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going out, staying in (staying in)

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Lydia's going out. Laura's staying in.

Despite the fact that she's working from home most of the time ‒ and really spending most of her time inside or just out in the woods ‒ Lydia's still expected to make an appearance from time to time. Business meetings, lunches, and ‒ on rare occasions such as this one ‒ cocktail parties.

Lydia has to go, look pretty, let herself be introduced as the genius behind the company's growing position on the market (and endure disbelieving looks or even a snicker or two ‒ she's so young, so pretty, not to be trusted in this highly competitive business).

She's going alone, because Laura won't go with her, and taking anybody else seems off. There is no one else, anyway. At least no one that immediately comes to her mind.

Laura doesn't enjoy crowds of people. She has never said it out loud, but Lydia knows Laura, drew her conclusions from the way Laura almost tripped over her when they went to the mall (Lydia's misguided attempt at cheering Laura up). Laura kept trying to stay as close possible, constantly on guard.

Even going to work, Lydia knows, costs Laura a lot. She'll always be a woman who became a wolf who became a woman again. Some things will always be difficult. Some things will even be difficult between them.

Lydia has no idea what to think about Laura. It's a new feeling for a girl who has all the answers: frustrating and exciting at the same time. Lydia wants to solve the puzzle, but at the same time, she doesn't.

She's getting ready for the party, putting her make-up on in practiced, slow movements. She's checking the effects in the mirror, but she's also glancing a little to the left, at Laura's reflection.

Laura has kept a lot of habits from her wolf days. She moves with certain lupine grace, and she tends to hang around Lydia, not saying anything, just watching calmly. It should be unsettling, at least a little. It's not.

Laura is‒ Lydia doesn't even know, and that's the root of it. Laura's a constant in her life, her friend, the person who understands her without words. But in the real world outside their enchanted house, she's also a woman who was thought dead for many years, the last survivor of a series of family tragedies. A murderer, even, though nobody knows about that one.

Nobody but Chris Argent, but he has his own trouble that’s better kept buried. Literally, Lydia thinks with dry humour.

It was hard enough explaining Laura to Lydia's Mom as a friend from college who needs a place to stay and recover after some complicated drama. What would Lydia say to her boss, or her co-workers if she brought Laura with her tonight, and they wanted to know?

This is Laura, my friend. She doesn't really like making small talk, not with people other than me.

This is Laura, my roommate. Can we open a window? The smell of A/C gives her headaches.

This is Laura, my alpha. Please don't shake my hand, she doesn't like it when people get their smell over me.

"This is where my room used to be before the fire," Laura says softly. Lydia tries to keep her expression interested, but not to push. Laura offers any information about her family very rarely, and always in bits and pieces. Lydia knows the tragic story of the Hales, but really, she doesn't think that's the truth that matters.

What matters is, Laura's mom was the alpha before her, and she was the person Laura looked up to the most. Laura's dad was the one who taught her to really read ‒ not just put letters together, but to lose herself in a book and let a book teach her all it can.

Laura's nephew liked strawberry cupcakes, the same ones Lydia brought home once, even from the same bakery in town.

It doesn't matter how they all died, Lydia thinks. It matters who they were. Lydia wants to know them through the filter of Laura's good memories.

"I think the layout of the rooms on this floor stayed unchanged," Lydia says when silence stretches out for a long while.

She pouts at her reflection, making sure that the red lipstick is evenly coating her lips. Behind her, still leaning against the wall, Laura smiles. It's the small, fond smile that makes her hazel eyes warmer and her thin face softer. Lydia likes to think this one is just for her, unlike the bright, dazzling smiles that Laura has for the customers at work.

"Yes," Laura agrees. "The bed was over there, and there was a lot more boy bands and a lot less‒ This."

She waves her hand towards the framed photos and pictures hanging on the wall. They're of nothing in particular, all housewarming gifts. They're pretty, Lydia supposes, probably expensive, but hold no value when compared to the folder on Lydia's computer, full of pictures back from when Laura was a friend in the shape of a wolf, more than a pet, but still not a person.

"Boy bands, really," Lydia snorts.

Laura doesn't seem to mind. She never minds Lydia's teasing. "I wasn't always so refined," she says, straightening up, as if to show herself off. There's no need ‒ it doesn't take an connoisseur to tell that Laura is a work of art.

Lydia gets up from her small stool and goes to sit on the edge of the bed. She's already wearing her dress, but her shoes are waiting for her on the carpet. She could put them on in the hallway downstairs, but she wants to look at herself in the full-length mirror in the walk-in closet.

"You're going to be cold," Laura says, displeased. When Lydia looks up at her, she's scowling at the shoes.

They're high heels, definitely not suitable for the winter weather. A thin strap circles around the ankle, and Lydia struggles to fasten it without ruining her nails.
"I just need to get to the car, and then from the underground parking lot to the hotel. I won't be doing any trekking." She prefers to look pretty, not practical.

"Let me," Laura says. She slides smoothly to her knees in front of Lydia, and bows her head forward. A cascade of dark curls falls over her shoulders, keeping Lydia from seeing her face. Laura huffs in mock exasperation, and her breath tickles at Lydia's knee through the thin material of her stockings.

One of Laura's hands rests on Lydia's left foot, and long fingers squeeze lightly. It's reassuring, and pleasant, and familiar ‒ they touch a lot, which, Lydia has come to understand, is perfectly normal in packs. Usually the alpha's affectionate attention should be distributed evenly, but they're a pack of two, so there's no competition.

Laura likes to play with Lydia’s hair, and to curl against her on the couch in the living room, the one which she claimed as a wolf. She’s still sharing Lydia’s bed, too, and maybe’s it’s strange, but Lydia can’t imagine not waking up with Laura’s surprisingly strong arms around her, and Laura’s face pressed against her back, or into her neck.

And now nimble fingers are fastening the strap with ease, brushing lightly against Lydia’s ankle before Laura moves to the other shoe. Lydia looks down, watches Laura’s hands against her leg, her hair brushing over Lydia’s shin.

Lydia startles, because it tickles, even through the stocking, and Laura looks up at her with soul-piercing scrutiny. “All done,” Laura says, and rocks back on her heels. She doesn’t get up, though. Just stays like that, waiting for something.

“Thanks,” Lydia says, and Laura nods. She searches for something else to add ‒ to get Laura to snap out of one of those intense alpha-episodes ‒ and comes up with, “Don’t wait up for me.”

She doesn’t want to come back home to find Laura at the kitchen table, having stayed awake just because Lydia isn’t home.

It’s the wrong thing to say, because Laura’s eyes go darker and her fingers, still around Lydia’s ankle, clench minutely. “You’ll be back tomorrow, then?” she asks.

“No!” Lydia says, too quick and too loud. She flinches at her own reaction ‒ like it’s such a terrible thing, for Laura to suggest that Lydia might share someone else's bed.  “No,” she repeats. “I just mean that the party may go on till late."

"Okay," Laura says. It can mean either 'Okay, I see your logic, and therefore promise to be reasonable and go to bed at a sane hour' or 'Okay, I see your logic, but I'm a creature of instinct, not logic, and therefore will wait up for you anyway'.

Probably the latter, because it's true ‒ Laura operates on strong instinct. Sometimes the copious amount of research Lydia did on werewolves pays off, and she can make sense of it. Other times she needs to decide whether it's worth it to argue with Laura, and if it's not, Lydia just lets it go. Asking 'Why?' rarely goes over well. It just reminds Laura that Lydia isn't one of the people from the original Hale pack, and that she doesn't understand how to be pack as well as they did.

This time, Lydia can draw from experience. She's going to be around strangers ‒ Laura doesn't like that. "You can do that thing," she says awkwardly, gesturing to her neck. She's not usually at loss for words, but some things between them work better if they're left unspoken. Laura's eyes follow the movement, and Lydia expects her to push herself to her feet, and for Laura's breath to brush warmly against her neck. Just like those articles about perfume in beauty magazines, Laura knows that the scent will keep best there.

"Mark you?" Laura asks. Her smile is back, but it's more playful than fond. This is good, Lydia thinks. They're back in familiar territory.

Lydia nods, answers with a smile of her own. It falters, and turns into something open-mouthed and startled, because Laura's hands move again, quick and firm, up Lydia's calves, nudging her knees apart. They don't stop there, either ‒ Laura slides her palms up Lydia's thighs, and her fingers sneak under the hem of her dress, catching on the material, bundling it.

Laura doesn't stop ‒ should Lydia stop her? Should she say something? Well, she doesn't ‒ until a stripe of skin above Lydia's stockings is exposed. Laura nods to herself, rocks forth-back-forth in hesitation, and then latches her mouth to Lydia's thigh.

The noise Lydia makes isn't a gasp ‒ it's more of a really loud inhale, all the louder in the silence of the room. Lydia sucks in air just as Laura sucks the pale flesh of Lydia's leg into her mouth. Her teeth graze the skin, scrape over it, and then her tongue tries to make it better, but the suction doesn't let go.

It hurts, of course it does. It also feels‒ more intimate than anything Lydia can recall. Not exactly good, but right. Laura keeps Lydia in place with one arm around Lydia's waist, but really, it's the fact that Laura's lips are mere centimetres from the lace of Lydia's panties that renders her immobile.

And then Laura lets go with a dirty, wet sound, and rises to her feet gracefully. She licks her lips, eyeing her work, and Lydia has to exercise some significant amount of self-control to keep herself from running her fingertips over the red, saliva-coated mark.

She blinks slowly, and drags her eyes to Laura's face, pulling the hem of her dress down with slightly shaking fingers. "Well," she says. She manages to make herself sound vaguely stern rather than breathless. "That's a bit extreme."

"I thought you may not want for the mark to be visible," Laura says. She sounds self-satisfied. "It's not my fault that there isn't much of your dress."

A sudden, dizzying flash of a grin and red eyes, and then Laura is gone, and Lydia is alone.

***

The driveway is dark and covered in a thin layer of snow when Lydia parks the car. She's in that odd state of mind, tired and restless at the same time. No lights are on in the house, which means Laura took her advice for once, and is asleep. Still, Lydia can't force herself to move from the car.

It was a long, long evening. Lydia's head is swimming, even though she didn't have all that much to drink, just a few of those colourful, festive cocktails that taste like liquidated sugar.

She finds herself playing with a button of her coat, twisting it this way and that. The inside of the car is pleasantly warm, feels all the better in comparison to the silvery frost painted on the windows. Lydia takes a breath, and flips the light over her head on. She blinks, trying to adjust her eyes to the sudden brightness, and then goes on to examine her thigh.

Lydia kept wanting to look at the mark, or touch it, the whole night. There was no way to do it without looking suspicious, but now she lets herself satisfy her curiosity.

It's her own body, Lydia tells herself, there's nothing wrong about what she's doing. She uncovers the angry mark ‒ hickey; Laura gave her a hickey, and the realisation shouldn't be so striking ‒ and stares at it.

It's no longer red and warm under her fingers. Now it's swollen, and a small galaxy of colours: purple, blue, violet, and pink on the edges. It throbs dully when Lydia traces her fingers over it, and she presses in, testing.

She presses until the pain becomes sharp and makes her bite her lip to keep herself from making a sound. Then Lydia memorizes the sensation, catalogues it for future reference (both to understand herself better, and to understand Laura), and finally gets out of the car.

She walks into the silent house, undresses and showers, and then climbs into the bed, close to Laura's warm, sleeping form.

***

The routine of living in the Martin house is a simple one. Very few things change, and Lydia doesn't think there's anything wrong about it. She would've, when she was younger and scared of becoming boring and alone.

There's no danger of this now: she's living with a werewolf, which is as far from boring as possible, and obviously means the opposite of 'alone'.

It's a comfortable kind of routine, a sense of stability into which Lydia fits perfectly. It should be enough, and most days it is ‒ but sometimes, just like today, Lydia wakes up in the empty bed with a nauseating anxiety.

Laura prefers to wake up early, Lydia knows, even on the weekends when she doesn't have to go to work. She's probably downstairs, drinking coffee or eating one of her enormous breakfasts. If Lydia drags herself out of bed and down the stairs, she'll find Laura waiting for her.

Waiting. It feels like they both haven't been doing anything else for months. There's no looming threat, and no big revelation in the near future ‒ nothing werewolf-sized at least, Lydia hopes. And yet the air in the house feels like the building itself is holding its breath.

Lydia turns it over and over in her head. She looks for an answer in Laura's face when they finally meet in the kitchen, but finds only an open, warm smile that makes her heart feel like a bird thrashing in a cage. She's been in awe of Laura from the very beginning when she first saw her as a wolf, but this is something else, she thinks as Laura presses a coffee mug into her hands. This is the kind of curiosity that doesn't go away, it just brings new questions with it.

"Sleep well?" Laura asks. She knows Lydia isn't particularly talkative in the morning and needs to be eased into a conversation with questions she can brush off with a shrug or a nod.

Laura knows all those things about Lydia, and she seems to only want to know more. Lydia blinks and stares, suddenly frozen with a helpful thought born somewhere in the back of her mind.

This is Laura, and I don't think there's a word for what she is to me. Please let us be. Just let us be.

Because Lydia wants more, just more, more of everything that makes Laura herself. She wants with air held captive in her clenched throat and a rush of blood in her ears, with a heart that's trying to break free out of her ribcage and with an energy that settles inside her bones and fills them with restless light.

Laura looks at her, curious and steady, and Lydia doesn't know for sure, but she thinks Laura just heard Lydia falling in love with her.

It's monumental, and should be life changing, but isn't really. Lydia has been growing and shifting to fit into this moment for months now. Without permission from her Lydia's world's remade itself so that it starts and ends with Laura, every day like clockwork.
It should be scary, and choking, but it's neither.

"Yeah," Lydia says, and takes the mug, and drinks the coffee, and curls her lips into a smile around the porcelain, and is in love with Laura.

***

“I can smell some diseases,” Laura says. It’s normal enough for her to share random bits of information about werewolves from time to time, so Lydia hums, not looking away from her laptop. “The common ones are easy, but it’s hard for me to recognise many of them.”

“Okay?” Lydia says slowly, because when she finally raises her eyes, Laura has a peculiarly expectant look on her face, like she’s building up for something.

“We ‒ werewolves ‒ don’t get sick. Or we do, but very rarely, and with different things. It’s impossible for us to catch anything from a human, and vice versa.”

“Okay?” Lydia repeats. She doesn’t know where Laura’s going with this, but she doesn’t like it.

“You’re a human, and you’re more‒” Laura pauses, looking for a word. Now she looks determined. “Prone to harm than a wolf member of the pack would be. I need‒ I want to make sure you’re safe and healthy.”

Lydia nods, a small smile tugging at her lips. “I promise to wear a hat and a scarf, alpha.”
“That, too. But you also should remember to get tested.”

It should, quite possibly, be an awkward kind of conversation: getting lectured on health issues by your werewolf roommate. But it’s still Laura, and Lydia could write a book on all the strange things Laura does out of oddly expressed concern, so surprisingly, it’s just‒ nice of her. Instead of a bunch of werewolves to take care of, Laura has just Lydia, and maybe the non-stop worry and care stems out of this: Lydia is all Laura has. Most of the time Lydia feels sorry for Laura, of course she does, but sometimes it’s tinged almost with feeling privileged. Laura chose her.

“I do,” Lydia says simply, because Laura won’t let it go if she doesn’t.

“I mean stds, too,” Laura says, still intense and serious.

“I know. I do,” Lydia repeats.

Laura spends a few more moments watching her, so she relaxes, and sips her coffee in peace. She can almost hear Laura listening to her heartbeat, just generally making sure Lydia’s okay.

Lydia’s heart’s racing a little, but it’s not because she’s lying. She’d never lie to Laura. Laura must pick up on the difference, because she smiles, and leans against the back of the couch. She turns her attention back to her book, and Lydia goes back to work. Comfortable silence settles over them.

***

Sometimes Lydia can't sleep, even with Laura's arms around her and Laura's breath giving her something to focus her scattered thoughts on. Sometimes she worries, and thinks about the day Laura got shot in their own house, and how in the end neither of them could save the other. They had to rely on a moral code of a stranger.

"Will other hunters come one day?" Lydia asks. She doesn't mean to ‒ nobody would voluntarily break the safe silence of their bedroom.

Laura shifts around, until she has Lydia's head tucked into her collarbone, and then says, "Someone will eventually come, yes. Hunters or other wolves, or something else entirely. We're a small pack, and my family used to hold a lot of things at bay, when there were more of us."

Lydia isn't stupid, far from it, but she'd like to feign ignorance and pretend she doesn't know what Laura's talking about. "You don't sound too worried," she says, but her voice doesn't sound even half as light as she's hoping to make it.

"I'm not," Laura says. She falls quiet, and Lydia thinks that's the end of it. She starts settling back against Laura, when Laura speaks up, her voice thoughtful and distant. "I'm not alone anymore."

"You're not," Lydia agrees. "I'm not."

And it's easy when Lydia pulls back and leans on her elbow, looking down at Laura, as easy as admitting that you've been wrong, as falling, as taking the first step into the woods and towards red eyes glowing in the shadows. Laura's face in the darkness is thin and pale, with eyes that are both beautiful and haunted. She's looking back at Lydia, like she always is, like she wants to protect her from anything that may come their way.

And she will, Lydia knows. She trusts Laura with all she's got, more than she trusts herself, even.

So it's a good thing that Laura doesn't let her back down. When Lydia's courage wavers and she moves to hide her face in the crook of Laura's neck, Laura reaches out and stops her with long fingers brushing her cheek, pushing her hair behind her ear.

"You'll never be alone," she says, and it's a promise that takes root in the forests outside the house and in Lydia's very core.

Laura smiles, fond and secretive, and Lydia thinks it's the prettiest smile she's ever seen, so she presses her lips to it.

When she was a teenager and answering the "Where do you think you're going to be in ten years?" question, she never thought to say "In my bedroom, kissing a werewolf." Shame, really, because now it seems like a reasonable thing to grow up to do.

Laura's kisses are small, playful nips and long, warm presses of lips. Her hands are delicate where they tug and caress, until Lydia's half-laying on top of Laura, probably crushing the air out of her, if Laura's shallow breathing is any indication.

Lydia is the first to dare and taste. She licks over Laura's bottom lip, and then inside her mouth, where it's nice, and warm, and inviting. Laura makes a sound, and she pulls Lydia in closer, with fingers fitting themselves into the grooves of Lydia's ribs. Lydia is using one hand to support her weight, but she tangles the other one in Laura's hair.

And Lydia can't deny there is a thrill in what they're doing, very different from what she felt while kissing all the other people before. Laura's skin tastes of the approaching frost when Lydia drops kisses over her nose, cheeks, jaw. She drags her lips up Laura's neck, and Laura arches and lets her, raises her chin to give better access.

That thrill, Lydia realises, is control being given up and gained. It's her awaking warmth in Laura's skin, and it's Laura's eyes flashing hazel-red-hazel in response to Lydia's teeth tasting the give of skin of Laura's shoulder.

The red little marks and imprints of teeth she leaves behind fade away in front of her eyes, so much faster than the angry bruise she's been watching disappear from her own thigh. Lydia doesn't let it discourage her, doesn't stop the curiosity that makes her hand leave the soft curls of Laura's hair and slide under the hem of the oversized T-shirt Laura uses as a sleeping gown.

Laura's obliging, but impatient. Lydia senses it in the jump of the muscles in her stomach under Lydia's fingertips, and that's the only warning she gets. Laura sits up, startling Lydia into snapping her head up from where she's been trying to work around the collar of Laura's shirt. She kisses Lydia, a little more frantic, a little more now and please, and then pulls back, and pulls her shirt over her shoulder.

There isn't a single moment when Lydia's mind isn't making associations and connecting dots, and now her thoughts echo in her head ‒ tyger, tyger, burning bright ‒ because Laura is coiled power forged into efficient movements, and wild grace turned into sharp-edged beauty.

She can't know what Laura sees when she looks at her, but it must be good, it must be right, because Laura's eyes are the eyes of a hungry wolf.

Lydia isn't afraid, not at all. It's almost like she's always been scared of something, and never realised the weight until it's gone.

She's not afraid when Laura undresses her from her nightgown, and lets it slip from her fingers to the floor, leisurely and slow, and then quick and focused when she digs her fingers into Lydia's waist and flips them around. The mattress groans under her back, and Lydia giggles, can't help it ‒ doesn't want to contain it, really.

Laura grins, too, but Lydia doesn't get to see it for more than a second before Laura ducks her head and sucks Lydia's nipple into her mouth. Giggle turns into gasp turns into a moan, and Lydia scrambles for something to touch, finally settles on Laura's back. She runs her hands over the lines of shoulder blades and knobs of the spine, and tries not to go out of her mind, or step out of her own body with how perfect this is.

Laura's far from gentle,  but still oh so thorough when she moves her attentions from one breast to the other, and then down, down, down.

Lydia gives up on keeping track of hands, tongue, mouth, and just gives in to the warm sensations. Stomach, hips, thigh, and then Laura's reclaiming the very same spot she's marked before, adding a particularly mean twist of teeth on flesh. It has Lydia jerking suddenly, but Laura keeps her in place with hands smoothing over the curves of Lydia's hips.

"Thanks for trusting me with this," she says, looking up. Her eyes are glowing a steady red now, and Lydia tries to find any words, but before she can, Laura corrects herself, "With you. Thank you."

And since Laura is more do than say, she waits just long enough to see Lydia nod before she hooks her fingers into the thin fabric of Lydia's panties and lowers them over Lydia's thighs. Lydia helps by raising her legs into the air, possibly graceless, definitely shameless. Once she's done, Laura lowers herself between Lydia's legs again. She licks a wide stripe over the fresh hickey, but doesn't stop there. She kisses the soft skin of Lydia's folds, and Lydia thinks she can hear Laura inhale very deeply before her tongue follows her lips.

Well, there isn't much thinking after that. Just Laura's tongue dipping between Lydia's folds, tasting and testing Lydia's reactions.  Lydia doesn't even try to hold any sounds in, because she knows Laura wants them, gets more starved for them and enthusiastic every time a particular lick against her clit pushes a loud moan out of Lydia.

She doesn't say anything, just lets go and lets herself be, delicious pleasure setting her insides alight. Lydia can feel it building, climbing towards its peak, and she has just enough brain power left for a thought to spark in her mind: she needs to come with Laura's lips on hers.

She tugs at Laura's arm, and Laura makes a small, displeased sound, but she straightens up. Lydia has just enough time to notice that Laura's shoved her own panties down and her fingers were moving inside her just seconds ago, and then Laura's stretching over her sinuously.

Laura's fingers ‒ thin but long, and oh so clever ‒ slip inside Lydia's wet pussy.
Lydia doesn't hesitate ‒ she needs, please, now, oh god. She needs, so she starts fingering Laura. Laura makes those noises, pain-pleasure-desperation, and Lydia echoes them, presses them back inside Laura's mouth. Her tongue is sloppy, she can't decide whether she wants to bite or lick, her free hand tangles back in Laura's hair.

"Lydia, I‒" Laura says. It's a full sentence, it's a confession, because Laura clenches around Lydia's fingers, warm hot good, comes with a sharp, shuddery‒ was that a howl?
Doesn't matter, doesn't matter, Lydia's coming, too. Possibly screaming, definitely throwing her head back so hard it should hurt. She can't hear, can't see, she's shattering apart with wave after wave of her orgasm.

When her veins stop singing with the rush, Lydia sucks in a breath of air that even she can tell is warm with the smell of their sweat and sex. Laura's laying on her side, trailing vague patterns over the pink-hued skin of Lydia's stomach and thoroughly, slowly licking her fingers clean.

Laura's smiling so wide around the digits her face is in danger of splitting, and if Lydia wasn't so perfectly exhausted and almost purring with aftershocks, she'd kiss her. She doesn't think she'll ever be able to look at Laura smiling without that thought.
Laura's smiles, the real ones, are always for Lydia.

As if reading her mind ‒ not for the first time, not even for the hundredth ‒ Laura scoots closer and presses her lips to Lydia. She tastes like both of them.

"You're welcome," Lydia says after a long moment.

Laura's eyes go wide, then soft, and she laughs.