Stiles haphazardly tossed a handful of clothes into his suitcase. Normally he wouldn't have noticed Derek remove everything he'd just packed in order to repack it correctly, but he'd been scrutinizing his boyfriend after the altercation with Jackson. His Dereksense told him there was something just underneath the surface, something Derek had been trying to hide.
"I'm onto you, Frowny."
"I'm not surprised. You see more than that flaming eye in Morgar," Derek said.
Stiles was so stunned by Derek's reference that he didn't even have the heart to correct the mistake he'd made. Derek making Lord of the Rings jokes, he needed to double check but he was relatively sure that was one of the signs of the end of days. The Mayans may have had it right.
"You can't do that," Stiles said. "You can't become more adorkable than me because then I would have to learn to scowl and yell to maintain the balance of our relationship."
Derek grunted in agreement and went back to folding Stiles's boxers. He dropped them into suitcase and though Stiles would never say it out loud, there was something about Derek handling his clothes that made Stiles's belly warm. He shook his head to clear it of distractions.
"You're not mad at Jackson." Stiles watched carefully for Derek's reaction, but all he got was another grunt. "I think you're proud of him for standing up for his friend. You might have fooled him, but only because he was too upset to assess you with his wolfy senses."
Derek shrugged then zipped up the suitcase. "You're think you're very clever don't you, Stiles?"
Smugness probably wasn't an attractive scent, but Stiles was sure it was probably rolling off his skin. This wasn't Stiles's first werewolf rodeo, he was pretty sure he'd nailed it on the head. "You think I'm clever too, that's why you keep me around."
"That and the blowjobs."
"Yes and the… wait what?" Stiles narrowed his eyes at Derek.
Derek grinned. "Don't look so scandalized, you know there are other reasons I keep you around."
"Like what?" It was always a pleasure when Derek sang his praises. The world could do with more days with that as the focus of conversation.
Derek picked the suitcase up and headed for the door. He paused as he passed Stiles and patted him on the ass. Stiles wasn't sure he liked what Derek was implying, he was more than just a piece of meat.
"Don't get huffy; you know I'm only playing with you." Derek leaned over and kissed Stiles on the cheek. "There's someone waiting to talk to you, everyone else has already headed outside."
Stiles scowled at Derek's back. Huffy? Stiles was not huffy. He wished Derek would turn around and gaze in awe at the scowl on his face. A scowl that put all of Derek's sour frowning to shame. He was going to make a video with his webcam, a how to scowl video, and then give it to Derek along with a PowerPoint presentation explaining the finer points.
Derek pushed the door open. Lydia stood looking out over the city. She had her arms crossed over her chest, but it wasn't an imperious gesture, it was almost as if she were hugging herself. The difference probably wasn't noticeable to most people, but Stiles had loved Lydia for so long that even the tiniest gestures held different meanings for him. Derek walked out of the hotel room without giving any indication of being aware of Lydia's mood.
"Hey, beautiful, penny for your thoughts?" Stiles joined Lydia at the window. The view was incredible. Sunlight reflected off thousands of panes of glass. People scurried about so far below them, little dots of color hurrying along the streets.
Lydia turned towards him. She was radiant as ever, the red in her hair all the more vivid against the soft blue of the sky. "A penny? Please." She tilted her head up, and despite the fact that he was taller than she was, she somehow made it seem as though she were looking down at him in judgment. "What was in the drinks you served us?"
Stiles licked his lips and ran a hand across the back of his hair. So far no one had questioned him about the brew. He had been hoping that with everything else the party favors he'd provided would be forgotten. "I don't know what you mean…"
"Don't play stupid, Stiles. I have far more experience with it; you're just making yourself look like an amateur." Lydia's judgmental gaze elevated from one of a disapproving parent to the level of a goddess running out of patience. "Spill."
"It was just a recipe I found in a book. It was supposed to be able to get werewolves drunk. There was some other nonsense about power transfer or spirit linking, honestly I skimmed that part and focused in on the whole get werewolves wasted thing." Stiles laughed, but it came out a little shrill. He coughed to clear his throat. "Just some magical mumbo jumbo, nothing that important."
Lydia shook her head sadly. Stiles's shoulders slumped. The single gesture made him feel the same way letting his dad down did. Lydia was queen of guilt trips. If he could find a way to commercialize it they'd be so rich buying Google would come out of the petty cash fund.
"Something happened last night," Lydia said. "Allison kept going on and on about Jackson. It was like she was obsessed with him. From what little I've been able to gather from questioning Scott and Danny, they both felt odd most of the night as well."
Stiles whistled innocently, but cut off when Lydia turned the disapproval dial well past eleven. The insane part of his mind seemed perplexed as to why his clothes hadn't caught fire under the heat of her eyes.
"No one got hurt. It was all—"
"Why didn't it affect me?"
Stiles's mind grasped for answers, but nothing jumped out at him. Lydia started pacing, and he let out a small sigh of relief. She'd turned her attention away from him, and he hadn't been verbally or physically eviscerated. So far he was pretty sure he was winning. He didn't know what he was winning though.
"Was it just simple math? Three werewolves, but four humans, does that mean there wasn't enough werewolf compulsion to reach out to everyone?" Lydia's rambling was barely audible, and Stiles didn't really think he should try and interrupt. "Or is there something different about me? We still don't know why I didn't turn, or die from Peter's bite. Can it be a coincidence or are they connected?" Lydia froze in place, color drained from her already pale skin. "Is there something wrong with me?"
On instinct Stiles closed this distance between them and wrapped her in his arms. Her whole body went stiff, like she was a porcelain doll, completely indifferent to human contact. He turned his face into her hair, she smelled like flowers and sunshine. Derek probably would have scoffed at the analogy and clarified the specific scents, but to Stiles, Lydia was always going to remind him of summer days and beautiful flowers.
"There is something different about you," Stiles whispered into her hair. "I've known it since the third grade, since the first day I fell in love with you." He curled his hands into the back of her shirt. "You're special, in ways you couldn't even hope to understand. We live in a world with werewolves, magic bullets, and alchemical booze, but none of that is as unbelievable as how amazing you can be. There's nothing wrong with you. If you're worried that there's something else going on, then I'll figure it out. I'll research the hell out of it; we'll run tests or something. You're science lady, I'm paranormal research guy. The world can't hide anything from us for too long."
Lydia's arms wrapped around his waist, the porcelain exterior cracked and she wasn't an indifferent doll, she was a human girl who needed another person to remind her that it was okay to let other people in.
"Thank you, Stiles. I love you."
The words were soft currents of air against his cheek. Two years ago he would have wanted nothing more than to hear those words, to have them followed by a soft brush of ruby red lips. He still wanted to make sure that she was never sad, to protect her from anything and everything, but the reasons were different.
"I love you too, Lydia. Just don't let Derek hear you say that, you know how insecure he is."
Lydia's laughter was soft, but genuine, and he wondered if it was the first time he'd ever really heard it. She pulled away and turned before he could see her face. She rubbed at her eyes.
"I need to fix my makeup, you smeared it when you thrust your shoulder into my face like I was an opposing lacrosse player trying to steal the ball," Lydia said. She walked quickly to the bathroom, and with every step she took she seemed to gain confidence, her spine a little straighter and her head a little higher.
Lydia had put her head on his shoulder, he hadn't forced her and they both knew it. They also both knew that he didn't really know what it was like to have someone try to steal the ball from him on the lacrosse field, but since she was kind enough not to point that out, he didn't feel the need to call her on the tears. It'd be something just between the two of them, a little secret they would keep. When they found out how she was different, why she hadn't turned and why she wasn't affected by the brew, they could keep that secret between themselves also if they needed to. Lydia would probably think it was necessary, but that was just because she hadn't accepted the idea that everyone in the pack loved her just as much as he did. She'd learn though. One day there wouldn't be a need for secrets, and when that day came they'd finally be complete as a pack.
I hope you've all enjoyed the story, the series continues with 'Words Aren't Always Enough'.