His hair is longer again, she thinks, gazing over the top of the 'N' shelf. Like it was their junior year. Last summer he'd gotten it cut, which frankly Lydia thought was a damn shame. He looked so much better this way.
Not that she has any opinion about the way he looks, of course.
"Are you gonna actually look forThe Notebook, or are you just gonna keep staring at that guy over there?" Chris - her current, super-hunky, super-smart, future lawyer boyfriend who's visiting from Boston - whispers in her ear suddenly, making her jump.
"Don't do that!" she hisses, smacking him on the arm.
Chris smirks, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Who isthat guy, anyway? Your other boyfriend?"
"One of many," she teases, placing her hands on his shoulders. "Jealous, Christopher?"
He glances over at Stiles again. "Of that guy? I don't think I have much to be worried about."
The blow she wasn't expecting strikes somewhere just above her diaphram, and she tenses suddenly, not of her own volition. She struggles to hide the fact that his words have affected her in any way, which is ridiculous because it shouldn't be affecting her like this. Why should she care what Chris thinks of Stiles? He is, after all, very much in the right on this matter; between Stiles and Chris, Chris would clearly win any day.
Still, it doesn't explain the odd flush to her face, or her sudden irritation at the boyfriend who has never been anything but absolutely perfect for her.
"That's just Stiles," she says, putting her arms by her sides and turning back towards the shelves of movies to scour around for The Notebook. Or, rather, pretend to scour around for The Notebook while actually continuing to study Stiles from a distance.
"Stiles, hmmm," Chris says, pondering. "I don't think you've mentioned him before."
No. No she hasn't. It's been a very glaring oversight in all of their conversations, and Lydia knows it. It's not even for any good reason, either. Sure, it's been a while since she and Stiles have talked - Marched was the last really good conversation they had - but it's not as if they had any big falling out or anything. They merely fell victim to the curse of college: less time, and honestly less energy, to focus on friends back home. The busier school got, the harder it got to find time to chat. And once Chris had been added to the mix, it became all the easier to find convenient excuses to just...forget to call.
But still - she should have at least mentioned Stiles to Chris at some point. Next to Allison, he's her best friend in Beacon Hills. Or was, anyway? At this point, she honestly has no idea.
It's not like she didn't have opportunities, either. Countless numbers of her stories about home involve him, and many of them sans werewolf. But for reasons Lydia can't explain, every time she would tell Chris one of these stories, she'd simply...forget to include Stiles in the cast of characters. Maybe it's just that, even to this day, there is something about Stiles that can't quite be put accurately into words; he is just too precious to possess that way. Or maybe it's that Chris, much as she adores him, will never be able to understand Stiles the way she does, so it's easier to keep him to herself.
(She doesn't even contemplate the third 'maybe,' but she knows it's there.)
"Yeah," she finally says, glancing back over the shelf. "Well, Stiles is just... Just," she settles on lamely.
Just is a horrible word to describe any person, she thinks, but most especially a boy with such big, brown eyes.
"Well, are you going to go say hi?" Chris asks, playing with the hem of her shirt. "You said I could meet your friends."
"Oh," she says, considering. It's a daunting prospect, going over to the boy she spent almost the entirety of senior year running around demon-hunting with. She hadn't imagined their summer reunion happening quite this way; if she was honest, Chris was no where in the equation, and the scenario involved lots of pizza and bad horror films, but if there's anything Lydia's learned, it's that nothing really goes quite as planned when it comes to Stiles.
Buck up, Martin, she thinks. It's just Stiles. What are you so afraid of?
She doesn't answer that, but she doesn't take Chris' hand as they walk around the aisle and over towards Stiles, either.
"Hey there, stranger," she says, tapping him on the shoulder. "Long time no see."
She can't help her grin when he turns to face her, both genuinely surprised and ecstatic. "Uh - Lydia!" he cries, embracing her quickly. "It's so - wow, it's so good to see you!" He begins to run his fingers through his hair but stops mid-way as he notices her watching him with a tiny grin. The last time they saw each other, over Christmas break, he'd mostly given up the habit around her; she didn't really make him nervous, anymore. And why would she? They've been through hell together, on multiple occasions.
But that was months ago, and they're practically different people.
"How - uh, how've you been?" he asks now, putting his hand back to his side.
"Good. Really good. I - " She wants to say something, anything, that will make up for all the lost months between them, but she comes up empty. It's only been a few but suddenly, standing here, it feels like a year. "Um, you? How've you been?"
"Good. Great. Glad to be, uh, out of school."
"Oh, yeah, me too."
"Yeah. It's my first week back in town, so I'm, um, getting movies for a movie night with my dad. Y'know." He glances behind her, careful. "Who's, uh...?"
"Oh!" She'd honestly almost forgotten Chris was behind her. She grabs him by the arm and pulls him forward. "Uh, Chris, this is Stiles. Stiles, this is Chris, my - boyfriend." The word struggles to pass her lips, and she watches Stiles for the tell-tale signs of heartbreak that she's seen before when he's seen her around with other boys, but she's grateful to find that he looks less-than-surprised. "He's visiting for the next two weeks."
"Yeah, Allison told me you were seeing somebody," Stiles says, reaching out a hand to Chris. "Nice to meet you, man. So, uh, how're you liking Beacon Hills so far?"
"Good! However, you are the first of Lydia's friends I have yet to meet," Chris responds, giving her a loving pinch. She rolls her eyes. "Though I do hear good things about this Allison character."
"Oh, yeah, Allison's great. You know, if you can tear her away from Scott long enough to have a conversation," Stiles jokes, and Lydia groans.
"Oh god. I was hoping they were over that."
"Uh, Scott and Allison? They'll never be over it. I've started sitting in between then when we all hand out to avoid incidental groping."
Chris chuckles. "I take it they're big into PDA."
Lydia sighs. "You'll see when you meet them."
"And then you won't ever be able to un-see it," Stiles adds, grimacing. Lydia giggles softly, and there is a brief pause before Stiles says, "Well, I should get going. Don't want to keep my dad waiting. You guys, uh, you have a nice time with your movies." He looks directly at Lydia. "The Notebook, I presume?"
"Ah, so she made you watch it too?" Chris asks, grinning. Stiles snorts.
"Lydia pretty much literally makes everyone watch that movie."
Lydia rolls her eyes. "Whatever. You totally loved it."
She could tell the story of the first time they watched it together, that bizarre and somewhat magical summer after high school. The way Stiles cried, and she held his hand without teasing him about it. The way they kissed later, in the rain, trying to recreate the movie cover. They hadn't had sex that night, just laid on her bed, not speaking, her head against his chest as she listened to the thrumming of his heart.
"Yeah," Stiles says, shrugging, but she can see in his eyes that he remembers it all too. "Well - night." He nods and turns to head to the check-out counter, but as soon as he's there, Lydia has rushed forward to halt right next to him, leaving Chris alone a few years away.
"Stiles," she says hastily. "I just...wanted to say that I'm - sorry. I mean because we haven't talked recently and I, um..."
Stiles stops her with a hand on her shoulder. "I've missed you too," he says, perfectly summing up exactly what she was trying to say. She grins.
"Of course you did," she says triumphantly. "Call me, okay?"
He salutes in returns, grabs him bag of movies, and is out the door before she can utter another word. When she finally makes her way back over toward Chris, he is gazing at her like he suddenly sees her so much more clearly.
She frowns. "What?" she asks, pushing her hair behind her ears in discomfort.
"'Just,' huh?" he asks, quirking an eyebrow. It's not accusatory; if anything, it's a little sad, like he can see things she can't possibly understand yet.
She says nothing in response, though. Just frowns a little hard and flicks her hair over her shoulder, glancing at the door Stiles just used to exit as she resumes her hunt for a movie.
In the end, they don't get The Notebook. It's really just a bunch of bullshit, anyway.