WARNINGS: non–linear narrative, lots of angst, references to Scott/Allison, and mentions of abuse, self–harm, drugs/alcohol, and other mature themes.
Maybe If I Fall Asleep I Won't Breathe Right
you kiss and you kiss and you love and you love
you've got a history list and the rest is above
hear me ––imagine dragons
The apologies, if they can even be described as such, come guiltily at best. The words are genuine, but the individuals in question have been side–stepping one another for too long for things to be anything less than awkward when they own up to their sins. He corners her in the school parking lot, taking it as a sign to get some closure when they're both skipping different classes at the same time.
"Can we talk?" he calls out slightly anxiously from a good ten steps behind her.
She turns around, hesitation obvious in her posture, and stares at him expectantly. "Might as well. Wouldn't want you to have followed me all the way out here for nothing."
"Don't," she interrupts edgily, keeping a safe distance between them, "Just don't start."
Isaac shakes his head. "All I want to do is apologize," he admits quietly.
"You're sorry?" Her voice and body is still tense.
"For what?" she challenges, and he sees the opportunity to take a few steps closer.
"For everything," he pleads, "Honestly, I'm sorry. I'm sorry about your mom, and everything before and after that and what might happen after this. I'm sorry."
"I believe you," she replies slowly, looking anywhere but at him, "And this is unfair because I'm the one who should be apologizing."
He stays silent. She's right, but he doesn't have the heart to confirm it.
"I should have apologized a long time ago, and you know it. You just – you've made it seem like things are fine for you and they're not. So I'm sorry for what I've done, and I don't expect you to forget any of it, but it's important I say it because I do feel it – remorse. None of it was your fault. I targeted you because you were just another wolf in my way that I blamed, and now –" She doesn't go on. She doesn't need to.
He feels paper thin, like a little wind could come along and knock him over that instant. "It wasn't your fault," he tells her, truth ringing through his tone despite all the hurt she's caused him, "Don't blame yourself. It's not worth it. Trust me, I've been there."
She bites her lip. He knows what's coming, and he hates the burden of that knowledge.
"And Erica," she begins awkwardly, just as he anticipated, "I'm sorry about Erica. We never got along great, but when I found her in the bank –"
"I know," he cuts her off short for both of their benefits, "It's alright."
"You guys were really close, and I didn't want you to believe that I still hated her or something – it's really petty to think about now, but when she was trying to steal Scott away from me, I did absolutely hate her. And it got messy, but I would never wish for her to get hurt like she did."
"I believe you," he responds a little uncomfortably, feeling strange to be echoing her exact words from only a few moments prior. He pauses, and then even though he knows the answer, asks, "Why are you telling me all this?"
"Because you understand," she says, and walks away too soon for a final time.
The trouble with life, Isaac thinks, is that it's far too full of uncertainties. He could be dead without a trace remaining if he runs into the alpha pack looming on the edge of town again and Derek or some unnamed girl are not there to save him. He would be over and done with and is skeptical that anyone would mourn his passing. He hardly ever knows when, if it at all, he will sleep each night, or where his next meal will come from. He is not spontaneous, and he is certainly not brave enough to be called brave, but he takes it all in stride anyways, because he's got no other choice. He's supposed to turn to his pack for help and treat them like family, but that's all tentative as well, viable to change at any given second of any given day. It doesn't go over his head that those he hangs out with always seem to acknowledge him as the weak link.
Then he sees the way Scott looks at him in passing, sometimes, and Scott isn't a part of the pack, technically, so he holds on tightly to the hope that he could get accustomed to his sadness. He absent–mindedly lights a cigarette every now and then, reading over the texts he doesn't expect to get from him asking if he will be in Geometry the next afternoon. He takes a drag and replies, If you are, yeah, making a mental note to inform Derek he won't be able to take the whole day off from school in order to work on scouring out the alphas.
Simultaneously, he realizes he's spiraling out of sync with reality and choosing to accept fantasies that are clearly impossible, although he thinks they could be categorized otherwise in the future if maybe he quits smoking to relieve stress ("Why do you have to be so damn brooding all the time?" Erica used to demand on occasion, but now she doesn't demand anything at all because she's dead and he was her friend but he couldn't do a single thing to stop it) and the earth somehow splits into uncountable pieces. All in all, not an optimistic prospect.
He'd never identified with the term 'queen' until his eyes fell upon Allison Argent for the first time. He was sixteen and invisible, with not a soul in the world to call his own. He'd gazed at her for a while and then looked away in the typical 'I don't have a chance in hell' fashion he'd grown so used to because at the time he was barely sure whether or not he'd stay alive to see the following sunrise. He knew what people saw in Lydia Martin, because she was the unnamed and undisputed queen of Beacon Hills High, but there was something in the way Allison simply breathed which made it very simple to accept that she could be queen of the world.
To be noted in particular was how she stood so tall despite her average height, confidence apparent as she crossed her arms and leaned against her locker, assessing the masses with a warmness that showed in her eyes. It was the small smile she directed at the ground in the hallways that got him, an expression she reserved for her new girl complex before she'd found the company of Lydia and Jackson and Scott. When she discovered her niche he let out a breath of relief. It was inevitable that she would've found herself a crowd eventually, but he saw himself observing her as a bad omen – like his lack of friends and excess social awkwardness could transfer to her at any given moment. Thankfully, it didn't work out like that. He retreated back into his solitude and she didn't have a clue.
Isaac studies with Scott a lot over the summer following the Gerard fiasco. It's not necessary in the practical sense, because he's been slacking all through high school and while Scott has the motivation of turning himself and his academic record around for the purpose of making his mother proud, Isaac doesn't have anyone left to please in that regard. Isaac doesn't have anyone left at all, except for those he's foolish enough to pine after.
As it turns out one evening when the air is so heavy that Isaac concludes he could suffocate in it, Scott carefully ignores all thoughts of popular twentieth century literature at the table in his bedroom in light of discussing his upcoming absence. Isaac has to fight with everything he has in him to not react whatsoever when the boy beside him offhandedly mentions that he's been saving his money from the animal shelter for months to take his mother on a trip to Disneyland. That is the precise moment when he decides that Scott is the worst kind of best thing to ever happen to him.
"It's only a few days and I'm doing it for my mom," he says, "She needs this outing, dude. She really does."
Isaac shrugs. Acting indifferent is second nature by now. "Okay, man. I don't understand why you're so –" worried won't sound right in the least, but he loses sight of how to think on his feet, "– worried."
"I'll be gone for four days," Scott repeats, throwing the other boy a knowing look as he leans in further so he won't have to speak up, "Do you have any idea what could happen here in four days? Worse things have happened in one."
Isaac attempts to focus, but is distracted momentarily because the room is spinning and the world is too unfair for him to bear anymore and he manages to take a couple of deep breaths in and out, in and out before responding properly. He's okay but he's not okay and Scott doesn't suspect a thing. "Well," he tries to imagine his lungs pumping air in and out, "I guess you'll have to discuss that with Derek."
Scott gives him a questioning look, but Isaac blatantly refuses to cave and play messenger within their non–pack, even if it is Scott who's asking him to. He hears later on in the evening that Scott followed through with letting everyone in on the situation and Derek was less than impressed and that's basically the lame goodbye and good luck he gets for having to spend over half of the week slightly more upset than usual.
It's unsurprising to note that when Scott is gone after nothing but a See you soon text, Isaac misses him an unreal amount, as if in an everlasting story about soulmates and trust bound tightly and shelved in an unreachable library on the edge of the planet. He can keep belief that it has a happy ending, but he won't assure himself anything yet, considering when he did so last there was a phone held shakily in his hands and the almost summoned up courage in his nerves and veins to dial the universally known number for emergency police services, and in turn he was nearly beaten to death. ("You can get help for this, honey," everyone would have said if they'd known because that's the beauty of society, "It doesn't have to be like this.") Isaac would prefer to never reiterate those traumatic feelings.
He hasn't felt this hollow before, but we've all been there, done that – faced our fears and acknowledged the fact that they will make you want to go to sleep and never wake up again. Unless, of course, said fears give you nightmares, which in Isaac's case is unfortunately and unbearably true. It usually starts with a papercut on his thumb which keeps bleeding, taking on a shade of bright red that shouldn't exist in a world where colors alone can't hurt you, but they do. It's a self–inflicted wound, and every time he revisits it there's a chill in his bones not unlike the visible scars on his body, in his mind, covering him to the core all the time until he can't see straight when he opens his eyes. The image shifts and there is something off about the way his tongue fits in his mouth – there are fangs there rather than a regular set of teeth and it's overwhelmingly bizarre in a dream–like state to be stating welcome to Lahey Junior who's not entirely human any longer. He's a monster. An abomination. A mistake. (His father's voice.)
And then he wakes up in a dazed sweat, for once glad he's nowhere near Scott because he doesn't deserve to see him at his most vulnerable state possible.
He starts to trust Scott and Allison is Scott's girlfriend for quite a while, so if it was possible, Allison grows on him even more until she makes it her life ambition to slit his throat, but in the midst of the aftermath it's evident in how she distances herself from people she obviously loves and people she obviously hates that she's trying to make amends for her actions. It bothers Isaac that he likely fits into neither of the two categories. He's nothing to her, since the only reason she was determined to murder him was because he was a part of Derek's pack and she hated Derek.
There's a period before the chaos, however, when Isaac trusts Allison but is conflicted between treating her like a sister and avoiding her completely.
He can't pull off the first because he scarcely has the willpower to recall she's his friend's really badass girlfriend and nothing more. An implied sibling relationship would be taking things the wrong way on his part, because he can already picture how beautiful she'd be with independence and no commitments. She doesn't burn less bright when she's with Scott, but Isaac always gets the impression that there's something she's choking down and holding back when she's in her boyfriend's presence. He might be delusional, but the bending of her angles in complicated directions and letting out of exhausted sighs when she thinks there's no werewolves around to catch the sound can't all be lies.
He can't pull off the second because she's almost always around where he is, meeting Scott in empty classrooms while he's parading about with Erica and Boyd in the parallel hall; glancing down at her desk and pretending to process the information in a pointless Biology class while he sits in the very back row, unable to stop himself from focusing in on her progressively slumped shoulders and the gentle hum of her breathing at the front. There's not a lot he misses about being normal, but Allison reminds him of how peaceful humanity could have been. She's not exactly blind to the messed up town they live in, but it's the calmness in how she carries herself, like she's perfectly prone to weather any sort of destruction that fascinates him. Without being a wolf, she's just as much of a wolf as he and Scott and Derek are. From then to the brink of war, that's how he looks at her, and a lot of the unexplained makes more sense than it would have if he'd continued reflecting that she was a cross between a human and a hunter.
English class bright and early on a Monday morning when everyone's had it up to their limits with hallucinogenic birthday parties and full moons, and they're all staring out the window at nothing.
"This is stupid," someone from the back of the classroom whines, "Can't we work on this chapter outside? It's so sunny and there are picnic tables –"
Across the row from Isaac, Lydia mutters something that sounds profane. Stiles mumbles in incoherent agreement. Jackson rolls his eyes. Allison, three seats detached from them all, is silent. Isaac notices the latter because from the corner of his vision he sees Scott noticing it right before he looks down sadly at the folded edges of his textbook, and Isaac briefly contemplates death via window. To accomplish that, though, he'd have to jump over Stiles, who is seated on the other side of Scott. As always.
The teacher orders them to shut up in not so many words. It's ironic because the most significant things occurring around her have escaped her attention. Nearly half of her students are affected by the supernatural forces of nature as a part of their daily routine, but the only thing she catches is rowdy teenagers disrupting her dull instruction of the poetry unit.
"We're in California," Stiles deadpans, duly ignoring the teacher as her back is turned towards the chalkboard, "What the fuck else do you expect?"
"She's a new girl, maybe," Isaac whispers, and that's definitely not the right move because it makes Scott look up again, but not in the right way, not even a little bit. He has something akin to recognition in his features and what's more troubling is that Isaac recognizes precisely what type it is when Allison simultaneously shuffles around in her seat, intent on indicating that she's not distressed in the least.
The group needs a distraction, Isaac assumes, as the peace in the room is growing ambiguous. He's unable to conjure one up on the spot, so it might actually classify as a gift from god when the teacher drones on, "Tell me about the imagery of snow. I've written some basic ideas to begin with up on the board, so please expand on them," a long lapse in responses follows and she adds, "Don't all rush to raise your hands, now. Any examples you can think of from a poem that we haven't previously discussed? Anything?"
Stiles mutters darkly about how ninety percent of the pupils seated in the room at the moment haven't even seen snow, and Scott snorts.
Isaac considers hitting Stiles over the head with any heavy object in his reach, opening his mouth to retort when the teacher's shrill voice rings out with emphasis.
"Stilinski and McCall! Why is it always you two? Unless you have something engaging to bring up in relation to the lesson at hand, please refrain from making unnecessary comments."
"The winter wolves are coming," Lydia offers up to the apathetic class in a half–hearted effort to save Scott and Stiles from earning more detentions, "They are drawing ever near. The winter wolves are coming. They smell our blood, our fear. The winter wolves are coming in packs of hundreds and more. The winter wolves are coming. They are knocking at our door. Those are the first two stanzas of a poem written by Tim Vallie, and there's several aspects that we could break down and discuss. You're welcome," she throws a pointed look to first the teacher and then to Scott.
Allison and Jackson glance sharply at Lydia in unison, and Isaac takes solace in how he's not the only one who needs to get his shit in line.
"I would ask if she's okay, but clearly she's not okay," Stiles says to himself, yet loud enough for most of them to hear.
Isaac is still staring at Allison, recognizing that wolves and winter must be the last thing on her mind considering her mother has just died, and he's unsettled because he's in no place to comfort her about it. He's smoked eight cigarettes by lunch, at which point he leaves the cafeteria without eating because he won't be able to handle the sight of her sitting alone.
He's aware that he's wrecking his chances at stability when he pays too much attention to Allison or Scott or the two of them combined when they're failing miserably at keeping their longing gazes directed at one another to a minimum, but his tracks have been made on a path he's too far gone on to halt. There will be no easy road to recovery and he's strangely fine with that, so he drinks when there's potential for Derek not to see him drunk, but it ends up that he always does.
"Not Allison," the alpha warns him day after day once he quickly figures out Isaac's problem because he can tell what a slow spiral is when he sees one, "That's a mess you really don't want to get into. Not just because of her dad, but because of Scott. Think about Scott, god dammit."
Isaac easily clears his throat in affirmation that comes nothing close to a promise. What Derek doesn't realize is that Isaac thinks about Scott and consequences and what it means to be happy an unhealthy number of times on a twenty–four hour basis.
She tastes like vanilla and wine. He convinces himself that the kiss is an accident, purely based off a never–ending look exchanged and a split second of intensity that wasn't quite resistible because of the small and contained space they were in as a result of working together to figure out the virgin murders. She stops it before they get too far, and he's fine with that because he's busy reeling in the fact that she kissed him back.
He never planned to fall in love with her, but it just happened, and he's unsure of what to do about it now that it has. In the moments after she pulls back and walks away too soon for the first time, he remembers a tenser period in their lives when they'd stumbled upon one another at the local cemetery – he was going to visit Erica's makeshift grave with a flask full of Jameson to keep himself occupied, and she was making a trip to her mother's grave with nothing in her hands except regret and laments. They'd undoubtedly seen each other but had continued on their separate ways without a single nod of acknowledgement. Isaac had felt sick to his stomach witnessing her in such a condition. It had pained him to see their friendship diminishing into dust, the casual disappearance of what could have been and what shouldn't have been, ultimately, because he loves Scott too and Scott is his best friend and making out with his best friend's ex–girlfriend is too much like outright betrayal for him to come to terms with.
Their crossing at the graveyards comes to mind because he'd regretted, then, that he hadn't made a move and kissed her despite every muscle in his body and wheel of his brain screaming for him not to. Moreover he regretted that he hadn't apologized to her directly for her mother's death or her loneliness or something even though none of the above happened to be his fault. Nonetheless, he maintained stubbornly, there must have been something in her uneasy heartbeat that he was responsible for, and if not, there definitely was now.
The week after school starts, Stiles takes a leap of faith in the library, keeping a careful watch over Scott, who's searching among the shelves for a economics book that coach has ordered them to read.
"I think you're in love with Scott."
Isaac plays it cool. "I think you don't really know as much as you think you do." He's selfish, but he owns up to it.
"I just," Stiles goes on firmly, giving Isaac a pointed look as Allison coincidentally walks into the library, "Wish you knew what you were getting yourself into."
"I've got this," Isaac replies, the picture of reassurance. He's not one hundred percent positive what he's referring to and whether it's the same as what Stiles is. Perhaps a bit of both. His mind jumps back to Derek's ongoing warning and its subtle similarity to Stiles', and he cringes. "Seriously, don't worry about it."
He glances over at Scott, then, and wishes he would see him too. He wishes even more that he didn't feel so selfish for wanting it. Selfish. There's that word once more, the word that makes him want to cling onto the hope that one day his stars will align and everything will get better regardless of how much he doesn't believe in astrology, because he can't even begin to deliberate on useless, worthless, and talentless.
How does it feel to carry the weight of the universe on your shoulders? Isaac wants to ask Scott, but he doesn't, because it would be a stupid question. It's a recurring pattern in which all he ever feels are words he can't bring himself to say. He's made up of half–begun phrases and sentences that he's unable to finish and Why is this happening to me, why me? That's what he is and will always be until there are no words left to describe what he's fighting on the inside.
He knows that Scott can help him, but that too is a temporary emotion. He can't rely on himself to get through the day, let alone trust someone else to, but the problem is that he does and it hurts because one day the pack dynamics will vanish and no one will sing songs about his desolation. They are together today and no one wants to think about tomorrow, and yet Isaac wrestles with the knowledge that he must not be the only individual who distinguishes things are bound to fade, like newly imprinted words and diagrams in the partially wet sand that will be destroyed eventually. They will be gone when they mesh with the waves crashing in from the shoreline, and this is something palpable and certain enough to believe because no one ever forgets that the sea is vast and unforgiving. In this case Allison might be the sea, and he's willing to happily drown no matter how maddening it sounds.
When Scott and Allison get back together on a hour and day and month and year that he can't bring himself to care about, Isaac quits smoking and drinking and cutting. He stares at Derek and Stiles as they chase after him to a faraway train station and confesses, "I should have listened." The constellations in the night sky are his witnesses.
A/N: I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote this, but I'm basically crying in anticipation of 3x04 and all the future Scott/Allison/Isaac potential. If you read this far, thank you, and I'd appreciate reviews letting me know what you thought! However, please don't favorite without reviewing.