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we got the beat

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Rationally, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just a flyer advertising the return of a dance contest, nothing too major. Lydia had caught sight of it while on her way to visit the newly opened juice bar down by the mall, but she’d walked on by because she was Lydia Martin, and Lydia Martin had no time for silly contests.

And if she decided to take Prada out for her morning walk a couple hours early (say, around 5 AM), well. That was her business.

-

The flyer reads:

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BREAK OR ARE YOU GOING TO GET SERVED? SACRAMENTO’S BI-ANNUAL FREESTYLE COMPETITION IS BACK AND IT’S BETTER THAN EVER! THIS YEAR’S THEME: DUO-STYLE FUNK!

In the quiet of the early morning, punctuated by Prada’s frantic, echoing barks, Lydia Martin calmly takes out her phone from her running jacket and snaps a picture of the flyer before pocketing it, yanking Prada’s leash and continuing on their walk.

-

It’s a very well-kept secret of Lydia’s exactly what kind of extracurriculars she does outside of school. Oh, she has public ones, like working as a research lab assistant to a couple of the local community college professors and hosting a yearly charity auction (courtesy of her lawyer mother’s desire to rub it into the high society patrons’ faces) for the children’s ward at the Beacon Hills Hospital, and the occasional after-school club activity.

(And of course, she runs with a pack of werewolves every month to try and save Beacon Hills from encroaching supernatural forces, but that’s not exactly something one would sanely present on a college resume unless they wanted to be committed.)

Lydia is very aware of what kind of picture she presents to her peers. She’d worked immensely hard for that image, and doubly so after Peter’s rampage had done away with her power with one single bite and left her standing as the ‘crazy kook who screams in the middle of class’. Hers is a position of power, the Queen Bee of the high school hivemind, an ever-so tenuous status quo that she has to maintain because that is who she is to these people; that’s how she stays afloat of the insecurity that comes from being in high school, even with a mind so brilliant as hers.

But.

-

She hasn’t been to the old haunts in over two years--since the whole werewolf business started and threw the whole of Beacon Hills for a loop. She’s not even sure they’re still hanging out here in the abandoned underground skate lots; the street dancers of Beacon Hills are unexpectedly nomadic. But, as she walks into the old graffitied skate park by the street of newly cropped up boutiques down by 5th and Wisteria, Lydia is gratifyingly greeted with the sight of a group of people in various states of dress crowded into a circle and the loud syncopated thumps of Twilight 22 blaring into the open space.

In the middle of the loose circle formed is a face-off between an Asian girl in a tight t-shirt and white tank and grey sweatpants and a Hispanic man in at least his mid-twenties in a loose shirt and baggy pants, popping and locking, while the crowd eggs them on with loud crows and whoops. Lydia grins and slips into the crowd, unnoticed in her neutral grey hoodie, nondescript baseball cap and jeans.

The tune changes just as the girl finishes a particularly fluid glide across the ground while strobing her arms up and around in staccato jerks. As the opening synth beats of Das Racist filter into the air, the crowd cheers and the two in the center come together in a parting chest-thumping arm clap before dissolving back into the circle, leaving the space open for another group of challengers to take stage. Lydia claps with the rest of them, letting out her own cheer and whistling, as a pair of similarly dressed black high schoolers jump in for battle against a more older duo of men.

She keeps an eye on the Hispanic man from the first battle throughout the second dance-off, and elbows her way out of the crowd when she sees him slipping away.

“Javi!” she calls out, hurrying her way after the loping man. He stops in his tracks and turns around, clear question on his face before he registers Lydia’s grinning face and it melts into a responding beam.

“Well, I’ll be damned. Lydia Martin has risen from the grave.”

He spreads open his arms and backtracks toward her, and despite the visible sweat stains on his shirt, Lydia readily walks into his embrace, laughing and giving him a hearty clap across his back.

“It’s been a very long time,” Javi says, pulling back from the hug and holding Lydia at arm’s length, with the same old familiar smile he’d always gifted her. “Where did you go, princess?”

Lydia hums, shrugging, a far cry looser than she’d ever been in the company of her academic peers (or even her pack, although that’s becoming more and more of a thing as they solidify their pack relations). “Been busy. Had some life changes.”

“Uh...huh,” Javi says slowly, giving her a skeptical look. “I read about your attack two years ago; I’m sorry I never came to visit.”

“No, it’s alright. It wasn’t a good time back then for you to have come by anyway,” Lydia waves off, fixing a smile. Javi only raises an eyebrow in response, but wraps an arm around her shoulders and starts walking again, leading them away from the park.

“Well, okay, hon, if you say so. So, what brings you back to our old neck of the woods?”

Stuffing her hands into the pockets of her hoodie, Lydia relaxes into the hold of her old teacher. She takes a deep breath and turns her head to face him. “Sacramento Dance Funk is back, Javi. I want in.”

Javi stops in his tracks, almost to the street curb where his car’s been parked, and looks at Lydia incredulously.

“Lydia, princess, Dance Funk is in three months. And while you look gorgeous as always, I’m going to take a wild guess that you haven’t been spending the past two years in any kind of dance at all. I don’t think you’re going to make it in time. And besides, you need a partner for this, you realize? How are you going to find someone this last minute?”

“I can find a partner, Javi, that’s not a problem. What I need is a choreographer and studio space. Please, Javi, will you help? For me? I can do this, I know I can,” Lydia asks steadily, looking him square in the eye.

He sighs, resigned, just like she knew he would, and nods reluctantly. “Yeah, princess, I’ll help.”

One down, one to go.

-

Pack meetings are a weekly ordeal, comprised of a gathering at Derek’s (literal) hole in the wall loft and dinner on Fridays (unless there’s an active threat in town, in which case meetings become three times a week to strategize). This week is Boyd’s turn to provide dinner, and he chooses take-out, paid with Derek’s credit card. He orders enough gyros and souvlakia to feed a small army (or five werewolves and three humans with healthy appetites), and then some just to be safe. There’s also falafel and pita on the side and a truly astounding amount of tzatziki because Isaac has an unholy fondness for yogurt and cucumbers.

They’re gathered around in the living room, sitting cross-legged on the floor because Derek can’t buy comfortable furnishing to save his life (nor an actual television because he’s apparently some kind of neo-Luddite) with boxes of pita and souvlaki scattered amongst the pack. The betas, sans Scott, are sitting in a single file line, all pressed up against one another. Scott and Allison sit closest to the empty couch, while Stiles sits off towards the kitchen area, simultaneously shoving gyro into his mouth and researching for god knows what on his precariously balanced laptop. Derek is conspicuously absent, upstairs in his room for whatever reason--which is a bit of a surprise, since Greek food ranks very high on his list of favorite foods.

Lydia oversees them all from an actual table in the kitchen, daintily dipping pita into tzatziki that she’d glared Isaac into submission for. As she chews slowly on the wheat bread, she assesses her packmates carefully, taking in their body shape and recalling the amount of flexibility they’ve shown in the past during fights and training.

Still, there’s nothing better than actually in-context data, so she brushes her hands off of any lingering bread dust, sucks a finger in for stray yogurt, and sits back in her chair.

“So, I think we should go out to Jungle tonight,” she drawls, the suggestion airily filtering into the sniping and small talk going on with the rest of the pack.

“Hah, and risk yet another ambush by a coven of vampires or some prostitution ring of incubi? No thanks,” Stiles snorts, not lifting his head from his computer. He lifts his gyro for another mouthful, missing the eye-roll that Lydia disdainfully tosses him.

“That was five months ago, Stilinski, and they barely touched you if I recall correctly.” Stiles swivels his head around to meet Lydia’s gaze with his own annoyed one, but says nothing to refute the statement.

Erica plops the rest of her falafel in her open mouth and chews in thought, leaning back onto the floor, with her elbows propped up to keep her from laying fully down. “You know, I wouldn’t mind going out. I just came out of the exam from hell with Harris this week; I’d like to let some steam out on the dance floor.”

“Honestly, I think we’d all be up for a night out,” Scott remarks with a placating smile.

“Yeah, your only problem is getting Derek to come out of his cave to go with us,” Isaac points out through a mouthful of half-masticated pita and yogurt, unnecessarily gesturing upwards. Lydia rolls her eyes again and gets up from her seat to sit on the unoccupied couch.

Allison pops a bit of pork into her mouth and chews with a frown. “Why is he upstairs tonight anyway? Isn’t Greek food one of his favorite meals?”

“He’s sulking,” Boyd says shortly in between mouthfuls of pita and meat. At everyone’s curious faces, he indicates with an eyebrow and a small jerk of his head at the oblivious Stiles, who’s once again engrossed with his laptop.

Lydia’s lips curl. Of course.

“Yeah, well, Derek doesn’t get to escape pack bonding night just because he’s got his panties in a twist,” Erica scoffs, aiming a look towards the ceiling. There’s a bit of a muffled sound in response, nothing clear enough to Lydia’ or Allison’s human ears, but the betas all smirk with identical expressions of evil glee and look directly at Stiles’ bent head--even Scott, who gives his best friend a particularly pitying smirk.

Possibly feeling the burning stares of his friends, Stiles looks up to find everybody looking straight at him with varying degrees of smugness.

“...What?”

-

The club is hot and muggy, filled with the sharp cutting smell of alcohol and the floor-shaking whomp of the latest dubstep remix of a Top 40 hit. But, Lydia is on a mission, and not even the fruitiest of illicit cocktails can distract her.

She stations herself at the bar, facing the crowds of dancing people, and scrutinizes her friends’ gyrating for possible fluidity and gracefulness that may work well with her style. Isaac and Erica dance with sexualized fury, grinding against each other and the other men with equal abandon--which is perfectly fine, but more suited for the club floor than in a competition. Boyd is oddly stiff and contained, though the movements he does allow himself to display are measured and controlled with grace; she makes a note of it for later scrutiny, but for the moment, Lydia also crosses Boyd off the list. Scott dances like a flailing puppy, Allison a surprisingly mediocre dancer when not on the battlefield, and Stiles.

Stiles dances like he has perpetual wedgie in his ass-crack.

Lydia sighs, resigned to the fact that none of her friends have anything close to what she’s looking for and that she’ll probably have to bully one of the newer b-boyers on the streets to partner with her, and takes a large gulp of her cocktail to wash away the bitter taste of temporary defeat.

And then.

Derek, who they’d managed to get out of his room and into a club (using Stiles as bait, of course), had picked a spot by one of the pillars when they’d arrived and stayed there the entire time. As Lydia turns to give him a perfunctory glance, she catches him moving...onto the dance floor. Her eyebrows raised and interest slightly piqued, she notes the intensity of Derek’s stare directed at an oblivious Stiles, who even with his horrific butt-shaking managed to get an adequately attractive, sweaty man to dance up on his body. Stiles seems to be enjoying himself immensely too, turning his body around to grind up against the guy, and well, Lydia can objectively say that Stiles has definitely grown into his body because it looks hot, even from her angle.

Derek seems to think so too, apparently, since he jealously grabs onto a nearby guy, flashes them a dark toothy smirk, and starts working into the guy with a ferocious vehemence. And, that’s all good and well (and hot as fuck), but Lydia watches closely because there’s a particular feralness that Derek’s showing, tempered with the sinewy grace only a werewolf could have, that he’s accommodating to his partner, matching the other’s movements, and she thinks:

He’s the one.