Author's Note: to Marine-thanks for reviewing! Chapter 29 (and probably 30) will address a bit of Ami's life with the Hales and her relationship with Peter.
I opened my eyes to white. Only white, bright enough that I couldn't see anything around me. I was wearing the same dress, except it was solid black, and my jacket was gone. Looking around, I could hear a voice calling, "Derek, Ami." The voice was coming from all around, drawing out the words and echoing itself, as it asked, "Derek, Ami, can you hear me? I need you to answer me, Derek. Derek! We don't have much time, Ami." Then a sharp, piercing sound made me grit my teeth and clap my hands over my ears.
Gasping, my eyes shot open, and I pulled my hands away from my ears. Derek did the same, his head resting on my stomach, and I looked over to see Deaton crouched beside my brother. "That sound," Derek said, pushing himself up, "What was that?" Deaton held up a dog whistled and grinned, making Derek huff incredulously as I rolled my eyes.
"Stiles is going to be mad you took his joke," I told him as Derek stood.
But once he was upright, he fell backwards, stumbling. Deaton caught him before he could trip over my prone body, and I sat up. "You're gonna be weak for several hours," he told my brother, letting him go. The vet offered his hand to me and pulled me gently to my feet as Derek looked down at the claw marks in his wrist.
We both looked at the black hole in the floor, and I instinctively took a step back, pressing into Derek's side as I remembered Peter bursting through the floorboards. "It actually happened," my brother realized, his wounded arm resting against my shoulder.
"Don't worry, you're still an Alpha," Deaton told him. I glanced up at Derek and frowned. My brother looked more worried and more vulnerable than I'd ever seen him. "But as usual," Deaton paused to hang the whistle around his neck and look away, "not a particularly competent one."
And Derek's mask snapped into place. Rage darkened his eyes until I saw a flicker of red in them, drowning out the worry and shock. "Where is he?" he demanded.
"I wish I could tell you," Deaton replied, perfectly calm.
"Then how about you tell me what you're doing here," Derek suggested, stepping forward. The arm against my shoulder tightened until I moved my hand to thread my fingers through his, keeping him from losing his temper and his control. "Or why you're helping me?"
"Helping your family actually used to be a pretty important part of my life," the vet told him, confusing my brother and me immediately. "Helping you was a promise I made to your mother," he explained.
Derek slowly stepped back until he was level with me and realized, "You're the one my sister talked about." He squeezed my fingers gently as he told the vet, "She said you're a kind of adviser."
"She was right," Deaton told him, making my brow furrow in confusion. "And I have some advice that you need to listen to very closely, right now," he went on. "What Peter managed to do doesn't come without a price. He'll be physically weak so he'll rely on the strength of his intelligence, his cunning. He's gonna come at you, Derek," he explained, making my older brother worried again. "He'll try to twist his way inside your head, preying on your insecurities. He'll tell you that he's the only way you can stop Gerard. Do not trust to him," he cautioned.
"I don't trust anyone except Ami," Derek replied, his indifferent mask neatly in place.
"I know," Deaton assured him. "If you did you might be the Alpha you like to think you are," he told my brother flatly. I glared at Deaton, my eyes narrowing, and he glanced at me. "And unfortunately the other person you should trust doesn't trust you at all," he added.
"Scott," Derek sighed. Blue-gray regret. I should have been better to him.
"He's with Stilinski right now. You need to find him, you need to find him as fast as you can. I've known Gerard for a long time," the vet told the Alpha, making him look up. "He always has a plan," he explained, looking down at the hole. "And something tells me it's going exactly how he wants it to," he finished.
"How did you find us?" I asked as we moved out the door.
"I have my ways," he told me, smiling at me around Derek. "Someday I'll be able to teach you all the ways of the Druids," he promised, and I nodded, offering a tired smile to him. We climbed into his car in silence, and I was pretty sure the older man broke several traffic laws to get us back to the depot. I put my shoes back on and tried to wipe off my dress as Derek swapped his shirt and grabbed his keys. By the time we got to the Camaro, Deaton was gone.
"Are they okay?" I asked, meaning the three Betas we'd left inside.
"They're sleeping," he assured me. "Where's Scott?"
"Sheriff's station. Something's wrong," I replied, reaching for the cocoa brown ribbon. The Camaro shot forward and barely slowed down when we pulled into the lot. I ran after Derek as he leaped from the car, ducking under his arm as he opened the first door. It slammed shut behind us, and a minute later, a mottled ribbon appeared behind us. I whirled as Jackson slashed the back of Derek's neck, but he didn't fall. The Kanima held my brother up until the door opened to reveal Scott, Stiles, and Matt.
"Oh thank god," Scott sighed, and I caught flares of yellow and cocoa relief.
Only for Derek to fall forward and land on his back. Jackson's hand pressed against my back, shoving me forward, and Scott caught me, horrified. I watched Matt in shock as he moved to stand over Derek, hands on his knees. He was getting a sick rush of pleasure from seeing the powerful Alpha rendered helpless. "This is the one controlling him?" Derek asked from the floor. "This kid?" he scoffed.
"Well, Derek, not everyone's lucky enough to be a big bad werewolf," Matt pointed out. "Oh yeah, that's right!" Matt exclaimed, straightening. "I've learned a few things lately. Werewolves, hunters, kanimas. It's like a freaking Halloween party every full moon," he snapped, then taunted, "Except for you, Stiles. What do you turn into?"
"Abominable snowman, but uh it's more of a wintertime thing. Ya know, seasonal," Stiles replied, and I saw Derek raise an eyebrow at the sarcasm. Matt clearly didn't appreciate the attitude and cocked his head. Jackson, standing behind us, instantly slashed the back of Stiles' neck. I gasped as the skinny brunette collapsed, and Scott turned towards Jackson with an indignant cry. "Bitch," Stiles gasped as he landed heavily on Derek's chest, facedown.
Had the situation not been so dire, I probably would have laughed. But as it was, I pulled Scott away from the scaly hand, placing myself between him and Jackson. "Don't," I ordered them both, keeping my hands away from Jackson.
"Get him off of me," Derek hissed, his jaw clenched in fury.
"Oh, I don't know, Derek, I think you two make a pretty good pair," Matt told him, bending over the pair. Derek glared up at him as he continued, "It must kinda suck though to have all that power taken away with just a little cut to the back of the neck. I bet you're not used to feeling this helpless."
"So cut some teeth," Derek growled. "Get down here a little closer, we'll see how helpless I am," he suggested.
"Yeah bitch," Stiles slurred, his voice muffled by Derek's shirt. Another car pulled into the lot, and my head shot up as I recognized the worn engine.
"Is that her?" Matt asked, straightening. "Do exactly what I say and I won't hurt her. I won't even let Jackson near her," he told my brother and me.
"Scott, don't trust him," Stiles said, and Matt yanked him off Derek.
Rolling him over, he placed a foot on Stiles' chest and pressed. Stiles choked as the air was forced out of his lungs and Matt asked, "This work better for you?"
"Okay!" Scott cried, "Just stop. Stop!"
"Then do what I tell you to!" Matt snapped.
"Okay, alright," Scott said using his placating voice. "Stop!" he ordered, and Matt yanked his foot off Stiles. The skinny boy coughed and I knelt beside him, cupping his cheek as he gasped in air.
"You, take them in there," Matt ordered Jackson. "You," he told Scott, grabbing me by the back of the neck so I stood, "With me."
When Melissa came in, Matt had his hand knotted in my hair, holding me still as he aimed the gun at Scott's back. She looked around, confused at the lack of people until Scott asked, "Mom?"
"Oh," she sighed, turning towards his voice. "You scared me, where is everyone?" she asked, then stopped short. Fear and confusion washed over her, but they paled compared to the mama bear instinct that had kicked in. Scott and I stared at her, pleading, as Scott said, "Mom, just do what he says. He promised he wouldn't hurt you."
Melissa looked to Matt as Scott turned. "He's right," my captor told her, lowering the gun to aim at Scott's side. He fired, and behind Scott, Melissa screamed in horror. I cried out as Scott's pain rolled down his ribbon, but Scott sagged backwards, falling against the wall with one hand over the bullet wound.
Melissa sobbed, bringing her hands up to cover her mouth, and I felt the Sheriff's worry. "Scott! Stiles! What happened?" the man called from the holding room.
"But I didn't say I wouldn't hurt you," Matt told Scott, looking down at him. He tightened his hold in my hair, making me cry out as he pushed me forward a step. Derek's ribbon flared with fury and worry as I cried out, and I squeezed my eyes shut, wishing it were all just a bad dream.
"Wait, wait," Melissa gasped, stepping forward towards Scott.
"Back! Back!" Matt ordered, raising the gun at her face. She retreated instantly, swallowing in fear as Matt pulled his hand free from my hair and stepped towards her.
"Mom, Mom, stop, Mom!" Scott ordered as I knelt beside him, curls falling around my face where Matt had pulled them from the braids. I pressed my hand over Scott's, but I could already feel him healing.
Determination and rage rolling down Melissa's ribbon made me look up, realizing Matt had one big bad Mama Bear on his hands. "I said, get back," Matt hissed.
"Scott?" our mother asked. She looked down at his bloody side, fear and worry adding to her desire to shove Matt aside and rip the gun from his hand.
"Mom, do it, please Mom," Scott told her, his voice stronger than I'd thought it would be.
"Get up, McCall," Matt snapped over his shoulder, and I took a step back.
Slipping under his good arm, I went to help Scott stand as Mr. Stilinski called out from the holding room. "Matt, Matt, listen to me," the Sheriff called as Matt grabbed a fistful of my braids and threw me backwards, slamming me against the wall.
"Shut up, shut up! Everybody shut the hell up!" Matt roared, distraught and frustrated. He was panting, his chest heaving, as he aimed the gun at Melissa's face. "Now get up, or I shoot her next!" Scott pulled himself to his feet, leaning against the wall, meeting my eyes in worry before Matt stood over me.
"Up," he snapped, aiming the gun at me. I flinched, knowing I wouldn't heal like Scott, and got to my feet. Once I was standing, Matt knotted his hand in my hair, yanking my head back, and I yelped as he shoved me forward. The gun forced Melissa into the holding room, and Scott followed, bleeding and limping. "Open it," he ordered me, nodding to the cell by the wall. He released me to allow me to grab the keys off the wall, and I unlocked it without meeting Melissa's eyes. "In there," he ordered her, holding out his hand for the keys. I handed them over and retreated to Scott's side, pulling his hand away from the wound so I could see that it wasn't even bleeding anymore.
"It's healing," I breathed to him, pushing my hair away from my eyes.
"Please, he needs to see the doctor," Melissa begged as Matt locked in her the holding cell.
"You think so?" Matt whispered, and I straightened to stare at him.
"Hey, hey you listen to me!" Sheriff Stilinski shouted, lunging as far forward as the handcuffs allowed.
"It's alright!" Scott called, calming the Sheriff a little bit as I stepped forward to pull the man's arm down. Somehow, I sensed that Matt was close to going over the edge, and yelling wasn't going to help any. "I'm okay," my brother assured the parents.
"No, honey, you're not okay," Melissa told him, crying so that her eyeliner smudged under her eyes.
"It doesn't hurt, Mom," he assured her gently.
"Cause that's the adrenaline," she explained, or so she thought. "Okay, please," she started, turning to Matt through the bars. "Let me just take a look at him real quick, okay, I mean I can help stop the bleeding."
"They have no idea do they?" Matt asked Scott and me, and Scott was suddenly worried that Matt would tell them.
"Please," Melissa pleaded, "let me just take a quick look."
"Shut up. Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!" Matt shouted, his eyes bright with tears as he rubbed the back of his neck in agitation. Desperation and fear streamed down his ribbon, but I couldn't figure out why. "Lady, if you keep talking I'm gonna put the next bullet through his head,' he declared softly.
"Okay, Melissa said placatingly, standing down.
"Back to the front, McCall," he ordered us, turning around. Scott met Melissa's eyes sadly as I stepped away from the Sheriff. I bit my lip and the older man nodded as Matt snapped, "After you." He stepped up behind me as Scott slowly walked out and grabbed my hair, forcing Scott to behave exactly as he asked with the gun so close to my side. "She won't heal like you already are," he warned my brother, shoving us down the hallway.
Finally he shoved Scott through the doorway to the Sheriff's office and threw me down beside Derek. I landed on my hands and knees beside him, my hair falling around my face in disarray. He growled low enough that only Scott and I heard him, and I put my clean hand on his arm. "The evidence is gone," Scott told Matt, then asked, "Why don't you just go?"
"You think the evidence mattered that much huh? No, I want the book," Matt replied.
"What? What book?" the younger of my brothers asked, not understanding. I looked up in confusion, my eyes wide.
"The bestiary! Not just a few pages, I want the entire thing," the Kanima Master told him as Derek and Stiles looked at each other from the corners of their eyes. They were both clearly confused, even without their ribbons pulsed.
"I don't have it. It's Gerard's," the werewolf replied, making Matt's fear spike even higher as he realized his mistake. "What do you want it for anyway?"
"I need answers," our captor sighed, looking around as he tried to think of a plan.
"Answers to what?" Scott demanded.
"Answers to this!" Matt said, lifting the side of his shirt to reveal the scaly mottled green-gray skin covering his side and spreading up his back. The two wolves and Stiles pulsed with shock and confusion, but only the two sixteen year olds reacted visibly. Derek's fingers tensed under my hand, and I suddenly had a number of ideas.
I tapped Derek's finger tips, trying to remind him what he'd done for Erica when she'd been paralyzed. The key was to jump start the venom. But I couldn't hurt Derek without really making Matt notice. Derek would have to do it, slowly and out of sight, so I reached across his legs and lifted his other hand onto his thigh, setting it into position. I gave him a look, and his ribbon flashed with understanding. I nodded, then stood. "Matt, let Scott text Allison, she can bring Gerard's bestiary to you," I suggested, smoothing my dress.
"I knew I kept you around for a reason," Matt said, giving me a smile that sent shivers down my spine. "You heard her," he told Scott, handing him his phone.
"What do you want me to say?" Scott asked, taking it.
"Something that'll get her to bring it now," Matt snapped, watching carefully. He led Scott and me out of the office with me at gunpoint, leaving Jackson to guard the two of the floor. "There," he snapped, pointing me into one of the chairs by the window in the bullpen as Scott leaned against a desk. Derek's pain and Stiles' disgust told me Derek had started to work on the venom, forcing his claws into his thigh to heal himself.
Scott took a shaky breath and took his hand away from his side, checking the wound. Matt leaned over to look, amazed and jealous that it had stopped bleeding. "You know, I feel sorry for you, McCall. Because right now, you're thinking how am I going to explain this when it heals. And the sad part is that you don't even realize how incredible it is that you actually are healing," Matt told him, envy clear in his voice and ribbon. "Cause you know what happens to everybody else when they get shot? They die," the master snarled acidly. He turned away, the calmest he'd been all night now that he knew his answers were coming.
"Is that what happened to you?" Scott asked, making Matt scoff as he braced his hands on a desktop. Then Scott realized, "You drowned didn't you?"
"He shouldn't have let them drink," Matt told him, remembering.
"Who? Matt, what do you mean?" my brother asked, realizing he might just get some answers after all.
"Lahey! He shouldn't have let them drink!" the master shouted, his anger spiking.
"Who was drinking?" the wolf questioned him.
"The swim team, you idiot!" Matt snapped, turning on him. Then he calmed down and explained, "I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know they'd just won State. And Lahey's letting his favorites come over to have a couple drinks to celebrate. Who cares that they're seventeen?"
"Were you at Isaac's?" Scott realized.
"He had this first edition Spiderman. Or was it Batman? And we were gonna make a trade. But then I'm over there, and I hear music, and everyone's having a good time. And I see Shaun, he throws Jessica in, and, and then Bennett goes in," the other boy told us, his eyes far away.
"Bennett? The Hunter?" I asked, thinking of the one I'd watched die.
Matt nodded absently, and continued, "And then Camden, Isaac's jarhead brother, he grabs me. He thinks it's funny."
"He threw you in," Scott understood, remembering something that had happened at Lydia's party.
On Matt's ribbon, I catch a glimpse of a pool as it rushes to meet my face, and then it's gone. "I yell that I can't swim, but nobody listens. I go under, and I swallow water, and no one cares," Matt's talking to Scott now as I reach up and rub my throat, tasting chlorine and pool water as I swallow. "And I see these bodies underwater. I see Jessica's got her hands down Shaun's board shorts, Tucker's grabbing Kara, and I'm drowning." As Matt keeps speaking, I grab the arms of the chair on either side of me, feeling like I'm sinking as young Matt's fear rushes over me. "I'm dying, and they're laughing." Now anger pulses down Matt's ribbon as I stare up at him, and I can feel the tightness of his chest as his lungs scream for air. "All of a sudden I'm just lying by the pool, and Lahey is right there, right above me."
I feel my chest expand as Matt is pulled from the water, and I see Mr. Lahey leaning over me/eleven year-old Matt. Matt's voice sounds far away in my ears as I hear Mr. Lahey yell, "You tell no one! This, this is your fault! What little bastard doesn't know how to swim? You say nothing! You tell no one! No one!"
"And I didn't. I didn't tell anyone. And I would see them at school, and they wouldn't even look at me. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, and I would gasp for breath. And my parents, they thought I was an asthmatic. They, they, they, they even gave me an inhaler," Matt almost seemed relieved as he told Scott, and I wondered briefly what would have happened if Matt had just told someone. "They didn't know that every time I closed my eyes I…I was drowning. You know about that little white light that they talk about? You see when you die? Well I didn't see anything. Just darkness. Everything was dark," Matt's voice changed when he stopped remembering his death, but I barely heard it.
Utter blackness covered my eyes, over riding all my senses. Images, like snapshots on a camera, flashed through the darkness. Mr. Lahey at the funeral, Tucker under the Jeep, Bennett at the gas station, Shaun and Jessica in the trailer, and Kara at the warehouse. Then I was drawn to an image of Jackson becoming the Kanima. My eyes shot open when emergency alarms blared in my ears, and Matt shouted, "What is this? What's going on?"
"I don't know!" Scott told him. Lights through the window made all of us turn, and then the windows exploded under gunfire. Screaming as glass sprayed around me, I dove from the chair under the desk in front of me. Across the aisle, Scott scrambled under another desk as Matt covered his head with his hands. When the gunfire stopped, the smoke bombs went off, I crawled out from under the desk.
Pain laced up my back and I twisted, seeing the glass in the back of my jacket. Yanking it off, I dropped it on the floor, feeling the glass go with it. Scott charged out of the bullpen ahead of me and I ducked aside as he threw Jackson down in the hallway. "Take him. Go!" Derek ordered as we crouched over the paralyzed pair. Scott pulled Stiles upright and dragged him away
"I'm not leaving you," I snapped, helping him roll onto his knees. The healing had started to work, but not fast enough, so I grabbed his clawed hand and slashed it across his thigh. I could hear doors slamming and breaking and the boys struggling to get away as Derek dragged himself upright with a chair. "Derek?" I cried, not knowing what else to do. The desperation in my voice was answered by a furious growl of an Alpha, and I looked up into red eyes.
"Let's go," he ordered, standing. I darted after him, my skirt streaming behind me, my shoes taking away any hope of stealth I had.
"Um, Derek, the Argents are here," I told him as I felt Scott's ribbon flare with hurt and shock and fear.
"Can you keep us away from them?" he asked, stopping me.
Bracing one hand against his arm I unzipped my shoes and set them aside. I could get them later. "They're a little preoccupied with the Kanima," I assured him, though I was worried about the emotions I was getting from Allison. "Allison wants you dead," I told him, meeting his eyes.
"Don't worry about them, Ami," he instructed, his eyes glowing particularly bright due to the full moon.
"Derek, they're all taking orders from her," I protested, grabbing his arm as he went to move into the hallway. Reaching up, I caught either side of his jaw, pressing my hands into the wolf fur and forcing him to look at me. "I can't lose you," I told him. He turned his head, nuzzling into the palm that wasn't covered in Scott's blood, and I felt a rush of protectiveness on his ribbon. Melissa's scream made me look up as I felt the Sheriff fall unconscious.
"I won't let them take me from you," he promised, his voice thick around his fangs. "Now stay behind me," he ordered, moving towards the holding room where we could hear Matt and Melissa. He stepped into the doorway, and Melissa's ribbon sparked with shock and fear. Matt's quick burst of fear was replaced by rage as Derek growled and snarled.
The Kanima hissed from the other doorway, then roared at Derek. The mottled ribbon pulsed with rage and fierce desire to protect the master. Derek roared, revealing sharp, deadly fangs, and he lunged. "Derek!" I gasped, watching him throw the Kanima onto the desk where I'd defended Stiles from Isaac. Watching them fight, I saw Matt slip out the door I wasn't standing in.
"Go!" Derek growled at me as he crouched on the floor.
"Mom, it's going to be okay," I called, Derek's roar making my eyes flash purple. I didn't stay to watch her reaction, but I felt her fear as she watched the two creatures fight. Narrowing my eyes in the gloom, I wove my way through the station after Matt's ribbon, slamming open the door he'd run out. Behind me, Scott joined the fight, throwing the Kanima away from his mother.
Melissa's worry, then shock, horror and despair made me pause in the hallway. Matt turned in front of me and fired, clipping my bare shoulder. As the pain shot through my arm, I howled in fury, and Scott ran from the holding room. A flare of betrayal coursed down Derek's ribbon, but I took off after Matt, springing up onto the wall and slipping through the fence after him.
I ran, not bothering to hike up my skirt as I cut a path through the woods to intercept Matt at the bridge. As I darted out onto the road, an arm looped around my waist, spinning me around to stop my momentum. Placing me back on my bare feet, I looked up at Peter, who kept one arm around my waist as he nodded to the bridge. "You?" I hissed, fear making my heart rate rise.
"Quiet," he ordered, pulling me closer to the bridge.
There was an SUV parked in the middle of the bridge, and as Matt stumbled onto the first planks the lights came on. Gerard grabbed the Kanima master and threw him down the bank to the river, where he forced the boy under the water. "Oh god," I breathed, flashes of Matt's memories making my knees weak. I felt my eyes give way, returning to blue-gray as my chest burned.
Matt's ribbon slowly faded to gray and sank in the pool of pixies, and I knew something terrible had happened. "Peter, would killing the master of the Kanima transfer the bond, or would it die with the master?" I breathed, knowing he'd hear me as he held me up.
"Transfer it why?" he asked, looking down at the scene below us.
I watched Gerard climb out of the river and stop on the bank, turning towards the bridge. "No longer afraid of the water?" he asked, and my stomach sank. "Well, you don't have to be afraid of anything my friend," the old hunter said, pulling off one of his gloves.
"Because Gerard, a blood thirsty hunter set on revenge just killed the Kanima master," I sighed, horrified.
"Especially me," Allison's grandfather told the Kanima. The deadly beast crawled from under the bridge to crouch in front of him, raising one clawed hand. We watched, frozen, as their hands met, and Gerard solidified the bond between creature and master.
"Time to go," Peter told me, his hold on my waist falling away so he could grab my wrist. Then he turned away, hauling me with him, and ran.