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Lydia Martin is not a nice girl.

 

She’s manipulative, uses her body like a tool, her words like weapons. She uses her looks to her advantage, flashes a smile past her cherry pink lips to cut in line, wears skirts that show just a bit of the skin on her thighs and knows it makes boys trip over themselves to follow her, sways her hips just enough when she walks. Lydia knows how to get what she wants and will use every tool at her disposal for it. It’s why she’s the most popular girl in Beacon Hills High, it’s why she’s dating Jackson Whittemore, it’s why she’s gotten a reputation for throwing the best parties and being the most fun and it’s why people want to be her friends, want to date her, want to be her.

 

But they don’t know that, sometimes, Lydia feels too exposed. She wants to cover up her legs or stomach, wants to wear baggy clothes that will hide her figure because she doesn’t want anyone to look or talk or think about her. Sometimes she just wants to be invisible but she can’t, not when she’s spent so long gaining this reputation. She’s not going to risk it, not when her life’s so perfect.

 

It would sure be nice if she didn’t have to keep hiding her intelligence. Boys don’t like girls who are smarter than them. They don’t like girls who are in all the advanced classes and still have time to put on make up and carefully choose their clothes. Society had told her that girls can only be one thing and Lydia chose what benefitted her the most.

 

Then, she met Allison Argent.

 

Allison, who was beautiful and insecure and intelligent and kindhearted and perfect. She was a warrior with deadly aim and kind eyes and she showed Lydia what it was like to have a friend, a true friend. Allison, who showed her that girls could be whatever the fuck they wanted. That Lydia could be intelligent and desirable and strong and empathetic and express herself without fear. Lydia could be strong, like Allison.

 

They didn’t know each other for long, but Allison was Lydia’s best friend. She would always be Lydia’s best, closest friend and no one would ever replace her. Even when they talked about the future, attending college in different states, Allison would shrug and say, “We’ll still be best friends. We’ll call and face time and text, we can meet up over the holidays too.” And Lydia hoped that the hearts in her eyes were more metaphorical than literal, hoped that her heart would crawl back into her chest and not sit out on her sleeve.

 

“We can save him,” Allison had said, holding Lydia’s hand. “Stiles is going to be okay.” And Lydia believed her. Allison had never lied to her, except for the werewolf thing and the hunter thing, but that was all irrelevant now. They never lied to each other. Allison would always tell Lydia if her lipstick was smudged or if her braid needed fixing or if she had toilet paper stuck at the bottom of her shoe or that she was focusing too much on what people would think of her and she shouldn’t, she was already amazing as she was. And Lydia would tell Allison if her outfit just wasn’t working or if her homework was wrong or if Allison was thinking too much about other people’s wellbeing before her own, it was okay to be a little selfish sometimes and it didn’t make you a bad person.

 

And when Lydia got her usual premonitions, just bad feelings that made it feel like there was an overwhelming weight in the pit of her stomach, she knew it was related to one of her friends. She couldn’t explain it in any way that made sense to others, it would sound like a string of coincidences and crazy theories, but to Lydia, it had a clear pattern, a string of occurrences that led to a natural conclusion. It’s how she knew someone she loved deeply was about to die. And out of everyone, Lydia loved Allison the most.

 

She hoped they wouldn’t try to find her, would heed the message she left in the car. If anyone could find it, it would be Allison. Kind, sweet, perfect Allison. God, let her be okay. Lydia needs her to be okay more than she’s ever needed anything.

 

When Lydia exited the school, she saw the blood, saw Scott hunched over a body and Isaac and Kira standing around them, unsure of what to do. It only left one possible person. The person Lydia loved most. She screamed Allison’s name and ran as fast as her feet would carry her.

 

“It’s okay,” Allison had said, eyes fixed on Scott as he clutched her hand in his.

 

Lydia pressed down on the wound— god, there was so much blood, it just kept seeping and pouring and staining her hands and jeans and even under her fingernails—

 

“It’s okay,” Allison said, letting go of Scott’s hand to try to take Lydia’s own. Lydia gripped Allison’s hand as tightly as she could, as if she could keep her alive out of sheer force of will. “I’m in the arms of my first love,” She looked at Lydia, “And my best friend.” Allison smiled, as if this was a situation that warranted such a thing. As if her life wasn’t slipping through Lydia’s fingertips. Her smile was always so blindingly bright, like she’d swallowed the sun, and now it had lost none of its brightness or warmth but it… it was so painful to look at. It might be the last time Lydia will ever get to see Allison smile. “I love you, Lydia,” Allison said, light fading from her eyes as she stared into Lydia’s own tear-stained ones.

 

“I love you too,” Lydia said, closing her eyes for a brief moment because it was just too painful. She was losing her best friend in the world. It would be like losing a limb. How could she move forward without Allison? Her hand goes limp, but Lydia can’t stop holding it. She thinks of their college plans, the senior year trip, their plan to meet up for Christmas, Allison promising to teach Lydia how to fight, how the two would research for hours to find out just what Lydia was and the extent of their abilities. She thinks of the friendship necklaces they exchanged and sobs.

 

Allison dies asking for Scott and Lydia to tell her father something. What she wanted to say, Lydia doesn’t know. She tells Argent that his daughter’s last words were that she loved him. It doesn’t matter if they’re true or not, the man had lost his entire family. Wife, father, sister, daughter. He deserved some peace of mind.

 

In the following weeks— the funeral, the wake some classmates held, the isolation, the constant crying and the complete disregard for herself, Lydia finds a new motivator. Rage.

 

She knows it was wrong, and she’ll hate herself for it years afterwards, but the person she goes after is Stiles. Except, at that time, he wasn’t Stiles, not to her. He was the nogitsune. He smiled as he twisted a sword inside Scott, smiled as he kidnapped Lydia, grinned when he fooled them all and weaponized their love for the real Stiles.

 

Lydia thinks of how the nogitsune killed her best friend and she snaps.

 

She discovers a few things, when she enters his bedroom. He’s alone for once, no Scott attached to him by the hip (on account of Stiles killing his first love, of course). His bedroom’s more put together than it’s ever been, the mystery board is in the trash (the mirror is broken, why?) and his clothes are in a pile in the corner. He opens the door just as Lydia comes in, his skin paler than it’s ever been and the dark circles under his eyes more prominent than ever and Lydia is convinced that this isn’t Stiles. This isn’t the boy who trailed after her like a lost puppy for two years, the one who tripped over his own two feet and reacted to everything with sarcasm and jokes. No, this was an ancient spirit. This was a killer.

 

So Lydia screams.

 

The sheer force of it throws him off his feet. His back connects with the wall and he clutches at his ears as he falls, red spilling past the cracks, and Lydia still screams. His window shatters, shards fly everywhere and some embed themselves in her arm but she doesn’t care. She can’t care about a little pain when her best friend is dead and the reason why is still alive. Why did this thing get to live and not Allison?

 

She only stops when someone pulls her back insistently, when she realizes it’s Scott’s arms around her, voice begging her to stop. “Lydia, stop! Please, you’re going to kill him, Lydia—!” She hears the click of a gun and realizes the Sheriff is pointing it at her head, safety off, finger on the trigger. And Stiles is curled into himself against the wall, still clutching at his ears, shaking and crying and hyperventilating and Lydia realizes it’s a panic attack.

 

Whilst the Sheriff holds Stiles in his arms and tries to coax him down, Scott brings her out of the room and into the hallway. The deep sorrow in his eyes makes her want to cry again, “Lydia, you could’ve killed him.” His voice is small, shaky, as if he couldn’t believe that he’d witnessed.

 

“I know,” She says, voice small and weak. A few tears escape her eyes and she has to bite down on her own tongue to hold in a sob. “Allison is dead.”

 

Scott seems to realize, then, because he pulls her into a tight hug. She returns it, gripping the back of his shirt.. “I miss her too, and I— I understand why you blame him.” Lydia’s heart skips a beat at that, surprise overtaking her. She expected for Scott to take Stiles’ side, as he always did. “But it was the nogitsune, it wasn’t him.”

 

Lydia pulls back and wipes the tears from her cheeks, “Are you sure?”

 

Scott nods, “I can smell his fear and grief and regret every single day, Lydia. He can’t sleep through the night and he’s— he’s not okay. He blames himself too.”

 

If Lydia were kinder, better, she would’ve walked back into Stiles’ bedroom and apologized. But she isn’t, so she clenches her teeth, squeezes her hands into fists, and leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lydia didn’t really know Chris Argent. She supposes kids never really know anything of substance about their friends’ parents, or their own for that matter. But in spite of that, Lydia knows what grief looks like, in Chris Argent especially.

 

She finds him in the woods, crossbow aimed at some tree, and for a second, Lydia thinks she can see Allison.

 

“What are you doing here, Lydia?”

 

She almost jumps when he speaks, though she supposes she should’ve expected he’d know she was there. He’d been a hunter for years. “I was looking for you.” She eyes his unshaved face, tired eyes.

 

“Why?”

 

Lydia hesitates, “I want you to teach me how to hunt.”

 

One of Argent’s eyebrows rises, “Why?”

 

“I… I don’t want anyone else to have to save me. I want to protect my friends so that what happened—“ She pauses abruptly, but Argent seems to understand. “I don’t want a repeat of it.”

 

“Before my daughter died, she came up with a new code for the hunters,” He says, a hint of a smile on his face. “We protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

 

Lydia, with her limited knowledge of French, repeated the code back to him, “Nous protégeons ceux qui ne peuvent pas se protéger eux même.”

 

“You want that too.” And when Lydia nods, Argent beckons her forward and hands her his crossbow. He points to each of the parts and explains what they do, tells her how to calibrate the scope and how to hold the bow itself, and stands beside her, showing her how to fix her stance. He points to a tree and tells her to shoot. She fails miserably. “You’ll get it eventually, this is only your first try.”

 

“I’d like to learn how to fight too.” I want to be strong like Allison.

 

Argent nods, “I’ll teach you.”

 

He teaches Lydia for a little over a month, right up until the second half of the summer, before he ends up moving back to France, and takes Isaac with him. Lydia can’t blame him for leaving, but she can’t help but feel like he’s never coming back.

 

He tells her before he goes, leaves her with Allison’s bow and tells her to keep practicing, she’s strong and, one day, will probably be the strongest in Scott’s pack. Lydia doubts it, but the sentiment is nice.

 

With Argent gone, Lydia spends more time in the forest, practicing her aim and trying to ignore this feeling— like there’s a ghost beside her every time she goes. She also uses the punching bag Argent set up in her garage. Her knuckles are bruised when she goes to the store to buy new school supplies. They ache every time she grips something or opens her hands too much.

 

Scott sees her whilst she’s trying to decide between a single notebook with dividers or three different notebooks without dividers. “Lydia,” He calls out once she’s close enough. He approaches her with familiarity, as if Lydia hadn’t made Stiles’ ears bleed and gave him a panic attack the last time they saw each other. “Hey, are you—“ He stops abruptly when he sees her hands, the purples around her knuckles. As if by instinct, he takes her hand. She sees his veins turn black as he takes her pain, “What happened?”

 

“I’ve been training,” She says, not pulling her hand away as he makes the ache in her hands disappear. She doesn’t think she deserves it, but Scott is a nice guy all around, he’ll do it no matter what. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Same as you,” Scott shrugs. “Buying pencils and stuff.”

 

Lydia cracks a smile, “I’ve missed you.”

 

Scott smiles too, “I’ve missed you too.“ Lydia might not be a werewolf, but she knows how important a pack is for them. And Scott’s is in shambles, all their members are dead or not in speaking terms. “Listen, Lydia… can you come over to my house?”

 

“Will Stiles be there?”

 

“Yes. Always.”

 

“…I don’t think I can see him, not now.”

 

“He doesn’t blame you.”

 

Lydia blames herself, sometimes. “And do you?”

 

He shakes his head, “No. Of course not. I knew what you felt, I could smell it on you. Just like I can now.”

 

Lydia bites the inside of her cheek, voice barely above a whisper, “I almost killed him, Scott.”

 

He takes her hand, and it’s so natural that she can’t find it in herself to pull away. It’s not romantic, it’s the touch of someone who she considers family. She’s part of his pack. “I know that too,” He says, thumb ghosting over her knuckles. “But after all of this, we need to stick together. Lately, it feels like something’s missing. Everyone who’s left— there’s a hole where they once were. We all feel it and, especially now, we need each other.” Scott pauses, eyeing Lydia’s expression, “ I need you.”

 

Lydia needs him too. She’s needed her friends for a while, ever since Allison. Most days, her heart feels too cold for her chest, it makes her cry all the time, trying to claw out her chest to see if the ache of grief will leave alongside it.

 

She doesn’t need to say it, Scott knows. He gives her a small smile and squeezes her hand once before pulling away. “Tomorrow, my house? Kira will be there too.“

 

Some sort of leftover dislike rises in Lydia’s chest. It’s no secret she didn’t like Kira that much at the start, neither did Allison. But truthfully, neither of them were going to make enemies for a boy, so it was quickly shoved aside. Still, Lydia can’t help but feel that Kira’s trying to replace Allison. Another badass warrior with a weapon that can protect them, and is dating the Alpha of the pack. Lydia doesn’t like it.

 

“Yeah, I’ll be there.” She says anyway. She meant it, she needs her friends close. Or friend, singular. Jackson’s gone, Allison’s gone, Aiden’s gone, Isaac’s gone, Stiles probably dislikes her (rightfully so). Right now, she only has Scott.

 

Scott’s smile is so wide that for a moment, Lydia allows herself to forget everything they’ve experienced in the past year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, Lydia sees Allison.

 

She’ll be half awake in bed, or perhaps fully asleep, and Allison will be there. Lydia will hear her laughter, see her smile, take her hand, and for a moment everything’s okay. They have their whole lives ahead of them, can make plans for the future, can take silly pictures and share secrets and fall asleep beside each other.

 

Other times, Allison doesn’t smile. She gasps for breath and blood pours out of her mouth and stomach, and she’s crying and begging to be saved, clutching Lydia’s hand I love you, don’t you love me? If you love me, why can’t you save me? Lydia, Lydia please—

 

And Lydia would desperately try to keep her alive, I do love you, she’d sob. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone else. You’re the most important person in my life, Allison, please hold on. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—

 

Lydia would wake up screaming and sobbing, would scream into her own pillow, and her mother, Natalie, would walk inside her room and hold her, trying to soothe her even if it never works. She suggests therapy and incense and fucking healing crystals but Lydia knows none of it will help.

 

Natalie isn’t a bad parent. She’s just… not great. And how could she be, when she didn’t know about the supernatural? How could she properly help Lydia through her grief when she didn’t know that Lydia had been kidnapped by a monster wearing Stiles’ face? That she’d been bitten by Peter Hale and he turned her into something not quite human and now Lydia could foretell death? That Lydia did like Aiden, a lot, and he was now dead? That Lydia watched an oni stab Allison through the stomach and pressed her hands to the wound even though it was futile? That Lydia watched her best friend die, taking all their shared hopes and dreams with her?

 

No, Lydia couldn’t tell her mother. Knowing would only make her more vulnerable. Lydia couldn’t lose anyone else, she wouldn’t be able to handle it. She’s barely holding it together as it is.

 

“Lydia,” Her mother says, a careful hand on her shoulder. “You can always talk to me. You know that, right?”

 

Lydia can’t. “Yeah, I know.” She grabs a light blue sweater and stuffs it in her tote bag, alongside her phone, headphones and a book. There’s also a knife in its sheath, it used to be Allison’s.

 

“Going out?” Her mother asks, in that casual way parents do when they’re pretending to be your friend so you’ll tell them everything.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Where?”

 

“Scott’s.”

 

Lydia can almost feel Natalie tense up, as if in addition to foretelling death, her banshee nature also gave her the ability to discern people’s emotions without so much as looking at them.  “Are you sure that’s a good idea, honey?” Lydia turns to her mother, waiting for her to state her case. “I mean, he and his group have brought nothing but trouble. It’s like, ever since you became friends with them, everything’s just… been going wrong.” Lydia can’t really disagree with that, and so her mother continues, “You’ve all skipped school, you go out late at night, have nightmares all the time, disappear often… how many times have your friends been kidnapped? Or their parents?” Natalie takes one of Lydia’s hands, gripping them tightly, “Lydia, I’m terrified. I’m terrified of what will happen to you if you continue to be around them, they’ve brought nothing but trouble and now… now Allison is dead.”

 

“Don’t you think I know that?” Lydia rips her hands away from her mother’s. “God, mom, they’re the only friends I have! They’re the only other people who could possibly know what I’m feeling. We were there when she died, we did everything we could to save her and we failed. We failed and now we have to live with it. I need them, mom, no one else understands.”

 

“Others could try,” Natalie says, taking a careful step towards Lydia, as if she were a scared animal. “A therapist, perhaps, to help you get through all of this. Or me. Lydia, I swear I’ll do everything I can to help if you just let me in.”

 

Lydia’s not going to risk her mother’s life. “I need to go.”

 

“Lydia—“

 

She’s already gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lydia honestly thinks she should thank Melissa McCall more often. The woman doesn’t get nearly enough credit for everything she does for all of them. There’s pizza boxes on the counter, sweets and soda in the fridge, mountains of blankets and pillows on the couches in the living room, and Melissa’s on the phone with her supervisor at the hospital.

 

She’s leaving just as Lydia’s arrived, and Lydia gets to see her plant a kiss on Scott’s and Stiles’ forehead, give a tight hug to Kira, and then turn her attention to her. “Lydia,” She says, clearly surprised to see her. Still, she pulls Lydia into a tight hug. “I’m glad you could make it. Good to see you.” Her smile is warm, and Lydia wants to hold onto her tightly and cry into her shoulder. She doesn’t.

 

Scott takes notice of her and stands from his spot on the couch, next to Stiles, to greet her. “Hey,” He says, giving her a tight hug. “I’m glad you came.”

 

The corners of Lydia’s lips quirk up in response. He guides her inside, hangs her tote bag on a chair as Lydia walks to the kitchen, intending on getting something to drink. Her throat’s suddenly dry.

 

When she closes the fridge door, bottle of soda in hand, Kira is there. The girl smiles nervously when Lydia jumps, “Sorry! Didn’t mean to scare you.” She hands Lydia a glass filled with ice, “I just wanted to check in, ask how you’re doing.”

 

“I’m fine,” Lydia says, pouring out the soda.

 

Kira frowns, “It’s okay if… if you don’t want to talk to me, I know we haven’t known each other for long, but… I’d like to be your friend. And I’d like to be there for you.”

 

Pre-Allison Lydia would’ve laughed and called Kira a kiss-ass. Would’ve thought it sad how she was clearly trying to desperately fit in, to find her place in their pack. To replace.

 

“I’m not Allison, and I’m not trying to be,” Kira says, as if reading Lydia’s mind. “I’m just… I’m just trying to be myself, and to become close to all of you. I really just want to be your friend.”

 

Post-Allison Lydia is kinder, not by much, but she is. She recognizes Kira for what she is; a kind girl who’s a bit insecure and just wants to be liked. Who sees someone suffering and can’t ignore it, has to offer her support and friendship.

 

“I know you aren’t trying to replace her,” She says, reaching out to take Kira’s hand. “And I’d like to be your friend, too. It’d be nice to have some girl friends.”

 

Kira’s grin is blinding in her own way, and Lydia smiles too. A real, proper smile.

 

“I’d love to keep talking but I’m going to the bathroom really quick, like urgently. You can pick the movie whilst I’m gone! I’ll honestly watch anything.” And Kira zooms past her, on the way to the bathroom, and Lydia thinks that she resembles an overexcited puppy.

 

She approaches the couch carefully, standing behind Scott as he tinkers with the DVD. When Lydia turns, she finds that Stiles is staring at her. She flinches when she notices, a spike of fear rising within her. It’s still a struggle, to only see Stiles and not the nogitsune. He flinches too when she looks at him. What a mess they make.

 

Scott turns all of a sudden, carefully glancing between both of them. “Are you okay?” Lydia doesn’t know who he’s asking, but neither she nor Stiles offer a reply. Scott bites the inside of his cheek, and he and Stiles seem to have a conversation with just their eyes. Scott nods, “I need to get something from upstairs. I’ll be back soon, okay?”

 

Lydia starts to find it suspicious that Kira disappeared mere seconds prior.

 

“Lydia?” Stiles’ voice is barely above a whisper, nothing like how it used to be. Before the nogitsune. Before they ever got involved with the supernatural, when they were still clueless kids and their biggest concern was school. “Lydia, I’m—“

 

She finds self-loathing curling within her at the look on Stiles’ face. His skin is paler than ever, dark circles under his eyes marking that he hasn’t slept much. He looks so small and vulnerable, his hands shaking from where they hold onto a pillow on his lap. She feels terrible for blaming him, for basically trying to kill him. “Don’t.” He flinches as she says it, and Lydia considers that maybe she said it too sharply. She takes a seat beside him, leaving her soda on the small table. “Stiles… I’m sorry.”

 

His eyes snap up to meet hers, clear shock in them. “You don’t have to—“

 

“I do.” She takes a deep breath, “Stiles… I tried to kill you. You had a panic attack because of me.” His eyes avert from hers again. He doesn’t say anything, which Lydia takes as a sign to continue. “I’m sorry. I blamed you even when… when you’re a victim too.”

 

“I’m not a vic—“

 

“You had no control over your body for weeks, you weren’t sleeping, you were losing time, you were in Eichen for fuck’s sake.” Lydia pauses, nervously licking her lips. “You’re a victim too. I know that because… because I know you. And I know you’d never hurt any of us— Scott, Allison, me— you love us too much to hurt us. That’s how I know it wasn’t you.”

 

Stiles is crying, silent tears slipping past his cheeks, and it triggers Lydia’s own tears. “Lydia… sometimes— sometimes I don’t know if it was me or if it wasn’t.” He says it like it’s a shameful confession. “At times I couldn’t… I couldn’t tell my own thoughts from the nogitsune’s.”

 

Lydia flinches at the mention of that thing .

 

She looks at Stiles, watches the tears in his eyes and his sunken cheeks. She tries to imagine the nogitsune when it possessed him. And for a second, she does. She sees it grinning as it twists a sword inside Scott’s abdomen, sees it laugh as the oni attack the rest of their pack, sees the barest hints of a smile on its lips when Scott cradles Allison’s body and Lydia her hand, pleading for her to stay with them as Allison repeats it’s okay, really, it’s okay, I love you, it’s okay—

 

And that second passes, and instead Lydia sees Stiles Stilinski. Stiles who punched Jackson in third grade, who’s had a crush on Lydia since freshman year, who’s been best friends with Scott for years and argues with the Coach during lacrosse games and always has a sarcastic comment up his sleeve. He’s the happiest person Lydia knows and the nogitsune did something horrible to him.

 

Lydia did something horrible too.

 

“It’s okay,” Lydia says, reaching out to take Stiles’ hand as carefully as she can. Thankfully, he doesn’t flinch away from her. “We’ll figure it out, together. You, me and Scott. And Kira and Malia. And Deaton. We’re going to figure it out and… and we’re going to keep you safe. I promise.”

 

Lydia reaches up to wipe a tear that slipped down Stiles’ cheek. He squeezed her hand, “I don’t think I… I don’t think I deserve it.”

 

“It’s not about what we deserve,” Lydia says. “It’s about what we choose. And we choose to help you, because… because we love you.” She pulls him into a hug, lets him cry into her shoulder as she does in his. “I’m sorry about— about the banshee scream in your room, I—“

 

“I forgive you,” He sobs, pulling her impossibly close.

 

Lydia feels the warmth of Scott’s palm on her shoulder, feels the couch dip as he reaches out to wrap his own arms around both Lydia and Stiles. His nose is in the junction between her neck and shoulder, and Lydia never thought she’d find comfort from simply feeling someone breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Lydia walks into Beacon Hills High the following semester, holding her books against her chest, she stands at the entrance and stares. Everything’s the same and everything’s different at the same time. Lydia lost her best friend and the world kept going, even when Lydia felt like she was stuck.

 

She feels something akin to phantom pain on her side, as if Allison were still there to bump her shoulder against Lydia’s and murmur that they only have a year left before they graduate, they just have to get through it and things will be okay.

 

Lydia’s never felt more alone.

 

Then, the door behind her opens, and she hears Scott’s and Kira’s laughter and Malia’s sharp remark and feels Stiles’ presence. They all come to stand beside her, exchanging short glances and quick smiles with her.

 

When she turns to her right, looking right at Stiles, she finds that he’s averted his gaze to the floor. Lydia takes his hand slowly, fingers hesitantly wrapping around his palm. Stiles’ eyes snap up to meet hers, and she gives him the gentlest of smiles. Stiles returns it.