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Coal Mining Love

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    The Jungles buzzes with the electronic hum of yet another dub step song, its beat merging with the green and blue neon flashings lights located over the bar.  Every third beat, the blue beams sweep over Lydia’s entire field of vision, and the steady rhythm of music and lights give her a trance like calm.  She slips between sweat drenched bodies, twisting and turning from each at the last moment to avoid a collision with practiced ease.  Almost no one looks graceful fighting the crowds around a bar, but damned if Lydia Martin didn’t try.  

    One more drink, and she’ll be perfect.  The club is slowly working its magic, and it won’t be long now until she loses track of time all together -- the whole point of this little exercise.  Lydia could never be as fantastically dull as drinking away her problems, but distractions, that’s a whole other matter.  And right now, there are about four shirtless and sweaty potential distractions in her immediate line of sight alone. If Allison was here she’d probably disapprove of a wild romp with a stranger, but Allison isn’t here.

    Allison isn’t anywhere anymore.

     She tips the rest of her drink back and crushes on an ice cube between her teeth, before placing her cup on the bar and sauntering towards the dance floor.  She feels the music rattle her chest the closer she gets to the speakers, and by the time her shoes hit the tiled center,  she’s incorporated the beat into her gate --  her hips swinging in time to the rhythm.  It’s a sight, her red mane flying all around as she shakes her head to the music, rouge strands finding their way to the corners her mouth where they stick to her lip gloss before she haphazardly flings them back to the fray with one hand.   

    Lydia Martin’s made herself available, now it’s a matter of waiting for distraction number one to approach.  

    It does’t take long, but he’s all hot breath and hands as he pushes against her.  Instant turn off.  Disappointing on the dance floor means disappointing in bed.  She unwinds from his arms without looking back at his face.

    “Am I that bad a dancing partner?”  The voice speaking is familiar.  Lydia whips her head around to face blue eyes and curls.  

    Fuck. What perfectly horrible luck.  

    Tonight was supposed to be a break from anything and everything supernatural related. That included all her supposed “friends” and their bizarre “let’s deal with it by not dealing with it” attitude, and it sure as hell included actual werewolves.

    “Is there a reason you’re grinding on my backside, Isaac Lahey? Or can I assume this is a tragic case of mistaken identity.”

    “We’re in a club, Lydia Martin,” he replies, putting emphasis on her name before letting his mouth go slack.  He lifts one eyebrow when she doesn’t respond, and his expression seems to say that she’s being thick.  

    “W-well,” she half says, half stutters, “could you do it somewhere else?”  

    “Why?” he asks. His matter of fact tone is really getting on her nerves.

    “Why?” she repeats. “How about because I’m sick of werewolves, foxes, and evil spirits,  or better yet, how about because I said so.”

    “It’s nice to see you too, Lydia.”

    “Did Scott and Kira send you? Wait, no, it was Stiles, wasn’t it? Oh god,” she moans.  The music seems too loud now. It’s engulfing her and she can’t tell if it’s the beat or her own heart making her chest jump. The strobe lights are beginning to hurt her eyes, and she uses her clutch to block their glare.  “I said I’d be fine, right? I just need some time.”

    “I know, they know, but . . . it’s been almost two weeks, you know. . .”

    If Lydia had felt better, she would have pointed out how stupid Isaac sounded, but instead, she finds herself walking off the dance floor, throwing the words “I’m not ready to see them” over her shoulder.  


    The drive home is strangely short, and she wonders how far her mind drifted during the ride.  She keeps her eyes focused on her lap and hesitates before taking the keys out of the ignition.  She’s worried she won’t see her house when she looks up.  

    She’s been doing that a lot more lately. Ending up in strange places.  She hasn’t brought it up with the group for multiple reasons. One reason being she’s been avoiding them since before it happened, and the other, slightly more important reason, (in her opinion) is that she hasn’t found any dead bodies.  No need to cause the group to worry when there’s nothing to support it.

    But maybe it is something that eventually needs to be discussed because she’s done it again.  

    This time Lydia is parked in front of the Argent’s old home. Allison’s last home as a normal teenage girl. Before werewolves, and hunters, and kanimas, and banshees.  When Lydia’s only fear was that Allison would take the title of most popular girl in Beacon Hills. When Allison’s only worry was being the new girl.

    When Lydia had a best friend named Allison.

    Car head lights pull up behind her, and a figure gets out to walk towards her car.  The name escapes Lydia’s mouth before she processes who’s really at her car window.

    “Allison?”  

    The vulnerability in her own voice makes Lydia cringe, and the pain that seems to fill the Sheriff’s eyes makes her feel even worse.  She can’t tell if she’s grateful or not that he chooses to ignore her slip up.  His lips are tight like he’s holding back something he’s not even sure how to express.

     “I know you kids-” he interrupts himself to sigh and crouches down so he can look her in the eyes, “I know you’re going through things, a lot of things, but you can’t come here like this, Lydia.  It’s scaring the family that lives here now.”

    Her face flushes, and she hides behind her hair.

    “I haven’t been here long,” she says, “I just left the Jungle around twelve thirty.”

    The Sheriff makes another pained face, and Lydia’s really beginning to get annoyed at the amount of difficulty this man seems to be having around her.

    “Lydia,” he says in a soft voice, “it’s four in the morning.”

    She whips her head to face him and opens her mouth as if to argue, but nothing comes out. She just stares at him with wide eyes.

    “Come on,” he continues, “let me give you a lift home and we can get your car tomorrow.”

    “No, I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m going home,” the words tumbling out of her mouth feel thick and foreign. She starts her car and whispers “please don’t tell Stiles about this”.  She’s almost positive the Sheriff didn’t hear her, but then a warm hand pats her shoulder.

    “I won’t tell Stiles,” he says.

 


************

 

   “Lydia”

    This voice is soft and sweet like honeysuckle.  It doesn’t scream or cry like the others.  It never asks for help.

    “Lydia”

    It never demands. It only ever says her name, pulling on the syllables until there’s a tickle on the back of her neck.

    “Lydia”

    And it hurts more than anything she’s ever experienced, because no matter how hard Lydia tries to respond, Allison never hears her when she answers.
    

 

    “Lydia!” a real voice shouts from her left.  She slams her locker shut, and turns to face Kira who’s practically bouncing down the hallway towards her with a bewildered looking Malia in tow.  

    “I heard about this weekend,” the kitsune says.  Lydia’s heart starts racing and she’s sure Malia can hear it, but decides to play it cool anyway.     

    “And?” Lydia asks with a raised eyebrow.

    “And,” Kira continues seemingly unfazed by the banshees flippant air, “Next time you go to the Jungle, you should totally tell me! Malia’s been teaching me the moves.”

    “The moves?” she asks, covering her relief with a questioning tone.  It’s the club Kira’s referring to and not Lydia’s late night time loss.

    “She’s talking about dancing,” Malia says. She’s eyeing Lydia in this cautious and pity filled way that’s really getting under her skin.  

    “Well,” Lydia drawls out while turning from the two girls, “A feral were-coyote isn’t the first one I’d go to for dance help, but I guess it’s not stranger than anything else in this town.  Let me know how the lessons go.”

    “I’m not feral,” Malia calls out to Lydia’s  retreating figure. She turns to Kira and says it again.  “I’m not feral.”

    Kira smiles and doesn’t mention the muffled “anymore” Malia tacks onto the end.

    It’s Scott who approaches Lydia in the library first.  She just assumed it would be Stiles since it was his girlfriend (kinda? she’s actually not sure what they are) that she called feral.

    “I guess Kira told you I was mean,” she says. Scott’s eyes look tired and his mouth is tense just like the Sheriff’s was and when he looks at her, she can almost feel the pity rolling off him. Just like Malia.  Is this how she affects others now? Lydia Martin, just a hollow shell of tragedy and pain held together by other people’s pity?  

    “Well, I’m not apologizing,” she says, raising her chin to look at Scott. “She was feral at some point.”

    “Kira didn’t say anything,” he says. “I was at the other end of the hallway, and  I overheard.”

    Lydia rolls her eyes and mutters under her breath “werewolves”.  

Scott shrugs, and continues, “Anyway, you weren’t that mean. And it was a great deflector.”  She narrows her eyes at his accusation. And since when did Scott McCall even know what deflection was outside of lacrosse?

    “And just why would I need to deflect?”

He shrugs again. This whole ‘easy-going-werewolf’ act was really starting to get on her nerves.

    “I dunno. Probably that you don’t want to hang out with them, right? That you’re still not ready.”  He talked to Isaac. Of course, he talked to Isaac. He probably sent Isaac out to check on her in the first place.  Why had she thought it must have been Stiles?  That’s something to examine later.  Or maybe not. Lydia doesn’t have much free time to spend on her own emotions anyway.

    “Look McCall,” she says.  He raises his eyebrow at the use of his last name. “I get that you’re all ‘I’m an Alpha now’ and you think it’s your responsibility to keep us all safe, but there’s no big bad at the moment. I’m pretty sure I can go to a mostly gay club without you sending an escort to watch me.”

    “Wow, you’re, like,  really good at deflecting. I think you even give Stiles a run for his money.”

Lydia puts her pen down and closes her notebook. Studying doesn’t make sense when you’re talking with a True Alpha.

    “That’s because Stiles only knows how to deflect by drawing attention to himself. I prefer a more sophisticated approach.”

She packs her things a little to quickly into her bag to be nonchalant, and has to put effort into not cringing when she realizes her mistake.  It totally looks like she’s running away from Scott. Even if that is what she was doing (she is), Lydia doesn’t want him to know, but it’s too late now judging from his crestfallen face.

    “Lydia” he says.  She stops struggling with a folder but she doesn’t look up from her bag.  She can tell from his tone he's about to be blunt. “I saw you walking last thursday.”  She rolls her eyes and stands up to leave.

     “I walk everyday, Scott. Get to the point.”

    “In your pajamas? At 2 in the morning?”

She turns to face him, lips pursed. With heels, she can almost meet him eye to eye.

    “What were you doing out at two in the morning?” she shoots back.

He opens his mouth but ends up sighing instead of speaking. He leans his head back and smacks a hand over his forehead to drag down his face. He looks at her through his splayed fingers.

    “Lydia, it’s been really hard for all of us. We need each other now more than ever.  She wouldn’t want this. For you to be going through it alone. Al-”

    “Don’t.” Her voice is quiet. She’s knows the only way he’ll hear her is through his wolf senses. “Please don’t.”  She has no idea what she’s trying to tell him so she decides to stick with the same thing she told Isaac. “I’m not ready. I wasn’t ready.”

    “No one was ready!”  His is voice is a shocking contrast to her hushed confession.  It rings sharp and loud in the nearly empty library.  This is exactly what she doesn’t need.  Lydia uses the librarian’s scolding to sneak away, ignoring the prying eyes of Greenberg and the other few students remaining in the library.  She’s practically through the door when she hears it. So low that it almost doesn’t register, except it does, and Lydia’s been around enough werewolves to know exactly what it is.

    Scott McCall just growled at her.
    

************


    “Dude, did you yell at Lydia?”  Stiles voice is a hushed combination of awe and concern.  A mixture that sounds grating on Scott’s ears.

    “What?”

    “Yesterday, in the library. Greenberg had detention. He said he heard you and her talking and then he heard you yell.”

    “I didn’t yell.”

    “Okay, he heard you speak very loudly, like super loud. Like top of your lungs loud, which was actually pretty much the definition of yelling last time I checked.  Hello! Scott!”  He leans forward to wave his hands in the Alpha’s face.  “We can’t have a werewolf with loose control going around yelling at girls.  What’s going on?”

    “Nothing’s going on.”

Stiles glares over his turkey sandwich and angrily flaps a half in Scott’s face.  “I may not be a werewolf,”  he says with food in his mouth, “but I can still tell when you’re lying.”  Scott watches a piece of turkey fly out as he talks.  “No one's okay. It’s only been a couple of months since everything happened. . . ”  Stiles gets quiet after that, and before long, Scott can smell the guilt clinging to him like spiderwebs.

    “Did you know Lydia’s been zoning out and wandering around again?”

Stiles’s head shoots up from his lunch, and the guilt Scott could smell drifts away. Concern is the primary scent now.

    “For how long?” he asks.

    “I don’t know, but I saw her in the woods Thursday night. I followed her until she got home. She won’t talk about it.”  Scott says.

    “Is that why you yelled at her?”  

    “She’s been avoiding us.”

    “Is that why you yelled at her?”

    “I think she’s hiding something.”

    “Is that why you yelled at her?”

    “Stiles, if you ask me that one more time-” he’s cut off by Stiles.

    “Huh, the girls are getting a school lunch today.”  He nods in the direction of the cafeteria line. “Even Lydia’s with them. Kinda weird.”

    

    Lydia keeps a firm grip on Malia’s arm, preventing her from leaving the line, while Kira stands awkwardly beside them.  Lydia needs her more as visual shield right now which is just as well since the kitsune’s attempts at being nonchalant are terrible.

    “Tell me what they’re saying,” Lydia mutters under her breath. Malia frowns.

    “This is stupid.  Just go talk to them.”

    “This,” Lydia corrects, “is necessary.  Now what are they saying?”  Malia huffs and closes her eyes to focus.

    “No!” says Lydia, “Don’t make it obvious that you’re listening in!”

    “Look, do you want to know what they’re saying or not?”

    “It’s okay, Lydia,”  Kira interjects.  “That’s why I’m here. So they can’t see Malia concentrating.  I’ll just pretend to talk to her.”
Kira stands in a semi-profile to face Lydia just barely blocking Malia’s face.  Lydia sighs and instead of admitting defeat, flips her hair like the discussion never happened.  She can’t even wait a full ten seconds before she’s pursing her lips and demanding to know if Scott and Stiles are discussing her.

    “Wait, why would they be talking about you?” Kira asks. “Is something wrong?”

    “Of course not.” Lydia swallows the guilt she feels at the kitsune’s worried tone. “I’m fine. I may have walked around a few times after dark unawares but I still have a 4.0, and there were no dead bodies, so clearly it’s nothing too serious.”  She flips her hair again to avoid eye contact with Kira.

    “Why didn’t you tell us?”

    “I didn’t tell anyone,” she says firmly. “I was seen. And now I need to know if they’re planning an quaint intervention type thing, which honestly is the last thing I have time to-”

    “Be quiet,” Malia interrupts. “I can’t hear them over you two.”

Lydia rolls her eyes but holds her tongue. Still though, they can’t just stand around like idiots.  She turns to Kira and moves her mouth like she’s talking, but no words come out.  Kira seems to be baffled by the whole exchange until Lydia widens her eyes and silently laughs while leaning in.  She elbows Kira in the ribs gently and whispers “act like it’s a conversation”.
   

 

 “What do you think they’re talking about?” Stiles says while watching Lydia laugh with Kira.     

    “I don’t know.”

He glares at Scott over his milk carton, takes an angry swig, then swallows loudly.  “Well, use your little werewolf powers and find out,” he says before biting into his sandwich. Scott frowns.

    “I don’t know, dude,” he says. “It feels weird. Like maybe they’re talking about girl stuff.”  Stiles almost snorts out another sip from his milk.  He wipes at his mouth with one of his sleeves.

    “Oh, like you don’t already know when every single one of them is one their period thanks to your super nose. What’s more girl stuff after that?” he says.  Scott’s face scrunches into an even deeper frown.  

    “Dude. . .”

    “Yeah, you’re right. Too much. I’m sorry” says Stiles, his hands held up in a placating manner. “I just meant it could be important. You said Lydia might have done this more than once and she’s not saying anything to us about it, right?”  He turns to look at the three girls before he continues speaking. “Maybe she’s saying something to them. . .”
Scott scratches his neck, and leans forward onto the table. “Fine,” he says, “but it still feels weird.”  

He’s quiet for awhile before he looks back up at Stiles in confusion.     

    “What?” asks Stiles, his body lurching forward with the energy of the word.

    “They’re not saying anything,” Scott says.

    “What? No. Listen harder. I can see Lydia and Kira talking.”

    “I know, but they’re not saying anything.”

 

    “So?” asks Lydia while turning to the werecoyote.  Malia huffs and grabs both of them by the arm to pull them out of line.

    “Hey, excuse you, paws off! And just where are we going?” Lydia says.

    “I told you it was stupid. Now we’re going to sit down at the table.” Malia answers.

    “To do what?” Lydia demands.

    “Talk.”

    “Oh no,” Lydia laughs while jerking her arm free, “I’m not sitting anywhere to talk until you tell me what they were talking about.”  Kira is silent through out the exchange, but Lydia can  still feel her eyes hugging her in concern.  Malia doesn’t seem to care and just rolls hers.    

    “Look, they’re just worried about you. Worried enough to try listening to our conversation,” Malia says and Lydia can pick out more than a small amount of annoyance in her tone.

    The werecoyote could at least try to hide it.

    Before Lydia can sink too deep into her thoughts, Malia opens her mouth again, “Also, Scott can smell when we’re on our periods.”

Kira and Lydia turn to her, each of their faces an interesting combination of shock and betrayal.

    “Seriously?” says Kira.
 

 

    “I think they’ve might have been listening to us. . .” says Scott.

    “What?” says Stiles. “Oh my god, do you think they heard the period thing?”  Scott turns to him with a look that can only be interpreted as ‘dude, seriously?’ before Stiles keeps talking. “Because I feel like that could very easily be taken out of context. Like waaaaaay out of context. And-” he interrupts himself to gasp, “oh my god, they’re walking towards us.”  He snaps his mouth shut only to open it a second later to shove almost half of his turkey sandwich behind his teeth.  “Sorwy ‘ude, yar gunna haft to tawk to dem. Ma mauwfs fuhl” he manages to say despite all the food crammed in his mouth.
    

     “Coward” says Scott, “I’m mad that I even understood you.”
 

Stiles just shrugs, and waves to the approaching girls, still trying to chew the massive amount of sandwich in his mouth.
     

    Lydia is the first to reach the table.  She slams down her notebook with enough ferocity to  make both boys jump at the sound.  Stiles nearly chokes on the reminder of his sandwich.

    “Alright,” she says. “let’s get this over with.  Go ahead, say what you need to say.”  She stands there with her hands on hips, daring one of them to speak.  Scott looks over to Stiles, but the human is putting on a magnificent performance of being interested in his milk carton.  It’s clear Scott’s on his own in this one.

    “What should we be saying?” he asks slowly.  

Stiles watches Scott from the side of his eye, shaking his head at the Alpha’s words.  Kira actually cringes, and Malia just snorts.  Lydia narrows her eyes, and tenses her body.  She’s not sure if Scotts playing dumb or really is this stupid.  She decides she doesn’t care.    

    “This was a waste of time,” she says and turns to walk away.  Stiles delivers a solid kick to Scott’s shin as he scrambles after Lydia, ignoring Scott’s grunt of pain and Malia’s raised eyebrow.  

    “Lydia, wait!” he calls out. “Come back. Scott’s an ass.  He’s sorry he yelled at you.”

    “You yelled at her?” asks Kira turning from Lydia to look at Scott.  The shock is clear in her voice.

    “I didn’t yell at her,” Scott says. “I just. . . raised my voice? A little?”

Lydia feels her shoulders relax ever so slightly.  This is not the conversation she was expecting to have, but it’s definitely the one she prefers.  

    “That was definitely a yell,” she says. “But I’m willing to forgive you.”  Her confidence is returning in almost crushing waves.  This is how Lydia Martin should always feel. In control. She inspects her nail bed with an uninterested eye while taking a seat at the table.  Stiles waits for Malia and Kira to sit before he returns to his seat next to the Alpha.  Lydia is sitting directly across from Scott, and raises her gaze slowly to make eye contact.

    “The growl though. . .” she says, pausing for effect, “was a little unexpected.”   Scott’s eyes go wide as his mouth goes slack, and Lydia isn’t sure how to read his expression.  

    Is he shocked that he growled?

    Maybe embarrassed that she heard him?  

    She doesn’t dwell on the option that his expression can easily be read as pissed off.  She also doesn’t dwell on the look of confusion that ripples across Malia’s face at Scott’s reaction.
    When Lydia climbs out of her head and back into the conversation, Stiles is in the middle of  a firm lecture.  

    “I mean, really?” he says. “You’re an Alpha, Scott.  An Alpha, who until very recently I might add, couldn’t control his shift thanks to a ritual sacrifice.  Deaton said things would be different because of it.  We all have to be careful.  You have to pay attention to-”

Scott cuts him off.    

    “What I have to pay attention to is my pack and their well being,” he says while quickly looking over to Lydia.

    “Don’t look over here” Lydia says while holding a hand to her chest.  “My well being is doing just fine on it’s own.”

    Stiles puts his head in his hands, and mutters “Well, this is going just great.”