Lydia knows she's not normal.
Normal girls don't think the way she does; they don't see monsters everywhere.
There are things she fears, irrational things that a normal girl wouldn't even think of.
Like the sound of power tools. Or screaming.
She tries to stay away from windows, now.
She dreams of broken glass. She dreams of fire and smoke, the smell of death. She dreams of a chair and a cruel man.
She dreams about telling Stiles to leave her behind, and she dreams that he doesn't come back.
But every time she opens her eyes, he's there.
Something she has only recently begun to accept about herself (a stunt like that in Eichen will really whip a girl's priorities into shape): she is a banshee.
The truth is, she was never normal.
The girl he loves is dying in his arms.
He holds her and he tells her to wake up and he waits for her to come back to him, because he believes.
He's always believed in her.
She proves him right, and he vows right there that he will continue to worship Lydia Martin for the rest of his life.
They are inseparable.
She's never been like this before him. Even as a child she was always fiercely independent. She got drunk on power young, made all her decision herself.
She was a girl who waited for no one.
But she waited for him.
Without trying, without knowing. She looks back on the past two years and sees how every moment changed her, changed them, was leading her down a path that took her somewhere she couldn't foresee.
He holds her like she's made of glass. They spend hours together just sitting, studying each other's faces and the texture of skin under their fingertips.
She's never felt like this before.
Like she is overwhelmed with gratitude, that he's alive and he's here, with her.
She's so grateful it's terrifying.
She feels gutted, scooped out, exhausted. Fragile in a way she's never felt before, not even after they lost Alli.
She's afraid of herself now, of what's she capable of. She feels dangerous, broken.
And sometime when she wasn't looking he turned into a man, and she's in awe of him, now. She finds herself staring at him in a way she's never looked at anyone before, not even Jackson.
Because she and Stiles-they have history now.
They have a dozen remember when I saved your ass anecdotes between them, a million coded expressions. Shared heartbreaks and victories no one but them could ever understand.
They can have a conversation from across the room with only their eyes and the tilt of their heads.
It's not like how it was before, with other guys.
It's not a hot quick burn of passion. There're no mind games, no petty arguments. She doesn't dress provocatively for him, doesn't have to use her mouth on him to keep his affections.
This, this thing they have-it's big, and deep, and it scares her. She understands now, that when she used to think he wasn't enough for her-not enough muscles, or money, popularity-she was wrong.
The memory makes her burn with shame, how silly and vain she used to be.
She was the one that wasn't enough. She wasn't ready for this, not back when all she cared about was being Jackson's trophy, and becoming prom queen, conquering the world in four inch heels.
She hadn't even realized that she'd changed. It was a slow and shifting thing that suddenly crystallized into reality when she woke up under a blanket of glass to Stiles staring at her in shocked reverence.
She, the teenage warrior with perfect hair and a slick-gloss smile, who never belonged to anyone but herself, the girl they used to call heartless-
She is a girl whose heart has been cracked wide open and overflows with love.
He kisses the scar that Peter left first, jagged little pink triangles on white skin.
Above him Lydia gasps lightly, her head falling back against his pillow.
"Okay?" he murmurs, and traces the shape of the scar with his tongue.
She reaches down and threads her fingers through his hair in response so he keeps going, drops butterfly kisses over the scarred tissue while she makes little kitten noises in the back of her throat.
He moves across her stomach to the surgical scar from when Tracy cut her open, cruel and straight. He puts his mouth over it and she jumps, he has to push her hips back down onto the mattress to keep her still.
"Stiles." She sounds raw; he looks up to see her staring at him, glassy eyed.
"You're okay," he whispers, running his thumbs over the dip of her waist. "I got you, you're okay."
She settles under him, the hand in his hair relaxing to stroke the back of his neck as he waits for her. "Okay," she whispers back. "I'm good."
He resumes mapping the territory. He goes extra slow, just to feels her, warm and alive and so soft in that mysterious way girls always are.
She has her eyes shut now, hand draped loosely across his neck, her shallow breathing the only clue she's not totally unconscious.
He lets her drift for awhile, occupies himself by kissing every rib until his mouth makes it up over her chest. She's so rarely relaxed these days (honestly he can't ever remember Lydia as relaxed) and he wants her to have as much of it as she can.
Her eyes open when he kisses the top of her head, shifting next to her to hold her against his chest.
She rolls into him, her eyes wide open and staring, a tremulous smile on her face like she can't believe she's even here.
He's dreamed of her looking at him like this but nothing compares to the real thing.
"Hey," she murmurs thickly, and he never knew a word so pedantic could sound holy.
"Hey," he says back, and cradles the side of her head, where Deaton shot her up with mistletoe.
She makes a faint little noise and pitches forward, pressing her face into the nuke of his neck. She doesn't say anything, just breathes into his skin and holds him in a brittle grip.
She's not good at expressing her deeper emotions, not with words yet at least. She still hides sometimes, ducks her face or covers it in the crook of her arm until she composes herself.
It's something they're working on.
For now though it's more than enough, her lips on his neck and her head, perfect and whole, cradled against his hand.
He's never needed her words to divine the contents of her heart.
Her mother knows.
Her mother knows, and in some ways it's the final nail in the coffin that is Beacon Hills, that last layer of deception ripped away.
She knows and it's a relief. No more secrets. Not for any of them.
Her mother restores Stile's visiting privileges and then some. He has a house key made, knows the code to her garage. They eat breakfast with her mom before school and she goes with him to the Sheriff's station to bring his father dinner.
Sometimes they just drive around Beacon Hills, their hands wrapped loosely together over the gear shift. They roll down the windows and blast music, stop to make out until the windows of his beloved Jeep are fogged up.
He's allowed to sleep over (with the door cracked open and one foot on the floor, of course). They might not be normal teenagers but their parents are still their parents.
She thinks it's kind of sweet, that they're trying to understand, to respect this strange thing between her and the Sheriff's son.
She's grateful for it anyway, when she wakes up one night with her head in her hands, breaking on a panicked breath as she comes out of the nightmare.
He's already there, sitting up next to her in bed, big hands wrapped around her wrists. "Hey Lydia, Lydia, you're okay, you were dreaming."
He has to pry her fingers off her face, talking very calmly, reminding her that she's home and she's safe, and he's never going to let anyone hurt you again so help me god but you have to look at me.
"Stiles," she croaks, her nails digging into his palms.
He bends down over her and rests his forehead on hers. "I'm here. Everything's okay, see? We're okay."
She closes her eyes, the dream flickering in her mind. All those bodies, dead, dead, dead...
"Scott," she murmurs, clutching Stile's hand. "It was Scott..."
"He's okay. It was just a dream, Lyds."
She knows he's right but she can still feel it, ash on her tongue, a scream stuck in the back of her throat.
"Can you check...please?" Her mouth is so dry, she accepts the glass of water he hands her with shaking hands while he calls Scott.
He answers on the second ring, mumbling something unintelligible into the phone.
"Hey buddy, just checking in," Stiles says.
"M'kay," Scott slurs, half asleep.
Okay? Stiles mouths at her, and she nods.
"Sorry, Scott," she apologizes. "Go back to sleep."
"'Kay Lyds," he mumbles, and hangs up, leaving her feeling both relieved and stupid.
"Hey," Stiles says gently. "You don't have to apologize for caring, Lydia."
She stares down at the phone. "I know that."
He takes the glass of water back and sets it on the nightstand. "Do you wanna try going back to sleep?"
She shrugs and lets him pull her down, her back against his chest. He wraps one long arm around her and she finds his hand under the blanket.
He talks to her until she falls asleep, his words rocking her into unconsciousness. She dreams of a tree, of fresh white bark and green buds emerging from ashes.
The first time she comes with him, two of his fingers inside her in the backseat of the jeep, it's so good she starts to cry.
He freezes under her, looking panicked. She punches him in the chest, don't stop you idiot, and God bless him he doesn't.
He picks the rhythm right back up and she curls over him, sobbing, yes, yes, fuck, riding the wave until she's wrung out, collapsing on his chest and hiding her face in his shoulder.
He pulls his fingers out slowly, bringing them up to his mouth to taste. He mumbles something, like sweet, and she shudders, thinking of ten better things for him to do with his tongue.
He strokes her braid and pulls on it, gentle, gentle, just so her head's tipped back enough for him to look at her.
"Okay?" he asks quietly.
She straightens and gives him a totally unnecessary lecture about orgasms and oxytocin and chemical reactions, demonstrating why it's totally not her fault she started crying in the middle of what she is already privately considering to be the best orgasm of her life.
He nods very seriously and says, as long as you enjoyed it.
She snorts. "That didn't sound like I enjoyed it?"
He kisses her and she can taste herself on his lips.
"Lydia," he mumbles hoarsely, into her mouth.
"Shh," she murmurs, and kisses his Cupid's bow, his chin. "I know."
She's delicate like the thinnest sheet of glass, hair like flames and a mouth that can cut sharper than a knife.
That's what he thinks of when he looks at her, internal monologue screaming, careful, careful. Like the memory of his mother holding out a flower for him to touch, whispering, careful, it's delicate.
Diamonds are made by a crushing amount of pressure but Lydia was tempered by fire.
She may be delicate on the outside but underneath all that shiny glass is a girl made of the strongest steel, and well, he always fancied himself a knight.
They lay her out on the table, adrenaline pumping to a beat they all know by now:
Save her save her save her.
She screams and he doesn't think, just reacts, shielding her with his body as glass rains down on top of them.
His ear is still bleeding and he hardly notices.
She's beautiful even like this, deathly pale, white, white skin and chalked lips. He brushes a piece of glass away from her eye, careful, careful, delicate.
When she wakes up, like he knew she would, she stares at him.
He feels that pull that he always feels around Lydia, that indescribable something drawing him to her.
But this time it's different, because Lydia is pulling right back.
Call it a string, an anchor, fate, it doesn't matter. Soulmates or dumb luck, so what, he doesn't care if it's caused by pheromones or destiny, science or magic.
He doesn't need to know the mechanics behind it when she's looking at him like she's discovered the eighth wonder of the world.
Like she's completely overwhelmed by something she didn't even know she could feel, but she does, and it's shocked her.
he look that passes between them happens in seconds and lasts for centuries. It's a look of wonder, of awe, and something intimate too, something meant just for him.
She smiles at him over the top of her mother's arms, and it's a raw and tender thing, that smile. Careful, careful, precious.
Her eyes don't wander. They're clear and tear filled and wide open. It's everything, was worth everything, a decade of time devoted to making her see him like how she's seeing him now.
She sees him.
She says he saved me, and they both know she means I love you.
Because her words have layers, codes imbedded in them, and no one can crack them like he can, because he's always been able to see her, the real her.
He makes a joke about not paying for the broken windows, just so she knows he loves her too.
He saves her.
Three small words, and yet it's life changing, revelatory. She tells them to her mother and then later, to Allison, at her grave.
She tells it to the flowers, to the trees, she whispers it to every star in the sky.
He saved me.
It's like a balm on her soul, a love she never realized she needed until she was ripped apart, tortured and broken and half-dead.
He came for her.
He came back, for her.
He's waiting for her in the parking lot at the edge of the graveyard. He's beautiful in the twilight, leaning up against his car, the sleeves of his plaid shirt rolled up to display sinewy forearms.
And he's hers.
They don't use labels, haven't even talked about it. Boyfriend and girlfriend, or ugh, partner. It's reductive, pointless. They're so much bigger than that, there's no need to fit what they have into a box.
He's Stiles, and she's Lydia, and they're together. That's all anyone needs to know.
They've always made their own kind of sense.
"Okay?" he whispers.
She holds her head high and nods even as the rest of her tears escape. He kisses the top of her head and they climb into the jeep and they leave.