Summary: Lydia takes some time apart from Stiles to grieve their friends deaths and figure out her feelings for the brown-eyed boy, only to come back to find another girl had swooped in and won his affection.

Jealous!Lydia comes out to play, but it ended up being more Insecure/Sad!Lydia than I originally planned. I just dove into her character more than I thought I would and it transformed this into a huge thing. I considered splitting it in two but felt that it was just better as a single unit, however lengthy. Hope you all don't mind :) Some other beloved characters are present, but it takes place post-3x24.

The rating is high for the content, but I do curse once, sorry :/ And some things I just felt I better be safe rather than sorry about.

First time posting in the Teen Wolf fandom on FF but I had a request from someone on tumblr to post this on here :) Hope you all enjoy! The response I got on tumblr has blown me away, so here's hoping you all will like it too! Thank you so very much for taking the time to read! Let me know your thoughts if you can :)

I do not own Teen Wolf.

Lydia wasn't an idiot.

That wasn't even referring to her IQ—which was admirably high on its own—but she had blessed with a decent amount of common sense and so-called 'street smarts'.

So she knew that Stiles Stilinski's feelings for her had been unrequited for many years and that she had made no indication that she felt the same way or even could feel the same way. Ever since he had come into her life, they had been friends only, save for one panic-attack-halting kiss.

She still was trying to convince herself that that was a perfectly acceptable method to stop hyperventilation. It worked, didn't it? Sure, she could've just asked him to hold his breath, but who knows if he would have listened. The element of surprise was key.

Yes. Exactly. Totally acceptable method.

Despite their kiss that she'll admit probably lasted longer than it needed to, they had remained friends-only. It was crazy to think that if Allison had never come to Beacon Hills, she might not have ever known Stiles or Scott or about the supernatural. Of course, she might still have been attacked by Peter and been a Banshee and become intertwined in their lives that way but…

There was no need to dwell on the past or what ifs. The point was, her appreciation for Stiles Stilinski had grown over the months of befriending him and Scott and diving into the supernatural world with their 'pack'. It hadn't taken long for her to enjoy being around him—it was hard not to like being around someone who looked at her in such a way, who boosted her up like praising her was second nature, and who seemed absolutely blind to her many glaringly obvious faults. Lydia had waited for the novelty to wear off, for Stiles to see her for what she was and get bored, but he still looked at her like he always had.

Maybe it had changed a little. As they became closer friends, they both brought down some walls. Stiles was still his goofy self but he relaxed around her, didn't worry so much about impressing her and was more content to just act naturally and talk with her instead of worrying about what she thought about what he said. Once he did that, she discovered just how smart he really was, and how interesting.

Lydia, on the other hand, stopped being so concerned with fitting the image of the girl on the pedestal and was herself more around a boy than she ever had been. She found Stiles really easy to talk to, about more than just the supernatural craziness or regular small talk but her insecurities and concerns and ambitions. The way he talked about her it was clear that he believed firmly in her, that she could achieve anything she wanted, and she began wondering what she had ever done to deserve such a strong supporter.

Over time, things got crazier in the supernatural world but Stiles was the one constant she could rely on. He was more than just her research buddy—he was her partner in the crazy world.

When the nogitsune had taken over his body a few months ago, it had been hard on everyone. Lydia had to watch the guy she was beginning to fall for deteriorate at an alarming rate, and there was a time when no one, not even Stiles, thought he would survive. Scott, of course, refused to lose Stiles and they ended up being able to defeat the trickster spirit and give Stiles back his body and life. It was the feeling of relief when he woke up after the nogitsune disappeared that woke Lydia up to her feelings for him. She had been trying to deny them as much as she could before then, but things had changed too much for her to keep up the act.

In the following weeks, as they all grieved the deaths of Allison and Aiden, Lydia spent a lot of time with Stiles. He had been the first one to make her laugh after everything happened. She remembered being dressed in loose, casual clothing that she wouldn't be caught dead in in front of a boy before, her hair piled in a messy bun on top of her head, and she and Stiles were working on homework since they had fallen tragically behind because of all the craziness. She couldn't even remember what he had said—all she remembered was looking over at him from her spot next to him on his bed for a long moment, and then cracking up completely. She laughed so hard tears streaked down her cheeks and she buried them in his shoulder as her body shook with something besides sobs for the first time in a long time. Stiles had affectionately kissed her forehead and hugged her tight and she remembered feeling at complete peace.

It had been hard to leave him that night, and it had been even harder not to kiss him goodbye. But Lydia didn't wanted to start something in the middle of dealing with all of the emotional stuff. It wasn't fair to either of them, and she wanted to make sure both of them were getting into something they were comfortable with. She would hate for Stiles to believe that her judgment was clouded because of her grief; he deserved better than that after everything. When she and Stiles got together, she wanted it to be perfect. She knew, for him, it had been such a long time coming, and she figured that maybe she could be the pedestal girl for one shining moment.

But now it had been a while since Lydia had seen him and she hadn't meant to shut him out or neglect their friendship. Dealing with both Allison's and Aiden's death had been far from easy, and after spending the first few weeks relying on Stiles, she wanted to take some space. It was important that she find her own footing too, as much as she appreciated all the support he offered, and she knew that she needed to work out for her feelings for him too. If she was around him all the time, it would only make it harder to decipher exactly how she was feeling. She was pretty sure she had been falling for him for a while, but this way she could separate everything and get a better focus on what to do about them.

Stiles had seemed to understand her need for space and didn't push her, likely knowing that when she was ready she would come to him. And Lydia couldn't ask for anything better.

The problem was, in her absence, she hadn't realized that he had filled his free time with another girl.

Maybe Lydia was an idiot, for thinking that the novelty of his admirable image of her would never rub off when it had taken so long already, because she actually found herself completely blind-sided when she had gone to his house for the first time in weeks to find him in the company of another.

It was the Sherriff who answered the door but he was on the phone, so he smiled and gestured her inside, instructing orders into the phone as he pointed towards the living room to indicate where his son was. Lydia was happy to see that, despite his business, Stiles' dad looked much more relaxed than she had seen him in months. They all were finally moving on from the nogitsune madness that had nearly taken the life of his son and she was glad to see that he looked to be getting the proper amount of sleep nowadays.

Lydia adjusted her dress and hair and continued on her way down the hall. She heard Stiles' signature goofy laughter and was surprised to hear another person's mixed in. And then she heard a distinct bark.

Rounding the corner into the room, Lydia saw that Stiles and Malia were playing with some sort of mixed breed dog—it looked like a cross between a shepherd and a lab. It had medium length tan fur with black and brown markings throughout, and it was clearly very affectionate as it was licking Stiles' face and trying to convince him to grab the rubber ball he had left for him.

Both teens were beaming and teasing the canine but looked up in surprise at the visitor.

"Lydia. Hey!" Stiles greeted with a smile before being knocked over by the dog.

Malia laughed. "Scooter, manners please! We've been over this! No more knocking over Stiles." she said, dragging the dog off the teenage boy by his red collar.

Lydia was not oblivious to the affection laced through Malia's pronunciation of Stiles' name nor the way her eyes lingered on him before swiveling back to Lydia.

"Sorry… new puppy. Brought him over to meet Stiles and he hasn't really been on his best behaviour since we got here." she said through her laughter as the dog tried to burst out of her arms to greet Lydia.

The one thing she was grateful for was that at least Malia managed to restrain him from barrelling her down. She liked dogs just fine, having one of her own and all, but she wasn't a big fan of the big boisterous ones. Apparently Stiles was the opposite.

So Malia and Stiles were buddies now? Buddies that shared their new puppies right away? She knew that the two of them got along and had bonded a bit but she never imagined that Malia was that close with Stiles. Stiles had been fundamental in her rescue, one he admitted later she had voiced she hadn't wanted in the first place, and now they were, what, a thing? She hadn't missed the way Stiles had been eying her in return. And anyone with eyeballs could tell that Malia was a beautiful girl.

But, you know, so what if they were closer, right? It didn't mean Stiles had forgotten all about Lydia and what they had.

"You know, if you were half this nice to Prada, she'd probably like you more." Lydia teased Stiles, leaning against the door frame as Stiles threw the rubber ball for the dog. Thankfully the shepherd mix was more concerned with the moving target than the newcomer so Lydia was safe from slobber and excited scratches.

Stiles rolled his eyes. "Your dog is evil, Lydia. She only likes you."

Malia giggled at his joke, and he cast an affectionate smile in her direction. It was like Lydia wasn't even there.

She felt a sudden punch to her heart and knew she had to leave. They were definitely more than just buddies and she couldn't deal with it right now.

"Scooter, NO!" Malia shouted, extremely unconvincingly in Lydia's opinion, wrestling with the dog who had once again pinned Stiles to the floor to unleash his loving licks on every inch of available skin. Naturally, it meant Malia too had to hover over Stiles to try to wrench the dog off, practically straddling one of his legs, and Lydia felt the ugly green dragon come out to play.

"Malia, since Scooter is a dog, can't you, like, talk to it or something and get it to listen to you?"

The dog was now off Stiles, and he sent her a disapproving look, like he couldn't believe she had actually asked that. "Lydia!"

Lydia couldn't help but glower a little in his direction, but tried to feign innocence. "What? There's got to be benefits from being a coyote for half your life and I think dog obedience should be one of them."

Malia didn't seem so bothered. Her eyes changed to something resembling a dog in a fight and Lydia remembered that maybe she should watch herself a little more. This was a girl that had torn apart her own family under the influence of a full moon.

"I'm trying to have a dog the old-fashioned way, you know, getting it to respect me as its owner not its pack leader." Malia replied evenly. "But maybe I should help you with your dog, if it has so many behavioural issues."

Lydia had to supress a smile. Malia may not have dealt with high school drama and bitchy girls growing up, but she had been in the wild and knew how to survive. Lydia had to respect her for that.

Stiles was looking at Malia apologetically, like Lydia was some misbehaving child that couldn't help herself, despite the fact that Malia had just thrown shade in her direction too, and Lydia knew her time at the Stilinski residence was up.

"I'll keep that in mind. Anyways, you guys have fun. I'm sorry for interrupting. I'll see you at school."

Stiles seemed to realize suddenly that he hadn't been paying very much attention to her since she arrived. "Wait, Lydia, you stopped by for a reason—"

"I was just in the neighbourhood. Don't worry about it. I'll see you both later. And Malia, I'm sorry if what I said was insensitive. Sometimes I can't control my filter." she said honestly, feeling a little bad now for her jab. Malia had never done anything to Lydia besides be nice to her. Who was she to come in firing shots?

If the strawberry-blonde was being fair, Malia was allowed to develop feelings for Stiles. Malia was allowed to befriend him and then see how special he was and go for it. Lydia knew she shouldn't take her anger at herself for taking so long to figure out how she felt on the girl who had no idea what 'thing' she and Stiles had had brewing over the last few months. And it was clear Stiles was more than happy for her to feel that way about him, so Lydia supposed she better suck it up and be happy for them. That's what a true friend would do. Actually, that's what Stiles had done for her and Jackson, and her and Aiden. He respected her dating other guys, and he respected those guys even though he was less than enthusiastic about her choices.

Lydia made her way to the door, not surprised to find that Stiles didn't follow to try to convince her to stay, or offer any kind of farewell, and Malia and his laughter took off again followed by their voices.

"Does she always dress like a fashion model?" Malia asked him in a hushed tone.

Lydia waited for his response in curiosity, wondering if he'd jump in to defend her, saying that she knew how to make herself look beautiful, or that looking like a model came naturally to her, or something resembling the usual way he overpraised her to others.

"That's just the way Lydia is." Stiles said amusedly.

Was he… was he mocking her? Or was it just an affectionate tease? Lydia wasn't sure how to tell the difference anymore. And the next sound from the living room sounded remarkably like lip friction and a tear fell from her eye as she quickened her pace to get out of the house.

"Lydia! Leaving so soon? It's been a while since we've seen you." the Sherriff's friendly voice came as he came down the stairs, this time without a phone in hand.

Lydia brushed away her tears the best she could before plastering on the most sincere smile she could manage, but the second they met eyes she knew he didn't buy it.

"Hi, Mr. Stilinski. And yeah, I'm sorry it's been so long, a lot has been going on."

"Of course. I know Stiles has missed having you around as much."

On cue, another joined laugh sounded from the living room and they both glanced in that direction.

Lydia bit her lip to keep it from trembling.

"I'm sure he has." she said flatly, her attempts at making it sound genuine failing miserably. "Anyways, I'm sorry, I'm late, so I should go."

"Lydia…" he began sympathetically, obviously knowing, much like his son would if he was paying attention, that she was incredibly upset and just trying to hide it.

"It's nothing, sir. Thanks for having me." she whispered quickly, a few tears splashing down her cheeks now and she rushed to her car as fast as she could.

Lydia threw her car in drive and raced out of the street, stopping several blocks away to hunch over her steering wheel and cry. Had she really lost Stiles before she even had him?

After the Malia/Scooter incident, Lydia decided it was best she steered clear of the Stilinski boy from then on. Things were calm in the supernatural world, for the time being, and Lydia was more than grateful that she wasn't being thrust into his life to watch him fawn over his new girlfriend.

She hadn't been entirely sure they actually were together, until she saw them kissing by his jeep after school one day. She had been so numb by the exchange that she ended up sitting in her car in the parking lot for hours, until after sundown, before her mother called her in a panic thinking she was dead in a ditch somewhere.

It didn't seem like Stiles was bending over backwards to see her either. Besides the odd smile in the hallway, he barely even noticed her existence.

Maybe she deserved it. Maybe this is what Stiles felt like all those years when she was oblivious to his presence. The constant ignoring and choosing others over him. Maybe she had it coming all along.

But it was different. Stiles had gotten to know Lydia, really gotten to know her, and was now choosing to ignore her. What did that mean exactly? That he had finally figured out that he was too good for her? That she was every bit as shallow and self-absorbed as most people thought she was? She thought she had broken that image, shown him the real her and that he only cared more deeply for her now, but clearly she was played a fool.

Lydia jumped so high three days after the Stilinski house incident that her books spilled out of her arms. Scott McCall was leaning against the locker next to hers with a smile, catching her completely off guard since he hadn't been there a moment before.

"Jesus CHRIST, McCall! Breathe a little louder next time or something. I do not carry a defibrillator around with me to restart my heart." she said irritably, leaning down to snatch up her books. Scott, always the gentleman, crouched down to help her apologetically.

"Sorry… I just noticed it's been a while since we've talked and wanted to check in on you."

"Been a little too wrapped up with Kira, huh?"

Scott blushed a little but just shrugged. "I guess. We're taking things really slow… things haven't been the same since um… but I'm trying. Mostly I've just been trying to catch up on school stuff."

Lydia knew immediately what he was referring to, why his relationship with Kira was strained and she felt bad for bringing it up. When Allison died, she died in Scott's arms professing her undying love for him while he fell apart. It would put a strain on any relationship, knowing that your boyfriend lost his first love that he clearly still had feelings for in such a tragic, heartbreaking way. Lydia had always assumed Allison and Scott would get back together one day, but Allison hadn't even lived to graduate high school, so that was a pipe dream.

"Allison adored Kira, you know. All you can do is try, Scott. I'm sure Kira understands." she said sympathetically, closing her locker door with a snap and walking with him down the hall. "If there's anything school-wise you need help with, I can try to lend you a hand."

Scott lit up at that idea. "Really? Because there is this partner assignment in Calculus and we're both so stuck on this one part…"

"Who's your partner?" she asked immediately.


She breathed. "Let's meet at the library later. I'll try to help you guys out."

"You're a lifesaver. I'm sorry I haven't been around much. I know you've been dealing with a lot."

Lydia shook her head dismissively. "Don't be silly. You've had your own demons to face. I'm okay."

Scott held her gaze a second too long, and she knew he didn't believe that she was as okay as she was trying to seem. He didn't say anything though—just sent her a reassuring smile and was on his way.

She watched him go, stiffening when she saw him greet Stiles enthusiastically down the hall, who of course was walking with Malia. They probably had the exact same schedule. They probably spent lunches swapping snacks and making googly eyes over mac and cheese.

Lydia wouldn't know—she had started going home for lunch a few weeks ago, even though it meant with the transportation time that she only had about twenty minutes to make food and eat it before she had to leave again. It was just easier. If she was having a bad day or missing Allison too much, she could cry about it in the privacy of her own home since her mom was gone to work all day.

Not having Allison, or Aiden, or even Jackson anymore, meant her ally list was significantly shortening as well as her other options for lunch mates. She always thought Stiles would be on that list, but since she couldn't be around him right now, and wherever he was, Scott and Kira were too, she knew she was going to have to get used to eating alone.

Malia glanced at Lydia as they passed and forced a smile before slipping her fingers down through Stiles'. Stiles looked down in surprise but didn't separate them, continuing to chat animatedly with her, and Lydia felt like she got punched in the throat. She didn't know if Malia had done that maliciously or not, showing Lydia who the 'alpha' was, but if she had in order to hurt Lydia, she had succeeded.

Shutting her locker with a little more force than necessary, she hurried to her next class even though it wouldn't start for another ten minutes.

Lydia was grateful that she had agreed to help Danny and Scott with their homework. It was the perfect way to spend time with them without other friends hanging around and it gave her a great distraction from her current Stiles saga.

She didn't like being the girl that pined away over the boy. It was unfamiliar territory. It usually didn't take much for her to win a boy's affections, but now, she felt utterly helpless. It made her feel like a deflated balloon or a wilted flower or some other sort of pathetic thing. She didn't know what to do about it either.

She was trying really hard to be the better person, to be indifferent to his new relationship status and worry more about their friendship than their thing—the thing that, based on how they were with each other most days, felt like they were on the very precipice of dating. She rather liked their thing, in fact she loved it, and it barely even mattered because she was pretty sure she had lost both at this rate.

It seemed like Malia had opened Stiles' eyes to what other girls had to offer, and maybe now he realized that Lydia wasn't all that special. Malia clearly made Stiles laugh a lot, and Lydia didn't think she had ever been funny a day in her life. Had she ever made Stiles laugh? He was a funny guy; it only made sense that he'd want someone who made him laugh as much as he made others…

"Lydia, does this answer make sense?" Danny asked, pulling her out of her inner monologue, and she focused on the paper he was pushing towards her.

She scanned the numbers quickly and pushed it back. "You forgot to divide by two up there to get rid of the fraction. Almost though." she added encouragingly, smiling at her long-time friend.

Naturally, when Lydia was feeling a little calmer, the boy who stole her heart came into the library with none other than the coyote girl. Was this a running gag? Did they ever spend time apart? Were they purposely doing this to drive Lydia insane or did they seriously only separate to use the bathroom these days?

"So Stiles and the new girl seem to have hit it off." Danny said conversationally, nodding in their direction, oblivious to Lydia's frantic thoughts and giving her another dose of bile in her throat.

Scott smiled. "Yeah. They became friends before she transferred here. And they've sort of had a thing for a while." He leaned closer. "Don't tell anyone, but they sort of hooked up when they were… staying at the same place one night. They were working together on something and were left alone in a basement with no supervision and well…"

Danny smiled, rolling his eyes in amusement and maybe a little pride that Stilinski had finally scored, and went back to his work.

Lydia, on the other hand, had a much less enthusiastic answer.

She felt the walls come crashing down around her at the new information. She had been hurting before, but it was nothing like now. She knew what Scott was referring to. The night Malia and Stiles were at Eichen House together. And she knew what the slang term 'hooked up' referred to, especially coming out of a teenage boy's mouth.

Stiles laugh rang out from a few tables over and she closed her eyes tightly. That sound used to stitch up her heart—now it cut it open and let it bleed. Her lungs felt like they were filled with wet cement, and her eyes went blurry. There was a rushing in her ears, like she had suddenly plunged into water rapids, and her spastic heart beat loudly to break up the sound.

Stiles had moved on from her long ago. Stiles had stopped waiting for her long ago. He had every right to. Lydia had thought that she would be the one that Stiles lost his virginity to… she planned on taking things super slow and was excited to see his boyish charm shine through his excitement that wow this is actually happening and his loving touches and gentle kisses and she knew he'd spend the entire time making sure she was comfortable and feeling good and…

God, Lydia hadn't even realized she had thought that much about her and Stiles' first time. She didn't realize exactly how much she cared for him, how much she wanted to be that girl, his first. Sex to her had never been this beautiful, loving thing—it was usually a fun, satisfying experience. Done for pleasure or reproduction. But with Stiles… she knew it could be different. It could be what those novels always tried to make it seem like, when you did it with someone you truly loved.

Her chest tightened again. Loved. She loved Stiles. Her feelings for him had grown so much that she could barely keep up, and now she was realizing just how special he was to her in time for her to realize she had lost him. She knew she felt more for him than she had any other boy she had ever fallen for, because she let him in so much more than anyone else, and now… now it was all for naught. She was in love with someone who had moved on from her, someone who had found a new girl to fight the supernatural fight with. He didn't need Lydia anymore. In fact, Malia was a better choice since she could actually defend herself and Stiles. All Lydia could really do was scream and find dead bodies.

It was too much. Lydia felt her composure cracking and she swore every nerve ending in her body was splitting. Everything hurt.

Danny excused himself to the bathroom, and Scott seemed to finally notice the horror on Lydia's face. Her hand was covering her mouth, pushing hard to stop the cries from coming out, and she didn't look like she was even breathing.

"Lydia…?" he asked worriedly, his hand reaching out to touch her arm, and he inhaled sharply in surprise.

Lydia wasn't sure what was wrong at first but then she noticed the black coursing through his hand veins. He had sucked up some of her pain. He probably hadn't even planned on it but maybe she was feeling so much right now that his supernatural instincts were working without him consciously thinking about it.

Lydia knew it was wrong, and cruel, but she didn't move her arm away. And instead of trying to control her feelings, she let them all flow through her at once. Losing Allison, her best friend, and feeling like she was more alone in the world than ever. Seeing Stiles at his house with Malia, all giggles and flirting and puppy love. Running into the Sherriff and getting more sympathy and attention from Stiles' dad than the one she had gone over to see in the first place. Hearing Malia and Stiles kiss, seeing them by his jeep, the handholding in the hallway, the matched schedules, and finally the way it felt to realize that she had been replaced and he had moved on. Stiles had stopped waiting for her, just in time for her to realize that he had been the one she had unknowingly been waiting for her whole life. And just like that her heart broke in two.

Scott gasped again, loud enough that people looked over in alarm or distaste, and Lydia watched in horror as his claws came out and he scratched deeply across the space where his heart was, as if he was trying to take it out of his chest or swipe away the pain that was there. His shirt ripped and red leaked down his torso.

Thankfully, his back was to most people, but Stiles stood up and rushed over, clearly aware that something was up.

Lydia wrenched her arm out of Scott's grasp as he panted from the exertion, his eyes wild with pain and concern.

"Lydia, no, wait…"

"What the hell is going on?" Stiles asked, nearly skidding into the table in his haste. Malia followed, looking concerned since it was clear that Scott was recovering from some sort of painful blast.

Lydia grabbed her bag and swung it over her shoulder, looking at Scott with tears in her eyes. "Oh god, Scott, I'm so sorry. I-I didn't mean to."

"Lydia, it's okay, please stay…" he began weakly, but she was already rushing out of the library as fast as her high heels could take her.

"Lydia, you're leaving…?" Danny asked as she ran by, but she didn't stop to give him a response. She had to get out of there.

Once she got in her car, she wondered why she was running. Stiles wouldn't chase her, except maybe to scold her for hurting his best friend. After all, that's what the majority of their exchanges had been lately. First it was Malia, now it would be Scott.

Good job, Lydia. You're really making him see all the good you have to offer. Lydia mentally chastised herself.

Too frustrated and ashamed to stay at school any longer, Lydia put her car in drive and took off.

She hadn't even realized where she was going until she got there.

Lydia sat down in front of Allison Argent's grave, hugging her knees. She let the near-summer breeze flow through her, tickling her hair and blowing her dress against her legs, before she sighed.

"I wish you were here. I wish I could talk to you about all of this. You'd probably tell me it took me long enough, but you'd be sympathetic and not tease me about it when I'm already feeling so rotten. You'd be unhappy that I let Scott take away my pain when he didn't deserve to feel all of that, but you'd hug me tight anyways."

She tried to swallow around the lump in her throat, hoping that with a few extra breaths her voice wouldn't be so shaky, but it was pointless.

"I really miss you, Allison. I miss your smile and your laugh and the way you didn't make me feel like an idiot even when I was being one. I miss your advice and our talks and your hugs and how you always knew just what to say when I was feeling awful. You made me a better person; you gave me strength that I feel like I'm missing now. I could really use some of that these days."

Lydia picked at a few blades of grass, sighing.

"If you were here, you'd probably tell me to tell him how I feel. I'd tell you it's easier said than done, but you'd put me to shame what with the way you told Scott how much you loved him with your last dying breath. You were always so brave, Ally. I wish I was brave like you. If I was, I wouldn't be in this mess in the first place."

"You'd probably tell me to try to be supportive of him and Malia, since he had always shown me the same courtesy, and that having him as a friend is better than not at all. And you'd be right. And if Malia makes him happy, I should be happy for him. He deserves to be happy. And maybe I was just stupid to think I deserved him because of all we've been through together. I don't know. My imagined advice from you is significantly less effective than your actual advice."

A few tears slipped out. She never imagined going through something like this without Allison. She could really use her best friend right now, but she had lost her and she wasn't coming back.

The wind picked up, cool but then warmed, comforting like a hug. Lydia smiled. If that was a sign from above, she knew Allison was listening and sending her love.

Lydia stayed in the cemetery for god knows how long. She had texted her mom after she left school to tell her she was helping Scott and Danny with homework and then they were going to get food and watch movies, so she shouldn't expect her until late. Lydia just didn't want to go home. She didn't know where she belonged anymore, and here, with Allison, seemed like the only place right now that made sense.

It had only been a couple hours since she had left school when she heard the sound of feet crunching against the ground behind her. She turned to see Stiles walking cautiously up to where she was sitting.

"Hey… I'm sorry. I don't want to, like, interrupt anything. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." he said apologetically, scratching the back of his neck and squinting through the setting sunlight.

Lydia wiped her face quickly and stood up, her heart aching at the sight of his concerned honey eyes. She hadn't seen those aimed in her direction in a while.

"How did you know to look here?" she asked, purposely changing the subject.

He shrugged, rocking back on his heels. "Well, since you left all of your friends at school, I figured this was the first place you'd go. I swung by your house to be sure, and then I thought I'd give you some time with her before I came by."

Lydia looked back at the gravestone, but didn't respond. She wasn't really sure how to answer that.

"Is Scott okay?" she finally asked, looking back at him warily, not sure how he felt about the whole thing. Scott, no doubt, had explained what happened. Even if he wasn't sure where the feelings were coming from, he wasn't an idiot. If he looked back at their conversation before it all went down, he'd know exactly what the source of her pain was. It all came back to the man standing in front of her now.

Stiles simply nodded. "He's fine. His chest healed, like, two seconds later. He's worried about you actually. You, uh… you kind of piled a lot on him."

The way Stiles was standing, so far back and with that wary, unsure look in his eyes made Lydia feel more like a freak than she ever did when she was finding her powers as a Banshee, and that was saying a lot.

Lydia crossed her arms and looked away from his face. "I'll have to call him later and apologize. I really hadn't meant to hurt him. As soon as he started taking it away, it just felt so… relieving, so I let him. And then I couldn't believe what I had done. I'm a monster…"

Stiles took another step forward, shaking his head, and reached out to touch her shoulder. "You are nothing of the sort. But Lydia, what is hurting you so much? I know we've all been through a lot, but it seems like something else is going on. You've been different lately. You're… jumpy and defensive and… I know there's something else going on, I can feel it. And Scott's taken away pain before, but I've never seen him have that kind of reaction before so I know it must have been substantial. What's going on?"

His voice was warm and soft and like the Stiles she knew and loved and it only broke her heart further. She wanted to believe he cared, that she had been misinterpreting the last few weeks, but all that would do was open her heart up for more punches and she couldn't handle that anymore.

Stiles had Malia now. Lydia was just emotional baggage he needed to cut loose from. Lydia felt like she was constantly falling apart at the seams around Stiles, and Malia, who had spent half her life as a coyote and was adjusting to living like a human again, didn't even bat an eyelash. She just seemed so… strong and pulled together. The way Lydia used to feel before werewolves began wreaking havoc around town. And maybe that's exactly what Stiles needed. Maybe that was what drew him to Malia now, that quality that she once had too but now lacked.

She knew she wanted to be with Stiles, that she loved him, but maybe she wasn't what was best for him. Maybe he'd just be better off without her all together.

Lydia pulled away from him finally, passing him to head back to her car. "It's nothing. I should get going. My mom's expecting me."

Stiles didn't let her get far, tugging on her arm to spin her around. "I already talked to your mom, and she said you were at Danny's with Scott doing homework and having a movie marathon and that you wouldn't be back until late. Why are you lying to me, Lydia? Since when do we lie to each other?"

It was such a boyfriend/relationship thing to say that Lydia let out a bark of laughter that could probably rival his coyote girlfriend's.

"Stiles, we've both talked to each other's parents more than we've talked to each other lately! And you seriously think you have a right to call me out on lying to you when you've barely said a word to me in weeks?"

A flash of hurt crossed Stiles' face before he looked ticked off and confused.

"Lydia, you asked for space! Why are you making it seem like I'm the bad guy for giving it to you? I didn't realize that with space comes losing our friendship, losing us all together."

Lydia's hands shook and she balled them into fists at her side. "I asked for space, not to be ignored and forgotten about, okay? And maybe it was selfish of me to want some time to sort through my own feelings rather than pile them on you like some sort of emotional baggage drop-off centre, but I thought that you might, I don't know, actually miss me or something. Which apparently was stupid."

"Who said I didn't miss you? Lydia, I tried my best to respect your space. I don't think you're selfish for taking some time to yourself. But I didn't really know what to do in that kind of situation… I didn't know where the line was or what you wanted. I figured if you wanted to talk to me, you would, but you didn't. So I kept waiting."

Waiting? For what, to show off his new girlfriend to her?

But she started to feel a prickle of shame. He had a point. It had been her who asked for space, not Stiles, and she had told him she'd come to him when she was ready. And besides her stop at the Stilinski residence, she hadn't made as much of an effort to see him even at school due to her mixed feelings on him. It hadn't really been Stiles who had kept them apart—it was her. Stiles was just being a good friend. And yeah, maybe he filled his free hours with another girl, but what else was he supposed to do? Pine after her and drown himself in the loneliness? And Lydia knew Malia needed friends too. Sure, she got more than she bargained for with Stiles, but still. Stiles was a good guy. What kind of person was she, blaming him for all her own stupid decisions?

"Lydia?" Stiles asked, concerned again, and she realized that a few tears had escaped her eyes.

"Sorry I just…" She shook her head, trying to get her thoughts back in order. "I… I've been so completely unfair to you. For so long. I knew I never deserved you, but this… this just makes it that much clearer."

"What are you talking about?" Stiles asked, hands gripping her elbows to pull her closer to him, and she could almost feel his body heat mingling with hers. He was too close.

"Stiles…" she whispered, tears falling freely now. She knew she had to tell him. She knew these feelings inside her couldn't stand being pushed to the side anymore. She felt like she did before she released a banshee scream, like there was this pressure inside her that could only be relieved by screaming loud enough to shatter glass.

"Lydia, please, talk to me. I'm so worried about you." he murmured, hands moving up to caress her face in his hands.

Oh god, he was so gentle with her. He probably touched Malia this way before he leaned down and kissed her.

The harsh reality caused her to wrench back from him so hard he backed up like he had been burned.


"No… you were right. I have no right to be upset with you for living your life without me in it when it was my fault we were apart. I have no right for being upset that you've moved on and replaced me. I'm being entirely self-absorbed."

"Replaced you? Lydia, what—"

"I just thought when I came by your house, you'd get the message that I was done with the space between us. But when you never sought me out after that, I just assumed that you didn't care to…" She had planned on saying it strong and nonchalant, but the last bit came out different than how she practiced in her head. Even she could hear the hollow loneliness in her voice.

Stiles' eyes softened and all traces of confusion were swept away. "You were gone so quick, I just thought that maybe you were dropping something off or just checking in or maybe had a homework question… And when you didn't make any effort after that to see me again, I figured that you still wanted some time."

Lydia nodded, hating herself. Why did she expect Stiles to be psychic? Maybe he could have figured it out but it's not like she helped herself any avoiding him after the incident. Poor Stiles was just doing what she had asked him.

"I wanted to see you, Lydia. It was so hard to not talk to you in the hallway at school. It would take every muscle in my body to keep me several feet away at all times. And it took all my effort not to be clingy and needy and call you at three a.m. when I felt like my insides were being torn out. I thought about you all the time. Sometimes I'd head to your locker after class instead of mine, just on autopilot, or go to order your favourites when I was supposed to be ordering take-out for me and my dad."

Lydia had no idea what to say. She felt like a hole had been carved into her chest. So much of what Stiles had just confessed mirrored her feelings, the instincts to call him or pick out a movie he'd like or get an order of his favourite dessert to go. It was to be expected when you got to know someone so well and spent so much time with them, only to quit them cold turkey, and Lydia wanted to scream at herself for thinking that she ever had to take time to figure out her feelings for Stiles. They had been under the surface for so long how could she ever imagine they were just a side effect of all the craziness they had been through?

God, Lydia really was an idiot.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything." Lydia finally said, turning away from him. All she did was give him pain, make him feel like he had to hurt himself at the benefit of her, while Malia managed to keep his spirits up and make him laugh. It was no wonder why she was the better option, past coyote life notwithstanding.

It was quiet between them for a few minutes, but Stiles finally broke it.

"So… all that pain that Scott tried to take away… that was my fault?"

Lydia's lip trembled and she bit down hard on it. She didn't know what to say. It wasn't really his fault. It was hers, for taking so long to figure out her feelings and leaving it very open for Malia to sneak in and win over Stiles' heart. She wasn't going to shame Stiles for feeling happy. But she didn't want to lie to him either.

"Not… not exactly." she muttered. "Look, it doesn't really matter. You and I are okay now, right? So let's just… let it go."

She should have known Stiles wouldn't just let that go. He was far too stubborn. Albeit an admirable quality when it came to not giving up on something or someone, but frustrating when she just wanted him to drop it.

"Lydia, please, what is it? You know you can tell me anything, right?"

So not helping, Stilinski.

"Honestly, it's nothing, let's just get out of here. Malia's probably waiting for you."

"Lydia, I—"

But he suddenly stopped, realization dawning on his features. She wouldn't meet his eyes, which was as good as verbally confirming where the problem lied.

"Malia… the other day at my house, that jab you made… the way you've been avoiding even looking at me in the halls since then…"

Lydia kept her eyes forward and just shrugged one shoulder.

"She's really not that bad, Lydia. She's fun to hang out with, and I know she's Peter's daughter and that is reason enough to be wary, but it's not like she grew up with him…"

"I know." she murmured.

"And she's trying really hard to fit in as a human, enrolling in school even though she's missed a lot, and she's practicing how to control her were-coyote-whatever powers with Scott, and she's got some really cool stories from life in the woods…"

He stopped talking when he saw that Lydia's face was scrunched up like she was trying not to cry.

She had cried enough today. Lydia was determined to keep her emotions in check, but it wasn't proving very easy.

"She seems wonderful, Stiles. You're a lucky guy. And she's lucky to have you too."

He looked so bewildered, bless his heart.

"If you don't have a problem with Malia, then why…"

He trailed off, only looking more confused now, like he couldn't even think of the possibility that she was jealous. She was jealous of the girl that got to hold his hand in the hallway and kiss him by his jeep and listen to him ramble about some sci-fi movie plot that he was passionate about. She missed being the one Stiles talked to before he went to sleep and being the one he teased and bantered with.

Lydia was frustrated with feeling like this. With watching Stiles remain oblivious to her feelings. She was never one to let her feelings for someone dictate her self-worth, and here she was, feeling like a train wreck because the boy who had always loved her might not anymore.

Enough was enough.

"I don't have a problem with your girlfriend." She took a deep breath. "I have a problem that she is your girlfriend."

Stiles' eyebrows furrowed as he contemplated the new information, but she was too impatient.

She sighed exasperatedly. "Do I have to spell it out for you, Stilinski?! I'm jealous of her! I hate seeing you with her. When I went to your house, seeing you two flirting and giggling and being all cutesy just about made me vomit up my breakfast. I couldn't stand being around you, watching you fall all over a girl that wasn't me. I had never imagined in the few weeks I took some time that you'd move on that quickly! And then Scott lets it slip that you two hooked up at Eichen House and then I realize that you had moved on long ago and I was just too oblivious to even notice! And then you know, at school, you're basically attached at the hip so if I want to talk to you, I'm going to have to deal with the handholding and the kissing by the jeep and it just hurts, okay? It fucking hurts so much I thought I was going to be torn in two. And I only took the time apart so I could make sure I knew how strong my feelings for you were before I tried to act on them, and as soon as I figure out I've fallen for you, you've scored a girlfriend who not only is gorgeous but is a total badass and..."

Lydia inhaled deeply, out of breath from her rant, and ran her hands through her hair.

"I just… I've avoided you because it hurt and today I realized that I had no right to expect you to wait for me to catch up when it took me so long and I ignored you for so long. I care about you so much, so I'm happy you're happy… I just wish you could be happy with me."

Stiles was staring at her with an expression she couldn't read. She wasn't sure what he was thinking, which only made her feel more scared for how he would react.

He swallowed hard and reached out for her. Before she knew it, she was wrapped in his arms and his mouth had descended onto hers.

They had exchanged one kiss before and he had been pretty stunned during the majority of it so he hadn't really been an active participant, but this time is was different.

Stiles' lips molded with hers, eagerly exploring them like he was on a mission, and her mouth opened to his like butter. He wasted no time in slipping his tongue inside to explore the depths, causing her hands to tighten in his hair, and she stretched higher to get closer to him.

His hands couldn't seem to stay still on her, sliding down her neck to her shoulder then moving to her waist to pull her tight against him. His other hand gripped her strawberry blonde locks in his fingers, anchoring her to him, and in no time at all she was breathless.

Their lips separated so they could suck in air for a moment, but then they were right back at it, nails scraping at his scalp, lips aggressively working over the other, and Stiles moaned into her mouth when her teeth grazed across his bottom lip sensually.

"God, Lydia…" he whispered, his voice full of need, and the sound brought her out of her clouded head.

She pulled back, wiping her mouth and breathing heavy.

Stiles' face was flushed, his lips pink and a little swollen, and he looked exactly like he had been thoroughly kissed. She knew that was by her doing, and normally it would give her a thrill, but all she could feel was guilt eating her up.

"Malia." Lydia stated, the place where her heart had iced over some time ago numbing a little more.

Stiles just shook his head. "There's another reason I was late coming here… we sort of… ended things. Figured we're better off as friends."

Lydia felt like the ground had been pulled out from underneath her. "What?"

He shrugged, looking more like his old bashful, awkward self as he blushed a little. "She kind of knew you and I had history and wasn't the happiest when I dropped our plans to go find you even though you and I haven't hung out in a really long time. The truth kind of came out that…"

"That what?" Lydia asked, knowing now wasn't the time to be coy. She wanted the truth. No more second-guessing what certain gestures meant or the true meaning behind offhand comments. She wanted the cold, hard truth, whatever it might be.

He caught her gaze and smiled a little. "That, as much as I like Malia, my heart has belonged to a 5'3 strawberry-blonde with green eyes since I was nine-years-old and that isn't going to change no matter how much time we spend apart."

Lydia couldn't keep the giddy smile off her face. She crossed the distance between them and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.

"I promise I won't let you get away so easily ever again. I'm sorry it took me so long."

Stiles held her close, nuzzling his face into her hair. "I figure you're worth the wait."

She pulled back to kiss him on the mouth lovingly. "I know you are."

He rolled his eyes at her sappy reply, but she could tell by his face that he was loving it. His knuckles ran along her upper arms gently.

"I know I've been crazy about you for a really long time, but I hope you know it's more than that now. I've gotten to see the real you, to really discover who you are, and it's only made me fall harder for you. You… you've fully captured my heart, Lydia Martin, and no girl can ever compare in my eyes. You're the one."

She smiled brightly, feeling her eyes fill with happy tears.

"I love you, Stiles Stilinski."

His eyes registered surprise but he grinned and kissed her again, their smiles making it a short one.

She reached up to fix his hair, curling it around her fingers for a moment. "Look, I know that Malia was a lot of your firsts, but it doesn't matter. What you and I have is special no matter what."

Stiles looked confused for a moment. "She was my first… girlfriend? And first girlfriend that lived as a coyote for half her life…"

Lydia sent him a look. "Stiles, I know you lost your virginity to her at Eichen House."

He laughed pretty hard at that. "Lydia… I barely knew her when I was at Eichen House. Yeah, things got heated between us there, but I was her first kiss which, yes, led to us making out. But I wouldn't rush her on something that big whether I wanted it or not. She's… new at this whole human thing, and sex to me is a big deal. I didn't want her to feel like she was behind on everything. We're still young. Having sex for the first time to me is about doing it with the right person, not as soon as the situation is convenient."

Lydia absorbed that, gathering something from what he said. "So you… you were waiting for me?"

He blushed. "Well, I knew it wasn't necessarily going to happen, but you're who I always imagined being my first so… yeah, kinda…"

She couldn't keep the grin off her face, actually laughing out loud in relief. She gave him a long, hard kiss on the mouth excitedly.

He leaned forward for more but she put her hand on his chest, shaking her head. "Let's continue this elsewhere. And maybe work on changing your virginity status now that I know it's still intact."

Stiles' eyes went round as saucers, his mouth falling open.

Lydia giggled. "Well, you've made it clear that you've been certain about your feelings for me for a long time. And I didn't take all that time to sort my feelings for you so that we could hold hands at the mall." she teased, grinning at his dumbfounded expression as he understood that she wasn't joking. "Unless you want to wait. That's totally okay with me. We can take things slow."

Stiles gaped and ran a hand through his hair, letting out a laugh that sounded a tiny bit hysterical. "No… trust me, I want to. I… I will race you to my house. My dad's working late."

Lydia laughed at his boy-like enthusiasm, her heart feeling full at the way he was gazing at her like she was the rising sun, and she knew that she was in love with an idiot. It was okay though because she one too, and they were a perfect match.

She may not be the girl on the pedestal, but she was still the girl of Stiles' dreams, and that's all she needed to know to hand over her heart to the one who had always treasured it the most.