Lydia has been perfectly aware that her friends have been acting strange lately. She could even date it back to before Jackson broke up with her, and maybe even up to school starting back after Christmas. The second was possibly truer. But then the people she considers her friends now weren’t really her friends back then.
The second option certainly put Scott McCall on her radar. And with Scott came Stiles. She honestly couldn’t have told you much about either of them six months ago. She could probably recognise their faces if pressed, but putting names to those faces would have been guesswork and nothing more. She still has no idea what Stiles’ real name is, she’s not sure anyone does.
Now, though, she wonders how she ever missed either of them. Scott is attractive, but totally not interested, he’s also a werewolf, which isn’t a deal breaker in the slightest but completely explains his unexpected rise to co-captain of the lacrosse team. Stiles is… not her type, but he is earnest and persistent and he seems to genuinely want to be around her and not the mask she has carefully constructed, which is interesting. She likes Stiles, just not in the way she knows he hopes. He also seems to be in a mutually antagonistic relationship with Derek Hale that the pair of them appear to be completely oblivious to, and which she has absolutely no interest in getting involved in. Except perhaps to ask Stiles what is going on there.
She gets her moment the week after her birthday. If she thought things were crazy before, then last week everything got turned up to eleven.
Werewolves exist, and are apparently a growing population as of late. Lydia is immune—though nobody appears to know what exactly this means or entails in its entirety—which Peter Hale used to resurrect himself. Peter was an alpha. Derek Hale, Peter’s nephew, is an alpha and that is causing all sorts of consternation. Jackson is a kanima—Lydia remembers translating that obscure text for Allison, and she knew it hadn’t been for some online game, but now she worries just what that text means for Jackson—who in turn was being controlled by Matt. She’s pretty sure she didn’t even know who Matt was before word spread of his drowning, but Stiles spits vitriol every time his name crops up. She figures it takes a lot for Stiles to hate someone. Allison is also different but Lydia has learned not to bring that up either.
So, when Lydia finds herself in the passenger seat of a stolen Sheriff’s car while Stiles is driving it in an aggressive way she is sure is going to get them killed, she tries very hard not to question it. It doesn’t help that Stiles is worryingly okay with breaking the law, and had all but dragged her from school babbling about her safety. She’s had enough of being kept in the dark though, so for once Lydia Martin fails at something. If she is going to be roped into illegal activity then someone is going to explain why. And it just so happens that Stiles is her best chance at an actual answer.
‘So,’ Lydia says after Stiles squeals the car around a corner and peels off down the highway. ‘Why are we running away from Allison and her dad?’
‘They are trying to kill us,’ Stiles says, his full attention is not at all with Lydia but rather on the rear-view mirror and the occasional glance at his phone, presumably for updates.
‘Why?’ Lydia presses. Stiles is not the only one who is persistent.
‘Why what?’ Stiles looks confused when his gaze snaps to Lydia. She is not used to being ignored, however frequently her friends have been doing it lately. Stiles looks a bit surprised that they have been having a conversation, like he had just been spouting information and not thinking about it.
‘Why are Allison and her dad trying to kill us?’ Lydia says slowly and deliberately. Then in a normal tone, says ‘What happened with her mom?’
Stiles looks away from her. He sighs and runs a hand over his hair roughly a couple of times before he drops the hand back to his lap. He fidgets with his phone for a second—still no message—then looks back at her. It strikes Lydia how old and broken Stiles looks. Older than his sixteen years.
‘Derek bit her mom when he was saving Scott,’ Stiles says. ‘And because the Argents are nut jobs,’ he adds vehemently, ‘she killed herself. Heaven knows what they told Allison, but now they want Derek’s blood.’
‘Oh…’ Lydia says, pursing her lips thoughtfully. ‘And why does that bother you so much?’
Stiles splutters. ‘What?’
‘Them wanting Derek’s blood,’ Lydia says. ‘It bothers you.’
‘Of course it bothers me,’ Stiles says. ‘The guy is a dick sometimes but he’s innocent. Which in itself is questionable at times, but trust me. No Derek equals bad. Do you want his pack under Peter’s vengeful rule?’
‘You like him.’
Lydia is beginning to wonder if Stiles is deliberately playing dumb. ‘Derek,’ she says. ‘You like him.’
Stiles is watching the road, but he blinks a few times and there’s a confused look on his face as he processes that.
‘Like is a strong word,’ he says eventually.
‘Mhm,’ Lydia hums knowingly.
‘What—’ Stiles starts, but his phone buzzes against his leg and he gets distracted by checking the message. A moment later he tosses the phone at Lydia, pulls a u-turn and rockets down the road in the direction they came from.
Five minutes later they are pulling up by the play park on Gildnot Avenue. Derek and Scott slink out of the shadows, both looking a bit worse for wear despite their abilities to heal. Scott has a nasty still-healing gash down the side of his neck. Derek is ogling the car like he’d quite happily throttle Stiles if he could.
‘Hop in bitches,’ Stiles says airily, clicking open the locks.
‘What the hell, Stiles,’ Derek says lowly as he gets in and shuts the door—Lydia is sure the only reason he doesn’t slam it is so that no one would hear it and check it out—Scott less gracefully collapses in the seat beside him, leaning heavily against Derek’s side. Scott grunts when Derek leans forward, his face up to the grate, inches from Stiles’ ear. ‘What happened to inconspicuous?’
‘It’s the only other car I could get keys for,’ Stiles says defensively. ‘Like the Jeep or your freaking Camaro are any better.’
Derek seethes, Lydia watches as Stiles shivers at the rush of air going past his ear.
‘Drive,’ Derek says. Stiles does as he’s told, though not without some unneeded aggression as he guns the engine and pulls away from the kerb. ‘We’re going to have to dump this and get something else.’
‘What, why?’ Stiles asks, surprised, and Lydia surreptitiously flicks her gaze between them—a quick glance at Scott reveals him doing the same. ‘Do you really want us stealing two cars in one night?’
‘If this gets back to your dad,’ Derek starts, Stiles catches his eye in the mirror and both of them are silent. Lydia has absolutely no idea what that’s about but Derek is clearly concerned.
‘Fine,’ Stiles says after a moment, so soft that Lydia almost doesn’t catch it.
‘Stop at the construction site,’ Derek says. ‘I’ll get Boyd and Erica to meet us there.’
‘You trust Erica with this thing?’ Stiles asks, eyebrows sneaking towards his hairline. ‘She doesn’t even have her license yet.’
‘It’ll take the suspicion off you.’ Which is a non-answer if Lydia has ever heard one.
‘Alright then,’ Stiles says, his eyes flicking to Scott. ‘Hey, you okay buddy?’
‘M’fine,’ Scott mumbles, he pulls himself up from Derek’s side.
‘What happened?’ Stiles asks.
‘Peter,’ Derek answers, Stiles gaze switches to him again. ‘Just about tore his throat out.’ His tone is very much “I don’t know what I did to deserve you two dumb asses but I’m going to keep you alive anyway”.
‘But you’re both okay?’ Stiles asks again.
‘In one piece,’ Derek says.
The car falls silent for a moment as Stiles turns the headlights off and slows the car down as he steers it into the construction site and parks it out of the way of heavy machinery and holes in the ground. He clicks open the back doors, letting out the werewolves, then moves to get out himself. Lydia grabs his arm, he looks over at her questioningly.
‘He likes you too,’ she says, smirking when Stiles frowns at her. He’s annoyed, she can tell, probably from too many times of being lumped with Derek. She thinks that maybe there’s some disappointment there too.
‘Come on, before Erica decides you’re her ride along too.’
‘Speaking of Erica,’ Lydia says, sensing the need to lighten the mood if nothing else. ‘What is with the werewolves and leather? Does “the bite” turn you into a douchebag too?’
‘I know!’ Stiles says enthusiastically, grinning as he gets out of the car. ‘I keep expecting them to break into song. Maybe Greased Lightning.’
Lydia grins back, noticing that Stiles looks over at Derek when he says that. Derek rolls his eyes; shakes his head minutely, but otherwise pretends he heard nothing. This only serves to make Stiles’ grin bigger, like he has achieved some great victory by not paying for his snark. Lydia doesn’t know much about Derek or Stiles, and she certainly hasn’t seen enough of them together, but just the realisation that Derek isn’t quite as thorny when Stiles is around makes her think maybe their relationship isn’t all antagonism after all, and isn’t that interesting?
They don’t have to wait long before Boyd and Erica turn up, and Lydia really isn’t sure exactly what her role in all of this is tonight. She has a feeling Derek is trying to keep her and Stiles away from Peter, each for different reasons.
Boyd pulls up in a black truck that is strangely familiar, and Stiles is ushering her towards it before she can catch a glimpse of the number plate to confirm her suspicions. She pulls her elbow away from Stiles’ grasp, ignoring his “hands off” gesture, and heads towards the front passenger side. Stiles makes a pinched face and heads towards the seat behind the driver.
‘Is this Jackson’s?’ Lydia asks, tilting her head enquiringly at Boyd as he hops out of the driver’s side, he halts in front of Derek, and the pair of them have a silent exchange which from Lydia’s point of view, is mostly Derek’s nostrils flaring and jaw muscles bunching as he lets out a huff of air.
‘Yeah,’ Boyd says, half-turning to look at Lydia. ‘Don’t worry he won’t remember a thing. Derek’ll have it back to him in the morning, right Derek?’
‘Right,’ Derek says, hopping into the driver’s seat. ‘Might even give it back in one piece.’
Lydia isn’t fluent in Derek yet, but she can tell he is baiting her just by the pinch of his lips. Derek turns his attention away as Lydia gets into the passenger seat, pointing at Scott.
‘You, in,’ Derek says, then pointing at Boyd. ‘You, take the Sheriff’s car. Dump it a few blocks from the station, don’t get caught. Don’t let Erica behind the wheel.’
‘Sure,’ Boyd says, catching the keys to the squad car when Stiles tosses them at him. Erica has already gleefully headed towards the car, and though Lydia knows that Erica can probably hear the whole thing, she is clearly pretending she can’t. She hops into the driver’s seat with a smirk and flashes her teeth at Derek.
‘Seriously,’ Stiles says as he pulls open the passenger door. ‘Erica doesn’t drive it.’
Boyd makes a face at him. ‘If you want it believable that anyone but you stole it, it might do you a favour if she did drive it,’ he says.
‘Boyd,’ Derek says, warning, and Boyd rolls his eyes. He waves them off and heads over to the Sheriff’s car where Erica is quickly shoved over to the passenger seat.
Derek turns over the engine as Scott and Stiles settle in the back, and then he pulls away from the construction site with the same care as Stiles had approached it. Less than a minute later the squad car goes fleeing past them, lights on, and Derek lets out another annoyed huff. Stiles leans forward, chin at Derek’s shoulder. Lydia quirks an eyebrow but says nothing.
‘I really judge your choice in betas,’ Stiles says. ‘Just so you know.’
‘I value your input,’ Derek replies, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
‘Isaac’s alright,’ Scott says from beside Stiles, and all three of them turn to look at him, though Derek quickly turns his attention back to the road. ‘What?’
‘Isaac’s learned control,’ Derek says. ‘The others will get there.’
It sounds, to Lydia, a lot like he is trying to convince himself of that as much as the other two. His hands tighten a bit on the steering wheel. He keeps flicking looks at Lydia, and it takes her a moment to realise that the last time he saw her was when Peter had come back. She doesn’t remember much, only what she has managed to piece together, but Derek looks distrustful of her nonetheless. She feels no need to explain herself to him.
Lydia has no idea where they are headed until they reach the forest, and then she gets a sinking feeling in her gut. Stiles launches forward from his seat again, jostling both Lydia and Derek as he leans into Derek’s space again. Lydia shoots him a dirty look; he offers her an apologetic one in return before returning his attention to Derek.
‘Are we going back to your house?’ Stiles asks, obviously hitting the same realisation as Lydia had. ‘I thought you were forced out of there.’
Derek shakes his head, glancing quickly at Stiles. ‘The hunters are closing in on the depot,’ he says by way of explanation. ‘They haven’t been at the house since Jackson killed that hunter. There was no where else to go.’
‘Jackson’s killing people?’ Lydia asks quietly, a knot of worry and fear twists her stomach, but she schools her features into something almost like indifference as Stiles whips around to look at her. He looks guilty.
‘It’s—’ Stiles starts.
‘He doesn’t know what he’s doing,’ Scott says from the backseat, and Stiles sinks back into the shadows.
‘What does that mean?’ Lydia asks, her voice sounding stronger than she feels. Jackson has been pulling away from her for a long time, he’s colder, more distant than he ever was before but she still cares about him, she still worries.
‘He’s being controlled,’ Stiles says. ‘Though we don’t know who by now Matt’s dead.’
‘Reassuring,’ Lydia says snippily.
‘We’ll find out, and we’ll deal with it,’ Derek says, taking the turn off for the Hale house.
It looks a lot different in the dark, lit up only by the waning moon and the truck’s headlights. Lydia can still recall the image Peter let her see, of the Hale House before it burned down with most of occupants inside. She can remember it in all it’s vast, white, glory, and now it is a dark mark smudged amongst the trees. She can’t think why Derek comes back here, but then Peter came back here too. The last remnant of the Hales, she supposes that if it had been her family she would have held onto whatever was left too, she doesn’t know too much about that kind of grief.
Derek kills the engine, sits staring at the house for a long moment before Stiles bumps against his chair again. There’s a silence that no one seems to want to break, it seems to Lydia like Derek and Scott are listening for something in particular and Stiles is just waiting it out for them to give the okay.
‘Something doesn’t feel right,’ Derek says as he opens the driver’s door and slides out of the car. ‘This was too easy.’
‘We have to catch a break sometime, right?’ Stiles asks, following after him. Lydia and Scott get out the other side, rounding the car to stand at the bottom of the steps leading up to the house. It looks a lot more imposing when it’s falling down than it did in Peter’s memories.
‘Hmm,’ Derek grunts, and leads the way up to the house.
Stiles should never have spoken. As soon as they step over the threshold it’s pretty clear they are not alone. Lydia gets a shiver up her spine a second before Derek growls, animalistic, his ears growing. Beside her, Scott also shifts.
A flash-bang grenade goes off, there’s a kerfuffle as they are surrounded, and Lydia has no idea what is going on, Derek shoves Stiles into her with a shout of ‘Go!’ but Stiles goes nowhere. Stiles stands his ground, a moment later there is a yelp and Scott is knocked into Stiles. Stiles is paying no attention when Lydia is grabbed by her elbow by a strong hand, another hand clamping over her mouth so she can’t scream. She looks around wildly, but all she sees is a blue-white flash that lights up an unknown man’s face as Derek is sent flying backwards. Hunters, she thinks with a bolt of panic, Peter had warned her about them. but why do they want me?
It takes her a moment to realise she knows the body she is pressed up against, it has become disturbingly familiar since those dreams began. Peter Hale has her in his clutches once more. They are in what used to be the living room, Peter’s back to the wall as they listen to Derek and Scott being thrown across the hallway.
‘You should know better than to leave your pups alone,’ comes a voice Lydia knows. She eventually places it as Chris Argent. Chris Argent, one of the family that the hunters answer to. Allison is a part of that family too, Lydia isn’t sure what that means for her.
‘Let him go,’ Derek says, his voice even but a little out of breath. ‘He hasn’t done anything wrong.’
‘No,’ Chris says. ‘But I am one of only a few that will see it that way. Some see a werewolf as a monster and that’s it. No humanity left.’
Peter slowly lets go of Lydia’s mouth, raising his finger against his own lips as a signal for her to keep quiet. She does, but only because she wants to hear what’s going on.
‘Is that a threat?’ Derek asks.
‘A warning,’ Chris says. There’s the thud of feet as someone stumbles. ‘If I were you I’d keep an eye on your pack. Even the ones you think are capable of handling themselves.’
‘The Kanima,’ Chris says.
‘Jackson,’ Scott’s voice interrupts. ‘He’s innocent.’
‘Jackson…’ Chris says. ‘Always knew there was something about him. He’s dangerous.’
‘We need to save him,’ Scott says more firmly.
‘Killing him may be the only way to save him, to save all of us,’ Chris says, and Lydia lets out a gasp that is half sob.
Peter shushes her, placing his hands on her shoulders and turning her around to look at him. He ducks down to look at her, a small reassuring smile on his face.
‘I need you to do me a favour,’ he whispers.
‘I already did you a pretty big favour, what makes you think I’ll do any more,’ she says quietly back, not meeting his eye. She’d been seduced by him, used by Peter Hale to resurrect him, she is only now beginning to get back to herself.
‘It concerns Jackson,’ he says. Her eyes snap to his.
‘What is it?’
‘I can’t tell you just yet,’ Peter says. ‘But soon, Jackson will need you, and only you. We can save him. It’s important.’
‘I—He’ll be Jackson again?’
‘Yes,’ Peter says. ‘I need you to do this, when I ask. Okay?’
‘Okay,’ she says, because it’s Jackson, and no matter how awful Jackson can be to her, there’s still a part of her that wants him to be safe and happy.
‘Thank you,’ Peter says, and he presses a kiss to Lydia’s cheek, one she tries to pull away from but doesn’t quite succeed. He looks her in the eye again. ‘When I need you.’
‘Yes,’ she says. It’s Jackson. She has to save him if she can.
In the hallway it has quietened down. Then she hears Stiles.
‘Hey, where’s Lydia?’ he asks. ‘Lydia?’
Peter presses a finger to his lips again and nudges her back towards the doorway. Lydia rolls back her shoulders, carefully reconstructing her mask, and smoothing down her dress before she walks out into the hallway where the others are. Chris is standing at the base of the stairs, looking surprised to see her, Isaac Lahey is standing behind Scott. And of course he is a werewolf too. There are two men she doesn’t recognise, one on either side of the boys, and Stiles has put himself between Chris and the werewolves, Derek at his side. Lydia isn’t sure if it’s bravery or foolishness, but it seems to be holding Chris and his men at bay. For now. Lydia has no qualms in thinking they could blow right through him if they wanted, but there’s something to be said about courage, however foolish.
‘I was just powdering my nose,’ she says lightly, flicking a smile at Stiles. It isn’t enough to wipe away the worry and confusion but it’s a start.
Chris is watching her carefully, gaze flicking between her and Derek like he is trying to fit a jigsaw puzzle but a piece is missing.
‘I think I should take this young lady home,’ Chris says. ‘Before she gets in any more trouble.’
‘I’ll be fine,’ Lydia says, feeling a swell of pride when Chris looks taken aback. ‘Stiles will take me home.’
‘Of course,’ Chris says, eyes flicking to Stiles. Lydia follows his gaze, Stiles looks surprised, but nods. Chris makes a gesture to the two hunters and they head out of the door. ‘Take care, you never know what’s out there.’
‘Right,’ Stiles breathes, face clouding over as Chris brushes past Derek and Scott to vacate the house, ‘I really don’t like him,’ Stiles says, glancing at Derek.
Derek clenches his jaw, and hands over the truck’s keys to Stiles.
‘Take her home,’ Derek says. ‘Drop the truck at Jackson’s, I’ll pick you up in half an hour and take you back to your house.’
‘Okie dokie,’ Stiles says, taking the keys. He doesn’t stop to ask if Scott is coming with them, so Lydia assumes they are having some sort of werewolf powwow that they are not privy to. That Lydia isn’t privy to. She follows Stiles out to the car, when she gets in she thinks she sees something pass one of the windows. Peter she thinks.
‘Hey, you okay?’ Stiles asks, buckling himself in before he starts up the engine.
‘Fine,’ Lydia says, plastering on a smile. ‘I think I’ve had enough excitement for one night.’
‘Right,’ Stiles says, his face betraying a million emotions that mean he deals with this and more on a regular basis. It’s too much. She knows an immeasurable amount less than he does, and that is almost too much to swallow.
‘Stiles,’ Lydia says, and Stiles meets her gaze. ‘They will save Jackson if they can, right? They aren’t going to kill him?’
‘Not unless they have to,’ Stiles says, which, like Derek had given Stiles earlier, is a non-answer.
Lydia just nods, not mentioning Peter. It isn’t time. But she can’t help but wonder just what Peter has up his sleeve, and what her role is going to be. He had told her that her immunity made her important, but she still has to learn just to what extent that is true.
If it means saving Jackson though, then she will do everything in her power to make sure that happens.
The drive to her house is mostly in silence, Stiles humming a song she doesn’t recognise and tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. She wonders if Stiles ever stills, or if he is constantly in motion. He stops the car at the end of the drive, clears his throat, and looks over at her like he has no idea what to say. Lydia reaches over and places a hand over one of his. Stiles looks at their hands in surprise, his mouth hanging open when he looks back at her.
‘Thank you,’ she says, smiling when Stiles shuts his mouth.
Stiles lets out a snort. ‘What for?’ he asks. ‘Endangering your life?’
‘You look out for me,’ Lydia says, squeezing his hand a little. ‘And I just wanted to thank you. You’re a good friend.’
‘Yeah,’ Stiles says, mouth twitching.
‘You’ll let me know if Jackson is in danger, won’t you?’ Lydia asks, thinking of Peter telling her he would ask for her assistance. But she’d rather do it on her terms if she can. She’s not sure that either Peter or the pack have Jackson’s best interests at heart. ‘If I can help at all.’
‘Of course,’ Stiles says, and it sounds like a lie. Lydia studies his face, wondering again how she didn’t even realise who he was for all those years.
‘Please,’ she says, insistent. ‘It’s important.’
Stiles frowns, sighs as he pulls his hand free from Lydia’s to scruff a hand across his hair.
‘I’ll see what I can do,’ Stiles says. ‘It really isn’t up to me though.’
‘But Derek listens to you,’ Lydia says. Stiles pinches his lips shut, making a face. ‘If Jackson needs my help, Derek needs to let me help, okay?’
‘Okay, fine,’ Stiles says.
‘Goodnight, Stiles,’ Lydia says softly.
‘Night,’ he says.
Lydia gets out of Jackson’s truck and heads towards the house, she doesn’t look back at Stiles, and she doesn’t succeed at chasing away the fear that fizzles low in her stomach.
She’ll help Jackson if it’s the last thing she does.