest of the pack was busy with the Christmas tree and other last minute preparations. All these young people were the same age as Allison. They had been her friends. All of them were on his “to watch” list, and in the fullness of time, some of them would probably be upgraded to the “to kill” list.

 He caught a glimpse of Melissa passing by a door and the evening became just a little more uncomfortable. It became a lot more uncomfortable when she came in, bringing a tray of cookies. She looked more beautiful than he remembered her. He stored the memory of her fluid movements as she came to greet him.

 “Hi! So good of you to come! The kids were dying to see you!” she said.

 Chris smiled politely.

 “It’s nice to be here. Merry Christmas,” he said.

 “Merry Christmas, Chris,” Melissa answered and kissed him on the cheek.

 Another thing he had forgotten! How sharply he reacted to her touch. He gripped the glass so hard he was afraid it might shatter. His hand was burning with the need to touch her. He needed to feel her skin against his again. He wanted to hear her cry out his name in ecstasy. It was painful to be in the same room as her. Her sweater was molding itself deliciously onto her breasts, tantalizing him. Her hair kept falling on her face and she had to push it back with her long elegant fingers. He remembered losing his fingers into her hair. He remembered her fingers on his skin.

 As soon as he could, he snuck out of the cheery living room. Away from her. He saw the Sheriff and Natalie in the kitchen, but before he entered, they started kissing. As always he found himself at the bottom of the stairs, close to the door that led to the basement. He looked up, knowing that upstairs was the safest place in the world. He did what he always did. Opened the door and climbed down into the place that became his training room.

 He was pouring a whisky from the bottle they kept there for the meetings of their special book club when he heard and saw Scott climbing down the stairs.

 “Never imagined that our basement was going to end up looking like this,” Scott said.

 Chris involuntarily looked at the spot where he had chopped of the head of the fake sheriff. Instantly his mind jumped to the memory of pinning Melissa to the floor. And her kiss.

 “What are your intentions towards my mother?”

 Chris raised an eyebrow, careful to keep his poker face despite the way his pulse suddenly sped up. That probably didn’t go unnoticed by a werewolf with the senses focused on him.

 “No intentions,” he answered a beat too late.

 Scott didn’t seem convinced, and the most Chris could hope was that the young man would just drop the subject.

 “I can smell it,” Scott mumbled.

 Chris didn’t respond, unwilling to be of any help in a conversation he did not want. But he couldn’t help liking the young man. The situation was definitely uncomfortable for him – no boy wants to talk about his mother’s sex life – and he looked thoroughly embarrassed to broach the subject, but he wasn’t backing away. He was actually blushing when he spoke again.

 “Your… d-desire. When you’re close to her. Or just look at her.”

 Chris remained silent. What was there to say?

 “Well?” Scott asked.

 “I’m not denying the attraction,” he answered eventually.

 “What are you going to do about it?” Scott asked.

 “Did you get the same scent from her?”

 Scott looked at him appalled. The question seemed to shock him profoundly.

 “She is my mother! I can’t… sniff her!” 

The expression on the young man’s face was so horrified, it took a lot of self-restraint not to laugh.

Chapter Text

He was on his way to a business meeting in a town some a hundred and fifty miles away when he heard about the incident on the radio. They talked about a large number of casualties being diverted to the Beacon Hills hospital. Something felt strange about the story and he dialed the Sheriff to get more information

“There was a rollover on the highway which caused a pile-up. The hospital is overwhelmed,” his friend said. “But it’s not just that. The truck was transporting God knows what. I think we’re going to be quarantined soon.” 

He knew that the smartest thing to do was to keep driving. What could he do to help? He was still wondering when he turned the car around and drove back.

As soon as he walked in the hospital he was sure he had made the right call. There were more people on stretches then he had ever seen there. There was no one at the reception desk. A lot of people were slumped in chairs. Discreetly, Chris checked if he had his guns in easy reach. The whole place had a zombie apocalypse feel to it.

 It took about thirty minutes to find Melissa. She looked exhausted, but healthy. As soon as she saw him, she tensed.

 “What’s wrong?” she asked, her eyes scanning his body for possible wounds.

 “I’m fine. I heard on the radio and I thought you might need some help,” he said.

 She looked at him curiously.

 “What can you do?” she asked.

 “Carry the wounded. Change the beds. Bring you coffee. Whatever is needed.”

 “I knew there was a reason I liked you,” she said.

 She was tired but the smile made her look like a prom queen accepting her tiara. Chris decided that he would not try to get her in bed again. All the time he had stayed away, thoughts of having her again kept plaguing him. Looking at her now, he saw an angel he was not worthy to touch with his blood stained hands.

 He kept his word. Did anything she asked him to. And when dawn broke and everyone was either sleeping or dead, he took her home. He hadn’t felt so tired since the adventurous days of his youth, before he learned to pace himself. The exhaustion was due to the emotionally charged environment, more than the activities themselves. He had seen people die, violently, in combat. He had seen corpses, victims of brutal attacks. He had never witnessed the agony of so many people, nor the sensation of impotence felt by the people who were trained to heal others. That night, he had seen men, women, and children die. He had seen doctors and nurses fall off their feet while trying to help.

 Melissa had dozed off in the passenger seat, so he got out of the car, unlocked the door to the house with his own key and carried her to the bedroom in his arms.

 Letting her out of his arms turned out to be more difficult than he expected. He knew that it was the last time he would be this close to her. It had to be the last time. Staying away from her was a matter of survival. He was in the middle of her bedroom, holding her in his arms, unwilling to take the last step to her bed and set her down. He should have been thankful she was alive and well. She could have easily been one of those who died that night.

 In her sleep, Melissa hugged him tighter. He felt about to shatter. He had to let her go. That last step seemed impossible. Chris Argent always did what had to be done. He did it this time, too. He placed her gently on her bed, and pulled a blanket over her. She nestled against her pillow. He left without looking back. His thoughts were murky as he climbed down the stairs. He heard a sound coming from the kitchen and the gun was in hand. He found the Sheriff there, looking a little confused, opening cupboard doors randomly.

 “The coffee is in the one by the window,” Chris said.

 “I went by the hospital. They told me you took Melissa home.”

 Chris watched his friend making coffee. He was a good cop. Once he accepted the supernatural elements in their lives, he could pinpoint whenever they came into play. After the night he just spent around dying people, Chris was also sure there was something unnatural was involved.  

 “So what the hell is doing this?”

 “I don’t know,” Chris admitted. “I’ll do some research.”

 “Still waiting for the results of the tests to know what was really on that truck.”

 Chris thought of a way to find out sooner. The Sheriff was not going to like it.

 “Can you get a sample?” Chris asked.

 “Yes. From the station. Why?”

 “There’s someone who should be able to tell us,” he said. “Peter Hale,” Chris added.

 As he expected, the Sheriff’s reaction was to reject the proposal. He didn’t say anything but he tensed considerably. Chris let him make up his mind.

 “I see,” he said eventually. “I know you don’t trust him either, but I see your point.”

 “He could at least give us a clue,” Chris said.

 They went to Eichen House in the Sheriff’s car. They were allowed access without too many questions. Either the Argent money or the Sheriff’s influence didn’t matter. They were in Peter Hale’s room. Peter’s cell. The orderlies had tied the werewolf in a straitjacket and shackled him to a chair before they entered. Even so, both men were weary. Peter’s power was often exercised though words, not actions.

 The werewolf listened to the Sheriff’s account of what happened, but his attention was focused more on Chris.

 “And you want me to put my nose into that,” Peter said, pointing with his chin to the evidence bag, “to tell you what kind of poison it is? It strikes me as slightly dangerous.”

 “The pathogen is airborne. By this time everyone in the whole town got a lungful. If we don’t find out what it is and what we can do about it, if you live or die is a matter of chance.”

 Peter quirked an eyebrow and grimaced conceding the point.

 “Can you untie me first?” Peter asked.

 “No,” both men answered at once.

 The werewolf smiled smugly. They still feared him.

 “Ok, let’s get a good sniff.”

 The Sheriff opened the evidence bag under his nose. Peter closed his eyes and inhaled carefully.

 “Well?” the Sheriff asked.

 “Yes, I know what it is,” Peter said.

 “What is it?”

 “I have a condition.”

 “We didn’t agree to any conditions,” the Sheriff said.

 “It’s nothing much. Bring Melissa here. I’ll only tell her.”

 “What?!” the Sheriff exclaimed.

 “No,” Chris said at the same time.

 “Then you can leave,” Peter said. “I’m not losing anything. As for living or dying… I’m not worried.”

 “But why?” the Sheriff asked.

 “No offence, but you guys just don’t have the necessary background to understand.”

 “That’s the only reason?” the Sheriff asked him.

 “The only reason you’ll get,” Peter said.

 “There are ways to get the truth out of you,” Chris said.

 Peter looked at him with an unsettling mixture of curiosity and hatred. His tone however was dripping with the same lazy carefree arrogance.

 “I’m sure the Sheriff here isn’t an advocate torture.”

 “You have no idea what the Sheriff is capable of,” Chris said.

 “Peter, there are hundreds of lives at stake. Just tell us,” the Sheriff said.

 “You know my terms. The sooner you get Melissa here, the more lives you save,” Peter answered. “And, guys, I want to talk to her alone. Just in case that wasn’t clear.”

 Chris and the Sheriff left the room. They didn’t need long to come to the conclusion that they had to give in to Peter’s demands. The Sheriff called her cell. Chris walked away while his friend talked to her. He didn’t like Peter’s insistence to see her. Her medical background was certainly not the reason he wanted her there. He could remember Peter howling as he passed by when he came to meet with the medium.  

 Melissa arrived about half an hour later. She was wearing the same clothes as the night before just like he was, and her behavior was unusually child-like. The Sheriff’s phone call had awakened her. Chris noticed her untied hair. It had probably come loose in her sleep, but he always associated it with sex. He watched her quietly while the Sheriff was talking to her.

 “Be careful. He’s tied down but I don’t have to tell you how dangerous he is. I don’t know why he will only talk to you. Just get the information and leave. If he tries anything... we’re right here.”

 “Take this,” Chris said handing her a small ultrasonic emitter. “Just push the button and it will incapacitate him for a moment. Enough for us to come in.”

 She nodded and took it without looking him in the eye.

 “I’ll be fine,” she said, looking at the Sheriff.

Chapter Text

 

They waited outside, worried and helpless. They knew that Peter was securely tied, and he couldn’t harm her, but the bastard was too sneaky to be underestimated. They also feared the werewolf’s poisonous tongue.

 Chris began to pace. When Melissa came out of the room, his first instinct was to check her for wounds. She had only stayed inside a few minutes there, but it was enough. She looked at him, and he was sure that she knew. Damn Peter! Damn his long lifespan, his experience and his intelligence. Damn bloody Peter Hale!

 “These are the ingredients we need,” she said, handing the Sheriff a piece of paper. “You’ll have to find ways to get it spread around the county.”

 “Why did he want to talk to you?” the Sheriff asked.

 Chris was grateful he did because the question was eating at him, but at the same time he feared the answer.

 “He likes me,” Melissa answered.

 It looked like the Sheriff was going to say something else but changed his mind when he saw her expression.

 “I’ll need some of it in the hospital, for the people who are still ill,” she said.

 “You should work together on this,” the Sheriff said, handing Chris the piece of paper.

 Chris knew he was right, but regretted it anyway. He had decided to ignore his desire for Melissa. Being around her was going to make that impossible. When they were back in the parking lot, the Sheriff hurried to his car, and waved them good bye. Chris wondered if he really saw his friend trying very hard not to smile.

 He followed Melissa to her car. It was strange not be the driver. The only times he got people to drive him was when he was severely injured. He was reading the list of ingredients when Melissa spoke.

 “So? Where are we going?”

 “My place,” Chris answered.

 She tensed even more. Her jaw was clenched and she was gripping the steering wheel tighter than necessary. He had never asked her why she avoided him for the past few weeks. She obviously believed that having sex with him had been a mistake. On top of that, now freaking Peter Hale had told her something else. Did Peter somehow know about what he had done to himself? Chris was sure that whatever the werewolf had told her, most of it was not about the antidote.

 They went into his study, and Chris was glad to see her react at the sight of the desk. He had seen the damn thing every single day and every time saw it, he remembered having sex with her there. He wanted her again. How many times he had day dreamed about her coming back into that room… He was going to sit her ass back on the desk, spread her legs and get his mouth back on her sweet, hot…

 He concealed these thoughts and opened the laptop. She sat down in his chair, and turned her head away when he bent over to log on to the website of one of his top suppliers, as if not to see him typing the password, but her fast breathing was betraying her. They found everything quickly enough, although Chris dragged it out as much as he could just to be close to her.

 “How fast do you think they can deliver them?” she asked.

 Her breath tickled his neck and it was Chris’s turn to clench his jaw.

 “Tomorrow we’ll have everything. In this field, people are aware of the importance of every minute.”

 “And there’s nothing we can do in the meantime?” she asked. “I feel so helpless,” she added.

 “You should rest,” he said. “You’ve had a very hard night.”

 She looked at him, and Chris straightened up. It had felt so damn good to hover above her as they were looking at the screen. She hadn’t protested. He could swear she sniffed him a few times. Did she try to sense something wrong with him after her talk with Peter? Or was she just trying to enjoy his scent like he was trying to capture and memorize hers?

 “OK then. Let me know when they get here,” she said standing up.

 “You don’t have to go,” he said. “I have a spare room,” he added before she could say anything.

 Allison’s room. He could see Melissa work this out. He could also see her have an emotional reaction about this.

 “Chris… there is something we should discuss,” she said.

 She was using his name. Not a good sign. Time to distract her.

 “I was going to do some more research about the ingredients before we actually spread the so called antidote into the general public. Peter Hale isn’t the most trustworthy source.”

 “I know Peter very well,” she said and Chris noticed the unusual flash of emotion.

 “Then you know he is a liar.”

 He wanted to make sure she doubted whatever the werewolf had told her. He may have even told her the truth, but Chris was sure that Peter would not miss the opportunity to sow distrust between people he perceived as his enemies.

 “He didn’t tell me anything about you that I didn’t already know,” she said.

 He was about to ask her what she meant, but she reached into her pocket and showed him an envelope. Chris recognized it instantly. It was the goodbye letter he had written in case he turned into a werewolf. He had to admit that he hadn’t actually forgotten it at her place. He wanted her to know.

 “It took me weeks to open it,” she said. “I felt something had happened to you. Months ago. Since I read the letter…”

 Her voice broke and she hugged him. He could see her compassion, but all he felt was lust. He had done excellent work with that potion.

 “I just didn’t want to think you could hurt so much. I should have done something, helped you deal with the pain. But you’re so damn closed off, everyone thought you were handling it.”

 He held her and made sure his lips were touching her neck when he spoke.

 “If you read the letter, you know I don’t feel anything anymore.”

 She nodded and he pressed his lips on her skin.

 “Lust isn’t covered by that,” he added. “I’m sure you remember.”

 She shuddered and pulled away. He kept her in his arms, and she didn’t struggle.

 “I did some research of my own,” she said.

 “About?”

 “About what you did. It can be reversed.”

 “I don’t want it reversed,” he said.

 “Chris…”

 “Everyone around me dies,” he interrupted her. “It’s just how it is. I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. People will keep dying around me. I just won’t care about it.”

 “And what are you now? Without feelings… Do you want to turn into Peter? You’re better than this.”

 He sensed it again. The unusual emotion when she mentioned Peter.

 The last date I ever had was with Peter Hale, he remembered her telling him that.

 ‘Mrs. McCall, you’ve been very naughty, haven’t you?’ he thought.

 He walked her slowly to the desk. She struggled feebly in his embrace. When he reached between her thighs, he found her wet. She gripped his wrist, trying to push his hand away. When he moved his fingers, caressing her folds slowly, her grip tightened, but she didn’t push his hand away anymore. He lifted her on the desk, bunched up her skirt and unzipped his jeans.

 “You are dangerous, Mrs. McCall,” he told her sliding in. “I don’t feel anything for anyone and I still couldn’t kill you,” he whispered the words in the rhythm of his thrusts. “I knew it wasn’t you, and I still couldn’t pull the trigger,” he breathed the words between kisses. “The good Sheriff shot your evil twin. You used the crossbow on his likeness,” he said, alternating kisses and bites. “I, a killer, couldn’t kill something that looked like you.”

 He was pumping faster, more violently. His kisses were more aggressive. She screamed when he bit her shoulder. His voice and his thrusts had built up her orgasm, but the pain triggered it. He could play with this woman, he realized. His erotic fantasies, his refined sexuality, he could explore so much with her.

 “Oh, Chris! God!” she screamed and shuddered.

 He held her tight, no longer pulling out of her while she kept clenching around him. He stayed still, with the exception of a few short, pulse-like thrusts. She was trembling. Her legs were locked painfully tight around his hips.

 “You…’re not…a killer,” she managed to say.

 Her words surprised him. He didn’t understand why, but the effect was irrepressible. He came. He exploded inside her, filling her up. It seemed to take forever.

 Melissa seemed awkward in the aftermath. He watched her hurry to the bathroom, pulling her skirt back down. He zipped up his jeans and thought about his sperm trickling down Melissa’s thighs. The image pleased him. He wanted more. She obviously wanted him, too. Why should they deny themselves the pleasure?

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 19

 

 She came back, calm and composed. He tried to see the bitemark on her neck, but her thick long hair covered it. Was it so easy to erase his effect on her? It wasn’t for him. He knew he would have Melissa’s imprint on his senses for many nights to come. Maybe the practice she got sweeping under the carpet her connection with Peter Hale came in handy. Speak of the wolf…

 “We should talk about the wolf in the room. Tell me about Peter Hale.”

 She started, but less than he expected. She really must have had a lot of practice hiding her reactions to Peter from the rest of the world.

 “Come on,” he said. “You know my secret. Now tell me yours.”

 “I’m not going to let go of this,” she said. “You of all people know that you shouldn’t become a monster to fight monsters.”

 “I’m still human, Mrs. McCall.”

 "Are you though? Are you really?"

 "Yes, and it's more than can be said about Peter."

 The blood drained from her face at his words. The pain in her eyes bothered him.

 "Fine. You want to talk about him? What do you want to know? How often we met? What was his favorite position?"

 Her eyes sparkled. There was so much shame under all her anger. He hadn't meant to hurt her. He didn't actually care, did he? He couldn't care. He needed to know if she had fallen into his bed because he was a monster like the ones before him. He knew about Scott's father. A killer with an FBI badge. Peter Hale was a fangs and claws killer. And then there was him. A killer without a soul. Had she become his lover because of the monster or because of the man? There was one thing he needed to know about her relationship with Peter.

 "Why?"

 She closed her mouth with a snap. Whatever questions she was about to suggest remained unsaid.

 "I asked myself that many times. For the most part… the answer was that I used him to cope with all the weirdness. With all the death and horror around me. With the fear…"

 For the most part… What was the other part of her reason? Chris didn't say anything, knowing it would prompt her to fill the silence.

 "It was like a stupid addiction. It was simple. It was comforting."

 "It was dangerous," he said.

 She shrugged. "It's over now."

 "When did it end?"

 "When he got put into Eichen House. I had no idea what he had planned for Scott or I would have killed him myself."

 "No," Chris said. "You would have died trying to kill him."

 "I know I wasn't your best student, but-"

 He interrupted her.

 "It has nothing to do with your training, your misplaced empathy or your determination. He is a very powerful creature."

 He watched her reaction to the word. Creature. Her lover was a creature. The word cut her deep. Her eyes welled up and an ugly blush crept on her sheet white cheeks.

 "If you don't want me to help, I'll accept your choice. If you want to walk away from Beacon Hill, I'll understand. Whatever you need, I'll support you, but you have to reverse the spell."

 He thought back at the time when everything hurt. He remembered the pain. And he remembered that along with the lust he felt for Melissa, there had also been something sweet and intoxicating which made the desire even more intense. He was already crazy in lust with her, should he risk getting even more addicted to her? What if she only wanted monsters and once he had his soul back he would lose her completely?

 "I'll think about it. When the town is safe."

 "Beacon Hills is never safe for long. The more you put this off, the harder it will be to reverse the spell," she said.

 "After we deal with this poison, I'll give you my answer. I promise."

 She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It came out like a sigh and he had to restrain himself from pulling her to his chest. This addiction had to stop.

 "Ok. After. We should get some sleep now."

 "I'll show you to Allison's room."

 She flinched at the sound of the name. She was a stranger to his daughter and she still hurt at the loss. How could she ask him to go back to that inferno of pain? He opened the door and she froze in the threshold. Chris had removed all memories of his family from the rest of the house, but Allison's bedroom was unchanged. Her laptop and her books were on the table. A t-shirt was on the bed. Melissa took a step back.

 "No, I can't. I'm sorry."

 Chris closed the door. He hadn't felt anything to see the room that seemed to wait for his daughter to come back from school. He took a few steps down the corridor.

 "Come on, you can take my bedroom. I'll sleep on the couch in the office."

 "I-"

 Her voice broke off. She was going to apologize, so he tried to save her the awkwardness.

 "It's ok," he said holding the door open for her without stepping inside. "It won't be the first time I sleep in there. It's more comfortable than-"

 She pulled him into a kiss that stole his breath and his mind. His arms wrapped around her waist as fast as hers wrapped around his neck. They were still kissing when they stumbled into bed.

 "Last time," she said panting while unbuttoning his shirt.

 "Last time," he lied climbing on top of her. "Last time," he lied again, slowly sinking into her.

 It was like a fever dream. The rhythm was slow and the emotions were blistering. Why did it feel so right to be with her? She might not have said it, but she loved him. She gave herself to him so completely, it had to be love. How much more intense would it be if he loved her back?

 The morning found him asleep in her arms. He woke up at the sound of his phone beeping somewhere on the floor. He picked up his clothes and got the phone out of the pocket.

 "It arrived. The delivery guy will be here in ten minutes," he said. "Good morning," he added.

 "Morning," she said.

 She was holding the sheet up over her breasts but the beard rash was peaking above it. Her hair was a mess and there was mascara all around her eyes. She looked gorgeous. He was tempted to invite her with him in the shower. That would take longer than fifteen minutes and he couldn't afford the delay or the distraction.

 

Chapter Text

 

They'd been sitting in the car for a while, watching the reservoir.

 "Are you ok?" the Sheriff asked.

 "Sure," Chris said.

 The answer came out of habit. He had the patience to wait and see if the danger was gone, but this time his mind was buzzing with the promise he'd made her. Should he recover his soul? Maybe he could learn to live with the pain of his losses. No one had died around him since he'd done the spell. And yet, he had made three new friends, one of which was very special. He had people to lose again. Speaking of friends, he was next to the one guy in the world who knew would understand and whose opinions he trusted.

  "Actually…"

 His voice trailed off and in the silence Stillinski opened a bottle of water. The son of a bitch had experience when it came to interrogations. Sometimes it's better to let the subject fill the silence. It occurred to him that for Stillinski this was a friendly conversation not an interrogation. His friend was waiting for him to open up. He bit the bullet and told him about the spell.

 "Did it help?" he asked when Chris finished the story.

 "Yes. I can function again. None of you died in months."

 "I believe the part about the pain getting too much to bear. But we didn't survive because you turned yourself into a machine."

 Chris appreciated the thoughtfulness of using of the word machine instead of monster.

 "Maybe not," he said. "But next time, someone might die."

 "First of all, you're a very negative guy. Seriously now, I'm not saying you won't care much, but you lost your wife and child. Compared to that, losing a friend is-"

 He stopped. The penny dropped. He'd probably guessed it all along but now everything clicked into place. Chris waited.

 "Unless... Unless someone became important to you."

 Someone. Right. Was he trying to force him to say the name?

 "Well it took you long enough to notice. I made you breakfast after sleeping together, I gave you a key to my house and the code to my weapons cabinet. What more do you need to get the hint?"

 The Sheriff almost blushed.

 "We slept in the same house. Not the same as sleeping together."

 "We slept in the same room the night we waited for me to turn into a werewolf," Chris said.

 "You slept. I didn't."

 His serious tone made it clear that Chris's attempt to lighten the mood failed.

 "My first instinct was to tell you to get your soul back and we'll be here to help you deal with the pain. But now…"

 He looked Chris in the eye as he said, "I love Melissa like I never loved anyone else in my life. I chose Natalie because I think one day Melissa will be in danger and I won't be able to protect her. It took a lot to survive my wife's death, but if anything happens to Melissa, I'd feel guilty for not saving her."

 His words shook Chris to the core. Here was the best man he'd ever known, and he'd just revealed what was probably his darkest secret.

 "Not the help you wanted," Stillinski said.

 "You understand. That means a lot to me. Melissa won't."

 "So, you decided not to undo it?"

 "Not yet. I feel better than I felt in years, but I can't shake this sensation that I'm just half a man. Like there's a piece of me missing."

 "When you decide, don't forget that we are your friends. Even if Melissa doesn't understand your choice, she will still support you."

 How could you not choose her? Chris didn't ask aloud. Things would have been a lot different if the Sheriff had acted on his feelings.

 "Thank you."

  

*

 

 The lights were on in the kitchen when he pulled over. He had texted her that he was coming to talk. She opened the door wide. Moonlight bathed her in silver. Whatever happened, he would treasure this image.

 "I made my choice," he said.

  

 

 

Chapter Text

 

She moved aside to let him in. He did his best to ignore the warmth of her body even his skin tingled when her breasts brushed his arm. He hadn't visited the house in a while, but there was no excuse to feel so clumsy. He followed her to the kitchen but stood rooted in the doorway. This room more than any other in the house made him feel at home.

 "Coffee?" she asked.

 He shook his head. Melissa refilled her mug and watched him anxiously.

 "I'll do it," he said.

 He watched her with laser focus. He read the relief in her body and the concern in her eyes. How were those eyes going to look at him when he came back from the other side?

 "I have the ingredients here. Do you want me to call someone else, to watch over you?"

 He smiled wryly. There was no one else better suited than her to watch over him.

 "No. I take it you're inviting me to do this here?"

 "Of course. If that's ok with you, of course."

 They were already talking like strangers. All the months they spent together seemed to have faded away.

 "If it doesn't work…"

 He stopped, not knowing what to say. If it doesn't work, can we go back to being lovers? If it doesn't work, will you put me down like a rabid werewolf?

 "I will always be here for you."

 "I asked you once if you would be able to do what has to be done if Scott starts hurting people.  I understand you can't do this for your son, but I need to know you would do it for me. If I change…"

 "No," she said. "You can't count on me to put you down."

 Oh, well, he wasn't going to turn evil overnight. Even if the counter-spell failed, he still had time to talk to the Sheriff about it.

 They brewed in silence. His fingers accidentally on purpose touched hers when he took the ingredients she handed him. More than once her palm brushed up his forearm while he stirred the potion. She could almost smell the fear coming off her. He knew her well enough to read the guilt at the mere thought that something might go wrong.

 "Melissa, whatever happens, it was my choice."

 "Nothing's going to happen. Nothing bad."

 "That's right," he said.

 A few minutes later, they were looking at a glass of crystalline blue potion.

 "It smells nice," he said.

 A tentative smile rewarded him.

 "After you drink it you'll fall asleep and I can't carry you anywhere," she said.

 "Right. Let's go," he said.

 He took the potion and walked out of the kitchen. He was heading downstairs when he felt Melissa's hand on his arm.

 "No," she said and she took his free hand gently leading him upstairs.

 He followed, trying to think of reasons why he shouldn't fall asleep in her bed. They had tried to stay positive, but there was a very good chance that he might never wake up from this potion-induced sleep. It was much more convenient to store a dead body in the cellar than in a functional bedroom.

 Truth be told, dying in her bed was very high on his list of ways to go. Admittedly, the circumstances were quite different in his ideal scenario.

  He drank the potion without complaining about the foul taste. He sat on the edge of her bed and waited for her to join him like the night he had come there after taking on a whole pack of werewolves. She sat next to him again.

 "Everything will be fine," she said.

 "Thank you."

 She patted his knee awkwardly and stood up. Chris caught her hand, and just like last time, he placed a simple reverential kiss on her wrist. This time she didn't snatch her hand away. She cupped his cheek and bent over to kiss his forehead. How could a heartless monster like him be crazy in lust with this woman and at the same time worship her like a vestal virgin? Probably Peter Hale was still asking himself the same question in his padded cell in Eichen House. He drifted to sleep thinking that if something went wrong with this spell, maybe he would move in next door to Peter. He believed that Mrs. McCall and the Sheriff would do the right thing, but by their standards, a quick and merciful death was not the right thing. Permanently incapacitating a monster was more their style.

 He woke up with the sun. Melissa was next to his bed, looking worried and beautiful. He felt his heart burst at the sight but all too soon the pain came crashing onto him.

 'Allison.'

 No sound came out. He sat up slowly, but Melissa didn't move. He went next to her and when he turned his head to follow her gaze, he saw his own body motionless on the bed. His heart broke a little more when she knelt by the bed. Her lips moved and he focused on the whispers, curious what spell she was using to get him back. She was praying. He heard her passionate plea for his life.

 The deity she was addressing was getting a long list of his supposed good deeds. Chris sat on the floor, resting his back to the edge of the bed, with his ethereal ear next to her mouth. She told her God about all the times he had protected Beacon Hills, about all the people he had saved, without mentioning that in all those situations he had killed or hurt other beings.

 Her passion touched him. A tear trickled from his eye. Her head jerked up. On the bed, a tear had rolled out of his closed eye. Melissa let go of his hand and caressed his cheek with her fingertips, capturing the tear. Chris wished he could feel her fingers on his face. He felt the pain, he drowned in the guilt, but more than that, he wanted to come back for her. His eyes were drawn to the light coming from the window. He walked over and instead of seeing outside the house, all he could see was bright blinding light.

 He expected to hear a familiar voice or see a familiar shape. With all the loved ones who had died before him, he thought that one of them would make the trip to welcome him into the next life. Probably his destination was quite different from theirs.

 Instead of taking the step out the window, he opened his eyes and gasped. He was back in his body and still in Melissa's bed. She let out a small shriek of surprise. He caught a mixture of relief and guilt pass over her features before she composed herself.

 "You're awake," she said. "I was so worried."

 "Why?" he asked in a croaking voice.

 His throat hurt and his lips burned. He felt as if he had swallowed sand.

 "You were out for thirty-six hours."

 She brought him a glass of water and brought it to his lips. He lifted his head off the pillow and her hand slid firmly behind his neck to support it. The tone of her voice, her efficient gestures and the carefully chosen words were all part of Mrs. McCall. His Melissa was gone.

 "Slowly," she said when he tried to raise his head higher so he could drink more.

 He was thirstier than he remembered ever being, but she was right. When he tried to drink faster, he started coughing. He slowed down again and she stood up.

 "I'll bring you another one."

 "Thank you, Mrs. McCall," he said.

 The words came out of habit, but they felt appropriate while at the same time being a fresh wound over his soul. She came back with the water and gave him the same smile that didn't reach her eyes. He had lost her. Somehow, in these hours while she had watched over him, she had closed herself to him. Maybe she did only like monsters.