“Obsessed is a word the lazy use to
describe the dedicated,” Stiles quipped.
"So, you're dedicated about Lydia?" Derek snorted from where he lay sacked out on the couch, rolling his eyes at Stiles' ridiculousness.
"No," Stiles shook his head, eyes fixated on his computer screen. "I'm dedicated to Lydia."
“Right,” Derek's eyebrows shifted to emphasize the word, his eyes reflexively rolling at the statement. “Stiles,” he started. “She completely ignores your existence -”
“She may be currently unaware of my affection, but she will eventually awake to the strength of my dedication,” Stiles stubbornly stated, his jaw clenching momentarily as he powered down his laptop and slid it into his backpack along-side his text books.
“Mm-hmm,” Derek hummed with his lips pressed together. “And exactly when will this awakening occur? Tomorrow, maybe? I hear that's a good place to store one's productivity.”
“Har har,” Stiles laughed mockingly. “Nice job, but nothing you say will change my mind.”
“I'm not trying to change your mind,” Derek stood, making his way over to lean on the counter as he watched Stiles bundle up to face the cold snow outside. “I'm just trying to get you to wake up from this delusional obsession you've created around a girl who is most likely going to break your heart without ever knowing that you even exist.”
Stiles leveled a glare at his newest acquaintance. “Why are you at my house again? And why do you even care?”
“Because there is a deranged killer running around intent on killing me and your dad thought this would be safer than a house in the middle of nowhere out of screaming distance of the town.”
“Right,” Stiles snapped his fingers, ignoring the fact that Derek had ignored his second question. “Keep reminding me of that.”
“Why?” Derek smiled slightly, enjoying their banter. It had been a while since he felt so comfortable around other people.
“'Cause I know where the guns are in this house and I would hate to accidentally lose my mind and shoot you with one of them,” Stiles smiled back, ducking out of the house before Derek could respond. It was the only way he got the last word in their bickering anymore.
Stiles felt like he was freezing by the time he reached school, running into the building to minimize his exposure to the biting wind.
Relaxing once the doors shut behind him he shook himself, dislodging whatever snow had decided he was a good place to stay. “Haven't they heard of snow days?” he muttered, making his way to his locker and stuffing his winter coat and scarves into it. “And doesn't winter remember this is California?”
“What ever happened to snow days?” a chirping voice sounded in the bustling hallway, mirroring his sentiment.
Seeking the source he found her easily, her legs clad in blue jeans under a fashionable knee-length green and black flannel plaid skirt with a long sleeved almost Asian style blue satin blouse tucked into it that billowed slightly around the waist. Her strawberry hair was braided perfectly, setting off the green hat she wore with a bow to the left of the front as well as the two emeralds that danced in her eyes.
“Daydreaming?” Scott's voice jolted Stiles out of his observation, making him leap and swear.
Stiles' outburst made Alison laugh as Scott quickly mimicked Stiles' earlier actions of stuffing his winter gear into his locker before offering his arm to Alison in the most gentlemanly manner.
“How've you been?” Scott inquired, having not seen his friend over the blizzard weekend.
“Regretting ever helping my dad get elected Sheriff,” Stiles groaned.
“Why?” Alison asked, unaware of who had been a recent guest to the Stilinski house.
“Derek 'Sourwolf ' Hale has taken up temporary residence at our house, per my father's stipulation, 'cause with Crazy Aunt Kate Argent in the area the Hale House is to dangerous to be in because it's out of town and therefore if something happens . . . “
“There's no way to tell immediately, especially in this weather,” Alison nodded her head in comprehension, ignoring the allusion to her Aunt's recent mental issues. Or recently discovered mental issues.
“Sorry,” Stiles' winced, biting his lower lip.
“That was kind of callous.”
She gave him a blank look.
“Crazy Aunt Kate Argent? I wasn't thinking.”
“Oh,” she laughed lightly. “I think it has a rather nice alliterative element to it, actually.”
Stiles laughed, nodding. “Yeah, well, I aim to please - Hey Lydia,” he greeted as the red head brushed past him to the front of the class.
She ignored him, yet again, never pausing in her conversation with Jackson, her current cardboard cutout that she claimed as a boyfriend.
Scott silently shook his head at his friend's antics, perking up as the teacher entered. Coach Fitz was not someone you wanted to ignore during winters like this, 'cause the snow tended to make him testy due to the fact that it made Lacrosse nearly impossible to play.
The rest of the day passed relatively uneventfully, a fact which both Stiles and Scott welcomed with relief. There had been so many new and terrifying things in their lives of late, what with were-wolves and hunters and now a mentally unstable hunter prowling the region after the events with the alpha that wanted to kill all of Scott's old 'pack', and then the pack of Alphas that accidently awoke Scott's True Alpha nature . . . dull was greeted with gladness.
Stiles spent almost the entire chemistry class watching Lydia, as he had already done the reading and was confident that he'd pass any surprise tests the teacher decided to spring on them. School rarely challenged him, unless he was dealing with teachers in a one on one situation and they needed him to explain his reasoning on something or were yelling at him for something they thought he did wrong.
Lydia, on the other hand. Lydia challenged him everyday. It had taken him a whole two school years to learn her every expression - mildly miffed to infinitesimally interested to all-out anger. She was rarely angry, only occasionally getting miffed to such a point where she showed it, but Stiles had gotten to where he could usually tell what mood she was in by the set of her jaw or even how she played with her hair.
Right now she was upset. Very upset. Her jaw was clenched, she was deliberately ignoring Jackson even though she had been deep in conversation with him earlier, and she kept flipping the end of her braid with her left hand (she flipped it with her right hand when she was happy), fidgeting with her necklace every forty-two to fifty-one seconds and was even chewing on the end of her pen like a cat would.
As soon as the bell rang he was out of his seat with his books in his arms at the door before her. “Hey, Lydia, everything okay?” he asked, not expecting an answer but hey, if one never asks . . .
“Mmhm, fine,” she mumbled, brushing past him to get to the next class.
“Dude,” Scott walked up to a slumped against the door Stiles. “Why do you even try so hard?”
Stiles just hummed an incoherent phrase under his breath and told Scott to shut up.
After the final bell tolled Stiles got his cold gear out of his locker and braced himself for the wind. Walking to where his jeep was parked he stopped, puzzled, when he saw Lydia's car in the parking lot still. Just as he was thinking about approaching and asking if something was wrong she started the car and drove out.
As she drove by Stiles he could see quite clearly that she had been crying.
Entering the house Stiles hung his keys up, shrugged his coat off, hung it up as well and then set his boots on the mat to prevent the snow from pooling where people walked. Distractedly walking into the kitchen he didn't hear his dad say hi or see that the Argents were over, going upstairs to put his back pack in its corner and set up his textbooks for studying later that night.
Re-entering the kitchen he was still wrapped up in his own thoughts, a fact that did not escape his father's attention.
“Everything okay?” John asked him, a little concerned.
“Hmm,” Stiles looked up, noticing him for the first time. “No, nothing.”
Derek started silently laughing at John's look of utter confusion and Stiles absent minded cluelessness. Trying to sober himself he shook his head. “You mean yes.”
“What?” Stiles turned a look of befuddlement on the Were-Wolf.
Derek just started laughing harder, though still silent.
“He asked if everything was okay, you said 'no, nothing,'” Derek smiled, highly amused by the miscommunication.
Stiles formed an 'oh' with his mouth, going a touch red. “Yeah, every thing's fine. Just . . . a little distracted.”
“Obviously,” John commented dryly, smiling slightly at the interaction between Hale and his son. You'd swear they were brothers with the way they picked and heckled each other.
“What'd I miss?” Scott bounded into the room from outside, subduing slightly when he noticed the Argents preparing to leave.
“Your friend is distracted,” Derek spoke up first from behind a newspaper.
“Oh, by what?”
“Nothing,” Stiles hoisted himself onto the counter to eat the sandwich he had constructed.
“Mm,” Scott grabbed the orange juice out of the fridge. “She did seem upset today.”
“Who?” John and Stiles asked simultaneously.
“How does it go? Red hair, green eyes - ow!” Stiles smacked him on the back of the head as he walked by.
“Strawberry blonde," he corrected his best friend. "She was crying in her car when she left school,” he added.
“And you know this because . . .?” Derek bemusedly queried.
“She drove by me when she left, and I could tell she was crying.”
“Maybe she was laughing at something. You know how you can laugh so hard you cry,” Scott shrugged, hoisting himself up to sit beside his friend.
“So long as I don't get called to arrest you for stalking her, and your grades stay good, I don't care - I'll be home later, we're shopping tonight,” John took his leave of the conversation, escorting the Argents to the police station to finalize . . . whatever needed to be finalized.
“They need a poster made up for Kate,” Derek practically read Stiles' mind. “Mrs. Argent is apparently slightly phobic of police stations -”
“So they did most of the work here, I get it,” Stiles nodded. “And she wasn't laughing. She was definitely upset, and it has something to do with Jackson, 'cause she was fine until they had that conversation before Economics.”
“Dude, how do you even know these things?” Scott laughed good naturedly. He was always amazed by how knowledgeable his friend was when it came to recalling the little details.
“Because I pay attention,” Stiles jumped down, washed his hands, and put his plate in the washing machine.
“Because you're dedicated,” Derek added in.
“Shut up,” Stiles muttered, earning a confused look from Scott. “Wanna study?”
Scott sighed wearily. “Not really.”
“I got that new game on my computer, if you'd rather play that . . .”
“Awesome!” Scott jumped off the counter after setting his glass in the sink.
Shaking his head as the two best friends raced up the stairs Derek folded his newspaper, tucking the few stray dishes into the washer and starting it's cycle before grabbing his jacket and slipping out of the house. He was going stir crazy, and besides that he was getting exhausted by being around people all. The. Time. Seriously, he was a lone wolf. A loner. He hadn't had this much human interaction for . . . years.
Honestly, if he stopped and thought about it he became slightly depressed by the turn his life had taken. But he knew why he was where he was, and he equally honestly would not change a thing about what he had done unless it was to save his family and kill Kate Argent the first time he'd ever met her.
Sliding into his camero he started the engine, reveling in the sense of freedom the purr of the motor gave him. Backing out he responsibly accelerated, making his way out of town to a little park overlooking a little known lake.
Getting out he zipped up his jacket, though he wasn't really chilled. Being a Were-Wolf had it's perks, being one's own personal heater being one of them.
He froze, suddenly realizing that he wasn't alone. He hadn't noticed the car before because its engine was cold, and the wind confused his ability to reliably pick up any scents, but now he saw it parked right up to the guard rail along the edge of the slight cliff. Looking closer he relaxed, recognizing Lydia Martin's car. But what on earth was she doing here, all alone by the looks of it, with the engine off. She must be freezing cold.
Mind made up he strode over to the car and knocked on the window, earning a shriek of fear from the inattentive young woman. Bending down so he was eye level with her he directed a concerned gaze at her. “Are you okay?”
Of course, he already knew the answer to that as her face was glistening with tears and her eyes showed signs of having many more still to shed.
Opening the door so fast and with such force that she sent him stumbling backwards she slammed the door closed, fury radiating off of her. “What are you doing here!”
“Escaping an insufferable pair of teen age boys, one of which that I've been stuck with since Friday night,” he stayed calm, though with a distinct effort. That had hurt, doggone it. The door was quite solid, after all.
“Oh,” she immediately deflated. “I thought, well . . . it's ridiculous.”
“You thought Stiles had somehow contrived to send me to hunt you down and check up?” Derek guessed, a ghost of a smile gracing his lips. “He's dedicated, but he's not a stalker.” Derek smiled wider, thinking back to their morning conversation.
Lydia watched, a little wary, as whatever Mr. Hale was thinking of made him smile. She'd never seen him smile before. It really made him seem quite amicable. He should try making it a habit. “Like I said,” she huffed, crossing her arms and shivering. “It was ridiculous.”
Seeing her shiver he quickly unzipped and shrugged out of his jacket, moving to wrap her in it.
“What are you doing?” her voice rose in pitch as she took a step back, breath quickening.
“You're shivering,” he backed off a step, holding his jacket out.
“You'll freeze,” she protested, gesturing to his attire of jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt.
“I don't feel the cold like, you do,” he almost said 'humans'. He really needed to start watching himself more. Offering it again he smiled softly as she huffed and took it from him, wrapping herself in the warm leather.
They stood like that for several minutes, Derek staring off over the frozen lake, Lydia pretending to mimic him but really studying him as closely as she could.
Derek Hale had a certain aura of mystery surrounding him. It was like a palpable scent when she was around him, begging her to engage and solve the enigma that was Derek Hale - Stiles' and Scott's newest best friend/older brother.
Shivering lightly as a brisk wind howled through the clearing Derek turned to Lydia, who by this point had a red nose and white lips. “You should go, go home. Get something warm into your system.”
Lydia nodded, breathing shallowly to keep the freezing air out of the depths of her lungs - she was cold enough without her airways freezing up on her.
“Come on, I'll drive you.”
“And how are we going to explain that?” she turned to him haughtily, daring him to give her a reasonable explanation.
Thinking for a moment Derek smiled like a wolf, walking over and popping her hood.
"What are you doing!" she was alarmed when he reached into her engine and pulled something off and then threw it into the woods. "HEY!!"
“Looks like your car lost its distributor cap,” he shrugged sympathetically. “I'll have to take you home in my car lest you freeze to death. I'll buy one tonight and put it on, we can figure out how to get your car back to you later.”
She just looked at him, mouth open in shock. Derek Hale had not just sabotaged her car in order to force her to ride home with him. And yet there he was, looking over his shoulder at her expectantly as he remotely started his car. “Coming? Or would you rather die tragically of hypothermia?”
Snapping her mouth shut she ripped his jacket off of her shoulders and threw it at him as she stormed past towards the sleek black Camaro. “I cannot believe you just did that!”
Derek easily caught the jacket, grinning at her reaction. “I'll take that as a yes,” he said, still smiling as he slid into the driver’s seat and inserted the key into the ignition. Chuckling at her mask of fury he pulled out and pointed the car towards town. “So where do you live?”
She sat with her arms crossed staring out the passenger window, resolutely ignoring him until they hit Main Street, then directed him to her house - a ritzy affair at the high end of town. Getting out of the car she bent down to stare at him.
"If you ever, ever say anything to anybody about this . . . incident . . . I will personally crucify you to anybody who listens to me. Which, considering I am Lydia Martin, is a lot of people."
“So you don't want me to tell Stiles I saw you?”
“Saw me where?” she slammed the door shut and marched up the steps to the house, knocking on the door and shivering. Derek waited until her mother opened the door and Lydia was inside the house before he put it in reverse and headed back towards the Sheriff's house.
So much for a restful respite from people. Stopping at the car parts store he bought a new distributor cap, seeings how he was the one who threw hers into the woods, and stopped at her house again, setting it on the doorstep, knocking, and then ran to his car. He smiled when Lydia opened the door, ready to kill whoever was there. She quickly picked up the box and looked at it, puzzled. Then the light bulb went on and she looked up, spotted him, and glared as hard as she could. Then she slammed the door shut and presumably marched into whatever room her parents were in and told them to fix it.
Shaking his head at the silliness of life he cruised through town, finally settling on getting a drink. It's not like he was under house arrest, and the Sheriff wasn't gonna miss him 'til after dark.
Stiles fidgeted as he and his dad drove to the supermarket, his focus torn between paying attention to the conversation with his father and worrying about Lydia.
“So what's up?” John said after Stiles dropped out of the conversation for the umpteenth time.
“Nothing,” came the standardized response.
“Really, Stiles, you can tell me anything, you know that?”
“It's just, one of the other students was really upset today and I've been trying to figure out why - figure out . . .”
“Figure out if there was a way for you to help, them,” John finished for him, imperceptibly shaking his head as Stiles resolutely refused to say it wasn't just any student he was worried about. “The best thing is to just let them know you're there for them if they ever need your help. For anything.”
“Yeah,” Stiles slid out of the car, following his father into the store. “I just . . .”
“Want to be more proactive in the assistance?” John guessed again, knowing his son very well. “You can't fix everyone's problems, son. Some things have to be sorted out by the people they involve, without any outside help. I know it's not easy, especially when it's someone you care about, but . . . maybe just try to stop over thinking everything and attack the problem fresh tomorrow. Okay?”
Stiles took a deep breath and nodded, taking over pushing the cart as they got their groceries.
Leaning against the shelves in the shoes section, Stiles blew out a large breath silently. He hated it when they got caught up in conversations like this. Spotting a flash of very familiar strawberry blonde hair he straightened up, looking down the aisle with interest.
Sure enough, Lydia Martin rounded the corner, but . . . something was wrong. She was walking very fast, had her arms protectively crossed in front of her torso, and her head was down, except when she kept glancing over her shoulder repeatedly.
And then Jackson's voice could be heard calling for Lydia.
Checking to make sure his dad and the neighbor were unable to see down the aisle, he jogged down and, just as Jackson came into view looking the other way he lightly shoved Lydia into the clothes section among the racks and whispered “Run for the door!”
Moving so Jackson couldn't see him immediately he waited until he heard the team captain almost within sight before he popped around the corner with a slightly breathless. “Jackson! Hey, how ya doin',” Stiles mind drew a temporary blank. “So . . . . about Lacrosse practice, did you hear what time Coach changed the practice time to? Because I completely spaced that out!” he laughed, nervous seeing’s how Jackson was several pounds heavier even when you just counted muscles.
“He didn't specify nimrod, 'cause we don't know when the cold snap is gonna end. Now, if you don't mind,” Jackson brushed past him, looking through the racks with a determination.
“Of course not, sorry to have bothered you!” Stiles watched Jackson momentarily, silently and discreetly pumping his fist in victory when he saw Lydia's car back out and leave, with the blonde at the wheel.
“I thought you'd told me practice was canceled?” John spoke from behind him.
“Right,” Stiles turned to face his father, turning the word into two syllables to buy time. “But I wanted to check, you know, because I wasn't entirely sure so I just, ya know . . .”
“Wanted to help Lydia Martin slip her boyfriend?” John gave his son a knowing look.
Stiles opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of water for several moments. “She's been upset all day,” he finally defended himself. “Seriously, I've never seen her this upset - even when her dog died when she was ten.”
John raised his eye brows, shaking his head and sighing as Stiles checked to make sure she had made a clean get away. Why his son insisted on paying so much attention to a girl who probably didn't even know his first name was a cause for much worry on John's part. He was a father after all - he didn't want to see his son's heart crushed by some dimwit looker.
“Idiot,” Stiles muttered under his breath. “Any smart person knows that nimrod is actually a compliment - it means great hunter.”
John laughed out loud, slinging an arm around Stiles' shoulder. “No, son - I think just people of your caliber knows that.”
“And what caliber is that?”
“The highest there is,” John assured him, before pulling him along to continue their shopping.