WARNINGS: Spoilers for 3x09, based off certain theories circulating around the fandom at the moment, and contains potentially triggering mature themes, including a spiral into darkness and mentions of past abuse. This was written as a Lydia–centric fic, but if you squint closely you will probably be able to see the hints of a few ships.

tie up your scarf real tight
(these boys are out for blood tonight)

and when she stood she stood tall
she'll make a fool of you all
slow it down ––the lumineers

In her dreams, Lydia has killed Peter a thousand times. She wakes up in various states of distress, shocked by what she's done and how easily she would do it again in reality if offered the opportunity. Jennifer's words ring ceaselessly through her ears. They are far from the same, Lydia maintains. She is not some soulless monster going around and conducting sacrifices to contribute to her own selfish agenda. Lydia has people she loves, and people who love her back. She has friends, ambitions, and emotions. The wailing woman is not her sole identity, and even if it is, she won't let it consume her. She won't let herself become Jennifer.

A banshee, by one of many existing definitions, is a female spirit in Irish mythology typically seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the other–world. Peter was unaware that Lydia was exactly that when he chose to tear her life apart, but now that he knows, he supposes it makes him seem all the more clever, to have set his sights from the start on an immune firestarter with more ability to glance into the world of the supernatural than anyone could have predicted. He wonders how long it took Jennifer to figure it out – from his view of the current state of things, apparently too long. He doesn't hold her accountable, however, acknowledging that Lydia Martin is the most complicated back–up plan he's ever had to deal with himself.

Lydia has intrigued Jennifer since she first set eyes on her in the classroom. Even after seeing Lydia sketch an overly familiar tree instead of paying attention to a highly pointless lesson on idioms and metaphors and similes, she resists the urge to murmur, "That's where I died and the came back to life," and constantly refuses to look more into her, writing her off as a normal girl who somehow knows too much and has a low sense of self–awareness on top of it. She realizes what a error in judgment this was, of course, when the reality strikes her at the last moment. Lydia Martin is indeed something. She is, simply put, a threat that must be eliminated at all costs if Jennifer wants to survive. After all, two sides of the same coin can't both thrive if they're facing each other from opposite ends of carefully constructed battle lines.

Lydia watches Derek clutch Jennifer severely by the throat. It took a significant number of sleepless hours for them all to manage to track her down, but they were relentless. Stiles' father's safety was at stake. For Lydia, that meant Stiles was at stake. Stiles was one of her best friends. She couldn't lose him.

She can't deny the satisfaction she gets from seeing the woman – or creature – who'd held her captive and attempted to kill her and Stiles' father held in the firm grasp of one of the alphas in her life. Scott stands in front of her, more than ready to rush forward and assist Derek if necessary. Allison stands next to Scott, holding on to her loaded bow as if it's a mere extension of her limbs.

"Derek –" Jennifer repeats for what seems to be the hundredth time, and she sounds far from sorry.

"You tried to kill Lydia," he growls, "Tell me why I should let you live."

"Well, there is the question of the obvious problem that will arise – you can't kill me."

Lydia sees Derek's gaze flick to her for a split second, concentration broken, and the air that once normally passed through her lungs feels like it has somehow caught in her throat forever. Maybe that's a weird side–effect of being whatever she is, she thinks, but then again, maybe it's just a reaction to the truth that someone like Derek Hale who shouldn't give a damn about her possibly does. It shoves her back to face the reality that she's a part of something much bigger than herself.

"Don't touch her again," is the next thing Lydia hears, and it dawns on her that while she was lost in her own mind, she missed a huge part of Derek's exchange with the darach. Forcing her heartbeat to slow down, she concludes that she likely didn't miss out on anything too important outside of assorted attempts at intimidation.

Later, in the warmth of Allison's bedroom, Lydia chokes on words she thought she'd well–rehearsed.

"Hey," Allison says, placing a hand on her shoulder, "It's okay. We're going to be fine."

"No, we're not," Lydia snaps, suddenly concerned with how bad things must be if she's being fed false optimism from Allison Argent, "Nothing's okay."

"We found Stiles' dad in one piece, and he's recovering in the hospital now. Stiles is as calm as he can be about the entire situation. I'd say that's pretty okay."

"Yeah, it all kind of worked out this time," Lydia stresses each syllable like the world has started spinning in the wrong direction and she's only just come to terms with it. In a way, it has. They've all been shattered and nearly left for dead on uncountable occasions ever since Peter Hale bit Scott. They could all present a long list of grievances against him if they even had time to blink and contemplate the original culprit in the mess their lives have become.

"This time has to be good enough," Allison replies firmly, "We just have to make sure there's not a next time."

"We have to do something," Lydia begins to pace restlessly around the room, "There has to be something we can do."

"I understand what you mean, but –"

Lydia stares at the floor, and then at Allison, interrupting her friend without hesitation. "You of all people should know the answer to this."

Allison realizes what is going to come out of Lydia's mouth before she even goes on, but it startles her a bit nonetheless.

"We have to fight," Lydia says resolutely.

Allison effortlessly recognizes the determined look on her face. She's outgrowing her bones, shedding her skin, turning into someone she's never been. Allison can only hope that when the time comes, she will still be able to recognize the Lydia Martin she knows.

Peter remembers Paige. Not a night goes by when angle of her smile, the curve of her hips, and the way she spoke with her head held high all the time don't cloud his thoughts. He's haunted by the knowledge that things could have turned out differently if he would have been a little more careful or sensitive or intelligent. Things would have been different if he hadn't become an emotional wreck over a certain brunette and known how to follow through on the concept of eternity. That simple knowledge, along with his all consuming apathy, are to blame for how feels absolutely no remorse when he outright lies to his niece and Stiles Stilinski.

It takes Stiles several days, in light of recent events, to fill Lydia in on all the important information he's gained.

"Her name was Paige," he starts to recite, and Lydia's interest is not fully piqued until Peter is mentioned.

"Hold on, let me get this straight – you're saying Peter Hale mentioned himself multiple times in a story that he was telling? But it was about Derek and the Paige girl, right?"

"Yeah..." Stiles trails off nervously.

Lydia raises an eyebrow. "How can you just blindly believe everything he told you? How can you be sure he wasn't feeding you biased and far–fetched lies?" she demands, "We know from past experiences that he's a convincing liar. What's making us take him at face value now? That we don't have any other source of facts, so we're going to accept whatever he tells us? Because that's bullshit."

"I know," Stiles says, at a loss for an adequate justification, "I was supposed to ask Derek about it, to get some sort of confirmation, but with everything that's happened to him lately... I know Peter's not the most reliable person to get anything from, including a story like this, but it's all we've got. We have to take it for the time being."

"So you trust Peter Hale?" Lydia remains steady and unwavering, expertly hiding, as always, her inner turmoils.

Stiles appears flustered. "Not really. I mean, yeah – no. I don't."

"You're not doing the greatest job at portraying it, then," she responds coolly before storming off, conscious of how she's completely on her own to figure out what the hell actually happened between Derek and Paige and Peter a decade ago.

"I'm here to see her," Lydia announces to the mysterious depths of Derek's loft without invitation, expecting him to hear her from wherever he is. When he bounds down the stairs, she doesn't falter. "How nice of you to show up. This is even lower than last place on my list of preferred locations to be when I'm skipping class, but I'm here to –"

"I know why you're here. I heard you the first time," he interrupts, edgily as ever, "And you need to go home. Or to school. Why don't any of you go to school anymore, for god's sake?"

She rolls her eyes, looking him over with an exaggerated are you being serious right now? expression plastered onto her features. "I'm not leaving until you let me see her. I need to talk to her."

He crosses his arms. "No, you don't, Lydia."

"Yes, I do," she persists, pretending like she's not astonished that he's called her by her name for the second time in the span of a few days instead of The Girl Who Went Crazy And Blew Wolfsbane Powder In My Face. Even when he doesn't say it, she can tell he's thinking it, and she's mentally daring him to say it because every time he almost does, the retort of "You have your fucked up uncle to blame for that" is so close to the tip of her tongue that she can taste it.

"Lydia," Derek says again. His tone is unreadable, except for how exhausted he is. Lydia tries not to care.

"Derek," she matches his voice, "I'm serious."

"And what makes you think I'm not?"

"What you are and aren't is none of my concern," Lydia retorts through clenched teeth, "I just need to see the woman who up until a week ago I thought was my AP English teacher. So if you want to help me out, that's fine, and if you don't, then I'll find a way to get to her myself."

Derek sighs, biting back the response already formed in his mind that she would have no way of seeing Jennifer without getting his consent first. With a heavy heart and against every core instinct telling him that this is wrong and Scott will be furious if he finds out, he fulfills her wishes and lets her in.

Jennifer is pleased to see her, to say the very least. She cocks her head to the side when Lydia sits down opposite her, well aware that Derek is tuning in to their every movement from just outside the door. She could have escaped the room she's in several times with her eyes closed, but she chose to stay. Some things will be much easier to accomplish if she lets Derek and his pack believe that they have this much power over her.

"If you're here to ask for advice on your endless tension with Derek, I'll let you in on the secret that he's not quite as good in bed as he looks like he is."

"Stop trying to get inside my head," Lydia says, narrowing her eyes.

"Oh, so you're admitting that that thought has been inside your head before?" Jennifer inquires maliciously, "Not that I blame you, obviously."

Lydia, also aware that Derek can hear every word they say, decides to cut to the chase. She pulls out her finest bluff. "I know about your history with Peter."

"Then you should also know that it is exactly that – history."

"I don't trust you."

Jennifer clucks her tongue disapprovingly, wanting nothing more than to edge closer and brutally slash Lydia's neck, but knowing that Derek would burst in before her nerves and muscles even began to cooperate. "That hurts me, truly."

"How did you do it?" Lydia detests the curiosity that's crept into her tone, but she can't take it back.

"The emeton tree," Jennifer explains, "I died there as a Druid and came back to life as what I am now. I bided my time before returning to Beacon Hills, seduced Derek – don't look so disturbed, it was child's play – and avoided Peter. But I have a feeling that you're not going to let me maintain that last part."

"He let you die," Lydia replies blankly, "That has nothing to do with me."

"He did me a favor," Jennifer says, detached, "And I'm not stupid enough to think that he has no idea who I am. If you're going to tell him, go right ahead. It'll only help me out eventually."

Lydia considers this, quickly concluding that Jennifer must be playing some type of game with her. "You're delusional. He already knows who you are, and you know that he knows. You're just trying to fuck with me."

"I'm not trying," Jennifer points out, "I already have, and I've succeeded. It's safe to say that Peter only picked you to do his bidding this past year because you reminded him of me when I was younger."

"I'm nothing like you. Don't flatter yourself." Lydia gets up, and as if in a nightmare, moves backwards gradually when she would really just like to sprint as far away as she can.

"Good luck, Lydia," Jennifer calls out purposely.

Lydia glances over her shoulder suspiciously. "With what?"

"With what you're thinking about doing," Jennifer replies, in a frank manner that deeply unsettles Lydia, "I know that you can't escape your fate, and soon you will, too."

"Like I said, I'm not like you," Lydia replies evenly, her hand on the door handle sensing that Derek's hand is at the same spot on the other side, "You can't turn me into someone I'm not."

Lydia finds that her feet lead her to Scott's house without any such instruction from her brain. As frustrated as she is at this development, Scott might be precisely the person she needs to talk to, so she doesn't keep going, instead standing idle outside the driveway, irritated at how creepy she likely looks by doing so. Scott's bike is parked in clear sight, but she can't bring herself to make her way to the door and knock.

Scott must have seen or heard her approaching before she even knew where she was going, because he bounds out the front door a scarce few seconds following her arrival.

"Hey," he says brightly, and she's awed by how glad he is to see her despite everything that's transpired, despite how she nearly died and has been identified as some freak–show of a potential messenger of death, "What brings you here?"

"Nothing," she says, too quickly, and glances everywhere she can except at him, "I was just passing through the neighborhood. Do you have a problem with that?"

"No," he replies, a bit confused, "Of course not. You were just standing outside my house, so I thought you might want to talk or something. That's all."

She lets out a deep breath. "Yeah, actually, about that. I do have to talk to you."

"Let's talk, then."

Thrown off by how readily he accepts this, she asks, "Are you going to invite me inside, or what?"

"Oh, sorry. Come in," he strides over to the open doorway, gesturing for her to follow him, "You're welcome here any time, you should know that already."

She bites her lip, reluctantly taking a seat in the kitchen as he offers her a soda and she politely declines. "I've been thinking," she says slowly, willing her confidence to return from wherever it's disappeared to, "That we're searching for solutions to our problems in all the wrong places."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that we're looking at the puzzle like we've got all the pieces we need to put together, but we don't," she tells him, "The alpha pack wants you to join them. They also want to kill Jennifer, and Jennifer wants to kill me. But we're missing a vital part of the equation here."

"And that is?" he questions, genuinely interested.

"Peter Hale," she responds warily, "We're not thinking about what he wants, and we should be."

"What do you think he wants?"

"Not what," she corrects, "Who. He wants Jennifer."

Scott is visibly stunned. "How do you know that?"

"I just do, alright?" she says, exasperated. Her brief confrontation with Jennifer has only upheld her first impression, which had been present ever since Stiles had thought of letting her in the loop. As much as it disgusts her, she knows Peter better than any of her friends do, and it's about time she uses that to her advantage.

"Okay," he says, backing off, "So what should we do?"

"The thing is, Peter has been in love with her for like, ten years, and he thought she was dead. If he finds out who she is, and he might have already – and I don't mean finds out that she's the darach, I mean finds out that she's the girl he loved – then he'll never let us give her over to the alpha pack, and nothing will be in the way of her hurting Mr. Stilinski or any of us again. We'll be back to square one, possibly even worse than where we started at. We need to utilize who she is and get to Peter, convince him that she's not worth it, and if he doesn't listen, use another method to make him understand," she shrugs, hoping she sounds more composed than she really is, "That's what you need to know right now."

"How are we supposed to do that? Derek –"

"Forget about what Derek thinks or says or does," she interjects sharply, "Just treat this like it has nothing to do with him, because it doesn't. Peter is his estranged uncle, not one of his vital organs. You're forgetting that this is a man who betrayed his own nephew, bit you, murdered Allison's aunt in front of her eyes, told Stiles that if he's a human he'll always be weak, and essentially took over my fucking mind. He doesn't and will never feel guilt for any of that. I think you're cutting him too much slack and trying to make the excuse that Derek will have a problem with us taking some course of action."

He stares at her for what seems like ages. "Don't do anything insane, Lydia."

"Why not?" She fiddles with the hems of her skirt innocently, like he's got the wrong impression. Unfortunately, he doesn't.

"Because I don't want to see you getting hurt by doing something you'll regret after you've done it."

Lydia can sense the concern in his gaze. She discovers that it isn't enough to sway her current thought processes. "I can't make any promises," she says, unable to entirely lie to him.

"Then swear that you won't do anything without telling me first," he responds urgently, "Please. We're on the same side."

"Sure," she replies hesitantly, almost going as far as crossing her fingers behind her back, "That's reasonable, I guess."

Scott eases up, as if a huge weight has been taken off his shoulders. "Whatever you have in mind, I'm with you. But it won't be easy," he warns.

She allows herself to smile slightly. "Nothing ever is."

Lydia, despite the oaths she made, doesn't tell Scott that she's up to something once she is. She doesn't think she's doing anything wrong by breaking her promise, since if she would have told Scott he'd have insisted on coming along. She can't have that happening. The most important things she's ever done, she's done alone, and she knows that when she's finished, this will fit into that category.

"Where's Derek?" she calls into the familiarity of the Hale loft, her vision taking a minute to adjust to the darkness.

"Not home, sorry. Come again," Peter's deadpan voice rings through her ears. She sees him sitting across the room long after he sees her approaching. She gets the ominous notion that he knew she was coming, and positioned himself accordingly.

Dropping the pretense that she came to see Derek at all, Lydia crosses her arms. "I know what you did," she accuses, feeling as though her skin has turned to stone, "I know just how pathetic you really are."

Peter wonders how he knew she would be the one to so quickly solve the unexplained. "And just what did I do?" he replies sardonically, keeping his expression nonchalant.

"Paige," she says pointedly, "It wasn't indecipherable. You left too many clues scattered around. You made a mess, and you thought no one would be able to scour it out."

"No one except you," he responds, "That's the beauty of it, I'm afraid."

"There's no beauty in any of this. You claimed to love her, and you killed her."

"If you recall, Lydia," he says icily, "I killed her because I loved her."

She hates the way her name comes out of his mouth, like he's using her own identity as a means of spitting venom at her. "Or so you say," she focuses on playing her cards right, "But whatever the circumstances may have been, she died because of you. It was your fault. You were selfish, even then."

He stands up abruptly, and she takes care to not step back. "You don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, I do," she replies, "In fact, I know more than you think."

"What, about Jennifer Blake?" he says, amused but retaining a defensive stance, "That was easy enough, wasn't it? A fool could have figured that out."

"I'm not a fool."

He leans forward to touch her cheek, unsurprised when she recoils. "We could have been so much more. You could have been so much more. You're not even aware of the strengths you possess. It's a pity, really."

"Shut up," Lydia exclaims, and not for the first time, manages to capture his full attention, "Take a step closer or try to touch me again, and I'll kill you."

"Since when have you taken it upon yourself to play the role of the big bad wolf?" he asks dryly, unable to take her threat the least bit seriously.

She clenches her fists at her sides to keep from lunging at him. "Since you took it upon yourself to ruin my life and my friends' lives."

He shakes his head condescendingly. "You've got all that bitterness built up inside of you? That certainly can't be good for your health."

"I'm not here to listen to you play these games," she says testily, "I'm here to tell you what's going to happen from this point onward."

"What's going to happen? Enlighten me."

"You're going to stay the hell away from me and my friends," she informs him, ignoring his sarcastic nature, "You're going to let us do whatever we see as fit to Jennifer."

"You're not one to be giving me orders. I'm quite positive that I'm the one who should be ordering you around."

"You have no right," she says, perfectly stoic, "I'm not afraid of you."

"But you should be," he says, reaching towards her again. She swats his hand away, fingers ready on the dagger in her belt that she'd stolen from her best friend's closet. When she wields it, creating a space between them, Peter nearly believes her earlier threat. His mistake is in how he continues talking, taunting and reminding her of all the instances in which he took advantage of her mind and used her to his benefit, so egotistically engaged in retelling the events of the previous months that no matter how predictable she is, he doesn't catch her moving until the blade is already jammed deeply into his abdomen.

"I'm going to come back for you," he sputters dangerously, "And make you sorry that you did this."

Lydia laughs, leaning down and whispering, "Don't even try," so softly as he collapses to the ground that he thinks he might have imagined it.

Minutes later, she texts Scott, Jennifer is the only one left. This will be easy now. while she walks barefoot to Allison's house with Peter's blood on her hands. He comes to her in a dream that night, body clearly lifeless, murmuring, "This is you, Lydia. This is the real you." When she wakes up, there is the ghost of a scream etched onto her lips.

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