October 16, 2014

Never Too Late 12/17

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: 12/17
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?
Previous Chapters: | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven |

Chapter Twelve

Lydia parked her car beside Derek’s truck and shut off the engine. It was Sunday early afternoon and she’d been feeling cooped up at the Stilinski house. Scott and Stiles were hanging out and she hadn’t wanted to interrupt them. Despite all of Stiles’ reassurances, Lydia couldn’t help feeling like she was intruding on their time together.

Plus, the emotions running back and forth between Stiles and Scott had been giving her a pretty bad headache. She kept trying to smother the feelings down, but it didn’t matter what she did they still slammed into her every now and then Stiles would get worked up.

Lydia sighed, shook her head and glanced in the rearview mirror at her face, “You’re not doing this today Martin. You got up, did your hair and makeup, went out, and now you’re going to have fun with a friend...remember fun?” She asked herself as she ran her finger below her lip fixing her lip-gloss.

She grabbed both bags from the seat beside her and pushed the door open stepping out, bags in hand as she made her way toward Derek’s building. Her four inch heels clicked loudly against the floor, the slightly cooler weather unexpected and appreciated. The green dress she wore fell lower in the back and had a higher hem in the front. It was perfect for the weather. Lydia made her way up the stairs grumbling at the lack of a working elevator as she lugged the two large bags with her.

She finally made it to the top of the staircase with a huff and walked over to Derek’s apartment. Lydia knocked and then tugged on the handle, surprised to find the door open. Someone’s getting careless, she thought to herself as she walked into the apartment. “Derek, come out, come out wherever you are,” she called out brightly, “I brought gifts!”

Instead of Derek, another familiar face appeared in front of her, cocking an eyebrow at the redhead and eying the bags in Lydia’s hands. Cora crossed her arms over her chest. “And why are we bringing my brother gifts?” she asked, voice sharp but not mean. “Don’t tell me the two of you are dating.”

Lydia paused at the sight of Cora in front of her. Lovely. Just the she wolf she didn’t want to see. “Well I’d definitely be a step up from his typical homicidal type,” she quipped eyebrow arched. “I thought you were in South America.” She said with a sigh as she continued walking into the apartment and set the bags down on Derek’s couch.

“And he’d be a step up from your murderous type, too, so I guess you’d both come out winners,” Cora responded. “And I was. Derek called and told me what was going on back here. So I figured maybe it was better that I come back for the time being.” She watched as Lydia set the bags down, regarding her curiously. “So if you’re not dating, then…?”

Lydia tried not to visibly flinch at Cora’s comment about Aiden. She swallowed hard and pushed aside the guilt that churned in her stomach. Lydia turned around to face Cora, perfectly composed. “Maybe we’re sleeping together,” she threw out with a smirk, “Or possibly we’re friends.” Lydia was pretty sure that was an accurate description of what they were. At least she considered him a friend, she wasn’t really sure what Derek considered her.

“Maybe I’ll toss my lunch or maybe I’ll punch you in the face,” Cora retorted, rolling her eyes. She looked over her shoulder, toward the spiral staircase. “DEREK! There’s a redhead down here to see you.”

Lydia rolled her eyes. “Yes, I’m incredibly terrified of you. You might want to work on that whole anger issue thing I hear it can cause all kinds of physical ailments.” She said turning back to the bags and proceeding to ignore Cora.

Derek winced at his sister’s louder voice as he made his way down the spiral staircase. “Is all the yelling really necessary?” He asked Cora with an arched brow.

“Yes,” Cora responded, giving him a look. She ignored Lydia’s comments entirely and moved farther away from the pair, heading into the kitchen. She had a gambit of reasons for not liking Lydia Martin, not the least of which was she’d continued seeing Aiden after Aiden and Ethan had brutally murdered Boyd.

Lydia turned when she heard Derek’s voice and smiled pretending Cora wasn’t there, “Finally, so I hope you don’t mind that I let myself in, but I figured its Sunday, Derek’s probably not doing anything.” She pointed toward the bags, “And I brought gifts.”

Derek blinked a couple of times, raising his eyebrows. “You...brought gifts?” he echoed, looking confused. “For what? It isn’t my birthday.”

Amusement crossed Lydia’s face, “I’m so glad you asked.” She reached inside one bag and pulled out a thin packet of paint samples. “Now that you’ve decided to come out of your shell and interact with us human--marginally human types, it’s time we did something about this place.” Lydia glanced around distastefully. “I’m not entirely sure how you live here, though according to Stiles it’s a step up from before.”

His lips twitched involuntarily at the corners. “So you’ve decided you’re going to paint the loft?” There was a hint of amusement in his tone. “Because I have to admit, Lydia, I didn’t take you as a home improvement kind of girl.”

Lydia arched an eyebrow and stepped forward, “Oh Derek,” she patted his chest lightly before stepping back over to the bag, “I understand the confusion. I am after all the one holding the paint swatches,” she said shifting it in her hand as she grabbed a second one from the bag and turned back around to face him.

“I’ll clarify for your edification. I don’t do manual labor of any kind. I’m against sweating for purposes that aren’t running for my life or sexual gratification, therefore we’re going to pick a color and by we I mean me. You’ll get choices though and then you’re going to paint the loft with my supervision of course,” she explained casually.

“Those wolfy muscles have to be good for something right. We’ll need to move furniture, get tarps, I’m thinking something on the lighter side to open up the room,” she pondered.

Derek shook his head, “Way too much information,” he informed her. He eyed the color swatches in her hand and glanced around, sighing a little and moving to sit on the sofa. He motioned for her to do the same. “Also I vote we make this a pack event because this place is huge. So I’ll just be calling Scott and Isaac and they can get their asses over here if we’re gonna turn my place into pack central.”

“Don’t,” She said immediately and then paused swallowing hard. Her heartbeat elevating in her chest despite her attempt to get it to stop. “Scott is with Stiles. I’m not entirely sure where Isaac is, most likely with Allison.” Her best friend that she still hadn’t talked to, then again she hadn’t been back to school yet, so there was that. Lydia was going back on Monday though, so maybe she’d run into her friend then.

Derek frowned at her immediate response, reaching out and putting a hand on her shoulder when he heard her heart jump. He looked at her with concerned eyes, but didn’t remark. “Right. Okay. Then we can do the painting another day.” He took the paint swatches from her hand and flipped through them.

Lydia watched Derek for a minute, “No, you’re right...but we should probably pick out colors and get stuff before you call them.” She said changing her mind knowing she couldn’t hide all day. But she just needed some time. It was why she’d found herself shopping and heading to Derek’s. Because when she was with him...she felt safe.

Her emotions were stable and she didn’t have to think about everything that was bothering her. Somehow Derek Hale had become her escape and Lydia wasn’t sure whether that should be troubling or if she should just be grateful. At the moment she was going with both. Because she couldn’t be strong for Stiles if she wasn’t strong for herself first.

“Are you all right?” Derek lowered his voice as he looked back at her. He wasn’t sure she’d even answer considering Cora would be able to hear and he knew his sister and Lydia really didn’t like one another.

Lydia hesitated for less than a second before smiling, “Of course I am,” she said her response a little too bright. “Now let me show you the pillows.” she dipped her hands into the bag beside Derek and pulled out two small throw pillows, both were a deep red. “I thought you could use a little color for the couch.” She explained.

“You brought me throw pillows.” He hadn’t missed her hesitation, but Derek wasn’t going to push the issue either. At least not right now. Maybe later. He looked down at the couch they were sitting on, realizing it did kind of make the couch a little more lively looking.

“Yes, of course. I figured red was manly and yet still colorful.” She told him placing them on the couch while reaching into the bag again. “Maybe we can do the walls a cream color or a pale salmon to offset the red.” She explained while pulling out a set of sheets. “These are a nice thread count plus they’ll match the pillows and couch. I’m thinking we might go for black and white theme with hints of color thrown in, maybe even make the molding red...we’ll have to see,” she babbled.

Derek considered her words, blinking when she pulled out sheets next. She’d bought him sheets. He really wasn’t sure what to do with all of this, because it was so unexpected. And of course his very jaded little sister was there to witness it, which just made it all very strange. “Thread count?” he echoed. “You lost me.”

Lydia sighed, “I don’t know what to do with you.” She said pushing the bag onto the floor and sitting beside him. “The higher the thread count on sheets the softer they are.” She told him as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I got ones that are nice and high. You’ll sleep good and possibly not be so cranky, then again I’m starting to think that’s part of your charm,” she joked.

Lydia stood, “I even got matching-” her words died on her lips and she nearly pitched forward at the rush of emotion that slammed into her, turning her stomach and practically making her sick. Stiles. It had been happening on and off the past couple of days and usually when it hit it only lasted for a couple of minutes before every emotion was gone almost like he was attempting to shut everything off for her benefit. The problem was all that did was make these small burst of emotion she kept getting incredibly intense and sometimes painful.

A small noise fell from her throat and she grabbed for the arm of the couch.

“Hey. Lydia. Hey.” Derek quickly reached out and caught her before she could stumble any farther. “Okay. You need to sit down.” He sat down beside her, moving the shopping bags aside and resting a hand on her back. “Stiles?” he guessed, watching her closely.

Lydia squeezed her eyes shut; her heartbeat went from beating normal to pounding rapidly in her chest within seconds. She clutched the couch cushion in one palm, her hand curling around the soft material as she struggled to breath. Lydia gave a short jerky nod signaling she’d heard his question. Her face paled and her stomach rolled again as waves of guilt washed over her.

Lydia could feel her heartbeat pounding in her ears and then as quickly as it came it was gone. The presence of Stiles’ emotions were completely drained from her body leaving her shaky and exhausted. Lydia swallowed hard. “Sorry,” she got out a minute later her voice strained as she avoided Cora’s gaze that she could feel on them from across the room.

“It’s okay,” Derek assured her, troubled expression on his face. He glanced toward the kitchen where Cora was, actually looking concerned.

“Okay, so is someone gonna fill me in on what’s going on? Why did you ask her about Stiles just then after she almost collapsed?” Cora’s voice was worried as she moved to the living room where they were.

Derek pursed his lips and glanced from his sister to Lydia. “It’s complicated,” he responded rubbing his hand against Lydia’s back slowly trying to help her relax.

Lydia knew it wasn’t all that complicated and that Derek wasn’t telling Cora because he wasn’t sure she would like that. And Lydia appreciated that. “He’s fine now,” Lydia commented mostly to Derek as she glanced up at Cora.

Cora folded her arms across her chest, clearly not particularly pleased by the answer. “Right. Well I guess I’ll just have go check on him myself then.” She didn’t wait for a response before heading for the door without looking behind her.

Derek grimaced. Great way to start out the reunion party, he thought with a sigh, looking back at Lydia with an apologetic look.

Lydia watched her go and her chest tightened at Cora’s words. She had seemed genuinely worried about Stiles. “I didn’t realize your sister and Stiles were so close,” she mumbled before pushing herself up onto shaky legs. Lydia took a deep breath and let it out, her body finally calm again.

“Stiles assures me that they’re just friends.” Derek cast a wary glance after Cora. “Something about how they kept getting thrown together.” He shrugged and looked back at Lydia.

Lydia nodded, “Yeah,” she responded distractedly as she glanced around the apartment. Lydia felt like she was coming apart. She had so much going on, in her head, in her heart, in her body. There were all these feelings and emotions she didn’t know how to deal with. Her mom was gone, Stiles was far from okay, and he seemed to be pulling away from her- them, she corrected.

Lydia was exhausted. She needed some kind of break because at this point she wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep going like this. She cleared her throat, “There are curtains too,” she said suddenly her voice low.

“Thank you, Lydia. For doing all of this.” He hesitated. “No one’s ever bought me curtains before,” he admitted. “I mean not since I was a kid.” He looked at her, then reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder once more, wishing there was something else he could do for her. But he had no idea what it would be.

Lydia finally met Derek’s gaze, not quite able to hide the moisture in her eyes. She sent him half a smile, “Even you need someone looking after you every once in a while,” she admitted. “We all care about you. I know we can be a pain sometimes, but we’re all in this together.” Lydia said quietly her chest tightening. “Do you think I can have some water? Then we should probably call the guys and get started.”

“Yeah of course,” he said quietly, squeezing her shoulder before heading to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water for her.

Lydia turned and sat on the couch lifting one of the pillows into her lap as she watched Derek from across the room. All she needed to do was relax, stay calm and let her thoughts drift away. She was going to spend the next few hours helping get Derek’s apartment in order and keeping her mind off of everything else.


Stiles had to admit that Scott was getting a lot better at handling his random panic attacks. It was like he was actually almost predicting them. He figured it was mostly because Scott could hear the increase in his heartbeat and just sense it, the way he’d once sensed before Erica had a seizure. “Sorry,” he mumbled, rubbing his hands over his face as he leaned over the bathroom sink, letting the cold water continue to run for the time being. One minute he’d been sitting in the living room with Scott watching Terminator II and the next he’d been setting a bomb up at the sheriff’s station. It felt like he’d actually been right there, packing a neat package full of nuts and bolts and broken glass and other tiny sharp and deadly objects.

The memory was sickeningly vivid. He remembered trying so hard to reason with the monster inside of him, begging him not to hurt his dad. Not him. Not my dad. But that had been its goal. It had wanted to cause that kind of pain because it had been feeding off his pain. His fear.

Scott stood in the bathroom doorway watching Stiles as his friend rubbed his hands over his face. “You don’t need to apologize,” he responded. “We should have watched a comedy,” he added. Scott was worried, but he was getting better at catching the warning signs of Stiles getting upset or having an attack, which helped Scott calm Stiles down sooner.

“Hey, have you found anything helpful in those books?” Scott asked. It had been a few days since they saw Deaton and he couldn’t help being curious.

“I’ve seen Terminator II like eight hundred times. I could play the whole thing in my head without actually turning the DVD on.” He sighed, drying his face off with a towel and then wiping his hands as well. He exhaled slowly, before turning to face his best friend once more.

“I keep reading a lot about meditation, but can you actually picture that going well? I can’t sit still for more than like, two minutes at a time as it is. How am I going to meditate?”

Scott shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt. We could try it together,” he offered figuring it probably couldn’t hurt. Maybe meditation would help him learn how to better control his alpha abilities too.

Stiles couldn’t help but smile at the offer. It was just like Scott to offer to help him meditate. He hesitated, then wrapped his arms around his friend wordlessly in response.

Scott reciprocated wrapping his arms around his best friend tightly. He wished he knew how to help Stiles, but he didn’t. Scott would be damned though if he didn’t try everything he possibly could to help no matter what it was.

“Am I interrupting something?” Cora inquired, eyebrow arched, amusement coloring her voice as she spotted Scott and Stiles in the hallway near the bathroom hugging. Scott’s mom had let her in and told her to head right to Stiles bedroom, but she’d spotted them on the way.

Stiles let go of Scott, eyes widening as he turned toward the familiar voice. He grinned at her. “You don’t call, you don’t write. You skip town without a goodbye. What’s that about, Tiny Wolf?”

Cora let a genuine smile slip, “You know how it is, things to do, places to be.” She commented casually before stepping forward and sliding her arms around his neck, pulling him into a hug, something that wasn’t usually her style. Stiles was a decent guy and even though she’d probably never admit it out loud they had a connection, one she sort of missed while in South America. “I’m glad you’re okay.” She told him quietly.

“Uh huh. Just in too big of a hurry to get the hell away from Beacon Hills,” he said lightly, hugging her back. He pulled away to look at her and then glanced back at Scott. “Not that anyone can blame you for that really.” Hell maybe if he’d gotten the hell out of Beacon Hills, things would have been very different for everyone. “Derek mentioned you were coming back. Planning to stay for awhile?” There was a hint of hopefulness in his voice.

Scott watched their interaction with curiosity. He hadn’t realized that Cora and Stiles had gotten so close, then again there had been a lot going on.

Cora grinned at Stiles and hit him lightly in the chest. “You bet your ass. Apparently you can’t be left to your own devices. I’m gone a couple of months and what the town turns upside down?” She asked with an arched eyebrow.

Stiles smiled faintly at that. “Apparently not. And not the whole town. You know, just the parts I happened to be in at the time.”

Cora sent him half a smile, but she could practically smell the guilt radiating off of him. “Alright skin and bones, lay off the drama, you and me are gonna spend some quality time together,” she told him, her smirk back in place. “How do you feel about sour patch kids and comedy movies? I’m thinking you, me and some movie marathon fun.”

At that exact moment, Scott’s cell phone rang and Stiles arched his eyebrows, glancing at his best friend and then turning back to Cora. “Yeah, okay. Scottie’s probably gonna join us after his phone call,” he added.

Scott glanced at them, “Uh no it’s cool, its Derek I’m gonna take it in the other room and then probably do some homework.” He said smiling at his friend and patting him on the back. “It was nice seeing you Cora.”

Cora watched him walk down the hall and answer the phone before turning to Stiles and rolling her eyes. “My brother is enlisting your friend in your girlfriend’s little project, so I guess it’s just us.”

“My girlfriend’s project?” Stiles echoed, eyebrows furrowing. “What are you talking about?”

Cora arched an eyebrow, “Oh you didn’t know that she apparently comes and goes from my brother’s loft like it’s her own.” Cora snorted. Okay she didn’t know if that was true, but Lydia had certainly let herself in that morning. “She bought Derek like pillows and sheets and stuff. She’s making him redecorate...then again I didn’t really see him complaining. It was weird.” She told him with a shake of her head.

A flicker of jealousy passed through him and he immediately suppressed it. He’d known that Lydia and Derek were becoming friends, but she was buying him pillows and sheets and redecorating his place? “Yeah, that is weird. I mean that he’d even let her.” Then again, he knew Lydia and she pretty much did whatever she wanted, when she wanted. Even Derek couldn’t do much to stop someone like Lydia from getting her way.

Cora nodded, “You’re telling me, what happened to my grumpy brother? He’s nice to her. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.” Cora sighed, “Anyway so I ditched them to come see how you are,” Cora explained, “Something weird happened and neither of them would tell me what so I figured I’d do a little detective work on my own.” She smirked.

“Something weird, like what?” he asked, though he had an idea of what she may have witnessed that was weird that sent her coming to see him for herself. “And yeah, your grumpy brother’s less a sourwolf these days and more a…” He paused searching for the right word. “Nice wolf? I don’t know.” He wasn’t feeling particularly witty at the moment. He rarely did right after a major panic attack.

Cora studied Stiles for a minute taking note of how tired he looked. Derek had told her things had gotten bad, but it was clear it might have been worse than he even mentioned. She lifted an arm and shifted on her feet. “She got sick or something. It looked like she almost passed out and her heartbeat when from 0-to-80 in a few seconds flat. But Derek didn’t seem surprised at all, and then he asked about you.” She pointed eyebrow arched question in her gaze.

Oh. He let out a breath, looking down at the floor for a moment. “Yeah, things have...gotten really complicated,” he admitted. He hesitated, then looked back up at her again. “Scott and Lydia can both feel what I’m feeling and it’s apparently because I’m supposed to be Scott’s emissary.” He pursed his lips.

Cora’s eyes widened, “You, an emissary?” She paused her expression turning thoughtful. “Actually, I can kinda see that. I mean you’re the one who’s always figuring things out and coming up with plans. You’re sort of Scott’s voice of reason.” Cora nodded, “Guess you’re more connected to us wolves then you thought.” She commented with a grin nudging his shoulder gently with her own.

Stiles relaxed a little at her easy acceptance of the possibility. He hadn’t even told Isaac or Allison, or his dad or Scott’s mom because he just felt like maybe he was that far out of his league with all of this that they would look at him and just blink in confusion. But hell, if Cora’s reaction was that open to the possibility, he figured maybe the rest was all going to be much easier than he thought. He let out the breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding since he’d told her. “I guess so. The boy who runs with wolves,” he joked, leading her down the stairs.

Cora chuckled as she followed him, “More like boy who bosses wolves around,” she stated remembering Stiles barking orders or demanding things more than once while she was in town and people actually listening to him, her included.

“Apparently that’s the official job description,” he said solemnly. Cora snorted as she stepped off the last stair, “Well don’t think you can boss around this wolf little emissary,” she grinned, “I’m pack free.”

“We’ll see, Tiny Wolf,” Stiles responded with a faint smirk. “We’ll see.”

Cora rolled her eyes at Stiles, “Idiot,” she said though the words were affectionate as she looped her arm through his and nodded. “Lead the way we’ll need snacks for our binge watching. And a fair reminder, I eat like a Hale.”

Stiles smirked more at that. “Good thing Ms. McCall’s been cooking a lot, then,” he told her as he headed into the kitchen.

Cora glanced around the kitchen spotting the woman who let her in wrapping up some food at the counter.

Melissa turned around when she heard footsteps. She smiled at Stiles and the girl who’d come to visit him. Someone she didn’t know, but already liked when she saw the genuine grin on Stiles face’. Melissa smiled, “Hey you two, what’s going on?”

“Cora’s apparently starving and she’s demanding some food for our movie marathon,” he told her. “And in case she forgot to introduce herself -- this is Cora Hale. And Cora, I’m sure Ms. McCall didn’t forget to introduce herself, but she’s Scott’s mom.” He smirked at Cora.

Cora had the decency to look sheepish for about a second. “Sorry about that and I wasn’t so much demanding food as I was asking,” she said jabbing Stiles lightly in the gut.

Melissa chuckled at their playfulness. “It’s nice to meet you. I didn’t know your brother had any siblings.” left, she added silently. Melissa knew about the Hale fire all those years ago. “We’re glad to have you, you’ve got a pretty amazing brother you know that?” She asked while turning to the refrigerator. “What about some pudding and whip cream?” She asked over her shoulder.

Stiles chuckled at the surprised look on Cora’s face at the mention of Derek being amazing. “You missed out on a lot,” he informed her, moving to help Ms. McCall by grabbing a couple of bowls down from the cabinet. And by a lot, he really meant a lot. The change in Derek was big, but not nearly as big as a lot of the other stuff.

Cora stepped forward to help Stiles, “Seems like it.” She mumbled. Scott took that moment to walk into the kitchen keys and helmet in hand. He glanced at Stiles, “Hey dude, I’m gonna go out for a bit and help Derek with something, you’ll be okay?” He asked worried.

Stiles hesitated a second when he turned to look at Scott, then drew in a breath, nodding. “Yeah, dude I’ll be fine.” He and Cora had some catching up to do anyway. She’d been gone for months. No doubt Derek had hit some of the memorable “highlights” but there was probably a lot he’d neglected to mention. The guy wasn’t very verbal.

Scott paused at the hesitation and opened his mouth, but Cora cut him off.

“He’s going to be just fine with me alpha boy. You can go save my brother from the banshee. We’ll be fine. I’ll take good care of him in your absence.” Cora said amused.

Scott frowned, “Derek doesn’t need saving from Lydia. They’ve actually gotten pretty close,” he told her feeling a need to defend his friends, not even sure why.

“She didn’t mean it like that,” Stiles assured him. Though given how much Cora and Lydia disliked each other, it might have actually been meant like that.

Melissa looked around at the three of them, sensing the tension with her super-mom powers. “Right, well, you should go see what Derek needs and make sure you don’t spoil your appetite for dinner tonight.” She glanced at Stiles and Cora. Stiles got a pass because he really was skin and bones lately and it worried her. Cora got a pass because she was a guest in the house and she wasn’t even sure she’d be staying for dinner.

Scott pouted his shoulders slumping slightly. “I won’t.” He said properly chastised before leaning over and pressing a kiss to his mom’s cheek. “I love you.” He glanced over at Stiles and Cora, “I’ll see you guys later, have fun.” He sent them half a smile before taking off through the kitchen door.

Cora pursed her lips, “I guess I hit a nerve.” She said lightly her gaze drifting to Stiles, “So...movies?” Cora grinned.

Melissa smiled faintly as she watched Scott head away, shaking her head a little.

“Movies,” Stiles confirmed.


Lydia held her purse in her hand as she walked up the Stilinski pathway spotting the light on in the kitchen. She was tired and despite the fun she’d had ordering Derek, Scott, and Isaac around, Lydia was still feeling out of sorts. She wasn’t entirely sure what was wrong with her. But she hadn’t felt this forlorn since Jackson left over a year ago.

Lydia wanted nothing more than to be strong for Stiles so she could help him she just wasn’t sure how to and that killed her because he’d always been there to help her when she needed it. Lydia sighed and gripped the kitchen door turning the knob and pushing it open.

She spotted Scott’s mom near the stove as she closed the door behind her. “Hi, Ms. McCall,” she greeted placing her purse down on one of the chairs and wondering where Stiles was.

“Hi, Sweetheart,” Melissa greeted her as she pulled a pan of lasagna out of the stove. “How’s Derek?’ she asked curiously, glancing at Lydia over her shoulder. She still wondered what he’d called Scott about needing help.

“He’s good. I had the boys repaint his apartment today,” she said stepping further into the room and slipping her hands into the pockets of her dress, “It looks nice. We added some curtains and cleaned up. It’s looking a lot more like an apartment now. I even had them plaster up the huge hole in the brick wall.” They’d argued with her about it, but in the end it made the most sense. Lydia explained they could add a door and Derek could make it Cora’s room if she planned to stay. After that he stopped protesting.

Melissa smiled at that, patting her shoulder gently. “That was very considerate of you, Lydia.” She looked toward the living room and then back at her. “I think they’re finishing up a movie right now if you want to join them. Or you’re welcome to stay here with me.”

Lydia titled her head to the side, “They?” She asked confused. There was no way Scott had beat her home. He was staying to help Derek and Isaac clean up the rest of the paint and things. He’d said he’d meet her back at Stiles house.

“Oh.” She paused. “Stiles and Derek’s sister Cora.”

Lydia arched an eyebrow, “Cora’s still here?” She asked, but obviously that was a stupid question since Scott’s mom had just said she was. It had been hours, she’d been gone most of the day. Lydia swallowed hard pushing away the immediate jealousy that sparked in her chest, “You know I don’t want to bother them,” she said keeping her voice light, “I think maybe I’ll just go do some homework.” She told Ms. McCall.

“Sweetheart.” Melissa reached out and laid a hand on her arm, hesitating for a moment. “This probably isn’t any of my business, but Stiles loves you.” She gazed at Lydia intently. “I’m not talking puppy love.”

Lydia opened her mouth, but closed it almost immediately not sure how to respond. It was rare that she was at a loss for words. “He used to,” she said her voice quiet. “Things are different now,” she paused at the sound of laughter coming from the living room and Lydia was pretty sure that hurt worse than anything else.

She and Scott had been trying for weeks to make Stiles relax enough to let his guard down and while they’d had their fun moments, he hadn’t laughed like that in a while. “Maybe it’s for the best. We’re friends and I’m,” her words cut off, emotions building in her chest rapidly and for once they were hers. Lydia felt her heartbeat pick up speed and she closed her eyes briefly. “Stiles shouldn’t have to wait for someone who isn’t sure what she feels. It’s not fair to him.” Lydia whispered even though she was pretty sure she knew what she wanted despite the fact that she couldn’t seem to admit it out loud.

Melissa smiled softly, shaking her head and pulling Lydia closer to her. “Did you know that Stiles has never had an actual crush on anyone except for you?” And if he had, it hadn’t been strong enough that he’d ever mentioned it to her or even to Scott, because if Stiles had mentioned it to Scott, she would’ve heard about it. “Ever since the third grade, the only girl he’s ever been interested in, in that way is this beautiful strawberry blonde with green eyes, fair skin and a smile that lights up the room.”

She pursed her lips and looked at Lydia. “I know it’s a scary step. But Stiles...he won’t make the first move, Lydia. He just won’t.” She tucked some hair behind Lydia’s ear. “Besides. Stiles and Cora are way too much alike for anything romantic. They get along well as friends, but trust me when I say that’s all that’s going on out there.”

Lydia didn’t realize she was crying until she felt the tears sliding down her cheeks. She glanced down embarrassed not used to being so emotional even though lately it seemed like that was all she was doing. But Ms. McCall’s words made her chest tight. Lydia didn’t think now was the right time to make a move...not that she was even sure how to go about that with Stiles...he wasn’t like every other guy.

Lydia brushed the tears away from her eyes and shifted her gaze until she was looking at Ms. McCall, “You know, I see why Stiles loves you so much. You’re kind of like the perfect mom.” She told her with a watery smile. Lydia felt the familiar stirrings of worry inside of her, but it wasn’t hers. It was Stiles and she wondered what exactly he was worried about.

A short chuckle escaped Melissa. “Oh I am far from the perfect mom. At the end of the day, I make just as many mistakes as everyone else,” she said sincerely. She wrapped her arms around Lydia in a hug. “It’s all going to be okay, Lydia. It’s taking time, but it will be,” she said softly. “You just have to believe.”

Lydia hesitated for a second before wrapping her arms around Ms. McCall and returning the hug. She couldn’t even remember the last time her own mother hugged her. It made her feel younger somehow. “Thank you,” she whispered, “I think I kind of needed that and didn’t even realize it.” Lydia admitted.

“Sweetie, you’re welcome,” she said quietly, rubbing her back gently. “You know. You and I should do something soon. Just the two of us.” She pulled away to look at Lydia. “You mean a lot to both of my boys, and I want to get to know you better.”

Lydia was surprised by Ms. McCall’s words and even more surprised by her own response to them. “I’d really like that.” She said softly, half a smile pulling at her lips.

Melissa smiled softly. “Good. Then why don’t we plan something for after school on Monday. I have the day off, and Michael is working the day shift.” The two of them had worked it out so one of them was always there in case Stiles needed them.

Lydia nodded. “That sounds good,” she said softly with half a smile the sound of Stiles and Cora talking getting louder. Lydia glanced towards the hallway and swallowed heavily knowing they must be making their way in their direction.

Melissa gently squeezed her arm. “Dinner’s nearly ready,” she informed all three of them. “Will you be joining us Cora?”

“Hey, you’re back.” Stiles smiled at Lydia. “How long have you been here?”

Lydia caught Stiles’ gaze and returned his smile with a hesitant one of her own. “Just a couple of minutes,” she told him her gaze shifting to Cora briefly.

Cora held Lydia’s gaze for a second before glancing at Scott’s mom. “I should actually get going and check on my brother.” She admitted, “But thanks,” she offered the older a woman a smile.

Melissa smiled softly. “All right. It was nice meeting you, Cora.”

The tension in the room was obvious and Stiles glanced between the two teenage girls, feeling slightly awkward. “Thanks for coming over,” he told Cora.

Cora’s gaze shifted to Stiles and her expression softened, a small grin pulling at her lips, “Anytime, I had fun,” she said poking him gently. “I’ll see you soon.” Her eyes flickered back over to Melissa. “It was nice meeting you too.” She said as she stepped forward her gaze shifting over to Lydia. “Finally give my brother a rest?” She asked.

Lydia arched an eyebrow, “For today.” She told Cora, “Not that I heard him complaining.” She added her tone bored.

Cora’s eyes lifted to the ceiling, “I still can’t believe my brother’s fallen under the Lydia Martin spell.” She said with a slight huff still trying to figure out what the hell had happened while she was gone to make so much change.

Lydia smirked, “Hmm I’m going to take that as a compliment.” She said amused. “Having trouble finding the door? I could help.”

Cora shook her head and chuckled, “Someone’s testy.”

Lydia tilted her head, “And someone’s trying my patience.”

Cora nodded. “I’ll see you later,” she said again over her shoulder to Stiles before heading for the door and pulling it open.

Stiles blinked a few times, trying to figure out what exactly he’d missed. But the one thing he definitely hadn’t missed was that Cora thought that Lydia and Derek were…together. Were they? He wondered, trying not to be bothered by the thought when he had no right to be. He and Lydia were friends. Good friends and that was it. It was all they’d ever been and nothing had changed. But her and Derek? He felt kind of nauseated at the thought. He tried to cheer himself up by reminding himself that at least Derek was a good guy, and at least Lydia wasn’t a psycho killer so he supposed if they found happiness together, he’d find a way to deal with that. Somehow.

“Okay then,” Stiles mumbled as Cora left and he shot a look at Ms. McCall because he had no idea what he’d missed apparently.

Melissa sent him a sympathetic look and reached over squeezing his shoulder lightly. “Why don’t you two go cleanup for dinner,” she said catching Stiles gaze and nodding towards Lydia. Stiles seemed confused and little upset and she knew Lydia was upset. They needed to talk; it was the only way to work out whatever was going on with them.

Stiles nodded a little and glanced at Lydia sideways as they headed up the stairs. “Is uh...everything okay?” he asked warily. Because she was definitely upset. And yeah, he knew that she and Cora didn’t like each other, but that was more intense than usual.

Lydia glanced back at Stiles, her teeth sinking into her lower lip as she nodded. “Of course...why wouldn’t I be?” she asked keeping her tone light while walking up the stairs beside him. “Everything okay with you?” She inquired before he could answer her first question.

Stiles cocked an eyebrow at how quickly she asked a second question. He reached out and put a hand on her arm. “Seriously, Lydia. You’re upset. And you can say you’re not but...I can feel it. You’re pissed off.”

Lydia paused. She hadn’t realized he could feel that. She pursed her lips. “Cora and I just don’t get along,” she said with a shrug, “That’s all. She...bothers me.” She admitted honestly leaving out the why.

“Okay, I get that. I mean she did threaten to rip your tongue out that one time. And she can be...verbally aggressive.” Hell she could be physically aggressive for that matter. But she was a Hale, after all. “But she’s not a bad person. I mean you know that right?”

Lydia glanced at Stiles fighting her automatic urge to get annoyed that he was defending Cora. Of course he was defending her. She was his friend and that’s what Stiles did. He was loyal that way. “Mmhm.” She said as she stopped walking outside the door to Stiles room. “I never said she wasn’t.” Lydia told him. “We just don’t get along.” She explained. “Did you have a good time today?”

Stiles felt the moment she felt the surge of annoyance and he felt when she suppressed it. It kind of hurt. He raked a hand through his hair, not sure what to do about it. “Yeah, it was fine. We just watched some dumb movies.”

Lydia nodded and hesitated a second before reaching out and brushing her hand against his arm, “I’m glad you had a nice time,” she said her words genuine. She didn’t like that spending time with Cora seemed to relax him more than spending time with her, but she was glad that he was relaxed. Stiles needed that.

He reached up and took her hand in his. “What were you guys up to at Derek’s?” he asked, trying not to sound jealous, just curious.

Lydia threaded their fingers together. “I figured since Derek was staying in town he should have a proper place to live. That loft is terrible, drafty and dark...isolated.” She paused and shrugged, “So I thought it would be a nice idea to fix it up, make it a little more livable for him because god knows Derek would never do it for himself,” she said with a sigh feeling a slight twinge in her stomach, not entirely sure what the feeling was.

Stiles nodded at that, not terribly surprised that she’d done something like that. “That was really considerate of you. And you’re right. Derek would never bother with it himself.” He paused. “I mean it’s good that he has you.” He squeezed her hand quickly.

Lydia tilted her head, “He has all of us,” she said softly. “I just,” she paused, “He’s been really great. He helped us protect you and then he helped me find my way back so I could help you. And he’s been there for you, me and Scott.” She explained. “I wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone, that he has people who care about him.” Lydia said softly as she brushed her thumb over his hand.

She was right, of course. Derek had somehow become a much larger part of their lives than he once had been, and in a very different role. Almost like a big brother. He nodded again, searching her eyes. “So Scott took off from here to...hang out with you guys?” he asked, trying to put the pieces together. “Like, redecorate his loft?”

Lydia nodded, “It’s a big loft, Derek couldn’t paint it all himself so he called Scott and Isaac. And I told them what to do,” she said with half a smile. “So now his apartment looks better. He still needs some more furniture so that when the pack gets together there’s room for everyone, but it looks more homey.” She told him.

He still wasn’t entirely sure what her relationship with Derek was. Cora had definitely thought there was more going on between them than what Lydia was saying, and he was afraid she wasn’t saying it because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. His chest felt tight. “Oh. That’s good. Hopefully it’ll help him be less moody.”

Lydia frowned at the tightening in her chest. “What’s wrong?” She asked ignoring his words.

Goddamn supernatural empathy, he thought, annoyed. This was not okay. He squeezed her hand gently. “Nothing. Just the usual. Brain not shutting off.”

Lydia sighed releasing his hand and taking a step back, “You’re lying to me and I don’t know why.” She paused, “It bothers me.” She said quietly not able to keep her mouth shut anymore. The last thing she wanted to do was stress Stiles out. It was part of the reason she’d been keeping so much to herself lately, but she hated that there was something clearly bothering him that he wasn’t telling her. She and Stiles were always honest with each other.

It hurt when she pulled away, but he couldn’t blame her. He had lied. How was he supposed to ask her the thing he wanted to ask her without making things between them really weird and awkward? He needed her too much for things to be weird and awkward. You ripped her boyfriend’s heart out with your bare hands. How much more awkward could it possibly get? he thought harshly, wincing and rubbing a hand over his face. “Are you and Derek…?” His voice trailed off, guilt already swirling in his stomach. It wasn’t any of his business.

Confusion crossed Lydia’s face, “Are Derek and I what?” She asked as she felt a swirl of different emotions building inside of her. She did her best to try and distinguish what they were and it was then that realization filled her features. “Stiles,” she shook her head and took a step closer, “You’re an idiot,” she told him softly, her words lacking any bite at all.

She took a deep breath and reached out to him. “Derek is my friend.” She said softly, “He’s like the big brother that I don’t like to admit I always kind of wanted,” She explained. “He protects me, makes me feel safe and is a calming presence when things in my head get to be too much.” Lydia shrugged. “Everyone needs a friend. But there is absolutely nothing romantic going on between us. Neither Derek or I would do that.” Lydia didn’t want Derek. She wanted Stiles, but she wasn’t sure how to go about dealing with that.

And now he was just kind of embarrassed at his assumption. “Right.” He shut his eyes, leaning back against the wall. “Look, I’m sorry, I know it’s not even...it’s not even any of my business, and I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like that.” He swallowed hard, exhaling. “I’m glad that you guys are there for each other.” And he really was. If Derek made things in her head easier -- things that were there because of him, he was grateful.

“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely.

Lydia was quiet for a minute, she could feel his embarrassment and she bit her lower lip. She was silent for a minute debating her next move closely. “I don’t like that I can’t make you laugh like Cora does.” She admitted. “It bothers me that her presence seems to make you feel better than mine does.” Lydia blew out a breath. She was glad he was feeling better or at least had a break from all the ugly things in his head. But Lydia desperately wanted to be that for him, but she didn’t know how. “And now that you’ve seen how completely selfish I am, I’m going to go wash my hands for dinner.” Lydia told him as she started to turn away from him.

The immediate tightening in his chest was painful and he honestly couldn’t distinguish if it was his, or if it was hers, or if it was both combined. He reached out and caught her wrist. “Wait,” he whispered. “Lydia...it’s not that simple.” He swallowed heavily, eyes burning with unshed tears. “It isn’t because you don’t make me feel better.” He shut his eyes. “It isn’t you at all. Okay? The things that -- that that thing made me do.” He swiped a tear off his face quickly, letting go of her wrist.

“It didn’t do anything to her. She wasn’t here. It did nothing to hurt her at all.” He opened his eyes to look at her again, guilt on his face. “But it’s not like that with you. It’s not like that with Scott. Or my dad. And that’s…” He shook his head, pained.

Lydia had to suck in a sharp breath at the emotions running between them. Moisture filled her eyes. “We make you feel guilty.” She said quietly and looked away from him when a tear slipped down her cheek. “You didn’t hurt me.” She said when she glanced back at Stiles. “You didn’t lay a finger on me.” Which was mostly the truth except for that one day in the classroom, but that was her fault.

“And you didn’t hurt Scott, or your dad or Ms. McCall we’re all still here. And yes maybe the Nogitsune tried to hurt us, but we’re still here and we don’t blame you.” She whispered knowing it wasn’t that simple though. Lydia swallowed hard. “If it’s too hard having me here I can go. If that’s what you want...if it’s what you need I’ll go.” She responded her voice quiet.

“No,” Stiles said immediately, shaking his head again. “No, none of you make me feel guilty. I know you guys don’t blame me. I know that. But you can’t honestly say I didn’t hurt you when I killed Aiden. When I wrecked your relationship with Allison. And Scott’s with Isaac. I almost killed Scott and my dad and Allison and I don’t know how to live with that. It’s all I think about. It just plays on this loop in my head and I don’t know how to shut it off. But I’m trying.”

His voice was thick when he spoke again. “I don’t want you to leave. I don’t want any of you to leave, but sometimes I think maybe I should. Sometimes I think…” Tears rolled down his face and he shook his head, closing his eyes.

Lydia closed her eyes trying to push out Stiles’ emotions so she could focus on trying comfort him. When it didn’t work right away she stepped forward anyway and cupped his cheeks. “Leaving won’t help,” she whispered, “You don’t need to be isolated from the people who love you. You need us here.” Lydia swallowed heavily her heartbeat picking up speed.

“If I could take the pain, if I could take away what you were feeling I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Lydia whispered, “No one understands better than me what you’re feeling...what it does to you. But please,” her voice broke, tears sliding down her cheeks. “Please don’t distance yourself from us, from me.” She used her thumb to brush the tears from his face. “You need us...and Stiles we need you. I need you.” She whispered the words. Lydia wanted to tell him, but she couldn’t she wasn’t ready and it wasn’t the right time. Not now. But she needed him to know he was important to her.

Stiles did need them. He needed all of them, and that was part of the problem. He’d put them all through hell and he kept putting them through hell because he couldn’t figure out how to shut it all off. And he knew it was worse for Lydia and for Scott because they could both literally feel his emotions.

He let out a shuddering breath, leaning into her touch and not pulling away. Distantly he heard hesitant footsteps on the stairs and he felt a flicker of awareness without even looking. Scott. He reached out and slid his arms around Lydia in a tight hug, burying his face against her shoulder.

Lydia held onto him tightly, running her fingers through his hair and she tried to keep herself together, but it was hard. She heard a creak on the steps and her gaze shifted to the stairs, but she didn’t let go of Stiles.

Scott stepped onto the landing and swallowed hard his chest tight. He hadn’t meant to overhear them. But the second he got home he felt their distress and he’d come to see what was going on. Stiles words had made his chest tight.

He stepped forward hesitantly not wanting to intrude, but when he saw Lydia pull one hand from Stiles and hold it out in his direction he came willingly and folded his arms around both of them.

Stiles let go of Lydia with one arm so he could wrap it around Scott and enfold him into the hug, too, his tears blurring with Lydia’s as they both cried. The added steady presence of his best friend helped soothe his frazzled nerves and he wondered how the hell he’d gotten lucky enough to have these people in his life at all. Eventually his tears began to slow as he held onto the two of them tightly, trying to remember back to before he’d felt so broken. Before the possession, before the sacrifices, before the alpha pack. He’d been frayed for a long time and he was tired of feeling damaged.

Eventually he let go of them, leaning back against the wall. How many tears could a person shed before their insides shriveled up the rest of the way? He was afraid he was going to end up finding out. This had to stop, somehow. He thought briefly of the pills that were sitting in on his desk, but at the end of the day his memories would still be there. Did he really want to do something that might alter his brain? That might somehow trigger his own genetics to work against him? He couldn’t put his dad through that. He couldn’t put any of them through that.

“Remember that meditation thing we were talking about?” he asked Scott, voice wavering only a little.

Scott nodded reaching out and squeezing his friend’s shoulder. “We can start tomorrow.” He said right away, “Or whenever you want.” He added wanting Stiles to know he was there for whatever he needed.

“I think maybe we should all try it,” Stiles admitted. “Together and separately.” He looked at Lydia. “What do you think?”

Lydia glanced between them and then nodded. “It couldn’t hurt,” She said. If Stiles wanted her to meditate, she would meditate her ass off.

“At this point, there’s not much I’m not willing to try so if you guys are looking for a threesome, you better jump on the train right now,” he said sardonically.

Lydia couldn’t help the laugh that tumbled from her throat. She covered her mouth when Scott snorted. “If you’re on the train count me in,” she said softly.

“Somehow I don’t think my almost girlfriend would appreciate a threesome,” he joked his chest loosening slightly, “I’m on board too though.” He said his expression turning serious.

A soft laugh escaped Stiles when they both agreed even if they were kidding. Because somehow it made him feel more like his old self, even if it was just briefly. “Hell, invite her too. We’ll just make it a pack bonding experience.” He reached out and hugged Scott again, and then let him go so he could hug Lydia once more, as well.

Scott grinned, “She’ll be happy to come...plus she’s making you a cake.” Scott told him as he patted his friend’s back. “Mom said dinner is almost ready she wanted me to see where you guys were,” he said, “Think you’ll be coming down? Or I can just bring some stuff up here when I’m done eating,” he suggested.

Lydia glanced at Stiles as she slid her hand into his again, needing the extra contact.

Stiles looked at Lydia for a moment. “I think I’m gonna just lie down for awhile.” He was pretty wiped out. “It won’t hurt her feelings right?” He looked back at Scott with worried eyes.

Scott smiled and shook his head. “It won’t, you know it won’t. She’ll just make you a plate and save it for later,” he said with a grin. He patted his friend on the back glancing between him and Lydia. “I’ll see you guys in a little bit.”

Stiles nodded, watching as his best friend headed downstairs. Then he turned back to look at Lydia. “Do you want to go eat with them?” he asked uncertainly.

Lydia shook her head. “I want to stay with you,” she paused, “If you don’t mind company in bed.” She said holding his gaze.

“No, I don’t mind company, especially not when it’s you.” His voice was soft.

Lydia smiled and stepped back tugging his hand gently as she walked backwards into Stiles’ bedroom. “That’s good to know,” she responded her voice just as soft. Lydia toed off her heels, the action dropping her down about four inches, her gaze still on Stiles.

Stiles followed her inside the room, not shutting the door. He didn’t have shoes of his own to take off since he hadn’t gone anywhere. He motioned for her to crawl into the bed first and when she had, he slid in under the covers beside her, leaving enough room for Scott whenever he showed up. “Hey, so...I wanted to talk to you about something else,” he said softly.

Lydia shifted closer to Stiles, seeking out his warmth, “Hmm?” She said while resting a hand on his arm. She’d worry about changing out of her dress later. Right now she just wanted him to hold her and relax.

“This was probably really out of line for me to do without mentioning it to you first, but...I talked to my dad.” His voice was quiet. “He said it’s okay if you stayed here from now on. I mean, if you want to. I mean, you’ve practically been living here anyway, you know? So it just makes sense.”

Lydia blinked confusion crossing her face momentarily before she opened her mouth. “You,” she paused, “What?” Lydia’s eyebrows arched considerably higher than normal. “You want me to live here...with you and your dad?” She asked wanting to make sure she understood what Stiles was saying.

“Well...yeah.” He raised his eyebrows, turning his head to look at her. “I mean we have a guest room and there’s plenty of space. I mean, I know it’s not your house, but Prada can stay too and we can pretty much work out the rest.”

Lydia studied Stiles for a minute. He was serious. He wanted her to stay there with him and his dad. “Why?” She asked softly.

There were so many ways to answer that question, but only one that was the utmost truthful. “Because the thought of you there by yourself all the time, alone...it kills me,” he whispered.

Lydia swallowed hard, her chest tightening at his words. She wanted to tell him how much his words meant to her, how they made her feel, but Lydia wasn’t sure how. She reached out and cupped his cheek. “You’re always looking out for me.” She told him softly, holding his gaze. “Can I still stay in here with you?” She asked quietly.

Stiles sighed at that. “Conditionally. Either I have to be having nightmares or Scott has to be here with us. Those were Dad’s two main rules.” He looked up at her intently.

Lydia sent him a thoughtful look, “I guess Scott’s going to have to move in too huh?” She asked as she hesitantly shifted closer to him. “I bet the sheriff didn’t say anything about you sleeping in the guest room with me,” she joked. But the truth was the sheriff and Ms. McCall had been extremely nice to her and she wouldn't want to do anything to upset them.

A short chuckle escaped him involuntarily. “Not going to protest either of those possibilities.” He lifted a hand up, tucking some hair behind her ear. “So you think you’re gonna move in and become an official part of the Stilinski family?”

Lydia couldn’t help the slight flutter that moved through her stomach at his words. “You sure you and your dad want to adopt me,” she joked, “I’m sort of a hand full.”

“Let’s face it. If my dad can handle me, you’re a piece of cake.” He smiled faintly.

Lydia was quiet for a second, “I probably couldn’t find a better family to be a part of,” she told him softly. Lydia let out a short breath. “Okay,” She gave him a small smile. “Thanks for looking out for me Stiles.”

Short of Scott’s family, Stiles agreed with the sentiment. “Lydia, I…” He hesitated. “I’m always going to try to look out for you. Just like I know you’re always going to try to look out for all of us. Like Scott does.”

Lydia pressed her lips together and ran a hand down Stiles arm before tugging it over her body. “I am,” she agreed. She was quiet for another minute, “Stiles?” she said his name softly as she rested a hand against his chest.

“Yeah?” he asked quietly as he rubbed her back gently.

Lydia kept her eyes on his shirt her hands picking at the material as she spoke. “Remember how we were talking earlier and you asked me,” she hesitated and then pushed on, “you asked me about Derek and then said it wasn’t any of your business?” She inquired softly.

He held his breath. “Yeah?” He chewed his lower lip for a moment, not sure what she was about to say.

“I just,” Lydia paused, “It is your business.” She told him quietly. “I just wanted you to know that.” She told him before ducking her head and pressing herself into his side enjoying the comfort of his body near hers.

Stiles swallowed hard, tightening his arm around her a little. He wasn’t entirely sure what she meant, though he was starting to get an idea. It made his chest feel warm. He pressed a tender kiss to the top of her head. “Okay,” he whispered.

“Okay,” Lydia repeated, her heart beating a little on the quick side as she closed her eyes and relaxed into him. It wasn’t what she wanted to say, but for now it was all she had.

Stiles relaxed, too, but he was still half-awake when he felt Scott slide into the covers beside him awhile later. He turned his head toward his best friend with a small smile on his face. “How was the lasagna?”

Scott groaned, “Delicious,” he said with a happy sigh. Plus it had been nice to talk with his mom and the sheriff a bit and catch up with them. “She put aside a plate for you and Lydia in case you’re hungry later.” He lifted his head a few times getting comfortable. Scott glanced over at his friend and Lydia. “She already out?” He asked quietly.

He smiled at that a bit more. He knew that Ms. McCall made a mean lasagna. Maybe he’d be able to stomach it later. “Yeah.” His voice was quiet. He hesitated a moment, then reached out and curled his free hand around Scott’s arm.

Scott tilted his head in Stiles direction and relaxed against the mattress, “Everything okay?” He asked trying to see if he could sense anything off in his friend’s emotions.

Stiles nodded as he felt himself relaxing the rest of the way now, too. “Yeah. Lydia’s moving in. My dad okayed it and she needs to be here.”

Scott arched an eyebrow, “She said yes,” he stated and nodded, “I’m not surprised.” He was silent for a minute, “Lydia seemed a little distracted today at Derek’s,” Scott had made the mistake of bringing up Cora and asking Derek about her being back, which had set Lydia off. Though, that didn’t really surprise him either. It seemed their red haired friend was getting a bit possessive of his best friend. Scott wondered if Stiles had noticed the change or if he was just too lost in his whole ‘it’s never going to happen’ mentality to notice.

Stiles could practically see the wheels turning in Scott’s mind. He shifted just a little so he could look at his friend better. “Cora thought there was something going on between her and Derek. Something aside from friendship.” He chewed his lower lip. “It’s sort of what started the whole…” He lifted his hand off Scott’s arm long enough to motion to the door.

Scott nodded. “I can understand how Cora might have jumped to that,” Scott admitted, “Believe it or not I think Derek really cares about Lydia. Genuinely,” he said with half a smile. “But after spending the day with them it’s more than clear that it’s not the romantic kind of caring.” He was silent for a minute gathering his thoughts, “You know...they actually reminded me of you and me a little bit today.” Scott grinned and nudged Stiles gently.

“I think Lydia brings Derek out of the darkness...forces him out of it more accurately, but he lets her. And he gives her strength when she doesn’t realize she needs it. It was strange to see them working in an odd sort of unison, but also kinda nice.” Scott admitted.

“But for the record, even though Derek won’t admit it he considers both of us his friends and he wouldn’t do that to you. He’s nothing if not loyal.” He patted his friends shoulder. “Lydia wouldn’t either you know. I think she’s pretty content right where she is,” he said softly letting his eyes fall to the red head in question who was resting against Stiles, her breathing steady.

“No, I believe that, too.” He remembered all the days that Derek had sat with Lydia in the hospital before she woke up. Lydia had a way of being able to pull people out of the darkness even if they were drowning in it.

He considered Scott’s words for a moment, making a note to visit Derek soon. He didn’t know how exactly to extend the kind of friendship that he shared with Scott and Lydia to Derek, but he was going to make an effort. Then he caught the rest of Scott’s words and he drew in a breath, looking down at Lydia for a moment. “Yeah, I think...you might be right.”

Scott smirked, a low chuckle escaping him. “Trust me, I’m right. I’ve spent almost as much time with Lydia lately as you have.” he told his friend as he stared at the ceiling. “And apparently mom and her are going to have a little girls day out after school tomorrow. She wants to get to know Lydia better.” Scott closed his eyes and smiled. “This is going to sound bad man, but I kind of like us all being together. I haven’t felt this much like a family in a long time.” He said quietly.

Stiles rolled his head to look at his best friend, a faint smile touching his mouth again. “Yeah. Yeah, me too, Dude.” He reached out and laid his hand on Scott’s arm again, feeling sleep beginning to tug at him.

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