It's still dark outside when Allison wakes up. The neon numbers on the alarm clock glow green, blurry, and she has to wipe her eyes to make out the time. 3:43. Another three hours before she has to get up for school, unless she skips history, then she can maybe squeeze in an extra hour of sleep.
She's about to turn around and drift off again when something nags at the edges of her consciousness, restlessly poking at her until she fights off the tiredness and sits up.
It takes her entirely too long to realize that she's not alone. Her hand reaches under the pillow for the knife she keeps there, just in case, but it comes up empty.
"Looking for this?" Deucalion steps out of the shadows, into the wan cone of light falling into her window from the streetlamps outside. The knife gleams when he twirls it in his hand.
Allison swallows, trying to steady her racing heartbeat by telling herself that the knife is a pointless weapon for him; he could do just as much damage without it if that's what he wanted. Except, of course, there's little comfort in that thought at all.
"What do you want?" By now, the question feels repetitive, perfunctory. He's never given her a straight answer before.
He sits down on the edge of her bed, not quite close enough to touch, but enough that the warmth of his body seeps towards her. The way he pins the covers in place makes her feel trapped, suddenly irrationally claustrophobic.
"For a hunter, your house is ridiculously poorly warded against werewolves. No wolfsbane, no mountain ash, the open window. It's pretty much an invitation to pay you a visit." In the dark she can't make out much of his face, but his smile reveals a dangerous flash of sharp teeth.
She pulls her legs to her chest and hugs her knees. The covers slip off and the cool draft of autumn air from the window makes her shiver. "Maybe it was not an invitation meant for you."
She's whispering. She doesn't know why she's whispering. She doesn't want to alert her father, she tells herself, because she doesn't want to put him in danger. When Deucalion laughs, the sound makes her wince, even though it's probably too soft to be heard beyond the walls of her room. Not by human ears anyway.
"Scott hasn't been coming through your window in months. You're a smart girl. I think if it had been an invitation for him, you'd have found a way to get the point across by now."
A flush of embarrassment rises to her cheeks, and she's not sure if it's because of the implication that he's been watching her (months, he said, and she wonders how many times he's been outside of her window, how many times he'd been in her room without her noticing), or the underhanded compliment, or the way his hand has been moving towards her, fingers brushing over her bare leg.
"Tell me, Allison," he asks, "do you still dream of me?"
The scar at the back of her neck tingles. She turns away and bites the inside of her cheek to keep herself from answering. Her fist clenches in the covers, as if that would be enough to steady her.
She jumps a little when he touches her cheek and turns her face back towards him. Her stomach somersaults. He's right in front of her now, close enough to kiss, close enough to bite, and she isn't even sure if this is real at all, if he's really here, or if she's dreaming again.
"You should come to the warehouse tomorrow night," he tells her.
"And if I don't? You can't make me."
He raises an eyebrow at her and she immediately feels stupid. Of course he could make her. He shrugs. "If you don't, then you don't. I'm not making you do anything, Allison."
His thumb brushes against her lip, and for a second, she aches with want. It's been entirely too long since anyone touched her in a manner that was neither platonic nor violent, and Deucalion has been playing with her for weeks now, always keeping her on the edge between fear and desire. It's only a matter of time before it tips in either direction, and she doesn't want to be afraid anymore.
The touch is gone from one second to the next, and when she realizes that her eyes have fluttered shut and opens them again, the room is empty, nothing but the imprint on the bed suggesting that someone else had been there at all.
It's uncomfortably cold, suddenly. Allison stands and shuts the window.
* * *
None of them have spotted her yet, though there's a moment when Deucalion turns towards the shadows where she's hiding and smiles, and she's almost sure that he knows she's here. But he turns back to the others as if nothing had happened, and Allison releases the breath she's been holding.
"It's very simple," Deucalion says, and even though Allison can't quite see who he's addressing, the responding growl sounds distinctively like Derek. "It's time that we bring this little stalemate to an end. As much fun as it's been, we need to move on. So here's the deal. Either you choose to come with us, or Scott does. You can agree now, or we kill one of your little friends here, and then we'll start this all over again. I haven't quite decided which one of them will die first, though I think we might want to keep lovely Stiles for last. He's a lot more entertaining."
He pats Stiles' cheek, and Allison hears Scott making a sound that's half-threatening, half-pained.
It doesn't particularly surprise her that her father didn't invite her along tonight; that Scott didn't mention anything, but it still stings. Poor little Allison; we should keep her in the dark so she can't get kidnapped or hurt again or, worse, she'll snap and shoot people.
It's not fair, of course. They're only trying to protect her by keeping her away from all this, and she rationally knows that it's because they love her, but she's not feeling very rational. All she ever wanted was to prove that she was able to handle herself. To not feel helpless and powerless and vulnerable anymore, not needing someone to come and save her, like she did that day last year when the Alpha chased them through the school. So she took up a crossbow and learned how to use it, but even when she went after Derek and his pack to get revenge for her mom, she still didn't feel powerful. She felt desperate.
She's done with that.
So when Deucalion casually tells them, "You don't have to decide right now, of course. You can wait until we've torn Isaac in half," Allison steps forward.
"I'll come with you," she says, loud enough that her voice echoes through the warehouse.
Everything is happening at once. Her dad shouts out, "Allison, no!" Scott growls, sounding angry and wounded and utterly inhuman.
Kali throws her head back and laughs, and the sound bounces off the walls. "Sweetheart, you're overestimating your value," she mocks. "We're looking for an Alpha. You're not even a wolf."
Allison drowns it all out. Kali's derision, the twins' amusement, Scott's helpless frustration, her dad's shock, it all fades away until it's just meaningless background noise. Her eyes lock with Deucalion's across the room, and for a moment, it's like they're the only people in the warehouse. They're the only ones who matter anyway, she's starting to realize, forcing herself not to avert her gaze.
Right from the start, Deucalion had singled her out. Kidnapped her and saved her life and threatened her and drew her in with truths she wasn't quite ready to hear, and it's all culminating in this moment. It was always going to lead to this; she understands that now. That's why her voice is firm and hard when she makes her demands.
"I'll come with you. Willingly. You let Isaac and Stiles go, and no one else gets hurt. You will leave the others alone, they will all walk away unharmed and we'll get out of this town and never come back. Do we have a deal?"
Kali's amusement has turned to anger now, but Allison doesn't pay attention to her. Kali is not the one making the decisions here. "I don't think you quite understand your –"
Deucalion overrides her without tearing his eyes away from Allison. "We have a deal."
The smile he gives her is complacent and satisfied. She can't quite begrudge him his victory; there's no denying that he's won. He got what he came for, even if she doesn't quite understand why or how what he came for was her.
He's won alright, but she doesn't feel like she lost at all.
"Come here," he says.
Her heart beats a frantic tattoo, anticipation and fear mingling until she can't tell them apart. She feels slightly sick and choked up with nerves. He holds out his hand and beckons her closer.
Behind her, her dad is screaming. When she turns to look at him, she sees that he's straining to rush towards her, but Derek is bodily holding him back. It breaks her heart. She mouths a silent, 'I'm sorry' as she crosses the distance to where Deucalion is waiting for her and puts her arm into his outstretched hand.
"You can't seriously mean to–" Kali starts again, addressing Deucalion. She's clearly furious now. Deucalion silences her with a flicking gaze, eyes flashing red, and a sharp, "Shut up." She falls quiet immediately, and Deucalion's eyes are back on Allison.
He looks down at her arm, his lips twitching in amusement. His fingers close around her wrist and when he tugs her forward, Allison expects teeth in her forearm. She's been thinking about the bite for a while now, wondering what it would feel like, expecting a simple transaction through pain and blood.
Instead, she finds herself spun around and pulled flush against Deucalion, her back against the lean, muscular line of his front, his hands on her shoulders holding her in place, his breath against her neck. His cock stirring against the small of her back, obvious even through two layers of clothing, as he forces her body against his.
Her bravado momentarily falters and she wonders if she misjudged the situation. If he was just playing with her and never intended to give her the bite at all.
Then he pulls her head to the right and reaches for the neckline of her shirt, and she understands. The fabric makes an ugly sound when he tears it, baring her shoulder. She feels his fingers brushing against the skin in what could almost be a caress, and she shivers under the touch. A deep, rumbling chuckle close to her ear makes her flush in embarrassment and something else entirely.
It distracts her: the intimacy of their position, his amusement, his warm breath on her skin, the heady rush of desire. For a moment she forgets what this is about, and before she can remember why she should be afraid, his fangs sink into her shoulder.
It hurts. It hurts like crazy, a fiery explosion of burning agony.
Her dad is screaming his throat raw, and Scott's wails are ear-shattering and she thinks she might just break down from the pain. But Deucalion's arm around her waist holds her up when he pulls his teeth out of her flesh, and she digs her fingers into his skin to steady herself and bites her lips until the urge to scream has ebbed away.
Breathe through it, she tells herself. Just breathe.
Deucalion leans in. "That's it," he whispers into her ear. "You're going to be perfect."
She can feel blood trickling down her back, beneath her torn shirt, and it's only now that she realizes that it's the same spot where her mom was bitten.
She pushes him away with all the force she can muster, which frankly isn't much; she never stood a chance against him, physically, but right now it's just ridiculous, and she knows that the only reason he lets go is because he wants her to stumble. And stumble she does, but somehow, miraculously, she manages to keep on her feet.
Scott moves to catch her, and she can feel the anger vibrating through his body and his voice when he addresses Deucalion, "Let them go. Stiles and Isaac. You said they were free to go now."
"Not just yet."
Allison shrugs off Scott's hold and stands on wobbly legs. "No, we had a deal," she says. "You promised that you'd let them go."
"And I will." He makes it sound almost reasonable, as if she was the one expecting something outrageous. "Now go home, pack up some things. We'll leave in the morning."
Maybe it's the pain that makes her so slow to understand what he's playing at. When she does, at last, she feels oddly disappointed. "You don't trust me. You think I won't come back. I gave you my word!"
Deucalion brushes off her outrage with an argument that settles likes a heavy stone in her stomach. "It's not your word I don't trust. I just think we should have an insurance policy in case your father and Scott decide that the decision shouldn't be yours."
It makes sense, of course, and she berates herself for not even having considered it before.
He turns to her father and the others. "Have her back by sunrise, and you can take Stiles and Isaac with you. If not, well... we've been through this before."
* * *
Back at home, when she's throwing clothes in a bag – functional stuff she can run and fight in, leaving the pretty dresses and heels in her closet – Scott and her dad hover around the corners of the room, talking about options and protecting her and how stupid she was to have come to the warehouse in the first place. Allison knows they're only a breath away from overpowering her and locking her away for as long as they still can.
"We will find another way to save–"
"No," she snaps, frustrated. "You will not make a liar out of me. I made my choice, I gave my word, and I intend to keep it. I love you both, but you have to let me go. Look, these might be literally our last moments together. Can we... not waste them with fighting?"
She catches Scott throwing a desperate look at her father. "I know you love me and you're just trying to protect me and do what you think is best for me. But can't you just respect me enough to accept my decision?"
Her dad looks crestfallen and broken like she's never seen him before, not even on the night in the hospital after her mom died. "I don't want to let you go. You're my little girl."
"I'm not," she says, and it breaks her heart. "This time tomorrow, I'll be one of the monsters you've been hunting for all your life. You don't have to protect me anymore. I can protect myself."
* * *
The silence between them feels charged and uneasy, and halfway towards the warehouse, he turns to her and begins, "You know you don't have to–"
She doesn't let him finish. "Not you, too. I've already heard this from my dad and Scott. I really don't need someone else to question my choices."
"I wasn't going to. I just wanted to tell you that even as a wolf, you still have a home here. Whatever happens. Even if you become an Alpha, you can always return." It's an unexpected offer, and sincere enough that Allison believes that he means it, even if she's not sure how or if it would work out, if it came to that.
It doesn't matter, though. "Thank you. I doubt they'd just let me return, though. He wouldn't. Not after all the trouble he went through to make me join him."
Derek looks uncomfortable, guilty, like he's tempted to do something stupid and help her dad and Scott stop her from going.
"It's okay," Allison says. "It was my choice. No one is making me do anything I don't want to do."
"You're doing it because you want to save Stiles and Isaac."
She shrugs. "That's just making my decision a little easier."
Derek looks at her with a frown, and she almost wants to tell him to pay attention to the traffic just so he'll stop watching her like that. There is no traffic to pay attention to, though. The road ahead is dark and deserted.
"I can see why you'd choose to become a wolf, after everything that happened. What I don't understand is why you'd leave with them. If you had a choice."
Everything that happened is such a painless, understated way to phrase it. Scott being bitten, Kate burning down my family, Peter going on a crazy revenge spree and almost killing you and all your friends at your high school, Gerard having the Kanima use you as a pawn against Scott, your mom choosing to kill herself after I bit her, the way you went crazy and tried to kill my pack, that's what Derek doesn't say.
But just because he wraps it up in a blanket 'everything that happened' doesn't make it any less true, or any less horrible.
"Ever since I've moved to this town, I've had to watch everyone I loved lose any sort of control they had over their lives. I don't think I've felt in control of my own life since I came here, and I need to change that. I can't do that here, not with my father hovering over my shoulder and Scott expecting me to be someone I'm not. And Deucalion–"
She falters. Truth is, her feelings for Deucalion are still a tangled mess she can't quite make sense of. He doesn't scare her like he used to, now, and she's beginning to understand that the pull she feels towards him is not just physical. She can't explain that to Derek, though, and neither does she feel inclined to try. "He knows things. He can teach me."
The expression on Derek's face tells her he doesn't approve of her choice, but at least he has the decency not to question it, and it's something she's grateful for.
"Do me a favor?" she asks, and waits until he looks at her before she continues. "Take care of my dad. Make sure he doesn't do something stupid."
She knows she's asking for a lot, especially from Derek, but there's no one else she can enlist for the task. Scott is too young and the Sheriff doesn't know about the kind of things they deal with on a daily basis.
Derek's mouth is an unhappy downward curve. "I doubt that Chris will listen to anything I have to say. We're not friends. We're barely even allies."
"You've always been on the same side when it counted."
"He doesn't trust me," Derek argues, sounding mildly petulant.
Allison sighs. "Trust is a two-way street, Derek. If the Alphas have taught us anything, it's that we need to work together if we want to survive, or the next thing that comes and tries to take us down will tear us apart."
Derek looks at her with a raised eyebrow, and Allison notices her mistake. She swallows against the lump in her throat. "You, I mean. Not we. You."
* * *
She walks up to Deucalion until she's standing right in front of him, barely a foot of distance between them. He makes no move to get up, which means that she just towers over him. She's been so used to craning her neck to look into his eyes that looking down at him feels odd, but it's not an unwelcome change in perspective.
"Let them go," she demands.
"Who says this isn't a ploy and you're not going to run the minute your friends are free?" Aiden snarls.
She wishes he'd died from the wolfsbane poison that night in the woods. She wants to tell him to go to hell, but she barely has time to open her mouth before Deucalion speaks.
"Cut them loose now," he says calmly. None of the others object.
Allison watches the twins free Stiles and Isaac, shoving them in Derek's direction, who pulls them behind his body, shielding them.
Stiles looks barely conscious, but his voice is as animated as ever, angry and frustrated and reproachful. "You can't let her do this, Derek! You have a plan, right?"
"Shut up, Stiles," Derek snaps, every bit as angry, and his eyes meet Allison's over the distance. She nods at him and watches as he ushers Isaac and a protesting Stiles away.
This is it, then.
She turns back towards Deucalion, who's been watching her the whole time with satisfaction and appraisal. "You know, I wasn't entirely sure your friends wouldn't talk you out of leaving, or make you try to pull off some stunt to fight us."
She shrugs, less anxious now that the others are gone and the only one the Alphas can hurt is her. "Maybe the plan is to make you trust me and then I'll kill all of you in your sleep."
Deucalion flashes a sharp smile at her.
The old scar at the back of her neck stings suddenly, painfully, and she's assaulted by a vivid mental image. She sees herself wolved out, eyes red, fangs and claws gleaming with fresh blood, standing next to Deucalion, a sea of blood around them, and lying within it are the scattered, torn bodies of Kali, Ennis and the twins.
The vision only lasts a few seconds before it dissolves, and when it clears, Deucalion is still smiling at her, lopsided and amused. "I think we need to talk about that violent streak of yours sometime," he chides her lightly, mischievously. "Maybe we can put it to good use."
She looks at him and wonders if that was her or him, and if it was a warning or perhaps a promise. Her head throbs with the aftershock of the vision, and the bite on her shoulder burns, like it's beginning to stitch itself together, agonizingly slowly. She can feel the way her body is gradually changing, her senses sharpening, like cotton wool being pulled off her eyes and ears.
"I'm sure we can find some common ground," she says, tentatively, and remembers his words from the graveyard. "Like you said, it's just the hunt that's changed."
He stands, and she realizes that the steady, rhythmic sound that's filling her ears is his heartbeat. He reaches out to brush her hair from her eyes. She wonders if they're glowing amber already.
His smile widens. "I knew you'd see things my way eventually."
* * *