A/N: Dedicated to the amazing Jennifer (on rooftops) who is celebrating her birthday today! I love you and I hope you have a wonderful day. (I tried to get some Stiles/Cora in here, I really did. Maybe if you squint and read in–between the lines a little bit?)

Warnings: Spoilers for all of Season 3A, character death, angst, and references to potentially triggering issues. Also, I don't really know what this is, so don't be surprised if it doesn't make the most sense, or any at all. I guess this is just what happens when I try to write second–person POV character studies.


when all we know is dying

would you leave me if i told you what i've done?
and would you need me if i told you what i've become?
no light, no light ––florence and the machine


I. STILES

There's a huge difference between wanting things and needing things, you know, but the ability to differentiate gets seriously skewed when the boundaries previously set in your mind blur and suddenly it's not a redhead that you are floored by but a brunette instead, but of course you don't say anything to indicate your true feelings. It's almost like, for lack of a better comparison, wanting to lose your virginity but alternatively needing to stay alive. It's obvious which one is more important, but as shallow as it sounds, they both seem equally as difficult to come to terms with at times. You sit quietly on the sidelines aside from offering an occasional quip here and there when the mood in the room is overly aloof and you think it's getting hard to breathe, something that sounds quite a lot as though you're joking but is serious beneath the pretense, such as It's like Scott and Allison and I are Harry Potter. We're horcruxes, and the darkness of that is consuming us or whatever. Even though we don't have a part of Voldemort's soul in us – come to think of it, that would be seriously creepy. But Deaton was right. Something is wrong. And then you glance pointedly at those who were unaffected – unaffected, like this is a fucking video game surrounding infected zombies and the humans trying to salvage their lives and escape them – and ask if they notice anything off about the three of you who risked your lives for your parents' without a second thought, and Lydia and Isaac respond No, of course not, but you can see the quick glance they share when they think you're not looking. You've gotten too used to picking things apart and noticing things you shouldn't to break the habit now, and as much as you want Derek and his sister to come back to town because it's not the same without their anger and bitterness and frowning faces overwhelming everyone when they least anticipate to be overwhelmed, you're not entirely sure if you need it, because you don't think you could handle it. That in itself is more of a tragedy than you can place into words, so you simply look in the mirror and mumble I'm sorry to no one in particular except perhaps yourself. There's no one around to hear you, anyway, because you're always alone and you always seem to apologize for things you haven't done, for not being good enough, for ending up alone at every turn in the road you've been forced to take. You find that you don't regret a single choice you've made, however, because you'd do anything for your best friend and the life that has been forced upon him which he's chosen to embrace.


II. CORA

The world is a place where you have to lie to survive, even to the people you love. You've been lying for the majority of your teenage life, which has consisted of nothing that normal teenagers experience, and you still are. It goes without saying that you don't hate your brother nearly as much as you pretend to at first, but apparently he can't see through the lie as quickly as you tell it. He thought you were dead and you thought he was dead so no matter what a miracle it might be that you're both very much alive, all in all it is super fucked up that you've been reunited now after all the pain you've both been through individually thinking the other was completely alone – it's basically like trauma is your middle name. You have no qualms with voicing this, either, growing increasingly accustomed to his scowl when you bring it up because strangely enough, it matches the one on your face most of the time. You find yourself staring at your reflection sometimes, eyes blank as you trace the line of your jaw for the third time this week for no understandable reason apart from wishing you didn't look so much like him. Secretly, you'd follow him to the ends of the earth, but that's not something he needs to know. If you had a best friend, you would tell them that, confide your growing guilt because of what Derek gave up to keep you alive and your never–ending worries that nothing will ever be quite right again, but you don't have one so you keep it all bottled up inside. You actually have nothing much left except the vague hope for a better future, the lunar cycle, and the memory of a boy with a slightly lopsided smile you left behind who pulled you back from the door of death. You're not entirely sure what real life is supposed to be like, how it feels to deal with regular routines and absent–minded stresses about homework or dating or sneaking out at night to go to a party, and even if you did, it would still be nothing more concise than a dream. Underneath it all, though, it's like you're one of those cliche definitions of a teenager anyway, except with extremes clouding the lines of your peripheral vision: orphan; werewolf; supremely messed up; the sound of an eleven year old girl, helpless and afraid, whispering My brother is all I have; and then – absolutely nothing.


III. LYDIA

In your universe, things have constantly been logical, rational, defined within set boundaries and measurable to reasonable extent – that is, until they're none of the above anymore because the only boy you've ever loved broke your heart and then loved you only to break your heart all over again by leaving without any trace that he existed at all, besides the little evidence there is of how, exactly, he tore you apart. Your heart is a hollow ground between the spaces in which you loved him, still love him, and pray to gods you don't believe in that you'll stop loving him eventually. It's a total myth that you never fall out of love with your first love, because as long as he never shows his face again, you sense that the reminders of him are slowly slipping away and will continue to unless you exert considerable willpower to keep him in your mind and soul, which you won't, because you're far better off like this – a scar that's healing rather than being picked at only to bleed again. You don't know what you are, but you're a part of something much larger than yourself. You see that, quite clearly, when you look at Scott McCall, when you find yourself smiling as your best friend smiles in the aftermath of brief joy here and there amidst the increasing list of casualties your lives have become, when a boy in a plaid shirt gazes longingly at you and then suddenly stops to, even after you've kissed him for the first time. It finally seems fitting that your hair is the color of fire, because you are the essence of fire, naturally burning on once you've been caught aflame, raging and unstoppable right up until someone thinks to put you out and you immediately think No fucking way and wait for the next lit match to be thrown in your direction to start the revolution you know you've got in you. Your best friend has taught you nothing less than to accept the fight that forms in your bones following the last injustice you can possibly bear – it's all you can do to fight for a cause, and you can't come up with one much better suited to your interests than the security of all your friends and the guarantee of their well–being. When the next danger presents itself, there will be no questions asked or doubts exhibited. You're already determined that you will be more than ready.


IV. JACKSON

Sometimes too many good things happening at once is the most obvious signal of something equally as bad to come. Leaving town, for example, was not a decision you had much say in. Just as you were discovering a comfortable niche, it was forcibly taken away from you by your parents without any room for argument. Contrary to popular belief, you are sensitive to other people's feelings – just not those of every person you meet, and not all the time for those you do and choose to care about. Even caring is relative. You cared about a girl who went through everything with you, but you let her down regardless because that's what you do best. You shouldn't feel sorry for yourself, but you do, and moreover you shouldn't expect others to feel sorry for you, but you do. When your eyes are closed, you tend to see a girl, flashing crimson and confidence, and you scoff internally and think They don't know you like I know you, which is slightly hypocritical because you barely know who you are, so you ignore that rebuttal courtesy of your traitorous mind. When your eyes are open but might as well be closed, you tend to see a girl, picture perfect with something intense just under the surface, a new girl who turned into a scheme and then into a friend, and you think Thank you for your insight, for your time, for the hope of love that turned out to be a lie, and you're not sure whether to feel bitter or guilty or heartbroken or a combination of the three so you focus your efforts on none of those feelings by pretending that she had no impact on you at all. Your best friend comes to mind, likely not as often as you probably come to his, but you still miss him despite this discrepancy. You took for granted the way he'd aim a jibe at you which was really disguised as helpful advice, and the fact that he'd only learned to do so from spending so much time with you in the first place. It's inevitable to conclude that you've hurt more individuals than you can name, not even taking into account the various people you harmed when under the control of a homicidal maniac, but when you come back to town one day, feet hesitating on the boundary between in and out, you can't help but think This is how it begins, and this is how it ends.


V. ALLISON

Things working out is a rarity that not many people get to experience. You see a boy and you think That's the one, except you've seen so many boys that it all just fades together into a single feeling you can't put your finger on. You see a boy and you think I'd do everything with you, but you most probably wouldn't. You see a boy and you think that it might nice to spend time with him, drink coffee and other things and perhaps be particularly bold and ask How lonely are you, really? Then there comes a day when you see a boy and simply think Please, but no one listens or pays attention to anything other than your staggered heartbeats. And there it is, the very core of the matter, that you getting with a boy that you desperately want to will never become reality because that would mean that things are working out for you and from your experiences, things rarely work out for people who think too much and hope too little. On second thought, it seems that things never work out for anyone at all, no matter their method of philosophizing on the mess that is day to day life, because people rarely understand who they truly are and what they truly desire until it's far too late to solve the mess of the puzzle their existence has become. You're overcome by a sense of nostalgia more often than you'd like to admit, on nights when the moon is outrageously bright and you lock your most prized bow and arrow back into your closet, grab the closest pen and notepad and write I was in love with the way we fit together, but now I've found that we don't fit with one another at all, if solely for the purpose of getting the words to stop repeating in your head like a long forgotten mantra that you've only now remembered because it reminds you that falling for your best friend's ex–boyfriend or one of the best friends of the boy you claimed to love in what feels like a completely different life and time would never play out in your favor. It reminds you of the way a boy comes up to you, sincerely worried, and asks How are you doing? and the catch is that he's not asking in the casual small talk way, but more so in a way that suggests he's handling exposure to blackness similar to that which now surrounds the edges of your eyes and your heart on a daily basis. You realize, then, that you can't pay attention to that, because all you've got left in you is an everlasting fight, for your friends and your father and all the boys you love and have loved and are in love with because as self–righteous as it sounds, they need you, and you're never going to let them down.


VI. SCOTT

Heaviness strikes at the most inconvenient times, dark and dreadful and not entirely as horrible as what Deaton had warned, which is surprising because you'd hypothesized it'd be a lot worse. You harbor a sense of concern for your childhood best friend and your ex–girlfriend who have stood by your side through it all, because despite their loyalty to you they would no idea what it's like to be so burdened with the knowledge of what's real and what's not and where you are among the two possibilities. You recognize it, nearly too well, because the past two years have rushed by in a haze of the world saying Let me give you a crash course in reality and you agreeing to it because you don't know much better, and it's not like you ever had a choice, anyway. They're odd things, choices, because you don't have the capacity to make the most important ones and then suddenly you're making one and it leads to either disaster or success, a fifty–fifty sort of gamble, but sometimes you're given chances to fix the mistakes you've made so you choose to do exactly that, to save the people who deserve to be saved not because you're trying to save your own conscience but for the knowledge that just because the cards you were dealt were slightly unfair doesn't mean that everyone else's have to be, too. You do the right thing not to play the role of the hero, but because it's the right thing to do. Apparently in the eyes of the many, that in itself makes you a hero, but you don't want that crown. All you want is to see your friends safe and sound every day, to feel the light that practically radiates through you when you realize you've given up a lot, willingly or unwillingly, and yet gained so much in return. It's worth it when you see them smiling, laughing, and enjoying the newfound peace and security in town, almost as though you never had any problems; that everything, including you, is normal, but we all know that that's outright untrue. There's always something nagging at you, an unscratched itch in the back of your mind that indicates that you missed something in your haste towards happiness again, that there's another variable which hasn't been revealed but could prove to be fatal. You cross your fingers and hope only for the time to figure it out and adequately respond, and not be distracted from protecting the people you love by those people themselves. That's the only thing you are greedy enough to ask for. That is your only big secret, your only weakness – that you care too much, too often, too selflessly. It's inevitable that any enemy who crosses your path in the future will see that and use it against you.


VII. ISAAC

Everyone has always claimed that there's a thin line between love and hate, but you discover quickly that while that may be true, there's also a very thin line between best friends and loneliness and heartbreak. There are times when the three go hand in hand and there are times when you're lucky enough to receive the most favorable of the three, but you can never quite expect a perfect outcome nonetheless because even having the greatest friends in the world will, at some point sooner or later, lead to the other two factors of self–destruction. You're empty when you realize what's to come, half–broken and half–undone because it would be glorious if things could just work out for once – but they don't, because that would be way too easy, and you've come to the conclusion that even without the supernatural aspect, life is just a game that you've got to bet on to get the best result. If you sit back and don't take any chances at all, you'll clearly be on the receiving end of nothing, so you've got to put yourself out there, say I love you even when you know the person who's meant to hear it isn't currently paying attention to you in the least. You have several friends and you have a best friend, and the way your best friend looks at you when you're parading around with his ex–girlfriend makes every decision you've recently made all the more difficult to deal with because you love her but you love him and you're struck, suddenly, by the simple reality that perhaps no one loves you because they're all just too busy missing each other and hoping that their heart doesn't beat too quickly when they walk past and that they don't cry a little before they fall asleep that night while all the rest of the time acting like they're perfectly fine. The sight of Erica and Boyd's lifeless bodies flashes before your eyes more often than you'd ever admit, even to your best friend–turned–alpha, because the grief you feel is verging on insanely pathetic. Erica and Boyd were your friends, but that's it – they were; past tense; they're dead now; and you're still breathing for reasons you can't explain because you've probably confronted the alpha pack on more occasions than they ever did, but they're the ones who ended up dead all the same. You cough to hide the lump forming in your throat, thinking that you owe it to them, at least – your packmates, your first best friends, the people who were there for you when no one else really wanted to be – to take the leaps of faith that you dread and make the most of your days alive since in the town you reside in, there's always a high probability that your peaceful days remaining are severely numbered.


VIII. ERICA

Once there had been a way to easily escape real life, and that way was deluding yourself into believing everything would be fine eventually. You didn't even have to look to yourself for inspiration, because you got plenty of that from those around you who cared to listen. It's going to get worse before it gets better, honey, those who didn't have the capacity to empathize with what exactly worse meant in your case always said, and you didn't say anything in response because what could you have said to combat all the false optimism thrown your way? Okay. Fine. Thanks for trying, but I'm actually a lost cause. Then there came someone who told you that perhaps you didn't have to be so bleak and hopeless all the time, that there was another way to leap up from your lifetime spot of below average rather than just cross your fingers for better outcomes in the future, and of course you took it. You clung to the lifeline like it was your last chance, because that's what it seemed like – if you didn't comply, you would regret it for the rest of your waking days, but once you did, it was obvious that you'd stepped from your wish of average to above average, a development which had never seemed at all plausible. In the final minutes before your death, this is the choice that flares brightly in your mind before you give up completely on staying alive. Apparently there are several common regrets of the dying, and you don't have enough time to compare and contrast on whether yours match that of the typical person. In fact, you regret something that you wouldn't have even considered a few months ago, and that is not thanking the people who deserved it. For the first sixteen years of your life, there was never a situation in which you would have thanked anyone, but now that has turned out to be your largest regret. You should've thanked Scott McCall for saving your life, thanked Stiles Stilinski for not ever laughing in your face, thanked Derek Hale for granting you a rebirth and also told him that none of this is really his fault because you know he's supremely dumb and thus is going to blame himself when he stumbles upon your dead body, thanked Allison Argent for showing you up and consequently making you stronger, and yet not strong enough to survive a pack of alphas. You could've thanked Isaac and Boyd for being your first real friends and your best friends until the end, for showing true empathy because you knew all along that they understood you perfectly even when you didn't utter a single word out loud. It dawns on you that you would've ended up thanking a lot of people had the thought occurred to you before, but unfortunately it didn't, and that will haunt you forever.


IX. BOYD

On a typical full moon, it's as though there is a subtle poison in every breath you fake, step you take, and the bones you threaten to break. The night sky is all you know to look up to, your only viable constant in a continuously changing environment where Why did the boy not cross the street? retains a new meaning because the punch line is suddenly Because he was too busy running in the other direction, away from the bigger and badder wolves who were out to kill him. The feeling of falling, especially of your body hitting the ground as you inhale air for what you know is the last few times you ever will, is one that is indescribable unless it's been experienced. You didn't think you would have to, at least not for a while – it's not like you were promised immortality when given the bite, but you sure as hell didn't anticipate mortality so soon and so suddenly. In a perfect world, of course, you would wake up and be aware that this was your last day to live in order to make the necessary arrangements, declare to the people you care about just how much you care about them, initiate the phone calls you've been putting off for a while due to reasons of pride, and stand in front of familiar graves in a cemetery you haven't visited enough lately just to say I'm sorry. See you soon, maybe. I'm so sorry. I guess this is what should happen to me, because it happened to you, too, and I couldn't do anything to help you. It's curious, the number of things that go through your mind when you're dying, because it's not precisely what you might have imagined it to be. You think about your best friend and how maybe it's better off this way because she's been dead for weeks and it's been hard to cope with anything without her by your side, that maybe it'll be easier on you to just let go and accept what's next. At the very least, it might provide some sort of drive or motivation for your pack to continue to fight the alphas, though you believe it'll require a lot of luck to actually pull that off because you've seen, first–hand on multiple occasions, what they're capable of. It's frightening to picture your packmates going against such a strong force, so the best you can do is whisper a quick prayer and hope for their success in the end.


X. DANNY

A lot has taken place in Beacon Hills over the course of the past couple of years, and you'd have to be a complete idiot not to be aware that there's something unusually off about the town you've grown up in. It doesn't help that your best friend left you in the dark to figure everything out on your own, and missing him occurs involuntary, in quite a similar fashion to the sinking feeling in your gut when you see Lydia Martin continue to hold her head up high even though you know she's breaking on the inside. You try to talk yourself into talking to her, providing some sort of consolation by telling her that you weren't informed that Jackson was leaving until a week before he actually did, and he swore you to utter secrecy about it. Part of the blame is on you, because you could have broken your promise and warned Lydia in advance anyway, because the fucker was leaving like everyone always leaves, and that would have at least spared his girlfriend some heartache. You didn't, however, and to this day you're still conflicted between being guilty and being glad – it's a lot easier to be guilty about your unwavering loyalty and take Lydia's side, considering Jackson has hardly texted or called you since he left. Lydia aside, it was evident that things for you wouldn't be the same ever again. The hole in your life from his departure isn't an easy one to fill. He should understand that, but he probably doesn't. In fact, he's probably moved on to new friends, a new girlfriend, and a new life without even thinking twice about where you are or what you're doing. You hope, at the very least, that he's happy with where he is and where he's going. Deep down, the simple knowledge of that is what would make you happy, too. After all is said and done, it's Stiles who ends up giving you the full story on what you've been missing, and the first thought that crosses your mind is how Jackson is coping with being a werewolf, and the first emotion, of course, is worry. It's becoming all the more apparent that while things might have changed for him, they definitely haven't for you. You'll care about him for a long time, with the burden of that fact constantly on your shoulders.


XI. DEREK

A common misconception exists that the things you lose have a way of finding their way back to you in the end. Whatever the hell in the end refers to, you maintain that this claim is starkly false. Nothing that's been truly lost will ever come back to you, and you know that as clearly as you know that water can exist in three states and that you're a terrible person and death, death, death all around you, deaths you've caused and deaths you've witnessed and deaths you've caused and witnessed and weren't able to prevent even though you should have been capable enough to do that much. The darkness you descend into when Isaac's words, bitter and accusing, ring ceaselessly in your brain consumes you until you forget where you even are and have to glance over at your little sister's sleeping form next to you and proceed to listen to her steady breathing to calm yourself down and attempt not to overthink just how fucked up it is that you were fucked up so you saw that as a logical reason to fuck up those around you, too. Allison was right. Isaac was right. They were all right. You're nothing more than a bitter man who wanted to extend his misery to anyone who happened to be vulnerable enough to fall prey to your superior claims of indestructibility. The truth of the matter is that being a werewolf doesn't make you indestructible. It doesn't even make you immune to anything other than being naturally immune from the effects of the full moon. It's useless and harmful and you've inflicted so much pain with your desire to yield some type of power from it. You let it control you, let it dictate your emotions and your ambitions, and now you've been left with nothing concrete to define yourself except the faces you don't want to see because they remind you of the faces in your nightmares, of Boyd and Erica simply asking Why? and Isaac following up with You did this. They're dead and it's your fault. You wake up shaking, now more than ever wishing you had a best friend you could confess all your mistakes to. The only relationships you've developed over time have ended in betrayal, from your side or the other side, so you suppose it's better to just hold yourself together as best as possible and not try to make excuses for the state you're in. You struggle to go back to sleep, and then repeat the exact same process the next night and the night after that and the following night until your life just turns into a number of sleepless nights that you can't even keep count of.


A/N: I'd sincerely appreciate reviews letting me know what you thought, but please don't favorite without reviewing!