Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Playing Telephone

Stiles meets Lydia at her locker between third and fourth period. It requires that he detour past Boyd and Erica's lockers - and isn't that just the definition of awkward? - but it's worth it. He sighs with relief and sags against the lockers beside Lydia's when he reaches her.

"'I love you,'" Lydia says and it is completely unfair because the first time Lydia Martin says those words to him she should be saying them to him, not to him so he can say them to Scott. "'Just remember that I love you and that none of this will ever change that. No matter what my parents say, I know the real you and I'll never-' is she serious?" Lydia asks, her voice going a little bit higher as she stops reciting Allison's words.

She meets Stiles' eyes in the mirror hanging on her locker door and he tries for a casual shrug. And a casual shake of his head. And a casual "I don't know." The three together result in some garbled speech and his Chemistry textbook on the floor. He catches sight of her rolling her eyes in the mirror before he ducks down to grab the book.

"Scott's a catch," Lydia says above him and he snatches the book off the floor with a bit more force than necessary as jealousy flares in him. Of course the book slips from his hand and goes over his shoulder and he has to spin on the spot to keep it from tumbling to the floor yet again. Of course Lydia sees everything. "He's co-captain of the lacrosse team, he's attractive, he's got that innocent puppy dog look that parents just love. So what's her parents' problem?"

"Um, I guess, maybe they're unhappy about his slipping grades?" Stiles tries. No one's bothered to fill him in on the official story of why they broke up, probably because no one's bothered to come up with one.

Lydia slams her locker shut and saunters down the hall. Stiles scrambles to catch up.

"Listen," he says before she can pick up her complaints about the Argents, "was there any more or…?"

"Oh yeah, blah blah blah, 'and I'll never give up on you or us.' And then she suggested pizza and studying at your house after school but I've got mother-daughter bonding 'til eight so …?"

Stiles nods, glad he doesn't have to rush home and clean up. "I'll ask Scott if he can have car trouble when he picks him mom up tonight."

Lydia cocks her head to the side and her hair bobs. Stiles' face is halfway to a stupid grin before he realizes he needs to explain.

"So when Allison goes for a late night grocery run, she passes them by and plays good Samaritan."

Lydia smiles and it's one of her real ones. "Great! That'll save us the night at least." She heads into her next class, leaving him out in the hall. His brain is still stuck on she called us "us"! when the bell rings and he realizes he's gonna be late for English.

One of the many, many positives to breaking up with Jackson was supposed to be that she wouldn't have to come down here again and yet here she is, nose-deep in man stench. Allison had better be grateful.

"Sorry! I'msorryI'msorryI'msorry!"

Stiles bursts from the locker room with all his usual grace. His gloves are only half-on and his stick tumbles from his hands. Lydia catches it out of the air and waits impatiently for him to get himself in order.

"Thanks," he says, smiling at her from behind his helmet. She rolls her eyes at his clumsiness instead of smiling back.

He seems to be taking his time now that he's standing in front of her and she begins tapping her foot loudly on the tiled floor. Stiles pretends not to notice - or maybe he really is that oblivious. She's hoping it's the latter because there are enough guys in the world who don't mind pretending. Finally he gets his gloves on straight and takes the stick from her hand. She makes a show of pulling a tissue from her purse to wipe away the germs before allowing him to speak.

"Okay," he says and closes his eyes to concentrate. "'I love you. More every day. All of this only proves to me more and more how strong you are, how strong we are."

The locker room door opens and the other players begin emerging. Lydia takes care to smile at each of them (except Jackson) so that they know she's only talking to Stiles, she is definitely not with him.

"'I wish I could see you.'"

"Stiles," Lydia says. The players are still passing by, close enough to hear now.

"'There is nothing I would rather be doing tonight than holding you in my arms.'"

"Stiles!" With all his padding on she doubts he'd feel it if she hit him so instead she reaches through the mesh of his helmet and pinches his chin with her manicured nails.

"Ow!" He jumps back with wide eyes and tries to feel his chin. His gloves and helmet get in the way and she finally bats his hand down.

"Was there anything else?" The other players have already gone, including Scott. She wishes she could just let him tell her but he has this horrible habit of editing while he gives her the message and after ten minutes of rewrites to one sentence she starts fantasizing about murdering him and then he has to start over.

Stiles frowns. "Um…"

She glares and takes a half-step closer.

"'Think of me when you look up at the moon tonight. I know I'll be thinking of you. Stay safe.'" Stiles says it all in one breath and gasps when he's done.

"Was that all or do you need a minute?"

He nods and she's just about to snap at him that he's not really answering her question when he says, "Stay safe."

"Did he say it twice or did you just feel the need to repeat yourself?"

"I meant you," he says and there's a tone in his voice that she really doesn't like to think about. "It's a full moon tonight, brings the weirdos out. Stay safe." He touches her on the shoulder as he heads for the field. She rubs the spot, trying to dispel the warm feeling it left behind.

Stiles gave up running on the side of the road long before the sidewalk disappeared. Now he's just running in the middle of the street, trying not to pass out. He really misses his car. And his phone. And his ability to run around in the middle of the night without fearing for his life.

He's not actually in any danger right now. At least, none that he knows of. He's only running because his car's still in police impound and his phone never recovered from its swim in the pool and Scott had some werewolf business suddenly come up so now it's up to Stiles to run and tell Allison not to wait for him. Ain't friendship grand?

He finally reaches the dirt road she's waiting on and stops for breath. "This would be so much easier!" he gasps. "If there weren't werewolves and lizard monsters haunting the woods! So I could just cut through! Without having to worry about being cut to ribbons!"

He picks up running again, slower now because his muscles really want to cramp. The road curves sharply so he doesn't see the car until he's almost on top of it. He makes it to the passenger's side on momentum alone and falls heavily against the door.


"Ahhh!" Stiles echoes, falling back into the leaves and dirt. He recognizes the voice just before he hits the ground and is on his feet again in a heartbeat. "Lydia?"

In the moonlight he can see her frantically trying to get her key into the ignition. She's crying and shaking so bad it's no wonder she's having so much trouble. Stiles knocks on the glass.

"Lydia! Lydia! Lydia!"

She finally stops, a hiccup of a sob escaping her as she looks over at him. "Stiles?" she asks so quietly he can't hear her through the glass. She grips the steering wheel tight with both hands and lets her head fall forward against it. Stiles watches the rise and fall of her back slow as her breathing settles down. He sighs, relieved that she's relieved.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she demands, calm enough now to be angry. "You can't just go around jumping on people's cars in the middle of the night!"

"Sorry! I'm sorry!" He gestures to the door. "Look, can we have this conversation inside the car?"

He doesn't miss the hesitation before her fingers press the unlock button, or how quickly she locks the doors again once he's inside.

"Thank you," he says.

She looks away from him and wipes at her cheeks. Stiles peers out into the woods. The interior lights came on when he opened the door, which means it'll be a few minutes before he can see outside clearly again.

He can't help but smile when she returns her attention to him, even if she is looking at him like he's something she just wiped off her shoe.

"What are you doing here?" he asks.

"Me? You're the one who-" Her head falls back against the seat and she screws her eyes shut. "Scott's not coming," she says at the same time he realizes "Allison's not coming."

She opens her eyes just wide enough to almost smile at him.

"They're such idiots," Stiles says.

"Yeah, but they're adorable too. Why else would we be here?" She glances at her rearview mirror. "So where's your car?"

"A police impound lot," he says. She frowns in confusion and he explains, "It was part of a violent crime."

"Great. There's no shortage of those around here recently." The lights flick off and she jumps a little. Her hand reaches halfway across the seat to him. He instinctively closes the distance but she pulls back as if his hand burns hers.

"Allison sent you out here?" Stiles asks quietly. "Alone?" If it weren't for the fact that she's dating his best friend and she's got that crazy family with the garage full of weapons, he'd be thinking about killing her right now.

Lydia turns to him sharply. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing!" he says quickly. "Just that-" He cuts off and decides to tell her the truth. "After everything that's happened, I worry about you."

She jams the key into the ignition and begins turning the car around, slamming the breaks so he gets jerked around.

"You think just because I wandered off into the woods for two days and you saw me crying - about something totally unrelated, by the way! - that I'm some helpless little girl who can't take care of herself. Well let me tell you something, Stilinski, I survived two days alone in the woods so I don't need you following me around like some knight in second-hand armor."

He lets her seethe until they reach his street. He pushes down a surge of excitement - Lydia Martin knows where he lives! - and says, "Do you remember when we were in fifth grade and we took a field trip to the aquarium?"

She makes a small, high-pitched noise that he's pretty sure means she's ignoring him.

"I'll take that as a yes," he says dryly. "And while we were there some kid from some other school fell in the dolphin tank and all the teachers started running around, telling us all to find our field trip buddies?"

She pulls over in front of his house and keeps her eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead.

"Well, Scott was my buddy."

"Big surprise," she laughs before she can stop herself. She instantly closes off again but he grins at the small encouragement.

"But I didn't look for Scott. I looked for you and when I saw you holding Emily Clairmont's hand, that's when I started looking for Scott. I don't worry about you because of the attacks or because you got hurt. I worry about you because I always have. I can't help it. And I realize I sound about as sappy as those messages we relay for Scott and Allison, so I'm just gonna shut up now. Thanks for the ride."

She doesn't let go of the steering wheel, doesn't turn, doesn't acknowledge him at all. He nods - he hadn't really been expecting any more - and jumps out of the car.

He doesn't hear her drive away until he closes his front door behind him.

Lydia's eyes stray yet again to the mirror on her locker door. In it she sees only the edge of her perfectly coiffed hair and the herds of students passing by. She slams the locker shut and barely contains a cry of rage. No one stands Lydia Martin up.

She marches down the hall and students get in her way at their own peril. She took the initiative, she sought him out like everything was normal this morning, like he hadn't acted like a total idiot and told her he- Well. It doesn't matter what he told her because they are ignoring it. At least that's the standard she thought she was setting when she gave him Allison's message before school and like hell is she gonna let him undermine her.

The last stragglers rush into their classes as the final bell rings and Lydia steps into the history classroom.

"Miss Martin?" Mr. Michelson asks. Lydia ignores him, skewers Stiles with her most annoyed look, and walks back out the door, flipping her hair on the way. She hears a desk squeak against the floor as Stiles rushes to catch up with her, not that she's gone far. She waits in the hall - arms crossed over her chest, one foot tapping impatiently, and a look of pure derision on her face.

Stiles skids to a stop and tries to smile nonchalantly, as if he's even capable of pulling off something like that.

"Hey, Lydia. What's up?" he asks, a wide grin on his stupid face.

"What's up is that you have been avoiding me!" she snaps and takes some pleasure in watching confusion and a hint of fear replace his happiness. "We are playing this stupid telephone game for our friends and if I can be the bigger person and forgive you for what you did the other night then you had damn well better move on too because I am not going to do this all on my own, do you understand me?"

"Lydia," Stiles says slowly, "I-"

"Do you?" she demands, pressing one perfectly manicured finger into his chest.

He holds up his hands in surrender. "Yes! Yes! I understand!"

She smiles and tips her head to the side, satisfied that he's been put in his place. She turns on her heel but he catches her arm, keeping her from leaving.

"I understand but I haven't been avoiding you. Scott's not at school today, that's why I don't have a reply for you yet."

Lydia looks from his face to his hand wrapped firmly around her wrist. "Oh. Well."

She gives a small tug and he releases her instantly. He's giving her one of his looks, the ones she tells herself he gives all the girls even though she has no evidence he uses them on anyone but her.

"I'll just wait for the reply then," she says, trying to take back control of the situation.

"Sounds good."

"But don't think this means you can call me at all hours. I need my beauty sleep." She walks away and hears him laugh behind her.

"No, you don't."

She doesn't stop and if her steps falter a little, there must be a dip in the floor, that's all.

He is holding Lydia Martin. He is holding Lydia Martin and he's dangerously close to condoning a murder because it resulted in this moment right here.

He started out sitting on the curb, holding her hand while she furiously texted Allison, asking where she was and informing her of the gruesome murder at the site of her and Scott's secret date. Or what was the site of their secret date. Scott and Allison disappeared over an hour ago to deal with wolf-business. Stiles tried to tell Lydia it was no use but she kept typing anyway, leaving message after message. She eventually gave up and, as they were kept waiting longer and longer to give their statements to the police, her head slowly drifted onto his shoulder. Now he's got one arm wrapped around her, propping her up, and he's pretty sure she's fallen asleep.

She murmurs something - something that sounds nothing at all like "Jackson," he happily notices - and snuggles closer, her head slipping from his shoulder to his chest. He tips his head back.

"Thank you," he mouths at the heavens.

Gravel crunches nearby and Stiles looks to his right to see his dad frozen a few feet away.

"Wha-" he begins.

Stiles gestures violently for him to be quiet, then towards the sleeping Lydia. His father nods - he does have enough detective skills to spot a sleeping girl six feet away - and angles his head to get a better look at her. He raises his eyebrows and Scott mouths, "I know! Right?"

Sheriff Stilinsky gestures to the deputy taking statements and mouths, "Later."

Stiles nods. He's had to give enough police statements lately to know the drill.

As he walks away the sheriff pauses just long enough to give Stiles a small thumbs up. Stiles grins happily and tightens his grip around Lydia's waist. She sighs in her sleep.

Hair: perfectly styled. Make-up: flawless. Outfit: phenomenal. That gives her pause. Should she really be wasting a phenomenal outfit on one of Scott and Allison's secret dates? Especially one at the free movie down by the library?

It'll just be the four of them eating cheap pizza from Zito's off paper plates and sitting on a blanket on the grass. Or, more precisely, it'll be her and Stiles since Scott and Allison always take the first opportunity to abandon them. So: her, Stiles, alone, in the dark, outside, for two hours.

She's definitely changing.

Preferably into something that won't draw attention. Because she'll be with Stiles and won't want anyone to see, especially men in long, dark coats who do not have red eyes and extra-long teeth because that would be that C-word she's not even thinking.

Five minutes later she's debating between her brown leather jacket or her black coat when a loud bang makes her jump. She'll never admit it but when she looks towards her window for the source of the noise, she does it from behind her dresser.

"It's okay," she breathes when nothing flies, climbs, or jumps through the open window to murder her. "It's nothing. It's just a really dumb bird."


Her pounding heart kicks up again, this time fueled by anger instead of fear. She stalks to her window and throws open the curtains to see Stiles hanging from the windowsill by his fingertips.

"Or a really dumb idiot," she says. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Little help?" he croaks.

One of his pinkies slips away from the sill and she spares a moment to roll her eyes. She grabs his arms and between her pulling and him kicking at the side of her house she gets him halfway inside. When he's more or less balanced on his stomach she lets go and quickly grabs the waist of his jeans. He's trying to stand on his hands so one quick tug from her flips him over, leaving him sprawled out on her floor and giving her the satisfaction of hearing his head hit the floor.

"Ow!" he yells.

The familiar click of her doorknob is all the warning she gets before "Lydia? Is everything-"

Lydia spins, a million explanations running through her mind as her mother walks through the door.

"Hi, Mrs. Martin!" Stiles says before she can settle on one. He pushes himself up to a sitting position beneath her window.

"Stiles, right?" her mom asks, her eyes darting between the two of them.

"I was just-"

"Being stupid," Lydia fills in. Stiles is the last person she wants explaining anything to her mother. "Apparently he doesn't understand the concept of a door or stairs."

Her mom tries to hide a smile and opens the door all the way. "I'll just leave this here, all right?" She heads quickly down the hall and Lydia rushes to the door.

"Oh, mom! As if I would- with Stiles?"

"Open!" her mom yells and Lydia stifles a scream of frustration. She shoots Stiles a glare and stalks to her vanity.

"This had better be good," she says and begins rebrushing her hair. "What does Scott have to say?" She half-hopes he's changed the location to somewhere inside and brightly lit and half-hopes he hasn't because she's always been a sucker for Cinderella stories and she hasn't seen Ever After since she was a kid.

Stiles settles behind her in the mirror and she scowls. She did not give him permission to sit on her bed.

"Nothing," he says. "Date's off."

She slams the brush down and spins to look him in the eye. "What? Why?" She's not disappointed, just angry at having her plans changed, that's all.

He shrugs. "They had plans."

"'They'? You talked to Allison?"

"Yeah," he says. "She's got some family thing and Scott's busy doing extra credit."

Lydia sets aside the fact that Allison should have told her about this change and focuses instead on the way Stiles isn't looking at her - he always looks at her - and how he's talking like a normal person instead of the excited puppy he usually is around her.

"What's going on?" she asks.

"Nothing." Still not looking at her.

She jumps up from her seat and grabs his face with one hand, forcing him to look at her. "You are gonna tell me what's going on or I'll-" Her eyes dart from left to right and settle on her Chemistry textbook. She grabs it from the end of her bed and holds it up. "Or I'll murder you with this book."

He looks incredulously between her and the book. She holds it a little higher.

"Okay! Okay!" he says.

She lets him go and steps back, keeping a firm grip on the book just in case. "Well?" she prompts.

He sighs. "Apparently Scott and Allison were never gonna come. Scott only let it slip by accident."

"What do you mean?"

"They were kind of … trying to trick us into going on a date." He looks anywhere but at her while he speaks and only when he's done does he dare look at her face.

"Are you serious?"

He nods.

She looks him over from head to toe. He looks as ragged as he does every day at school and she wonders if he found out about this little ruse before getting dressed or if this is what he was gonna go with.

"Why are you telling me?" He blinks up at her and she adds, "You could have gone on a date with me. Isn't that what you want?"

"Yeah!" he says far too quickly.

She raises an eyebrow and he catches himself.

"I mean, yes. Only I don't want it to be like the dance. Don't get me wrong, that was great! Except you didn't want to do it, you just did it for Allison."


"So, next time we go on a date, it'll be because you wanted to be with me."

He's so sincere, so certain that it's gonna happen that it takes her a half-second to remember he's being ridiculous. She laughs lightly but he only grins.

"See you later, Lydia."

Her laughter dies abruptly. He's really leaving when he had the chance to spend the whole evening with her.

She knows it's a bad idea before her fingers touch her coat. He'll take it entirely the wrong way and it'll only encourage him but none of that makes her want to do it any less.

She brushes past him in the hall and slips her coat on quickly before reaching the stairs. "We're taking my car. I refuse to be seen in that piece of junk you call a jeep again." He might try to explain that the piece of junk is still locked up but she speaks over him as she leads the way down the stairs. "And this is not a date. Not a fake one or a secret one or one we've been tricked into. I just really wanna see the movie and I'm not wasting all the time I spent getting ready." She whirls on him at the last step. "Not a date."

"Not a date," he agrees, too blind-sided to do anything else.