"I don't see any vegetables in that cart," Lydia said.
Stiles looked down into the cart. "There's corn!"
"Corn is a carb."
He grit his teeth to avoid rolling his eyes. "Who eats vegetables on a vacation?"
"I do!" She crossed her arms.
Scott came up at that moment to set two dozen eggs into the cart.
"But we're grilling," Stiles said, pointing to the hamburgers and hot dogs already in the cart.
"And you can't grill vegetables?" Lydia asked.
"Sure you can," Scott said, grinning. "Like, grilled vegetables, right?"
Stiles turned to him, slowly, and gave him a dirty look—which, as a traitor, he totally deserved.
"Um," Scott said, and lost the smile. "Okay, I'm going to go get rolls and stuff." He fled, leaving Stiles alone and defeated.
"Fine," Stiles said, sighing. "Get whatever you want. You will anyway."
Lydia nodded and turned back toward produce.
"But I'm not chopping things into tiny pieces and putting them on skewers!" he called out after her. "And I'm not eating salad!"
"Who are you shouting at?" Allison asked. She put a bag of peaches and a bag of plums into the seat of the grocery cart.
"Seriously?" Stiles asked. "What is with you people? We're in college. It's our civic duty to eat nothing but junk food."
Allison shook her head sadly and patted him on the shoulder before walking away.
"What?" Stiles asked, then pursed his lips. "Fine, then I'm not sharing my Crunch Berries with any of you!"
Originally, they were going to go on a road trip for a week at the end of the summer before their sophomore year of college. But the logistics got super complicated and they couldn't decide where to go anyway. Then Lydia's parents offered up the family cabin which was next to a lake and everything. Scott made nice with the local pack and Derek was used to looking after Beacon Hills by himself anyway so off they went.
Not that they'd seen a ton of each other during the summer, with Scott and Stiles working and Allison doing whatever hunters did when there wasn't much to hunt and Lydia spending most of the summer in San Francisco on an internship. So it was like getting the gang back together, though hopefully not one last time.
Scott was really good at all kinds of stuff. He was a good son, good friend, good alpha, good at lacrosse and cooking steaks to order and soothing anxious lap dogs.
What Scott was not good at, though, was Jenga. And the bummer of this was, with Jenga you couldn't just come in last, bounce out of the game and hang out on the couch. No, your failure ended the game. Which, being an alpha was responsibility enough.
"Again?" Stiles asked. "Really?"
Scott sighed. "Can't we play something else?"
Allison opened the closet door and went through the shelf; they'd only settled on Jenga because it was already sitting on the table. "Monopoly?"
"Makes Stiles into a horrible person," Scott said.
Stiles shrugged, because he knew it was true. They'd sworn off the game in fifth grade, when Stiles insisted on playing all the way through to bankrupting Scott even though they knew who was going to win (Scott didn't even have one hotel) and they didn't talk for a week.
"Boring," Lydia said. She was sitting at the table flipping through a magazine, which apparently she could do while completely ruling them all at Jenga. Scott figured it was a math thing.
Stiles shook his head. "A little too much like our actual lives, don't you think?"
"Battleship's only two people, so." Allison put three boxes on the table.
"I think these Trivial Pursuit questions are older than we are," Lydia said, taking a card out of the box. "Xavier Cougat?"
Scott shook his head.
"Well," Allison said, "Candy Land or Hungry Hungry Hippos?"
"Why are you even asking?" Stiles said.
(It shocked Scott that they didn't break those hippos by the time they left. Allison was scary good at it, and it was the one game Lydia didn't win all the time.)
Scott made remarkably good eggs.
Stiles made remarkably strong coffee.
Allison and the gas grill out on the back porch had a deep understanding of each other.
Lydia refused to enter the kitchen whatsoever, except to get more ice for cocktails.
They could swim at the house, of course; it was right on the lake and there was a canoe and stuff. But the bottom was mucky from disuse and not much sun made it through the trees that grew right up to the water line. They'd been out on the dock for exactly thirty-five minutes before some assholes in a powerboat came by to say something gross to Lydia and Allison, so that was a no-go.
Instead, they went to the small public beach in town. Lydia and Stiles sat next to each other in shitty little chaise lounges they'd brought from the cabin, the kind with metal frames and plasticky webbing where you had to lay down a towel or your skin would stick. They'd already swum and were now sitting in the sun eating kale chips.
"How do they do it?" she asked.
"Look so cute and adorable and harmless."
Stiles looked up to where Allison and Scott were playing in the water, flipping each other and being silly. "Scott does that to everyone."
Lydia rose one eyebrow, because no. "You and Scott look neither adorable nor harmless when you're together."
"Got some ladies in our dorm who'd disagree."
"The ones who gave Allison a hard time on your behalf?"
"It's not like I asked them to!"
"And then Scott until Derek showed up?"
"Again, didn't ask."
"It's nice when people don't immediately assume I'm conniving. Not gonna lie."
"Oh, but Stiles, it's what we love about you."
He tsked derisively. "Like you don't totally take advantage of people who look at your smile and assume you're a sweetheart."
She shrugged. "I'm doing them a favor. Some people can only learn through personal experience."
Stiles snickered at that, so Lydia pulled the brim of his hat down, hard, because she was being sincere, thank you very much. Unfortunately that only made him laugh harder.
Allison and Scott came up then, dripping, and grabbed their towels. "Hey, so you know those assholes in the boat yesterday?" Scott asked.
"Yes," Lydia said, immediately suspicious, and she could sense Stiles tensing ever-so-slightly next to her.
But Scott was grinning. "They challenged us to some beach volleyball. For beer or something."
"They didn't recognize you?" Lydia asked Allison.
"She does have a different suit," Stiles said, gesturing vaguely at her sporty maillot. "And her hair is down."
Allison shook her head. "I don't think they were looking at my face, even now." She looked at Lydia, and they grimaced at each other. "Wanna come watch us kick their asses?"
"Are you kidding?" Lydia asked. "Wouldn't miss it."
Scott and Allison won the case of beer, easy. Then Allison and Lydia threw in a not-so-friendly warning against cat calling ladies from their boat that made the asshole's eyes widen.
You know, make it a teachable moment.
The next day, they were able to lay out on the dock without anyone bothering them at all.
Their last day in the cabin they didn't go into town, but hung around swimming, drinking the rest of the booze (not that there was much; they'd made steady progress all week) and eating the rest of the food. Stiles even had some of the roasted vegetables, which Lydia considered a personal victory. The four of them were bloated and blissed-out when the time came to do the last bit of cleaning and pack the car, docilely following Scott's directions. They sat out on the dock to watch one last sunset, and then they were on their way, the week behind them.
Scott had a habit of falling asleep in moving vehicles. If Stiles was around he'd make up for it with chatter, knowing how having a sleeping passenger affected the driver. But Lydia was in the front with Allison, so Stiles had nodded off soon after Scott. They were draped over each other in the back seat of the Toyota, mouths open and snoring softly, looking like very large eight year olds. Allison didn't tend to feel sentimentally maternal about her friends—she left that sort of thing up to Scott—but it was heartwarming to see them cuddling in the lower part of her rear view mirror.
She and Lydia had diet cokes and Sky Ferreira to keep them awake, plus the open windows letting in the cool mountain air. The drive back to Beacon Hills was mostly two lane roads and small highways, clicking high beams off for on oncoming cars or a sudden patch of lake-generated fog. Allison went to college in LA, was getting used to city life, and even before Beacon Hills she'd never lived in the forest. But three years of running through the trees saving wolves and humans from more evil creatures had left their mark.
Lydia, as usual, took one look at her and read her mind. "I didn't expect to miss the land," she said, putting her hand out the window and letting the resistance push it up like the wing of a plane. "Them—" she gestured toward the back seat— "her—" which could only mean Erica, whom Lydia rarely mentioned— "you, of course, but not all of this." She paused, then: "You most of all I think."
"Oh?" Allison asked, because this was unexpected. Most of the mechanics of a friendship they could get long distance; they talked at least four times a week and texted back and forth in-between. Lydia posted daily selfies to Instagram to document her outfits.
"You tell me about the assholes but I don't know them and I can't tell you how to handle them or threaten them on your behalf. Or your friends, either, I suppose." Lydia sighed. "It's just harder to take care of people who are far away."
Allison swallowed hard against the lump forming in her throat, and reached over to take Lydia's hand in her own. "It's not the same."
"It's really not."
"But I think we do all right. Considering."
"Well of course," Lydia replied, but she squeezed Allison's hand a little tighter.
The music had flipped to Laura Mvula singing about green gardens, which felt right as they drove through the trees on their way back home.
I'll go wherever you go; wherever you take me, I'll go.