“Are you paying attention, Miss Martin?”
Lydia snapped her attention back to her Chemistry teacher, and the question she most certainly missed. “I’m sorry what was the question?”
“Please read the amino acid chain I have written on the board aloud and identify which hormone it represents.”
Lydia gazed at the board and fought not to roll her eyes. Of course she’d get that one. It wasn’t like she’d been staring at the indelible ink on her shoulder stating the formulation for that particular chemical every day of her life or anything.
Mr. Harris seemed to take her silence as defeat. “Anyone else? Come on now. Who wants to feel smarter than the shoe-in for Valedictori-”
“It’s cysteine-tyrosine-isoleucine-glutamine-asparagine-cysteine-proline-leucine-glycine-amide,” she said with a huff. “It’s oxytocin.”
“And here I was expecting someone to put you in your place.”
Lydia sank down in her chair. She hadn’t meant for her focus to be pulled, by she’d felt her soulmark burning on her shoulder, and by burning, she meant is was like a sunburn: Irritating but could be ignored.
Well, it would have been easy for her to disregard if it had ever happened before. She knew what it meant, too. Several of her friends had found their soulmates already and had described the exact same sensation leading up to their meeting. So of course she was on edge. Who wouldn’t be?
“Hey, Lyds. What’s the matter?”
She turned her head to glance over her shoulder at her best friend, Stiles. “My soulmark is bothering me,” she whispered. She watched his eyebrows raise so high on his forehead she thought they might float away.
“Like mine did?”
She pursed her lips and tried not to feel disgustingly jealous. Who the hell got to find their soulmate at five years old who just happened to be the younger brother of their babysitter? Seriously. “Yes,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Oh my God. That’s awesome. You should find them and then we can double date.”
At the front of the room, Mr. Harris spun around and glared at Stiles. “Detention, Mr. Stilinski.”
Stiles’ desk groaned as he flopped back against his chair. Contrite at being partially responsible for getting him in trouble (only partly. Mr. Harris had it in for Stiles in the worst way. Some days all he had to do was breathe too loudly to earn himself detention), she scribbled down a quick note and passed it under the desk to him.
She heard the telltale crinkle of him unfolding paper, his soft chuckle, and then him refolding the paper before tapping her in the shoulder. She looked down at his response and smiled to herself:
She stowed the note just as the classroom door opened and in walked the principal followed by a tall girl, clutching her books to her chest. Her rich, chestnut locks fell in deconstructed waves down her back. Her mouth held Lydia’s attention, and she couldn’t help the way she wanted to kiss and nip and suck on those full, coral hued lips. Nor could she ignore the way she wanted to lose herself in those dark chocolate eyes and write odes to all that porcelain skin.
Lydia’s heart lurched in her chest, and she swallowed the lump in her throat. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the new girl (she had to be new. Lydia knew everyone in school and had never seen this ethereal creature before in her life). Underneath her blouse, her soulmark heated up once more. She couldn’t breathe.
“Okay, class. We have a new student. This is Allison; she just moved here from San Francisco. Allison, you can sit in the empty seat in front of Scott.”
“Um, which one…”
Mr. Harris looked up from her registration sheet Principal Travers had handed him. “Oh, he’s the one who looks like a lost puppy.”
Lydia began to panic when Allison took the seat across from her. Granted, it was a contained panic, one entirely undetectable to the outside eye, but it was a panic nonetheless.
“Damn it. I know I packed one in here somewhere. How am I supposed to write…” Allison muttered under her breath as she dug through her backpack.
Lydia had just reached into her bag to loan Allison a writing implement when Scott beat her to it. Allison gave him a warm smile.
“Thanks. Way to be prepared, right? I swear I would have forgotten my head this morning if it weren’t attached.”
“It’s okay. Everyone has days like that. I’m Scott,” he said, extending his hand, and when Allison blushed as she shook it, Lydia felt like she died a little in her chair. “Would you like me to show you to your next class?”
“I’d like that.”
Allison had a smile that could melt even the frostiest heart; Lydia bit her trembling lip. No, no! That’s my soulmate, Scott. What are you doing?
She didn’t have a chance to even say a word, because the bell rang. Instead, she settled for watching the pair of them walk out together.
“Lydia?” Stiles asked, tapping her on the shoulder. “Coming?”
“Yes.” She straightened her posture and walked ahead of him into the hallway like the queen she was.
Allison spun around in her bedroom, the tiered, floral skirt flaring out as she twirled around. “So, what do you think?”
Lydia couldn’t look past all the tantalizing bare leg, but she forced herself to take in the rest of Allison’s outfit. The cream colored blouse was the perfect compliment, and the navy cardigan made her look so soft that Lydia wanted to wrap her up in a hug. “What’s the occasion?”
“My date with Scott. I’m sure I told you about that. It’s our two month anniversary. I think tonight’s gonna be the night.”
Calm down, Lydia. Jealousy is not a good look on you . “Oh right. I’m sorry; I just have a lot on my mind today. I think you look beautiful.”
Allison’s lips pulled back in a full smile. God, those dimples were going to be the death of her; Lydia just knew it. “Thanks, and that is why you are an amazing friend. Speaking of, you wouldn’t happen to have a condom on you...you know just in case?” Allison took off the cardigan to keep it free from lint while she finished getting ready.
“Yeah.” She grabbed the one she kept in her purse and excused herself to go to the bathroom, leaving Allison to her makeup application. Once inside, she turned on the tap, and leaned against the closed door. “I’m not going to cry. I’m not.” She gripped the counter and stared in the mirror, looking herself right in the eye. “Just because you’re in love with her, doesn’t mean you need to be reduced to a blubbering mess in her bathroom.”
Though perhaps it was because she loved her, combined with Allison’s possible roll in the hay and the fact she was almost certain that her best friend was her soulmate (hard to say definitively without seeing Allison’s soulmark) sure made keeping her composure difficult.
When she returned to Allison’s bedroom, she found her standing in front of the mirror in just her bra and skirt. “What…”
“I spilled my foundation all over my shirt. I have a pale pink one that will work just as well.”
There, on full display upon Allison’s stomach, was her soulmark. Lydia swallowed hard, and Allison followed her gaze.
“Oh, yeah. I know. It’s a strange mark. I have no idea what it means...at all. It just looks like a bunch of numbers and letters.”
She took a few steps towards Allison, and the indelible ink became clearer. “Can I? she asked, pointing to her stomach.
“Sure. Maybe you can figure it out. I haven’t asked Scott about his mark yet, but maybe it’s complimentary. You know how like Derek and Stiles have moon and stars?”
Lydia sighed, her fingers ghosting over Allison’s mark. She knew exactly what Scott’s mark was, and had no idea how to tell her that hers did not make sense with his puppy shaped mark. “It’s a chemical formula. C for carbon, H for hydrogen, N for nitrogen, O oxygen and S sulfur.”
“Really? That’s so odd, and very cool.” Allison tugged her new shirt over her head and grabbed her things,ushering Lydia out of the room with her. “So, I was thinking that you and I went prom dress shopping next weekend. Because we definitely need to go shopping. It's been too long. ”
“I don’t know. I mean...I don’t even have a date, and all of my friends are coupled off now. I don’t think it’s a good idea that I go.”
Allison voiced her protests to the matter, but all Lydia could hear is ‘I know you don’t have a date, but being single isn’t so bad.’ She wished she could just open her mouth and say, ‘Well, you know what? I would have asked someone, but she’s already in a relationship, and there is no one else I want to go with.’
Instead, she walked to her car and told Allison to have a good time. She waited until she had turned onto the next street before she started crying.
“I mean, honestly, Lydia. How could he do that to me?” Allison sobbed over the phone.
“Slow down, Ally. I missed something in there. What happened?” She stopped running at her front door, brushing her hair out of her face. Ugh, she smelled like a locker room. What was she thinking going for a run in this humidity?
“Scott and I broke up.”
Pausing at the doorknob, keys still in hand, she turned around and walked to the driveway. She held her phone to her ear as she opened the car door. “Aww, honey. I’m on my way. Do you want me to stop for ice cream or anything? Raid my mother’s liquor cabinet?”
“I’ll be there in thirty.” She ended the call and went in search of booze.
She was there in fifteen. So sue her.
Allison answered the door to the Argent house in a pair of running shorts and an oversized t-shirt hanging off one shoulder. Her tear-stained face and red-rimmed eyes twisted Lydia’s stomach in knots. She stepped out of the way, and Lydia walked in, Safeway bag holding two pints of Ben & Jerry’s in one hand and a bottle of Kahlua in the other.
“So, your choice. You get the Boom Chocolatta or the Karamel Sutra.”
Allison grabbed the liquor, stopped in the kitchen for a couple spoons, and trudged up the stairs to her room with Lydia hot on her heels. As soon as they stepped foot into the bedroom, Allison flopped onto the bed. “Why would he tell me that?”
Lydia lay down beside her and stared up at the ceiling. “You still haven’t filled me in yet. Why did you break up?”
“Well,” she said, shoveling a spoonful of chocolate ice cream into her mouth, “we want different things apparently. I want to be serious, and this is… was his first relationship, and he just wasn’t ready for that. I mean I understand, but then I told him I thought he was my soulmate.”
“And?” Lydia asked, her voice small and timid.
“His soulmark is a puppy. A puppy, Lydia. That doesn’t go with my mark at all. I just don’t get it. I was so sure.”
“How?” She rolled onto her side and propped her head up on her arm. “I mean, why were you so sure?”
Allison sat up and took a long swig from the bottle.. “Well, that first day in class, I felt my mark heat up when I sat down, and then he started talking to me, and I felt...right.”
“I see. I think I’m going to need some of that.” She reached over and grabbed the bottle from her. “What we need is some upbeat music, and we need to dance.”
Scrolling through Allison’s phone, she found something that would work. Then, she took a few more drinks, passing the bottle to Allison. As the music picked up into a bass heavy beat, she grabbed her hands, enticing her to dance along.
Hands in the air and jumping around without caring about how ridiculous they probably looked to anyone else, they kept going, for song after song until a tiny hint of a smile appeared on Allison’s face. “That’s better,” Lydia said, a bit tipsy as she reached out to pat her cheek. “ Never frown: someone could be falling in love with your smile.” If you only knew how much that was true.
Allison looked around her room. “Lydia, you’re the only other person here.”
Allison was quiet for several moments, and Lydia could tell she was feeling the buzz too, because she swayed on her feet a little. Do not stare at her lips.. Do not.
Whatever had been on her mind, Allison brushed it off and continued dancing. However, by three more songs, both of them were out of breath, and though she couldn’t speak for her friend, Lydia was exhausted. She grabbed a movie from her purse and popped it into the BluRay player. “Whenever I’m having a crappy day, I find the best solution is Clueless .”
Allison handed Lydia a pillow, and they settled in to watch, each of them occasionally reciting dialogue along with the characters. As the movie played on though, Lydia found it harder and harder to keep her feelings bottled up.
“Hey, Ally. Can I ask you something?”
“You ever talk to someone about what it felt like when they first kissed their soulmate?”
Allison turned her head and looked over at Lydia. “You mean besides Stiles and Derek?”
“Yes,” she said with a roll of her eyes, “they don’t count. Their first kiss was under the slide when they were six and eight years old. I don’t think their descriptions of how it felt at the time are going to be useful here.”
“Yeah. A friend of mine from San Francisco said it was like something settling in their chest, pieces slotting into place, you know?”
Lydia twirled a lock of hair between her fingers. “Did you feel that with Scott?”
“I thought I did. But maybe that was just normal first kiss jitters. I don’t have enough experience kissing people to know if that is true or not. Why?”
“I was just thinking...can I try something?” You are evil, Lydia Martin. Simply evil.
Allison nodded. “Okay. Yeah. I trust you.”
Lydia licked her lips, cupped Allison’s chin, and closed the distance. Softer than she could have possibly imagined, Allison’s lips tasted a bit like coffee, salt from her tears, and chocolate. When Allison took a shuddering breath, Lydia traced the outline of Allison’s lips with her tongue.
To Lydia’s surprise, Allison’s lips parted and their tongues danced against one anothers. When they finally broke apart, they simply stared at each other for a minute before Allison spoke.
“Wow. That was...definitely different.”
Lydia nodded, and closed her eyes. There was no way she could look at Allison while she told her how she felt. “I need to show you something,” she said, pulling down the collar of her t-shirt to expose her soulmark.
“That’s very pretty. It looks a bit like lace.”
She shook her head. “It’s the chemical structure for oxytocin. Which you might recognize better as C 43 H 66 N 12 O 12 S 2 .” She heard Allison gasp and then braced herself for rejection.
“Why...didn’t you say anything?”
Lydia opened her eyes when Allison covered her hand with her own. “I knew right away, but when Scott started talking to you, and he asked you on a date, by then it was too late. You two were together, and I couldn’t say anything. It wouldn’t have been fair to you. I was just going to keep quiet forever if I had to. I know people that have been very happy in a long term relationship with someone who wasn’t their soulmate. I just didn’t want to influ-”
Allison silenced her words with another kiss, this one hungrier and more frenzied than the first. One kiss turned to two turned to making out and taking off their shirts, and that turned into falling off the bed. Breaking into fits of giggles, they lay there on the floor, giddy with emotion until Allison finally turned to her. “So I guess this means you and I are definitely going to go prom dress shopping now.”
Lydia gave her shoulder a playful shove, and Allison caught her hand. She pulled Lydia on top of her and kissed the tip of her nose.
“Yeah, it totally does.”