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Reprieve

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The blood loss is making her light-headed. Or maybe it's the pain that's flaring up like fireworks at every step she makes.

Allison stumbles through the woods, hand pressed against the wound in her side. She's been losing track of time, but it was night when the twins ambushed her and it's still night now, so it can't have been too long. A couple of hours, maybe more. She's been walking for at least an hour, but with the pain slowing her down more and more and no sign of civilization in sight, she's starting to realize that she might not make it home.

No one knows she's out here. Not her father, who would keep her locked in her room to ensure her safety if he had his way, bordering on obsessively overprotective even more than usually since the Alphas captured her. Not Scott, who's insistent on keeping her out of werewolf business as much as he can. Not Derek and his pack, for whom she only ever counts as either a liability or a potential threat, depending on the mercurial state of the Hale/Argent truce.

Her cell phone got wrecked when Aiden (or was it Ethan? She still hasn't quite learned how to tell the twins apart; can't be bothered to care, most of the time) threw her against a tree. That was before she put two wolfsbane-laced arrows in his gut. Before his brother sank his claws into her side. She's tried calling out for help, but she's probably too far out even for sensitive werewolf-hearing. If she was a wolf, her howl might alert the pack. But her human cries are swallowed by the woods, and she screams her throat raw without any effect.

If she dies out here, she's taking comfort in the fact that she may have taken Aiden with her. It's not much of a consolation, but it's all she has left.

There's a short-lived surge of relief when she stumbles out of the trees and onto a neat asphalt-covered road. Her steps quicken with the hope that she might survive the night after all. Home, for a minute, seems close enough to be within reach, and even the agonizing burn of the wound fades a little.

Beacon Hills, 10 miles, the road marker says, and Allison feels the energy draining from every cell of her body at the sight. She wants to sit down on the ground and cry.

Instead, she drags herself on.

And on. And on. Slowly. Agonizingly.

I'm not going to die out here, she tells herself, and she knows it's a vow she might not be able to keep.

She hears the car before she sees it, and she stands in the middle of the road where they can't miss her and waves her hands until the old black Buick stops right in front of her. The glare of the headlights is so bright that it's painful, after being enveloped by darkness for so long. Allison squints, trying to shield her eyes with her hand. It's impossible to make out the face of the driver, but it's not like she can afford to be picky right now.

She staggers around the front of the car, supporting her weight with a hand on the hood. The passenger side door is flung open in front of her, Deucalion leaning across the seat. "Get in."

Her fingers clench around the door handle. If she gathers her strength, whatever's left of it, maybe she can run back into the forest before he makes it out of the car. Maybe she can hide somewhere. And then... what? Wait until she loses consciousness and dies, bleeding, alone, miles away from anyone she knows? She stares at Deucalion, weighing her options. Knowing she doesn't have any.

He knows it, too, and the tone of his voice tells her that his patience is wearing thin. "Get in the car, Allison."

"So you can finish what your pack started?" She shakes her head. "I don't think so."

"If I wanted you dead, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Now get in before you faint."

She considers the road before her, stretching miles and miles ahead until the next house, and she knows she can't make it on her own, even if he let her go. It's hard to imagine that he would, after he took the trouble to track her down out here. It's unlikely that he just happened to drive by purely by coincidence, which means he knows about the fight, knows that the twins left her out here and that she was in no condition to make it back home.

There's an undeniable logic to what he said. If he wanted her dead, she'd be dead already. He wouldn't be watching her stall outside of his car with amused exasperation written all over his face, like he knows she's trying to figure him out and coming up empty.

There's only one way to find out what he wants. Reluctantly she climbs into the car, wincing when the movement makes her wound rub against the torn edges of her shirt.

"I don't suppose you'll let me use your phone?" she asks lightly, thinking that if she could get a message to Scott or her father, they could maybe intercept Deucalion.

He raises a sardonic eyebrow at her. Apparently her question doesn't even warrant a verbal response.

"How about I drop you off at the hospital and we'll all live to fight another day?" he suggests.

"Sure." She smiles a fake smile, but the triumph in her voice is real. "I'm not so certain about your little friend though. I think I got him good before his brother tore into me."

He chuckles dryly. "Don't worry about Aiden, he'll be fine. He's a bit worse for wear right now and you're not exactly his favorite person, but he made it back in time for us to fix him up before your wolfsbane could run its course."

It's not what she wanted to hear. She shrugs. "Pity. I can't say I would have mourned him."

She wonders what would have happened if Aiden had indeed died. If Deucalion would have found her and offered her a ride then as well, or if they'd have returned to finish the job and killed her instead, a life for a life. It all comes back to what he wants, and she's still none the wiser. His offer to take her to the hospital seems genuine enough, even if it makes no sense that he should be helping her, essentially saving her life, without expecting anything in return.

Trying to figure out how to ask without making herself even more vulnerable, she's startled when he moves. He takes a hand off the wheel and reaches towards her, making her jerk away, but there's nowhere to go unless she wants to open the door and jump out of a moving car.

His fingers brush against her bare, bloody skin.

She expects-- she's not sure what exactly she expects. Claws, maybe, and more pain. Instead, she watches the veins in his forearm turn black, pulsating under her gaze. It's instantly a little easier to breathe, and the excruciating pain fades little by little.

Scott once told her about this, months ago, about how he could help animals in Deaton's clinic by taking their pain away. She didn't know that particular brand of werewolf power worked on humans, and even if she had, it would still be weird to watch someone like Deucalion use it. It's such a typical Scott thing to do: kind, sympathetic, the embodiment of empathy. Deucalion is, in so many ways, the polar opposite of that; someone she expects to inflict pain rather than soothe it.

She keeps her eyes on his face – the harsh lines, the hard set of his jaw, the way his gaze flicks between the road and her – but it doesn't answer any of her questions.

At last, she gives in. "Why are you doing this? Why come and help me when it was your pack that did this to me in the first place?" It feels foolish to ask, like tempting fate, but she can't quell the burning need to understand.

"I told you, I like you, Allison," he says with a smile, and she can't help but laugh because it's so ridiculously, obviously, fake.

It's almost a relief to see him stop pretending a few seconds later, smile giving way to an expression that would have made her shrink back if she wasn't too weak to move and too wiped out to feel much of anything other than pain and exhaustion. In the darkness, illuminated only by the dim lights from the dashboard of the car, his red eyes shine like burning coals.

"I do it because I can," he says, voice like steel, and it's little comfort that this answer feels a lot more honest. "Because I want you to know that your life is in my hands. I could have killed you when we had you. I could have had my pack tear you apart tonight. I could have left you out there to bleed out alone with none of your friends knowing you were even in danger. If you're alive now, it's because I chose to allow it. And that's not just you. The same is true for any of your friends. You're a stubborn bunch, I give you that, but you're ridiculously easy to separate and lure into traps."

He pulls his hand away from her skin, and the rush of pain that closes in on her immediately when the touch is gone is almost strong enough to make her retch. It's only a few seconds. After a moment his fingers brush against her skin once again and the agony stops almost instantly. She wishes she had enough strength left to tell him where he can shove his special brand of mercy, but truth is, she doesn't know how long she could stay conscious without the way his touch is easing the pain.

"Do you expect us to be grateful that you haven't killed anyone yet?" she wants to know. Her speech sounds slow and slurred to her ears, and she's not sure if it's actually her voice or her perception that's messed up.

"I don't expect anything. I'm just laying down the facts."

It's a lie, of course. He must expect something, want something, or else he wouldn't be here. But curled up in the passenger seat of his car, feeling dizzy and feverish, her wound sluggishly bleeding and only his touch standing between her and an ocean of pain, she can't begin to figure out his motivation.

The rest of the ride passes in silence. Allison presses her cheek against the cool glass of the passenger window, drifting in and out of consciousness. Deucalion's hand never leaves her side, the pressure warm and steady and reassuring as long as she forgets who he is.

He stops at the emergency entrance of the hospital, leaving the engine running as he reaches across her body to open the door. The sense of vertigo increases. This time, when he pulls his hand away, the pain doesn't rush back in like it did before.

His hand, dirty with her blood, cups her cheek and turns her face towards him. It's a tender gesture, but there's something uncomfortably possessive about it.

"Run along now," he says quietly, and his lip curves in some private amusement she's not privy to and probably wouldn't share even if she knew what was going on in his mind. "I'll be seeing you around."

End.