June 11, 2014

Drove Through Ghost To Get Here 11/32

Title: Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Rating: NC-17
Authors: Sxymami0909 and Xtremeroswellia
Timeline: Takes place 1 year after the end of ‘Beyond The Sea’
Series: Post Finale AU
Pairings: Stiles/Lydia, Scott/Kira, Isaac Lahey, Sheriff Stilinski, Melissa McCall, Chris Argent, Derek Hale, Cora Hale, Aiden, Ethan, Danny, Braeden, Alan Deaton, Peter Hale, Malia Tate-Hale, mentions of Scott/Allison, mentions of Derek/Lydia, mentions of Stiles/Braeden
Part: 11/32
Summary: The one year anniversary of Allison's death is right around the corner just in time for a new threat to make it's way to Beacon Hills. With Lydia's banshee powers growing, and dead bodies piling up near the Nemeton, Scott and his pack need to work together to figure out who's behind the latest attacks and what knew evil is on the lose. Tension is mounting in the pack and relationships will be tested when an old ally returns to town with information that could help the pack. But can the pack trust their old friend or has the year passed hardened him to a point of no return?
Author's Note: This is a Stydia story, but it's a slow burn because a lot needs to be rebuilt and there are mentions of other couples and other friendships along the way. One year has passed between this story and 'Beyond the Sea'. You will get to see the missing year in a series of one-shots taking place between 'Beyond the Sea' and this story later on.
Previous Chapters:  One | Two |  Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten |

Chapter 11

Stiles glanced around the table at all the faces gathered for dinner, almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of people. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been at a holiday dinner with this many people around. He was seated between Isaac and Cora, though he wasn’t sure why unless Isaac was really that intimidated by Derek. He reminded himself that once upon a time, he’d been slightly terrified of Derek Hale.

Not much scared Stiles now. Not personally anyway. He glanced across the table at Lydia, who was dishing some green bean casserole out onto her plate, then let his gaze travel to her left, where Scott sat between her and Kira, the two of them talking quietly as they too dished out food.

He picked up his glass of water and took a drink. He’d spent nearly a half an hour more researching after Lydia had left the room, because Melissa had basically run him out of the kitchen when he’d started popping random items of food into his mouth as he helped her. He’d smiled when she shooed him away. It hadn’t really spoiled his appetite, fortunately. There was a ton of food, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen this much of that either.

Lydia nudged Scott lightly with her shoulder and held out the green beans that Chris made. He took them from her and smiled his gaze drifting to Kira again as he put some on his plate. “Do you want some?” He asked her softly ready and willing to put it on her plate for her if she said yes.

“Yes please,” she answered with a small smile, catching his gaze, her eyes bright.

Stiles couldn’t help but smile at the interaction between the two of them. He liked Kira, and thought she was good for Scott, especially if she could make him smile like that. He took a bite of mashed potatoes and glanced down the table at Melissa, who was talking with Kira’s parents, but quietly enough that he couldn’t hear what they were talking about. He watched the way the light in the ring reflected off the small diamond on her finger and his smile brightened a little before he looked at the opposite end of the table at his dad, who was sitting on the other side of Kira at the head of the table.

“Dude,” Scott called Stiles for the second time, grin on his lips he held out the green beans, “Eat your vegetables,” he joked as he slid the casserole carefully over to him. “It’s like eating lunch at school times five,” Scott joked as he glanced around the table. His gaze fell on Stiles again, “Speaking of which are you going to come back after the holiday now that you decided to stay?” He asked.

The sheriff piped in, “I was going to talk to you about that, like Scott I think it’s time for you to head back to school.” He added.

Lydia had to stop herself from dropping her fork at the news that Stiles was staying in town.

And just like that, every eye in the entire room was locked on him. Awesome. Except not really. It was kind of uncomfortable, and he knew the answer he was about to deliver was likely going to be a shock to everyone at the table except for Danny. He shifted in his chair, glancing down the table at his dad, and then over at Scott. “Uh, well actually, I kind of don’t need to.”

“What do you mean?” Melissa asked, confusion and concern contorting her face into an odd look.

“I got my GED while I was away,” he answered after a moment, resisting the urge to bounce his foot against the ground. “I’ve actually been taking some college courses online.” The whole room was utterly silent.

Scott frowned, “You didn’t mention that,” he said keeping his gaze on his best friend. Scott had been looking forward to Stiles coming back to school so they could finish out their last year together. But apparently that wasn’t going to happen.

Stiles gave Scott an apologetic look. Talking about school hadn’t been one of his top priorities, but he hated the disappointed expression on his best friend’s face. “I know.”

The sheriff finished off his piece of turkey and pursed his lips. “Well...I guess it’s good that you’re able to take some college courses,” He said glancing down the table at Melissa. He wasn’t exactly happy about it, but he didn’t want to make Stiles feel like he had the firing squad on him, so they’d talk about it later in private as a family.

Lydia wasn’t quite sure what to say about the GED, but honestly she wasn’t all too focused on that. She ignored the current topic of conversation and brought it back to the important part. “You’re staying,” she repeated her voice a lot more calm then she felt, knowing that half the people there could probably hear her rapidly beating heart was annoying, “When did you make that decision?” She asked as all eyes turned to her this time. It took effort not to squirm in her seat, but she was Lydia Martin, she had practice in not squirming.

Apparently she was the last to know of his decision since no one else had seemed surprised by his words, then again that didn’t really surprise her since she seemed to be the last thing on his priority list since he got back. Could you be more selfish Lydia?, the thought ran through her head and her stomach turned.

“Of course he’s staying,” Melissa said in confusion, like there had never been a question in her mind. Now she wondered if she should have been questioning it since he’d gotten back.

Stiles met her eyes, pursing his lips. “Not long ago,” he said quietly. “A couple of days.” He couldn’t read her expression, or her tone, and he couldn’t tell if she was upset about the fact that he was staying or if she was hoping he’d just finish dealing with the daevas and promptly fall off the planet again.

“Well, that’s great,” Kira said sincerely, reaching out and lacing her fingers through Scott’s without looking at him.

Melissa frowned, “What do you mean a couple of days?” She’d been under the impression that Stiles had come home for good when he came home. She glanced at Michael who pursed his lips.

Michael glanced briefly at his son before his gaze returned to Melissa, “I’m sure he meant he was just processing everything.” He told her not wanting her to worry. Michael smiled at her and Melissa couldn’t help but return it. She got his message. They’d talk about it later when everyone was gone. She lifted her drink and took a sip.

Lydia glanced at Melissa feeling bad for bringing it up now, but it wasn’t like she could take it back. She cleared her throat, “Kira’s right,” she said quietly trying to ease Melissa’s worries. It didn’t matter when he decided he was staying. At least he was staying. She glanced back down at her food and pushed around her green beans.

Chris glanced at the redhead on the other side of Derek and angled his head towards her vegetables. “Are you trying to tell me I’m a bad cook?” He asked his tone light.

Lydia blinked, “What?” she glanced up at him and his soft smile made her relax slightly.

“Those green beans are an Argent family secret.” He joked, “You should eat your vegetables.”

A small smile pulled at her lips and she brought a forkful to her mouth chewing and swallowing, “Delicious,” she said with a small laugh.

Stiles took the opportunity to shove his mouth full of food, shooting a grateful if unnoticed look in Chris’s direction for taking the focus off of him. He could feel Cora’s eyes on him, though, and his dad’s, too, and he glanced at them both in turn, offering them small apologetic smiles before looking down the table at Melissa, guilt making him hold his breath.

“So you’re sticking around,” Aiden spoke up, voice calm and neutral -- probably the most so he’d ever heard from the guy.

“That’s the plan,” Stiles answered after swallowing.

Kira glanced from Aiden to Stiles to Scott. “Everything’s really good,” she told Melissa.

Melissa arched an eyebrow, “Glad to hear it,” though her tone suggested she wasn’t quite buying their words especially as they all exchanged looks. “Stiles sweetie, you never told us about your year abroad. Scott’s got all the postcards from different places, tell us about your trip,” she said with a warm smile.

Scott pursed his lips, “I’m sure Stiles doesn’t want to monopolize the conversation,” he said with a small grin in his Mother’s direction.

“I’d love to hear about it,” Derek said his tone casual as he took another bite of food.

Stiles gave Scott a small, grateful expression, but his eyes narrowed when Derek spoke. Of course, he thought.

Lydia shifted her gaze from her plate to Derek, eyebrow arched. She shifted her gaze to Chris who was also watching Stiles with interest and she had a feeling she was missing something. They didn’t actually think he was going to talk about what he’d done over the past year...did they?

“I’d be interested as well,” Mr. Yukimura spoke up, smiling kindly as he regarded Stiles with curiosity. “Where all did you go?”

And once again everyone’s attention was on Stiles. He made a mental note that if he ever had to leave Beacon Hills for a year again that when he came back, to make sure it wasn’t right at a major holiday like Thanksgiving. Ways to Curb Awkwardness was what he’d title his book, with a subtitle of After You Return From Running Away From Home.

“Well.” Stiles picked up his glass and took a drink of water, making a conscious effort not to shift around and let on just how uncomfortable he felt. Once upon a time it wouldn’t have bothered him to be nervous around people he cared about, but that time had long since passed. Anxiety wasn’t a weakness he could afford anymore. “A little bit of everywhere, actually. I spent some time in Alaska, visited a lot of the other states in the country, and visited Europe and Japan.” He wasn’t about to bring up South America. No good would ever come from that information. “I was most recently in Budapest.”

Mr. Yukimura’s eyes widened, “That’s quite a trek. Where abouts in Japan? They have some very rich history.” He said with a smile, but before he could answer Scott spoke.

“I didn’t hear you mention Columbia,” Scott commented curious as to why his friend hadn’t. Really he’d been curious ever since the phone call.

Cora’s gaze flew up and she glanced at Stiles, but said nothing.

Stiles had been set to answer Mr. Yukimura’s question but when Scott spoke, he felt his stomach tighten and his gaze shifted to Scott silently, and the tension in the entire room kicked up a notch. There was no way he could really answer that question. Not now, and definitely not in front of all the people in the room.

“Columbia,” Derek echoed, arching an eyebrow and looking at Stiles coolly.

“I passed through it on my way to visit Cora,” Stiles said after a moment. It was at least semi-honest. He had spent time with Cora after Columbia.

Cora nodded, “He did, it was nice to see an old friend. He stayed for a little bit and then moved on,” she said with a shrug going back to eating her food as if it was no big deal.

Lydia inhaled deeply as she lifted her hand discretely resting it on Derek’s forearm. Something was definitely going on. He’d been in a mood almost since they got there. She brushed her thumb against his arm trying to not only ease the tension that had spiked up inside of him at the mention of Stiles visiting his sister, but the anxiety inside of her. It was starting to feel like her heart was never going to slow down. What exactly were they doing and when had they become so close?

Scott cocked his head to the side, “Oh,” he said lightly, “It was nice of you to visit,” he said with half a smile though there was something that didn’t quite fit. “And we’re glad you came home,” he said addressing his words to Cora.

Stiles noticed Lydia’s movement immediately, but his expression remained neutral and he glanced at Cora sideways.

“When did you visit Cora?” Isaac asked, sounding a little uncertain.

“Quite awhile ago,” Stiles answered him, not wanting to be too specific because if he wasn’t careful, Scott would definitely start putting more pieces of the puzzle together and Columbia was one puzzle that didn’t need to be put together. Ever, really. “But I’m glad she made her way back to California, too.”

“And Japan?” Chris asked, reminding him of Mr. Yukimura’s question.

“Right.” He nodded and looked between the two men. “Tokyo was my main visit, but I did spend a few days in Osaka.”

Chris shifted in his chair, glancing sideways at Derek as he fell silent.

Derek felt Chris’s gaze and he pursed his lips. So it was confirmed then. Despite what they knew about the hunters and what they’d done, he was there helping Morell kill them. He opened his mouth to ask Stiles about Russia, but before he could Lydia’s hand squeezed his arm gently.

“Please don’t,” she barely whispered, knowing he’d hear her regardless. She heard Mr. Yukimura mention something about history, but she tuned him out. Chris and Derek were up to something and she wasn’t sure what, but they obviously knew something she didn’t their exchange was enough for her to figure that out.

He saw the look that Chris and Derek exchanged and his stomach tightened involuntarily. There was no way they could possibly know why he’d been in Japan. Except he’d seen too much to think that was really true. He looked down at his plate, appetite entirely gone now.

“What was Alaska like?” Kira spoke up.

Stiles looked over at her, small faint smile on his mouth. He could tell she was trying to help break the tension and he decided she might just be his new favorite person in the room. “Really cold,” he said lightly, and there was quiet, nervous laughter from around the table. He took a drink. “I spent a month there actually, uh…” He paused, glancing around and finally looking at his best friend. “Observing wolves in their natural habitat.”

Scott watched his friend for a minute and when he realized he was serious he grinned and chuckled, “You could have done that here,” he joked lightly making Aiden and Cora chuckle. She glanced up at him their gazes locking briefly before they looked away.

Ethan spoke up, “Aiden and I have been to Alaska, very briefly,” he added, “But they do have a lot of wolves there. Lots of legends about them too,” he explained before taking a bite of his food.

“I’ve read it’s beautiful there,” Lydia said quietly as she finished off her carrots.

Stiles glanced down the table at Ethan, nodding his agreement. “Yeah, there are definitely a lot of wolves in Alaska. Some of the legends are kind of interesting.” He agreed before looking at Lydia. “I took a lot of pictures.” His voice was hesitant. “If you’re interested.”

Lydia glanced up and sent him half a smile. “Maybe some time.” She told him before dropping her gaze again.

Scott frowned and rested a hand on Lydia’s leg. It was strange to hear the way they spoke to each other, with such a detachment and distance between them and if the looks on everyone else’ faces at the table were anything to go by they all thought so too. Stiles and Lydia had gotten so close before the Nogitsune that everyone had just assumed now that he was back things would go back to normal, well expect for him and probably Derek. They knew how broken Lydia had been...and how parts of her still were.

Scott’s Mother had been especially surprised with the tension in the house the three days Lydia was there. Both the sheriff and his Mom hated seeing how cautious Stiles and Lydia were around each other and how Stiles had all but avoided her, most likely to keep her happy. Scott pulled himself from his thoughts, “I’d love to see them.”

Stiles swallowed hard, picking up his glass of water and taking a long drink at Lydia’s response. He tried to smile at Scott but didn’t quite manage it, nodding. “Of course, man.” His voice was quieter now.

“Where’s your favorite place that you’ve visited?” Danny asked, glancing around and then looking at Stiles.

That was an easy question to answer. “Colorado,” he said, looking at his dad. They’d spent Christmas there together last year.

Michael smiled, his heart warming at his son’s words. He nodded in his direction and took another bite of turkey.

The table was silent for a minute before Isaac spoke up, “So what brought you back from Budapest? Tell the truth you missed...my scarves,” he joked good naturedly.

Cora smirked glancing at Isaac as she reached out and tugged gently on the scarf, “It’s not so bad,” she commented.

The action brought a light smile to Lydia’s lips. Derek might not be on board yet but Isaac and Cora were adorable and after everything Isaac had been through he deserved to be happy. Scott and Kira too. She was glad at least some of them were able to find the kind of love or like even that Allison used to talk about. The kind she thought she might have finally found. Lydia’s chest tightened and her heart ached.

Stiles chuckled involuntarily at Isaac’s comment and reached out, patting him on the back. “Yeah, that’s exactly it,” he joked, remembering how he used to mock Isaac for his penchant for wearing scarves so often. He’d been such an asshole.

“What did bring you back?” Chris asked, smiling though his eyes were searching for answers to questions he had. He had the distinct feeling that while Stiles was telling the truth with his answers, it was far from the full truth.

Stiles was silent for a moment, mind flashing back to the dream he’d had about the nemeton. About Allison. How was he supposed to explain that without inviting a lot of questions he still wasn’t ready to answer? He scratched the back of his neck and looked at Chris. “The earthquake,” he said. That was partially true, too. It had been the final clue that it was time to go home because whatever was about to happen was big if there were now earthquakes going on. He knew how to read some of the signs, even if it wasn’t one of his most developed strengths.

“Bad feeling?” Aiden inquired calmly from across the table.

He met Aiden’s eyes, nodding. “Yeah. Felt like a sign.”

“Funny, Lydia felt the same thing.” He commented, the usual bitterness not in his voice.

Lydia glanced at Aiden not sure what he was trying to get at, but he didn’t say anything else, just went back to eating. She pursed her lips and pulled her hand from Derek’s arm resting it on her own lap.

Noshiko glanced up at Aiden’s comment though and spoke, “It is not uncommon for Banshee’s to be able to feel what humans and even wolves alike cannot.” She said, “They feel shifts in nature, everything and everyone, that is their gift.”

Lydia let out a breath, “Some gift,” she mumbled to herself.

“Yeah, but what about Stiles? I mean he felt it and he’s only human,” Isaac said, looking confused.

Ethan shot a glance at his brother, arching his eyebrows and then looked at Isaac. “Yeah, but he is connected to Lydia,” he pointed out. “From that ritual.”

Lydia glanced at Isaac, “I’m sure it has nothing to do with me,” she stated before reaching for her drink.

“In fact it probably does, I’ve seen the connection myself when the Nogitsune separated their bodies. It was strong enough combined with the strength of the pack to keep him alive, which shouldn’t have been possible,” Noshiko explained casually like it was nothing.

A collective movement of heads shifted glancing between Stiles and Lydia and she felt her heartbeat skyrocket to the point that she was convinced she could see her skin moving to the rhythm of her heartbeat. But she said nothing; she was too busy trying to control her breathing. She didn’t want to talk about this, but at the same time she was curious because she had no idea what Mrs. Yukimura was talking about. Anxiety curled in her stomach and it took everything in her to sit there calmly like she wasn’t currently freaking out inside.

Stiles could feel the bubble of anxiety that definitely wasn’t his own rising up within him and he drew in a breath and let it out slowly, looking across the table at Lydia and willing her to look at him.

Lydia felt his gaze on her, but she didn’t want to look up. She didn’t want to acknowledge what Kira’s Mom was saying. None of that mattered because she could barely feel that connection anymore so apparently it wasn’t as strong as everyone thought, even though she wondered why she’d felt it so strongly that night and not really since.

A minute went by and she couldn’t stop her gaze from sliding up and meeting his.

Stiles held her gaze, holding his breath even as he let his own emotional barriers slip a little unconsciously. He smiled, faint and barely there, but genuine nonetheless.

Lydia felt a spark of warmth inside of her, could feel the smile meant to comfort her as his feelings flowed through her and realization hit her almost immediately, her fork hitting her plate as a mixture of shock and hurt filled her before it was quickly replaced with anger. “It’s you,” she whispered, “You’ve been keeping me out.” She stated quietly before glaring at Stiles and then shifting her chair back, “Excuse me, I need to use the bathroom.” She said to no one in particular before getting up and moving out of the dining room, pain once again stabbed at her as she closed herself off from him. If he could do it she could too.

Stiles blinked a couple of times, startled and confused by the accusation and the realization that he had no idea what she was talking about. Her words were angry, betrayal easily read between the lines and he stared after her as she stalked away from the room, leaving a tense silence in the rest of the room.

Stiles rose to his feet slowly. “Excuse me,” he murmured, heading away from the table to follow her, not understanding what was happening.

Lydia moved through the hallway trying to calm the beating of her heart as tears moistened her eyes. She was such an idiot. All this time she thought her connection with Stiles had been broken when in reality Stiles had just been keeping her out. The pain that accompanied that knowledge was more than a little unwelcome. Lydia reached the bathroom and she pulled open the door getting ready to step inside.

“Lydia.” He caught up with her, reaching out and laying a hand on her shoulder. “What just happened?” He shook his head, more than a bit confused by her sudden anger.

Lydia jerked away from him and turned so she was facing Stiles. "What just happened?" She asked her voice angry, but quiet enough so the humans didn't hear unfortunately she couldn't talk low enough that everyone else couldn't hear. "You're the reason that our connection isn't there anymore." She snapped accusingly as she jabbed her finger into his chest.

"I haven't felt a thing from you since that night at Derek's. You just...you locked me out. I thought it was just gone, but it's you. How could you do that? How could you just..." She paused as she felt the force of the emotions building in her chest. "Oh no..no no." She sucked in a sharp breath. She was not going to ruin Thanksgiving. "Go away Stiles, get away," she said as she shifted back attempting to get her breathing under control before the emotions building inside of her got the best of her.

Stiles instantly pulled his hand back when she jerked away from him, eyes widening just slightly at her accusation. What the hell was she talking about? The confusion in his eyes should have been enough to tell her that he really hadn’t been trying to do anything. Except he had been trying to calm her down because he’d felt the bubble of panic she was feeling at the table and he sucked in a breath, face paling.

Stiles was controlling it. His attempt to comfort her through a look had been conscious, but he hadn’t realized he’d been blocking their connection on some subconscious level. He’d just been focusing on keeping his own emotions under control. Of course the two things would be linked. Shit. He felt the emotions within her and he swallowed heavily, letting his own guard drop completely even as he focused on the feeling of calmness, of reassurance. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to, Lydia.”

"I don't believe you." She said automatically, a bitter laugh leaving her throat. "That's the worst part. You've been lying and there's so much." She paused and sucked in a sharp breath, "I need you to just go inside I can't focus I can't calm down and I don't want to hurt anyone. Just go back inside Stiles." The words left her mouth in a rush as she pressed a hand to her chest.

Stiles stepped back away from her, hurt flickering over his face even if he understood her distrust. “Yeah, I know,” he said quietly, resigned. He rubbed a hand over his neck and moved away from her, shutting his eyes as he walked, not making his way back toward the dinning room and instead heading out the front door. No way he was going back in there right now. He blinked back tears that sprang to his eyes and he dug into his pocket, grabbing his cigarettes and pulling one out as he walked away, off the porch, out of the yard, heading down the street without really even having a destination in mind. He just needed to get away because that was what she needed.

Doubt flickered through his mind. Maybe he shouldn’t have come back. Maybe he should have stayed at that motel and not come back to the house. Not announced to anyone that he was planning to stay. He took a deep inhale off the lit cigarette, pulling his phone out and checking to see if he’d missed any messages. Nothing. Nothing from Morrell and nothing from Braeden either.

He just needed to focus on work. That was all that really mattered anymore.

Scott sat at the table everyone sitting there aside from his Mom, the sheriff, Chris, and Danny incredibly tense. He could feel Lydia's struggle and he heard the sound of the door closing. He didn't know what to do. Did he go after Stiles or Lydia? A frown marred his face.

Honestly Scott wasn't sure anyone else would go after Stiles. He glanced at Cora briefly and nodded toward the door, "Can you check on him?” he asked quietly before shifting his gaze to Derek, “And I might need you."

“Yeah, of course.” Cora rose to her feet and headed for the door, a flicker of annoyance running through her. Honestly, why wasn’t Stiles just telling them what had happened? She wasn’t sure, and she didn’t really understand it, but she was sure he had his reasons. And Lydia was acting like she was the only one who’d missed the guy in the last year. It was like a ridiculous teenage soap opera. This is why I don’t have friends, she thought.

Derek looked sideways at Scott, not entirely pleased he’d sent his sister after Stiles, but nodding and rising to his feet wordlessly, pushing his chair in.

Scott could feel their annoyance, but he couldn't do anything to fix it at the moment. He got up and glanced at Derek as they walked out of the dining room. "What did you want me to do? She's the only one who would have gone unless you think you can handle Lydia on your own so she doesn't drop us all to the ground in the middle of lunch." He said with a sigh.

He reached out and rested his hand on Scott’s shoulder, shaking his head. “I get it. I’m just…” He blew out a breath. “Let’s just focus on Lydia right now.”

Scott nodded as the moved to the bathroom. He knocked on the door before pushing it open, his chest tightening when he saw her sitting on top of the toilet her head in her hands.

"Go away," She said as she took a deep breath and counted to ten in her head.

"It's us," Derek said softly.

Lydia glanced up a look of relief on her face as she opened the door. Guilt filled her chest as she glanced between them. “I didn’t mean for him to leave, I swear,” she said quietly, she’d felt his pain and guilt when he’d left and it nearly made her cry. She felt bad, but at the same time she was only being honest something he hadn’t been with her since he came back. “I’m so sorry Scott, I wasn’t trying to ruin lunch or anything I’ll be fine, you should find Stiles,” she told him quietly as she tried to push down the heavy feeling in her chest.

“I know,” Scott said quietly. He rested a hand on her shoulder. He wanted to tell her it was okay, but nothing was really okay right now and he wasn’t going to lie. “Cora went after him.” He squeezed her shoulder gently. “And nothing’s ruined. Everyone else is still eating.” He offered her a tiny smile.

Lydia shook her head, “Of course she did, because everyone else has a better relationship with Stiles than I do, even someone who barely knows him though that’s obviously not true since he’s traveling across countries to see her.” Lydia closed her eyes and swallowed hard.

“I am such a fucking mess.” She said before letting a chuckle leave her throat because it was either that or crying and she wasn’t going to sit in a bathroom and cry. Not tonight anyway.

Derek pursed his lips, “You need to stop thinking Lydia. Just shut it all off for a few minutes. Okay? Just clear your mind and try to relax,” he said soothingly.

Lydia blew out a breath, “I’m trying I don’t know how to just make everything stop. I wish I could.” She told him with a frown. “It’s simpler to say than do.”

“It’s been a long few days,” Scott said gently. Actually, it had been a long year, period. It seemed like the hits never stopped coming. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, in his opinion, it was just Beacon Hills. It was who they were. It sucked, but that was the hand they’d been dealt.

Lydia nodded and then glanced up. “You didn’t tell me he was staying,” she said softly trying to shift her focus onto something else so she could control the emotions that were threatening to break free from her chest.

Scott sent her an apologetic look. “Sorry,” he apologized sincerely. “There’s been a lot going on.”

Derek shifted on his feet, “Scott probably just hadn’t had a chance to mention it yet.” He told her as he held out a hand to her and tilted his head.

Lydia stayed where she was for a minute before getting up slowly and walking over to them. Derek wrapped an arm around her angling her towards Scott. “It’s a good thing though, it’s what you wanted.”

Lydia glanced at Scott and nodded, “Yeah, I mean I did.”

Scott held his breath at her words when she used the past tense. Did that mean she didn’t want Stiles to stay now? He wasn’t really sure. “We’re gonna figure everything out, Lydia. We always do.”

Lydia felt Scott’s uncertainty immediately, but she wasn’t sure what it was about so she tried to reassure him. “It’s fine. He should have told me. But I guess it’s really not a big deal.” She was quiet some of the emotion in her chest simmering down. “You know I’m okay now. I overreacted.” She forced herself to create a mental wall blocking everything out including her own emotions. If Stiles had figured out how to pull back, she should be able to also, she was just as smart.

Lydia sent him half a smile, “I’m fine. I’m just going to fix myself up and I’ll be right out. I’ll apologize when he comes back,” she said quietly before stepping away from Derek.

Scott searched her eyes, reaching out and pulling her into a quick hug before letting her go once more. “Okay.” He glanced at Derek and headed for the door, still troubled.

Lydia glanced briefly at Derek before turning to the sink making sure she had a nice tight lid on everything so she couldn't hurt anyone unintentionally, “You can go back too, its fine. I’m good.” she told him as she reached for the faucet and turned it on.

Derek pursed his lips, nodding slightly even though he wasn’t entirely convinced, then following Scott out the door.


Cora had to nearly run in order to catch up with Stiles, not that, that was a big deal, but she didn’t understand where he was running off to. “Hey, get your ass back here Stilinski, come on. Where are you going?” She asked when she finally fell into step beside him.

“Just walking,” he answered with a soft sigh. He hadn’t really anticipated anyone coming after him or he would’ve taken his jeep. He glanced at her sideways. “You should go back and finish eating.”

Cora frowned and moved so she was blocking his path, “Not unless you come with me,” she told him eyebrow arched. “You’ve gotta stop letting her do this to you. It’s not fair the way she keeps throwing her little tantrums and you end up being the bad guy. Just tell them Stiles.” Cora had been trying to get him to tell them from the beginning, but he always refused.

“It wasn’t exactly fair of me to take off for a year without a word either,” Stiles pointed out, unable to stop himself from jumping to Lydia’s defense. He knew Cora didn’t like her, and he knew that Lydia wasn’t especially fond of Cora, either. Usually he just didn’t talk about Lydia to Cora at all. “And I sort of am the bad guy.”

Cora rolled her eyes, “Lydia isn’t your keeper and honestly she’s dating my brother so really she shouldn’t be so concerned with what you do with your time or what you do and don’t tell her.” She stated. “And you’re not the bad guy Stiles, you’ve done so much for all of them while you’ve been gone, helped when they didn’t know it. How can you possibly think you’re bad?” She asked baffled.

Stiles’ chest tightened at her words. “No, she’s not my keeper. But we are connected and somehow I’ve been shutting that down without meaning to and now she actually hates me.” He rubbed a hand over his face and took a drag off his cigarette. He swallowed heavily, glancing at her sideways. “And you don’t know everything I’ve done.” His voice grew quieter.

Cora glared at him reaching forward and tugging the cigarette out of his mouth, dropping it on the ground and then crushing it with her boot. “How many times do I have to do that before you stop?” She asked not giving him a chance to answer. Cora rolled her eyes. “God, sometimes I feel like men are the stupidest creatures alive.” She sighed.

“Okay, let me break it down for you Stilinski, let’s think about this really carefully. If Lydia hated you, most likely she’d just ignore you. Personally I think she cares a little too much and I kinda feel like Derek can do better...despite his prior choice in women,” Cora scrunched her nose.

Stiles sighed heavily when she took his cigarette, giving her a dirty look even as she broke it down for him. He rubbed a hand over his face, chest tightening as she spoke, not surprised by either her derogatory description of Lydia. He didn’t have a chance to say anything because she just continued talking.

“If Lydia hated you, you wouldn’t even be blip on her overly crazy emotional ass. But instead you can make her so emotional that she knocks all of us on our asses. Maybe you’re looking at things the wrong way you idiot and for the record I don’t care what you’ve done, you and I are friends and I could never think you were a bad guy.” Cora told him simply.

Despite how crappy Stiles now felt he couldn’t help but smile a little. “Anyone ever told you that you have quite a way with words, Hale?”

Stiles looked away for a moment. “This isn’t really how I pictured things turning out if I ever came back,” he admitted. “I mean, I knew she’d be upset. I knew everyone kind of would be. Even Scott, though he’s hiding it really well. I mean, I think he’s really glad I’m here, but I think there’s some tiny part of him that’s just...pissed that I left to begin with. And I can’t blame him for that. I can’t blame anyone for that. But I don’t really know how to fix things either. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and I feel like the important thing is focusing on these things that are out there killing people and not all this other stuff.”

It’s what Morrell had been training him to do. Focus on the priorities, and don’t get emotionally involved in the work, except he’d been emotionally involved with all of the people here long before he’d ever learned about what being an emissary meant. And added to the tether bond he had with Lydia that was so frayed and he didn’t know how to repair...he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. What he wanted to do was get really drunk and sleep, but that wasn’t going to help anyone either.

Cora sighed, “Honestly, just tell everyone the truth Stiles. It will be a lot less weight to bear and it will show them, that you didn’t just take off and completely forget they existed for a year. You’ve been all about the mission,” she said with a roll of the eyes not that she didn’t think it was important she knew it was, “That maybe they’re feeling like it’s the only reason you came back at all.”

“Scott knows.” Stiles offered, “Sort of -Some of it.” He sighed softly. “And honestly it sort of was the reason I came back. I mean yeah, I decided to stay but I wasn’t sure at first. They all know that.” His lips curved upwards in a small smile at her phrasing, but it slipped again as she started to talk.

Cora shook her head and sighed, “Look I’m gonna toss you a bone because I like you. I might have overheard Derek and Lydia talking the other night when she came to stay with him after leaving Scott’s,” she paused, “She thinks that you have no interest in fixing your friendship with her. She whined about how you used to know her so well and now it seems like you're strangers and it doesn’t even bother you.” Cora glanced heavenward. “But yeah, apparently your methods of caring aren’t up to her princess-y standards.” She explained with an innocent grin.

Stiles groaned, letting his head fall back in a more dramatic way than he would’ve normally allowed himself. “I thought she wanted me to just stay away from her. I was trying to give her space. Every time we’re within ten feet of each other she winds up yelling at me, or snapping at me and I just assumed…”

Cora shrugged, “Guess not and really it seriously baffles me that she complains to my brother about all of this and he just listens and offers advice. It’s weird,” she told him when she looked back at Stiles.

Stiles sighed. “Well, that sort of happens when you love someone.” He gave her a look. “Or even when you just really care about them. Speaking of, I never figured you for a scarf-fan.” He smirked involuntarily.

Cora opened her mouth momentarily flustered, “Don’t change the subject,” she told him though she could feel the warmth on her own cheeks, fuck. Great she was one of those girls now. Cora cleared her throat, “As I was saying, she said the old Stiles would have known that she wanted him to fight for something...I don’t know I got distracted by text messages,” she admitted, “And then, uh, they quieted down for a while.” She said with a shrug.

Stiles grinned when she blushed and draped his arm around her shoulders. “See, I told you that you needed to come back here. People really should listen to me more often.” He was quiet for a moment. “Thanks. At least that...gives me an idea of where her head is with everything.” It was more than he’d had to go on before.

Cora grinned, “No problem, it’s what I’m here for...perspective,” she said punching him lightly in the gut. “Now come on I’m still hungry and I haven’t tasted everything yet.” She told him as they moved back toward the house.

“Ow,” he complained good-naturedly, nervous about returning to the house again but knowing they had to. He drew in a breath and let it out slowly, hoping the rest of the day would go more smoothly than it had so far.


Lydia came out of the bathroom looking completely put together. She ran a hand down her dress and started walking back to the dining room. She spotted Stiles and Cora making their way back inside and hesitated before stopping near the door. Lydia made sure she had a tight lid on her emotions before approaching them. “Can I talk to you for a second,” she asked Stiles.

Cora eyed her warily and looked up at Stiles, pursing her lips and then looking back at Lydia, barely able to bite back a snarky comment about controlling her emotions for a change. She let go of Stiles’ arm and moved past the banshee toward the kitchen, leaving her and Stiles alone.

Stiles rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, heart beating a little faster as he stood face to face with Lydia again, not sure what to say. He was still trying to process what Cora had told him.

Lydia swallowed hard, “I just wanted to apologize,” she said simply. “I shouldn’t have been so rude and I blew the situation out of proportion. So...don’t worry about it. You’re staying and well it’s not like we can avoid each other or that we should,” she added. “So...I’m sorry.” There she’d done it, completely without frayed emotions or freaking out. Everything was behind a nice big wall that she never had to show him or anyone else if she didn’t want to.

Stiles drew in a breath and let it out slowly, shaking his head. “Lydia, it’s fine. You don’t owe me an apology,” he said, voice quiet. He met her eyes, chest tightening. “I’m sorry.”

Lydia shook her head, “I told you it’s fine. I’ve pretty much done nothing, but bitch at you since you came back,” though he deserved it in her opinion, “But I’m done. I’m sorry for blaming you for keeping me out. This whole connection thing...it had to end at some point.” The words made her chest tighten but she pushed through it. “So from now on you don’t need to worry about any of that.” She gave him a tight smile, “I should get back inside,” and turned to go.

He sighed softly, raking a hand through his hair. “Right,” he murmured, following her back into the house. If only it was that easy. But it wasn’t. Nothing about the situation was easy. And he had a feeling it wasn’t going to be for a long time to come.


Lydia put the last of the dishes in the dishwasher for Melissa before reaching forward and wiping her hands on one of the dish towels. She straightened up and glanced around trying to see if there was anything else she could do to help before they left. It was getting late and mostly everyone was in the process of saying their goodbyes.

She still needed to grab her stuff and Prada from upstairs before heading out. She had her first training session with Chris tomorrow since she’d gotten hurt and she was looking forward to it. Her emotions were all out of whack and having an outlet for some of her anger and pain would definitely be a good thing.

She heard someone walk into the kitchen and she turned smiling when she saw Kira, “Hey,” she said lightly taking the dishes the other girl was carrying. “Thanks for bringing these in.”

“No problem,” Kira told her with a soft smile. She tucked some hair behind her ear and looked around, uncertain as to what she should be doing next. “What now?” She wanted to help she just wasn’t sure what to do. Lydia always seemed to know what to do, regardless of where she was and Kira struggled to fit in anywhere she went. At least since they’d moved to Beacon Hills, anyway.

Lydia smiled and shrugged, “I think that’s it for now. The tables cleaned off, the guys are useless,” she joked, “And the really bad pots are soaking. And I think Melissa is with your parents, the sheriff and Mr. Argent.” She told her. “I know Melissa wrapped up some leftovers for everyone, but I think she wanted to give that out right before everyone left.” She explained and she leaned back against the counter watching the other girl for a minute.

Lydia liked Kira, she really did, but sometimes she felt like hanging out with the other girl was essentially replacing her best friend, which inevitably made Lydia feel guilty. But she knew that was something she had to work on.

Kira nodded at that. “Yeah, I think the adults are all in the backyard talking.” She glanced past Lydia and out the window, nodding to where they were all gathered in chairs outside, Sheriff Stilinski and Melissa McCall holding hands. “They’re really cute together.” Her eyes were bright. “They seem happy.”

Lydia turned and glanced out the window. She swallowed hard a hint of sadness pulling at her heart, but Lydia crushed it immediately. “They really do.” She said softly before clearing her throat and turning back around to face Kira. “I was actually hoping I would catch you here,” she admitted.

“We’ve got the Winter Formal coming up in a couple of weeks. I thought maybe if you were free, we could go look for dresses, unless you’re not going then it’s not a big deal,” She said not wanting Kira to feel any pressure at the situation.

“Oh.” There was a happy note of surprise in her voice. “No, I’d like that,” she said immediately. Scott hadn’t actually asked her yet, but she was pretty sure he would. Hopefully. She’d be prepared just in case. Being prepared was important.

Lydia sent her a hesitant smile, “Great. It will be nice to do something normal, and hopefully by that point this whole mess with the daevas will be done,” she said keeping her tone light. Lydia studied Kira for a moment, “Scott hasn’t asked yet?” She inquired.

“That’d be good. I’ve been researching but not finding much,” she admitted. Her cheeks grew pink when Lydia asked about Scott. “Um, no. Not yet. But there’s a lot going on so it’s not like it’s the biggest priority.” She took a deep breath. “People dying is more important than dances.”

Lydia nodded her face sobering, “Of course, I didn’t mean,” she paused, god she was bad at this. She never used to be. “I just meant I’m sure when things die down he’ll ask. He seems happy when he’s with you...It’s nice to see,” she told her genuinely.

She ducked her head, nodding. “Thanks. I like him a lot.” She bit her lower lip and looked up at Lydia. “I’m not really great with picking out dresses and stuff. Do you think maybe you can help me?”

Lydia smiled, “That’s good to hear.” She told her, “And yeah, I can do that.” She pushed away from the counter, “But right now I should probably go grab my stuff from upstairs. It sounds like people are getting ready to leave,” She said softly. Lydia paused beside Kira, “You have my number, any time you want to do something, feel free call. It would probably be nice to spend some time with an actual girl,” she joked lightly. It seemed like she was forever surrounded by men.

Kira’s expression brightened. “Yeah, I’d like that.” She didn’t really have any girlfriends either. She liked Cora well enough, but she wasn’t sure Cora liked her. And basically everyone else in Scott’s pack aside from Lydia were guys. She missed having female friends to spend time with.

Lydia grinned at Kira’s enthusiasm, “Great, then we’ll definitely do a girls night or something.” She reached out and rested a hand on her arm lightly before shifting by her, “We’ll talk soon,” she said before heading out of the kitchen and towards the stairs.

Lydia spotted Derek and when he glanced over she motioned to the steps. Derek nodded watching her go before turning back to the conversation at hand. Danny was talking to Scott and Stiles about something, but he wasn’t really paying attention. He was too busy watching Isaac whisper something to Cora causing his little sister to smirk

Derek pursed his lips. He liked Isaac, honest he did. But Cora was his baby sister and Isaac was still getting over Allison. Derek wasn’t comfortable with the two of them being anything more than friends. He probably wouldn’t be okay with anyone who Cora wanted to date. He knew it wasn’t fair but he hadn’t been in her life for over eight years and he had a lot of brothering to catch up on.

Derek shifted forward walking around people and made his way over to Cora and Isaac. He slipped his arm around his sister’s shoulders, “Can I borrow you for a minute? I’ve gotta talk to you.” He said keeping his tone light.

Cora arched an eyebrow, looking up at Derek and then at Isaac. “We’ll continue this conversation later,” she informed him, patting his arm before heading away with Derek. “What’s up?” Aside from the Lydia-Stiles drama from earlier and the semi-awkward lunch, the day overall had been okay. She’d spent most of it talking to either Isaac or Stiles, and side-eying the twins most of the day, even though they’d been on surprisingly good behavior. It was weird.

Derek’s gaze locked with Isaac’s over Cora’s head as they moved away and he sent a not so subtle glare in the other wolf’s direction. “I was wondering if you needed a ride home.” He said casually while guiding her into a different room.

Stiles caught sight of the glare he shot Isaac as he sidled up beside the younger wolf, who had that stricken expression on his face again. Dammit, Derek, he thought, growing annoyed. He reached out and laid a hand on Isaac’s arm. “Ignore him,” he said quietly.

“He knows I like Cora,” Isaac said not even bothering to hide it. “I don’t get it,” he said quietly, “Derek and I get along...we’re friends even. He’s come around a lot over the past year, changed. I don’t get why he doesn’t want me with his sister...I mean I don’t even know if she likes me,” he rushed on, “I do know she enjoys my company though.”

Stiles pursed his lips, shaking his head. “Yeah, well. I don’t think he’s quite caught up on the fact that Cora’s over eighteen and she can do whatever she wants. Seriously, man, he’s all bark and no bite.” And if he tried to bite, Stiles would be more than happy to show him that he wasn’t the big bad wolf that he liked to think he was, just like Aiden wasn’t.

Isaac arched an eyebrow and glanced at Stiles. “Derek’s not a neutered dog,” he said with a grin. “I’m not entirely sure he’s free of bite. He’s changed a lot. He’s less angry, and grumpy, but Cora is his family. He’s protective of the people close to him. I’m pretty sure he’d do some very hard biting for her.” Isaac said matter-of-factly.

Stiles smiled when Isaac grinned and then he shrugged. “He’s not the only protective one, either. So don’t worry. If he tries to bite you unprovoked...” His voice trailed off and he turned his head to look at Derek, not surprised to see the man looking back at them, obviously listening. “Pretty sure that won’t sit very well with Scott. Or me.” He glanced at Isaac, patting his arm.

Isaac watched Derek smirk. A smirk he hadn’t seen in a very long time before he turned and disappeared into the other room. Isaac pursed his lips and swallowed hard, “Yeah...do me a favor let’s not poke the beast anymore today. Okay?”

Stiles rolled his eyes at Derek’s smirk and turned back to Isaac. “You’re gonna be just fine, dude.”

Isaac let out a short nervous laugh, “I know...Just you know. Stop.” He said patting Stiles on the back. “I’m going to go wait for Cora to finish talking to Derek somewhere quieter. She’ll find me.” He said quietly with half a grin.

Stiles shook his head a little, watching as Isaac headed away. His jaw tightened a little. It really wasn’t okay with him that Derek was coming into the house intimidating Isaac where he lived, regardless of what reasons he thought he had. Cora didn’t need protection from Isaac of all people.

They were going to end up having a serious issue in the near future. Stiles could feel it.

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