come bail me out of this godforsaken precipice
Notes: my first Teen Wolf fic! Originally a Tumblr post, which became my first ao3 fic posting, which I figure I should put up here, too. Tags to 3x06 - Motel California.
She gets exactly two hours and seven minutes of quiet before he starts up again.
"What, Stiles?" she snaps in a hushed whisper, too aware of Allison on her left, sleeping against the window of the bus; her face is calm but there is an ever-present downturn to Allison's mouth that makes Lydia's chest ache.
She missed too much, Lydia knows – she was too oblivious, or forcefully ignorant, or scared? There was so much going on, more than she can even comprehend now on the backslide of it all.
Across the narrow aisle, Stiles is in pretty much that exact position with Scott, who sleeps open-mouthed with his head pillowed against a bunched-up hoodie.
Lydia finds her eyes wandering to Stiles' own hoodie, his red one he seems to wear in only their most dangerous of escapades, and tries not to remember the way the colour had changed beneath the sparking light of the road flare.
If she thinks too much, she will cease to be able to think at all.
He only looks chastised for a split second before that open, urgent expression he's been wearing for weeks slides back onto his face.
"Last night," he begins, and she wants to snap, which part, hearing people kill themselves, trying to lift a safe heavier than all of us combined, or watching you go willingly to your death by fire?
"I know you don't want me to thank you, or whatever, because that's the last thing I should be saying to the girl who saved me from a horrible, horrible fiery death, right–"
He snaps back, quick like a rubber band like always. "What did you see?"
Lydia feigns ignorance. "What do you mean? I was–" She trips up for only a second. "I was hearing things, Stiles. Not seeing them."
She'll dream of that baby crying for at least a week.
The furrow between his eyebrows seems to be able to catch her lie, as if it were a real, tangible thing he could just snatch out of the air.
"Last night, when you–" It gives Lydia the strangest comfort to realize that Stiles too, is stumbling. "When you pushed us out of the way, afterwards you–"
The thing in the cloak had been laughing. Is this her fate? To forever be a pawn in someone else's war?
She doesn't understand how Stiles is suddenly kneeling in front of her, hadn't she landed clean on top of him, hands grabbing at his arms in a vain attempt to make sure he was there? How had he scrambled up from beneath her (admittedly minor) weight so quickly?
She's able to look at him, suddenly, finally, and it's too much; Lydia has never seen him so pale–there are tears still clinging bright and stubborn to his eyelashes, his lips are a dark slash in the light of the still roaring flames.
His mouth is moving, words and curses too fast for her to comprehend. "You..I–I, crazy, stupid–"
There's a reprimand there – if you die, I will literally go out of my freaking mind – but instinct had pitched her forward and wrenched the scream from her throat.
There are too many sensations: the heat of the fire, the sight of Allison hunched over Scott from the corner of her eye, Stiles' hands, touching and trailing up past her collar to her throat, fingers getting lost in the ends of her curls. His hands are firm on her shoulders then, and that at least is familiar–Lydia recalls the deer incident with a kind of jarring sense of distance.
Is she that same girl?
How can this be that same life?
How could she have survived this night?
His hand is gripping her arm, pulling her up, and it's all Lydia can do to latch onto him and hold on.
She can hear Allison behind them, coaxing Scott who sounds like he may collapse into an asthma attack at any moment (does he have his inhaler?)–Lydia follows blindly as Stiles pulls her towards the bus and tugs her up with him.
Every inhale tastes of ash and aches with the force of her scream.
Stiles pauses, clearly choosing his words with care after having accused her of aiding in three suicide attempts and getting nothing in response but the sight of her back.
"You were white as a sheet, you looked…"
She remembers her time as Peter Hale's puppet in fragments and flashes, though the sight of his face beneath the ice still haunts her, sometimes. Judging by the slant of Stiles' mouth, he's remembering the same.
"What did you see?" he asks again, and it's gentle this time.
It's easier to look at Stiles' sleeve than Stiles when she admits this, focusing on the hook that Scott has made into Stiles' sweater with two fingers.
"You're my brother."
Lydia's heart aches again.
It's selfish, or awful really, to wonder if Jackson would take those steps towards certain death for her, now still, or ever. Would anyone?
"Hey." And then there are fingers brushing the bare skin of her wrist, hard callouses and warmth and the realization that yes there is.
Her heart may actually be trying to carve its way out of her chest.
Stiles doesn't squeeze her arm, doesn't even wrap his fingers all the way around her wrist, though she's sure he could. He just lets his fingers lay there against the thrum of her pulse, soft yet anchoring all the same.
"You can tell me."
Lydia takes a deep breath. And then another. "A…person? A face? Stiles, it was awful, scarred or burnt, I don't know, but–"
She summons all her courage in order to look him in the eye, but there is none of that face, that one that screams Beacon Hills Mental Institution, only surprise, concern, and that spark that is a sure sign of at least three hours of research are to follow when they finally make it home.
"It smiled at me."
It comes out in a horrified whisper and Stiles' face goes so dark and murderous that for the first time Lydia is actually almost afraid of him.
Three heartbeats later he speaks again.
"We'll figure it out," Stiles says firmly, his fingers applying pressure to her wrist at last. "It'll be fine, I promise."
They're empty words but neither of them have the courage to point it out. Lydia just presses her lips together and tries for a smile and a nod; only the latter works out. Stiles holds her gaze for a moment longer before releasing his grip as well, turning towards the back of the bus where Isaac and Boyd sit tense and quiet.
As much as Derek seems to cause as much trouble as the rest of them, Lydia can only pray to whatever deities exist that he really is alive. Because what do lost werewolves have if not family, if not pack?
She feels lost, adrift, until his voice once again pulls her back.
She can still hear the gratefulness and it's too much to bear. She wants to snap at him, because what else could she have done? How else would any of them be able to survive this–this complete clusterfuck that is their lives without Stiles? Stiles and Scott?
"If you're going to do this, you're going to have to take me with you, then."
She would have never been able to live with herself.
Lydia shoots him a glare but there isn't enough force in it–there is less annoyance and more a begrudging fondness, and it's probably a mark of what they almost are that Stiles just smiles, softness at one corner of his mouth, and lets her win.
More Notes: let me know what you think!