"You okay, dude?" Danny asked gently, sensing Jackson's volatile state.
"I'm perfect," he replied curtly, his voice gruff from exhaustion.
Danny laughed, trying to lighten the mood. He didn't know why talking to his best friend seemed so gloomy and serious lately, but the feeling pervaded every moment that they spent together. Not that there were many moments spent together in the past month or so, since Jackson had been disappearing and cutting everyone out of his life. "Well, we all know that. But are you okay?" Danny said, showing earnest concern for the boy. "You didn't answer my texts all week. I'm getting worried about you."
Jackson stared stonily into the locker that held his clothes and the lacrosse gear that he was in the midst of putting on. He didn't know why he was playing in a stupid lacrosse game when his entire body felt heavy from over-exertion. And he was still forgetting long periods of time. And sleeping more than usual, despite the fact that he wasn't getting any rest. His entire mind was clouded; concentration seemed almost impossible. What little he could remember came in short bursts, and didn't seem to make any sense. Were they dreams? It was getting harder and harder to figure out what was real. He remembered Lydia for a short while. She'd wanted him to go to a party. And he remembered some of the party as well. But that couldn't be a real memory, because he also remembered seeing his parents. His real parents. Except that they weren't real, because they didn't have faces.
And he remembered Derek. He had a vague recollection of coming to in a police station, with the man standing in front of him, dirty and bedraggled. They'd embraced, and he'd slipped out of consciousness once again. When all of this was going on, he was struggling for control. All his life, Jackson had only wanted control. He wanted to feel like he had some kind of say in his own life, probably since he'd had no say in the first few, vital years of his life. He strived for perfection in every aspect of his life: school, lacrosse, possessions, looks, love. Except, somehow, love had gotten away from him. He'd dated the prettiest girl in school, thinking that Lydia was the best he could do. However, once he'd found real love, things got messy. No longer could he hold on to the perfect life that he'd so carefully formulated, trying to control every aspect. He found that this real love was painful and complicated, and that it didn't fit neatly into the box of his love life. Now, he was going through some sort of sickness, he couldn't remember anything, and he had a growing suspicion that Stiles and Scott weren't lying about him being some sort of freakish werelizard.
Yet, somehow it all seemed okay when he thought about it as a trade for true love. If these were the costs to bring Derek Hale into his life, the it was all worth it.
"Jackson!" Danny snapped him out of his thoughts. He looked around, remembering his surroundings. He was about to play in an important lacrosse game. He couldn't remember which game it was, any more, but he knew it was important. Why was it important? Who were they playing? Wasn't something important happening tonight, after the game?
Somehow, whenever he had the feeling that something important was going to happen lately, someone ended up dead. A sinking feeling made him both nervous and scared as he realized that he may be the one killing all of these people. Did it have something to do with Scott and Stiles' suggestion of him being a murderous monster? "Stay in the goal tonight, Danny," Jackson said, worried that he may hurt his friend. The thought alone made it difficult for him to even look into the boy's dark eyes. "Do not come out. And if you see me coming towards you," he said, now looking deeply into Danny's eyes, trying to impress the importance of his words, "run the other way. As fast as you can."
From across the room, Scott McCall looked up, hearing Jackson's warning. Hearing Jackson directly threaten Danny made his blood boil. He decided then and there, that if Jackson tried to harm one hair on Danny's perfect head, he would kill the kanima. And Gerard. And anyone else who tried to hurt the boy that he loved.
"Why don't you tell me something I don't know?" Derek Hale asked his uncle, Peter. Thus far, the man had only listed how Derek had failed as a new Alpha, and pointed out how alone he was.
"Oh, I'm going to. And it's gonna prove why you should trust me. Why you need to trust me. Because I'm going to tell you how to stop Jackson," Peter said, his face both sincere and smug.
At the mention of the boy's name, Derek's heart froze. His fingers felt numb, and his head began swimming. When all hope seemed lost, Derek's worst enemy suddenly became his savior. He looked into his eyes, pleadingly, practically begging for the information. But he turned cynical and angry when he realized what exactly his uncle had said. Peter knew how to 'stop' Jackson, not cure him. "What do you mean? How to kill him?" he said, his voice acrid and his look biting. He knew that his uncle could tell that he had feelings for the boy, and he was doing little to try masking it. They'd been part of the same pack for far too long to keep secrets. Well, Derek thought, except the whole kill-happy Alpha thing.
Peter's eye twitched as he heard the anger in Derek's voice. Smiling, he was happy to be able to allay the Alpha's fears. "Actually, how to save him."
On the field, Jackson passed in and out of consciousness. His body continued to move, often against his will, playing the game. He was only aware that he had the potential to kill the people that he cared about. Looking around, he saw faces of innocent people that he didn't want to harm: Danny, Scott, Stiles, Lydia, his parents, Coack Finstock, Isaac, Greenburg. These people didn't deserve to die. Somehow, now that he had power over all of these people, he felt humbled. Perhaps it was the fact that the power had robbed him of everything, and set him out of control.
One person that he never wanted to hurt was Derek. And yet, he felt fairly certain that, if he actually was a monster, Derek had been trying to save him. He wondered if they'd ever fought. He realized that he wasn't entirely sure if the man was still alive. Surely Jackson would remember killing the only person he'd ever truly loved. He wondered if he was actually strong enough to kill the Alpha werewolf. He recalled on of the many nights that they'd spent together, trying to figure out why his body was rejecting the bite. Derek had mentioned that few things could overpower an Alpha with a pack. Yet, Jackson was still alive. Had Derek been holding back his full abilities in an attempt to save Jackson? In his efforts to cure Jackson instead of killing him, had Derek allowed the boy to continue killing innocent people? Suddenly, the darkness took over again.
"There's a myth that you can cure a werewolf simply by calling out its Christian name," Peter said to Derek, who was still sitting on the steps, excited by the revitalization of his hopes to cure Jackson.
"It's just a myth," Derek said dismissively. People often came up with such legends in order to feel as if they had some control over their lives. They needed to feel as if they weren't helpless when faced with monsters that they couldn't defeat.
"Sometimes myths and legends bear a hint of truth. Our name is a symbol of who we are. A kanima has no identity. That's why it doesn't seek a pack," Peter clarified.
"It seeks a master," Derek filled in.
"And who else grows up with no pack? No identity?" Peter asked, taking his usual dominant role over his nephew. This dynamic reminded him of all of the times that he'd explained things about life as a werewolf to a young Derek Hale, soothing the boy when he felt freakish and lonely. In fact, he could remember explaining to Derek why there were hunters trying to kill them in this very same position. Derek had sat on the steps of the house, while it was in its former state of glory, and Peter had loomed over him at the foot of the stairs, trying to find a nice way to explain that tragic situation.
"An orphan," Derek inserted. For a moment, Peter almost thought that his nephew was referring to himself, before remembering that they were talking about the kanima.
"Like Jackson. And right now, his identity is disappearing beneath a reptilian skin, and you need to bring him back."
"How?" Derek exploded, frustrated.
"Through his heart, how else?" Peter said. Derek felt a bit taken aback by the first time anyone had blatantly addressed their romance.
"In case you haven't noticed, Jackson doesn't have too much of a heart to begin with," Derek said. He realized with horror that he'd referred to Jackson instead of the kanima. The two were slowly melding together, as Peter told him, and were coming together in Derek's head, too. The thought scared him, making him want to take immediate action even more. Before it was too late.
"Not true," Peter said. "He'd never admit it, but there is one person." Derek's heart skipped a beat, realizing that the ability to save Jackson rested in his hands alone. If he failed, Jackson would be an abomination forever. "One young lady with whom Jackson shared a real bond. One person who could reach him. Who could save him."
Derek's heart sank, and he felt tears in his eyes accompanied by a lump in his throat. He'd misread the entire conversation. Of course Peter couldn't know about his relationship with Jackson. Even if they'd been close, Peter had been dead the entire time that he'd fallen in love with the boy. But was Peter right? Did Jackson feel differently about him? Had the two of them just been a fling in Jackson's eyes? Someone to comfort him in a difficult time? Maybe Peter was right. Maybe he wasn't Jackson's soul mate. Maybe it was someone else. "Lydia."
As the time on the clock ran out, Jackson felt himself beginning to change. His vision narrowed and his nails extended into claws. He could feel himself losing any control of his body. His consciousness blurred as he fought off the sensation. He knew that he was about to change. And he knew that whatever was controlling him wanted to kill someone. He was beginning to be able to read the signs. He thought of Derek, who was always able to control his changes into a werewolf. Surely he could fight this off.
Using every ounce of might that he had, Jackson pushed against the loss of consciousness. Suddenly, thew buzzer sounded and the stadium lights went off. Chaos ensued as Jackson fought for control of his own body. People were running across the field, panicking. His eyes closed in on several people as they went by, his body screaming to lash out and kill them. He jerked forward as Danny ran by, his hand reaching out to slash the boy's throat. Jackson quelled the urge long enough to bring his hand back under his control. He realized that he was too dangerous. He had too much power, none of which he could control. Taking advantage of his short period of lucidity and his temporary mastery over his claw, Jackson dug the sharp nails deep into his stomach, feeling the sharp talons scrape through his organs as blood pumped over his hand. He fell, feet rushing past him as his body went limp, unable to function with several of his organs severely damaged.
He felt himself fading into a different sort of unconsciousness. It wasn't the sickly loss of control that often overcame him. This time it was more pleasant, despite his internal hemorrhaging. His delusional mind saw Derek, leaning in front of him. The man smiled, his eyes wet. Lydia's face broke through this, bending down to check on him. Closing his eyes, Jackson summoned the image of Derek back. Derek. He hoped that the man would understand why he couldn't allow himself to go on. Derek was strong for him, so Jackson needed to be strong for Derek. He needed to do what the Alpha couldn't. He needed to end this murderous rampage. As he finally slipped away, his body felt Derek's against him, embracing him as the man had done so many times before.