Two days after Allison's funeral Isaac shows up at Chris Argent's door holding a Tupperware container. Chris had just finished his fourth beer of the night and his head was somewhat fuzzy but he registers that the teenager looks very nervous, which to be fair is not that unusual. Isaac seems to spend most of his time at least slightly anxious. He had commented on it to his daughter one time and all she had said was that she was pretty sure he got nervous around all adults, particularly males. When he had asked why all she had said was that his father had been a jerk. Chris had filled in the blanks from there and hadn't mentioned it again.
Isaac seemed to have gotten more comfortable with Chris in the past couple months, and he had been spending a lot of time around the apartment. But this was the first time he had been there since the day after Allison had died, and it's the first time he has seen Isaac since the funeral. He stood there, fidgeting with the container in his hands, and looks like he's forgotten why he was there. He says nothing for a good fifteen seconds, and even though Chris would rather finish off his six-pack in peace he asks Isaac if he wants to come in, though he doubts he sounds very friendly when he says it.
That seems to snap Isaac back to reality, and he shakes his head then thrusts the container towards Chris. "Melissa made lasagna, she thought maybe I should bring you some."
A little confused, Chris takes the container from Isaac's hands, but before he can ask any questions Isaac is gone.
Chris closes the door and takes the container to the kitchen. He contemplates just tossing it. He hasn't had much of an appetite lately. But when he opens the container it actually smells pretty good, and it must be freshly made because it's still warm.
That night Chris doesn't finish his six-pack, but he does have lasagna for dinner.
Three days later Isaac's at the door again and this time Chris hasn't been drinking so his head is clearer. Isaac doesn't look as nervous this time when he hands over another tuperware container.
"Melissa made chicken and rice," is all he says.
Chris takes the container. "She doesn't need to keep sending you over with food," he says. Because even though their kids dated they've never really been friends.
Isaac shrugs. "I guess she thinks it's one less thing to worry about. And it's easy to forget to eat…" he trails off.
Chris can read Isaac's thoughts well enough. It's easy to stop eating when the last person that you really care about dies. And he's right.
And suddenly it clicks into place for Chris. With Isaac's senses he could probably tell that Chris hadn't been eating when they had seen each other at the funeral. And he had told Melissa, hence the food.
"Anyway, it's pretty good, I think she tried a new recipe or something," Isaac mumbles, looking awkward.
"Tell her thank you."
Isaac nods and leaves.
Another two days pass and when Chris gets home from the gun range he's immediately on high alert because there's a door open that he knows he left closed. His gun is in his hand without him having to think about it, and he starts searching the house but the only other thing out of place is a container of homemade chicken stir fry that's been left on the counter. There's no note, but also no question who it's from. He knows Isaac has snuck in and out of the apartment plenty of times before, and he's done it again, but Chris isn't even annoyed. Especially after he tries the food and it's pretty amazing.
Four days pass before Isaac turns up again, this time with stroganoff.
"I've got those other containers. I should probably send them back with you." Isaac comes in to retrieve them but Chris pauses before he hands them over. "Have you eaten yet? She sends enough for a few meals, so there's plenty."
Isaac hesitates, but then agrees. They don't talk much while they eat, and discuss nothing substantial, but it's actually kind of nice.
It's the first time he's eaten a meal with another person since Allison. He finds he likes the company.
Over the next two weeks Isaac comes seven times bearing food, and each time Chris asks him in and they eat together. They had been around each other before, but Allison had always been there as a buffer so it isn't until Isaac starts eating with him that he finally gets to know the kid. And he realizes he actually likes him. Which shouldn't be as surprising as it is, because even if he hadn't really known much about the young werewolf, he had at least had an idea what kind of person Isaac is. He had known Isaac has a good heart, and is loyal to a fault, and he had known that even though Isaac tended to be more anxious than most and was often terrified when they were off battling the latest monster he still was able to do what needed doing and never let his fear control him when there were lives to be saved.
But when he starts to get to know Isaac he learns that he is sarcastic and funny and smart and cares a lot more than he likes to let on. He learns that Isaac hates carrots and used to be allergic to almonds before becoming a werewolf took care of that. He learns Isaac likes to read, and that's something they share, so that opens the door to talks about books and exchanging of titles that they each think the other should read. He learns that though Isaac thinks Scott and Melissa are great and he doesn't know what he's do without them he still feels guilty for intruding in their home. He learns that Isaac's favourite movie is Boondock Saints because it was something his brother used to let him watch with him when he was little, even though his parents had said he was too young to see it. And that sparks a conversation where Chris learns that Isaac's brother died in Iraq and that only a few months after his mother killed herself and Isaac was the one who found her body. He learns that Isaac's father changed after losing his wife and son and that Mr. Layhe had been in the habit of locking his remaining child in a freezer as a punishment and that Isaac still hates small spaces because of that. He learns dozens of other things that make him respect and appreciate the kid all the more.
Chris starts to make sure he's always home around 6pm, which is about when Isaac usually shows up. He realizes he has gotten to the point where he's disappointed on the days Isaac doesn't come, and relived on the days he does. When he finds out that Isaac misses watching baseball (he doesn't like to use the television at the McCall house in case Scott or Melissa want it) he's thrilled because he's a baseball fan too, and that gives Isaac another excuse to come over and they start watching games together.
Isaac doesn't fill the hole that Allison left, not by a long shot. But it does make Chris feel not quite as empty when he's around. Chris likes to think of himself as someone who doesn't really need anything from anyone, but he realizes that maybe he sort of does need Isaac and his life. And he thinks that maybe Isaac needs him too.
After an unfortunate incident while practicing his skills with a knife Chris ends up in the emergency room to get stiches in his hand. He's angry at himself because it was an amateur mistake and he's supposed to be an experienced hunter.
Melissa is working that night and she ends up being the one to fix him up.
"Thank you, by the way," he says as she is doing the stitches.
She glances up from her work. "It is my job, you know," she says with a smile.
"No, I mean for the food you've been sending."
She looks at him like she has no idea what he's talking about. "I haven't been sending any food."
She obviously has no reason to lie but he doesn't know why Isaac would be lying either. "The food that Isaac's been bringing," he clarifies, though he doesn't think the statement required clarification.
She still looks confused. "Isaac told you I've been sending food?" But as soon as she says it her confusion melts away and is replaced by amusement. "He does a lot of the cooking. With the hours I work and the fact that Scott can't be trusted with the stove meals can sometimes be a hassle, so he started doing it. I told him he doesn't have to, but I think he likes to contribute. I bet he's bringing you what he makes, he just didn't want to say it's from him." She shakes her head. "That kid," she says fondly with a hint of exasperation as she goes back to doing the stitches. "You know, the past few weeks I've noticed some things turn up in the fridge that I was sure I hadn't bought. I asked the boys about it and they both said they didn't know. But I bet it was Isaac feeling like he had to replace the extra supplies he used making food for you."
For the life of him Chris can't think of a thing to say about that and the room is quiet for a few minutes while Melissa works.
"I don't know where he is most of the time. When I ask him he just says that he's been 'around.' But he's been with you, huh?"
"Well, I'm glad. We love having him, you know, but he always thinks that he's in the way. I've tried to tell him it's his home too, but he doesn't really believe me. I think there's a lot of times he stays out of the house because he feels like he's intruding if he's there too much. I worry about him. But it's good to know he's not just out wandering the woods on his own," she ties off the last stitch and starts to wrap and bandage around his hand. "He's a great kid with a big heart, he just doesn't like anyone to know."
Chris nods because he's feeling the same exasperated fondness for Isaac that Melissa seems to be feeling. "Yeah, I'm starting to get that."
Melissa finishes up the bandage and gives him a warm smile. "He's a pretty great cook too."
Chris laughs because, yeah, he is.
Isaac comes that night with a few containers that hold the makings for fajitas. It's something he's brought before, and that he knows Chris likes. He enters without knocking because Chris told him over a week ago he knew full well Isaac could get in without Chris letting him, so he shouldn't wait for him to get the door.
While Isaac is setting up the food Chris watches him and thinks that he looks pretty comfortable here. From what he's heard that isn't always the case while he's at the McCall house.
"You know, you could just cook here rather than bringing it from the McCall's if you wanted to," Chris says casually.
Isaac freezes, then he turns and looks at Chris sheepishly. "Are you mad?"
"No," Chris says simply, taking his spot at the table.
Isaac hovers awkwardly for a moment, then sits, still looking embarrassed and a little cautious, but when Chris starts eating he does too. They eat in silence for a few minutes while Isaac keeps his eyes fixed on his plate, obviously still uncomfortable.
"So?" Chris asks. Isaac glances up, looking unsure. "Would you rather cook here? Because if you do you'll need to put together a shopping list so I know what to get."
Isaac looks surprised but he relaxes a little. "Okay."
They keep eating and Chris tells Isaac that he had finished The Name of the Wind, which Isaac had recommended and had liked it. They talk about the book while they finish eating and Chris is glad when the last of the tension in Isaac's shoulders relaxes. When they're done they clear the table and Isaac washes the dishes while Chris dries. It's a rhythm they'd fallen into over the last few weeks and it's as comfortable as if they'd been doing it for years.
"You know, I have a guest room. If you ever wanted to stay here."
Isaac stops washing, and looks unsure of what to say, but he doesn't know what Chris is asking.
Chris sets down the plate he's drying and turns to face Isaac. "I know you live with the McCall's, but if that isn't working out, or even if you need a change, whatever reason, you can always live here. Open ended offer."
"Thanks," Isaac says softly, looking overwhelmed.
"Well, it's not just for you," Chris goes back to drying the plate because he needs something to do with his hands. "Turns out I don't really like living alone, and you've definitely grown on me. I kind of prefer it when you're here." He stacks the plate with the others and suddenly Isaac is hugging him. It's a quick hug, but fierce. Isaac lets go almost as fast as he latched on and goes back to washing the dishes.
Isaac's smiling Chris is too, because he gets the feeling that he's not going to be living alone much longer. Neither can replace the family that the other lost, but somehow without meaning to they seem to be taking the steps towards making a new one.