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Allison is watching the open mic night with some interest, because working on Thursday nights is as entertaining as her job gets. Mostly it’s been slam poetry and a few acoustic covers of pop songs, nothing out of the ordinary, but one girl comes up with her laptop and proceeds to do a relatively catchy remix some alternative song that she’s heard on the radio once or twice. The girl has long blonde hair and red lipstick worn over a smile that’s just on the nasty side of feral, and Allison has never seen her in the coffee shop before, even though she’s been working there since school started and tries to trade her shifts to get Thursday nights.

The blonde girl hesitates before getting off the makeshift stage, saying into the microphone, “If any of you are interested in hearing more of my remixes, they’re available online. My name is Erica Reyes, my Facebook page is Howl at the Moon, and I hope to see a lot of you around later tonight.” With that, she tucks her laptop under her arm and gives a little wave before trotting over to her next to a young black man.

“Scott is going to hate this,” the girl that Allison is standing next to mutters under her breath.

Allison straightens, not having heard all of it. “What?” she asks, leaning closer to the girl.

Turning abruptly, the girl says, “Oh, just talking to myself. Don’t mind me.” She pushes a lock of red hair behind her ear and take out her phone, opening her notepad and jotting a few bullet points down.

Going back to filling up different customers’ cups, Allison doesn’t end up near the pretty redhead again until much later in the night. “Do you need a refill?” she asks, looking down at the empty mug.

Glancing over at her, the girl smiles and holds out her cup reverently. “You are a goddess among women.”

After making sure that there would be enough room in the cup for added cream and sugar, Allison fills her up and laughs. It’s not the first praise that she’s gotten for helping someone get their caffeine fix, and it won’t be the last. “That may be true, but you can just call me Allison.”

“Lydia,” the girl says, grinning as she rips open a sugar packet with her teeth.

-x-

Lydia shows up fairly regularly to The Burly Bean after that, or at least Allison starts noticing it. She comes in on Mondays before the lunch rush and gets a cappuccino that smells like Heaven, and on Thursdays she trickles in somewhere around three o’clock and stakes out at a table near the stage with her laptop and textbooks until open mic night starts at eight. Then, she closes her textbooks and opens a notepad and waits.

It’s not like Allison is watching her and memorizing what she does, but Lydia has a pattern. She does this for weeks and weeks, making eye contact with Allison and sneering whenever someone terrible graces the stage. And Allison tries to be positive, because she has to sit through all of this and serve with a smile no matter what, but some of the people are terrible. Really terrible. Like ridiculously terrible, to the point that she almost dreads it when they start to take the stage. She wishes, in the privacy of the store room, that they were born without vocal cords.

Making eye contact with Lydia and sharing an obnoxious look seems to help ease her pain, though.

Lydia always leaves a portion of her table clear enough for Allison to join her during her breaks, looking away from the mess of her work as soon as Allison drapes her apron over the arm of the chair.

This Thursday, the papers scattered around the table are covered with scratched out formulas and notes scrawled haphazardly over the margins in print so small it is nearly illegible. Lydia mentioned a few days after they met that she was an Applied Mathematics major, but Allison wouldn’t wish that on her worst enemies.

“Any closer to figuring it out?” she asks, leaning back in the chair and resisting the temptation to kick her feet up onto the table. Lydia probably wouldn’t appreciate the soles of her dirtied shoes smudging her hard work.

Clicking her pen as she smiles, the shorter girl glances over the papers in question before shaking her head. “I need to do a bit more research for that. Moved onto a separate problem for the time being, so hopefully that one will sit on the back burner until inspiration strikes. Do you think focusing away from a problem ever helps to solve it?”
She sounds like she might not just be talking about her homework, so the brunette bites her lip and considers her words carefully before answering. “I think it can help sometime, but it depends on the problem. What’s up?”

“Boy problems, of all things. I’m on track to have a Ph.D. in the next three years and I’m still having boy troubles. The world is a strange and mysterious place,” Lydia laments, giving up on the complex entanglement of pen markings before her. She puts her pen down and scowls over Allison’s shoulder, worrying her lip.

It’s not that she doesn’t like Lydia, but Allison didn’t realize until this moment that they are apparently close enough to talk about dating issues. Or, non-dating issues. ‘Boy problems’ is kind of broad. “I thought that you said you’re only twenty one? How do you almost have a doctorate?” she asks, focusing on that first.

“I had a ton of credits, don’t worry about it. Focus, instead, on the fact that the guy I’m sleeping with told me that he’s taking me to dinner tomorrow or else he’s not going to eat me out for at least a week. What a bastard,” she snaps, emphasizing her anger by clicking her pen loudly. “Can you even believe that?”

Quite honestly, no. Allison has never had a friends with benefits situation or anyone in her life that she has ever been able to refer to by ‘the guy I’m sleeping with’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but she’s much more commitment based in her relationships. Call her old fashioned, but it’s true. “What a bastard,” she echoes, unsure of what type of reaction that Lydia is trying to inspire in her. She’s never been comfortable enough with her past boyfriends to talk about their sexual encounters so blandly and never been close enough to any girl who was.

Nodding earnestly, Lydia crosses her legs and looks out at the other patrons in the shop. “I know. I tried telling him that he wasn’t even that good, and he laughed at me. That motherfucker just laughed at me.”

After a long enough pause that Allison understands her input is required, she repeats, “What a bastard.”

“I know. That’s the last time I try positive reinforcement.” Lydia huffs and uncrosses her legs, trying to get comfortable. “And he honestly expects me to give him an answer. He said there wasn’t even a time he needed it by, so long it as it’s tomorrow. He’s so considerate I can’t stand it. I don’t know if I want to fight him or fuck him.”

“What if you told him at like 11:59?” Allison asks, unable to stop her curiosity.

Picking up her coffee mug with care not to spill, Lydia pouts and leans forward. “I asked him that. And he told me that there’s a 24-hour diner near campus that serves the best milkshakes.”

Allison has been to that diner, and they do serve the best milkshakes. Still, this problem doesn’t sound like much of a problem from her point of view. A boy who is good with his mouth offering to buy her a milkshake? That’s not problematic by any means. “Do you not like him?” she inquires, trying to figure out why this is such a big deal.

If possible, Lydia looks even more offended. “I wouldn’t be sleeping with him if I didn’t like him.”

Because apparently that’s the stupid question here, really. Not that the guy she’s sleeping with wants to date her, no, the weird question at hand is instead if she likes him as a person. Allison doesn’t know what to make of that, because she assumed that if Lydia wanted someone to have sex with then she wouldn’t care about what type of person they were. Maybe that’s mean, though. And probably more than a little shallow, and definitely reveals a little more about her true feelings about no strings attached relationships that she should examine later.

Back to the matter at hand, the matter that Lydia is stressing over more than she stresses over math. This is going to make her feel incredibly stupid, but despite the fact that Allison’s working towards a bachelor’s degree in English Creative Writing she can’t think of any other way to phrase it. “No, no. Do you like-like him?”

In the middle of drinking her coffee, the redhead pauses before setting the mug aside. “I hadn’t considered that,” she confesses, picking her pen back up and spinning it around through her fingers.

Some guy she’s sleeping with wants to date her and Lydia hasn’t even thought about whether she’d want that. For all her mathematical genius, Allison realizes that Lydia may not be as emotionally intelligent.

“Well, you should consider it,” she says, glancing at her watch before wincing. “I have to get back to my shift, but give me your phone. In case I forget after open mic, just call me if you start to freak out about anything.”

Lydia spares her a grateful smile and passes her phone across the table, looking back to the paper in front of her. “I will definitely call you, because I will freak out. I’d say expect a call around noon.”

“Try to make it one, I have a fiction seminar at noon that I’d like to be present for.”

Nodding, Lydia looks back up and accepts her phone back. She puts it into her purse and subsequently waves her hands over the workload sitting out. “I’m sure I can put off a freak out for a little while, so don’t worry about that. It looks like I have enough to keep me busy, at least.”

-x-

“I’m going to say yes,” Lydia says into the phone as soon as Allison has picked up. It’s half past one, which is later than she thought she’d be able to make it, and she should probably be given credit for holding off so long.

“Good for you,” Allison acknowledges, shouldering her backpack as she rummages in one of the pockets for a pen and instead running across the packet of highlighters she was planning on using to go through her notes later. This semester she’s actually going to be productive and is going to look over her work twice instead of just saying she will. Well, probably. “Any particular reason why you did?”

There’s a half beat of silence before Lydia says, “I’ve been able to tolerate him for five years, why should I stop now? I mean, we already live together, so it’s not going to change anything between us.”

“Wait, you guys have been sleeping together for five years and you’ve never gone on a date? And you live together?” Excuse her if she sounds a little incredulous, but that is all kinds out of the traditional order.

Lydia laughs on the other line, quick and amused. “We’ve been friends for five years. The sex is a fairly recent development, but it’s worked quite well. As for living together, we’re roommates. That was also decided before the sex. Well, he’s one of my roommates. The other is one of our other friends from high school.”

That does make more sense than what Allison thought was happening, but it’s still kind of weird. To her, at least. To Lydia, this whole thing sounds beyond normal, except for the only part that Allison thinks sounds normal, which is the fact that he wants to date her. “Okay, so you’re sure that you want to date one of your roommates?” That sounds like a recipe for a verifiable disaster, but maybe it’s not her place to say that.

“You’re the one who talked me into agreeing in the first place,” Lydia accuses. “Now you’re saying I shouldn’t?”

“I just asked you if you actually liked him. I didn’t say that you should agree.”

There’s a huff that is barely audible, but Allison has watched Lydia get frustrated at enough calculus problems that she has no trouble deciphering the sound. “Well, I thought about it. And I do like him. Like-like him, as juvenile as that sounds. Just tell me you’ll meet me at your place in an hour. I have to figure out what to wear.”

Mentioning that she lived in the on-campus single dorms may not have been the smartest decision that Allison has ever made, but she likes Lydia. Even if the other girl is a little more demanding than she’s used to. They’ve actually gotten to be fairly good friends, so she says, “Call me when you park and I’ll let you in.”

-x-

Lydia wastes no time, because as soon as Allison buzzes her into the building she’s at the door carrying an armful of shopping bags. “I have three hours to look presentable,” she announces without preamble, dumping the bags onto the bed and turning to her friend with a frenzied speed.

It’s all a little overwhelming because it happens so fast, so Allison mostly ends up sitting in silence as Lydia holds up different tops to her petite figure and only speaks up when she’s asked for her opinion. It’s silly, really, because Lydia is naturally pretty. Allison is sure that, whoever this boy is, he’s going to be too thrilled with the fact that they’re going out to look at what she’s wearing for very long.

Still, first dates are important. The first date outfit is almost even more so, so Allison tries to give Lydia her full attention. “Too blue,” she says, waving away the dress that Lydia was wearing.

Examining herself critically in the mirror, Lydia nods. “The sleeves are a bit too long as well. What about this one?” she asks, holding up a dress that has a brightly colored floral skirt attached to a teal strapless bodice. It’s pretty, and Allison says as much as she rolls over on her bed and watches Lydia touch the fabric cautiously.

As Lydia changes into the teal topped dress, Allison grabs the book she’d been working through and tries to find her place. “Why are you so worried about what to wear? I mean, he’s seen you without clothes before. It’s not like you’re hiding some big secret.” Not that she thinks people wear clothes to hide secrets, because that’s a little ludicrous and definitely an uncomfortable thought, but the point still stands.

“Exactly. He sees me naked and in sweats and wearing my usual outfits around the house. This time, he needs to me as date material.” Tugging the dress to properly cover her breasts, she turns to the mirror with a look of scrutiny. She needs to look fun and flirty, but it needs to have serious undertones.

“Lydia, your ‘usual outfits’ consist of high heels and short skirts. That is date material. Whatever you put on, he’s still not going to know what hit him when you open the door. He won’t be able to stop complimenting you.”

Putting on a pair of brown leather Oxford pumps, Lydia ties the laces carefully and thinks it over. He’s never been shy about anything, especially when it comes to how he feels about her body, but she’s not aiming for him to shower her in compliments. Tonight, she’s aiming to render him speechless.
“I’m going to call him and tell him to pick me up here. The other roommate dropped me off, so I don’t have a way of getting back. Is it okay if I leave my stuff here overnight? I’ll be back first thing in the morning to get them, as soon as the stores open. Most of it has to be returned anyway. But, really, do you like this?” Smoothing the floral portion of the dress, Lydia studies her reflection before looking over to Allison. She thinks she looks nice enough, maybe when she’s done her hair and makeup they’ll have a clear winner on their hands.

“Wait, what do you mean it has to be returned? Did you buy clothes to come over here? I thought that you just brought over stuff that you already had and just used shopping bags to carry it.”

“He’s already seen my wardrobe, so I wasn’t going to wear something that I already owned. Plus, I wasn’t near our apartment, and a little shopping never hurt anyone. For instance, now I have this adorable dress and the skirts that we decided didn’t go with the crop tops. Now tell me how I look,” she demands, impatient as ever as she waits for Allison to confirm.

Allison glances up from her book and gives Lydia a thorough once-over, nodding with satisfaction once finished. “You look gorgeous. Do you need to borrow my makeup or did you buy out a MAC on your way over?”

With a little laugh, Lydia sits down on the bed and grins. “Don’t be silly. I only bought foundation and concealer, because we’re not the same shade. Give me your nude palette.” At Allison’s look of gentle disbelief, she continues, “Don’t look at me like that, I know you have one, your eyes are always done up in those caramel and bronze shades. You must have a few non-metallic colors that have gotten lonely.”

Rummaging under her bed to find her makeup bag, Allison passes over the eyeshadow and goes back to her book. “You should probably call him,” she reminds her.

The ensuing phone conversation that Lydia has with the boy she’s sleeping with/the boy she may be dating is vaguely interesting, but not to the point where Allison wants to put down her book. The boy, understandably, assumes that Lydia is sending him to some stranger’s apartment because she doesn’t actually want to reject him.

“It’s not some stranger’s apartment. I know the girl who lives here,” Lydia starts, dabbing foundation on her chin.

“Oh, great, so because you don’t want to date me you think it’s all good fun to pass me off to your friends. Look, if you don’t want to go out with me just freaking tell me. I’m a big boy, I’ll get over it!”

“I’m not ‘passing you off’ to my friends, you idiot. I’m over here getting ready. I said we’re going out and I meant it. Now you need to come pick me up here or else there isn’t going to be any date, no matter how long you threaten that you won’t fuck me. Do you understand me?” she asks, her voice as cold as steel.

“Why do I need to pick you up there? We live together, why can’t I just go over to your room and pick you up from there? It’s environmentally friendly and saves gas, you always get on me about that.”

Huffing, Lydia closes her bottle of foundation and reaches for the eyeliner sitting near the edge of Allison’s desk. “Do you see me in my room now?” After waiting for him to actually go look, she says, “That’s right. I’m not there, because I’m here. At the address I gave you, and for God’s sake if you don’t show up to pick me up I’m going to give you so much shit for it. I will make sure you never get another date in your life, that’s a promise.”

Allison listens closely to the pause that follows before the boy caves. “Alright, fine, but I’m never going to forgive you if I buzz up to that apartment and it’s some stranger wondering what the hell I’m doing.”

“There won’t be anything to forgive so long as you pick me up at six. And don’t wear that red hoodie, I mean it. If you’re taking me out, it had better not be to any place that you would feel comfortable wearing a hoodie to,” Lydia snaps with conviction before ending the call and touching up her mascara with frightening precision.

Turning the page casually, the brunette asks, “Are you going to let him think that you’re standing him up?”

Lydia has the nerve to look slightly offended, but she puts on eyeliner as she waves her hand magnanimously. “Of course not. I’m going to watch for his car to pull in, and then I’ll be right down. That way he won’t have to stand in front of the speaker for five minutes deciding if it’s worth the risk of embarrassing himself.”

-x-

Monday morning finds Allison running late to work, tying her apron back as she walks through the door. She breathes easier when she doesn’t see her manager anywhere around the shop, because at least this means he won’t bring it up at the next staff meeting.

She handles the register for a while, and because there aren’t too many people in the shop she tries to clean up the counter when she can. The baked goods at the front are steadily running out, so she is refilling the croissants when Lydia wanders up and orders her usual. Then, with a guilty glance at the flaky pastry, adds one to her order.

Because Lydia comes in often enough and they’re close enough to where she doesn’t feel bad about doing it, Allison puts her on the employee discount that’s meant for friends and family. “How did Friday night go?” she inquires, using tongs to put one of the French pastries onto a plate.

The smug smile that Lydia wears is an answer in itself, but she still says, “It went well. Better than expected.”

Allison waits until she’s on break to press the issue further, wandering over to Lydia’s table and grinning with anticipation. “You have to tell me. You don’t get to use my room to get ready and deprive me of the details.”

She swirls her cappuccino and smiles at the memory. “I told you that it went well. We went for dinner and dancing, if you can believe it. I didn’t even think he knew that I liked dancing, but we went, and it was fun. He knows how to tango,” she says with relish, lowering her voice to a near-whisper at the end.

Spinning a lock of hair around her finger, Allison allows herself to live vicariously through her friend. “Alright, tell me about him. Real things, not just you trying to act like you don’t really like him.”

With a half smile, Lydia takes a moment before responding. “He’s nice. And he’s smart, too; he’s studying criminology. I think he should be a private detective or something, all of the research that he does for extra-curriculars.” Crossing her legs and setting aside her notebook, she leans forward and says conspiratorially, “It doesn’t hurt that he’s mind-numbingly hot. He didn’t use to be, or maybe I just didn’t notice it before, but that attribute is a fairly recent development. Not that I mind.”

“Okay, okay, I get it. He’s perfect. Bring him for the next open mic night. Maybe that guy who’s experimenting with the tambourine in tango music will be here.” Allison wants to meet this guy, because Lydia is gorgeous which means he has to be as well. Which hopefully means that he has gorgeous friends that he can introduce her to.
Lydia shudders. “The only good tambourine is a dead tambourine,” she declares vehemently.

“You don’t come to the open mic nights just for the tambourines? They’re so lively.”

Bringing up a napkin to drab the crumbs away from her mouth, Lydia motions to the area of the café that was set up as the stage on Thursdays. “I come to the open mic nights to scout out competition for the band.” Tossing the crumpled paper onto the plate that had houses her scone, she shrugged.

“Wait, you’re in a band?” Allison asks, sitting down and leaning forward with interest.

Lydia shakes her hair out of her ponytail and gives a laugh. “No, well, not really. My roommate is, though, and I play the violin for one of their songs. I book their gigs, too, but that doesn’t make me a member.”

“The roommate that you’re sleeping with is in the band?”

“They call themselves The Pack, if you can believe it, and, no, the other roommate. Well, that one is kind of. He occasionally does the keyboard when they’re regular girl can’t make it, but not always. And, remember, we’re dating now. Or something. Going on dates, at the least.” She looks distressed at the thought that she might not be perfectly aware of the nature of one of her relationships. “Anyway, that’s why I started coming here. There are three coffee shops in the area that have open mic nights. I take this one, he goes to the one on Sixth Street, and our other roommate goes to the one on north campus.”

Pausing, Allison studies Lydia’s table before asking, “So the Sixth Street scout is…”

“The roommate I’m sleeping with,” Lydia confirms before scowling. “The roommate that I’m dating. Or something, I don’t even know. Can we pretend that I have normal relationships and friendships and you let this go?”

It’s about time that she get back to her shift, anyway. Allison pats Lydia’s knee and smiles in a way that she knows gives her friend no comfort. She’s not sure what about this situation that Lydia needs comfort for in the first place. “If that’s really what you want. By the way, I’m off Wednesday if you want to get lunch.”

Giving her a thumbs up, Lydia opens her textbook and tries to find the problem she’d been occupied with before Allison had sat down. She looks up and says before Allison leaves earshot, “What are you doing Friday night?”

“Laundry and a Gilmore Girls marathon, unless you have something better in mind.”

Lydia grins and tries to tie her hair up again, this time in a more satisfactory style. “The band is playing some party. I can tell you more about it Wednesday, but you should come. You can meet my roommates!” she says brightly.

Allison stops and turns back to show her smile. “Including the one you’re sleeping with?” she asks, laughing under her breath before Lydia even starts stuttering to correct her.

-x-

The party is in a neighborhood just off campus, and Allison can hear the bass from the moment that her cab turns down the street. The noise is coming from a house with a lawn covered in red Solo cups and beer is probably watering the grass. It’s such a typical college party, something that she hasn’t actually been to since freshmen year, that she even laughs a little as she gets out of her taxi and makes her way to the front door that’s been propped open by what she’s pretty sure is a keg.

Yeah, that’s a keg. It’s already empty, and it’s barely ten o’clock. Jesus.

Lydia said she typically hangs out by where the band sets up or wherever the alcohol is being kept, but she’d have her phone on her in case Allison didn’t spot her in the first go round of the house.

The people are mostly her age, some a little younger, but she thinks the guy who gives her a rum and coke is in one of her writing classes. He waves when she comes in, at any rate. Once she’s been armed with a drink, she glances around for the redhead near the bar. It’s really a pathetic excuse for a bar, some table with booze stacked in back and frat boys pouring enough alcohol that she almost wonders if people drank like this right before prohibition.

The boy next to her gets some concoction that involves tequila, orange juice, a slice of pineapple, and a lime wedge, but it’s mostly just tequila. He bumps into her as he goes to leave, looking up with concern to make sure that he hadn’t jostled her too badly. “Sorry about that,” he says, scratching the pack of his neck in embarrassment.

Wow, those are nice arms, great biceps and a tattoo. This is fine. “It’s totally fine,” Allison says, making a conscious effort to stare at his eyes to avoid giving him a blatantly obvious once over like she knows she wants to. “You didn’t make me spill my drink, and that’s what’s really important.”

He laughs and edges closer to the wall so that they won’t be as in the way. “Well, your drink looks pretty disgusting, so I might have done you a favor.”

“It’s not disgusting,” she says, looking down before wincing. Because, okay, it doesn’t look that good. She hadn’t been paying that much attention to what types of alcohol she’d been adding, and it shows. Or, more accurately, it smells. Smells like cheap booze and a surefire way for her to get knocked off her ass before she can even find Lydia. Allison is twenty one, she no longer drinks whatever someone offers because it’s the only way to get drunk.

He looks at her like a challenge, then goes to the table and messes around with a few bottles. She watches him add Sprite, orange juice, vodka, and a few other things together into a cup before passing it over to her. “Please don’t drink what you have. That drink offends me in ways that I can’t put into words.”

Sniffing it cautiously before trying it, she sets her other drink aside and thanks him. “You saved me from a hangover that I would have dearly regretted. I’m Allison,” she says, leaning against the wall and taking him in.

The smile that he gives her reminds her of puppies and sunshine, and she’s suddenly very glad to be leaning against a wall because her knees aren’t feeling quite as dependable as they were a moment ago. “Scott.”

They stand, smiling, for a few seconds longer, before a guy with curly blonde hair taps Scott on the shoulder and motions to the back of the house. “Come on, we’re about ready.”
Glancing back at the blonde guy and then looking back over to Allison he says, “I’m with the band, I should get over there…” He drifts off and gives her a helpless smile, and Allison notices that he has dimples. Dimples. He has dimples and a nice smile and arms and she is beyond fucked, really.

“I should probably follow you,” she tells him, stopping when he gives her kind of a weird look. “My friend said she’d be there. Her name is Lydia, do you know her?”

Scott nods happily and takes her hand to lead the way. “Yeah, I know Lydia. She’s my roommate!”

Wait. Allison’s brain processes the past few minutes and compares what she knows about Scott to what she knows about Lydia’s mystery man. Roommate? Check. With the band? Check. Mind-numbingly hot? Double check. Still, that doesn’t mean that he’s the guy. Lydia has two roommates, it’s always possible that both of them are hot, even mind-numbingly hot. This could be the other one. Even as she thinks it, she knows that it’s wrong. She follows behind Scott through the crowd, her stomach sinking all the while.

The party is almost in full swing, enough people blocking their way that talking would be useless anyway, so Allison swallows her questions and ignores the feeling that she should drop Scott’s hand and walk with him on her own.

The sunken living room actually makes a good place for a dance floor, and allows the area above it to function as a sort of stage. That’s where Scott leads her, keeping his hand on hers as he looks around at the people standing nearby. “Lydia must be off with Stiles somewhere,” he says.

“What the hell is a Stiles?” she asks before she can stop herself, curiosity showing clearly.

Scott draws his eyebrows together and laughs lowly. “Um, he’s our other roommate. They’re sleeping together, or dating, or… Something. I don’t know, but I’m not sure they do either.” Taking a drink from the cup in his hand, he turns his head and watches the blonde curly headed boy plug some wires into a nearby amp.

Relieved and trying not to show it, she squeezes his hand before letting it go. “You should get back to your band. I’m sure they need you. I should go find Lydia.” With reluctance, she moves to go.

“I’ll see you after our set?” Scott asks before she can get away. “I mean, I would like to see you. After our set.”

She nods, blushing. “Yeah, I’ll be here.” Because even if a house party isn’t her typical scene, she’ll stay if it means getting to talk to him again. Even if she isn’t able to find Lydia.

Scott waves to her as he accepts the guitar that’s handed to him. She waves at him and walks down a hallway at random, not really sure what she’s looking for. If Lydia isn’t by the alcohol or the band, she has to be somewhere else on the premises. That’s not a very definitive statement, though, considering the party takes over the entirety of the sprawling two story home and even spills out into the backyard.

As she wanders down the hall, glancing into rooms where people are seated on couches and playing beer pong, she keeps an eye out for the redhead. Just because she’s willing to hang out at a party by herself doesn’t mean that she wants to, thank you very much.

The band has started up, from the sound of the guitar riffs she hears coming from the living room area, and she’s just about given up on finding Lydia in this mess of a party when she hears someone call, “Allison!”

Turning around, Allison spies the girl she’d been looking for wrapped up in some guy’s arms. “Lydia,” she greets when she’s walked over to them. She studies the guy that she’s literally tangled up in who has his face buried in her neck, how his octopus arms seem to hold Lydia captive and Lydia seems to like it. “And you must be Stiles.”

Stiles looks up and grins, going so far as to plant a sloppy kiss on Lydia’s cheek. “Aw, you’ve been talking about me,” he says, sounding ridiculously fond and sappy.

Accepting Stiles’s affection like it’s second nature, Lydia tilts her head to him and pecks him on the lips with a giggle. “I told her that you’re the most infuriating creature in existence. Don’t trust her, we have a plan to kill you later.” She turns back to Allison and smiles, wide enough that Allison has a pretty good clue that the red plastic cup Lydia’s holding onto isn’t filled with water. “I must have forgotten that I mentioned his name.”

“You didn’t. I met Scott,” Allison says, taking a sip of her own drink. Scott’s creation tastes wonderful, did he add pineapple juice? It tastes like it has a hint of pineapple beyond the kick that the orange soda gives it.

“She met Scott!” Stiles cheers, smiling. “Lydia met you, and you met Scott, and now we’re meeting!”

Completely smitten with his antics, Lydia only smiles at him. “Stiles, this is Allison, the girl I met at the coffee shop? It was her apartment that you picked me up from. Remember?” she prompts him, molding to him slightly when he wraps an arm around her waist.

Allison smiles at them, happy to see a slightly softer side to Lydia. Not that the redhead was mean, but she was serious and needed someone to help balance her out. And maybe it was just the fact that he was already a few drinks in, but Stiles seemed to be that person. “I looked for you over by the bar,” she says, raising her a voice in order to be heard over the guitar riffs that are coming from the living room. She wonders whether or not that’s Scott playing and if she should go and watch.

“We got here ages ago, before the party even really started,” Lydia says, disentangling herself from Stiles and collecting the drink that he had been holding for her. She reaches over and takes Allison’s hand, kissing Stiles briefly as a goodbye. “We’re going to go listen to the band and dance. I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Have fun!” Stiles says, stepping over and going so far as to hug Allison goodbye.

Feeling slightly awkward about the whole encounter, Allison walks with Lydia back up the hallway and looks out over the crowd. It feels vaguely unfamiliar, the whole party scene something that she hasn’t been involved with for years. Unfamiliar, but not unwelcome. In all honesty, she needs some sort of distraction from and school and her hounding father. “You looked cozy,” she mentions when Lydia doesn’t start the conversation.

The blush starts in Lydia’s cheeks and even makes the top of her chest a little red, but she doesn’t deny it. “How did you meet Scott?” she asks instead, clearly more concerned with Allison’s activities than her own.

“He made me a drink because the one I had was terrible.”

“Stiles would drink battery acid as long as it had alcohol. I’m the only reason he won’t touch ‘jungle juice’ anymore, because after the last time I tasted it on him I didn’t kiss him for three weeks.” She’s smiling at the memory, and leans against the wall as she watches the band. "Come on, dance with me!"

Biting her lip, Allison shrugs as she looks around. "I don't really dance."

Lydia's look is unimpressed and a little incredulous. "It's simple, just step to the beat."

Scott is upstage with the blond that Allison saw earlier, both of them playing electric guitars. A younger brunette guy is slightly over to the side playing bass, an Asian girl is standing over a keyboard, and a dark skinned man who looks familiar in a way Allison can’t place is on the drums behind them. “Alright, that was ‘Closer.’ Coming up, we’ve got ‘Satellite, Star Bright’ and ‘Dancefloor Duo’. We’re The Pack, stay with us,” Scott says into the microphone, grinning as he strums absentmindedly before launching into the chords of the next song.

With that, they strike up again, and Lydia smirks when she sees everyone in the crowd having a good time. They are in various stages of dancing, and even the people hanging back on the edge still look entertained. “They’ll get a big tip tonight,” she predicts. Looking to Allison, her smirk only grows. “You’re blushing, why are you blushing?”

Allison hadn’t realized that she’d been blushing, but she feels her cheeks tentatively and sighs when they’re warm to the touch. “I’m not,” she still says, wishing that the denial felt more authentic.

“If you’re not blushing, I don’t like sex on the beach. And I love sex on the beach,” Lydia says, the corners of her eyes crinkling with excitement. She catches some guy who must have heard if the leer he’s giving her is any indication and snaps, “Down, boy, it’s a drink,” before returning to Allison with a triumphant grin.

Trying to distract her friend from the conversation at hand, Allison points to the gaggle of girls hanging by the back of the makeshift stage. “Who are they?”

Lydia only spares them a cursory glance before waving her hand at the group. “They just want to sleep with the band members. Typically Scott or Isaac, but Liam and Kira have a surprising number of followers as well.”

“Isaac? Liam? Kira?”

“Oh, that’s right. You only met Scott. Isaac is the blond one next to Scott, the one with the killer cheekbones. Liam is playing bass on the left, and Kira is the keyboardist. Boyd is the drummer,” Lydia explains.

Nodding along and glancing over the band members, Allison asks, “Why aren’t there groupies for Boyd? He’s cute.”

The dead glance that Lydia gives her is enough to make her feel like she should retract the statement, but then Lydia points a manicured nail across the room to a blond who looks positively lethal. “Boyd is cute, but he also has a girlfriend who’s a little bit crazy and feels more comfortable with a knife than with high heels. And she lets anyone who’s interest in him know it.”

Allison inspects the girl a little closer and eyes the stilettos that she’s wearing. The girl looks fine in them, not unsteady or off balance. “She looks like she feels fine in high heels.”
“Imagine how she must feel with a knife, then,” Lydia says, rolling her eyes and turning away.

The blond girl looks familiar too, in the same way Boyd does, but Allison can actually place her. “Isn’t that Erica?” she asks. Erica has shown up to several open mic nights, plays remixed songs that typically sound better than the originals.

Lydia rolls her eyes again, this time more than a simple sign of exhaustion and clearly demonstrates that she’s fed up with something. “Boyd is dating the competition, which everyone else thinks is cute and I think is idiotic. Although I’m biased, because I don’t like her. She steals my seat when they practice,” she says, pouting.

Allison says nothing, just pulls Lydia into the crowd with her. She needs to dance for a while, and the band is surprisingly good. Not that she didn’t expect them to be, but she’s known enough people to be under the impression that there’s a reason the crowd has to be drunk to listen to the majority of college bands. And Scott, or maybe it’s Isaac, is singing almost sweetly about getting the girl, Wanted you from day one/You wanted to have fun/I thought I just could just do that.

“Scott helped Stiles write this. It’s the first time they’ve played it in public. Isn’t it sweet?” Lydia asks, raising her arms as she moves to the beat. “He’s going to be so put out that he missed it.”

“Beyond sweet. He’s in love with you,” Allison tells her, sure of it even though she’s only met Stiles once.

Lydia waves her away, her faraway smile betrayed by the way that she finishes her drink quickly and goes off to find another.

-x-

By the time they’ve reached the end of a set, Lydia has returned with Stiles and a freshened drink. She grabs Allison’s arm from the edge of the dancefloor and drags her out as the band finishes the closing chords. “Come on, we’re going to talk to the band. You can meet the rest of them!” she calls, her hand like a vice around Allison’s wrist as she pulls them over through the hoard of people.

When they get there, Isaac is saying something to the crowd about how they’ll be back soon, and not to cry. The rest of them are standing around, collecting cups and passing a bottle of Fireball around. “One more hour and then we’re going back and I’m going to kick everyone’s ass at FIFA,” the one she’s fairly sure is Liam says from by one of the amps. He makes a grab for the bottle and goes to pour some into his cup, only to be intercepted by Stiles.

“You can’t kick anyone’s ass at FIFA. And, remember, you’re too young to be drinking,” he says, snatching the Fireball for himself and toting it over to where Scott is putting his guitar down. “The youngster was trying to drink.”

“Stiles, my sixteenth birthday had so much alcohol that we all woke up the next morning feeling drugged. Liam is nineteen years old, let the boy have some fucking liquor,” Lydia calls, rolling her eyes at Allison.

Scott looks like he’s trying and failing to suppress a smile, and Liam looks the tiniest bit offended. “I’m almost twenty,” he tries, crossing his arms over his chest defensively.

That’s what gets Scott to go from a smile to a genuine laugh, grabbing at Stiles’s shoulder as he tries to keep himself upright. Even Lydia can’t resist chuckling, shooting a sympathetic smiles over Liam’s way. Stiles, in the meanwhile, looks like he’s still trying to understand how someone so unbelievably young actually hangs out with them. Isaac walks over and grabs the Fireball, taking a swig straight from the bottle before tossing it to Liam.

“Stop ragging on the baby,” the girl that Allison thinks might be called Mira (Mara? Kara?) says, smiling as she reaches over and pinches his cheek. “Let him get good and drunk like the rest of us. And, just so you know, I’m going to school you in FIFA.”

“That’s because you cheat, Kira,” Stiles teases her, sharing a knowing look with Isaac.

Kira, not Mira. Allison supposes that she’ll be able to get the names right eventually. There are just so many.

Sulking, Liam takes a drink and makes a face over at Stiles. “You’re kind of an asshole.”

“Hey, that’s my asshole you’re talking about,” Lydia says, pointing sternly at Liam before blowing a kiss to Stiles, who winks in return.

There’s a kind of clap that starts up from around them, and Isaac drapes an arm around Lydia’s shoulders and sends a grin that could almost be classified as sleezy over Stiles’s way. “So, it’s true then, you made an honest man out of him? I mean, we all new you guys were fucking, we just didn’t know whether we were supposed to know.”

Stiles flips him off as Lydia rolls her eyes and jokingly shoves Isaac off of her. “He made an honest woman out of me, more like it. You’re such a slut, Lahey,” she comments, no heat behind the words.

“Only for you, baby,” he says, dipping his head to kiss her cheek. Following that, he glances around quickly before pointing to Allison. “Who’s the new girl? Band significant other wannabe?”

This time, Lydia actually does shove him off. “Isaac, knock it off. She’s not some random puppy who followed us back, if that’s what you’re asking. This is my friend, Allison.” After making sure that she has Allison’s attention, Lydia goes around the group. “Allison, this is Isaac, Stiles, Scott, Kira, Liam, Erica, and Boyd. You’ve already met Stiles and Scott, though. I met Allison at the coffee shop she works in, the one I scope open mic nights out at.”

They all give her a little wave and resume what they were talking about before, but Scott steps toward her and says, “I’m glad you hung around.” He smiles that smile at her, and she’s a goner.

“Well, Lydia kept telling me about this amazing band, and I had to hear for myself,” Allison says.

After a few more minutes of conversation, everyone kind of splits into groups. Isaac drifts off to talk with Kira and Liam, and Allison is left with Stiles, Scott, and Lydia. Scott tries to make conversation with Allison, while Stiles and Lydia seem to be involved in a complex game of who can remember the dumbest thing that anyone in the group has done. It’s gotten overly involved, or maybe they just have too many memories of cringe-worthy things.

“Okay, look, Isaac may have ran a mile naked and literally almost frozen his balls off for the sake of beef jerky and American freedom, but do you not remember the time that Kira did a kegstand with tequila instead of beer?” Lydia demands, hands on her hips as she stares down her boyfriend.

Holding his hands in front of him, Stiles still doesn’t back down. “Of course I don’t remember that, do you remember how much I had to drink that night? How much we all had to drink that night? Kira didn’t decide sober that a tequila stand was a great idea. Just because you had the fantastic idea to alternate water and shots – who does that by the way? – doesn’t mean the rest of us are quite as competent.”

Unsure of how much longer the argument is going to continue, Scott throws an arm around Stiles and cuts him off. “Hey, I saw Malia around earlier. She said she was looking for you, did you see her?” he asks innocently, keeping his face neutral as Lydia begins to glare daggers at Stiles.

“Why was Malia looking for you? You’d think she’s seen enough of you already,” Lydia says, her voice clipped.

Confused, Stiles says, “Our bio lab only meets on Monday nights, we really don’t see that much of each other.”

With a pinched expression, Lydia snaps, “I meant that you had sex with her. She saw you naked, that’s what I meant by ‘seen enough’, come on. I know how often you have bio lab. Wait, she’s in your bio lab and you never told me? Were you keeping that from me? I’d tell you if I had a class with Jackson!” Her voice has risen from the conversational tone to a near screech, causing others from the group to look over at the commotion.

Kira and Isaac are exchanging glances, refusing to look Liam’s way even as he tries to ask details quietly. Liam clearly knows about as much of the situation as Allison does, because she hears him ask, “Who’s Malia? I thought Stiles was with Lydia.” That’s pretty much what Allison is thinking, too, but at least she’s not saying it.

Apparently Stiles and Lydia hear too, because they whip around to face Liam simultaneously. Stiles yells defensively, “I am with Lydia!” at the same time that Lydia shouts, “He is with me!” before they go back to talking with each other.

“I wasn’t keeping it from you, I thought that I mentioned it.” A little lost, Stiles looks to Scott for help.

“You told me,” Scott informs him helpfully.

Lydia doesn’t look like she sees this as good news. If anything, it only sours her expression, something that Stiles takes notice of immediately. “I just assumed that you were there when I said something, then. We don’t even talk, I don’t know why she was looking for me.”

“Well, let’s go find out then,” Lydia says, her voice having returned to its normal volume but having lost none of the icy edge. She whips around and stalks off before Stiles has a chance to agree, but he follows her all the same, shooting Scott a worried look before he slips into the crowd behind her.

Scott grins sheepishly as he looks back over at Allison. “She didn’t ask me about Stiles, but I ran into her in the backyard when we got here. I just wanted to talk to you alone. They’ll be making up in no time.”

Some part of her thinks that it’s a little mean that he sent his best friends off arguing, but then he raises an arm to scratch at his shoulder, and she finds it in herself to forgive him. It was for a good cause, after all. With a little laugh, she leans forward and grabs the Fireball. After adding a little to her empty cup, she tells him, “I guess you’re just lucky that I wanted to talk to you, too.”

-x-

Malia’s eyebrows rise to her hairline as she watches Lydia basically materialize next her, Stiles appearing only a moment later. “Can I help you with something?” She can already tell that this is going to give her a headache.

Lydia’s pinched mouth forms a scowl. “We’re about to find out.”

“What Lydia means is, Scott said that you were looking for me?” Stiles tells her, sounding a little out of breath from having to keep up with Lydia through the crowd.

Was she looking for Stiles? She might have asked if he was there, just because Scott was as much a part of Stiles as Stiles was, but she doubted that she meant she’d been trying to find him. Shaking her thoughts off, Malia takes another drink and shrugs. “I just asked how you were, that’s all.” She pauses and looks between them, trying to decipher their expressions. Stiles looks relieved, but Lydia just looks more disgruntled if anything.

The last time she actually asked Stiles if he and Lydia were ever going to happen, he’d given a helpless sort of shrug and mumbled something about it not being the right time. Either that or some other excuse that basically meant he was too chickenshit to actually man up and ask her to have sex with the strings attached. He hadn’t told her that part about the no strings attached sex, but Isaac had let it slip. Now that she’s looking at them, though, it doesn’t look like they’re pretending to not have feelings for each other anymore. Which is a relief, Scott is probably happy. Unless they’re like this all of the time, in which case Scott is probably stressed out.

“That’s all,” Lydia states, her voice a knife. Some part of it demands an answer, but Malia has not had enough alcohol to deal with this much bullshit yet. “That’s all.”

Great. Repetition, which can only mean that Lydia is still mostly sober. Which means that Malia needs to get twice as drunk as she was already planning to be able to deal with a sober Lydia. Drunk Lydia was one thing, because they could aside their differences and compliment each other’s shoes, but sober Lydia was anything thing entirely.

“That’s all!” Stiles says, smiling wide as he throws an arm over Lydia’s shoulder. She shrugs it off, but he doesn’t let that affect his enthusiasm. “I’m good, by the way! I’m really good! How’re you?”

How is she? Not drunk enough, at the moment, thanks for asking. “I’m good. I’m glad you’re good, too.”

Stiles beams, Lydia lessens her scowl and knocks back the rest of her drink, and they both lean into each other. Running his hand through Lydia’s hair, Stiles says, “I’m glad you’re good. I’m just confused why Scott said you were looking for me when you weren’t. Scott wouldn’t lie to me.”

“Yeah, he said you were, so we left him and Allison to find you. Sorry,” Lydia says begrudgingly.

“The dark haired girl he was flirting with earlier?” Malia asks, walking over to the kitchen to refill her drink.

Following her, Stiles says, “Yeah. Wait, he was flirting with her?”

Well, Stiles has always been blind to other people flirting with one another, but if Allison is who Malia is thinking of then there was definitely some hardcore flirting going on.
“They were flirting, oh yeah. Rum and coke?” she asks absentmindedly, glancing through bottles until she’s found the ones she needs.

“Please.” Lydia holds her cup out and looks thoughtfully back the way they came. “He sent us away to talk with her more. They’re going to get together.” She sounds smug just thinking about it.

Topping off their cups with rum, Malia passes Lydia’s cup back and takes a deep drink from her own.

“Scott’s so pretty. He’s going to have pretty children.” Stiles daydreaming about his best friend’s children would be weird if Malia hadn’t been exposed to Stiles’s special brand of weirdness since freshman year.

Defensive, Lydia says, “Allison’s prettier. She’s going to have prettier children.”

Stiles exhales, a long suffering sigh that Malia shouldn’t be able to identify with as much as she does. “Okay, Allison is pretty, but Scott is the hot girl. Come on, we’ve talked about this before.”

With that, Malia tips her cup to them and makes her way out to the backyard before she can hear Lydia’s response. Hopefully she’ll be able to get some piece of mind out there, maybe listen to the band in peace. It sounds like they’re starting up again.

-x-

After the final set has finished and the band has packed up all of their equipment, Allison stands outside with Lydia and watches Isaac and Scott lug heavy pieces of their set up into the back of a large navy van. Boyd stands aside and gives them instructions, smirking to himself as Erica leans her head on his shoulder.

“Put a little pep in your step, boys,” she calls, whooping as Isaac bends over in front of her to gather wires that have been bunched together.

“Up yours, Reyes,” Isaac snaps, rolling his eyes as he tries to act as though he’s not showing off.

Stumbling out of the front door while holding two microphones and attempting to not trip over the chords, Stiles raises them over his head in the style of a barbell as he winks over at Lydia. “How am I looking, babe?”

Lydia doesn’t even bat an eye, a corner of her mouth sliding up her face as she pauses to take in a sight for a little longer than strictly necessary. “Like you skipped leg day,” she yells, putting a hand to the side of her mouth to make sure that the words carry.

Snorting, Scott nearly drops an amp, straightening up only at Kira’s snickering call of, “That’s worth more than you are!” He then salutes the tiny Asian and goes back to carrying the object, wearing a grin all the while.

Liam actually sets down the guitar case he was holding before curling up briefly onto the slightly damp grass. He laughs, long and hard, and he makes a sound that comes close to a howl. “Friends don’t let friends skip leg day,” he chokes out, tears beginning to stream down his cheeks as he orients himself to Kira and repeating it.

With a pout, Stiles passes the microphones off to who Allison is fairly sure is named Danny, who Lydia mentioned was the host. He then races down the steps, sprinting briefly at Lydia before swinging her into his arms and spinning her around. “Do I look like I skipped leg day now, huh?” he asks, lifting her up even further.

“Stiles, put me down! Put me down!” Lydia screams, desperately clutching at his shoulders, smiling despite herself.

“Not until you say I have nice legs! Do it, say I have nice legs!” he responds, finally ceasing to spin even as he keeps Lydia’s feet well above the ground.

As they argue, Erica claps her hands gleefully and presses a kiss into Boyd’s cheek with her eyes dancing. “You don’t skip leg day, baby,” she jokes, giggling all the while.

“Come on, guys, we have to get loaded,” Isaac reminds them all, leaning against the van, where he’s just help Scott deposit the amp and wires. There isn’t much left, though, most everything already situated strategically through Boyd’s help. It was a giant game of Tetris, trying to figure out how to load all of the equipment while still leaving room for passengers.

Boyd is designated driver for the night, and he’ll be driving with Erica, Liam, Kira, and Isaac. Scott, Lydia, Stiles, and Allison have all agreed to take a taxi together. At first, it was planned that Stiles would go in the van and meet them at the apartment, since he had a key and that way no matter which car got there first everyone would be able to get inside as soon as possible.

That had been the plan, but Stiles had bitched so hard about not wanting to be separated from Lydia that the band had agreed that Stiles was clingy like nothing else while in a relationship and that he should be allowed to stay with Lydia or else they’d all have to listen to him drunkenly sing Total Eclipse of the Heart on the way there. And really, there’s a reason that Stiles isn’t in the band. He can barely sing while sober, but he gets confidant when drunk.

“Put me down!” Lydia continues, swinging her hands against Stiles’s shoulders in harmless hits.

“Say I have nice legs!” he shouts, finally tossing her over his shoulder and smiling victoriously for a moment until he freezes when Lydia makes a noise of victory. Allison can practically see the cogs turning in his head, No, she shouldn’t be winning right now, how can she win?

With a motion that seems far too practiced considering that she’s upside down and partially restrained, Lydia yanks the belt of his pants off and gives a shout when his jeans fall down and reveal polka dotted boxers.

Liam, who had been working on calming down enough to finish the transport of the guitar, falls back onto the grass as though shot, gasping with laughter. Scott can’t contain himself any longer, since the amp is put away and Kira doesn’t have anything to say, he also rolls onto the ground and begins to make noises that sound like sobs.

Stiles does a sort of toss and gather, the first motion with Lydia and the second with his pants. “You traitor,” he declares, one hand holding up his jeans and the other pointing accusatorily at his girlfriend.

“Actually, considering that I just saw them, I’ll go ahead and say it. You have nice legs,” Lydia pronounces, voice sweet as sugar as she carefully arranges her skirts before standing up and wrapping her arms around his waist.

“You guys, come on,” Kira calls, smiling even as she says the words. “The taxi is here.”

Quickly getting his pants back up and his belt back on, Stiles grabs the microphones from Danny and passes them off to Isaac before yanking Scott under his arm. “We must leave you, however briefly. Don’t worry, my sweets, I’ll see you again. But fear not, I will pine every moment that we are away,” he rambles to the group, clutching to Scott and then to Lydia as she approaches the two with a good-humored grin.

While Allison certainly isn’t sober and won’t be so for a few more hours, she’s not nearly as drunk as Stiles obviously is. Or maybe he’s not, and he’s just like this all of the time. Which, wow, that’s kind of a scary thought.

Liam passes off the microphones to Kira before Boyd helps him to his feet, still giggling to himself as he points at Stiles and Lydia. “Tell me we can play Jenga when we get to the apartment,” he asks the older boy, eyes sparkling.

“If Lydia hasn’t set fire to it, sure,” Boyd placates him, making sure that he’s balanced before helping Liam over to the van. “Although she might have, considering that last time you almost set fire to her bedroom. We’re going to keep the matches locked away this time,” he says, seemingly to himself.

“But then how are we going to have baked Alaska?” Lydia asks, leaving Stiles and linking her arm through Allison’s and pillowing her head on the taller girl’s shoulder.

Tilting her head to rest on top of Lydia’s, Allison sighs and asks, “Baked Alaska?”

Stiles straightens up and high fives Scott instantly, with a shout of “Baked Alaska!” they turn to the girls with identical grins. “We pour Fireball on ice cream and light it on fire!” Stiles declares gleefully.

That may be the most dangerous activity she’s ever heard of while drunk, but Allison can’t help herself when she bursts into laugher. It sounds dangerous and stupid and like the most mouth-watering thing in the world. She can’t wait to try it.

-x-

Twenty minutes and one disgruntled cab driver later, Allison is watching Erica lines up shots and count down in some unknown language. Though she doesn’t know the words, the unmistakable hand motions communicate to the group that they need to be ready to drink in 3-2-1!

Everyone knocks back the shot of Erica’s own creation, part vodka and part raspberry snow cone flavoring, with some added whipped cream to make the sweetness just that much more overpowering. It makes Allison’s teeth hurt and her throat burn, and she opens watery eyes to raise her glass just a bit higher to salute the blonde who is grinning with her arms thrown over Boyd’s neck.

“Next time we’ll coat it in sprinkles,” Kira says, leaning against the counter with a faraway smile. She’s propped up against Liam’s side and has a hand on Isaac’s arm as she points to a cabinet.

Stiles lets out a shout at that, slamming his glass down and reaching over Lydia for the bottle by Allison’s arm. “It’s three o’clock, let’s just stay up all night,” he declares, pulling the glass container towards him and revealing it to be a bottle of tequila, at which Lydia yanks it out of his hands.

“You can’t get tequila-drunk,” she snaps at Stiles, pulling the bottle closer for a moment before catching a whiff, when she instantly passed it off to Allison’s other side, where Scott had appeared with a lopsided smile.

Scott nods, accepting the bottle and adopting a woeful expression. “She’s right, man. You get annoying when you’re tequila-drunk. No, no, I still love you,” he races to assure his friend when Stiles’s face starts to drop a little at the words. “You’re still my best friend.”

“I just can’t get tequila-drunk?” Stiles asks pitifully, ignoring Lydia’s glare as he pouts at Scott.

Sensing that an intervention is needed, Allison puts her hand on Stiles’s shoulder and looks at him seriously. “I can’t get tequila-drunk, either. That’s okay, though, because tequila tastes bad anyway.” She even goes so far as to nod along with her words, and she turns her body to block his view of the bottle that Scott is holding.

“Excuse me, tequila is wonderful,” Scott says, clearly offended.

Lydia rolls her eyes as Stiles nods with Allison before pointing at Stiles and saying, “So Allison can tell you not to drink tequila and you agree, but I do and you act like a baby?” she demands, frowning deeply.

They walk off mid-argument, leaving Scott and Allison leaning against the counter opposite of Erica and Boyd, who only take a moment to look around before relocating to the couches in the living room, tugging Isaac’s group along with them.

Resting her head on her arm as she watches Stiles and Lydia, Allison asks, “Do they always argue like that?”

Scott snorts, setting the tequila back on the counter and resting his back against the granite as he faces her with a distracted smile. “Only when they’re not making out or having sex. So, really, less than you’d think,” he provides, teasing, clearly more used to their antics than Allison is.

“Gross,” Allison says, fingers tapping against her cheek all the while. She takes him in with a grin, the way that he hasn’t looked away from her since they started talking. “So you’re the other roommate,” she drawls, smiling.

“So you’re the friend,” he returns, his smile coming easily. “Funnily enough, Lydia never mentioned how pretty you were, but I guessed. She always has attractive friends.”

Made courageous by the alcohol and the way that he’s leaning toward her, she reaches a hand over and touches his chest gently. She’s not usually so forward, but she feels comfortable with him, more comfortable than a single night should allow for. “You think I’m pretty,” she just says, ridiculously pleased by the notion.

Too struck by her shy smile to do anything but nod, Scott reflects now is probably his chance. Allison seems smart and pretty, not to mention funny. Plus, she’s friends with Lydia. He’s never been able to find a girlfriend that Lydia has approved of, even Kira hadn’t been perfect in Lydia’s eyes. With the confidence that he’s not going to find anyone else who even comes close, he leans close and asks, “Do you want to get dinner?”

“Like a date?” she asks, the words popping out of her mouth before she can think to stop them.

His eyebrows shoot up in surprise, and he coughs a little in surprise. “Well, unless you don’t want it to be, which would be cool, too. Not that a date with you wouldn’t be cool, because it would be. Very cool,” he tries to assure her, verbally tripping over himself to stop the word vomit.

Allison’s eyes light up, and she grins softly at him. “I’ll make you a deal,” she reveals, “I’ll go out with you if you make me one of those baked Alaska with Fireball desserts that you were talking about earlier.”

“I think we can work something out,” Scott answers, not bothering to stop the smile that’s creeping up his features as he laces his fingers through hers.