WARNINGS: Rated M for implied sex (there's nothing graphic but I'm going to say it's dark) and mature themes – primarily the nogitsune destroying the remains of my soul, as well as references to depression and suicide and death and blood and weapons. Please don't read this if any of the above makes you even slightly uncomfortable. There are also spoilers for everything and none of this is necessarily canon–compliant, so please don't complain about that because I could not care less. Oh, and the plot (if there is one? I'm still not entirely sure?) is messy and potentially confusing. I just wanted to get this published before I watch tonight's episode, because god knows what's going to happen there. That being said, I guess I'll just throw out another warning that this was written before 3x23.

This is dedicated with lots of love to Pearl (lydiamaartin), as she's probably the only person interested in reading this and encouraged me to actually finish writing it.

i watched you bleed and didn't do a thing

"In truth, you like the pain. You like it because you believe you deserve it." ––Marya Hornbacher

Allison feels him before she sees him, and she doesn't want to contemplate why she immediately knows it's him. He comes up behind her, breath hot on the skin where her neck and shoulder meet as he leans down to unnerve her, and she lets out an involuntary shiver.

"Get away from me," she blurts out fiercely, about to spin around and knock him out when he grabs her. Her heart starts beating far too quickly when she registers that he isn't even using force. His hands on are either side of her hips, and he pulls her closer until her back is perfectly aligned against his abdomen.

"Stiles," she manages through clenched teeth, even though she's hyperaware of how he most certainly isn't Stiles, but she doesn't know what else to call him, "Let go." She's unsure of what she means, exactly – she wants him to let go of her body, but she might also want him to let go of his own. To give in. To give up. To save them all the misery of watching him sink so deep that he might not be able to come back –

Before she can travel too far down that dangerous thought process – the image of ending it by plunging a knife through his chest traitorously and briefly flashes across her vision – he moves his hands up so they're resting lightly on her waist. "I'd prefer to not," the nogitsune replies, in a practiced whisper that sends a chill down her spine for several reasons, the only one she'd ever be willing to admit that the tone he uses serves as a painful reminder of just how far from Stiles he really is.

She registers him smirking against her skin, and she fleetingly feels like she doesn't stand a chance – not because she couldn't overpower him if she so chose, since it's Stiles's body and she thinks she could have him on the ground in a second if she really tried, but because this is not solely physical anymore. She should have expected that the nogitsune would play mind games to fuck with her if they ended up alone in the same room, but she realizes, then, that she is just as selfish as the rest of the pack, harboring the belief that Stiles is still in there somewhere and he's going to recognize me. Wherever he is, he'll come out of this when he sees me. She wonders sadly just how many times Scott must have told himself the exact same thing already. She is a fool, because he takes advantage of her momentary lapse in judgment and breathes very purposely into her neck. "Tell me you haven't thought about this before, Allison."

She never could have imagined her name sounding like such a weapon, but coming from his mouth in the state he's in now, it seems like it could be utterly destructive, like venom in her veins that she could never get out, not even if she sliced herself open and bled out in front of him, so for the level of helplessness that amounts to, she might as well be in a dream. "Get off me," she says, her response significantly delayed, and it's more of a statement than a demand, the will he or won't he tension settling ominously into the air around her, if there's any air left at all. Her lungs have apparently stopped working properly.

"So you have thought about it," he goes on, clearly amused as he trails one hand up her shirt, fingers achingly slow and delicate on the skin right below her navel, "I mean, not that I needed any confirmation, because you're unbelievably readable. It's written all over you right now, and I'm not even looking at your face."

It is the sensation of his hand under her shirt rather than his taunting words that triggers her to finally move, the offensive signals in her brain that had been subdued at first by the intimate position he'd initiated suddenly on edge. He doesn't even have a chance to react to her whirling around and slamming him up against the wall, but she supposes that this might be his only reaction – the smirk permanently on his expression, a tiny indication of being mildly taken aback, perhaps, although it's more likely that he's laughing at her without actually laughing. She has one foot jammed on top of his, which she's positive must be at least somewhat unpleasant despite his nonchalance, as the heel of her boot is digging unapologetically into his sneaker, and one hand is tense around his throat, like there's a very high chance she could suffocate him if he pushes her too far, just like he's been suffocating her by making her mind go into overdrive about sex when it should be the last thing on her radar.

"You've always been my favorite, if that's any consolation," he speaks up, meeting her gaze as her nails dig harder into his throat, "The strength. The determination. That look you get when you want revenge. In fact, I don't understand why Stiles hasn't –"

"Shut up," she snaps, face contorting with anger that doesn't affect him in the least, because, like always, it looks like she's doing exactly what he wants, "Shut the hell up."

"This sure is a strange way of asserting your dominance," he drawls, "But whatever suits you."

She takes a deep breath, shoulders heaving, recalling names one by one that should calm her down. Scott. Lydia. Isaac. Not Stiles not Stiles not Stiles NOT STILES – "Don't," she tells him, a pointless warning, her voice rising with feigned confidence.

He finally laughs at her, then, a sound she never wants to hear again if she can help it. "Don't what? I haven't done anything."

She stares at him, swallowing anxiously as she comes to terms with the fact that even when she has the upper hand, she still doesn't have the upper hand. "You know what."

"If you're going to kill me," he says evenly, tilting his head to the side and pointedly ignoring her reply, "Just kill me. Go on, get it over with." The strangest part about it is that he almost sounds like he believes she could – like he's reluctantly impressed with her and where they are. But she knows better.

A thousand potential responses ring in her ears all at once, desperately loud. I'm not going to kill you – the undisclosable truth. I want to kill you, but I won't – the unfortunate reality. I will if it comes down to that – a lie larger than her entire life. Stiles, please – the little breath that she's been holding onto catches in her throat as his face shifts from amused to thoughtful.

"But you won't kill me," he continues when she doesn't answer, "You could never. Stiles is more than a packmate to you. It's heart–wrenching, really," he slides back into a condescending tone, wincing only slightly as her heel digs further into his foot through his shoe, "He's your ex–boyfriend's best friend, God, if I hadn't come along, you two were just a disaster waiting to happen –"

"Stop," she interrupts, attempting to stay composed, which is difficult because she can hear her own heartbeat drumming and there are several beads of sweat forming on her forehead, all in addition to the feeling that there is no air in her body, "This is bullshit. You don't know a single thing about Stiles –"

"No, that's where you're wrong. I know more than you can imagine, and again, it's absolutely heart–wrenching. Sometimes I think he might love you," he adds, and it's phrased like an after–thought even though it's obvious that this is what he's been leading up to all along.

She genuinely cannot breathe. Her grip on his throat and her foot on his loosens considerably, and he raises an eyebrow.

"Giving up so easily?"

She begins to step away rapidly, eyes remaining trained on him. "Fuck you," she spits out.

"Oh, I have no doubts that you would," he informs her casually, following her steps as his back is no longer forcefully pressed up against the wall behind them, "Recall how readable I already said you are. What's that phrase? Right, you're an open book."

She makes a noise that can only be considered a cross between a furious sigh and one that would come from someone on the verge of choking.

"But what is it, honestly, that draws you to him? Do you sympathize with him? Do you pity him?"

She almost trips over her own two feet. She doesn't say anything. There's nothing left to say.

"You've seen it in his eyes before, haven't you? The terribly insecure I can't be you, Scott. I'm everything you're not," he mocks Stiles's voice in a way that makes her want to slap the smirk right off his face, but when he tacks on, "He's so pathetic," she finds herself rooted in place, unable to move backwards another inch.

It's pathetic, Allison.

Refusing to acknowledge the taste of acid in her mouth, she steps forward and slaps him across the cheek.

He chuckles.

She slaps him again.

More prepared this time, he grasps her wrist before she can pull her hand away. "Well well," he pulls her towards him once again, voice low as their heads nearly collide and they inhale the same air, "Look who has yet another weak spot."

And with his unanticipated proximity, she forgets that it's not Stiles speaking, that it's certainly not Stiles who is close enough to kiss, because all she knows in that moment is that she is pathetic, and she is weak. Her subconscious had consistently been right, as had her father and mother and aunt and grandfather and Derek Hale. She is scared, and she is nothing more than failed expectations and lost opportunities. So when she leans up to close the distance between their lips, she's hoping the nogitsune will kill her so she can add collateral damage to the list of things she amounted to.

Unfortunately enough, it doesn't. It kisses her back. She can't even pretend like it's Stiles – it's too rough, his lips moving harshly against hers in a way that she knows Stiles would never do, especially not as a first kiss, but when she feels his tongue slip into her mouth when she parts her lips, she doesn't move. This is all just a part of the joke, probably, the joke that's on her because she's kissing him back more eagerly than she should be, her mind frantically chanting Stiles's name like a prayer that might bring him back if only he could hear her. She is likely going to die, yet she can't bring herself to care, so she kisses him again and again, barely breaking away for air because she suddenly feels like she can only breathe freely when his mouth is on hers. This is the way I want to die, she muses, moaning against his jaw when he pulls away to kiss her neck because she can't fucking help it anymore.

"I knew you would be into it," he murmurs smugly, and her free hand falls down to the waistband of her own leggings, at her side in–between the fabric and skin of her leg where there is a dagger strapped to her body. He senses her movement, and without even glancing down, moves back a tiny bit to smirk at her and add, "You still thinking about killing me?" half–challengingly and half–surprisedly.

"Of course not," she whispers, then pointedly pulls the dagger out and points it to the middle of his chest.

"Let me make that easier for you," he replies leisurely, and she can't figure out what he's about to do until he's already done it and she's staring at his shirt on the floor and then back to his unclothed upper body, finding it impossible to look away and thus glad when he distracts her by pressing his lips hungrily against hers again. She can think clearly enough to let the dagger rest against the naked skin above his abdomen as she kisses him – he had practically invited it – applying enough pressure that he can feel its chill, but not enough to do any damage unless he moves dramatically or she changes its angle.

She knows what everyone meant now about the nogitsune – she can practically taste the chaos on him, even gets the sense that he actually wants her to thrust the dagger through his skin and into his heart, because there is no possible way that would end well and that's what he wants, the inevitable strife and pain. She wants to scream, but she doesn't. She wants to stop, but she doesn't do that, either – not when he laughs into her mouth as he registers her dagger on him, not when he slips a hand up her shirt again, fingers skimming up her skin and tugging at her bra, not when he helps her get her shirt over her head and onto the floor next to his. It feels like a violation of privacy that he's seeing her shirtless, but she's changed her mind, she doesn't want this to stop, not now and not ever, so she disregards the way his eyes travel down her body, his entire gaze one of desire, and kisses him like there's nothing else that matters – and that's because there isn't.

She feels like her skin might be on fire all the places that his hands reach, and she instinctively arches against his touch until they are pressed up with no space between them aside from her hand separating his chest from hers as it holds the dagger steady against his body. She pushes the blade ever so slightly into his skin, exerting the smallest amount of pressure possible so as to just evoke a reaction instead of blood. He smirks pointedly at her the next time they break apart, and she thinks her lips might be the rawest they have ever been.

As one of his hands teasingly trails up her thigh over her leggings, she absent–mindedly drops the dagger, both her free hands exploring his chest and not even processing that her fingers are drawing blood, meaning she must have pushed the blade harder than she'd thought, because now he's gotten her leggings off and that's nearly all she can focus on. As he pushes her up against a wall and she wraps her legs around his waist, she shudders, recalling the boy who became her friend despite the circumstances and was one of the last people she saw before her entire body meshed into ice and a past and present and future life that spiraled out of control. She wants him back, but the memory of him is all she has.

"Are you okay?"

Allison hears him before she sees him, and she nearly jumps. "I'm fine," she says, even though she's not, because that's what she does.

"Alright," Stiles replies, and upon turning around slowly, she can tell just how unconvinced he is. He's still standing a fair distance away from her, hovering as if he doesn't really want to leave but needs her permission to move closer.

"I am, really," she assures, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear and averting her eyes to the ground for a moment. Looking at him for too long makes her feel like all her bones have turned to liquid. "How did you find me?"

He shrugs, glancing at the countless trees around them as if he isn't entirely sure how he got there, either. "Scott, I guess."

She considers making a comment about how the wolves really need to stop tracking her down when she'd like to be alone, but that would require going into some type of explanation about why she's been confining herself to solitude for the past week, and she's not ready to have that conversation – especially not with him. She should feel threatened or frightened or anxious or something that this is the first time she's been alone with him since the night she's been trying so hard to forget, but she really doesn't. She feels oddly calm, which she reckons is just worse.

"I'm starting to remember more things," he goes on when all he receives from her end is silence, "I didn't know if you – I – yeah."

"Oh," is all she says, although she does look back up at his statement and the way he stumbles over his words. She gets the feeling bubbling up in her stomach that she's all too familiar with – intense anger, first and foremost towards herself and how she remains alive, trickling down to him and what they did even though it wasn't him, but he's back and she's more glad about that than she's been letting on except now that he's having those weird flashback dreams of all that he did when possessed by the nogitsune, she circles back around to how it'd almost be better to be dead.

He runs a hand nervously through his hair. Then comes an earnest, "Allison," and she swears her heart stops beating.

"Have you told anyone?" she asks, though this is the least of her concerns.


She nods, trying to hide the emotions rushing through her from her face. I tried to wash your every touch off my skin with scalding hot water, three times that night and every day after, but you're still there. I tried to burn you away, but you're still here. I tried to bleed to death, but my hands shook before I could even lift the blade up to myself. I'm a coward. You must hate me now. "I'm sorry," she says finally.

He meets her eyes, taking a couple steps closer. "Allison," he repeats shakingly, like his voice and his feet could fall apart and fail him at any second, "Are you sure you're okay? We don't have to talk about it right now if you don't feel up to it."

"But then we'd never talk about it," she points out, and it's the closest thing to the truth she's said to anyone in days.

He hesitantly reaches a hand out, and she flinches. His stare falls to the ground beside their feet.

"It'd be so easy," she continues quietly, shifting her weight from foot to foot as she gazes out at the town below them at the edge of the forest, taking it all in from the altitude they're at, "To just give up. Let go. Jump."

He glances up sharply at this, opening his mouth to immediately retort, but then closes it promptly when he's struck by an image of himself from what seems like lifetimes ago, frustratedly telling another girl that death doesn't happen to her, it happens to everyone around her. He can't possibly picture himself at that point from where he's standing now, not because it's a completely different girl that's making his breath catch, but because he knows he doesn't have the right to dictate choices to either of them, no matter how much he disagrees, because Lydia Martin and Allison Argent are a lot more than the expectations of the men in their lives. Except the thing is that he doesn't disagree now, regarding her with nothing more than genuine understanding as he simply replies, "I know," because he does, and he'd be lying if he claimed he hadn't considered this before himself.

She counts ten heartbeats before she hears him add "But we can fix this," and she shakes her head.

"You of all people know that we can't," she tells him resignedly, turning her attention completely back to him, and suddenly all he can think about is the girl who once said We're just a bunch of teenagers. We can't handle this and then proved time and time again that she was completely capable of both being a teenager and handling it, perhaps far better than the rest of them. All he can think about is the girl standing in front of him right now, a ghost of what she used to be but still so much more than she thinks she is.

"Maybe you're right," he sighs, opting for a rare burst of optimism just for her benefit, "But maybe – maybe you're wrong. After everything we've been through, I – I know you can do it. Don't give up now, please – we can forget about everything and –"

Choking out a bitter laugh, she interjects, "Do you really think this is about you and what happened when –" she halts, unable to even say it out loud, and crosses her arms defiantly. "That's not what it is. That was just the breaking point of something that's been building for as long as I can remember."

He feels the sting of her words, the accusation, the reality of everything they are and everything they're not crashing down heavily upon him all at once, and he intentionally takes a step closer to her. "If you want, it didn't happen at all," he attempts to assure her, one hand awkwardly in the air right above her arm, because he doesn't care if she knows that he wants to touch her, "Like I said, we can forget about it. We can fix it. Move on. Even if that's not the only thing that's – that's bothering you, it doesn't have to be this way."

She swallows, eyes flicking down to his hand near her arm and then back up to his face. "It did happen, though," she breathes, "And you should know that I wouldn't have just… I wanted it to be you."

He feels like the world stops, and maybe it really does, because all he can hear is the soft whistling of the wind, the trees and the lowering sun as the afternoon fades away their only witnesses. Neither of them move until he pulls her closer by the arm, eyes questioning with a storm that contrasts the clear sky above them, and she doesn't blink. He leans forward, lips hovering over hers for a moment that lasts long enough that she could pull away if she wanted to, but she doesn't, so he closes the distance between them and kisses her like they're making up for lost time. She smiles as his hands wander across her body and their kisses get more heated, and he moans her name into her mouth when she bites his lower lip, the feeling of her skin and lips against his overwhelming him.

She breaks away after a while, both of their shirts now half unbuttoned, tilting her head to the side thoughtfully as she regards him, expression shifting from one of desire to blatant amusement. "Oh, Stiles," she says breathlessly, in a voice that is technically hers but sounds very much unlike her and causes his heart to skip about five beats too many, "I'd love to keep this going, but I have to say, you're even easier to break than Allison was. It's amazing, the things that you two would do for each other and to each other."

He freezes, finding himself staring right into the eyes of the dark spirit that had taken over him and nearly tore away everything, but he realizes how wrong he was in the aftermath of it all, because it's only now that everything has truly been stripped away from him. He struggles to breathe, feeling that a panic attack might come on as Allison's body removes her hands from his neck and arms and deliberately backs away with an accomplished smirk. It's like the earth has been swept out from under his feet as he gapes at her, wanting to run but unable to move as he finally registers the blood that's spilling out from his forearms as a result of the dagger she's holding and apparently used on him in his prolonged period of sheer shock – not to kill him, he guesses, but just to slow him down before he can immediately warn Scott and the pack. It had been so easy to believe that it was actually Allison that he hates himself for it, and he can still taste her on his lips as he bleeds out, the moments that pass as she turns around and leaves him without looking back blending into a blur of crimson and hopelessness. He falls to his knees, haunted by the knowledge that the Allison he knows never would have talked about giving up.

And just like it began, it ends, but they always start over – recoil and repeat and fail to breathe as they slowly but surely destroy themselves. Even when the nogitsune leaves them both for good, they're too paranoid to ever trust each other again, side–stepping any lingering desire to be together because there's always a doubt now that it's really them speaking and touching and wanting instead of the blackness that surrounds their hearts. What they do manage to share is nightmares of how they died and came back to life with Scott, who they constantly run away from because he's trying to save them and they know for certain that they can't be saved. They find that they die a little every day not by jumping to their deaths, but by simply living and resisting the urge to, because they don't even deserve to let go.

A/N: Yeah, I really don't know what just happened either. If you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading, and I'd sincerely appreciate reviews!