Wish You Were Here
Jackson sits in his car, tapping his fingers against the steer wheel and fighting the urge to reach into the glove compartment, take out the bottle of bourbon he has stashed there and chug it. He doesn't want to be here, and he really doesn't want to be here sober.
In the passengers seat, Allison is staring out the window and biting the nail of her thumb. Jackson's pretty sure she's thinking something along the same lines. That's his fault, he knows. He wishes he were better company.
To break the silence, Jackson clears his throat. Allison starts, and turns to face him. She smiles awkwardly.
"I'm uh, I'm glad you agreed to come with me tonight," Jackson says. "As friends, I mean."
Allison smiles again. It's tired looking. "No problem," She says. It doesn't sound like she's trying very hard to be convincing. "It'll be fun." She's not trying at all.
Jackson begins to run his fingers through his hair, but stops because he actually spent some time on it today, and messing it up so early in the night would be a waste of five minutes and a glob of hair gel. "Allison..." He begins, not really sure what the rest of the sentence is going to be. "I know I'm not exactly an easy person to be friends with," He looks at her, and hopes he's conveying something like sincerity. "So just... thanks for not writing me off. Yet, anyways."
"I wouldn't do that, Jackson," She says. This time he knows she's telling the truth. That's just the sort of person Allison is. "I just—" Allison looks out the window again, and fiddles with the hem of her dress, a pretty silver one that Jackson would bet anything Lydia picked out for her. "No one really knows what's been going on with you for the last few months. We've all been worried. And, I mean you sit down with me at lunch one day and say you want to catch up, and then it's the last time I see you for weeks." She turns back and gives him a confused look.
Jackson looks away. "Sorry..." He says. "I've just been dealing with some stuff..."
Allison sighs. "I know, that's what you said three weeks ago. What 'stuff', Jackson? What's going on?"
"It's nothing," Jackson shakes his head. He can feel Allison staring at him, but he looks straight out the window shield. They sit in silence for a minute, and then Jackson says "Have you ever, sort of... had something happen, that completely changed the way you thought and felt about, like, fucking everything?" Jackson rubs his eyes. He's never wanted anything as badly as he wants to get a drink right now. "And it's like, now you have no idea how you're supposed to go on living your life, because you can't do it the way you were doing it before—"
"Because everything is completely different now?" Alison finishes. Jackson looks up at her, and she gives him another tired smile.
It's Allison who looks away now. "Yeah, I have." She says quietly. "It's funny how that can happen... how things sneak up on you." She's fiddling with the hem of her dress again. "One day everything's fine, the same as it's always been... and then the next, it's like someone's put a whole new life in front of you, but you don't know if you can be the person that has to live it. And maybe you should have seen it coming, or maybe part of you did... but mostly you still feel like you've had the rug pulled out from under your feet."
Jackson's nodding slowly. His hand seems to move on its own towards the glove compartment, and before he knows it he's screwing the cap off the bottle of bourbon, and taking a good long drink from it. The alcohol burns his throat, and the tension in his chest eases a bit. "Yeah, yeah exactly," Jackson says, nodding again as he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "That's exactly how I feel,"
Allison gives him a look, raising her eyebrows high up on her forehead. Jackson glances down at the bottle in his hand, and then back up at Allison. "Uh, do you want some?" He asks, offering it to her. She shakes her head, making a noise that's sort of like a laugh, but a lot more like a scoff. If it had been Lydia with him, she would have pursed her lips and given him a look that would have made him feel like such a pathetic piece of shit that he'd have spent the rest of the night drinking until he felt better. If it had been Derek, Jackson doubted he'd have gotten the bottle to his lips before it had been snatched from his hands and chucked out the window.
The moment he starts thinking about Derek, a knot forms in Jackson's stomach. Partly because he hasn't heard from him since his text message yesterday morning, and partly because he'd promised him he wouldn't drink.
Jackson frowns at the bottle. He's only had one sip, barely anything. He isn't going to get drunk from one sip, and that was really what Derek had meant, that he didn't want him drunk. So it's fine.
He starts to screw the cap back on, but pauses. Two sips won't get him drunk either. Jackson takes one more swig from the bottle, then puts the cap back on and returns it to the glove compartment. He glances at Allison and receives a tight lipped smile.
They sit there for another moment. "So... do you want to talk about your thing?" Jackson asks. Even as the words are leaving his mouth he has no idea why he's asking. Does he even care? He's honestly not sure. Maybe he's just curious.
Allison shakes her head. "No," She says. Jackson's not sure if he's relieved or disappointed. "Do you... do you want to talk about yours?"
"No," Jackson replies, just as quickly as Allison had. He shakes his head. Allison smiles at him, and Jackson thinks it's a real smile this time, not a tired or annoyed one. It is still sort of sad though.
A car comes roaring past them in the parking lot, and they both turn to see Stiles' jeep come to a squealing halt a few spaces down from them. A moment later, Stiles comes tumbling out, and rushes around to the other side to get the door for Lydia.
Jackson looks at Allison. "Should we go?" He asks. She nods, and they both exit the car. They approach Stiles and Lydia, who seems to be trying to brush the contamination of Stiles' jeep off her dress. Jackson has to smile.
"Smelt like french fries in there," Lydia is muttering under her breath, while swiping angrily at her dress.
"Hey, Lydia," Allison says. She smiles at them. "Stiles,"
Lydia looks up and stops beating her dress. She looks right at Allison and for a second Jackson sees a very potent "I am going to kill you" look flash in her eyes. It's gone in a split second, and replaced with a practiced smile. "Hello Allison," she says pleasantly. She looks at him, and her smile never waivers. "You look very handsome tonight, Jackson," She says.
"Uh, thanks, Lydia," Jackson says, looking away uncomfortably. "So do you," He cringes slightly, but tries to pass it off as some kind of awkward smile. From the look on Lydia's face, it doesn't work very well.
Jackson considers saying something to Stiles, but he's busy staring at Lydia with his mouth gaping open. Instead Jackson simply offers his arm to Allison, and together they head towards the school.
"So," Allison says, after they're a few feet away from Lydia and Stiles. "You do realize you just told Lydia she looked handsome, right?"
Jackson sighs. "Yes, I do realize that."
Allison's nods. "Good. Just making sure."
Jackson rolls his eyes at her, but says nothing. There's just too much about him and Lydia that he's not emotionally equipped to deal with right now. He knows that there was a time when she was the most important thing in his life. The person he lived and breathed for. He isn't sure when or why it changed, only that it did. He's not sure either of them are to blame, really—or maybe they both are. Maybe somewhere along the way, they just sort of lost sight of what they loved about each other.
Either way, Jackson knows it's too late to get it back now. And even if they could, Jackson doesn't think he'd want to. Not anymore, not since whatever he was doing with Derek had turned into... whatever the fuck it is now.
The dance committee really went all out on the decorations this time, Jackson sees as he and Allison enter the school. There are colourful lights and streamers, and long gauzy curtains that attempt to turn the gym from a place full of sweaty teenagers awkwardly exercising together, into a place full of sweaty teenagers awkwardly dancing together. He says so to Allison. She laughs, but shakes her head.
"A little less cynicism could go a long way, Jackson," Allison says. "I think the gym looks nice,"
Being at the dance turns out to not be quite as painful as Jackson had thought it would be. It's still not with in the realm of what he would call fun, but he doesn't exactly want to claw his face off, either. He and Allison spend most of the night with Danny and his new boyfriend, a broad blond guy with ear plugs named Trevor. Trevor seems nice enough, but for reasons Jackson can't quite pinpoint, he hates him immediately. He tries to hide that from Danny though, out of courtesy.
Halfway through the evening Jackson finds himself wrangled into dancing, He tries not to roll his eyes too much at the cheesy slow songs the band plays, and Allison seems to appreciate his effort. The highlight of the evening has to be watching Stiles through a hissy fit in order to get Lydia to dance with him.
That is, it's the highlight until Scott McCall shows up, and everyone in the gym stops what they're doing to watch Coach Finstock shout at him while he dances with Danny.
"I have to hand it to him," Jackson whispers to Allison as Finstock tries to explain that he wasn't yelling at Scott because he was dancing with Danny. "He's not entirely without game."
"Yeah," Allison agrees, watching Finstock give up after a flustered minute of waving his hands, and insists everyone go back to dancing. Allison smiles across the gym at Scott. It's the most sincere smile he's seem from her all night. "Jackson, do you mind if—"
"Go ahead," Jackson tells her, taking his arms away from her waist. "I'm gonna go watch Danny try to explain this to his date."
Allison thanks him, and walks off towards where Scott is standing on the other side of the dance floor. Jackson watches them for a minute, and then turns and walks out of the gym. He knows he's supposed to stay where everyone else is, but he just wants a few minutes to himself. Just a few minutes of peace, where he doesn't have listen to crappy covers of Owl City or Justin Timberlake.
Students are lingering in the hallway too, so Jackson turns down the hall that leads to the school's back door. The night outside is cool, but it's quiet and the sky is dotted with stars. Jackson makes sure the door is propped open a little so he'll be able to get back in, and then he leans back against the brick wall and shuts his eyes. He wonders what Derek is doing now, and whether or not he's figured out how to deal with Peter yet. It isn't an emergency, but maybe if he sends him a text message, Derek would reply and let him know what was going on.
Jackson opens his eyes, and for a moment, his heart stops.
"Hello, Jackson," Peter says, smiling pleasantly. Jackson doesn't even have time to blink before Peter's hand is around his throat. Jackson sputters and grabs at Peter's wrist, but his grip is like iron. "I know you're scared, but if you calm down and give me what I want, I wont hurt you," Peter's face is close to his, and his eyes glow red. Jackson's arms go limp. "Where's my nephew?" Peter hisses. He loosens his grip on Jackson's throat a little, and Jackson gasps for air.
"W-what?" Jackson sputters.
"Where is Derek?" Peter repeats, thrusting Jackson back into the wall behind him. Jackson's head hits the brick and darkness swims in front of his eyes. "You were one of the last people to see him. Tell me what you know."
Jackson's mind is reeling, struggling to wrap itself around the question being asked. "Derek's missing? What?"
Peter rolls his eyes, and then tosses Jackson aside. Jackson lands hard on the grass, flat on his back. The air is knocked out of his chest, and the world spins around him. At the back of his throat there's a metallic taste that he hopes isn't blood. Jackson stares up at the sky and the stars for a moment, and it occurs to him that this must be what dying feels like. For some reason, he thinks of the first time he kissed Derek.
"Alright let's try this again," Peter says, somewhere outside Jackson's eyeline. He appears above him a second later, blocking his view of the stars. He looks calm. Jackson feels his heartbeat quicken. "When exactly was the last time you saw Derek? The night before last?" Peter crouches down beside him, and puts two fingers on Jackson's chin. He tilts Jackson's face towards him. "Answer me, Jackson. It'd be a shame to ruin a face a like yours, but if you don't co-operate with me..." Peter trails the same two fingers down the side of Jackson's face. His touch his gentle, but his hands are ice cold and Jackson jerks away from him. Peter smiles. "Well?"
It takes Jackson a few moments to be able to speak. When he does, his voice is barely more than a croak. "Yesterday morning," He gets out. "Last time... last time I saw him." He coughs, and his mouth tastes of metal.
Peter's face splits into a smile. "Well, isn't that romantic," He says. "You spent the night together, how sweet." Jackson feels his cheeks burn, and his fist clenches a little. Somehow just having Peter know that feels like a violation. "When he left you, did here say where he was going? Do you know who he might have seen after you?" Jackson shakes his head. Peter's face falls. "Well, that's disappointing. I was hoping you'd be a little more useful than that." Peter stands up, and Jackson's vision blurs and doubles, making it seem as though there are two Peters towering above him. Jackson groans and closes his eyes. He hears Peter tell him he can pass out now, and then the world goes black.
There's hard ground beneath his back. Is it the charred floor of the Hale house? A hand on his face. Derek's? God, please that be it, Jackson prays. Please let it be Derek's bedroom floor, and Derek's hand and Derek's voice calling his name, somewhere very far away. That would be so great. All the rest of it could just be a dream...
"Jackson? Jackson wake up! Jackson what happened?" The voice is closer now, and Jackson groans because that's not Derek's voice. "Good, alright come on Jackson, open your eyes."
Jackson tries to do as the voice tells him, but every movement takes a tortuous amount of effort. He manages to squint a little, and looks up at the face of Stiles Stilinksi, who is once again Not Derek. Stiles' mouth is hanging open, and he runs a hand over his short hair. He looks relieved. "Oh thank god," Stiles says. "Jackson what happened to you?"
"What're you doing out here Stilinski?" Jackson mumbles.
"I was looking for Lydia, who was looking for you. And here you are."
Jackson furrows his brow. His head is pounding and his back is aching, but with Stiles' help he manages to sit up. "You were—what? Lydia was looking for..." A cold hand clenches Jackson's heart. "Lydia came out here? Lydia's—" Jackson thinks he may vomit. "Peter."
"What?" Stiles asks. "Did you say Peter?" Jackson nods. "Peter's the one that did this?" He nods again. Stiles stares at him for a moment, and then scrambles up to his feet. In a flash he's running off across the lawn, shouting Lydia's name. Jackson tries to follow him, but his legs feel like led. It takes him three tries before he manages to stand up.
By the time he gets to the lacrosse field, the damage is already done. Lydia is on the ground, her silver dress smeared with blood. Peter is crouching over her, and Stiles is desperately pleading with him. Jackson stumbles over to them, and falls to his knees beside Stiles. Stiles is shaking, and there's sweat beaded on his forehead. Peter growls and bares his teeth. There's a line of blood dripping down his chin.
Neither of them acknowledge him. Jackson doesn't think he's ever felt his heart pound this hard before.
"Tell me how to find Derek," Peter is saying, running a clawed finger down Lydia's face.
"I don't know that!" Stiles shouts, desperation ringing in his voice. "How would I know that!"
"Because you're the clever one, aren't you?" Peter's eyes flick towards Jackson for a moment, as if to stress his own shortcomings. "And because deception has a particularly acrid scent, Stiles." Stiles eyes' shift between Lydia and Peter. Peter raises his eyebrows. "Tell me the truth, Stiles. Or I will rip her apart."
Jackson sees Stiles' nostrils flare, and his eyes dart again between Lydia and Peter. "Look I don't know okay?" Stiles stammers. "I swear to god I have no idea,"
Peter looks at him for a moment, and then his face contorts in fury. "Tell me!" He bellows. Stiles cringes and shuts his eyes, and Jackson feels his head begin to spin.
"Okay okay okay!" Stiles shouts. "Look, I think—" Stiles breaks off, and Jackson can hear the erratic sound of his breathing. "I think he knew,"
"Derek, I think he knew he was gonna be caught," Stiles says. Jackson furrows his brow at the word caught. And then he feels something awful click in his mind. Derek is missing. Peter is looking for him. Something's happened to him—someone's taken him. Jackson knows who before the words leave Peter's bloody lips.
"By the Argents." Peter says. "And?"
"Last night, Scott—he was at Derek's, at your house—they got shot, and I think he took Scott's phone."
"They all have GPS now," Stiles explains. He sounds calmer now. Angry, but calm. Somehow that scares Jackson even more. "So if he still has it, and if it's still on," Stiles looks up Peter and clenches his jaw. "You can find him."
Peter looks Stiles over for a moment, and smiles. "See, I said you were the clever one," He says, standing up. "Come on, let's go."
Stiles shakes his head. "No, I'm not just letting you leave her here,"
Peter takes a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and begins to casually wipe the blood off his mouth. "You don't have a choice, Stiles, you're coming with me. Jackson will take Lydia to the hospital, won't you Jackson?"
It takes Jackson a minute to acknowledge that he's being addressed. "What? No, I—I have to find Derek," Jackson says, stumbling to his feet. "The Argents could kill him, I can't—" He shakes his head, not capable of accepting that. Derek dying isn't an option.
Stiles is still kneeling on the ground next to Lydia. "Just kill me, I don't care anymore."
Peter sighs, and tucks the handkerchief back into his pocket. He places two fingers under Stiles chin, and slowly brings him to his feet. "You're coming with me," Peter says, cupping Stiles' chin in his hand. He glances at Jackson. "You're going with her. End of story."
Both Stiles and Jackson begin to protest at the same time, and then they turn and glare at each other. Jackson is furious at Stiles for refusing to help find Derek, and he knows Stiles is just as mad at him for wasting time getting Lydia to the hospital. Their eyes lock on each others for a moment, and then Jackson grits his teeth and crouches down next to Lydia's unconscious body. He scoops her up in his arms.
"I'll make sure she's okay," He says, making sure he has a firm grip on her. She's so light, it's scary. As though she's some sort of doll. "You find Derek."
Slowly, Stiles nods. He and Peter turn and walk off into the darkness, and Jackson runs back to the school with Lydia in his arms, shouting for help.