WARNING: character death; you may hate me for this.

a/n: asdfghjkl idk. i felt like writing angst, and the only pairing that makes me feel so many things right now is stydia, ergo. i got way too carried away, but once i started, i couldn't stop. i kind of hate this; just cause i killed off one of my favorite male characters of all time, right next to chandler bing and damon salvatore. ugh. i hope i didn't make lydia too ooc. also, i maybe cried like six times while writing this, but i'm just a big baby anyway. story title comes from rubik's cube by athlete.


come take this weight off me now


Lydia rolls her eyes.

Her gaze travels across the gymnasium, where most of her classmates are swaying along to a melodic beat meant for couples, and she barely restrains the urge to stamp her heel-clad foot. She turns, fills a plastic cup with the undoubtedly spiked fruit punch─Jackson's been on the dance committees ever since she coerced him into extracurricular activities back in freshman year, so─and resorts to downing the liquid in a fashion that could only be described as enraged.

She is going to murder Stiles.

Firstly, he buys her the wrong color corsage─in what universe does fuchsia match with forest oak green? Secondly, he hasn't really been coherent at all, always stuttering through his sentences and rubbing his palms off on his suit's trousers, so she's had to settle for having limited conversations with the side of his face all night. And now, he has the nerve to leave her stranded on what's supposed to be the best night of her high school life, not to mention the first night she's out on an actual date with him of her own accord?

"I'm sorry I haven't been awesome company, but I'm gonna make it up to you, okay? Just give me a sec," he'd said, nervously scratching the back of his neck before he'd leaned in to kiss her cheek so quickly that she'd wondered whether he'd done it at all. Before she could chastise him for invading her personal space or give him a smile and a nod, he'd been tumbling through all the dancing teenagers to reach the exit.

That was fifteen minutes ago.

She's seriously debating running the edge of her stiletto heel across his precious Jeep when she feels a vibration against her palm, turning her phone over to see Allison's name illuminating the screen. Her eyes narrow; Allison is partly to blame for this, after all, she is the one that encouraged Lydia to say yes to Stiles when he'd asked her out.

Later, she'll realize that Allison's input was completely irrelevant, but she's irritated and impatient, so she can play the blame game all she wants.

"He─"

"Lydia, where are you?"

Lydia frowns as her best friend's worrisome tone resonates off her eardrums. "In the gym, obviously. Have you forgotten that your boyfriend's asinine best friend is my prom date?"

"Okay, I need you to stay put, do you understand? The alpha pack is trying to send Derek a message and they felt theatrical, so they chose the prom as the setting. There's no telling what they'll do, so don't go outside for any reason. The same goes for Stiles. I'll call you when it's safe."

Allison hangs up before Lydia gets a chance to say anything, and the blonde's head is left reeling with all the information that was just bestowed upon her.

After Jackson broke up with her, again, she'd been strictly on a need-to-know basis with all the supernatural dealings that her friends were involved in. If it had to do with werewolves, or full moons, or alpha packs invading Beacon Hills, she figured she was better off remaining out of the loop, where Stiles, Jackson, and Scott agreed that she should stay.

But now, something's up. She can feel it.

She'd never heard Allison sound so frantic before, not since the night they broke in to their school and decided to participate in a game of hide-and-seek with a wolfed out Peter Hale. So, if the arrow-wielding teenager had warned her against going outside, then you can bet your sorry─

Outside.

Stiles.

Without really contemplating what she's doing or what the consequences of her actions could be, she finds her feet running across the gym, aching for any supernatural abilities that would allow her to get past the crowds of hormonal, sweaty teenagers faster. As she reaches the door, her hands go down to remove her heels before she walks out into the humid air that only spring season provides.

She glances around, not daring to say anything until the coast is clear. All that her eyes detect is an empty parking lot, seemingly nothing out of place, except─

Stiles' Jeep.

The passenger door is wide open, and he's nowhere in sight. Lydia picks up the skirt of her dress, stalking towards the car with feline-like steps, wary of the quiet atmosphere. She hears the snap of a twig behind her and she turns swiftly, eyes straining to see anything walking on four legs in the darkness.

She sees nothing.

Lydia keeps her gaze on the bushes on the side of the school as she carefully begins to step backwards, gauging the possibilities of all the sounds that reach her ears. She lifts her heel, only to wince when her skin comes into contact with something wet.

Please be water, or gasoline, or soda, I'd even be okay with urine, please just don't be─

Blood.

She gasps, following the trail with her eyes, only to realize that it leads to the driver's side of Stiles' Jeep, and she peers around the corner slowly, only to completely forget about her survival tactics and run to his side once she spots his mangled body on the concrete. She covers her mouth with her hands to keep the scream building in her throat from passing through her lips and drops to her knees, paying her ruined formal attire no attention.

She dials 911 immediately, and the way the moonlight illuminates the contrast of Stiles' pale skin against the dark crimson of his blood makes the one ring it takes for the operator to pick up the longest two seconds of her entire life.

"911, what's your emergency?"

Her throat has gone unbelievably dry, and it takes Lydia three tries before she can finally get the right words out. "I'm at Beacon Hills High, my date is fatally wounded, please, he's losing a lot of blood, just come. Quick."

At the sound of her voice, his eyes blearily open. She looks down to see that his dress shirt is ruined, hanging off of him in tatters, and that every inch of his exposed torso is covered in scrapes and blood. She runs her fingers lightly over his ribs, where visible claw marks are displayed.

"Ly─Lydia? Get out of here, now."

She chases away the urge to glare at him because seriously, he is choosing the wrong moment to be all the right kinds of adorable. Doesn't he know that the protocol for nearly being mauled by a werewolf at prom is to let someone help you and tend to your wounds?

Before she can tell him this, however, she sees that his eyes have closed again. Despite Lydia's genius level IQ and fluency in both archaic and classical Latin, she's not that experienced in the medical field, but the one thing she does know for sure is that if someone is critically injured, do not, by any means, let them fall asleep.

"Stiles, stay with me, Stiles, please. Just hold on, okay? Help is on the way, you're gonna be fine, you're gonna be fine, I promise. Oh God, just please."

She's crying now, tears relentlessly streaming down her face as she presses her hands firmly to his thigh in an attempt to ebb the flow of the blood. To no avail, she sees scarlet continue to seep through her fingers, and scrunches her face up in determination.

Through her tears, she can see Stiles staring up at her wondrously, almost as if he's surprised at her adamant display of concern for his well-being. She feels guilt settle in the pit of her stomach and she buries it down immediately; save Stiles now, feel guilty later.

She wracks her brain through the vast amount of knowledge it contains, searching for something, anything, that might seem adequate to know in this particular situation. She gets an idea and wastes no time in tearing off the hem of her newly-purchased dress, ignoring Stiles' protests as she wraps the material above his wound, wrapping it as tightly as her trembling hands will allow.

Once she's satisfied with her makeshift tourniquet, panic starts to settle as she realizes the vulnerability of their position. She's only heard stories of the alpha pack from Derek when she was dating Jackson, and all of what was said was vital information; they're vengeful, impulsive, and they'll stop at nothing to get what they want. With that knowledge, it's safe to assume that if they wanted to send a message to Derek about how wrong he was to refuse them, they wouldn't have left their victim with any chance of survival.

Looking down at his face, cheeks void of the familiar flush that her presence always incites, lets her know that she's right.

While Lydia is a supernatural wonder all on her own with her immunity, she is still just a human seventeen-year old girl, and if the bitch-werewolf who tore through the flesh of Stiles' leg decides to come back and finish the job, she's sure she wouldn't be able to stop them.

That's not to say she wouldn't try her damnedest.

"I came to get something for you," he rasps, eyes moving to focus on something behind her.

She turns to find a bouquet of flowers lying in reckless abandon near the front tires of his car, and she can feel her teeth clench together as something wet slips down her cheek yet again. She'd been so irritated with him, even considered ditching him for his imprudent behavior, only to find out that he was, predictably, up to only good.

"Lilies," she whispers, eyes locked on his, "my favorite."

"There was a note, too, but, uh..." he trails off, swallowing thickly at the way she's staring at him. She doesn't know whether he was feeling courageous or timid, but she thinks it's the former that propels the words from his mouth. "I─I never...told you─"

She doesn't have to ask what he's alluding to, doesn't have to hear him say it, she just needs him to save up all the strength he has until the ambulance gets here, until he's safe. She puts a finger to his lips, willing him to stay quiet, and she cups his cheek with her other hand, smearing blood onto his pallid cheek.

"I know, okay? I know," she whispers, resting her forehead against his, remembering to place as little pressure on him as possible. He blinks, and she feels his eyelashes graze the side of her face. "I'm sorry I never saw it before, I'm so sorry, so sorry─"

She hears sirens in the distance, and for once, she's glad they live in such a small town, glad that it seems like Stiles has a fighting chance for survival. Lydia takes his hand in both of hers and shuts her eyes, pleading and praying to an omnipotent deity, something she's never had to resort to before. Please let him live, please, I'll do anything.

"Shh, you're here now."

She nods fiercely, and if she wasn't holding on to the boy that's become her lifeline as he continues to shed more and more blood, she might've laughed; classic Stiles, jumping at the chance to comfort her when her problems were obviously the lesser of two evils.

Lydia peers down at him, noticing the furrow in his eyebrows and the light sheen of sweat splayed on his forehead, and thinks she's never seen anything more beautiful than this boy, fighting for his life just like he fights for everything else. With the prospect of losing him right before her eyes, she can't fathom why she never gave him a chance.

Cursing her horrible timing to the deepest pits of hell, she grips his hand a little tighter before leaning down and pressing her lips to his. He tastes like Listerine and chips mingled with the metallic twang of blood, and when she pulls away, she sees his lips pull up at the corners.

"Guess I'm in no condition to burst into song, huh?" he asks, and against her better judgement, she laughs. He smiles for a second before resting his head back onto the concrete. "Tell my dad I'm sorry, okay? And to keep eating salads. Let Scott know that he was the best friend ever, despite being furrier than normal, but hey, we all have our faults."

She shakes her head vehemently, tears spilling down her cheeks haphazardly. He shouldn't be talking like that, shouldn't make her the messenger of something he'll be able to say himself because the ambulance is gonna get here and they're gonna take him to the hospital and he's going to be fine. A little roughed up, maybe some crutches, and he'll probably need to drop out of Derek's pack for a couple of weeks, but good. She'll bake him cookies and hold his hand and everything's going to be─

"I know you know, but still," his voice is nothing more than a dry whisper, and she can see his struggle to propel the words from his lips. She gnaws on the inside of her lip and steels herself for what she knows he's gonna say next, "Lydia, I love you. Just─just remember that."

There it is.

The admission that she knew would one day come, the admission that she never thought she'd be ready for. Despite his condition, those three little─but so, so big─words leave his lips with ease, voice wrapping around her name like the most intricate of caresses.

He doesn't expect anything from her, she knows, but the thing is that she wants to say it back, more than anything. Maybe deep in the hidden recesses of her soul, she'll realize she means it, but she can't. It wouldn't be the same, and it would be far less than he deserves. As much as she wants him to be happy, to cling onto that one memory of having his love reciprocated, she can't deceive him, not like this, not more than she already has.

She nods once, craning her neck to kiss him again. He immediately reciprocates, lips brushing against hers gently, familiarizing, and she feels hope build inside her chest and fill her up from head to toe. She can hear the ambulance and she realizes they must be through the trees decorating the parking lot of their school and she knows, if he just holds on, just a couple of seconds more, a single minute, then─

He's not kissing her anymore, why is he not kissing her anymore?

She pulls away, eyes grazing over his still features. She tugs at his fingers, trying to incite a response, but when she notices that his digits just fall limp against her palm, she exhales sharply, reaching her hands up to cradle his face. His eyes are closed, and his lips are no longer set in that easy smile she saw before leaning down to press her lips against his.

"Stiles? No, Stiles, no."

She slaps the side of his face lightly, trails her fingers up and down any expanse of skin she can see; the bridge of his nose, his eyebrows, his lips. She grabs him by the shoulders and shakes him roughly, muscles straining to lift his body weight time and time again.

Again, no response.

She can physically feel her heart plummet to the pit of her stomach, and this can't be happening, but it is because Stiles would be comforting her right now, telling her something that's flattering and alleviating in equal measure, but he isn't talking and he's not opening his eyes and ohmygod, she can't breathe.

"Please, please, please, no!"

As the scene around her unfolds, everything becomes sort of muted. She's only faintly aware of the red and blue lights signaling the ambulance's arrival and the only thing she does that gives sign of her not having gone into catatonic shock is the fact that she squeezes his hand tighter when they try to extricate it from her grasp. She shakes her head, lip quivering as she runs her thumb over his knuckles, rocking her body back and forth, each movement causing her bare legs to become even more encompassed with his blood.

The paramedic sighs, and Lydia doesn't hear anything above a muffled whisper as she lays her head to his chest, yearning to hear a heartbeat she knows will never come─time of death, 10:28 p.m. Someone really needs to get his girlfriend to calm down.

She only allows his body to be released from hers when she hears the screech of tires against the concrete, willing her legs to not give way under her weight as she forces herself to stand.

Sheriff Stilinski jumps out of the driver's side of the police car, eyes trained to quickly scan the scene before him. He stops when he sees that Lydia's trembling, body full of blood that isn't hers. "No," he whispers, because he knows what this means, knows because his son would not stop talking about what this means for the past three weeks, always pestering him for money and advice and Dad, do you think she'll be impressed if I learn how to waltz?

Out of his peripheral vision, he can see that everyone's eyes are trained on him, gauging his reaction, while others have their eyes firmly planted on the ground, refusing to witness what's sure to be the most heartbreaking moment in one's life.

Lydia takes a minute step towards him, her usually calculating green eyes full of nothing but remorse and apology. She sees his hands clench at his sides, and she shuts her eyes as he sprints past her to his son's unmoving body. She turns slowly, and she doesn't think she'll ever get the image of the Sheriff falling to his knees at his son's side out of her brain.

"Nonono, Stiles? Stiles!" he cries, wrapping his arms around the teenager and cradling his head to his chest. The Sheriff, who she's always regarded with respect and admiration due to his reserved and calm demeanor, is sobbing into his son's hair, head shaking from the force of the cries wracking through his body. "My son, my boy."

She tears her gaze away, not wanting to intrude on such a private moment. Another pang of guilt hits her at seeing the Sheriff so torn up, because she knows there is no love that can match up to that of a parent's for their child, and yet, she was the last to see him alive.

She's torn between hating herself and feeling infinitely grateful when she spots a familiar mop of messy hair and settles on furious. She stalks toward him as fast as her legs will carry her, ignoring the round of gasps she hears when her palm strikes his cheek.

"Where were you?! He needed you!" Her tiny fists pummel against his broad chest and she doesn't let up, not even when she feels the skin of her knuckles begin to welt as they scratch against the material of his shirt. She just keeps hitting him, ignoring the crowd of authorities that has gathered around them, whispering among themselves. "You could've done something! You're supposed to be his best friend!" she cries, and she doesn't give a damn if her voice hitches or if her mascara is running in thirty different trails of tears down her face or if people are letting her get away with hitting him since she's Lydia Martin, demented girl who does inexplicable things all the time, because all she can think of is because I think you look really beautiful when you cry and god, what she wouldn't give to hear his voice again. "You could've..."

She sees his lip tremble and she collapses against him, sobbing into his chest as her blood-encrusted nails cling onto the material of his sweatshirt. Lydia cries and cries, until spots are blurring her vision and the excessive activity of her lungs is causing her to hyperventilate, and she feels something wet fall on her forehead from time to time. Scott makes no move to push her away, but he doesn't do anything to comfort her either. She's thankful, for this is just what she needs; someone to lean on, but not someone to hold her.

That's what Stiles was for, and that's a void no one else will ever fill.

She chokes on her tears, and as soon as she turns away from Scott, she vomits in the bushes. She's vaguely aware of Scott coming up behind her to rub circles on her back, but she can't feel it, or doesn't care, or both, just continues to dry heave as the last hour's events flash through her mind─blood, lilies, blood, I love you, oh god so much blood.

And then, nothing.

"This isn't fair," she grumbles, swatting angrily at her cheeks.

It isn't fair that the world made a boy who was so achingly good fall in love with her, that she didn't learn of his existence up until a couple of years ago, and it most certainly isn't fair that the universe made her develop feelings for him just before tearing him from her grasp.

She could've loved him, oh god, she could've loved him.

He would've given her his world, she knows. He would've made her laugh, and he would've always been there, cheering her on to win that Fields Medal. Not a day would've passed where he didn't remind her of how beautiful and extraordinary she was, and with each remark, with each loving gaze he sent her way, she would've felt herself falling just a bit harder each day.

Once she had him, she would've never let go.

"They can't get away with this," he murmurs, and she almost wants to shudder at his voice; on the surface, it's calm, but she can tell there's something primal and dangerous lacing his words that is just begging to be set free. He turns to her, suddenly. "You should get outta here."

She looks at him like he's crazy, as if he doesn't see the dozen paramedics, policemen, and high schoolers standing around the parking lot. "I can't, they need to do questioning, and─"

"Lydia, go, please. Take Stiles' Jeep back to his house. I'll meet you there."

He's looking at her with a mixture of irritation and obligation surfacing below the agony swimming in his dark brown eyes, and she thinks he must be doing this, taking care of her and making sure she's fine, for Stiles, because Stiles loved Lydia and Scott loves Stiles. She feels compassion swim through her veins, and she nods, deciding to follow his orders, because she knows it's what he would want.

Something he wouldn't want, however, is for them to become vengeful, to seek out the prick who did this to him and make him pay for his turmoil. The way Lydia looks at it, however, is like this; a man lost his son, a boy his best friend, and a girl her...her...her Stiles.

And that isn't something that's just going to be left alone.

Looking at Scott, at the way his eyelids droop heavily, the way his jaw is tightly clenched as he glares at the ground, lets her know they're on the same page.

"Okay," she agrees, beginning to stand, and Scott immediately catches her arm to provide structure. Once he's sure that she'll be able to make it the necessary seventeen feet to his best friend's Jeep, he lets her go and begins walking away from her, from everything. "Scott?" The werewolf pauses, but refuses to turn around. He's not sure he can take looking at Lydia covered in his best friend's blood, his scent, his love, another second before spontaneously combusting. "Make it hurt."

In the heart of night, Scott's eyes flash a dangerous shade of amber.

"That's a promise."

Later, she'll say it was pure adrenaline coursing through her veins, maybe commend herself for being so stealthy, but in reality, she knows she wasn't a priority. The other officials are attempting to keep the curious teenagers at bay, trying to preserve a single moment of sanctity for Beacon Hills' savior. As for the Sheriff, she's sure he could care less about questioning her right now, as her rearview mirror tells her that he's still painfully grieving over the loss of the most important person to him.

Lydia immediately swears she's going to make it a priority of hers to visit the Sheriff every once in a while. A hint of a smile plays at her lips; she imagines the Sheriff and herself, laughing over a cup of coffee as they trade stories back and forth─Stiles would've liked that, she thinks.

It's not hard for Lydia to crawl into Stiles' Jeep, to find the keys laying carelessly on the dashboard, roll her eyes in fondness before a pang of anguish surrounds her entire being, to calm her quaking hands long enough to put the key into the ignition. The car hums to life, and she relaxes back into the seat, at ease being in one of the places Stiles frequented most.

She drives in circles, going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. She's in no hurry to get to Stiles'; she knows Scott won't be there for another couple of hours. She's not really paying attention to where she's going, eyes barely registering the familiar road signs she's seen for the past seventeen years of her life.

Before she knows it, she stops, hands gripping the wheel so hard that her knuckles are prominently white against her skin. She turns to glance out the passenger seat's window, and she sighs when she sees where her subconscious has taken her; the ice rink.

"Sometimes there's other things you wouldn't think would be a good combination end up, turning out to be like a perfect combination."

Her eyes trail to the passenger seat, where a single piece of paper rests, and Lydia swears she feels her heart stop beating for a fraction of time, only for it to start up again at double its original speed. She swallows to ease her dry throat, but it doesn't work.

"There was a note, too, but, uh..."

She takes the piece of paper and unfolds it, eyes running over his messy scrawl so quickly that she has to read it five times before she can fully grasp what message he'd been trying to convey. Once she does, however, she raises her hand to her mouth in quiet torment.

Lydia lets out a rasped sob and leans her head against his steering wheel, thinking that, out of all the people in her life now, and all those to come, she can truthfully say that none of them will ever love her as unconditionally and as purely as the boy with the pretty brown eyes and a penchant for sarcasm did.

It's an extremely selfish thought to have, but it's true.

He loved her. Her. Lydia Martin, the girl under the cosmetics and expensive clothing. He loved her for all that she was and all that she wasn't, loved her at her best and worst times, even when he wasn't on her radar, even when she blatantly reconciled with Jackson right in front of his eyes, just after he'd basically declared his feelings for her.

No one will ever look at her with that same unwavering affection in their eyes, no one will ever sacrifice their lives so readily for her like Stiles often did, and no one will ever make her feel the same sense of security that seemed to encompass her solely in his presence.

She knows she loves him for it, always will.

Switching the gear into drive, Lydia sets the card on the passenger seat, focuses on the road in front of her through swollen eyes, vision already becoming blurred by the onslaught of tears she isn't sure are going to stop, and tries not to notice the way the words shimmer from the glow of the streetlamps out of her peripherals.

Thank you for finally giving me a chance. I promise you won't regret it.

P.S. You were worth the wait.


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