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these ghosts on our wrists

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She feels the break of her skin, his tongue soothing it, hand on her lower back. Pulling her into him. Pulling her into all of him, and she wanted it, she wants it, her hips roll, fingers dig. She wanted it. Wanted. Again he pulls, this time her hair. Licks up her throat. Wants. She wants. He needs.

His mouth is sloppy, wet up her jaw, fingers tight on her hips. Her back is tight, against the wall. His thumbs press into her bones. She doesn't move. He bites her ear, licks up the shell of it. She nearly flinches. She shouldn't. She shouldn't, not when her body responds the way it does at his touch, teeth, kiss. She wounds her legs tighter around him, pulling him to her, and the hands at her hips ground deeper into her flesh. This was nothing. This is nothing compared to yesterday.

“Lyd,” he grunts, breath hot at her ear, and she likes it. She thinks she does. She wants to. It's dirty. But she's dirty too, isn't she? She always has been. She spewed spur-of-the-moments past her lips the way she got perfect scores on tests. “-ia,” and it's desperate. She wants his name to meet the air between them, but her mouth won't open. The air between them is hot, loud. It carries her want. It carries his need. It doesn't have to be so broken. They'll be together now.

“Need you,” he pants. “Need you.”

And she gives herself to him.

*

He’d been silent. All of them had. There was nothing to say; they breathed the same air, thought the same thoughts. Felt the same loss. It got quieter, but it also got harder. The world spun, but his home stilled.

Was it a home anymore?

10-53. But the world kept going. And he kept silent.

Did grief differ each time? Were humans made to grieve? Or simply wired to over time?

It was only the three of them, now. Almost back to start. But nothing would allow it complete. Their lives were written in pencil, and for once she'd like to believe her love was in fucking Sharpie. So she'd locked her fingers between his, when he'd been staring at his open palms on his brother's couch. He hadn't moved at her touch. Hadn't spoken, hadn't made a single noise above his steady breath. He was locked in place and so was she. And the clock kept ticking. The wind kept blowing. Their blood kept pulsing. Her wrist on top of his. Silence.

Oh, what she'd trade to take his pain.

Time makes you think you won't drown again until you're withering yourself. That you'll be ready the next time around. That despite the life that they lived, they'd miss death around the corner. They couldn't help but hope. All that they'd survived… how could they not?

Instead: you sink. You go right down and you don't want to get back up. And did they sink. Did he sink .

It was a hot night. Early July, their junior year still fresh on their minds. The sheriff died protecting. That's all she had to know, all she wanted to; that he died good. A hero. But that didn't alleviate the pressure. It didn't make a damn thing lighter. It was quiet, but it was hard. He didn't speak.

He didn't speak.

Ever since she screamed that night.

Why him? Why take so much? she asked time and time again, as if the answers would one day be written in the sky. Why us? but she's used to silence.

She had to be patient. She had to wait until he was honestly able. But July let them all sleep alone, and she couldn't stand the space. She could help. She could.

The past month was just as November had been. He was slowly moving into the McCall house, and she practically lived there already. They spent their days mindlessly watching television, cleaning around the house, taking nightly walks. Basking in their togetherness, or at least she tried to. The days were sticky and monotonous. She barely registered them anymore. It was just a routine she fell right back into.

She'd sleep over at least twice a week. Her mother stopped questioning it after the first few times. Each time, Scott would change his sheets and make him sleep in his bed. She always argued, but he'd always win with those eyes of his. He took the blow just as hard as his brother had.

He let her have the middle drawer of his dresser. She filled the left side with her favorite pajamas, maybe just to remind herself that she had a home there, too. She bought a spare toothbrush and hairbrush and shampoo and conditioner and they all lay in his bathroom. Scott didn't hesitate to let her in, let her take up his bed and his room and his home. She can't find words better than “thank you.” They were all aching, but Scott took it all, held it along with his love and care. All she could give was her loyalty.

Instead of her own shirt, she wears Scott’s to sleep. She hid it for a good while until he caught her one morning, when he needed to grab something from his desk. Her cheeks heated up instantly, but he only smiled, pecked her temple, and that was that. As her overnight stays became a definite part of their schedule, she began to ask him to stay in the room with her instead of taking the couch. He hesitated, but eventually gave into her. Scott being who he is, he slept in his computer chair instead of with her in bed. She promised distance, but he wanted her to have the whole bed. Some nights, they'd talk for hours on end, about everything but what was  going on. Some nights, she'd hold his hand while they slept. Hopes that he knows that he can fall a part on her.

By mid-August, nothing much had changed. Except the grief didn't seem to swallow them as much as before. She notices the sun streaming through the windows. She takes less sugar in her coffee. They began to move a bit with the world.

It was something. It wasn't that the pain went away. They were just slowly learning to work around it.

She spent the morning reorganizing her vanity, throwing away makeup she doesn't use anymore. Things she bought out of impulse and stress now meant nothing. Really, she hasn't  worn makeup since June, and even then, it was minimal. she couldn't find a reason to hide her flaws, look pretty. She didn't want to care. She tries not to catch her own stare in the mirror, but she can't help it. She notes how her eyebrows grew out and how her freckles stood proudly on her too-pale skin. The light purple crescents under her puffy eyes. The indoors and bottles of sunscreen made her look sickly.

Even though she looked older, she felt like a little kid. Nearly hopeless, but loving to her full extent. She felt younger, but she made her own bed.

That morning was quiet, as was that afternoon. The quiet bled into the night. She was quiet when she drove to her second home. She was quiet when she greeted Scott and his mother, when she slipped into his new room. The moonlight was quiet, spilled all over the hardwood floor.

He was on his side, back turned to her. She walked slowly towards him. Her bare feet stuck and unstuck from the floor with each step. She knew he wasn't sleeping. She laid her hand on his shoulder, ever-so-slightly shaking him.

“Hey,” she said. It was soft, weightless. He didn't move.

“Hey, Stiles,” she repeated. “Is it okay if… I sit here?”

She stared at his profile, ready for nothing, a silent plead for her to go. Instead, he nods. She smiled a small smile.

Slowly, she settles beside him. He hasn't let her this close to him in a while. Sure, he was with Scott and her nearly all the time, but he always kept a safe distance. Occasionally, he'd let her touch him. Let her comfort him without shaking her off. It always made her want to scream, being shut out. But what good would it do? What good did it ever do?

“I hope you don't mind,” she whispers. Without a second thought, she cards her fingers through his hair. His body tenses before a soft sigh fills the space between them. His eyes flutter shut. She strokes her thumb over his cheekbone and traps his thick strands between her fingers. She fists his hair, squeezing lightly, just the way he likes it. She listens to his breath, watches him. He became blurry.

The tears come silently. So does her kiss when it lands right below his ear. His eyes open and she instantly untangles her hand from his hair. “I'm sorry,” she said. She began to get off the bed, but then he turned over, looking her dead in the eye. His right hand reached for the top of her left, stringing his fingers through hers and placing it on his chest. Her laugh comes short and turns to a sob. He looked so sad. So, so sad. She leaned forward and planted a kiss right on his forehead, holding for more than he would ever be comfortable with. She stroked his jaw once she freed him.

“Sorry, I'm sorry, I --”  but then he's pulling her close until her cheek rested on his neck. Until her chest was on his chest and she could feel their hearts beat.

He turned his head, aligning his lips to her ear.

“Ly…” he breathes. She almost doesn't believe.

She shot up, took his face in her hands. “Stiles?” she said, and it's so hopeful it breaks her own heart. He stared at her with wide eyes, as if he couldn't believe it himself. She stared right back. Waiting. Smiling.

“Stiles?”

Her brows furrowed, smile distorting under the weight of the moment. He kept staring. “It's okay,” she grinned. “It's okay. Go to sleep. I'll leave. It's okay.” She couldn't stop crying. “It's alright.”

Her thumbs rub his jaw before she stood up. He looked so scared, sad, shocked. Like he let himself down. She wouldn't hurt him and stay. It was hell being pitied as it is.

He whimpered. She broke.

Didn't turn around.

Left.

Over the week, he stayed closer to Scott than usual. She didn't know how she should feel about that, but she did know that she was definitely hurt. Well, clearly. They were all hurt.

On one of their late night walks, she heard Scott laugh. She had been ahead of them, despite her short little legs. Scott's laugh was genuine, sweet. It ran through her body like stars popping and starting again.

She whipped her head around, eyes widened with surprise. Scott's sunshine beamed in her direction. He was smiling too. Small, but he was smiling. The corners of his mouth were most definitely turned upwards. “What is it?” she said, and she could hear her own smile.

“You missed it. Stiles did one of his Stiles faces.” Scott patted his brother's back. “Best thing I've seen all week.”

And with that smile that made her ache in the best way possible, he looked at her. Looked at her for the first time since that night.

That was the best thing she saw that week.

She could say for sure that that moment began to draw him back to them

He allowed his former self to come out. He didn't speak, but he gradually became more animated. His smiles were slight, but there. His hands twitched and his legs bounced under the dinner table. He looked at more than his palms, responded to noises. He didn't speak, but they didn't push him. It was all they had and they were scared he'd die out on them again.

“You guys wanna go to the beach?” Scott said during one of their t.v. sessions. They all looked at each other, got up, and left. Lydia let Scott drive (out of pure laziness) and let Stiles take shotgun (so she could stretch out in the back). The ride there was maybe 15 minutes, and Scott shot his mom a text once they reached the nearly empty beach.

The sun was beginning to set, though the California heat stuck to their skin. People were walking here and there, but they had a huge spot all to themselves. The amber faded before them as they sat near the shore. The silence was simple, sweet, right. Nothing would compare to the way they saw what the night did to the day. And when she stood under the moon, he followed. Took her hand in his. He didn't look at her for long, but what his eyes held was indescribable. This was what contented-ness was. She looked up at that brilliant sky and sunk into Scott's hand at her back.

He said his first full word under that moon that night.

“Pretty.”

It sounded like unlocking your door after months of being away from home.

He hadn't spoken since then. She tried to put herself in his place, feel the way the guilt closed his throat and body so it could ferment in his bones. How it felt to be shut down because it hurt so bad. She's been numb before.

It was nearing September when Scott told her he wasn't home. At least not theirs. “He's probably… at his house. He hasn't brought all his stuff over yet,” Scott said. “He texted me that he was going for a walk, but knowing him, he's probably… he's probably there.”

Panic settled inside of her, even though she knew he was fine. But still. Still.

“I'm going.”

“Lydia…”

“I'm going.”

And he sighed. Scott leaned over and pecked her cheek.

“I can't stop you.”

The lights were on when she reached the Stilinski house. It felt intrusive to park in front of it. Like she was stepping over a grave.

She kept on her footsteps light, breath even. He was standing in the middle of his room. Red yarn was piled at his feet. “Stiles?” she said, barely above a whisper. He turned to her, probably looking so small and scared peeking through the doorway. His face held nothing. Until they didn't.

“Go.”

She froze.

It was a snarl. A hate-filled snarl. All for her. All at her.

Go .”

Yet she doesn't move.

His gait was calm, a heavy contrast to the anger twisting his features. He bent down almost mockingly to her level, letting the tips of their noses brush.

“Go.” It was a whisper.

“No.” It was a whisper.

“I'm not leaving you. I can't leave you. Stiles,” her voice cracks at his name. He turns around, refusing to meet her gaze. “I won't.”

He stood stock still before her.

“I'm. Not. Leaving.”

And then fire sprouts in her chest. Spreads to her stomach and down her legs and through her arms. It creeps up her neck and and pours out her mouth.

“Don't you ever tell me to fucking go. Don't .”

She walks in front of him and looks up. “ Look at me .” Her demand spills through gritted teeth. He doesn't move.

Her hand grabs either side of his jaw, forcing him to meet her eyes. The brown of his was cracked.

“I need you. I fucking need you. Do you get it? Do you understand ?” she squeezes his face harder. “ Do you ?” and it's so broken.

She gasps when his hand pulls her in from the back of her head. She's ashamed of the fear that put out her fire. She's ashamed of what his grip did to her. He places a gentle kiss on the top of her head, hands now threading through her hair. The anger flows out as tears.

Then he lets her go. She's dazed, face hot and covered in tears.

“Why did you do that? Don't do that. It feels like you're saying goodbye. Don't. Don't.” She pushes him, fury building up again. “Why’d you do that? Can you tell me?” She shoves. “ Can you ?” Harder.

“Now don't leave me ,” she yells.

He grabs her waist  and pushes her against the wall. She hit her head hard, but she wasn't about to give into it. “What the fuck ?”

He grips the backs of her thighs and lifts her. His hips pin her steady and his teeth sink into her bottom lip. She pulls his hair, hard . He groans. It shoots down to her core. God, she'd let him. God , anything to help.

His mouth practically devoured her throat. His resentment sunk into the skin there. His bitterness melted at her jaw. It hurts, taking his pain. But she wanted it. Wants it. She wants him. She wraps her legs tight around him, let's the handsat her hips hurt her. It's nothing compared to before. Compared to July, compared to November. Nothing.

She can taste everything for her when his mouth takes over hers. All the frustration, longing, need, love. He needs. She wants. She gives in. She gives in.

He's sloppy and frenzied and all over. He says her name so different. His voice is wrong, dark, rumbling. She tries not to fight the heat running between her legs. He's speaking. Speaking .

She becomes his mantra. While her name spills off his tongue, his struggles to slip off of hers. All she's thinking, all she's thinking is: he needs .

“Need you,” he pants. “Need you.”

And she gives herself to him.

Before the world goes silent again, he says her name. It's awe. She can't look at him. He goes silent again. Isn't that how he always said her name?

He doesn't speak.