It all started with Scott and Stiles, though it probably would have taken Danny longer to notice if Jackson hadn't become obsessed with Scott shortly after winter break. Still, it was pretty damn obvious, mostly because what Scott and Stiles seemed to think was whispering wasn't even close. Danny shared four classes with Stiles, three with Scott, and that wasn't even including lacrosse practice, which meant he had more opportunities than he ever wanted to overhear their conversations. It didn't help that those conversations had rapidly become much more interesting than anything that was going on in class.
The first few times he'd heard the word 'werewolf' passed back and forth, usually followed by a quick glance around to make sure no one was paying any attention to them, Danny had thought it must have been code for something or that they were talking about a game or a movie or whatever the popular thing now was. Then they'd stopped saying 'werewolf' all together and instead substituted motions and veiled references that were incredibly obvious anyway, and Danny started to consider the possibility that Scott and Stiles actually believed that Scott was a werewolf. After some research, both Google and in the library's surprisingly well stocked collection of supernatural mythology, Danny was forced to consider the possibility that Scott McCall was actually a werewolf. And the worst part was that it actually fit with all the weird 'mountain lion' deaths that were happening in the town.
Danny watched Scott a little more closely after that and after catching a glimpse of golden, glowing eyes and claws that were quickly hidden away, he saw little choice but to accept that werewolves were apparently a thing that was happening now. That, plus the continuing suspicious deaths, coupled with the sudden appearance of Stiles' cousin Miguel - who Danny would have bet anything was also a werewolf, but he thought it probably wasn't polite to ask and his grandma had always raised him to be polite - and Danny figured there was some crazy stuff going down and he helped when Stiles asked. Just because he decided he would prefer not to be involved didn't mean that he wouldn't lend a hand when it wouldn't lead back to him.
After Jackson started oozing black goo everywhere and then swung between rage and zombie - Jackson was usually a combination of rage and carefully concealed anxiety - Danny guessed that Jackson had gone for the werewolf make-over and something had gone terribly wrong. He would have thought that Jackson had watched enough make-over shows with him to know by now that the change was seldom for the better, no matter what the host of the show would have everyone believe. Whatever had gone wrong seemed isolated to Jackson as a handful of other students at the high school suddenly showed up with leather jackets, super strength, and anger management issues. If Danny hadn't pegged 'Cousin Miguel; for a werewolf before, the miniature leather jacket brigade would have done it, though Danny wasn't sure what that guy's thing for transforming high school students was all about.
It wasn't until a werewolf related disaster started to enter Danny's social circle that Danny went on the offensive. Being left paralyzed and helpless on the floor of The Jungle was among Danny's least favorite experiences in his life thus far and after a very unsubtle questioning from Stiles, Danny gathered that Jackson was somehow involved. He dove into research again, though sorting fact from fiction without his own werewolf to check with left him applying logic and guesswork as best he could. A little asking around told him that Allison Argent had the right idea with the bow and arrow deal and Danny set himself up with some archery lessons at one of the local recreation centers. Archery was a popular thing at the moment, thanks to a variety of movie characters who mostly didn't even hold their bows right, and Danny spent the time he wasn't researching, practicing lacrosse, or out at the clubs, down at the archery range until he felt fairly confident he'd at least be able to hit something if it was coming right at him. It would have to do until he officially made contact with one of the people involved and learned how to better arm himself.
Danny didn't know for sure what exactly had happened at Lydia's birthday party. He remembered arriving at the party, giving Lydia a kiss on her cheek and noticing how unwell she still seemed, and mingling with the rest of the guests. Then there was darkness and he was lost. Alone and afraid it had felt like he'd walked for hours, searching endlessly for someone but only ever feeling warm sand beneath his bare feet and the crash of the ocean nearby. When he woke again it was close to morning and he was still at Lydia's house - apparently he'd slept curled up in the small space behind the couch in her front room. The memory of what he'd dreamed, because it had to have been a dream, made his stomach lurch. Being small and lost and searching endlessly for his parents on the beach had been a reoccurring nightmare of his every since he'd moved to California to stay with his grandma when he was seven. When he used to wake crying his grandma had always promised him that his parents were fine, that they'd return when they could, and Danny had believed her until one day he simply hadn't anymore. They were gone, they had left, and even if Danny's grandma couldn't accept that, Danny could. He was a realist, he accepted things as they were - even when those things included werewolves.
Later that day news started filtering out about Matt Daehler attacking the Sheriff's Department and then committing suicide. Danny knew there was more to it than that, though he hadn't caught that Matt was a member of the supernatural community Beacon Hills that seemed to be growing at an alarming rate. By the time it was all over and Danny had dissected the newspaper he had figured that pretty much everyone involved in the werewolf community had converged on the Sheriff's Department that night, though he could only guess how much the Sheriff himself actually knew at this point. The pile of obituaries that he could connect to the time starting when he first heard Scott and Stiles talking about werewolves made his head ache but Danny couldn't stay out of this any longer. He didn't want to put himself in the crosshairs of either the werewolves or the people trying to kill the werewolves, he didn't even know which side was actually responsible for all of the deaths so far, but he didn't want to stand by and watch Jackson die when he could do something to help.
And that's exactly what Danny did, standing helplessly on the lacrosse field while paramedics took Jackson's body away in an ambulance and any other person Danny knew for sure was involved with the werewolves disappeared within minutes. Danny had tried to talk to Jackson, sat next to Jackson and asked about werewolves and about what was wrong with Jackson, but Jackson would only stare blankly at him and eventually regain awareness enough to comment about lacrosse or about one of their classes. Jackson's warning to stay away from him the night of the state championship game had left Danny heartbroken and he'd wanted to press right then, at least make Jackson understand that Danny knew a good deal about what was happening, but there hadn't been time.
Danny had gone home and sat on his front porch, his bow on his lap and a quiver of arrows over his shoulder, and he'd waited. He wasn't sure if the howl he heard across the town was his imagination or if it had really happened, but he stayed there the entire night as he tried to imagine what the next days would look like without Jackson. There would be a funeral, there had to be, and then after that everything would go on like Jackson had never been there. Danny had done that with his parents, settled himself in his grandmother's home like he'd always been there because there hadn't been any other option, but he didn't know if he could do that with Jackson. He didn't know how to walk away.
"Danny!" a voice called, and it took Danny a moment to focus his eyes on the girl standing on the sidewalk in front of his house.
Danny stared at Lydia, his hands tightening around the curve of his bow, and he knew that she was hurting as much as he was. He'd seen the way she'd watched Jackson even after they'd broke up, how her lips pulled up in the faintest of smiles when she saw him before she remembered that she wasn't supposed to like him anymore. "Lydia," he managed to say, putting the bow aside and standing on shaky legs.
Lydia approached and took Danny's hands but didn't let him pull her into a hug. "Danny, Jackson's okay."
"He's dead. We saw him," Danny said, hating that he couldn't let Lydia lie to him.
"Jackson's fine. He was just," Lydia paused, struggling with whatever lie she was reaching for. "The hospital helped him. He's fine now. I'll show you."
Danny grabbed his bow, not willing to leave it behind when he was about to walk into whatever mess was left after Jackson's death and after whatever battles had been fought in the night. He climbed silently into the passenger seat of Lydia's car and let her drive them to Jackson's house.
"I'd gone to get us breakfast. Jackson's parents are still sleeping, they were up most of the night because they thought Jackson was gone," Lydia said as she parked the car in the driveway. She was already holding Jackson's house key in one hand, and now that Danny looked closer he thought he saw shadows of blood that had been washed from her hands but not scrubbed completely clean.
They walked up the stairs and Danny thought that there was something sick about this, wandering around the house of his dead best friend's home, and Lydia opened the door to Jackson's bedroom. "Look who I found," she was saying, but Danny wasn't paying attention, his bow hanging from his fingertips as he stared at where Jackson was sitting. Danny closed his eyes and willed himself to see Jackson's empty bedroom, but when he opened them again Jackson was still there, now standing.
"I'm okay," Jackson said, approaching Danny slowly, his eyes flickering to the bow and then up to Danny's eyes. "I'm really here."
In the end, that was what did it, and Danny stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Jackson. They were both shaking, Danny struggling to breathe properly as he swallowed around the lump in his throat. Jackson was the only person who knew that in the days after Danny's parents had gone Danny had thought he'd seen them still. That when the police had finally come to Danny's house, Danny had been alone there for days.
"What's this?" Jackson asked when they released each other, his smile tremulous as he tapped Danny's bow with his fingertip. "Been taking lessons from Allison?"
Danny shook his head and glanced to where Lydia was sitting on the end of the bed looking overwhelmed and exhausted. He knew exactly how she felt. "So, werewolves?" he asked, figuring he might as well get straight to the point.
Jackson laughed. "How long have you known?"
"Oh, about since Scott and Stiles spent most chemistry classes whispering about werewolves and what they were going to do about the full moon," Danny said, blinking away tears as he pulled his quiver of arrows from where they were slung over his shoulder and set the bow and arrows on Jackson's desk. "How long have you been a werewolf?"
Jackson looked at the clock on the wall and then over to Lydia. "Almost eight hours now, and believe me, no one is more surprised than me."
Danny shook his head and walked over to sink down on the corner of Jackson's bed across from Lydia. "What now?"
"You were always the one who planned everything, Danny. So, what now?" Jackson asked, sitting between them.
"Sleep," Danny said as he bumped Jackson's arm just to make sure he was actually there. "If no one is going to try to kill us in the next four hours, we sleep." With Jackson at his side, alive by some miracle Danny didn't think any of them had an explanation for, sleep came easier than it had for months.