Tom’s first thought is that this is a little too Shakespearian for his tastes. He tries to remember if Juliet’s mother had killed herself. Had Juliet even had a mother? He needs to get four more hours of sleep. Instead, he says, “Hang on. I’m going to need coffee before I have you repeat what you just said.”
He gets out of bed and heads downstairs. He’s glad it’s a weekend, and the kids are all still asleep. He starts the coffee maker, then looks in the refrigerator and finds one of Stiles’ cans of Mountain Dew. It’s disgusting, but the sugar and caffeine is what he needs right now. After a long swig, he puts the phone back to his ear. “Okay. Repeat.”
“I think my wife is going to kill herself,” Chris says.
“That’s what I thought you said. Why?”
Chris lets out a breath. “It’s – tradition. In hunter families. If you get bitten, you kill yourself before the first shift sets in.”
“I’m sorry, if you get what?”
Chris’ silence is telling. “Peter didn’t tell you.”
“No, he failed to mention – why don’t you start at the beginning? Tell me what you know, and then I’ll tell you what I know.”
“I don’t know a lot. Peter attacked Victoria, and she got bitten, and now she – ” Chris’ voice cracks a little. “She’s planning to kill herself, and Gerard is planning to kill Peter . . . or so he says. He wants me to help him, and at the moment I’m inclined to agree.”
“Did Victoria mention at any point why Peter attacked her?” Tom asks, and Chris admits that no, she had not. “She was trying to kill Scott. She hit him with a car, then dragged him into an abandoned garage, and tried to poison him with wolfsbane in an aerator. Peter went to rescue him. He didn’t mention biting Victoria when he did this, and believe me, I will have a discussion with him about that, but let’s not grab torches and pitchforks. What, exactly, do you want me to do about your wife?”
“I need you to talk to her. Tell her that being a werewolf isn’t that bad. You didn’t want it either, but you – ” Chris takes a deep breath. “I know that you probably couldn’t care less. But she’s my wife. The mother of my daughter. Please come talk to her.”
Tom pinches the bridge of his nose. “Let me take a shower and have a couple more cups of coffee, and I’ll be right there. But I’m going to need you to do something for me before I get there.”
“Name it,” Chris says.
“Go through your father’s things. Find out what those pills are and text me the information. I think I can talk your wife out of killing herself, but I’m going to need that information.”
“Okay. Give me a few minutes. And thank you.” Chris sounds immensely relieved. He says goodbye and hangs up.
Tom heads for the shower, considering how to handle this. When he gets out, he sends Peter a text that just reads, ‘Something you forgot to mention last night?’
He doesn’t get an immediate reply, so he gets dressed and then heads into the bedroom. The teenagers are sprawled out all over Stiles' floor in various states of disarray, but Derek is awake, sitting up in Stiles’ bed with a book with Stiles asleep in his lap. “What’s going on?” he asks, clearly having heard Tom talking to somebody.
“I have to go out for a little while,” Tom says. “I’ll give you the details later. Stay here, make sure none of the kids go anywhere, okay? Call me if you need help.”
Derek nods, and Tom turns to leave, feeling slightly less uneasy than before. Peter still hasn’t replied to his text, and he doesn’t like that one bit. He supposes that Peter might be feeling defensive, so he sends another text that reads, ‘Please let me know that you’re okay.’
This, Peter replies to, just as Tom is pulling into the driveway of the Argent house. His reply is just ‘I’m fine’, and now Tom is annoyed. He files that away. He can go see Peter after he’s dealt with Victoria Argent.
Chris lets him in. He hasn’t shaved and there are dark circles underneath his eyes. He gestures for Tom to follow him into the living room. Tom inquires after Allison’s whereabouts and Chris tells him that she’s out shopping with Lydia. That’s good. He’d prefer not to have her here for this discussion. In the living room, Victoria is sitting on the sofa with a bandaged arm, and Gerard is speaking quietly into her ear. Tom can guess at what he’s saying, and he feels his temper thin when Gerard just smiles at his entrance.
“Okay,” Tom says, “apparently we need to talk.”
“We really don’t,” Victoria says, giving him an icy stare as Chris sits down next to her.
“Well, I originally thought I would come over here to arrest you,” Tom says. “But apparently that’s unnecessary since you’re just going to kill yourself.”
Victoria’s jaw tightens. She darts a glance at Chris, who rubs a hand over his face and looks away. “This is none of your concern, Sheriff. I’d like to ask you to leave.”
“Mrs. Argent, you and I are going to have a talk one way or another. You can either talk to me here, or I can bring you down to the station to question you about your assault on Scott McCall. To be frank, I would prefer the latter, because I could get you by yourself, but I thought you might be more receptive if I spoke to you where you’re comfortable.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gerard says gravely. “We can’t allow – ”
“Excuse me, sir,” Tom says. “At no point was I talking to you.”
Victoria is still glowering at Chris. “Why would you bring him here? I’ll do what I have to do. The man I married would have understood that.”
Chris won’t look at her, but he says, “The man you married does understand, but the father of your child wants you to reconsider. Vicky.” His voice lowers and he finally glances at her, although he can’t hold her gaze. “Just talk to him. Just – ”
“This is unacceptable, Chris.” Gerard’s voice has gone cold. “Not only is she a werewolf now, but her alpha is our enemy. He’ll be able to control her, use her against us. Why do you think he bit her in the first place? We can’t allow that sort of weakness. The woman you married is dead, Chris. When the moon rises, that will just be a monster wearing her skin – ”
“If you really believed that, why are you angling to get the bite from Peter Hale?” Tom asks the question casually, tossing it out into the room to see what happens.
Chris’ jaw tightens. Victoria jerks her head around, truly startled. And Gerard, well. His eyes go momentarily wide and his back stiffens, just enough tension for Tom to know that he’s hit the mark. He recovers well, and says, “I don’t know what – ”
“Come on, Gerard. You’ve been in town three, four weeks now, and you still haven’t moved on Peter. You have to know where he is. He’s not even hiding his comings and goings at my house. If you wanted Peter Hale dead – or me, for that matter – you would’ve made a move by now. But you’re not. So instead you . . . let’s see if I have the chronology right here. You encourage Victoria to try to split up Scott and Allison, knowing it won’t work, and then convince her to try to kill Scott. You probably figured Peter would kill her, and then you could get Chris and maybe Allison on your side. Turn Allison into a spy for you, maybe? With their help, you could manage to capture Peter, or maybe me and Derek, so you could coerce him into turning you. Your cancer must be pretty far advanced if you’re on oral chemo. You’ve probably got what, six months left, maximum? You could probably push that out pretty far with the bite.”
“How did you – ” Gerard looks at Chris, and his mouth purses like he had bitten down on a lemon as he realizes Chris must have gone through his things.
“So let’s make a deal. How about, you acknowledge that werewolves aren’t actually monsters, and in return, I’ll set you up with a therapist you can talk to about moving on from the bargaining stage of grief. In the meantime, for once in your life, how about you keep your mouth shut.”
“If you think I’m going to let you talk to me that way – ”
Tom ignores him, and turns on Victoria. “As for you, the woman who tried to murder my son’s best friend, you know what? If you want to kill yourself, go ahead,” he says, and Chris makes a noise like Tom just kicked him in the stomach. “But first, I’m going to go get your daughter, and you’re going to sit down with her and explain exactly what you did, why you did it, and why you feel that leaving her motherless is a better option than getting fangs and fur during a full moon. If you’re still willing to pull the trigger after she’s begged you not to go – and believe me, Mrs. Argent, I know better than anyone else in this room what it’s like to deal with a child who is losing their mother – then I’ll read the eulogy at your funeral. Do we have a deal?”
Victoria’s jaw is trembling. She clears her throat and says, “It isn’t that I want to leave Allison. It’s just that – ”
“Then don’t,” Tom says flatly.
Victoria says nothing.
“Vicky,” Chris says quietly. “Please.”
Seeing that he’s making some headway, Tom gentles his tone. “I wasn’t exactly the world’s biggest fan of lycanthropy for the first week or two. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s all roses. It’s not easy. But it’s not as horrible as you think it is. You’re going to be okay. If you can believe that, then we can get you through this. Nobody needs to die today.”
After a long moment, Victoria nods. Her fists clench in her lap, but she looks up to meet his gaze. “What about Peter?”
“What about him?” Tom asks.
“He can control me. Call me out.”
“Yes, he can. And frankly, I’m not going to promise that he won’t. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet, so I don’t know what his plan is. What I will say is that a strong-willed person can fight it off, and you seem pretty strong-willed. Peter wasn’t able to force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. He won’t be able to force you, either. So try not to worry about that for now.” He stands up and says to Chris, “I’ll call you once I’ve spoken to Peter.”
Chris nods. “I appreciate that.”
Tom turns to Gerard. “How about I drive you to a hotel? I doubt you’ll leave town, but I somehow feel like Chris doesn’t want you in his house, near his wife and daughter.”
“That’s between me and my son.”
Tom gives Chris a questioning look, asking silently if he wants Tom to remove Gerard by force. Chris sighs and shakes his head a little. Tom doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t have grounds to drag Gerard out of the house, so he says, “Suit yourself,” and departs, heading for Peter’s apartment.
He sits in his car in the parking lot for several long minutes, trying to decide how to tackle this. He’s less angry at Peter for biting Victoria than he is for Peter neglecting to mention that fact to him. He suspects that Peter has his reasons, but he doesn’t like having been left in the dark. Still, he knows from experience that if he gets his back up, Peter will just get defensive, and they’ll end up arguing. They had been making genuine progress the night before, so with that in mind, he heads up to the apartment and knocks before going inside.
Peter is standing by the window, watching the traffic on the road. He turns when Tom comes in, and greets him with, “Did she kill herself?”
“Not yet,” Tom says, “and I think I’ve gotten her talked out of it. Hello to you, too. Got any coffee?”
Peter still looks wary, but since Tom isn’t yelling at him, he nods and heads into the kitchen. The coffee is fresh from that morning, but only lukewarm, so he’s been waiting for Tom for a while. Peter, like his nephew, prefers tea.
“So before I make a bunch of assumptions and impinge upon your character,” Tom says, “why don’t you tell me what happened yesterday, and why?”
“All right.” Peter nods a little, sipping his tea. “I didn’t go there with the intention of biting her. Honestly, I didn’t expect Victoria to be there at all. I won’t say biting her was an accident, but it wasn’t exactly on purpose, either. I was trying to get out as quickly as possible, before the wolfsbane could affect me. She came at me, and my hands were full because I was carrying Scott. I didn’t want to drop him, so I responded with my fangs. Then I took Scott and got out.”
“Okay.” Tom considers all this for a minute. “And?”
“And while I was driving Scott back to your house, it became clear what Gerard’s plan had been. He knew Victoria wouldn’t succeed in killing Scott. If he had really been invested in that end, he would have been there himself. He wanted me to kill her, or turn her. That would drive Chris against us and at the very least make Allison neutral, but more likely put him in a position where he could use Allison against us.”
“Mm hm,” Tom says. “And?”
“So it was only going to play out in one of two ways. Either Victoria would kill herself, and Gerard’s plan would succeed, or she wouldn’t. There was only one person who would be able to talk her out of it, and that was you. If you succeeded, then Chris and Allison would both be indebted to us and Gerard would be separated from his support.”
“And all this makes perfect sense,” Tom says. “I don’t fault your plan. But I still don’t know why you didn’t tell me.”
“Because you would have rushed right over there to try to help. You had to be surprised, Tom. Chris had to reach out to you, and your surprise had to be genuine, because if it hadn’t been, they would have thought you were complicit. That I had purposefully turned Victoria so you could manipulate her husband and daughter into supporting you.” Peter shrugs a little. “I didn’t know whether or not Chris would call you. But I know what it was like to lose the woman I loved. I banked on the fact that he would.”
Tom lets out a slow breath. He thinks all of this over. Then he nods and says, “Okay.”
Peter glances over at him. “Are we? Okay?”
“Yeah, I think so. I’m not exactly thrilled with what happened, but it could have been a lot worse. You saved Scott’s life. You didn’t kill Victoria. You had faith in me to fix the mess that her attack on Scott left us with. I think I’m more than okay with all those things.”
Peter’s silent for a few moments. “I thought you might not believe me. That I hadn’t planned it.”
Tom shrugs a little. “You know, you’ve done a lot of shit that hasn’t exactly sat well with me. But you wouldn’t have planned this.” He sees Peter arching his eyebrows, and can’t help but laugh a little. “I think I know your plans pretty well by now. You wouldn’t bet the farm on Victoria Argent being rational, even if you did have faith in me that I would deliver a stirring speech.”
Peter gives a snort. “That’s true. I would’ve bitten Chris. He’d never leave his daughter alone. Once he’d realized being a werewolf wasn’t the end of the world, he could have been a real help. You know, in retrospect that would have been a great plan – ”
“Oh, yeah. Fantastic.”
“Jealous?” Peter smirks at him.
“Absolutely green,” Tom says, rolling his eyes. “Come on. We should head back to the house and check in with the others.”
“All right.” Peter finishes his tea and accepts Tom’s empty mug. “You really aren’t angry with me?”
“Should I be?”
“I used you.”
Tom shrugs again. “You made the best of a bad situation. You did it for the pack’s sake, not for yourself. Am I thrilled that you kept the information from me to prompt a certain response? No. But you were right. If I hadn’t been surprised, Chris might have been suspicious, might have decided he didn’t want me to help. So I’m not going to give you the alpha medal of honor, but I’m not mad at you, either.”
Peter’s shoulders relax. “All right.”
“Now come on. I need to get home and check on Scott. How are you feeling, by the way? Any after effects?”
“Scott was still coughing and complaining of a sore chest this morning.”
“Scott’s not an alpha. Besides, he was exposed for a lot longer than I was. I’m fine, Tom. Honestly.”
“Okay.” Tom gets them down to the car and heads home. It’s mid-morning now, so he stops and picks up donuts and coffee, knowing that it will cheer up the teenagers. They set on them like, well, wolves. Scott seems particularly hungry, and Peter says it’s an aftereffect of the healing he’s done. Stiles is the only one who’s just picking at his donut, although he’s certainly taking more than his fair share of the coffee.
Since they seem to be fine, he excuses himself to call Chris. The hunter picks up sounding tight and weary. “So I’ve spoken with Peter,” Tom says. He’s decided to be honest. Chris won’t like what’s happened, but he’ll like being lied to even less. “He assured me that he has no intent to call out your wife. He didn’t exactly turn her on purpose, but figured that if I could talk her out of suicide, it would keep Gerard from turning you and Allison against us.”
“Well, I guess he was right about that,” Chris says.
“Does that mean it worked?”
Chris is quiet for a minute. “If he had turned Victoria just for that reason, I’d be pissed. But she – did something unforgivable. She broke the Code. I can’t blame Peter for defending himself or a teenaged boy who had done nothing wrong. So yeah, it worked.”
“Great. Where’s Gerard?”
“I showed him the door, but he won’t go far.”
“Okay. Has Allison heard about what happened? Because if not, I suggest you clue her in before Gerard gets to her.”
“I’ll call her.”
They exchange pleasantries and then Tom hangs up. He goes into the other room and pulls Stiles aside, out of the room and then to the tiny closet that he calls his office. He pulls Stiles into a hug and just squeezes him tightly for a long time. Stiles is stiff at first, but then relaxes into it, clutching at his father’s shirt.
“You okay?” Tom finally asks.
Stiles nods, then shakes his head. “I don’t know. I’m scared, Dad. Scott nearly died. And I know Peter saved him, but . . .”
Tom tousles his hair. “I know. It’s scary. There’s nothing wrong with being scared. We’re going to take care of it, okay? And until then, we’ll all stick together. We’ll figure it out.”
“Okay.” Stiles rubs his eyes with the back of his hand. “Thanks, Dad. But, uh, I have to admit that I’d feel better if Allison’s mom was in jail. Scott was telling me about what happened, and, she, uh. She sounds kind of crazy.”
“I’m not one hundred percent thrilled with the fact that Mrs. Argent is going to get away with what she did,” Tom says, “but she won’t be able to hurt any of us now that she’s Peter’s beta. He’d be able to stop her. So that’s something we can tackle on a different day.”
“Okay. Yeah, that. That’s a good point.” Stiles lets out a breath. “Okay.”
“Come on, kid. You need to eat something.”
~ ~ ~ ~