She’s walking down the stairs with the crazy-eyed coach when she scents her. The one who smells like tears and expensive soap and most of all like girl. She’s intoxicating. Malia wants to trot over to her and lick her wounds, make a den for her to rest and heal until she doesn’t smell so sad anymore. Until that haunted look has left her eyes. But humans don’t do that, so instead Malia smiles as she walks by. The girl smiles back, but it’s distant and sad, like an echo.
Lydia’s bed still smells like Allison. She keeps finding long brown hairs, on the pillowcase, in her hairbrush, on her clothes. She holds them taut and plucks them like strings, listening to Allison’s last moments over and over and over again. She can’t scream or cry. Her throat is shot and her body is sore. She gets through half a bottle of Valium before she realizes that it doesn’t work on her anymore. If she can’t be totally numb then she wants to feel something-- she’s about to text to Aiden when she remembers he’s dead too. There are others. There are always others. But she doesn’t have the energy to explain that they can’t bite her, can’t grab her throat. Can’t whisper in her ear now either. The list keeps getting longer.
Lydia knows she’s a survivor. She survived the bite, survived Jackson (as an asshole human, asshole kanima AND asshole werewolf), survived Peter’s fucking mindgames, survived a darach, survived a nogitsune. Allison was a survivor-- she should have survived this too. The wrongness of it flutters uselessly against the haze of nothing Lydia is shrouded in.
Stiles and Malia show up at some point. They have a cafe au lait from the good coffee place downtown. Still hot. Took hot actually-- it burns. It feels good to feel something, even if it’s the blister bubbling up on the roof of her mouth. Stiles’ eyes and hands are darting all over the place, but Malia just looks right at her the whole time. Lydia can’t say how long they’re there or what they talk about. Then they’re gone and she’s alone again.
Distantly, she thinks about the nogitsune, about void. Jackson is gone. Allison is gone. Aiden is gone. Intellectually, she knows she will heal, but now it feels as though every last scream, every last tear, every last feeling has been ripped out of her. And that’s her whole reality-- emptiness. Void.
The girl’s name is Lydia. She’s pack but no one touches her. Can’t they smell how lonely she is? Maybe they can and that’s why they don’t. She’s with them and not with them all at once, always distant, always quiet. Scott says she’s a banshee, that she hears things no one else can. The whole pack is hurting, but Lydia is the only one who moves like she’s sleepwalking, who stares at nothing. Malia wonders what she sees, what she hears, or if it’s just blank space and white noise.
The school has a memorial for Allison. A big photograph onstage in the auditorium. People Lydia doesn’t recognize go up and talk into a microphone about Allison’s smile, about the time Allison lent them a pencil, how she was always so friendly in homeroom. Scott speaks briefly, but Lydia doesn’t listen as much as she hears the timbre of his voice echoing off of the room’s walls, the buzz of the shitty speakers, the periodic wails of feedback.
Malia sits next to her. Stares at her. Grabs her hand and rubs her thumb mindlessly into Lydia’s skin. She’s gentle and surprisingly soft. Lydia feels infinitesimally warmer.
It’s a nice day. Malia always liked spring. She follows Lydia to her car and gets into the passenger’s seat. They don’t talk about it. Lydia doesn’t seem to mind.
Once the doors are shut, Malia is suddenly dizzy with the undiluted smell of Lydia. She scrambles to roll down the window because her mouth is dry and her underwear is wet and she just wants. It aches like a combination of heat and mourning.
They’re in Lydia’s room and they’re on Lydia’s bed and Malia can’t lick invisible wounds but she can wrap her arms around this girl so she does. Malia remembers being alone, running through the preserve, chasing after ghosts for all those years. Pack is better. Pack is healing. Pack is strength.
It takes her a minute, but eventually Lydia hugs her back.
Malia and Allison are the same height, the same build, and it’s too tempting not to try to pretend. It works for a while, but when Lydia kisses her neck, right where Allison is ticklish, she’s not greeted with laughter, not wrestled and pinned down with a mischievous grin. Malia just looks confused, furrows her eyebrows and holds Lydia tighter.
It becomes routine. She follows Lydia home every day and holds her for hours. Lydia is warming up to her, warming up in general. Her vitality seems to be slowly returning. Malia feels like Prince Charming kissing Snow White awake. Very gradually.
Sometimes Lydia does kiss her. Light and chaste kisses on the cheek and neck. Malia doesn’t know what to make of that, of the scents of comfort and arousal and sadness that come off of Lydia in waves. She just nuzzles her hair and breathes her in deep.
She didn’t think it would be, but it’s easy for Malia to separate out the feeling of desire from the urge to comfort. So when Lydia looks her in the eyes for the first time since that sad smile in the hallway, and presses their mouths together, the change is abrupt and intense.
Lydia’s mouth is impossibly soft and wet and sweet, and Malia is spinning, falling and falling like Alice down the rabbit hole, never hitting solid ground. Their pulses are thrumming, skin flushing pink, breath coming faster. Lydia is steady, moving slowly and purposefully, but Malia is falling apart. She would jump out of her skin if she wasn’t so busy greedily grabbing Lydia’s breasts and ass and thighs, if she wasn’t so drunk on the smell of sharp tangy heat and the feel of skin on skin, of their tongues sliding together.
Lydia’s fingers make quick work of the zip on Malia’s jeans, and the air is cold on her bare skin. But then Lydia’s knee is nestling between her legs right up against where the ache is strongest, and it’s the best Malia’s felt as a human. Maybe the best she’s ever felt. The woods have nothing that can compare to the jolts of sensation going through her body each time Lydia rocks against her.
Maybe this is what it feels like to be a bolt of lightning.
Malia can’t help but break their unspoken vow of silence. She feels like she’s going to scream, but instead she lets out a high breathy whine. Lydia pulls her own dress over her head and looks down and Malia looks back up at her and she’s shivering not from cold but because nothing has made her feel more like prey than the way Lydia’s smiling at her right now. Lydia keeps grinding into her but swings her other leg over Malia’s and she’s hot and slick sliding up Malia’s thigh. Pale skin tight over her ribs, pink nipples hard and protruding out the top of her lacy bra and Malia has never wanted anything as much as she wants right now. She can’t explain what she wants, only that she wants, and she could shout or cry for the not knowing but before she can Lydia’s rosy nipple is in her mouth and she’s bucking up against Lydia’s knee and her body is building up to something huge and terrible and awesome like the ground before an earthquake.
Just as something in the back of her mind supplies the word “orgasm,” it’s crashing over her, tremendous and overwhelming and beautiful and perfect. And then Lydia is kissing the tears off her cheeks and rubbing her own heat against Malia’s leg, whispering into her ear “God you’re gorgeous when you come.” And Malia, warm and breathless and sweating, believes her.
She enjoys the warmth and looseness in her limbs for a minute or so until she can’t ignore the pull of that smell anymore-- wet and hot and rich and strong and deep and alive. She flips them over with a growl so Lydia’s on her back, and Malia’s careful not to cut her with her claw when she slices through cloth and throws Lydia’s panties onto the floor. Moisture clings to short red hairs like dewdrops and before Malia can nuzzle her face in it, there’s a small hand in her hair, pulling her up sharply. “No fangs. No claws,” Lydia warns sternly, and Malia bares her throat submissively, whimpering in compliance.
The second she’s released, Malia is burying her face in Lydia, letting the hairs tickle her nose, wetting her lips on slippery folds, hearing Lydia’s desire pulsing hot and fast in her veins. She nuzzles into the cleft, rumbling happily when Lydia threads her fingers through her hair and massages her scalp. Lydia smells and tastes so right. Like home and like pack and like comfort. Her breath is speeding up, and every time Lydia moans out “good girl,” Malia preens a little.
“Use your tongue honey,” she says, scratching behind Malia’s ear. She licks down Lydia’s slit and slurps on her, sucking up her juices and letting the flavor dance across her tongue. Lydia uses her own hand to open herself up and point at a hard little nub. “Lick right there.” When she does, Lydia gasps, throwing her head back and groaning, “ohh good girl.” This must be what Lydia was rubbing her knee against. Remembering how good that steady rhythm of pressure felt, Malia laps at Lydia with determination, thrilled at the way the girl’s thighs are tensing up under her hands, the way her breath is coming in little gasps, the way her hand is forcing Malia’s face down harder and closer, the way she’s grinding her hips up like she can’t get enough. When Malia speeds up, flicking her tongue back and forth, Lydia’s whole body seizes up and then relaxes.
“Mmmmm, such a good girl,” Lydia says, licking her own taste out of Malia’s mouth. The girl is looking at her with big brown eyes, a little more sleepily than usual, but the same slightly creepy, too direct stare as always.
“Why are you always looking at me like that?”
Malia’s eyes widen in surprise, and then dart away, embarrassed. She dives into Lydia’s neck, nuzzling and hiding there, wrapping long arms and legs around her like an octopus. “Because you’re beautiful,” she whispers, “and because I didn’t think you noticed.”
When had Lydia started noticing? When had she started paying attention? How had this weird girl reached her through the void? Lydia realizes suddenly that this is the longest she’s gone without thinking of Allison since...well…
“Had you ever done this before?”
“Any of it.”
“Yes. But...not like this.”
“With a girl?”
“As a girl.”
“Stiles kissed me. At Eichen House. I kissed back, I mean. We kissed.”
“I’d never...um...though. Had an orgasm. Before.”
Lydia smirks. “It sounds like you have a lot of catching up to do.”
It hurts in a new way when Lydia finds a long brown hair and realizes that it’s too light to be Allison’s. But then Malia smiles this huge dumb blinding smile when she doesn’t make any mistakes on her math homework, and it’s still so far from being okay, it won’t ever be okay, but maybe Allison’s death is a ghost Lydia is learning to live with. And even if it’s not okay, it’s something.