When The World Spins, I Just Want Solid Ground
It starts at the hospital.
He's poked and prodded by doctors intent on giving him one test after another because his father doesn't hear a word of, 'I'm fine, Dad," no matter how many times and how sincerely he says it.
They check his temperature, his blood, the whites of his eyes and his pressure, all the while with his father standing over him like a Bulldog ready to tear the throat of anyone who dares venture a guess that there is nothing wrong with his son before the proper tests are done.
Stiles sighs as he is taken for scan after scan, all the while perfectly aware that there are two people standing outside because the hospital allows only one family member with the patient at any given time when tests are being conducted.
He's tired and drained, and the only thing that makes him smile are the happy sighs the three most important people in the world to him share when the doctor says that, he is, undoubtedly, fine, give or take a few minor things.
"See? Told you. Fit as a fiddle," he says, his voice flat as he tries and fails to sound light-hearted.
His father shakes his head, and thus begins the battle against his father as he is submitted for overnight observation by the doctor's request.
The bed is as soft as he remembers and he doesn't realise exactly how tired he is until his head touches the pillow. His father says how he's taking time off work to look after him and his protests are ignored while Scott and Lydia discuss a schedule of when they will each take care of him as if he's not even in the room. His complaints fall on deaf ears as he realises too late that every time he blinks, his eyes close for longer each time.
The last thing he sees is Lydia pulling on Scott's arm and urging him out, which is surprisingly the first thing he remembers when he wakes up hours later.
It's not something he actively looks for, at least, not at first.
Three weeks after Stiles is discharged from the hospital, he's visited by Scott with a duffel bag thrown over his shoulder because his best friend is determined to sleepover their cares away and keep them both distracted. It's the least Stiles can do after everything that had happened and so they marathon movies and talk about nothing in particular. They never mention Allison's name, not once.
Lydia joins them more often than not.
They argue over the ever-present debate of 'chick flick or action movie' and the laughs seem more forced than anything Stiles have ever known. But the silence is worse, so they talk and they eat and they spend a ridiculous amount of time in his bedroom trying to stop Lydia from redecorating it in the first place.
He can't help but notice how Scott and Lydia stand together, how they sit closer than they need to. He shakes his head and tries to convince himself that he's paranoid, but seeing the way they duck their heads to whisper with each other he starts actively noticing the change more than he wants to.
He sees the brief looks they share when he happens to say something or do something that he knows is normal and should not cause such a reaction in the first place. He can't help but count the seconds when they are alone in another room and see how they jump apart when he uses getting popcorn as an excuse to announce his presence. He pretends to not notice the way Scott touches her arm gently to get her attention and the small grateful smiles they send each other when they think he isn't looking.
It becomes too much, seeing how his best friend and the one girl he truly ever wanted have a secret language all their own; one that he isn't a part of. He feels something in his heart break and he tries his best to shrug away the suspicion that something more is happening between them and it shouldn't be any of his business.
It doesn't stop him from being petty about it, though. The day he catches the two of them holding hands while sitting on his bed before jumping apart when they saw him, he fakes a headache and ends the ultimate sleepover his best friend had planned.
He hopes that some day he'll be okay with it.
Secretly, he knows he won't be.
"You're going with Lydia?" Stiles blurts out without thinking.
Scott pauses mid-word to eye his best friend with confusion, his own homework forgotten on his friend's bedroom floor. "What?"
Vaguely, Stiles recognises the fact that his best friend had mentioned that detail almost an entire topic of conversation ago. They were now talking about his dad and how he isn't leaving, and somehow no other fact had penetrated his brain save for that one thing. "The fundraiser."
"Oh, yeah." Scott shakes his head as realisation dawns. "I would have asked you but—"
"My dad, yeah." Stiles lets out a low breath, one that only causes his shoulders to stiffen further. "He's driving me insane."
"It's only been a few weeks."
"A few weeks of house imprisonment."
"He's just worried about you."
"He's afraid to let me out of sight for even a minute, Scott. He's taking parenting to a whole new level that it's bordering on stalking." He flippantly gestures towards the camera installed in his room only to let out another low breath to calm his nerves.
"Give it time," Scott says calmly. "He'll get over it."
"Yeah," Stiles mumbles under his breath, fighting the urge to ask more information regarding Scott taking Lydia for the school fundraiser. "Of course he will."
He stops thinking about it though, at least for a while, until he happens to see pictures of the event plastered all over his newsfeed with Lydia and Scott, arms around each other, laughing with bright eyes.
He doesn't realise that he had crushed the can of Red Bull in his hand until the liquid coats his fingers.
He means to go to Scott's house. That's what he tells himself as he sneaks out through the creaking back door of his house, gets into his jeep and drives with fingers tightening almost painfully around the steering wheel.
He's not angry, just curious. He can't be upset. He's definitely not jealous. What Lydia and Scott have is an innocent friendship that he's reading too much into. That's all it is.
And yet when he stops his jeep, it's not at his best friend's house. And when he rings the doorbell, hands shoved into his pants pockets and shoulders hunched by fighting the urge to run, it's not Mrs McCall who answers the door, but Mrs Martin.
She smiles, greets him politely and invites him in, calling for Lydia over her shoulder before leaving just as her daughter comes down the stairs.
She's wearing nothing but shorts and a too-large t-shirt, her hair piled high in a messy bun, and he swears his breath hitches each time he sees her look so beautiful without even trying. But what makes him smile is the way her eyes soften when her gaze falls on him and the way she says his name when she steps so close to him that for a brief moment he thinks that she might lean up on her toes and kiss him.
It's all in his head, he tells himself. Everything with Scott is all in his head.
"Are you here for Scott's jacket?"
His smile falls too fast for his liking. "Er… Yeah. Yeah," he says again, more confidently, unable to voice the real reason because he just doesn't know it himself. "Scott's jacket. That's exactly," he says making a gesture that he thinks means he's cool with everything even though he's clearly not, "why I'm here."
She rolls her eyes, clearly amused. "Figures." She starts towards her living room and he follows jerkily. "You two are so predictably together that returning something to you means returning it to him." She picks up the jacket lying over the arm of the couch and hands it to him, a hand landing on her hip as she gives him an expression of boredom. "Tell him that he can't keep playing Cinderella. It's getting annoying."
Taking the jacket, Stiles shrugs, masking the hurt he feels at knowing that they were meeting without him. "He leaves a lot of things here, huh? Usually he likes to leave his texts books. You know, plausible deniability and all."
Her laugh is small and full of amusement. Stiles feels something inside him snap at the way she smiles fondly at the mere memory of Scott. He looks away from her so she doesn't notice.
"I'll just…" He gestures somewhere behind him, steps back, almost knocks against a precariously placed vase and curses himself as he finally steps outside without an incident, Scott's jacket still held tightly in his hands. It says something that Lydia doesn't say a word about his clumsiness, just let's her lips twist in a way to hide her laugh.
"Tell Scott he better be on time tomorrow," she says after him, causing his heart to sink further than he thought it could.
He nods, keeping a safe distance between them as he turns to face her. "Yeah. Got it."
Her smile is gentle and so full of affection that he thinks she's being purposefully cruel. "Goodnight, Stiles."
His smile lasts only for a second and falls short. "G'night," he mumbles as he turns his back on her and starts up her driveway.
There's a pain in his chest that he can't ignore and his hand on Scott's jacket tightens. Two steps later he turns just in time to see her closing the door after him.
"Don't date Scott."
Her eyes widen just as she stops suddenly, her lips forming the word, "What?" breathlessly.
The pain in his chest feels worse, his breath coming out shallow and almost painfully. He steps closer to her, his tone turning desperate. "Please don't date Scott. You can have anyone. Anyone. Just not Scott, okay?"
"I…" She starts shaking her head, her eyes still wide and panicked, but he interrupts her.
"I know I have no right to ask you. I just…" He looks away from her, cursing under his breath as he tries to put his thoughts in order. "Look, you are the one girl I've ever… I mean... I know it's never going to happen. That we're not—" He shakes his head. "And I've made my peace with that. But, if it's Scott…?" he says softly, his voice cracking when it really shouldn't. "I can't handle it if it's Scott."
She leans towards him, her eyes bright. "Stiles—"
"I mean, I get it. You lost Allison; he lost Allison. That's something that you two share and I don't get it the way you do. You're hurting right now. Both of you are. And the only way it hurts less is if the two of you are together. I get that. I just…" He looks down at the jacket in his hand, the pain in his chest subsiding when his mind suddenly becomes empty of everything but one burning thought.
Stiles doesn't mean to laugh, but it comes out short and bitter. "Wow! I am the worst friend imaginable, aren't I?"
Lydia's eyes widen further as she tries to step towards him. "Stiles, I—"
"No, don't." He steps back, a hand going up to keep her away from him. "I'm an idiot. A piece of shit, crap friend. Ignore everything I just said."
She takes a step forward and he stops her again by stepping back.
"I can't believe I was being so selfish" he says softly, shaking his head. "So, have at it. Be together. You have my blessing or whatever."
He doesn't wait for her to reach him before he bolts towards his jeep, and doesn't even bother to respond when she chases after him on bare feet calling his name desperately to stop.
He does bang his head repeatedly against the steering wheel at the first red light he sees, which makes him feel marginally better.
The chances of Scott wanting to talk to him after the 'incident' at Lydia's house was high, the chances of him wanting to have that talk by climbing through Stiles' window was even higher.
Which is why when his best friend or were-buddy enters his house too gracefully to be normal, Stiles doesn't even bother to raise himself from the embarrassed position of face-full-of-pillow as he stays lying on his stomach on his ever comfortable bed.
"Lydia gave me your jacket," he mumbles into the pillow, determined not to show his face to his best friend.
It doesn't even surprise him when Scott understands his mumbling using his super werewolf powers as he falls onto the bed right next to him. "Cool. Saves me a trip."
"She says you better be on time tomorrow," Stiles continues to mumble.
He hears more than sees his friend's wince. "Yeah... I should really work on my time management."
They stay quiet for a while before Scott says, "Heard you sacrificed your perfect girl for me."
In response, Stiles buries his face fully into the pillow and lets out a groan long enough to encompass all the grief and humiliation he had suffered the past few hours. His friend, on the other hand, lets out a loud, boisterous laugh in response; one that stops the moment Stiles turns his head to face his friend and their eyes meet.
Scott's smile is sincere and a little bit annoyed. "It's not like that. We're just friends."
"Yeah," Stiles can't help but mutter under his breath, his cheek on his pillow and his tone clearly disbelieving.
"Dude! You're my best friend. I would never do that to you."
Stiles can't help but raise one mocking eyebrow at him, earning another laugh from Scott.
"Again," his best friend amends, clearly amused by the situation. "I would never do that to you again. I know she's off limits; trust me. Even if she wasn't, it's not like that with us." Scott lets out a tired breath, his expression sobering. "She gets it, what I'm going through. I know you're there for me," he says quickly when he sees Stiles about to say something. "You are with me through everything and you have no idea how much I need that. It's just that, with Lydia, I don't have to explain to her about…" He hesitates, unable to say her name even after almost two months. "You know?"
"Yeah, I get it." Stiles might not get it a little bit, but that's something he can work on.
"We're just hanging out, watching movies. Once your dad let's up on this whole keeping-you-at-home thing we expect you to join us, okay?"
"Yeah," Stiles says softly, feeling that much lighter. "Okay."
"Good." Scott's smile is practically blinding as he raises his fist between them with his pinkie sticking out. "So… Friends?"
Stiles can't help but roll his eyes mockingly. "So juvenile," he says, even as he raises his own hand to pinkie swear with his almost-adult best friend with his own stupid grin splitting his face.
He apologises to Lydia on a particularly cool day with a bouquet of flowers that somehow gets crushed and bent and almost broken by the time he produces them from behind his back. She squints at them, thinks for a minute and says a firm, "No," before she turns on her heels and walks away from him.
She completely ignores the way his expression goes from hopeful to confused.
"You don't like the flowers?"
"No," she says slowly, taking it for granted that he will follow her as she walks down the halls of the school. "I don't like your apology."
"Fine! I'm sorry."
She spins so fast on her heels that he nearly bumps into her. "For what?"
"Um." His eyes widen with panic as he clearly looks around for the answer. "For… assuming things without any proof?"
"And?" she asks, crossing her arms.
"For…" He shifts nervously. "Er… Telling you who you can and cannot date?"
"There's more?" he asks, surprised.
She fixes him with a glare. "There's more."
Squinting at her, he hesitates. "You know, it would be helpful if you gave me a hint of some kind, a list, maybe?"
Rolling her eyes, she turns away from him, causing him to grit his teeth in frustration. "No? Okay."
Falling into a step behind her, he continues his apology, flowers still in hand. "I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry that I was a grade A douche with a chip on his shoulder."
"Good," she says chirpily, encouraging him.
"I'm sorry that I thought I was entitled to have an opinion on what you may or may not do with your life."
"I'm sorry that I implied that you and I could ever be more than friends."
Halting suddenly, she turns around to fix him with such a glare that the thought of crouching down to defend himself flits briefly in his mind.
"Sometimes you are so stupid it makes me question why I'd ever want to be with you in the first place." Taking advantage of his slack jaw and slack grip, she takes the flowers from him with a firm yank, turns on her heels and marches away from him, leaving Stiles to contemplate her words on slow repeat.
Scott's amused cough from beside him hardly fazes him.
Stiles clears his throat nervously. "Did she just—?"
"So I wasn't—"
He robotically gestures towards the direction she had gone. "I should—"
After a moment of not moving, Scott nudges him forward, and stumbling, Stiles makes his way towards her locker, his mind and body on two very separate planes.
He finds her delicately placing the flowers in her locker with a frown that deepens the moment she sees him. "Stiles, if you've come to—"
He kisses her for the first time in a hallway full of gaping teenagers on the second Tuesday of the month close to the end of their free period, his arms circling her waist and pulling her impossibly close. She first gasps against him before she kisses him back passionately, deepening the kiss while her fingers clutch his shirt in order to keep him to her. It's long and breathless and they pull back panting.
"This doesn't fix anything," she says, her fingers going over his shoulders and tangling in the hair at the nape of his neck. He shivers as he leans forward to kiss her again, but his lips touch her cheek and she gives him a firm glare. "I expect a full-blown apology consisting of at least five dates, the activities of which I will choose."
He lets out a low, shaky breath. "You don't have to convince me."
"Good," she whispers, meeting his lips with a gentle pull of hers before stepping back. It takes him a second to realise that his heart hadn't stopped jumping maddeningly for the past few minutes. "You can start by walking me to class."
She rolls her eyes and doesn't let him carry her book bag even though he offers and instead tangles their fingers together so she can lean against his shoulder.
It's so ordinary and perfect that he drops her off at her class only to burst in a while later with a newer, bigger, better bouquet to the tune of an outraged, "Stilinski!" He does manage to place it on her desk with a sheepish, "Sorry, Coach," until the man grabs him by the ear and pulls him physically towards the principal's office.
He gets detention, but it was so worth it to see the way she had shaken her head and smiled at him.