Lydia nearly dropped her phone as she rushed in through the back door. Whatever the plan had started off as, what was about to happen on the beach had not been a part of it. She was less than twenty yards from them when she saw what was going on. She'd given up on waiting for Derek. She hadn't agreed to the plan, to help orchestrate it, just to have Derek go off script, especially so close to the closing act.

Stiles was supposed to have a short conversation with Derek before the Alpha led him to where she was waiting so that she could take Stiles to lunch. If holding him down on the ground and looking like he was about to get a mouthful of Stiles's spinal cord had been in the game plan, she would have vetoed it immediately, glowing red eyes or no glowing red eyes.

She was a flurry of designer clothes as she made last minute calculations. If she factored in the amount of time that Stiles would spend staring after Derek confused as hell, along with the distance back to the house, and Stiles general inability to stay in one place for very long, she imagined she had less than five minutes to come up with a new strategy. She unlocked the screen to her phone and glanced at her text messaging list. The last one she'd sent said, 'Don't eat him!'

Thank god she had quick fingers. She had approximately three minutes left if she was anywhere near as good as she thought she was. Her fingers with their impeccably manicured nails flew across the digital keyboard of her phone sending a mass text to all the members of the pack save Derek and Stiles.

'Derek messed up, the game is changing, skip part a, I'll update in two hours, steer clear of big bad wolf if you see him.'

She hit send, had just enough time to drop her phone into her purse, retrieve her compact from the emergency makeup compartment in the side, and arrange herself on the couch as if she had not just been running. Five minutes had passed, the new act was about to begin. A sixth minute passed. She tapped her foot impatiently. Another minute went by.

She cautiously looked towards the back door. An eighth minute ticked by. She sighed. In the ninth minute she realized she'd forgotten to consider that Stiles had a not mild case of unpredictability. She was just about to stand when she heard the back door open. She improvised by executing a lazy stretch instead, acted as though she was just getting up from a cat nap.

Stiles entered the living room, looked at her with his big brown eyes. He looked like he was out of breath, his face was flushed red. He was moving a bit more awkwardly than he normally did. That was fairly impressive considering he already moved like a drunken duck most of the time.

She narrowed her eyes at him. He shifted nervously. He looked guilty of something. He always looked guilty of something but this time it looked like he was ashamed of what he was guilty of. She wondered what it was that he was hiding.

"Hey," he said. He was blushing. He shifted nervously under her calculating gaze.

It hit her; she replayed the scene in her mind. At first she'd thought Derek was pinning Stiles to the ground having been forced into a rage by any number of ridiculously infuriating things he could have said. What if that's not what was happening when she saw them. What if Stiles had needed the extra minutes to calm down from an entirely different set of circumstances?

Tricky, this was about to get very tricky. This was going to change everything if it hadn't already. As it turned out, tricky games were her favorite. She'd already formulated a new strategy in the moments that Stiles stared at her as though he realized she had caught him with his hand in a cookie jar. She was ready to act. She would just play dumb, playing dumb was her specialty.

"So," she began. "Considering how rude you were to me last night, I think that it's only fair that you come shopping with me."

He blinked at her, mouth hanging open in a sort of dull bovine expression.


"Excellent, no need to change, what you're wearing is fine," she continued as if he hadn't rudely tried to interrupt her with some incredibly meaningless detail. She dropped the compact back into her purse, pulled out her phone as she headed for the door. "I'd tell you to wear more sensible shoes, but we both know that would be waste of my breath now don't we?"

Her fingers flew across her phone again, sending a message to Allison. 'Find somewhere we can all go dancing tonight, don't question it. I've got a new plan. I'll update you as soon as I can.'

Stiles made a strangled sort of clicking noise in his throat that Lydia assumed meant he understood and that he was sorry. He was following her despite what may have actually been some sort of sub-verbal protest. That was good enough. She put an extra sway in her step. She doubted it would have any effect considering his current interests, but she had to stay in character.

They exited the front of the house. She reminded him to lock the door as she walked down the porch. She was sure he would have forgotten to. She had no desire to be robbed while vacationing. She wouldn't have enough time to replace the wardrobe she'd need for the next few days, especially now that she had a whole new project to work on.

"Where are we going?" he asked.

"There is a delightful row of shops just a few blocks from here," she said. It would be impolite of her just to ignore him. He seemed to be slightly on edge. Whether that was from Derek's disastrous attempt at whatever it was he had attempted or because he was nervous and feeling overwhelming shame for having yelled at her the previous night she didn't know.

After a short walk they arrived at the quaint little shopping district that catered to the tourists in the area. It wasn't ideal, but it would have to do. She glanced quickly at the signs for the different shops and boutiques, estimated how much time she would need to spend in each to find everything she needed. She eyed a sidewalk artist painting people's portraits with interest.

"So," Stiles began, "I wanted to say-"

"Shhhh," Lydia whispered. She put a finger to her luscious red lips. "This is the most critical moment."

He blinked at her, shifted his weight nervously from foot to foot. It was distracting, but not as much as his voice would have been had she tried to continue with her process while he chatted at her. Having completed her calculations she turned, stared him directly in the eyes. He stumbled back a step, winced at the clicking of her heels on the sidewalk.

"Here's the truth, try not to interrupt me, can you do that?"


"No of course not," she stepped forward and placed one hand over his mouth while the other gripped him by the back of the head. It was the only way this was going to happen the way she needed it to. "If you interrupt me, you will see a fury so vast and consuming that you will wish that Derek was playing with your entrails after having disemboweled you, is that clear?"

He nodded, beautiful brown eyes very wide.

"You're incredible, in a thousand little ways that you could never see yourself, because you're too busy worrying about what everyone else is doing." Lydia relaxed the hold she had on him, but didn't let him go. "You're a doormat. You let people walk over you and you hug their feet and clean their shoes as they do it. To people like me, that's like blood in the water. It's not your fault that you are a baby seal in an ocean full of hungry sharks."

He made a little strangled noise in his throat. She tightened her grip on him again. She wasn't finished.

"You did something no one else has ever done. You made me care about something other than myself." It hurt her to admit it, but it was true. "The night I spent with you at Prom was amazing, if I hadn't been so stupid, if I had known then what I know now, I'd have stayed with you. Not because I almost died, but because you're one of the good ones. You're one of the genuinely good people in the world who care about everyone else instead of themselves. It's selfless, it's beautiful, and it's utterly moronic. Blink once if you are still with me, blink twice if you aren't."

He blinked once. She smiled, but didn't let him go.

"Excellent. So, with that in mind, there is something I want to explain to you. I was the trial run, what you felt for me, how you dealt with it, the way you coped in the face of me being a raving bitch was just the warm up."

Stiles's eyes got wide again. He tried to shake his head to deny what she was saying, but she knew it was an act.

"What you are feeling now, what I saw down there on that beach, I think that's what you really want. I'm going to help you get it, and the first thing I'm going to do, is help you not look like a color blind hobo dressed you. Blink once if you are still with me."

He paused for a moment, almost as though he thought she was going to give him another option. Eventually he blinked once.

"Wonderful, now, let's put you in some adult clothes, they're my treat."

She stared at him coolly when he opened his mouth as though he was going to protest. Slowly, over the course of a few moments he closed it again. Clearly he'd come to the realization that no matter what he said she wouldn't believe it, and she would get her way.

"Good boy," Lydia said. She let him go. "Let's go."