Peter never could just go up to someone’s door and knock. He liked to know what he was getting into, which meant he liked to watch for a little while. Janet kept her hair short now. Before she had always let it grow long, long, long. Peter liked to run his hands through it, play with it, make strong ropes out of it that held possibility but no real use.
She lived in a little house on the outskirts of Oklahoma, so much different than the metropolitan scene she’d always loved. Peter had never dreamed of taking Janet out of the city. He figured their children would grow up running through the city streets, their bedrooms small and cozy in the penthouse apartment he, Jan, and Luke had been saving for. This house was wrong.
The small boy Jan lived with could only be her son. The color of his hair reminded Peter of Jan’s, dark, inky black. Peter didn’t get close enough to see the color of his eyes, but his skin was so, so fair. As the sun went down and Peter crept closer to the house, he heard Jan speak to the boy. She called him, “Luke.”
The name made Peter so unforgivably morose that he felt like he needed to destroy something. Something large and flashy, preferably.
After putting the boy to bed, Jan left the house by the back door, saying, “I know you’re out there.”
Peter stepped into the light cast by the house, letting Jan notice him in her own time. It didn’t take long. Her senses had always been sharp. “Could never get anything past you.”
Crossing her arms under her breasts, Jan lifted her chin at Peter. “You went missing six months ago. What took you so long?”
“You never came to visit,” Peter pointed out, leaning around Jan to look into the house. “I knew what Derek and Laura knew. I thought you were dead.”
“We thought they were dead, too.” Jan leaned to block Peter’s line of sight. “I read the news. You weren’t going to wake up. Why put-” Jan’s gaze flicked back toward the house. “Why put myself back on the hunters’ radar if you weren’t going to even be there?”
“No, no, you’re right.” Peter stepped closer and Jan stood her ground. “I wasn’t there. I was trapped,” he tapped his temple, “inside my head. For six long years. Can you imagine what that does to a person? Thinking somebody murdered everyone he ever cared about, and he can’t even move his little finger to get revenge?”
Jan rolled her eyes, which made Peter smile. “I’m not going to help you.”
“It’s already done.” Peter took another step forward, and another. “Do you want to know how good it felt raking my claws through Kate Argent’s throat? Do you want to know how much the investigator who ruled the fire an accident begged for his life before I ripped him apart? Do you want to hear about the criminals Kate hired and how loud they screamed when I burned them alive?”
Jan smiled fiercely, her teeth sharp. “Did you kill all of the Argents?”
“Sadly, no,” Peter said with a sigh. “Kate’s brother, Chris, is unfailingly good and my nephew wouldn’t let me step over that line. Did you know he killed me?”
“Little Derek?” Jan asked, her mouth curling down at the edges in an impressed frown. “And yet, here you are. Alive again.”
Peter shrugged. “Worm moon. Medium. It’s a long story.”
“Coming back takes its toll.” Retightening her arms around herself, she took a step forward, her bare feet crunching the autumn-dry grass. “You’re not the same man.”
“I haven’t been the same man since I found my husband in pieces, darling,” Peter said, throwing a flippant gesture that belied the lance of pain through his heart at the memory. “What’s a little death atop the pile?”
A smile tugged at the corner of Janet’s lips. “You always have an answer for everything, don’t you, Hale?”
“Perhaps. Right now I have a question.”
Jan nodded her head.
“Is he- is he like me?”
Jan’s eyes filled with tears and she choked back a sob as she nodded. “So much. He’s so much like you, Peter! I-”
When Jan opened her arms, Peter crossed the distance between them in a heartbeat. He buried his face in her neck, missing the warm blanket of hair that used accompany a hug from his wife. Peter breathed her in and found that, though the overlaying scents of her house and her new shampoo and even her new state were different, her underlying scent was the same. When Peter squeezed Jan tightly, she squeezed him back.
When Peter loosened his hold, Jan stepped back and, biting on her thumbnail, invited him in. Peter accepted of course. As she led the way through the back door and into the kitchen, Jan said, "I'd ask how you found me, but I'm sure I already know."
"Cora," Peter admitted, taking a seat at the kitchen table when Janet pointed it out to him. He smiled when she sat down as well. "She told me she ran away. That you wouldn't let her go to California."
Jan rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I mean, we got rumors about a Hale alpha, but that's all they were. Rumors. I didn't want to go courting danger over rumors. Not when I have-" Jan jerked her head toward the darkened hallway leading away from the kitchen, "-to worry about. I told Dinah that since she was eighteen, there was nothing I could do to stop her. But Cor-"
"Wait," Peter interrupted. "Dinah's alive?"
"She was when she and Cora stole my car," Jan said, pushing out her lips in an angry pout. "Couldn't even report it for the insurance without getting them in trouble, so I had to go buy another. Ungrateful little shits. You didn't see Dinah with Cora?"
"No," Peter said, a cold sense of realization spreading across his skin. "Does Dinah take after her uncle?"
"You mean after you or Keith? Because I've got to say, I see a lot more of Kei-"
"Her other uncle," Peter insisted, waving off mention of his brother. "On the other side."
"Oh," Jan said, her open mouth pulling into a frown as she nodded. "As far as I could tell without her talking to me about it, yes."
Peter swallowed nervously.
Derek spent the night after the battle with Kali trying to figure out what had happened to him. His phone said that the date was two weeks past anything he remembered. He’d lost two weeks somehow. They were just gone.
He’d never lost time before. Even after Kate and Liz and everything that had happened to his family. The only time Derek had ever skipped over was the time he spent unconscious, either knocked out, half-dead, or – rarely – asleep. But he hadn’t been unconscious for two weeks. He’d woken up on his feet, with Boyd’s claws headed for his face.
Things in his loft were different than he remembered, too. Books were in different places, his tube of toothpaste was almost empty. And clothes that he remembered taking to the Laundromat with Cora and waiting, painstakingly, for the wash cycle to finish? Those clothes smelled like he’d worn them for days, sweated in them, and even bled on a few.
One of his shirts, the soft muted green one, was buried at the bottom of his laundry pile, and it was splattered with blood. It smelled like werewolf blood, but it wasn’t his.
Agitated, Derek texted Cora at four in the morning. Where are you?
It took Cora less than a minute to respond. I’m with Boyd. Get some sleep.
While it was true Derek felt exhausted, he felt like he’d missed too much already. He didn’t want to sleep. He wanted to know what had happened. How had he ended up in a bowling alley, of all places, with Boyd’s claws in his face?
Derek was in the middle of rearranging the kitchen when Jennifer, bleary eyed and wearing a pair of Derek’s sweatpants rolled over several times at the waist, stumbled into the room. “Hey,” she said softly, pushing her hair behind one ear and approaching him carefully. Her hand rose up toward his temple, but she didn’t touch him. “All better.”
“I heal,” he replied, turning away and rolling his eyes at himself. “Sorry I woke you.”
“It’s fine,” Jen said, leaning against the short counter between the stove and the sink. “I have to get back on school schedule anyway. I start again on Wednesday.”
When Derek looked over at Jen, she gave him a tentative smile, which made him want to hit something. What had he done during the time he didn’t remember? Jen must still trust him. She’d spent the night. But did she feel the same as she had before? Or had Derek unknowingly done something that was going to make this fall apart?
Maybe it would be better if he just let it fall apart.
There must have been some hope hiding in his heart, because Derek told Jen, “I’ve been ... gone. For almost two weeks.”
Jen frowned, her brows furrowing. Crossing her arms under her breasts, she said, “If you’re talking ‘gone’ as in emotionally distant, well, duh. I noticed.”
“No,” he said, feeling the edge of his lip curl upward. “I mean... I mean, I don’t remember. Did I do something?”
Jen would tell him the truth, wouldn’t she? She didn’t have any motive for lying to him. And, for some reason, she seemed to have feelings for him. Anyone who truly had feelings for him wouldn’t lie.
“You-” Jen cut herself off, her mouth still open, but the furrow between her brows deepening. “The Darach. It had you. I never remembered afterward either. Not until last night. Derek, I-” Jen’s lower lip wobbled and her eyes watered up. Derek moved toward her, slipping his hand over her shoulder and down toward the small of her back. “I killed someone. I remember that now. Oh, god!” She gasped through a sob and turned against Derek’s chest, pressing herself into him. “There was so much blood!”
“It wasn’t you,” Derek insisted, needing to spare Jen the guilt that came with knowingly deciding to kill someone, even if that someone was a killer himself. “You wouldn’t have.”
“Two girls,” Jen told Derek. “They were both so young. So pretty. I- I didn’t let myself remember last night. But now? Oh, god!”
Derek held Jen tight and murmured to her while she sobbed against his chest. If this is what Jen remembered of her time being under the Darach’s spell, what could Derek have done?
As Jen calmed down, with the help of the glass of water Derek poured for her after getting her to sit down at the desk, he tried to think about how to broach the topic with her. Maybe he shouldn’t. She’d been through enough. He couldn’t ask her to relive the past two weeks, looking for things he might be responsible for.
Eventually, tucked back into bed with one of Derek’s books, Jen fell asleep. Derek stepped outside the loft doors and, even though it was still only seven in the morning, he called Scott. It took too many rings before Scott answered, “Derek?”
“I need to know what’s happened in the last two weeks,” Derek demanded.
“What’s happ-” On Scott’s end of the connection, fabric rustled loudly and Derek pictured Scott getting out of bed. A few footsteps later, Scott hissed, “You don’t remember?”
Voice low and unamused, Derek admitted, “No. I don’t.”
“Deucalion is dead,” Scott told him. “Kali killed him. She’s the super-alpha or whatever now. Aiden is dead. My dad knows about me. Um, I think...” Scott sighed. “Yeah, I think that’s about it.”
Derek disconnected the call.
Aiden had been one of the alpha twins. Derek remembered ripping him apart. Someone, someone other than him, had lured Aiden to the woods. Derek caught him by surprise, and without his brother. Their fight had been painfully short.
Derek couldn't remember much more than that. But he did know that he'd killed a person - a bad person, maybe, but still a person. He'd killed a person and hadn't had a chance to feel that loss. It was important, feeling the loss of anyone who died. But it was especially important to feel the loss of the people you'd killed. Otherwise you were just a predator, picking off so many sheep.
Derek bowed his head into his hands and said the words his mima had taught him. Derek remembered the feeling of blood and flesh on his hands, under his claws, and he said the words over and over. I committed a life to the ground. I give thanks I am alive. I ask the universe for balance.
That was how Stiles found him.
When Stiles woke up, it took him a minute to remember that it was Saturday morning (well, afternoon) and he wasn't ridiculously late for school. Scott's bed on the other side of the room was empty, and yet again it looked like he hadn't actually slept in it.
Stiles supposed that if he had his boyfriend living in the house, he wouldn't spend much time in his own bed either, but so far it had been a moot point. It would probably continue to be moot for a long, long time, too. Boyd's parents were really solid people. He'd met them once, when he and Boyd both had projects in the science fair. They seemed like the kind of people who would never, ever die, even in Beacon Hills.
On that cheery note, Stiles had to find some way of telling Boyd what he'd seen. Cora and the Darach had what appeared to be an argument, but it wasn't the sort of argument where you're about to tear someone's throat out. No, Cora had given the Darach some personal space, and both of them had gestured without striking. It was the kind of argument Stiles had with Scott when Scott left his dirty socks on Stiles' desk chair. It was the kind of argument Jackson and Lydia used to have all the time in the hallways about who got to decide their weekend plans.
Cora and the Darach were familiar with one another, or they'd done a damn good job of making Stiles think they were familiar with one another. He couldn't quite see the endgame of that option, so Stiles decided to put that idea on the backburner and go with the assumption that Cora knew who the Darach was, that they were close, and that they were definitely working together.
Stiles got dressed, found his parents sacked out together in their room, and Scott and Isaac nowhere to be found. They were probably with Allison.
Stiles gathered his things together, tied on his shoes, and went out to the Jeep. He gave her a friendly pat on the hood and got in the driver's seat. On the one hand, he really wanted to go confront Cora with what he knew. But on the other hand, he didn't want to be ritually sacrificed either. Even if the Darach wasn't killing virgins anymore, being one had to make him a bigger target for sacrifice, right?
Sitting there in the car, Stiles closed his eyes and tried to figure out what to do, where to go, who to talk to. He kept coming up with the same answer - Ms. Blake. Something about the connection they'd formed the night before felt like it was still there, tugging on him. It was annoying, to be honest. Stiles was a free man, thank you very much. If the price of getting to do awesome spells was this weird connection with his English teacher, Stiles was going to have to rethink whether or not it was worth it.
And then he remembered the feeling he got when things between them clicked. His hands turned on the engine and his feet worked the pedals. Stiles didn't know where Ms. Blake's apartment was, but he knew where Derek's was and that Derek would probably be there, keeping watch over Ms. Blake.
As he drove, Stiles tried to imagine what it would feel like, forming that sort of connection with the werewolf side of the equation as well. Stiles felt a little cheated that he hadn't had a good bond with Scott, but to be fair, Scott had a lot on his mind when all that was going on - Isaac, Boyd, Derek almost killing Kali. If he had made that connection with Scott, Stiles was sure he'd be heading toward Allison's house - Scott's most likely destination - rather than toward Derek's.
When he got to Derek's loft, no one answered the knock he gave as he stepped into the entryway. "Hello?" Stiles called out, walking further into the loft. There, sitting on the couch-futon-whatever, sat Derek with his head in his hands. Stiles' stomach dropped. He rushed over to Derek, kneeling in front of him, reaching to put a hand on Derek's shoulder, and asked, "What's wrong? What happened? Where's Ms. Blake?"
"Upstairs," Derek ground out between clenched teeth. "She's fine."
Stiles dropped his hands to his sides. "Then-"
"I killed that alpha. The twin. Aiden." Derek's confession came in clipped phrases, short bursts of air like something else might be lost if he said more than a few words at a time.
"You- Oh," Stiles said, sinking down onto his heels. He remembered seeing the pieces of Aiden's body before the authorities got there and covered them with blue tarps. The violence that had torn apart a freaking alpha werewolf had seemed senseless, and somehow Derek was the one who'd done it? "But-but you weren't yourself, right?" Stiles hadn't gotten the whole story from Derek the night before, but it was clear he had been coming out of some sort of Darach-induced fog when Stiles left.
"No." Derek laughed humorlessly. "No, I was better. The Darach took, well it took me, and what was left fought better than I ever have. It took me less than a minute to kill an alpha."
Stiles felt sick to his stomach. He inched forward and put his hand on Derek's arm. "Dude, no. I saw what the Darach made you do to Aiden. Nothing about that was better. Nothing."
A sound on the staircase behind Stiles made him turn around to see Ms. Blake coming downstairs. She was wearing what looked like Derek's clothes, and her hair was sort of in a soft halo around her, not brushed or anything. It felt a lot like that time Stiles and his dad stopped by Mrs. Bettendorf's house to pick up the retainer he'd left in her classroom, so he would have it over winter break. Mrs. Bettendorf had been wearing jeans and no lipstick and her house smelled just like her clothes always did and her husband had a beard and made gruff small talk with Stiles' dad. Stiles had left feeling confused and off-kilter. He felt the same now.
Maybe some of the unease was due to seeing Ms. Blake in bedhead and what amounted to pajamas. However, Stiles thought the rest of it was due to this urge to renew the bond they'd had the night before. The memory of Ms. Blake taking over, her eyes going white as she laid the smack down on that evil druid, made Stiles shiver. The shiver was about ten percent fear, fifteen percent awe, and seventy-five percent arousal.
"Uh, hi. Ms. Blake," Stiles stood up and wrapped his arms around himself, sitting far, far away from where Ms. Blake joined Derek on the futon.
"Stiles." Ms. Blake nodded with a stiff-upper-lip smile. She put her arm around Derek's back, which Derek allowed without protest. "You might as well call me Jen. It's not like there's much left of the student-teacher boundary here."
Stiles pressed his lips together. He was not going to get excited about being allowed to use a teacher's first name. He was almost seventeen years old, damn it. He- oh, screw it. Grinning, Stiles asked, "Really? Cool- that's- that's cool."
Ms. Blake, Jen, smiled and shook her head, rolling her eyes. Then she shifted her attention to Derek and the edges of her lips turned down, her brow furrowing. "What's going on, Derek?"
Derek shook his head and sighed before sitting up straighter and putting a hand on Jen's knee. "I'm starting to remember."
"Ah. Kind of a bitch, huh?" Jen replied, putting her hand over Derek's. Stiles suddenly felt very much like he should either be out of the room, or much closer to the two of them. He fought the urge to move in either direction and stayed standing a safe distance apart from them. "But at least I got her out of our heads last night. I won't let her do that to you again. Well, Stiles and I won't let it happen again." Jen smiled up at Stiles and he couldn't help but nod in agreement, a sharp flare of wanting to prove himself to her, to both of them, slicing through his chest and making his heart speed up.
Then a thought occurred to him. "Wait, 'her'?" Stiles asked. He knew Cora had called the Darach a she, but how could Jen possibly know that it was a girl? "Do you-do you know who the Darach is?"
Jen shook her head. "But I felt it, when I pushed the Darach out of my head. I know it's a woman."
"Shaky evidence," Stiles said with a nervous chuckle. "But alright. So, we've cut our suspect pool down from everyone in town to half the people in town. Yippee."
"At least it's something," Derek said, his voice weary. Stiles wondered if he'd slept at all the night before. Probably not.
And then there was the matter of, "I, uh. I have to tell you guys something." Stiles stalled for time, swinging his arms back and forth. How was he supposed to tell Derek, the scariest guy he knew, who had also just been freaking crying that his sister wasn't who she said she was?
"Yeah?" Jen prompted, scooting forward in her seat, which was probably the first time Stiles had ever seen anyone do that in anticipation of something he was about to say. It felt kinda nice, actually, even if it did make Stiles' cheeks warm.
"Uh, last night after the Darach ran off?" Jen nodded, but Derek just stared with this intensity that made Stiles lick his lips. "Well, I went to go find Cora, because you know, we're dating and-"
"Wait, what?" Derek blinked at Stiles.
Stiles blinked right back at him. "Me and Boyd and Cora? Dating? I mean, it's pretty new. Only a couple of weeks, and...you don't remember. Or maybe she never told you, or both." Watching Derek's dark brows sink lower and lower, Stiles assured Derek, "Look, not an issue, okay? I'm breaking up with her."
"Why would you do that? She seems like a nice person," Jen said, clearing her throat and tucking a piece of hair back behind one ear. Then she put her hands around one of Derek's elbows, like she'd hold him there if he decided to get violent. But seriously. It wasn't like Derek had a problem with Boyd dating Cora, why would the addition of Stiles make it any more date-like than it already had been?
"No, yeah, Cora's great," Stiles said with a nervous nod. He tried not to drop too much volume as he added, "She talks to the Darach like it's an old friend, calls it 'she', but other than that..."
"Where did you get that idea?" Derek asked, a growl coloring his voice. "Cora has nothing to do with the Darach."
"Oh, I only saw it with my own two eyes," Stiles argued, trying not to take a step back when Derek stood up and moved toward Stiles, getting in his face. Stiles couldn't help but flinch away a little bit, but he didn't let Derek stop him from saying, "Cora was talking to the Darach. She lied to me when I asked her what had happened. She's working with it!"
"Get out," Derek growled, still up in Stiles' face, pointing his hand toward the door. "Get out of here, Stiles."
"But it's the truth!"
Derek feinted at Stiles, so Stiles couldn't help but let out a soft exclamation. And then Jen stood between them, her back to Stiles. Her entire presence made Stiles feel like all the hair on his arms was standing on end, reaching toward her. Stiles put a hand over Jen's when she wrapped her hands around his arm and started tugging him toward the door. Her hand felt warm and tingly under his.
"You guys have to believe me!"
"Later," Jen said as she pulled Stiles out of the loft. She looked down at their linked hands and shook her head. "We'll cover all of this again later. After we all," her eyes flicked back toward Derek, "get some rest and some time."
Jen pulled her hand away like it was just as difficult for her as for him. It felt wrong, being out of contact, but it also felt hella awkward asking to hold hands with his English teacher.
Stiles waved goodbye and then stuck his hands in his pockets. He left, hoping some of his message had gotten through. If Cora and the Darach were working together, the local alpha werewolf needed to know about it.
Jen watched Stiles leave, ignoring the urge to call out to him, to stop him from leaving. Instead, she turned back to face Derek, whose frown had grown even deeper.
Derek pointed toward the door. "He's wrong. Cora doesn't have anything to do with this."
Jen wanted to argue the point, but she figured there were better times to broach the subject. They were both still reeling from having the Darach in their heads. Jen had only been under her spell a few times over the past few months. The druid had made Jen do awful things, but she had to imagine it was different for Derek. He'd been under the Darach's spell for almost two weeks. Losing that much of your life had to be devastating.
"Of course not," Jen assured him, approaching carefully. She didn't think Derek would ever hurt her, but she knew better than to be careless around men who were very strong. "Stiles must have seen wrong. He's- he's a little paranoid, right?"
Derek's frown softened most of the way and he scoffed. "Yeah."
A while later, after Derek had wandered off, probably to go brood, Jen left the loft. When she got down to the parking area out back, she couldn’t tell if she was saddened or relieved to see that Stiles’ Jeep was gone. Probably relieved. She should feel relieved, but she didn’t really want to unpack her mixed feelings, so she ignored them. Her therapist wouldn’t be happy, but it wasn’t like Jen could tell the woman that she had what amounted to a mystical bond with a teenage boy. Yeah, she might get committed for her own good if she admitted that.
Right now, Jen wasn’t so much worried about herself (as laughable as that state of affairs was), but about all the young people who had been there the night before. Maybe she put too many maternal feelings into her role as their teacher, but Jen couldn’t help but wonder about their welfare. She especially wanted to talk to one young woman.
It wasn’t Derek’s sister, who still hadn’t made an appearance at the loft, but texted back that she was fine and with Boyd every time Derek contacted her. To be honest, Cora made Jen uneasy. Maybe she just wasn’t used to young girls being so powerful, in which case Jen didn’t like her fear of Cora at all. Or maybe it was something else, something having to do with what Stiles had seen the night before.
No, Jen left the loft and drove toward where he records told her Lydia Martin lived.
When she got there, Jen knocked on the door, and was greeted by a slim middle-aged woman with blonde hair and big eyes. “Can I help you?” Jen noticed the woman’s designer clothes, her numerous rings, and how she wore just a touch too much makeup for a week day, nevermind a Sunday afternoon.
“Uh, hi,” Jen said, sticking her hand toward the woman. “My name is Jennifer Blake. I’m Lydia’s English teacher.”
Furrowing her brow, the woman took Jen’s hand and shook it. “Lydia’s English teacher? What’s going on?”
“I just-” Jen realized that perhaps she should have come here with a better excuse than wanting to have a chat with this woman’s daughter. Then Jen remembered reading Lydia’s last term paper. “Um. Well, Lydia turned in a very well reasoned and advanced essay, and I’d like to talk to her about her plans for college. Maybe sway her toward the liberal arts. I would just talk to her at school, but you know what a heavy course load she’s taking. She said it was okay for me to stop by...”
“Oh!” the woman smiled brightly and stepped aside to let Jen into the house. “Well, we do know that our Lydia can be too smart for her own good sometimes.”
“No such thing,” Jen insisted with a laugh. She knew plenty of parents, especially from the last school at which she taught, who stifled their children’s academic pursuits, rather than encouraged them. Jen hated the attitude, but she also hated getting fired, so she toed the line as best she could.
Lydia walked into the foyer then, a very expensive-looking water glass in her hand. “Oh, Ms. Blake.”
“I’m here to have that talk about college,” Jen said, giving Lydia a significant look. Thankfully, Lydia caught on quickly with a sharp nod.
“Oh. College. Right. Let’s go into the living room.” Turning to the woman, Lydia took on an almost dismissive tone. “Thank you, Mima. I’ve got it from here.”
The blonde woman looked a little surprised, but she nodded and wandered away toward the back of the house while Lydia ushered Jen into the living room and pointed her at a huge overstuffed couch. Lydia sat in the high-backed chair across from the couch, tucking her feet underneath her. “What’s this actually about?”
“Last night.” Jen watched Lydia’s expression as she stuck out her chin and nodded. “I wanted to see if you’re doing okay.”
A little too quickly, Lydia said, “I’m fine.”
“Derek and I both started to remember,” Jen told Lydia, watching her eyes dart sideways. “You-you haven’t remembered anything about being...”
“About being what? Robbed of my free will? Made to do horrible things to very nice people? To people who were sweet and- and called me pretty?” Lydia blinked a few times and sat up straighter, her voice hard and clear. “No. I don’t remember anything of the sort.”
“The boy in the pool?” Jen asked gently. Of all the people the Darach had sacrificed, there were only a few Jen couldn’t remember being involved with. The boy found at the pool was one of them.
“He was in the lifeguard’s chair,” Lydia corrected, her gaze drifting off past Jen’s face to a thousand yards beyond. “I convinced him to get up there before I slit his throat. He thought it was a game.”
Jen got out of her seat and kneeled in front of Lydia instead. She wanted to reach out and touch Lydia’s hand or something, but Jen wasn’t sure her touch would be appreciated, so she kept her hands to herself. “That wasn’t you, Lydia. It was her.”
"Her. We know who she is?"
Jen explained what she knew about the Darach from their limited interaction the night before. "It took Stiles' and Scott's help, but I knew how to get her out. It was a lot like ignoring the voices."
"The, um, voices?" Lydia asked, running her fingernail along the upholstery of her chair.
Jen noticed the way Lydia wouldn't meet her eyes. "I know you hear them. The ghosts. You're a Medium. Like I am, Lydia. Deaton said so."
Rolling her eyes, Lydia huffed. "And everything Deaton says is true?"
Lydia clenched her teeth and sighed through her nose, taking a long moment of silence. Finally, she met Jen's eyes. "You can control this? You can do something with it other than hear horrible things day in and day out?"
"I think so," Jen said. "Yes."
"Can you teach me what you did last night? How you made the Darach release me? I don't- I hate not knowing. What I've done. Where I've been. I hate it."
"I-I wouldn't know how to explain it," Jen admitted. When Lydia's eyes widened even as the furrow between her brows grew deeper, Jen hastily added, "But I'm sure we can figure it out. Deaton says it takes practice."
Nodding, Lydia recrossed her legs. "Can I get rid of Peter, too?"
"Get rid of...?"
"The werewolf who bit me. He's. Still. In. My. Head." Leaning forward, Lydia dropped her voice and kept her eyes on the floor as she whispered. "He's still in my dreams."
"Um. I really don't know much more about this than you do, Lydia." She stood up and went back to the couch, putting some distance between them.
Lydia looked Jen up and down and she felt like she was being judged. And had come up short. "You have the dreams too, don't you?"
Jen's first instinct was to lie, but what was the point? She'd come here today to check in on Lydia, but also to finally connect with someone who was, in this aspect at least, the same as Jen. Lying was counterproductive. "Every night. I see him dying. I see him sick after he bit me. I see him young, and not-so-young. It's like when he bit me," Jen rubbed her waist, "he left behind a piece of his soul."
"Deucalion got sick when he bit you." Lydia wasn't asking a question, but stating a fact. "The same didn't happen to Peter. What was the variable?"
"I'm...older?" Jen laughed. "Maybe I'm past my expiration date."
"No. It was the Darach. That was the variable. It – she? – wasn't in town when I was bitten."
"You think she did something to me?" Jen asked, memories of what the Darach had made her do flitting through her head at whirlwind speeds. "Something that made Deucalion sick when he bit me. A-" Jen remembered what Deaton had said about Deucalion's motive for biting her. "A prior connection."
Lydia sat up a little straighter, tilted her head slightly, and took a sharp breath. "Did you completely sever that connection last night, or is it still there? Can we use it to track the Darach back to her location?"
"I don't know," Jen replied with a shrug. "I wouldn't even know how to start looking, except to ask Dr. Deaton."
Lydia smiled brightly. "Then that's what we're gonna do."
Stiles grabbed Scott when he finally got back to the house. After he and Isaac made sure Allison made it home, they had all fallen asleep on her bed. Mr. Argent had to have seen them, but he hadn't woken them up and he'd been gone when the three of them finally got moving agian. "Where's Isaac?" Stiles asked. "I thought you two were attached at the lips these days."
Scott rolled his eyes and gave Stiles a playful shove. "He went over to Boyd's for something. He'll be here soon."
"Then I'm gonna make this quick." Stiles pushed the door of their room closed and turned to face Scott, who raised one eyebrow at him in question. "I saw something last night. Something important."
"Dude, if this is another porn site, I'm not interested."
"No, Scott." Stiles huffed and put his hands on Scott's shoulders. He used the grip to get Scott to sit down on his bed. "Listen." Stiles told Scott about how he'd seen Cora talking with the Darach. As the story continued, Scott's stomach dropped further and further down. "And I tried to tell Derek this morning, but he didn't believe me."
Scott made sure to give his brother a smile, but he was sure it didn't look as reassuring as he meant it to be. Cora working with the Darach? Derek having such a knee-jerk reaction against what Stiles had told him didn't surprise Scott at all. "I believe you, but it's pretty much your word against hers. Of course Derek would take his sister's side."
"But she showed up in Beacon Hills right when the Darach started sacrificing people. That's proof!"
"That's not proof," Scott argued gently, patting Stiles on the shoulder. "And you know it. We'll just have to find real proof."
"Real proof," Stiles nodded. "And what about everyone else in the meantime? We can't let them go around trusting Cora." Scott thought he heard, "Like I did," in Stiles' voice, and he tried to think of how he would feel if he found out either Isaac or Allison had been working with a homicidal druid. He'd feel pretty shitty, so Scott pulled his brother into a hug.
"Don't worry about Allison and Isaac. I'll talk to them."
Scott watched as Stiles pulled out of the hug and rolled his eyes, but his shoulders looked lower than they had been a minute ago, more relaxed. "Okay. I can talk to Lydia. And, well, and Boyd."
Watching the way Stiles' eyes flicked downward when he said Boyd's name, Scott's heart ached for his brother. "Was it, I mean-" Scott tried to say, feeling more than a little awkward. "You're dating. Have you- do you know what you're gonna do?"
"I don't know." Stiles shrugged. "Try to get Boyd alone and talk to him? It's gonna have to be during school. Cora is always with him otherwise."
Scott frowned. He hadn't noticed how infrequently he saw Boyd without Cora by his side, except at school. He'd noticed how often he'd seen Boyd and Stiles together at school, but that was his duty as a brother. However, Scott hadn't really been asking that many questions about Stiles' relationship, and wasn't that part of his duty as a brother as well? And his duty as Stiles' best friend?
And since it was Scott's duty to ask about Stiles' significant others, wasn't it also his duty to ask, "Does Cora really like Boyd that much, or has she just been keeping an eye on him. And on you?"
"Fuck," Stiles sighed. "I don't know. I mean, she's my girlfriend – or she was – and I barely know anything about her. She said she didn't like talking about herself. She said she liked me, dude."
Scott's heart hurt and he felt like there was nothing he could do to help Stiles through this. Except maybe try to get him drunk, but that was more of a Stiles-move than a Scott-move. Instead, he weakly offered, "Maybe she wasn't lying about liking you."
Stiles snorted. "Yeah, right."
Scott patted Stiles a few more times on the shoulder, for good measure, and did what any good Stilinski brother would do. He made Stiles the biggest, grossest sandwich he could, given the state of their refrigerator. Scott left the sandwich, and a chocolate milk, on Stiles' desk before he left to go pick up Isaac from Boyd's house.
When Isaac jumped on the back of Scott's motorcycle, Scott asked him, "Was Cora with you guys?"
"No," Isaac said, scooting further against Scott's back than wholly appropriate. It made Scott smile. "Why?"
"Oh, just…" Scott said, judging the distance between them and Boyd's house and deciding any werewolves inside would definitely be able to hear them. "Just … Stiles was looking for her earlier."
Isaac shrugged, kissed Scott's cheek, and pulled his helmet on. Scott pushed the matter to the back of his mind and focused on trying to obey the rules of the road while Isaac was pressed against him and brushing his hand over Scott's nipple now and again. At one point, Scott almost pulled into an alley so he could get revenge by sticking his hands down Isaac's pants or something, but he'd made a promise to Allison that their first time together, it would be all three of them or not at all. That promise had just about killed him over the past two weeks, but it would be worth it eventually.
When they got to Allison's apartment building and her dad's car wasn't in the garage, Scott grinned at Isaac and pumped his fist. "Yes!"
"This finally happening?" Isaac asked, slipping his hand into Scott's back pocket and squeezing a little.
"Yeah, I hope so," Scott replied, pulling Isaac toward the elevator. As soon as the doors closed, Scott let Isaac crowd him against the back wall of the elevator, pressed together from hips to lips. Scott kissed Isaac like they hadn't seen each other in weeks, much less hours. Isaac's lips were hard against Scott's, his chin lightly stubbled, and his tongue sweet and warm. Isaac felt so different than Allison - bonier, taller, more imposing - but Scott loved the differences. He felt more than lucky to have both of them in his life, but also that both of them had feelings for him.
"God, Scott!" Isaac sighed, pressing his lips haphazardly away from Scott's mouth and toward his neck, hands hard at Scott's waist. Scott pushed at Isaac's shirt, trying to get at the skin underneath, but not having much luck.
And then he opened his eyes and saw they were almost at Allison's floor. "Isaac," Scott said, pushing at him, but allowing one more deep kiss on the mouth. "Isaac, we've got-"
The elevator doors opened to reveal a pair of old ladies, one who covered her mouth and blushed, and one who laughed. Isaac sheepishly pulled away from Scott and edged out of the elevator past them, Scott following closely behind. The ladies got into the elevator and as the doors closed, Scott heard one tell the other, "Remember when we were like that, Flo?"
The other lady cackled loudly. "Do I ever!"
Scott wasn't sure whether to feel touched or grossed out, so he settled for a combination of the two as he folded his hand into Isaac's. They reached Allison's door a few steps later.
Allison opened the door and pulled both Scott and Isaac in by the fronts of their shirts. Scott kicked the door closed behind them. "My dad's not going to be home for hours." Allison let go of Scott's shirt and pulled Isaac into a deep, filthy-looking kiss. If Scott hadn't been hard since the motorcycle ride, he would be now.
Scott pressed himself against Allison as he passed them, breathing in deeply the scent of her skin, and closing his hand gently around her arm. He led them both back toward Allison's room, but only got halfway there before Allison turned from Isaac and tackled Scott with a kiss. Scott stumbled backward and hit the wall, but he didn't care. Getting kissed by Allison, getting to hold her close and put his hands in her hair again, was the only thing that mattered. Well, that and the way Isaac put his hand over Scott's on her back and kissed Allison's neck, his forehead brushing Scott's jaw.
Despite everything going on, despite the alphas and the Darach, and Cora, Scott felt at peace. He felt like he was finally where he was supposed to be.
Such Selfish Prayers, an NC-17 rated interlude
Scott lay with his head on Isaac's chest and his hand playing with Allison's long hair. Isaac breathed slowly under Scott's ear, almost like he could be asleep. Allison had her eyes closed, but every time Scott brushed her scalp with his fingers, her heartbeat sped up and she smiled.
Scott hated to break the moment, but he'd put this off long enough as it was. He needed to tell the others what Stiles had seen. Clearing his throat, Scott said, "Guys?"
Allison looked up, but Isaac startled, taking a sharp breath through his nose and opening his eyes. "Mm?"
Scott sat up, trying not to feel too self-conscious about his nakedness. It was Isaac and Allison, after all. "It's about last night. Stiles saw something."
Allison sat up as well, but she kept the sheet wrapped around herself, which Scott thought was completely unfair (but totally her right to do, he just loved her boobs so much). "What did he see? Was it during the fight you guys told me about?"
"No, it was afterward," Scott said, watching Isaac slide himself back so he could sit up as well. "He went to go find Cora, who had disappeared, remember?"
"Yeah." Isaac nodded. "Back behind the bowling lanes. We lost the Darach, I never saw Cora back there."
"Stiles did." Scott took a deep breath, then let it out as he admitted, "He saw Cora talking to the Darach. Like they were friends or allies or something."
Allison's eyes went wide and she put a hand to her mouth. Isaac's eyes went wide, too, but he scrambled out of the bed, picking up his underwear and pulling them on as he said, "No. Stiles doesn't know what he's talking about."
"Why would he lie?" Allison asked, leaving her sheet behind as she got up and put a hand on Isaac's arm. "She's his girlfriend. If anything, I'd expect him not to say anything if he'd seen something."
"What if they had a falling out?" Isaac asked, but he returned Allison's gesture. Scott stood up to join them, putting his hands in each of theirs. "What if this is revenge for Cora, I don't know, not putting out or something?" Isaac gave Scott's hand a squeeze before pulling his arms back and wrapping them around himself.
"Stiles wouldn't do that. And he wouldn't accuse someone of a crime they didn't commit."
Allison tilted her head. "Just like he wouldn't, I don't know, tell your dad he'd seen Derek kill someone?"
Scott tried his best not to let Allison's question unnerve him, but it was difficult. "That was my fault. I told him to say that. I thought it wouldn't matter. I thought Derek was dead."
Isaac shook his head. "I still don't believe it. Maybe Stiles saw Cora talking to someone else."
"Someone else wearing a creepy mask made out of skin?" Scott couldn't help the incredulous tone of his voice. "I don't–"
Scott cut himself off as he heard the front door open. He dropped his voice to a whisper. "Shit! Allison, your dad is home!"
Allison's jaw dropped for half a second before she sprang into action, diving for the pile of clothes they'd left near her bedroom door, which she all but slammed shut.
Scott knew they were all dead if Mr. Argent caught him and Isaac here, like this, so he scanned the room for his boxers. When he didn't find them, he grabbed his pants and shoved his legs into them. His first instinct was to go for the window, but when he got there, Scott realized that Allison now lived on the eighth floor and the fire escape was out the other window.
Scott was grabbing his shirt from the floor and Isaac's bare arm with the other when Mr. Argent knocked on the door. "Allison?"
The door started to open, but Allison smacked her hands against it. "Dad! I'm changing!"
"Allison, there are clothes in the hallway. Clothes that don't belong to either of us. Open the door."
Scott hung his head in defeat and pulled his shirt on, Isaac finished stuffing his arms into his sleeves and hopped into his pants, while Allison looked down and then went straight for the robe hanging on the back of her door. When everyone was decent, Allison cringed at Scott and Isaac, and then opened the door.
Mr. Argent stood on the other side, an unamused look on his face and Scott's boxers dangling from one finger. "Would you three care to explain?"
"Wardrobe malfunction?" Isaac offered, resting his forearm on Scott's shoulder, like he was trying to look casual. Scott had no delusions that it was actually working.
Allison turned to look at Isaac, raising one eyebrow; and Mr. Argent gave the same look. The similarities between their expressions were creepy and cool at the same time. Mr. Argent added a frown to his and said, "I'm taking you boys home."
"That's okay, Mr. Argent. I brought my bike. I can dri-"
"I'm taking you boys home," Mr. Argent repeated, stepping past Allison and dropping the boxers into Scott's hands. "And I'm going to have a chat with your parents, Mr. Stilinski."
"Dad." Allison came around, getting between Mr. Argent and Scott and Isaac. "Dad, we're not children. We weren't doing anything wrong. You don't get to tell me I'm in charge in one breath and threaten my boyfriends in the next!"
"You know," Isaac said, taking Scott's hand and leading the way toward the door, "maybe we'll just..."
Mr. Argent held up a finger and Scott froze, holding Isaac back. "We are not hunters anymore, Allison. You three are in so much-"
"Oh, we're not hunters anymore?" Allison crossed her arms over her chest. "So staying out all the time, carrying guns and other weapons, that's just what we do? You're not looking for the Darach or anything, right?"
"Just like you're not getting involved with fighting the alpha pack? You called me there last night, Allison."
"You came, so..." Allison stared at her father, who stared right back. Scott kind of wished he was anywhere else.
Still staring at his daughter, Mr. Argent said, "I'm still talking to their parents." He turned to Scott and Isaac. "Go home. I'll be right behind you."
Then Mr. Argent left the room. Scott wanted to give Allison a kiss goodbye, but Mr. Argent hadn't gone much further than outside the room before stopping. He settled for giving Allison a smile and mouthing, "Love you," at her.
Allison smiled back, but with this worried edge to her eyes. Scott didn't like it.
In the ride down the elevator to the parking garage, Scott took Isaac's hand and asked him, "How're you doing?"
Isaac wrapped his arms around Scott shoulders. "Except for getting caught by our girlfriend's father, pretty damn good." Isaac grinned and leaned forward, placing a kiss on Scott's lips. Scott kissed him back and couldn't help the smile that spread across his face as they parted.
"Even if we do get in trouble," Scott said, running his hand up under Isaac's sweater. "It was worth it, to me, at least."
"Me too," Isaac replied, and Scott wished Allison had been with them too, or that they could stay over with her again and never have to leave.
The elevator doors opened and Scott took Isaac's hand as they walked toward where they'd parked Scott's motorcycle. The ritual of putting on helmets and getting situated with Isaac pressed against Scott's back, his arms around Scott's waist, was starting to feel happily routine. Scott tried to calculate whether there was enough seat on the motorcycle for Allison to ride with them, too. Because that would be pretty hot.
Scott didn't notice Mr. Argent's car behind them on the drive home, but he pulled up just a few seconds after Scott parked in the garage. Scott thought about escaping through the garage door and up into Isaac's room before Mr. Argent made it to the door. But then Mr. Argent gave them a dad-glare of epic proportions and crooked his finger for them to join him at the front door.
Looking at Isaac, and gauging him about as nervous as Scott felt, Scott took Isaac's hand again and tugged him toward Mr. Argent. "Time to face the music."
"Your dad's cruiser is in the garage," Isaac whispered in Scott's ear. "We could make a break for it."
"It'll be fine," Scott assured his boyfriend. "He won't kick you out. I promise."
It didn't take long for Dad to answer the door after Mr. Argent rang the bell. His eyes flicked from Mr. Argent, to Scott and Isaac, and then back again. Dad crossed his arms over the sweater he liked to wear when he wasn't in uniform, and said, "Mr. Argent. How can I help you?"
"I found these two," Argent replied, thumbing over his shoulder at them. "In bed with my daughter."
"Oh." Dad cleared his throat and jerked his head to gesture Scott and Isaac into the house. Once they were past him, Dad pointed up the stairs. Scott followed orders right away, but he had to tug at Isaac to get him to come along. Now was not the time to pick a fight. Scott heard as Dad turned back to Mr. Argent and said, "You know how it is. Young love."
"All due respect, Sheriff," Argent countered. "But this is my daughter we're talking about. I don't want her to have to worry about the consequences of sex among everything else that's been happening. I would appreciate you keeping your sons away from her."
Dad raised his voice and called back into the house, "Scott? Were you guys being safe?"
"Yes, sir!" Scott called back, pausing just around the corner at the top of the stairs, so he could still peer around the corner at what was going on. Isaac pressed his back against the wall next to Scott and wrapped his fingers around Scott's.
Addressing Mr. Argent, Dad said in a calm voice, "See? It's fine."
"Look, I know you want what's best for your daughter," Dad said, stepping forward and putting his hand on Mr. Argent's shoulder. "But you know kids. If you don't teach them how to be safe, and if you don't give them a safe place to be, they're just gonna go do it in their cars out at the Preserve. I root kids out of there every night of the week, Chris. There's no stopping it."
Mr. Argent looked pissed, but he didn't push Dad's hand away. "That's easy for you to say. You have sons, John. Three of them, now. You don't know what it's like having a daughter."
"Allison seems like the kind of girl who can take care of herself," Dad countered. "And I've raised my sons to be respectful. You don't have to worry about Scott."
Dad sighed. "Scott'll keep him in line." He paused for a moment and Scott watched as Dad ran his hand from Mr. Argent's shoulder down his arm. "You don't look so good, Chris. You wanna come in for a beer? Take a load off?"
Mr. Argent turned like he might go back to his car, but then he nodded and turned back. "Yeah. Yeah, okay." He came into the house and Dad closed the door behind him before leading him back into the house.
Scott turned to Isaac and asked, "What just happened?"
"Your dad is the ultimate wingman," Isaac said, his eyebrows high on his forehead like he was impressed. Then one brow dropped, while the other remained arched. He tilted his head like he was listening to what was going on downstairs. "And I think he's hitting on Allison's dad."
"Ew," Scott said, suddenly much less interested in any conversation the two adults might be having. "Let's go watch a movie or something. Very loudly."
"Yeah," Isaac agreed, taking Scott's hand as he pushed away from the wall and started walking back toward their bedrooms.