First try at Jackson/Lydia because they are full of flaws and so very tragic, but I love them to pieces. Also, I am so obsessed with Teen Wolf, it's almost ridiculous. Except, well, it's not ridiculous. I ship basically every possible couple on that show, but Jackson/Lydia is my otp.

With that being said, this is over 6,000 words of irrelevancy. Seriously, started writing and couldn't stop. Anyway. There is no supernatural in this. They're simply teenagers/young adults. Also, it switches from one point of time to another. Not hard to figure out, though.

First lines from Richard Siken because he is flawless. Title from Change of Time - Josh Ritter.

shorelines in the moonlight.

We get drunk to leak a little truth. We get drunk so we can say things, often things we'll want to be able to deny later.

. .
. .

Jackson finds her after school one day. He's on his way to lacrosse practice and she's sitting against the lockers with her eyes closed, head resting against the cold metal. Her legs are drawn up and her hands are balled into fists.

And maybe he doesn't love her or like her or need her or want her, but he still cares. "Lydia?" He questions, walking towards her cautiously.

Her eyes open slowly and that's when he notices the tears spilling over onto her cheeks. Jackson isn't used to this. When they were together and she cried, he was never around. Mostly because he was the one making her cry, but still. He stops moving, one hand pressed against a locker, looks down at her as she looks up at him and all he can see are her hazel eyes and all he can think is how she shouldn't look so pretty when she's crying.

"Are you okay?" He asks cautiously. He stumbles over the words only a little, hesitates because he honestly does not know what her response will be.

She chuckles bitterly, fists coming up to wipe away her tears. She rolls her eyes, rubs the heel of her hand against her cheeks, reddens them, pouts a little. "As if you care. Please leave, Jackson."

She focuses her vision on the lockers on the opposite wall, how they begin the same way they end—connected. Lydia feels eighteen different versions of disconnected, wipes her fingers under her eyes so she doesn't cry anymore.

She tries to ignore Jackson and the way he sighs and shuffles his feet a couple of times. But then he's sliding down the lockers until he's sitting right beside her, his head leaning against a locker, turned a little towards her. "I do though, Lydia." There's a pause and she releases a breath, but still manages to roll her eyes. "At least I try to care. I really do."

"But you don't." She retorts easily, head automatically turning his way. "You never have cared about anyone other than yourself and stupid lacrosse."

There's a long moment in which Lydia thinks she's gotten him. He's backed into a corner and she is right and he is wrong. He is always so wrong for her. "I cared about you once, I did."

She scoffs—this isn't Jackson. This is a boy she hates and loves secretly and openly and all at once. "Just leave," she says as one final plea. He's telling her things she would have wanted to hear months ago in the passenger seat of his Porsche as he dropped her off at her house, leaning across the console to kiss her heatedly. She would have loved to hear it then, in that time when she was so hopelessly in love with him that she would have taken anything he was willing to give.

Now it feels like it's a little too late. "Leave," she says again, softly, slowly, a sob building in the back of her throat. Her eyes are closed and she can't look at him because she's never been able to look at him without loving at least a little bit of the person he is. With her eyes closed, she can hate him and the way his heart beats erratically and the way his hand makes its way over to her face and cups her cheek lightly, wipes away tears.

"Hate you so much," She says quietly, almost like an afterthought, almost like she didn't mean to say it at all. But with Jackson her words come tumbling out and she never really knows what she's saying until afterward; like the I love you from winter break as he ran his hands up under her top, touching the underside of her breast, so much.

Lydia doesn't think sometimes. She just says. "I know," he says back to her and she can feel his breath on her face because he's so close, but she won't open her eyes because it makes this real and she can't hate him when she's looking inside of him. Because that's what she does, she takes this boy and she peels back layers and studies him and loves him even when she shouldn't. She thinks that's why everything ended in the first place—she loved him first and the most and all at once and more than before and he couldn't handle it, couldn't love her back even the slightest.

That's why. "Go," she says again and feels something land on her shoulders. It feels a whole lot like the world. She feels his hand move off of her cheek—she'd forgotten it was there—and there's nothing but empty space and it hurts more than it should.

She keeps her eyes closed as he stands and walks away. She wonders if his stare lingers in just the slightest.

. .
. .

She's a sophomore in college at Columbia University and New York has treated her well. She interns at a lab, observing and assisting. In the spring she starts wearing her summer dresses and they fit perfectly beneath her white lab coat and she feels accomplished and whole and she's proud of herself.

It's a Tuesday and she doesn't have a class today, so she's working at the lab. She's returning from her lunch break with one of her fellow interns, a tea in one hand, her other hand running through her hair when she sees him.

He's in the lobby of the building, sitting in one of the chairs across from the receptionist's desk. She's laughing at something Ashley says, but stops abruptly when she see him. Her hand stalls in her hair, her feet stop moving, she stands there and stares. He's looking back at her, holding two cups of coffee in his hands, his mouth in the shape of a small, measured smile.

"What is it?" Ashley asks her with confusion in her voice.

It takes Lydia a moment to respond, but then she finally does and her voice is filled with shock and disbelief, "A guy I used to know." Then she slowly walks over to him and he stands when she gets closer.

She takes in his appearance. He's filled out, more muscle in his arms, a taller frame, but still most definitely the boy she remembers from high school.

"Jackson," she says with a small smile on her lips, "hi." She leans up and stretches her arms around him. Her fingers move in small circles on his back and his arms circle around her waist and he squeezes her once, twice, three times.

"It's good to see you," she says when she pulls away.

He offers her a coffee, but she holds up her tea. "Thank you though," she smiles.

"It's good to see you, Lydia." He smiles. His voice is the same one that haunted a few dreams she had, came out in breaths as he trailed kisses down her neck the last night of summer before senior year, the same one she's tried too many times to forget, but simply can't.

"What are you doing here?" She asks, taking a seat. He follows suit, clears his throat, turns to her, smiles his achingly beautiful smile, "I kind of live here now."

"You live here? In New York?" She asks with sheer confusion in her voice. She's been away from him for so long, hasn't spoken to him since graduation night. The last she heard, he was at Berkeley.

He chuckles, "Yeah, I just transferred to Columbia. I start in the fall, finished up all my classes at Berkeley."

Something is different about him, Lydia suddenly realizes this in the few seconds that she gets to just listen to him talk. He's not the Jackson she remembers. He's not hard eyes and clenched jaw, bully to all the freshman, careless and mean and rough around the edges.

He seems whole and kind and Lydia wonders where this man was when she was in love with the boy he used to be. Where was this Jackson.

"Lydia?" He questions and she realizes she's zoned out.

She clears her throat, "Sorry. It's just," she pauses, "there's something different about you." Her eyes do this thing where they grow wider and he can really see the green in them and he knows she's still trying to figure something out. He remembers this about her, doesn't think too much has changed about her.

He stares back with a smile on his face, then he ducks his head and chuckles. "You're different," she continues. "Nicer." She finally manages with a little laugh tacked onto the end.

He looks up suddenly, protesting, "I've always been nice."

She scoffs, rolls her eyes, does this little pout she isn't even aware of. He smiles back at her and she thinks he's been doing a lot of that since she first saw him a couple of minutes ago. They've never been like this. It was always dead weight and I hate you and I love you and no, you don't and stupid shallow useless mean ugly rude—this is nice, she thinks.

"And you smile more," she continues, motioning with her tea to his face when a smile stretches across it. "It's nice," she says after she finishes drinking her tea.

It takes him a moment to respond, and Lydia studies him more in the short seconds. Her eyes trace over the way his eyes squint just the faintest amount like he's trying to think of something, the way he licks his bottom lip without even realizing what it still does to her, the way he chuckles a little before turning to her. "You know, yeah, I guess I have changed."

She wonders if he's thinking about the way her face had scrunched up right before he made her cry the nineteenth time during senior year. She tries to forget it—he's different now.

She clears her throat in the comfortable silence that follows. He's only looking at her with a fondness she isn't used to. "So," she says, "how did you know I was here?" She asks, motioning to the lobby of lab.

"I talked to Stiles who talked to Scott who heard from Allison that you were interning here in between studies at Columbia. Thought maybe you could show me around?" There's that smile again and Lydia can't find it in herself to tell him no, doesn't think she could either way.

"I'd be glad to." She says back, her hand falling lightly onto his forearm.

. .
. .

It's graduation night and Lydia never thought this day would come, never thought she'd finally get to leave Beacon Hills behind and go across the country to study to become a chemist or a biologist or something equally amazing.

Lydia honestly thought she would have been ruined by now.

Jackson catches her eye from two rows up when he turns around for a split second.

Scratch that. She has been ruined.

Lydia drops her head suddenly, feels an ache spread throughout her chest, almost like it's destroying her insides, twisting and pulling and yanking until she wants to cry and scream at the same time.

When she looks back up, she can only see the back of his head. She closes her eyes then, can hate him like this when she doesn't have to look at him and the bright lights that illuminate him in the night sky. She opens them again after controlling her breathing and tries to focus on the principal on stage as he talks about the rest of their lives being filled with accomplishments.

Allison places a reassuring hand over her shaking ones, nods with compassion, then smiles so sweetly Lydia has never been so thankful for a best friend.

When she walks across the stage to receive her diploma, Jackson is already back in his seat, diploma gripped tightly in his hand. She looks at him as she's walking down the stairs to get back to her seat. She thinks she sees a small smile on his face for a short moment, blinks, looks again and it's a smirk. The nasty one that he's perfected over the years, the one she hates, but loves, but hates more. Maybe loves him.

She shakes her head to free herself of the thought and when she sits back down, she and Allison cry and laugh and say things like we did it!

There's a graduation party afterward at Melissa from American Literature's house and everyone's going to be there.

When she shows up around eleven in her summer dress and flats, she's tired and doesn't want to be here, but Allison had begged her earlier, so finally Lydia agreed to show up.

She opens the front door and is suddenly hit with the stench of alcohol mixed with sweat. The music is loud and the house is so crowded she has to push her way through everyone. There's jumping and yelling and she almost falls when one of the football players walks back into her as he chugs a bottle of vodka. It's distasteful and she seriously regrets coming as she's falling to the floor.

A hand comes out and steadies her, but it's not Jackson or anyone important. It's a boy she had one class with junior year. She thanks him with a small smile and continues to push her way through the crowd until she's at the french doors that open to the backyard.

There are more people there and Lydia simply sighs, tries to find Allison or Scott or even Stiles in the crowd of people. No such luck. She does spot the keg and decides she could definitely use a drink.

Jackson's filling up a cup for himself when she walks over. And she almost doesn't walk over, but something inside of her tells her to do it. Tells her to stop acting like a frightened little girl, tells her to face her problems head on. Tells her to keep her eyes open because she is capable of not love him this way.

She clears her throat and takes the cup that he offers her. There's a heavy amount of foam on top and she thinks maybe he made this for her because this is the only way she can drink her beer. She almost smiles at him, but doesn't. Remembers raw cheeks and lockers and sincerity. She walks away before she can say anything stupid. Something like I miss you love you hate you want you need—

She does find Allison at some point around midnight after she's been mulling around the party for an hour, avoiding girls she hates, boys she doesn't love. She's on her third beer and feels a little off balance, but not too much.

Allison is with Scott, pressed back against a closet door, and Lydia can hear the sweet words he keeps whispering in Allison's ear. She walks away before they can see her, before she can ruin their moment, before she can do something so selfish as to be jealous of Allison.

She walks away quickly, out the front door where she can breathe cool air. The noise difference is ridiculous and suddenly her mind doesn't feel as fogged as before. She begins walking down the driveway, and it's late and dark and cold and it feels so good, Lydia quickens her pace.

She walks until she's at the end of the driveway and it's pitch dark outside aside from the full moon up above and the streetlights down the road. She sighs and leans against the concrete wall that barricades the hedges. She looks up and she can actually see the stars, how some connected and then suddenly disconnect before coming back together.

Lydia laughs lightly at that, pushes her hair off of her face, and simply breathes in and out until she feels like there's something fresh and new in her lungs. A knot releases its grip in her chest and she can honestly, for the first time in a long time, breathe.

A small smile appears on her lips and her eyes slip close. Then someone clears their throat and her eyes shoot open instantly. There's one hand over her heart and her breathing is suddenly irregular. Then, "It's just me."

Her breathing doesn't slow down and the knot that untangled itself in her chest suddenly regains shape and it's more than one knot—it's like twenty knots pushing and pulling and twisting her in twenty different directions.

She doesn't say anything, doesn't look at him for long because he looks familiar with the glow of the streetlights. He looks like the boy she used to know a long time ago before you are nothing, Lydia. He looks like the boy from freshman year who ran his fingers through the ends of her hair to get her attention. He looks like the boy she probably loved the most. No smirk, no bruises, nothing but Jackson with a little dash of Lydia because it made him smile.

She looks back to the stars, how they connect and disconnect and some, this time, don't connect again.

"What are you doing out here, Lydia?" He asks with a note in his voice that sounds like concern. "It's late and dark and there's no one around. Do you know—"

She interrupts him with a sigh, "What do you want, Jackson?" She feels like she's been here before, earlier in the year when all she wanted was for him to stay and to leave at the same time.

"I can't believe it's over." He says after a few minutes. She glances to him and he's leaning back staring up at the sky. For one split second she thinks he means them. "High school, I mean."

She drops her head and all at once feels a little woozy. Her grip on the wall tightens, and she releases a sigh. "Why do you do that?" She asks innocently and curiously.

"Do what?" He responds in a voice that is far too distracted for a conversation like this.

She sighs again. "This—act like you care when you've made it so painfully obvious that you never, ever have."

The knot in her chest constricts. "I told you—I do care." They have been here before, not too long ago, and she wonders how she continues to get herself into such messes.

He looks over at her then and the moon reflects off of his blue eyes and he looks like everything she has ever wanted and that's how, she thinks absently.

She doesn't say anything, just stares back up at the stars; finds two that are side by side in a painfully obvious way. She hates him a little.

"I'll miss you, Lydia." His voice is soft and strained, cracking a little in between. Like maybe he doesn't want to say it, but feels like this is his last chance to, and he wants to give her something she'll remember.

She thinks he just wants to ruin her a little more with this back and forth thing. Because she's seen his nasty smirk even when she makes herself believe it's a smile. She's heard the bitterness in his voice when she allowed herself to mistaken it for fondness. She's seen it all. She's seen Jackson when he doesn't want her to see him, she's seen him when she doesn't want to see him, seen him when she shouldn't.

So, "don't," she says. "Don't miss me, Jackson."

She stands and turns until she's standing in front of him. She stares at him with open eyes and tries not to love him like this, even though a part of her thinks she always will. "Because I'm going to try my hardest not to miss you."

She begins to walk away, the knot constricting in her chest until she feels like she can't breathe, and she thinks maybe he reaches out to grab her hand. But all she feels is a rush of air like he tried, wanted to, but didn't.

That's the Jackson she knows.

. .
. .

She almost misses her biology class the next morning because she meets Jackson for coffee at the coffee shop a block away from her apartment.

She walks in and finds him sitting by the window, two coffees on the table. She walks over and hugs him, presses a kiss against his cheek, his skin warm beneath her lips.

She sits down across from him, sips from her cup and smiles because he knows her order. She tries to think, quickly, if she ever told him back when they were together.

"Three sugars, one shot of vanilla?" He questions, a smirk spreading across his face because he knows he's gotten it right. This smirk is different from the rest. It's warm and teasing and she can get used to it.

"Perfect," she says, running the back of her index finger over her bottom lip.

They talk about school and his major and why Berkeley wasn't the right place for him. "I feel right here. Like this is where I'm supposed to be." He says, his eyes trained on his finger as it taps against the lid of his cup. He looks up when he finishes speaking and finds Lydia smiling.

"I think," she says slowly, wanting to get this right. "I think New York wants you here." And she gives him one of her smiles that does stuff to his insides a little—makes them flutter.

They order two blueberry muffins and two more coffees and Jackson leans over closer to her as she tells him about the great spots in New York, the ones that tourists don't get to see. "The parts that are hidden in little corners. The pretty parts, the interesting ones. I'll show you one day." And suddenly it feels like maybe she's talking about something more than the streets of New York. Like maybe she's saying here are the parts of me, take them, but be gentle.

He nods, "I'd like that."

So they talk about New York and he makes her laugh with his stories about his roommate at Berkeley and once he laughingly covers her mouth with his hand because she's laughing so loudly.

It feels good and time runs away and the next time she looks at her watch it's 10:15 and her class starts at 10:30 and she has to make it halfway across town. She jumps up in a hurry, rambling on about how much fun she had and how they should do it again but she has to go because she can't be late and oh God. He places calming hands on her shoulders and tells her to breathe, kisses her on the cheek, and ushers her out of the coffee shop, telling her he'll call her later to hang out again.

She sighs, hugs him, and he watches her run down the sidewalk like the frantic Lydia he's know almost all his life.

. .
. .

Her first day of college, she runs into a guy who looks like Jackson, but he isn't Jackson obviously because Jackson is on the other side of the country and he didn't say goodbye to her when she left. Not that she expected him to—she's learned to never expect anything from Jackson.

She does not miss him. Does not.

The guy is nice enough and a year older and he shows her where the science hall is, smiling the entire time. A lump rises in her throat when he doesn't sound like Jackson, doesn't have Jackson's smile, Jackson's eyes; he isn't Jackson.

And she can't decide which she hates more; that he wasn't Jackson or that she was thinking about Jackson. She thinks probably a little bit of both.

She doesn't see him again and that's fine because he's not Jackson and no one's Jackson. Jackson isn't even Jackson, she tries to laugh to herself, but just ends up with tears in her eyes. And she absolutely hates herself for loving him still after all these months and all the Lydia, you don't need him you, you hate him, he's no good for you, you don't miss him.

Absolutely hates herself because she can't stop hating him and not hating him. Can't stop loving him in between.

. .
. .

"I don't hate you anymore, you know," she tells him one night.

He's been in New York for two months now and she's his friend and she doesn't hate him, so she feels like she needs to tell him. She thinks, later, that it has a lot to do with the fact that she drank too much alcohol and she was leaning against him staring up at the stars and it reminded her of graduation night and she loved him back then and maybe a little bit now. Maybe a little bit always.

They're on the top of her apartment building, sitting on a concrete fixture, staring up at the stars because Lydia swore she had the most perfect view. "And have you ever noticed the way the stars connect and disconnect and connect again?" She asks as she presses her cheek against his arm, points with one finger, connecting stars with her fingertip.

He chuckles beside her, "You're drunk," he tells hers, probably so he doesn't have to acknowledge that she hated him but now doesn't hate him so much.

"I'm not and I don't and have you?" Her brow knits together, confused by her own voice.

"Excuse me?" He asks with a laugh, looking down at her.

She releases a loaded sigh, "I'm not drunk, I'm," she pauses, searching for the right word, "tipsy."

"And I don't hate you, okay. I don't think I have ever really hated you, as much as I tried. And trust me, I tried, okay." She's turned her head now so that her face is pressed against his arm and her voice is muffled, but he can still hear her because he's different now and he cares and pays attention. He lifts his arm and manages to wrap it around her shoulders, pulling her into his side.

She releases a breath against him, "the stars are connected, Jackson. Just connect them with your fingertips, okay? They always come back together. Always," she says after a long pause.

"Do they?" He asks, tracing circles on her upper arm, below the sleeve of her shirt. "You sure?"

She looks up at him, voice soft and mind a little foggy, "Positive."

. .
. .

Lydia leaves for New York two weeks after graduation. She's standing on the sidewalk at the end of her driveway, bags all packed and in the back of her parents' SUV. She's crying because Allison is telling her how much she loves her and we will keep in contact, okay? "I love you, Lydia." Lydia hugs her back, squeezing until she hopes it hurts because that's how much she loves Allison.

"Have a blast in Washington, okay?" She squeezes Allison once more before looking over her shoulder to Scott, "Take care of her, McCall. I mean it."

She hugs Stiles and kisses him on the cheek because he's been in love with her always and she loves him back because he's her friend and that's all and that's forever. Then she gets in the backseat of the car and waves to them while she drives down the street until she can't see them.

She doesn't see Jackson there. Even when she tries to trick her mind into thinking he's there, waving at her, maybe tears in his eyes, love you on his lips, it doesn't last long—she closes her eyes and everything is gone.

. .
. .

She wakes up the next morning in her bed wearing the same clothes from the night before. Her head hurts and her mouth is dry and the only thing she can think about is how quickly she can make it the kitchen for a glass of water.

She walks out of her bedroom, passing her living room on the way, and walks straight into her kitchen.

Jackson's there. Which is both embarrassing and shocking and kind of nice all at once. "What are you doing here?" She squeaks, hands automatically flying to her hair to fix it.

He chuckles, "I slept on the couch last night, I hope that's all right. I didn't want you here by yourself in the state that you were in. And now—now I'm making breakfast." He pours water in two glasses to prove his point.

"Oh," she says, taking the glass he offers her. "In that case, what are you cooking?" She asks, sliding onto the bar stool, sipping from her water, with a small smile on her face.

He smiles, "eggs and toast," sliding a plate in front of her.

As they eat together, his knee bumping against hers under the table, all she can think is that he's there, he stayed.

. .
. .

It's summer now and she's just learned that she passed all of her exams.

She and Jackson are sitting on the floor of her living room, eating takeout, and she checks online to see if her scores are in yet.

When she sees that she passed the hardest exam, she throws her hands up in the air and releases a squeal, knocking over the container of noodles, yells I did it! repeatedly, and throws herself at Jackson.

He's laughing and as he hugs her he presses his lips to her hair and mumbles, "I'm so, so proud of you, Lydia. Knew you could do it," and then he's kissing her hair and she's pulling away, mouth closed in a small smile, eyes shining, hair in a disarray.

He pulls her into one more hug, squeezes until she wants to stop breathing, his hands splaying out over her lower back, her knees ending up on either side of his left leg.

His touch is warm and it almost feels like her skin is burning in the few seconds that he digs his nails into the skin of her back. It feels good and familiar and new and comfortable all at the same time, and she's just passed all of her exams, so she is feeling one hundred and one different emotions—that's why she presses her lips to the corner of his mouth.

At least, that's what she tells him when she pulls away with bright red cheeks and the back of her hand pressed to her lips. "I'm sorry," she sputters out, pushing herself a good two feet away from him.

Her hands come to knot the fabric of her shirt and she tries to look anywhere but at him. This is familiar, she thinks. She's always been the one to speak without thinking, do without caution. She thinks she's at her worse when she's around Jackson. Maybe a little at her best too, she thinks though, as she looks out of the corner of her eye and there's something spreading across his face—something like relief.

Then his hand is tugging at her wrist gently, he's asking her to look at him and she doesn't want to, but she can't not look at him. That's always been her problem.

She slowly raises her head and turns to face him, his fingers burning her wrist where he holds onto her; her entire body setting itself on fire.

She looks at him and she sees his sickeningly beautiful, bright eyes, and his toothy grin, all lopsided and beautiful and she loves him with all of her might right here, right now. Has loved him always.

So that's why she lets him pull her closer and press, at first, light kisses to her lips. Then his hands come up to the base of her neck and he cradles her head, his thumb running over the soft skin of her jaw.

They fall into this old, bitter, and torn routine where they love each other so much it hurts, so much he doesn't say anything, only bites her lip and tugs because he can't say anything. Can't possibly tell her that she's the only girl he has ever loved and I came here for you, Lydia.

As her hands come up to rest on either side of his neck, pressing them together more, deepening the kiss, he thinks he'll tell her another time.

. .
. .

It's another night in July and they're stretched out on a blanket on the roof of Lydia's apartment complex, staring up at the stars. Jackson's absently pressing kisses to her hair as she lays with her head nestled on his shoulder. She talks about the constellations and tells him things he never knew, things like I missed you even when I tried not to and there's a constellation about Berenice, a woman who cut off her beautiful golden locks to ensure her husband's safety or on my first night here I cried like a baby, sometimes I wish I had never met you, but only sometimes when you hurt me.

Then he tells her things she never knew, but not the big, important ones—not the I loved you first, I'm sure of it. He tells her things like, "I missed lacrosse practice that day I found you in the hallway after school."

"But you never missed lacrosse practice," she says with her brow knitted together, turning her head to look at him.

"Not nearly as much as I missed you." He says, glancing down at her only once, his gaze steady on the stars, how they connect and disconnect before coming right back together by the tips of his fingers.

There's the knot in her chest stretching and pulling and twisting and growing and—

"I did—miss you, I mean. And I cared. And I—I think I—" The words die on his lips and he releases a noise from the back of his throat, one that sounds like frustration. Lydia wants to know what he was going to say, but she doesn't want to push him. Doesn't want to hear what he has to say almost as much as she does, wants to press her palm against his chest and tell him she loves every bit of him, even when he was the worst parts of her.

But, Lydia doesn't say anything, simply nods her head like she gets it. And, she thinks, maybe she does get it. This is Jackson and though he's different, some parts are the same. He's still the boy with the calm, steady pulse when he's lying, the erratic heartbeat when he's telling the truth; the boy who ruined her and put her back together with a simple flick of his tongue, or maybe his wrist, or maybe his eyes, maybe his, his, his.

They don't talk after that. Lydia thinks Jackson kisses a trail down the column of her neck so he doesn't have to talk about it anymore. Lydia wants to tell him that he doesn't have anything to worry about, she isn't going to push him. She's been there before and it hurts worse than anything she's ever experienced and she's still not completely over it because here she is on a rooftop with this one boy. It will always be this one boy.

. .
. .

She's in her new apartment and she's finally settled in; her clothes are all hanging color-coded in her closet, her pictures are on the refrigerator, her toothbrush in the bathroom. Everything looks complete, but nothing really feels complete. She already misses her mother and the subtle way she would push Lydia's hair behind her ear, her dad and the way he would give her a warm smile from across the dinner table, Allison and the way she'd hugged her and kissed her cheek.

But most of all she misses all the moments when she had Jackson in the right way, in the wholesome way—in the way he held her tight or told her something sweet.

Those moments are far and few between, but Lydia knows they exist and hates and loves them with equal measure. Loves and hates him with equal measure.

. .
. .

Jackson hovers over her in a way that's familiar, his left hand carding through her hair at her temple, his right hand pressed into the mattress beside her head. Her arms are wound around his torso, nails dragging down his back slowly, creating a chill that spreads throughout his entire body. His lips fall to her neck, and she leans her head back a little so he can have more room. He drags his teeth up the column of her neck, across her jaw, back across her cheek to her lips where he presses a heavy, heated kiss.

The sheet is loose around their hips, so Lydia feels a sudden chill from the cool air, shivers only the slightest, then suddenly feels Jackson running a hand down her arm, creating a warmth on her skin—she thinks she loves him more and more as the seconds tick by. He trails his hand all the way down until he finds her fingers. He intertwines their fingers together, manages to run his thumb in soft circles over the skin of her wrist just as he enters her, her gasp falling into his mouth as he kisses her.

Lydia feels complete and whole and right. And Jackson may whisper I love you softly against the skin of her shoulder, but maybe she was just imagining it.

. .
. .

Lydia has done that thing where she hates Jackson, where she loves him, where she misses him, wants him, needs him, has him, leaves him.

She has done it all. She loved him when he was calling her dead weight and pressing harsh kisses to her mouth, when he let her cry on his shoulder just that one time, when he told her he cared, when he missed lacrosse practice for her, when he moved across the country because this is where she is.

Lydia does not think she will ever stop, no matter how hard she tries, no matter what gets in the way, if they get in the way—she will love him all the same, even when he's the best parts of her and when he's the worst parts of her.

"I love you," he says before he leans down and kisses her temple. They're on the rooftop of her apartment complex because she really does have the best view. She's looking up at the stars, pressed against Jackson's side, watching as the stars connect, disconnect, but always reconnect—always.