FEBRUARY 22, 1944
When Scott was thirteen, his mother took him to see Gone With the Wind. The movie hadn't held Scott's attention because he had still been at the age where romance was something which only grownups worried about. Sitting in the dark of the theater, he had felt sorry for Scarlett O'Hara and everything she went through, and he remembered her weary grit at the end of the movie: "Tomorrow is another day." It stuck with him.
But after all that had happened since he had been Bit, Scott worried about tomorrow anyway. It wasn't a specific sort of worry, but a general nagging ache about danger lurking on the horizon. Perhaps he was feeling guilty because everything had been going so well for him and his friends, as ridiculous as that sounded. Comparatively, seniors whom he saw every day in class were getting ready to go fight the Nazis or the Japs. Unlike many of them, he had actually experienced extreme violence, so he understood what terrors they were going to face. He certainly wasn't looking forward to the possibility of being drafted after his senior year. But he had a long time before it became an urgent concern, though, as he wasn’t going to turn eighteen until October. Maybe the war would be over by then.
Still, as he walked down the hallways of the high school, he couldn't help but smile to himself. Nothing terrible had happened for months after the defeat of the Darach and the Alpha Pack. While Dr. Deaton had suggested that their ritual would bring supernatural creatures to Beacon Hills, rescuing Malia in October had been the only strange occurrence so far. Scott didn’t even count her recovery as a bad thing, since it had not only given them a new pack member, but it had also helped them come to terms with the immediate consequences of the ritual.
Since then, they had been able to live as normal teenagers, if you didn't count helping Malia adjust to civilized life, and even that hadn't been particularly hard. Some people might have thought that since she had spent eight years as a coyote, she would possess either the mind of a little girl or the mind of the coyote. What they wouldn’t realize was that she had actually spent eight years as a werecoyote; she hadn't been unaware of her own nature or unaware of the passage of time. In some ways, she was the most mature member of the pack as she had been exposed to matters of life and death for far longer than any of them, even the twins. The pack's task had been to help her apply what she had learned to human culture, which, unfortunately, frustrated her more often than not. She really did not understand modesty or chastity; Stiles had started dating her just to keep her from gaining a reputation as a loose girl. The first weeks of that relationship had been really entertaining for everyone in the pack but the two of them.
Scott chuckled at the memory but his humor quickly faded away into melancholy. He knew it was selfish of him, but he didn’t think it was fair that he was the only one of his friends who didn't have someone. He liked to tell everyone that he was completely fine with Allison dating Isaac; he thought he was doing a good job pretending to be okay with it when he knew he really wasn’t. They were happy together, and that was what was most important to him. It did mean that he'd be the only one of his group without a date for the Winter Formal.
On the bright side, at least no one was going to try to kill him at this year's dance. Hopefully.
Scott slowed his pace as he heard Stiles’ voice echoing from around the corner of the school's hallway. He had been listening for his friend, as he wanted to go over some math notes with him before class, so it was impossible to miss the anger that vibrated Stiles' voice. It wasn't his frequent humorous irritation; Stiles was truly angry and that always meant trouble. “Are you kidding me right now?”
Scott was startled to hear Jackson's voice answer Stiles. Jackson was being defensive, which was very strange for him. “Don't snap your cap; I’m just telling you what Lydia told me.” Jackson had reluctantly joined the pack, mostly because he really hadn't had much choice. Jackson’s parents had wanted to send him to London, but they had changed their minds when they heard the horror stories of the Blitz and the newspapers were reporting that the city still got bombed by the Nazis pretty regularly. “She’s just as angry about it as you are, but what can she do? Her parents are going to be at the formal; they volunteered to be chaperones.”
“We’ll figure something out. No one tells Scott this.” Stiles' voice implied violence if he was not obeyed. He may have been human, but he could be pretty intimidating when he put his mind to it. “I mean, did they actually say that?”
“No, I made it up.” Jackson sneered with exasperation. “It's what she said they said: they didn’t want her to be seen in public with that greaser anymore.”
Isaac laughed bitterly. “I’m surprised your parents haven’t said anything.”
There was a long, uncomfortable pause. Scott could imagine them all glaring at each other. Someone slammed a locker closed. It must have been Stiles, because he ground out another accusation. “Really? What do they say?”
“Like I care what they think of you guys.” Jackson answered hotly. “They didn’t notice when I came home covered with blood, so why should I care that they don’t like me hanging around you?”
“You’re avoiding the question, Jackson.” Stiles demanded furiously. Scott could imagine what his face looked like. Isaac seconded Stiles with a grunt.
“Whatever.” Jackson muttered. Another uncomfortable pause filled the air. Scott kept still so they wouldn't hear him; he shouldn't be eavesdropping, but he was curious. “You’re not going to give me any peace until I tell you, aren’t you?”
Stiles laughed. “It’s like you know me. Spill it.”
Jackson played it off as if it was no big deal; it's what he usually did when he was uncomfortable. “They don’t like me hanging around you guys, but I don't care. I haven't told them about ... things; I'm never going to. McCall’s mother might be okay with it, but I know them: they'd freak out. They’d drag me to every doctor they could think of, and it’d be all over for all of us.” Scott couldn’t see what was going on, but he could imagine it. Jackson had actually become worse at changing the subject since he started being pack. “You’re going to make me say it our loud, aren’t you?”
After a moment, Jackson sighed and continued. “Fine. Just remember, you asked for this. After all the riots, they don’t want me hanging around any Mexicans, especially one whose mother is ... a slut. They don’t want me hanging around Isaac because he lives with them and he’s a delinquent.” Scott heard Isaac’s sarcastic ‘no!’ in the background. “And they don’t want me hanging around you ‘cause you’re crazy. Happy now?”
“I’m crazy?” shouted Stiles, sounding crazy. “Crazy? That’s ridiculous.”
Neither Jackson nor Isaac spoke for a bit. Stiles suddenly blurted out: “Fuck you guys.”
Scott moved quickly to get there before things got out of control; Stiles had actually cursed. He wiped his eyes which had teared up for whatever reason before he went and then rounded the corner. “Hey! What’s the deal?”
“These two jackasses,” Stiles pointed at Jackson and Isaac. “Think I’m crazy.”
Jackson rolled his eyes and Isaac responded with an aggrieved, exaggerated sigh. “We didn’t say that, but you’ve been acting strange ever since … we know why, but Jackson’s parents don’t.”
Scott reached out and laid a hand on his arm. “No one here thinks you’re crazy, Stiles. You know that right?” He knew why Stiles had gained a reputation around town; everyone had heard about Claudia Stilinski. Few people had bothered to look beyond the gossip about her and because of that Stiles had become their new target. They equated Stiles, especially with his hyperkinetic disorder and other eccentric behaviors, with his mother. Things had gotten worse immediately after the ritual, when Stiles had exhibited similar symptoms.
Stiles grimaced. It always pained him, and he responded with fury. He wanted to keep lashing out, but instead he blew out an angry breath. “I just hate that word.” He did hate that word, but Scott knew that sometimes Stiles used it about himself.
“I know.” Scott offered a calming smile to the rest of them. “I’ve got bad news, though. I won’t be able to go to the Winter Formal. Gotta do something for Doc.” He hoped that Jackson and Isaac were so focused on mollifying Stiles that they weren’t listening to his heart. The lie-detection trick only worked when you were paying strict attention to the person talking. He also hoped they would interpret what he smelled like as disappointment for not being able to go to the formal.
Scott watched the telltale signs of relief and guilt flood over his friends. They wouldn’t have to tell him about Lydia’s parents. Jackson even turned around and said, without looking for him. “It’s not like we’ll miss you, McCall.”
“No big deal. Maybe next year, I’ll have a girlfriend.” He laughed out loud – a little too loud – and then went off towards chemistry. He didn’t want to see more guilt on Isaac’s face; he wasn’t sure why he had said that.
Scott had never been aware until quite recently, and only then because of all the riots, how strange it was to be one of the few Latinos in Beacon Hills - or, at least, one of the few who went to school. Of course he had heard the names they called Mexicans, but he seldom thought ‘Hey, they’re talking about me.’ He guessed the reason people were so sensitive right now was because of the riots in Los Angeles last summer, though, and maybe he was stupid, he hadn't thought it had anything to do with him. He didn’t even own a Zoot suit.
He sighed. There would be other formals, and while he knew Allison would dance with him if he asked her, he wouldn’t miss watching her come to the dance with Isaac. Just because he had stopped feeling betrayed didn’t mean he had stopped missing what they once had.
“Mr. McCall.” Mr. Harris's voice halted him in his tracks. It had been a shock when the chemistry teacher had shown back up after the Darach had been defeated. The pack had been sure he had been a sacrifice along with the others, and he still might have been; everyone could see the ugly scar across his throat. What had been more surprising was the change in his demeanor. He was no longer openly hostile to students, though he was still sour. Students still groaned when they got him for chemistry or physics, but the amount of time they spent in detention had dropped significantly.
“Uh, hi, Mr. Harris.” He turned to face the teacher, who was smiling widely. This sent a shudder down Scott’s spine. “I didn’t do anything!”
Mr. Harris smile got a tiny bit wider. Scott couldn’t tell if it was because of the fear the teacher inspired or some strange fondness Harris might have for him. After his return, the teacher's scent was always seemed fainter and a little bit off. “I know that. I happened to notice that you now own a motorcycle.”
“Yeah. It's a Harley-Davidson RL 45 that Stiles and I found. It was a wreck, but I put it back together last summer.” Scott wondered if Harris liked motorcycles. It wouldn’t be the first strange thing he found out about an adult.
“That's very industrious of you, and as a coincidence that happen's to be very good for me. I would like to hire you for a task that I need done. I'm working on a project with a friend of mine who lives near Mendocino, and I need someone to carry materials back and forth. I want you to do it; I’ll pay you forty dollars a trip. They will always be on Saturdays, and I'll usually need you to do it every week.”
“Wow.” That was a lot of money. “Thanks. I’d have to ask my mom, but …” He stopped. “I didn’t think you liked me.”
Mr. Harris stepped closer to him. “I may be petty and vindictive, Mr. McCall, but I am not stupid.” He touched the scar on his throat. “I may not have all the details, but I know enough to know that you have earned a little more consideration for your efforts on my behalf. You deserve this opportunity.”
Scott didn’t hear any lies there, and Mom and he could really use the money. “Okay. I’ll do it. On Saturday?” He would totally run it by Stiles first just in case there was anything that he should have asked about but hadn’t.
Harris nodded. “You know where my house is. Be prompt at 8:00 a.m., Mr. McCall.”
FEBRUARY 24, 1944
Lydia cornered him after school in the parking lot. “What's this about you not going to the Winter Formal?” She was wearing a boxy jade half-coat over a chocolate sheathe dress. It made him happy to see her paying attention to things like fashion once again. No matter how deep into the world of the supernatural Lydia got, the impression she made on the mundane world had remained important to her, and that was a good thing.
“I have things I need to do.” Scott said defensively. “It’s just a dance.”
“Scott McCall, are you lying to me?” Lydia smoothed her skirt with one hand. “I may not be able to listen to your heartbeat, but I'm pretty good at figuring those type of things out, and I don’t like my friends lying to me.”
“Why would I lie to you? You know it was gonna be awkward for me anyway, right? I mean, the last one was difficult for all of us, so why try to force myself to go to this one?”
“When did all my friends learn the art of deflection?” She scolded. “Yes, I know that it would be awkward. Last year was the absolute worst, but that is why this dance is so important! We can’t let this …” She gestured and he knew exactly what she was talking about. “… take over everything. And I want all of my friends there. Aren’t you my friend, Scott?”
“Of course!” Scott protested hotly. He looked over to where people were watching them. “Why don’t we go somewhere else and talk?”
Uh-oh. Lydia was giving him the you-think-I-don’t-know-what-this-is-about-but-I-so-totally-do glare. “Did my parents talk to you?”
“Huh?” Oh, no. “No, Lydia!”
“Are you not going to the Formal so I don't get in trouble with my parents? Because I can assure you that I don't care about that at all, no matter what my nineteenth-century parents think about it. They don’t get to pick my friends.” She grabbed him by the arm and pinched him with the other hand. “Scott McCall, you may be good at heroics, but you can't tell a lie to save your life. Look me in the eye and tell me the truth; I deserve it. You know how much I hate being kept in the dark.”
“Uhm.” Scott hated when he did things like this, but she was right. They had concealed things from her, so she deserved the truth, even if that made him seem like an idiot for trying to hide things in the first place. “No, your parents didn’t talk to me, but I might … have overheard something.”
“Do you so think so little of me that I would agree with my parents about you?” Lydia was furious. She squeezed his arm tightly with her hand. “You crumb!”
“No, I didn't!” Scott said lamely. “I just thought it might be nice for you to go to a Winter Formal without anything bad happening to you, like fighting with your parents or getting bit by a monster.”
Lydia clucked her tongue in annoyance. “You know they are going to take turns killing you when I tell them this. I am sure Allison will stab you at least four times.” She was smiling, but it was a sad smile, as if to say that this was their life. “You’re going to have to listen to Stiles for days.”
“You can’t tell them,” Scott spoke earnestly. “I don’t need to go to a dance for you guys to be my friends. I know you care about me; I do. You’re my pack. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you -- even not go to a dance so you don't get embarrassed in public.”
Lydia rolled her eyes. “You're such a chucklehead. Next time, ask me first before you decide to do something for me.”
“I promise. But I want you to have fun at the formal, and don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
FEBRUARY 26, 1944
Scott frowned as he walked alone through the city streets on the night of the formal. “I am definitely not fine,” he said to the air. It was freaking cold, and he was bored. He had neglected to tell his mother about not going to the dance. He did not want to make her have to lie for him to his friends, so he decided to get out of the house. It was very cold. Even with having a warmer body temperature than humans, he was freezing.
The streets were dark. Blackout rules were in effect, even though no one thought the Japanese would actually attack any more. At least that wasn’t bothersome to him; he could see easily.
“Way to go, McCall,” he muttered to himself. Finally, he decided to go to Derek’s old loft in the center of the city. Derek and Peter had gone with Cora to South America when it had become clear that Derek wasn't going to be able to avoid the draft for much longer. It had been the Hale family's practice to avoid human wars, and both Derek and Peter were 'legally' of draft age –- even though no one in the pack had any idea what their real ages were. They had left with a promise to return after the war’s end.
Strangely enough, Derek had been the one to suggest that the now-no-longer alpha twins use his loft. Scott had been amazed by this decision until a rather talkative Derek –- it could happen –- explained it in this way. “They want to earn a place in the pack? They want to make up for what they’ve done? Then I want them to wake up every day and remember what they did; I want them to see where Boyd died. I own the building, so it shouldn’t be a problem.” Before he left, Derek had given Deaton his power of attorney and given Scott a key as well should the twins become dangerous.
They had not, and Scott was glad for it. He was willing to let them try to redeem themselves, mostly because his pack had told him that they had changed sides before the climax of their fight with the alpha pack. They had also been seriously hurt in the battle against Miss Blake. It felt like enough for him to give them another chance.
After walking up the staircase, he knocked on the door. He would have called first but Derek had never had a telephone installed in his house. Derek's parents had been distrustful of telephones, and the former alpha shared their dislike. If he needed to, Derek would walk downstairs to use the payphone in the foyer.
Aiden pulled open the door, his face was grim. As he stood there watching Scott, anyone could see that he was tense and anxious, but he was trying to control it.
Scott decided to be friendly. “Nothing's wrong. Just visiting.”
Aiden frowned and walked away from the door. “Come in.” Aiden’s voice betrayed something very close to relief.
Scott came in and took off his jacket. It wasn’t as cold inside as it was outside, but any normal human would have been chilled by the room's temperature. “Is there something the matter?”
“No,” Aiden said carefully as if he was trying not to anger him. “I just never know when I see you if this is the day.”
Scott scrunched up his face. “What day?”
“The day you come to kill us.” Aiden shrugged and walked over to sit down on a chair.
Scott sighed and went over to sit next to him. “Why would you think that I might want to kill you? Did you lie about wanting to make up for what you did? Are you planning to attack us?”
“We’re not,” Aiden said. “Ethan and I mean it.” He seemed tired as well as anxious. “It's hard not to keep thinking that one of these days you are going to remember that we came into your territory and killed your friends and you’re gonna ask yourself ... why are they still breathing?”
“Can’t you just trust me when I say that’s not going to happen? We’re not like that.” Scott mentally added that he wasn’t like that. Stiles and Isaac were totally like that. “Where is Ethan, by the way?”
Aiden looked at him for a moment and said carefully. “Out with Danny.”
“Danny? I thought Danny'd be at the formal.”
Aiden snorted at him but studied the floor. “You really don’t know?”
Scott was totally confused about what he didn't know.
“They’re queers. I thought you would have sensed it.” Aiden shrugged. “Duke figured it out and had Ethan get to know Danny like I got to know Lydia. I’m sorry if we should have told you or something, but I thought you would have known. It’s kind of obvious if you pay attention.”
Scott was flabbergasted. He had known Danny for years, but he hadn't had any idea. He knew that men being with men was illegal and that it was against the Bible, but he hadn’t really thought about it at all. "Uhm. Sorry, no, I didn't sense it. It can be sensed? It … it doesn’t bother you?”
“I’m a werewolf; I don’t really care what humans think. It doesn’t make Ethan any less my brother; he’s still a better tracker than me and he’ll kick any of your betas' asses.” He noticed that Scott was staring at him. “Most born wolves don’t really think about it.”
“I like Danny,” Scott said slowly. “I like Ethan, too, even though you guys seem to think I don’t. So I won’t care either. It’s just hard to imagine.” He probably would think about it more when he had time. “So you’re just sitting here alone?”
“Not much to do. Girl I like doesn’t like me. If I get a real job or if I go to school, they’re gonna ask how old I am.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m twenty in human years,” Aiden shrugged. “But the Hales are right –- everyone knows that a werewolf joining the army is a recipe for disaster. It's hard enough if you're behind the lines, but if you get sent to the front ... ”
Scott listened as Aiden talked about the draft, but he finally realized was going on. Aiden was feeling trapped and lonely. Unable to leave; unable to stay; not really welcome in Scott's pack, not really welcome anywhere. Scott didn't want him to think like that. “I know you think that things aren’t going to change, but they can, and they will. Just keep doing what you are doing, and things will get better. You just have to work at it. Got any cards?”
Across the city, in his modest home, Adrian Harris was talking on the phone.
“Don’t worry, Dr. Woltzmann. The subject doesn’t suspect a thing; separate him from his little friends and he’s really quite stupid. But he is all that you need, I guarantee it.” Harris listened to the response without interruption.
After a minute, he rolled his eyes. “I trust that this will more than make up for the assistance you rendered to me, though I’ll be more than happy to continue working for appropriate remuneration. This town is going to see a lot of strange things from what I understand, and it might benefit you to have someone keep you informed.” The voice on the other end of the phone gave him what he wanted and Harris smiled nastily.
“Yes, of course. I’ll keep in touch.” There is a squawk on the other end. “Oh. Certainly. Hail Hydra.”