"Where do you think you're going?"
Stiles found it hard to hold on to his control. The funeral was tomorrow. Yesterday had been spent making arrangements. They'd never talked about it, but he couldn't imagine – didn't want to imagine her anywhere but beside his dad. If he couldn't have her alive in LA, this was where she belonged.
But that meant he hadn't been able to spend any real time tracking Michael down. Derek had gone with him to the Dive after the funeral home. Edgar was everything Chris said. Including ignorant of Michael's whereabouts. Stiles had even offered to pay whatever Michael owed him and it hadn't made any difference. Of course, the amount was far beyond what Stiles had on him. Hell, it was even more than Stiles had in savings and his mom had made sure his savings account was healthy. Edgar did give them one suggestion as they were leaving.
"I thought I'd check out that house Edgar mentioned. The burned out one in the woods."
Stiles didn't need werewolf senses to tell him Derek had major problems with that idea. Derek had been taking his role as Stiles' protector very seriously, but this had nothing to do with that.
"I don't think that's such a good idea. Have you talked to Scott?"
Low blow. Bastard.
"I haven't, but Melissa says he's still not acting like himself. She swears he'll be at the service tomorrow, but I don't want him there is he's just going to be the asshole he was the other day. I think Melissa's glad for the extra shifts she's had to pick up. Keeps her out of the house and away from Scott. I mean, how much of an asshole are you being if you own mother doesn't want to be anywhere near you?"
"Laura's happy about the extra money. You want some coffee?"
"No. You want to tell me what the deal is with the burned out house in the woods?"
Stalemate. That was why Stiles had had such a hard time learning chess. Learning the pieces and the moves was easy, but for the longest time every game with his dad ended with stalemate. Neither one of them could figure it out, but they kept playing and eventually his dad won. Stiles hadn't had the opportunity to beat him. But he didn't have the time or the patience to wait this out with Derek. It might be the move of a five year old, but sometimes when things weren't going your way, the only move was to upend the board.
"Fine. Don't tell me. If I'm not back by 3:00 pm, let Deaton know."
Stiles grabbed his jacket and keys off the back of the couch and body checked Derek when he tried to stop him.
"No. You don't get to fucking do that. You can't tell me nothing and expect me to just accept it. Burned out house in the woods sounds like a good hiding place to me. Hey, if you really want to help, chat up Kate Argent for a few hours. You might not get a date, but we can both be sure I won't get shot."
Stiles shook off the hand holding on to his arm and headed out to the jeep, anger and glorious purpose radiated out in waves with every step he took.
"You'll be trespassing."
He barely heard Derek over the blood pounding in his ears, but the stopped short when the words finally registered.
"I'm planning on killing a man and it's trespassing that concerns you. Awesome priorities there, Floyd."
Stiles thought Derek was actually going to break something this time as hard as he was clenching his jaw.
They stared at each other. It seemed like Derek had reached Stiles' level of frustration and Stiles was damned if he could figure out why.
Minutes passed before the fight drained out of both of them.
Stiles shook his head and turned back towards the jeep.
"It's my house."
The Argent McMansion was not what Chris would have chosen for his home if it had been solely up to him, but it hadn't been. He and Victoria had known Gerard would be moving in at some point. Far too soon for Chris's liking, but no one ever asked him what he wanted. Not when it came to the important things anyway.
But there was one area he'd put his foot down and by God everyone else was going to fall in line or they would really learn what the phrase "hell on earth" really meant.
There was no way his daughter was going to be a hunter. Not if it meant being like Kate and Gerard. Family loyalty ran deep in the Argent clan and sometimes Chris wondered if that was the only thing keeping him in contact with them. It had sure as hell stopped being love a long time back.
"Hi, Mr. Argent!"
Allison and her friend Lydia Martin bounced into the kitchen. It felt like bouncing to Chris even if it wasn't literal bouncing. It was nice to see Allison smiling.
"Hi, girls. Lydia, are you staying for dinner?"
She almost never did and certainly not when Gerard was there, no matter how good the food was.
"Actually, neither of us will be here for dinner. We're going out with Jackson and Danny. There's a new club opening in Hamblen and we thought we'd check it out."
Lydia was leaning on the counter, showing her cleavage off to its best advantage. Chris ignored her. She'd been flirting with every man she came across since she was old enough to know what flirting was. He had an idea of what her game was, but he wasn't interested in playing.
"Make sure your cell phone is charged, the car has a full tank of gas and get home at a reasonable hour. Text me when you leave the club."
"What? No lecture on the evils of alcohol? No statistics on drunk drivers? Not even an explicit 'be careful out there'? Who are you and what have you done with my father?" She bit into a Granny Smith apple, her eyes smiling while her mouth was busy.
Chris smiled back. "I am simply bowing to the inevitability of your advancing age. If your mom and I haven't taught you right by now, it's a little too late to start from scratch. Just, if something does happen, stay in the car and call 911. No matter what it is. I would lock you and Lydia in your room and throw away the key if I thought it would do any good, but it won't"
"That's very enlightened of you, Mr. Argent," said Lydia.
"What's my very enlightened of my husband?"
Victoria Argent came in and stood very close to her husband. She knew there was nothing to worry about. She'd never known Chris to even more than casually glance at another woman and Lydia Martin was still very much a girl. But it never hurt to let Chris know she cared.
"Lydia and I are going out tonight and Dad was not threatening to lock us in my room."
"My, that is very enlightened indeed."
"Ha, ha." Chris leaned down and kissed his wife.
"Ugh, let's get out of here."
"Bye, Mr. Argent, Mrs. Argent."
"I thought they'd never leave," said Victoria.
Chris pulled her close and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. He was so grateful for her. They had gone through a rough patch a few years back when Gerard had wanted to start training Allison to hunt. Chris had been against it. Victoria had been for it. She hadn't understood how toxic Gerard was; how much damage that man could do to their baby. They had argued for weeks. He'd finally resorted to explaining exactly why he had run for sheriff in in the wake of Deputy Stilinski's murder. He'd shown her the evidence that would have convicted Kate for his death, that would have implicated his father.
She'd been horrified he'd kept quiet. Victoria had fully embraced the idea of hunting when he'd told her about it, but she had also fully embraced the idea of the code along with the hunt. John Stilinski had never hurt anyone and Anna had served on PTO committees with her. There was no reason to target the Stilinski's. No reason except John's intention to run for sheriff.
Chris had taken a copy of the evidence to Sheriff Lansing. He had wanted to see justice done even if it meant sending his father and sister to prison. Sheriff Lansing disregarded it out of hand. Refused to even consider John's death was anything but unsolvable. Lansing wasn't a hunter himself, but he was one of Gerard's cronies.
Chris had had no choice but to run for sheriff himself.
"Are you going to the funeral tomorrow," asked Victoria.
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"If you want. It's grave side, just Stiles and the McCalls I'd imagine."
"Have you heard from Gerard? I haven't seen him in days. His bed's being slept in, but that's all I've seen."
"Day before yesterday I think. He wants Kate to come and visit for his birthday. Gave me the whole 'you never know when it may be the last' spiel. I hate to admit it, but he has a point. Not that he's dying, but no one ever really knows how long they have."
"Anna's death is really bothering you, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is. Michael killed her. There's no question about that. But something's just not right about the whole situation. Michael's an asshole and god knows he can be violent, but even at his worst he never physically hurt Melissa, so why hurt Anna? He has the means. He got the opportunity, but what's his motive?"
"He's not the most mentally stable person in the county. Maybe that's all there is to it."
"Maybe, but I just can't shake the feeling something more is going on."
"Don't worry. You'll figure it out. You always do."