“Is this restoring some kind of balance?” Stiles asks. He pants heavily as he digs, though he’d held up fairly admirably for the first two feet. Lydia supervises, because shoes this expensive were not made for gravedigging. “You know, cosmically, or whatever. Or is this just your new thing now? Resurrection?”
Not an entirely bad idea. Lydia is two for two.
When the dust settles - after Jackson comes back to life and decides to leave town, Porsche screaming - those left behind spend a lot of time squirming, and apologizing, and sending gestures of support that mean very little far too late. Lydia is rarely forgiving of bad results based on good intentions.
Later, they try to make her pick sides. As if either have anything to offer. As if Lydia has ever needed anyone but herself.
Lydia burns the wolfsbane that was twined around Laura’s body. Stiles had removed it for her - carefully, with gloves, because the last thing tonight needs is hallucinations - and it disappears almost instantly in a cloud of purple-grey smoke. A pile of ash.
Laura’s body is uncovered. Laid open to the moonlight - a waxing gibbous moon, the moon of regeneration - and though the body is decayed, slightly, after months back in the ground, it’s not nearly as bad as would be expected. Active decay, nowhere close to the skeletal phase. Interesting.
“Ready?” she asks, and Derek nods. Isaac and Boyd are behind him, half in the shadows. Twitchy. Peter is nowhere to be seen. Lydia’s one nonnegotiable condition, and she wonders how Derek managed to keep him away, when Peter is so very like the proverbial bad penny.
She wraps Laura’s fingers around Derek’s wrist, and tries to ignore the smell. Can only imagine what it must be like for werewolves.
She breathes out, and the ground shakes.
When the apologies die out, Lydia researches. Studies, translates. Knowledge is power, and she’s been in short supply of both lately. Scott points her to Deaton, Stiles to Morrell, and Lydia has a large credit limit and parents who think nothing of heavy packages from far-flung locales. She learns about werewolves, about kanimas and their masters, about witches; she learns she is none of them, not wholly, but that when applied judiciously, a little of the supernatural can go a long way.
When Laura’s eyes open Derek rumbles like thunder. Shatters like glass.
“Little brother,” she says, clear as a bell. Not the least bit rusty from disuse, and her eyes flash Alpha red. “You really shouldn’t have.”
“That was nice,” Stiles says, as he drives her back home. He’s side-eying her, in little darts and peeks, as though he knows how unusual Lydia being nice is. “I mean, it was gross and somewhat terrifying, in parts, but overall nice.”
Lydia is not, by nature, altruistic. She didn’t bring Laura back out of the goodness of her heart, or to earn Derek’s trust - to earn a favor. She did it to get Laura out of her head.
Transference, she thinks. Contamination. Peter killed Laura, took her power, took her into his head; or maybe Laura scrabbled her way in before she died. Either way. When Peter wormed his way into Lydia he brought Laura along with him.
She’s giving Laura back to herself. Nothing more. Nothing less.
“Thanks for the ride,” she says, and watches Stiles deflate. Shake his head as he drives away.
Lydia sees Laura out running sometimes. Her hair cut into something short and chic. Nothing like the girl with the headband, shouting in the bleachers, screaming, voicing everything Lydia couldn’t. She rents a house near town, reinvented as a Hale cousin.
On full moons, something burns just under Lydia’s breastbone.
When school started again, the Alpha Pack make their move - a show of power, a machination that digs its claws into the cracks in Beacon Hills. Their hometown must seem like easy pickings with its factions - the Hale Pack, with two downgraded Alphas and another who barely handles what he has, two broken betas; the McCall Pack, a tiny duo without a proper Alpha; the Argents brought low; and the desperate push-pull among them. But they underestimate the human element. They disregard Lydia and Deaton and Morrell. They think, Outsiders. Humans, as though they are the cannon fodder instead of the vanguard.
Lydia admits nothing more besides a growing fondness for wolfsbane.
In October, Stiles slides up to her after physics. Begins to stutter out an invitation to the Halloween Formal, hands fisting nervously at his sides.
“I’m boycotting school dances,” Lydia says, and tries to keep the shiver centered at the base of her spine.
Stiles only nods - like he was expecting it, Lydia realizes, oh - and shrugs his shoulders a little. “Well, we’re having a Halloween thing at my house on Saturday too. Everyone. In the name of pack harmony and interspecies cooperation and, also, not being killed by the Alpha Pack.”
“Peter?” Lydia has always made her stance on being in Peter’s presence perfectly clear. That there are circumstances in which she wouldn’t mind extending Derek another favor. Sometimes, when Jackson doesn’t return her twice-weekly emails, she thinks of circumstances in which she wouldn’t need Derek’s help at all.
Stiles’s smile is mostly grimace. “Everyone but Peter.”
Lydia half-smiles in return. Reflexive. “I’ll think about it.”
She texts Allison that afternoon. Want to go shopping for Stiles’s Halloween bash?
The reply comes almost exactly a half-hour later, crafted; Allison is a generally bubbly, carefree texter. Sounds fun! Friday?
Right after Mathletes. Because it’s only social suicide for some people.
Lydia corners Laura at the party. It’s a kind of skill, to corner a werewolf, even in close quarters. They usually have to want to be caught.
She plans on asking Laura if she remembers. What she remembers when she was in Lydia’s head. If there’s a better term: brain; soul, heart, animus - but thinking that Peter set up residence there makes her insides curdle.
“When we brought you back you weren’t in my head anymore,” Lydia says instead. It had felt right, at first - scrubbed clean, rebooted, restored to her perfectly functioning factory settings. No longer the palimpsest Peter had been casually overwriting. “But unlike Peter,” she continues. A wry twist to her perfectly coral lips. “I think I miss you.”
“I didn’t think-” Laura starts, and she watches Lydia with steady, quiet eyes. One of the few places Lydia sees any resemblance to Derek. Soft and human. “I thought you’d already given enough,” she decides on.
I was waiting for you to make the first move, Lydia hears, whether that’s what Laura meant or not.
“Don’t worry,” Lydia says, and tosses her hair just to one side. To show off the curve of her neck, and the gentle slope to her breasts. “I take plenty.”