When his mom asks him why he doesn’t have any friends over, Boyd lies and says they’re busy. He doesn’t want to worry his mom, but he already knows he’s going to be sitting alone at lunch for the foreseeable future. Boyd doesn’t care enough about lacrosse to get along with boys his age. He’s bigger than most seventh graders, but that’s not what he wants to get noticed for, so when tryouts happen, he goes to the library instead.
Boyd wants to check out the latest Robin comic, and even though the entire town is at a middle school lacrosse tryout, someone has already beat him to it.
“Looking for this?” Boyd whirls around and looks down at the kid waving a comic in front of him.
“Who are you?” But he already knows, everyone knows Stiles, the loudmouth who never knows when to stop.
“I’m Stiles, you’re Boyd, and man, you need to read this, I’m halfway through, and it’s going to blow your mind. You wanna come over and-"
“Why are you talking to me.” Boyd doesn’t do pity.
Stiles’ mouth open and closes like a fish. “Uh, because you’re the only person I’ve ever seen in this aisle besides me? And that makes you cool?”
Boyd’s not buying it. “Why aren’t you at tryouts?”
Stiles deflates in front of him. “Coach told me not to bother because I’m too small,”
Boyd thinks that’s the nice way of saying someone is a safety hazard. During P.E., Stiles nearly took out Coach’s eye with his bat, and Coach had been sitting in the dugout.
“Dude, why aren’t you at tryouts?! You’re the tallest kid in the grade!” Boyd is also the only black kid in the grade, and he’s heard the way people call him a natural, like it’s a compliment.
“Lacrosse just isn’t my thing,” Boyd shrugs, but Stiles stares at him, fascinated. “Oh my god, you’re the coolest person I know.”
And Boyd knows Stiles is joking, but his face heats up anyway. He does what he always does and deflects the attention away. “What happens to Stephanie this week?” and Stiles launches into how Batman is being a dick again, and that he just needs to trust Robin and let her be awesome.
And somehow, debating the best Robin of all-time turns into an invitation to come over and Boyd says, “Yeah sure, I’ve got nothing better to do,” as if he gets invitations to people’s houses all the time. No one’s expecting him home anyway.
They’re playing Zelda in the Stilinski living room when Boyd hears a car park in the driveway. Stiles pauses the game to let his dad hug him, and Boyd pretends nothing aches. The deputy cop’s handshake is firm, but his eyes are kind. “You must be…?”
“Just Boyd.” His brother always said to never give anything away for free. Beacon Hills is nothing like home, but Stiles’ Dad is still wearing a uniform and Boyd can’t forget.
“You’re welcome to come over anytime, son. Stiles needs more friends,”
“Da-ad.” Stiles ducks his head down, ears red, and Boyd remembers that he’s not the only one who sits by himself now that McCall moved away.
“C’mon Boyd, lemme show you my room,” and Boyd allows himself to be led away from Deputy Stilinski’s amused eyes. On a nightstand filled with trading cards and action figurines, Stiles catches him looking at a family photo, and he answers the unspoken question, “It’s just me and my Dad now.”
“I have my Mom and an older brother,” and now their eyes mirror each other’s.
“Oh cool, no one ever seems to have siblings. Where is he?”
“In prison.” For following in their father’s footsteps, and being stupid and scared while carrying a gun.
“Hey,” And the hand on Boyd’s shoulder is awkward and sweaty but there. Something in Boyd’s face makes Stiles squeeze it harder. “Hey, I’m sorry man. You uh, you wanna talk about it?”
No one’s asked him about why he moved to Beacon Hills. “Not really,” But his mom raised him right so he adds, “But thanks for asking. Is that a Batman figurine?”
Stiles lets him have the easy out, and he makes fun of Stiles for having a Justice League poster even though he secretly covets it. They make promises to swap baseball cards at lunch, but Boyd is still surprised to see Stiles sit at his lunch table. Back home, Boyd was everyone’s kid brother, and he never had to make any friends. Stiles makes it look easy, passing him his jello and stealing a curly fry, as if his welcome is assured.
“If you’re going to eat my fries, you’re gonna get me ketchup for them,”
“Tyrant,” but Stiles gets up to go get it. And that’s how Boyd makes his first friend.
When he invites Stiles over for a movie marathon the next weekend, he prepares for his arrival by cleaning his room, vacuuming the floor, and putting out the good silverware. If his brother were here, he’d make some smartass remark, but he’s not, and Boyd doesn’t wanna be alone anymore and he won’t apologize for it.
His Mom usually works late shifts at the ice rink, but she swapped with a co-worker to make her famous lasagna and present a united front for Boyd’s guest. When Boyd hears a tentative knock, he jumps up from his seat and answers on the first ring. “Mom, this is my friend, Stiles.”
“Oh, so you’re the one I’ve heard so much about,” and this time, it’s Boyd’s turn to duck his head down. Stiles thrusts a bunch of carnations in his Mom’s face. “These are for you, Ma’am,”
“Oh, you’re a charmer.” His Mom dimples, and Boyd knows that Stiles will forever have a place at their table. Stiles spends the rest of dinner on his best behavior, complimenting his Mom’s cooking and keeping his stories boring and half-true. For dessert, Boyd helps his Mom get ice cream bowls, and he nearly drops it when she says, “I’ve forgotten what your laugh sounds like.”
“No, I know it’s been hard for you since- since we left. I haven’t been here for you, but I’m glad you found someone,”
Stiles brought his Mom flowers and wore a button-down. “Yeah, me too.”
After dinner, Boyd and Stiles head to his room to debate which movie to watch first. They’re just settling on a movie when his Mom enters his room with popcorn. “Don’t stay up too late, boys,” His mom kisses Boyd’s forehead, and Stiles lets out a small gasp when she kisses his forehead too.
Boyd pretends not to see Stiles wipe his face, but he bumps his shoulder, “You ready to start the movie?”
Stiles bumps his shoulder back at him. “Yeah, let’s start,” and they lay on their bellies shoulder to shoulder, and watch worlds blow up.
When Stiles tells him he wants to search for a dead body, Boyd laughs in his face. “Stiles. It’s almost midnight. We have school tomorrow. And you want to go look for a dead body in the middle of the woods.”
“Yeah, it’ll be fun.” They’re in high school now and Stiles has become a second brother, but there are some things Stiles will never understand, like why a Sheriff’s son can sneak around police investigations but a boy like Boyd can’t take that risk. Stiles believes in laws and authority, but Boyd knows who the gun will be pointed at first. Most days Boyd is loyal to Stiles, but he belonged to his mother first, and after his brother, she deserves a better son.
“I’m going to go with or without you,” and he would too, the stupid kid. But Stiles is his best friend, the boy who always showed up on his doorstep after visitation weekends and let Boyd bury his face in his neck without comment.
Friendships can be let go, but brotherhood is an obligation that Boyd has already refused once before. The last person Boyd said “no,” to ended up in prison.
Boyd still remembers his brother’s last words to him: ”Be a scared baby and stay home, but don’t expect to be invited anymore.” Boyd has spent too many sleepless nights wondering what would’ve happened if he’d gone with him, if he could’ve said something, could’ve done anything to make it end differently.
“Alright, I’ll go, but any funny business and I’m blaming you,” Stiles whoops at him, claps his back, and the shoulder thrown over his shoulder is a weight Boyd will bear for his brother.