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Curiosity (Will Never Let Me Go)

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Before

It starts the first day Erica comes to school as a werewolf.

It isn’t that Erica hadn’t shown up on Lydia’s radar before. She has neat little files in her head on every student at Beacon Hills High, most of them carefully maintained since middle school at the latest. Knowing things about people is one of the many ways she’s able to effectively assert her social status, and anyway, knowing as much as possible about someone helps her decide whether that person is interesting enough to be worth interacting with.

So it's just that Erica hadn’t really been interesting to Lydia before. Up until that first day, the most Lydia had ever thought about her was the few times during ludicrously easy classes when she idly speculated about how long it would take Stiles to finally give up on the idea that he could ever have Lydia Martin and realize that he and Erica would be adorable together, in a weirdo loser kind of way.

Watching Erica stride into the cafeteria that afternoon had been interesting, though. Not just because it added another element of strangeness to a day that was already shaping up to be pretty bizarre, but also because the sight of her biting into that apple, wiping the corner of her perfect mouth, striding away like “yeah, I know you want this” did, in fact, make Lydia want it.

*

She doesn’t believe in fate or true love or any of it. She’s far too rational for that, and life as she’s experienced it so far is really more of a horror story than a fairy tale. But she believes in people going well together, like the pieces of a great outfit, and that’s what she and Jackson had. The love part, the “I am the one who can save you” part, that comes from familiarity, from the strange sort of trust they built over time—not really trust, but a belief that the other person wanted you the same way you wanted them, because you were just that alike; an acceptance of one another's flaws because their flaws were complementary.

Anyway, she knows that’s not just a Jackson thing. She could have had that with someone else, if someone with a similarly attractive combination of confidence and power had been available to catch her eye first. She could have it any number of times before she dies. She knows this, but the only other person she’s seen yet who makes her think maybe is Erica.

*

She’s more pissed off than anything when the news of Erica’s death finally makes it to her. There’s the usual flood of fear and insecurity and anger she always feels when she realizes there’s been a gap in her knowledge that she hadn’t even known was there. But now the idle notion she’d entertained when Erica had first been bitten has grown into a burning question, and the thought of never knowing anything she’s curious about is painful. Erica’s death really fucks up her plans of eventually putting that maybe to the test.

Then she remembers something.

*

“Lydia?”

Lydia opens her eyes to her darkened room. The voice came from somewhere near the foot of her bed. She sits up.

Erica’s standing there, eyes wide.

“You’re here,” Lydia says quietly, wonderingly. “It worked.”

“What worked? What the hell is going on?”

Lydia bites her lip. Erica looks just as good as she had that first day, possibly even better, but Lydia knows that somewhere out there, her body is decaying.

“You died.”

“Yeah, no shit, I was there,” Erica says, sounding tense. “So why am I talking to you?”

“I think I can bring you back,” Lydia says. Then she adds, “Do you want to come back?” It hadn’t occurred to her to ask before now, but actually talking to a dead person makes it impossible for her not to think of Peter, of being made to do things and having no control over it, and she isn’t going to make Erica do anything else she doesn’t want to do.

Erica stares at her. “Why would you want to bring me back? What have I ever been to you?”

Lydia swallows. “It’s actually more about what you could be to me.”

Erica considers this, eyes narrowed, and then her face splits into the giant, toothy grin that Lydia always found improbably sexy. “Does the great Lydia Martin have a crush?” She sounds delighted, but also derisive.

Lydia’s first instinct is to deny it—she hadn’t been thinking about it as a crush at all, and the word sounds so tacky. But finally she decides on what she now realizes is the truth. “Yes. I do.”

“And you think we’d work out,” Erica says, her voice dripping with scorn. “You think we’d have amazing sex and fall passionately in love and adopt little werewolf babies and live happily ever after?”

“I don’t know, “ Lydia says. “That’s what I want to find out.”

Erica chuckles. “But what if,” she wanders over to sit on Lydia’s chair, “I don’t want you? What if I’m one hundred percent straight?”

Lydia shrugs. “Then I was wrong. I’ll know I was wrong and I’ll move on.”

“Do you still bring me back?”

“I'm still not sure I can,” Lydia points out. “But if I can, then yes. If you want me to.”

Erica’s not smiling now, but Lydia thinks she probably said the right thing.

After a few moments Erica says, “How’s Boyd?” Her voice is softer than it’s been for their entire conversation.

Lydia shrugs. “Alive. Around. He was at school yesterday.”

Erica nods, looking like her thoughts are miles away. “Okay,” she says, quietly. “Let’s see what you can do, witch.”

“I don't think what I'll be doing really counts as witchcraft—” Lydia starts, but Erica cuts her off.

“I wasn’t talking about your freaky powers, Regina George, but speaking of those…” She waves her hand as she sits back, crossing one leg over the other. “Go on.”

“I think,” Lydia says, then stops, restarts. “I’ve only done this once before, and I’m not sure exactly how it worked, but I think I have to… kiss you.”

Erica raises her eyebrows.

“Just once should be enough,” Lydia says quickly, carefully not thinking about what’s likely to immediately result from the kiss, let alone the other steps she's going to have to try to replicate. “You don’t—it doesn’t have to mean anything if you’re a hundred percent straight. Or even if you’re not.” She’s getting uncomfortably close to babbling, and Lydia Martin does not babble, but before she can get a lid on it two more words slip out. “Are you?”

Erica stands up and walks slowly over to the bed. Lydia pulls her feet under her so she’s kneeling. Erica’s still taller than her when she stops, reaches out and brushes a few strands of hair away from Lydia’s face. Her touch is cool, but not cold, and her fingertips linger at the side of Lydia’s face while her thumb brushes her bottom lip. Between that and the way Erica's mouth is right there, ever so slightly open, it's all Lydia can do to keep her breathing somewhat steady.

“No,” Erica says softly, and kisses her.

 

After

Lydia’s sitting at the table grading midterms, trying not to roll her eyes so hard she strains something, when a cup of coffee from the shop around the corner from the apartment appears at her elbow. She looks up. “Thanks.”

Erica nods then looks over her shoulder and winces at all the red marks on the page. “Ouch.”

“Yeah,” Lydia says, drawing out the syllable. “Maybe now he’ll actually start turning up for tutorials.”

Erica sits down across from her, tipping the chair back against the wall. She’s got a cupcake, one of the really fancy ones the shop specializes in. Lydia isn’t really a fan of cupcakes, but Erica is, and Lydia can’t help but watch as she carefully peels off the paper. The way her pale fingers and shiny-red nails look against the dark chocolate cake is lovely, but the way she brings the little finger of her other hand up to the mound of soft pink frosting, lifts some to her mouth and slowly licks it off… that’s almost too much. Halfway through the motion she looks up at Lydia, who couldn’t tear her eyes away even if she wanted to, and smiles that wide, wicked smile.

Lydia doesn’t believe in true love, but she does believe in facts, and the fact is that somehow, so far, she and Erica are working out. She'd like to know how much longer they're going to last, but the only way to find out is to wait and see, so she puts down her pen and picks up her coffee and settles in to enjoy what Erica is giving her right now.