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se protéger eux-même

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Allison knows who she is when she's six and playing hide and go seek with one of her friends. She's trying to find a good place to hide and almost stumbles in onto her parents' conversation in her father's study: her father is leaning his back against the desk, her mother with her arms crossed. 

"Men soldiers, women leaders, remember?" her mother's saying.

Allison has always been raised to go to the restroom with the figure without the dress on the front; short hair and dirty knees, even though she glances at the stockings and pink shirts every once in a while. But the way her mother says this - she knows that she is like her mother, even though grandpa and Aunt Kate have always told her, "You're like your father."

Men soldiers, women leaders. Allison knows she's strong, but has so much more potential than that. 

*

When she asks her mother if she can shop in the girls' section for the first time, when she tries on her first dress, her mother's eyebrows are tight but she smiles anyway. 

Allison changes her name to Allison when she's ten and doesn't go back. 

*

She gets breast inserts when she's fourteen and her parents adjust so well that they don't seem very confused when she asks permission. People start automatically using she pronouns and something swells inside Allison; no one looks at her funny when she goes into the girls' room anymore. 

When she's sixteen, she moves and gets her first boyfriend. 

Scott doesn't seem to mind when she tells him about her boobs. He's also the one who gives her a blowjob first because he'd insisted on it. 

"It's not weird for you, right?" he asks. "I looked stuff up, and I don't want to trigger your dys - uh - dystopia - "

"Dysphoria," she corrects, and smiles, looking down from her bed. "And no, it doesn't."

Scott's pretty good at giving blowjobs so it's a pretty regular thing between them. They switch off on penetration, too, and Allison's pretty sure Scott's the only boyfriend she'll ever want to have. 

*

Then the whole werewolf thing happens and Allison doesn't mind so much that Scott's a werewolf than that her parents expect her to hate him just because of their family history. 

"He's a freak," her mother tells her. "A monster."

And that insults Allison but only because he's her boyfriend, or apparent ex-boyfriend, and because he's also wonderful and who cares if he's a werewolf?

Then one night while Lydia's over, her great-uncle is too, from her mother's side, which hates werewolves with less of a reputation but just as equally as her father's family. 

"Who's this?" her great-uncle asks Allison, smiling. 

"It's Allison," says her father; and when her great-uncle continues looking confused, he clarifies, "Our kid."

"Our daughter." Allison's mother appears and puts her hands on Allison's shoulders. 

"You should probably know who your great-niece is," pipes up Lydia, which is totally unnecessary but makes Allison feel better anyway. 

Her great-uncle blinks, and then grins again. "You look different than from the last time I saw you," he says. "A lot more different."

As he leaves toward the dining room, her mother huffs and her father doesn't look at any of them. 

Lydia says, "Don't let it get to you," and holds her hand. 

Allison doesn't, even when her great-uncle actually has the nerve to bring it up at dinner. "So what is - uh - she anyway?" He looks at Allison, who focuses on her potatoes. 

Her father slams his fork down. "Excuse me?"

"I think you mean 'who,'" cuts in Lydia. "And we already answered that."

"Well he's not normal, is he?"

Allison stares at her potatoes. Maybe things would be easier if she were a potato. 

"She is perfectly normal, thank you very much," says her father. 

Her great-uncle chews, and then swallows. "It's just funny," he says, "you've been wanting him to battle and fight monsters when he's a little weirdo himself - "

Her father and mother stand up; but Lydia's already shouting. 

"She, she, you completely insensitive jackass! And what do you mean, fighting monsters, she's just trying to get through high school - "

"Let's go, Lydia," says Allison, standing up.

Lydia looks like she's about to protest when she notices that Allison isn't looking anyone in the eye. 

"Okay," she says, and they flee the dining room, as they start to hear Allison's parents scream. 

*

Allison walks Lydia home and doesn't talk about it. Before she leaves, Lydia tells her to shop it out. Allison laughs and says she will; but she calls Scott instead. 

He talks her through the night and doesn't even mention her watery voice and she is grateful for everything. 

*

But she hadn't expected Lydia to say anything; expected it to come as much of a surprise to anyone else. 

When she asks Lydia about it during one of their boyfriends' lacrosse practice, a week after normalcy more or less, Lydia shrugs. 

"I notice things," she says. "I didn't want to bring it up until you wanted to tell me, obviously, but then your douchebag great uncle was saying those things - "

"Yeah, yeah," Allison says, looking down at her hands. 

Lydia is quiet. "Sorry," she says after a moment. 

Allison turns to her, a confused smile tugging at her lips. "What do you have to be sorry for?"

"For bringing it up?" Lydia says. 

Allison shakes her head. "It's okay, I pretty much did anyway."

"What did he mean by fighting monsters, though?"

Allison is pretty sure that the werewolf thing is something not even Lydia would've noticed, nor take as well as this whole coming out as trans thing. So she says, "Nothing," and saves that for another day. 

*

Of course nothing is perfect, not even she and Scott. She has to break up with him because her parents force her to, and even stop hooking up behind their backs after they catch her and Scott, repeatedly. She spends half of a Friday moping about it. 

"You'll be okay."

Lydia comes into her bedroom the next day and drags her to go shopping. She says that "someone could fall in love with your smile" line, which Allison has heard so many times, never really took to heart. 

"I don't know," Allison says. 

"Well I know." Lydia's admiring a jacket as she talks. "You have a pretty smile, Allison."

"Don't tell me you'd fall in love with it," says Allison. 

Lydia looks at her and purses her lips. "I could," she says, before moving on. 

*

So Lydia and shopping don't make everything better, but they certainly don't make anything worse. 

And even though Lydia knows nothing about hers and Scott's full situation, she doesn't ask any more question; and Allison stays by her side, too, when after a week of being missing they find Lydia in the woods. 

"Told you shopping helps everything," Lydia says when they're at the mall again, after Lydia's first day back at school. 

"All right then," Allison laughs. 

*

When her mother dies, Allison feels more than like she's lost a part of her - she's never been like her father; always like her mother. 

She screams and cries and demands to be let into the ICU but her father drags her back. 

"Women are leaders," he'd told her, he tells her again and again. 

Allison wants to be everything her mother was, but at the same time she can't, she can't -

"I want to feel strong," she cries, she is strong, she is strong, but it's not enough. "I felt powerless. I don't - "

Being a girl had never been about strength but Allison still feels it inside her, her mother's blood. Her mother had been dominating and fearless; never went out hunting but could fire a crossbow almost as accurately as Allison. 

When Scott tells her, "Derek didn't mean to," and, "You don't know the full story," and, "You don't understand - " Allison pushes him away. 

"You don't understand," she tells him. 

*

Allison never doubted that she's a leader, that she's like her mother, even when she was six years old and playing hide and go seek. 

When everything is done, when Allison does know the truth and her grandfather is black on the inside, she and her father step back. 

Her father sits them alone. 

"I'm sorry," he tells her. "For what your mother tried to do."

Allison shakes her head. "She was trying to protect us," she says. "Nous protégeons ceux qui ne peuvent pas se protéger leurs-même."

Her father smiles. He kisses her forehead. 

"This is too much for you, isn't it?" he says. "Too much for us?"

Allison looks up. She's the one who had a werewolf boyfriend for months. "Is it too much for you?" she asks. 

Her father is quiet. 

"Maybe it's time," he says. "Time for us to back away from all of this."

"Maybe," she says, smile dimpling. His grip tightens on her shoulder. 

"Hey," he said. "I know you did good. I know it wasn't easy to - to fight your friends, or your classmates - "

"It was," says Allison, and then, "That's the scary part, I wasn't - I didn't feel anything, I know Erica tried to kill me before but I almost did to her too, and Boyd never did anything to me - "

Everything starts coming out in sobs and salt water on her tongue and she feels so stupid, so weak.

Her father holds her, rubs her back. "It's what we had to do before," he whispers, stroking her hair. "But we don't have to anymore."

*

Next year, Lydia takes it well, sort of, although maybe not the part where her boyfriend's a werewolf now. But it could be worse. 

Allison's on speaking terms with Scott again, and she's sure that she can find someone else who loves her the way Scott did. 

But meanwhile, she and Lydia go shopping and sometimes make out in her car now that Allison's single and Jackson's in London and Lydia insists, "He wouldn't care if he knew." Lydia likes Allison anyway, because sometimes she cups Allison's blouse or under her skirt and says, "You're the only girl I've ever almost slept with."

"Thanks?" Allison smiles at Lydia in the moonlight. 

"Really," says Lydia. "I mean, it's not an insult or anything, obviously."

"Yeah."

Lydia had started all this, running a hand down Allison's thigh one day when they just entered the car from shopping, and then kissing her neck before Allison could even start the engine. 

Allison would've asked about it then, but Lydia's touch is soft even though her body is sharp. And she'd kissed Allison on the mouth next, anyway. 

Lydia tucks a strand of hair behind Allison's ear, and, from what she can see, admiring Allison's profile. "I still can't believe you're a werewolf hunter," she says. 

"Ex-werewolf hunter."

"Mm. Very Romeo and Juliet-esque."

"I never liked that play," says Allison. 

"Neither did I," says Lydia.

"It was too dramatic."

"And this is better?" asks Lydia. 

Allison grins. She's all right in her skin here, with Lydia, her father waiting for her at home, civil hellos to Stiles and Boyd and Erica and Scott in school hallways. 

"It'll do," she says.