"Oh my God…I can’t believe I never noticed it before. You have a thing for Stiles."
Lydia fought the urge to grimace at Nicole. Sure, Nicole was nice enough. And a decent shopping buddy, always complementing Lydia when she tried clothes on. But she was no Allison. For one, Allison would have (and did!) notice that Lydia had a thing for Stiles ages ago. For two, Allison would never have been stupid enough to bring it up. Her feelings for Stiles was a taboo topic. Lydia tried and tried to get that point across, but Nicole just couldn’t take a hint.
They were sitting in their usual table out in the courtyard. What was left of the pack was sitting with them. Scott and Kira were sitting closely on the other side of the table, determinedly ignoring Nicole’s comment for Lydia’s sake. Good friends. Liam was sitting next to Scott. He had earbuds in and was drumming against a notebook with his eraser while not really doing his geometry homework. It was only Stiles who was missing. And, technically, Malia. But she had been missing all week so it wasn’t much to note.
“I think I’m going to skip the rest of the day. Join me if you want,” Lydia said to no one in particular, knowing that Nicole would think it was meant for her anyway. Both girls got up, threw their food in the garbage, and walked briskly out of the school. Nicole made attempts at conversation a few times, but Lydia wasn’t very cooperative. Lydia’s coldness never pushed Nicole away, though, and she never felt excluded from the group even though she so obviously was. They never included her in anything involving the supernatural. Not even conversations. As far as Nicole was concerned, they were all human and Allison never existed. Lydia thought that Nicole had to have heard some gossip about Lydia’s dead best friend by now, but she never talked about it.
Once they were in Lydia’s car, Lydia asked, “Do you keep in touch with your friends from your old school at all?” Lydia was kind of curious, but mostly she was just throwing the dog a bone so that she could stay off the topic of Stiles and far away from the topic of Malia.
Lydia had heard that Malia had gone down to Mexico to follow Peter’s directions to her mother under the pretense of some bizarre family vacation. Luckily, no one seemed to look to far into things in Beacon Hills and as far as Lydia was concerned, Malia could stay in Mexico.
Stiles was another story. Stiles didn’t have some lame excuse to miss school and his dad would never let him skip school to go wandering around Mexico. So where was he? That’s what she had been innocently wondering aloud today when Nicole decided that that was a more-than-friends question to ask. Which it so obviously wasn’t. Well, in this case it was. But as a question, it was perfectly harmless and platonic. She had every right to wonder where her friends disappeared to. Heaven knows enough of them had disappeared. She had to try to keep a good watch over the ones she had left.
“I know what we should do!” Nicole exclaimed, breaking Lydia’s revere.
“Let’s drive past Stiles’ house and see if his jeep is there! We can be detectives.”
“Hmm. Or we could go to my house and do some homework.” To accentuate her suggestion, she glided her car into her driveway and smoothly cut the engine with a smirk.
Nicole pouted. (Allison never pouted.) “Fine. But after we’re done, we should totally do the whole detective thing.”
The two girls spread their books across Lydia’s dining room table. After about three minutes of silence, Nicole said, “So are Stiles and Malia dating?”
“You can’t last five minutes without bringing up Stiles, can you?”
“Well can you blame me? There is clearly something going on between you two and I want to know!”
“There is nothing going on between us. Now do your homework.”
“Fine… but a heard a rumor.”
Lydia flipped the page in her statistics book casually. “What rumor?”
“Eh. It doesn’t matter. I believe you. There’s nothing going on with you two.”
Lydia wasn’t going to take the bait. Besides, she already knew what the rumor was. She’d heard it herself, courtesy of a couple sophomore girls that didn’t know how to whisper in the library.
Apparently some girl’s best friend’s brother’s girlfriend saw Lydia and Stiles making out at Jeff’s party on last weekend.
Completely unfounded rumor. No sane Lydia would make out with Stiles. Especially somewhere so public.
But a drunk Lydia, on the other hand…
“For the first time in, well, ever, Beacon Hills is going to regionals for Lacrosse!” Lydia grinned at the news. She was happy for her friends. They’d been through so much the past few weeks, they deserved this. Plus, someone would throw a party and they all could definitely use some unwinding.
Party number one was set for Friday night at Kyle’s house. Kyle wasn’t on the team but he was the perfect candidate for party host: senior, obnoxious, popular, non-strict parents. The whole school would be there. Lydia actually wanted to go. She didn’t typically enjoy hanging out with her classmates and being involved in their immature ideas, but, right now, nothing seemed like a better idea than acting like a teenager.
Nicole was grounded for doing something stupid, so Lydia decided to go with Kira. Scott would have to keep his team from doing anything stupid anyway, so he wouldn’t be much of a date for Kira.
When Lydia and Kira showed up, the party was already louder and more crowded than any party so far this semester. After walking through the doorway, it took about 1.3 seconds for Lydia’s eyes to land on Stiles and Malia making out on the couch and about 2.5 seconds to zero in on the refreshment table. She grabbed Kira’s hand and dragged her to the nearest keg.
For reasons unbeknownst to her, Lydia revisited that keg several times that night. It might be worth noting that Stiles and Malia were on the couch for a while and then they weren’t, but the keg was always there and reliable. So, somehow or another, Lydia was wasted. She knew she was wasted and she was still sensible enough that she didn’t want to be wasted around these people. In fact, she was still sensible enough that she knew that it was stupid of her to get drunk at all. What kind of idiot drops her guard when they know very well that crazy shit can happen at the drop of a hat.
Lydia made her way to through the kitchen, mumbling greetings to people, until she pushed open the creaky screen door that lead to the back porch. Target acquired: porch swing. She maybe walked, maybe crawled, maybe rolled her way across the porch, but she got to the porch swing and even got herself into a sitting position. And there she sat.
It was a nice porch swing, with a cushion and throw pillows, and it was a nice night. Not a cloud in the sky. The moonlight showed that Kyle’s family had quite the impressive back yard. They were on the edge of town so their yard blended into the woods and the peacefulness was so overwhelming that Lydia could appreciate it even in her current state. She curled up into a ball and just stared out into the trees. The breeze felt good as it rustled her messy hair. She was groggy, so groggy, but her eyes were alert. So when a young man stepped out onto the porch, her eyes appraised him familiarly.
“Are you okay?” He closed the screen door gently and made his way across the porch a lot more easily than she had; meaning, not drunk. Lucky bastard.
“Yah. ‘m fine.” She rearranged her limbs so that she was sitting upright again and there was room for Stiles on the bench.
He sat down next to her, careful not to jostle the bench too much. “Why are you out here alone?”
Lydia’s eyes scanned over her companion. His brown hair was as disheveled as it could be at its current length. His eyes were bright and worried and his mouth was a thin line. His body looked welcoming though. And warm. And soft. “’m drunk. Di’n’t wanna be drunk ‘n there.”
“And being drunk out here is better?”
She nodded slowly.
Stiles narrowed his eyes. “Why’d you get drunk Lydia? You never get drunk.” He reached up and brushed some hair out of her face and mouth, but he quickly dropped his hand back to his lap when he was finished.
She met his eyes carefully. “Keg was there. You wer’n’t.”
They sat there in silence for a few moments before Stiles finally asked another question. “Can I take you home?”
“’n a li’l while.” Lydia then made it clear why she didn’t want to go yet by falling into Stiles’ lap.
Stiles sighed and just sat there with her for minutes or hours, running his hand over her hair. Occasionally, he’d mumble something like “how’d your hair get so messed up?” or “did you ride here with Kira?” but he didn’t expect an answer. Lydia knew that. She also knew that here, finally, she could drop her guard after having it up for so many months. And it felt damn good to do that, if just for a few minutes. When you’re drunk, no one expects you to make good decisions. For once, Stiles had to be the responsible one and take care of Lydia. And Lydia liked that. A lot.
If Lydia would have just let Stiles take her home then, it would have been a pretty good night, but Lydia really had to make a pit stop in the bathroom before they left. She spent a few minutes curled up on Kyle’s bathroom floor and a few more minutes bent over his toilet. She didn’t think it took that long, but it took long enough for Stiles to reunite with Malia, who also appeared to be drunk.
Malia had Stiles pressed up against the hallway wall and was sloppily kissing him when Lydia emerged from the bathroom. Stiles didn’t look like he was much enjoying being mauled by his drunk girlfriend, but he didn’t push her off. Stiles must have heard the bathroom door open because he opened his eyes and they met Lydia’s. He moved to gently push Malia away, but didn’t have to because before he got the chance, Lydia had grabbed Malia’s arm and was yanking her down the hallway.
The two girls were reasonably well matched. Malia may have had supernatural powers, but she was drunker of the two at that point. Malia’s instinct was to get Lydia off of her, while Lydia was putting all her energy into dragging Malia down the hallway and away from Stiles. Once she got Malia away from Stiles, she let go of Malia’s arm. With her arm released, Malia slumped against the wall, seeing no more reason to try to fight until Lydia sauntered back up the hallway, grabbed the sides of Stiles’ head and smashed her mouth to his.
Lydia internally groaned at the memory of that wretched party. It was six days ago and she couldn’t remember it very well, but she was still properly mortified. She remembered the kiss as being quite slobbery (probably her fault) and very butterfly inducing (definitely Stiles’ fault).
She swallowed her shame and continued doing her homework in as much silence as possible. After twenty minutes, though, Nicole gave up on her homework and began playing on her phone, which was quite alright with Lydia because it meant she was free to do her homework and stew over her thoughts.
The doorbell rang, causing Lydia to jump slightly. She snapped back to reality and realized she had been doodling squiggles and flowers in the margin of her homework for who knows how long. In the time it took Lydia to get out of her seat and cross the house to the front door, the doorbell-ringer had gotten impatient and resorted to several sharp raps on the solid oak.
“I’m coming,” Lydia yelled. When she finally yanked open the door, she had a glower prepared for the visitor, but the stern look melted instantly when she found herself face to face with a sheepish looking brunet. His brown eyes were wide and his eyebrows slightly lifted. He quirked his lips at her, “Uh, hi, Lydia.”
“Hi, Stiles!” Nicole’s voice chirped from a few feet behind Lydia. “Where were you today?”
“I was, uh,” his eyes flashed, ever so briefly to Lydia’s, “sick… Er, well I had a headache, but I’m fine now.” He grinned at Nicole. “Hope I didn’t miss anything important, though. Don’t know how I’d ever catch up…. I just came to ask Lydia for her history notes, actually.”
Lydia pursed her lips. “You came here. For my history notes.”
“Yep. That is what I did. What I’m doing. Think you could help a pal out?”
She forced a small smile. “Of course.”
“Okay, well,” Nicole stammered, “you are in good hands, Stiles. I’m sure dear Lydia has taken exemplary notes. My mom just texted me to come for supper, so it was nice seeing you. And see you tomorrow, Lydia.”
So maybe Nicole could be perceptive, but not nearly as perceptive as she thought she was. She thought she was leaving to give Lydia and Stiles some couple’s alone time, when what she was actually doing was giving them time to have an awkward conversation that Lydia was in no mood to have.
Nicole ran to grab her backpack then slipped out the door. Lydia absently thought that Nicole would have to walk home, but she didn’t care enough to say anything.
Lydia sighed. “So. History notes.”
“You sure? You could probably use them.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Malia is staying in Mexico. I was helping her move her stuff today.”
“She… found her mom?”
“No, but she’s finding clues that might lead to her mom and she found some other werecoyotes that are apparently nice and awesome and so much more relatable than our pack of high schoolers.”
Lydia nodded. “You should come in.”
Stiles stepped farther into the room, but Lydia didn’t stop there. She led him up to her bedroom and shut the door. “My mom will be home soon,” she explained. “So Malia is in Mexico. With werecoyotes… and?” She plopped down on her bed and patted the spot next to her. Inviting a boy up to your room to sit on your bed with you may seem forward, but with Stiles it was just natural. Always had been. Even after last Friday night. Stiles apparently felt that it was natural too because he sat down without any hesitation.
“And… why did you get drunk at that party?”
Not the question she had been expecting. She was prepping for “why did you kiss me?” or even “what the hell is wrong with you?”
Lydia dropped her gaze to the floor. “I don’t know. I’ve been so wound up lately, I just really needed to relax for awhile.”
“And getting drunk with a bunch of kids you hate is relaxing to you? Are you sick?”
“Maybe… No. I just… don’t know how to relax anymore. I don’t know how to let my guard down. I don’t think I can. But I though maybe that party would be a place to start.”
Stiles turned to face her more directly. “Do you know what you said to me at the party when I asked you why you got drunk?”
She received a look that showed that he knew she was lying. “You said that the keg was there and I wasn’t.”
“Technically not wrong.”
“Technically yes wrong! When the hell have I not been there for you, Lydia? Name one time when I didn’t do everything in my power to be there for you!”
Lydia put her face in her hands. “Physically. You physically weren’t there and the keg was. You were there… on the couch with Malia. And then you weren’t there on the couch with Malia.”
“There we go.”
She looked up at him, piercingly. “Yeah. There we go. You want me to go on? I was pissed that you were making out with Malia so I had a couple drinks. I was severely pissed that you were somewhere else doing more than making out with Malia and I got smashed. I got pissed when Malia showed up out of nowhere and attached herself to you for some stupid reason, while she hated everyone else. Except, you know what, I do know the reason. It’s because you get things. You get Malia and her messed up brain. And you get me and mine. And I always thought that you and I, when all this hell was over, would, I don’t know, be something. You’re my anchor, Stiles. You keep me human. You make me feel like I can relax. Like everything might be okay in the end. I can’t relax when you’re taking care of Malia and not me,” Lydia sniffled, “I know it’s selfish and stupid and I have no right to think that, but it’s true.”
Somewhere in the middle of that, Stiles began absentmindedly rubbing his hand up and down her back. He continued to do that for a few moments in silence.
“Lydia… you must-“ Stiles stopped and took a deep breath. “You had to have known that I’ve been in love with you since before I knew what that meant. I’d do anything to protect you. Anything. Even if you don’t want me to. Okay? And Malia came along and she needed my help and of course I couldn’t turn her away. She was lost and cute and naïve. But she was kind of like half girlfriend half puppy. And you had to have known that the whole time, sure I wanted to help Malia, but I was in love with you! I’ve always been in love with you. I’ll always will be in love with you!” Stiles gripped her shoulder and quieted his voice, “I don’t know how to not love you. It’s hardwired into my brain. If you paid any attention, you’d know that. When we get into some damn situation and both you and Malia are in trouble, who do I fight beside? You! That’s not because I consciously think that Malia has the better chance by herself because she’s a coyote. I don’t think about it at all. I just go with you because it’s what I do. I can’t not do that!”
Lydia breathed and forced herself to think logically. Forced herself to focus on anything other than the fact she just wanted to hug him and never let him go. “So… your girlfriend leaves and you strut over here to snag me?”
Styles jumped up. “Fuck, Lydia!” He took a few big strides away from the bed. “You know me! Do you really think I’d do that? Do you honestly think I’d treat you that badly?”
Lydia jumped off the bed too and strode over to stand in front of Stiles. “Well, what the hell am I supposed to think, Stiles!?” She stepped even closer to him, their faces inches apart. “You – We’ve had years to act on this but now all of the sudden I kiss you when I’m drunk and your girlfriend leaves and now we are doing something about it?!... We are doing something about it, right? What the hell are we doing?” Lydia spun around and walked back to sit down on her bed once more, leaving Stiles as a statue across the room. She stared blankly at her wall for a few minutes and didn’t notice when Stiles came to sit down next to her, being careful not to touch her.
When he spoke, his voice was gentle and slow. “Lydia. I don’t know how to do this, so I’m just going to tell you everything.”
Lydia’s gaze was still on the wall, but she nodded once.
“We kissed Friday night. Malia dumped me Saturday morning. She was pissed but said that she knew she and I would never work. She said I was too human for her. Too good, or something like that.” Stiles paused for a moment, but Lydia didn’t say anything. “Right after that, Malia went to Mexico, stayed there for four days. She came back last night and told me all about it and how much she loved it and how she wanted to move there. Away from Peter. Away from everything. So, I convinced my dad to let me help her move down there. I actually told him that I’d get the homework assignments from you.” Stiles grinned slightly.
Lydia looked at him suddenly. “If you see her again, please tell her I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Fine, but I’m not. I told her I wasn’t. I told her that I could be happily married for twenty years and I’d ditch my wife for you. It’s horrible, but it’s true…. God, Lydia,” his voice lowered, “do you know what the hell you did to me that night. For years I’ve wanted to kiss you and when it actually happens I have to push you away!”
Lydia fought a smile. “You didn’t push me away.”
“I did… after a while.”
Lydia dropped her head again. “I’m sorry about that though, really. I can’t believe I did that.”
Stiles grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him before saying “Stop apologizing. I’m sorry. For this.” He threaded his fingers through her hair and pulled her face to his. He pressed his lips against hers timidly and she could slowly feel him smile. Lydia closed her eyes and reached up to tangle her hand in the hair at the back of Stiles’ head. With her other hand she gently cupped his face as she smiled back at him. Soon, they were both smiling too much to kiss, so they rested their foreheads together and just beamed.
Lydia moved her head to nuzzle into his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him tight. Stiles. She was holding Stiles. And she felt safe and happy. “You just wait. When your married twenty years, I’ll show up and you’ll know what I’m there for.”
“If I have any say in it, you’ll already be there.” Stiles playfully shoved her onto her back and kissed her like he’d been wanting to for so long. Lydia was more than happy to oblige and happily noticed that kissing Stiles was so much better when she was sober and he was kissing back. She didn’t think she’d ever let go of him again.