WARNINGS: This contains coarse language, kidnapping, and other mature themes. This is a slight AU following 2x12, though the characters of the alpha pack and the events they have caused remain almost the same. This also includes spoilers for all of Season 3. That being said, I've basically picked and chosen what facts after 2x12 that I wanted to remain canon in this, so if you encounter anything that sounds conflicting then that's why. Lastly, just to make it absolutely clear in case it's not already – I'm not joking about this actually being a Stiles/Allison and Scott/Lydia fic, so don't go into reading this expecting Scott/Allison and Stiles/Lydia just because that's the typical combination of these characters and then be bothered by it when it's not.

This is dedicated without a second thought to Pearl (lydiamaartin), because I love her and she's the Lydia to my Allison and I honestly don't know what my life would be like without her.

tell me we're dead and i'll love you even more

"Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we'll never get used to it." ––Richard Siken

"Remember when you made out with Lydia?"

Scott takes a slight step back, like he's been the victim of a physical attack. Not only has that topic been long buried, but since he's been trying to strategize with Stiles all afternoon on how to best divert a confrontation with the alpha pack, it just so happens to be one of the least convenient times for it to be brought up again.

"Uh –" he begins stupidly, glad to he interrupted because he's not sure what he would have possibly went on to say.

"Yeah, I mean, not that I have any inclination whatsoever to keep reminding myself about it, but these days I've been forced to reconsider and think that maybe it wasn't you getting all wolfed up that really caused it? Maybe –"


"What?" Stiles pulls a face, claiming complete innocence in regards to the matter.

"I'm not in love with Lydia," Scott says firmly.

Stiles sighs overdramatically. "I wasn't saying that you're in love with Lydia. It just occurred to me that we were turning it into too big of a deal of it at the time to think clearly –"

"By we, you do mean that you were turning it into too big of a deal, right?"

"– and come to terms with how it was probably a simple case of you being attracted to her. I don't blame you. I wouldn't blame you if you like, still were or something," Stiles finishes awkwardly, ignoring his best friend's interruption.

"It's not like that."

"Then tell me what it's like."

"It's like when you kissed Allison and I never made us talk about that because I knew you messed up and it was a one time thing," Scott replies, putting a hand on Stiles' shoulder for reassurance, "We don't have to treat this like some huge issue by talking about it more. I trust you, and you should trust me. Okay? I've got to get to work, but I'll text you later."

"Okay," Stiles mumbles, watching Scott walk out the door before completing his sentence resignedly to an empty room, "But in all honesty, we should have talked about it more."

Lydia waits until three days pass after Jackson leaves to cry about it. Like all other important things, she does it alone, her bedroom door closed to keep out anyone and everyone.

Allison walks in on her trying to get her act together, and the only explanation she gets is a nearly incoherent, "He left."

"He couldn't have," Allison says stupidly. Yet without even asking for clarification, she knows it must be true.

Lydia wipes at her eyes one last time, taking a deep breath to compose herself. "Well, he did. He's gone to London for good, and he decided to tell me about it the day he was scheduled to leave."

"But –" Allison looks dumbfounded.

"You didn't know him better than I did. No one did," Lydia snaps, "He's really gone."

"I believe you," Allison says to drown out the betrayal of Jackson actually leaving without telling her, "It's something he would do. Are you –"

"I'm fine," Lydia responds, "Just perfect. I don't even care, really, because he was an asshole and it wasn't going to last."

"You loved him," Allison points out duly, as if this explanation is enough to prove that Lydia is lying.

"I didn't. I never did."

There are two beats too long of silence from Allison's end.

"Let's talk about something else," Lydia says with an aura of finality, "Anything else."

Allison, still appearing unconvinced, shrugs. "You told me to come over at this time yesterday. Remember?"

"Of course," Lydia feigns knowledge of making such plans, "We're supposed to be going shopping."

"Yeah, that's what you wanted to do. But we don't have to –"

"No, I want to. We're going, no excuses." Lydia is adamant that Allison not bring up Jackson ever again. If there was anyone she would have preferred to walk in on her crying because she could trust them to keep their mouth shut about it, that person was Allison. However, given their individual histories with Jackson, that didn't make things any less uncomfortable for either of them.

Allison watches Lydia hurriedly gather her purse and cell phone, and she attempts to retain some sense of casualness. Jackson left without telling her, and that is understandable because aside from a few distinct moments, they were nothing. But he left without telling Lydia in advance, and she can appreciate from her best friend's point of view that really fucking done doesn't even begin to cover the extent of her feelings.

Allison is much better at avoiding Scott than Scott is at avoiding Allison. Stiles isn't the greatest at avoiding anybody, but the look of surprise that crosses his face when he stumbles into Allison would suggest that he used to believe otherwise about his personal abilities of stealth.

"Oh, hey – I was just, you know, on my way to school, because that's what I do – go to class, and everything."

Allison opens her mouth to say something, but apparently decides against it at the last minute. She clears her throat instead.

"I guess I'll see you in school, then," Stiles goes on nervously, as if he has a lot to lose – as if she does, too. Neither of them puts any significant effort into making eye contact. She hasn't said anything, so he turns to go in the opposite direction.

"Yeah," she says finally, making him glance over his shoulder again, "I guess we'll see each other there."

Stiles recognizes the question that's gone unspoken, so he answers for her anyway, despite the hassle he's sure to get for it later on. "Scott is fine, in case you were wondering. He misses you, though. I know that for a fact."

"Right," Allison says carefully, conflicted between being hurt or disconcerted, "Thanks, Stiles." The gratefulness, however, is evident in her voice.

There is a shift in the tension between them so apparent that Stiles is shocked that they can't see it in the air. "Do you think we should talk about –"

"No, we probably shouldn't."

He nods, smiling ruefully to himself as he looks up to find her already gone. They both continue walking alone to wherever they were headed on an obviously school–free Saturday.

Scott doesn't need to utilize his inner wolf to realize when he's being watched from afar. He can feel Lydia's wary stare on him when he least expects it – across the hall as he rummages through his locker for a lost textbook, three subtle paces behind him as he makes his way to a class, and always seemingly next to him, at his side when he needs help but hasn't even asked for it yet.

"Something's going to happen soon," she informs him matter–of–factly as a greeting, falling into step beside him like she belongs there, "Something major."

"What are you talking about?" His expression switches from dazed to concerned. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," she rolls her eyes, "Just thought I'd give you a fair warning before all hell breaks loose. Oh wait, it already has."

"What do you know?"

"Not much," Lydia says, though she ushers him into the nearest empty classroom anyway so they can talk privately.

"Okay, so what is it?" Scott asks expectantly as she closes the door, "Did you see or hear something? Are you sure you're fine?"

Lydia, getting quite fed up with her peers treating her like some type of ghost–hunting freak, replies testily, "Get a grip, will you? I had a dream last week that came true, and I had a similar one last night and am afraid that it will, too. You're the first person I believe actually needs to know about it."

"What happened in the dream?"

"I don't know how to tell you."

"Tell me," Scott insists, sounding in control but looking like he could fall apart at any given moment, "Please, Lydia."

"It's Allison," she says simply, though the worry is noticeable in her posture, "She's in danger."

Scott moves to bolt out of the classroom without even begging for more details. He fiddles with the handle angrily for several moments, but the predicament is clear. The door has somehow been locked from the outside.

"No!" Scott protests loudly to no one in particular, urgently switching his attention back to Lydia for any support she can give him, "What are we going to do? Do you know where Allison is right now? What exactly happened in your dream?"

Lydia hastily pulls her phone out of her pocket, trying to find service as she speaks. "I – I don't know. Are you positive that the door's locked and not just jammed? Who would –"

"I can think of a few people," Scott interjects icily, treading on dangerous waters since it's the first time he's spoken unkindly to Lydia in his life, "Namely people who you're so convinced are okay to trust when they're really not." It all comes out wrong, because Scott is more concerned about Lydia's well–being than furious about who she's been crossing lines to sleep with.

Lydia narrows her eyes."I don't know what you're talking about."

Scott says nothing in response, exerting a considerable amount of force into pushing the door with the hope of breaking it. It doesn't budge.

"Fuck!" he exclaims, pacing the area by the door in a state of sheer panic, his eyes shifting from brown to yellow to red and then back to brown again.

"There are no windows in this room!" Lydia puts aside their dispute and matches his frustration, "And I can't get a decent phone signal. This is really fucked up."

Scott remembers that he also has a phone. "I've picked something up with mine," he says hopefully, glancing from the screen and then to the door in case anything about the situation abruptly changes, "Stiles isn't answering, why –"

He ends the fourth frantic call to Stiles, typing out a group text to both Stiles and Isaac, while Lydia continues to look for any alternate way out. They keep an obvious distance away from one another as they pretend that everything's alright.

Wherever you are, drop what you're doing and GO FIND ALLISON. It's an emergency. Tell me as soon as you do.

Scott stares at the reply–less text for what seems like forever. He can still feel Lydia's eyes on him, but for once he doesn't turn around.

Stiles is already pissed off by the repeated missed phone calls that preceded the text when he reads it. His phone is thankfully on vibrate so he's saved from getting singled out in the middle of class because of an obnoxious alert ringtone, but the dead silence aside from the rustling of papers and writing utensils in the middle of a pop quiz certainly doesn't contribute to making the disruption subtle.

He expertly manages to text back from under his desk when the teacher's back is turned, working on writing instructions for homework on the chalkboard. I'm in class. Allison is right across the row from me. What's wrong?

I'm stuck in the 2nd floor English room. With Lydia. She said Allison is in danger. comes the first text back, and when he's forced to put his phone away from fear of getting caught and sent to to principal's office, he knows without looking that the second text reading something along the lines of Are you sure Allison's okay? has probably arrived.

He scans the room for Isaac, pulling his best I'm–Not–Cheating–I'm–Just–Checking–The–Time–On–The –Wall–Clock face when the teacher turns, notices, and throws a warning look in his direction. Isaac is scribbling away at his quiz, and Stiles sees no sign that he has yet read the ominous group text message from Scott.

Stiles quietly sets his pencil down, picking up the phone from his lap, typing Allison's fine. I'll come up there ASAP, and hitting send before he overthinks it and has enough time to focus on how his heartbeat has quickened.

Handing in his unfinished quiz, he comes up with a hardly believable excuse to leave the classroom, making it into a life–and–death scenario to get the teacher to oblige. He wishes it didn't feel like it actually was one.

Once in the empty hallway, he begins to type a text to Isaac, sending it as he bounds up the stairs.

Whatever you do, please don't leave Allison alone. Those are Scott's orders. I don't care what lengths you have to go to, just follow her when class is over and make sure she stays safe. I would, but I have to go find Scott and Lydia. Keep me posted.

He tries to forget how easily he'd caught Allison's eye before walking out, not fully knowing what it meant that the slight shake of his head to reassure her would undoubtedly do nothing to keep her out of whatever mess he was about to get himself into.

Scott watches the battery on his phone trickle down as he continues to send texts in various degrees of agitation. The seconds ticking by turn into minutes, minutes turn into half an hour, and Stiles still hasn't appeared to rescue them as promised. Lydia remains silent and unmoving.

Scott sends a final text to Derek and Boyd to watch out for the alphas because they are more than likely planning something and it is more than likely to be sinister, and then he adjusts the ringer to be on the highest volume it can go and pockets his phone.

"I'm sorry."

Lydia acts like she didn't hear him, even in the stark silence of the classroom and the hall outside accompanying it. "What?"

"I said I'm sorry. For taking my anger out on you earlier," he runs a hand through his hair, "It was out of line and you didn't deserve it."

"It's okay," she says although she doesn't want to, although she wants him to drag out the apology further and detail all the reasons why he's wrong and let her talk about all the reasons why she's exhausted of being treated like shit by guys who claim to know her, but she keeps her mouth shut for a long moment. "I know that you snapped at me because you're worried about Allison."

There is a visible change in his behavior. He's immediately more alert and willing to come closer to her. "I am – of course I am," he says, "But I'm worried about you, too. If there's anything I can do –"

"Nothing I can think of off the top of my head," she crosses her arms, "Just stay out of my business, and I'll stay out of yours."

"But –"

"No buts," she reprimands him firmly, "I honestly don't know what it is about you and Stiles that makes you think that I need fixing. I'm not damaged, for god's sake. I'm perfectly fine. The number of times I've repeated myself on that front has got to make me sound like a pitifully broken record, so if you could please just –"

Scott's phone rings, indicating an incoming text, and he gestures for Lydia to hold on to her thoughts. He's surprised to see that the message is from Boyd and not any of the others, but his initial hopefulness is destroyed once he's read it.

He realizes too late that he can barely breathe. Lydia rushes to his side in an instant, placing a strong hand between his shoulder blades to keep him from stumbling as she reads over his arm.

Everything got fucked up. Stiles disappeared first, and then Allison and Isaac. No one knows where they are. I just told Derek and he doesn't know what to do.

All Stiles can see is black. He supposes that he can't be unconscious, because then he wouldn't be seeing anything – but he could perhaps be unconscious and having a nightmare about a black hole that has sucked his soul away. Then he picks up the sound of a familiar voice whispering nearby, and he focuses his energy on waking up.

"Open your eyes, Stiles, just open your eyes –" Allison's pleas are cut short when he stirs.

"What's happening? Where –" he starts groggily, unaware of his surroundings, but she raises a finger to her lips and he doesn't make another noise.

Stiles notes that neither of their hands and feet are bound, and they haven't been gagged or restrained in any other manner, but he can't shake the feeling that they are being held somewhere and maybe Scott was right to go on Lydia's gut instinct. Terrible things may happen to him – and Allison, as a consequence – for not quite believing in Scott's texts initially.

He shouldn't be taking the blame for Allison, he reckons, because he'd left her as Isaac's responsibility and Isaac is nowhere to be seen at the moment, but he is smarter than the impulse to make rash assumptions now. Allison can look out for herself even with her eyes closed, he knows, so she didn't need Isaac hovering over her in the first place. Stiles bites his lip, mind racing to figure out just how bad this might be – there's the issue of if Scott and Lydia are still stuck because he never showed up on the second floor, where Isaac is and whether or not he's fine, and how Allison ended up in the confines of the same space that he did.

"What happened?" he mouths to Allison when she finally looks at him again. He's conjured a hazy image of the last thing he remembers before hitting the edge of darkness and opening up his eyes to where he currently is – there had been a heavy force on the back of his head as he neared the last step in the stairwell, but Allison had definitely not been with him. Allison had still been in class, focusing on writing a stupid pop quiz.

She swallows, pointing to the wall opposite them, beyond which faint voices can be heard. Stiles picks up Scott's name, then Allison's and his own, before going closer to the wall, putting his ear against it, and confirming his suspicions. He checks his pocket for his phone, but of course it's not there. Allison sees him do so and motions that they took hers as well.

"I'm afraid this isn't your friend Stiles, Scott," Deucalion's unmistakable drawl rings out from the other side of the wall, "Though you might have a good idea as to what has happened to him and what could happen to him in the very near future."

Stiles doesn't react, but Allison recognizes when she takes his hand in hers how much he's tensed up. She tunes out Deucalion for the time being, despite the knowledge that the indirect information she could pick up from his phone call with Scott is their best chance at a weapon right now. Scott is probably in trouble somewhere, too, or else he wouldn't have just missed her and Stiles' disappearance.

"Breathe, Stiles," she says in hushed tones, "Breathe. For now that's the only thing we can do."

The dejection evident in her voice all but kills Stiles on the spot, not because it lowers his spirits more, but because he has never seen or wanted to see Allison Argent in such a state of helplessness – not when they were stuck in the school at night a year ago, not when the kanima was loose and they had no fucking idea what was going on, and certainly not when her boyfriend turned out to be a werewolf and her grandfather a homicidal lunatic. This is a rare instance of weakness for her, and it depresses him beyond reason. She's opened herself up to be vulnerable in front of him, and he can't decide if that's because he means something to her or because he doesn't mean anything to her at all.

"Okay," he says rather than channeling his emotions into words, "Thanks. We're fine. This is fine. Everything's going to be fine."

She almost smiles because they both don't believe that even one percent. They both also know better than to yell and bang on the wall and do anything that would provoke the alpha pack, but Stiles takes a little bit of solace in how different their positions of power would have been against the alphas if Allison had had her bow and arrow with her.

Lydia gets Scott to sit on one of the many chairs they have at their disposal, and she paces on the tile flooring as if being anxious will offer them a simple solution to their problems. She gets her phone to pick up service eventually, sends Allison and Stiles the same Tell me you're okay text, and curses the mindset she'd been in when she'd decided getting out of bed that morning was even remotely a good notion.

"We don't have any semblance of a plan formed here," Lydia says to Scott in spite of her desire to console him.

Scott, as expected, gets up for approximately the tenth time to attempt to break the door or the wall next to it open. Neither method works, but instead of sitting back down as Lydia has instructed, he starts pacing with her. He has long since texted Boyd their location, but no one has shown up to get them out of the classroom. It's entirely plausible to Scott that Boyd and Derek are cornered somewhere else.

"I know," he says defeatedly, "And no one's texted back. I don't even know where they are, or if they're alright. I don't know anything."

She should have known as much, and still it astonishes Lydia that Scott is more distraught about what could be happening with Stiles and Allison and Isaac and Boyd and Derek than what is happening with him.

"It'll be okay," she begins slowly, shocked at her own burst of semi–optimism just for Scott McCall's benefit, "We'll find a way out."

His feet halt, so she does the same with hers. Although it's the least distance that's been between them since they entered the room together, he takes another step towards her.

"You never got a chance to finish what you were saying about sounding like a broken record all the time," he says, like it's the most relevant and pressing matter in the world.

"I don't remember what else I was going to say," she lies. In truth, she's thrown off by the newfound intensity in his voice. He didn't have to bring the conversation back to her, but he did.

"If you ever feel like that again – that Stiles and I overdo do it – then you can just tell us. I think Stiles has been doing better at it – not worrying about you, and everything, but the thing is that we're not the biggest fans of the alpha pack, which Aiden happens to be a part of," Scott goes on, "And sometimes I can't stop myself from worrying about you. I try, but I can't help it."

"Why do you worry about me?"

"Just because."

She can tell that he's hiding something, because she's been playing this game for far longer than he has. "Just because what?" she echoes, a defensive tone creeping in to replace her curiosity.

He reaches out and touches her arm. She doesn't flinch.

"Scott –"

His phone rings, and this time it's not a text. Startled, he removes his hand from her skin to answer it. Lydia feels like she's been burned where his fingers had been a split second ago.

"Stiles?" Scott begins hurriedly, "What happened? Where are you?"

The response he gets in return is unexpected and unwelcome.

"I'm afraid this isn't your friend Stiles, Scott, though you might have a good idea as to what has happened to him and what could happen to him in the very near future."

Scott lowers the phone from his ear, rushes to put it on speaker so Lydia can hear, and at last speaks, with a lot more confidence than he thought he had in him. "Where's Stiles? Let him go."

"I could," Deucalion says deliberately, "But what would be the fun in that?"

"What do you want?" Scott prays that at least Isaac and Allison are out of the reach of Deucalion's grasp. He doesn't have the courage to look at Lydia, but when he does out of the corner of his eye, she appears mortified.

"Right now? Nothing. I just wanted to let you in on how effortless it is for me to collect various members of your non–traditional pack and line them up for slaughter."

Scott catches Lydia's heartbeat racing at an unreasonable speed. He's sure that if she could hear his, she would find it to probably be worse than her own.

"There's Stiles, of course, and the human girl," Deucalion goes on calmly, "If the other one isn't with you and you're confused about which one I'm referring to, then I can clarify just to make things easier for you – I have the human hunter girl. Do you want to see her and Stiles die, Scott?"

"Deucalion," Scott's eyes flash fiery red, not a first for that afternoon, "Don't you dare –"

"Ah, I didn't think so. There's still plenty of time for you to give in and join my pack, but let it be understood that this is the first of many warnings to come," Deucalion says, and every part of Scott knows that he's not bluffing, "I'm going to let them go today, but what you need to take from this little lesson is that I've taken them captive once, so I can surely do it again. Consider your choices wisely."

When the phone cuts off and the dull dial tone blares on speaker, Scott realizes that Deucalion didn't utter a single word about Isaac.

"Do you know where Isaac is?" Stiles asks after several moment of heavy quiet, once the phone call that took place outside wherever they are has subsided.

Allison eases her hand out of his, and it's only then that he notices they had been holding hands for a while and his now feel cold without the warmth of hers.

She tip–toes to the back of the tiny room they're enclosed in, murmuring, "Follow me," in case he hasn't gotten the hint. She gestures to the vast steel door a few meters from where they'd just been standing against the wall.

"They locked us in a bank vault?" Stiles gapes, unable to keep his voice down, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

"Nope," Allison says, growing more serious, if that's even possible, "To answer your question, I don't know where Isaac is. Maybe he's being held in another one of these?"


"Why do you think he's gone missing? Isn't there a good chance he's just going about his day as normally as he usually does, and we're the only two that got kidnapped?"

The word kidnapped hits Stiles like a direct blow to his chest cavity, as if he hadn't been able to make the connection before Allison said it aloud. "No, there's probably little to no chance of that."

"Why not?" Allison is growing impatient.

"Because Isaac was supposed to keep track of you after class to make sure you were safe," Stiles admits sheepishly, "And if you don't have a clue where he is, then he obviously didn't follow the plan, which means that something went wrong."

"You gave Isaac the task of following me around?" Allison looks like Stiles has just told her that he has an STI, "What the hell? Why would I need any type of protection?"

"Scott said that you did. And that reinforces that something must have went wrong with Isaac, because he never goes against what Scott tells him to do," Stiles explains, hoping that Allison's anger will simmer down as he continues, though the blurred events of the day all seem to be spilling out in the wrong light, "Scott sent the same text to me, too, so if it makes you feel better, it was going to be me and Isaac following you around, but then I thought that that me getting involved would be pointless if I didn't free Scott first –"

"Wait, what happened to Scott?" Allison demands, and Stiles shifts his weight from foot to foot.

"He was – and maybe still is – stuck in a classroom upstairs with Lydia. That's why he texted me and Isaac to keep an eye on you. Do you really think he wouldn't have done it himself if he could have?"

Allison looks away. "Is he okay?"

"Who, Scott? Of course," Stiles assures her with false hope, "Come on, it's Scott we're talking about here. Not to mention that it's him and Lydia, so with those two minds combined, they've probably found a way out."

"Him and Lydia," Allison repeats, lamenting.

Stiles cracks his knuckles. "Yeah. Him and Lydia."

Scott doesn't trust Deucalion to follow through on letting Stiles and Allison go. He undoubtedly trusts that his threats aren't half–hearted, but taking Stiles and Allison captive only to let them go unharmed a few hours later in order to send a message seems far too easy, which makes Scott the epitome of uneasy.

"Have you told anyone?" Lydia breaks his concentration, moving closer to him and hiding her intrigue as best as she can.

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about your eyes turning red and that demented alpha pack leader saying on the phone that he wants you to be one of them."

"No," he inhales sharply, "I haven't."

"Does it mean something? Are you –" she can't come up with an appropriate term, so she trails off, the question hanging in the air.

"I'm not sure what's going on anymore. The question why me? is recurring," he tells her truthfully, exercising his vocabulary of the day without trying to.

Lydia laughs bitterly. "That makes two of us." She thinks he looks at her with newfound respect after she says it, but it overwhelmingly strikes her all that maybe that's how he's always looked at her.

"I'm sorry you got roped in to this mess," he sighs.

"I don't see how it's your fault. I'm the one who made you come in here to talk."

"I guess so. But just because it's not my fault doesn't mean that it's your fault."

"So neither of us are to blame," Lydia says lightly, going along with what he's started. It's the most innocent flirting she's engaged in for a while, but nonetheless, she refuses to mentally accept that she's flirting back.

"That's pretty fair," Scott replies, the hints of a smile growing on his features, "I really wish we could apply that philosophy to our day to day lives."

Lydia dwells on this prospect before responding. "We could, if we wanted to, but we don't. Or maybe I could, but you couldn't, because you're already so used to taking the blame for everything on yourself."

Scott doesn't argue, though he does get the vague sense that she's putting herself down. "Don't say it like that," he frowns, "You're better than all of this bullshit, Lydia. You shouldn't even be a part of it, but you are, and you're doing a hell of a lot better at dealing with it than I ever did."

"You don't know half of what I've been through," Lydia retorts, but not as coolly as she'd intended.

"True," Scott says thoughtfully, "I don't think anyone knows, though, because you've never trusted any of us enough to tell us."

Lydia is familiar with what this is – he wants her to respond No, Scott, I trust you, but she won't, because she doesn't. She's baffled by how everyone expects her to trust them when she can barely even trust herself.

Instead of voicing her opinion, she does what she can to salvage the situation by leaning forward, closing the remaining space between them, and crashing her lips onto his. It's Scott and he's not a rogue wolf under the stress of an upcoming full moon, so she predicts that he'll push her away. She's fine with that. She can handle rejection when it's anticipated, but she can't handle the pressure of having nothing left to say.

Scott doesn't push her off. He's surprised by the kiss, but eases into it nonetheless, reveling in the feeling of her lips against his. The memory of the last time they did this flashes across his mind, the way it had felt like power then and feels like something unthinkable now. The weight of her is the same, as is the smell and the taste, but he's kissing her back of his own free will rather than a weird instinct and that's all that matters to him in the moment.

"Sorry," he rushes to say when they break apart, and Lydia is left stunned because he has nothing to apologize for – unless he's apologizing for kissing her back, which is a grave insult according to her standards.

She removes her hands from his neck, oblivious to when and how they'd gotten there. "Sorry?" she repeats in a questioning tone, marginally breathless.

"I – I don't know," he has to contemplate what to say next so he doesn't apologize again, "Did we just –"

"We aren't in seventh grade, Scott. You don't have to act so embarrassed," she says casually, "We kissed. It's not a huge deal."

Scott considers the term 'kissed' to be a massive understatement. "And you're okay with that? That we kissed?"

"I'm the one who kissed you. Why would I if I wasn't okay with it?"

"I just thought – because of what happened before, that it might be, you know –"

"A lot has changed since then," Lydia interjects just to put him out of the misery of going on so awkwardly, "Everything's different now."

Scott lets out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "Yeah. It is different."

"If it makes you feel any less guilty or whatever the fuck you're feeling, I'm not sorry for kissing you," she pauses, "And if you are, then that's your problem."

"I really don't know what to think," he says, although he knows exactly what he's thinking and doesn't have the courage to own up to it, "I'm sorry."

"Stop apologizing. We don't have to talk about this anymore if there's nothing to talk about."

"Lydia –"

"You still love Allison," she states rashly, "That's fine. I'm not asking you to love me. I'm not asking you for anything."

She's already turned her back to him. He fumbles for the right thing to say to get her to turn around again, but comes up with not much at all.

Scott takes a seat, tired of all the thinking he's done in the past few hours on account of being useless to do anything else. He has sent Isaac an uncountable number of texts by the time there's a loud knock on the classroom door. It's Cora who comes to their aid in the end, ushering them out with a rough, "Derek sent me."

Scott and Lydia take steps to regain their freedom, but no longer being helplessly stuck in a room together isn't as liberating as it should be. Scott struggles with the revelation that in those confines, they had been in control of more than they could have originally imagined.

Lydia doesn't look at him even once.

No one sleeps until they find Isaac. Stiles and Allison had also suspected a catch when Deucalion had opened the door of the vault they were being held in and had told them that they were absolutely free to go, no restrictions attached. Scott and Cora had soon after joined them in the search for Isaac. No one had the time to ask where Lydia was at first, and if someone had, Scott didn't have the heart to say that she'd probably gone straight home.

When they discovered a little before midnight it just so happened that the catch was a bloody and bruised Isaac lying on the outskirts of a side road that led to the abandoned bank, Allison finally mentioned Lydia and whether or not she was alright. Stiles looked to Scott for an explanation, but oddly received nothing.

Cora had bluntly broken the silence. "You guys texted Scott to meet you by the bank as soon as he could, and Lydia turned and went the other way. A real load of help, she is."

They were, however, successful in getting Lydia to meet them the next day at Stiles' place before school. Looking back at the way things had transpired, they had also been lucky to successfully transport Isaac to the hospital on Scott's bike.

"We need to do something to make sure this doesn't happen again," Scott says decidedly, avoiding Allison's eyes because of how she'd told him to get himself together for Isaac's sake the previous night. He hadn't realized when the tears in his eyes had started spilling.

"Right, okay," Stiles deadpans, "What type of measures do you have in mind to prevent an entire pack of alphas from potentially kidnapping, torturing, and killing us all one by one? Because I definitely can't think of anything that would work properly in the long run."

Stiles's outburst is met by three unappreciative stares. Allison throws him a more pointed look than the other two, Scott mumbles incoherently, and Lydia quips under her breath, "You just took pessimism to a whole new level."

He makes a noncommittal sound, glancing down at his untouched cup of coffee on the kitchen counter. He doesn't feel like drinking it. He doesn't feel discussing the trauma that could have befallen them all in the past twenty–four hours. He doesn't feel like looking at Allison, but he does that anyway.

"Isaac is going to be okay, though?" Allison remarks, "What did your mom say about him, Scott? Is he doing better than he was when we found him?"

"He was beaten up pretty badly, but it's not as serious as it appeared to be," Scott looks to Stiles for reinforcement, as after walking a solid three miles with Allison to drop her off at her house, he'd gone to retrieve his jeep from the school parking lot and had headed to the hospital to meet up with Scott there. Allison hadn't wanted to call her dad to pick her up, because he believed that she had went over to Lydia's after school.

"Yeah," Stiles confirms, "He's going to be alright. Mrs. McCall said he'll probably get discharged later today."

"Where were you, Lydia?" Scott says suddenly, fully aware that he's beginning a conversation that he should have with her when they're alone, "You didn't reply to anyone's texts or calls last night." You didn't reply to my texts or calls last night is what he really means, and all four of them know it.

Lydia shrugs. Allison nudges her in the side.

"Sorry," Lydia says begrudgingly. It sounds more like a cough than anything.

Stiles drowns his coffee in a few quick gulps to keep from paying too much attention to what The Serious Conversation has shifted to. Allison asks if he has any cream and sugar on the pretense that she doesn't drink hers black like he does. He directs her to the refrigerator and pantry, watching her seamlessly distance herself from the group, and not for the purpose of making her coffee like she'd said. That's essentially a microcosm of what she's been doing for the past several months, he thinks, and it all kind of makes more sense to him.

He follows her to the front door for reasons he can't entirely fathom. He'll see her in class, so he's not sure why he wants so desperately to say bye. In a way, after the events of the previous day, he's tired of taking things and people and life for granted. There's an array of endless misfortunes that could occur in the next twenty minutes that would mean he'd never see her again, so he's set on following her, seeing her face and saying a quick goodbye and not regretting later on, if he hadn't followed her and something terrible were to happen to either of them, what could have been.

She gives him a slight smile, slings her backpack over her shoulder, and responds, "I'll see you soon."

Stiles returns to the kitchen more awake than coffee has ever made him, and soundlessly ignores how Scott and Lydia seem to be having a talk without saying anything at all.

Lydia shows up at Allison's place unannounced that afternoon, switching on an automatic and cheerful cover–up mode when Mr. Argent asks her if she and Allison had a nice time yesterday evening.

"Of course," she says, peering past him to see Allison nowhere in sight, "We got some good studying in for the Chemistry test on Friday."

Allison's dad, as always, is doubtful, but he accepts Lydia's testimony nonetheless. She's about to knock on Allison's bedroom door when Allison quickly opens it and lets her in.

"Thanks for that," she says, and Lydia assumes that she'd seen her coming and had been listening intently to her short run–in with her dad.

"No problem." Lydia flops onto Allison's bed. She pretends like she doesn't even know why she's come over. Allison immediately calls her out on it.

"Listen, I understand you not coming with us to find Isaac last night – you were probably tired and knew that we'd keep you updated. I can't read your mind and figure out your reasoning, but whatever, it's done and it's fine. But are we going to talk about what happened between you and Scott? Because it's obvious that something did."

"I don't know why you would think that something happened between me and Scott," Lydia says nonchalantly, "Nothing happened between me and Scott."

Allison sits down across from her on her bed. "Why are you lying?" she asks.

"The truth hurts, Allison."

"I can deal with being hurt, Lydia. You know what I can't deal with? My best friend lying to me."

Lydia thinks about Allison's statement for a long time. "I don't think anyone's ever called me their best friend before."

"I don't think I've ever called anyone mine." It's not a lie. With all the moving Allison's family has done in the past, she's had constant difficulties into making a place her home and a crowd in school her own. "And that's all the more reason why I hate it when you lie to me. We shouldn't have to keep secrets from each other."

"I kissed him," Lydia declares reluctantly, "That's what happened."

Allison slowly nods. "Thanks for telling me," she closes her eyes momentarily, avoiding the urge to be angry, "I'm not joking, by the way. You know it would've been worse if I'd found out another way instead of straight from you."

Lydia stands up, adjusting her ponytail in the mirror by the dresser. "You're not mad?"

"No, I'm not. I'm feeling a bit betrayed, but not mad."

"Should I assume that you're over Scott, then?"

Allison remains silent.

Lydia turns around to face her, a pleading look on her face as the gravity of what she's done hits her all at once. "I really am sorry."

"I can't believe I'm saying this," Allison begins resolutely, "But if you want my honest opinion – it would give me some peace of mind if you actually liked him. I sort of still care about him, so I don't know if I could deal with you just playing around with his feelings."

"I never said I was sorry for kissing him," Lydia replies, sitting down again, "Like, I am sorry, but more for betraying you. I should have told you about what I felt a lot earlier."

"So you do feel something for him," Allison accuses, edging closer to an amused tone, "I knew it. I've seen the way you looked at him. It sounds horribly cliché, but it's true. I think Stiles has noticed, too."

"Stiles has noticed?" Lydia asks disbelievingly, "Please tell me you mean that you and Stiles have noticed."

"It's not like that. I just know that he's noticed. It's Stiles. He's pretty easy to read."

"You're being pretty easy to read right now," Lydia shoots back, "Seriously, though. You said that the kiss wasn't anything special, but how can you be so sure? How can you just write him off as your ex's best friend when you two have locked lips?"

"That's unfair," Allison counters, "We were tipsy. Cut me a little slack, at least."

"You don't just tipsily kiss a guy you're not attracted to. There has to be something there, subconsciously even, for your alcohol influenced brain to latch onto to begin with."

"Please tell me you're only teasing."

"I most certainly am not," Lydia says, offended.

"I'd rather not discuss this," Allison decides, though she has to at some point with someone and apparently Lydia has decided on both their behalves that that point in time is now and with her, because she doesn't give up.

"Do you think I particularly enjoy discussing Stiles Stilinski's love life? I'm being forced to, because it involves you, so now it's my business because I care about you too much to let you do this to yourself."

Allison stares at Lydia, ignoring the latter half of her comment in its entirety. "Do you not consider yourself a part of his love life? He's been in love with you forever," she blurts out, partially irritated and partially amazed at how the most intelligent girl she's ever met can be so oblivious when it comes to certain things.

Lydia purses her lips. "Yeah, I've heard."

"You've heard? From who?"

"People," Lydia waves her hand around as if it's small talk and they have deeper matters to delve into, "Let's not even get in to that. What? Don't give me that dirty look, Argent. It's not like I don't care about him – I do. He's a good friend. Being this mushy is killing me right now, I hope you know – and yeah, I would do anything for him. It's safe to say that he would do anything for me. But at most we're friends, and that's all. That's all that we'll ever be, no matter how he feels. I know how this works, so trust me – we're way better off as just friends. Call me a bitch, but those are the facts. He'll move on eventually. Or maybe he already has."

Allison pretends like she doesn't catch the pointed glance Lydia shoots her at the end of her small speech. "You're scaring me now with the intense honesty," she attempts joking, but then solemnly adds, "So if, hypothetically, something else were to happen between me and him – not that it will, okay, so don't fool yourself – you'd be cool with it?"

"Yes, no need to get all worked up about it. You have my blessing. Well, as long as you steer clear of his plaid shirts. They're practically an insult to modern day humanity," Lydia tacks on as an after–thought.

Allison looks down at her coincidental choice in a top that morning, a dark red and yellow clearly checkered plaid pattern matched with skinny jeans, and offers an apology that implies she's more entertained with this development than sorry about it.

"You're done for," Lydia laughs, trying not to wonder what Scott's opinion would be if Allison's so–called hypothetical reasoning became reality, "Have a good fashion backwards life with Stilinski."

Stiles can't remember the last time he was truly happy. When he's not completely worn out from the trials of every day in Beacon Hills with supernatural threats looming over his and his friends' heads, the closest he's gotten to positivity is being content with his father's success with a case or being glad to have made it out of dangerous circumstances alive.

As Allison walks in to his bedroom without warning, Stiles buries his bewilderment to make way for accepting the illusory nature of the evening – if he remembered what happiness felt like, he would have put that name to it. But he didn't, so his mind wrote off the legitimate happiness at seeing her outside of school, being held captive together, or group plotting somewhere on how to proceed with combating the alpha pack and the sacrifices around town as something that wasn't even real.

"Hi," she greets, closing the door behind her, "Your dad let me in. He was baffled that Scott wasn't with me, but he let me in. I'm sorry, I should have knocked before I just barged in. If you're busy, I can go –"

"No, no, of course not," Stiles says, almost too eagerly as he closes the History textbook that he hadn't been able to focus on regardless, "I'm not busy at all. Stay. Please."

She smiles at the ground, and he swears he can feel himself falling simultaneously for her and to his death a million times harder than he has ever thought possible. He rushes forward to clear up his bed, which is littered with clothes and his laptop and probably a few questionable materials that look like a week's worth of old junk food, but then realizes that she might not want to sit on his bed because that could be an awkward assumption to make on his part, so he empties his desk chair as well, just to be safe.

She sits on his bed and observes his room for a moment as he sits across from her on the chair. The majority of his stuff is now cluttered on the carpet and desk, but he couldn't care less.

"You know that thing we vowed to never talk about?" Allison says, trying to sound relaxed.

Stiles chuckles. "The thing? Like the thing we vowed to never talk about but went and told Scott and Lydia about right after it happened? Yeah, I know about that thing."

"I'm ready to talk about it now, if you are?"

Stiles doesn't have to think back to the thing she's referring to in order to picture it. He's thought about it so many times that there's a permanent imprint of it in his mind – yes, they'd kissed, and yes, it might have been influenced by how they'd been drinking. They had been slightly drunk and not high on life itself, but high on being alive in the midst of the chaos that had passed through their lives. Any one of them could have been dead, but they weren't. There was nothing Stiles could have imagined ever being more thankful for than that – but now with Allison Argent sitting on his bed like this was how they'd always been, he found himself questioning the very definition of thankfulness.

"I am ready to talk about it, yeah," he says, aiming for a joke so he doesn't fall over from pure shock, "So I have this crazy conspiracy theory. What if it wasn't really because of the alcohol, but because there was some strange thing with the full moon that impacted us?"

"We're both human," she reminds him lightly.

"Yeah, so that just makes it worse. Speaking of worse, have you ever thought about love? Not in our context, but in general." He's aware that he's edging towards insanity by going down this path, but he continues nonetheless. "Like how you and Scott were pretty serious, but now you guys aren't together anymore, and I have no right to put myself in your shoes and pretend that I know how you feel, but still – you must be like, 'Wow, I have the rest of my life ahead of me. I love Scott, but anything could happen.' Does that make sense? There's that constant uncertainty."

"What are you trying to say, Stiles?"

He takes it as a good sign that she looks inquisitive rather than apprehensive. "Just like – I don't know. I can't explain it perfectly. But you know that really deep feeling you get sometimes that makes you feel so tiny and lost in a world that's huge and unforgiving?" he quickly searches his mind for an example, not wanting to sound like a complete idiot who's spouting random nonsense, and mentally rejoices when he gets one, "Oh! Like when you're walking down a busy street, and you see all these unfamiliar faces. They're people that you don't know and will probably never know, coming from different places and on their way to different but also universal places, like schools or offices or homes or hospitals. And it's like, well shit, I'm not the only person out there. I'm not the only person with problems – and all werewolves and firestarters and archers aside, we get so caught up with staying alive that we forget that we can still relate to normal people, Allison. We used to lead normal lives. Just hang on to that. Hang on to the truth that there's all these people out there in the world, including us, alive and breathing and going about their daily routines at once, and individually we never pause and think about it. But when we do, we're overwhelmed by it – by the simplicity and complexity of how everyone out there has a story, and we'll never know it. Everyone out there has or did have or could have a family and friends and goals and nightmares and emotions and loves and tragedies, so many tragedies. It's almost like we're not supposed to think about it, because it's all just so goddamn overwhelming. Every day is a fucking tragedy if you pay enough attention."

"There's a reason you're telling me all this, isn't there?" Allison asks, willing the tears forming in her eyes in response to the rawness of what she's just witnessed to disappear, "There's a reason you're telling me instead of Lydia, or even Scott."

Stiles nods. "Because with everyone out there, with all their secret quirks and ambitions and ways of breathing – there's this chance, this wild, sounds like it's too good to be true chance that there's potential to fall in love more than once in your life – that if you saw all the parts that make a person, if you truly got to know them from inside and out, then you could, ultimately, fall in love with anyone."

"You started off by saying that you're not talking about us, that you're just talking about love and people in general, but this sounds a lot like something that could be applied to us," Allison says, swallowing the lump in her throat, "Are you speaking from experience, or what?"

"Kind of. I've been holding it all in for so long that this barely feels real, barely feels like it's happening, but I'm glad I have the opportunity to be here with you and say that I'm sorry," he tells her hurriedly, but it's his next words that truly capture her attention, "I'm sorry for not being sorry about what happened. About us – the kiss. I tried, for a long time, to feel guilty, but I really couldn't. I just ended up talking myself into circles about why I knew I should have felt guilty, but also why I didn't. So I'm not sorry, and I'm sorry about that. Oh, and I guess this now warrants another apology, just for me being so terrible at communicating –"

He'd been watching Allison the whole time during which he spoke, and yet he'd been so engrossed in his own justifications that hadn't noticed when she'd stood up and made her way over to him. He did notice, however, her interrupting him with a whispered "Stop," followed by her lips lightly touching his. He notices that he's kissing her, and that she deepens the kiss when he catches on. He definitely notices that she's now sitting on his lap like they've done this a hundred times.

He's happy, and what's happening with Allison is real, and no one can take that away from him.

The only sign left of Tuesday night is a thin scar on Isaac's left cheek. Stiles finds Isaac asleep on Scott's bed when he strolls into his room, and he retraces his steps back the way he came, bumping into Scott in the hallway.

"Oh, hey man," Scott says, sidestepping Stiles and closing the door to his bedroom, "Sorry, we have to be quiet because Isaac needs the rest. He passed out a couple of hours ago."

"Yeah, you're right," Stiles agrees, walking down the stairs as noiselessly as possible, "I hope you don't mind that I just came over without telling you first."

Scott makes a face. "Since when do we ask for permission before showing up at each other's places?"

"Since never," Stiles says, neutrally grinning because he feels like something should have changed about their friendship since he filled Scott in on Allison, but nothing has.

"You love Allison," Scott had concluded when Stiles had stumbled into his house at the break of dawn and had started blabbing about the difference between brunettes and redheads and consequences and the meaning of being best friends.

Stiles had stared at him, mouth shut tight, blind to how obvious he'd been while going about his confession. He'd expected some blank replies, perhaps a lot of anger when Scott caught on, but not blatant recognition. It was almost like getting told that he'd been walking around town with his feelings painted all over his face. "Maybe – yes," he'd stuttered, "I mean, yeah. You get the point."

"And you've been avoiding me for a whole day because you think that'll be a problem between us."

"Honestly? I'd be a little more than surprised if it wasn't."

"It's not," Scott had assured, "Seriously, dude, I've seen it coming for a while now. I just want you to be happy, and the same goes for Allison. I wouldn't trust anyone else with her." He went on to tell Stiles about the alpha pack's motivation, which was to get him to join them, and Stiles was left speechless.

Now, standing with Scott a couple days later, Stiles is still unsteady about everything on the Allison front. He wishes Scott had been mad just so they could have gotten that out of the way, because he doesn't want to deal with it further down the road. He's not sure if he knows how to handle all the support, either.

"Is Isaac doing alright?" Stiles asks, "Like aside from the napping to fight off exhaustion. That's excusable. Getting beaten up that badly would take a lot out of a person."

"There hasn't been any severe damage, if that's what you're asking," Scott replies, going on concernedly, "But I don't know. It was brutal. They went after him on purpose, obviously, and it seems like beating someone up like that but leaving them alive and in a place where we can find them just to send a message is child's play for them. I can't let it happen again."

"Don't worry," Stiles says, placing his hand softly on Scott's shoulder and contradicting his pessimistic views of only a few days prior, "We'll figure out how to beat them and get through this, eventually, like we get through everything. We always do."

Scott receives the phone call on the following Monday evening. He'd feared far worse, but when he realizes what's actually occurred, it's hard to tame the beast inside him from losing control long enough to formulate a plan.

"I thought we had a deal, Scott," Deucalion says calculatingly from the other end of the line, "You broke your promise."

"I never made any promises," Scott replies, fury rising, "You hurt Isaac. You can't come after the people I care about and expect me to give in to your demands. I won't."

"Oh, yes, the blonde boy. Your beta who had been trailing the hunter girl like a puppy dog," Deucalion recalls, as if they're fondly discussing a mutual friend, "You'll be interested to know that we had to corner them individually, or else it would've been rather difficult to take both of them at once. As for the injuries poor Isaac may have sustained, I'm afraid that you've proven time and time again that you're too much of a liability, so something had to be done to portray the seriousness of this all to you."

"I'm not going to join your pack."

"Now you're simply being difficult," Deucalion chides, "I realized that it might come to this, but it's a shame it has to – have it your way, then. Like you said yourself, I can't expect you to give in to my demands. But I can force you to."

Scott waits for the inevitable, his heart in his throat.

"You see, I must admit that I'm the one who's made a grave error in judgment. Last week I took the human and the hunter girl who are so important to you, but I overlooked the most vital piece of the puzzle. In other words, the real reason your pack is still surviving."

Scott connects the dots, head held in his hands as he resists the desire to throw his phone out the window. "Where is she?" he demands, voice sounding nothing like his normal one as it reaches a low–pitched growl, "If you hurt her –"

"Well, there's no need to be so melodramatic," Deucalion says, and Scott can all but see the smirk that's likely plastered onto his face, "I like you, so I'll give you a hint. The firestarter is where you should have first saved her."

The line clicks and redirects to the dial tone. Deucalion has hung up before Scott can respond.

Adrenaline on overdrive, Scott runs, wishing he could have seen Lydia's dream himself so it would have been easier to determine that Allison had never been in real danger to begin with. Lydia had.

Beacon Hills High, as they all know too well, is eerier than most locations in town under the night sky. It never fails to puts a bad taste in their mouths, and they all have their own valid arguments for that.

The empty and illuminated lacrosse field against the backdrop of a deadly forest stands out in particular to Allison Argent as she embraces the cover behind a set of rusty bleachers and thinks, This is where Lydia stood. This is where Lydia was when her body survived but her life got ripped apart.

Allison recalls a tied up Derek Hale, his fangs protruding and introducing her to what the world around her was really like. Her aunt and grandfather had placed the seeds of darkness in her mind and heart, but she was intelligent and self–reflective enough to not blame them for what she'd become. Her own choices had paved the path to where she was now – she had watched, the bystander and heroine and villain in her own story, as the life she had wanted slowly slipped out of her fingers, and she let it.

Lydia, on the other hand, had made no such fateful choices. Lydia had been thrust into their world forcefully, and she was trying to salvage any chances she could at having a normal life, however impractical that was. Allison knew that, and Allison loved her for it. Allison was ready to kill so that her best friend could safely pursue her dreams.

Allison clutches her loaded bow protectively, keeping a wary track of her surroundings. There's no sign of Lydia being nearby yet, but Allison is sure that there will be soon. Allison had known immediately where to go when Scott had frantically called her and said, "They have Lydia," like the world was ending. And she didn't blame him, because if anything happened to Lydia, their entire world would collapse within seconds.

Allison is alone and will fight to the death if it comes down to it, and death will be the probable end if no one shows up to help her face the alpha pack. She doesn't dare get her phone out of her pocket to check the time because that would be too much a distraction, would throw off the careful attention she's paying to the vast greenery in front of her.

She hears them before she sees them, and if she's close enough to hear them, then they're close enough to smell her.

"What if the McCall twerp doesn't show up?"

"He will, Kali. He's going to come to save the girl he loves."

Allison briefly closes her eyes, spins around, and releases the first of many arrows.

In the aftermath of battle, Scott feels Allison staring at him. He's covered with a mixture of sweat and blood, his and that of others'. There were no deaths, but he and Derek and Isaac and Boyd were able to push a retreat with the element of surprise of having Allison and Chris Argent on their side.

"It's Lydia," Allison had told her father on her way out when it was evident that she couldn't walk right by him armed in her hunting gear and keep it a secret, "I'm past the point of not getting involved, and you should be, too."

He had tried to stop her, of course, but she was already out the door. She had known he would follow her there and back.

"Where's Stiles?" she hisses through clenched teeth, working at freeing a bound and gagged but thankfully unharmed Lydia.

"I didn't tell him," Scott admits, "He doesn't know what happened."

Allison thinks all the words she could say have been knocked out of her in an instant. "How could you?"

"I did it for him. He's safer at home," Scott says, leaning down to help her untie the ropes around Lydia's wrists, "He wouldn't have been able to handle it, and there's nothing he could have done to help us."

"It doesn't matter whether he could have done anything to help," Allison replies readily, giving Lydia a hand to steady her, "What matters is that whether he would have." And then she limps away, too weak to walk normally as a result of being pinned down and nearly killed more times than she can count, ignoring the surge of gratitude that rushes through her when she realizes that everyone she loves is alive. She leaves a wide–eyed Lydia and frustrated Scott standing shakily together in her wake.

It will take them time to recover and make all the necessary apologies they need to get back to normal, and Deucalion and his pack will come back with more wrath, but when they do, they will find a group of increasingly capable humans and their alpha that are more united than ever. No matter what they go through, waging wars against life and death, at the end of the day or night the four of them will remain unbreakable at each other's sides.

Lydia lets Scott ring the doorbell five times before huffing, tearing her eyes away from her bedroom window, and going downstairs. It's 10 AM on Saturday morning and she's not yet dressed, which is a first for her in recent years.

She opens the door fully, lingering between the door frame and the door in shorts that are on the shorter side and a low–cut tank top. "What is it, McCall?"

"Hey," he says slowly, looking like he was expecting someone else to answer the door, but that is ruled out because evidently Lydia is the only one home greeting him in less clothes than he's ever seen her in, "Uhm – how are you?"

"How am I?" She sounds tired, even though she's been getting a lot of extra sleep in the past few days. After the events early on in the week had transpired, Scott had dropped her home and asked her about a thousand times if she was okay. She wasn't, but she lied so he'd leave her alone. What she hadn't anticipated was that he would spend the rest of the week avoiding her at school.

"I mean, like, how have you been doing?" Scott says, recognizing the mistake of his initial inquiry, "Can I come in?"

"No," Lydia says shortly, "Not unless you tell me what you want."

"I want to ask you how you are," Scott replies, confused, "That's why I'm here."

"That still doesn't explain what you want," Lydia says snarkily, "I don't see why you need to come all the way to my house to ask how I am when you could easily just ask me at school. Oh, never mind, I forgot for a second that you've made it your personal prerogative to ignore me. Excuse my serious lack of judgment in trusting you to be the last person who would ever pull a stunt like that."

"Lydia, I'm sorry."

"That's not going to cut it this time."

"I –"

"Nope. Think of something better and find your way back when you have." She begins to shut the door on him, but he edges his foot in front of it before she can.

"Just give me a chance to explain."

Lydia looks physically pained by this request. "You have two minutes," she tells him, glancing down at her watch as a means of emphasis, "The clock's ticking."

Wasting ten seconds on simply being relieved that he didn't get a door slammed in his face, Scott uses the rest of his time wisely, as he's sure Lydia is serious about that condition. "I'm sorry for not talking to you at school, or anywhere outside of it until now. I really am. I know you probably won't believe me, but there's a reason I distanced myself from you, and it's not because of anything that happened in that classroom two weeks ago. It's about what happened after that. I don't have the right to just show up at your doorstep and think you'll forgive me, but I do care about you, and I can't see you getting hurt again. This all could have ended up much worse than it did. Deucalion took you because he knew that you meant something to me, Lydia, and I was a fool to believe that ignoring you would keep you safer from harm in the future. You really needed me this week, more than ever, and I just abandoned you. I'm sorry."

His two minutes are nearly up, but she's still standing in the doorway. He takes that as a good signal.

"Is it just me, or does that seem a lot like the spiel you would have given Allison about Stiles if she'd stayed and listened to you that night?" Lydia questions, but something has definitely changed about the way she's regarding him after his explanation, "Is this how you treat people who happen to care about you, too? Just try to throw it all away so they won't get hurt?"

"No, it's not. Not usually," he says, reeling in the admission that she cares about him and trying not to show it, "But you get what I'm saying, don't you? This is my fault, all of it is. If something were to happen to you or Stiles or Allison or Isaac, it would be my fault. It would be because of me –"

She shakes off the memory which reminds her that they've basically already had this conversation. "Let me tell you something – people get hurt all the time. People hurt people, and people hurt themselves. That's the way the universe works, and it'd be great for everyone if you accepted that and took some of the weight you're holding off your shoulders. You can't live like this, Scott. You can't take the blame for everything."

"I can if it's my fault."

"Me getting thrown into all of this isn't your fault, alright? Not everything is about you," she responds, and he can't exactly be sure whether her tone is laced with anger or sadness or both, "Me being immune isn't your fault. Me being a target for the alpha pack isn't your fault –"

"Yes, it is my fault!" he yells, breathing heavily as if he's run a marathon, "Why don't you understand? You being a target is my fault because they're after me and I love you."

Lydia steps back, eyes still trained on him. For a moment she thinks biology has failed and her lungs have stopped pumping air. "Surprised it took you so long, but I'll accept it," she says, unable to keep the shock out of her voice. "You can come in now," she adds, and even though she's turned and isn't facing him anymore by the time he figures out what has just happened, he can tell that she's smiling.

"Have you forgiven Scott?" The wind pierces Stiles' exposed skin. He hates himself for not thinking to bring a jacket with him as he walks through various shades of gloom.

"We talked," Allison replies, glancing over at him and then back to the stone path ahead of them, "So yes. You could say that."

"Good," Stiles nods, moving closer to Allison so he can take her hand. He immediately feels much better about the weather and life as a whole when he does. It doesn't matter that they're surrounded by so much grey when he has her next to him. "You didn't have to be mad at him for me. I've known him for so long that I understand his motivations to do certain things, and I'm fine with it."

She smiles at him, their fingers intertwined. "Yeah, and you didn't have to do this, you know. Come with me, and everything. I could've done it alone."

"But I'm doing it anyway, not only because I want to, but because you would do the same for me any day," he says serenely, "And that's all that matters."

She tightens her grip on his hand, balancing a small bouquet of flowers in her free one. "This is what happens to everyone at some point," she says wistfully, "One day you're going about your boring, ordinary life, and one day something happens and you're not doing that anymore. One day you're walking through a line of graves with pain in your heart, and that's all that's left, because one day all you'll be to someone is their reason to walk through a cemetery on a rainy Sunday."

"Until that day, though, we keep fighting."

"Because fighting is all we know how to do."

"No," he disagrees, "Because living and loving are all we know how to do, and to live and love, you have to fight and survive whatever obstacles get thrown at you."

"So we do what we need to do just to stay alive."

"Sort of," he looks at her, and of course she's trying not to cry.

"No one told my mother that," she says edgily, voice thick with tears, "And even if someone would have, she wouldn't have listened. She was too selfish to see what she was leaving behind."

"I know you're angry," he begins rationally, "But you can't really know what she was thinking when she did it. She could have –"

"She put a code before the people she was supposed to love," Allison interrupts, "If that's not selfishness, then I don't know what is. She couldn't even look me in the eye and say goodbye, so she didn't say it at all."

"Hey," he says, in a way that he hopes is somewhat comforting, "Stop thinking about it. You're only hurting yourself."

"I know," she replies, wiping away at the tears under her eyes, "But according to her, that's one of the few things I could be good at. Being pathetic."

"That's the farthest thing from true that I've heard in seventeen years," he stops walking and pulls her in for a hug. She buries her head in his shoulder, and he has one hand in her hair, the other on the small of her back as he commands, "Don't ever say that again."

She murmurs something that he's not meant to understand. He knows she wants to not actually cry, not be vulnerable for longer than she already has, but he sees the tear stains near the collar of his shirt when she pulls away and most definitely understands that. He kisses her forehead, and they hardly use words to communicate for the rest of the morning.

When they kneel together at Mrs. Argent's grave and Allison doesn't set the flowers down until they get to the much older tombstone of Stiles's mother, however, Stiles wishes there was something adequate he could say to thank her and tell her that he loves her. He comes up with nothing for the time being, losing himself in the moment as they walk back together to town and the lives that have been given to them.

A/N: If you've read this far, I'd sincerely appreciate reviews. If you liked this enough to favorite it, please don't favorite without reviewing!