Isaac Lahey is not a puppy. He knows how Scott looks at him, with concern and understanding and that painful edge of pity. He knows how Erica sometimes looks at him, how Boyd does, how Derek does when he’s feeling guilty. They think he’s some kind of kicked puppy; he can see it in their eyes.
He hates those looks. Those looks make him want to hurt them. Those looks make him want to lash out and scream and rage until there’s nothing left in the world but him and the shallow husk of his former home. He can feel his fingers tingle with it, can feel his jaws ache with it. Can feel his throat swallow and thirst for blood.
Derek tells him that it’s bloodlust. That it’s a natural part of being a new werewolf.
Isaac knows that it’s not. After all, this feeling? This bloodlust that hums through his veins, seeking an outlet? It’s been there for years.
Isaac is cruel. He know’s he’s cruel. He can see it in Erica’s face when he lets a comment go too far. He can see it in the fear suddenly reflected in his classmates’ eyes.
Sometimes, he tries not to be. There’s an urge, buried deep under years of conditioning and neglect, to do good. To be good. To sooth hurts and calm panic and comfort people at the most basic level.
His father’s voice in his head tells him that he’s weak for it. He tells himself he’s not. Derek doesn’t tell him a damn thing because he hasn't quite earned a place in Isaac’s private neurosis. Not yet, anyway.
He’s a victim. He feels like a victim. He doesn’t feel like a victim. He feels like there’s a compression in his chest, a dark cloud that’s condensed into a tumor and encased his heart. He’s not a victim of anything but himself.
There’s quote that one of the English teachers put on her wall. Isaac remembers it every time he closes his eyes. It echoes through his mind, and even though it was from middle school, for God’s sake, it still makes him angry.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Isaac wants to sink his teeth into Eleanor Roosevelt and shake her like a terrier shakes a rat. He hates that quote, and he hates the implied wall of blame behind it.
They always say, You have to believe in yourself. They never tell you want a load of bullshit it is. Quotes like that are an excuse to turn a blind eye, to flinch away from the real pain and suffering in the world. If you feel worthless, it’s your own fault. You shouldn’t have listened to the man who raised you, the man who beat you, the man who locked you in a freezer.
Sometimes he wants someone to take care of him. To come in and tell him that everything will be all right. He’ll get better.
(If he wants someone for that, he can go to Scott. Poor Scott, with his bleeding heart and his understanding eyes. Like he even knows.)
Hitting someone is a relief. Pounding and hurting and breaking. Expelling all the rage from his own body into someone else’s. Making them feel his pain, making them pay for his pain.
There is no defense to the act. There is no excuse. He’s knows it’s wrong as he does it. He slams into two human high school students and beats them into submission. He steals.
It feels good. It feels clean. Maybe later he’ll be guilty about it. Maybe later the bad will outweigh the predatory satisfaction seated deep in his brain. But now he just feels satisfied. They’ll be scared of him now.
Good. They should be.
“My dad was a dick too,” Scott says quietly. Isaac can hear him clear across the street. “I’m not—he wasn’t like— He was different from your dad, but. He was a dick. My mom was scared of him all the time.”
Isaac inhales and exhales. He neither agrees nor disagrees. A lot of people have dicks for parents.
“One time I had an asthma attack in front of him,” Scott continues after a long pause. His voice is shaking. That small, tiny part of Isaac that still cares about others twitches. He thinks it’s getting bigger, responding to having people in his life after so long. (Erica. Boyd. Scott.)
“He wouldn’t give me my inhaler,” Scott says, his voicing falling even quieter. “He just stood there and watched me, and I—I was dying, you know. It doesn’t just feel like it. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t do anything. He just kept telling me to tough it out, that it was all in my mind. That if I wanted my inhaler so bad, I’d have to crawl across the floor and take it from him.”
Isaac breathes. In and out. In and out. He remembers the feeling of confinement, the tight constriction of metal around his body. Like a coffin. Like he was already in his grave.
“What happened?” he whispers. He doesn’t know why he wants to know. Scott is obviously fine.
(Maybe Scott is fine in the way Isaac is fine. Meaning, not at all.)
“My mom punched him in the face,” Scott says frankly, and it surprises a bark of laughter out of Isaac.
He probably looks deranged, standing on the far side of the road and laughing his ass off at nothing, but that’s okay. Isaac is used to people thinking he’s crazy. It comes with the territory of actually, you know, being crazy.
It’s not crazy, it’s Post Traumatic Stress, that freaky guidance counselor says during their sessions, but Isaac dismisses her.
People only pretend to care when it’s convenient for them. Just last year, he was in her office because one of the teachers thought he was getting into fights. The bruises, you see. She looked right at him and didn’t even call him on his lies.
Some guidance counselor, huh?
Isaac Lahey is not a puppy. He’s not anybody’s project. He’s not anyone’s mission. He can’t be saved. It's too late to save someone like him, he knows. He’s cruel and unhappy and vengeful and mean. He tries to be better — sometimes. He wants peace, but he doesn’t expect it. He wonders, sometimes, how Scott turned out so softhearted and kind.
Isaac is what his father made him, and that’s not a puppy. An attack dog, maybe. A monster, even before Derek gave him fangs. People can try to save him, can try to fix him, but in the end, Isaac knows the truth: He’ll always feel that humming in his veins.
He’ll always be his father’s son.