"Do you remember what you said to me once? That you could help me only by loving me? Well, you did love me for a moment, and it helped me. It has always helped me." ––The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The world is a battleground and we're all soldiers. The only difference between the average person and a bright teenage girl who happens to be the sole heir to a long line of werewolf hunters is that she is fighting on several fronts too many, none of them completely meeting the eye at first. All anyone sees is what she became when her universe was dark and there was no one there to save her because she didn't want anyone to save her. She wanted to be powerful and strong, reckless and independent, feared and respected. And she was.
She still is, but no one happens to notice because she put the bow and arrow down what seems like lifetimes ago, and now she is The Poor Girl Whose Mother Committed Suicide. Sympathizers she doesn't recognize appear out of nowhere, swarm her, attempt to mourn with her. A pathetic sensation overwhelms her when she realizes she is being drowned in the pity of those she barely knows. They are no doubt trying to lessen some of the grief they assume she feels, but she's already finished with that. She has learned her lesson the hard way that attempts at revenge end in unnecessary bloodshed, and she is tired of the way people look at her. She is not a shard of glass waiting to be shattered – she is the glass that broke into a million pieces onto the floor as soon as it was touched, and she is not embarrassed to admit it.
It's a fickle thing, Allison Argent muses, that the people and places and emotions that were once so important to you fade away just as quickly as they came until you are left with not much except the sensation of sand slipping through your fingers. The tragic truth is that you will never catch up to it although you are bigger and stronger than the grains of sand, but that doesn't matter because you're willingly letting them fade away into the background when you could just close your fist and hold them tight. But you don't.
She's taken up the belief that there is no such thing as fate – and not in a tragically romantic way like everyone thinks she means it. She's in the driver's seat of her car, glancing out the foggy window and not thinking of Scott and the chapter in her life that can solely be referred to as forbidden love. She could be, but she isn't – mainly because old memories won't do her any good no matter what angle she contemplates them in, and slightly because she is focused on the road ahead of her as she drives – out of town, back into town, and out of town again.
She's all of a sudden the face of indecision when she used to be a mess of brash and under thought choices. Now she's hovering dangerously close to nothing, clinging to a past and a present and a future combined that are slipping away like dust in the sky, akin to the hopelessness and desperation of recalling the title of a song you've never even listened to like it's the most important task anyone will ever pursue. She pauses at an intersection on her way back into town, cutting the volume low on the Florence and the Machine track blaring from the stereo because she's determined not to cry about nothing and everything. Not now. She's at the very front of the left turn lane except she was never planning on turning left, and that almost sums up her entire life.
There's something wrong with the road ahead of her, both literally and metaphorically. A harsh note in the wind rattles on her car's exterior, Get out of here – you don't belong here, Allison – you don't belong anywhere, triggering a sinking feeling in her gut, and she craves to pause that moment of uncertainty forever to figure out how to make sure no one ever experiences it again. She's selfish because she wants time to stop for her, but unashamed for wanting it nonetheless.
She looks up from the steering wheel. She can't stop time, she realizes, but regardless, some type of signal would be nice. The streets are lonely for the most part, but something is still off. And then she notices – it's dark and there's a boy stumbling through the traffic when he could easily be treading on the sidewalk. There should be no co–relation between these circumstances but she's not naive enough to believe that there isn't. There are no coincidences in Beacon Hills anymore.
"Jackson," she says slowly, not bothering to squint and affirm her suspicions because it can't be anyone but him, and before she knows it her driver's seat window is rolled down without a second thought. He's fifteen meters away, maybe. "What the hell –"
Horns sound from every direction, headlights blaring and wary drivers yelling obscenities that go unheard beneath the sound of their brakes screeching against pavement. Ten meters at most. Allison glances in the rear–view of her own car for a split second before crashing out into the open, grabbing her keys in haste and abandoning the several cars behind her at the left turn lane, unacknowledged despite the irritated honks which ensue because of her action, Jackson's stupidity, or whatever trick of not–fate it is that brought them both to the same crossing.
She runs straight through the intersection, ignoring the pointless noises around her. It doesn't matter if she gets hit by a car now, because at least she could go peacefully knowing she was alive to run for a reason beyond herself. She isn't running away from nightmares and werewolves or towards conquering insecurities and avenging deaths. She's running for someone else, something else, and that's purely what she breathes in – sheer adrenaline rather than oxygen. Five meters.
He trips over something and she's not close enough yet to save him from falling. She swears she could kill him. All she grasps is feet pounding against the ground, her against something she can't even touch or see.
We are going to die, she thinks in a brief lapse of uncontrollable emotion that she can't put a name to, We are both going to die idiotic human deaths that have nothing to do with the unusual twists and turns our lives have taken as of recent. She inhales – one day, maybe, they will. She exhales – but not tonight. And she grabs him. From his perch on the road, he doesn't see her until the last second. By then she already has one hand on his shirt collar, the other on his belt buckle, hauling him slightly upright with considerable effort.
He slurs words that don't make sense, and her eyes finally land upon the bottle clutched up against his chest. She wants to modify her previous statement a little bit – She is most definitely going to kill him.
"Jackson," she hisses, throat mildly hoarse from yelling incoherently more in the last couple of minutes than she has throughout her whole existence in total thus far, "Get up! I should just leave you –" she adds furiously, glancing around at the road he's half–sitting, half–standing with her support on. The cars that were present moments earlier have mostly maneuvered around them with utmost caution, but even so, threatening to leave him there is the largest bluff she's ever pulled. If he were sober, he would no doubt call her out on it.
"And who the fuck are you?" he protests, looking over her with obvious contempt. He attempts to free himself from her hold, changing his mind quickly when he realizes he might fall again without her weight to hold him up.
"Never mind," she mutters, wondering how much he's had to drink that he doesn't even recognize her. She checks left and right before dragging him along. He's slow and unstable and she's impatient and unable to comprehend that this is truly them – this is what they are now. The girl and boy from the secluded hallway, back when the supernatural didn't exist fully for either, who trusted too little and expected too much. They ended up becoming the girl who lost it and turned on her friends and the boy who unconsciously transformed into a lizard by night, both destined to obey a single homicidal master. That was the beginning and the middle, and this is the end – Jackson Whittemore does not even know who she is, and she fools herself into believing that she deserves it.
He arches an eyebrow, raising the bottle to his lips after she's forced him into the passenger seat of her car. "I have –" drink, "– There's a fucking restraining order," drink, "And my family knows I'm out. You don't get to do this – You can't just abduct me." The bottle is nearly empty.
She stares at him, lips set in a straight line, puts the keys back into the ignition, and drives.
Lydia, she begins to type out a text, as reckless driving is barely an issue on a night like this, Where are you?
Her phone beeps not two seconds later, and she sighs. San Fran for the weekend with the parents. We've been over this a million times. Why?
Jackson is one of the wolves now and his current state categorizes him as An Emergency Situation so the rational thing to do would be to get in touch with Derek (no) or Scott (definitely no) or Stiles (definitely no by default). Allison is not big on following rationale, however, and certainly not in hours of crisis. Of course, she could have left him just as she'd threatened and there would be no problem at all – but she couldn't have, not really.
"I'm taking you home," she informs him, though she guesses he'll respond with additional rudeness, "Which street should I turn at next?"
"Don't joke," he replies, barely coherent, "You know exactly where I live, Argent."
Her hands tighten on the steering wheel and ears strain to be positive she hasn't misheard him. "Excuse me?"
The silence is louder than words as he takes another drink.
She pulls into his driveway a couple minutes later without any further instructions, but he sits still and doesn't comment.
"You can get out now," she presses, tapping impatiently on her left knee, "Sleep. Sober up. Derek and the rest of the pack wouldn't appreciate seeing you like this –"
"Wouldn't they?" he interrupts, and she fixes her stare ahead to finally notice that there is no movement or light visible from inside his home.
"No one's home," she states, monotone as she puts the gear into safe park again, "Is that why you're wasted?"
He shrugs, raising the bottle to take a swig again, but she's too quick in snatching it from him.
"Get out of my car, Jackson," she repeats, half-tempted to throw the bottle out of the window and watch it shatter into a million pieces just like the two of them have so he recognizes the severity of the situation.
He doesn't budge. "No."
"Allison," he says softly, "Please."
She steals a quick glance over at him, then, and that's when the inexplicable numbness courses through her veins. She can't move, breathe, or speak, but she's also well aware that she can't move or breathe or speak, like her heartbeat has ceased but she can still feel her pulse in her fingertips, boom boom boom like a drum sounding, blood pumping, hopes dying, friends leaving. That's all there ever is, and that's all there ever will be.
She blinks once and shifts into reverse mode without a single doubt in her mind. There's no visible reaction from the slumped up being in the passenger seat.
When she wakes, it's still dark and her back aches. The last thing she remembers after hours of restlessness on the floor of her own bedroom is the gentle tick of the wall clock reminding her that time wouldn't stop for her even if she demanded it by screaming off rooftops. It's better to just acknowledge that fact and let go, was the final thought she could fathom before her eyes had finally shut, and now as she shifts to sit upright the notion feels utterly childish.
"Where am I?" is unfortunately the first thing she hears, and she assumes Jackson has been lying awake waiting to spot any movement from below the moment it happens. She looks up, completely unsurprised to see him fully clothed and shoe–less in her bed, because that's how she'd managed to get him to shut up and sleep only a few hours prior.
She takes a deep breath, heading over to the closet to find a hoodie to throw over her tank top. Smiling bitterly to herself, she answers, "In hell."
"Doesn't make much sense, considering you're here."
And that's it. There's no Hey, thanks for taking the time to saving my sorry ass last night – I really owe you one in any way, shape, or form. She doesn't know what she anticipated to change because for an absurd few seconds she felt more sensitive to her surroundings than usual and ended up pulling him out of oncoming traffic when he probably could've managed on his own, but whatever it is, it certainly didn't change.
"I don't have time for this," she snaps, feeling his stare on her back and not bothering to react to it any more than she has with her short response. She doesn't have time for it, of course, he'll likely taunt her, because she's the one who brought him into her house in the first place.
Instead, she's met with nothing but the gentle creak of him standing on his feet. She pretends like that's not worse.
"You know your way out," she tells him for lack of anything better to say to rid the room of silence, except he doesn't because he's never been over to her home before – not like Lydia, and definitely not like Scott. And yet there's a reason she's invited him over now, after all the things that have happened, still unconsciously waiting for an unnamed week or month or year when they'll fix whatever's broken between them.
Ignoring her, he asks the most relevant question at hand before she concretely thinks of it correctly phrased terms. "Why did you let me stay?"
"You would've done the same for me."
She doesn't turn around, but she can sense him pause for a long second – it's in the air, that heavy desire to speak or not speak, and then it disappears and once again they're both left with absolutely nothing.
He follows her downstairs to the kitchen without permission, even after she blatantly shows him the front door.
"My dad will be home soon. You'd best not be anywhere around here when he is." Her voice is unwavering as she tries not to pay attention to the his eyes which are following her around. She quickly decides that she can't focus on making food in a state like this.
She spins to face him, and he's the poster child for extreme hangovers, leaning against the counter with one hand on his forehead. She doesn't want to play these games with him, but it's too late because she's been playing for longer than she can recall.
"You're one to talk," she accuses coolly, "Your bullshit never ends."
"Look, Allison," he begins with obviously forced conviction and a sigh, "You don't owe me anything. You should've just left me. Or told Lydia. Or something."
"You seriously think I didn't go over all of those choices?" she demands, skeptical expression sitting perfectly on her features.
"Evidently not the 'or something' part, or else I wouldn't be here right now," he responds self-righteously, and she realizes with a start that this is the closest she'll get to an apology – for all of it. This is the closest she'll get to remorse from him for utilizing her weaknesses and playing her like a fool because he wanted a piece of the werewolf extravaganza, for assaulting her in an empty locker room because he could and because he couldn't control the urge to hurt anyone in sight, and proceeding to abandon her like they'd never been friends or anything at all, and she's sitting in a hallway he'll never dare to venture into. Apparently he's saner as a werewolf because he has what he's always wanted – power and the ability to be extraordinary in a sea of ordinary and more power because he's extraordinary – but she doesn't count even as a faint memory of the journey he took to reach this destination. She's absolutely nothing to him or anyone, and she's desperate for him to go through the same pain – but he already has, and she knows it.
"If I'd gone with the 'or something' part," she replies vehemently, mocking him with air quotes, "Derek would be giving you complete and utter hell right now. What the fuck were you thinking? Did it not occur to you that you were putting yourself in danger? The pack in danger? The alphas – no, forget about the God forsaken alphas, of all things – did you not think for a second about Lydia? If something had happened to you, it would have destroyed her –"
"Everyone would've coped just fine," he says icily, "Including Lydia."
"You're a selfish bastard."
"Or so you've heard."
"Or so I've seen." She's fairly certain there's nearly no air lingering in her lungs, and the fact that that doesn't concern her is unnerving – but she won't force herself to care. That's old news from another era and another Allison who was capable of compassion.
"I'll take your word for it."
They are two wary bystanders in a war their circumstances conjured, and the world is made up of many empty hallways where they'll never find anyone but themselves, alone and longing for days of hope that will never come. If they could muster up the courage to admit they could help one another, they would go off to see the world together, but courage is barely a factor because they can't even help themselves. It's a terrible thing, hope – infectious, but terrible – it fills you up and it's the only emotion aside from desperation to cling onto once the rest of the world abandons you and you keep sprinting closer and closer to the invisible promise of tomorrow.
He's really staring at her now, that irritating gaze that everyone's afraid someone will cast on them one day and use to see through their secrets and insecurities. "Have you ever let your situation own you?" he adds after an uncomfortable lapse, and she has to think about that even though the correct answer is constantly within reach.
"You're not the only one who hurt people," he tells her simply, as if it will mend things in an instant. She stays quiet, so for good measure he goes on to say, "Gerard fucked with us," and is shocked by not only the extent of his own bluntness but the way he casually brings up a topic he'd vowed to not dwell on until he was in his own grave and there were no other options.
She crosses her arms though truthfully she's overcome by lightheadedness, supposing that perhaps getting some breakfast in her system before having the conversation she's only had with her subconscious night after sleepless night would've been an excellent idea. He is sure to catch her eye as she stumbles forward but doesn't fall, and suddenly PTSD is more than just a key term from the back of a textbook in AP Psychology.
"Stop drinking," she says firmly, the words foreign on her tongue like traveling to a place she's never been without a map or a clue or a plan. She won't give up on him whether or not he's given up on himself. There are bodies scattered on the floor, ghosts of breathing people she sees at school on a daily basis and remembers how once upon a time she held their lives in her hands and would've ended them without hesitation. "You're killing yourself."
"Will you stop isolating yourself?" He takes a step toward her, a real step this time, and she has no room to step back. Nowhere to retreat, to hide and accept defeat. "You can't, can you? It's a part of you now. You can't help yourself. Coping mechanisms sound half–way entertaining in class, but not here. Not when it's real."
"Nothing's real." His stare is burning holes into her skin. It blurs her vision, but she doesn't move. Then, subdued, "I'm not like you. I can handle it."
"Well," he scoffs, "I'll leave you to it, then. Days and days of self–loathing must be exhausting."
"Speaking from experience, are we?"
For the countless occasion, she receives nothing in return except a knowing glance and sad eyes.
"I'm sorry about your mom," he says even though he doesn't have to right before he finally leaves, taking the bleak remains of her hope with him.
A/N: Please don't favorite without reviewing!