Nightmares are normal. No one has to tell her that; she knows, after what she's been through, that nightmares are her mind's way of coping, of washing out all the bad. And her mind's way of warning her that it could happen all over again.
Still, her fingers tighten on the sheets, and she finds herself trembling again, breathless and sweaty again. In the past, those would have been symptoms of a different sort of late night visitation, of being a bit naughty, scratching a certain itch. But the last few months of her life have changed her. Even the idea of someone being in the bed next to her fills her with dread. Partly because she's afraid she might lash out at them after a nightmare, scream them awake or, worse, deafen them for life. Partly because she can't stand the idea of someone, anyone seeing her cry in her sleep.
When she looks in the mirror she can see her old self looking back, somewhat disgusted by the helplessness in her tight frown. Which is entirely bizarre because the old Lydia Martin didn't have these powers, didn't know the truth about herself or the world she lived in. Right at this moment, she knows she is the strongest she's ever been and that she can be even stronger, given time. So why? Why are these stupid dreams still able to rip into her like this? Why does the new Lydia feel so weak?
She jerks up at the sound of her phone's 'yip', a text message alert, but doesn't immediately read it. Her laptop is still propped up on the side of her bed, but the screen is dark and if the dull light seeping in from her window is anything to go by, her afternoon nap has bridged into an evening nap.
She levels a glare at the phone.
And then sighs when she remembers she was supposed to call Stiles back to discuss a scholarship essay. Of all the absolutely normal things. If it had been old Stiles making the offer to help her brainstorm, she'd almost think he was looking for excuses to talk to her. New Stiles doesn't have too.
She reaches for the phone, and it's kind enough to remind her that leaving her phone on silent for the weekend often leads to missed calls in the double digits. She goes straight to her text messages, huffing out a laugh at the last few, all from Stiles:
-Not freaking out or anything but no one has heard from you today. Or yesterday. So that's two days. Two. But I'm sure you're fine. Just call back.
-Still not freaking out.
-Not even a little worried.
-I'm at your front door.
She's used to uncurling like a cat, enjoying the stretch following a lazy nap, but tonight she aches, as she sits up and walks with weights at her feet, dragging her down as she treks to the front door. It isn't supernatural, but she can sense Stiles, his impatience, and she's somewhat surprised he hasn't already slipped around to the back and let himself in. She opens the door without hesitation.
"Twenty-four text messages, really?" she answers, her hello.
Stiles doesn't look the look the least bit shamed, or upset, but somewhat startled, like he didn't expect her to answer. "You're obviously not counting the Facebook messenger, so feel free to disregard those…" He trails off, looking a bit lost, then waves his hands at her door frame. Like he really needs an invite, she thinks.
She rolls her eyes, moving aside to let him in, but she noticed him turn back, reaching down for a jacket he doesn't really need tonight. He'd laid it on the porch. Sat on it while he waited, if she had to guess.
"You knew I was home," she realizes.
There it is, that funny way his mouth opens and stays that way while he's thinking up an excuse. She only recently caught on to that habit of his, but she remembers seeing that expression before she really knew him, back when she used to pretend she didn't see him at all.
"You said you would be," he tries. And fails. "Okay, maybe I interrogated your neighbor Mrs. West until she remembered seeing you come out for your mail this afternoon. I will not repeat what she said about the length of your shorts. Very judge-y woman, Mrs. West, but she wears a hearing aid that she takes out at night after the nightly news, so she doesn't have to hear those sinful parties you've been holding, what with all the screaming. Because, that's completely typical of…parties."
His rambling fades to nothing, and Lydia turns, expecting him to follow her up to her bedroom. Her mother is at a "women's conference," supposedly, so she has the house to herself until the next morning. Not that taking boys up to her room has ever been particularly difficult even with her mother downstairs, but her mother wasn't a huge fan of Stiles Stilinski these days.
When she makes it to her room, she sits down on the bed with her back to her headboard. Stiles hesitates a moment at the doorway before entering and sitting on the edge of the mattress.
"You didn't answer. We called, and you didn't answer."
Lydia stares down at the sheets, runs a polished fingernail over them, not wanting to look up and see Stiles, because she hears it in his voice: he's hurt. She hurt him.
"Some of us have a life outside the supernatural," she notes. With a little bitterness, she adds, "Plus, it's not like anyone was dying. I would have known."
"So you've been busy this weekend?" Stiles asks.
She glares up at him through her lashes. She's surprised to find he's not staring back. No, he's unlacing his shoes, tucking them under her vanity and out of the way, leaving his jacket draped over the chair. He carefully moves her laptop, her phone, to her dresser. Then, without warning, he throws himself back onto the foot of the bed like a kid, and if she yelps a bit at the sudden bounce, he doesn't comment.
"What do you think you're doing, Stilinski?"
"I'm taking a nap. See, I couldn't sleep all last night because my friends can't be bothered with picking up the phone to tell me they're not, you know, dead."
"Excuse you?" She shakes her head, appalled when he folds his arms back behind his head, the picture of relaxation. "Did I suffer a head wound and invite you into my bed?"
There she is, that bit of her old self that enjoys being in control, even if exerting said control means hurting someone else. She expects him to be hurt. Old Stiles would be hurt. This Stiles closes his eyes and pretends he's already asleep.
"Such a child," she snaps.
It will take two words to make him leave, but she doesn't tack them on to the statement. She knows Stiles. Knows he'll go if she asks. Instead she plays his game, knowing she can wait him out.
Annoyed, she reaches out, nearly knocking her lamp off the table when she turns it off, and pulls her blanket over her as best she can with the weight of a body holding down one end. If her feet happen to kick Stiles in the hip (somewhat forcefully) so be it.
She considers timing him to see how long he can actually sit still to prove a point, whatever that point might be. That's the last thought she has before she's opening her eyes, dazed as she stares at the streaks of white morning light striping her bedding.
Lydia groans at the thought of getting out of bed, and there's an echo of her sentiments from behind her. When she rolls over, she sees that Stiles has made his way to her spare pillow, his face hidden in the fluff, lips parted as he hums in agreement, as if she'd actually spoken. She doesn't remember falling asleep, or Stiles crawling up from the foot of the bed. She doesn't remember dreaming, and that sinks in a moment before his amber eyes blink open, sudden awareness in them.
Stiles' hand darts up, wiping at the possible drool on his cheek, and she smiles at him, amused. "Essay," he manages.
She raises a brow.
"We, uh, we didn't get to talk about that scholarship essay, which is, I mean," he fumbles, "that's the reason I was coming over, and is that daylight? Because my dad is going to kill me, since he's headed home, oh, about right now, and there was a long talk about sneaking around... Is your mom here? Because I don't want to be murdered twice in one morning."
Lydia smirks. "You know, I didn't ask for help. With the essay."
By some miracle, Stiles rolls out of bed without tripping. "I know you didn't. Because you're Lydia Martin, and Lydia Martin can write essays in about ten minutes flat without so much as a misplaced comma." He hesitates, glancing down a the bed instead of at her. "I know you don't ask for help, but I offered it, right? So…I mean, you don't have to ask. For me to help. Like, ever. We're friends."
"We're friends," Lydia agrees. She likes the taste of those words, even if they're not quite right. "Thanks, Stiles."
He does look at her then, his eyes narrowed slightly in thought. "I know what it's like. I mean, I don't…I'm not saying I…I know what it's like, trying to sleep. Failing."
"I know you do," she assures him.
"So ask me next time," he says.
She doesn't say she will, but he doesn't force the subject when he leaves. The house is quiet after he's gone, and she stays in bed, pulling the pillow he'd used close to her and wondering if she should take him up on his offer. When she finally scrolls through his messages, there's one in the middle that stills her:
It's 3AM, and I can't sleep if I don't know if you're still breathing.
"Me neither," she says. She wonders if that's how he always knows when she needs him. If it's because he needs her too. And if that's true, what does it say about them? It scares her, the way that thought makes her want to smile.