Like clockwork, Sheriff Stilinski showed up on one of the cold and uninviting bleachers set up behind the lacrosse field every week. It had seemed clear to him that this ridiculous man of a lacrosse coach --whom he had learned once also taught economics, both unfortunate endeavors on their own but made somehow much worse when coupled --was never going to see even a glimpse of his son’s potential. After the first few games, his expectations of being rewarded for his efforts by watching Stiles be anywhere but on a bench had dropped significantly. But he always came, nevertheless. If it happened, he would be there.
As his already low interest in the game of lacrosse dwindled, he often took solace in the unexpected but welcome company of Melissa McCall. She usually arrived at the game a little late, looking a little rushed, and often still wearing her hospital scrubs. When they sat together, they alternated between placing a passing interest in the game --Melissa, at least, seemed to generally know what was going on-- and sharing stories about work and the progressively more unusual hijinks of their sons. Once, they even shared an unfortunately soggy soft pretzel that he made the mistake of purchasing from the concession stand.
He wasn’t sure when it had happened exactly. Perhaps it was the evening he had lent her his sheriff’s jacket because she looked cold. Perhaps it had been the evening they had both said they were glad for the other’s influence in their sons' lives. Perhaps it was the week he saved her a spot next to him, and she never appeared. But somewhere along the way, he realized he was developing more than friendly feelings for her.
He was afraid to act on his crush though for so many reasons. He was afraid she really only wanted someone to commiserate over single parenthood with. He was worried that Stiles and Scott would react negatively if their parents did start dating. But he supposed when he got right down to it, he’d never thought it was the right moment to act on his feelings.
But then one fateful evening, everything went all right -- before everything went all wrong. He smiled to himself as he saw Melissa, who must have gotten off early judging by her smart dressing, chatting with Stiles as they both approached the lacrosse field. They parted ways, and Stiles took his usual place on the bench, somewhat surprisingly joined momentarily by Scott.
“Their coach was telling them the speech from Independence Day. And with what’s been going on around here lately, I didn’t realize they weren’t going to be taking on aircrafts on the lacrosse field. I’m almost relieved Scott is benched,” Melissa said as she sat down next to him. “Almost.”
Although he couldn’t say he blamed her, it didn’t stop him from being beyond ecstatic when Stiles took the field a short time later. He almost didn’t believe it. If Melissa hadn’t been assuring him that Stiles was indeed a member of the lacrosse team, he might have continued believing he was having a very vivid hallucination.
He stood and cheered like he never had before. Stiles might have looked as confused about this as he felt, but if there was one thing that he knew, it was that he believed in Stiles even when Stiles didn’t. And tonight he believed that Stiles was going to do some amazing lacrosse playing.
Although it may not have begun that way, this feeling was confirmed towards the end of the game, when Stiles scored his first goal. He can’t deny he was a little worried when Stiles started out looking like he had forgotten how to move let alone play the game, but he hoped beyond hope that he would come back from it. And he only momentarily doubted he wouldn't.
After that first goal, the feeling that this wasn’t really happening persisted, but he took one look at Melissa. She was smiling warmly from ear to ear. He couldn’t help himself. His son was playing. His son had scored his first ever goal--he now had no doubt otherwise. And Melissa was just there, cheering good-naturedly, exchanging hopeful looks with the unusual redhead he believed Stiles had a crush on --Lydia, he thought. He gave in completely to cheering, fighting a growing temptation to hug Melissa. They all kept smiling and cheering because looking at the scoreboard confirmed that they were only one point behind now. He smiled at both of them and reluctantly sat back down. There was too much positive energy around him to want to stay sitting.
Then Stiles, apparently taking his first goal in stride, scored another, and the game was tied. And they were all jumping up and cheering and clapping again -- and the temptation grew even stronger. Mr. Stilinski could not remember ever enjoying watching a game so much. Then, with hardly a minute left in the game, Stiles scored another goal, and they were winning. The timer ran out -- they had won.
Mr. Stilinski was completely dumbfounded. He couldn’t wait to find Stiles after the game, pull him into a hug, and tell him how proud of him he was. But right then, Melissa was just there, shaking her fists like pom-poms, being hopelessly adorable. He pulled her into a tight hug that lasted perhaps slightly too long for two people who were just friends.
Then giving into all the feelings that he’d had before the game and was being overwhelmed with now, just when Melissa started to pull away from the hug, he pulled her back and lifted her to her toes. Then he pressed his lips into hers and she leaned into his. And the kiss felt like it would go on forever, but then the stadium lights went out and everything was chaos.
They mutually agreed what was important, and Melissa went off in search of Scott as he went off in search of Stiles. He looked everywhere, and everywhere a second time before realizing that Stiles wasn’t anywhere on or around the field. He tried not to panic because he knew that wasn’t how best to deal with the situation. But it was Stiles.
And he found himself standing in the center of a lacrosse field demanding to know where his son was. A question to which seemingly no one had an answer. Once that was clear, he remained standing in the center of the field, feeling lost until Melissa came and started leading him back towards his car.
“Was the boy... Jackson going to be alright?” he asked, hardly focused on the answer because the situation had looked grim, and it was hard to care about anything else when Stiles was missing.
“It...uh...was not looking good, but the EMTs really know what they’re doing,” Melissa told him as she climbed into the passenger seat of his car. “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to come down to the station with you. Scott’s going to meet us there.”
From the fact that she was already fastening her seatbelt, he was under the impression that it didn’t matter if it was alright with him or not. But it was. It really, really was. He needed someone there with him. Someone to anchor him in reality. And Melissa was the perfect person for that.
He climbed in the car, gave Melissa a weary, grateful smile, and then turned the key in the ignition. Nothing happened.
He slammed his hands on the steering wheel in frustration as Melissa rubbed a hand across his shoulder, “If it won’t start we can always take my car. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to find him.”
As he turned the keys in the ignition again and the engine roared to life, he placed his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it, “God, I hope you’re right.”
And because it was Melissa, he believed her.