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A House in the Countryside

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It starts with Allison asking her a simple question – simple but loaded after everything that’s happened. After the ghost riders brought her back, after Monroe started on a crusade against the supernatural, after Scott became the general in a war and their pack scattered trying to hold the front. But really, it’s simple.

“Did you still want to go to France?” is all she asks, but Malia’s lips part in surprise and her belly twists with the implications.

She can leave.

She can get out of this place.

She can turn back from this war.

“Yes,” she replies, knowing that their friends would understand. Allison’s lips curl with a bright smile, so dazzlingly bright that it shines light on a realization Malia’s been trying to hide.

Somewhere along the way, in the time between her resurrection and the war, Malia fell in love with the dark-haired huntress.

 

 

The Argents have a lot of properties in France. Allison goes through a list of them with Malia, explaining the pros and cons of each one as she shows her pictures. They span across the country, from the cities to the mountains. Most of them have been unoccupied for years and many of those have gone unmaintained for just as long.

Among those unmaintained properties is a former vineyard in the Gironde department, in the wine country outside of Bordeaux. They settle on it, neither afraid to do a bit of deep cleaning. Then book their flights with a twenty-four hour layover in Paris so Allison can visit Isaac. Malia’s heart sinks when she’s told but then Allison adds, “he said he’s dating a siren he met in Greece and to pack earplugs just in case,” and she suddenly doesn’t care.

Just as Malia predicted, their friends don’t mind. Most are told over the phone – Lydia, Stiles, Kira, Derek, and more. They don’t bother with a phone call to Peter but they do give Chris a heads up. His relief is palpable even over the phone. Scott is the one they get to tell in person, watching as he rides back into Beacon Hills on a Harley. He hugs them both and tells them to be careful. He doesn’t think many of Monroe’s people are in France but he knows they’ve been to England.

Henry Tate drives them to the airport. He gives Malia a bear hug after they’ve checked in but before they go through security. Their relationship hasn’t been perfect since she transformed back but she can see the love in his eyes. She tells him, “I’ll miss you, dad,” and emphasizes that last word because blood be damned – he’s her father.

The plane ride to France is long and tiresome. Malia is antsy at first, squirming in her seat and resisting the urge to sprout fangs and fur. When the three hour mark hits, the adrenaline drains out of her; her eyes droop, her head nods, and she’s out like a light on Allison’s shoulder. The huntress never tries to wake her.

Isaac is there to greet them at the gate. He embraces Allison like he’s afraid she’ll disappear if he lets her go. It’s only fair, she supposes – Scott and Lydia did the same when they first saw her. When they finally part, he gives Malia’s hand a hearty shake and then takes them down to baggage. They both raise an eyebrow when he leads them to a cherry red, luxury convertible and Allison slyly asks him, “did my dad buy you this?” as she slides into the shotgun seat.

Malia doesn’t miss his blush.

He takes them back to the townhouse where they meet the siren. She had been expecting an ethereal woman, one that sailor’s would crash ships for. The siren is beautiful, gold curls and sculpted features, but he looks at them like a curious fish and flashes a row of sharp teeth when he smiles at the wrong thing.

Isaac shows them the sights around Paris – he doesn’t take them to any of the big tourist destinations. They don’t stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower or walk beneath the Arc de Triomphe. He takes them to parks he likes to relax in, galleries he frequents enough to be known by name, and cafes where he’s tried everything on the menu.

Malia has to admit that it’s a fun day and, for as much as she’d initially been hesitant – jealousy flaring up red and hot – Isaac’s a good person. He’s snarky and tries to hide his fond smiles. When he drops them back off at the airport the next morning, he gives both of them a hug and tells them they’re welcome back whenever they like.

Paris is just a detour on their trip though; their real destination takes them through the Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport. They pick up a rental car, Allison speaking to the man behind the counter in flawless French. She smiles prettily and charms him into taking off the fee for renters under twenty-five. They pack their bags, plug the address into the GPS, and set off towards their new home.

Malia kicks her feet up on the dash and rests her head against the window, watching the buildings and nature flying past them. Allison turns on the radio, tapping her fingers along to the foreign songs. They drive through Bordeaux proper, stopping to get some coffee and pastries since neither have eaten a thing all morning. They take them to go and munch on them as they drive through the country side.

Eventually, the GPS tells them to turn off on a small dirt road. Malia sits up in her seat, downing the last of her croissant as she searches for their place. She’s know which one it is the moments she spots it, the stone walls and European-style roof immediately jumping out to her. The fields are overgrown with grass and weeds, not a grape in sight, but neither of them are here for wine. They’re here for peace.

Allison doesn’t even get a chance to kill the ignition before Malia is darting out of the car. The air is fresh out here, free of the choking pollutants of the cities. She closes her eyes and tilts her head towards the sky, savoring the sun on her skin. It’s a beautiful day in a beautiful country. Nothing she’s seen before compares – not the preserve, not Beacon Hills, not even Mexico.

This is home.

Of course, home is what you make of it. The inside of the house isn’t in total ruins but thick cobwebs hang from the ceiling and layers of dust have settled on every surface. Malia sneezes the instant they enter, eliciting a laugh from Allison that sounds like music. She turns to Malia, resting on hand on the werecoyote’s shoulder.

“Ready to start cleaning?”

“Whenever you are,” she replies with a grin.

They’re not actually ready to start; Allison has to run to the nearby village to get cleaning supplies and Malia decides to scout the outside in the meantime. When the huntress returns, they get to work; rubber gloves up to the elbows, pads on their knees. They scrub and dust and manage to clean the kitchen, a bathroom, a sitting room, and one bedroom. The sheets on the bed are a goner but someone in the village had been kind enough to give Allison spares when she mentioned where she was headed.

They also gave her a tub of food that they dig into in the kitchen. It’s cold by the time they eat but it’s still delicious. Malia savors it while Allison takes note of the appliances they’re going to need. A fridge and a microwave at minimum. The wood-burning stove can probably stay but a more modern one would be convenient. When she starts mumbling about toasters, Malia gives her a small kick and tells her, “tomorrow.”

They call their friends after dinner, talking to them one by one. Lydia demands to be facetimed so she can see the place and Stiles starts rambling about electricity costs which neither of them have begun to think about. Chris tells them to use the card he gave them and to let him know if they needed anything – more money or whatever else. Neither of them ask how expensive bankrolling three teenagers is.

By the time they’re done, they’re exhausted. Malia freshens up in the bathroom while Allison makes the bed. She’s underneath a red and white quilt when she returns, hugging a pillow with a small smile. She pats the bed beside her. They hadn’t talked about the sleeping arrangements but Malia doesn’t hesitate. She crawls in beside Allison, resting her head on the opposite pillow.

She freezes when Allison reaches out, placing a gentle hand on her cheek. The werecoyote relaxes after a second, soaking in the warmth of her fingers as she plays with her hair. She’s content with the silence, half-asleep by the time Allison breaks it.

“I’m glad you came with me,” she murmurs.

Malia cracks open her eyes. “I’m glad you invited me.”

A small chuckle escapes Allison. “Who else would I invite, silly?” It happens before Malia can even process her words. The dark-haired girl leans forward, brushing her lips against her nose. Brown eyes widen as Allison pulls back. “You’re the only person I want here,” she says.

Malia’s heart flutters.

Yeah, this is home.