Lydia knows that nothing is constant.
The environment changes; the grass grows and dies and the flowers grow and die and the trees just grow and grow and grow. The ozone layer's hole widens every year, the water levels of the world continues to rise with every breath taken, buildings grow faster than the trees.
Society changes; with every death comes the depletion of old values to make way for new, with every new life comes the responsibility of the older to teach the ever changing values to the newest of lives. Things grow outdated and make headway for new beliefs, new beliefs branch out to eager minds and block at stubborn souls.
(God, people change.)
People change everyday; ranging from the clothes they wear to the god they worship. They change their laughs and the way they cry and their decisions and the places they live and they food they eat. They change they people around them; they change themselves.
Lydia knows nothing gold can stay.
(Maybe Stiles is silver.)
"Your hair is pretty," he's saying, mindlessly dragging a bright yellow truck through the sand in the blue box it's contained in. Lydia focuses on the black spider, no bigger than her father's thumbnail, crawling up the denim of his pant leg. "It's like my mom's." Lydia forces her eyes away from the arachnid, tilting her head at him.
His eyes are large and brown, not too memorable, she thinks haughtily. His hair is short, moles dotting his face and neck. He blinks owlishly at her and she's struck by how much space his eyes seem to take up on his face.
"Strawberry blonde," he continues. The spider makes its way to the hem of his shirt. "Mom says it's not really red, and also strawberry blonde sounds better, even though dad is allergic to strawberries." he scoops sand up in his hand, dumping it into his yellow truck. Lydia remembers his name, but her lips can't seem to let the word come out properly. She's not deterred; their teacher can't pronounce his name either.
"There's a spider on your shirt," she replies, then stands and dusts sand off the back of her dress as he squeals and wriggles his way into the grass to rid himself of the monster.
(Stiles is there before, he's there during, and he's sure as hell he's going to be there after.)
"I'm going to marry you, I think," he's saying, carefully writing his name in neat cursive, all ten letters of it, on the page covered in scribbles in doodles. There's still too many fluid consonants and vague vowels for Lydia to confidently pronounce his name. The doodles around the lines set for them to write in are more interesting to look at, anyway.
"They say boys marry someone who is like their mom," he continues, finishing with a curve to the 'Y'. "And girls marry someone like their dad. Also, you're the smartest and prettiest girl I've ever seen in my entire life, pretty much."
"Okay," she says, because she doesn't know what else to say.
"Am I like your dad?" he asks, looking up at her. His lips are too long for his face, she thinks quietly. Thin and boyish, pale pink, with dark moles residing next to the left corner of his grin. His nose is upturned a little, almost like a ski jump.
"My dad doesn't have brown eyes," she says, because she can't think of anything else to say. Her brain feels jumbled.
He shrugs. "My mom doesn't have green eyes. They're just as beautiful as yours, though." And then he's right back to carefully writing out his too-difficult name on the designated lines, swooping out on the 'Y' just like before.
She watches him grow.
He stretches and bends and talks and talks and talks.
(She watches him grow.
He stretches lengths just for her, bends over backwards for her every need, and speaks in just the right tone, with just the right words, just for her)
(Her tongue feels too heavy in her mouth.)
He's not saying anything.
His breath comes in short little pants, half whimpers, half gasps for air. He's lying on the cold tile of the floor, clutching at Lydia's floral dress. She's knelt down next to him, heart pounding too hard in her chest.
She tries saying his name; gets frustrated. It's the first time she's ever gotten truly mad at the fact she can't pronounce his name. She settles on patting his cheek in what she hopes is a comforting way, repeating what she wants him to do -- breathe.
A shaky hand reaches up and touches her hair, just the tip of her braid where the red is curling slightly. A delicate whisper falls from his too-thin lips. Her throat tightens.
"Mom," he's croaked, tears streaming down the sides of his face into his short hair. His eyes are pure amber-gold, shiny and frighteningly beautiful.
It's then a teacher comes into the school hallway, and Lydia barely manages to gasp out a rushed, "Help, please."
Later, when she's sitting in the school office, she manages to overhear the teachers speaking in hushed tones, saying the words he hadn't managed to say.
"--First panic attack--"
"--Something about strawberry blo--"
"--His mom's death really hit--"
She curls up in her seat, tucking her knees to her chest. She can't get the image of bright gold eyes out of her head, stuck as an afterimage behind her eyelids.
It's a long time before she hears his voice again.
"Stiles, Stiles, my name is Stiles!"
(She looked up his name, once.
There wasn't a meaning to be found, except that it was of Welsh descent.
He shares a name with the son of a Welsh goddess, who deceived his uncle for the love of his maiden. His uncle cursed him and his brother to become first deer, then boars, then wolves.
She thinks it's become more than appropriate.)
"Jackson's your valentine?" he's asking, sitting at the desk beside her. His legs are a little too long, knees nearly touching the desk underneath him.
"Yes," Jackson's suddenly right there, the bite in his voice almost creating an audible snap in the air. "What, were you planning on asking her?" Jackson's smirk isn't all that appealing, but Lydia holds her tongue. Stiles just smiles back, all almost-dimples.
"No, just wondering. Surprised at her choice in gentleman, but hey, who doesn't go for the pretty face, eh?" She notices the way Stiles hunches in his seat, almost as if he feels too big for his body.
Jackson bristles and Lydia holds in the urge to roll her eyes. Men.
"If anyone here is pretty, it's Lydia," Jackson retorts, placing his hand over Lydia's in an almost possessive manner. Lydia bites her bottom lip, forcing back a blush. "Pretty as -- as Aphrodite." She's surprised to see Stiles roll his eyes.
"And what does that make you? Hephaestus?" Lydia can't hold back the snort this time. Jackson spares her a glance before glaring at Stiles. "If anything, she's Persephone." Lydia notices the crinkles by his eyes, the crinkle of his smile. He's thought about this before.
"What?" Jackson seethes. "That goddess that got kidnapped by the lord of the freaking Underworld?" Stiles shrugs.
"Innocent beauty, tricked against her will into a world she never wanted to live in, yet continued to rule with respect and majesty," Stiles explains, all jerky hand gestures. His eyes are intimidatingly bright. "The world is your Hades." And with that, the bell rings, forcing the conversation to a close.
When Lydia goes home, she lies in bed, bones feeling too large for her skin.
She ignores him.
She ignores him and doesn't acknowledge his existence and sasses him to the brink of bullying.
She doesn't deserve him, god dammit.
The night of the winter formal is mostly a haze of blurry memories, of pain and heartbreak and a tint of sadness.
She remembers him scrambling around her, taking her arm like a gentleman and pulling out her chair and everything, like a proper date.
She remembers his little breakdown, remembers the swell of pride when she realizes he's not taking her bullshit, not this time.
She remembers dancing, arms around his shoulders, his hands around her waist. She remembers feeling guilty that she couldn't enjoy him, not properly, not when Jackson was out there, without her.
She remembers the brush of his thick eyelashes on her bare shoulder, his forehead just pressed to her skin as they slow danced. She remembers how he stooped, just a little, so she could dance more comfortably. She remembers the warm press of his body against hers, so strong yet so weak.
She remembers his expression when he realized she just wanted Jackson -- one of almost sadness, masked by a face of warm indifference.
She doesn't remember exactly what he said; just the fact that he understood, that he got her, and took her where she wanted, not even thinking about himself.
She remembers her guilt.
She knows he knows better.
She knows he knows he should move on.
She knows he'll never give up, at least in some ways.
She doesn't judge his determination.
He's silent, for once.
He's seen all of her; not just her body (she knows he took a nice long look at her when she emerged out of the woods before falling over in his effort to help), but her very being.
He's torn her from the inside out, upside down and backwards, in every language and every dialect, he knows her and she knows he knows her.
She tries not to think about that when she's embracing Jackson, crying and clutching the key in her hand. She barely glances at Stiles before squeezing her eyes shut.
She can't handle the expression of total heartbreak etched onto his radiant face.
There's a certain coldness that seems to have seeped into his eyes, usually so warm and open. This is the Stiles no one sees, she knows. The one he hides, behind witty sarcasm and maybe a little too much Adderall. She sees the tears and, like the coward she is, turns away.
She hears him mutter something about Jackson scratching his Jeep to Scott, hears the swipe of skin as he wipes away his rare tears, and clutches Jackson tighter.
Human love, she reminds herself. Jackson was saved with human love.
(Jackson's not a human anymore, a little voice in the back of her brain whispers mockingly. Jackson's not Stiles.)
She covers her ears and squeezes her eyes shut, heart thudding loudly.
He's saying something about his hatred for Harris, this time.
His words seem distorted in her ears, muted by the crowd around them.
He looks different. Four months of near disappearance can do that to a person, she thinks. It's not like she hasn't seen him around town the last few weeks of school, and through the summer. It's simply strange to see all of him, so close, so new.
She wonders at his longer hair, muses at his taller stature, gazes at his eyes--
They never change, actually.
She wants to be able to find constellations in the multitudes of moles and freckles painted on his skin; to find shapes of temples in the curves of his shoulders, in the angles of his hips; to tap out a symphony in the knobs of his spine; to find forever in the molten amber of his eyes.
(The sky is too black; the churches are abandoned, devoid of worshipers; a cacophony fills her ears; nothing lasts.)
"You're my brother," he's whispering, eyes filled with those tears again, the soles of his shoes covered in gasoline. Her heart's in her throat, hands shaking at her sides.
She barely catches sight of the flare, rolling across the wet ground to the puddle of gasoline; the puddle of gasoline Stiles is standing in.
She can't control the strangled, desperate NO that escapes her lips, tearing out of her throat; can't control the way her legs race to push Stiles out of the way, body moving of its own accord.
She finds herself covering Stiles with her body, hand gripping his side as the flames erupt behind them, sending a wave of heat their way. She doesn't dare move; not when she knows Stiles is safe now; not when she sees a terrifying image in the midst of the flames; not when the flames begin to die down.
She knows it's nothing compared to what he's done for her, but, dammit, she's going to try.
Lydia knows that nothing lasts forever.
(Maybe Stiles is nothing.)
(Maybe Stiles is everything.)