When Lydia wakes up, she doesn't need anyone to tell her she’s a werewolf. She doesn’t need anyone to tell her anything. She remembers it all. She even remembers some thing that aren’t hers to remember, but at this point those are a much lesser worry.
The machinery beside her beep and whirs and drips. A nurse comes rushing in to the room with her parents close behind.
She can see through the swinging door, the cracks in the cheap blinds, that Stiles is standing outside.
“How do you feel?” Stiles asks her later, a bundle of dying flowers crushed in his fist. They smell like glucose and vinegar, and a little like rot.
Lydia smiles, and his heart hammers against his ribcage. It’s not that she wasn’t aware of the effect she had on Stiles – Lydia’s apparent self-absorption was a shield, not a flaw - but hearing the evidence was something else entirely.
Her bottom lips cracks, and it makes Stiles wince. The smell of the blood hits Lydia immediately – iron-copper scent, cloying, fresh from the capillary. When she flicks her tongue out to taste, it spreads thinly through her mouth, blooming like a bruise. She supposes it was too much to ask for someone to keep up a proper skin care regime when she was in a coma.
By the time the doctors agree to discharge her, Lydia’s room is covered with flowers. They smell more like the bromine in the water than anything. Slightly preferable to hand sanitizer, she supposes, to latex and ammonia and a smell that she can at this point only assume is death. Eau de hospital. She never wants to smell this again. It takes two long showers before she can stop smelling it on herself.
Her mother insists she stay home from school for a day or two. Lydia doesn’t bother to argue; she’s climbed down the trellis before, in desperate situations, and she doesn’t even need that anymore. She jumps from her windowsill and lands on her feet.
There’s so much she wants to explore. So much she needs to test, so much more research to do than the simple googling that can be accomplished on her phone. There’s an entire new layer to the world now - a new variable she never thought to account for.
But first. First. There are more pressing matters to attend to.
And she knows exactly where to go.
When she sees the Hale house again, there’s a strange sense of vertigo. She’s been here before, of course - everyone comes out here at some point to see the crumbling, smokey relic that belongs to small town legend. But it’s overlaid now with an image she has of it Before, whole and bright. Real. Filled with family, with other werewolves. The supernatural. Now it only feels like pain, and she’s drawn to it anyway. Like a black hole.
She heads toward the past of the house that’s still standing.
They’ve heard her coming, of course - the other werewolves, at least, and they’ve warned the humans.
Scott and Allison are lounging on a couch that looks like its been picked up off the corner, which Stiles lounges in the corner next to them. Jackson stands near the center of the room, pacing, while Derek Hale looks on with something that might be amusement.
Next to them is Peter.
This is only the second time in her life Lydia has seen him in person - maybe even the first she’s seen him properly. When she was attacked she hadn’t seen anything, hadn’t heard anything, barely knew what was happening before merciful unconsciousness, but she knows this man is Peter Hale. She’s been inside his head. Or bits of his have been in hers; that might be more precise. She knows who he is, though. What he is.
The minute Lydia steps through the door the tension in the room rises. She can feel it, like there’s a barometer in her bones made just for this. Stiles takes a solid step towards her side of the room, she notices. Good boy.
Everything else gets gets her hackles up.
Interesting. She has hackles.
“Oh really?” she says, and something in her involuntarily shifts. Some kind of sympathetic response. Like goosebumps, only perhaps not so vestigial. Not anymore.
Somehow she’s not particularly surprised when Derek’s eyes flash bright blue.
“Is she – ”
“She’s an Alpha?” Jackson spits out. “This is bullshit!”
“How are there two Alphas?” Scott asks, clearly puzzled. It takes only a second before he rounds on Derek. “Did you lie to me again?”
“Most wolf packs are run by mated alpha pairs,” Lydia says. “Read a book. Or at least watch the Discovery Channel.”
Peter is still standing on his side of the room, as pleased as the cat that caught the canary. A whole birdhouse worth.
“You owe me a new dress,” she says, and he grins. It's a smile she's seen in her dreams - and she didn’t mean for that to come out so nauseating.
“So I do,” and he comes forward to press a kiss to her hand. Deferential, but he doesn’t show his neck, so – not really. It appeals to her human side, but her wolf? Her instincts? Not so much.
There’s a short period where life returns to normal. The police want to talk to her about what attacked her – “Some kind of animal, I think? Do you think it could have been another mountain lion?” - her parents hover around her for approximately a week before dropping away to fight with each other like they usually do, and Lydia returns to school with her head held high, and Jackson trailing sullenly behind her. It’s almost boring, if suddenly and irritatingly aromatic.
As it happens, a week of missed schoolwork is more tedium than difficulty. She has Jackson drive her to the Hale House after school and flounces in with a heavy satchel of books that seems to weigh no more than air.
“If you’re going to stay here,” she announces, “At least get some decent furniture,” and something like embarrassment rolls off Derek in waves. He scowls at the floor, head bent forward in supplication.
Word gets around, and Stiles starts coming to the Hale House after school too, dragging Scott behind him. Allison soon follows, smiling tentatively. She smells unsure - a little afraid, a little defiant.
Lydia leaps across the room to hug her, pressing a kiss to one cheek.
“Come talk to me about that outfit Jessica Baldwin was wearing today,” she says, dragging Allison to the couch in the corner - still hideous, but at least now covered with a plush throw. “I know pajama-inspired fashion is in, but I think she might actually have been wearing pajamas.”
Peter spends the first few weeks following her around. Circling her, like he’s looking for a week spot. Zeroing in on her haunches. She doesn’t sense him at school, but whenever she’s at the house, or with any of the others in the pack, he seems to be lurking. He keeps a respectful enough distance, so she hardly ever catches a full look at him. He’s only ever in the corner of her eye, the very edge of her awareness.
“Don't expect me to just fall into your arms,” is what she tells him. In wolf packs, Alpha pairs are mated pairs, true. But Lydia isn’t going to do anything on anyone’s say-so, even biology. Even the supernatural.
“But you’re amenable,” Peter says evenly.
“I’ve seen inside you,” Lydia reminds him. All of it - the anger, the sickness, the longing, the canny intelligence, the wit. “If I need a little while to wrap my head around being potentially werewolf married at seventeen, you’ll have to cut me some slack.”
“Of course,” Peter says, with a cutting little smile.
Lydia knows that Peter wants her. He doesn’t pretend otherwise, though she’s not sure he could - not with the scent of him in her nostrils, not with the way her body vibrates every time he comes near her - but that doesn't mean he needs her, or is willing to tolerate her usurpation. She knows what sort of man biology has decided is her equal – one easily as ruthless, just as smart, and better informed about the supernatural.
And she doesn’t hate him! Resents him, maybe - she’s certainly angry that he ruined her dress and her night and left her in that hospital for two days, but she can’t quite manage hate for the man who managed to catapult her from extraordinary to beyond. The only thing Lydia hates is stupidity, willful ignorance. She’d like to be a better person and say she hates cruelty, but she’s been cruel herself too often for that to stand. She has Peter’s plan in her head, and she can admire the simplicity of it, the way he finds weak spots and applies simple, forceful pressure.
The bottom line, at present, is that Lydia doesn’t want to fight Peter. She isn’t entirely sure she’d win. She has Scott in some measure – she has Stiles, certainly, which is nearly the same thing – but Derek will side with Peter. There’s conflict there she only has a vague impression of, and there certainly isn’t approval on either side of that relationship, but there’s blood. They’re family. She’s not sure she can turn it around quickly enough, or at all. Allison is on Lydia’s side, though mostly on Scott’s side, and even then only when she can manage to sneak away from her father.
Jackson is a wild card, as much as it pains Lydia to admit it. Lydia would like to think he owes her some kind of loyalty, but loyalty has never been his strong suit. He’s easily led. She knows that better than anyone. And Peter is his Alpha, not Lydia. Peter may have outplayed her there.
All in all, very far from a decisive victory - a human, a werewolf who barely knows his claws from his ass, an archer whose known about werewolves hardly longer than Lydia. Peter and Derek are born werewolves while Lydia is still learning, and all the flashes of sense-memory in the world that Peter gave to her aren’t going to work quickly enough.
Two wolf packs in a place as small as Beacon Hills, surrounding forest area aside, is a recipe for disaster. Lydia knows this with a bone deep certainty. She knows that even if peaceful coexistance were possible, Peter wouldn’t let it stand.
The only way she fights and really wins is if she kills Peter and she can’t do that. Doesn’t want to do that, it should perhaps be specified. She thinks she’s capable of killing someone, but Peter hasn’t pushed her to it. Alpha to Alpha, she doesn’t have the skill. And getting someone else to do it for her more than likely just means another Alpha she has to deal with.
Better the devil you know. Better the devil whose head you've seen inside.
“He nearly killed you,” Stiles says to her later. Not angry. Mostly puzzled. He seems a bit too worn down for angry.
“I know that better than anyone,” Lydia says crisply.
Stiles winces. “Sorry. Uh, I didn’t mean - ”
Lydia waves a hand. “Forget it. I am. He didn’t kill me, I’m here, I’m a werewolf, we’re moving on.” She flips down the vanity mirror to fix her lipstick. “Evolve or die.”
“Sink or swim,” he mutters. He doesn’t sound happy about it.
Stiles is smart. Not nearly at Lydia’s level, of course, but smart enough to have gotten Peter to back off and gotten Lydia to the hospital; she’s grateful for him to that. More importantly, he’s loyal to her. To Scott, of course, but also the her. Alpha her, Alpha Lydia, Alpha-who-is-not-Peter. That’s something she can work with.
Lydia finds herself touching Peter a lot. Almost like she can’t help herself. She finds herself touching everyone. Running her hands across the betas’ shoulders when they sit down for lunch. Playing with Allison’s hair. Letting Stiles hug her when he drops her off at home. It’s alarming, at first, but not so bad once she realizes she’s doing it and gives in. She needs it, she realizes, and they need it, almost purring under the attention. It nets some weird looks at school before
Danny raises an eyebrow the first few times it happens at school before accepting it without comment, and that might be something to look into one of these days. Right now Lydia has enough on her plate.
Lydia’s first full moon is a revelation.
Lydia is stubborn, but she isn’t stupid; she defers to Peter’s expertise when the occasion suits. He’s a born werewolf, and whatever bits of information she’s gleaned from the pieces of him in her head are not enough. But sometimes she thinks Peter feels the wolf more than her. Other times she thinks its because he doesn’t think of it as The Wolf, capital letters, separate entity. She can’t help but understand it that way herself. Before Lycanthropy, After Lycanthropy. Human-Lydia and Alpha-Lydia.
It’s not that she’s traumatized. She doesn’t need to disassociate. But there are urges and instincts she’s never had before, never had with such fervor, or need. She sees it in the others too. Scott, when angered, can forget who he is; Jackson settles down under displays of dominance - rolls over, without even a word of protest.
They're both Alphas, but it really shouldn't be such a shock that Peter is quietly, yearningly submissive.
“Not what you were expecting?” he asks. There’s a hint of sadness, maybe, just under the question. An inevitability.
“No,” Lydia says truthfully, because he doesn't think she can lie to him. But expectation is not necessarily tied to enjoyment, and she thinks she can make it work. Might like it, even. Jackson had been demanding, and pushy, and putting him in his place and making him just so had made Lydia quite happy.
“I think it might work out nicely,” she finishes, and something in his scent warms.
It’s not the sex solves all the problems. It creates a few of it’s own, the way sex usually does, but it settles things for the pack. Like they were all walking around on egg shells before, unconsciously aligning themselves with Lydia or Peter, trying to sniff out everyone else’s loyalties at the same.
It's what finally gets Jackson to submit to Derek, she thinks, and if she laughs at how Jackson spends the next day quietly shell-shocked, well. She tries to laugh quietly.
Saturdays become training days. Scott’s control is a little better than Jackson’s at this point, but Jackson keeps trying to push himself, to be the best, and Scott always eventually gets pulled into the competition for dominance. Neither Derek nor Peter are particularly great teachers, which means Lydia has to supervise. Derek is strong, often brutal, but Peter is fast and clever. A good mix.
Derek and Peter are still on tenterhooks around each other; they try to pretend they're not alike, but in so many ways they are. Hard to separate the nature and nurture, though. They're the only born werewolves Lydia has met, and it's difficult to extrapolate from there. Peter is older than Derek, but Derek was raised in the same house. However they were taught to deal with being a werewolf, however they understand it - there might be others out there who conceptualize it differently.
Lydia spends far too much of her free time researching.
For the New Year, Lydia decides she’s going to re-do the house.
She has a headful of Peter’s memories as to what it used to look like - only flashes, here and there, but enough to remember. She won’t make it the same, of course; that would be grotesque. She shifts the rooms around slightly – no island bar in the kitchen, big glass windows and a breakfast nook instead - a larger living space, no separate ‘TV room’, no downstairs office. More bedrooms upstairs, an outdoor cooking space.
Soothing colors, not too dark, but nothing too bright or fussy either. Rich textures, lots of wood, plenty of windows. A den for werewolves. A home.
The first time Lydia sleeps with Jackson -- well, first time again, after everything -- Peter beats up on him a little the next day.
Lydia, against her will, finds the whole thing somewhat exciting.
“Quite the Alpha male display,” she says crisply, and Peter’s grin is toothy. A little too long.
She cuddles with Jackson on the couch to make up for it, and lets him bitch for a full fifteen minutes before shutting him up.
“I think you should have a safe word,” she says one night, and Peter looks up at her. Bemused.
“Unless you’re planning on playing around with wolfsbane, we can heal from anything up to decapitation.”
“Including fire?” Lydia asks, and Peter goes stone still besides her. She flicks him in the ear. “Everyone has limits, even werewolves. So pick a safeword.”
When Peter tells her they need to expand the pack, she only taps her newly manicured nails against her chin. They’re never been stronger, but transforming is always hell on her cuticles. “Any ideas?”
“I thought about revisiting Scott’s mother –” and Lydia can’t help smirking. Scott probably blew a fuse. “And while I think having someone in the Sheriff’s office would be obviously beneficial, hopefully that someone will be Derek soon enough.”
Lydia scoffs. “Stiles thinks he can swing that one?”
“Derek was found innocent of all the charges,” Peter says. “And the Sheriff is a soft touch, ultimately. He remembers the fire. "
Sentiment. She’ll take it. “And you’re here because…?”
“I was hoping you’d have some ideas,” Peter continues, pleasant. “Candidates we might consider. Teenagers. Adults aren’t nearly as flexible in their worldviews, and those unattached enough to adopt are usually… less than ideal.”
There was a woman, once, Lydia thinks. Flash-remembers. Someone they’d tried to bring into the family, and she’d gone mad with it.
“At least sixteen,” Lydia says. She has no intention of being a supernatural babysitter. “Give me a week to come up with some ideas.” Not that, strictly speaking, she needs his permission. She’s an Alpha too. But a werewolf arms race has a nasty ring to it.
Peter makes a noncommittal noise.
She’ll say one thing for sure. She’s sick of being the only girl around here.
Three days later she corners Erica in the girls’ locker room.
“Hello Erica,” she says, paired with her biggest, brightest smile. It makes Erica tremble, but she still says hello back.
Anyone who thinks Erica isn’t strong hasn’t been paying attention.
“Is that what it felt like when you bit me?” she asks Peter, later. Every nerve in her body is still singing. She feels like she could rip the moon from the sky. Tonight’s sex had been particularly inspired.
“Better,” Peter murmurs. “Would you like me to show you?” His fingernails scrape over the back of her neck delicately. “A useful Alpha ability, sharing memories. Taking them away too,” he adds offhandedly. “Although that can take a great deal more skill, and can go much more awry.”
“Please,” she says, and the sting at the back of her neck is nothing compared to what comes after.
Jackson licks his lips. “I might have an idea.”
Lydia arches her eyebrow. “Oh?”
He growls at her, and she shoots him a warning look. Peter would have thrown him against the wall. She can’t say she doesn’t feel like doing that sometimes. But if she can’t ignore some of her more base urges, well--
“Isaac Lahey. He’s on the lacrosse team, you must have seen him.” Jackson pauses. “He smells like blood. And fear.”
That rings more of a bell.
“I think his dad beats him.” Jackson shrugs. “He lives across the street from me. I can’t hear everything. And it’s not all the time, but –”
“I see.” So we have something he wants, Lydia thinks. Does the reverse hold true?
Boyd comes to her.
Lydia likes initiative.