Actions

Work Header

Freehand Drawings of Lon Chaney

Work Text:


Freehand drawings of Lon Chaney
Blueprints for geodesic domes
Recipes for cake




January

 

It’s Allison’s first day at work. She likes the quiet buzz of college towns and artisanal coffee. She likes her manager, Ennis, who slips a shot of whiskey into his own cup before pouring hot chocolate in and sipping slowly. She likes Scott, her shift buddy, who is super nice and gives her some ugly cookies. She is, however, ambivalent about Isaac the chef, who smokes out the back and stares at Scott’s butt. It’s probably none of her business, but whenever she stands in between them she can feel Isaac’s gaze on her.

Allison doesn’t know why he’s being so suspicious about the whole thing. Scott is clearly as gay as a maypole and Allison is just about as straight as Auden. She shuffles the pastries about in the baking tray and looks up just as the bell above the door chimes. It’s a woman with red hair, being followed by a beefy man in a tank top. Scott isn’t around-- probably hanging around in the back with Isaac. Ennis is out the back negotiating with the delivery guy.

“I said, leave me alone!” She’s trying to shake him off, but he makes a face and steps closer.

“Hey, baby, come on. Just a drink.”

“I said no.” Allison can think of only one thing to do in this situation that doesn’t involve violence and steps out from behind the bar, coming in close to the girl and sliding a hand around her waist. Don’t think about it, Allison chants in her head. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it. Just helping someone out.

“I’m glad you decided to come visit me during my shift break,” Allison says, and smiles. All throughout childhood, her dimples have charmed her into and out of near-impossible situations. They work their magic. Redhead catches on and smiles back sweetly.

“No problem, hun. You know I’d love to come by anytime.” The douchebag harrassing her takes a step backwards and frowns at them.

“What the hell?”

“This is my girlfriend,” Allison says heatedly. “Got a problem with that?” She glares at him like her mother taught her to, eyes narrowed and lips pressed together. Allison narrowly avoids jumping a foot in the air when Redhead decides to play along and slides an arm around her waist as well. Oh god, oh god, that probably looked suspicious. Beefcake narrows his eyes.

“No.” He turns and leaves the store, slamming the door behind him. Redhead turns to Allison and gives her a smile of relief.

“Thank you,” she says. “My name is Lydia. Lydia Martin. I haven’t seen here you before.”

“Allison Argent. I’m new.” They let go of each other and Allison flushes as Lydia’s arm brushes against her own. Her dress is dark red printed with yellow birds, and Allison tries to look for words to say.

“Can I get you anything?” Lydia nods gratefully.

“Yeah, just an Americano and a chicken pie. Thanks.” Allison obliges and goes back behind the counter.

And so it begins.

 

+

 

“She comes around every day, eh?” Allison makes a face and tries not to meet Scott’s eye. They’re both wiping the syrup bottles and Scott’s eyebrow wiggle as he runs the cloth up and down the slender container is not something Allison wants to look at, especially with Isaac’s gaze burning a hole into her back. Ugh, Isaac, come on. Scott flips out his paper and Allison catches sight of the headline-- Caved-In Cellar Beneath Tree Contained Mummified Corpses, but Scott is steering the conversation a different way.

“Yes, she does. But you already knew that, didn’t you? She’s a regular.”

“Isaac knows that. He just told me. I saw what was happening on the CCTV when I was in the back.”

“And you didn’t come out? So chivalrous of you.” Scott sticks out his tongue.

“You were handling it just fine.” Allison grins and thwacks Scott with her cloth. The yelp and the wounded look he gives her afterwards is worth it. Headline forgotten, she goes back to work.

 

+

 

After the first month, Lydia and Allison have exchanged nothing else other than their names and a couple of smiles.

“I’m going to talk to her today,” Allison says to her reflection in the grimy mirror over the bathroom sink. “I’m going to ask her how her day was going. Yes. I can do that.” She leaves the toilet and spends the next three hours trying not to bite her nails. When noon rolls around and Lydia comes in, Allison is halfway between relieved and being a nervous wreck.

“Hey, Lydia.” Allison’s best opening line yet. She’d practiced them in front of the fridge at length until Scott had confessed that she was scaring him.

“Oh, hello.” They smile at each other for a beat before Allison tucks her hair behind her ear. “So, how’s, you know--”

The bell over the door chimes.

"Yo!" Comes a voice, and Allison groans inwards. It’s Stiles Stilinski. Great fucking timing. "How's it hanging? Where's Scott?" Stiles is Scott's best friend, currently doing his Masters in Myth Studies at the local Uni. He used to come in all the time but this is his first time popping by in two weeks, and Allison can't muster up enough politeness to greet him with the same enthusiasm because he'd just essentially crotchblocked her.

"In the back," Allison says. He's looking at Lydia, mouth ajar.

"Lydia?"

"Do we know each other?" Lydia asks, giving him a bored look. She turns back to Allison and tilts her head.

"Um, Russian Caravan for me today, I think. And a chicken pie, as usual." Allison rings it up and Lydia digs through her wallet for coins while Stiles splutters behind the both of them, flapping his arms at intervals. The bell above the door chimes several more times as students stream in, and a queue soon forms. Scott emerges from the kitchen to help and Stiles shifts off to a corner and sulks. Allison gets caught up in the orders-- triple shots of espresso into drinks and iced coffees, standard orders. Hipsters clutch their soy milk lattes with shots of raspberry and move off. Allison listens to snatches of conversation-- “did you hear…?” and “yes, the large tree was cut down… What a shame,” and absently counts the money and gives out change.

Lydia sits in her usual spot and reads her book, completely immune to the commotion around her as students bicker over laptops and drink their coffees aggressively. Allison spies Stiles slinking towards Lydia, presumably to resume their conversation, but she's distracted by Ennis telling her to pack the whipped cream heavy on top for one of their regulars, Kali. They’ve got a thing going on, but Allison can safely say she’s seen Kali kissing Jennifer Blake, the assistant from the florist down the road. It’s either a threesome or there’s heartbreak on the horizon, Allison muses while wiping the counter.

The lunch hour passes by in a daze and when it finally slows down, Lydia's getting ready to leave. Before she goes, she stops at the counter and puts a dollar into the tip jar, and smiles at Allison again

"Bye," Lydia says, and smiles. "Allison."

"Have a nice day," Allison says politely, and Lydia leaves the shop. Allison turns to Ennis and giggles a little. He pats her back solicitously and she covers her face to hide her blush.

"She's got it bad," Scott observes as he comes back to the counter with a tray full of dirty dishes. Allison shoots him a glare but he continues, unfazed, and actually hums a little as he goes to the back.

"Yeah, she really does," Ennis agrees.

Allison finds that she really couldn't care less.

 

+

 

February

 

“Valentines’ day!” Scott sings as he comes into the shop. Allison looks at him blearily and glares from behind the counter.

“Why are you in? It’s your off day!”

“Danny cancelled. He’s got plans. I’m covering for him!” Scott says cheerfully. “Aw, who’s a gloomy goose?”

“Shut up,” Allison says, and hunches over her coffee mug. “Ugh, my family kept me on Skype the whole night. We were just having a family meeting.” A family meeting where her dad had told her firmly to ‘stop this nonsense and come home’. To stay with daddy and mommy, back to her nomadic childhood as she changed schools every few months, never staying long enough to set down roots. No thank you, Allison thinks rebelliously. If only she could muster up the courage to say that to her parents. Going back is the last thing she wants to do. Especially going back to the Argent family business.

And there’s the pesky issue of her sexual orientation, which will hopefully never ever be brought up so she can live in denial. The Argents have always been rather traditional.

“Any plans?” Scott is being chipper. Too chipper. And Isaac had come in smiling earlier today. Scott willingly taking over a shift for Danny, Isaac smiling… Allison puts two and two together to come up with four.

“Oh my God!” Allison says loudly. “You and Isaac! Finally!” Scott puts down his bag and his hands come up to cover his cheeks.

“What? No! Oh god, who told you?” He’s blushing furiously. Allison has been waiting for this moment. To rib him as revenge for all the teasing. She laughs, but it comes out as more of a cackle.

“Who knows?” Allison asks.

“Just you. I haven’t really told Stiles yet…” Scott trails off. “Please don’t tell anyone yet. I want them to know when I’m ready.”

“Of course,” Allison agrees. “Now, what specials do we have?” She’s anticipating heart-shaped cookies at best, but Isaac comes out bearing a load of red velvet cupcakes with beautiful pale pink frosting and silver dragées. There are full-sized cheesecakes with a layer of jelly and heart-shaped strawberry halves inside, and it all looks so romantic that Allison is tempted to grab her phone to take pictures. Isaac smiles at her, just a quick quirk of the lips, and she nods.

“Congratulations,” she says, and means it. Isaac ducks his head in acknowledgement and heads back into the kitchen.

It’s going to be a good day.

The first few customers are panicky boyfriends who haven’t got anything for their girlfriends, and the chocolate shop is out of cheap boxes. Most of them are clutching bouquets from Jennifer’s shop and Allison is willing to bet she jacked up the price even higher than most places. That’s the benefit of being the only florist for seventeen blocks. The cupcakes are selling fast, and there’s the lovely smell of baking in the air. All is well.

That is, until Lydia Martin strolls in. It’s nine in the morning and she’s in and Allison is freaking out inside. Scott elbows her not-very-subtly and excuses himself as Lydia comes up to the counter. She is so going to get him back for that.

“Hello,” Lydia says. She’s in a printed blouse and a leather skirt with Mary Jane heels, and Allison regrets throwing on the first black smock dress and boots she could reach from her bed. She probably looks like an art school hobo.

“Hey. It’s a bit early for you, isn’t it?” Lydia blinks and smiles at her, pointing to the pastries in the case. Onion quiche. Allison gets it out for her and heats it up in the mini oven, listening to Lydia talk all the while.

“Yes, it is. But I thought I’d come by to avoid all the gossip in the morning about tonight’s plans. You know. Kim's boyfriend is proposing, Samantha's husband got her a table at the hot new joint in town... It's boring.”

“Oh,” Allison says, and completely  fails at feigning disinterest. “What are your plans, then?”

“Don’t have any.” Lydia is rooting through her bag for her wallet and Allison's heart is in her throat. Unattached, then. Maybe. A date? No. Play it cool, Argent. You can do this.

"I left my wallet in the office," Lydia says aloud. "Shit."

"It's fine," Allison reassures her. “Look, you can just pay when you come in the next time.” Lydia grabs her quiche and lingers at the station while Allison pretends to be busy with cleaning the knobs of the machine. The cafe is empty, it’s just the two of them and it really shouldn’t be awkward but it feels as though the silence between the both of them is thick enough to cut with a butter knife. Allison glances up to see Isaac and Scott behind the kitchen door peering out through the clear panel and re-enacting what can only be an obscene parody of Hannibal savouring liver and Chianti. She hurriedly looks back at Lydia, who is looking at her with raised eyebrows.

“Friends of yours?” Allison giggles and covers her mouth, shaking her head.

“They’re just teasing. Don’t worry about it. Hey, look. Since you don’t have plans, we’ll be having a thing here around eight. Just the black and white version of Pride and Prejudice, no stress, you can come hang out! I’ll be here!”

“You’re hanging at your own workplace?” Lydia asks, tilting her head and looking at her critically. Allison shrugs.

“I don’t have any plans either, so, yeah.” Lydia swings the paper bag over her shoulder and sighs, glancing at the watch on her wrist.

“I’ll come by during lunchtime and give you an answer. See you, Allison.” And she’s gone, leaving only the faint smell of perfume.

 

+

 

Lunch comes and goes with no sign of Lydia. Ennis isn’t coming in today, and Erica swings by to help out, even though she technically isn’t staff of the place any more. She’d quit a few months earlier, switching a barista life to be a part-time art teacher, but comes in every other day for discounted coffee.

“I love Valentines’ day as much as a snail loves salt,” she grumbles while bringing out trays of baked goods with Isaac. “All this heart-shaped stuff. Isaac, you’re going soft.”

“Not all of us have Boyd,” Isaac points out. “You won there.” Erica smiles at the thought of her boyfriend and Allison catches the flash of a ring on the necklace around Erica’s chest and bites back a grin.

“I won,” Erica concedes. “Hey, Allison, give us a hand here. Scotty over there can mind the counter like a good boy.”

“Arf,” Scott deadpans.

 

+

 

There’s a sizeable dinner crowd and Erica has ended up staying, her curled hair up in a loose bun as she makes coffees furiously. Allison is delegated to table duty and she looks up just as Lydia comes in, looking disdainful and haughty amidst all the couples canoodling around her. Lydia pays for her morning pastry and takes a seat at the counter, watching as Boyd sets up the projector. Allison plays it cool, but when she returns to the sink Erica shoots her a thumbs up and winks.

“Does everyone know?” Allison asks desperately.

“Pretty much,” Erica says. “Just like how everyone knows Boyd and I are engaged now. When you’re in our circle, nothing escapes our notice.”

“What a nightmare,” Allison mumbles.

“Get used to it. You’re one of us now.” Eight o’clock comes and tables are cleared and pushed aside to make way for the picnic mats on the floor. Lydia sits near the back and couples take the front-- most notably Scott and Isaac, holding hands nervously. Stiles comes in with a guy in a leather jacket he introduces as the TA of Werewolf Lore, one of the classes he takes, and blushes every time someone so much as looks their way. Boyd high fives the TA and calls him ‘Derek’, and Allison gathers that he and Erica had met through him. Allison sits down beside Lydia as the opening credits roll and Lydia turns to her.

“I guess this wasn’t such a bad idea.” Allison smiles.

“But,” Lydia continues, undeterred. “Who thinks Pride & Prejudice is a good movie for Valentines' Day? The clothing style isn't even right for the period. Who picked this? I want to punch them. They’re supposed to be in dresses with empire line waists, all the sweet Laura Ashley stuff. Not looking like fluffy ducks.”

"Scott picked it," Allison whispers back. "His mom likes the movie, apparently." The movie is in black and white against the peach tones of the wall and in it, Mrs. Bennett is tapping impatiently at the window for Mary to leave the bookstore. Lydia leans against Allison’s shoulder and they stay that way for the rest of the movie.

When it’s over, people get to their feet and stretch, yawning widely and cracking knuckles.

“They made Lady Catherine much nicer here,” Allison overhears Tall, Dark and Handsome In A Leather Jacket say to Stiles. Lydia is dusting off her skirt and standing by the door with her bag slung over her shoulder, and she nods at Allison.

“Thanks for tonight,” Lydia says. “I enjoyed it. I like The Notebook better, though.”Allison files that away for future reference and stands off to the side to let people pass through.

“Right, yeah. It’s a good movie--”

“Okay,” Lydia cuts her off. “Look. You’ve had the whole night to make a move, but I guess I’m here, making mine.” Allison freezes.

“What?” Lydia rolls her eyes but smiles, gesturing between the both of them.

“I want to get to know you better, and I’m guessing you feel the same way because your coworkers always give me these weird smirks and elbow you a lot.” Lydia points somewhere behind her and Allison whips around to see Scott whistling innocently as he pushes the tables back into their original position. Isaac is staring shamelessly at them and Erica and Boyd are nowhere in sight. Allison really needs new friends.

“Yes, I do feel the same way.”

“Good,” Lydia says. “Because otherwise I would’ve embarrassed myself in front of everyone who works here.” Allison giggles and leans in closer. Lydia’s gaze darts between Allison’s eyes and her mouth, and it’s almost a relief when their lips meet in a brief kiss. Lydia draws back and tilts her head at Allison before reaching up to tangle a hand in her hair and pull her down for a proper kiss. Allison is glad that it’s dark out, and the only people around are her friends, and she’s safe, and it’s Lydia Martin kissing her senseless--

Somewhere in the background, Scott is whooping dimly and someone is applauding, and Allison finds that she really doesn’t care.

 

+

 

June

 

“Poison!” Boyd shouts, and people around them erupt into cheers.

“You suck!” Isaac hollers down the counter at Erica. “This is cheating!”

“Drink up, sucker!” Erica shouts back. “We had a fucking deal!” Isaac downs his shot and shudders, sticking his tongue out of his mouth afterwards.

“What the hell is in this?”

“Dude, I’m so not kissing you tonight,” Scott tells him. “Gross.” They get up to go help themselves to the leftover pastries of the day.

“End of Round One! Boyd and Erica are leading, Allison and Lydia are runners-up and last is Isaac and Scott,” Stiles reads off the score card. “Congratulations, players. Round Two will be up shortly.”

“Your version of Trivial Pursuit is skewed in many directions, my friend,” Erica comments, leaning over to peek at Stiles’ laptop. He turns it away and high-fives her while Boyd looks on indulgently. Allison groans and leans on Lydia’s shoulder as they go through their answer sheet.

“You’re such a geek,” Allison teases Lydia. “Euclid, really?”

“Number theory,” Lydia tells her proudly. “When i was younger all I wanted to do was win a Fields Medal.”

“That’s the Nobel Prize for Mathematics,” Stiles says from behind his laptop, peeking over at the both of them. Allison shoots him a look and he shrugs. “What? I pay attention sometimes too!”

“It’s called eavesdropping, Stiles,” Lydia says. “Where is Derek, anyway? You two have been glued at the hip ever since you consummated your sizzling sexual tension.”

“No, we haven’t, and he’s just doing a family thing tonight. And you’re not allowed to comment. You two don’t even hold hands in public.” Stiles turns red as he realises what he’d just said aloud, and Allison averts her gaze from Lydia’s. No pressure, Lydia had said, and Allison wants to but there’s so much shame internalised from her upbringing that even the thought of doing something so intimate out in the open makes her feel hot inside.. There’s a buzzing sound coming from the pile of phones beside him (“No phones! They can be used to cheat. I saw that episode of Cougar Town!”) and Erica looks through them. Lydia drums her fingers on the countertop and turns to kiss Allison’s head fondly.

“The phone with the Etsy-looking cover,” Erica says. “Paging the hipster.”

“Allison’s,” Lydia answers instantly. “She really did get it from Etsy, though.”

“Hipster,” Erica mumbles, handing over the phone to Allison. She makes a face at Erica and picks up without a second thought 

“Hello?”

“Sweetheart!” Oh, god. Mom.

“Hey mom!” Allison’s voice goes more high-pitched than she would like. She can feel everyone’s eyes on her and quietly prays for death. “How’s it going?”

“Good, good. In fact, the business is going so well that we’re planning to pop down for a visit! You’d think a podunk little town like Beacon Hills wouldn’t give us much business, but you’re wrong there. We’re doing quite well. Cougars, you see. Everyone needs guns.”

“Right, yes,” Allison says. “Er, when?”

“Next Friday!” Victoria Argent’s voice is chipper yet full of warning. Allison understands that it’s her mother’s way of caring. Intimidation and love go together hand in hand. “Kate is Facebook friends with you, isn’t she? We saw that picture of you and that girl Lydia. Is she your best friend? Can we meet her?”

“Mom…” Allison covers her face and sighs. “Fine. I’ll ask her. How long will you be staying?”

“Just the weekend. Your father’s only just barely managed to get away. We’ll be driving down, Allison. See you next week!”

“Bye--” Allison starts, but her mother’s already hung up. Allison puts down her phone and groans, slumping on the counter. This is a nightmare. They’re going to try and convince her to settle down with a nice boyfriend. Allison starts when she feels a hand slide around her shoulders and warm breath beside her ear.

“Parents, huh?”

“Don’t get me started,” Allison says. “They’re coming down next weekend. They want to see you.”

“I told you uploading a picture of that smooch was a bad idea,” Stiles comments. Allison gives him the finger and he snickers before ducking behind his computer as Erica bats him across the head. “Ow!”

“You deserved that,” Erica tells him matter-of-factly. “Look, Allison, I’ve been there before. It’s going to be fine.”

“They’re going to realise I’m gay and matchmake me with a sweet boy who has a degree in Business,” Allison mumbles. “White picket fence and hawking guns for a living.”

“I wouldn’t say hawking. I could be your affair on the side,” Lydia teases, kissing Allison’s cheek. “Parents love me. I’m lovable.”

“Remember Jackson?” Boyd says as he comes up to them, distributing cans of soda he’d dug up from the fridge. “Because I do, and his parents did not like you.” Erica and Stiles giggle at that.

“They’re his adoptive parents!” Lydia pouts, folding her arms. “I mean like, blood parents.”

“All parents are parents,” Stiles volunteers.

“A parent is a parent is a parent,” Erica agrees, and takes a long drink of her coke. “Suck it.”

 

+

 

“This certainly is a nice place,” Victoria Argent says, looking around Allison’s flat, which is slightly cramped and has far too many hatboxes. Those belong to Lydia, who for some inexplicable reason has a huge collection of hats. It’s not as if she’s going to the Ascot anytime soon, and Erica has said multiple times that Lydia should be on an episode of Intervention. Also,  it isn’t  Allison’s fault she finds the boxes they come in too pretty to throw out. The shelves are stacked with books and Allison cringes inwardly as her mom looks directly at the fairytale shelves. This is not going well, and they’ve only been here a minute.

“Mom, dad, this is my apartment, as you know,” Allison says. “Are you staying here, or…”

“We’ve got a room in the motel down the street,” her dad says, and hugs her.

“Oof! You’re getting tall.”

“Yes.” There’s a pause and the three of them look around for something to say. Chris strikes the jackpot first, pointing at a painting on the wall.

“That’s very nice. Who did that?” Allison turns to see which one, and she smiles.

“Erica did it. Well, okay, she tried to do a tree, but Boyd was the one who touched it up and made it Yggdrasil. Otherwise it would just have been a tree.” An ugly tree, at that. Allison can almost hear Erica saying I’m an art teacher, not an artist. Boyd is doing his postdoctoral research in Myth Studies as well, which was how he’d gotten to know Derek, then Stiles, then Erica, and finally the rest of the gang.

“As in, the tree of Norse Mythology?”

“Yes, that one,” Allison says. “Hey, how about you drop your bags at the motel and I’ll clean up and I’ll meet you at your motel for dinner?”

“Great,” Victoria says, and smiles a smile full of teeth. “Don’t forget to bring your friend.”

“Lydia. Her name is Lydia.” Allison reminds her mother.

“Yes, Lydia. Well, see you tonight, dear.” They leave and Allison closes the door behind them, heaving a sigh of relief.

 

+

 

“You look fine,” Allison says. “Really.” Lydia is standing beside her in nude heels and a wine-red dress, fiddling with her little gold clasp. She looks beautiful and Allison wants to tell her that, but her thoughts are interrupted by her parents stepping out of the lift.

“Mom, dad, this is Lydia Martin. My friend.”

“Hello, Mr and Mrs Argent! It’s nice to meet you!” Lydia says cheerfully, smiling. She shakes their hands and they look dazzled by her smile, which Allison has noticed is usually the case when it comes to Lydia.

“It’s very nice to meet you too,” Allison’s mother says. “Please, call us Victoria and Chris.” Her dad is glancing between the three of them, and it’s almost audible the way the pieces click in his mind. Allison can see the moment he realises and she quickly reaches out to grab her mother’s arm.

“Let’s go for dinner!” Dinner, which is at the cafe, is either the best or worst idea Allison has ever had. Scott is unfailingly polite and Allison recommends her parents the good dishes. Isaac ducks out of the kitchen once to whisper to Scott and nods respectfully at her parents before disappearing back in without even a speck of cigarette ash on his clothes.

The night is going better than expected. Lydia charms Victoria thoroughly, but Allison’s dad keeps giving her these searching looks, even above the rim of his bowl of trifle. Danny is in and reading a book when the going gets slow, but he shoots Allison a thumbs-up every now and then for encouragement. She feels a sudden flash of gratefulness that her friends are here for her, and that none of them are openly revelling in this torture. When the dinner is over and they get up to leave, Chris grabs his daughter by the arm and smiles at Lydia and Victoria.

“I just want a word with Allison for a bit,” he says, and Victoria waves them off to talk to Lydia. Allison and Chris leave the cafe and stand outside, leaning against the front. Chris clears his throat, and raises a hand to jab a finger in Lydia’s direction.

“Girlfriend, then. Not best friend.” Allison averts her gaze.

“No, dad. I’m sorry.” This is the moment she’s been dreading her whole life. To have her family find out about her proclivities and their inevitable negative reaction. She remembers when she was younger and Gerard took her to the park, only to stop and curse out a young gay couple. This might have been a long time coming.

There’s silence for a beat, and then sudden warmth. Chris is hugging her and she hugs back tightly, almost afraid of what will come next.

“There’s nothing to apologise for, Allison,” Chris says seriously. “It’s not shameful.”

“Gerard--” The word catches in her throat, and her eyes feel wet.

“Fuck him,” Chris says. “You’re my little girl. He can say whatever he likes, but where you are concerned he’d better keep his mouth shut. You’re still my Allison, whether you’re going to prom with James or making out with that girl Lydia.” Allison laughs and brings a hand up to her face to wipe away the tears. Her makeup is probably smeared, but she doesn’t care. Not anymore.

“Thanks, dad.”

“It’s fine. Come here.” And for the second time that night, Allison is enveloped in her dad’s embrace. She clutches at his shirt and he strokes her hair, kissing her head just like he did when she was a little girl, terrified of the taxidermied wolves in Grandfather Gerard’s cabin house. When they part, Allison catches sight of the worry on Lydia’s face and the amusement on her mother’s.

“Always so emotional, Allison,” Victoria says, and takes Chris’ hand in hers. “Breakfast tomorrow at ten?”

“I’ll see you at your motel,” Allison reassures her. “Goodnight.” They walk off in different directions and Allison grabs Lydia’s hand in hers and Lydia jerks slightly, startled.

“Aren’t you afraid people will see?” Lydia asks, surprised, as Allison’s fingers wind through hers. It’s their first time holding hands in public, and Allison finds that it is simultaneously daunting and freeing. She loves it. She squeezes Lydia’s hand tightly and ducks her head, smiling.

“Let them.”