August 26, 2014

Never Too Late 1/17

Title: Never Too Late
Authors: Sxymami0909 & Xtremeroswelia
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Timeline: Set after 3.18 ‘Riddled’ AU from there.
Rating: R
Sequel To: Never Know What Hit You
Word Count: 155, 704
Pairings: Stiles/Lydia, Scott/Kira, Allison/Isaac, Sheriff Stilinski/Melissa McCall, Derek Hale, Cora Hale, Peter Hale
Parts: 1/17
Summary: In the wake of the Nogitsune's distruction Stiles is attempting to put his life back together, but things are never as easy as they seem. Meanwhile Scott attemps to mend his fractured pack but is it too late to fix what's been broken? Or will the past few months strengthen the bond between them? Lydia's link with Stiles has only grown stronger since the death of the Nogitsune and now she can feel Scott too leading Lydia to seek out information about her banshee origins from an unlikely source. While new relationships form, others are tested. Can our favorite trio fix what's been broken or will Scott's pack be broken forever?

Chapter One

Scott had ducked out of study hall that day in order to take a call from Derek. He’d texted earlier that morning to let Scott know that Lydia had woken up in the middle of the night screaming. That was alarming, but she was awake and he was going to take that one as a win, regardless of how it had happened because Lydia waking up from her supernatural coma was going to help Stiles.

“Did she say why she was screaming?” he asked quietly as he sat on the stairs in the otherwise empty corridor.

Derek stood outside the hospital room pacing the hallway as he glanced back towards the door. “No,” his frown deepened as he watched a nurse walk by him. “She freaked out. Doctors and nurses came into the room to check her out and they’ve been running tests since last night,” he explained. “They called her mom, but she’s out of town until the day after tomorrow. She couldn’t get back any sooner,” sometimes Derek didn’t understand parents. Scott’s mother had checked in on Lydia more than her own.

“She keeps asking for Stiles. It took over an hour to calm her down enough last night that she stopped hysterically asking for him.” Derek pursed his lips, “I don’t know what happened or what was going on, but she didn’t look okay when she woke up. They gave her a sedative last night, but she seems to be okay now...kind of. She’s been quiet.” He told the younger werewolf.

Scott exhaled, rubbing a hand over his face. He had to remind himself that as long as she was awake, they could deal with the rest somehow. Together. Except they were all so fractured by everything that had happened, Scott really wasn’t sure how to start trying to put everyone back together. He’d been spending so much time at the Stilinski household because his best friend needed him, and Isaac had been spending most of his spare time with the Argent’s, and Derek had taken on the task of staying with Lydia when no one else was there.

He didn’t really understand Lydia’s parents, either. When Stiles had been in the hospital, his dad and Scott’s mom had been there almost constantly. Hell, one of them was still staying with him around the clock. His mother had gone on Stiles-duty the same time Scott had gone to school that morning.

“Okay, well as soon as school’s over, I’ll go over and pick Stiles up and we’ll come up there. It’ll be good for him to see she’s awake, too.”

Derek nodded even though Scott couldn’t see him. “I think that’s a good idea. Maybe you can bring some stuff for her? Clothes...something to make her not feel so out of place?” Derek was out of his element. He didn’t really know what to do to make Lydia feel better.

“Yeah, no problem,” Scott assured him. He didn’t blame Lydia for feeling out of place at the hospital. He was fairly sure hospitals were designed to make you feel as out of place as possible so you’d have motivation to get out as quickly as possible and go home. Okay so maybe that had originally been Stiles’ theory, but he couldn’t disagree. “We’ll swing by her place on the way there and get some of her things.” Actually there might have still been some of her things at Scott’s house from when she’d been staying there while Stiles was possessed.

“Okay, I’ll stay with her until then, try to get her to talk.” He said quietly as he glanced back at the room again and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ll see you guys a little later,” Derek paused, “And Scott you might want to tell Allison and Isaac that she’s awake. She came by a couple of times,” which had been awkward.

He drew in a breath, letting it out slowly. “Yeah. All right, thanks, Derek. I appreciate it.” His voice was sincere. “I’ll let them know that she’s awake finally. They’ll be glad to hear it.”

Derek paused in front of the hospital room door, “Okay.” He was silent for a minute, “We’ll see you soon.” He said before disconnecting the call, taking a deep breath and heading back into Lydia’s room.

Scott disconnected, as well, sighing softly and leaning back against the next step, eyebrows furrowing when his phone rang again almost immediately. His chest tightened when he saw his mom’s number flash across Caller ID. He quickly answered. “Mom? What is it? Is everything okay? Are you okay? Is Stiles okay?”

Melissa pursed her lips as her son rattled off question after question, not giving her a chance to answer. She waited for him to stop talking before she spoke. “We’re okay,” she said her voice quiet as she glanced back at Stiles bedroom. “Stiles woke up screaming not long ago, I’m not sure what happened, a nightmare maybe.” Melissa could see Stiles sitting on his bed staring at his hands. Her chest was tight not able to help remembering how he’d screamed so loudly it echoed through the house startling her.

Her heart was still beating quickly in her chest. “Sweetie, I was thinking maybe you could stop by after school and take Stiles to visit with Lydia and Derek. Seeing her always seems to calm him down and right now,” she paused her gaze on Stiles, “He could probably use that.” She told her son quietly.

Scott winced at the information, and then paused. “Didn’t you say Sheriff Stilinski said he woke up screaming last night, too?” He held his breath, rising to his feet. Maybe he should head home right now. It wasn’t like a half day at school was going to matter that much in the long run. He’d pulled his grades up. “Do you know what time that was, Mom?”

Melissa stepped away from Stiles room as she thought back to her phone call with Michael. “I think it was sometimes around midnight, why?” She asked confused as to why it mattered what time Stiles woke up screaming.

“Because Lydia woke up last night, Mom.” He pulled the phone away from his ear to check the time on Derek’s text. “She woke up at 12:03. Screaming.” Scott’s heart was beating more quickly in his chest. That wasn’t a coincidence. It couldn’t be a coincidence. “Look, I don’t really have anything going on the rest of the day. I mean I don’t have any tests or assignments to hand in or anything. I think I’m gonna come home, okay?” He hoped she wouldn’t protest but right now it felt like it was more important for him to be at home with Stiles and trying to figure out what was going on with him and with Lydia. His pack needed him.

Melissa’s eyes widened. “She did? Is she alright? What did Derek say?” She realized that she was doing the same thing Scott had done to her only minutes before. She hesitated before answering his question. “Come home...but just for today, school is important and eventually Stiles is going to have to go back too.” She said matter-of-factly.

A tiny smile touched his mouth at her rapid fire questions. “Yeah, she’s awake. They’re running tests but I think she’s okay physically.” He hesitated. “Derek said she’s been really quiet and asking for Stiles. I don’t know what’s going on.” He drew in a breath.

“Well then we should give the girl what she wants,” said Melissa, her gaze drifting back to Stiles.

“All right. I’ll see you soon, Mom. Love you.”

“I’ll see you soon honey, love you too.” Melissa hung up her cell phone and slipped it into her pants pocket before walking into Stiles room with the glass of water she’d left to get him. “Here’s your water, are you feeling any better?” She asked with a frown as she held out the glass to him.

“Thanks, Ms. McCall,” he said softly, taking the glass of water from her but not meeting her eyes. “Yeah. I’m okay.” He took a small sip, clutching onto the cup tightly. “Did uh -- did my dad tell you --” He paused, realizing he already knew the answer to his own question, and he shook his head. Of course she knew he used to have night terrors as a kid. He’d had them at her house, too, sometimes, when he spent the night with Scott.

Melissa tilted her head to the side at his words and smiled softly. “He did.” She brushed her hand through his hair and then motioned to the empty spot on the bed beside him, “Mind if I sit with you for a little bit, I’ve got some news.” She said her tone light.

“No, it’s fine,” he told her, scooting over a little to make more room for her to sit down comfortably. He wondered what kind of news she was going to present him with. He hoped it was something good, but it was hard to think there might be any of that floating around at all, considering.

Considering he’d killed people. Considering he’d tried to kill his own father. Scott. Isaac. Allison. It would have been a matter of time before he’d gone after Lydia. He’d been inside the Nogitsune’s head as much as it had been in his. He’d seen its plans. The things it had wanted to do. The people it had wanted to hurt. He rubbed a hand over his face tiredly.

Melissa climbed onto the bed beside Stiles, and stretched out above the covers with her back against the headboard. She wrapped an arm around him rubbing her hand down his forearm.

Stiles was too tired to try and resist any comfort she had to offer even if he knew he didn’t deserve it.

“Scott’s on his way home from school,” she commented while sending him a sideways glance. “Lydia’s awake,” Melissa told him with a warm smile.

He laid his head down on her shoulder, closing his eyes and exhaling slowly as she told him Scott was coming home from school, which made no sense until she added the rest of her remark. He jerked his head up quickly. “She’s awake? Is she okay?”

Melissa nodded, “Calm down,” she said softly as she rubbed her hand up and down his arm again. “They’re running some tests, but she seems to be physically fine, which is good. Derek is with her now and when Scott gets home he’s going to take you to the hospital to see her, she’s been asking for you.” Melissa responded with a smile.

“She has?” That threw him a bit. As much as he’d wanted her to wake up, he’d also been slightly terrified she’d wake up and tell him to stay the hell away from her. And he wouldn’t have blamed her for that at all.

Melissa nodded frowning at the surprise on his face as she brushed the hair away from his head. “Yes, since last night when she woke up.” She told him. “Why are you surprised?” Melissa asked with an amused smile on her face. “I’m pretty sure Lydia Martin cares about you very much.” She told him.

“Because --” Stiles cut himself off before he could say one of many things that wouldn’t go over well. Like, Because I terrorized her. Because I ripped her boyfriend’s heart out of his chest. Because I almost killed her best friend instead of my own. He looked down at the comforter on his legs. “She almost died because of me.”

Melissa’s chest tightened and she gripped his chin gently lifting it up, “Stiles, Lydia risked her life for you. She knew the consequences and did it anyway,” Melissa explained even though she knew he already knew that. “I think that says a lot, don’t you?” She asked.

Tears burned his eyes and he blinked rapidly so they wouldn’t fall and he shut his eyes after a moment. “Yeah. Yeah, I know she did.” He sniffed, rubbing a hand over his face. He just didn’t understand why.

Melissa studied his face and her heart clenched. “Oh baby, come here.” She said her voice soft as she pulled Stiles into her side and wrapped her other arm around him practically cocooning the teenager in her arms, which was no small feat. She rested her head against his and pressed a kiss to his head. “Things are going to get better, maybe not right away, but I will be here whenever you need me. You can always come to me with anything, even if you just want to sit here and say nothing,” Melissa told him softly.

Stiles shuddered involuntarily as she gathered her into his arms. He slid his arms around her in return, pressing his face against her shoulder as he struggled not to cry. He was too old to break down in tears every time he was stressed out or upset about something. He wanted to believe her. He wanted to believe that things were going to get better eventually, but he couldn’t picture it actually happening. Not after everything. “I think we both know I suck at the not talking thing.”

Melissa chuckled softly, “Well then you can talk away, I’ll always be here to listen.” It was important to her that Stiles knew that he could always come to her no matter what. “Why don’t we relax here for a little bit and then you can get dressed because I doubt you want to see Lydia wearing this.” She said with a smile.

He looked down at the old raggedy t-shirt he was wearing and his sweatpants and almost chuckled, wiping his eyes. “Yeah not so much.” He looked like crap. That much he knew. He could see that every time he looked in the mirror. He’d lost weight, his skin was paler than usual, his eyes duller. He’d been reading on the after-effects of being possessed, and he knew all of that was relatively normal, as well as the perpetual nausea and lack of appetite. And the nightmares.

Melissa smiled, “Well then let’s relax for a little bit before Scott gets here, it shouldn’t be long now.” She said her words soft.

Stiles exhaled slowly, resting his head back down on her shoulder once more, not protesting the idea of lying there a little while longer. Just until Scott got there, he reasoned, letting his eyes drift shut again. He was so damn tired.


Scott pulled into the hospital parking lot slowly, maneuvering Stiles’ jeep towards the back where the visitor parking was. He wasn’t used to driving a car, it was a lot bigger than his bike, but Scott knew Stiles wasn’t ready to be driving around town just yet. When he’d gotten to the Stilinski house early he’d found Stiles asleep against his Mom’s side, her body gently rocking him and Scott had almost lost it.

He hated not being able to help his best friend more, not being able to help anyone more. He was the alpha, it was his job to help everyone heal and bring the pack back together, but he had no clue how to go about it. Even the phone call he’d made to Isaac earlier letting them know Lydia was awake was full of tension.

He sighed softly to himself as he pulled towards a spot glancing briefly at Stiles and frowning when he saw his friend looking upset. “Stiles, what is it? What’s wrong?” He asked as he parked the car and killed the engine, before angling his body in his friend’s direction.

Stiles wasn’t sure when it had started, but sometime on the drive over to the hospital from his house, he’d felt the familiar sensation of a panic attack building. The more he thought about how much he didn’t want to have a panic attack, the worse he’d started to feel. He could barely hear Scott’s voice over the sound of his heart pounding in his chest. It felt like it was going to actually burst free from its place, which would be a kind of karmic justice that he couldn’t begin to deny.

And then his brain had immediately began assaulting him with images of the fight with Aidan, of the terrible things he’d said, taunting him about Lydia, deliberately to piss him off even more before finally ripping his heart out. He flinched visibly in the jeep, sucking in air even as he scrambled for the door handle, holding onto the door tightly as he stumbled out, nearly falling. Everything was getting blurry around the edges and he was gasping as the pressure in his chest grew to painful levels. Hot tears stung his eyes and he flung himself away from the jeep door, stumbling and hitting another car.

He wanted to scream but he couldn’t find the air to do so, and he felt like he was going to throw up, but there was nothing left in his stomach to come up. He’d thrown up everything he’d eaten already, earlier.

Panic shot through Scott and he was already at Stiles’ side by the time he bumped into the other car, his hands gripping his friend gently. “Stiles, Stiles this is a panic attack right?” He asked his body tense as he tried to calm his friend down. Scott gripped his shoulders, “Look at me man, just take a deep breath, come on.”

It seemed like Stiles couldn’t ever hear him and that made fear curl in Scott’s stomach. “I don’t know what to do,” he said frantically and glanced around to see if there was anything that could help calm his friend down.

He tried to focus on Scott’s face because somehow Scott had moved so fast that Stiles was barely out of the jeep before he was right there in front of him. Stiles reached out, holding onto his friend’s arms because he was half afraid he was going to pass out or have a heart attack. It always felt like that. He tried to take a deep breath but he just gasped again instead.

Stiles let go of Scott, squeezing his eyes shut tightly and holding his breath.

Scott stepped forward not letting his friend get away for too long. “Stiles, stop, you need to breathe. Take a breath I’ll do it with you.” He said his ears picking up Stiles’ elevated heartbeat. He could practically see the sheen of sweat forming on his friend’s brow as his fingers trembled. Scott took a deep breath knowing that in order to help Stiles he needed to be calm.

“Stiles, listen to my voice. I don’t know what’s upsetting you, but maybe if you try to explain it to me I can help,” he said as he rubbed his friends back, “I know it’s hard okay, I want to help, but I need your help too.” He told his friend trying to keep as calm as possible.

Stiles shuddered involuntarily, focusing as hard as he could on just the sound of his best friend’s voice. He gripped Scott’s arm once more, finally managing to suck in a lungful of air. He gave Scott a pained look, holding up one finger and leaning down, placing one hand on his knee because he’d read somewhere that when you were panicky or hyperventilating leaning down helped. It took him a long moment but he felt his heart begin to calm down once more, slowing to something closer it’s normal pace. He leaned against the car, shutting his eyes again.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, looking miserable. “Sorry, I don’t…” He shook his head. “It just came on all of a sudden.”

Scott rested a hand on his back, “Don’t, you don’t have to apologize. It happens,” he said quietly as he patted his back gently. He could hear Stiles heart slipping back into a normal pattern of beating and relief filled him. “You sure you’re okay?” He asked watching him worriedly.

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m okay.” Stiles drew in another deep breath, wondering how long people were going to keep putting up with his crap. He needed to pull it together and figure out how to live with what he’d done and that was that. And the first step to doing that was going to see the girl who was in the hospital because she’d literally risked her life to save his. And she shouldn’t have. “Thanks, Scott,” he murmured, voice barely audible.

Scott smiled tiredly, “Dude, you’re my best friend; you don’t have to keep thanking me so much.” He told Stiles as he nodded his head towards the hospital doors. “You ready to go inside?” He asked doing his best not to keep asking if Stiles was okay.

Stiles nodded. “Yeah, let’s...go see Lydia.” He swallowed hard, rubbing the back of his neck as he glanced at his friend, a pang of guilt sweeping over him as it dawned on him once more how tired Scott looked. And how could he not be tired? He’d put all of them through hell for weeks.

Scott nodded and headed for the entrance of the hospital. It didn’t take them long to make their way up to Lydia’s floor and the minute they stepped off the elevator Scott frowned, the sounds of Lydia’s high pitched voice catching his ears. “What the hell…”

Derek held up his hands, “Lydia please keep your voice down,” he said stiffly. “If they hear you screaming again they’re going to come back in here and sedate you; is that what you want?” He asked lifting his eyebrows as he spoke. Lydia had woken up screaming yet again that afternoon and Derek had no clue why. But he wasn’t quite sure how to calm her down.

Lydia stood beside the hospital bed, the thin gown that covered her body not enough to keep the draft from the room out. She stared at Derek and pursed her lips. “I need to find Stiles, I want to leave let me leave,” she said her voice growing louder. Images flashed in her head and she squeezed her eyes shut her hand reaching up and gripping her head as her face screwed up in pain.

Something was wrong. She was remembering things that hadn’t happened to her. She was seeing what Stiles had seen and she wanted it to stop and never see it again. The flash of memory was gone a minute later and Lydia let her eyes flutter open. She caught Derek’s gaze, “Can you make it stop?”

Derek opened and closed his mouth, “Make what stop? I don’t understand.”

“I want to see Stiles.”

Derek grunted, “Yes, I know, you’ve mentioned that and if I had Stiles in my back pocket I’d whip him out and give him to you but I don’t. So sit down and relax for a minute so I can call Scott.” He said his voice tight as he jabbed his hand into his pocket to grab his cell phone. But before he could make the call he heard footsteps and when he turned he spotted Scott and relief filled his face. “Please tell me you brought Stiles.” He said with a huff.

Stiles stepped up right behind Scott, holding his breath as his eyes landed on Lydia, his chest tightening for a whole different reason this time that didn’t involve a massive panic attack. “Lydia?” he whispered, voice barely audible. He’d caught the tail end of Derek’s speech and knew she’d been asking for him. He bit down hard on his lower lip, hard enough to draw blood, but he didn’t dare take a step closer without knowing what her reaction would be.

Lydia’s eye’s shot away from Derek at the sound of a familiar voice. She caught sight of Stiles and her body froze refusing to move not sure if what she was seeing was real. She swallowed hard and took a hesitant step forward. “Stiles?” She quirked an eyebrow, her bare feet stepping forward again as Derek shifted out of her way, not wanting to be caught in the middle.

He looked like Stiles. The Nogitsune was gone. She’d destroyed it. This was just Stiles...her Stiles. Lydia kept moving slowly until she was standing right in front of him. Her eyes moving frantically across his body until they caught his again. Lydia reached out, pausing briefly before letting her fingertips graze his arm.

Stiles had held his breath as she took a step toward him, barely even still aware that Scott and Derek were still in the room. He swallowed hard, taking a hesitant step toward her, as well. “Hey,” he murmured, looking down at his arm when she grazed it with her fingertips.

She felt her chest tighten, emotion building inside of it as she shut her eyes. When she opened them again, they were red-rimmed. “It’s you.” She said, not even realizing there were silent tears streaming down her cheeks as she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him.

Stiles’ eyebrows furrowed when she closed her eyes and then opened them again, this time crying. He shut his eyes and hugged her back tightly, burying his face against her neck and a hand in her hair. “It’s me,” he whispered.

Derek pursed his lips and glanced at Scott confused by her behavior. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but it didn’t exactly seem good.

Scott hesitated a second, then nodded toward the door, figuring maybe they should give the two a little bit of privacy. They could listen just in case they were needed.

Derek was more than happy to leave them just in case there was any more screaming. He sent them one last glance before stepping out of the room with Scott.

Lydia didn’t even acknowledge their absence. Instead she tightened her grip on Stiles relief flooding her. “It worked,” she whispered. “I knew, I knew.” Her words were muffled and her body shook slightly whether it was from the cold or the tears she didn’t know and she didn’t care. Stiles was okay. He was back and she was in his arms.

He hugged her a little tighter, shuddering at her words. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered emphatically. “God Lydia. I’m so fucking sorry.” Tears soaked into her hospital gown as he held her.

Lydia shook her head. “It’s not your fault.” She said immediately. “Don’t let go yet, okay.” she said softly tensing in his arms when another memory flashed behind her eyes. She felt sick. There was too much information flying around in her head and all she wanted to do was make it go away. Lydia didn’t know how much longer she could take the images in her head, she had no idea how Stiles had dealt with it for so long.

It didn’t work that way, really. Stiles knew it, had known it even when he was trapped inside himself. It didn’t matter if the Nogitsune had been in control or if he had been. Because if he hadn’t been so weak to begin with, it wouldn’t have ever possessed him. He knew that because the demon had liked to remind him of it at least three times daily, like a ritual of its own.

If you weren’t so weak I wouldn’t even be here.

What was to stop something from taking him over again? It wasn’t like he was any stronger than he had been before. He swallowed hard at her words, not letting her go, but wondering why she tensed so suddenly. “Lydia? What’s going on? Are you okay?”

Lydia swallowed hard, “It won’t go away,” she whispered, “I can’t get them out of my head,” the thought of lying to Stiles never even occurring to her. “Stiles, make them go away, you can help me. You can make them stop.” Lydia’s head was pounding, but she was happy to be awake and she was happy Stiles was okay.

Stiles pulled back a little to look at her, completely confused by her words. “Can’t get what out of your head?” he asked worriedly, his eyebrows furrowing. He reached up and cupped her face in one hand to get her to look at him. “What is it?”

Lydia squeezed her eyes shut avoiding his gaze, but leaning into his touch. “What he’s in there.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “Flashes of moments...memories?” That’s what they were. “They won’t stop Stiles…”

He stared at her for a moment, realization beginning to take hold. Deaton had said something about her taking his memories, and that when she woke up he would probably get them all back. He just hadn’t said that she’d still have them, too. That she would still be seeing them even now. “Oh god.” Nausea swept over him and he had to guide them back over to the bed because he needed to sit down. “How can I make them stop?” Because she said he could and maybe she knew something he didn’t.

Lydia let him guide her to the bed, sitting down almost immediately, but never losing physical contact with Stiles. “I don’t know.” She raised a hand to her head, the images gone for the moment. Lydia took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I don’t know how to make it stop...It comes and goes,” she said sounding slightly calmer now that her mind was her own again for the moment.

His expression was pained when he looked at her and he wanted to alternately wrap her in another hug and get as far away as possible because being around him wasn’t going to help her in the long run. And if she was seeing the things that the Nogitsune had made him do, if she was seeing the terrible things he’d caused, the thing he’d planned to do, he didn’t understand how she wanted to be around him in the first place. He rubbed a hand over his face tiredly, closing his eyes for a moment as he tried to think. He hadn’t taken enough Adderall to think clearly enough about how to deal with a problem this size. “Maybe we should ask Deaton for help,” he murmured, not thrilled with the idea. He was still upset with the older man, but if there was any chance he could help Lydia than he’d do it in a heartbeat.

She nodded and then gripped him tightly. “Please don’t leave,” Lydia said suddenly. “I just I want to go home.” She paused, “I’m confused.” Everything was jumbled in her head and she was aware enough at the moment to realize it was making her sound like some kind of idiot. Lydia sighed and swallowed hard. “I don’t like hospitals,” she told him as she ran her hand over his arm. “I was afraid it wouldn’t work, that I was too late to get you back.” Lydia admitted closing her eyes again briefly. Despite the fact that she was apparently asleep for a while, she felt physically and emotionally exhausted.

“I’m not. I’m not going anywhere,” he promised, taking a deep breath and hesitantly sliding his arm around her shoulders. His expression shifted from grief to something closer to normal very quickly as he pulled her close again. He wanted to tell her never to do anything like that again. Not for him or for anyone else. “I don’t like them either,” he admitted faintly, thinking of his mother. Another thought flickered through him suddenly, that hadn’t occurred to him before. I’m still dying. He’d been so caught up in everything that Nogitsune had made him do while he was possessed he’d literally forgotten. His arm tightened around her a little, almost involuntarily. “You weren’t. You weren’t too late.” He laid his head against hers, closing his eyes.

Lydia finally felt herself relax against him. “Will you take me home?” she asked, the lack of flashes currently playing through her head making relief fill her. Maybe just having Stiles back was helping. God, she hoped so.

Stiles felt a tear trickle down his cheek but he resisted the urge to brush it away because he didn’t want to call attention to it. “Yeah. Yeah, let’s get out of here.”

Lydia let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. “I want to go with that okay can I come with you?” It had been a really hard few weeks for her and everything spinning around in her head, well if it didn’t get out soon Lydia was convinced it was going to drive her crazy. She just wanted to be with Stiles. She wanted to rest with him and try to get the picture of the Nogitsune wearing his body and doing terrible things out of her head.

He shifted slightly on the bed and wound his other arm around her, pulling her to him gently. “Yeah. That’s okay.” He would take some Adderall and that would help him stay awake so he didn’t keep her awake with terrible nightmares. He let out a breath and buried his face against her hair.

Lydia pressed herself closer to him taking comfort in his presence. It felt like it had been ages since she’d seen him or talked to him. Since he’d held her, something that seemed to happen a lot without her even realizing it at first. Lydia ran a hand down his back and up, resting it on the back of his neck, reassuring herself that he was actually there and not some kind of weird figment of her overactive imagination or a trick from the Nogitsune that seemed to have left quite a bit behind in her head upon its destruction.

“This is real, isn’t it?” The words were barely a whisper, “You’re really here...I’m here and...It’s over?” Lydia asked trying to figure out why things still felt like she was in some kind of dream.

Stiles’ arms tightened around her slightly, guilt sweeping over him at her words. He’d never wanted this. Not for her. She’d been through so much already because of Peter Hale. He’d never wanted to be a person who caused her any kind of trauma or pain and he’d done both, devastated her so deeply that she wasn’t sure if she was awake or asleep or distinguish for certain what was reality.

He swallowed hard. “It’s over, Lydia,” he murmured. “You stopped it. You brought me back.” His voice was strained. “You saved my life.” And now he was going to do whatever he had to in order to save hers.

Lydia felt the tears slip from her eyes and it frustrated her to no end. She couldn’t reconcile this girl sitting in front of Stiles with the girl she was. She wasn’t overcome with emotion, she didn’t cry constantly. Lydia Martin wasn’t weak. But if these past few weeks had taught her anything it was that she needed Stiles. When it had happened she wasn’t sure, but he kept her grounded, level-headed. And when presented with the prospect of losing him, well, she’d been willing to do anything not to.

So, Lydia was going to give herself this. She was going to let herself be vulnerable, to take comfort in Stiles because for weeks the only thing she’d wanted was for him to hold her and tell her everything was fine. Scott had been great, Derek too, but they weren’t who she needed. It made her feel selfish. Lydia should be there for him, helping him cope. She didn’t even know if he remembered what happened.

And then with that thought another memory flashed behind her eyes, the look on the Nogitsune’s face when it ripped out Aidan’s heart and her body nearly lurched in Stiles’ arms as she tensed and clutched him tighter, a strangled noise leaving her throat, muffled by his shirt. “I want to leave, I want to leave.” She repeated the words, shakily, her hospital gown shifting as she shifted even closer to him trying to use Stiles to banish the images in her head.

Stiles felt her shudder in his arms and tighten her grip on him a little and he couldn’t understand why she wanted him near her. He didn’t know how this was going to help her, didn’t know how he was going to be able to help her deal with memories of his that she shouldn’t be experiencing. Memories that he didn’t want to experience. But they were his memories. He was going to be haunted by them for the rest of his short life -- three years tops -- but he deserved that.

He’d done so many terrible things that he hadn’t had time to begin processing all of them yet. And for Lydia’s mind to be assaulted by those things…

Even if she knew -- and he knew she knew -- that he was responsible for torching the asylum, for trying to kill Scott and getting Allison instead, for setting up a bomb at the sheriff’s station, for killing Aidan, for terrorizing the town in general -- the knowledge that she was seeing those images, seeing him actually doing those things, was enough to make him wish he’d just died instead. She shouldn’t have to be dealing with this. None of them should.

If only Chris hadn’t hesitated to pull the trigger that night at the river. It would have solved so many things for everyone involved.

Lydia sucked in a sharp breath, squeezing her eyes shut and pushing the images away, guilt sitting heavy in her chest. She still blamed herself for Aidan’s death, even if no one else did. It was something Lydia would carry with her forever. Lydia let out a shaky breath trying to focus on the present, on what was happening right now. “I need clothes…” she whispered against his shoulder. “And then we can go...Stiles,” her breathing hitched, “I’m so sorry I didn’t understand, I’m sorry I didn’t stop the Nogitsune before it got you. They tried to warm me...tried to tell me what was happening, but,” she swallowed heavily.

“But I just didn’t understand. Please forgive me...” Lydia would never forgive herself for that either. Maybe if she had tried harder to figure out what she was screaming about and what the voices were whispering Stiles never would have been possessed by the Nogitsune.

“We brought you some. Scott still has them,” he told her quietly, pulling away to look at her when she started apologizing. “Lydia. No. No. Look at me, okay?” He reached out and gently cupped her face in his hand, feeling sick at the sight of the guilt in her eyes. God, like she had anything to feel guilty about in this situation? She hadn’t done anything wrong. It had all been him.

“Look, this thing...I think that it came back with me the night of the ritual.” He shook his head. “I think it’s been in me for a long time.” Months. Slowly eating away at him like cancer. “It isn’t anything that you did or didn’t do.” He knew that for a fact. “It was just dormant for awhile. One way or another it would have all…” He looked down, his throat tightening as he struggled with words. “It would have taken control eventually. There’s nothing any of us could have done to stop it.”

Lydia shook her head. “No, no they were warning me it was taking over, so I could help you stop it before it clutched onto you completely,” she said gripping his arms tightly, her small hands curling around his skin. “When I used the foxfire, when I got rid of him...I saw what they were telling me, the door, and the Nogitsune, and you. I could have helped, I should have helped,” her voice was growing louder, her words edged in some kind of panic.

“Lydia, Lydia, shhhh,” he whispered, cupping her face in both of his hands as tears prickled his eyes when her voice rose with panic. “It’s okay. Everything’s okay, okay? Everything’s going to be okay.” No, he didn’t believe it, really, but it was what she needed to hear. She needed to believe that he believed it even if he didn’t.

Derek and Scott ducked their heads into the room and worry creased their brows. Scott was the first to speak, “Is everything okay?” He asked quietly. He and Derek could hear them talking, not that they were listening, but when Lydia’s voice jumped an octave and started getting hysterical Scott thought it was time for them to see if everything was okay.

His chest tightened as he looked over his shoulder to see Scott and Derek there both looking concerned. He swallowed hard, shaking his head because he felt as helpless now as Scott had just a few minutes before when Stiles had his panic attack.

Derek shifted forward. “I think it would probably be a good idea if we let Lydia get dressed and maybe Scott calls his mom so she can help us get her discharged.” He said glancing between Stiles and Scott, “They’ve already sedated her once,” he said quietly before hesitating, “If we keep her here any longer I have a feeling they might not let her leave so willingly.” He told them stiffly.

Another stab of guilt hit Stiles at Derek’s admission that they’d had to sedate his beautiful strawberry-blonde once already. God how was this fair in any way?

Scott’s brows drew together at Derek’s words, but he knew the other wolf was right. He hated to say it, but Lydia looked a little...not in touch with reality at the moment and he didn’t think the doctors would have any qualms with keeping her for observation. He shifted and reached outside the door for the bag that he’d run back out to the car and got.

He stepped forward and held it out to Stiles, “Her stuff.” He said as his chest tightened. God he hoped this wasn’t permanent; his best friend would never forgive himself if Lydia stayed the way she was.

Stiles forced himself to take a deep breath. “Hey, Lyds? We need you to get dressed now, okay? And then we’re gonna get out of here.” He didn’t really care if they discharged her or not. This was his fault and he wasn’t going to let them do anything to Lydia because of the state she was in. “Does that sound okay?” He searched her eyes, chest painfully tight. He managed to give her a tiny smile even if it didn’t reach his eyes.

Lydia nodded, “Yes.” She said as she watched Scott and Derek start to walk back to the door. She swallowed hard and forced the emotions stirring in her chest back down, “Thank you,” she called out making Derek pause. He glanced over his shoulder, eyebrow arched in question.

“For staying...I heard you, I followed your voice back...The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” She repeated and surprise crossed Derek’s face. “You told me Stiles needed I found you.” She said simply.

Derek’s adams apple bobbed as he watched Lydia his chest tightening, “You’re welcome...We’ll be right outside. Get dressed okay?” He said his tone softer than usual as he gripped Scott’s shoulder and lead him out of the room.

Stiles looked between Lydia and Derek, not entirely sure what Lydia had just quoted, but knowing it was something important. Something Derek had told her while she was sleeping. Or something he’d read to her because Ms. McCall had mentioned he’d been doing that as she slept.

He watched the pair head out of Lydia’s room and rose to his feet.

Lydia glanced back at Stiles lifting her hand and brushing the hair away from her face in a very Lydia like fashion, but her hand quivered, not holding its usual steadiness. “Will you stay?” She asked reaching for the bag.

Stiles paused at her words and seeing her hand tremble. He reached out and covered it with his, giving it a gentle squeeze before moving the bag closer to her. “Yeah, I will. I’ll just uh --” He turned around so his back was to her and he shut his eyes tightly.

“So uh, while you were sleeping, you’ll never guess what happened. I’m pretty sure that Scott’s mom asked my dad out on a date. They went and saw a movie in the theaters. Like at night. That’s a date right? Do you think that qualifies as a date?”

Lydia opened the bag her lips quirking up at the corner, the motion feeling almost out of place because of how long it had been since she dared to smile at anything. “It’s definitely a date,” she said her voice soft, but warm as she searched through the bag and found a fresh pair of panties, a blouse and some skirts.

Lydia tugged the hospital gown over her head and tossed it on the bed reaching for the clean panties and changing those first before she went for the blouse, not seeing a bra. It didn’t matter though they were just going back to Stiles’ house. “They’ve been spending a lot of time together,” she commented letting her mind drift to the time Stiles wasn’t around and she and the sheriff were staying at Scott’s.

Lydia pulled the green blouse over her head and then stepped into the short brown skirt. “Your dad and I spent a few nights at Scott’s. His mom was really nice...she took care of your dad and Derek and me…” Lydia felt moisture prickle in the corner of her eyes and once again the slight hitch in her breathing was louder than she’d intended. “I think they got closer...I wouldn’t be surprised.” She told him her voice soft and low as she brushed at her eyes quickly and then zipped up the side of her skirt.

He hadn’t really thought that much about what everyone had been doing while he’d been possessed. He’d been too busy stressing over the things that he himself had done while he’d been possessed. He knew, of course that they’d all been working to try and find him, to try and stop him -- some by a little bit different means than others, but he didn’t and couldn’t possibly hold that against anyone, considering -- but he hadn’t really thought about where they’d all been staying. What they’d done in between looking for him and trying to stop him.

He rubbed his hands over his face. It made sense of course. Scott had kept true to his word that he’d protect Stiles’ dad, so he wasn’t surprised that Scott and his mom had opened their home to his dad and to Lydia. It was one more thing he’d have to thank his best friend for. Maybe once upon a time he would’ve agreed with Scott that best friends got to wave off things like thank you and I’m sorry but that was before one of them had gone dark side, killed people, destroyed and damaged things, tried to kill the other best friend, and said other best friend had protected his evil friend’s family.

But for the sake of her sanity, Stiles wanted to get Lydia’s mind off of all of that. “Scott and I used to hope they’d end up together. I mean it was a few years after my mom…” He swallowed hard, not really wanting to bring up his mother either, and risk reminding her of the other problem he was facing. “And his parents had been divorced for awhile and frankly his dad’s a ginormous douchenozzle anyway.” His jaw tightened at the thought of Agent McCall. “Anyway, so yeah, we used to talk about what it would be like if my dad and his mom ended up together and getting married. I think part of me -- and him too really -- would still be okay with that happening. I mean, his mom’s been like a second mom to me and my dad would adopt him in a heartbeat if he had the chance.” He was starting to ramble now.

Lydia turned around and stepped forward reaching out gripping the sides of Stiles’ shirt from behind, her body practically pressing against his back as she breathed him in, her eyes fluttering shut as she stayed like that for a minute. “I think that sounds really nice.” She whispered as her head throbbed.

She leaned her forehead forward resting it against his shoulder, “I think your dad and Ms. McCall would be really great together. They care about each other a lot,” she said, the same way she cared about Stiles, except she couldn’t seem to bring herself to tell him that. She wasn’t ready, it wasn’t the right time, not with everything that had just happened.

Stiles swallowed hard as she leaned her head against his back. He let his head drop forward, chin nearly touching his chest as he exhaled. “Yeah, they do.” And his dad was going to need them more than ever when the time came. “I’m not sure I’d be okay with anyone else with my dad,” he admitted.

Lydia slid her eyes shut and the image of the Nogitsune trapping her in classroom, taunting her...and kissing her played behind her eyes. She’d betrayed Stiles with that kiss. A shudder went through her body, and she didn’t even feel the tears sliding down her cheeks as she clenched her hands against Stiles pressing into him more firmly from behind, once again trying to fight the memories slowly disappearing from her mind.

When he felt her shudder, his breath caught in his throat and he didn’t ask if she was dressed before turning around and engulfing her in another hug. He pressed his hand against the back of her head, bringing it to his chest.

Lydia wrapped her arms around Stiles’ midsection holding him to her, mumbling yet again how sorry she was. “Stiles, I, you’re my best friend,” she whispered, “And I really missed you. Can we just promise you’ll never get possessed by another dark spirit?” Lydia asked trying for a joke before her tone grew serious. “Promise not to leave again.” she didn’t think she’d be able to handle it the next time. The throbbing in her head slowing down as some of the tension left her body as she stayed securely in his arms.

Stiles shut his eyes, resting his chin atop her head, though he was caught off guard by her comment. He hadn’t realized she’d thought of him as her best friend. “I missed you, too.” He pressed a kiss to her head without thinking about it. “I missed all of you so much.” Tears stung his eyes but he kept them closed to keep them from falling. How could he promise her that? He wondered, when he knew it wasn’t a promise he could keep? Even if Scott gave him the bite, there was no guarantee that it would work. It might just kill him faster. Because you’re weak, he could still hear Nogitsune’s voice echo in his head.

Lydia’s heart expanded at his words, warmth filling her and she missed his lack of promise to not leave, too involved with what his lips felt like against the side of her head. Lydia kept her face against his shirt for another couple of minutes before tilting her head up, the exhaustion clear on her face. “Can we go before it comes back?” She asked quietly as she leaned into him.

“Yeah. Yeah, come on, let’s get the hell out of here, okay?” He reached down, weaving his fingers through hers and giving her hand a gentle squeeze before grabbing her bag with his other hand and leading her toward the door.

Lydia kept a tight grip on his hand as they moved toward the door.

Derek was leaning against the wall, Scott beside him when Lydia and Stiles emerged from the room. Scott pushed himself off the wall quickly and stepped towards Stiles and Lydia, glancing between them noticing the way her whole body turned into Stiles, like she was literally trying to get as close to him as possible.

A small hesitant smile pulled at his lips, “We good to go?” He asked not sure what their plan was as he glanced between them.

Stiles was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be okay long enough to wait on discharge papers. “Yeah, it’s time to split,” he told Scott, letting go of Lydia’s hand long enough to slide it around her waist. He’d always been a pretty tactile person, but he hadn’t realized that Lydia was, too. She just wasn’t normally this open about it. But she wasn’t exactly herself right now and despite how lousy he felt, it had kicked his protective nature firmly into high gear. He met Scott’s eyes, worry flashing in his own.

Scott nodded quickly, seeing Stiles slip back into taking care of Lydia seamlessly gave him hope that maybe things were going to be okay after all. They’d get through this and Stiles would recover...they all would somehow. He pulled the keys to the jeep out of his pockets, “Okay, let’s hurry up then,” he said glancing at Derek. “Are you coming or heading back home?” He asked knowing that Derek might want some time for himself.

“I’ll probably head back to my apartment, but call if you need anything.” He told them.

Lydia reached out with her free hand and squeezed Derek’s arm gently, the action startling him. He turned so he was watching her and her chest tightened at the strange look on his face. “Thank you for keeping me safe and for guiding me back. I--” the words caught in her throat as another wave of images slammed into her making her nauseous.

Her hand jerked up to her head, clutching it tightly. “Get out of my head,” she screeched anger and frustration lacing her words. The sound was loud, but didn’t draw the attention of the nurses down the hall just yet.

Scott sucked in a sharp breath, “We’ve gotta go. Derek thanks again.” He said patting the other man on the back, “I’ll call you soon.” He told him his eyes darting back to Stiles and Lydia. They needed to get her home so she could sleep it off...if it ever stopped.

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