Chris pulled into the driveway of the house—still his house, though he didn't really think of it that way. He would hand over the keys to the real estate agent tomorrow morning, and by evening it would be in the hands of the new owners. He just needed to go through the house once more and make sure they hadn't forgotten anything, and this chapter of his life would be over.
He paused before starting up the walk, peering into the darkened front window as if he expected Victoria to appear and wave to him as she always did when he got home. At that moment, a light blur appeared in the window and he froze, his heart in his throat for a moment until he realized it was a reflection. He whirled around quickly, but nothing was there. He looked up and down the street, but whatever—or whoever—had been standing behind him was gone. With a mental shrug, he made his way into the house, pausing to punch the security code into the keypad before the alarm went off.
He started in the basement first, shining his flashlight into the corners where the dim light of the naked bulb didn't reach. Then up the stairs again, to the garage, the kitchen, living room, and den. He was aware that he was dawdling, leaving that room for last. The carpeting had been removed, but he still imagined he could see Victoria's blood there whenever he came back.
Finally, he made his way up to the bedrooms. He paused in the doorway of Kate's old room, his chest tightening. He remembered what a bright child she'd been, how much fun they'd had as children, pretending to be the little pigs as the wolf—their father—hunted them down. That was before Gerard had poisoned her mind, much as he'd attempted with Allison, and turned her into a remorseless killer.
With a sigh, he turned away and looked at the door to the last room—the room where Victoria had ended her life. His feet were frozen to the ground, in a way they never were during his most dangerous hunts, and his heart was pounding. He forced himself to move, taking slow steps as if walking to his own execution (and it many ways it had been a kind of execution; everything had changed afterward in ways that he'd never dreamed).
He entered the room, unable to stop moving now until he reached the spot where she'd done it. He stared at the floor with a dull ache in his chest. His tears were long spent and he accepted it; he was getting through the days without thinking of her every second. Still, he missed her and wished she could see the woman Allison had become, even if she'd have problems seeing eye to eye with her daughter's—with his—way of doing things now. He understood why she'd done it, but he also understood why it was so senseless. He'd seen so many things over the past few years, things that had altered the way he saw the world. He would have loved her regardless if she'd been a human or a werewolf, he realized that now. But she never would have been able to accept herself.
"Goodbye, Victoria," he whispered.
Then there it was, once again, a blur in the corner of his eyes, outside the window. He dashed for the window, losing a moment as he struggled with the extra locks they'd put on it to keep Allison safe, and then he threw up the sash, poking his head out the window, reaching automatically for his gun before he remembered he'd left it in the safe at home. The roof outside the window was empty, but he had a feeling that he wasn't alone. Someone was out there. Someone was watching.
He waited for a moment, listening, but he heard nothing but faint rustling somewhere in the bushes, probably a mole. He closed the window and locked it again. He was probably just imagining things. He believed in a lot of things that went bump in the night, but he drew the line at ghosts.
He headed downstairs again and went from room to room, checking the windows. He entered the kitchen, flipping on the light, and stopped in his tracks. There, on the patio outside the sliding glass door, two eyes were reflected in the light, shining into the room like beacons.
Chris reached for his gun again before remembering that he didn't have it and he swore softly to himself. After a moment's hesitation, he moved closer to the window, his eyes fixed to those of the wolf as he ran through all his options for finding a weapon in the empty house, but he knew there was nothing.
When he was about three feet from the window, he stopped and crouched down until his head was about even with the wolf's. Now the light was no longer shining directly in the wolf's eyes from Chris's angle, he could see its eyes, an icy blue that seemed to be looking straight through him. Those eyes were familiar; Chris knew them, even though he couldn't say why. They reminded him of—
"This is ridiculous," he said out loud. "It's just a wolf. "
A wolf in the middle of town? Right…
The wolf seemed to agree with Chris's thoughts because he barked suddenly and his eyes lit up with a blue light. Chris fell back on his heels, his eyes wide as he stared at the wolf—werewolf. Fuck. Now he was screwed.
His eyes darted around the kitchen, looking for anything he could use as a weapon, before his gaze landed on the broom closet as he remembered the wooden closet rod. It wouldn't do much damage, but maybe he could injure the werewolf and distract it long enough for Chris to make a run for the car.
He started to crawl towards the closet when the wolf barked again. Chris looked over, his chest tight with fear.
"What do you want?" Chris asked, his voice coming out in a rasp.
The wolf just cocked its head at him, with an almost innocent curiosity, and then it turned around, disappearing into the night.
Chris shivered slightly in the chilly night air, annoyed with himself that he hadn't put on another layer before he'd left. He glanced at his watch and then rolled his eyes. Allison had told him that Peter Hale would be meeting him in the woods at ten o'clock on the dot, and it was one minute till ten now, but neither hide nor hair of the werewolf could be found. He would really rather prefer to check out this part of the woods alone, but Allison had insisted and Chris had given in with only token resistance. He suspected Scott was behind the request and wondered for a moment if the alpha and his daughter were keeping things from him again, to "protect" him as if he didn't have almost 30 years of hunting under his belt. No matter. He had his own way of finding things out, his own sources. Preferably none that involved Peter Hale.
He looked at his watch again, snorting when the minute hand moved to one past. "I guess I'll just have to start without you," Chris muttered to himself. He rose quietly from his hiding place, reaching in to his jacket to put remove his gun from his shoulder holster when he suddenly felt a presence close behind him. Chris froze, weighing his options.
"Now that's not very nice," a silky voice murmured in his ear, eliciting a shiver from Chris. "I said I'd be here. The least you could do is wait."
Chris relaxed, but only slightly. After everything Peter had done, he knew he could trust the former alpha about as far as he could throw him. He turned around to face Peter, his hand on his gun.
"We don't have all night," he said, letting something of his irritation slide into his voice. "Let's do what we came here to do and then go our separate ways again."
Peter just stared at him for a long moment, his face inscrutable in the moonlight. Then he smiled, and Chris's stomach twisted.
"That's fine with me," Peter drawled, his tone annoying Chris even more for reasons he didn't want to think about. "So, you're the mighty hunter here. Any idea what we're dealing with here?"
"Not yet," Chris said noncommittally. So the werewolves apparently didn't know any more than he did at this point. "We don't even know if it's a supernatural creature that's killing the local livestock. It could just be a mountain lion or something."
"Probably," Peter said. "Just stay out of my way and let the professional handle it."
Chris opened his mouth to deliver a scathing reply, but Peter turned away, his nostrils flaring.
Chris stood still as Peter silently crept around the clearing, sniffing deeply. Chris's ears were open as well, but he could hear nothing except—that's when he noticed it. He really could hear nothing but his own heart pounding in his chest. All other sounds of the forest had gone still.
Something was out there.
He reached into his holster and drew his .45, following Peter's lead as the other man headed back down the path that led deeper into the woods. He had a flashlight with him, but he resisted the urge to use it. There was no point in turning himself into a target. Besides, he could probably see better in the moonlight. He shivered in spite of himself as he glanced up through the leaves at the full moon. Peter seemed in full control of his faculties at the moment, but would he retain that control as the night went on? Chris wasn't sure who he trusted less, the creature that was out there killing and mutilating livestock or the beast walking a few paces ahead of him.
Peter suddenly stopped and held up his hand, indicating that Chris should stop, too.
"I'm gonna check something out," Peter said, pulling off his shirt as he headed off to the side of the path. Chris caught himself staring at the muscles rippling across Peter's back as he disrobed further and he forced himself to look away.
"Stay here and hold down the fort. And don't get into trouble."
Chris rolled his eyes as Peter shifted and disappeared into the underbrush. He wasn't sure why the werewolf's words were getting under his skin so much. On the surface, his words—as condescending and patronizing as they were—sounded almost protective, but Chris knew Peter was just mocking him.
It was almost 30 years ago. We were just kids—completely different people then. Why can't he just let it go?
Like you ever did.
At that moment, he heard a twig break in the distance. He raised his gun as he whirled around to face the direction it had come from, the opposite direction than the one Peter had taken. He'd probably just doubled back and was now returning from the other direction.
"Hale?" he called. He took a few more steps, narrowing his eyes as he peered into the darkness, the moonlight only penetrating so far through the trees. "Peter?"
A rustling in the bushes answered him and he let out a sigh of relief.
"Stop playing ga—"
He let out a grunt of surprise and pain as a force hit him from behind, knocking him to the ground. He started to struggle, but whoever was on his back had pinned him easily, one of his fists gripping the wrist Chris's gun hand.
"Be still," Peter hissed in his ear. "It'll see you."
Chris froze and then forced himself to relax under the non-unpleasant weight of Peter on his back. Not for the first time that evening, another memory flashed into his mind, of another time when he was under Peter and the only danger was Gerard catching them.
He felt Peter's whole body go rigid above him and Chris went still himself, embarrassed as he realized that the other man had almost certainly smelled Chris's mounting desire, but then some animal was upon them with a roar. Peter let out a pained cry and then sprang to his feet, shifting in midair as he bounded after the creature, which Chris identified as some sort of large cat.
He pushed himself to his feet, gathering up his gun, and then he jogged after them, following the sounds of the two large creatures crashing through the woods. After a while, both sounds died down until all Chris could hear was his own ragged breathing and his footsteps on the path. He proceeded more carefully, uncertain of what he would find.
He emerged into a clearing close to the edge of the forest, near to where he'd parked. He saw Peter standing bent over in the middle, large gashes in his back where the panther or whatever it was had apparently gouged him.
"You're hurt," he said, moving forward quickly, as he slipped his gun into his holster. When he reached Peter's side, he put his hand on Peter's arm, but Peter flinched and pulled away.
"Let me see," Chris said, trying again, but Peter batted his hand away, not ungently.
"I'm fine," he said. "We should get you out of here in case it comes back."
Chris nodded. "All right," he said. "But let me at least take you to the hospital to get that checked out."
Peter raised a brow. "That's not necessary," he said. "Werewolf healing, remember?"
"All right," Chris said, a skeptical tone sliding into his voice. "Where did it go?"
"It's gone," Peter said. "I didn't see where it went. It was some kind of cat, I'd say."
Chris nodded in agreement. It looked familiar, but he wasn't sure where he'd seen before.
"Come on," Peter said, turning away. "Let me walk you back to your car."
Chris was trying to look everywhere but at Peter's naked form. "What about your clothes?"
"I'll come back for them. Now come on."
"What if that thing is still out there?"
"It isn't," Peter said, his voice tinged with exasperation. "I'd know. Now come on, let's get you back to the car. Scott will have my ass if anything happens to you."
Chris sighed. "You don't have to treat me like an incompetent, you know. I've been hunting since—well, for years."
"I know." There was that mocking tone again. "You're a very good hunter. I'm sure you could give me a run for my money."
Chris frowned. "I'm not going to hunt you. Unless you deserve it."
"Oh, I'm sure I deserve it." Peter laughed, a deep and rich laugh that seemed to resonate through Chris. "I'm a very bad boy."
"I remember," Chris said softly, before he could stop himself.
Peter's face went serious and a strange look passed over his face. "Really? Just what do you remember?"
Chris's stomach churned as he gazed into Peter's eyes and he cursed himself for his temporary lapse.
"Everything," he said finally. "But that doesn't change anything."
Peter snorted. "Of course it doesn't. I wouldn't expect it any other way."
At that moment, they emerged from the woods.
"Well, here we are. Your chariot awaits."
"Right," Chris said, heading over to his SUV. "I'll see you later, Hale."
"How 'bout some thanks?" Peter called. "I just saved your life. The Chinese would say I'm responsible for you now."
"We're not Chinese," Chris said gruffly as he tossed his things into the back of his car, ignoring the jolt that went through him at Peter's words. He wasn't going to go there, not again. He had Allison to worry about and an entire life that didn't involve Peter. Not anymore.
"Chris," Peter said cajolingly, almost as if he knew what direction Chris's thoughts were taking. Bastard.
"Fine," Chris said, slamming the hatchback closed. He looked over the top of his car at Peter. "Thanks. For saving my life."
Peter gave him a smug grin.
"It was my pleasure," he said.
"I'm sure it was," he muttered to himself, aware that Peter could hear him, and he started to walk around to the front. He knew he should probably insist on driving Peter home after his injury, but the mere thought of being alone with the other man made him feel nervous. It was bad enough they had to work together occasionally to keep Beacon Hills free of more than its usual quota of monsters. What was past was past, and the last thing Chris wanted to do was revisit ancient history. Even if the memories weren't as entirely unpleasant as he tried to tell himself they were.
A thought occurred to him as he reached for the door handle. Yes, it was ridiculous, but some instinct told him to ask.
"Hey," he said. "Have you… been following me around by any chance? In your wolf form?"
Peter had been looking into the woods, but when Chris spoke, he turned to face him, his eyes widened slightly. But just as suddenly, a guarded look slid into place, along with the smile Chris remembered from when they were kids. He'd always called it Peter's "bullshitting grin."
"Me? Following you? Now why would I be doing that?" Peter asked. "What happened between us is ancient history, Chris. You know that. Besides, what would I want with a guy who's hung up on his dead wife?"
So Peter was following him. But why? A part of him wanted to deny Peter's words, but loyalty to Victoria's memory kept his lips sealed. Instead he looked away.
"Never mind," he said. "It was probably just an actual wolf."
"Probably," Peter said, a note of sarcasm sliding into his voice. "Good night, Chris."
Chris just nodded and got in the car, as Peter disappeared into the woods.
"Can you describe it again?"
Deaton was giving him a penetrating stare as he leaned on the examining table, his hands steepled on the surface.
"Sure," Chris said. "It was a big cat. Black. A panther."
"Anything else? Any… identifying features?"
Chris closed his eyes as he thought back to the night before. The first thing that came to mind was the weight of Peter lying on his back, holding him down (keeping him safe). His heart started pounding wildly at the memory.
"It's okay, Mr. Argent," Scott said suddenly. "You're safe with us."
Chris's eyes flew open to shoot Scott an embarrassed glare, and the alpha shrugged apologetically. "Sorry," he said. "But your heart was beating pretty fast. I thought you were having a panic attack."
Chris glanced over at his daughter, who seemed to be stifling a snicker and then he turned to Deaton.
"There was something," he said. "The cat had a white spot on its fur, just about here." He touched the center of his chest.
Deaton raised his brow and then he nodded. "Then it's as I suspected. We're dealing with a cat síth."
"A cat what?" Scott asked.
"A cat síth," Chris repeated. "A kind of cat shapeshifter, I recall." He remembered now where he'd heard about it before.
He looked over at Allison. "One of our forefathers dealt with one. His encounter is in the one of our books. I'll look for it when we get home."
Allison nodded, but she seemed absent, and by the way her teeth were worrying her bottom lip, he could tell that she had something on her mind.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?" he asked.
"Nothing," she said quickly—too quickly. "I'm, uh, worried about the English test tomorrow."
"Oh, my God!" Scott exclaimed. "We have an English test tomorrow?! How did I not know that?" Allison whirled around and Scott's eyes widened. "Oh, right. That English test."
Chris looked from one to the other and shook his head in amusement as he considered whether he should continue to give them a hard time about their obvious lying or just let it go. He trusted that Allison would tell him when it was necessary. Hopefully not too late.
"Fine," he said. "I'll see you later."
On the drive home, his thoughts returned to his meeting with Peter the previous evening. He was almost certain that Peter was the wolf he'd noticed outside his old house a few weeks earlier and a few other times since, especially after Peter's dig about Victoria. He'd become engaged to Victoria only weeks after he'd finished things with Peter; the other man was bound to be bitter. Chris had loved Victoria, of course, but he'd also been driven by the need to protect Peter. Once he'd found out that Peter was a werewolf, Chris had known that he himself was the biggest risk to Peter's life if—when—Gerard found out. Breaking up had been the only solution.
He pulled into the parking lot of the apartment building and started to head towards the door, stopping short when he noticed a familiar furry head duck down behind a bush.
"You can come out," he called. "I can see you, you know."
After a moment's hesitation, the wolf emerged from the bushes and trotted towards Chris, his tail wagging. Trying not to show his surprise at Peter's friendliness, Chris crouched down and reached out his hand, palm first. He held his breath as the wolf sniffed it and then licked it.
"Really?" Chris said. "Ew. I hope you didn't lick your balls with that mouth first."
The wolf leaned back on his haunches, his tongue lolling out of his mouth like he was laughing at Chris's joke. Chris found himself grinning in spite of himself. He had missed Peter, he realized. Before everything had gone to hell, they'd been friends. Chris wondered if they could ever get that back.
Hell, he could try.
"Do you wanna come in for a beer?" he asked. Peter barked and then moved his head from side to side to indicate "no," and then he turned tail and trotted off. Chris sighed and shook his head as he watched Peter go.
After about a week, Chris realized he was being followed. Peter turned up almost everywhere Chris went, usually in his wolf form. At first, Peter would run in the other direction whenever Chris approached. When Chris pretended to ignore him, however, Peter would venture closer and closer. Then one day during his morning jog in the park, Chris felt a presence beside him and turned to find Peter running alongside him.
"You know dogs aren't allowed off the leash here, right?" he asked.
As an obvious indication of how much he cared, Peter stopped at the nearest bush, lifting his leg. Chris snorted in amusement and stopped to wait, looking away discreetly as Peter did his business. When he was done, he went over to Chris, who stooped down to scratch him behind his ears.
"Good boy," Chris murmured. "Unfortunately I don't have a doggy biscuit for you."
Peter tilted his head up and licked Chris's face. Chris made an exaggerated sound of disgust
"Oh, my God, your dog is darling!"
Chris looked up to see a hot, perky blonde ahead of them on the trail. He rose quickly.
"Oh, he's not my—" He stopped short as Peter let out a warning bark. Of course he couldn't tell her Peter wasn't his dog.
"He's not darling," he said finally, noting in satisfaction how Peter had laid back his ears in annoyance. "He's a bit of a rascal really."
"Well, I think he's adorable!" The woman crouched down, exposing quite a bit of cleavage. She reached out, but then Peter suddenly put himself between her and Chris, barking and growling wildly. The woman let out a shriek and jumped back.
"Damn it, Peter!" Chris reached down and pulled Peter back physically, holding onto him as he continued to growl at the woman.
"I'm so sorry," Chris said. "I don't know what got into him. He's usually such a good dog." His lips twitched at the lie, but Peter started to relax against him.
"Oh!" the woman said with a laugh. "Don't worry about it. He was just protecting his master." She gave Chris a flirty smile. "I'm Sukie, by the way. Sukie O'Neill."
"Chris Argent," Chris said. He started to reach out to shake her hand, but pulled it back when Peter started to growl. "Erm, sorry. He's going into the crate when we get home."
"No problem," Sukie said. She reached into her pocket and took out her phone. "Here, why don't you call me some time? We could go out for coffee."
"Uh, sure," Chris said, taking his phone to exchange numbers as he struggled to keep Peter from jumping the woman. What had gotten into him?
He said goodbye and then waited until she was out of sight before releasing Peter. Almost immediately Peter shifted into his human form. He crossed his arms over his shirtless chest and fixed Chris with a glower.
"So, you goin' out with her?" he asked. "What's-her-name, Sucky."
"It's Sukie," Chris said, keeping his eyes resolutely above Peter's neck. He wasn't sure why he suddenly felt guilty about the matter. He didn't owe Peter of all people an accounting, for fuck's sake, and Peter's naked state was making Chris even more distracted and grumpier. "And I don't know. Maybe. Coffee could be fun. What's your problem?"
"I don't like her," Peter said petulantly. "She smelled like a crazy cat lady."
Chris rolled his eyes in exasperation. "She was perfectly nice," he said irritably. "And yes, maybe I will meet her. I've been alone long enough."
Peter stared at him with a stricken look, and Chris wished he could take back his words. Then Peter's face darkened.
"Well, we can't have that, now can we?" he said, his voice tight with emotion.
"Peter…" Before he could continue, Peter shifted back into his wolf form and started down the path. Chris watched him for a moment and then followed.
Peter stayed scarce for the next few days, watching Chris from afar, but not coming close and leaving if Chris approached. Chris had stopped wondering why Peter was following him everywhere, assuming it was some kind of werewolf thing, although he avoided looking it up in the books for fear he wouldn't like the reason—or he'd like it too much. He decided to let it ride for the moment, figuring Peter would tell him eventually, and thus they fell into a not uncomfortable rhythm.
A week passed after the incident in the park. The attacks on animals had come to an end and the cat síth or panther or whatever it was seemed to have moved out of the area without further incident. Peter was still avoiding direct contact with him, though Chris continued to see the wolf everywhere.
Until one day he didn't.
Chris received an e-mail from a potential client, setting up a meeting in a new company on the outskirts of town. On his way to the car, Chris had a feeling that something was wrong, something was missing—and when he looked around, he realized what it was—Peter was no longer following him. His nephew, however, was and didn't even try to hide the fact that he was dogging Chris's every footstep. Chris waved, but Derek just stared at him impassively, barely acknowledging him with a nod.
Chris felt bereft for a moment. Even if Peter wasn't speaking to him at the moment, Chris had gotten used to his…old friend? enemy? frenemy? hanging around. Peter's constant presence had made him feel safe.
Peter's absence made Chris… antsy (he was not about to call it "worry"). He thought about asking Allison or Scott what was going on, but he wasn't sure how to do it without making his interest in Peter too obvious. He wasn't a love-sick schoolboy anymore. He had no intention of going there again. He'd get Peter out of his head again. Eventually. He'd done it before.
But not very well.
Chris was heading back to the car after a visit to the mall, already thinking about his nightly drive-by to see if there were any lights in the windows of Peter's apartment when he saw a familiar figure a few paces before him in the parking garage. Before he thought better of it, he quickened his pace, calling out Peter's name. The other man stopped, watching Chris approach with a wary look.
"Where've you been?" Chris demanded when he came within talking distance, and then he winced at the sound of his voice, its tone only too obvious. Since when was he jealous about Peter Hale?
Peter stared at him for a long moment and then turned away, pulling his car keys out of his pocket as he walked.
"Not that it's any of your business, but I was visiting my niece in Sacramento," he said. "Now if you'll excuse me—"
"We need to talk," Chris said, raising his voice slightly as he started to follow the other man.
"We have nothing to talk about," Peter called over his shoulder.
"Yes, we do," Chris said insistently. He caught up with Peter and grabbed his arm. "You know why. Why were you following me?" And why did you stop?
Peter whirled around, looking down at the hand on his arm before raising his head to glare at Chris. His eyes flashed blue for a moment before returning to his normal color, the one that Chris had grown to know so well.
Peter's lips twisted.
"Now you want to talk," he said. His tone was quiet, but Chris could sense the tension, the rage beneath it. "After 20 years, now you want to talk. What's the matter, desperate for a little dick again now that your period of mourning is over."
Chris's vision blurred in sudden anger, and he lunged for Peter, his hand balled into a fist. Peter ducked the blow and grabbed Chris, propelling him against a support pillar. Chris gasped in surprise and not a little pain, but before he could react, Peter's lips were pressed against his, hot and demanding, coaxing a response from Chris. As Chris gave in to the kiss, Peter's mouth gentled, his hands pulling Chris closer instead of keeping him pinned to the pillar. Chris started to lose himself. This was better than he remembered, oh, so much better.
Peter broke the kiss, but he didn't pull away, instead letting his hands roam over Chris's body, down to squeeze his ass.
"Come home with me," his voice rumbled in Chris's ear.
His instinct was to say "yes," but then cold reason took over. He went still in Peter's arms, struggling to pull away.
"No," Chris said, more to himself than to Peter. "I can't. We can't. We can't do this. You murdered my sister."
He averted his eyes from Peter. If he didn't put any distance between them, he knew he wouldn't be able to hold back, not anymore. He didn't know what kind of game Peter was playing with him, why he was following Chris in his wolf form, why he seemed so intent on bringing up their past peccadilloes one moment and then pushing him away the next. But he did know that his long-buried feelings weren't dead—if anything, they seemed to have awoken even stronger than ever.
Peter drew in a sharp breath at Chris's words and he looked like Chris's fist had actually struck him. He released Chris and stepped away, looking at Chris in disgust.
"Don't," he said with a snarl. "Don't you dare. She murdered my family. The way I see it, we're even."
Chris closed his eyes, the blood was throbbing in his temple, the harbinger of the headache to come. He didn't want to deal with this right now, with everything between them, with his feelings for Peter that were getting harder and harder to deny. He wanted to go back to when he didn't think of the past at all, when Peter was just a dangerous werewolf that needed to be put down, and not a boy he used to know—and love. Like a brother. Like more than a brother.
"You don't think I'd be around you if I could help it, do you?" Peter hissed suddenly. "I only did it because Scott made me. After what you did to me, do you think I want to have anything to do with you ever again?"
Chris wasn't surprised by the revelation that the alpha was having him followed, but his chest tightened painfully at the realization that this hadn't been about him—or them—at all.
"What was I supposed to do?" Chris asked. "I was 17. And you've met my father. You were a werewolf, Peter. The enemy. If he'd found out about you and me, he would have made me kill you. And I just… I couldn't stand up to him then."
"I don't care," Peter said, turning away. "Just leave me alone, Chris. What's past is past. I was a fool to think—never mind."
Peter turned around and stalked over to his car as Chris slid down the pillar.
God, how had he gotten into this mess?
An hour later, he was sitting at his desk in his study nursing a glass of bourbon when he heard a knock at the door. Despite his bad mood, he smiled when he saw his daughter standing in the doorway.
"Hey, sweetie," he said, waving her over. "Come on in. We need to have a talk. About Peter Hale."
Allison winced as she made her way over to one of the chairs and sat down.
"Uh, oh," she said. "That sounds ominous."
Chris raised his brow.
"Peter told me that Scott forced him to keep an eye on me."
"Forced?" she said. "That's rich. He volunteered. He insisted. Scott asked Isaac first, but Peter said you'd end up saving him instead and endangering you both. And when he went to Sacramento, he made Derek promise to keep an eye on you while he was gone."
Chris snorted. As usual, Peter seemed to have a low opinion of Chris's ability to save himself.
"But why did Scott ask them to protect me?"
Allison looked down at her hands and then she took a deep breath and released it before she continued.
"Lydia—she had a vision about you. She doesn't know what happens, just that something does. Something bad." She reached out and put her hand over Chris's. "We're going to protect you, Dad. I promise."
Chris waited until he was sure that Allison was asleep before he sneaked out and drove to Peter's apartment across town. After his talk with Allison, he couldn't stop thinking of the other man. He had to see Peter and try to figure out what was going on between them. The fact that someone was trying to kill him only made it seem even more urgent that they talk it out.
He parked behind the building in a dark part of the lot where the light didn't quite reach and then made his way to the front of the building. He rang the bell and then fidgeted as he waited for Peter to answer.
He almost jumped when he heard Peter's voice through the intercom.
"It's me," he said. Peter was silent for a long moment and Chris was certain that he was going to tell him to go to hell. But then he buzzed the door open without a word and Chris hurried inside.
When Chris arrived on Peter's floor, Peter was already standing in the doorway, watching him warily. He stepped back inside when he saw Chris, motioning the other man to follow. Chris looked around as he entered, noting in surprise the spartan, but tasteful furnishings.
"We have to talk."
"All right." Peter leaned against the back of the couch, folding his arms over his chest. "Talk."
Chris took a deep breath, but nothing came out. Looking at Peter, he couldn't remember what he wanted to say, but he knew what he wanted to do. Following his instincts, he closed the distance between them. He fisted his hands in Peter's shirt and pulled him closer, crushing his lips to Peter's. Peter barely hesitated. He wrapped his arms around Chris and kissed him back ferociously, devouring him. He let himself fall back, tipping them both onto the couch, where they continued to make out as if nothing had happened.
Chris felt Peter's hand on his crotch, rubbing his erection through his jeans, and he pressed into it eagerly, shifting his hips so that Peter could undo his fly. He gasped into Peter's mouth as Peter's hand snaked into his jeans and squeezed.
He broke the kiss and pulled away reluctantly, just long enough to shimmy out of his clothes and help Peter out of his. Once they were both naked, Chris pressed against Peter again, hissing softly when he felt the heat of Peter's body against his skin. Peter claimed his lips then, thrusting his tongue into Chris's mouth as he wrapped his hand around both their cocks and started to stroke.
Chris wasn't able to do more than cling to Peter as he worked their pricks, showing with deft movements that he still remembered exactly what Chris liked. Chris lost himself completion in sensation, pushing his erection into Peter's fist with abandon until he was coming, bright lights flashing behind his eyelids.
Once he was spent, he collapsed on Peter's chest, noticing only then that Peter had come as well, their come intermingled between them. They lay still for a while, not speaking, sated and content.
"Where do we go from here?" Chris asked once he'd caught his breath. He didn't want this thing with Peter to end right after he'd found him again, but he had no idea how to make it work, not with their past standing between them. Not to mention how Allison would react once she found out.
"The bedroom." Peter got to his feet as he spoke, pulling Chris up along with him. He obviously wasn't in the mood to talk about the serious stuff now, and that was fine with Chris for the moment.
"I don't think I can get it up again so soon," Chris said, letting Peter propel him towards the bedroom on wobbly legs. "I'm not 17 anymore."
"I can," Peter said. "Werewolf stamina. Don't they mention that fact in your fancy hunter books?"
"No, that detail seems to be lacking," Chris said dryly.
"Then this experience should be very illuminating for you," Peter said, dragging Chris into the bedroom and shutting the door behind them.
Peter was still asleep when Chris left, anxious to get home before Allison woke up, especially since his legs felt like he was walking on ball bearings from all the sex, despite his having managed to have a brief nap. His thoughts consumed by the events of the evening, he was barely paying attention as he walked through the sparsely lit parking lot to his car. It was only when he stepped out of the range of the light beam of the streetlight closest to his car that he realized he wasn't alone.
His paced slowed as he saw a figure standing near his car. He reached for his gun and grimaced when he realized he'd left it at home. Again.
"Hello?" he called cautiously.
The figure came closer and then spoke.
"Hi, Chris! It's me, Sukie!"
"Sukie?" Chris furrowed his brow as he tried to remember how he knew the woman and then he relaxed somewhat when he remembered the attractive blonde from the park. "Hi, how are you? A bit late to be hanging out in a dark parking lot, isn't it?"
"Oh, I'm just on my way home and I thought I'd get a bite to eat first. I'd love for you to join me for dinner."
Chris shook his head. "Not tonight, I'm afraid. I'm on my way home for some much needed sleep."
"You don't understand," Sukie said, gliding forward with cat-like elegance as her voice took on a strange timbre. "That wasn't a request. You are my dinner."
Before Chris's eyes, Sukie shifted into a large black panther. He gasped and turned to run, but she was already upon him, knocking him to the ground with a single swat of one of her mighty paws. He struggled beneath her, trying to escape, but she settled on his chest, pressing down her weight on him till he could barely breathe. He let out a strangled shout of pain as he felt a couple of his ribs break.
The cat síth let out an odd hiss like she was attempting to soothe him and then she leaned over his face and inhaled deeply. Chris's struggling ceased as he felt like all his energy was being sucked out of his body. Perhaps even his very soul.
Suddenly he heard a loud growl and the weight on his chest was gone in a flurry of fur and claws, followed by a commotion nearby and a cacophony of roars and barks. Chris tried to stay conscious, tried to focus on staying awake, but he could feel himself starting to slip away.
He jerked back to consciousness when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"You look like something the cat dragged in."
Peter frowned. "You could be a bit more grateful," he said with a pout, although the lightness of his voice was belied by the worry in his eyes. "I'm trying to save your life."
"I… know," Chris rasped. "Bite me, please. I'm dying. It's the only way."
Peter's eyes widened. "Are you sure? It might not take."
"Just do it. I'm dead either way."
Peter stared at him for a long moment and then he nodded.
"As you wish," he said. He leaned down and pressed his lips briefly to Chris's. "I love you."
Chris mustered a smile. "You'd better."
At that, Peter shifted. Chris let out an involuntary cry as he felt Peter's teeth sink into his shoulder and then everything went black.
When Chris awoke, he saw a bright light and he thought he was dead. But then Melissa McCall's face appeared, shattering the illusion.
"Ah, you're awake at last," she said cheerfully. "How are you feeling, Chris?"
"Thirsty," he croaked. "How long have I been out?"
"You were in a coma for about 48 hours," she said, glancing away to the machine to check his vitals. She poured him a glass of water from the pitcher next to his bed and handed it to him. Then she leaned down and lowered her voice. "The bite is healing very well, by the way. Congratulations."
Chris felt a surge of relief go through him. He remembered asking Peter to bite him as he was dying. Still, he was lucky that it had taken. He didn't want to end up like Gerard.
"Thanks," he said. "That's good to hear."
Melissa's smile deepened. "There's someone waiting to see you. Let me go get her."
A few moments later, Allison burst into his room and rushed to his bedside. He saw a shadow move to the doorway behind and stop, just out of sight.
After a happy reunion, Allison got right down to business with the hard questions.
"Okay, I have to ask: what possessed you to let Peter bite you?" she asked. "I never expected you of all people to do something like that."
"It seemed like the logical thing to do at the time," he said.
Allison's face grew thoughtful. "Well, I'm very glad you did it. I couldn't bear to have lost both of you like that."
Chris wrapped his arm around his daughter and kissed her forehead. "I know, sweetie," he said. "Me, too. I could never do that to you again."
He glanced over at the doorway and the shadow moved away.
A few hours later, Chris was going nuts with boredom. He felt fine for the most part, but Melissa had said the doctor wanted him to remain in the hospital till the next morning for observation. He was about to get up and go looking for the doctor himself when he saw a familiar shadow at the door again.
"Get in here, Peter," he called.
Peter entered the room, his brow raised.
"Is that anyway to speak to the guy who saved your life?" he asked.
"You said you loved me," Chris said, cutting to the chase.
Peter froze. "So you're holding me to that, are you?"
"Good. Because I've decided I'm not letting you go." Peter crossed the room to his bedside as he spoke.
"Okay," Chris said slowly. "So you're planning on keeping me prisoner?"
"You're obviously not going to listen to reason ever," Peter continued, as if Chris hadn't spoken. His voice rose slightly in a scold. "You're worse than a wolf cub. You need me. And that's all there is to it."
Chris pushed himself up on his elbows, but gave in to the pressure of Peter's hand as the other man pushed him back down on the bed. Chris felt like he should protest this treatment somehow.
"'M not a wolf cub," he said, his tone petulant. "And let me up. I only got the wind knocked out of me."
"You got the wind sucked out of you," Peter said with a frown. "And it wasn't even the good sucking."
"And you're the expert on sucking," Chris said, raising a brow.
Peter gave him a smug grin. "Why, yes, I suppose I am." He reached over and tried to lift the blanket but Chris smacked his hands away.
"I just want to see the bite," Peter said, letting his lower lip jut out.
"It's fine. It's still healing."
"All right," Chris said with an exaggerated sigh. He reached behind his neck and untied the hospital gown, letting slide down his shoulder.
"I just want to see my mark on you before it disappears for good."
"Uh huh," Chris said. He was trying to play it cool, but his stomach had made an odd flip-flop at Peter's words. His pulse started to race, and he was embarrassed for a moment until he realized he could hear Peter's heart pounding just as fast as his.
He shivered violently as Peter lightly ran a finger over the healing wound and then moaned softly as Peter dragged his tongue over it. Then Peter kissed a path up Chris's neck to his ear.
"I might not be able to keep myself from acting like a love sick pup around you, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna let you walk all over me," Peter murmured.
"Of course not," Chris replied breathlessly. "Now kiss me."
Peter complied, naturally.