title: path of least resistance
pairings: stydia, lydia/aiden
an: I ship stydia, hard. so much that I had to write something about it. all in a day's work. leave a review and let me know what you think.
path of least resistance
After the latest batch of trouble ends, Lydia finds herself sticking by Aiden.
She's with an Aiden, because an Aiden is something she can handle. Built, tall, not stupid, but simple—these are all familiar. She's been there, done that before. Lidia grasps at whatever solid ground from her former life she can. Every day it is harder for her to strut around in her high heels with perfect makeup, pretending to be dumber than she is just to fit the part. Not when she's teaming up with werewolves to battle supernatural creatures only to discover that she herself is a supernatural creature, the likes of which no one has bothered to explain.
So it is easy, in the aftermath of one of the scariest encounters she and her friends have faced yet, to fall in to place next to Aiden. She watches as Allison tentatively fits herself into a shared space with Isaac.
She wonders if it feels slightly the same for Allison, matching step with an easier choice, pursuing a blatant physical attraction as opposed to the weight and work and effort of the alternative. She's happy, enough. She tells herself that the ease of smiling and reciprocating when Aiden said "I knew you liked me" before kissing her on the wrist means that she should be most happy here.
But it's not always enough. Sometimes, she'll see Stiles, and she'll just be hit with a wave of longing. Sometimes, the thought of how much it would take to try seems so insurmountable that the potential and possibility is lost. And what is wrong with taking the path of least resistance, anyways? That is, after all, how nature works.
She ignores the slight emptiness she feels
With Derek and Cora gone, it leaves Scott and Stiles, the original tag-team, back alone on the outside with each other.
Part of her feels like this is unfair, while the other side tries to rationalize that in all intents and purposes it has always been those two, the would-be-should-be brothers, against the world.
The group of them has spent less time together than one would probably expect since the night of the eclipse. Instead, with desperate attempts to grasp at normalcy, they've turned a blind eye to the growing and fluctuating dynamics as a whole in order to retreat and lick their wounds.
Lydia isn't sure how well this is working out for any of them.
They all gather at a table during lunch, and sometimes Lydia feels overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they've all been through together. Friends have died. She is a banshee. It's too much for her, to feel like this, to not understand who she is while the rest of the high school students move like a blur around her, blissfully ignorant and unaware. When they're not all sitting together, it's easier to pretend.
When they aren't all sitting together, she doesn't have to see Stiles, notice the slight shadows under his eyes that make her worry that he isn't sleeping well, doesn't have to watch as he occasionally picks at his food and worry that no one is looking after him, taking care of him.
When they aren't all sitting together, it's easier to push the what if out of her mind. It's easier to not think about the kiss they shared, about how it felt to hold him under freezing water until he fell limp. About how it felt waiting for hours, hoping she would be enough to bring him back.
Stiles is good at accepting. If that's one thing that she has learned about him in the past years it is that he has a remarkable talent of rolling with whatever this crazy world has thrown at him. So really, it should come to no surprise to her that he has quietly and resolutely followed her lead and avoided bringing up the emotionally charged moments they have shared with each other the past months.
Lydia has been wearing a mask her entire life, so it's easy to lean into Aidan and smile up at him as he slouches next to her locker when she catches sight of Stiles and Scott walking down the hallway towards them.
She knows that if Stiles thinks Aidan is what she needs to be happy, to feel some semblance of normal, he will let her do what she has to. Her heart both warms and cracks at the thought that he can give so much. It's another sign, she thinks. All she could do for him is take.
Summer is just around the corner. Despite all the traumatic experiences in her recent history, she still has straight A's on her report card (she is a genius, after all) and therefore is exempt from Finals. This gives her and Aiden plenty of time to catch stolen moments in the random nooks they discover around school, because she has no need to study and Aiden just doesn't care.
(She avoids the gym locker room with its dank grey interior, unable and unwilling to explain to Aiden just how very wrong it would be for the two of them to share that space with the memory of a moment so intimate that it hurts to remember.)
It's heating up in Beacon Hills, and Lydia feels pretty in her floral-print dress that floats delicately above her knees as she saunters down the empty hallway to meet Aidan. Her AP Chemistry teacher, God bless him, ate up her excuse of an appointment with the guidance counselor and let her go for the rest of the period, no questions asked.
Her body hums in anticipation of the surely heated make-out session that awaits her. Now that they know that the twins are on their side, she has been struggling to give up a bit more emotional ground with Aiden, but the physical aspect of their relationship remains just as fun as when they were both meeting under the guise of using each other.
Lydia continues down the hall with muted excitement, only to stop dead in her tracks when she catches sight of a familiar head of brown hair.
She comes across him hunched in a corner, body folded in and tucked towards the enclosure. One of his fists presses against the wall, his forehead braced upon it with eyes clenched shut. The slight flush on his cheeks stands in great contrast to unhealthy pallor of his skin, and Lydia can hear his shallow breathing rattle through slightly parted lips as she hurries near. She notices how his free hand sneaks up to clutch at his chest, in the place right over his heart. She wonders through her rising concern if he even realizes he's doing it.
Immediately, she knows she hates seeing him like this. She wishes she didn't have to. She wishes that she never had to drown him, praying with all her being that she would be able to do whatever it took to bring him back. She wishes that he never had to sacrifice even the smallest piece of his pure, good heart to the darkness.
"Stiles," she breathes, and he lets out the smallest moan of pain in response. His head moves slightly against his fist, as if he could rub the pain out of his mind.
She does not know what he sees, exactly what he feels, when he gets like this. It is not something she has witnessed firsthand with Stiles, but she's been with Allison when all of a sudden her face will blank, expression falling away, leaving her with dead eyes. She has seen Scott's face darken and sour before turning despondent. Lydia knows that despite the success of their venture, the process Deaton put them through has scarred them, just as he said it would.
Allison and Scott, however, have both been schooled in controlling their mind and body's reactions.
Lydia's memory involuntary flashes back to witnessing Stiles' panic attack. She supposes it's morbidly fitting that Stiles should be the most susceptible—he's been trying to keep up with werewolves and a whole host of other supernatural creatures with no preparation, no family skill set. He has been at a disadvantage from the start.
It only makes her heart ache for him even more.
She tentatively places her hand over the one squeezing his chest, spreading her fingers softly in the divots around his own, lightly curling them to gently brush the pads of her fingertips against his. He hisses in a breath, and then his long fingers deftly lace between hers.
He grasps at her hand, hard, pressing their now joined hands to his chest, hard. She can feel how fast his heart is pounding against her hand.
His eyes have remained shut, but she supposes at this point he doesn't need to see her to recognize her presence.
Lydia puts the arm not clutched to his chest around his back, hand rubbing up and down soft grey fabric as soothingly as she can. She has never been the best at comforting others, but for Stiles, she will always try. In this position, Stiles' shoulder is at a convenient height for her to nestle her head, her nose briefly skating across his throat as she finds a comfortable position. She feels his cheek fall to rest on the crown of her head.
"I'm sorry," he manages to say after a stretch of silence, "Just… just give me a moment." She can feel his quick and shaky breaths whisper across her forehead as he tries to regain control. "It normally doesn't take any longer than a moment."
Even broken down and in pain, he's apologizing, feeling guilty that he needs to ask this of her even though they both know that in an ideal world, one where Lydia wasn't too scared to work for something she so deeply wants and Stiles wasn't so unselfish that he denied her nothing, she would be the first one he called.
It makes her wonder how many times Stiles has been by himself, trying to deal with the black shadow that is the result of his sacrifice. He's let so many people lean on him without asking for anything in return, only a lanky, sarcastic slip of a very human boy that has tried to put the weight of the supernatural world on his shoulders.
Lydia may not have given him everything he deserves, but she can give him this.
"It's okay," she whispers, "Take as long as you need."
He releases a shuttering sigh, slumping into her embrace with a little more weight now that he has accepted that, for this moment at least, she'll stay.
Time suspends as she stands curled around him, alternating between murmuring gentle words and silence, her lips so close to his neck that they occasionally trace her words onto his skin. She battles the nagging feeling of guilt, tries not to think about how unfair her actions must seem to him.
Eventually, she feels his posture loosen. His death-grip on her hand softens, and she tremors a sigh when his thumb, gently but surely, strokes the back of her hand. Her eyes close with a sudden, deep spike of want.
She tries to fight it back down.
"I have to go," she breathes into his neck.
"Yeah, Aiden," Stiles says with only a slight sigh, and she knows that while it might kill him, he understands.
Lydia bites her lip. She wishes she wasn't so weak.
He takes a step back, and in those few seconds she already misses the smell of his skin and the softness of his t-shirt.
His green and gold flecked eyes are serious as they stare into hers. "Thank you," he says solemnly. For being here, he doesn't say.
For bringing me back.
She feels the pressure of building tears against her eyes, and she fights to keep them at bay. Teeth tugging at her lip, she tries for a smile and nods.
The gravity of what's between them is threatening to crush her.
"Of course," she murmurs. She wonders how large a part of him hates her for holding him at an arms length.
He purses his thin lips together, head bobbing once in acknowledgment and acceptance.
"I'll let you go," he says, releasing his grip on her hand, fingertips ghosting across her palm as he lets go.
His gaze drops to floor before peering up at her once more, and then she is left watching him turn, back rising with a sigh before his shoulders straighten as he walks away.
She stands stock still, tears still gathering unreleased in her eyes, even after he is out of her sight.
Not for the first time, she begs for answers. Why is this so hard? Shouldn't it be easy? Why is she fighting herself? Why can't –
Her eyes flutter shut delicately as the shout reaches her ears.
She listens to the sound of his footsteps as he nears, biding the time before a large hand gently grasps her shoulder.
She lets out a deep breath before turning to face him. She forces a smile onto her lips and hopes it doesn't look too much like a grimace.
"Well hello there, Aiden," she says through her smile, eyes travelling up his well-muscled arm to meet his dark, deep-set eyes.
His mouth quirks into a quick, slightly suggestive smile. "I was waiting for you in the maintenance closet, but I thought maybe you got lost on the way or something when you didn't show. You weren't standing me up, where you?" he asks jokingly, full of wolf-boy and gorgeous-male confidence.
She looks down, blinking furiously a few times to clear her eyes and hide the evidence before lacing one of her hands with his. She shoots him a coy smile as she looks back up to catch his gaze.
"Of course not," she purrs, feeling distantly surprised at how quickly she can turn on the classic Lydia Martin charm.
She wonders, however, how quickly she can push down the emotions and realness and emptiness she is still reeling from down into the deep, buried recesses of her mind so she can fully immerse herself in the catch standing in front of her.
As he leans down to kiss her, she can only hold onto the futile hope it'll be soon enough.