The Sheriff is neither dumb nor a believer in stereotypes. He’s been in law enforcement long enough to know that people will always surprise you, will always trip you up with the variables of their lives if you don’t pay attention.
He knows his son is up to something, has known for a long while, and it’s an acid pit in his belly, a gnaw at his gut, every time he catches him in a new lie. So he goes for the easy out, spits it out so he can press for the truth, force it out of him like he’s failed to do with his long pauses and heavy silences, with his patience, because he always wanted to believe they were different. They will never be able to talk about the one thing, the most important absence from their lives, but they’ve always been up front about everything else.
Then his son stutters out the line about Danny, and he sees the flicker of shame on his face as he says the words, the way his lips curl, knows it’s another lie to pile up on top of the others, and pretty soon he knows he and Stiles, well they’re going to be drowning in them.
(The truth of the matter is this: he has known for a while that his son isn’t completely straight, that for all his pining for the Martin girl, he has also seen the too-long looks at certain boys over the years. His wife knew, took him aside at the end there, and made him promise not to rush Stiles, not to force it, because that was as important as being there after it all came out. It had to be his choice.
He doesn’t want his son finally acknowledging one of his central truths as a cheat, as an out, so he falls back on bullshit stereotypes and pushes, the sharp edges of anger and frustration and worry slip-sliding through his chest until he wants to shake Stiles, jerk him by the shoulders and make him give him the truth he needs now.
So he can protect him. So he can make sure he’s okay. So he won’t lose him, and that is his central truth: he cannot lose his beautiful boy, cannot lose the one thing he made with her all those many years ago after too many miscarriages and hope pulled threadbare by the loss. He can’t lose that smile and those flailing limbs and the stories he used to tell, about dinosaurs and turkeys, until it was all he could do to stay on the road for laughing so hard. He cannot lose his son, and he’s already halfway gone.)
Instead he pretends to buy it, tells him he’s a good friend – he is, his son has always been fervently loyal – and watches him scramble back towards his jeep, back to Scott and whatever it is they’re really up to. He tries not to let his shoulders drop or let anything show behind his usual grimace of as he lets his eyes follow the jeep through the parking lot and out onto the road.
Then he’s shaking it off, moving back towards the club and his job.