For someone whose life has been built around lies for as long as you can remember, you sure are awfully quiet.
When you do talk, it isn't pour-your-heart-out, either. For whatever reason (and you can name plenty), during your childhood you learned to lie and you learned to lie well. You lied to everyone: teachers, family, even what few friends you had.
The counselors tried to talk to your parents about it, but you never felt much inclined to share your true opinion. Sometimes, in show and tell, you'd make up stories in which you're the hero. This is my cape, it helps me fly. These are my claws, they're very sharp, one time I killed an evil monster with them. This is my crystal, I use it to teleport, but I can only use it at certain times, which is why I couldn't get out of the closet when I accidentally locked myself inside. The kids laugh rudely, but you're too busy pretending. The only one who ever champions you is you. So you have to do a good job at it, or you'll get sad again.
It was self-preservation, do or die, survival instincts on steroids. What exactly was pumping through your veins, you aren't sure, but it was potent and shady and dark in a way you could never really figure out how to wrap your head around.
As time wore on it only got worse, and the only way your father knew to beat you was by the numbers on your report card, by the fat, red letter grades signifying failure. You want to tell him that it's hard to study when every muscle is clenched in fear, but you don't. By that point you were still trying to reconcile your big, sarcastic mouth with your wild desire to keep yourself unbroken.
Later, much later, your guard starts to go down. Not much, but enough that you find yourself telling the truth every once in a while. Lying isn't quite so compulsive. Derek might break a bone every once in a while, but this time you heal. You figure that maybe it's okay to get bent out of shape as long as you can be bent back into shape afterward. It isn't falling and getting back up so much as scraping a knee and slapping a bandage over it. Survival instincts. The things you know.
Your barriers are still there, though you don't test them nearly so much as you probably should. Derek finds out about your dad, then Erica, then Boyd. Erica tries to bring it up but you shut her down so fast her eyes water. Boyd just pats your shoulder, and it takes every ounce of self-restraint in your body not to shake him off and then keep shaking until he gets it, that you were all your father had and you weren't good enough, that you drove your father mad while he was still grieving, that you are not a victim but someone caught in the crosshairs, and no matter how you tried you couldn't run fast enough. The past has a funny way of catching up with you.
Most nights you have trouble breathing, but you don't let yourself label it. Sometimes you feel your chest is a vice, and when Derek's eyebrows rise, alarmed, at the acrid stench of fear pouring off of you in waves, you just wait until he smells the bitter dark of loathing and leaves you alone. They aren't panic attacks; they're just reminders. Don't get too comfortable. History repeats itself. These things are your fault and you can never make up for them. Your bones are written with songs of loss and it will not get better from here.
It's not as hard to lie to werewolves when you have years of practice with humans who hate you, with humans who are actively looking for you to screw up. You figure out where your chinks are, and have worked to eliminate the tic in your jaw, the lip biting, the hand run messily through your curls. Your heartbeat is as steady as it's ever been, and for once you thank your usual frantic pace of life. No one can tell whether you're lying or not because you're always afraid. The ghosts follow you around.
It makes you feel invincible; you're the best liar in the pack by far, and though it irritates Derek, it also impresses him, albeit grudgingly. You help Erica and Boyd work on their heart rates and darting eyes, and start to think you might be useful for something, after all. You think you're unstoppable until you realize you aren't. For some things there are no defenses.
You meet Scott McCall on a cloudy Tuesday at the beginning of Freshman year. You are both human, you are both unpopular, you are both unnoticed. The similarities end there. Scott is unpopular but he is not unloved, and he wears his kindness around his eyes. They look like coffee, but you don't notice. At least, you try not to. But the year goes on, and you keep noticing, and he doesn't notice you back, so you set your sights on someone you know will reject you because sometimes you need the certainty of cruelty in your life.
(She does reject you. And then you try to kill her. She doesn't die, so you figure you're about even.)
Your path doesn't cross McCall's again until he's a wolf and you are, too. You start to wonder what you ever saw in him, chalk up his bravery to a misplaced sense of responsibility to humanity and a heavy dose of stupidity. He's not a threat, anyway, you have Derek who doesn't lock you in a freezer and Erica who was entirely unfazed when you told her you think your mom killed herself and Boyd who only talks when it's convenient because he thought this would be different, thought this would be some happy-go-lucky normal family, some group of friends bonded so closely you could call it love. You snort to yourself. That doesn't happen in real life, not to people like you.
But then you realize that Scott is a threat, except not the kind you thought, and everything is confusing because you've never known anyone like him in your life. You're hesitant to call him good, because people can turn into monsters perfectly fine without a full moon, but you don't know what other word encompasses him that well. You think back to coffee eyes, and maybe kind will do until you find a substitute that doesn't make you sound like a thirteen-year-old with a crush.
The awful part about it all is that you think you'd be okay if he'd leave you well enough alone, but he's actually taken a liking to you. No one does that. No one likes you. Tolerates, maybe; uses, definitely. But people don't seek you out. Everything you touch falls to ruin, fractures into pieces under your fingertips, and you think he'll be the same, but you can't find the words to tell him to run so instead you talk to him a bit in clipped sentences and accidentally find yourself being more honest than you've been your entire life.
He's just different. He found your walls and, instead of leaving them be, tried to punch right through them. People don't look at you like they want to puzzle you out in pieces, but Scott isn't people, not really, and you can't remember when you started calling him Scott instead of McCall, can't remember when you got used the sound of his name off your tongue. He doesn't want you to get hurt and he saves you from psychotic hunters with bewildering agendas and he looks at you until you want to tuck tail and run.
You don't realize you trust him until you say it out loud, and maybe that's the most troubling thing of all. He pulls things out of you that you didn't know were there.
It's the full moon that clinches it, though. The first time you run together, it's startling. The night is clear and the moon is bright and he agreed to run with the pack because the alternative was trying to keep control around his mom, and the last thing he wanted was for her to get hurt, you know, because it's so hard, especially since his anchor is still super shaky since Allison- you cut him off because you know, Scott, it's fine, we're just running, you don't have to join the pack, really. (Unless he wants to, which would be weirdly fine with you, and you don't pause to examine why.)
You shift more easily than you ever have before, slipping into this new skin like you're not ashamed of it, like you're not planning to use it against yourself. Tonight, you don't use a claw to slash open your skin and watch it heal. You just run, run, run, howling and giddy with moonlight. Your veins feel like live wires, electric, and your only direction is pack. Every once in a while a flash of red eyes keeps you away from residential areas, because you couldn't do it yourself, and you're so caught up in the moment, in your senses, that you don't realize you're on a collision course with Scott until you're both on the ground, snarling and rolling over each other again and again, playful nips and scratches that will heal, he pins you and you pin him, and when the morning hits you're the only ones still in that neck of the woods, gasping for breath. His face is painted in breathy hues of pink, lighting him up, and his smile is so contagious you don't even try to fight its lure. Something in you wants to kiss him silly and the thought makes you recoil so hard that you scramble away from him on your hands and feet and nearly end up careening down a hill. Scott, the oblivious idiot, follows you, and the moment is broken when his grin turns rueful. "We should head back," he's saying, scrubbing a hand through his hair and wincing at the brambles, "to the city. I need to look presentable again before my mom sees me and freaks out."You shake your head to snap yourself out of it, hear yourself agreeing without really meaning to, and it takes every cell in your body to resist telling him how messy his eyelashes are.
After that night you withdraw into yourself a little more closely. You see Scott plenty, but he doesn't get that smile anymore, that unbridled joy. You haven't given anyone that smile since before Cam died, and you were never planning on giving it again. Something in you hates Scott for that, for battering at your defenses until you trusted him, because that's the kind of thing you can't just take back. Erica teases you about your new, sullen attitude (and hell, you must really be moping for it to be so much worse than your usual expression) and you lash out so hard she ends up zipping her lips for once.
You regret it once she disappears. You regret a lot of things.
That summer is full of planning and Scott, but not at the same time. With Derek and Peter (and Stiles, on occasion), you work out a game plan and try to figure out anything you can about the alphas and Erica and Boyd. These days are long. Usually the air is filled with the dark of hopelessness and the too-sweet smell of missing someone you love. It's a word you only pull out when someone dies. You don't stop to think about what that means.
When you're with Scott, it's like a different world. Stiles is gone a lot from his house, and Scott complains halfheartedly and you ignore him, because you know exactly where Stiles is and it isn't somewhere Scott is allowed to be. You come close, though. You both work for the summer at the vet with Deaton, and you learn how to sharpen your instincts when it comes to pain and how much to draw, and you learn how to properly vaccinate puppies so impossibly small that you don't understand how they can be alive. You hope that Scott doesn't notice the extra heartbeat in the back room. He doesn't.
When you aren't working, you're spending the money you earned getting food or seeing movies or buying video games. You're kind of dating except for the part where you aren't. It takes you a while to remember that the word for dating without intimacy is just friendship. It takes you even longer to understand why this realization is something of a disappointment. For the time being, you chalk it up to all the secrecy, because if Scott can smell Stiles or Peter on you then he doesn't ask, doesn't talk about it. Maybe he's just oblivious. He can be that way. You cross your fingers too much, that summer, and try to force yourself to remember that lying is part of your genetic makeup, and that luck has never been something you could rely on.
But now, after years and years, you're getting sloppy, and you pretend you don't know why because you were always the best at lying to yourself. Of all people, Stiles is the one to notice.
It starts out as an argument along the lines of 'why are you trying to steal my best friend?' You never really liked Stiles, much, but you respect him enough after everything he's done for you and the pack that you don't break his arm. Internally, you mark up one point for team Lahey and zero for team Stilinski. It isn't as satisfying as you'd hoped. "Seriously, man, it's not cool. I've known Scott forever - I pretty much have dibs on his ass, werewolf-y or not, sorry buddy," and it's that of all things that sends a ridiculous flush up your neck. You curse your complexion a million and a half times while Stiles looks on in shock and then comprehension once he has the sense to backtrack through exactly what he said, as if pieces are sliding into place, and hey, maybe Scott isn't the only one to treat you like a puzzle after all.
It gets worse. From Stiles the word spreads to Derek, somehow, and you don't even want to know what kind of messed up relationship they have, and then to Peter on a day where Derek isn't feeling charitable, and Peter is the kind of guy to bring it up when he's bored. Tease the beta, or something, since you're the only beta around to mess with. Before Scott, in the B.S. times, you would've brushed the accusations off so convincingly that no one would dream to argue. But by this point you're starting to think something's wrong with you, like maybe Stiles knocked a piece of you loose, or maybe worse. You stammer when you talk (not new) and you trip over your feet (not new) and sometimes you even blush (very new). And Scott is still kind and good. You try to give yourself a word, but get stuck somewhere between selfish and broken.
You funnel your frustration into finding threats and smashing them to pulp. The first rogue werewolf of the summer comes to town and you volunteer without giving it a second thought, and if Derek's eyes stay on you too long then you decide not to care. You're the only beta he has left, but you can take care of yourself. He nods, curt, and you're off before you can take a breath. Running, running, running, and following a scent. Your wolf takes over, accepting the primal nature of the act with open jaws. The omega never had a chance.
You keep hitting his face after he's dead, feeling bone give way under bloodied flesh again and then again. Your knuckles are split but you brush it off; they'll heal, they'll heal. They always heal. You think you might be terrifying yourself, but you can't be sure until you get back to the loft and have a panic attack so bad Derek ends up calling Scott. How Scott became your emergency werewolf contact, you have no idea, but you barely even notice him entering. You're shaking, and you can't breathe, and you're a murderer, you're no better than your father, monster, killer, abuser. The ghosts of your past are still following you, and it has not gotten better.
It takes almost ten minutes for Scott to get into your head well enough that he can help you breathe again. Something uncoils in your chest and you heave forward, panting, exhausted. It's only a few beats before you're on your feet, having just enough energy to sprint to the bathroom and empty your stomach until you're dry heaving. When you walk out, you aren't sure what to say. "Are you alright?" asks Scott, and you can smell the anxiety rolling off of him. "Fine," you answer, clipped, and you aren't sure if it counts as lying if everyone knows you're doing it. You walk past him and Derek and end up outside trying to pace a hole in the pavement. You're mortified, you're pretty sure, cheeks flaming at the lack of control you've shown all day. Your only consolation is that you're alone to lick your wounds, but you aren't allowed even that for more than a few breaths.
Unsurprisingly, it's Scott that appears. You try to scowl but you're too tired for anger. Scott does that thing where he lifts his palms up and tries to look non-threatening, and for one absurd second you feel like a rabid animal, like a cornered dog with a flesh wound. "I'm fine," you say through a clenched jaw before he can say something weird and sentimental, "seriously. I just freaked out."
Scott is quiet for a while before he talks. "I saw the omega in the woods," he starts, "or, well, the body. What'd he do to you to make you so mad?"
You laugh unkindly, because it isn't always that easy, because Scott always thinks you're better than you are. "Nothing. He didn't do anything. I just felt like killing something. I started hitting him and I didn't want to stop." You bite back a curse, catch it just soon enough. Something about those eyes makes you honest. Something about that concern makes you want to unfold yourself like reverse origami. You're getting sloppy again.
"But you did. You killed the omega and you did a really, really good job. So why'd you have a panic attack after? I've seen panic attacks from Stiles, especially right after his mom died, but nothing that bad in years. Come on, man," he says, and he's bringing out the eyes again and you don't know how to deal with undiluted kindness, "talk to me, please. I don't understand you sometimes."
You look down at your hands. They seem small and twisted where they sit in your lap, useless. "I couldn't stop," you whisper, finally, "I didn't even want to. He was already dead and I broke his nose."
Scott nods pensively and you want to hit him, too, because he doesn't get it. You're seeing red because you need him to understand, you need just one person on your side, just this once. "I don't know how to not turn into him."
Beside you, Scott stiffens. He knows exactly who you're talking about. "You're not him, Isaac. You will never be him."
As far as encouragement goes, it isn't much, but the sincerity in his voice leaves you short of breath. Somewhere in all this mess Scott started believing in you, maybe even trusting you, and it makes you want to ruin him, ruin the two of you, ruin whatever is hanging in the air. It's what you do. You take beautiful things and rip them apart until your hands are bloody and the things aren't beautiful anymore. When you don't know how to deal with something, you dismantle it, and isn't that lovely? Isn't it just twisted?
If Scott smells the red tint of self-loathing that hits the air, he doesn't mention it. Just tilts his head up toward the dull sky filled to the brim with light pollution, serene from the wrong angle, and breathes.
You start forming a plan that night, and it's so simple you almost laugh. You won't have to worry about getting sloppy anymore. You ache and you ache, but you know this is what you have to do to not feel so afraid all the time. This is how you can reclaim yourself. No longer will your heart beat jump out of rhythm when he smiles at you; no longer will he take things you didn't know you knew how to give. You will not be slave to your emotions, not any longer, not now at least. This needs to end - it's needed to end for a while - and you think you've figured out how to end it. How to push him so hard that he won't be able to bounce back. You know a lot of things, but maybe the things you know best are these: hatred, false confidence, and a startling ability to drive away the people that once loved you, that once cared about you, that once thought you were better than you are. You are so good at proving them wrong.
It should be harder, but the next time you see Scott you've made up your mind. It only takes you ten seconds to walk up to him, confident, put your hands on his face, and kiss the living daylights out of him. You let yourself enjoy it, sick as it may sound. It's almost romantic, in the wrong light, almost tragic. Scott pulls back, shocked, flustered, eyes like saucers and a hand hovering near his mouth, and when he talks his voice comes out strangled. "W-hat?" It isn't even coherent - more garbled and confused than anything else.
"Whoops," you say, not sorry at all, and maybe now he'll leave you well enough alone.
A/N: This was supposed to be 500 words, max, but Isaac Lahey is not a simple boy to write about. He has his demons, and they are many. Hopefully you find this as interesting to read as I did writing it. This is part 1/2, and though it's dark and will continue to be dark, I promise there will be light at the end of the road. Have faith, dear readers. The name "Isaac" does, after all, mean "he laughs."