Lydia doesn’t go to the girls’ bathroom to cry after Jackson breaks up with her by text and then fucking humiliates her in the middle of a crowded hallway.
She goes to the toilets to fume.
Nobody is allowed to treat her like this, least of all Jackson fucking Whittemore. It’s not like this is the first time they’ve broke up in the, what, seventeen months they’ve been dating, but this is the first time it’s happened like this. This is the first time it’s felt final. This is the first time it’s hurt.
“God fucking damn it,” Lydia mutters, bracing her hands on either side of the sink.
Lydia had plans. She was supposed to date Jackson until the end of high school, when Jackson would go to some fancy law school he isn’t smart for but is definitely rich enough for, and Lydia would go to MIT, and naturally they would break up before distance could do the job for them. It just made sense.
This... doesn’t make sense. Jackson needs her. Jackson has always needed her, just as much as she’s needed him. It was a mutually beneficial agreement, and it worked, but now Jackson’s gone and fucked it up without even telling her why.
There’s a sudden noise from behind her, the creak of a stall door opening, and Lydia resists the urge to snarl at them to fuck off. Lydia Martin is calm and unflappable; Lydia Martin wouldn’t do that. Instead, she lets her head drop to her chest and inhales deeply. When she lifts her head again, her face is a careful mask of cool disdain.
Erica Reyes is standing behind her, staring.
(Erica Reyes is in Lydia’s gym class. Erica Reyes is a loser and a freak and barely on Lydia’s radar except for the way everyone is on Lydia’s radar, carefully defined variables in the complex equation that is high school.)
Lydia narrows her eyes at Erica in the mirror, but Erica doesn’t look away, doesn’t duck her head and mutter an apology like Lydia expected. Erica just... stares.
“What?” Lydia demands, disconcerted despite herself.
Still Erica doesn’t look away; if anything, she stands up a little straighter when she speaks. “Nothing,” she says, “I’ve just never seen you cry before.”
“I’m not crying,” Lydia snaps instantly, even as her eyes dart to her own reflection and confirm that, yes, those are dried tear tracks on her cheeks. She wipes at them as discreetly as she can.
Erica snorts; it’s a horrible, unattractive sound, and Lydia can’t hold back a sneer. Erica doesn’t say anything, just walks past her to wash her hands, dry them off and walk out.
Lydia pushes herself off the sink, crosses the room in two strides so she’s blocking Erica’s exit.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Erica demands. She looks angry, yes, but more than that, she looks... tired. Resigned.
“You were looking at me,” Lydia says, and she isn’t accusatory this time. Her head’s cocked to one side, and she’s studying Erica with a level of interest she usually only affords complex calculus. “You were staring.”
Erica snorts again, mutters something to herself Lydia can’t make out, and then she straightens up, like it takes effort, or like she’s trying to make a point.
“Get out of my way,” she says.
Erica scrubs a hand over her face; she looks tired again. “Fine,” she says, “fine,” and moves to step around Lydia. Lydia blocks her. Erica sighs and steps the other way. Lydia blocks her again.
Lydia sees it, the moment where whatever it is that’s holding Erica back – shyness, aversion to confrontation, years of being stamped into the dirt like so much rubbish – just snaps and something like fear flashes hot through Lydia’s veins. It’s nothing like how she felt that night, trapped in the school with a murderer on the loose; it thrills something in her, low in her gut, to see Erica lose it like that.
Erica fists both hands in Lydia’s dress like she’s going to toss her aside or throw her to the ground and Lydia is ready for it, has braced herself for the impact, when Erica drags her in and crushes their mouths together.
Lydia gasps against Erica’s lips because, wow, wow, she did not see that coming, and it’s been so long since someone in this godforsaken town did something truly, honestly surprising that it sends something giddy racing down Lydia’s spine.
“What,” she manages, and Erica just bites at her lip, sinking her teeth into Lydia’s open mouth. She grabs handfuls of Lydia’s hair, yanking hard, and it hurts, but it’s the kind of hurt that makes Lydia bite back, hurt back.
She reaches under Erica’s sweater, drags her hands up Erica’s back and rakes them back down again. Erica shudders against her, gasping into her mouth, and Lydia does it again, digging her nails in harder this time. Erica’s head drops to Lydia’s neck, and she bites at the skin there, licks over Lydia’s collarbone. She finds her way back to Lydia’s mouth after a minute, kissing more than biting, this time, and Lydia spares a moment to wonder how Erica Reyes got this good with her mouth.
And then the bell rings, loud and sudden, and they jump apart like they’ve been demagnetised. Erica looks shell-shocked, her eyes wide, her mouth smeared with Lydia’s lipstick.
“I, I didn’t,” Erica stammers, not meeting her gaze.
Lydia shakes herself thoroughly, wipes the back of her hand across her mouth. “Excuse me,” she mutters, and ducks past Erica out of the toilets.
Erica doesn’t go to the formal. It’s not like she has anyone to go with, or anyone to go for, and there are far better things she could do with her evening.
Erica doesn’t go to the formal, and that’s why she doesn’t find out about Lydia Martin ‘til the Monday after when it’s all anyone can talk about at school.
She only hears snatches of other people’s conversations, of course. It’s not like anyone actually tells Erica that Lydia was attacked by some kind of animal on the lacrosse field and was taken to hospital, but it doesn’t take her long to piece it together. She’s no Lydia Martin, but she’s not stupid.
When she gets to the hospital, Stiles is curled up in a chair outside Lydia’s room, snoring. Erica almost laughs; she had the hugest crush on him, once, and she has no fucking idea why. Maybe he smiled at her, when she stepped in front of Lydia by accident, or something. Erica doesn’t know.
She turns towards Lydia’s room, cocks her head to one side. She’s not even sure why she’s here, honestly. Erica doesn’t hate Lydia any more or less than everyone else at school who’s helped make her life a living hell; it’s not like she cares if Lydia survives this. Erica pointedly doesn’t think about the kiss in the bathroom, Lydia’s hair tangled between her fingers, Lydia’s mouth hot and open under hers. It’s not like it meant anything.
Erica peers through the glass. Lydia looks much less mean unconscious, her edges softened out, her lines less defined. She’s just as unfairly pretty, of course, and Erica wonders half-sardonically if the nurses top up her make-up as well as changing her sheets and checking her vitals.
And then Melissa McCall says, “Hello, Erica,” and Erica nearly jumps out of her skin. “Haven’t seen you round here in a while.”
She turns, slowly, forcing a smile onto her face. She likes Melissa; she’s usually on duty when Erica comes in, and she is always kind and sympathetic without pitying her.
“I just wanted to check Lydia was okay,” Erica says. It doesn’t taste like a lie, somehow, and Melissa smiles at her.
“She’s going to be fine,” she says. “We’re actually expecting her to wake up any-” She’s cut off by loud beeping. Melissa gives Erica a smile, like, there you go, and says, “Excuse me,” before hurrying into Lydia’s room.
Erica glances through the window; Lydia’s struggling to sit up, her pretty face screwed up into a determined smile. Erica shakes her head, huffs a laugh and walks out.
Lydia’s first day back at school is... not great.
She hasn’t been the freak since the fourth grade, when she had ratty hair and crooked teeth and her parents had just got divorced. This isn’t that, this isn’t anywhere near that, and Lydia is much better about shrugging off the stares and glaring daggers at the whispers, but.
But it’s just kind of... not great. That’s all.
She stares after Jackson as he saunters away from her, so fucking smug and mysterious she wants to- she wants to- She doesn’t know. She doesn’t even know why she bothered, why she screwed up her pride all morning just so she could thank him for saving her life.
There isn’t anyone around when she shakes herself a little, straightens up, tosses her hair, but she does it anyway. It kind of stopped being about other people a long time ago, she thinks.
Erica’s first day as a werewolf is fucking fantastic.
The elevated senses are cool, yeah, and she will definitely be finding uses for the super-strength, but mostly Erica doesn’t care about all that. It doesn’t so much feel like a weight’s been lifted off her shoulders as the boulder that’s been crushing her chest has rolled away, rolled off of her, leaving her free to breathe for the first time in longer than Erica wants to remember. It’s exhilarating, a giddy rush of freedom and delight that she has only ever dreamed of.
(The clothes she bought after Derek turned her don’t exactly hurt, either.)
She surveys her reflection in the bathroom mirror, tossing her hair back from her face. It hadn’t taken much, her grand transformation, and the looks on everybody’s faces in the cafeteria were so fucking worth it. Especially Lydia’s, and Erica doesn’t particularly want to examine why that is, why it was so satisfying to see the disgust on her face, the cracks of discomfort.
Which. Speak of the devil. Erica narrows her eyes, sniffs again, but, yes, that is definitely Lydia’s over-priced perfume she can smell. She spins on her heel, focusing in on it, and follows the scent to the cubicle at the end. She stops in front of it, cocks her head to one side, then aims a kick at the door.
When it opens, Lydia is sitting cross-legged on the toilet seat, head cradled in her hands. It snaps up instantly, and it’s obvious that Lydia’s been crying. Her face is blotchy, muddy with tears, and she looks vulnerable the way she did when she was unconscious.
“Awwww,” Erica says, smiling sweet and vicious, “did Jackson break up with you again?”
Lydia stares at her for a moment. “Fuck you,” she says, very dignified, and unfolds her legs from underneath her. She strides past Erica to the mirror, running the tap at the sink and ducking her head.
Erica follows. “No but seriously,” she says, leaning against the sink next to Lydia’s. “What happened? Did Daddy cut your allowance for being a nudist freak?”
“Why are you still here?” Lydia snaps, not looking away from her reflection. She’s dabbing concealer on her face, covering the bruises under her eyes. Erica watches for a minute, watches Lydia carefully put her mask back into place.
“I don’t get you,” she says instead of answering. “Why do you even bother?”
The smile Lydia directs at her is probably supposed to be condescending, but it just looks tired. “You’ll figure it out,” is all she says, before she gathers her stuff and turns to leave.
Erica’s moved to block her exit without even thinking about it. Lydia startles, just a little, and her eyes dart down to Erica’s mouth for a fraction of a second before she drags them back up. Erica smirks.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Lydia says, her voice just a little short of mocking. She’s staring at Erica’s mouth again, and Erica steps forward, pushing Lydia back against the sink. It doesn’t take much effort, and Lydia is still staring at her mouth, so Erica sees no reason not to stoop down and kiss her. Gently, with only a little bite, one hand cupping Lydia’s face, the other resting at her hip. Lydia kisses her back, just as gently, and when Erica slips her tongue past Lydia’s lips she makes a sound, soft, wanting.
This time, when the bell rings, they don’t stop.
Erica’s leaning against Lydia’s locker when she gets into school the next morning. She smirks when she sees Lydia, but it’s just a little too soft, a little too genuine, and Lydia finds herself smiling back.