The pack first learned about Jackson when Danny stumbled through the forest and nearly collapsed on the Hale house porch after his escape. Then they learned, as soon as he could catch his breath, that Peter was responsible for their friend’s disappearance. It seemed only like it was maybe minutes after that when Derek let out a heart-rending roar and it was chaos from then on.
Despite not knowing the werewolves all that well, Lydia could tell that they were all very much on edge for the last two days. They’d closed ranks after Derek went after Stiles (at least that was the current theory). She took vindictive pleasure in the fact that Peter had been all but ousted from their ranks (although apparently without Derek there, it wasn’t ‘official’ or whatever the term was for wolf packs). Not that Peter being on his own made him any less dangerous- it probably sped up whatever plans he had in motion and that sent a chill down her spine even more than the more immediate threats.
The werewolves of Beacon Hill had never shown much ability to prevent Peter from doing exactly what he wanted.
Lydia had tried to get them to pay attention but they were all running around like half-rabid guard dogs. Scott patrolled around Allison’s house (of course). Erica was bouncing between checking in on the Sheriff or Mrs. McCall as far as she was aware. Danny found an excuse for Isaac to stay over at his house (granted the Mahealani’s were among the most relaxed and welcoming people she’d ever met so it certainly didn’t surprise her) and Boyd was shadowing her when he wasn’t helping Scott.
When Boyd called, she immediately slipped outside to meet him in her backyard, ignoring the way her heart fluttered. It was adrenaline and simply a physiological response to a stressful situation with an attractive male in her age range. That was all. She couldn’t gain anything by it. Still, Lydia let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding when Boyd stepped out from the shadowy arch.
She smiled as she greeted him, smoothing out the edge of her skirt absently. “How is everyone?”
Boyd seemed to relax when he laid eyes on her, his big shoulders smoothing out as he lifted his head, breathing in. “We still don’t know. Scott’s pretty torn up over Deaton and pissed off that Derek left like that. He’s been dealing with the hunters the most of any of us, I guess because of Allison so they don’t get antsy.”
She pursed her lips, tilting her head to the side as she watched Boyd’s face. She was surprised that he really did seem settled with that. “It doesn’t bother you?”
His lip twitched up at the corner. “Do I like it? Hell no. Scott thinks they’ll help us more now that Deaton’s... dead. He was human. We need all the help we can get- Erica and I, we ran into Talbot’s pack first. You don’t know what they’re like.” He shivered and shoved his hands in his pockets despite the heat, making Lydia wish for once she was better at comforting people. She had no idea what to say... and that made her feel powerless.
“Derek may have his issues- hell his issues have issues, but Talbot’s insane and he doesn’t care about anything except power,” Boyd went on, voice a little less rough.
“He wouldn’t be the first werewolf,” Lydia murmured, knowing that he didn’t want to really acknowledge the moment of fear for what it was. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I can understand that, I’ve lived by it actually, but being up close and personal with people who have trained specifically to hunt you down and have special ways of killing you seems... desperate.”
“We are,” Boyd agreed simply. He watched her face for a long moment, tracing it with his eyes. It made her feel... exposed somehow. Boyd was nothing like Jackson or the myriad of other boys she’d made dance to her tune. He wouldn’t fall for it if she tried to play with him, she was all but certain.
“You don’t have to stay. I’d leave,” She goaded, narrowing her eyes at him, disliking how out of control she felt under his steady gaze.
“You’re not,” he pointed out, calmly. “You don’t have to be concerned for us or help out Allison. There’s no gain for you.”
“That’s what you think,” Lydia lifted her chin, for all that it helped with her petiteness. “I have ruthlessly determined that, regardless of my own personal wants and desires, this town isn’t going to stop being a magnet to creepy, crawly things and if that’s true, I have to make certain I get whatever passes for an early warning. Forewarned is forearmed. And head off any stupid decisions that I can that would make this an even worse mess than it already is. This is pragmatism, nothing more.”
He actually laughed at that, making her huff. “Sorry, I just think you’re really cute when you’re trying to be tough.”
“Trying being the operative word,” a female voice butted in, causing Lydia to stiffen up. She glanced over at the entrance to her backyard to find Erica lounging against it, all tits and too tight jeans. That deserved nothing less than a scoff from the redhead, planting a hand on her hip.
“Trying too hard is definitely more your forte than mine,” Lydia smiled, narrowing hazel eyes. She felt a vindictive pleasure when Erica seemed to drop her smirk for a second. Although the flash of gold in her eyes probably should’ve told Lydia to stop while she was ahead.
The blonde stepped in closer, glancing up at Boyd for a moment. “I don’t know. You do seem to be trying really hard to get yourself a new dick to ride-”
“Erica!” Boyd stepped in, shooting her a stern look as he physically put himself between the two girls. “That’s enough. Why are you here?”
Lydia opened her mouth- she wasn’t in some wolf pack and she certainly wasn’t Boyd’s girlfriend but he anticipated her, holding up his hand even as he continued to look down at Erica patiently. Snapping her teeth shut, Lydia seethed even as emotions seemed to flicker over the blonde’s face. She was scared and lashing out, that much was obvious and she considered Lydia a threat to her status as queen bee. As well she should. If Lydia had been turned, she knew she would’ve had all this ridiculousness sorted out much, much sooner and running Derek’s pack herself (well, she’d let him think he was still running it of course, it was always so much easier to be the power behind the man in front).
Boyd narrowed his eyes as Erica gave him a tight lipped speaking look, flicking her dark eyes towards Lydia.
“Oh for- are you that petty?” She sneered.
“Not petty, wondering why we’re trusting you at all. You didn’t even tell anyone about your pretty boy being held by Peter,” Erica retorted, baring her teeth in a semblance of a smile.
That stung, sharp under her ribs but Lydia wasn’t the type to let the hits show. “Really? Are you that stupid? And which one of us attempted to kill the other again?”
“I was trying to doing Beacon Hills a favor,” Erica smirked before Boyd yanked her away from the redhead.
“You were trying to be queen bee and you turned yourself into a literal bitch instead,” Lydia couldn’t help but mutter under her breath, startled when Boyd shot her a long suffering look over his shoulder. She’d forgotten about the hearing- still her point was made even as Boyd escorted Erica out of the redhead’s hearing.
They spoke in low, urgent tones- Erica explaining something as she stepped in closer to Boyd. Lydia had always been good at reading body language- it helped to tell her who needed to be taught a lesson again about why she ruled Beacon Hills High- but despite what she expected, Erica wasn’t pawing at Boyd. She was definitely in his space, closer than a friend would be- her hand resting casually on the crook of his elbow while Boyd twisted his body towards hers.
Were they dating? Screwing around? That would explain some of Erica’s cattiness. What it didn’t explain was the fact it was making Lydia uncomfortable. She didn’t like the idea of Boyd being wrapped up in that peroxide blonde’s bad french tips and it made no sense. When he glanced back at her with a regretful expression, she turned away.
“Looks like it’s just you and me now,” Erica’s voice startled the redhead, revealing that Boyd had disappeared.
“Are you trying to intimidate me?” She arched a brow, crossing her arms over her chest. Erica smirked, ruby red lips a little too shiny and a little too reminiscent of blood for her peace of mind. Waving that off, Lydia moved back towards her house. “Where did he go?”
“Well that’s specific.”
“You’re not pack so that’s all you get,” Erica shrugged nonchalantly, smoothly moving to step between Lydia and the french door that led back inside. “But that does give us a chance at girl talk.”
Lydia snorted, rolling her eyes. “In what universe would I ever want to engage in ‘girl talk’,” she airquoted, a truly bitchy smirk on her lips. “-with someone like you?”
Erica’s face seemed to... ripple for a moment. Some emotion that Lydia couldn’t quite catch flashed there but was gone before she could react. Then she was being shoved up against the wall, pushed up on her toes. “Because someone like me wants to find out if your insides are as pretty as party decorations. And the only reason I’m not is because Boyd asked me not to. So, why don’t you tell me exactly what is going on between the two of you and we’ll handle this just between us girls. Kay?”
Lydia really wished she had some of that strange purple dust from her birthday party. She never liked to think about that time in her life, more nightmare than real life, but that would be very, very useful at the moment. Reaching up, she grabbed at Erica’s clawed hand pressing her thumb hard into her throat. “There’s nothing to tell.”
“There’s nothing you want to tell,” Erica replied immediately, stepping back to let Lydia drop back down. She leaned back against the wall and watched her with dark, heavily lined eyes. “You want him.”
Her hands fluttered up to her neck but Lydia threw back her shoulders, heart still beating wildly in her chest. “If I wanted Boyd, I would have him, simple as that.”
Erica laughed, actually laughed at her, brown eyes mocking. “Bullshit. Boyd is a guy you can’t use your tricks on. He’s smarter than that and he doesn’t like head games. The minute you start is when he’d lose interest.”
“I’ve dealt with many, many boys who said the same thing. Still fell for it,” Lydia shot back, sounding petulant even to her own ears. Then she waved a hand, narrowing her eyes at the blonde. “Why are we even discussing this right now?”
Erica shrugged, slipping into the empty Martin house. Lydia’s mother extended her vacation with Jean Michele another week- which made it simple for the werewolves to hang out, but rather easy for anyone else to get at her. Then again it never mattered who was there when Peter slipped into her mind, using her, driving her mad.
“Huh, your house has changed,” Erica pointed out, running her fingers over the mantel of the living room, coming away dust free. “Used to be in blues.”
“What? It hasn’t been decorated like that since-” She paused, brows knit together.
Erica’s lips twitched, expression bitter and weary. “Since... the last time I was invited over? Since your friends made me cry from the horrible, nasty things they called me? Since you didn’t say a fucking thing to stop them? Since you stopped being a decent human being and decided to be Queen Lydia Martin?”
Lydia locked her jaw, refusing to look at the blonde girl- although she could picture twelve year old Erica quite clearly enough in her mind. She’d been a little chubby, a little quiet, but always with a bite to her. Erica hadn’t been quiet out of fear or nerves but because she didn’t say anything she didn’t want to. Lydia had admired that, admired the kind of surety she’d had. Okay, so she’d known that Erica was white trash and her daddy wasn’t as talented as Peter Martin at hiding his skirt-chasing but she’d liked Erica’s company. Once.
“Is that what you came here for? An apology?” She demanded, tightening her fingers in her lap.
“Nah, I’d rather have the chance to see you crash and burn,” Erica smiled slowly. “I’d like to see you find out what it’s like to have nothing and no one. And yeah, I’d like to see it sooner rather than later. Wanna play more truth or dare?” she mocked.
Lydia pressed her lips together to keep from pointing out that it had already happened to her. She no longer had a boyfriend and didn’t trust the people she called friends. And she certainly did not trust this girl, with her severe issues, to protect her from another werewolf, especially one that was more powerful than she was. Lydia would do as she always did however, she knew how to put on a confident front better than Erica did.
“We’ll just have to see what happens, won’t we?” she smiled, turning to head to the kitchen. Lydia wasn’t much of a cook but she needed to eat something before she got back to her prep work. She certainly wasn’t about to let any supernatural weirdness affect her college career before it even got off the ground. So she pulled out the makings of a salad and put on the espresso machine, letting her brain work through a few more proofs that she wanted to assemble, hands chopping and slicing apples and fresh strawberries, dark arugula with the spinach and a little bit of goat cheese.
When she turned to put away the extra food, Lydia was understandably shocked to find Ms. Morrell standing in the doorway of her kitchen. Where the hell was Erica?!
“Um, hello Ms. Morell, how did you get in?” she asked sweetly, willing her heart to slow down. Lydia prided herself on being able to think on her feet but Ms. Morrell’s cool assessment of her left the redhead wary. Still she smiled when the older woman did, reflexively.
“It’s good to see you, Lydia. I’m glad that you’re not letting certain elements of Beacon Hills ruin your summer vacation. You do seem to be doing better than the last time we had a chance to really talk,” Ms. Morell pointed out, dark eyes intent. She stepped slowly into the kitchen and Lydia found herself taking a step back. She still had the salad held between her and the older woman but it didn’t make her feel any safer.
“I really am fine. Better than fine,” Lydia declared airly, waving a delicate hand at the air. Although she hadn’t expected to talk to Morell- she didn’t expect anything but shrieking and running from a monster really- but when opportunity presents itself, the smart take advantage of it. Derek wasn’t anyone to her, or his pack but Lydia knew that to be left out of the loop of this kind of stuff was still dangerous for her. If Morell was involved with Talbot, she needed to know- even if she was having a maddeningly inane conversation at the moment. “I’ve got the rest of the summer to enjoy shopping and sunbathing.”
“And studying hard for the SAT’s if you haven’t already completed several practice runs,” Ms. Morell smirked knowingly, eyes flicking to the nearby table where Lydia’s books had been spread out. The redhead started when the espresso machine went off behind her.
“Would you like a cup?” She found herself offering, surprised when Morell accepted it. The older woman watched her like a hawk as Lydia sipped delicately at her flavored coffee while Ms. Morell had hers black. Lydia’s heart thumped loudly in her chest and she was grateful that the woman across from her wasn’t a werewolf and didn’t know that Lydia knew what she’d done to Boyd- or attempted to. But what did Ms. Morell know? “Why are you here?”
Ms. Morell set her coffee down, clasping long, delicate looking fingers together over her knees. “For you. You’re a remarkable young woman- you’ve held up admirably given the circumstances. Being left out of things. Being shoved to the side, ignored until they all realized how vital you were. How vital you are.” Lydia’s heart was still pounding in her chest but it was nice to hear someone acknowledge it.
“It was stressful but I bounce back beautifully,” She admitted, voice a little hoarse and also quite neatly ignoring the Oxycontin she’d taken more than a few times to deal with her nightmares. Maybe more than a few times- it wasn’t like her mother was going to notice one way or another. “How did you know?”
Ms. Morell sat quietly sipping at her coffee and let Lydia compose herself again. “It’s my job to know. I’m not here as your guidance counselor, Lydia. I’m here talking to you about this because I am concerned. I see so much potential in you.”
“I know, I know, I’m far more intelligent than I let people see-” Lydia waved that spiel off, affecting rolling her eyes. Did they honestly think she didn’t consider every angle? Every outcome? Being the social queen of Beacon Hills High was far more beneficial than it chafed. But then again, if Morell thought she was insecure, able to be molded to her liking... well that was more information at her disposal than before. Whatever Allison or Stiles or even Jackson thought, Lydia wasn’t going to be a victim again and the best way to prevent that was to armor herself with knowledge.
“You are but that’s not what I was referring to,” Morell sipped her coffee. “Your keen mind is just the start of the power you can tap into. You’ve seen it. You don’t have to be weak or afraid. You can protect yourself, you can know yourself.”
Lydia’s brows puckered and she considered. Peter had used her to take advantage of... magic. Energy, whatever it was that didn’t sound like a ridiculous line from those insufferably boring tv shows about vampires or whatever. Magic was energy and science knew how to quantify energy. It could mold it, make it adhere to rules and predict it. Lydia liked it when things adhered to the rules of the universe. “What is your job? You never answered me.”
Morell’s lips curled up in amusement and she nodded her head, relenting. “It’s less a job and more of a calling as far as I’m concerned.”
“Are you a witch?” Lydia’s heart was pounding and she wondered if Morell would simply lie to her. She could. Lydia was alone in the house- Morell had done something to Erica or the blonde had simply left. Either way, Lydia had only her wits to keep her from being hurt.
“That’s one term. Sometimes we’re called shaman or healers. People who aren’t exactly strictly one or the other,” Morell replied, leaning forward from her more collected pose. “Or perhaps we’re just extraordinary in a different way. We have something that we can use to better the world around us. Make it bend to our will rather than follow along like sheep.”
Lydia smirked, “I can do that without suffering through an abysmal but no doubt slimming wardrobe of blacks and witch hats, thanks but n-” She stopped when Morell lunged forward, capturing her wrist in a tight grip.
“Would you like me to show you?” Morell stood up, yanking on Lydia’s arm to make sure she followed, annoying the younger woman.
“You know, I don’t think that this really applies to me. I didn’t even ask to be involved with all this nonsense in the fir-”
“Quiet,” Morell ordered, ignoring the offended look she received. She led Lydia out into the backyard, making the redhead arch her brows, unimpressed. Ms. Morell was pulling something out of her pocket, what looked like a small bag of some sort, smelling strongly of herbs and something like ozone. She lit it on fire, making it spark blue.
“That’s just it- you did ask. You asked when you involved yourself with Jackson. With the Argents. With Scott and his associates. These webs, these connections of your life, they can be used against you.”
Lydia opened her mouth to retort when she stopped, hairs pricking on the back of her neck. Slowly trudging from the shadows at the edge of the lawn was a man- no, it was a werewolf. She could see him snarling, gnashing intimidatingly large teeth and glaring out of unnatural blue eyes and he was dragging Erica’s unconscious body. When he stepped into the light she realized there was something wrong with him- he had only patches of fur on his body, the rest was skin or scales... it was Jackson. Somehow he was between the kanima and a werewolf and she couldn’t contain her gasp.
“This one here- your ex, your love, he is an animal that you can manipulate even more than you had been,” Morell circled around behind Jackson’s back, a proprietary hand dragging across his shoulders. “He is a tool to be used. The Alpha pack, they didn’t believe that Jackson was no longer a threat. They may have a point. He’s a threat if we make him one.”
Lydia wasn’t used to feeling so out of her depth. She had always been able to cut through unnecessary information and distractions and laser into the heart of any problem and thereby come up with a solution. She couldn’t here. She was lost- knowing that she couldn’t trust Morell but could she trust Derek and his... pack? Erica was on the ground unconscious and there was no one else here to help her.
“I... what do you want from me?” She asked, hesitant in a way that was unlike her.
“You don’t have to be vulnerable,” Morell offered up, almost gently, like she wasn’t going completely around the bend. She guided Lydia’s hand towards Jackson, his body oddly tensed up. “You can harness the spark in you- all it takes is putting your mind to work. I can teach you how- like right now, I can use the power you have inside of you to make him never be able to hurt you- that connection you forged with him is still strong. And eventually, with my help, no one else will be able to.”
Lydia licked her lips, eyes flicking from Jackson to Morell’s unnervingly steady gaze. “And what happens if I don’t let you use me?”
She glanced at the monstrous form Jackson was trapped in and then inclined her head slightly. “Then I give you a headstart. My hex won’t hold him forever and when he’s free he’ll kill us both.”