AN: This is more of a snippet than a chapter - and I apologize for that - but I just wanted to let you all know that this story is still alive.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters you recognize nor any of the poems featured in this story.
How I Fall Asleep
Written by Becks Rylynn
make a list
of everything that's
- michael dickman; nervous system
the center of attention
Lydia used to sneak Jackson into her house at night.
Sure, she spent quite a few nights at his house and logically speaking, it made more sense to have their sleepovers at his house given that she had a key and his parents were far more lenient when it came to their relationship, provided that they made sure Lydia and Jackson were being careful. (Which they apparently were not - according to her soon-to-be burgeoning waistline.) But Lydia loved her closet and hated being away from it, especially in the mornings, so they devised a clever routine. Jackson would put his super handy werewolf skills to use and climb in through her window at night and then wake up early to climb back out.
It was an overly complicated system, yes, but it worked. Her parents never came into her room after dark (her parents hardly ever came into her room period) and she and Jackson were always careful to cover their tracks. It wasn't perfect and she wondered, often, why they even bothered with all of the drama and sneaking around. They were not, after all, Scott and Allison. They didn't do stupid shit like that. But it was nice. It felt so right; it made her so happy, so hopeful...
To be able to fall so seamlessly into partial domestic bliss. To feel so safe and comfortable with someone. To just be with him. It wasn't just about being horny teenagers. Some nights they honestly just slept. He would pass out while she was still busy perfecting her homework, hair piled on top of her head, ghastly reading glasses that she never let anyone know she had to wear on her eyes, and then she would crawl into bed next to him at a quarter to two, her body brushing against his as she reached up to click off the lamp, and he would drape an arm around her waist in his sleep easily, comfortably. What they had was real. It wasn't about defying their parents, being rebels, it wasn't about sex, it wasn't even about not being alone, really. It was about love.
They were in love. They were toeing the lines of an honest to god adult relationship.
And that is precisely why the nights are the worst.
During the days, she can surround herself with friends and try to drown out the grief in the chatter. At night, though, in the dark of her cavernous bedroom, she is left all alone with her thoughts and she suddenly can't stop thinking about how quiet it is without the sound of his steady breathing beside her, or how big and empty the bed is without his body next to hers. Getting to sleep is a nearly impossible task these days. Morning sickness is a big fucking joke and the constant nausea wipes her out and leaves her feeling like she's been put through the wringer, but still, getting to sleep has become disastrous. Staying asleep is even harder. Nightmares plague her nightly and no matter what, she can't get them out.
Eventually, she gives up trying and tries to make friends with her insomnia.
She spends her nights in bed with Prada snuggled in her lap or into her side, and her laptop on her knees and mugs of raspberry leaf tea, watching Youtube videos about cats, reading about pregnancy and watching Downton Abbey and Community. She gets really into Charmed. And 90's music. She rearranges her closet, cleans her keyboard, re-reads The Great Gatsby, stands naked in front of the mirror and tries to determine if she's showing yet... (Her body is changing. The changes are subtle, but she can notice them. She wonders if anyone else can.)
One afternoon, while her mother is searching for something, she comes across a box of Aunt Camilla's things hidden in the back of her closet. She gives the box to Lydia, saying something about how she knew they were always close, which is probably code for I don't want this dusty old box cluttering up my closet, but I'll seem heartless if I throw it out, so here. Honestly, whatever the reason, the box is like a godsend. It gives Lydia something to do.
That night, when she inevitably can't sleep, she sits cross legged on the bed with the box in front of her, sifting through Camilla's life while Prada watches her closely from his spot curled into her leg. She focuses. She pulls out old, dusty, outdated articles of clothing and makes different piles. One for donation. One for the things she wants to keep. She does the same with the tacky costume jewelry that Camilla always used to wear. She throws out all of the old, crusty makeup she finds in the box. She goes through a couple stacks of photographs slowly, eventually tossing them all into her bedside drawer and vowing to make a photo album, maybe so that her future child can look through it one day and listen to all the stories about Aunt Camilla. She slips a few old diaries into the same drawer. And she does it all carefully, without dissolving into tears, without a whole lot of any emotion. She treats it like a job, any other task, just something that needs to be done like she does everything else: flawlessly, perfectly, right.
But then she pulls out a very old, very worn, well loved book from the very bottom of the box. It's big and thick, leather bound and practically bursting at the seams. There are loose papers folded up and tucked in random places, sticking out of the book, along with a few wayward random pictures hastily tucked into the book. It's all handwritten in Aunt Camilla's loopy, dreamy handwriting and it smells like her; lavender and citrus and vanilla. It's not a diary, nor is it a photo album. No, it's something else entirely.
It's a recipe book.
See, something you need to know about Camilla is that she loved to cook. She won awards for her cooking. She could make anything. She could take the dullest ingredient and transform it into something mouthwatering and decadent. And her baking? Can't even talk about it. But her recipes were safely guarded secrets. No one knew her recipes. Not anyone.
Lydia swallows. Runs her fingertips over the familiar handwriting.
She quickly shoves all the clothes and jewelry back into the box and decides to separate them again tomorrow, hiding the box away in her closet before tucking herself back under the covers with the book. She leafs through the recipe book, unfolding every loose piece of paper and reading every word, every measurement, every tablespoon, every pinch. It's mesmerizing. She doesn't think she has felt this connected to her beloved Aunt Camilla since she died.
She falls asleep somewhere around three thirty, with the recipe book open on her chest and paper strewn all around her. Instead of blood and death and Jackson, she dreams of Aunt Camilla. When she wakes up, there is a clear plan formulating in her head.
It's not much, but it's certainly a start.
The recipe is a catalyst.
Aunt Camilla lost her husband at a young age. They were in their mid twenties when he collapsed one day. Genetic heart condition. Nobody knew about it. Not even him. And they were soulmates. But do you want to know what Camilla did after she lost her husband, after she was left all alone with two young kids and another on the way? She kept. going.
So, Lydia decides - after finding the recipe book - that she needs to keep going.
There is no other option, remember?
She starts with Danny.
It's not something she's proud of, but she's sort of been avoiding him since the funeral. It still hurts to look at him and see the echo of Jackson in his eyes. She decides that's not a good enough reason to desert him and leave him grieving all by his lonesome. Jackson is gone now. As much as everyone else may miss him, Lydia and Danny are the only ones with gaping spaces in their hearts where he used to be, and they need to stick together. Jackson would want them to stick together.
Lydia tells Danny this in a particularly Lydia way.
She walks up to him in between third and fourth period on a Friday morning, all confidence and red hair, and says, in a tone that leaves no room for argument, ''Just so you know, I'm your best friend now.''
Danny looks at her sharply, eyes big and wide, mouth opening and closing soundlessly. He says, a little stunned, ''Lydia.''
She gives a firm nod. ''You're my guy now, Mahealani.'' She pats his cheek. ''And I'm coming to your game tonight,'' she goes on flawlessly, adding on a hair flip for good measure. ''So you better bring your A game, got it?'' She gives him her patented Lydia Martin Doesn't Pal Around With Losers evil eye. It is not as fierce as it once was. He still looks floored. ''Okay!'' She brightens and tosses him a bright, beaming, hopefully convincing smile. ''I'll see you tonight! Toodles!'' And then she pecks his cheek and struts away.
Great Aunt Camilla's recipe book is resting comfortably in her bag, and she thinks Jackson would be proud.
More importantly, she is proud.
this time maybe i'll be bulletproof
Basketball is not Lydia's thing. She does genuinely enjoy lacrosse because it's brutal and it's fascinating, but she's not so much into the basketball. She is a permanent fixture at the games, because she is a true sports girlfriend, and she understands it just fine, it's just not terribly interesting to her. Honestly, she would have been fine with never having to go to another basketball game in her life. Instead, she once again finds herself heading into the gymnasium on a bitterly cold Friday night with swarms of people, lugging a handmade cardboard sign after her. She can't really complain, though. It saves her from another night alone in bed with a big book by ten o'clock like a spinster.
She is struggling with the cardboard sign and her purse, her hat is slipping off her head, and none of these people are offering her help. She thinks that is beyond rude. She is a tiny little woman and let's be real here, everyone knows who she is. She's the poor little widow who hasn't stepped foot in this place since Jackson... She gives them all withering glares. Then, of course, because the powers that be must hate her, some guy bumps into her as he rushes past - some overly zealous freshman who doesn't know how to be a proper gentleman - and her purse drops to the cold hard ground, the contents scattering.
Lydia suppresses a string of expletives and reluctantly goes down to the ground. She snatches up her cell phone before it can get trampled, but it's incredibly awkward to try and retrieve the rest of her things while simultaneously holding onto the poster board. Also, it looks like a tube of lip gloss is trying to make a break for it, so yikes. The runaway bubblegum cherry lip gloss does not, however, get very far. It rolls right into a familiar boot and then someone else is there, crouching down to easily sweep her things back into her purse with one swipe of his big paw, pun very much intended.
''You know, if we didn't know each other, I think this would qualify as a romantic comedy worthy meet and greet.''
''Derek.'' She's surprised, not just at his presence but the tone of his voice. His voice is casual, light, and when she looks at him, there is an almost smile starting on his lips. He's in a good mood. Such a different look on him. ...She kind of likes it. He pulls her to her feet with an uncharacteristic gentleness and gives her her purse back, reaching instead for the poster in her hand. ''What are you doing here?'' She asks. She notices Boyd standing slightly behind Derek, hands in his pockets, looking immeasurably calm, like always, if not a bit bored. He offers Lydia a nod and small smile in greeting.
''It's Isaac's first game,'' Derek says, and is careful not to add the glaringly obvious, since he got the shit kicked out of him the same night your boyfriend was slaughtered. ''I was just dropping him off.'' He sneaks a peek at her sign before she can stop him and arches an eyebrow. The corners of his lips twitch and she notices a hitch in his breathing, like he wants to laugh. She can feel her cheeks heating up but she keeps her shoulders squared and her head held high. Derek turns the sign around. ''Go, Danny, go?'' He shakes his head with a tsk of approval. ''Not very original, Lydia. I expected more from you.''
She starts to smile. ''I couldn't think of anything that rhymed.''
Boyd suggests, ''What about Danny's the manny?''
Derek and Lydia both stare at him. ''That right there,'' Derek points a finger at him, ''that's why you're not in charge of the pack rhymes.''
''What is wrong with you?'' Lydia blurts out. ''Have you been possessed? Replaced by a pod person? You're acting like a...person.''
''Am I not allowed to have layers, Lydia?''
''He's just in a good mood,'' Boyd offers, waving it off. ''It happens on occasion. The full moon is still two weeks away, he found out today that the rebuild is going to cost less and take about half as long as he thought, and Isaac got a job so he's finally going to be pulling his weight with rent and stuff. Oh, and Isaac spend the night at Scott's place last night, which I imagine gave Derek here some time to finally watch all those episodes of The Good Wife that have been clogging up his DVR.''
Lydia raises her eyebrows.
''That's not - '' Derek glowers. ''I do not watch The Good Wife.''
Boyd snorts. ''Okay.''
''I do not watch The Good Wife.''
''Hey, whatever, man, I don't judge.''
''Isaac got a job?'' Lydia perks up. ''Please tell me it's not as a gravedigger. Because that was creepy.''
''It's at the video rental place,'' Derek says.
''By the way,'' Boyd tacks on. ''Does no one else find it odd that we still have a video rental place?''
''I didn't even know he was looking for a job,'' Lydia says, reluctantly allowing Derek to guide her towards the bleachers, hand on the small of her back.
He shrugs. ''It was time.''
She frowns and bites her lip. ''Time,'' she echoes. ''Are you sure about that? Don't you think he should be focusing on his schoolwork?''
''He needs a job, Lydia. It's good for him.''
She stops in her tracks and whips around, her hair flying in his face, much to his annoyance. ''Why? Because you say so?''
He blinks at her. ''You're just trying to ruin my good mood, aren't you?''
''Derek,'' she hisses at him, taking a step into his personal bubble and staring up at him, challenging him. ''He's failing Math. He's failing History. He's barely scraping by in English. He's distracted enough as it is. He needs to be concentrating on graduating.''
''He says he can handle it.''
''Of course he says he can handle it, he wants to make you proud!''
''Oh, so this is my fault now?''
''You're supposed to be teaching him balance, Derek. His grades have dropped since the Alpha pack.''
''You can't protect him from the world forever, Lydia. It's just a part time job.''
She harrumphs and puts her hands on her hips, standing on her tip toes to glare up at him heatedly. He stares back down at her, looking grumpy. It's like they're doing their best impression of Beauty & the Beast.
Off to the side, Boyd clears his throat. He looks uncomfortable, but somehow endlessly amused. ''I think the best part of what's happening right now is that neither of you realize what you're doing,'' he says with a smirk.
Derek and Lydia swing their gaze from him then back to each other and instantly, she sees it. She can recall walking into the kitchen numerous times and finding her parents locked in a pose strikingly similar to this one. She rears back, gasp passing through her lips and looks away from him, curling her lip in mock disgust. She glances around the crowds and pointedly doesn't look at him. ''You should be going,'' she says, perhaps a bit too snidely. ''I'm sure you have better things to do.'' She wraps her fingers around the poster board and tries to snatch it away from him but he won't let go.
''Actually,'' he says, and his thumb brushes over her fingers. ''I think I'll stick around.'' His shoulders twitch in something of a shrug. ''I want to see how this game ends.''
She recovers swiftly. ''Fine,'' she flips her hair over her shoulder. ''But you can't just sit there. I expect you to cheer. And also,'' she points a finger at the poster board. ''If you bend that, I will hurt you. Now,'' she places a hand on her hip and arches an eyebrow at Boyd and Derek expectantly. ''Which one of you is going to be a gentleman and help me up the bleachers?''
They both stare at her.
She narrows her eyes. ''I wasn't joking.''
With a frustrated sounding grunt, Derek shoves the poster at Boyd and grabs Lydia's hand dutifully, like a good boy. He's not the most chivalrous guy in the world, because his version of helping her up the bleachers basically involves ordering people to ''move'' or ''get. out. of. the. way'' but he goes slowly, because she's wearing heels, and he doesn't let go of her hand. She'll have to work on his manners, but overall, he doesn't do a horrible job.
''Hi, Alpha,'' Erica greets with a wicked little smirk, when Lydia plops down next to her and Allison. Her eyes move slowly, up to Derek. ''And hello to you to, Derek. Don't you look mighty grumpy this fine evening.'' Her only response to the glare he shoots her way is a cackle as she leans up to greet Boyd with a kiss.
Lydia offers Derek her sweetest smile ad flutters her eyelashes at him. ''Just wait until I make you hold up the sign.''
He huffs and scrunches his nose up.
But he doesn't leave.
the fact is you're a shocking wreck.
do you hear me.
you aren't all alone.
- franz wright; alcohol
end chapter three
AN: Just a quick note: I will be going on summer vacation in the beginning of July and I will be gone for one month, so that long space between updates that will be happening is not because I've abandoned this story, it will just be because I'm on vacation with limited internet access.
ix: from Center of Attention by Jackson Waters.
x: from Bulletproof by La Roux.