Walking Too Close to the Fire
by Sandrine Shaw

Isaac tells him about how Allison came to help with Boyd and Cora.

They've got the two of them settled in the basement of the Hale house for now, still recovering from last night. Derek gave the teacher a lift home and an awkward explanation that was too close to the truth for him to be comfortable with the situation. She's been taking it better than expected, which should be a good thing, except for how it makes Derek instantly and instinctively suspicious of her. Meanwhile, the worst of his wounds have healed already, but he's exhausted, both physically and mentally, and has no patience to hear about Allison Argent's heroics.

When Isaac recounts how Allison herded the rogue betas back into the school with a few well-placed arrows, he has that wide-eyed, wondrous expression, the one he sometimes gets when he talks about Scott, and Derek is inclined to remind him that it wasn't all that long ago that Allison put two daggers into Isaac's back. If he doesn't say anything, it's only because he's too worn out to argue right now.

He doesn't understand what Allison is doing, getting involved, when Scott asked her to go home earlier after he finally told her the truth about her mother. Doesn't care to figure out her motives either. He remembers the flash of pity and guilt on her face when he carried Erica's broken body out of the vault, and he hated it, knowing that she saw him like that, grieving and vulnerable. Even if he has to admit that they might not have been able to contain Boyd and Cora without Chris' help tonight, all he wants is for the Argents to keep their distance and stay out of his business. He doesn't need them acting like they're on his side; he just needs for them to stay the hell away.

But when has life ever done him any favors? So it doesn't really surprise him in the least when Allison keeps showing up to pack gatherings when they discuss the Alpha pack and the weird pattern of virgin sacrifices all over town. Derek would tell Scott off for bringing her along, except it's pretty obvious that Scott hasn't; the first time Allison is standing at the door, he's just as confused as Derek is. It leaves the question how she knows about the meetings in the first place.

For a while, Derek has a wild theory that Chris has been spying on him and is sending his daughter in to get more information, but one night while they're bowed over the coroner's report from the latest murder victim, Allison's phone starts ringing.

Derek can hear Chris' aggravated voice on the other end of the line, and he hears Allison's tone take a falsely cheerful edge when she says, "I'm just over at Lydia's, studying for the econ test on Monday. Don't worry, I'll be back before ten." There's a pause, and Chris says something Derek can't quite make out. "No, you don't have to come and get me; I took the car."

She snaps the phone shut and returns to the discussion as if she had never been interrupted at all, and if she notices the way Derek glares at her, she doesn't let on. She may not been on a mission to spy for her father, but that doesn't make him trust her any more or resent her presence any less. Instead of feeling relieved that Chris is in the dark about Allison's activities, Derek worries that the way she's lying to her father may eventually turn into a complication when Chris inevitably finds out. Doubtless he'll blame Derek and Scott for being a corruptive influence on Allison. Somehow, Derek doubts that assuring the man that he never wanted Allison to be involved in the first place is going to placate Chris when he's coming after him with a gun loaded with wolfsbane bullets.

The worst thing, though, is that Allison is actually helpful. She's bringing more ideas to the table than Scott and Isaac combined (possibly because both of them are too busy alternately staring at Allison and at each other like puppies waiting for a treat), she's not afraid to voice her opinions, and she doesn't flinch away when Peter makes a grand entrance to deliver some utterly non-constructive snarky one-liner, despite the fact that she once watched him slash her aunt's throat right in front of her. She never brings that up, never even reacts when Stiles makes another quip about killing Peter again, just as she hasn't mentioned her mother's death since Scott told her the truth.

Her calm, professional attitude should make Derek less resentful towards her, not more.

Instead, he feels constantly wrong-footed and aggravated when she's around because while she seems to have managed effortlessly to let go of her grudges, he can't bring himself to do the same with her, and it only fuels his frustration. He snaps at her more often than not, and he shoots her suggestions down even when he knows that they're valid. Even Scott has given up trying to run interference.

Things come to a head the night after Deucalion and Kali go after Isaac again. He's come away mostly unharmed, but it was a close call, a little too close for comfort especially with both Boyd and Cora still out of commission, suffering from the aftershocks of what they've been put through during their imprisonment. Derek buried Erica a couple of weeks ago, he's not ready to dig another grave, and the others are just as shaken and on edge.

Allison has come up with a plan to trail the Alpha pack. Her and Stiles can try to get closer to the twins at school, win their trust, maybe find out something new, and even if that doesn't work out, they can always follow them to wherever the pack is gathering and stake it out so Derek, Scott and Isaac can check it out when they're gone.

Stiles enthusiastically agrees, but even Scott is skeptical, and Derek flat-out won't consider it.

"It's too dangerous. Any number of things could go wrong. If the twins figure out what you're doing, they will kill you, and I'm not putting Isaac's and Scott's lives on the line just so we can sniff out what Deucalion had for dinner last night."

Allison huffs. "We could find out something important! Right now, we know nothing about what they want. I know my plan isn't perfect, but at least I have a plan. If you only react to whatever new situation they force on us because you're afraid to take action yourself, you might as well roll over and die."

It's the first time Allison has let him get a rise out of her since the night at the vault, and part of him revels in it. He wants her furious and raging at him, because at least it means that he's not the only one who's angry.

"I said no," he growls, letting his eyes flash red for a split second.

All it does is fuel her anger, like he knew it would. He can see it in the stubborn set of her jaw, the way she presses her lips together until they're a tight line, the clench of her fists that tells him what she really wants is to get the knife from where it's strapped to her leg and draw his blood. "We can't afford to sit and wait! Maybe that's nothing to you, but people are dying."

"And their lives are so much more important than Isaac's or Scott's or mine, right? It's okay for a bunch of monsters to risk their lives as long as there's a chance that we might save a couple of innocent people along the way."

"Dude," Scott interjects, agitated. "She didn't–"

Before he can finish, Allison is talking over him. "That's not fair! You know I don't feel that way."

"Do I?" He raises an eyebrow at her. "Why would I trust you, after what you did last spring? I don't even know why you're here, Kate. No one's asked for your help. You come here and offer all kinds of unsolicited advice when it's perfectly obvious that the lives of my pack are not your priority."

He expects her to snap back at him, but she just stares at him wide-eyed. The entire room has gone silent. Even Scott isn't making another move to defend Allison's honor, and other than Allison, everyone is awkwardly averting their gazes.

Derek doesn't understand what's going on. His words were harsh, maybe a little more so than usual, but it's nothing that hasn't happened before. Confused, he mentally rewinds the conversation but it's not until Allison speaks that he begins to grasp the extent of his fuck-up.

"Allison," she says, looking straight at him, and her voice is not quite steady. "My name is Allison. I'm not–" She stops and turns away, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear with trembling fingers. "I should go home. My father has given me a curfew at ten."

She grabs her jacket and is out of the loft before he can even think of something to say to make it better.

"That was –" Stiles begins, but Derek quenches the comment with a dark look before he learns whatever Stiles thinks that was. Scott soon drags Stiles and Isaac away, leaving Derek behind with only a nagging sense of guilt for company and the bitter realization that his anger is not as righteous as he thought it was.

He considers letting things run their cause. Allison will be upset and she'll resent him more than she already does, but if it's enough to make her stay away, it will certainly make things easier for him. If he can't look at her without seeing Kate, then perhaps it's better if he doesn't have to look at her at all.

Scott will be mad at him, but then again, Scott is always mad at him for some reason or another. He'll get over it. Allison will get over it. It's what's best for everyone involved.

Derek has already made up his mind to let the matter rest, let Allison drift away without the explanation or the closure he probably owes her.

It doesn't explain how he finds himself in front of the Argent house at quarter past one the same night. There are no lights on inside and the window in Allison's room is firmly shut, but if he listens close enough, he can hear Allison's heart beating a little too fast and her uneven breathing, and he knows she's not asleep.

He jumps up and raps on the window, once, watching her jump a little. She walks up to the window and looks at him, and for a long moment all they do is stare at each other. She's wearing shorts and a tank top, and her hair is haphazardly pulled up in a bun. Her eyes are red and puffy, like she's spent the better part of the night crying, and the pang of guilt he feels at the sight is sharp and bitter like wolfsbane in his throat.

Perhaps he really should have stayed away. He's tempted to take off again before it gets more awkward, and he hasn't quite made up his mind yet when the stand-off comes to an end. Allison opens the window and then it's too late for him to turn and leave.

She steps backwards, wordlessly inviting him inside, before sitting back down on the bed with her legs folded under her. Neither of them has said anything yet, and Derek knows that it should be him making a start, offering an apology or an explanation. But he doesn't know how, or where to begin. He's never been good with words beyond snarky comebacks and petty jabs meant to rile people up. Admitting that he's wrong is not something that's ever come easily to him, and even less so since he's become an Alpha because it goes against his every instinct to show weakness like that.

He stiffly sits down on the chair across the room, trying to buy time by taking a look around. Her crossbow is lying on the desk, and some of the clothes she wore earlier are carelessly thrown over the chair's back. Underneath a black hoodie he can see a lacy blue bra peeking out, and he instantly feels like his presence here in her room is invading her privacy in a way that he never really considered when he climbed in and out of Scott's and Stiles' bedrooms all through the past year.

He still has no idea what to say to her, and there's a sense of relief when she's the one to start talking. It's short-lived, though.

"I talked to my dad," she begins, and he feels a sense of dread because involving Chris Argent in anything has very rarely been a good idea. "I asked him if I reminded him of her."

There's no confusion as to which her she's talking about.

"I mean, not just last spring when I went all crazy hunter after my mom– I never really thought I was anything like her. I mean, when I was younger and she was just my cool aunt, I wanted to be like her, but I didn't think I could be. And then after... I didn't want to anymore." She refuses to look at Derek, fiddling with the bed covers that are bunched up around her, picking off imaginary lints and smoothing the surface.

"He said he could see the similarities sometimes. Looks, gestures, habits, stuff like that. He said it wasn't just the bad parts but..." She raises her gaze towards him and he hears the stutters in her heartbeat, knows what an effort it costs her to meet his eyes. "After everything, even the good bits must bring out bad memories for you."

He sometimes forgets that she knows more about what happened with Kate than anyone alive, with the exception of Peter. His memories of when Kate had him chained up and electrocuted down in the basement of the burned down Hale house last year are a little fuzzy, but he remembers when she brought Allison along for a lesson: the way Allison had looked at his wolfed-out face, confusion and shock and fear and disgust mingling in her features. Kate hadn't quite spelled it out for her, the kind of history they shared, but Derek knows that Allison is smart enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Doesn't mean that she's drawing the right conclusions. He doesn't bother to correct her. She's right to think the memories he has of Kate are all tainted by how she betrayed him and used him to kill his entire family. If Allison's laughter, the way she talks, the way she looks in a certain light remind him of Kate, of course it evokes terrible parallels.

How can he explain to Allison that it also brings back traces of his old desire for Kate? How can he tell her that it's making him both want to tear her throat out and fuck her until she screams?

It doesn't matter. The time to respond has already passed, and Allison is talking again. "I want to help, I really do. But if my being there is... too painful for you, I'll stay away."

Derek shakes his head before she's even finished, even though what she's suggesting is exactly what he thought he'd hoped to achieve. "No, it's–" The words are like clay on his tongue. "It's okay. It's my problem, not yours."

He pushes on. "You can come back. If you still want to. We could use all the help we can get."

"Okay." She offers him a tentative, hopeful little smile that makes him want. Want to apologize, properly, want to tear into her with his claws, want to kiss her breathless, want to tell her to stay away and never come back and ask her to fight at his side, and it's all too much and too conflicting and yet he wants everything at once and hates himself for it as much as he hates her for making him feel that way.

He forces himself to be rational, or at least appear as if he is. "Your plan... I still don't like it. There's too much risk and too little reward."

She nods. "So we think of something else. You don't have to agree with every suggestion I make. I just need you to know that I'm on your side."

When he leaves her room that night, he feels like he's been negotiating a truce or at least a cease-fire, but instead of bringing a sense of relief, it makes him feel anxious and on edge.

Staking out the Alpha pack's hideout may be too dangerous, but even Derek can't deny that they need more information and they need it fast, so they all agree to at least go back to the bank and see if the Alphas left anything behind that might serve as a clue for what their plans are. Derek takes Scott, and Allison insists on coming along. Derek reluctantly agrees on under the condition that she tells her father about her involvement, because on top of everything else that's putting his pack in danger, he doesn't want to risk Chris coming after them because he thinks they've been corrupting his daughter.

Derek not-so-secretly hopes that Allison will be grounded until the whole matter is over, but instead, when she turns up at the bank, Chris steps out of the car after her, armed and wearing a determined expression. "Alright," he says. "Let's get this done."

Allison looks at Derek with a shrug and a raised eyebrow, as if to say, Don't blame me, you were the one who insisted that I should tell him the truth. In hindsight, maybe Derek's plan was a little flawed.

Inside, when they're about to split up, Allison's suggestion to go with Scott is shot down immediately by her father.

"Not happening," he tells her, in a tone that says this isn't up for discussion.

Allison looks annoyed. "There's not much point in splitting up if Team Human goes in one direction and Team Werewolf in the other, Dad. If there are any more mountain ash barriers, they can't cross them, and both you and I are lacking their senses to sniff out anything of importance the Alphas left behind."

Chris looks conflicted for a moment before turning to Derek, and Derek knows what's coming. Already hates it, but knows that there is no good argument to be made against it.

When Chris steps up towards him, pointing a warning finger at him, it's all Derek can do not to let the wolf get loose and take the man's hand off. "You're going with Allison. You will keep her safe. If anything happens to her, I swear to God I will make anything the Alpha pack could do to you look like a walk in the park."

Derek bites back a sharp comeback (What are you going to do? Burn down my home with my family inside of it? Oh no, wait, that was your sister) and nods tightly. He's aware that the only one who hates this arrangement more than him is Chris; that despite the threat, sending Allison off with Derek is an unexpected display of trust.

They're halfway down one of the back corridors, with nothing to show but stale air and empty desks that haven't been touched in years, when Derek hears them. It's just three, Deucalion, Kali and one of the twins, he thinks, but maybe the others are a little behind and even if not, the odds are against Derek and he can't risk the Alphas hearing them.

He reaches around Allison and presses his palm against her mouth to shut her up and alert her of the danger. To her credit, she doesn't struggle, carefully turning around in his hold and nodding. He lets his hand fall away but puts a finger against his lips just to make his point, before motioning to a half-opened door to their right.

They duck inside what turns out to be a narrow supply room, and Derek does his best to pull the door shut as soundlessly as possible behind them, listening to the muted conversations of the Alpha pack outside, their voices coming closer.

There's nothing he can do right now. He wants to rush out and fight the Alphas, but he can't, not when he's so obviously outnumbered and has a human girl to protect on top of that. All that's left to do is wait them out, stay hidden until they're gone, even if his instincts scream at him to stop being so passive.

He needs to do something to pass the time, so he takes the rare chance to watch Allison when she isn't aware of his gaze on her.

They're smushed together in the small room, too close for comfort, and her heartbeat is frantic and loud in his ears. He observes how her nostrils flare with her rapid breathing, the way her teeth gnaw on her lower lip, how her eyes restlessly skip back and forth without focus. She's at a disadvantage because she doesn't have werewolf vision, probably can't see anything at all in the pitch black surroundings.

It emboldens him, knowing he can see her but he can't see him, and where he would usually avert his eyes, he unabashedly allows himself to stare now.

The darkness is making her look different, softening her features, smoothing out the harsh set of her jaw and the determined glint in her eyes that sometimes remind him of Kate. They don't, now. Allison looks softer. Kinder. Not vulnerable, though. Despite the way the fear is making her pulse quicken, he knows that it would be foolish to think of her as helpless. Against his thigh, he can feel the hard edge of her crossbow, the handle digging into his flesh through his jeans, and he knows that if a fight, however imbalanced and hopeless, were inevitable, she'd fight tooth and nail against the Alphas as long as her heart was beating.

Here, now, with no witness but the darkness and the silence between them, he can admit to himself that he likes that about her. That as much as he rolls his eyes at Scott's puppy-dogged admiration for her and Isaac's ill-advised infatuation, he at the very least understands it. She's pretty, she's smart, she knows how to defend herself. She immersed herself into their nightmare world of constant danger and deadly monsters and didn't shrink back. If he'd been anyone else, someone who never met and fell victim to Kate Argent, he'd be just as taken with Allison as Scott and Isaac.

Somehow, though, in the dark narrow room with her all but pressed against him, his usual misgivings and objections don't weigh as heavy as they do in the harsh light of the day.

He can smell her, the sticky sweet tang of her sweat, the fruity scent of shampoo and soap and underneath, the warm, earthy smell of skin. Her breath brushes against his face, warm and smelling faintly like coffee. They've been in here for too long already, and he can feel her getting jittery, heartbeat speeding up and a dozen tiny, unconscious movements betraying her impatience. When she shifts a fraction to the left, it brings them even closer, her side pressing tightly into his front.

To his endless mortification, he feels himself growing hard. He tries to focus on the mortal danger that's waiting for them beyond the door, the sounds of the Alphas outside, but it's not helping to distract him. It's just hormones, he tells himself. He's only reacting to the proximity of another body and it's been entirely too long now, months, since before he came back to town. Lately, he's been too busy fighting for his life to bother finding someone to hook up with. That's all there is to it.

Except it's not. It's a hell of a lot more complicated than that.

He knows the moment she can feel it. Hears her breath stutter and watches her body freeze temporarily, and he waits for her to jerk away as much as she can in these close quarters.

The sudden whiff of arousal from her is unexpected. Unwelcome, too, because it makes it infinitely more difficult to control himself, makes him ball his fists and dig his claws into his palms.

He feels her move at last, but his relief dies when he realizes that she's not putting any distance between them but is turning her body a few degrees until they're face to face. When he puts his hand on her hips, he tells himself it's to steady himself and push her back, but they just come to rest there, feeling the warmth of her skin seep through her clothes. Their breathing aligns, heavy and labored and too loud. He doesn't know what the hell she thinks she's doing. Doesn't know what he's doing either. Doesn't know if he would tell her off or if he'd turn and run away, if he could, if they weren't committed to motionlessness and silence.

The moment draws out and stretches, tense, taut, ready to snap as the seconds tick by and turn into eons.

Suddenly, the door is pulled open behind him. Allison's heartbeat spikes, and Derek spins around, ready to jump. The bright light that streams in momentarily blinding him, he unseeingly whips his claws out at whoever's coming.

"Whoa, Derek! Chill, man," Scott says. "They're gone."

Derek's vision clears, and he sees Scott a few feet away, hands raised in a placatory manner. A couple of feet behind him, Chris Argent is looking from Allison to Derek and back again, frowning, and Derek's cheeks grow hot, feeling irrationally like a kid that's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Except that little kids don't actually have to fear being shot for stealing cookies, whereas he's fairly sure that Chris wouldn't hesitate to empty a round of wolfsbane bullets into him if he knew what Derek had been thinking about his daughter just now.

"Allison, are you okay?" Scott asks, with that puppy-eyed concern of his, and for once Derek is grateful because it diverts attention.

Pushing past Derek, Allison steps out of the room, offering a smile that's just a shade too bright, and her voice has taken an unnaturally cheerful tone. "I'm fine. We thought we'd never get out of there."

She doesn't look at Derek as she falls into step beside Scott, asking him about what they found. Derek follows, keenly aware of the glower Chris is sending his way.

It doesn't surprise Derek when Allison turns up at his loft, half past nine the next evening. Standing on his doorstep, she looks like she doesn't want to be here at all, hugging herself with her arms crossed tightly over her chest like armor, uncertainty radiating from her in waves.

She never looked less like Kate than she does right then. The thought is a brief, instinctive observation, and he immediately hates himself for it. He doesn't want his mind to stray towards Kate whenever he lays his eyes on Allison, but he can't help it. It's frustration with himself for letting her get to him when she's not even trying that's making him gruffer than usual, and when he addresses her, his voice is harsh. "What do you want?"

To her credit, Allison doesn't flinch. "Can I come in?"

Go home, he wants to tell her. Should tell her. Instead, he steps back and leaves the door open. It's not exactly an invitation, but it might as well be.

It's not the first time she's been to the loft, but it's the first time she's been here alone with him, none of Stiles' endless chatter and Scott's need to establish his independence and Isaac's desire for approval and Peter's antagonism to distract him. Maybe she feels it too, the stark difference to their usual strategic pack meetings, because she looks around curiously as if she's never been here before. Or maybe she's just trying to focus on her surroundings to have something, anything, to do.

Derek leans against the table halfway across the room from where she stands, his hands gripping the wood tight enough that he can feel dents forming under his fingers. He watches her gaze skip restlessly through the room, looking at anything but him, and his impatience is like an itch, like bugs crawling across his skin.

"Do you–" She stops herself. Takes a breath and starts again. "Yesterday, at the bank, when we were–"

"Allison." He doesn't want her to go on. He doesn't want to talk about what may or may not have happened the other day. He doesn't want to have this discussion. He doesn't want her in his private space. He doesn't want her looking at him like that. He doesn't want to remember– Except he does. He's not that good at denial, and he wants so many things he shouldn't want. He wants to throw her against the wall and tear off her clothes and claim her in any way he can: his hands all over her body, his cock in her cunt, his teeth in her shoulder.

His desire for her is a tangled mess. Half of it is because she reminds him of Kate, and half of it is because she's nothing like Kate at all, and he can't tell anymore which is which. That alone is reason enough to stay away, and that's not even factoring in the potential for disaster giving in to those desires would bring, causing certain ruin to both the tentative comradeship with Scott and the unstable alliance with Chris Argent.

He turns away from her. "You shouldn't be here. Go home."

Prays that for once, she'll listen to him. But this is the girl who kept sneaking her werewolf boyfriend into her room even after she found out about her family being hunters, who broke into a bank all alone just to prove her point to him, who decided to bait a couple of feral werewolves with her blood. Who came back time and time again after he all but told her she wasn't welcome. Of course Allison doesn't listen, she never listens; she keeps pushing and pushing until something's got to give.

"Don't," she says from behind him, hot anger making her voice tremble. "Don't patronize me. I know you don't trust me and you don't owe me anything. Maybe I've been misinterpreting things. For all I know yesterday wasn't about me at all and you've been thinking about... whatever. But at least have the decency to look me in the eye when you tell me you don't want me."

He feels the weight of her hand on his shoulder, and for all the insistence in her tone, the touch feels tentative, uncertain. A simple light brush of skin against skin, and it's enough to undo him. Something inside of him snaps and before he can talk himself out of it, before he can make a conscious decision at all, he spins around. He grabs her wrist and pulls her forward, crashing his lips against hers. It's less a kiss than an angry, violent collision, bruising and biting and clashing teeth.

When he lets go of her wrist to slide his hands down her backside and lift her up against him, her fingers tangle almost-but-not-quite painfully in his hair and she wraps her legs firmly around his waist. Her crotch rubs against his hard cock, and even with two layers of denim separating them, it makes every nerve-ending in Derek's body tingle. He can smell her through the clothes, the warm, damp aroma of her arousal, and right now he wants nothing more than to sink into her and take her until every inch of her skin is covered in his scent.

He breaks the kiss to let her catch her breath for a moment.

"Does this feel like I don't want you?" he growls – a harsh, belated comeback to her rant, not particularly clever and too late to have any sort of significance, but apparently it's the right thing to say because a smile lights her face and when she leans in for another kiss, it's slower, softer, less teeth and more tongue, and she arches against him.

It's a struggle to get her shirt off. He pulls it up with one hand while using the other to hold her against him, but she gets tangled in the fabric and he's close to giving up and just tearing it apart, only stopping himself because he doesn't have anything for her to change into and doesn't want to send her home naked, and after a while, he succeeds in pulling it off. His own shirt doesn't fare as well, ending up in pieces spread around the living room floor.

Eventually they make it to the bedroom, and he puts her down and lets go of her long enough for them to get rid of the rest of their clothes.

He can't take his eyes off of her. She looks glorious, all pale skin and deep brown eyes, dark hair fanning out against the dark red futon, long slim legs ever so slightly spread, beckoning him closer, calling out to his instincts to take and possess and make her his. He reaches out and traces the line of her neck with his hand, dipping his finger into the hollow of her throat, brushing against the small, firm breasts, downwards. She sharply draws in a breath, trying to pull him towards her, but he won't let himself be rushed.

He opens her up with his fingers, twisting and turning them inside of her while carefully working her nipples between his teeth until he feels her quivering around him, then he stops and starts all over again. It's something Kate hated, being out of control; she always had to be the one to set the pace, claim her pleasure at her own time, decide when and how he got to come.

Allison is loose-limbed and desperate beneath him, egging him on with breathless pleas and the hard clench of fingers around his upper arms.

"Come on, please, let me–" she gasps, squirming as he drives his fingers into her, bringing her right to the edge and then pulling her away again, over and over, until her eyes are glassy and her skin is flushed and she's too out of breath to even curse him anymore.

When he pulls out and away, she makes a soft, broken sound of protest, and he wishes he had a camera to take her picture right then.

He wants to tell her, say how beautiful she is like that, wrecked and completely undone, but he doesn't have the words or the energy for them, and all he gets out is a harsh, "Fuck, Allison," before he pushes into her at last. The tight heat around him almost drives him out of his mind; it's too much, too fast, and his control slips before he can rein the wolf in.

He feels his body change, fangs dropping and his vision turning crimson. He can't stop it, too far gone to even care that Allison sees him like this. He barely has the presence of mind to sink his fingers into the mattress when his nails become deadly claws that could tear Allison to shreds.

His instincts take over and he drives into her, fast and hard and probably too rough, but she doesn't look or sound or smell like she's in pain, the way she's meeting his thrusts and making helpless little mewling noises. When he finally lets her come, her whole body shudders apart around him and her blunt human nails press so hard into his skin that she draws blood.

The rich scent of his blood mingles with the smell of her juices, driving him wild, and his thrusts become frantic and mindless when his orgasm hits him. She arches up against him, baring her throat to him. He can't tell if she knows what she's doing or if it's an unconscious gesture, but it makes his wolf howl inside of him as he noses along the long, stretched line of pale, tender flesh.

He pulls away and rolls off her, catching his breath as his features shift back to human ever so slowly. The mattress next to him is sliced up, bits and pieces of stuffing pushing out, and he tries not to think that this might easily have been Allison's skin instead.

"Are you okay?" he asks.

She's lying on her back with her eyes closed, breathing heavily like she's been running for her life. At his question, she rolls onto her side towards him and smiles. "I'm great. So..." Her expression turns mischievous. "Is that an Alpha thing? With the changing and everything."

His cheeks burn with a rush of embarrassment. "No, I–" He frowns, realizing that he can't actually be sure. The last time he had sex with someone, he wasn't an Alpha yet. "I don't think so. It's just... been a long time, and you were... Sorry. I didn't mean to lose control like that."

"Don't apologize," Allison says quickly. She ducks her head, blushing. "I liked it."

So did he, he thinks. Maybe a little too much.

"This can't happen again," Derek says in the morning as he watches Allison get dressed and gather her stuff.

Allison stills and looks at him, and Derek prepares himself for her to object. He has an array of reasons ready to give her, but to his surprise she just nods, quietly, and he thinks she gets it.

But the next day, with everyone crowded in the kitchen area of the loft, sharing pizza while discussing Boyd's and Cora's progress and whether or not to warn Danny away from Ethan, Allison's hand brushes against Derek's when they reach for the same pizza slice at the same time. They both pull back like the touch had burnt them.

Scott and Isaac are giving them weird looks, and Stiles laughs nervously. "You're not going to start killing each other over pizza, right? Come on, guys, you made so much progress lately, with the lack of accusing of each other for the deaths of assorted family members and keeping the yelling to a minimum. It would be a shame to bring out the claws and the crossbow over some bacon and mushrooms."

The tension in the room dissipates at once. Derek rolls his eyes at Stiles and tries not to blush at the thought of how much progress he and Allison have really made. "You're an idiot," he says, without heat.

Allison's nose wrinkles when she laughs. "The pizza is soggy and the cheese is burned. Definitely not worth killing each other for."

She looks at Derek and smiles in a way that makes the heat settle low in his stomach and his skin tingle where her hand brushed against his.

When the others are leaving, she stays behind, and he ends up fucking her on the kitchen table among empty pizza boxes and crumpled paper tissues, her legs wrapped around his waist, heels digging into his backside, and her nails leaving red lines on his back and his arms that fade almost instantly.

It shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't keep happening, but it will, it does, and Derek doesn't have the energy to fight it.

"Do you still–" Allison starts asking one night, unusually hesitantly and reluctant to meet his eyes. She doesn't finish the question, but Derek is fairly sure that he knows what it was going to be.

He's glad she doesn't ask, because the answer would be yes, he still sometimes sees Kate when he looks at her. He's been trying not to, but it's nothing he can control, and he doesn't think he will ever stop cataloguing their similarities and differences.

The way Allison stops herself from asking suggests that she knows that. She probably thinks that the reason Derek is with her is because he's hoping for some kind of do-over, erase the terrible past and replace it with new, good memories. Which, if it were true, would make him a terrible person who's ruthlessly using an eighteen-year-old girl to banish the ghost of a dead woman who hurt him beyond endurance.

He'd dissuade her of the notion, but the truth is so much worse. He doesn't think he'll get a do-over. He expects the same thing to happen again, just like the first time, expects inevitable betrayal and accepts it as the certain outcome of his entanglement with another Argent woman. At least this time there's no one else but him who's going to get hurt – he knows Allison can't be using him to get to Scott, if Boyd and Cora had been her targets she could easily have eliminated them herself, and there would be no reason to go through him if she was in it for Isaac. That leaves Peter and really, Derek doesn't give a fuck about what happens to Peter.

So it's only his own life and sanity he's risking getting involved with her, and that's not worth a lot, so he lets it happen, setting himself up for betrayal and destruction.

He's sure he's got the worst case scenario all figured out, but he's so blinded by the similarities between Kate and Allison that he doesn't see that Allison hurting him was never the worst case scenario at all. What would be worse – exponentially, horrifically worse – is the idea of people he cares about getting hurt because of him, because of his involvement with her. He's been so certain that it couldn't happen, has reasoned with himself that he wasn't putting his pack in harm's way.

Forgot to take into account the one other person beside him who might take the fall. Didn't even once stop to think that at the end of their story, Allison might not be the villain at all but the victim, and that's a mistake (another one) he can't forgive himself for.

Deucalion has a large hand wrapped tightly around Allison's throat, his claws digging into her skin. The other Alphas have formed a protective circle around them.

The sweet, metallic scent of Allison's blood hits Derek's nose and makes him feel nauseated. He wants to jump at Deucalion and rip him to shreds, but Allison would be dead before Derek even got a chance to sink his claws into him, so he stays put even if it goes against every instinct he has, helplessly watching as Deucalion buries his nose in the crook of her shoulder. Behind him, Derek hears Scott make a sound halfway between a growl and a whine.

Deucalion laughs. "Look at how worked up poor Scott gets because I have my hands on his lovely ex-girlfriend. Tell me, Derek, does he know about you and her? I don't see how he can't. She's practically drenched in your scent."

Under other circumstances it would make Derek wince, having Scott find out like that, but right in this moment he's too distracted by the thin trail of blood running down the side of her throat, disappearing into the neckline of her shirt.

How could he have been so stupid not to realize that Allison's association with him would put a target on her back? This is his fault. If anything happens to her, it will be on him.

"Let her go," he bargains. "You don't want her, you want me. Just let her go and I'll come with you."

Allison makes a move as if to shake her head, her eyes wide and panicked, but Deucalion's hold on her is too tight to allow the gesture. It doesn't matter anyway; Derek has made up his mind.

The smile Deucalion gives him is mockingly kind. "That's where you're wrong. I don't want you at all. But maybe we can come to an agreement after all. There's a way you can save Allison's life."

"Anything," Derek says, and means it.

"So eager." Deucalion chuckles, and his smile loses even the pretence of kindness as it stretches. "Good. There's just one little thing you have to do for me. Kill Scott, and your girl is free to go."

It feels like the ground has been pulled out from underneath him. Derek forces his claws hard into his palms to stop himself from pointlessly attacking Deucalion. He cannot win this either way. Even if Deucalion were to keep his word and spare Allison (and Derek doesn't for a moment believe that he would), she's going to kill Derek for killing Scott. If he refuses and Allison dies, it'll be a race between Scott and Chris Argent which of them will get to kill Derek first, and he's not even going to want to defend himself. He loses everything, whatever he does.

Scott steps up beside him. "Do it," he says, quietly but with firm conviction, and Derek wants to shake him and tell him that following Deucalion's order doesn't mean that Allison is going to be safe.

"No," Allison shouts, ineffectively kicking her captor. All it gets her is the hand on her throat tightening more, making her gasp for air.

Deucalion leans in. "Hush now, little girl," he whispers against her ear, and Derek can't remember wanting anyone dead as badly as in this moment. Not Gerard Argent, not Peter, not even Kate. If he had his way, he would slice Deucalion apart until there was not a recognizable piece left of him. "Decision time, Derek. Who's going to die tonight? Your girlfriend, or your wayward beta?"

"How about this," says a new voice from Derek's left. Chris Argent steps into view, gun trained on Deucalion. "You let my daughter go and no one is dying. That's a one-time offer, if you want to save your pack."

"Really? What a gracious offer, my old friend." Chris' ultimatum seems to amuse Deucalion greatly, and Derek can see why, because from where he's standing, it doesn't look like Chris is in any position to make demands.

But experience has taught Derek the hard way not to underestimate an Argent, so it doesn't really surprise him when Chris gives Deucalion a slow, cold smile and suddenly they're all surrounded by three dozen hunters bearing guns and crossbows. Deucalion is not smiling anymore, but he's not making a move to let go of Allison either.

"Give me one reason why I shouldn't rip your daughter's throat out right in front of you."

Chris seems calm, but he's standing close enough for Derek to hear the frantic sound of his heart that almost seems to want to jump right out of his chest. "Because you don't want to die. And you know that letting her go is the only way you can leave this town alive."

"Do I have your word, then?" Deucalion asks, and Derek wishes he could read his expression, could tell whether he isn't just as likely to kill Allison anyway never mind that it would mean signing his own death warrant.

"I promise you I'm going to let you go," Chris forces out through clenched teeth. Derek hears that it's not a lie, and if he can hear it then so can Deucalion. Chris' eyes briefly flicker towards Derek. "My men won't stop you."

There's a moment of tense silence that stretches on forever, countless seconds, and during every single one Derek imagines Deucalion pulling his hand back and slashing Allison's throat. Derek counts the heartbeats – Allison's, Chris', Deucalion's, his own – until Deucalion finally agrees.

"Alright. You've won this round."

He lets Allison go and pushes her harshly down to the ground, half-turning towards the other members of his pack around him.

Derek rushes forward, past Allison, past the hunters standing scattered in the room, and with all the force he can muster forces his claws deep into Deucalion's chest. He can feel it when they pierce the heart, and it's a horrible, frightening rush of power and righteous satisfaction. Deucalion gasps, blood welling up his mouth, and Derek can't believe that he didn't see this coming.

"I never made any promises," he growls, and it's an effort to even hold on to his human side enough that he can form words. "You don't get to threaten her and live."

He watches the life fade from Deucalion's body, stands next to him as he crumples and dies, and barely pays attention to the bloodshed around him when Kali, Ennis and the twins come rushing at him and are mowed down in a rain of bullets. The air stinks of gunpowder and wolfsbane, dulling Derek's senses. He loses some time, exhaustion and relief and the crash from the adrenaline high taking its toll.

The touch of a hand against his arm startles him, and he almost spins around and attacks before a familiar scent hits his nose. He turns towards Allison, who's pale and bruised and stained in blood, but she's alive and standing up and her heart beats strong and steadily. There are streaks of tears down her cheeks and she looks at him like she can't quite believe that they're not dead.

Right in this moment, he doesn't understand how he ever thought she looked anything like Kate at all.

Willing himself to ignore the presence of Scott, Chris and a room full of hunters with weapons that could kill him, Derek reaches out and pulls Allison into his arms. She comes easily, without resistance, letting out a tiny sob of relief when she sinks against him and hides her face in his shoulder.

They're alive.

Derek waits until Allison has recovered completely – physically, at least – before he breaks up with her.

It's not actually a break-up because they've never been together to begin with. What he tells her is that they can't see each other anymore. He's painfully aware that he's said the same words before, after their first night, and they were pretty much inconsequential then, so this time he gives her good reasons.

"The only reason Deucalion targeted you was because he knew he could use you to get to me. I can't risk that happening again. I can't put your life in danger like that."

They're sitting on Allison's bed, a safe distance between them, enough that the temptation to reach out and touch isn't overwhelming (only, it is – of course it is). Derek actually came through the front door this time. It felt bizarre and utterly wrong to be on the porch of the Argent house, ringing the bell, but he figures that after everything, he owes it to Chris not to sneak through Allison's window. He's a little surprised that the man hasn't shot him on sight. He didn't even bother to threaten him, just stepped aside and motioned for Derek to come in, looking more worn out and older than Derek has ever seen him.

Allison looks at Derek with an unhappy frown. "That's stupid and you know it," she argues. "I'm always going to be in danger. Even if it wasn't for you, I'd still be involved. Scott is my friend and Isaac is my friend and my family are hunters. I'm never going to live a safe, normal, werewolf-free life. The only question is whether in the rare moments I'm not fighting for my life, I get to be happy with you."

Derek closes his eyes and tries not to let the idea that she thinks she could be happy with him get to him.

"I can't lose any more people I love," he says, but he already feels his resolve wavering and his voice isn't as firmly forbidding as he'd like it to be.

Allison's face softens, and he realizes what he just said. "And you think I can?" she asks, gently. "That's what I'm trying to tell you. I can't lose you."

She reaches out to take his hand and laces their fingers together. Derek holds on and doesn't let go.