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I'm Gonna Make You Love Me

Chapter Text

He was the big man on campus. It was impossible to go to BHHS and not know who Derek Hale was. Hell, everybody in town knew the Hales. Talia was a prominent lawyer who took mostly abuse cases, and her husband William was a contractor. He owned half the fucking town. And then there was Peter, who was also Talia's brother, and he was a defense attorney. So yeah, everybody had heard of the Hales.

It wasn't easy being the popular one at school. Sure, everybody wanted to be popular, but nobody really appreciated the amount of effort that Derek had put in. He had followed his Uncle Peter's footsteps, taking up basketball and baseball, and the popularity was just coincidental. For a while, he dated Jennifer Blake, head of the cheer squad, but after a while, things just went south. Derek felt like he and Jen just didn't get along any more. While it had been fun in the beginning, they just fought now. Derek knew he had to end it. In the beginning, everybody loved them, they were the definition of the power couple of the school. But they had quickly gone from the couple that everybody envied for being so perfect, to the couple that nobody wanted to be. Derek couldn't count how many times he had heard people whisper, I'm so glad that's not me. He knew it was time.

Of course, one of the hazards of being popular was that by lunchtime, everybody knew they had broken up. Derek knew that when Stiles started talking to him at lunch.

"So I hear you and Jen crashed and burned," Stiles said conversationally at lunch. Derek glared at him.

"It wasn't like that," Derek answered. Stiles gave him a look like he didn't believe him.

"I'm just saying," Stiles said.

"Our relationship was over," Derek said. "Thinking we could save it would have just been stupid. I mean, all we ever did was fuck and fight, and that just wasn't healthy."

"Some people like it that way," Stiles said.

"Hey, whatever you and my sister do together, that's your own business and I don't wanna hear about it," Derek said. It made Scott, Isaac, Boyd and Liam laugh. Stiles just stuck his tongue out at him.

"Don't give him shit, Stiles," Scott said, jumping to Derek's defense. "That kind of thing happens in relationships sometimes, and you know it."

"Really," Stiles said after a moment. "Because I heard that she said she could do better than you."

"Please," Derek scoffed. "Better than me? Who could she get that's better than me? I could have any girl I wanted eating out of my hand in a matter of weeks if I wanted."

"Any girl, huh?" Stiles said. He looked around at Boyd, Scott, Isaac and Liam before saying, "I don't know about you guys, but to me that kinda sounds like a challenge."

"C'mon, Stiles, don't give him a hard time," Isaac said. That was pure Isaac; he was the peacekeeper in the group. Growing up in an abusive household like he did, he hated fighting and tried to discourage people from doing it as much as possible.

Stiles, however, was ignoring Isaac. That was a normal thing, though. He watched Derek intently and repeated, "Any girl, huh?"

"You think you can pick someone who wouldn't kill to be with me, Stilinski?" Derek said accusingly. Stiles just smirked.

A silence had fallen over the table, so Derek said, "Go ahead. Pick someone. Anyone. I bet I could have them eating out of my hand in a matter of weeks."

"Weeks?" Stiles scoffed. Derek really should've known better; all of his friends were competitive, sure, but Stiles was the worst one. "I'll be generous, Hale, and give you three months. If you can't get any girl I choose to love you by then, it'd just be sad."

"Sure," Derek said. "Pick anyone."

"Okay," Stiles said, looking around the lunchroom. Biting on his lower lip, his eyes traveled around the room and they landed on someone. He smirked slightly, which was a pretty good indication that this wasn't going to be good, and then said, "Her. None other than Lydia Martin."

"Are you sure that's such a good idea?" Isaac asked. "I mean, the Martins and the Hales go way back. Laura dated Lydia's older brother, not to mention she fucking babysat Lydia - along with a lot of the rest of us - when we were little. Aren't you worried it would kinda fuck things up?"

"I'm sure," Stiles said. "I mean, unless you don't want it to be Lydia. Go ahead, Derek. You can veto this one if you want."

Derek thought it over for a long minute. Lydia was the artsy girl, the girl that got made fun of a lot because of her drawing, her paintings, but Derek knew more of her than that. Isaac wasn't wrong when he said the Hales and the Martins had been close. Lydia's parents had been really good friends with Derek's, and even though Lydia's parents had been divorced for almost ten years now, with Lydia's older brother off to college, Lydia and her mother still came over for dinner quite often. He had been exposed to Lydia a lot more than the others had, and he liked her. Even when they were younger, she and Cora had been really close, and he had always wanted to talk to Lydia, to get to know her better, but he had always chickened out. She liked her space, her privacy, and he knew that she just wouldn't be interested in anything he had to offer.

She was also quiet. It wasn't that she was shy; no, Lydia said stuff when she had something to say. But she mostly kept to herself and her circle of friends. Nobody teased her about it, though - well, at least, not to her face, because the last person who teased Lydia at all ended up with a broken nose and a concussion, thanks to Cora. Lydia's circle of friends were very protective when it came to her.

"Done," Derek said, making his decision. "I'll do it." And sure, maybe it wasn't the greatest decision, that much was true, but it was the decision that Derek was going with.

"Are you sure?" Isaac asked him hesitantly. "I mean, you're really sure?" The reason that Isaac was so nervous was the fact that his girlfriend, Allison, was friends with Lydia - best friends, as a matter of fact - and he knew that if Derek ended up breaking Lydia's heart, Allison would never forgive him. "I mean, seriously, Derek, think this over really well before you decide to jump into it."

"Yes, I'm sure," Derek said. And then he watched Liam and Isaac. "I know your girlfriends are friends with her, so do me this favor and don't tell them, okay? They're her closest friends and won't be able to keep it from her. And as my closest friends..." Derek let the last few words hang, making sure he looked into both their eyes and stressed how they should be loyal to him, "bros...before...well -" Derek stopped himself. After all, Malia was Liam's girl and no way was he going to imply that his cousin was a ho.

Neither Liam nor Isaac were very proud of themselves when they nodded in unison and said, "Okay."

Chapter Text

Lydia was in the middle of digging her Chemistry book out of her locker when Derek came up behind her. He just watched her for a moment before saying, "Hey."

Grabbing the textbook, she whipped around and just stood there for a moment, "Hey who? Hey, me?"

Derek gave her his best smile and said, "Yes, I'm talking to you."

Lydia just looked at him, unimpressed. After a moment, she turned around and started digging in her locker, looking for a pencil.

As if Derek magically knew what she was looking for, he leaned forward and took the pencil that was tucked behind her ear, "I think you're looking for this." Lydia felt a blush start to color her cheeks, but didn't say anything. In fact, if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't have even noticed it. Derek, unfortunately, was paying attention, though.

"Thanks," she said, slamming her locker door shut. "What do you want, Derek?"

"I was wondering if you wanted to do something after school today. I mean, we can hang out, maybe get a coffee or something."

Lydia rolled her eyes, "Not all of us are rolling in money like you are, Derek. I actually work for my money."

"Are you working today?" Derek asked.

"As a matter of fact, I am. From four 'til nine."

"Okay," he said. "What about tomorrow?"

Lydia shook her head, "No, but I'm not hanging out with you."

"Busy?" he asked.

"No, I just don't want to hang out with you."

"C'mon, don't be like that," Derek said, watching Lydia intently. "I just want to hang out with you, get to know you better."

"We've been in the same class since kindergarten, Derek. If you wanted to get to know me, why haven't you done it already?"

She had a point. When Derek looked up at her, he saw Isaac and Scott behind her, watching the entire thing. He also knew they were listening - hell, with their enhanced hearing, it'd be difficult not to listen. He really hoped that Lydia didn't turn him down, though. That'd be pretty embarrassing, and he wasn't sure if he'd ever live it down if Stiles found out about it.

"Okay, so you've got a point. Until now, I've never really wanted to get to know you."

"So, what changed?" she asked, and Derek could tell that she was totally not buying it. "I mean, if the idea just struck you, there has to be a reason, right? What's your reason?"

"I've always admired you, Lydia," Derek said. He knew that she thought it was a line, but it really wasn't. Lydia wasn't just beautiful; she was smart. Like, IQ off the charts kind of smart. She'd never been tested, but her senior curriculum was completely AP classes. She was also passionate - she wasn't afraid to even argue with the fucking teacher if she thought they were wrong. And they usually were. Lydia was fucking brilliant, and she knew what she wanted and how to get it, usually. The thing that Derek really liked about her, though, was the fact that Lydia wasn't afraid to be herself. And yeah, she was an artist and people thought she was a real nerd for it, but Derek loved the fact that she did what she was passionate about.

Derek was the way he was because people expected it from him. He was a big basketball and baseball star, just like his Uncle Peter had been before him. There was another side to him, though; a side that nobody saw. And yeah, Derek's friends were nerds in the fact that they like comic books, if you could call that being a nerd, but Derek didn't let anybody see the journal that he kept with him all the time. He carried it in his bag, and it's where his best ideas were stored.

He was a writer, not that he let anybody know about it. Boyd knew about it, of course, but that was because Boyd was his best friend and he was more than just the garden variety jock. Boyd understood. He understood that Derek was kind of nervous to be who he really was. Boyd wasn't a nerd in his own right, but he understood Derek more than anybody ever could. Derek appreciated Boyd more than the rest of them.

It wasn't like they wouldn't understand. Hell, Derek knew that Scott, Isaac, Liam and Stiles would get it if he explained it to them. But part of Derek was worried what everyone else would say. He just had this pressure on his shoulders, this pressure that he needed to be a certain way. Maybe it was the price to pay for popularity, Derek wasn't sure, but it had been this way for as long as he'd been popular.

"You've always admired me?" Lydia said, and it was her voice that brought Derek back to reality. She snorted and rolled her eyes, "Please."

"It's true. So I thought that if you weren't doing anything, we could hang out. We could go to that coffee shop that you love and just talk."

"Yeah, right," Lydia said cynically. "Save it. I know your game, Hale."

"Really?" he asked, slightly taken aback. "And what do you know about me?"

"You're gonna come over here with your expensive clothes, your million dollar smile, and try to make me trip over myself to get together with you. If I get involved with you, I'm just going to be another notch on your bedpost, and I refuse to let that happen. So go fuck one of those groupie bitches that follow your group around. Your little game isn't going to work on me." And with that, Lydia flipped her strawberry blonde hair over her shoulder, rolled her eyes, and walked away.

After she had gone, Isaac and Scott came over to Derek. Isaac, the bastard, was laughing.

"That was really great," he said, getting his laughter under control. "Seriously, that was just awesome. Well, maybe not awesome, but still, thank you, that was fucking hilarious."

Derek didn't say anything, but cocked an eyebrow at them.

"Lydia isn't like other girls," Scott said. "She's different, so you're gonna need a different approach when it comes to her."

"I can handle this," Derek said, watching the two of them;. "Like I said, any girl would kill to be with me."

Isaac snickered. Derek looked at him and Isaac said, "Hey, I'm just saying, if any girl would kill to be with you, then what do you call what just happened with Lydia Martin?"

Derek sighed, but didn't say anything. As much as Derek hated to admit it, Isaac had a point.

-x-

"I saw you talking to Derek Hale earlier," Allison said to Lydia that afternoon. The coffee shop where she worked was pretty dead right now, so Allison was keeping her company while she was working. Occasionally, she would get a customer, but the boss told Lydia that as long as she was working, she didn't mind Allison being there. "What was that about?"

Lydia shrugged, making a customer's pumpkin spice latte. For a brief second, Lydia wondered why the hell they even put that on the menu in beginning of September. Shaking the thoughts out of her head, she looked at Allison, "He wanted to hang out."

"Hang out?" Allison asked as Lydia handed the coffee to the customer. "Like how?"

"I don't know, Ally," Lydia said. "He said something about hanging out. Y'know, getting to one another better. I told him I wasn't interested."

"Why not?"

Lydia rolled her eyes, "Seriously, Ally? We've known Derek for years - hell, you should know him better than anybody."

"You mean because Isaac's his adopted brother?" Allison asked, and Lydia nodded. "Sure, Isaac grew up with the Hales, but he assures me that Derek isn't what everybody sees. He says there's a part of him that nobody even sees."

"Yeah, sure," Lydia said cynically.

Allison shrugged, "I dunno, Lyds, it seems like Isaac would know better than anyone, considering he actually lives there and everything. Besides, you can just hang out with Derek. Give him a chance. I mean, what could happen?"

"Easy," Lydia said. "What could possibly happen? How about him trying to work his magic over on me, for starters."

"Magic, really?" Allison asked, trying to hold back a giggle.

"Yes, magic. He has this ability to woo over any girl at school. Why doesn't he try it on one of them instead? It would make everything so much fucking simpler."

"Because, Lyds, when Derek decides he wants something, he doesn't stop until he gets it."

"I worry about the company your boyfriend keeps," Lydia said, almost sarcastically. "I mean, is Isaac ever like that?"

Allison shook her head, "Nope. He's always a perfect gentleman."

Isaac grew up in the Hales' household because when they were younger, Isaac kept showing up to school with bruises and it came out that his dad was abusing him. Talia was the one to prosecute Mr. Lahey and since Isaac had no other living family, she didn't want him to go into the system. She knew a lot of the bad things that happened in the foster care system and couldn't bear it if Isaac went through that after the hell he'd endured at the hands of his father, so she offered him a place to stay. The Hales had been registered foster parents for a long time, so that's why they took him in to begin with. A few years later, they were putting the adoption papers through, and even though Isaac kept the Lahey name, he was legally part of the Hale family.

"Why don't you ask Cora about it?" Allison asked. "I mean, Cora knows her brother, right?"

Lydia shrugged as she heard the bell above the shop door ring. When she saw it was Derek that came in, though, she sighed heavily.

Allison made a face at her and said, "I really should get going. Isaac's coming over to my place so we can study for the big French test. I'll see you later, though, 'kay?"

Lydia sighed, signaling that she was not happy about this, but nodded anyway. "Sure. I'll see you later, Ally."

After Allison had gone, Derek came up to the counter. "How's it going?" he asked her.

Lydia rolled her eyes, "Is there something that you want?"

"Yeah. I came for coffee."

"You don't have coffee at your house?" Lydia asked. She rolled her eyes and took his order anyway, and then poured his coffee. She said, "What do you want, Derek?"

"What do you mean?" He seemed genuinely confused.

"I mean, in the twelve years that we've been in the same school together, the twelve years we've been in the same class together, you've never wanted to get to know me. Whenever I would have sleepovers with Cora, or whenever Laura babysat for me when I was a kid, you'd practically run the other way. I'm weird, remember? People don't trip over themselves to get to know me, so why the hell are you doing it?"

Derek shrugged, "New year, new leaf and all that jazz. I'd like to get to know you, Lydia, if you'd just let me."

Lydia just watched him.

Derek took a sip of his coffee and then said, "You and Stiles used to be pretty close. I mean, back in elementary school, the two of you were practically inseparable."

"That's true," Lydia said, "but when we entered sixth grade, he declared himself too cool to hang out with me, remember? He wanted nothing more to do with me, and that was fine with me."

Derek didn't have to hear her heartbeat to know that she was lying; he could tell just by the look on her face. Even though it had been a long time ago, her face showed that it still hurt as much now as it did then.

Deciding it was best to change the subject, Derek said, "Look, Lydia, my offer still stands. Today's Friday, so if you're not busy this weekend, maybe we can get together. Maybe have dinner or something."

"Are you asking me out?" Lydia asked, like she couldn't believe what was happening. Derek just nodded.

"Look, Derek, you're a nice guy and everything, but we wouldn't work," Lydia said. "You've got your group, I've got mine. I just...I think that, if anything, we should only hang out as friends."

"For now," Derek said. Lydia just watched him.

"I like you, Lydia," he said. "I'd like to get to know you better. So what do you say to lunch tomorrow?" When Lydia opened her mouth to answer, Derek held up his hands in surrender and said, "As friends. You can even pay for your own meal if you want. There's no pressure here."

Lydia sighed, "I'll think about it, Derek."

Derek nodded, mentally gloating. Hey, it wasn't a no, so that was cause for an internal victory dance as far as Derek was concerned. "Works for me," he said. "I know you're friends with Malia and Cora, so call one of them with your answer. I'll see you later, Lydia." And with that, he walked out of the shop.

-x-

"He wanted what?" Allison screeched into the phone at her friend. Isaac just watched her for a moment like she had gone insane.

"I told you," Lydia said, sighing. "He wanted to go to lunch with me tomorrow."

"Are you gonna?" Allison asked.

"I don't know," Lydia said, shrugging even though she knew her friend couldn't see her. "I mean, he seemed pretty genuine, but I also know that Derek knows how to put on an act when he needs to. I've seen him do it a dozen times."

Allison thought it over and then said, "Why don't you go with him. Just once, to see if you guys click or have anything in common. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? You're just sharing one meal together."

"I love you, Ally," Lydia said, "but sometimes I hate your fucking trusting nature. It's gonna get you hurt someday, you know that, right?"

Allison laughed, "I'm not all that trusting. Besides, my dad's been training me with a bow and arrow and in knife work since I was old enough to know that knives are sharp. I'm pretty confident in my ability to keep myself alive."

Lydia nodded, "Yeah, I know that. But still, I just...I don't know if it's a good idea or not. Part of me wants to go, but the other part of me is just waiting for something bad to happen. I know he's got an angle - he's got to have one - but what the fuck is it?"

Chapter Text

Lydia dialed Cora's number three separate times before she actually had the nerve to push the call button. Every time she dialed it before, she hung up before she could even call her. She was fucking nervous.

So what if she accepted Derek's offer to go to lunch today? So what if they were just gonna hang out? She made it abundantly clear that they were only going to go as friends. She just wasn't sure what Cora was going to say about it.

"'lo?" Cora answered groggily. Lydia took another glance at the clock - no fucking wonder. Everybody knew that neither Cora nor Malia got out of bed before noon on a Saturday, and it was only ten.

"Y'know, Cor, if you don't spend so much time partying, you wouldn't be this drag ass tired," Lydia laughed into the phone. She was just joking, of course - Cora wasn't really that kind of person.

"Fuck you," Cora said playfully. "You know that we can't get drunk."

"Yeah," Lydia said, "but you guys can't get high either. It doesn't stop Isaac from trying, though."

Isaac had only been a werewolf for a few years, since he was fifteen. He had been ten when he went to live with the Hales, and while he knew they were different, Talia didn't just turn children. She had really strict guidelines whenever someone came to her and asked for the bite.

"He says he doesn't do it for the high," Cora said, clearly waking up. "He says it eases his mind."

Lydia laughed.

"Besides," Cora said, and Lydia heard a rustling, like Cora was moving around in her bed, "there is a way for werewolves to get drunk and high. I know it has something to do with a special brand of wolfsbane. Other than that, I have no clue, and neither Mom, Dad, nor Uncle Peter will tell us what it is."

"Probably for the best," Lydia said. "I cannot imagine what you guys must look like wasted. Might be a scary sight."

"So Lyds," Cora said after a moment's silence, "you know I love talking to you, but why are you calling so early on a Saturday morning?"

"Early?" Lydia asked. "Cora, it's ten o'clock."

"Yeah. And everybody knows I don't get out of bed until at least noon." Lydia heard some more rustling and then Cora say in the background, "Goddamn it, Mia, move over a little bit. You're gonna push me off the edge."

"Did Malia have a nightmare last night?" Lydia asked. Cora sighed and then said, "Yeah."

Malia's story was different than the rest of the Hales. She was a Hale, she was Peter's daughter. When Malia's mother, who had been Peter's girlfriend at the time, found out she was pregnant, she ran. She was a werecoyote, like Malia is, and she raised her out in the woods. They were literally coyotes for years. When Malia's mother was killed by hunters, Malia fled. Turning back to her human form for the first time in almost nine years, she decided to try to find her father. Her mother had told her once (when she was quite young, before she could survive being a coyote all the time) that her father was a cruel and impatient man, and she was in danger around him. But that just fueled Malia's curiosity to find him even more. After Malia's mother was killed, she was confronted by a woman who said she was a US Marshall, and someone had been looking for her. Apparently, Peter had hired this woman - Braeden, she said her name was - to find Malia.

Even though Malia had been living with the Hales for going on six years now, she still had nightmares about the hunters that killed her mother right in front of her. Whenever she had them, she was known to climb into bed with the nearest person. It used to be Laura, but since Laura started going to NYU a few years ago, Malia had practically attached herself to Cora.

It wasn't usually a problem. Malia just went wherever Cora went. That's one of the reasons that Lydia had become fast friends with Malia.

"Tell her I'm sorry," Lydia said. Whenever it came to Malia and her nightmares, Lydia felt so helpless, because there wasn't really anything anyone could do for her. She was destined to deal with the PTSD that followed.

"Anyway," Lydia said, after a few moments of silence, "I want you to deliver a message to your brother for me."

That woke Cora up right away, "My brother? Since when do you talk to my brother?"

"He came into the coffee shop last night while I was on shift. He invited me to lunch today."

"You're shitting me," Cora said.

"Nope, I am not. Ask him yourself."

Cora groaned, "And what's the message you want me to give him?"

"I want you to tell him to get this whole us dating stuff out of his head. I will go to lunch with him, but as friends. I don't want anything more from him."

"Seriously?" Cora said. "I mean, he's my brother and I love him, but you know of his reputation, right? Are you sure this isn't a trick?"

Lydia shrugged, even though she knew Cora couldn't see her. "I don't know," she said truthfully. "But Allison told me to give him a chance. So I'm giving him one fucking chance. He fucks up and that's the last he'll hear from me."

"I don't know about this, Lyds," Cora said. She sounded every bit as hesitant as Lydia felt.

"Look, just tell him I need to know the time and place. And since you guys are loaded, he can pay for my lunch. But it's not a date," she said, stressing the last part. "Tell him to remember that."

"Sure," Cora said, mumbling her goodbyes to Lydia. Once they hung up, Cora looked over and saw her cousin watching her.

"What, Mia?" Cora asked.

"I wonder what Derek wants with Lydia," she said softly. "I mean, he's never shown interest in her before, right?"

Even though Malia had only been living with them since she was eleven, she had gotten pretty close to most of the members of the family. Malia was more of an observer than a participant, considering how she was a coyote for nine years of her life. Even now, even though she hadn't been a coyote for almost six years, she still had trouble grasping societal norms, sometimes. In fact, that was how the girls had met Allison.


It was the first day of sophomore year for Lydia, which meant it was the first day of freshman year for Cora and Malia. Malia was freaked out. She had been homeschooled for a while, since Talia was unsure of how Malia would do in a public setting. She had had a tutor come and work with her three times a week until Malia could get used to being a human again. Considering Malia had lived as a coyote since she was four, it was more difficult than she had thought it was going to be.

Talia didn't want to send her to junior high. But when time rolled around to be entered into high school, Talia had told Malia that she needed an education. She had been working with Malia to try to make her more comfortable as a human, and she taught her control. The alpha, beta, omega chant that she used to teach her children control actually worked a lot better on Malia, even though Talia hadn't been a hundred percent sure if it would or not.

On the first day of freshman year, Cora was classic Cora. She was still the essential tomboy, the girl who hated anything girly and who would rather stab herself in the eye with a fork than wear a dress. But Malia still hadn't grown into herself in public yet.

"I hate my math teacher already," Malia had whined to Cora and Lydia at lunch. "Can I claw his eyes out? Or eat him? When I was in the woods, I ate my enemies."

"You could always shift and pretend to be rabid," Cora had said. Lydia shot her a look. Cora ignored it as she finished, "I mean, it might make him run away and never look back."

Lydia tried really hard not to burst out laughing at the two of them. The way that Malia said things were just so matter-of-factly and she had no idea what was wrong with the things she said. Cora, on the other hand, knew better.

"Mia," Lydia said, shooting Cora another look, "We don't use our special powers against regular humans. Didn't Talia tell you that?" When Malia nodded, Lydia looked over at Cora, who was trying not to bust up laughing, "And you. You know better. Don't encourage her."

"Yeah, but it'd be so much easier," Malia said, sighing.

"Are they serious?" a voice came from behind Lydia. She looked over and saw a pretty girl with dark brown hair and these beautiful deep brown eyes just watching them. It was someone that Lydia had never seen before.

"No," Lydia said quickly, as Malia said "Yes." The girl just looked even more confused.

"We haven't met," Lydia said. She stuck her hand out, "I'm Lydia Martin. These girls are Malia and Cora Hale."

The girl smiled and shook Lydia's hand, "I'm Allison. I'm new here, my dad just moved back."

"Moved back?" Cora asked. "Can I ask his name?"

"Chris. Chris Argent."

At the very name, Cora tensed up, but Malia didn't know what was going on. Of course she didn't; she hadn't been around the time that Kate Argent had tried to trap the Hales in the estate and set fire to it. Lydia cleared her throat, "Related to Kate, I'm assuming."

Allison nodded, "That's my aunt. But I don't talk to her anymore. Dad doesn't even talk to her anymore. She's kind of crazy."

"That's an understatement," Cora muttered.

"Anyway," Allison said, and Lydia could tell that there was no discouraging this girl, so she tried to think up an excuse. She was too late, because Malia said, "I spent most of my childhood as a coyote in the woods."

Allison made a face, "Huh?"

Cora sighed, "There's only one way to do this, Lyds." She turned to Allison, "Did your dad ever tell you about werewolves?"

"Sure," Allison said. "I've only been in training ever since I was old enough to understand the concept." She looked worried for a moment, "Why? Are there any here?"

Cora let her eyes flash gold and Allison looked nervous. Lydia sighed and said, "Don't worry, she's not gonna hurt you. The Hale pack protects this land. And that's your code, right? We hunt those who hunt us?" Allison nodded, so Lydia continued, " The Hale pack doesn't hurt anyone. Or else they answer to Talia - and trust me, she can be way worse than even your crazy aunt."

Cora guessed that she should be thankful that Allison hadn't outed their secret. In fact, Allison went home that very day and asked about the Hales, and she got the whole story. The girls had become fast friends, and, of course, when Jennifer Blake and Erica Reyes had approached Allison, she shut that down immediately.


"I don't like bullies," Allison had said immediately. "You guys qualify."

"We're not bullies, they're just losers," Jennifer had said. Lydia avoided her gaze.

"Doesn't matter if they are or they aren't. I can tell the good from the bad, and you are the worst. Careful, or else I'll let slip...well, if people think that they're losers, wait until they find about you."

Jennifer and Erica looked at Allison skeptically. "You're new here. You don't know shit about us," Jennifer had said.

Allison made a face. "Really?" she asked. "Because all I'd have to do is let slip that your dad is about two minutes away from losing his job, and most of your friends will run." Then she looked at Erica and said, "And your seizures. I wouldn't call anyone else a loser when you deal with that. It's not fair to bully others but expect them not to do it back."

"How...what?" Jennifer stuttered. "How'd you know that?"

Allison smiled sweetly before looking at Jennifer and then Erica, "That's my secret. Now get out of here, or else people will find out."

Once they were gone, Cora looked over at Allison, "How'd you know that stuff?"

"My dad taught me to be observant," Allison said. In an imitation of Chris' voice, Allison said, "'Ally, you have to be observant. Look for clues that people try to hide. Look for things that aren't always out in the open. It could save your life one day.'"

Cora looked confused.

"That skirt and those shoes that Jennifer's wearing? They're knock offs. The real skirt is about two hundred dollars, but you can get that one for twenty five. And those are imitation Jimmy Choos. The real ones can cost up to two to three hundred a pair, but I know for a fact that those are fifty dollar shoes. Does she look like a type of person that would normally wear knock offs?" When Cora shook her head, Allison continued, "And Erica is wearing an ID bracelet. My cousin has one just like it - it's for a medical emergency. There's a symbol on it which means she's epileptic."

"Oh my God," Cora laughed. "I love you five hundred percent more now."

"Cor," Malia said, snapping Cora out of her thoughts. "You need to go talk to Derek."

Cora nodded, "Yeah, I do." She got up and went over to Derek's door. Knowing that Talia, William and Peter got up early on the weekends to do charity work, she started banging on Derek's door.

"Jesus Christ, Cora," Derek said, opening the door. "What the fuck?"

"I should ask you the same question. What are you doing fucking around with Lydia?"

"Good," Derek said. He watched as Cora plopped down into his computer chair. "She called you. What'd she say?"

"Before that, Derek, tell me something. What are you doing fucking around with Lydia?" Cora asked again, a little more forcefully. "Lydia is my best friend and I need to know what you're planning with her."

"What, are you here to give me the don't hurt her or else speech?" Derek asked sarcastically. "I thought the father did that."

Cora sighed, "I'm being serious, Derek. I don't know if she can handle getting her heart stomped on."

"Jesus, Cora, just tell me what she fucking said," Derek growled.

"Calm down already," Cora said. "She said that she'll go to lunch with you. But it's just as friends, even though you're paying."

"Why am I paying?"

"Because we're loaded, as Lydia put it," Cora said. "Seriously, though, Derek, when Lydia's parents got divorced, her father took practically everything they had. Why do you think she's got that crappy job? She needed a way to help out her mom after Riley went to college. The least you can do, even though you're just going to lunch as friends, is pay for her fucking meal."

Derek nodded, "Sure, Cor, I can do that."

"Okay. Now tell me the details so I can text them to her. I don't trust you with her phone number just yet."

"I'm your big brother," Derek stated, clearly annoyed. "You should be able to trust me."

"I should be able to, you're right," Cora replied. "But with the company you keep, sometimes I wonder."

"Hey now," Derek said. "Those guys whose company I keep happen to be you and your friends' boyfriends."

Cora shrugged, "Yeah, and I know my boyfriend can be an asshole sometimes." She sighed heavily before saying, "Just give me the details, Derek."

"Fine," Derek said. "Tell her to meet me at Minnie's at one. Or do you think she's going to need longer than that to get herself ready?"

Cora rolled her eyes. "You spent way too much time with Jen," she mumbled, even though she knew Derek would hear her. "Lydia takes half the time to get ready that Jen did. Lydia isn't even half as high maintenance as Jen was. That's something you need to remember."

Derek nodded, "Noted."

"I'll tell her to meet you at Minnie's at one. That should be more than enough time for her to get ready."

Chapter Text

"You decided to take my advice then," Allison was saying to Lydia through Skype. Lydia was watching the clock, deciding to leave at a quarter to one. Beacon Hills wasn't very big, and it only took about ten minutes to get around town (unless you lived in the middle of the preserve, like the Hales did).

"Yeah, I took your advice. But if you were wrong about him, I'm blaming you, Ally," Lydia said.

Allison nodded, "Seems fair, I suppose. So where's he taking you?"

"We're only doing this as friends," Lydia emphasized. "And we're just going to Minnie's. Y'know, that diner over on Main Street? I'm actually pretty fucking thankful that he didn't want to go anywhere more expensive. He is, after all, a Hale."

"Yeah, but so is Cora, and look at how she turned out," Allison responded. Lydia took a moment to think it over.

"True point," Lydia said finally. "Look, it's not a date. It's just two people having lunch together. I don't really know Derek and this will be the perfect opportunity to find out if we have anything in common."

"Like I said," Allison said.

"Yeah, yeah," Lydia muttered. Glancing at the clock, she said to Allison, "I've gotta log off now. I'm leaving in just a few minutes."

Allison nodded on the computer screen and said, "Sure. I"ll talk to you later, okay Lyds? Call me after your date."

"It's not a date!" Lydia exclaimed.

"Okay, fine," Allison said. "I correct myself. Call me after your not-date."

Lydia sighed and rolled her eyes, "I'll see you later, Ally." And with that, she logged off.

Lydia could drive to Minnie's in her sleep. Her big brother Riley loved to eat there when he lived at home and he took Lydia there too many times to count. That, of course, was after the divorce and their father left them with practically nothing to their name except a new stepmother who was less than half his age. She was barely five years older than Riley. Now they never saw him. He was too busy with his new wife and their daughter.

Lydia tried to think of something else. Nobody really knew how she felt about her father abandoning the family like he had. It was something that she didn't think about. No, she had put all that hate and frustration into her art, but she never let anyone see those paintings. They were really dark and she would probably end up in Eichen House if anybody ever saw them.

She arrived at Minnie's about ten minutes early. Now, Lydia Martin was known for a lot of things, but she was not known for being early. She was almost always fashionably late to everything. Well, the things that mattered, she was on time, but other than that, she just...wasn't. As she parked her car, though, she noticed the Camaro was already in the parking lot.

She spotted him right away. Derek was in a booth, talking to a waitress. Lydia recognized her right away - it was Amy Bradley, Jennifer's right hand bitch. And Derek's eyes were roaming up and down her body. Lydia rolled her eyes and thought, Typical Derek. She went over and said, "So have you been here long?"

"Lydia," Derek said, surprised. Obviously he had been too busy checking Amy out. When Amy got a look at Lydia, she made a face.

"This is who you were waiting for? What, you can't do any better than that?"

"Back down, bitch," Lydia said. Yeah, she'd been taking lessons from Cora, and she just wasn't in the mood for this right now. "Just turn around and walk away."

Surprisingly, Amy did as Lydia said, and Lydia looked at Derek. "This was a bad idea," she said, sighing. "I should've never shown up here. I'm just gonna go."

"Lydia, wait," Derek said, grabbing her arm. Instead, she just yanked it free.

"Don't, Derek. I'll see you later." With that, she left.

-x-

When Lydia got home, she called Cora, Malia and Allison. She invited them over for a sleepover and told them that her mom was working the late shift at the hospital and that she was intending on getting smashed tonight. She needed to get drunk.

"Werewolves can't get drunk," Cora said. Lydia heard Malia clear her throat, so Cora amended, "Okay, werewolves and werecoyotes can't get drunk." Lydia laughed because that was so Malia. She didn't like being excluded, and she was different.

"I know, but you drink anyway," Lydia said. "Or don't drink. I've got Riley's collection of superhero movies which I am planning on watching."

"Ooh, superheroes," Cora said. Well, she's in, Lydia thought to herself. Cora loved superheroes. Honestly, Cora loved any kind of movie with action in it.

Of course, Malia had wanted to to tag along, too. After all, wherever Cora went, Malia followed - not that any of them minded. Lydia told them to come over around six and she'd order some pizza for dinner. It was then that Cora reminded her that werewolves, or rather werewolves and werecoyotes, as Malia was still watching her, needed meat on their pizza to survive. Lydia responded with a 'yeah, yeah' and hung up.

She got home to a note from her mom, telling her that she picked up an extra shift at the hospital. She had traded with Melissa McCall because Melissa wanted that Friday off in order to go to Scott's lacrosse game. Even though Scott was in Derek's group of friends, he was an okay guy, and Melissa was such a sweetheart. Lydia had known her for a long time, with as many times as she'd been in the hospital to deliver dinner for her mother.

After throwing the note away, Lydia went upstairs to change into a pair of pajamas. She dug her shorts and matching spaghetti strap top out of her dresser and went to take a hot shower.

She hadn't been in the shower for more than five minutes when she heard the front door open and close. She heard Cora yell, "Hey, Lyds, you here?"

It wasn't like Lydia had super hearing. No, banshees didn't get that kind of luxury. Cora just knew how to yell so she was heard. She had her brother and sister, plus Malia, and there were always kids over at the Hale house. Being used to people not realizing she was there, Cora just made them realize it instead. Knowing that Cora did had super hearing, Lydia yelled to her that she was in the shower, and she let the water run down her body for a minute. She washed herself quickly and got out of the shower, getting dressed. She towel dried her hair and went into the living room to find Cora and Malia there. Cora was looking through the newspaper ads when she saw Lydia.

"Hey," Cora said gently. Lydia knew something was up; Cora was never gentle, and she never sounded the way she sounded right now.

"So I tried to ask my brother how your not-date went today," Cora started, and she noticed Lydia tense up, "but he just told me it was none of my business, so I figured you told him off or something. So, what happened?"

Lydia shook her head, "Nothing. I got there, he was flirting with the pretty waitress, and I left. That's it."

"You weren't dating, though," Malia said, clearly confused. "What do you have to be upset about?"

"Mia, think about it this way," Cora said. "You liked Liam from the very second you saw him, right?" Malia nodded, so Cora continued, "Now, say you didn't want to date him, at least not yet, but he asked you out and you said you had to think about it. And then, he starts flirting with someone else. How would that make you feel?"

"Really bad," Malia said.

"Exactly." Cora watched Lydia for a moment and then said, "Want me to punch him for you?"

"Nah," Lydia said. "I'm not like that. I'll be okay."

"You might not be," Cora answered, "but I am. It was a lousy thing for him to do and I hate that he made you feel like that."

"It's fine," Lydia said. "I should've known that he wasn't serious. I mean, nobody wants me, and I'm cool with that. I'd rather be painting, anyway."

"C'mon," Malia said, getting up and giving Lydia a hug. When Lydia asked her why she did that, Malia answered, "You smelled sad. I didn't like it."

"Thank you, Mia," Lydia said softly.

-x-

"So, strike one, huh?" Stiles said to Derek over Skype that night.

"What do you mean? Do you have people spying for your stupid little bet?" Derek asked him.

Stiles shook his head, "No, but Kira was passing through the diner and saw what happened. She told Scotty, who told me."

Derek rolled his eyes, "It wasn't supposed to happen that way. I don't even know why she got so upset - we were there as friends, which, by the way, was her idea."

"Think about it, dude," Stiles said. "You asked her out. When she gets there, you were flirting with some other girl."

"I wasn't flirting!" Derek exclaimed. "I was just chatting with her."

Stiles rolled his eyes, "Please, Der. That was Amy, right? She's one of Jen's friends."

"Yeah," Derek mumbled.

"Look, the reason I picked Lydia when we started this bet was because I knew she isn't going to fall for your normal charms the way everyone else does. You may have everyone else in that school wrapped around your finger with your smarts and charm, but Lydia's different."

"Obviously," Derek groaned.

"Do you wanna call this thing off?" Stiles asked.

"We never specified what you get if you win," Derek said, the thought just coming to him. "I mean, what do you want if you win?"

"Well," Stiles said, thinking it over. "I've been having a lot of issues with my jeep lately. I mean, I will never abandon her, but she needs a serious revamp." Derek was quiet while Stiles continued, "I win, you chauffer me around for a month. Anywhere I wanna go."

"That's all?" Derek asked, clearly confused. He figured that Stiles would want more.

"Yep, that's it. What do you want if you win?"

Derek really had to think about it. He wasn't in this for whatever he was going to win; he was in this for the pure sport of it. Stiles' parents weren't exactly rich, so he couldn't get absolutely anything, but he wasn't sure what he wanted. Then an idea struck him.

"A hundred bucks," Derek said suddenly. "I wanna get the new Smash Brothers game that just came out."

"That's only, like, sixty."

Derek shrugged, "A hundred bucks, Stiles. Take it or leave it."

"Sure," Stiles said after a moment. "I can live with that." He sighed, watching Derek pretty intently for a minute before saying, "You think you can get Lydia to crack? Because, lemme tell ya, Derek, it won't be that easy."

"Nothing worth having is ever easy," Derek said, and it made Stiles bark out a laugh.

"Seriously, dude, with all those inspirational quotes you randomly say, you'd think it was your mother that was the teacher, not mine."

Derek just shrugged.

-x-

Between Lydia and Allison, the two people who could actually get drunk, they managed to polish off a bottle of Absolut and a bottle of Jack. And sure, Lydia liked her girly drinks every once in a while, but when she wanted to get drunk, she chose the hard stuff every time. Allison had more of a taste for the hard liquor since that's what her dad kept around.

Natalie had gotten home around two to the four girls in the living room, passed out. She had covered them up with a couple of blankets out of the entry way closet and kissed Lydia on the forehead, going up the stairs and to bed herself.

When Lydia woke up around one the next afternoon, she noticed that, while Cora and Malia were still out cold, Allison was up and at the dining room table, drinking coffee with Natalie and talking to her. Lydia groaned as she got up off the floor and stood up.

"Decided to join the land of the living, huh, Lyds?" Allison asked teasingly.

Lydia wasn't worried about Allison talking in front of her mother. Natalie Martin had had an agreement with her two children - they were allowed to drink while they were at home as long as they didn't go anywhere. She wanted them to be able to learn about vices and comfort zones in their own home, where they were comfortable, instead of out with questionable company.

"It's too freaking early," Lydia groaned.

"Too early?" Natalie asked, her voice showing amusement. "Lydia, it's after one."

"Really?" Lydia asked, rubbing her forehead. "Doesn't feel that way."

"Do you want to talk about it, dear?" Natalie asked, taking a sip of her coffee. Lydia groaned and walked past her, getting her own cup of coffee.

"What do you mean?" Lydia asked, pouring a little milk and adding some sugar to her coffee.

"Well, you don't often get right into the liquor cabinet, so I was just curious to what had happened," Natalie answered.

"Nothing, Mom," Lydia said. "Everything's just peachy."

"For some reason," Natalie said, zeroing in on her daughter's sarcasm, "I'm starting to think that's not the case."

Lydia shrugged, "Things are fine, Mom. I don't really wanna talk about it."

Natalie nodded, "Sure, sweetheart." She glanced at the clock on the wall and then said, "Well, I've got a shift in about an hour, so I'll talk to you girls later, okay?"

Once Natalie was gone, Allison looked over at Lydia, "Drinking it away isn't going to work, you know."

"There's nothing to drink away, Ally," Lydia said. "Nothing's going to come of me and Derek. I don't even understand why he asked me to lunch in the first place when he was just flirting with Amy Bradley when I got there."

"Amy Bradley?" Allison asked incredulously. "You mean, Jennifer Blake's right hand bitch?"

"Not right hand anymore. Erica Reyes got that promotion a while ago, remember?"

"Still, the point stands," Allison said. "Jennifer and Derek's breakup was practically legendary. Everybody was talking about it the other day."

"And I was pretty sure that you don't go for idle gossip, Ally," Lydia said. She gave Allison a look, "Seriously, what happened to you?"

Allison laughed, "It's not like that, Lyds. Things are quiet around here right now and I just...I think that maybe you should give Derek another chance."

Lydia laughed, "Yeah, right. Exactly how many chances to you think he deserves?"

"I dunno, Lyds," Allison said softly. "I just think that there's more to Derek than what you say there is."

Lydia shrugged, "I dunno, Ally."

There were a few moments of silence that followed, as both Lydia and Allison sipped at their coffee, and then they were interrupted by Malia and Cora coming into the kitchen. "Ooh," Cora had said, wiping at the sleep in her eyes, "There's coffee. Lydia, you're a goddess."

Lydia smiled as Allison said, "Hey genius, Natalie's the one who made the coffee."

"Don't care," Cora said, pouring herself a cup of coffee and using a god-awful amount of sugar in it.

When Lydia realized how much sugar she used, she cringed, "Wow, Cor, has Stiles rubbed off on you that much?"

Cora just shrugged before sitting down. Malia grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator before doing the same.

"So what are we talking about?" Malia asked after taking a few gulps of water. She looked expectantly between Lydia and Allison.

"Your cousin being an asshole," Allison answered as Lydia took a large drink of her coffee. "I think Lydia should give him another chance."

"Are you kidding me, Ally?" Cora asked. "Derek fucked up. He shouldn't get any more chances."

"I dunno, Cor," Allison answered, getting up to pour herself another cup of coffee. "I mean, maybe he realizes he fucked up."

"Don't, you guys," Lydia said, feeling her emotions start to bubble in her chest. "No guy wants me. He obviously wanted me there to humiliate me, or whatever. It's fine. I'm fine with my paints."

Cora watched Lydia closely. "Have you been with anyone since Jackson left?" she asked softly.

When Jackson Whittemore's father got transferred to London, it had broken Lydia's heart. It wasn't like they really had anything; it was just a fuck buddy relationship. But they were friends, and had been pretty good friends even though he had been one of the popular ones. One of the reasons Lydia had even started sleeping with him was because she wanted some experience. She just sort of fell in love with him along the way without meaning to. They still talked over Skype quite a bit, whenever they both had time.

Lydia shook her head, "No, but it's okay. I'm fine by myself, you know."

The girls were silent, but Cora nodded.

After they finished their coffee, Cora told Lydia that she and Malia needed to get home and tend to their Sunday chores. Lydia nodded, hugging them both before they left. And then Allison looked at Lydia and said, "What do you wanna do now?"

"Well, I'm going to take a shower," Lydia said, standing up. Allison followed suit. "Do you need to be home at a certain time?"

"No," Allison said. "Things are really relaxed with me and Dad right now, and with no threat around, he really doesn't care, as long as I keep my eleven o'clock curfew."

Lydia nodded. She sighed, "Well, after my shower, I'm gonna paint a little bit. It'll ease this pain in my chest a little."

Allison nodded, but then said, "I don't think he meant to hurt you, Lyds. I think it was just Derek being a jock. They don't seem to understand anything."

Lydia nodded. "Yeah," she said, "but I wish he did."

Chapter Text

Lydia didn't sleep very well on Sunday night. She kept replaying everything over and over in her head about Derek and the disastrous lunch date. It wasn't even supposed to be a date. She was the one who had insisted on that, and she knew it. She had no reason to be hurt.

When she went to school on Monday, she was ambushed at her locker by Derek. She was pulling her French textbook out of her locker when she felt him approach her.

"Can I help you?" she asked him, pulling the pencil out from behind her ear. She also grabbed her sketchbook and then slammed her locker door shut.

"I wanted to apologize for Saturday," Derek answered honestly. "I talked to Stiles later that night and he helped me realize that I was flirting with Amy. I didn't mean to, I swear."

"You have nothing to apologize for," Lydia answered honestly. "You did nothing wrong. I was the one who had no right to get upset. It wasn't a date; it was just lunch as friends, and I blew everything out of proportion. I'm sorry I did that."

Derek watched her, and it was at this moment that Lydia realized he had the most beautiful eyes she'd ever seen. They were green, but with specks of brown and gold. They almost looked hazel in the right light. They were just gorgeous. Riley always told her that eyes were the windows into the soul, and she wanted to believe that, because Derek's eyes just looked so...so honest.

"It's okay," Derek said. "So I was wondering...what's your schedule like this week?"

Lydia shrugged, "I'm working every day except for today. I needed to get a few more hours, so I'm picking up extra shifts."

"Well, you wanna hang out today? Try this whole hanging out as friends thing again? 'Cause I really would like to get to know you, Lydia."

Lydia just watched Derek for a few moments, trying to figure out if she could trust him, before finally saying, "I guess so. Meet me at the coffee shop after school."

"The one you work at?" Derek asked. He was clearly confused.

"There aren't exactly a whole lot of coffee shops around here, Derek," she answered. "Besides, I like it there. And Betsy's working today, and she makes the best caramel cappuccinos I've ever tasted. I swear, they're like crack. I also love the ambiance. It's just really laid back. I do a lot of studying there."

Derek nodded, "Sure. I'll see you later."

Lydia smiled, "Sure, Derek. See you."

While she was walking to Morrell's class, she could've mentally slapped herself. Why was she giving him a chance? She'd known Derek practically her whole life and he'd never wanted to get to know her before now. What the fuck was his angle anyway?

She didn't really think about it that much because once she sat down, Allison looked over at her, "What's going on, Lydia?"

"I just have one thing to say to you, Ally," Lydia said, sighing. "I'm giving him one more chance. We're going to the coffee shop later today to hang out. If you're wrong again...well, you'll no longer be my best friend. Got it?"

"Did it ever occur to you that you're looking for an angle that doesn't exist?" Allison asked her. Lydia stopped for a moment to ponder that thought.

"I don't know, Ally," Lydia sighed. "I've known Derek a long time. If he was interested, wouldn't he have made a move by now?"

Allison shrugged, "You never know. Isaac always says that Derek thinks things through differently than most people, so what he's doing may make sense to him, even though you think he's crazy."

Lydia sighed, "I'll keep that in mind."

-x-

"So, what's happening?" Stiles asked Derek later at lunch. "Did you and Lydia kiss and make up?"

"There was no kissing involved," Derek said, glaring at his friend. "We're meeting later today at the coffee shop."

"Why?"

"Well, in order to win this bet of yours, I'm going to have to get her to be my friend first, don't you think?" Derek said, taking a bite of his sandwich. He chewed over his thoughts and swallowed before saying, "I'm gonna win this thing, but I need to make her trust me."

"Have you ever thought about what's going to happen when she finds out this was all a bet?" Isaac asked, speaking up. "She's never gonna forgive you - you know that, right?"

"That's why she's not gonna find out about that," Stiles answered for Derek. "Can you imagine what she would do to us if she found out about it?"

Derek just let that sink in for a moment. Sure, he had taken the bet because he did like Lydia, but he didn't really think about what was going to happen if Lydia ever found out about it. Lydia was a small thing, and she usually hated confrontation, but Derek knew that before Riley Martin went off to college, he had taught his little sister how to take care of herself.

"She's not gonna find out," Derek said eventually, noticing that everyone was looking at him. "I mean, Allison, Malia and Cora don't know, right?" He looked at Liam, Stiles and Isaac in turn. They all shook their heads.

"Are you crazy?" Stiles asked. "Do you know what your sister would do to me if she found out that this bet was my idea? She'd fucking kill me."

Derek nodded, "Yes, Stiles, I'm aware. I just had to be sure."

"So what's plan B?" Boyd asked after a few moments. He opened a small bag of Doritos and watched his best friend carefully.

"Coffee shop," Derek said. He noticed the looks he was getting, so he added, "I asked Lydia to meet me at the coffee shop. She goes there to study anyway."

"What does she have to study?" Stiles asked. "The semester just started."

"She likes to stay on top," Isaac answered. "I mean, she's at the top of the class for a reason, right?"

Something was bothering Derek, though. So, turning to Stiles, he said, "Why aren't you and Lydia friends anymore?"

Stiles shrugged, "We were changing. We were both getting interested in different things. I was more into sports and stuff and she liked her drawings. It was a mutual decision."

Derek shrugged. He knew that Stiles was lying to him by the way his heartbeat spiked, but decided not to mention it. He didn't want to deal with Stiles being all pissed off.

The rest of the day passed, and Derek was counting the hours until he could meet Lydia at The Grind. He was actually pretty grateful that he didn't have any practices after school for a while. When the final bell rang, he practically bolted out of the school, but was stopped by none other than Jennifer Blake herself.

"Hey, Der," she practically purred, and Derek just rolled his eyes. He knew that something was up; that was the tone of voice she used when she wanted something.

"What do you want?" he asked her rudely. He didn't care how he sounded; he needed to get out of there.

"I just saw you and thought we should catch up. I know we're not dating right now, but we could still get together and have a little fun...right?" She ran her finger down his arm and, while he used to find the whole process hot as hell, it was just making him queasy now.

"Sorry, I can't," Derek said. "I'm meeting someone at The Grind. In fact, I should be there now."

"Can I tag along?"

"Look, Jen," Derek said after a moment, his irritation showing. "We broke up. Things were just really bad between the two of us, and I just didn't see them getting any better. Our relationship was not healthy, okay? And I've already moved on from you."

Her eyes narrowed, "Who could you get that's better than me?"

"You're not everything," Derek answered. "I have my eye on someone else, if she'll even give me the time of day."

"Who is it?"

Derek rolled his eyes, "I'm not going to tell you so you can harass her. Just let me go, okay? You'd be good to move on, yourself."

"But Derek," Jennifer said, and Derek wanted to just get the fuck out of there already, "I love you. I thought you loved me."

Derek sighed softly, "I'm really sorry, Jen. It just wouldn't work between the two of us." And with that, he managed to get away from Jennifer and into the Camaro.

-x-

Lydia checked her watch for the fifth time in the past two minutes. He wasn't coming. She had been sitting there, drinking coffee for the past twenty minutes and he hadn't shown up yet. Well, even if she was stood up by Derek, at least she had one of Betsy's kickass caramel cappuccinos. She wasn't sure how the hell she made them so good, but Lydia would take them over anything else.

Lydia sighed; she really should've known better than to think Derek was going to show. This was just more typical Derek.

"Been here long?" Derek asked as he suddenly appeared in front of her. It surprised her.

"About twenty minutes," Lydia answered, taking another drink of her coffee. "I was starting to think that you weren't going to show."

"Sorry about that," Derek apologized. "I actually ran into someone and they wouldn't let me go fast enough. I was trying, honest." He ran a hand through his hair as he said, "I'm gonna get a coffee. Don't go anywhere."

Lydia nodded and watched Derek go up and get his own coffee. Derek took his coffee the most boring way ever - black. And yeah, Lydia didn't need all the sugar and shit that Stiles and Cora put in their coffees, but she couldn't handle the overwhelming bitterness of a black coffee, either.

When Derek came back, he said, "So, what're you studying?"

"I know the semester just started," Lydia said, watching Derek closely. "Cora gives me shit all the time for this, but I'm not gonna let anyone beat me for valedictorian. I refuse to let that happen, okay? I know that Danny's right below me, followed by Stiles, but I'll be damned if I don't get that top spot. I've been working my whole high school career to get that fucking spot and nobody's gonna make me miss it."

"Calm down, Princess," Derek said, and Lydia looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Hey," he said, noting the look she was giving him, "if you don't like the name, I won't call you that, but it fits. Everyone thinks you're a sweet princess, but you're not, are you?"

Lydia laughed, "Not where my grades are concerned. I'm one of the smartest people in that whole goddamned school and I'm gonna show it. Besides, I need a scholarship. I'm going to art school next year - the only things that are going to stop me are injury and death - and Mom can't afford to send me there, so I need to get all the financial help I can get."

"Which school?" Derek asked.

"I'm still doing my research," Lydia answered. "There are a few that have caught my interest, but I'm not one hundred percent sure yet. I know that I don't wanna leave California, though." She paused for a moment and then added, "And I don't mind if you call me that. Y'know, if you really wanna."

Derek nodded.

"I know what you're thinking," Lydia said, going back to her original topic. Derek looked at her, a silent urge for her to go on, so she said, "I'm smart. What's a smart girl like me doing going to art school and not to MIT. I'm wasting my future, blah, blah, blah." She said the words so matter-of-factly that Derek wondered how many times she'd heard them.

"I honestly wasn't going to say any of that, Lydia," Derek said softly. Lydia just watched him. "I mean, yeah, you're pretty brilliant, that much can't be denied. But also, I admire you because you do what you're passionate about and you don't care what other people say about you. You've stood your own against everybody in that fucking school and you don't care what they think."

"Yeah, but that's more because of your sister and cousin," Lydia laughed. "Cora and Malia aren't afraid to punch people if they hurt me."

"I know that," Derek said, taking a drink of his coffee. "I mean, I can't count how many times Cora's gotten suspended for you. And every time it's happened, she's always been terrified to tell Mom, but Mom always looks proud of her."

Lydia shrugged, "They're my best friends, you know. I mean, Ally will always be my bestest friend, but Cora and Malia...they're something special."

"You're a genius, Lydia," Derek said. "You should know that's not a word."

Lydia shrugged, "Yeah, well, I'm using it anyway."

Derek just laughed.

A few moments of silence passed between the two of them, but they weren't awkward or uncomfortable. They almost felt...oddly right.

"So, Derek," Lydia started, looking up from her textbook. Derek's eyes met hers and he looked a little...puzzled. "Tell me more about you."

"We've known each other since we were kids."

"True," Lydia said, closing her textbook. She took another drink of coffee. "But we really don't know one another, do we? Besides, you were the one who said you wanted to get to know me better."

"That is true, I guess," Derek answered. "Well, what do you wanna know?"

They spent the next three hours just talking to one another. They talked about their favorite movies and music, about what they wanted to do after high school, they talked about foods and activities. Lydia didn't want to admit it to anyone, but she actually had a good time with Derek.

He was in the middle of a sentence. She knew he was, but she wasn't paying attention to the words that were leaving his mouth. Instead, she was thinking about his body. She was actually thinking more about his complexion, about how gorgeous his features were. She didn't even feel the slightest bit sorry when she interrupted him, saying, "I wanna paint you."

Derek looked confused.

"I'm sorry," Lydia said. "I really should have been paying attention to you, but you've got such classic features. I would love to paint you sometime."

"I don't know how to take that," Derek laughed.

"It's a good thing. So maybe when we've both got some time, if it's okay..." she left the question hanging in the air, and was very happy when Derek said, "I would like that."

-x-

He was calling it a win. Derek spent over four hours that day in the coffee shop getting to know Lydia. And yeah, she was beautiful, but she was also down to earth, sweet, compassionate, and deep. Compared to Jennifer, who'd been a kiddie pool, Lydia was practically a fucking ocean.

"What are you so damn happy about?" Cora asked him the next morning at breakfast. She was rubbing sleep out of her eyes as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "It should be illegal to start anything before ten in the morning."

"Don't whine," Derek said. "It doesn't become you, little sister."

"Bite me, Derek."

"God, you're cranky this morning," Derek said. "And for your information, Lydia and I went to the coffee shop yesterday and just talked. We spent four hours getting to know one another, and I think she's gonna give me a chance."

After she took a drink of her coffee (and proceeded to burn her tongue on said coffee), Cora set down the mug and went right up to Derek. She got in his personal space and poked him in the chest with two fingers, "You hurt her, Derek Hale, and I swear to God that even you won't be able to heal from what I'll do to you."

"I don't intend on hurting her," Derek said, taking a drink of his own coffee.

"Then what's your obsession with her lately, huh?" Cora asked. She sat down at the kitchen island counter and watched her brother take the stool next to her. "Why do you even care?"

"New year, new leaf," Derek said. "Why does it matter to you so much?"

"I don't know, Derek, it's just...Lydia doesn't need anyone messing up her life any more than it is, okay?"

"Why are you so protective of her, Cor?" Derek asked softly. It was a question that he'd always wondered; Cora and Malia seemed to be super protective of Lydia, and everyone in Derek's group always wondered why. "Did something happen?"

"Do you know anything about her dad, Der?" Cora asked. Derek just shook his head slowly.

"He left. About three years after the divorce, he met someone who was less than half his age and they went off and got married. He took Natalie for everything she had, and while they used to be rich, they barely have anything now. Why do you think Lydia works so much? She needs that money. And since Riley moved to Berkeley, Lydia had to help her mom somehow, right? Natalie's all the time picking up extra shifts at the hospital and working doubles. Lydia needs someone to look out for her, okay? And I'm going to do that until she tells me not to. Lydia spends so much time taking care of everyone else she doesn't have the time or energy to take care of herself. That's what Ally, Mia and I do."

Derek was pretty taken aback, "But she never complains, and she -"

"Derek," Cora interrupted him, seeing his confusion. "Lydia's not a whiner, okay? She doesn't want anyone else to know her pain. Why do you think she spends so much time pushing people away? What do you think your ex would do if she finds out that Lydia has to work extra shifts this week just so she can make her car insurance payment?"

"She can't make her car insurance?"

"She can, and will be able to when she gets paid on Thursday. Look, it's not a big deal, Derek, but Lydia's been through a lot. She just doesn't let anybody see it. She's missed out on a lot of crucial rites of passage, okay? She's never even been on a date before."

"Lydia's beautiful," Derek said. "I can't imagine that nobody would want to take her out at least once."

"She and Jackson Whittemore had a thing a few years back," Cora said. "But then he left for London after his dad got transferred. Broke Lydia's fucking heart, too. But they weren't dating. Lydia doesn't trust very easily."

Already the wheels were spinning in Derek's head, trying to figure out something nice he could do for Lydia. He watched his younger sister for a moment before saying, "Uh, did Lydia go to prom last year?"

Cora shook her head. "No," she said softly. "She couldn't afford it. Instead, she worked that night. I doubt anybody even realized she was missing."

"You did," Derek said.

"Well duh," Cora said to her brother. She took the last few drinks of coffee out of her cup, "Of course I knew she was missing, and so did Ally and Mia. But nobody else cares, Der. It's just me, Mia and Ally that care about Lydia - nobody else gives a shit."

All of the sudden, Derek was pretty upset with Stiles. He looked at Cora, "Do you and Mia need a ride? I've gotta go talk to Stiles."

"What about Stiles?" Cora asked. And shit, Derek forgot that Cora and Stiles were involved with one another. He'd have to think up a pretty convincing lie.

"We have a thing," Derek said. trying to act nonchalant. "Something to do with school. It's not important. Do you guys need a ride or not?"

"I'll call Lydia or Ally," Cora said. "One of them will be able to pick us up."

"Okay," Derek said. "I'll see you later, little sister."

He left Cora sitting at the kitchen island counter, watching him exit the room, wondering what the holy hell just happened.

Chapter Text

It wasn't uncommon for Derek to show up at the Stilinski house before school, so when Claudia Stilinski opened the door and saw Derek standing there, she didn't think anything of it.

"Stiles didn't say anything about you picking him up this morning," Claudia said, stepping aside so Derek could enter.

"Well, he told me that the jeep is having problems," Derek said, wiping his feet on the rug in front of the front door, "and besides that, we needed to talk to each other anyway. It's school stuff, the project for Finstock's class."

Coach Finstock was someone that Claudia didn't really talk to, so she wouldn't question it. When Derek made up the lie, he knew that Claudia was one of the most beloved teachers at the high school, so he just picked one of the teachers she didn't really talk to. As far as everyone was concerned, Coach was just neurotic. Nobody really got him.

Claudia nodded, "Well, he's in the kitchen with John. Go ahead in. Have you had breakfast, dear?"

Derek nodded, "Yes ma'am, I'm good."

Derek liked it at the Stilinski house. Both Claudia and John were good people who worked hard and did their best to raise their son. Stiles even had an agreement with his parents - they didn't lie to each other. They were really close to one another, and Derek was pretty sure it was because when Stiles was eight, Claudia had been diagnosed with cancer. It was in remission now, but Stiles always talked about wanting to be close with his parents in case today was their last day.

The house always smelt of home and safety to Derek. He knew everyone else's parents - Scott's mom the best, considering she and Peter had been involved for quite some time now - but it was John and Claudia Stilinski that he trusted the most.

Part of it was because of who they were. Derek was used to hiding the werewolf secret from everyone, but Claudia was Talia's emissary, and had been since before Derek was even born. That's part of the reason that Derek and Stiles had become friends in the first place. They had been around one another for as long as Derek could remember.

When Derek entered the kitchen, both Stiles and John looked up from their breakfasts.

"Hey, Der," Stiles said, eating the last of his toast. "I didn't expect to see you this morning."

"We've got that thing," Derek said, hoping that Stiles would catch on. "That project for Finstock's class? We should really talk about whatever it is that you want to do for it."

Derek recognized when Stiles got what Derek wasn't trying to say out loud. He swallowed the rest of the orange juice that was in his glass and looked at Derek, "Sure thing. We can ride to school together."

"I thought we could take my car," Derek offered. "You were telling me just the other day that your jeep needs work."

Stiles nodded, "Sure thing." Getting up, he grabbed his bag, looking at his parents. He kissed Claudia on the cheek and said, "I'll see you guys later."

Once they were in the Camaro, Derek looked at Stiles, "What game are you playing, Stiles?"

"I'm sorry?" Stiles asked. He was genuinely confused.

"You know about Lydia, don't you? You know that she has to work extra hours to keep herself and her mother afloat. You knew that her father took practically everything they had."

Stiles shrugged, "I don't really know, Derek. We're not friends anymore."

"Why not?" Derek asked. "And don't lie to me this time, Stiles."

"What do you mean?"

"I knew you were lying the other day when you said it was a mutual decision. Your heartbeat spiked. So tell me the truth - what really happened to your friendship with Lydia?"

"She and I were into different things," Stiles said. "That much wasn't a lie. She was more into her paints and I was more into sports. I guess it was the fact that we were in middle school and we just didn't have much in common anymore. I thought I could do better than her. Besides, that was about the time that she started to hang out with Cora and I started hanging out with you guys."

Derek nodded, but bit his lip so he didn't say anything. Why was he getting so damn emotional about this? He just started hanging out with her. He had no reason to feel this way.

"Well, I was informed by my sister this morning that if I hurt Lydia, she's gonna do something to me that even I won't heal from," Derek said, turning into the school parking lot. "Cora's really protective of Lydia, you know. And she explained to me why."

"Look, I know how much Lydia means to your sister and cousin," Stiles said. "But you made the bet, and I'm not gonna go back on it."

Derek nodded, "I figured you were gonna say something like that." When Stiles nodded, they went their separate ways.

-x-

"My brother told me that the two of you hung out yesterday afternoon," Cora said conversationally at lunch that day. It was just the two of them; Allison had a tutoring session in the library and Malia and Liam had disappeared with one another once the bell rang. "What happened?"

Lydia shrugged, opening a container of strawberries and looking over at Cora, "He asked me to hang out. Yesterday was the only day I have off all week, and I figured why not. Besides, I did some thinking about last weekend, and I was the one who overreacted. I just want to know why the sudden interest, y'know? It has me really curious."

"And what happens when you figure it out?"

"Either it'll be really good or really bad," Lydia said, picking up a strawberry and biting into it. "I mean, I wanna think better of him. He is your brother, after all."

"Just because he's my brother doesn't mean he's good or trustworthy," Cora said.

"Maybe not," Lydia said, biting into another strawberry, "but I want to think he is. I mean, you guys are telling me that I need to learn how to trust people. But now that I'm talking to your brother, you're about ten seconds away from throwing a bitch fit."

"Maybe Ally's right," Cora started, unwrapping the sandwich she had brought from home. "Maybe I'm worrying for nothing. You know, looking for an angle that doesn't really exist. But I'm still worried. You have been through a lot, Lyds, and I wanna make sure that someone is there for you."

Lydia smiled, "Thanks, Cor, but I'm gonna be okay. Besides, as long as I keep my mind on my studies and on working, things are going to be just fine."

-x-

He was watching her from across the lunchroom. God, even though Lydia was just sitting there, eating strawberries out of a container and talking to his sister, Derek thought she was absolutely captivating. And when she laughed at something Cora said, her whole face just lit up. She was beautiful. And the worst part was that Derek was pretty sure that Lydia had no idea just how beautiful she really was.

"God, Der," Isaac's voice broke through Derek's thoughts. He looked at Isaac as Isaac continued, "Does Stiles know how bad you've got it for her?"

Derek cocked an eyebrow, "I didn't realize I was that transparent."

"You're not, not exactly," Isaac said. Derek was grateful that they were the only two at the lunch table right now. "Dude, I've lived with you guys for eight years. I know how to read you pretty well, and I can tell that you like her. Why go on with the bet? Why not just, I don't know, go over there and say hi? You spent a long time yesterday getting to know her, after all."

"Because," Derek sighed, "even if I wanted to break off the bet, I couldn't. Stiles informed me this morning that he's not letting me out of it without giving in. Which means I have to chauffeur him around for a month, even if I don't want to do this anymore. He can be such a fucking bastard, I swear to God."

"Do you not wanna do this anymore?" Isaac asked gently. "I mean, Lydia deserves more than that, doesn't she?"

"She does," Derek said, "but I'm going to keep on getting to know her. She's never gonna know about the bet. I mean, I'm never gonna tell her, and neither are you."

"You're forgetting about the rest of the guys," Isaac said. "What about them?"

"What about who?" Scott sat down at their table, across from Isaac, and Boyd sitting next to him. "What's going on?"

"Nobody is telling Lydia about the bet," Derek said. "I mean it. I don't want her knowing, so you guys aren't gonna tell her."

"Don't worry about me, dude," Scott said. "I like my testicles right where they are. We all know how well Cora'd respond to news like that. I'd just hate to be Stiles if she ever found out."

And the thought of his sister kicking Stiles' ass? That made Derek smile like he hadn't in a long time.

-x-

Lydia was bored. She still had an hour and a half of her shift left and nobody was coming in. It was particularly slow for a Tuesday, but then again, they got most of their traffic right after school. It was almost eight o'clock now and Allison had told her that she was busy with Isaac tonight so she couldn't come in and keep her company.

Lydia was surprised, however, at eight-oh-five, when Derek walked through the front door to the coffee shop. She watched him, eyebrow cocked, and once he came up to the counter, they spent a good five minutes just staring at one another.

"What are you doing here?" she asked him, once the silence started to drive her crazy. "I mean, I figured you'd be busy tonight."

"I figured you'd be busy, too," Derek answered. "But Isaac told me that he and Allison had plans and I know she usually keeps you company. And nothing's really going on at my house."

Lydia watched Derek for a moment. Finally, she shrugged before telling him, "You've gotta order something. Andrea only lets Ally hang around because she occasionally orders a coffee or a muffin."

Shrugging, Derek gave her a coffee order and also ordered a chocolate chip muffin.

"So about yesterday..." Lydia started, her voice trailing off. She handed Derek his order and he gave her cash. As she put it in the register, she continued, "Uh, what was that?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Derek, I'm really suspicious of all this," Lydia said. She was nothing if not honest - sometimes bluntly, if necessary. "I mean, you and I have known each other for a really long time. Hell, our parents were really good friends with one another. But you've always had your group and I've had mine. So what's changed?"

Derek sighed, "I'm gonna be honest with you. I've been a stuck up asshole and I'm sorry about that. But you're a good person, Lydia, and I want to get to know you. Maybe you and I can get to know each other and you'll take me up on that date."

Lydia sighed, "I'm sorry, Derek, but I still don't think that you and I would go well together. Friends is okay, though, but I just don't think we'd click as a couple."

Derek's features changed as she was watching him, but he didn't say anything. A few long quiet moments passed between the two of them before Derek said, "How about giving me a chance, Lydia? I mean, one date. If you don't have a good time, I'll never ask again."

Lydia sighed, knowing that Derek wasn't going to give up anytime soon, so she crossed her arms across her chest. "Fine," she said, after debating it in her head. "One date. But if the night is royally screwed up, I reserve the right to say I told you so."

"That's fine, Lydia," Derek said, practically doing a victory dance in his head. "When are you free?"

"I'm working all this week," Lydia said. "I'm only working the morning shift on Saturday, though, and I get off at one. How about then?"

Derek nodded, "Sounds good to me. I'll call you."

"You don't have my number."

Derek watched her carefully, "I know, but Cora and Malia do. I can get it from one of them."

Lydia nodded, "Okay, sure." She was still really unsure about this whole thing, but figured that it was best not to argue about it. "I'll see you later, Derek."

He waved back at her as he exited the shop.

Chapter Text

The week passed pretty quickly. Well, at least it did for Lydia. She was so busy that she didn't have time to sit and dwell on anything.

For Derek, however, it felt like Saturday was never gonna get there. And maybe he should have been paying more attention to other things, but he was still pretty thrilled that Lydia had actually agreed to go out with him.

Saturday morning, however, Derek was awoken by Cora banging on his bedroom door until he actually got up and opened the fucking thing. Glancing at his clock, he realized that she shouldn't have even been up yet.

"Damn it, Cora, it's only ten thirty," he complained. "What the fuck is so urgent?"

Cora shrugged, "I can't sleep. Mia's taken up residence in my bed and told me that if I moved one more time she was pushing me out. For some reason, I'm just really antsy."

Derek shrugged, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands before saying, "Come on in, I guess." He motioned to his computer chair, where Cora took a seat.

As badly as Derek wanted to go back to sleep, he knew that he wouldn't be able to now. He wasn't a morning person, not by a long shot; no, that particular gene had been passed from his mother to Laura. But once sunlight hit his eyes, he was up for the day, no matter the time.

"I'm glad you're up, though," Derek said, taking a seat on his bed across the room from where his computer chair was. Cora watched him intently. "Lydia and I have a date tonight."

"Yeah, I know," Cora said, spinning around in the chair. "Lydia told me. Allison keeps telling her to give you a chance, but I think she'd be better off finding someone else to date."

"That hurts me, Cor, really," Derek said. "Am I that bad of a brother?"

Cora shook her head, "Not really. It's just that I worry about Lydia and - no offense meant, Der - you can be a pretty big asshole sometimes."

Derek didn't say anything about Cora's asshole of a boyfriend Stiles Stilinski because he wanted to avoid a fight with her if possible, so he just nodded.

"Look, Der," Cora said, "if it turns out that you're a great boyfriend to Lydia and make her feel wanted and all fuzzy, then I'll take everything back, okay? But like I told you the other day, Lydia needs people to make sure she's okay. She needs people who are gonna look out for her because she's too damn busy looking out for everyone else."

"You guys really do care about her," Derek commented.

"Duh," Cora answered.

"Hey, Cor?" Derek asked, and her gaze snapped up to look at him, so he continued, "Do you know what happened between Lydia and Stiles? They used to be really close a long time ago, but he keeps saying that it was mutual. He always says it's mutual, but I know he's lying."

Cora shrugged. "Look, I love Stiles," she said, watching her brother closely. "I mean, we've been dating a long time and I trust him implicitly. But he's an asshole most of the time. I don't think he understands what it's like to be the only sane one keeping your family together. After Lydia's parents got divorced, she didn't have time to hang out with anyone a lot of the time, and Stiles was pretty sure that she was just avoiding him. She wasn't, by the way, but he felt like it was an insult. They had a big fight about it and he told her that he could find better friends than her. He said some really mean shit to her, about how she deserved to have her dad leave if she couldn't appreciate her friends like that. I mean, yeah, it was kind of petty, but they were in middle school and I'm sure that, at the time, Stiles meant every single insult he was slinging at her."

Derek nodded, so Cora kept talking.

"By the time they reached freshman year, Stiles had pretty much let everything go, and he tells me sometimes that he misses her, but he can't just take it back. And he's one of the most stubborn assholes I've ever met, as you are probably aware, and he just feels like he shouldn't have to apologize to her. What was said was said out of anger, but Stiles just doesn't get that sometimes, an apology is all you need."

"Do you think she'd ever forgive him?" Derek asked.

"I think she already has," Cora answered. She stopped twirling around in the chair and looked at Derek, "Sometimes she asks how Stiles is. She asks me how he's doing, how his parents are, if he ever asks about her. I think he broke her heart - well, you know, platonically speaking, of course - and she misses him more than anything else. I think she wonders things but knows that she can't go to him and make it right. What Stiles had said had hurt, and I understand that, but when it comes to stubborn people, Lydia's also pretty good at that, too. I think she's still really hurt by what was said, but she'd hang out with him and spend time with him if he wanted it. She's just pretty sure he doesn't want it."

"What do you think?" Derek asked softly.

"I think that Stiles doesn't know what he wants. It'd be really great if he'd at least apologize to Lydia, but that's probably never going to happen. Lydia's one of my best friends, Der, and I just want to see her happy. Do you know what that feels like?"

Derek had to think for a moment. He knew what it was like to want the best for your friends, but he hadn't really thought about Lydia's particular situation and what she must go through. He told Cora as much, and she nodded.

"You may have a soul after all," Cora laughed, and Derek made a face at her. After her burst of laughter died down, she looked at him seriously, "So what are you gonna woo her with tonight?"

"Can I tell you a secret?" Derek asked, and Cora watched him expectantly after nodding. "I'm totally nervous about our date. Like, I've never been nervous about taking a girl out before. But this isn't just any girl. It's Lydia. I want things to be really great so she'll really wanna date me. I have no idea what to do here."

"Can I give you some advice then?" Cora asked. Derek nodded.

"You know that park a couple of towns over? The one with the flowers and the trails and the animals?"

"Animals? They have ducks and geese and fish."

"Yeah. Water animals. They're still animals, Der." Derek nodded. "Take her there. Go later in the afternoon, because that place doesn't close until eleven. Lydia has a thing for flowers, and she's never been there before. You and I have been there because that's where Dad proposed to Mom and they make us go there with them every year, right?" Again, Derek nodded. "Well, Lydia's never been, and I think she'd love it. And if you decide you wanna buy her flowers or candy or something like that, get her flowers. But not your typical romantic flowers; don't get her carnations or roses. Get her gladiolas."

"Gladiolas?"

Cora nodded, "Yeah. They mean strength of character. With Lydia, it's not about what something looks like; it's about what it means."

Derek nodded.

"Look, if you care about her the way you say you do, everything will be fine. Just remember something, Derek. Remember that Lydia is not Jen. Jennifer Blake and Lydia Martin are so far apart it's almost comical. And if you confuse the two, you are gonna find yourself in deep shit."

Derek nodded, "Okay, Cor. Thanks for your help."

"Look, I'm not doing it for you," Cora said, making Derek give her a quizzical look. She sighed and then said, "I'm doing this for Lydia. This is her first date and I want to make sure that it's everything she could ever want."

-x-

"So, tonight's your big date," Allison was saying to Lydia as she made a customer's pumpkin spice latte. Allison was perched on the counter, watching Lydia intently, and Lydia was just thankful that Andrea was so chill about letting Allison keep her company. Lydia was also thankful that this was such a laid back kind of place because she and Allison would have never gotten away with things like this at Starbucks.

Allison took a sip of her coffee as she watched Lydia interact with the customer. Lydia put the money in the cash register and then looked at Allison.

"Yeah," Lydia said. "I don't know where he's taking me or what we're even doing. I'm nervous because this is my first date."

"I can imagine," Allison said. "I'm surprised that you and Jackson never went out, though."

"I told you," Lydia said, taking a drink of her water, "Jackson and I weren't dating. We just fooled around. It was mostly my idea, anyway, and he was popular. I'm sure he didn't want anyone to know that we hooked up."

"Your idea?" Allison asked. Lydia and Jackson had been fooling around long before Allison had even became Lydia's friend, so it didn't surprise her that Allison was confused. "Why?"

"I never saw the point in waiting for your soul mate before having sex. I wanted to be good at it when I met my Mr. Right and Jackson seemed all too happy to help me practice. And yeah, he got my virginity, but he's not a bad guy. I mean, he may seem kinda douchey on the outside, but once you really get to know him, he can actually be a pretty great guy."

"Did you love him?" Allison asked, and Lydia actually froze for a moment. She watched her friend closely. She snapped herself out of it, though, and then looked at Allison.

"In a way, I suppose I did," she said, trying to be vague. She'd probably fail at that. "I didn't mean to fall in love with him. But I knew that Jackson and I were never gonna be anything apart from fuck buddies. I knew that from an early stage and it never really bothered me."

"Do you still talk to him?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. We Skype every so often. Maybe the whole sex relationship we had with one another wasn't a great idea, but we're pretty good friends now because of it."

Once the clock hit one o'clock, Lydia raced out of there. She couldn't wait to get out of there - but then again, she never really could. She didn't despise where she worked, but she'd been up since five o'clock that morning and really wanted to catch a nap before Derek took her out.

When she was unlocking her front door, her phone rang. It was Derek.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Lydia, it's Derek," he said, and Lydia made a noise as she choked out a duh. He just laughed.

"I thought I'd pick you up from your house around five o'clock. Is that okay?"

"Where are we going?" Lydia asked. "I mean, I need to know what to wear."

"It's a surprise," Derek answered, "but wear something casual."

"You do know that I don't own a single pair of jeans, right?" Lydia asked.

"Yeah, I know. You can easily wear a skirt as long as it's not dressy. It's not like we're going traipsing through the woods or anything, but we will be outside."

"That's fine," Lydia said. "I'm going to take a quick nap before you get here since I've been up since five this morning. I'm kind of beat."

"Okay," Derek said. "So I'll see you later?"

"Definitely," Lydia said. They hung up and she made her way to her bed. She set her alarm for three o'clock and promptly passed out.

-x-

Derek was nervous. It was something new; something he wasn't used to happening. He never got nervous when he asked a girl out. Ever. This was new and he hated it.

He knocked on Lydia's front door at 4:59. When Lydia opened it, he almost dropped the flowers.

She looked gorgeous. Well, she always looked gorgeous, but even dressed down in a simple blue dress, she looked casual. She looked casual, but Derek thought she looked breathtaking.

"I, uh..." he swallowed, trying to get his words to work, "I brought these for you." He held out the bouquet of gladiolas.

"Gladiolas?" She asked. Then she smiled, "You talked to Cora, huh?"

"What do you mean?"

Lydia turned around but then turned back, "I wanna put these in water. Come in. It won't ruin your plans if I take five minutes to do this, right?"

Derek nodded, "Yeah, it's fine."

"Anyway," Lydia said, getting back to the subject on hand, "only Cora, Malia and Allison know about my love affair with gladiolas. Well, them and Stiles, but I doubt that he remembers."

"Yeah, it was Cora," Derek said. Lydia nodded, heading into the kitchen.

"Where's your mom?" he asked, noticing that she was alone in the house. He couldn't hear another heartbeat anywhere.

"At some dinner party thing with Mr. Argent and a bunch of other people," Lydia said. "They said they weren't going as a date, they were just going together, you know, as friends, but Mom really wasn't looking forward to this. She said it was gonna be boring."

"You mean the one Peter's throwing with Scott's mom?"

"I always forget that Peter and Mrs. McCall are involved," Lydia said. "But yeah, that one."

Lydia put her flowers in a vase and put some water in it. She set the flowers on the kitchen counter and then turned to Derek, "You ready to go?"

Derek nodded.

The park wasn’t just downtown. It was a good twenty minute ride, and Derek could tell that Lydia was anxious to know where they were going. He didn’t want to tell her, though; he wanted it to be a surprise. The car ride wasn’t bad, though, as they made small talk. Derek usually hated small talk, but with Lydia it felt…almost relaxing.

“Tell me why gladiolas,” Derek said, glancing at her. “Cora said it’s because of what they mean.”

“Sure,” Lydia answered. “I like different and unique, but one of the reasons I love gladiolas so much is because of my grandmother. She’s been dead for a good five years, but she used to have them all over her house. She loved them so much; they were her favorite flower. And sure, I think they’re pretty, but they mean strength of character, which is something that everybody needs to have. From the time I was a young age, my grandmother used to give me a few every time I would see her – she lived down in LA, so I didn’t see her very often, but she told me I had strength. It was something that I really appreciated, and then after the divorce, she said my strength would just grow. I take it as a good thing.”

“Was this your mom’s mom?”

Lydia shook her head, “Nope. My dad’s mom. She was pretty pissed at him for a long time about everything that happened with the divorce and him leaving, and when he married Penelope – his now wife – she was even more pissed. Grandma Martin didn’t cut people out, she was too nice of a lady for that, but she let my father know just how much she did not approve. She also spent more time with both me and Riley after that, but about three years later, she got really sick, and it just went downhill from there.”

“What was wrong with her?”

“Cancer,” Lydia answered. “She had lung cancer and by the time they caught it, there was nothing that could be done. It was too far advanced.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek said. “That’s terrible. It sounds like the two of you were close.”

Lydia shrugged, “Yeah, we were. But that’s okay. As corny as it sounds, she’s always with me.”

Derek nodded. A silence fell between the pair, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It didn’t feel awkward at all.

When they got to the park, Derek paid the admission fee and pulled up to an open area with a few picnic tables under a gazebo and a grill. He looked at Lydia, “I thought we’d eat first.”

“Sure,” Lydia said. “Did you bring something?”

Derek nodded, unloading a picnic basket out of the back of the Camaro. “I wasn’t sure what kind of stuff you liked, so I mostly packed sandwiches – Cora said you like egg salad – and fresh fruit. I noticed that you bring a lot of fresh fruit to school.”

Lydia nodded, “Yeah. I like the way it tastes; I have a lot of favorites.”

Derek handed Lydia an egg salad sandwich and, as she unwrapped it, she said, “Good call with the egg salad. It’s my favorite.”

Derek grinned at her.

As they ate, they talked, and Lydia seemed pretty excited when Derek handed her a container of strawberries. “I noticed that you bring strawberries a lot of the time to school,” Derek had said. “I thought maybe you would like some.”

“Strawberries are my favorite,” Lydia answered. She bit into one and moaned. Derek wouldn’t have guessed that watching someone eat could be arousing, but the noises that Lydia were making were almost bordering on pornographic.

He tried to arrange himself subtly as she made the noise again. Then she licked strawberry juice off her lips and looked at him. “Sorry,” she said, looking shy, “I just love fresh fruit.”

Derek nodded.

After they were finished, Derek put the picnic basket back in the Camaro and they started to walk around to look at the flowers. “My dad proposed to my mom here,” Derek said as they walked. “Over there, actually,” he said, pointing to a trail that ended with a big tree. “My parents don’t really do it anymore, but they love nature, and when they were dating, I hear that they spent a lot of time hiking trails and everything.”

“It’s absolutely gorgeous here,” Lydia said about five minutes later. They had just been walking in silence for a couple of minutes and again, it didn’t feel uncomfortable or awkward. It just felt right. “I could easily bring my pencils and my sketchbook here and spend the whole day.”

“Cora thought you might like it here,” Derek said. They stopped next to a small pond where there were geese and ducks on the water. They sat on the bench looking at the pond and Lydia just watched the animals along with the fish that were swimming around. “She’s the one who suggested it.”

“I swear that Cora knows me the best,” Lydia said. “She seems to know what things I would like, what things I hate, even what I’m thinking sometimes. I mean, Allison is my best friend, but Cora seems to totally get me.”

Silence came over the two of them. Derek loved the fact that he didn’t feel uncomfortable or awkward around Lydia, and his nervousness had melted away quite a while ago. He reached for her hand and together, they watched the animals as they held hands.

It was almost ten o’clock when they decided to leave, and Lydia couldn’t tell where the time had gone. They watched the water animals, they looked at flowers, they talked. It was one of the best experiences of her life. As Derek dropped her off at her house, he walked her up to the door and looked at her. “Can I kiss you?” he asked.

Lydia licked her lips as she leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I had a good time, Derek,” she said, looking up into his eyes. “Thanks for inviting me. I’ll see you later.” And with that, she went into the house and Derek started his way home.

Chapter Text

Jennifer was waiting at his locker when Derek showed up at school on Monday morning. He groaned under his breath as he walked up to her.

"What are you doing here?" He asked rudely. He didn't care how he sounded; he just wanted her gone. "In case you've forgotten, we aren't dating anymore."

"Word on the street is that you took Lydia Martin on a date this weekend," Jennifer said, leaning against the locker next to Derek's. He opened his locker and proceeded to put his stuff in it, grabbing his History textbook. "Any truth to that?"

"I don't have to explain myself to you," Derek said. "Not anymore." He grabbed his notebook and pencil and looked back at Jennifer. "Where'd you hear that, anyway?"

"I say heard, but not really," Jennifer said. "Erica's mom works at that park that your parents like. I was there with Erica when I saw the two of you. I never thought I'd see the two of you on a date, to be honest, and I was quite surprised when you proved me wrong."

"Look, Jen," Derek said, slamming his locker shut and looking at Jennifer, "I like her. I want to date her. I've been asking her out for weeks but she finally said yes. Don't make a big deal out of this."

"How can you like her?" Jennifer asked snidely. "I mean, just look at her."

"Don't, Jen," Derek said, watching her closely. "I mean it. Just don't. Lydia's a nice girl and she's been through hell and she puts up with a lot of shit from you. So just stop right there and leave her alone. Leave her alone, or else you're gonna have to answer to me." Jennifer did a lot of things, it was true, but when Derek was at the end of his rope and put his foot down, she didn't push him. A pissed off Derek Hale was a bad thing.

"I still don't see how someone like you can like someone like her," Jennifer said, and that was definitely a pout that Derek heard in her voice. "We could be so good together."

"Look, Jen," Derek said, turning to his ex-girlfriend. "We tried. We had a good thing for a while, but we weren't going in a good direction, okay? All we did was fuck and fight. That's not healthy. So put aside whatever vendetta you have against Lydia and just let me be happy, okay? If you really loved me, you'd just want me to be happy."

Jennifer sighed, but Derek said, "I mean it, Jen. Leave her alone."

-x-

"My brother came home in an extremely good mood on Saturday," Cora was saying to Lydia at lunch. Lydia was picking at her fruit as she watched Cora closely. "I'm taking it you two had a good time?"

"It was excellent, Cor," Lydia said. She picked up a strawberry and bit into it. She took a moment to think things over before saying, "He's a lot different than what I thought he'd be. And thank you, by the way."

"You're thanking me?" Cora asked. "What did I do?"

"Don't play dumb, Cor," Lydia said. "The gladiolas, for one. You, Ally, Mia and Stiles are the only people who know about my love affair with that flower - and I'm pretty sure Stiles doesn't remember the fact that I adore them. He and I haven't hung out since..." her voice trailed off. Cora wondered what was going through Lydia's mind, because she looked awfully sad at that moment. Then she cheered up, "Anyway, Derek also told me that the park was your idea. I'm gonna go back someday. It seems like an excellent place to draw. My muse likes it there."

"I figured you would," Cora said. "My siblings and I have been there so many times that we pretty much have the entire park memorized. It's where my dad proposed to my mom, so we go there at least once a year. You know, with them living their memories and everything."

Lydia could tell that Cora was annoyed by that, but Lydia said, "Your parents are happy together, Cor. You should be happy about that."

"They're mates," Cora said. "They're destined to live happily ever after."

"I don't believe in pre-destination, you know that," Lydia said. "If you put pre-destination in the picture, it means that you don't have a choice, and I believe that everybody has a choice."

Cora just shrugged.

They finished their lunches and went on with their day. Lydia was thankful that she didn't bump into Jennifer Blake and her posse the entire day, and hoped it would be a while before they bumped into her. Everybody knew that Jennifer still carried a torch for Derek, even though Lydia was pretty sure it was because Jennifer didn't like being told she couldn't have something.

While she was on her shift at the coffee shop, Allison showed up. She ordered a caramel latte and hopped up on the counter, talking to Lydia.

"It's been a few days since I've seen you," Lydia said, making Allison's coffee. "Where've you been?"

"Well, there's been a few tutoring sessions with Tiffany," Allison replied. "She's failing Mr. Yukimura's history class, and the subject really confuses her." Allison paused for a moment to take a drink of her coffee. "Tell me about your date on Saturday."

"It was amazing, Ally, truly," Lydia said, and then launched into gushing about her date with Derek. She made sure to add the part with the park and the picnic.

" - and he's such a great guy, Ally," Lydia finished. "The date was amazing, the picnic was amazing, and I really wanna go out with him again."

"That's great," Allison replied. "I told you you'd like him if you just gave him a chance."

"It's not just that," Lydia said. "He may act like a douche on the outside, but he has a sensitive side that I really appreciate. It's like there's a part of him that no one even sees."

She saw the smirk on Allison's face, so she stuck out her tongue before saying, "Yeah, yeah. You're very smart, shut up."

Allison shrugged, "I just know what Isaac told me, and I trust him, y'know?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah, I get it."

-x-

Lydia was on her way home when Derek called her that night. After unlocking her front door and going inside, she accepted the call.

"Hey," she said.

"Hi," Derek answered. "I don't want to sound too eager, and I know girls have rules and everything, but I was wondering...you wanna catch a movie or something with me tomorrow night?"

"I'm not working," Lydia said. "Did you know that?"

"Nope," Derek said. "But a bunch of us are going out tomorrow night, to see a movie."

"It's Tuesday," Lydia said.

"I know, but the new Avengers movie opens up at midnight, so we're gonna go see it tomorrow night. We might get dinner first, but I thought you might wanna join us."

"Who's all going?" Lydia asked.

"Well, Cora and Stiles, Isaac and Allison, Liam and Mia...Boyd was talking about going, but Erica won't watch those kinds of movies, so if he does go, he'll be going alone. How does that sound? Does it sound okay to you?"

Lydia sighed before thinking it over. "Sounds great," she said, her decision apparently already made. "You wanna pick me up or do you wanna meet somewhere?"

"We were thinking about going to Tony's for pizza before the movie," Derek said. "I mean, I know him because my mom got him out of legal trouble a couple of years ago and so he usually gives me a discount. Does that sound okay?"

Lydia nodded, "Sure. Sounds great."

"Great," Derek said, and Lydia could tell by his tone of voice that he was smiling. "So, I'll pick you up around six?"

"Sounds good," Lydia said. "I'll talk to you later, Derek."

"Yeah, great. See you, Lydia," Derek said. With that, they hung up.

As Lydia made herself a salad - she needed to use up the lettuce anyway, it was about to go bad - she thought about everything. She wasn't sure she'd ever be happy with anyone the way she had been happy with Jackson.

And it was true, she and Jackson hadn't dated; their relationship had been purely about sex. And that was fine with Lydia - what she had told Allison on Friday night was true. She had wanted the practice, to know that she was good at sex before really meeting the one guy she wanted to spend forever with. And it wasn't like Jackson wasn't attractive - at the time, half the class, both girls and guys had wanted to sleep with him - so it wasn't a hardship at all for Lydia to have that kind of relationship with him.

Thinking about Jackson, Lydia glanced at the clock. It was almost six o'clock, which meant it was eleven in London, and she knew that Jackson wouldn't be in bed yet. She thought about booting up Skype and seeing if he was on. So she grabbed her salad and went upstairs, sitting down at her desk, and did just that. When she saw that Jackson was on, she called him.

"Hey, Lyds," he said to her, smiling. "It's been a while, huh?"

Lydia nodded, taking a bite of her salad. "Sorry," she said, chewing, "but I just got home from work and am fucking starving."

"It's cool," Jackson answered. "What time is it there?"

"Just after six," she said. "I wanted to pick your brain about something. I mean, about someone."

"You got a crush, Lyds?" Jackson asked, slightly teasing. Lydia laughed.

"Actually, I went on my very first date on Saturday," Lydia answered. Jackson looked impressed.

"Who was the lucky guy? Or girl? I'm not here to judge."

Lydia laughed, "Sorry, Jackson, but I'm completely straight. It was Derek Hale."

"Ahh," Jackson said, like it made complete sense. "And how did it go?"

"It was amazing," Lydia answered. She took another bite of her salad before saying, "We went to this park that's just outside of Beacon Hills. It had flowers, and trails, and ponds and things. It was gorgeous. I wanna go back there and draw. My muse likes it there."

"You've never been to Hemlock Park before?" Jackson asked, kind of surprised. "As much as you love flowers, I was pretty sure you would've been there before."

"I didn't even know it existed," she said honestly. "Does everybody know about this place but me?"

"I know about it because I've been there with the Hales once or twice," Jackson said. "So you wanted to talk to me about Derek?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. I just....I like him a lot, Jackson."

"That's great," Jackson said honestly. "Derek's a good dude. He's not gonna hurt you. I just want to give you one warning."

"Okay...?" Lydia prompted.

"Derek's a good dude," Jackson repeated, "but sometimes he doesn't take relationships as seriously as other people. Danny told me a few weeks ago that he and Jennifer broke up and all I have to say about that is that it's about fucking time. I hated that bitch."

"I took care of myself," Lydia said.

"It's not just that," Jackson said. "I mean, yeah, she was a bitch to you and your friends and I hated that, it really did bug me, but she thinks she's better than everyone else. And she and I got off on the wrong foot when she gave me shit freshman year because of me being adopted."

Jackson had had a hard time when he found out that the Whittemores adopted him. For a long time he wondered if his birth parents could hate him that much, but when David Whittemore had told Jackson the reasons for the adoption, that his birth parents were actually dead, things started getting better. Jackson still had issues about it, but he was nowhere near what it was once upon a time.

And everyone at BHHS knew not to mess with Jackson when it came to the adoption. Jackson and Danny Mahealani had been best friends, and they protected one another. Jackson protected Danny from homophobic assholes and Danny watched out for Jackson when people said shit about adoption. Their friendship seemed to really work.

"I remember," Lydia said. "I'm surprised she wasn't blacklisted for that."

Jackson chuckled, "Well, Danny's not crazy about her, that's for sure. And I know a few other guys who really don't like her, but Derek's always been lost to a pretty face." He paused for a few moments before saying, "I'm not saying he's gonna play you, Lydia. I'm just saying that you need to make sure that both you and Derek are on the same page, okay? I don't want you to get your heart broken."

"Thanks, Jacks," Lydia said.

"I hate it when you call me that," Jackson answered. Lydia giggled.

"I know," she said.

"Isn't it an issue, though," Jackson continued, "knowing that Derek's good friends with Stilinski?"

Lydia sighed, "Look, I forgave Stiles for what he said a long time ago. He didn't have all the information."

"Doesn't matter," Jackson said, yawning. Lydia glanced at the clock and noticed it had to be almost midnight where he was. "Nobody should say that kinda shit about anyone - doesn't matter who the fuck you are. I never pegged Stilinski to think he's better than someone else, though."

Lydia sighed, "Stiles was going through a rough time, and he didn't know what he was saying. Besides that, we were thirteen. Everyone's a little petty at thirteen, Jackson, and don't sit there and say you weren't that bad. You were worse."

"I may have been," Jackson answered, "but I would have never said that to you."

"Thanks," Lydia said, smiling. "Things between me and Stiles went south, it's true, but I've been thinking that maybe we can salvage the friendship somehow."

"And how exactly would you do that?"

"I'm sick of waiting for an apology," Lydia said. "Yeah, what he said had hurt, and I deserve an apology for that, but I didn't really explain the situation to him very well. It was a lot to go through at the time, and maybe we can fix it."

Jackson sighed before saying, "Look, Lyds, I consider you one of my closest friends, okay?" When Lydia nodded, Jackson continued, "But let me know if that little bastard says anything negative about you, and I'll be on the first flight over there to kick his ass."

Lydia smiled, "Totally not needed, but very much appreciated."

"I've gotta get to bed," Jackson said after a few moments. "I've gotta get up early so I'll talk to you later?"

"Sure," Lydia answered. "I'll see you, Jackson." And with that, she disconnected the call.

After showering and while lying in bed that night, Lydia thought about what Jackson had said. And while Jackson was in Beacon Hills, Derek had been one of his closest friends, so Lydia knew he had nothing against him. He was worried about Lydia, and she could tell that much, but maybe she should be a little more careful. She didn't want to get her heart broken, especially by someone like Derek Hale.

Chapter Text

"You nervous about tonight?" Cora was asking Lydia the next day at lunch. Lydia just gave her a quizzical look.

"What she means is that everyone knows that you and Stiles don't really get along," Malia said. "And he's gonna be there tonight."

Lydia shook her head. "I have nothing against Stiles," she said, even though Cora made a noise like she didn't believe her. Lydia ignored it and continued, "In fact, I want to salvage the friendship."

Cora looked interested. "Really?" she asked. "When did you come to this conclusion?"

Lydia shrugged, "I talked to Jackson about it last night."

"Since when do you talk to Jackson?" Allison asked.

"Every once in a while, when we've both got time. I only worked until six last night and I booted up Skype to see if he was on. He was, so we talked for a little while." She went on to tell them what she talked about with Jackson, and Cora made a noise when Lydia got to the part where Jackson threatened Stiles.

"Like he's any better," Cora muttered under her breath, but Lydia heard it. She sighed.

"Look," Lydia said, "I know you hate Jackson. Hell, most of the whole school hates him because he was a douche. But I care about him and I know he cares about me. We grew close before he left, and I miss him. He's just worried about me."

Cora rolled her eyes but didn't say anything.

"The fact remains," Lydia said, trying to change the subject but not change it at the same time to appease Cora. "I miss Stiles being my friend. I'm sure you guys wish I could hang out with him, too," Lydia said. "If I'm going to date Derek, it'll be easier if I can be friends with his friends. I want to be friends with Stiles again. I miss him."

"I'll tell him to be on his good behavior, then," Cora said. Lydia was pretty sure that her friend was being sarcastic, but tried to ignore it the best she could.

"Things are going to be fine, Cor," Lydia said. "I can be civil. I know he can, too."

At the very same time Lydia was telling her friends that things were going to be okay, Derek was dealing with a problem of his own. Stiles was just watching Derek from across the table, and he just couldn't take it anymore. "What is wrong with you?" he finally snapped.

"Is there a reason you invited Lydia to the movies with us tonight, Derek? I mean, I get that you have to date her and everything, but I just...I like my space away from her."

"Look, Stiles," Derek said, looking at his friend. "I know the real reason why you two don't talk anymore."

"It was a mutual decision," Stiles persisted. Derek just shook his head.

"Look," Derek said. "I know you two have had a rivalry thing going on since middle school, but can you guys just quit it for one night? I really like Lydia, and she and Cora are really good friends, so could you just try to be civil tonight? For both mine and Cora's sakes?"

Stiles sighed, but then nodded, "Sure, Der. I can do that."

-x-

The school day went by pretty fast. Other than a pop quiz in French and Physics, the day was pretty uneventful. Derek stopped by Lydia's locker once the bell rang.

"We're gonna go to the movie first," he said. "In an hour. Is that enough time for you?"

Lydia nodded, "Sure." She grabbed her bag out of her locker and then slammed it shut. "Since it's only an hour, do you wanna come home with me and hang out?"

Derek shrugged, "Sure."

Since they had both driven to school that day, Derek told Lydia he'd meet her at her house. When she got there, he was in the driveway, leaning against the Camaro. Lydia was surprised when she went through the garage and saw her mother's car there.

"Mom?" she called into the house. When she got to the kitchen, her mom was mixing some kind of batter in a big bowl. "What are you doing?"

"Making cookies," Natalie Martin said. Lydia sighed and shook her head.

"What kind?" Derek piped up. Natalie looked at him.

"Hi, Derek," Natalie said. "I wasn't expecting you to come home with Lydia."

"We've got a group date in an hour," he said. "We're going to see the new Avengers movie and then going to Tony's pizza parlor afterwards."

"Group date, huh?" Natalie asked. "Who's all going?"

Lydia knew that her mom was just trying to be involved with her life, considering she worked so much and it pretty much left Lydia taking care of herself. So she answered her mom with the information she had gotten. "Stiles, Cora, Allison, Isaac, Malia, Liam and Boyd." She looked at Derek. "That's right, right?"

He nodded.

"Anyway," Natalie said, "I'm making chocolate chip cookies. Lydia won't eat them, though."

"Why not?" Derek asked. Lydia laughed.

"I'm not that brave," she said. "My mom burns practically everything she bakes."

"I would get mad at that," Natalie said, laughing herself, "if it weren't true. But I'm trying again. Your grandmother used to do this, and it's her recipe, so I know that I'm just not doing something right. I'm determined this time."

Lydia laughed. She went through her house to put her bag in her room and then noticed that Derek had followed her. "I've never been in here before," he said. "I've been in the rest of your house, but never your room."

Lydia shrugged, "Yeah, well it's not that interesting. A bed, a desk, my laptop...pretty much like every other bedroom you find in Beacon Hills."

He noticed the easel that was facing the window, "What are you working on right now?"

"Don't," she said as he started to go around to look. "I'm really anal about my work and I hate it when people see it before it's finished. So please don't look."

"Okay," Derek said, "on one condition. Promise me you'll let me see it when it's done."

Lydia nodded, "Sure. I can do that."

They sat on her bed and talked, and it never ceased to surprise Lydia how comfortable the conversation with Derek was. They just clicked really well and they never ran out of subjects.

"I wouldn't have pegged you as the type of girl who liked action movies," Derek said. Lydia just shrugged.

"With Riley as my big brother, we bonded over that kind of stuff," Lydia said. "I like superheroes, though, but I watch those movies the most when I'm sad or depressed."

"Why?"

Lydia sighed, "Okay, so this is going to sound bad, but mostly because when I'm depressed, I hate anything happy. So I watch those movies because it makes me feel better because it reminds me that I'm not the only one going through a shitty time. It reminds me that other people hurt, too, and that this is only temporary. They remind me that things will get better eventually."

"Man," Derek said, watching Lydia closely, and she braced herself for him to tell her how horrible that sounded. She was pleasantly surprised when he looked at her and said, "That's fucking deep."

That statement just made Lydia giggle.

When they met up with the others at the theater, Cora took Lydia aside. "Are you sure you'll be okay here?" she asked her. Anyone could tell that she was just concerned for her friend. Lydia nodded.

"Yeah," she answered. "Things are going to be fine."

After the movie, which Lydia absolutely adored, they all decided to meet at Tony's and get a few tables. Tony was always really accommodating whenever a Hale came into his restaurant because of Talia helping him out a few years ago, and aside from giving them a discount, he helped them out however he could. Tonight, that meant pushing two tables together.

When Stiles and Cora arrived at the restaurant, Lydia told Derek she'd be right back and then went up to Stiles. "Can I talk to you for a minute? In private?" she asked him. Cora had a look on her face that was a mixture of confusion and concern, but Lydia tried to gesture to her that she was fine. Stiles watched from between Cora and Lydia, and then sighed.

"Sure," he said. "We can talk outside."

Once they were outside, Lydia looked at Stiles. "Look," she said, "I know, since the sixth grade, things have gone downhill between the two of us. But Stiles, you and I were really good friends, and I miss that. I'd like to just bury whatever animosity there is between us and start over. I miss you being my friend."

"Really?" he asked. Lydia nodded.

"I've missed you, too, Lyds," he replied, surprising Lydia. "I'd love to start over."

A great big grin covered Lydia's face as she pulled Stiles in for a hug. "Great," she said once they broke apart. "I've missed you so much, Stiles. Now let's go in there and tell Cora, who I know is watching us through the window."

Stiles just laughed, and, as he linked their arms together, they walked back into the restaurant.

-x-

The rest of the evening went spectacularly well, and pretty soon, they had been sitting there for four hours. Lydia looked over at Derek, "I need to get home. I've got homework to finish up."

Derek nodded, and then he paid the bill and they were on their way to Lydia's house. As he walked her up to the front door, Lydia said to him, "I had fun tonight. Thanks for including me."

"Of course I included you," Derek said, stopping once they reached the front door. "I really like you, Lydia, and I want to spend time with you."

"How much?" she asked.

"As much as you'll let me," Derek answered. He raised a hand and placed it on the side of her face, stroking her cheek with his thumb.

That's when she leaned in. As she was just a few inches away from his mouth, she said, "I wanna kiss you. Please tell me I can."

"Of course," he said softly. He took the few inches they were apart and covered her lips with his.

The kiss was good. Hell, the kiss was excellent, better than any first kiss should have been. Derek slid his tongue across Lydia's lower lip, silently asking for access, and she opened her mouth, granting it to him. She intertwined their fingers as they kissed.

Derek broke the kiss a few moments later. He looked at his watch. "It's almost nine o'clock," he said. "I should let you get to your homework and I need to get home. Curfew at ten o'clock on weeknights. But I'd really like to go out with you again, Lydia."

Lydia smiled, "That'd be great, Derek. I'll let you know when I'm free." With that, Derek gave Lydia another quick peck on the lips and then walked back to his car.

When Lydia walked into the house, her mother was at the kitchen table, working on the crossword puzzle that was in the newspaper. She looked up when she heard her daughter.

"How was your date, Lyds?" Natalie asked her daughter as Lydia took a seat beside her mother. Lydia sighed contentedly.

"That good, huh?" Natalie asked. Lydia just got this goofy grin on her face.

"It was better than that," Lydia said. "Mom, I think I like him. I think I like him a lot."

"That's great," Natalie said, going back to her crossword puzzle. "You and Derek have known each other for a long time and I'm glad that the two of you got together."

"Are we together, though?" Lydia asked. "We only went on one date and then the group thing tonight."

"I think Derek wants you guys to be together," Natalie answered. "He likes you, Lyds. You can see it written all over his face."

Lydia got a goofy smile on her face and said, "That's great. That makes me so happy."

"Good," Natalie said.

"I've gotta do my homework," Lydia said after a few beats of silence. "I'll see you tomorrow, Mom."

"Okay, sweetheart," Natalie said. Lydia gave her a kiss on the cheek and then turned around and walked up to her room. As she pulled out her Calculus book, she thought that things couldn't get any better.

Chapter Text

Lydia was happy all through classes the next day. You could've told her that she failed the AP Biology quiz that Harris insisted on giving every day, and she wouldn't have cared (Well, okay, maybe she would have cared a little). She was floating on cloud nine. She had a great time with Derek, and she and Stiles were friends again.

She whistled a tune as she headed towards the lunchroom. Cora was already sitting at their table, taking a bite out of her customary turkey sandwich, and Malia was next to her, working on her Algebra homework. Lydia laughed, "Don't you have that done already?"

"Bite me," Malia said, and that made Lydia laugh. "I forgot about it until this morning. I need to have it finished by next period."

"Do you need help?" Lydia asked. Malia looked up at her, grateful.

"I'd love some help," she answered honestly. "When Aunt Talia finds out my grades are slipping, she's going to kill me."

Lydia nodded, "Sure. Let's see what I can do."

She spent the entire lunch period eating her lunch and helping Malia try to understand the algebraic equations that were on her paper. When the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch, Malia looked a little calmer.

The rest of the day passed pretty quickly, and Derek met Lydia at her locker. He watched her for a good moment before saying, "Are you working tonight?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. 'Til eight. Why?"

Derek shrugged, "I was just curious. Maybe I'll come by and keep you company."

"That'd be nice," Lydia replied. "Ally's busy tonight."

Derek nodded, "I know. She and Isaac are studying for a big French test. He's been worrying about that test all week."

"All week? It's only Wednesday," Lydia laughed. Derek cracked a smile.

"Okay, so he's been worrying about it since it was announced last week. Contrary to popular belief, Isaac takes his grades pretty seriously."

Lydia nodded. After grabbing her bag, she said, "I might see you later, Derek." She kissed him on the cheek and walked off.

"So," Derek heard Isaac say after Lydia had gone, "Things are going well, huh? You two look very happy together."

"She's amazing, isn't she?" Derek said, smiling. "I love being around her."

Isaac nodded, "Sure, I get that. But I think you should talk to Stiles about the bet."

"Why?" Derek asked, frowning. "He's not going to let me take it back."

"Because he and Lydia are friends again," Isaac said, to which Derek frowned. "Don't you pay attention to anything, Derek? They made up last night at Tony's. She told him that she was tired of fighting with him and she missed his friendship."

"That's great!" Derek exclaimed. "Maybe he will let me out of the bet after all. I'm gonna go see him."

Of course Stiles was already at home, as there wasn't lacrosse practice so he had sprinted home as fast as he could. As Derek started to walk out of the high school, he wasn't surprised when he noticed that Isaac was following him.

"I thought I'd go with you," Isaac said, noticing Derek's quizzical look. "I mean, I'm going over to Allison's later, but she doesn't want to start studying until after dinner. So I'm going to eat dinner over there and then we're going to study. So I've got a few hours to kill."

Derek nodded as both he and Isaac got into the Camaro. When they reached the Stilinski house, Derek wasn't surprised that the driveway was empty. The sheriff was a busy guy, and Claudia held a study group after school on Wednesdays. Derek knocked and waited for Stiles to come to the door.

He had a bowl of Cheetos in one hand when he answered the door. "Hey Derek, Isaac," Stiles greeted them. "Wanna come in?"

They followed him inside and into the kitchen, where Stiles' Physics book was out on the table, along with papers spread around it. Derek took a look at the table and then suppressed a laugh.

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles said, seeing that Derek was laughing. "Not all of us can be in AP Biology, Derek."

"Why are you even taking Physics to begin with?" Isaac asked, taking a seat at the kitchen table. "I figured, with all the trouble you had with Chem last year, you wouldn't have come close to Physics."

Stiles shrugged, "I want to show Harris that he can't scare me into submission." Everybody at BHHS knew that Adrian Harris had it in for Stiles. Pretty much everybody in Beacon Hills knew that the sheriff and Harris did not get along, and Harris was just taking it out on Stiles.

"Why don't you just tell your dad?" Isaac asked him, and Stiles looked at him like he'd grown an extra head. Finally, after noticing Stiles' look, Isaac said, "What?"

"I'm not going to go whining to my parents, dude," Stiles said. "Besides, I can handle this. He just makes everything a little tougher, but I can handle it."

Isaac just nodded.

"So, dude, not that I'm not happy to see you, but what are you doing here?" Stiles asked, looking at Derek.

"I want you to call off the bet," Derek said. "I don't see any reason to continue it."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you and Lydia are friends again. And, as her friend, don't you want her to be happy?" Isaac asked. Stiles looked from Derek to Isaac and back to Derek again.

"I want Lydia's happiness," Stiles said finally. "And yeah, I missed having her as a friend. She and I used to be really close, and I want nothing more than to be able to call her friend." He took a minute to look at Derek before saying, "But I'm not calling off the bet. If you don't want to continue the bet, then you forfeit and I win. But I want to see if you can get Lydia to crack."

"You can't do this to her," Isaac said. "Lydia doesn't know anything about this bet, and aren't you afraid of what your girlfriend is gonna do to you when she finds out what you're doing to one of her best friends?"

"I'm not afraid of Cora," Stiles said. He didn't miss the look that Derek shot his way, though.

"Look," Stiles said, softer this time, looking at Derek. "Lydia's my friend, and I'm hoping that she'll forgive me when the time comes, if it comes. I'm not going to broadcast to the whole school that you and I have this bet, and so I don't want Lydia, or Cora, Allison or Malia for that matter, to find out about it. But people have been trying to get into Lydia's pants for a while now and she turns every one of them down."

"I'm not trying to get into her pants," Derek said, shooting daggers at Stiles with his eyes. "I like her."

"Look, Derek, I just want to see if you can do it. But hey, if you want to forfeit, that's fine, too."

"Stiles," Derek said, watching him. "If we continue this bet, no one finds out about it, okay? Because I really do like Lydia, and I want to date her."

Stiles nodded, "Sure. But whoever wins still wins something. I win, you chauffeur me around for a month. You win, I'll give you the hundred bucks."

Derek nodded, "Sure. It's fine."

After Derek and Isaac left the Stilinski house, Derek leaned against his car for a moment and Isaac came up to him. "What the fuck, Derek?" he asked, and Derek could tell that Isaac was angry.

As a child of abuse, Isaac didn't normally confront people, and stayed the hell out of it when people fought. He hated yelling and confrontation, but when you pushed him too far, Isaac did lash out. And when he was angry enough to actually confront someone about it, it meant that things had been pushed too far.

"What do you want me to do, Isaac?" Derek asked. "I'm not chauffeuring that little bastard around for a month. I mean, as long as nobody finds out about it, things are gonna be fine, right? And if I can continue to date Lydia, we all win. I've wanted to date her for the longet time, and I think she really likes me, too."

"This is going to turn out to bite you in the ass, Derek," Isaac said before he started to shed his clothes. Derek was watching him and said, "What are you doing?"

"Running," Isaac said before shifting into his full wolf form. Even as a wolf, Isaac gave Derek a look like he was the biggest idiot on the face of the planet, and as Derek gathered Isaac's clothes and put them in the back of the Camaro, he wondered if Isaac wasn't right.

-x-

"So, are there more dates in your future?" Allison asked Lydia as she sat up on the counter next to the cash register, eating a chocolate chip muffin. "I mean, you and Derek like each other, right?"

"I like Derek," Lydia said. "I don't know if he likes me back, but my mother seems to think that he does."

"Oh, Lyds," Allison said, getting up to throw the muffin paper in the trash bin, "He likes you. It's in the way that he looks at you."

"I don't know, Ally," Lydia said. "I wish I knew for certain."

"If you don't trust me on anything else, Lyds, trust me on this, okay? Derek is crazy about you, and I know that you like him, too."

"I'm gonna take your word for it," Lydia said. Allison just grinned.

"So," Allison said, after a few moments of silence had passed, "I heard about the big art show in San Francisco in February. Are you gonna join it?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Jesus, Lyds," Allison said, rooting around in her purse for a folded up piece of paper, which she handed to Lydia. "If I'm paying attention and you're not, it's a pretty sad day."

"Oh, this?" Lydia said, reading the paper. "Mrs. Connors wants me to send in a piece. It's not just an art show. It's a whole contest thing, and whoever wins gets a scholarship to the Academy of Art University, they're connected to the gallery. Of course I'm interested in it, and I'm even working on a piece to submit."

"That'd be a good thing," Allison said, watching her friend closely. "That way, you could get a scholarship and wouldn't have to worry about your mother selling her soul so you can attend college. I think you should try to win it."

Lydia shrugged, "I may not even go to college next year."

"What?!" Allison said, but then looked around after she squeaked. Nobody noticed, so she looked back at Lydia. "Why not?" she demanded.

"I don't know if I can afford it. And besides that, I don't know if Mom can afford for me to go off to school and leave her all alone. I worry about her, Ally."

"Well, I know that," Allison said, "but your mom's gotta know that you'll leave eventually."

"She's all the time picking up double and triple shifts at the hospital, but can barely afford to do anything. I just need to make sure my mom doesn't take another mortgage out on the house. When Dad left, he took everything we had, Ally."

"I know, Lyds," Allison said softly. "But you deserve better than that."

Lydia shrugged, "As long as Mom's okay, I'll be okay. Besides, even if I take a year off, opportunity might still knock later on in life. My life's not gonna be over if I can't go to college at eighteen."

Allison just watched her friend for a moment before Lydia checked her watch and said, "It's almost five. Aren't you meeting your dad and Isaac for dinner?"

"Shit," Allison said, jumping off the counter. "I've gotta go. I'll talk to you later, Lyds. Just do me a favor and continue your piece for the art show? I wanna make sure you at least submit it."

"I don't know why you're so hell bent on me entering that damn show," Lydia said, "but I will. I'll finish it, okay?"

"Great," Allison said. She looked back and waved at Lydia one more time before leaving the shop.

Most of Lydia's shift went by pretty peacefully. It had gotten pretty quiet in the coffee shop, which Lydia was grateful for, as she pulled out her sketchbook and started drawing. She wasn't sure if she could draw Derek from memory, but was going to try.

She had gotten the outline of him damn near perfect when she heard his voice, "Is that supposed to be me?"

She snapped the book shut and looked up at him. "How long have you been standing there?" she asked him.

He shrugged, "A few minutes. You seemed pretty into what you were doing and I didn't want to interrupt."

Lydia cracked a smile, "Thanks for that. It usually gets pretty slow in here after five o'clock and I always bring my sketchpad for those times."

Derek nodded, "Sure." He watched her for a good minute before saying, "So, if I've come to keep you company, does that mean I've gotta buy something?"

Lydia nodded.

"I'll take a large Americano, black," he said, and Lydia smiled. She knew that was going to be his order. As she poured him the coffee, she looked at him.

"What's wrong?" she said. He had this whole look of worry on his face.

Derek shook his head, "Nothing. Isaac and I had an argument, and he shifted into a wolf and ran off."

"The full shift?" Lydia asked. Derek nodded.

Lydia knew right away that it must've been some fight for Isaac to do a full shift. There was a beta shift, which was in the middle, and then the full shift, and Isaac actually preferred the beta shift. He always said that was so he knew he was still in control and not letting the wolf take over him.

"Do you wanna talk about it?" she asked gently.

Did he wanna talk about it? He wanted to say yes. God yes, in fact, but he was just going to let it go because, as much as he wanted to let someone else know what was going through his mind at that moment in time, he couldn't tell Lydia. Even though they had only technically been on two dates, and one of them a group outing, he couldn't bear to lose her. So instead, he just shook his head.

"Fine," Lydia said, dropping the subject. Instead, she just watched him closely for a minute. "How'd you do on that AP Bio test?" she asked him.

Derek shrugged, "Not as bad as I thought I was going to, but I swear to God, I am so sick and tired of every teacher I have telling me that I need to be as good as Laura was." Derek sighed. "I get that my older sister is a fucking genius and everything, but I'm tired of being compared to her."

Lydia shrugged, "I never get that."

Derek chuckled, "That's because you're ten times smarter than your brother." He paused for a moment and then quickly added, "Not that there's anything wrong with how smart Riley is. He can handle his own."

Lydia nodded, "He's doing well at Berkeley. In fact, he should be coming home next weekend for his monthly visit."

"He comes home monthly?"

Lydia wasn't sure if Derek was taking an interest because he was genuinely interested, or just acting like it because it had to deal with her family. At the moment she didn't care, though, because it wasn't often that she got to talk about her older brother with someone, so she just answered, "Yeah. He's not that far, just three hours, but he worries about Mom almost as much as I do."

"Why worry about her?" Derek asked.

"When my parents got divorced, my dad took practically everything we had," Lydia answered. Of course, Derek knew this because Cora had told him, but he wasn't sure if he was supposed to know it or not, so he let Lydia talk. "I work most of the time because I like to pay my own way to make sure that Mom doesn't do something like sell her soul to take care of me. I make my own payments on everything. The only thing I don't do is pay for rent, and that's because my mom won't take the money. I've offered it, though."

Everyone in town knew that the Hales were well off, so Lydia wasn't even sure if Derek could understand where she was coming from. "I worry about my mom," Lydia said softly. "I want to make sure she doesn't die from stress. She and Riley are pretty much all I have."

"I don't mean to be offensive, so tell me if I am," Derek said, "but don't you talk to your dad anymore?"

Lydia shook her head. "Since his new daughter, my half-sister, was born a few years ago, he doesn't talk to either me or Riley anymore. He is too wrapped up in her and his wife." Lydia sighed. "I don't want anything to do with him anyway. Someone who can throw away a twenty year marriage for a piece of ass less than half his age is someone I just don't want to be involved with."

"Do you ever miss him?" Derek asked.

"I miss the man he used to be," Lydia answered. She felt the familiar ache in her chest that told her she was going to cry, so she cleared her throat and then said, "This shit is so depressing. Let's talk about something happier."

Derek nodded, "Sure. We can do that."

Chapter Text

"You need to tell her, Dad," Allison said later that night, while they were waiting for the Chinese food they ordered to be delivered. "I mean it. Lydia's talking about not applying to college so she can stay behind and watch out for Natalie. She's worried about her mom."

"What do you mean, tell her? Natalie's the one who's supposed to be telling her."

"Fine," Allison said. "I mean, someone needs to tell Lydia that you have been dating her mom for almost three months, and that someone is not going to be me."

"Why not, Ally?" Chris asked, watching his daughter carefully. "It'd be so much easier if she heard it from a friend."

"You know what would make it even easier?" Allison asked. Chris just looked at her, so she said, "If you and Natalie sat her down and talked to her about it."

"Lydia's not my daughter, Ally. As much as you and Lydia act like sisters, you're not really related. And she isn't going to take it any better if I talk to her about it."

Allison nodded and then sighed, "At least talk to Natalie about it. Someone needs to tell her."

That's when they heard the scratching on the front door. When Allison opened it and saw the big blonde wolf standing there, Allison knew right away who it was.

"Oh, Isaac, "Allison said. She stepped aside so he could enter, and then she led him to her bedroom. "You've got some clothes in my bottom drawer," she said. "Why don't you shift back and get dressed? We're waiting for the Chinese Dad ordered to be delivered and then we can eat."

She closed the door and gave Isaac time to shift and then get dressed. Isaac had brought some of his clothes over for occasions just like this one. When he opened the door, Allison went over and threw her arms around his neck.

Isaac returned the hug and squeezed Allison tightly. When they broke apart, Allison looked at Isaac, "You don't do a complete shift very often. What happened?"

Isaac shrugged, "I had a fight with Derek. It's not a big deal. I just needed to run."

Allison nodded, "Do you wanna talk about it?"

"No," Isaac responded, shaking his head. "I mean, I don't think Derek wants me to talk about it yet. We didn't resolve it before I ran out and I think he wants to resolve it with me before we get anybody else involved."

Allison nodded, knowing it wasn't a good idea to push Isaac when he wasn't ready. So, instead, she just nodded and then pulled Isaac in for another hug.

Once the food got there, they ate, but it was mostly in silence. Allison wanted to know more about the fight Isaac had with Derek, but knew better than to push him. So, instead, she just watched him carefully.

They ate dinner in silence, and Isaac didn't offer any kind of conversation. Allison answered any questions that Chris had about things that were happening at school, but Isaac didn't look up from his General Tso's.

When dinner was finished, Chris got up, telling Allison that he needed to go into the den, and Allison nodded. She looked over at Isaac, who was skirting on the edge of not being in control. She reached over and grabbed his hand. "It's okay, baby," she said to him. "You know you can talk to me about anything, right?"

Isaac nodded, "I know."

Allison nodded. They cleaned up from dinner and Allison got her French textbook out. They started going over everything they knew would be on the French test next week, but Allison didn't stop worrying about Isaac.

-x-

"I've never seen him like that before, Lyds," Allison was saying into the phone. "He wasn't in control. He was teetering towards the edge of no control, but he didn't lose control exactly, so there wasn't anything that could have been done. I just want to know what they fought about that had such an effect on Isaac."

Lydia sighed, looking down at the phone on her desk. She was typing up a paper for AP Biology, and she hated holding the phone while she typed, so she had the phone on her desk and Allison was on speaker. After a few moments of silence, Lydia said, "I don't know what to tell you, Ally. Did you try talking to Derek about it?"

"I'm not exactly Derek Hale's favorite person," Allison answered. "While he doesn't exactly hold it against me, he doesn't exactly seek out anybody with the Argent name, either. All because of Kate."

"I get that," Lydia said, sighing. Maybe I'll talk to him about it."

"Would you?" Allison sounded hopeful. "I normally wouldn't ask you, Lyds, but I get worried about Isaac sometimes."

Lydia nodded even though she knew Allison couldn't see her, "I get it. After I get off the phone with you, I'll give Derek a call."

"You're a lifesaver, Lyds," Allison said. "I'll let you go so you can do that, but do me a favor and call me right back, okay?"

"Yeah," Lydia said. "Will do."

They hung up and Lydia finished typing her sentence before she dialed Derek's number.

"Hey," he answered on the first ring. "What's up?"

"You're on speaker," Lydia said. She always told people when they were; it was a common courtesy. "Ally actually asked me to call you."

Even though they weren't face to face, Lydia could tell that Derek tensed up by that. She continued, though, "She's really worried about Isaac."

"Has she seen him?" he asked. "He's not here."

"Yeah, he's at her house. He showed up as a wolf, Derek. I guess after you guys had your disagreement, he ran to the Argents'."

"And Chris let him in, just like that?" Derek asked, sounding a little bewildered. Lydia was a little confused at the tone of his voice. When she asked him about it, he said, "Look, Chris is an Argent. He's a hunter, and even though he no longer hunts like that, I'm just waiting for him to go back to his roots. I mean, you never met Gerard, because he's never come around here, thank God, but he's a real piece of work. And Kate..." his voice trailed off. "Kate would've burned my family to the ground if she could've, and I just...I feel like..." his voice trailed off again.

Lydia was a little taken aback. She had never expected Derek to be this candid and honest with her, but here he was, and when she heard the crack in his voice, she realized how much he trusted her. "That wouldn't have been your fault, though," Lydia said finally, feeling like she needed to comfort him a little. "Kate is one messed up bitch and I'm glad you trusted your mom enough to tell her that Kate was hanging around. Seducing a teenage kid to just use him and burn his family...it's cruel."

"It doesn't matter," Derek answered. "I'm just waiting for Chris to go back to the way things were before. I mean, he and his wife were divorced by the time he moved back to town, that's why he moved back here, but...sometimes I just don't think I can trust him, and I wonder if he feels the same way about us."

"Ally and Isaac seem to really care about one another," Lydia said. "And I think Chris takes that into account."

"Anyway, Isaac's gonna be fine," Derek said after a few moments of silence. "We just had a minor disagreement, and when he comes home, I'm gonna talk to him about it. Make sure he understands my point of view and show him that I understand his. Things are going to be fine between the two of us."

"You know that Ally just worries about Isaac," Lydia said. "And I think she has every right to. She really loves him, you know."

"I know," Derek said. "They haven't said the words yet, but you can tell they love each other by the way they look at one another." There were a few moments of silence, but they felt like they were heavy, and then Derek said, "Can I come over? I mean, I'd understand if you said no, but -"

"Hey, Derek, it's fine. My mom's working an overnight shift at the hospital tonight - not like she'd care otherwise - but sure, come on over. We can watch a movie or something." There was another heavy moment of silence before Lydia said, "I mean what I said. About Kate. It wasn't your fault, and if she had succeeded in burning your family alive, it still wouldn't have been your fault. She knows how to manipulate people to get what she wants, and you were just a kid. Fifteen is still a kid, no matter what anybody else thinks."

"Thanks, Lyds," Derek said, and hearing the nickname come from his mouth was weird, but Lydia decided that she like it coming from his lips. "I'm gonna come over and we can do something. I mean, if that's okay with you? I don't want to do anything that you're not comfortable with."

Lydia nodded and then said, "I'm sure. Come on over. It'll be nice to have the company."

"Okay. Thanks, Lydia," Derek said, and then they hung up.

Lydia was lucky she had only a couple more paragraphs to go for the night, so she finished them quickly, thankful that she had been forced to take three years of typing classes in high school, because her typing speed was more quick than anybody else she knew, and then shut her computer down. She went downstairs just in time to hear the knock on the front door.

She opened the door and did the first thing she could think of; when she saw it was Derek standing there, she lunged forward and captured his lips in a kiss. This kiss wasn't anything like their first kiss had been; this kiss was hungry and a little rough. Derek backed Lydia up to the wall and took control of the kiss, which was definitely fine with her. She tilted her head to allow him better access and he licked into her mouth.

With Jackson, he had let Lydia lead whenever they did anything. That's one of the reasons that she stood up for him vehemently whenever anybody tried to put him down - she had absolutely no experience when they started sleeping together, Jackson had all the experience, but he let her do whatever she wanted (within reason, of course) and never made her feel badly if she wanted to slow down or stop. She held the reins when it came to sex with him.

But here, with Derek, it just felt right. She hitched her leg up and over his hip, and then he was lifting her like she weighed nothing and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He held onto her middle and the kissing got more hungry as time went by.

Sooner than she would've liked, Derek was breaking the kiss and looking at her, breathing heavily. As Lydia was catching her own breath, Derek said, "Sorry about that."

"What are you sorry about?" Lydia asked. "I was the one who ambushed you."

"Yeah, I know," Derek said, "but I went along with it. I don't want you to do anything you're not comfortable with. We don't have to have sex, or make out, or even kiss if you don't wanna. I want to make sure you're one hundred percent comfortable with everything we do."

Lydia watched him for a moment, resting her forehead on his, and then whispered, "How are you this perfect, Derek Hale?"

He let out a laugh that sounded a little cynical and then said, "Trust me, Lydia. I'm not perfect. If we're together long enough you'll figure that one out."

Lydia shrugged, trying not to read into whatever was going on inside his head. Instead, she said, "Carry me to the couch. If you're comfortable with it, I want to make out with my boyfriend."

"Boyfriend?" he asked.

"Well, yeah," Lydia said, as if that was the most obvious answer. "I figured that's what we were." She started feeling a little foolish as she said, "If you don't want to be my boyfriend, you don't have to. I just thought...I thought that's where we were headed." She made a move to get down, but Derek gripped her hips. "I feel like an idiot, Derek. Please just let me go -"

"Listen to me, Lydia," Derek said. "You're the smartest girl in the entire goddamn high school and I want you to know that I would love to be your boyfriend. I just wasn't sure that's what you wanted."

"What do you mean?"

"I heard about your fling with Jackson Whittemore," Derek said. Lydia grimaced.

"Look, about that," Lydia said, and then she looked at Derek. "Hey, how about you carry me over to the couch if you aren't going to let me down. I don't want to have this conversation while I'm pinned to the wall."

"Sorry," Derek chuckled. He carried her over to the living room that was adjacent to the hallway and then dumped her on the couch. He sat down next to her when she patted the cushion.

"Like I was saying," Lydia said, watching him carefully, "what I had with Jackson, that was all my idea. He didn't take advantage of me, and everything we did was consensual - every little thing we did, it was all my idea. He let me lead. Sex before marriage has never seemed like a big deal to me. It's how you get better - you practice. And when I meet my Mr. Right, I want to be good at it. So I talked to Jackson about it, and he helped me practice."

Derek nodded.

"Look, I don't want to have a whole lot of serious talk right now," she said, leaning down and straddling his hips. "I was serious when I said I wanted to make out with my boyfriend."

Before Derek knew what was happening, Lydia was covering his mouth with hers. Lydia sighed happily into the kiss; kissing Derek was everything Lydia never knew she wanted. As they sat on her couch, with Lydia straddling Derek's waist, they were kissing each other like it was going out of style. She loved the feeling of his lips on hers, and she loved the way he made her feel. He acted like he truly cared about her, and that was something that didn't happen very often. She had been blacklisted early on in her school career because she was the smart, artsy one. Not a lot of people appreciated that about her. Sure, Lydia knew that Cora, Malia and Allison cared about her, but the way that Derek made her feel, it was like she was something special. Not even Jackson had made Lydia feel like that.

Derek reached up after a few moments, cupped Lydia's cheek and broke the kiss, "I really want you, Lyds."

Lydia took a deep breath, "I want you, too, Derek. Like, a lot. But I don't know if I'm ready to go all the way - at least, not tonight."

"That's okay," Derek said. "I don't want the first time we have sex to be a quick fuck on your couch. I want to take my time with you, worship you the way you deserve to be worshiped." He leaned his head down to her ear and whispered huskily, "But I really want to taste you, if that's okay with you."

"Taste me?" Lydia asked. She seemed uncertain and continued, "You mean go down...?" She let her voice trail off. When Derek nodded the affirmative, Lydia felt the blush that covered her cheeks.

She seemed to be debating it in her head, but then said, "Okay. If you really wanna, I guess."

She got off his lap and laid down on the couch. Derek looked uncertain, but Lydia said, "Mom's working an overnight shift, remember? She's not gonna be home until at least seven o'clock tomorrow morning. But we can go into my room if you really wanna."

"I want to do whatever's gonna make it more comfortable for you, baby," Derek said confidently, in this voice that just oozed sex. She felt her insides melt a little bit as she thought it over.

"We can just do it here." Derek nodded, giving her one more kiss on her lips before flipping her skirt up and removing her panties, pocketing them.

"If it ever gets too uncomfortable, or if you wanna stop for any reason, tell me, okay?" Derek said. "I don't want to force you into anything you're not ready for. And I mean any time, okay?"

Lydia nodded and Derek knelt in front of the couch, leaning into her and inhaling her scent. "God, Lydia," he groaned. "You smell so fucking good."

A blush covered her cheeks, but she knew that scent was a big deal to werewolves, so she didn't say anything as Derek spread her legs wider. He left open mouthed kisses on the inside of one of her thighs, and a pretty impressive hickey on the other one.

The first touch of his tongue to her clit startled her a little. She wasn't sure why, either; she knew that was his destination and he was working up to this, but when he attacked her clit with his tongue, she let out a little gasp.

"There's no one else here, baby," Derek said, looking up at her. "I want you to be loud; I want to hear you."

She tasted exquisite. Derek had always loved giving oral - he loved the taste, the feel of going down on a woman, but he loved the fact that it was him who was making them feel that way - but this was Lydia, and he wanted it to be truly phenomenal for her. He licked her slit once, twice, and then fucked into her with his tongue.

Lydia thrashed around on the couch above him and she was being loud. As in, she was being so loud that he was surprised that nobody in the neighborhood was coming over to make sure she wasn't being murdered. Derek smirked to himself; he always knew she'd be a screamer.

"Need you on my clit, Der, please," Lydia groaned out, and Derek wanted to do nothing but oblige. He gave her a few open mouthed kisses on her thighs before inserting two of his thick fingers inside of her and sucking the hardened bud into his mouth. This was all about exploration, about finding out what made Lydia feel good. He attacked her clit with his tongue and teeth as he fucked his fingers into her, and she moaned out, "Harder. Fuck me with your fingers harder. Please, Derek, I need it."

The begging was so fucking hot, and he hadn't expected it. Lydia never seemed like the type that would. But he started shoving his fingers in and out of her harder, just like she had asked, and he sucked her clit into his mouth, sucking on it hard. With a bite on her clit with his blunt, human teeth, she shattered and came around him.

He fucked her through the aftershocks, until she was pushing him away. "Oversensitive," she muttered, and Derek wiped his mouth. She reached for him and pulled him down so she was attacking his lips with hers. As they broke apart, she smiled.

"You taste like me," she said, watching him with a twinkle in her green eyes, "and oh my God, it's so fucking hot."

Derek flipped her skirt back down and watched her for a minute. She looked fucked out, and it was an awesome look on her. Derek couldn't help feeling a little prideful that he was the one who made her look that way.

A couple of moments passed before Lydia said, "Do you want me to...?" Derek shook his head.

"No, baby," he said. She looked like she was just a second from passing out. "You can reciprocate some other time." He picked her up, bridal style, and carried her up the stairs and to her bedroom. He laid her gently on the bed and she sighed sleepily. He covered her up with the quilt that was on the end of her bed and then gave her a kiss on the forehead. "Sleep well, princess," he said softly, and he saw the slight smile that was on her lips for a second and then she was asleep.

Chapter Text

On Friday, during lunch, Lydia was ambushed. Cora caught her before she went into the lunchroom and said, "Stiles and I are going out tonight. Bowling. Do you and Derek wanna come?"

Lydia shrugged, "Sure, I guess. I'll have to ask Derek." She watched Cora intently before saying, "This isn't something we could've talked about during lunch? I'm fucking starving."

Cora nodded, "Sure, sorry. It's just that Stiles is waiting for an answer."

"Your boyfriend seriously needs to learn some patience, Cor," Lydia said with a laugh. "It seems like he hasn't gotten any better since when we were friends before."

"Yeah, very true," Cora laughed. She left to go talk to Stiles and Lydia sighed contentedly before grabbing her lunch bag out of her locker.

It's been three days since that night at her house between herself and Derek. Derek was such a different person than what he let other people think about him. He was kind and sweet, and even though they had only been out twice, he didn't push her to do anything she wasn't ready for. She was almost certain that when she told him she wasn't ready to have sex with him that night, he'd get upset. But he didn't. Lydia had been pleasantly surprised.

She had told Cora, Allison and Malia that she and Derek were officially dating now and she couldn't be happier. There had been a time in her life after the divorce that she was pretty sure she'd never be happy again. Derek was proving that wrong.

"Bowling tonight?" she asked Derek. He looked thoughtful for a moment and then smiled.

"I'd love to," he said. "But you've gotta be pretty good to beat Stiles. He's excellent at it. I'm pretty sure he cheats somehow."

"You can't cheat at bowling, Derek," Stiles said with a laugh.

"I remember how good he used to be," Lydia said, remembering all the summers they spent in the bowling league as kids. She and Stiles kicked ass at bowling, even though he used to be slightly better than she was. She wondered if he'd improved since then.

There was a moment of silence while Derek and Stiles seemed to have a conversation with their eyes, and then Derek turned to Lydia. "Pick you up at six?"

"Sure," she said. "Sounds like fun."

"You wanna eat over here?" Stiles asked after Lydia turned to leave. "I mean, Derek is your boyfriend now."

"You don't eat with your girlfriend," Lydia said. "In fact, none of you guys do. I'm fine sitting over there with Mia, Ally and Cora."

Stiles nodded silently and Lydia gave Derek a kiss on the cheek. She went over and started talking to the girls.

"Things are going well, huh, Lyds?" Allison asked with a smug smile on her face. Lydia just rolled her eyes. When Allison knew that she was right, she loved to rub it in.

"Yeah, yeah," Lydia said, waving a hand dismissively. She pulled out her usual container of fruit and watched her friend.

The rest of the day flew by and by the time the final bell rang, Lydia was glad to be out of there. She didn't have to work that night and wondered if Cora knew that, because she wouldn't have asked otherwise. Cora usually kept an eye on Lydia's work schedule, just so she knew when they could hang out together.

After Lydia got home that afternoon, she decided to get a little homework done, so she set herself up at the dining room table and cracked open her AP Biology book. She was the head of that class, right in front of Derek, but she wasn't going to lose her spot. When she had told Derek that she was at the top of the class and intended on staying that way, she wasn't kidding.

It was the beginning of October now and the first test of the semester for AP Biology was coming up next week. She had exactly one week to study and remind herself she could do this.

Lydia was smart. She'd always been a smart girl, but she was pretty bad at one thing - tests. She could study and study for weeks before they happened, and she really did know the stuff, but once the test was in front of her, it was like she blanked. It didn't even matter what kind of test it was - she was like this for every single one of them. It was even that way when she took her driver's test at sixteen. But most of the time, she just studied extra and used some deep breathing techniques her mother had taught her when she started having panic attacks after the divorce, and it usually worked.

As she started reading about chimeras, she just couldn't pay attention. Her mind was flicking back to everything that had happened in the last month. She never in a million years thought that she'd start to be friends with Derek Hale, let alone dating the guy. Everything was so different than what she thought it'd be.

She sighed, slamming her textbook shut. Glancing at the clock, she realized it'd be about nine o'clock in London, but knew that Jackson wasn't that busy. While he'd been Mr. Popular over in Beacon Hills, when he got to London he felt like he didn't fit in, so he didn't try all that much. Sure, he had his friends, but he was nothing like what he'd been when he was over here.

They hadn't talked since that night on Skype, the night of the group date, and Lydia really missed Jackson. Allison was her best friend, but she and Jackson were extremely close, too.

She was happy to see, when she logged on to Skype, that Jackson was on there, too. She video called him.

“Hey, Lyds,” Jackson said with a smile on his face. “How are you doing?”

“Everything seems to be just popping into place,” Lydia said, “which means that something's going to go terribly wrong any day now.”

“So are you and Hale dating?” Jackson asked her.

“Yeah. Things are going well between the two of us, but...”

“You're waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Jackson said. “I get that. But you know that not everything good is always followed by something bad, right?”

Lydia shrugged, “I don't know, Jackson. I really like the guy. And Stiles and I are friends again, and it just feels like everything is popping into place.”

“You made up with Stilinski?” Jackson asked. “Really? Why?”

“You know just as well as I do that Stiles and I used to be really close. Our moms are friends. And I missed the guy. Yeah, he can be a total and complete ass most of the time, but I missed my friend.”

“He's still an asshole,” Jackson said. Lydia snorted, so Jackson asked, “What?”

“It's just that most of the people at BHHS still think of you as a douchebag, Jackson,” Lydia said. “I'm sticking up for you about eighty percent of the time.”

“It's nice to know I haven't lost my touch, even with an ocean between us,” Jackson said. Lydia rolled her eyes.

“Be serious, Jackson,” she said. “There's so much more to you than that douchebag that you let everyone at school see. Just like you, there's more to Stiles than that asshole that everyone knows.”

“I doubt that very much,” Jackson said.

“Hey, you were part of his group when you were over here,” Lydia said.

“Exactly,” Jackson said. “I know how he acts. And he may have acted better when we were kids, but I don't think there's anything of that kid you remember in him at all. So much has changed since then. I mean – you haven't hung out with him since we were what, twelve?”

“We hung out just last week,” Lydia said. “We went to see a movie and went to Tony's afterwards.”

“Hale was there,” Jackson said. “He had to have been. He's the only one in that entire group who would suggest going to Tony's, and it's mostly because of his mom. He gets a discount, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Lydia said.

“Look, Lydia,” Jackson said, the moment completely serious. “You just need to be careful, okay? You're my friend and I worry about you. And I meant what I said – Stilinski does one thing to upset you, to hurt you in any way at all, and I'm on the first flight over there. I mean it.”

Lydia smiled. “Thanks, Jackson,” she said, “but I've got it covered.”

-x-

Bowling that night was a lot of fun. At Derek's insistence, they were split into teams, with Cora and Stiles against Derek and Lydia. Lydia figured that Derek knew she was a pretty good bowler – or maybe it was because he needed all the help he could get.

“I guess the whole werewolf power thing doesn't help with all sports,” Lydia laughed. Cora laughed at that, too, but Derek just scowled.

“I'm not that bad,” Derek muttered, but Lydia just laughed.

“We've been playing half an hour and you've managed to knock down six pins. And no two of them were knocked down at the same time!” Stiles added. “You could be better.”

Derek rolled his eyes, but when it was his turn again, Lydia went up to the lane with him. She put her arms around him and said, “This is a little awkward, since you're so much taller than me, but here, hold it like this.” She rearranged his fingers and helped him with his stance. She showed him the correct way to stand and then said, “Again, awkward, but here, this is the way you need to stand.” She stood aside then and then said, “Go on. Throw the ball.”

Sighing, Derek rolled the ball down the lane and managed to knock over three pins – at the same time! Lydia bounced up and down and then pulled Derek into a hug. “I knew you could do it,” she said. She gave him a quick peck on the lips as she heard Stiles in the background.

“It's just three pins,” Stiles said. Lydia rolled her eyes.

“He's right,” Derek said.

“Hey,” Lydia said, an edge to her voice as she poked Derek's chest, “it's two more at a time than you were getting before. Besides that, three is better than none, alright? But the thing is, you're thinking too hard.”

“Really.” Derek said. It wasn't a question, and he absolutely didn't phrase it that way.

“That's right,” Lydia said. “You're thinking about knocking down pins and you're getting nervous. You need to think about something else.”

“And what exactly would you suggest?”

Lydia scrunched up her face – it was her thinking face – and the moment she got an idea, she looked at Derek as he picked up his ball, and her entire face lit up. She smirked as she leaned in on her tip toes and whispered, “Me. Think of me. Naked.”

The look on Derek's face was priceless, but he nodded once and then Lydia went over to sit down beside Cora and Stiles.

“Seriously, Lyds?” Cora asked, obviously having heard what Lydia said to her brother. “Did you have to say that to him?”

Lydia grinned, “Absolutely.”

When Derek got his first strike of the evening, the grin on Lydia's face got even bigger. Derek came up, kissed Lydia on the cheek, and then said, “I'm going to go get a drink. You want something?”

“Sure. Diet Pepsi would be good,” she said. Derek nodded and left. Stiles and Cora just watched Lydia for a few moments, and it was starting to grate on Lydia's nerves.

“What?” she finally asked.

“The two of you are so adorable together that I want to puke,” Stiles said to her. “I mean, seriously. I never thought the two of you would hold on a conversation with one another, let alone date. Isn't it weird?”

Lydia shook her head, “Not really. It doesn't feel that strange.”

“It's so different from the thing you had with Jackson a few years ago, though, right?” Stiles continued. Lydia eyed him warily, so Cora smacked his arm. “What?” he asked. “Don't tell me that you think nobody knows about you and Whittemore. Everybody knows.”

Then there was silence. There was so much silence, in fact, that you could hear a pin drop. Lydia watched Stiles carefully, and Cora watched Lydia watch Stiles, like she knew that Lydia was ready to pounce at any time. When Derek came back with the sodas for himself and Lydia, he wasn't sure what the hell was going on.

Finally, Lydia spoke, and it was quiet and deadly. “Listen to me, and listen well, Mieczyslaw Stilinski,” she said, and it surprised both Cora and Derek that not only did Lydia know Stiles' first name, but she said it perfectly. “I'm not a slut, okay? I'm not ashamed of the thing I had with Jackson, at all. He's a really great guy, even though he has this reputation of being a dick. It's all a facade, okay? He's not really like that, and I saw the real him. We didn't date, but it wasn't because he didn't want to. I was calling the shots, alright? He didn't do anything without my express permission and everything we did do was because I wanted to do it that way. Us not dating? That was all my idea. And I wish I could stand here and say that I care about people knowing about us, but I don't. I don't give one goddamn who knows and I could care less what people like you think of me.” She sighed and looked at them. She was really grateful that she had driven herself instead of getting a ride from Derek like she had wanted to earlier. Finally, she said, “I've gotta go. Early shift tomorrow morning.”

“But it's only nine-thirty,” Cora pointed out.

“I know,” Lydia said, “but I've got some stuff to do as well.” Her voice cracked, but she wasn't sure why the hell she was getting so emotional about this. She cleared her throat and then said, “I'll talk to you guys later.”

As Lydia walked out of the bowling alley, Derek looked at Stiles and then said, “Mieczyslaw?”

“You just butchered the pronunciation, dude,” Stiles winced, “but now that you've heard my real name you can just forget it, alright? I'm surprised that Lydia even remembers it.”

“Dude, Lydia remembers everything,” Cora said. “Even you should know that.”

“What the fuck did you do?” Derek asked after a few moments. “I mean, I wasn't even gone five minutes.”

“He's an idiot,” Cora answered. “He brought up her fling with Jackson and told her that everybody knows. Which, if they do or if they don't, it's not like it matters. Lydia never tried to hide her relationship with Jackson. But you shouldn't have brought it up, especially not like that.”

Stiles nodded. After a few moments of silence, Derek drank his soda and gave the other one to Cora, knowing that she would drink practically anything, and then said, “I'm gonna go see if she's home yet. She may need someone to talk to.”

Cora smacked Stiles on the arm again, but then nodded as her brother raced after Lydia.

Chapter Text

Derek went over to Lydia's house first, hoping that she had gone straight home. He cursed Stiles' name all the way there. Derek wouldn't have been in this predicament to begin with if it hadn't been for fucking Stiles.

But, at the same time, Derek had to thank him as well. If it hadn't been for the bet, he wouldn't never gotten the nerve to talk to Lydia - the girl he'd been pining after for a very long time. He'd always had some interest in her, and because of Stiles' competitive streak, Derek had finally gotten up the nerve to talk to her.

When Natalie Martin opened the door, she frowned at Derek. "Is Lydia not with you?" she asked, a frown on her face. "I thought you guys were going bowling."

Derek sighed, "Stiles opened his big mouth and pissed Lydia off." He almost looked embarrassed, but then said, "Sorry."

Natalie laughed, "Lyds says worse things on a daily basis. But she's not here. Have you tried the lake? You know, the one that's over there by the preserve? Lydia likes to go there, watch the waves, and just think. You could try there."

"You think she's gonna be there?" Derek asked her. Natalie nodded.

"She thinks I don't know, but right after the divorce, Lydia spent a lot of time alone. And she used to go out there. I know because I had Riley follow her once. We worried a lot about her after the divorce, not just because it was hard on both of my kids, but because with her falling out with Stiles like she did, and our luck was just particularly terrible at that point, and she struggled with depression. She finally started seeing a therapist at my insistence, but stopped after about three or four months because we couldn't afford it." Natalie watched Derek before saying, "It's best that you not mention that I told you. She gets really self-conscious about that kind of stuff."

"Sure, Mrs. Martin," Derek said. "I'm going to see if I can find her."

"Alright, dear," Natalie said as Derek went back towards the Camaro. "Good luck in finding her."

-x-

When Derek got to the lake, Lydia was, indeed, there. She was just sitting on the dock, staring out into the water. She looked like she was deep in thought. Part of Derek didn't want to disturb her, but figured it'd be best if she knew he was there.

"Stiles is an ass," he said, coming over to sit down beside her. She looked a little surprised that he was there.

"Why are you here?" she asked him. "You should be back with your friends."

"Cora's your friend, too," Derek said. "But I went by your house and see you and your mom thought you might be out here. She said you like to watch the water."

Lydia shrugged, "When I'm upset, sure I do. I know Mom knows - Riley knows, too, because whether or not they know I know, he's followed me out here once or twice. They worry about me."

"I don't blame them," Derek said, but realized what he sounded like, so he decided to elaborate. "Family's important."

Lydia nodded, "Sure it is." She didn't meet his gaze, but instead kept her eyes on the water, and then said, "Do you think I'm a slut, Derek?"

"Why on earth would I think that?"

"Because I had a thing with Jackson, and we didn't date. What I said to Stiles was true - I'm not ashamed of being with Jackson the way I was, and it was my idea not to date. Just because I was attracted to Jackson physically didn't mean I wanted him to love me."

"But he's one of your best friends," Derek said.

"True," Lydia said. "We didn't start out that way. I know the main reason he slept with me the first time was because he thought there was something appealing about being my first. It may have started out that way, but you can't sleep with the same person for a long time without developing some kind of feelings for that person. I miss him a lot."

"Didn't that bother you, though?" Derek asked. "Knowing that he just wanted to sleep with you because he wanted to take your virginity? That would make a lot of people pissed as hell."

"It's different for me," Lydia said. "I hang out with Allison, Cora and Malia. They're beautiful. And as much as an ass as Stiles can be, you've gotta admit that he'd do absolutely anything for your sister if she asked him to. I wanted something like that. I wanted to be wanted, I wanted to someone to think that I was just as beautiful as they are."

Derek swallowed the lump in his throat. He couldn't do this. He had to tell her about the bet. He didn't want her to hear it from anyone else, and maybe he could beg her not to leave and she wouldn't. Maybe he could tell her that he really did like her for who she was and she would just let it go.

He didn't do that, though. Instead, he said, "I think you're beautiful, Lydia, and smart and extremely talented. You promised to show me that finished painting, after all, and I'm holding you to that."

Lydia nodded, "Okay." She cracked a small smile and then started to get up. "Let's just go somewhere. Minnie's is open right now; are you hungry?"

Derek nodded, "Sure, Lyds. I could eat."

-x-

"You are a total and complete asshole, Stiles Stilinski," Cora said to Stiles after Derek had raced after Lydia. "Why bring it up? And even if it was a harmless comment, why'd you have to bring it up that way? Lydia is well aware that she's gossiped about enough at school, and you just had to go and make it worse."

"I didn't mean it the way it came out," Stiles said. Cora just sighed.

"We're all aware that you're an ass, Stiles," Cora snapped. "I just...Lydia's been through a lot, okay? And you've just made it worse."

Stiles sighed. "I'm sorry, Cora," he said, and he sounded genuine. "I didn't mean it like that."

"Yes you did," Cora said. "I'm not going to sit here and buy that genuine act. It's just an act, you know I know that, and Lydia deserves a fucking apology."

Stiles nodded, "Yeah, she does. I'll apologize to her at school on Monday."

"No, you won't," Cora said. "You and I are gonna go over there as soon as it hits two o'clock tomorrow afternoon and you are gonna fucking apologize to her."

"Why two?"

"She's working, eight to two tomorrow. You're not getting out of this easily, Stiles."

Stiles nodded, "Okay, Cor, I will."

-x-

Derek dropped Lydia off at eleven o'clock that night, after calling his parents and telling them he was going to be late. They had told him that if Natalie was going to be home, they didn't care if he spent the night, so he decided to do just that.

When he followed Lydia into her bedroom, he looked a little bewildered. Yes, she had a queen sized bed, but he didn't expect her to be so open to the idea of him sleeping with her.

"We're just gonna sleep, silly," Lydia said, a giggle escaping her mouth. "My mom's not gonna care."

"Really?" Derek asked.

Lydia sighed, taking her jacket off and hanging it on the knob of her door after she closed it. "Mom has an...interesting, I'm told...relationship with both me and Riley. I'm allowed to drink, as long as I don't leave the house. I'm allowed to sleep with any guy - or girl, if that was the case - that I want, as long as we're safe. I know Mom used to allow Riley to smoke weed every once in a while. She's always said that she wanted us to learn about vices in our own home instead of out with questionable company."

"So she knew about your relationship with Jackson?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. She knew exactly what we were doing up here. She understands that I like sex and she doesn't try to control me. Besides, the day I turned eighteen, she sat me down and told me that I'm a legal adult now and she can't tell me what to do. I just have to remember that every single choice I make has a consequence, whether it's good or bad, and I have to live with that consequence, whatever it may be."

"Wow," Derek said, kind of amazed. "Can we switch parents?"

Lydia sighed before grabbing a pair of pajama pants and a tank top. She looked at Derek and said, "Yeah, I love my mom, but I also adore your parents. You don't know how good you've got it, Derek."

Lydia went into the adjoining bathroom to change her clothes, and when she came back, she threw a pair of pajama pants at Derek. He caught them, a surprised look on his face.

"You and Riley are the same size," she said to him. "I used to steal Riley's clothes whenever I was feeling low, because he smelled just like Dad - they used the same cologne - and it comforted me. I've got a t-shirt in my drawer if you want a shirt, but all the times I've been over to your house with Cora, you go around practically all the time shirtless so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to you."

Derek shook his head, "Nah, I'm fine. Do you want me to go in there to change?"

Lydia nodded, "Yes. I'm trying to keep my hands to myself."

"Aww, but where's the fun in that?" Derek asked with a smirk.

"I mean it, Derek," Lydia said. "I've had a whirlwind of emotions in just a few hours and I'm exhausted, okay?"

"I'm sorry, Lydia," Derek said, the smirk dropping off of his face. Lydia nodded as Derek went into the bathroom to change.

As they were lying in bed in the dark that night, Derek spooning Lydia, he said, "I turn eighteen in December. When I turn eighteen, Mom and Dad have already told me that they don't care what I do or who I'm with, as long as I'm safe. A lot like your mom, actually. But I think they'd draw the line at us sleeping together while they're home."

"If - or when, if it comes to that - we have sex, we are definitely not doing it at your house, surrounded by werewolves who can hear absolutely everything. I refuse to do that."

Derek chuckled, "You learn to get used to it. My parents are very open about sex, since our hearing is amazing and they love each other a lot. Believe me, it's not the greatest thing in the world, but I've learned to live with it. But I understand what you're saying. But just because we're here doesn't mean your mom isn't gonna know what we're doing."

Lydia nodded, "I know, but Mom isn't gonna say anything. I know Peter, okay? He's gonna say something about it - the two of you snark back and forth all the time and he wouldn't be able to resist bringing it up and embarrassing the fuck outta me. You know that."

Derek chuckled again, "yeah, that is very true."

As Lydia laid on her head on Derek's arm, which was stretched out beneath her head, she rolled over to look at him. "Hey, Derek?" she asked him.

"Hmm?" he asked, watching her closely. "Is something wrong?"

Lydia sighed, "I don't know. I mean, Stiles used to be my friend, but something Jackson said to me a while ago has really been bugging me."

"What's that?" Derek asked, trying his best not to freeze up.

"He said something about how Stiles has changed a lot since we were friends. And I believe that everybody changes, but the way that Jackson was making it sound, maybe Stiles has changed so much that he and I can't be friends anymore."

"Do you want to be friends with him?" Derek asked.

"Stiles and I used to be best friends, Derek. We used to be so close, he was practically my brother. Claudia and John were pretty much my second parents, and I missed them so much when Stiles and I had our falling out. I just hope that it doesn't fuck up the relationship I have with Stiles, you know what I mean?"

Derek nodded, "Yeah, I actually do. But I'm not gonna lie to you, Lyds - sometimes Stiles can be quite an asshole. Hell, most of the time he can be quite an asshole."

"I know," Lydia said. "I just...I want everything to be good, you know? What do I have to do to make my life better? I'm nothing at school - which doesn't bother me as much as people like to think. Most of those people are shallow - so shallow I can stand in a puddle of them and not get my feet wet, you know? That's why, whenever Jennifer Blake or Erica Reyes say shit to me, I can just shrug it off, because I know I'm more than they are. I don't care what their opinion of me is. I've got my paints, I've got my books, I've got my friends. But what with the nonsense with my dad and the fact that I've been trying to practically support myself since I want to take the pressure off of my mom, I just really need to know that I'm contributing something."

Derek swallowed the lump in his throat before saying, "Yeah, I get that. I'm sorry you have to go through everything you do, Lydia."

Lydia smiled briefly, "Thank you, Derek."

Chapter Text

The next day, Stiles and Cora were over at Lydia's house when the clock hit two-thirty. Cora had talked about going right at two, but she wanted to make sure that Lydia had enough time to get from work to home. Derek met them at the door.

"What are you doing here?" Cora asked her brother. "Is Lydia here?"

"I spent the night last night," Derek answered. When Cora gave him a disbelieving look, Derek said, "Go ahead. Ask Mom and Dad. I told them I was going to be home late and they said as long as Natalie was home, they didn't mind me staying. I know why you're here," he said, glancing at Cora, "but what is Stiles doing here?"

"I'm here to apologize," Stiles said, almost glumly. "Cora's making me."

"Just don't tell Lydia that," Cora said. "But yes, Stiles was an ass, and Lydia deserves an apology. Has she come back from work yet?"

"Yeah," Derek answered. "She's in the kitchen."

Lydia was making sandwiches in the kitchen. She was in the refrigerator, grabbing the turkey, and after she turned around, she saw Cora and Stiles standing there. "Hey guys," she said to them, going back to the counter to finish the sandwiches. "You hungry? I've got turkey."

"No thanks," Cora said to her. Stiles just shook his head.

"I came to apologize," Stiles said, coming closer to Lydia. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded. I didn't mean to make you sound like the world's biggest slut, honest. It's just...I was trying to express why I never thought I'd see you and Derek together. And you guys look happy - happier than I've ever seen him. I'm glad you guys are happy, Lydia."

Lydia smiled, and put a hand on his shoulder, "Thank you, Stiles. Your apology means a lot to me."

"You deserve happiness and everything it entails, Lyds," Stiles continued. "I know that we've had our differences, but trust me, okay? You deserve to be happy."

Lydia nodded and then continued making the sandwiches. "You wanna stay for a while?" She asked Stiles and Cora, who was still in the doorway watching them. "We can watch a movie or something."

"What kind of movie?" Cora asked hopefully. She knew that whenever Lydia offered to watch a movie with her superheroes were usually involved.

"I've got Captain America 2," Lydia said as she watched Cora. "How's that grab you?"

"Ooh, Chris Evans," Cora said. Stiles shot her a look, but Cora ignored it. "Sign me up. He's so fucking hot."

Lydia laughed, but then handed a couple of sandwiches to Derek and took one herself. Derek, Cora and Stiles followed her into the living room as Lydia set up the movie.

"Are you still into superheroes?" Stiles asked Lydia. "I thought that was just something you used to be into. I figured you would'e outgrown it by now."

"Are you saying something bad about me being into superheroes, Stiles?" Lydia asked. At Stiles' confused face, Lydia just laughed. "It's fine. I like them sometimes. With all the rumors and shit that follows me around school, I don't really think that true love is ever going to happen to me - at least, not in the way they show in those chick flick-y movies. So I stick more to superheroes."

Stiles nodded and then said, "I am sorry that everybody talks about you like that. You know you're worth so much more than Erica or Jen."

Lydia sighed, but then said, "Thank you, Stiles. I appreciate that."

During the movie, Derek and Lydia sat next to one another on the loveseat, while Stiles and Cora sat on the couch. Lydia ran her hand lightly down the inseam of Derek's jeans, not really touching him where he wanted to be touched enough, but rubbing his leg enough that he was starting to get hard. He could think of so many things that he and Lydia could be doing than watching a movie with his sister and Stiles.

When the movie was finally over, Derek was fully hard and only thinking of one thing - getting Lydia to her bedroom as fast as he could. He knew Cora could tell, too, because she shot him a disgusted look before grabbing Stiles' hand. "We've gotta go," she told Lydia. Then she looked at Stiles, "We've gotta do that thing."

"What thing?" Stiles asked, always the clueless one.

"C'mon, Stiles, I need to get out of here, now," Cora said in his ear. Lydia wouldn't have caught it, but Derek sure did. Cora and Stiles rushed out of the front door, and Lydia looked over at Derek.

"I wonder what her hurry was," Lydia said. Derek just shrugged. It was then that Lydia straddled Derek's hips. "Since they're gone," she said, "I've been thinking about this all fucking day."

She leaned in to give Derek a kiss, running her tongue across his lower lip. She was silently asking for access, and Derek opened his mouth and their tongues intertwined. Derek massaged Lydia's tongue with his, and the kiss turned hungry. Derek broke the kiss and then said, "When's your mom due home?"

"She's working until seven," she said. "But you do know that we don't have to wait for her to be out of the house, right? She's not gonna care."

Derek chuckled, "It's a lot to get used to."

"C'mon," Lydia said, grabbing Derek's hand. "Let's go upstairs."

As soon as Lydia's door was closed, she pounced on him once more. She leaned in to give Derek another kiss, and he backed her up against her closed door. Their kiss was urgent, hungry, and nothing like their first kiss had been. Lydia loved the feeling of Derek's lips on hers and wanting nothing more to spend the rest of the afternoon just kissing him. Derek, however, had other plans, as he started nuzzling her neck, leaving open mouthed kisses wherever his mouth went. He reached down to remove Lydia's shirt, and she let him take it off her. Derek reached behind Lydia and removed her bra with a one handed ease that made Lydia kind of jealous.

Derek mouthed at Lydia's breasts, kissing and nipping at one nipple before doing it to the other. He kissed back up to her mouth and let their tongues dance together. Lydia let out a low moan and it was right then that Derek decided it was his mission to see just how many sounds he could yank from her mouth.

"I want to taste you again," Derek said to Lydia. He grabbed her hand and she let herself be led over to the bed, where she lay down. Derek removed her skirt, panties and shoes, and took a moment to just look at her nude body. The last time they did this, she was mostly dressed, so as she lay on the bed, completely naked, Derek took just a moment to admire her. God, she was gorgeous, and Lydia probably had no idea just how beautiful she was.

"God, Lyds, you're so beautiful," Derek said. "Do you even realize how beautiful you even are?"

"Not that beautiful," Lydia mumbled. "Not as pretty as Malia, or Cora, or even Allison."

"You're so much more beautiful than them, Lydia, you don't even know," Derek said. "And I'm glad that I'm the one who gets to see it."

Derek slid to his knees, giving Lydia open mouthed kisses starting at her ankle, up her leg, and onto her thigh. He did the same thing to the other leg, trying to build up as much anticipation as he could to make it that much better for Lydia. All he really cared about was her pleasure - he didn't even care if he got off, as long as he made Lydia feel good.

When he spread Lydia's legs, throwing them over either of his shoulders, he ran a finger down her slit and then inserted inside her, and then took it out and tasted it. "God, Lyds," he said, looking at her, a twinkle in his green eyes, "You taste so fucking good, you have no idea."

"I have a little idea," Lydia said to him. "I kinda like the way I taste."

"That is so fucking hot, you don't even know," Derek groaned out. He leaned down into her pussy and just smelled her. Lydia always wondered why he did that, but she remembered Cora telling her once or twice that scent was a big deal to werewolves - especially born wolves. "God, you smell delicious," he said to her.

When Derek licked a stripe up her slit, Lydia groaned out. He fucked his tongue in and out of Lydia's center, moaning as he did so. He really seemed to like going down on her, and knowing that Derek was enjoying this as much as she was made Lydia even more wet.

Derek was moaning and it was vibrating on Lydia's clit, and she leaned up on her elbows so she could watch him. She saw him with his hand on one leg, but wondered where his other hand was.

When he moaned again, it was then she knew, and she looked down and saw his jeans open, with Derek stroking himself slowly. Knowing that he was getting off on this as much as she was did something to Lydia. "Need you on my clit, Der, please," Lydia said, watching Derek closely. He obliged, sucking the bud into his mouth and sucking on it.

He took his free hand and inserted two fingers into her center, fucking them in and out of her, as he attacked her clit with his tongue and teeth. She thrashed around on the bed as he fucked those fingers in and out of her.

"Add another finger," she said. "I need more." When Derek did as she asked, she let out a low moan.

"So good, Derek, so fucking good," she said, partially out of breath. "I'm so very close. Just a little bit more - make me come, Derek, please."

The pure need in Lydia's voice made Derek work a little harder at getting her to come. He glanced up at her, and with her watching him, she fell apart. She let out what Derek would classify as a scream as she came around him.

He fucked his fingers into her a couple more times before withdrawing them and giving her clit one more kiss before getting up on his feet. He ran his hands over his knees briefly before just looking down at her.

Lydia rearranged herself so that she was sitting on the edge of the bed, and pulled Derek's jeans and boxers down towards his ankles. "You tasted me," she said, "now I want to taste you." She wrapped her small hand around Derek's dick and licked a stripe up the underside.

He tasted good - he tasted like sweat and musk and all around masculine and it was really turning her on. Lydia really liked giving blowjobs - she loved the fact that even though she was the one on her knees (or on the bed in this case) she was in control of the guys' pleasure. She was the one who was making him feel good, and Lydia loved that. She also loved the way he tasted and really wanted to make him come.

Lydia took him into her mouth, taking him all the way into her throat. Her practice with Jackson had gone well, to the point where she could deepthroat with ease. She reached down to fondle his balls as she sucked him off.

It wasn't long before he was pushing at her head, "Lyds, I'm so close, this is just too good and I"m gonna come. If you don't back off right now I'm going to come in your mouth." But Lydia wanted to feel him come, she wanted to taste him, so she kept on sucking his dick, and it wasn't long before he tipped his head back, letting out a loud groan, and his hot, bitter come flooded her mouth.

She swallowed everything he had to give her, and then pulled off with a pop. Derek leaned down to give Lydia a kiss, chasing his flavor that was on her tongue. Their tongues danced together and Lydia broke the kiss, looking at Derek and then saying, "I want you to fuck me."

"You sure?" he asked. "I don't want to push you into anything you're not ready for."

"Believe me, I'm ready," Lydia said. "I want to feel you inside me."

"God," Derek groaned, "that sounds so wonderful. Do you have a condom?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah." She reached into her nightstand drawer and pulled out a foil packet. She looked at Derek, "How do you want to do this?"

"I want you to ride me," Derek said. Lydia groaned at that - it sounded wonderful - so she told him to lie down on the bed. Lydia stroked him to hardness (which didn't take much) and then, when he was all situated, with a pillow under his head, Lydia took the condom from him, ripping the foil packet with her teeth and rolling it on him. She straddled his hips, taking him in slowly. Once she was fully seated on him, she groaned and then said, "Give me a minute. You're bigger than anyone I've been with before."

Derek felt a stroke of pride with that sentence, but tried not to show it. Instead, he just nodded and said, "Take your time, baby. I want this to be good for you."

Lydia flexed her muscles around Derek's length, and after a few moments she started to slowly glide up and down Derek's length. She tilted her head back and let out a low moan, placing her hands on Derek's chest to help her along. He felt so good inside of her, and it wasn't long before she started to babble.

"God, Derek, you feel so fucking good," Lydia moaned. "Nobody else I've ever been with has ever filled me so completely, and I fucking love it."

Derek watched Lydia, and as she removed one of her hands off his chest and reached down to rub her clit, and he loved the picture before him. Lydia was riding him slowly, grinding herself on his length, and she was rubbing her clit - she was taking her pleasure, and Derek loved that. He loved it when a girl got into it - it was so fucking hot - and this was Lydia, and Derek wanted it to be spectacular for her.

She started to ride him more roughly, snapping her hips and Derek groaned. He knocked her hand out of the way so he could rub at her clit with his thumb, and Lydia arched into his touch. As Lydia rode him, a string of profanities left her mouth.

"Shit, Derek, so fucking good," Lydia groaned. "I'm so close, I'm gonna come - make me come, Derek."

He started to thrust his hips upward, fucking into her. Her breathing started to become erratic and it wasn't long before she was coming around him. She was so fucking tight, he couldn't hold on much longer, and then he came was well.

Lydia leaned down, laying her head on his chest, giving herself a minute to catch her breath. Her heart was pounding really hard, and the sweat was just pouring off her body. A few moments later, she was sliding off of him, laying down next to him. Taking the condom off, Derek tied it off and threw it in the trash bin that Lydia had next to her bed. He positioned himself so he had his arms around Lydia, and she was lying there with her head on his chest.

"God, Derek," Lydia slurred, obviously tired and would probably be asleep in a few minutes, "you make me feel so good. Like, better than anybody's ever made me feel before."

"You make me feel good, too, Lyds," Derek said, a small smile on his face. He leaned down to give her a kiss on her temple. "Why don't you get some sleep? It sounds like you could use it."

"Okay," Lydia said, yawning. "Just don't go yet."

Derek nodded, "I'm not going anywhere."

Chapter Text

The next day was Sunday, and after Derek got up and did his workout, he went over to see Stiles. When Stiles answered the door, Derek said, "Are your parents here? I need to talk to you about the bet."

"Hi, Derek," Stiles said loudly, which told Derek that either John or Claudia was in the room with him. "How are you doing?"

"Good," Derek answered. Hell, he might as well play the part if Stiles was trying to play it off as a harmless visit from a friend. "I was wondering if you wanted to hang out? We can go to my house and play a game of basketball or something."

"Sounds good to me," Stiles said. He let Derek in and then said, "Let me grab my jacket and shoes."

When Derek looked in the room, he saw John and Claudia sitting on the couch, just looking at him. "Good morning, Derek," Claudia said, her legs crossed in front of her. "How's your mother?"

"Good," Derek answered. "Everything's going well for her right now. She's working on a big case, so she's busy, but she's happy."

"That's good to hear," Claudia said. "I haven't talked to her in a while, but we haven't had any hunter problems or anything, have we?"

"Nope," Derek said. "For once, everything is pretty quiet."

"That's good to hear," Claudia said.

When Stiles came back down the stairs with his tennis shoes and jacket on, he looked at his parents. "I'm gonna go over to Derek's," he said. "I'll be home by curfew."

"Have fun, dear," Claudia said, and Stiles followed Derek out of the house.

"What did you need to talk about?" Stiles asked as they got in the Camaro. "Something important?"

"Yeah," Derek said, "I'd say it's extremely important. I'm giving you one last chance, Stiles - and this time, I'm fucking begging. Please, let's just call off the bet. I can't do that to Lydia. I can't put her through this. If she finds out about the bet, she's going to do think that everything I've told her in the past couple of months is a lie, and I can't do that."

"I can't call it off, Derek," Stiles said.

"Sure, you can," Derek said. "It's easy. We just say there is no longer a bet and everybody wins. Seriously, Stiles, Lydia's in a bad place. She has no self-worth because of what everybody at school says about her, and I've been trying to tell her how beautiful and wonderful she is, but if she finds out about the bet, she's going to think that everything I said is a lie. And it's not, okay? I like her a lot - I've liked her for a long time - and I just don't want her to think that I lied to her just to get in her pants."

"So you did," Stiles said. When Derek gave him a sour look, Stiles said, "Oh, don't be such a sour wolf. I'm still not calling the bet off."

Derek sighed, "Look, Stiles, I need the bet to be over, okay? I can't do this to Lydia."

"You should've thought about that before taking it," Stiles said.

Derek sighed, but he knew that once Stiles made up his mind, he didn't go back on it. As he drove them to his house, a silence overcame them, and it was awkward as hell.

-x-

"So, all's good?" Allison asked Lydia later that day. Lydia was tending the cash register at work, her least favorite job, but not much thought went into it. Since Lydia was such a whiz with numbers, this was the easiest job in the coffee shop. "I mean, I haven't heard anything on the contrary."

"Things are awesome," Lydia said. "Ally, I think..." Lydia looking around to make sure nobody was watching or listening, "I think I'm starting to love him."

"That's great!" Allison said enthusiastically. "I mean, I didn't think you'd ever get together with anyone after Jackson left. I know that you liked him a lot."

"There's a difference between Jackson and Derek, though," Lydia said. "Jackson and I didn't date. We just fucked around. Derek and I are dating, and I'm happier now than I have been in a really long time. He makes me happy, Ally."

"That's great, Lyds," Allison said. "I am really happy for the two of you. You both deserve to be happy, y'know?"

Lydia nodded and then said, "Thanks, Ally. I appreciate that."

Several moments of silence passed before Allison said, "I'm worried about Isaac. I can't get anyone to tell me what's going on with him lately, and even Talia's noticed it."

"You talked to Talia about it?" Lydia asked. Allison nodded.

"Talia's an amazing alpha and an amazing mother, Lydia," Allison said. "She usually knows what's going on with her kids. I talked to her to see if she knew what was going on with Isaac. She said that she's noticed he's been a little moody lately, but nothing too major. He's starting to worry her as well."

"I wish I could tell you what to do about him," Lydia said. She glanced at the clock and then said, "I get off in about an hour. Do you want me to try to talk to him?"

"Would you?" Allison asked her. "I would be so grateful if you did, Lyds, you don't even know."

Lydia nodded, "Sure, Ally, I can do that."

Allison left about fifteen minutes before Lydia got off shift, but once she did, she got in her car and drove over to the Hale estate. The drive to the Hale estate was a little longer than going anywhere else in town, but once she got there she saw Stiles and Derek outside, playing basketball. When Derek saw her, he said something to Stiles and then came towards her.

God, even when he was exercising, he looked hot. He was wearing a pair of black basketball shorts and was shirtless. There was sweat pouring off his body, but when Lydia saw that, it made her think of other things - things she shouldn't have been thinking about right then, especially not with a family full of werewolves who could smell her emotions. The smirk on Derek's face told her that he caught exactly what she was thinking about at that moment in time.

He leaned down to give Lydia a peck on the lips and then said, "What are you doing here?"

She shrugged, "I'm here to see Isaac. Is he here?"

Derek nodded, "Yeah, he's inside. What do you need to see him for?"

"Ally's noticed he's been a little...off lately. She asked me to talk to him."

Derek had a look on his face that Lydia couldn't quite put her finger on, but decided not to mention it. Instead, Derek said, "He's upstairs. You know which room is his?"

Lydia nodded, "Yep, I certainly do. I'll see you guys later." She stood up on her tip toes so she could kiss Derek's cheek and then went inside.

When she got to the second bedroom on the second floor, which she knew as Isaac's, she knocked a couple of times. Isaac opened the door after the second knock.

"Hey," Isaac said to her. "You're not...who I was expecting. What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," Lydia said. "Ally actually asked me to come and talk to you. She's worried about you."

"Why?" Isaac asked. He went back inside his room and noticed that Lydia stood at the doorway. As he sat down on his bed, he said, "You can come in if you want."

"Thanks," Lydia said, sitting down in his desk chair. "Ally's worried about you because people can tell there's something off about you, Isaac. Wanna tell me what it's about?"

"Can I ask you a question and you answer me honestly, Lydia?" Isaac asked suddenly, and Lydia nodded.

"Sure," Lydia said. "You can tell me anything."

"It's just hypothetical," Isaac said. "Something that I've been wondering."

Lydia nodded, "Sure. Ask away."

"What would you do, hypothetically, if you had a friend who was keeping a secret from their other friend by they knew that it was going to hurt the person when they found out about it? Like, if person A was keeping a secret from person B, but person C is caught in the middle. What would you do?"

"And you'd be person C, hypothetically speaking?" Lydia asked. Isaac nodded.

"If it were me, I'd tell person B the truth," Lydia said. "It might hurt them a little bit, but it's better they know rather than be embarrassed and broken hearted, right?"

"But what if person A would get pissed if you spilled the beans?" Isaac asked worriedly. "And what if they don't want to put the relationship in jeopardy, but at the same time, person C is also friends with person B? And they're afraid of jeopardizing the other relationship as well. Like, they're stuck in the middle and can't find a way out."

"Isaac, what do you know?" Lydia asked, placing a hand on his arm. "Is there something you're trying to tell me?"

Isaac just watched Lydia for a few moments before saying, "Tell Ally I'm fine. I'm gonna be okay. I'm just working through some stuff in my head."

"Are you sure, Isaac?" Lydia asked. He nodded.

"Yeah," he said. "I'm positive."

Lydia looked at him and then said, "Okay, Isaac. It's just that we're your friends, your pack, and we're worried about you. Always remember that you can come to me."

Isaac nodded as Lydia got up and started out the door. Isaac said, "Lydia? Thanks."

Lydia smiled at him, "You're welcome, Isaac."

-x-

The next couple of days went well for Lydia. She felt like she had everything she wanted with Derek, and everybody knew they were dating. She heard a few crude whispers from the popular girls, it was true, but Lydia tried her hardest to ignore them.

That was, until she heard Jennifer Blake and Erica Reyes whispering to one another during AP Biology. She had to put up with Jennifer hitting on Derek every time she got a chance, but was happy when Derek kept on turning her down.

"He's just with her because she puts out," she heard Erica whisper. "I mean, if you put sex on the table, any guy would be willing to stay with a girl, no matter how much of a loser she is."

"She's just a slut," Jennifer said. Lydia kept her eyes forward, but she could feel Derek tense beside her. He reached down and took her hand in his.

By the time class was over, Lydia was close to tears. Her next period, the last period of the day, was a free period, so Lydia looked at Derek, tears brimming in her eyes and threatening to spill over, "I'm gonna go home. I've got a free period right now and I just...I need to go, okay?"

"Don't let a couple of shallow bitches hurt you like that, Lydia," Derek said. Lydia just shook her head.

"I've gotta go, okay? I'll call you later."

Derek gave Lydia a kiss on the cheek and said, "Okay. It's gonna be okay, Lydia. Right?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah, it will be."

After Lydia left the school, Derek went up to Jennifer and Erica, "Where the fuck do you guys get off talking about her like that?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Jennifer said, feigning ignorance. "Especially not that loser Lydia Martin."

"You know what you did," Derek said. "And you hurt her feelings. I'm not gonna put up with you doing that to my girlfriend, okay? It's just not right."

When Kira Yukimura, who Derek knew was dating Scott, came up to the girls, he said, "You're Kira, right?" When she nodded, he said, "Find yourself some new friends, seriously. You can do so much better than the two of them."

"What's the big deal?" Jennifer said as Derek walked away. "I mean, what's up his ass?"

"It's probably the bet," Kira said. When Jennifer and Erica gave her a blank look, Kira said, "You didn't know? Stiles bet Derek that he couldn't get Lydia to fall in love with him in three months. He's doing his best to get Lydia to love him."

"That is just too delicious," Jennifer said, an evil grin covering her face. "Too delicious indeed."

Chapter Text

"What did you say to Lydia?" Derek asked Isaac on Friday afternoon after the last bell rang. Isaac was on his way to lacrosse practice when Derek stopped him.

"I have no clue what you're talking about, Der," Isaac said. "You're gonna have to give me a little more."

"Lydia came over to the house last week to talk to you, remember? What did the two of you talk about?"

"Oh, that. Allison's noticed that something's been bothering me, or at least that's what she told Lydia. She asked Lydia to come and talk to me about it."

"And what did you say?"

"Look, Derek, I didn't spill your secret, okay? I didn't tell Lydia anything having to do with the bet, alright? I just told her I had some noise in my head as of lately and I needed some time to myself. But for the record, I absolutely hate what you guys are doing to her. I hate that when Lydia finds out about the bet, she's going to be a laughing stock, and I hate the fact that Allison will never trust me again. I love her, Der, and she's going to think that I'm out to get her best friend - which isn't true, by the way. I like Lydia and don't want anything bad to happen to her. She's a good girl and a good friend. And I'm going to fucking beg you one more time - don't do this to her, Der. Please."

"I can't take it back, Isaac," Derek said. He watched his brother for a good minute before saying, "I tried to get Stiles to take it back. I asked him to just let it go, but I can't quit the bet without forfeiting."

"So fucking forfeit, Derek!" Isaac exclaimed. He looked around to make sure nobody heard him, but the hallways were empty. "Look, Derek, forfeiting would be one of the best things you can do for Lydia right now. What do you think she's going to do when she finds out she was nothing but a bet? Do you think she'll ever talk to you again? Do you think she'll ever trust you again? 'Cause, I gotta tell you, if you do, then you're in for a pretty big disappointment, buddy."

"I can't forfeit, Isaac. I'm not going to let Stiles win this one."

"It isn't about winning anymore, Derek!" Isaac sighed before looking at Derek. Derek was a good three or four inches taller than Isaac, but right now, Isaac was the intimidating one. "Do you not understand? You're ruining everything about her - especially her reputation. She's going to be a laughing stock if this continues - if people find out about the bet. And trust me, they will. How long do you think you have before Jennifer Blake and Erica Reyes and their merry band of bitches find out about this? Jen knows everything that goes on in this school - she is the fucking gossip queen. And if you think she'll keep it a secret, you're in for a rude awakening. Jennifer and Erica have hated Lydia for a long ass time, and if they ever get a chance to humiliate Lydia, you know for goddamn sure that they're gonna take it."

"Lahey!" Their conversation was cut short by Coach coming out into the hallway where they were talking. "If you're done gossiping, how about you come to practice? Keep on gabbing out there and you'll be doing suicides for a month."

Isaac groaned, "Look, Der, please, just think about what I've said. Don't hurt Lydia like this, please, okay? Just don't. She doesn't deserve this." And with that, Isaac ran into the locker room to change for practice.

"Hi, Derek," came a voice, but Derek groaned when he heard it. He knew that voice.

"Jen," Derek said, turning around to look at her. "How much of that did you hear?"

"Quite a bit, actually," Jennifer said. Then she shrugged, "But it's okay. I already found out about the bet."

"How long have you known?" Derek asked. He was starting to get nervous. When Jennifer Blake knew your deep dark secrets - well, nothing good could ever come of that.

"Since Monday. Kira told me."

"And you haven't said anything yet? I'm shocked?"

Jennifer shrugged, "Yeah, well, when you have something as golden as this, you have to wait for the opportune moment."

Derek sighed, "Jen, what do I have to do to get you not to tell anyone?" He watched his ex-girlfriend carefully before saying, "Lydia doesn't deserve that."

Jennifer made a face and circled Derek where he was standing. Finally, as she looked at him, she said, "Don't worry about it, Derek. I could probably be persuaded."

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Derek asked her. Jennifer shrugged.

"Well, for one, break up with her, Derek. Make it loud, and make it public. Or else I will spill the beans."

"I'm in love with her, Jen," Derek said, and he saw her eyes widen in surprise.

"Seriously?" She asked him. When Derek nodded, she said, "Well, I don't care. We're playing by my rules now, Derek, and that's that."

As Jennifer walked away, Derek raced over to The Grind. He had to tell Lydia before she heard it from somewhere else - and Derek knew Jennifer would love the opportunity to humiliate Lydia.

-x-

When Derek got to The Grind, he spotted Lydia behind the register, reading from her French textbook. He walked up to her.

She smiled when she saw him coming, "Hey, Derek. What's up?"

"Lydia, we've gotta talk," Derek said. "Are you busy?"

Lydia shook her head, "Nah. Studying for my AP French test, but I know pretty much everything I need to know. What's up?"

Derek licked his lips before watching Lydia and saying, "I...I've gotta tell you something. But before you react, before you answer me, would you pretty please just listen to what I have to say?"

Lydia crinkled her brow before nodding, "Sounds serious. What is it?"

Derek watched Lydia closely, "You were a bet. I'm so sorry, Lydia - God, I'm so fucking sorry, but me being together with you like this...it was all a bet. And I'm the worst kind of scum there is."

The color drained from Lydia's face as she said, "What bet?"

Derek swallowed before saying, "About two months ago, Stiles bet me that I couldn't make you fall in love with me in three months. He was pretty sure that you'd never go for a guy like me, and I like challenges, so I took it. But Lydia, it was before I knew you, before I got to know you, and I'm really sorry that I made the bet in the first place. I didn't mean to hurt you, Lydia - I swear I didn't."

Lydia stood there for a good minute, feeling like someone just slapped her across the face. Finally, she said, "Why'd you take the bet, Derek?" Her voice was in nothing but a whisper, and Derek was pretty sure that if he didn't have super hearing, he never would have hurt her.

"I don't know," Derek said, shaking his head.

When it came, Derek was not prepared for it. Lydia's fist connected with his jaw, and even though it wouldn't break anything or even hurt for very long, it sent him to the floor. She had a lot of strength for such a small girl, and it took him off guard a little.

"I can't believe you, Hale," Lydia spat. "I was a bet." Even though Derek knew that Lydia was pissed, she also sounded wickedly calm; almost like she was more disappointed than angry. "Everything between us, it was all pretend. I should've fucking known better."

A few hushed words were coming from people around them, and the next thing he knew, Lydia was gone. When he finally pulled himself up off the ground, he was face to face with Betsy Miller, who was the manager of the coffee shop, and she just looked at Derek.

"I sent her home," Betsy said to him. "And you're not welcome here anymore, Derek. Please leave."

With that, Derek turned around and walked out the front door.

-x-

It'd been three days. Lydia had been in her room, cocooned in a blanket for almost three days straight. She didn't want to go anywhere and she didn't want to see anyone. Every time that Cora, Malia or Allison had shown up to talk to her, Lydia had had her mother tell them that Lydia didn't feel well and that she'd call them later. She was hurt that someone - that fucking Derek of all people - would do this to someone else. But, most of all, she was angry.

Now, people would think that Lydia was angry at Derek - and yeah, okay, maybe she was, just a little. But the actual person she was angry at the most was herself.

Her big brother Riley had said several times, "You need to remember, Lyds, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is." Those were his words of wisdom, his words to live by. Lydia felt stupid, felt naïve, felt like a total idiot for letting Derek get to her like he had. And goddamn it, she had really fallen for the bastard. Of course, she hadn't said the words yet, but she knew what she felt. Part of Lydia was grateful she hadn't actually said the L word to Derek, because then he'd have something else he didn't deserve.

Lydia had taken a day off from school already, and while Natalie Martin didn't know everything that her daughter was going through, she knew it must've been quite a lot, considering that Lydia hated taking days off. So when the second day rolled around, Natalie was beyond worried. So she called the only person who Lydia had ever confided in.

"Hey, little sister," Riley Martin said as he knocked on Lydia's door the next afternoon. He had been studying at Berkeley, and it wasn't that far of a drive from there to Beacon Hills. When Natalie had told him that something was wrong with Lydia and she wasn't even going to school, Riley emailed his professors, telling them there was a family emergency. Because, as far as this was concerned, it was a fucking emergency.

"Ry, go away," Lydia mumbled, but Riley didn't listen to her. Even though Riley was almost four years older than Lydia was, they were really close growing up. Riley figured that was because of the divorce. Riley had been a teenager when their parents divorced, and their household hadn't always been the easiest place to live, to Lydia and Riley found solace in each other. And while they had friends with the Hale kids for a really long time, sometimes, Riley and Lydia just liked being together - just the two of them.

"C'mon, Lyds, Mom's really worried about you," Riley said through her bedroom door. "Unlock the door, or I swear to God, I will pick the fucking lock."

Lydia sighed heavily, but about two minutes later, the door swung open. Riley took a good look at his sister. His face softened.

She looked like she hadn't slept in days. Her hair was a mess, tangled up in a messy bun on her head, and there were dark circles under her eyes. And speaking of her eyes, they were bloodshot and extremely glossy, like she'd been crying. She had a big comforter wrapped around her body and there were tear tracks on her cheeks. She just looked awful.

"What do you want?" Lydia asked rudely. "I was in the middle of something.

"What were you doing?" Riley asked her.

Lydia motioned to her laptop, which was on the bed, and Riley could tell that she had been playing a movie on there because it was paused at that moment, just a blur of red. "Tony was just about to kick Obadiah's ass. It's my favorite part."

Oh. This explained so much. Even though to the normal observer, it looked like Lydia was just movies, Riley knew what Lydia didn't have to say. When they were little, Riley and Lydia used to bond over comic books. Over the characters, over the cartoons, and eventually, over the movies. But nowadays, Lydia only pulled out superhero movies when she was angry - and Riley knew that.

"Can I come in?" Riley finally asked. Lydia just shrugged and went over to her bed, crawling into it and un-pausing her movie. Riley took a few moments to just watch her before saying, "God, Lyds, what happened to you?"

"Why don't you go ask Derek Hale?" Lydia answered, practically biting out the words. She made a face like just saying his name left a bad taste in her mouth.

"Why? Did something happen?" All of the sudden, Riley was on high alert. It was true that he had known Laura Hale, and they had even dated in high school, but still remained really good friends. The only reason they had broken up was because while Riley planned on going to Berkeley, Laura went east and got accepted at NYU and it was just too far for either of them to have a steady relationship with each other.

"Ry, for once in your life, just forget it, okay? I just need you to let this one go," Lydia said, but her voice wavered.

Riley felt himself start to get angry, "Lyds, did he do something to you?"

Lydia shrugged, her eyes not leaving the computer screen, "Something like that."

"Look, Lyds, you really should get some rest," Riley said after a moment, deciding that he needed to get to the bottom of this. "Finish Iron Man, watch Tony Stark beat the bad guy, but then promise me you'll get some sleep. You really look like you could use it."

Lydia nodded silently and Riley kissed the top of her head, "I'll be back later."

The first order of business was to call Laura, Riley decided. The Hale kids were pretty close, and even though Riley knew that Laura was in New York, he called her up. He figured that she might know something.

"Hey, Ry, I was just on my way out -" Laura started, but Riley cut her off.

"What the fuck did your brother do to my sister?" Riley asked her. Laura made a surprised noise.

"Something's wrong with Lydia?" she asked, and it sounded like a bag dropping on the floor. She said something to someone who must've been in the room with her and then said, "What's wrong with her?"

"I'm not sure, but whatever it is, it's something that your brother did. I want to know what it is, because I swear to God, Lo, if he is the reason she is the way she is right now, I'm going over there to kick his ass, and I really don't care that he is your brother."

"Ry, you need to calm down," Laura said. "I know how close you and Lydia are. And I promise you this; I am going to find out what happened. But how bad is it?"

"She hasn't been out of the house in four days, Lo," Riley said. "She didn't even go to school."

"Okay," Laura said, sighing. "I'm gonna call Cora. If anybody knows anything about what happened between the two of them, it'd be her."

"If you don't call me back in two hours, Lo, I'm going over there and no one can stop me."

"Okay, Ry," Laura said. "Just give me two hours."

After she hung up with Riley, Laura pulled out her laptop and booted up Skype. It would've been five o'clock in Beacon Hills, and she knew that Cora got on every night. Laura didn't know what Cora did on there, and God, she didn't even want to know, but she knew her sister did.

"Hey," Cora said, once they were connected. "I wasn't expecting to see you on today. I thought you were going on a date."

"I kind of was, but I had to cancel," Laura said. "Riley Martin just called me."

Cora stiffened up a little bit, but it was enough that Laura caught it. She sighed and said, "What? Cora, I need you to tell me."

"So, Derek and Lydia have kind of been a thing lately," Cora said. Laura nodded. "He's been really sweet to her. They went on dates, and were actually kind of sweet together. But then, last week, at Lydia's job, Derek shows up and tells her it was all a bet. Apparently, a couple of months ago, Stiles had bet Derek that he couldn't get any girl that Stiles chose to fall in love with him. And Derek, of course, accepted."

"It was a bet," Laura said, not really sure what she was feeling at that particular moment. "He did that for a bet?"

Cora nodded silently.

"Cor, is Derek home?" Laura asked after a moment. Cora nodded.

"Go get him. I want to have a word with my little brother."

A few moments later, when Cora returned with Derek, he looked like he was going to turn white when he saw Laura sitting on the other side of the computer screen. He took a deep breath, "Hey, Lo."

"Don't do that to me, Derek," Laura snapped. "How dare you? How could you do that anyone, especially someone as sweet as Lydia? You've known her practically your entire life! She was just a fucking bet?!"

"It started out that way, but I like her, Laura! I know that it just started out as a bet, but I -"

"Derek, I can't believe you," Laura said, cutting him off. "No fucking wonder she's a mess."

"How do you know about her, anyway?" Cora asked.

"Riley called me," Laura said. "He's worried sick about her, and now I've gotta call him back and tell him this. I've gotta tell him that my douchebag idiot of a brother hurt his baby sister." She stopped for a moment, sighed and rubbed at her temples. "He threatened to go over there and kick your ass, Derek, and I don't care that you are my brother. You've got it coming."

"I didn't mean for it to get this bad," Derek said. "It was just a stupid bet."

"Yeah, well, tell that to the girl who's just had her heart ripped out of her chest."

Chapter Text

When Riley Martin showed up at the Hale estate, Derek knew he had it coming. He stepped outside on the porch as soon as he heard Riley's truck pull up. When Riley got out, Derek said, "I know what I did was stupid, and I know you're here to kick my ass, but can we at least do it where my parents don't have to see it?"

"Why?" Riley asked, and Derek knew just by the tone of his voice that he was pissed off. "Because you don't want them to know what you did to my sister?"

"It wasn't like that," Derek said.

"It wasn't like that?" Riley asked. "Tell me then, Derek, what exactly was it like?"

"Okay, yeah, it was a bet," Derek said. "But I like her. I may even be in love with her."

One look at Riley's face told Derek that that remark just pissed him off even further. "Don't do that, Derek. Just don't. Lydia's hurt enough as it is and I can't believe that you would do this to anyone. Didn't your parents teach you any better?"

"Yeah, they did, but it was just a stupid bet," Derek said. After a moment, he realized what he had just said and winced at his own words. "I don't mean it like that, Riley. I mean, I just thought -"

Derek heard the punch before he felt it, and it was so forceful that it knocked him down to the ground. He spit some blood onto the ground as he mumbled, "Wow, now I know where Lydia gets her killer left hook from." He pulled himself up off the ground and said, "Look, Riley, I know you're super pissed, and I know that I had this coming, but if you'd just wait a minute and let me explain."

Riley nodded, a cynical look on his face, "Okay, Derek. Explain. I'd love to fucking hear why you hurt my sister so goddamn much."

"I was an idiot. I am an idiot," Derek said. "I liked Lydia before the bet - I did. She was always nice and sweet and kind and honest and there was always just so much there to love. I just...I guess I didn't realize how much it would hurt her." Derek sighed, "Look, I hate myself so much right now for even treating her like that. It hadn't been about the bet in a really long time - and I tried to get Stiles to take it back. I tried, okay? He wasn't having it."

"So what you're telling me is that I need to kick Stilinski's ass, too?"

"I'm sorry," Derek said weakly. "I didn't mean to hurt her."

"That's bullshit," Riley spat. "You took everything she had, Derek. You hurt her, and what's worse, you probably embarrassed her in front of the entire school. Everyone knows about the bet, and she's just a big joke to everyone. I can't even believe you right now. Derek, you're fucking pathetic."

Derek hung his head. "Yeah," he finally said. "I really am."

-x-

The next time Lydia woke up, she was being aggressively cuddled by both Cora and Malia. Figures, she thought to herself. It'd been almost five days and she hadn't stepped foot outside the house. She was finally getting around to taking showers and making her own food again, but she just wasn't brave enough to face the real world. She knew that Malia would come for her eventually. That was just the kind of person that Malia was.

She tried to wiggle her way out of the cocoon they had built around her, but Malia just hugged her tighter. Finally, she sighed and said, "Hey, guys?"

Cora opened her eyes and looked at Lydia. "Hey, you," Cora said. "Sorry, Mia's an aggressive cuddler when she thinks someone is hurting. And we know you're hurting, Lyds."

"I just want to be left alone right now, guys," Lydia said, wriggling out from Malia's grasp. "I don't even wanna think about anything."

"Considering it's Wednesday and you haven't been to school since last Friday, Mia and I brought your homework," Cora said as Lydia stood up. "It's on top of your laptop on your desk."

Lydia smiled weakly, "Thanks."

"And are you going to make your presence at school, or are you dropping out?" Cora asked her.

Lydia rubbed the sleep from her eyes, "I'm going back on Monday. I'm going to have Mom write a note to explain my absence."

"And the explanation is?"

"Depression. I had a bit of a low and I needed time to take care of it."

Cora nodded, "Okay."

Lydia walked into her bathroom, turning the water on and splashing her face. As she came back out, Cora said, "So, are we not talking about it, Lyds?"

Lydia shook her head, "I don't wanna talk about it."

"Ignoring the problem isn't going to make it go away," Cora said. Lydia just shrugged, as she got out of her sketchbook. She grabbed a pencil out of her desk and settled in-between where Cora was sitting and Malia was still napping. She opened her book and started to draw.

"I mean it, Lyds," Cora said. "I know that Derek hurt you. I get that, okay? But you need to address this problem."

Lydia shrugged, "I just don't wanna deal with it right now."

She noticed that Cora was still watching her, so Lydia said, "What do you want me to say, Cor? Do you want me to tell you that I'm in love with your brother? Do you want me to say that part of me doesn't even care if he loves me back as long as he doesn't leave? Because they're both true. I'm so fucking in love with your brother it's unreal, okay? And part of me doesn't care that it was just a bet. I wanna be with him, and, even though I know I was just a bet, just a fucking joke, I would do anything to make him love me."

Cora licked her lips nervously before saying, "I really am sorry, Lyds. Is there anything I can do to make it better?"

Lydia shook her head, "No. Just let me be, okay? And on Monday, I'll go back to school and pretend everything's okay. But for right now, I just need to dwell in this low I'm at."

Cora sighed and said, "Look, Lydia, I wish there was something I could do to help you."

"This isn't your fault," Lydia said. "I'm not so much pissed at Stiles or Derek, though. I'm mostly pissed at myself."

"Yourself?" Cora asked, confused. "I mean, I understand why you'd be mad at Derek, and hell, I'm pretty pissed at Stiles myself, but why you?"

"Because," Lydia sighed. "I should've known better. He'd never been interested in me before this, why would he be interested now? I guess I just wanted someone to notice me. I've been a joke at that school forever, and people were only nice to me because Riley was my brother. But...I just...I should've known better."

-x-

Cora and Malia cornered Derek in the kitchen that night after dinner. Out of the two of them, Derek was more afraid of Cora than Malia, but that was mostly because Cora had always been fiercely protective of Lydia. But what he wasn't expecting was for Malia to throw the first punch.

"What the hell, Mia?" Derek asked. It was true that she couldn't do any permanent damage, with his werewolf healing, but it still hurt like hell.

"What's going on in here?" Talia asked as she entered the kitchen. "Did something happen?"

"I punched him," Malia said, matter-of-factly.

"Why?" Talia asked, sensing that something was wrong.

"Yeah, Derek," Malia spit the words out. "Tell Aunt Talia what you did. Tell her why you deserved to be punched. Hell, you deserve more than to just be punched. You deserve to be fucking gutted for what you did."

"Mia, language," Talia warned, but looked at Derek expectantly.

"I did something bad," Derek said, and he actually looked ashamed of himself. "A while back, Stiles bet me...he bet me that..." he could even finish the sentence. He knew his mother was going to be so disappointed in him.

Knowing what was going on, Cora said, "Mom, Stiles bet Derek that he couldn't get anyone Stiles chose to fall in love with him. And Stiles chose Lydia."

"And did you go on with this bet, Derek?" Talia asked. Derek kept watching the ground.

"I see," Talia said after a few moments. "Why?"

Derek sighed, "I don't know, okay? I really don't. I just know that Stiles bet me and I just...I have no excuse for doing this to her. She wasn't meant to find out about it."

"How did she find out about it?"

"I told her," Derek said. "Mom, I love her, and Jennifer Blake and Erica Reyes found out about the bet." Cora's eyes widened, because she didn't know this part. "I couldn't let Jennifer corner her in front of the entire school, okay? And it was only a matter of time before she did. Jennifer and Erica hate Lydia, and they would take any chance they could get to humiliate her. I just couldn't let Lydia find out that way. So if Lydia never talks to me again, I still know that I made it a little less painful than it would've been if she found out another way."

Talia nodded, "I can't tell you what to do about this, Derek. You made your bed, now lie in it. But I'm really disappointed in you. I thought we raised you better."

Derek sighed, "You did. I'm just an idiot."

-x-

It had been almost three years since David Whittemore had moved his family to London, so when Jackson showed up on the Martins' doorstep at eight o'clock on Thursday morning, Riley was a little surprised. He hadn't known Jackson well, but knew that Jackson and Lydia were close and that he'd do anything to protect Riley's little sister, so he had no ill will towards the man. And the look on Jackson's face told Riley that Jackson was contemplating murder.

"Hey, man," Riley said as he looked Jackson up and down. "What are you doing here?"

"Can I come in?" Jackson asked. "I came to see your sister. How is she?"

"Yeah, come in," Riley said, stepping aside. Jackson let his duffel bag fall to the floor with a loud thud and then looked at Riley expectantly, waiting for him to answer Jackson's question.

"She's been better," Riley answered honestly, realizing what Jackson was waiting for. "She won't talk to anyone. She lays up in her room and has gone through pretty much every superhero movie she has. Yesterday, Cora and Malia were here, but they had snuck in the window just to see her. Lydia says she's not up to seeing visitors."

"It's a good thing that I'm not asking then, huh?" Jackson asked. "Is she even awake right now?"

Riley shrugged, "I don't know. Her schedule's been kinda off lately, with everything going on. What are you doing here, though? Seriously?"

"I came to see my friend," Jackson said, like he couldn't understand why Riley would be asking that question. "I talked my parents into letting me take a small leave of absence from school because I told Lydia that if Derek or Stiles ever did anything to hurt her, I'd come over here to kick their asses myself. And I meant every word of that."

"Riley, have you heard -" Natalie Martin's voice stopped as soon as she saw Jackson standing in their front hall. "Oh, hello, dear," Natalie said. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see Lydia, Mrs. Martin," Jackson said. "She's going through a rough time and I figured she could use a friend right now."

"Where are your parents?"

"They're still at home," Jackson said. "I'm eighteen now, and I can take care of myself well enough."

"I'm sorry, dear," Natalie said with a laugh. "I didn't mean anything bad by it. Where are you staying while you're in town?"

"I was gonna try the inn," Jackson said. "My parents gave me a set amount of money for my expenses while I'm here and I don't want to spend it all on a place to stay."

"Do no such thing," Natalie said. "While you're here, you're our guest. We've got a guest room you can stay in. I think it'll help Lydia having someone she cares so much about close to her."

Jackson smiled gratefully, "Thank you, Mrs. Martin."

"Nonsense, dear," Natalie said. "Call me Natalie, and it's really no big deal." She turned to Riley and said, "I've gotta head in to work. Lydia's already talked to me about taking until Monday off, but would you just poke your head into her room every now and again, just to make sure she's alright? I'm really worried about her."

Riley nodded, "Yeah, Jackson and I will take care of her."

Natalie kissed Riley's cheek, "Thanks Ry. I gotta go, but I'll call later to check up on her."

"Bye, Mom," Riley said as Natalie departed for work. As soon as her car was out of the driveway, Jackson looked over at Riley and said, "So...what do we do first?"

Chapter Text

"I don't really want to leave her right now," Riley said to Jackson later that day. "I'm worried about Lydia, and you know as well as I do that if someone isn't here to help her, she'll go on suffering in silence. I don't want that for my baby sister."

"I know," Jackson said, "but I figured you wouldn't want me confronting Stilinski myself. Everyone knows about my temper."

Riley snorted, "Yeah. Are you still having problems with that?"

Jackson nodded, "Yeah. It's getting better through anger management therapy my parents have asked me to attend, but I'm pretty sure that the werewolf thing has something to do with it."

"Probably," Riley said. He had known about werewolves for quite some time, considering that he and Lydia had grown up with the Hales. "I know that Laura had a hard time with it when she was a teenager. And you've only been a werewolf for a couple of years. A little patience and things'll get better. I can promise you that."

Jackson nodded.

A few moments passed, and Lydia came down the stairs. "Hey, Ry," she started, but then she saw Jackson. "Jackson," she said softly, "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," Jackson said, coming forward and enveloping Lydia in his arms. The hug only lasted a few moments, but Lydia felt safe while she was in his arms. When they broke apart, Jackson looked at Lydia, "I wasn't kidding when I said if they hurt you, I'd come and kick their asses myself. But that can happen later. How're you feeling?"

"How'd you know about the bet?" Lydia asked. "I know that I'm not the one who told you about it."

"Danny," Jackson said honestly. "I'm actually a little hurt that you weren't the one that did, honestly."

"Jackson," Lydia said softly, her green eyes studying him, "I know people at school know about the bet. Everyone in this fucking town probably knows. I thought that if I didn't tell you, maybe things would be better off."

"I'm always gonna be here for you, Lyds," Jackson answered. "You know that."

"Yeah, I do," she sighed. "But the last thing I need is for my best friend and my brother to go all Incredible Hulk on Stiles and Derek. I don't blame them."

"Don't blame them?!" Riley said. Lydia watched her brother after he made the outburst. "Why the fuck not?!"

"Because," Lydia said, "I was the stupid one. I should've seen right through this. It's my fault that this happened."

"Lydia," Riley said, coming towards her, "This is not your fault, okay? Derek and Stiles should fucking suffer for what they've put you through."

Lydia just shrugged.

"Oh, Lyds," Riley said, enveloping his sister into a big hug. Lydia held her brother close to her and felt the tears start to leave her eyes. "It's okay to cry, okay?" Riley asked her. "Derek and Stiles hurt you really badly, but you didn't deserve any of this."

"I'm not Ally, or Mia, or even Cora," Lydia said. "They all have boyfriends who would do absolutely anything to protect them, to make them feel like they are special. I'm not special, Riley, okay? Nobody wants me like that. I'm not pretty like them, and I'm the weird artsy girl. I love my books and my paints and Jennifer Blake and Erica Reyes have both gone out of their way to make me feel like shit ever since I can remember. That's really the reason I jumped at the chance when Derek asked me out. I need to feel important, Ry - I need to be wanted. I need it more than anything."

"Oh, Lydia," Jackson said softly. "You're beautiful, and I think you should know that, okay? You're a wonderful girl and you deserve only the best. It's just too bad that they couldn't see that before."

-x-

Lydia laid down for a nap around four o'clock that afternoon, and that's when Riley and Jackson decided to go to the sheriff's house. They knew that Stiles would be home from school by now and they wanted to confront him before his parents got home. Claudia stayed after school, usually until five or six, to help tutor kids with whatever subjects they were having problems with. The sheriff made his own schedule, but usually stayed just as late.

"Stilinski!" Jackson yelled, banging on the front door. "I know you're in there, and I'm not leaving until you show your face!"

The door flung open, but it wasn't Stiles on the other side. It was the sheriff.

"Sheriff Stilinski," Riley said softly. "Is Stiles here?"

"Why?" he asked, looking between them. "What's going on?"

"It's a matter between us and Stiles," Riley said calmly. "I want to talk to him."

"You're not going to see him until I know what's going on," the sheriff said sternly. "So how about telling me?"

"Okay," Jackson said, and Riley looked at him bewildered.

"You sure you wanna bring him into this?" Riley asked. "I mean, one hundred percent?"

"Why not?" Jackson asked. "I'm not worried about getting Stilinski into trouble. He deserves it after what he did."

"May we at least come in?" Riley asked. "It'll be more comfortable to do this where we can at least sit down and act like the civilized adults we are."

The sheriff nodded, and Jackson and Riley followed the sheriff inside the house. When they were all sitting in the living room, Jackson and Riley glanced at one another before Riley looked back at the sheriff.

"John," Riley said, in a calm voice. "Stiles has hurt Lydia a lot. We need to confront him."

"What did he do, exactly?" John asked. "I mean, I think I'm entitled to know."

Riley nodded, "You're right. You're his father." He sighed and then looked at Jackson. "Basically, he broke my sister's heart."

"Stiles is dating Cora Hale," John said.

"Yes, I know," Riley said. "But a while back, Stiles bet Derek Hale that he couldn't get anyone he picked to fall in love with him in three months. And Derek accepted."

"And Stiles chose Lydia, I'm assuming?" John asked. Riley nodded.

The sheriff went over to the staircase and yelled up it, "Stiles! Get your ass down here!"

"Hey pops," Stiles said as he came down the stairs. And then he noticed Jackson and Riley and said under his breath, "Oh, shit."

"Language, Stiles," John said. Then he looked at his son, "Come over here and sit down. We need to have a chat like the civilized adults we all are."

"Civilized?" Stiles couldn't help but say. "Jackson? Really?"

"Stilinski," Jackson warned, but John shot him a look, so he shut his mouth.

"I mean it, Stiles. Come over here and sit down."

Stiles knew that tone in his dad's voice, so he obeyed. He sat down on the couch, as far away from Jackson and Riley he could get.

"What did you do to Lydia Martin?" John asked Stiles, the authority so very clear in his voice. Even Jackson and Riley looked at one another with a look on their faces that clearly said, Oh, shit.

"I don't know what they've told you," Stiles said. "But it wasn't like that."

"How do you know it wasn't like that if you don't know what they said to me?" John asked him.

"Um...well, they hate my guts, Dad, so they're gonna make up a story."

"You little bastard," Jackson sneered, jumping up. "Lydia's up in her room, hasn't even left the fucking house in almost a week and we made up a story? She's hurting so much right now, you son of a bitch, and you're just gonna pass this off as her bad?"

"Mr. Whittemore," John said calmly. "I need you to calm down." Then he turned to Stiles, "Is it true that you bet Derek Hale that he couldn't get Lydia Martin to fall in love with him?"

Stiles watched the floor for a moment before saying, "Yeah, okay, I did, but it was just a stupid bet."

"Be very careful what you say next, Stiles," John warned. "Or did you forget that her big brother is sitting right here?"

Stiles glanced at Riley before saying, "It was just a stupid bet. I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings. But Derek was saying that anybody would kill to get together with him, and I knew that Lydia wouldn't put up with him. Everyone knows that she doesn't put up with anyone's bullshit, so I figured that he wouldn't even get the time of day from her."

"And that makes it okay?!" The sheriff asked. Stiles actually looked disappointed with himself.

"Look, I know that I shouldn't have done it. But what's done is done, and I can't take it back. I fucked up royally; I know that. Cora's not even speaking to me right now."

"Derek said that he asked you to take it back. He said he tried to get you to take it back, but you weren't having it," Riley said. Jackson looked over at him.

"How do you know that?" Jackson asked.

"Because I went and saw Derek yesterday," Riley answered. "I had to get to the bottom of whatever was bothering Lydia as badly as it was. I haven't seen her like this since our parents got divorced."

"Shit, it's that bad?" John asked. When they all, including Stiles, looked at him quizzically, he said, "I remember when Natalie and Richard got divorced. It was hard on the both of you, Riley, and I remember Lydia really suffered. It was a very difficult time for everyone in your family." John looked at Stiles and said, "I'm going to think up a punishment to fit the crime here, Stiles, but you should be ashamed of yourself. You should never play with anyone's emotions like that, and I know I speak for both your mother and myself when I say we are both disappointed in you and embarrassed by what you have done."

"You sure I can't punch him, just once?" Jackson asked John after Riley said they should leave. "I mean, it would be on Lydia's behalf."

"Let it go, Whittemore," Riley said. "Trust me; the sheriff and Mrs. Stilinski knowing is way worse than anything we could've done to him."

-x-

Riley and Jackson hadn't returned by the time Lydia awoke at five o'clock. She had been taking a nap on the couch in the family room, and when she heard the doorbell ring, it woke her out of a deep sleep. She was pretty groggy, and when she stood up, her legs felt a little like jelly. It was the baby giraffe feeling - the sleep working its way out of her body. She answered the door anyway.

Kira Yukimura was standing there, looking a little apprehensive. She smiled at Lydia when she answered the door, although Lydia could tell that it was forced.

"Hi," Lydia said. "Can I help you?"

"Hi," Kira said. "I'm Kira. I don't know if you knew that or not, but I moved here from New York last year."

Lydia nodded, "I know who you are."

"Can I come in? I wanted to talk to you about something."

Lydia shrugged, "Sure, I guess so. Is it important?"

"It is to me," Kira said. Lydia nodded and led Kira over to the couch in the family room. Before she sat down, she said, "Do you want anything to drink? I think we might have a few sodas in the fridge."

"That'd be great, thanks," Kira said. Lydia went to fetch the sodas and came back with two cans of Coke. She handed one to Kira and then sat down beside her.

"I wanted to talk about the bet. About what everybody's saying in school." Lydia's face fell, but she nodded, popping the top on her Coke and taking a drink.

"The reason Derek told you the way he did was because Jennifer and Erica knew about the bet. He didn't want to give them the chance to ridicule and berate you about it." Lydia nodded, so Kira continued, "The reason Jennifer and Erica knew about the bet was my fault. Scott told me about it a while ago, and I told them because I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. With telling them, I mean, not the bet itself. I think it's sick that Stiles and Derek used you for their own amusement. But Erica and Jennifer were so nice to me when I first moved here, and I thought they were my friends."

Lydia nodded. Kira popped the top on her own Coke and took a drink herself. Then she looked at Lydia, "I came over here to apologize to you. I'm sorry that I told them about it. I'm sorry for my part in making you feel the way that you feel. I noticed that you haven't been to school the past week, and considering today's Thursday, I figured you were waiting until Monday to show up. I do want you to know, however, that I am really sorry that I've hurt you in any way at all, okay? And I'm not going to hang out with Jennifer and Erica anymore. They've pushed me too far this time."

"What happened?" Lydia asked. "What did they do?"

Kira sighed, "It's just that they sit around and think of ways to make other people suffer, to make them hurt. They're bullies, in every single sense of the term, and I'm not going to put up with it any longer. Besides that, the only real reason that I stayed in their little circle of friends is because they like to tell me that nobody's gonna accept me for who I am."

"And who are you?" Lydia asked.

Kira laughed, "Most of the time, I don't even know. This past year, though, I found out that I'm a kitsune. Something I knew absolutely nothing about, but my mom's been working with me. She's over nine hundred years old, I found out."

"Wow," Lydia said.

"There's so much about myself I don't know yet; I need to figure it out. You know, I need to find myself. But the thing is, I don't want to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jennifer Blake or Erica Reyes any longer. They're bullies, and I'm so much better than they are.

Lydia nodded, "Sure, I get that. Well, thank you for your apology, even though none of this is your fault, Kira. You have to believe that, okay? This thing that's happened, everything with the bet, it's happened because Stiles and Derek are idiots. Maybe someday I'll let Derek explain to me why he did it, but for now, I need you to know something."

"Sure," Kira said, taking another drink of her coke.

"You are welcome to hang out with me and my friends any time you want, okay? Just because you're distancing yourself from Jennifer and Erica, it doesn't mean you don't have friends anymore, okay? Ally, Mia, Cora and I would love to hang out with you."

Kira smiled at Lydia, and this time it wasn't forced. After a few moments, she said, "Thanks, Lydia. I would really like that."

Chapter Text

Derek heard the truck before he saw it, and groaned inwardly. That was Riley Martin's truck, and he knew he was in for it again.

Derek was already on the front porch, along with Scott, Isaac and Boyd, but when Jackson Whittemore stepped out of the blue truck, Derek was surprised. Jackson sneered at him.

"Jackson?" Derek said. He looked at him, "What are you doing here?"

"I told Lydia that if any of you assholes hurt her, I'd come across the ocean to fuck you up. I wasn't kidding, either, so I'm gonna give you a chance to explain your sorry self, Hale. What the fuck were you even thinking?"

Derek sighed, "I didn't mean to hurt her. I didn't, okay? I was an idiot and should have treated her like the princess she is. I love her, Jackson."

"You love her?" Jackson asked. "How fucking dare you, Hale! You know Lydia's life! You have been there when other people haven't; your families are extremely close to one another. I mean, fuck, Laura dated Riley for a while, and now you're ruining the bond that you once had by fucking Lydia over? Why?"

"I've liked Lydia for a long time - I have. She wouldn't give me the time of day, though, and I thought this whole bet thing with Stiles would give me incentive to talk to her -"

"What, hanging out with her and getting to know her wasn't incentive enough?"

"Says the guy who just wanted to sleep with her to take her virginity," Derek spit out. Jackson looked like he'd been slapped in the face.

"The fuck do you know about it?!" Jackson said.

"I know that's the only reason the two of you had your little arrangement," Derek said. "I know that's the only reason you wanted to sleep with her."

"You don't fucking know what you're talking about," Jackson growled, his eyes flashing electric blue. "You have no fucking idea what you're saying."

Scott, Isaac and Boyd all looked between Derek and Jackson, trying their best to stay out of it. The problem was, however, that both Jackson and Derek had pretty short tempers. They both were pretty hot headed.

"I know what Lydia's told me," Derek said.

"She wouldn't have said anything bad about me," Jackson said. "Us sleeping together, me and her, that was all her. She's the one who pitched the idea, she's the one who started asking me about sex, and she's the one who didn't want us to date. I wanted to date her, Hale - God, did I ever - but Lydia didn't want that from me. Even though the two of us slept together, she and I became really good friends. I know that, aside from Allison, Malia and Cora, I'm her best friend and I would never do anything to betray her trust. Ever. So don't you think for one goddamn minute that I only slept with her to hurt her. I love her, Hale, and I want to see her happy. And then you went and betrayed her, took everything she had to offer and then just shit all over it!"

Jackson could feel himself changing. He was shifting, and couldn't find a way to stop it. Even though he had been a werewolf since he was sixteen, most of the time he had pretty good control, but when he got angry, all that control flew out the window. But then he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Isaac there.

Everybody knew that Jackson would never do anything to hurt Isaac, and Isaac was the only one who could even remotely touch him, since Jackson was the one who turned Mr. Lahey into the police when he found out that Isaac was being abused. Isaac looked at him and said, "Jackson, you need to breathe. Focus on your anchor."

"I don't have one anymore," Jackson grit out. "I don't know of anything strong enough."

"Jackson," Isaac said softly, "think of Lydia. She's always talking about how good of friends the two of you are, and if anybody can help you stay in control, it's her."

Jackson took a few deep breaths, thinking of Lydia like Isaac suggested, before his heart rate started to go down and he walked up on the porch where Derek was.

Derek heard the punch before he felt it; it knocked him down to the floor of the porch. Scott, Isaac and Boyd just gave Jackson a bewildered look, like they didn't expect him to do that. "Fuck you, Derek," Jackson spat. "You've hurt Lydia so fucking much."

"I know that I deserve every single punch I get," Derek said, pulling himself up off the floor, "but this is the third time I've been punched, and has anybody even hit Stiles? It was his idea. I tried to get him to take it back - I fucking tried, okay? He just wasn't having it."

"I wanted to punch him earlier today," Jackson admitted. "But when Riley and I got to his house, his dad was there and wouldn't let me see him until he knew what was going on. And I have a feeling that if I would have punched Stiles, I would have been arrested."

"He deserves it, though," Scott pointed out. When he noticed everyone giving him a weird look, Scott said, "Look, the dude is my best friend, my brother, but what he did was ridiculous, especially to Lydia."

"Don't worry about it, McCall," Jackson said. "He'll get his."

-x-

Lydia sighed deeply before gathering her nerve to go through the front door of the school. It was Monday, and she had promised her mother that she'd go back to school on Monday. She knew she'd have an excused absence because, ever since the whole mess with the divorce and everything, Natalie took her daughter's mental health very seriously. And even though Lydia had promised her mother that she'd go back to school on Monday, now that it was here, she was seriously considering just going back to pull the blankets over her head.

"Hey, Lyds," came the voice, and Lydia turned around just in time to see Allison come up next to her. She gave her friend a hug and then said, "I've been trying to see you for days. Every time I went over there, though, you weren't in the mood for visitors."

"Sorry about that, Al," Lydia said. "I just...I didn't feel like seeing anyone. I don't even want to go into school today. He took everything from me."

"You're still you, Lydia," Allison said firmly. "Just because of what a couple of stupid guys do to you doesn't mean that you have to stop living. I'm not talking to Isaac right now."

"Don't be so hard on him," Lydia said, surprising Allison. "I think he was trying to tell me about the bet the last time I talked to him. And since Derek's his brother and the rest of those guys are his friends, I think he was in-between a rock and a hard place. He had no wiggle room."

"I'm actually pretty surprised to hear you say that," Allison said. She took Lydia's arm and they walked into school together. They walked up to Lydia's locker and Allison stood there with Lydia while she got her books and things around for AP French, which was a class that she shared with Allison.

Lydia shrugged, "I don't know. He gave me this scenario and it turned out to be a lot like what happened. For some reason, I don't blame Isaac as much as I blame Derek and Stiles."

Lydia could feel the eyes on her as she and Allison walked to AP French. She could practically feel the stares and wished she could disappear. It happened throughout most of the day, too. At lunch, Lydia really didn't want to be in the lunchroom, but she grabbed the money she brought and walked over to Derek's table.

"Lydia," Derek said softly. Instead of replying, she slapped down a hundred dollar bill on the table.

"Congratu-fucking-lations, Derek," Lydia spat. "Isaac told me the terms of the bet. He also told me what you get if you win. So here you go. A hundred bucks. I hope you're happy to know that you've humiliated me beyond repair." She was trying to keep herself under control as she walked back. The only good thing that happened was the fact that Kira was sitting at her table when she got there.

"Lyds," Cora said, "Kira said you invited her to sit here."

Lydia nodded, "Come on, guys. She was hanging out with Erica and Jennifer, and she doesn't want anything to do with them anymore. She shouldn't be an outcast, and besides that, I want to get to know her a little better. I mean, don't you?"

Cora made a noise, but when Lydia looked over at Kira, she said, "Don't listen to her. She hates change. I'm glad that you decided to sit with us, though."

After she was finished with her lunch, Lydia was walking towards AP Biology when she felt a hand grasp her arm and pull her into an empty classroom. She managed to get a slap in before noticing who it was.

"Derek?!" Lydia asked. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

"I need to talk to you, and I knew that if I asked, you weren't going to give me the time of day," Derek answered.

"So you decided to give me a fucking heart attack?!" Lydia exclaimed. "Yeah, 'cause that's such a good idea."

"I'm sorry," Derek said, "but you weren't answering my calls."

"Ever think that maybe there's a reason for that?" Lydia snapped. Derek hung his head.

"I'm sorry," Derek said. "And I know I can probably say I'm sorry until I'm blue in the face and you're never going to believe me. But I really am sorry, Lydia. I wish I could take it back."

"You blew your chance with me, Derek," Lydia said. "i'm sorry, but that's just the way it's gotta be."

-x-

Lydia had a shift at the coffee shop after school. Betsy had been generous after everything happened, and she had talked to the owners to get Lydia a week off without firing her, but that week was up and she needed to go back to work. She wasn't really looking forward to it, but knew she had to do it. When she walked through the front door of The Grind, however, she saw Jackson, Malia and Cora sitting at the table closest to the counter.

"What are you guys doing here?" she asked them, going to clock in. She came to the counter and opened her backpack to pull out To Kill a Mockingbird. She had to read it for AP English.

"We don't want to be home," Cora said. She glanced at Malia and then looked at Lydia once more, "Derek's been a fucking nightmare to live with."

"What's his problem?" Jackson asked. "I mean, didn't he know this was going to happen?"

"I'm not blaming him for this," Lydia said. "I can't. This is my fault - plain and simple. I should've known something was up. I mean, I've known the guy practically since we were born. I should've guessed that he wasn't interested in me - he's never been interested in me before. I guess I'm just really disappointed at Stiles."

"Lyds," Cora said after a moment, "What exactly is Stiles' problem with you? Did something happen between the two of you?"

"You mean, back in the sixth grade?" Lydia asked. Cora nodded. Lydia sighed.

"I don't know. He turned into a major asshole and there really wasn't anything anybody could do about it. I've heard it all - he was in love with me, he liked me, he was jealous of me - you know, all those things that people say to make other people feel better about the situation. Honestly, I don't know why he acted the way he did, but I've always wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt."

"Do you still like Derek?" Jackson asked all of the sudden. He watched Lydia with something akin to understanding shining in his crystal blue eyes. "I mean, would you give him a second chance?"

Lydia shrugged, "I want to, Jackson. I want to so fucking much. I love the guy. I just...I can't let people walk all over me. And...everybody's talking about me now."

"They were talking about you before," Jackson said.

"True," Lydia said. "But something's changed. People feel sorry for me now, and you know how much I hate that."

Cora and Malia started working on their homework and Jackson was busy on his tablet when Lydia started reading her book. She did her work, too, which was one of the only reasons that the owners let her multitask the way she did. Around six o'clock, Isaac walked into the coffee shop and looked at Malia and Cora.

"Mom wants you guys home," he said to them. "It's dinner time, and she wants all of us to eat together. She doesn't care how much you're mad at Derek - we're still a family."

Cora said, but Malia started packing up her stuff. Malia went over behind the counter to give Lydia a hug before saying, "Keep holding on, Lyds. It's gonna get better."

"Thanks, Mia," Lydia said. "I'll try to be optimistic about this."

Malia just nodded.

Once they were gone, and the coffee shop was pretty empty, Jackson looked at Lydia. "Aren't you mad at Isaac?" he asked. Lydia shook her head.

"Nope," she said. "As I told Ally this morning, Isaac was in-between a rock and a hard place. Derek's his brother. Besides, I think Isaac was trying to warn me without stepping on any toes a couple of weeks ago. I understand that he really didn't have much wiggle room."

"I don't have anything against Isaac," Jackson said. "I mean, I was the one who went to the sheriff and everything, but it's just...I hate that they did this to you, Lyds. I hate it so fucking much."

Lydia shrugged. "I thought Derek was the one, Jackson," she practically whispered. "I love him. I love him so goddamned much and all I've got is a broken heart."

"Things are going to be okay, Lydia," Jackson said, coming in back of the counter to give her a hug. He just stood there for a moment, holding her in his arms and he said, "Things'll get better."

"How do you know?" Lydia asked him.

Jackson sighed, "Because they have to. They can't be like this all the time."

Chapter Text

A week passed. Jackson was going back to England the day after Halloween, and Lydia kind of didn't want him to leave. She loved having him there; it was almost like old times.

The key word being almost.

Every day at school was torture. Everybody knew about the bet, and Lydia had to keep moving on, like it didn't crush her soul every time she thought about what Derek and Stiles did to her. She spent more time than before working on the painting in her bedroom, whenever she had the free time. She thought about what Allison said about submitting it in the art show.

Mrs. Connors had talked to Lydia a few more times about submitting her art and Lydia had planned on it before everything else happened. Even though part of her wanted to stay in Beacon Hills to make sure her mom was okay, the other part of her wanted to run away fast and far to anywhere else but here.

Nothing surprised her more than anything, though, when she came home from school one day to see her mother and Chris Argent cuddling on the couch.

"What's going on here?" she asked them, and they jumped apart like a pair of teenagers getting caught by their parents. "How long has this been going on?"

"Chris and I are dating, honey," Natalie said, watching Lydia carefully, like she wasn't sure how Lydia was going to take the news. "We've been seeing each other for a little while."

"How long is a little while?" Lydia asked. She felt a few different emotions all at the same time, including shock, surprise, and even a little anger. "Why hadn't anyone told me about it?"

"Your mother and I have been seeing each other for a couple of months. Do you remember that dinner party held by Peter and Melissa?" Chris asked. The color drained from Lydia's face. Oh yeah. That was the night of their group date with Derek and...

Lydia had to derail that train of thought quickly. That would just get her nowhere fast. Instead, she said, "That was a date date? Mom said you were just going as friends."

"Lydia, sweetheart," Natalie said, patting the cushion on the couch next to her, "Come have a seat. We need to talk about this."

Lydia nodded and stepped forward. Once she was seated next to her mother, Natalie put an arm around her shoulders.

"I didn't want to tell you that Chris and I were dating, Lydia, because I was worried about what you would say. It wasn't that long ago that your dad left, and I was worried that if I told you I was dating again..." Natalie's voice trailed off, but Lydia understood what she was saying.

"You're telling me that you were worried I was going to get upset," Lydia said, and Natalie nodded. "That's understandable, but I wish you would have told me anyway. Does Ally know?"

Chris nodded, "Yeah. She's known for a little while."

Lydia sighed but then said, "Does Riley know?"

Natalie noded, "Yeah."

Lydia was silent for a few moments before saying, "So it's me. I'm the last one to know."

"I'm sorry, Lyds," Natalie said. "I was worried."

Lydia nodded, "I get that, Mom. It's fine. I just...I've got something to work on. I'm happy you're happy, and that's all I want for you - is to be happy. But, Chris, if you hurt her..." Lydia's voice trailed off.

"I'm not going to," Chris answered, "but I understand what you're getting at."

"Great," Lydia said. "I'm working on a piece to put in an art show," she said, looking at her mother, "and the show's in February. If I win anything, it could be a scholarship to the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco."

"That's great, sweetie," Natalie said. She seemed genuinely excited for her daughter. "I really hope you get it."

"Thanks, Mom," Lydia said.

When Lydia got to her room, she saw Jackson lying on her bed, watching The Amazing Spiderman on her laptop. She just stood there for a few moments before saying, "What are you doing?"

Jackson jumped a little, like she had startled him, and then said, "Watching a movie, duh. I thought you had to work today."

Lydia shook her head, "Nope, not today. I'm going to work on a painting."

Jackson nodded, "Sounds good. What are you painting?"

Lydia shrugged, "You know I don't like to talk about my work until it's finished. It's just something I've been working on for a little while. Since before Derek..." her voice trailed off, but Jackson understood.

"Well, I'm gonna sit here and watch this movie, if that's okay with you," Jackson said. Lydia nodded.

She gathered up her paints and went to stand in front of her easel. It was half finished, most of it done when she was dating Derek. It was of a girl walking down a road, and the half of the canvas that was already painted was beautiful. Grass and tress with blossoms, flowers on the ground, a lake, and a rainbow. It represented happiness.

But Lydia wasn't feeling so happy anymore. So as she started painting, she half-listened to the movie that Jackson was watching and was half-zoned out. She painted for a while, getting lost in the zone, and was almost surprised when she felt a tap on the shoulder.

"Get out of here!" She half-yelled, looking at whomever was behind her. "Jackson, what are you doing?"

"Lydia, you've been painting for over three hours," Jackson said. "It's almost eight o'clock. How could you not notice?"

Lydia sighed, "I don't know. I was pretty zoned out." It was then that her stomach growled, and she realized how very hungry she was. She looked at Jackson, "Do you want to get a bite to eat? I could make something."

"I was thinking we could go out," Jackson said. "Get changed and I'll meet you downstairs. I can pay for whatever you want to get."

Lydia nodded, "What's wrong with my outfit?"

"For one, you're covered in paint splashes," Jackson said, and it made Lydia look down. She laughed when she realized that Jackson was right. "I'm gonna go downstairs and wait for you, okay? I'll see you in a few minutes."

Lydia nodded and Jackson left the room, leaving Lydia to change. She quickly changed her clothes and went downstairs to meet Jackson.

"What do you want to eat?" Jackson said. "We can get whatever you want."

Lydia shrugged, "Minnie's is fine, if that's okay with you." She looked at Jackson, and he nodded.

"Sure."

They went to dinner and ate together. Jackson had noticed, however, that Lydia wasn't the laughing, happy girl that he had once fallen in love with. He looked at Lydia, "Are you okay?"

Lydia nodded, "Sure. I'm fine."

"Really?" Jackson asked. "Because you don't seem fine. You seem...off."

"This whole thing with Derek and Stiles just has me really sad, Jackson," Lydia admitted. "I wish I was more to them than just a stupid bet."

"They're just assholes," Jackson said, but he understood why Lydia couldn't just let this go. She'd never been very good at letting things lie, and right now she was hurting more than she had ever hurt before, and she didn't know how to just let that go.

"Is something wrong with me, Jackson?" Lydia asked, and Jackson hated the look on her face. Lydia had a look on her face that said that she was the problem here. "Did I do something wrong?"

"Absolutely not," Jackson said, probably a little more harshly than he's meant to. "There's nothing wrong with you, Lydia. You're perfect just the way you are, okay? It's them that's the problem."

"Why pick me, though?" Lydia wondered out loud. "Why would they pick me for their stupid little bet? I mean, I get it, I'm not the most popular girl at school or anything, and Jennifer Blake and Erica Reyes have practically gone out of their way to make me feel like I don't belong, but I don't understand why Stiles and Derek would pick me."

The whole thing made Jackson pissed. And he was going to do something about it.

-x-

When Sheriff Stilinski opened the door the next afternoon to see Jackson standing there, he sighed. "Please tell me you aren't here to pick another fight."

Jackson shook his head, "Nope. I just want to talk to Stiles for a few minutes. Just talk. I won't punch him, I promise."

The sheriff nodded and then said, "Do you remember where his bedroom is?"

"I haven't forgotten. Is he up there?"

The sheriff nodded once more.

"I'll see myself up, then," Jackson said. He waved hello to Claudia before climbing the stairs. Stiles was in his room, along with Scott, PlayStation 4 controller in his hand as they played against each other in Call of Duty. Jackson just stood there for a few moments, wondering if Stiles had even heard him come in. Finally, when it didn't look like Stiles was going to acknowledge his presence, Jackson cleared his throat.

Pausing their game, Stiles looked over, and then jumped to his feet. "Dude, what are you doing here?"

"Relax, Stilinski," Jackson said. "I'm not here to kick your ass. I just wanted to ask you a question."

"Does my dad know you're here?" Stiles asked.

Jackson sighed, "Yes, he does. He's the one who let me in. Now can we talk?"

Stiles eyed him warily, "What do you want to talk about?"

"Lydia."

Stiles' eyes grew wide and then he said, "Look, man, I know it was a stupid bet, and -"

"Will you shut up for two seconds and let me talk?" Jackson asked, growing irritated. Since he had been in London, he had not missed the way that Stiles talked all the time with barely anything to say. That had always been one of Jackson's pet peeves.

Stiles just nodded.

"Tell me something, Stiles. Did Lydia do something to make you hate her? Is there something about her whole being that you don't agree with so you decided that she was the one that needed to be the butt of your joke? Come on, Stiles, inquiring minds need to know these things."

"You want to know the reason I picked Lydia?" Stiles asked. Jackson nodded, his arms crossed over his chest.

Stiles sighed, "Because I knew she wouldn't put up with anyone's bullshit. After the two of you had your thing, whatever you want to call it, after you left for London, she didn't show any interest in any guy. She was the only girl in that entire school who wasn't falling over herself to get Derek to notice her. I figured that he wouldn't be able to charm her, because Lydia hasn't ever been the easiest girl to charm, and I figured that she'd turn him down, and that'd be the end of that."

"Did you ever think that she'd be really hurt when the truth came out? That she'd feel like she did something wrong?"

Stiles sighed, "I wasn't thinking that far in advance. Isaac told me that Lydia was going to hate both Derek and me when she found out the truth. He told us not to do it. Hell, he practically begged us not to do this to her. He was the only one who really stood up to us and told us we were all just making one huge mistake. And I was adamant that Lydia just would've never found out about it. I wasn't going to let it slip."

"So tell me, Stiles," Jackson said, not having moved an inch from where he had been standing all this time, "do you care about Lydia? Do you consider her a friend?"

Stiles nodded, "Yeah. She and I had a falling out in middle school, I'm sure you remember that, but over the last few weeks, she and I have gotten over our differences." Stiles ran his fingers through his hair before saying, "Jackson, I fucked up. I fucked up royally and I don't know how to fix it."

"Is it just because your girlfriend won't talk to you?" Jackson asked. When Stiles looked surprised, Jackson said, "Yeah. Cora, Malia, Allison, Lydia, and now Kira, hide no secrets from one another. They talk about anything and everything - especially whenever one of you motherfuckers do something wrong. Now, tell me, Stiles, is the only reason you're upset is because Cora won't have anything to do with you?"

Stiles shook his head, "No. I mean, yeah, I feel really bad that Cora won't have anything to do with me right now, but I'm mostly upset about Lydia. She didn't deserve any of this. I'm sorry I hurt her."

Jackson nodded. Then he looked at Stiles, "And I'm gonna tell you how to fix it."

Chapter Text

"Wait. What?"

Stiles seemed confused. He was really confused. This was Jackson Whittemore, the guy who hated him with everything he had. Stiles had hurt Jackson's best friend - practically crushed her very soul - so why the fuck was he offering to help him?

"Look, Stilinski, Lydia's a mess. She's hurting so badly right now. She thinks that nobody cares, and even though you're the one who did it, I can't bear to see her this way. I'm only going to be in town for four more days, and I hate to leave with Lydia hurting as badly as she is right now. So I'm going to tell you how to fix it."

"I figured you wouldn't want her to have anything to do with me," Stiles said, still in awe that Jackson would do this for him.

As if he could read Stiles' mind, Jackson gave Stiles a look before saying, "I'm not doing this for you, Stilinski. I'm doing it for Lydia. She deserves everything good and more."

Stiles nodded.

"So have your group meet me at The Grind tomorrow after school. Say, four o'clock? Be there, okay?"

Stiles nodded, "Okay. We'll see you then."

And with that, Jackson left the Stilinski house, hoping that this could be fixed.

-x-

Derek wasn't exactly sure why he told Stiles he'd meet Jackson at The Grind the next day. He was really thankful, though, that Betsy had lifted the ban she had against him going into that particular coffee shop. Derek was pretty sure that Jackson had something to do with that as well. But this was for Lydia, and Derek would do anything to prove to Lydia that he was making an effort. He would do anything to show her how sorry he was.

He was the last to arrive, and after getting his coffee and sitting down at the table, he looked at Jackson. Finally, after a few minutes of just looking at him, he says, "What's your angle here, Whittemore?"

"What do you mean angle?" Jackson asked.

"I mean, why are you doing this? I don't deserve your help."

"You're right, Hale; you don't. But I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing this for Lydia. She's hurting and miserable, and feels like she opened herself up to someone and got burned. But I know you love her."

"How do you know that?"

"Because of the way I've heard you talk about her. Because I've seen the way you look at her. It's true; when the first of you first started dating, or whatever you wanted to call it, I warned her. I told her you might not look at your relationship the same way she did, but I can tell something's changed. You've changed, Hale; a hell of a lot since I've been in London. And Lydia deserves everything she wants in life, and for some reason, she wants you. I just want to help her get to be happy again."

"You're in love with her, too," Derek said. He wasn't sure why he hadn't seen it before.

"I was," Jackson said. "But Lydia and I agreed to just be friends. The thing I want most for Lydia is for her to be happy. When you really love someone, you want what's best for them. I want Lydia to be happy."

Derek nodded.

"So, I'm gonna tell you how to win her back. And this is how you're gonna do it."

-x-

The Hales held a Halloween party every year, on Halloween, and while Lydia was all for costume parties, she wanted to avoid this one like the plague.

Since the whole mess with Stiles and Derek, Lydia had avoided the Hales. She didn't want to make Cora or Malia feel bad, since they were two of her best friends, but she wasn't exactly sure how to proceed from here.

But when Jackson woke Lydia up that Friday morning, she wanted nothing to do with the Hales or their party. It was always held the Saturday before Halloween (unless Halloween itself fell on a Saturday), which was tomorrow, and Lydia had no intention of going to it at all. Jackson, however, had different plans.

"Hale parties are legendary," Jackson was saying, as Lydia gathered up some clothes so she could jump in the shower. "Besides, you always go. Cora and Malia are two of your best friends."

"That's true," Lydia said, "but I'm not interested in the Hale Halloween party. Not after what Derek has put me through. Besides, Stiles is gonna be there, and I don't exactly want to see him, either."

"Too bad," Jackson said. "I'm only going to be in town for a couple more days and I want to go to that party, and I want you to be my plus one. Please, Lyds? I haven't been to a proper Halloween party in a long time, and Talia always really outdoes herself when it comes to holiday parties."

"I don't have a costume," Lydia said.

"Now you're just making up excuses," Jackson said. "Besides, I have a really great idea for your costume, and I already picked it up. I know your size already."

Lydia sighed, "What, exactly, is your grand idea anyway?"

Jackson smirked, "You'll just have to wait and see."

After school that day, Lydia had a shift at the coffee shop. Betsy was working, too, and she stopped Lydia as she clocked in.

"It's good to see you, Lyds," she said to her. "I mean, I've been pretty worried about you, especially after you went through that depression thing after the whole thing with Derek Hale and Stiles Stilinski."

"They're assholes," Lydia said. "What they did to me was unacceptable."

Betsy nodded, "I know, sweetie. You deserve so much better." She watched Lydia for a moment after Lydia took her place at the cash register. "So, I see you've been hanging around with Jackson Whittemore."

Lydia shrugged, "He's my friend. We've gotten pretty close after everything we've been through together."

"But you love Derek," Betsy said. When Lydia gave her a bewildered look, Betsy shrugged and said, "It's written all over your face. I can tell you have a thing for Derek. And yeah, he doesn't deserve you, but you have to be true to what you want."

"I can't do that," Lydia said. "I can't sit here and pretend that I'm totally okay with what Derek and Stiles did to me. I just have to move on."

"Sometimes, that's easier said than done," Betsy said. Then she looked at Lydia, "Look, Lyds, I know that Derek did you wrong, okay? I get it. But at the same time, I think you should talk to him. Even if it's nothing more than to call him a bastard and tell him exactly what you think of him, I just think you should clear the air."

"Thanks, Betsy," Lydia said. "I'll take your opinion into account."

Betsy left Lydia to do her work, and the shop was pretty busy that day. Lydia didn't really have a moment to think to herself for a while, with all the coffee, muffins and cookies she was handing out. Around six o'clock, two hours before Lydia was supposed to get off, Allison, Kira, Cora and Malia walked into the shop. They all ordered coffee and Allison looked at Lydia.

"How are you holding up, Lyds?" she asked her. As Lydia handed them their orders and took their money, she just shrugged.

"I've been better," Lydia said truthfully, "but things can't always be bad, right? Things have to get better."

"Jackson told me that you're coming to the Halloween party tomorrow night," Cora said just then. He's bringing you as his plus one."

"It's true," Lydia said. "He's finagled his way into making me attend your party." She looked embarrassed for a moment before saying, "Not that any of this is your fault. I just kinda want to distance myself from your brother."

"It's understandable," Malia said. "I understand you feel badly, but I think this would be the best thing. You need to move on, live your life like you normally would. We only want what's best for you."

Allison looked at Kira. "You think that Lydia should go to the Hale Halloween party tomorrow night, don't you? I mean, you're going with Scott, right?"

Kira nodded, "Scott asked me. This'll only be my second Halloween in Beacon Hills, and last year, Scott and I weren't together yet, so I haven't ever been to one of their Halloween parties. I think you should go, though, Lydia."

Lydia gave Kira a quizzical look, "Why?"

"Stick it to him. Derek hurt you really bad. My mom always told me that one of the best things you can do when someone breaks your heart is to live your life and be happy. They hate that. Make Derek jealous; make him see that you don't need him to survive."

"That's actually a really good idea," Cora said. "You need to prove to Derek that you don't need him."

Lydia sighed. She knew they would never understand how much in love with Derek she was, but she wasn't going to make a big deal out of it. She could do this. She could go to this party with Jackson and pretend to be happy. She would do it.

-x-

"You've gotta be kidding me, Jackson," Lydia said as Jackson set her costume down on her bed. "Little Red Riding Hood? Fucking seriously?"

"Yes," Jackson said. "It was actually Allison's idea, so if you're gonna be pissed at someone, be pissed at her. She thought you should wear something revealing to show Derek what he's missing."

Lydia sighed, "Really?"

"Yes, really. Now get dressed. We've gotta be there in an hour."

"And what about you? What are you going as?"

"The huntsman," Jackson said. "I would've gone with a werewolf, but I didn't want to walk around half shifted all night and I was having a hard time finding a wolf costume. So I'm borrowing Allison's crossbow and wearing an appropriate outfit."

Lydia nodded, "Sure."

"Get dressed, Lyds," Jackson said. "Party starts in an hour."

While Jackson had the right idea, the outfit was kind of revealing. It consisted of a short black skirt, a white peasant top, and a red cloak with a hood that went to her mid-thigh. Lydia wondered who exactly put the costume together and what they were thinking of at the time. She felt a little weird about wearing it to the party.

She put her hair in two braids and did her makeup. She went for a subtle look, something that didn't look too wild, and then took a look at herself. She did look pretty good, she had to admit it. It was just so different from anything she'd ever worn before, so she felt a little weird in it.

A knock came on her bedroom door twenty minutes before the party was supposed to start. When Lydia let Jackson in, she had to laugh. He was wearing a plaid shirt over a white tank top, it was mostly buttoned up, save for the first few buttons. He was wearing regular jeans and a pair of boots, and was accessorized with Allison's crossbow. He was also carrying a picnic basket.

"This is for you, Red," he said, handing her the basket. "I figured it would complete the outfit."

"You've gotta tell me, Jackson," Lydia said, after watching him for a good minute, "whose crackpot idea was this outfit?"

"Actually, Malia came up with the idea, but Allison and Kira were the ones who put it together," Jackson said. "I thought it was a good idea, though. Ally told me what Kira said yesterday - show Derek what he's missing."

"You sure this is a good idea?" Lydia asked hesitantly. "Because I've got homework to do and a painting to work on -"

"Lydia, this is a great idea, okay? Things are going to be okay."

Lydia sighed, "Okay, fine. Now, do you want me to drive, or do you want to?"

Chapter Text

Derek took one last look at himself in the mirror. Even though his mom's annual Halloween party was the highlight of everybody else's Halloween in Beacon Hills, Derek really did not want to be there tonight.

When he found out that Jackson was bringing Lydia, part of the plan, Derek thought he could do this. And when part of the plan had Derek dressing up as a werewolf - how cliché, was Derek's opinion on that - Derek just wasn't happy. But he had to do this. He was going to do this, in order to get Lydia back. Jackson helped him form a plan - and it was going to work.

He went downstairs just as Lydia and Jackson arrived with Allison. When he saw Lydia, Derek's mouth watered. Holy fucking shit, she looked amazing. The Red Riding Hood costume looked absolutely stunning on Lydia, and didn't really leave a whole lot to the imagination, but that was okay. She looked very good. When Jackson had told him about the costume, he didn't know that it was going to make Lydia look so sexy.

Lydia made eye contact with Derek, but then looked away quickly. He could tell that she really didn't want to be here, but came anyway. Lydia was one of those people that valued her friends and would do anything for them.

Derek was working up the courage to go talk to her, to see if she would even talk to him, but she was whisked away by Cora. Cora, who was wearing a ninja costume, because she liked to think out of the box. Cora pulled Lydia aside, and Derek listened in to their conversation.

"So you decided to come after all," Cora was saying to Lydia. "Why?"

"I thought a lot about what you guys said," Lydia said. "About showing Derek what he was missing."

Interesting, Derek thought. Without even knowing it, Cora, Malia, and Kira were helping him in a way that he needed to thank them for later. He decided to abandon his thoughts and listen in to what she was saying again.

"Besides that," Lydia said, and it almost sounded like she was blushing, "Jackson asked me to be his plus one. He's going back to London tomorrow."

"You gonna miss him?" Cora asked.

"Of course I am," Lydia practically snapped. Then she sighed. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "Yeah, I'm gonna miss him. He's my best friend. I hate the fact that there's an ocean between the two of us."

"Well, I gotta talk to you," Cora said, whispering to Lydia. Derek had to really strain to hear what she was saying. "Stiles told me something that I think you'd better know."

And with that, they were gone. Part of Derek wanted to follow them, but wasn't sure if he could do it stealthily enough. So he just let them go.

-x-

Once they were in Cora's room, Lydia looked at her friend, "What's so important that you had to bring me into your soundproofed room? What's going on?"

"Stiles and I are talking again," Cora explained, "and he told me something that I think you need to know."

"Okay?" Lydia said, but it sounded more like a question. "What is it?"

"Jackson is scheming behind your back," Cora said. "He's trying to help you get back together with Derek."

Lydia turned a little red at that, "What? Why?"

"Because, Lyds, you were so happy when you were with Derek. Everybody could see it. You love him, I know, but would you believe that Derek loves you, too?"

Lydia sighed. Could she believe that Derek loved her?

After a few moments of silence, she said, "Look, Cor, I love you. But I don't know why you seem to think that Derek loves me, though."

"It's obvious," Cora said. "Look, I'm still pretty pissed at my brother for doing what he did to you. And Stiles and I may be talking again, but he still a fucking lot to make up for, okay? I hate that they hurt you the way they did. But you're miserable right now, Lyds. You go to school, go to work, and then stay at home for the remainder of your time."

"Yes," Lydia said, "but my painting's almost done. The one I have to submit by Christmas break."

"Lydia, would you do us all a favor and please just talk to my idiot brother? All of these rooms are soundproofed, so you don't have to worry about people hearing whatever the two of you talk about. It's just something that needs to be done, okay? Please, for the love of God, just talk to him. I don't care if you don't say anything to him but how he needs to go fuck himself. Just go to him and talk this out, okay? Do it for the both of you. You need some kind of closure about the relationship, whether it's to start over, or for it to die. You guys need to be on the same page, okay?"

Lydia felt the tears start to escape her eyes. Cora's eyes softened when she noticed it, and leaned over to give Lydia a hug.

"I love you, Lyds," Cora said. "You're one of my best friends, and I can't imagine my life without you in it. You need to talk to him, okay? Everyone can see how fucking miserable you've been. Mia, Kira, Ally and I just want to see you happy. And I know Jackson does, too."

Lydia wiped at the tears in her eyes as she nodded. "Okay, Cora," she said. "I'll talk to him."

"Thank you," Cora said. "Now you should go find him. He could be anywhere."

-x-

When Lydia rejoined the party, she saw Derek over by the punch bowl, talking to Scott and Stiles. She went over to him.

"Derek," she said to him as he just kind of stared at her, "can we talk?"

Derek nodded, "Sure."

"Is there someplace we can go that's private?"

Derek nodded, but then looked at her. "Would you be against going up to my bedroom?"

Lydia shook her head, "Nope. We can do that, if you want."

Derek led the way up the stairs, even though Lydia knew the way; she'd been in the Hale house enough times to know where everything was. She walked behind him silently, not really saying anything to him. When she was inside his room and the door was shut behind them, she took a few deep breaths. She stood in front of him, looking up at him, and finally spoke.

"What you did was very uncool, Derek," Lydia said. She could feel the tears start to escape her eyes, but was going to hold onto her will as long as she could. She wouldn't cry during this. She couldn't. "It hurt a lot to think that you would do this. And I'm not saying this just because you picked me. I'm saying it because it's a very uncool thing to do to anybody; I don't care who you are, nobody in the entire damn world deserves to be treated that way."

Derek nodded silently.

"However," she said, after taking a deep breath, "I miss you. I miss you like fucking hell." She looked up at him, taking a deep breath once again, "I love you, Derek. I don't know why, or how it happened, but I fell in love with you."

He reached down to cup her cheek. "I love you so fucking much, Lydia Martin," he practically whispered. "I'm so sorry about what I did to you. I didn't mean to hurt you that badly. I should've never taken the bet in the first place." He licked his lips as he looked down into her eyes and then practically whispered, "Can I kiss you?"

"Please do," was her reply, and it was all the push Derek needed to lean down and capture her lips with his.

Lydia tasted better than Derek remembered; a bit like strawberries and a sweetness that he couldn't put his finger on. Her arms came up to wrap around his neck as she leaned into the kiss. When Derek slid his tongue across her lower lip, silently asking for access, Lydia opened her mouth and granted it to him. He loved the way that her lips felt against his; so soft, so warm, and kissing Lydia was heaven.

A few moments passed before Lydia broke the kiss. She looked at Derek. "I want to start over," she said. "I've had people tell me how they've noticed that I was miserable because of what happened, and they're right; I was so fucking miserable."

Derek watched her, "If we could start over, I would like that very much."

She poked him in the chest and said, "Just because we're starting over, Hale, don't assume that I'm going to be easy. You really need to prove your worth to me; prove how much you want to be with me."

Derek grinned, "I'll totally prove it to you, Lyds. I love you."

-x-

The next day, Lydia drove Jackson to the airport. Beacon Hills was too small to have their own airport, so she drove him the next town over; it was still in Beacon County, and wasn't much bigger than Beacon Hills itself, but that was okay. She had things to say to her friend.

"What the hell is your problem, Jackson?" Lydia asked as she got on the highway. Jackson just looked at her.

"I'm not sure I understand what you mean," Jackson said.

"Jackson, don't play stupid. It's just the two of us here, and neither one of us buys your clueless act. You were towards the top of the class, after Danny, Stiles and me, so I know that you're not stupid."

"Okay..." Jackson said slowly. "You're still gonna have to give me more."

"Going behind my back to find a way to trick me into giving Derek another chance? Does that ring a bell?"

"How do you know?" Jackson asked.

"Cora told me."

"How'd she find out?"

"She and Stiles now have a no secrets policy. He told her." Lydia sighed. "Can I ask you exactly what your big plan was?"

"Exactly what happened," Jackson said. "Find a way to break you down enough so you'll talk to Derek. Everybody could see how miserable you were, Lydia, and I just wanted what was best for you. You love him, and you need him, no matter what you say."

"So you meant for Stiles to tell Cora to tell me?" Lydia asked.

"You say you're a genius, but then you use run-ons like that," Jackson joked. When he saw the serious look on Lydia's face, he said, "Yes. I told Stilinski to tell his girlfriend what she told you. Because everybody knows that you, Cora, Allison, Malia, and now Kira, hide no secrets from one another. You guys talk about everything with one another. So if Stilinski was to tell Cora something about you, she'd go to you. And it happened, didn't it? You and Derek are back together, aren't you?"

Lydia sighed. "It's probationary," she said. "He's still gotta prove himself to me."

"I have every confidence that he will," Jackson said.

"What makes you so sure of that?"

"Because he loves you, Lyds. He'd do anything for you. Just give him a chance, okay? Things will turn out in the end."

Lydia nodded.

She hugged Jackson before he boarded his flight, and he said, "Skype me more often, Lydia. It gets lonely over there. Dad works a lot and Mom's busy doing things for various charities. When I graduate at the end of the year, I'm coming back to the states for college. Maybe we'll end up near each other."

"I'm trying to get a scholarship to the Academy of Art Institute, in San Francisco. So try to go somewhere in California."

Jackson nodded, kissing Lydia on her cheek and telling her goodbye one more time. Lydia sighed as she watched him board his flight, and then turned around to go home. God, she was going to miss him.

Chapter Text

"So, what? You're giving him another chance?"

Lydia looked at her friend like she couldn't believe the words that just came out of Cora's mouth. And she couldn't, to an extent. Lydia just gave a look to Cora over the AP Biology book she had in her hands.

"What?" Cora asked after a moment. "What did I say?"

Lydia sighed. "You're usually not this oblivious, Cor," she said, watching her friend for a good minute. "So, what? You can take back your backstabbing, heart-breaking boyfriend but I can't take back mine?"

"Touché," Cora said. "I understand your point. It's just...I don't want to see Derek hurt you any more than he already has."

"He's not going to," Lydia said confidently. Cora shot her a quizzical look.

"How can you say that? After everything you've been through?"

"For some fucked up reason, I love Derek," Lydia said, shutting the textbook and placing it on her desk. "And I also trust him. I'm giving him a second chance not to fuck me over. And if he betrays that trust this time...well, it'll be all my fault."

Cora shrugged, "If you're sure, Lyds. I just want you to be happy."

Lydia nodded. "Thank you for looking out for me, Cor," she said, "but I think I know what I'm doing."

Cora nodded.

About three hours later, after Cora had deemed herself way too stressed to study anymore, Lydia, I swear to God, she decided to leave and go and see stiles, who, according to Cora, was still a probationary boyfriend, and Cora had not even been gone for ten minutes when Derek showed up at Lydia's door.

"Hey you," Lydia said to him. "What are you doing here?"

"I was wondering if you were busy tonight? I thought you and I could go to dinner, if you want."

"I actually don't want to go anywhere," Lydia said, motioning to the sweatpants and tank top she had on. "But I can make something here. Mom's working the late shift at the hospital so I'm all on my own tonight."

Derek nodded, "Do you want company, then?"

"I'd love it," Lydia said. "Come on in. What do you feel like?"

Derek shrugged, "Whatever you want, Lyds. I'll eat practically anything."

Lydia nodded, going into the kitchen to rummage through the cupboards. They usually kept the cupboards well-stocked, and she found a few choices there. Deciding on spaghetti and meatballs, she started boiling the water for the noodles as she took some hamburger out of the freezer to start thawing.

"So, Cora was here?" Derek asked, and Lydia was pretty sure he was trying to just initiate conversation. She nodded.

"Yeah. I was helping her study for Harris' chemistry final. She wanted the extra help."

"Is she having problems with it?"

Lydia shook her head, "Not really. It's just that Harris seems to hate her, because she's involved with Stiles. Hell, he hates me, too, but I don't really give a damn."

Derek rolled his eyes. "It's actually really stupid, if you ask me," Derek said, sitting down at the kitchen island counter. "John was just doing his job."

Lydia shrugged, "He doesn't seem to care. He better watch his step, though. If he even thinks about failing Stiles, or anyone involved with Stiles for that matter, he's going to have to deal with me."

"You're going to take over the world someday, Lyds, you know that?" Derek asked, chuckling. Lydia just shook her head.

"I'll get the news to wherever or whomever it needs to go, but I don't want to take over the world. I just wanna paint. I wanna draw, I wanna become a kickass artist that people actually respect."

Derek licked his lips before asking, "Is that because nobody seems to respect you right now?"

Lydia shrugged, "I just want to be somebody someday, Der. You know, someone that people can look up to and talk about without saying horrible things."

Derek's gaze softened as he got up to go over beside Lydia. He lifted her chin up with his index finger, so that she was looking him in the eyes. He cupped her cheek before saying, "You matter to me, Lydia. You've always mattered to me, and that will never change."

Lydia watched his green eyes intently before sighing. "I don't know," she said, not sounding very sure of herself. "I just want to matter."

"You matter to me," Derek repeated. "And I don't care how many times I've got to repeat myself. I'm really sorry about what I did to you, and even if I do it with my last breath, if it takes that long, I'm going to make it up to you. I promise."

He leaned in, and brushed her lips with his. It was just a brief, dry, chaste meeting of the lips, but it still made Lydia feel incredible. She just wished she could believe what he was saying.

"So, Thanksgiving's next week," Derek said as Lydia started making dinner. "You guys got plans?"

"Mom's dating Mr. Argent now," Lydia said. Even though she couldn't remember whether or not she had told Derek that, the way that his eyes widened told her that she hadn't. "Yeah," she said, watching him closely. "They told me about it about a week before we got back together. So I don't know if Mom will want to do something special or not. I mean, Ally never talks to any of her other relatives, which I think you already know, so whatever Mom and Chris want to do, that'll be what we do."

"You should talk to Natalie and Chris about having dinner over at my parents' house," Derek said. "It could be a whole pack Thanksgiving. Peter's already invited Melissa and Scott, and the Yukimuras are coming as well. The only people not coming are Liam and his parents, Boyd and his family, and Erica and her parents. You guys should come."

"Mom's working a lot lately," Lydia said. "Christmas is coming, and Mom always freaks out every year because she doesn't know if she can get me a good gift." Lydia rolled her eyes before saying, "I could care less if I got anything at all, but Mom feels like she can't provide for her family. Riley's gonna be home for it, but Mom doesn't worry about him like she does me."

"If you could have help," Derek said carefully, "would you take it? Like, if someone could pitch in with money? Would you take it?"

"I know what you're thinking, Derek Hale, and you better not do it," Lydia said, getting ready to make the meatballs. She made a face as she started rolling the burger into little balls, and it made Derek laugh.

"Sorry," he said. "It's just that face...it's fucking priceless." Lydia stuck her tongue out at him.

Going back to the conversation they were having, Derek said, "Don't be proud, Lyds. There are people out there who want to help you, you know. And I know that between you and your mom, you're still only making end's meat."

Lydia just shrugged.

Derek knew that Lydia would never agree to taking money from anyone. Even though the Hales had plenty of money, and more than that, even, he hated the fact that his girlfriend wouldn't let him give any to her.

"I mean it, Derek," Lydia said, an edge to her voice that said she knew exactly what Derek was thinking about. "I pay my own damn way in this world, okay? I don't need anyone else supporting me."

Derek raised his hands in surrender, saying, "Okay, Lyds. If that's the way you really want it."

-x-

Derek came bursting into Cora's room the next day, and Cora looked up from where she was texting, probably with Stiles, and then said, "Der, you can't come bursting in here like that! What if I was naked?"

"Then I'd be scarred for life, but it'd be my own damn fault," Derek said. He took a seat on the bed next to Cora and said, "I need your help with something."

"What?"

"Don't sound so suspicious," Derek said. "Who are you texting?"

"Kira. She had a fight with Scott." Cora looked up from her phone and then said, "What do you want?"

"I want to do something special for Lydia. I need an opinion."

"Okay..." Cora said, letting her voice trail off. "On what?"

"Lydia mentioned to me yesterday about how Natalie works a lot this time of year because of Christmas," Derek said. "I want to do something special for her. Do you have any ideas?"

"Well, it depends on what you want to do for her," Cora said. Her phone chimed, and she texted back before sighing and saying, "Don't offer to give her money. She'll be offended."

"Yeah, I know," Derek muttered. "I kinda already did that."

Cora rolled her eyes, "That was a bad idea, Der. Lydia doesn't want anybody to pay her way in this world - she says that she doesn't want to have to depend on anybody else. She does pretty well all by herself, and she'll let you know that. Because she's eighteen, she tends to pick up a lot more hours at the coffee shop than other people."

Derek nodded, "Is there anything you can tell me, Cor? Any kind of advice you can give me that won't made Lydia pissed off at me."

"The winter formal," Cora said automatically. When Derek gave her a confused expression, she said, "Der, Lydia's never been to a school dance. She hasn't been able to afford a dress, and when she got to high school, she worked every night there was a school dance because the coffee shop would be short staffed and she wanted everybody else to go, to have some fun. If you can think of something like that, something that will kind of make her swoon, then I think you should do it. She'd love something like that. So many people look at her as Lydia the outcast, they don't exactly see her as a girl, you know? I mean, yeah, she's pretty, and yeah, anybody who has eyes can tell that she's, you know, female, but nobody ever treats her that way."

"Do you think she'd go to the winter formal with me, Cor?" Derek asked. He was surprised when Cora shook her head.

"Absolutely not," Cora said seriously. "She'll take the opportunity to work. Betsy Miller, she has a lot of pull with the owners, she got them to pay Lydia extra for working during school dances. That's one of the reasons she worked during prom last year."

"So you're telling me to do something to make her feel beautiful?" Derek said. "Do I have that right?"

Cora debated the thought in her head for a moment before she heard the text tone on her phone go off once more. Finally, she said, "Pretty much, yeah. You've got a lot to fucking make up for, Derek. Don't forget that."

"I think I know what I want to do for her," Derek said, looking at his sister, "but I'm going to need your help."

Chapter Text

"You what?" Lydia screeched as she watched her mother closely. "Why?"

Natalie had just told her daughter that she was working on Thanksgiving Day. It was something that Natalie had never done, and she worked so much that Lydia treasured holidays and loved spending them with her mother.

"I'm working on Thanksgiving, dear," Natalie sighed. Then she sighed, "I'm sorry, sweetheart, but we need the money, and anybody who works that day gets paid overtime. I need to do it. Besides, I heard you were invited to the Hales'."

"I was," Lydia said, "but I was looking forward to spending it, you know, with you."

Natalie hugged her daughter. "I'm sorry, sweetheart," she apologized again, "but I need to do this. Go have Thanksgiving dinner with the Hales, and Chris and Allison are going to be there as well. Have fun, okay?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. Okay."

Lydia wasn't happy.

Deciding that she wanted to try and ignore her problems, she called up her friends. She called Derek first.

"What's going on, babe?" Derek asked when he heard how upset Lydia was. "Did something happen?"

"I want to just ignore everything, Der," Lydia said. "You want to come over and drink with me?"

"What about your mom?"

"My mom doesn't care if I drink, as long as I don't go anywhere. Besides that, she's not here; she had to work tonight. I just need to forget everything."

"What happened?"

"Mom's working on Thanksgiving Day," Lydia said. "She just told me, before she left for work. I'm coming over with Chris and Allison, though."

"Yeah, Mom just told us that she invited Chris and Ally. I have no problem with Ally, I never have, it's just...I'm wary around Chris. And I know he's never hurt us, but I'm still pretty scared."

"Mom and Chris spend a lot of time together, and he comes over for dinner sometimes," Lydia said. "And besides that, he likes Isaac, so I don't think he holds any grudges. Besides, he divorced his wife because she actually agreed with what Kate tried to do to you guys. That makes him kind of good, don't you think?"

Derek made a thoughtful noise before saying, "Yeah, I guess so."

"So, you wanna come over and drink with me?" Lydia asked again. "I mean, I know that werewolves can't get drunk, but you still drink. I know you do - I've heard it from Stiles and Cora. So, what do you say? We can drink and watch superhero movies."

"Superheroes?" Derek asked, because he knew what that meant. "That's what you want to do?"

"Absolutely. I thought about inviting a whole bunch of people. Unless you want it to be just you and me."

"Invite who you want," Derek said. "I'm not going to try and order you around. You should know me better than that."

Lydia shrugged, even though she knew Derek wouldn't be able to see her. "You think your parents would let you stay the night?"

"Is Natalie going to be there?"

"She doesn't get out of work until two in the morning. But you can always say she will be. Besides that, I know you know how to lie to your parents. Cora told me."

"Of course she did," Derek muttered. But then he said, "I'll ask. You want to ask about Cora and Malia as well?"

"Yes please," Lydia said. "Call me back and let me know everything that's happening, okay?

"Yeah, Lyds, I will."

They bid each other goodbye and hung up. Then Lydia called the rest of the gang. She called Allison, Kira, and even Scott and Stiles. She was still a little mad at Stiles, but she was serious when she said she wanted a friendship with him. She didn't trust him - yet, her mind supplied - but she knew she might be able to repair what little friendship she had with him.

And she knew this wasn't her fault. She knew that, okay? But she figured they could meet each other halfway. Relationships take compromise.

Everyone started showing up about half an hour later. First it was Derek, Malia, Cora, and Isaac. Then came Kira, Allison, and then Scott and Stiles (together, of course).

"You guys staying the night?" Lydia asked them.

They all nodded. Then Derek said, "Mom was a little reluctant, but Dad talked her into it. I told her just movies with you."

Lydia nodded, "Sounds good?"

They set up in the family room, gathering around the TV. Stiles won the rock, paper, scissors, so he got to pick the first movie. He picked the first Captain America.

"Of course you want that one," Lydia said. She was giving shit to Stiles, even though, secretly, Captain America was probably her favorite superhero. She put the DVD in the player and then went into the liquor cabinet.

She pulled out a couple bottles of Absolut. When she was upset, she usually went for the hard liquor because it made her feel a little better. And yeah, she was a fan of girly drinks, but for some reason, she preferred harder liquor when she wanted to get drunk.

She took the bottles into the family room and set them down on the coffee table, along with some plastic cups she found. She figured that nobody would be comfortable with the way that she usually just drank from the bottle.

They spent the night with conversation and movies, and by the time Isaac, the last one except for Lydia and Derek, passed out, it was almost two o'clock. Lydia knew her mom'd be home soon, and she also knew that it wouldn't bother her mom at all that they went through two bottles of vodka.

Even though Lydia wasn't pass out drunk, she was a little tipsy. Whenever she was tipsy like this, she was super horny, and she grabbed Derek's hand. He looked at her quizzically, but she just smirked and whispered, "Follow me."

He did as she asked, and when they were in her bedroom, she reached over and locked the door. She then pulled Derek towards her as she leaned against the door, pulled him down by the collar of his shirt, and attacked his lips with hers.

God, she had missed his touch. He always knew exactly what to do to make her feel good. She hiked one of her legs up and over his hip as he dominated the kiss. He cupped her cheek and rubbed his thumb over her cheekbone as they made out.

Lydia broke the kiss and grabbed his hand, putting her leg down and leading him over to her bed. She stripped off her own shirt before stripping Derek of his. It wasn't long before they both were completely naked, and then she pushed him down so he was lying in the middle of her bed. She then straddled his hips, leaning down to kiss him once more.

She ground her hips down on his as they made out. She was so wet, she could feel it, and she loved the way his length felt against her. Breaking the kiss, she reached over in her nightstand drawer and grabbed a condom. She ripped the foil packet with her teeth and then shifted so she could roll the condom down his length. She then slid onto him, a little at a time.

She didn't start out gentle; she started riding him fast and rough, because she needed to feel it. She was a big fan of being fucked roughly and being able to feel it in the morning. As she shifted her hips, she started roaming her own body with her hands. Her fingers came up to pinch her nipples and she let out a moan.

"God, Lyds, you feel so good," Derek moaned out. Then he noticed what she was doing and said, "Oh God, Lyds, you look so sexy. The way you're feeling your own body...God, it's like a wet dream."

"Der, I'm so fucking close," Lydia said. "C'mon, make me come, I need it so badly."

He reached down and started thumbing her clit. He rubbed it fast and hard and said, "C'mon, baby, come for me. I wanna feel you come around my cock."

She felt herself tumble over the edge, and feeling her come around him made Derek explode as well. She took a deep breath before climbing off of him. Derek rid himself of the condom, tying it off and then disposing it in the trash bin next to her bed. She then cuddled up to him, her on his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her.

"I love you, Lyds," he said sleepily.

Lydia could feel herself start to drift off. Before she fell asleep, she said, "Love you, too."

-x-

The next day was Saturday, and Lydia awoke around eleven with a headache and a really bad case of cotton mouth. She blinked the sleep out of her eyes and then noticed that Derek was still asleep next to her. She kissed him on the cheek and even though he was still asleep, he smiled slightly. Lydia climbed off the bed and threw on a pair of shorts and a tank top. Remembering to unlock her door, she wandered down the stairs.

She looked into the family room first. Almost everyone was still asleep - except for Stiles. Where was he?

She looked through the sliding glass doors that were in the family room, overlooking the patio, and that's where she saw him. He was on the bench out there, just kind of staring into space. Deciding to go out there to talk to him, she went through the door.

"Hey you," Lydia said, standing next to where Stiles was sitting. "How's everything going?"

"Hey, Lyds," Stiles said. "I've just got a lot of shit on my mind."

She sat down next to him and then said, "It's okay. You want to talk about it?"

Stiles sighed while watching her closely. Then he said, "Lydia, I'm so fucking sorry. I'm so sorry about what I've put you through. I was such a bastard and played with your feelings, and I know I shouldn't have."

He had tears brimming his brown eyes and then Lydia leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder. "Why did you do it, Stiles?" she asked. It was something that had been bothering her for a while. "I mean, why pick me?"

"Because Derek was going on and on about how any girl would want him, how any girl would kill to be with him. And I wanted to prove to him that not every girl wanted to be with him. And I picked you because I knew you wouldn't put up with his bullshit. I knew that you'd be able to see right through him and wouldn't fall for his magic charms like every other girl at school. But then you gave him a chance, and believe me when I say I wasn't prepared for that. But I couldn't go back on the bet, even when Derek asked me to, because I had to prove that I was unwavering. But I should've let it go, and I'm sorry I didn't. I am sorry, Lydia. Please say you believe me."

Lydia reached over and pulled Stiles into a hug. They just sat there for a good moment, Stiles crying silently, until Lydia said, "Hey, it's okay, Stiles. I mean it. Yeah, it was a shitty thing to do to anyone, but I'm able to forgive you. And I do, okay? I forgive you."

Stiles smiled as they just sat there together, and that's when Lydia knew that everything between them was going to be alright.