A man rises from the dead, which everyone but Boyd seems surprised about. His eyes glow golden yellow in the mirror, his hands are lately more claw than finger, he has to fight the urge to howl at a silvery orb in the sky; is he the only one who read the manual on being undead? It’s not that that would shock him, exactly—Boyd’s no stranger to knowing the score when everyone around him is too busy playing the game—but still, it rankles a little. Even Derek, life-long werewolf and fighting for his title (not his life: Boyd can tell the difference, and he’s pretty sure Derek cares more about being alpha than being above ground and breathing in any case) acts like it’s some great shock. Undead means undead. Undead means death’s not much of a stopping point. Undead means you don’t die—for god’s sake, it’s in the name.
In the rough and tumble weeks that follow, scrambling to kill the latest in what Boyd suspects will be a long line of bad men who hate to die, nothing shines but her. Immunity is a good look on Lydia Martin, but bitchy’s a better one—she snaps and snarls and chafes against the orders Derek barks at her, fights back and gets even, looks up through her lashes and tricks three different guys into telling her what she needs to know. Boyd’s known of her for years, of course, watched her holding court while he sat alone on the other side of the cafeteria; he’d never thought much of her back then.
He’s impressed now, and Boyd doesn’t impress easily. He thinks that probably merits some thought.
“You should let me come with you,” Boyd says from the shadows. Six feet above him, Lydia shrieks and falls the rest of the way out of McCall’s bedroom window; he moves, easy and expected, and catches her before she hits the ground. She’s human as she ever was, human despite so many attempts to the contrary, light and fragile and bristling in his arms—impressive, yes. That’s definitely the word.
“Do they teach you some kind of class in lurking when they turn you?” she demands, brushing herself off as he lowers her to the ground. “Or is it a prerequisite?”
“I’d say that’s the girl sneaking out the window calling the kettle black,” Boyd says, flashing teeth. They’re his human teeth, because he doesn’t really see the point in everyone else’s macho posturing. “But that’s just me.”
Lydia tilts her head, narrows her eyes, purses her lips. Boyd could listen to her her heartbeat, get a sense of her mood, but why? Of everyone he’s ever met, Lydia Martin is the most honest—not because she thinks people should be honest, not because she thinks it’s some sort of moral obligation, but because she refuses to suffer any discontent without complaint. Boyd, who has suffered considerable discontent without complaining at all, doesn’t think that’s particularly admirable. It’s entertaining, though, and challenging in a strange way he thinks he’s maybe not old enough to understand. He can recognize his limits, on this field and others, which seems to be a unique gift amongst his adopted pack.
“Maybe,” Lydia says eventually, sniffing and titling her nose in the air, “I was attempting evasive maneuvers.”
“Because Allison’s sitting outside of Scott’s door with a crossbow to make sure you don’t run off and try to do this on your own?”
“What’s it to you if she is?” Lydia reaches out then, switching tactics, drums her fingers against the curve of Boyd’s bicep. “Big, strong man like you, don’t you have things to do? Better places to be?”
Boyd grins at her, can’t help himself. “Do you really think that’s going to work on me?”
“It works on the rest of them,” Lydia says. She says it sulkily, no act layered up underneath it, and Boyd’s grin widens. “Fine. You want the truth? I am sick of being treated like I can’t handle this, like I don’t know what I’m doing. None of the rest of you have shared headspace with him, have you? So you don’t know how he thinks, or what he’s likely to try, not like I do. This is my mess, Boyd. Now get out of my way and let me clean it up!”
Boyd raises his hands in the air and steps out of her way, gesturing toward the driveway with easy complacency. Lydia glares at him for a second, huffs, and starts walking. Halfway to the street, she tosses her hair over her shoulder, gives him an exasperated look.
“Well,” she says, “are you coming or not?”
They catch Peter, is the funny thing. It’s not that night, not till two weeks afterwards, settled into a partnership that, if not easy, certainly isn’t hard. Boyd’s been letting Lydia call the shots, because she likes to call them and turns out to have a hell of a head on her shoulders, and sure enough, eventually an instinct hits home. They find Peter in an expensive men’s boutique in the dead of night, preening in the mirror without a care in the world for the forced deadbolt behind him; Lydia distracts him and Boyd sneaks up from behind, cold-cocks him with a blow to the back of his neck.
“Call Derek,” he says, going wolf and crouching down on top of Peter, holding his neck to the side so he can’t heal it and get up. “I don’t want to be the one to kill him.”
“Why?” Lydia’s head is tilted to that angle that she likes to play as curious and non-threatening, but Boyd knows better. “I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t killing him work out well for you? No offense to Derek, but I think I might prefer you as the local alpha. You’re a little less…unhinged.”
“The siren call of power was enough to make me a werewolf,” Boyd says, wrenching Peter’s neck a little harder when he twitches. “It’s not enough to make me think being the werewolf, at sixteen, is a good idea. Make the call.”
“Hmm,” Lydia says. She calls Derek, but there’s a light in her eyes that Boyd might just call appraising. She doesn’t stop staring at him for the rest of the night, little glances she clearly wants him to catch.
Good, Boyd thinks. Let her look.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon when she walks, head held high, across the cafeteria. She drops her purse onto his table, then her tray, and then both hands, palms flat against the cool surface. Boyd raises an eyebrow.
“Why,” Lydia says, over-enunciating the word, “are you sitting here? By yourself?”
“Erica and Isaac fucked off,” Boyd says, shrugging. “Literally, I think.”
“Allison and Scott and I are all sitting—” Lydia starts, and stops. She narrows her eyes. “Actually, it doesn’t matter where we’re sitting, does it? This is your table, and always has been, and that strikes me as a little strange, Boyd. I mean, freshman year it was one thing, you hadn’t quite grown into yourself yet—”
“You knew who I was freshman year?” A very, very slight flush creeps up the side of Lydia’s neck; Boyd probably wouldn’t have noticed it if he hadn’t heard her heartbeat quickening, hadn’t scented the sudden shift in her intent. Well. That’s certainly unexpected—not unwelcome, obviously, but definitely not where he thought she was going with this. “Huh. You’re full of surprises, aren’t you?”
“You know, everyone I know has said that to me at some point,” Lydia says. She shakes her head like she’s trying to clear it before she adds, “Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is: you’re smart, you’re built for at least three different sports, you’re certainly attractive enough for popularity. It’s not like it’s hard. So what are you doing?”
Boyd taps his fingers against the table, considering. On the one hand, she’s got a point—not one he could see before he was turned, of course, when he was too aware of how removed he was from high school drama to see that removal as an advantage, but one he definitely sees now. Popularity wouldn’t be hard, and he’d wanted it, ached for it, once. On the other hand…
“Do you know,” he says, lifting the corner of his mouth in smile, “who the greatest and most exalted crowd-follower in all of history was?”
“Enlighten me,” Lydia says, and Boyd lets himself grin outright.
“Can’t. Don’t know his name. Kind of my point.”
Lydia stares at him for a long moment, like she’s not sure how she’s supposed to react. Boyd leaves her to it, glancing back down to his homework and whistling slightly under his breath. She huffs out a sigh eventually, one that sounds a lot more long-suffering than Boyd suspects it actually is, and plops down into the chair across from him.
“I’m stealing your french fries,” she informs him, reaching across the table to snatch one.
“They’re all yours,” Boyd says. When her foot brushes his under the table, he doesn’t miss her slight gasp, wouldn’t even want to.
“What’s this?” Boyd asks, when Lydia drops the garment bag in front of him. God knows how she sussed out Derek’s latest dank, creepy hidey-hole—probably Stiles. He’s certainly been here enough this week, mostly complaining about the dankness, the creepiness, and the way Derek refuses to acknowledge either. Boyd’s not getting involved; he’s got a lot of extra energy from being a creature of the night, but not enough to make that worth it.
“It’s your tuxedo,” Lydia tells him. “You’re taking me to prom.”
He does, too, climbs into her rented limo at the appropriate time, dressed in a tux that fit him perfectly the first time he tried it on. Lydia looks gorgeous and imperious and imperiously gorgeous through all three of her costume changes—because they are, Boyd knows, costumes, armor she wears to drive her point home. He dances with her for most of the night, one hand tucked into the small of her back. She’s so much smaller than him that she pillows her head on his chest for the slow songs, whispers sharp judgment of everyone’s clothes and behavior in his ear during the fast ones, and when they’re not dancing, they’re walking the room. Lydia prowls like a lioness, and Boyd lets her lead him when he wants to, peels off on his own when he doesn’t.
“Are we dating?” Lydia demands on the ride back to her house. “Because I think we should be.”
“Depends,” Boyd says, because he has to be sure. “You want a boyfriend or a guard dog?”
“Ugh,” Lydia says, leaning away from him with a disgusted expression on her face. “A guard dog, honestly, self-obsessed much? Who wants a guard dog when they can have a partner in crime?”
“Just checking,” Boyd says, “we’re dating,” and Lydia grins, moves, and grinds.
Prom, Boyd decides, is worth it. It’s kind of a shock, but he’s definitely not planning on fighting it.
“So,” Lydia says, one bright, late August morning, “I’ve decided I love you.”
Boyd’s flat on his back on top of the hood of Derek’s weirdly declaratory car, because his life, lately, doesn’t make much sense. He grins up at empty air, bites the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing, and says, “Do you? That’s nice.”
She smacks him on the shoulder, and then does it again, and then tries it a third time before she gives in and climbs on top of him. “Boyd,” she says, teasing-stern in that way she gets, “I am not the kind of girl who says those words without having them returned to me. In spades, even. It’s kind of my thing.”
“Maybe I think a little anxiety would do you some good,” Boyd says, raising his eyebrows. “You ever think of that?”
“Oh, please,” Lydia says, and rolls her eyes. “Like I don’t know you’re crazy about me.”
He is, is the thing—in the rough and tumble mess his life’s turned into, she’s still one of the only things that shines. She’s a little evil and a lot conniving and the smartest person he’s ever met; he wasn’t expecting to love her, but now that he does, he’s not expecting to stop.
“Fine,” he says, “you win,” and Lydia doesn’t even wait for him to say it, kisses him silent until Derek comes outside to yell about the car.