Universe: Teen Wolf
Character/Pairing/s: Sheriff Stilinski, Chris Argent (kind of sort of SheriffxChris, but only because it's convenient)
Spoilers/Warnings: Through S2
Word Count: 5,215
Summary: Companion piece to “Men of a Certain Age”- All his life, Chris Argent has lived the way of the hunt.
Dedication: Again for Sonia, because clearly she is my only TW old-man-love friend. (And I am clearly stalling on my novel again.)
A/N: I just really wanted to try a Chris perspective. This is probably way off base, but I can’t help the way I see him okay, I can’t. This is also unedited and kind of rushed, because it is past midnight now and I am sleepypants. In any case, I think I will call this the Grumpy Old Men series, because I am unoriginal and it's late enough that I think it's hilarious.
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.
From the moment Christopher Argent was capable of comprehending language, his mother and father taught him the ways of the hunt. To this day, he is convinced the only reason his training wasn’t started any sooner was simply because it would have been inefficient to begin at birth, when he wouldn’t have actually been able to take any of the things he was taught and put them into immediate practice.
In any case, the lessons of his youth were undertaken in the traditional Argent fashion, which is to say, rather than being confined to basic instruction on the acts of hunting and killing werewolves on the weekends while doing everything else (like growing up) in as normal a manner as possible, Chris was raised so that even the most mundane, everyday parts of his life all somehow became grueling, backhanded lessons that conditioned his mind and body to react to every situation as if he were fighting against monsters for his life. The endgame was to mold him into the perfect soldier, one who lived and breathed nothing but the kill. It was the tried and true method of the Argents for centuries, but even by these standards, Chris’s personal instruction in the ways of the hunt was particularly harsh, partially because he was a male child, but mostly because he was Gerard Argent’s only son. He was expected to follow without question in order to lead by example.
In contrast, the girls, of whom Victoria had been amongst, were all shuffled off to a private area of the encampment and taught to various play war games and mind games with each other over the years. From what Chris could gather, the girls were even allowed to form friendships amongst themselves during their training because of this, though only insofar as those friendships served to garner each individual girl an advantage over the others. They were the generals, the leaders, and pushed to constantly oppose and topple each other in order to become the best.
For how difficult growing up a hunter had been for Chris, he thinks that perhaps it was even harder still, for the girls.
In contrast, Chris was simply molded into a sharp-edged weapon on the anvils of Gerard’s particularly nasty training regimen, fired and forged a thousand times over alongside the other boys who lived and trained with him at the Argents’ main North American compound in upstate New York. Labeled worker bees at best, the male children were taken to the opposite side of the campgrounds from the girls and kept together like sheep, not learning mind games or war games so much as what it meant to be soldiers and to obey orders. Friendships were deemed unnecessary and even frowned upon for them, mostly because friendships bred loyalties to those other than their immediate commanders. The only thing that mattered for them was that they did exactly as they were told at exactly the time they were told to do it. A very clearly delineated chain of command was deemed the best way to ensure that these things would happen.
And so the boys fought day in and day out with countless different weapons in a thousand different combat styles, beating each other bloody time and time again while learning the most effective ways to subdue and execute the beasts of the night that would just as readily tear them, as well as innocent civilians, apart. They were told that the pain was worth it, that the misery and loneliness was a small price to pay for what they would eventually accomplish in the end. Their mission was to kill the monsters simply because they were the only ones dedicated enough to devote their whole lives to the art of doing so. And of all humans, it was only the Argents that struck true terror in the hearts of the monsters, because the Argents were the hunters who were most devoted to their cause. As the sole Argent heir for fifteen long years before Kate was finally born after him, Chris learned what it meant to be both a human weapon and to have the expectations of his weighty lineage resting solely on his shoulders all at once. Simply put, being the only son of Gerard Argent meant that he had to be a better human weapon than all of his contemporaries.
It was in this camp and under these constraints that Chris learned economy in everyday movement, saving superfluous things like words or emotions for less important moments and instead, relying on strength and speed to communicate what was necessary, what would mean the difference between life and death. He learned to stop asking questions because questions didn’t matter. He learned not to eat because it was tasty or read because it was enjoyable but to perform those tasks solely because they were necessary things in the process of hunting monsters. He learned to obey without hesitation, and to strike without mercy. He learned how to keep himself and his men alive while also accepting that it was okay to die in the line of duty because soldiers did that sometimes, as pawns on a battlefield controlled by minds and forces stronger than themselves. He learned how to streamline his own thoughts almost to the point of minimalism because he knew his own thoughts were not the ones that mattered in the end. He learned to take the straight line path to his goals because it was the shortest, fastest route, even if it meant bulldozing over whatever obstacles sought to preclude him from his destination. He has broken bones and broken laws without hesitation or regret in pursuit of his objectives over the years, simply because that is what they taught him to do. That is what they pounded into him over and over again ever since the first day of training up until the last day of trial, before his father callously threw him out into a world full of monsters all alone and without any resources, simply to see if he could survive there.
In those formative years, Chris learned that the most important thing about the hunt was the outcome. It didn’t matter how it ruined him or scarred him. It didn’t matter how lonely or desperate or mind-numbingly horrible living the hunt on a constant basis became, so long as he reached the desired goal in the end. More often than not that goal meant a body, and Chris slowly but surely learned how to endure all of the blood and the killing by thinking about the bodies his actions would prevent instead of the bodies he inevitably had to create along the way.
He also learned that he could in fact survive in a world of monsters this way as well, spending his twenty-first year through his twenty-sixth year hacking and shooting his way across the country in a lonely trial by fire. The prize that was waiting for him when he returned home was Victoria, because as the Argent heir (but only as a successful one), he deserved no general to lead him but the best general, and she had far outshined all of the other girls in her age group over the years, in both their war games and mind games alike.
Sometimes, on the worst days, he thinks he’d loved her simply because he’d been conditioned to – because he’d been expected to for the sake of the mission – but other times, when he sits alone in his living room and thinks about the home she’d made for him and the daughter she’d given him, he knows that it isn’t as simple as that.
They’d initially married because their union would build a solid foundation for their objective as hunters – as the Argents of hunters – as well as because it would ensure the continuation of a strong Argent pedigree. But when Chris had chosen not to give Allison that life, and when Victoria had, despite her initial objections, eventually capitulated to his wishes, he thinks it had been the first sign that their love was something more than just necessary.
He knows that he still mourns for Victoria even after all these years, and it has nothing to do with the fact that she’d been his best general. The raw, gnawing grief he feels at the thought of her is one of the few things in his life that isn’t motivated by his mission, and he uses it like an anchor to remind himself that he’s still human, that he’s not just like his father after all.
Allison is another of those things, and he thinks, perhaps, that his friendship with the Sheriff might be a third.
But even still, he isn’t someone who is strong enough to buck every facet of the training that he’d been so rigorously conditioned to. He’s still a soldier at heart, and his mission is still what gets him up and out of bed every morning, despite the fact that Victoria is gone and that Allison is thousands of miles away, learning war games and mind games in her spare time because it was her choice. (At least, he thinks, he gave her a choice.)
Simply put, there are still monsters to kill, and it is his job to kill them. This is what he does. That is what he has always done.
Chris knows that things like love and marriage and fatherhood have probably tempered some of his harder edges in this respect, while old age has smoothed down more of the rest, but he also knows that even after everything, he still occasionally finds himself falling back on those decades old lessons of his childhood, particularly when he is on the hunt, when he can feel his blood pumping with adrenaline and fear and anticipation. It’s second nature to fall back on what he knows then, because it still comes to him as naturally as breathing for all he sometimes wishes it didn’t.
In those moments, his vision narrows to a single point in the distance while his mind chants mantras of how it’s the mission that matters, the goal, the kill. Everything else is secondary. Sometimes, he thinks the way he was raised – the way he was trained – broke him as a person somehow, when it made him like this. But it’s all he knows, and he is too old to be fixed anymore. (There is a saying about old dogs and new tricks that comes to mind in these moments, and while it may be cliché, it is also, in his case, very, very true.)
Which is why he barges into the Third Annual Beacon Hills Police and Fire Department Charity Dinner Auction without a thought as to how odd it looks.
To be fair, there are higher stakes than his reputation as an upstanding member of the town on the line when he does it. Bodies will happen in the next handful of hours unless he can stop it. He has a goal in sight, and his conditioning has made it very difficult for him to see anything beyond the immediacy of reaching that goal.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff blinks down at Chris from the stage when Chris thunders through the Community Center’s double doors looking like a storm is brewing in his head. The timing is accidentally impeccable in the worst sort of way because the Sheriff has just been put up for sale on the auction block, looking rather uncomfortable in a well-tailored tuxedo while the Widow Truly Ambrose and the County Clerk, Miss Debra Wilson, begin duking it out for the honor of taking the Sheriff to dinner next Friday night. The proceeds of the winning bids will all go towards shoring up the old firehouse and buying new firefighting equipment for the protection of Beacon Hills.
“Eight hundred!” Widow Ambrose shouts with determination, while giving an impressive stinkeye to Clerk Wilson, who retaliates with a shrill, “Eight-fifty!”
The auctioneer looks buoyed by these impressive showings by the town’s embarrassed Sheriff. The Sheriff looks like he wants to be hung by the neck until dead from the overhead lights.
Chris, because he has been trained in the Argent way of economy and efficiency when it comes to the hunt (and, really, when it comes to life) doesn’t hesitate for a moment when he puts his hand up in the air before either Widow Ambrose or Clerk Wilson can again. He boldly declares, “Ten thousand,” in a voice that is clear and steady above the din. The sheer number of his bid (and possibly the dramatic timing) causes the entire room to go still and quiet as everyone who is anyone in Beacon Hills stares at him from over their plates of overpriced (and overcooked) chicken. Some of the stares are in surprise, but some of them are knowing in a way, like this is somehow a confirmation of all their suspicions.
Chris doesn’t care, because there is a cursed relic that the Sheriff has in evidence lock up, and while breaking in to the Sheriff’s Department to find it before it claims its next victim is something Chris would absolutely and unapologetically do if he had to, the fact that only a member of the staff will actually know where it is amongst all the other bags of evidence in lock up necessitates that Chris get one of the Sheriff’s Department staff to help him find it. The Sheriff, as an ally in the know of the supernatural, is obviously the most efficient choice. They need to burn the relic before the vengeful blood curse it is wrapped up in gathers the strength to strike again.
The Sheriff and Chris lock eyes from across the room in that moment, and the Sheriff immediately recognizes the look on Chris’s face and the urgency in his posture. He nods once, not flabbergasted by how this might look to his constituents in the least. It is why Chris is happy to have him as a friend, as his first friend. At this point in their lives they’re both too old and too battle weary to worry about the small things. They also happen to understand each other without needing many words between them. This is a relief, because, given the nature of Chris’s upbringing, he finds himself sorely lacking in the words department, at least in terms of words that are his own, that weren’t spoon fed to him from the Argent textbook of hunting things.
From there, the Sheriff calmly turns to the gaping auctioneer, who is as frozen as the rest of the room. The Sheriff clears his throat tellingly. “Steve?” he prompts, voice as steady as Chris’s. “Are you going to accept the bid?”
The auctioneer shakes his head sheepishly at the Sheriff and quickly resumes speaking. “Right! And so we have a very generous bid of ten thousand dollars from Mr. Argent, ladies and gentlemen! Do I have eleven? Would anyone like to donate eleven thousand dollars to the Beacon Hills Fire Department for a chance to go on a date with our elusive Sheriff Stilinski? This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, folks!”
Chris glares at both the Widow Ambrose and the rotund Miss Wilson from across the room, daring them to try and outmatch him. After a beat, both of them eventually sit back down and don’t make eye contact with either he or the Sheriff again. The hunch of their shoulders is defeated. Chris knows more than anyone what an opponent who isn’t going to get back up again looks like.
The auctioneer shakes his head a bit disbelievingly. “Well, all right then. Ten thousand, going once, going twice, and sold to Mr. Argent and his impressive intimidation tactics!”
The declaration prompts Chris to stride impatiently towards the stage while the Sheriff descends off of it looking relieved, and they meet somewhere in the middle of the room, communicating paragraphs to one another with just their eyes in a way that only one soldier can do with another. There’s a collective sort of pause from the onlookers as the Sheriff gives Chris a questioning look and Chris simply nods once. Then, to everyone’s disappointment, they turn in perfect tandem, clearly intent on walking out of the converted gymnasium together while dismissing their audience’s rapt expressions and clear expectations of some sort of romantic (and public) show of either open declaration or passionate reconciliation.
They almost make it all the way to the exit before the townsfolk can recover too, except that Desiree Zargari and a contingent of other ladies from the late Mrs. Stilinski’s neighborhood book club suddenly move to block their way through the exits at the last possible minute, looking as well-trained and coordinated as any battle-ready hunting unit that Chris has ever seen. Chris only knows who they are because the Sheriff has warned him about them before, on nights when Chris’s black SUV stays parked outside the Stilinski house for any number of late night emergencies. The group, from what Chris has been able to gather, is full of protective, gossipy women who can easily kill a man with good intentions from three hundred yards. They were some of Mrs. Stilinski’s best friends.
Chris tenses at the aggressive formation they make in the doorway, not because he thinks they’re monsters, but because it’s simply how he responds to any threats to his immediate safety. Looking at the five of them, they all suddenly remind him of Victoria when she smelled something fishy in the air and was determined to get to the bottom of it, even if things got bloody.
The Sheriff, kind of protectively, puts himself between Chris and his late wife’s friends. It is a thing, he’s learning, for Stilinskis to be stupidly heroic in the face of imminent danger.
“Sheriff,” Mrs. Zargari says by way of greeting, though she doesn’t take her appraising eyes from Chris as she speaks. “Leaving already? The auction’s not over. Dessert hasn’t even been served. Mary made éclairs.”
The Sheriff coughs. “Well ladies, according to Stiles I’m not actually supposed to have dessert, and given that my part’s over…”
Mary Dinelli, the local diner owner, aggressively shoves up in front of Desiree to interrupt. “We thought when you signed up for this that it was your way of sayin’ you were single again, Sheriff,” she says bluntly, crossing her arms over her ample bosom and scowling at Chris like he’s done something wrong. “You sure you want to take this guy back? I don’t like the looks of his eyes. Whatever he did that got you to break up with him the first time, seems like he’ll do it again.”
The Sheriff’s eyebrows dart up at Mary’s blunt assessment of Chris’s eyes and character. “We aren’t fighting,” he says. Then adds, “And I didn’t sign up,” while looking long-suffering. “I was roped into standing in for Deputy Hill at the last minute, Mary. Remember?”
Deputy Hill had been hit over the back of the head by a mugger behind the station this morning. Or that is who he thinks he was attacked by, in any case. In reality the attack was the result of a vengeful curse placed on an old gold coin by a murdered gold miner from the 1800s. The coin is currently serving as the pendant on a one-of-a-kind antique necklace, and had been placed in evidence lock up late last night after officers found it on a body in a dumpster. That coin needs to be destroyed right now, because Chris has since learned that anyone who touches the coin is scheduled for a messy death by braining in the same manner the old panhandler it initially belonged to had been killed by, when a rival prospector sought to take his gold mining stake by force. Anyone who has touched the old prospector’s gold since his untimely death is thought to be trying to steal it, and per the dying man’s uttered curses, deserves to die a bloody, messy death by angry blood magic.
There are three potential victims on the chopping block next, including the hospitalized Deputy Hill, who had only survived his first encounter with the curse because the Sheriff had been at the station doing paperwork on the body they’d initially found the coin on and heard the commotion before any lasting damage could be done. According to Chris’s men, the other two potential victims are the coroner and the Sheriff himself. Chris currently has two men each on the coroner and Hill. The Sheriff is his for the time being, but there’s no way to tell which of the three men will be targeted next. The quickest, most efficient way to end this mess is to set fire to that damn coin before the curse makes a decision either way.
Except now the five remaining members of Mrs. Stliniskis’ book club have taken it upon themselves to keep Chris from doing his job effectively. If his father were here, Gerard probably would have beaten them all over the head with his cane and marched out, then claimed senility afterwards by sweetly declaring that he had no memory of ever assaulting anyone in his whole life. Chris doesn’t have that luxury yet, despite how old he sometimes feels these days.
“Poor Deputy Hill,” the women’s book club sighs in the meantime, with genuine sympathy. Then they look at the Sheriff and Chris again.
“So then you two are actually… an item?” Mrs. Zargari asks darkly, and Chris wonders if this is what it’s like to be in a teen movie. He’s getting the old man equivalent of the cinematic parent-with-the-shotgun act that always seems to happen when someone is trying to date said parent’s child on screen. The five ladies in front of him must feel a heavy sense of duty towards their deceased friend if they’re this interested in her widower’s (however fictitious) love life so many years after her passing. “Personally, I didn’t believe it myself when all the rumors started popping up about you two all those months ago,” Mrs. Zargari adds as she narrows her eyes slightly at Chris. “You two don’t have that air of intimacy about you.”
“Well maybe we’re just shy, Des,” the Sheriff answers without missing a beat.
The women still look unconvinced. It is immensely frustrating.
But more than that, under the immediate conditions of a time constraint and imminent threat, Chris also feels his hunter’s instincts kicking in again, adrenaline spiking and heart rate rising as he considers his options. The objective is what matters. Everything else is secondary. The curse is slated to strike once every twelve hours. They are nearing the proverbial eleventh hour since Deputy Hill was attacked.
Chris begins to weigh his options.
On the one hand, he and Sheriff Stilinski could both take the time to explain how they’re just friends and then make up some convoluted story explaining why Chris needs the Sheriff’s help right now, to the tune of ten thousand dollars.
Or on the other hand, they could take the fastest, straight line route to reach their objective, and let the ladies come to their own conclusions (given that most of Beacon Hills already has).
The decision isn’t really a decision considering the first option isn’t actually a real one.
Chris is standing just behind the Sheriff as he reaches this conclusion, and as such, he uses the position of their bodies to his advantage by nudging his friend’s elbow with the knuckles of one hand in such a way that the women can’t see him do it. The Sheriff barely reacts to the slight pressure beyond a miniscule shifting of his weight backwards to say he understands the urgency of the situation.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the Sheriff who reaches out and takes Chris’s hand in his own first, twining their fingers together intimately without hesitation or embarrassment.
Meanwhile, it is Chris who steps forward so that they’re side by side, leaning into each other’s space.
The quick, dry kiss they share is definitely another instance of them both meeting in the middle. This ability to come together in times of crisis, in addition to all the things they have in common, is why they make such a good team. The kiss itself is just a brief, easy sort of thing, the kind of casual peck on the mouth that is so perfunctory it can’t help but suggest a deeper sort of intimacy all at the same time.
The result of it is all eyes in the room becoming openly glued to the two of them once again, and not on poor Lieutenant Prosser, who is left to flounder on the stage as his bid abruptly stutters out at an even three hundred dollars.
The book club ladies stare at the Sheriff and Chris’s entwined hands and the complete ease they have in one another’s space. This ease is more borne of the fact that they have saved each other’s lives countless times since the majority of the pack left for college, but if the ladies want to think their comfort with one another stems from an entirely different intimacy all together is up to them.
Which they do, if the fact that three of them turn a little pink in the face at the tableau the Sheriff and Chris make is any indication. Meanwhile, Mary Dinelli just snorts in crude laughter and nudges one of the blushers in the side with her elbow. “Told you they were on a date when they came into the diner last week, Beth.”
Desiree Zargari is the only one of the lot who still doesn’t look all that convinced, brushing long dark hair behind her ears like she’s going to get it out of the way so that it doesn’t get dirty when she attacks. She is clearly one of those women who can smell lies a mile away. “Does Stiles know?” she asks after a beat of just studying the two men. It is a weighty question, mostly because Chris knows that the Sheriff can never lie when it comes to Stiles.
Luckily he doesn’t have to this time either, not really anyway. The Sheriff just snorts in amusement at Mrs. Zargari’s challenging inquiry. “Des,” he clucks, completely sincere, “the kid has already bought us matching T-shirts.”
Something about the open honesty in the Sheriff’s fondly irritated tone when talking about his son’s antics must be enough for the petite Persian woman to accept it as an absolute truth, and she finally takes a step back, stopping the coolly judgmental look she’d been giving Chris through her impossibly long eyelashes this entire time. “Well, he always was a good kid,” she admits with a shrug. “And he only wants what’s best for you.”
The Sheriff nods, edges of his mouth curling upwards in the same way Chris’s does whenever Allison sends him something in the mail (usually different mixes of wolfsbane she concocted in the lab or old relics of his father’s that would be better put to use in the field). The look is there and gone again in a heartbeat, before the Sheriff draws himself up to his full height, as if he’s gathering all the authority available in the room on his shoulders like armor. “Now, if you ladies will excuse us? My date and I actually have some things to discuss. The sooner the better.”
The women part like the Red Sea when the Sheriff talks like that, and from there, the Sheriff pulls Chris in front of him and urges him to take the lead, either because he doesn’t know what the plan is yet or because he still has some misplaced need to position himself between Chris and the threatening book club they are turning their backs to.
As they shuffle out the doors of the Beacon Hills Community Center together under ambiguous circumstances (not for the first time), they also, however unfortunately, manage to catch the tail end of the town’s first stirrings of rampant speculation as it follows them out.
“I guess this is the part where they have hot make up sex,” Mary crows, just as the door shuts with a clang behind the two of them.
The Sheriff can’t quite hold back his snort of laughter.
In the parking lot a moment later, they disentangle their fingers without ceremony and Chris heads directly for the Sheriff’s cruiser, because he knows the police sirens can be used to get them to the coin moments faster. At this point, every minute counts.
“You figure out what went after Hill this morning?” the Sheriff asks, following Chris’s lead without question and going straight to business again in the span of a heartbeat. Chris understands this shift perfectly, and nods once in response, simply because it is the most economical movement he can use to confirm everything the Sheriff probably already suspects.
The Sheriff sighs once in relief at that and quickly climbs into the driver’s seat beside Chris, pulling irately at his bow tie with one hand as he fastens his seat belt with the other. Then he flicks his lights and siren on and turns the keys in the engine. “Where to?” he drawls.
“Evidence lock up,” Chris responds, before checking his phone for any messages from his men. There are none, which means everything is still okay.
Seconds later, the cruiser roars out of the Community Center parking lot and towards the station, the Sheriff taking the corners maybe a little bit faster than he should because he already understands the importance of finishing the job and getting the kill.
The two of them know the town will be buzzing with rumors and speculation about the nature of their relationship come morning, should the two of them both live to see it. Neither of them has the luxury of time to think about it at the moment, but Chris already knows that he doesn’t care now and that he won’t care later either, even when he has the time to. It has nothing to do with the hunt and therefore it doesn’t matter.
Chris knows he only thinks like this because the life he was trained to lead broke him a little as a person.
A moment later, the Sheriff looks over at him and grimly says, “You still owe me dinner on Friday.”
Chris feels a huff of laughter at the back of his throat when he hears that, and despite how broken he is, it is the Sheriff who reminds him tonight – in the same way that thinking about Allison and Victoria reminds him – of how there is a part of him that’s still human, still salvageable, underneath all the ruined parts of himself that his father and the hunt left him with. “Okay,” he answers somewhat wryly. “You can even pick the restaurant. If we live.”
“If we live,” the Sheriff agrees.
Chris smirks a little and leans back in the passenger seat of the cruiser as the siren blares in his ears and the flashing police lights blink in his periphery.
All he thinks about for the next hour is finishing the job.
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