Proposing To Strangers
One: Interventions and Endings
Stiles cocks his head to the side a little, looking a bit too much like a curious puppy as he does so. Jackson is standing at the counter of the coffee shop, flirting with the barista. Stiles is sitting at their usual table wondering when they’d gotten so… familiar. They’re not in love, Stiles knows that much.
When - When did they fall out of love? Stiles doesn’t know if they ever really were in love.
Jackson is the worst boyfriend in the world, too. He forgets when they make plans. Sometimes, when he does remember, he blows them off anyway. If it is even remotely inconvenient for him, he’s not there. Also, he’ll flirt with anything that moves, and some things that don’t. He’s selfish and self-absorbed, which combined make for an extreme arrogance that essentially lands him in the douchebag category on a regular basis.
Stiles can be selfish too, but he’s a serial monogamist, and learned about love and relationships at the knees of his parents. The love John and Claudia Stilinski had shared had been the kind of love that fairy tales allude to. Constant, unending, enduring. It’s the kind of love Stiles wants.
Stiles watches Jackson throw his head back and laugh at whatever the pretty barista had said, and wonders when he stopped caring that Jackson flirts with other people around him.
“That’s disgusting,” Lydia remarks, watching Danny layer mustard onto his hot dog. Her nose is wrinkled in disgust, but Danny doesn’t care. He makes a show of taking the first bite and enjoying it. “I hate you,” she tells him, shoving away her salad.
“Why are we here?” Stiles asks. Lydia doesn’t do fast food, he’s half expecting her to burst into flames at any second.
Lydia gives him a look, “We’re staging an intervention.”
Stiles looks from Danny, who is nodding behind his hot dog, to Lydia, who looks like she wants to get out her bottle of hand sanitizer. He sighs and sets down his fork. He gets the feeling that he won’t want his chili cheese fries by the time this is over. “Okay,” Stiles takes a deep breath, “hit me with it.”
“You need to break up with Jackson,” Lydia states baldly.
Danny chokes, “Easy! We were going to go easy!”
Lydia flips her hair back, “Stiles needs blunt, not easy. Stiles, I know you care about him, but can you honestly say you’re in love with him?” Stiles says nothing, Lydia’s smile softens: “Exactly.”
“He’s not exactly good for you either,” Danny says, his tone much gentler. “He’s not even good for himself. How much weight have you lost since things started going badly? How long has it been since you spent the day outside?”
“I’m not a vampire,” Stiles says, skipping over the weight thing, because he knows it’s true. He’s the kind of person who just doesn’t eat when they get all stressed out. He knows it’s a problem.
“You’re pale enough,” Lydia says, “You might as well be.”
“I just -“ Stiles heaves a sigh, “I don’t like to be alone. I’m not good at it.”
“We know, honey,” Lydia pats his hand. “That’s what friends are for.”
“It’s not the same thing,” Stiles tells her.
“No, it’s not. At least think about it?”
“I can do that.”
Lydia nods, and then decides she’s had enough of visiting with the common folk and ushers the two men out of the Whataburger with disdain.
He thinks about it. A lot. He knows he’s not really all that happy, so he takes the time to observe Jackson to see if Jackson is happy… Only Jackson isn’t actually around all that much, and when he is, he’s always focused somewhere other than on Stiles.
The thing is, they’ve always been like oil and water. Too different (or too similar sometimes) to ever be able to make a successful long haul of it. Jackson is such a giant jackass, and Stiles is too sarcastic for most people. Short term is always good with them. Once a week they have a night where things are like they used to be. Laughing and loving and generally happy.
So, once upon a time they were happy. Stiles is hard pressed to remember those days.
When they’re on, they’re great, fabulous even. When they’re off, well... Mt. St. Helen’s springs to mind. These days they always seem to be off, never able to sync up. When a relationship is right, it’s not supposed to be this damn hard. As far as Stiles knows, you’re actually supposed to want to be in the same room as your significant other.
Stiles has been watching Jackson for the past twenty minutes. Jackson looks comfortable, sprawled against Danny’s side like he is, working on a huge bowl of chips. Only, it’s supposed to be Stiles that he’s snuggled up with isn’t it? He’s not supposed to be more comfortable with his best friend than he is with his boyfriend.
Not that Stiles has much space to point fingers. He’d wedged himself between Scott and Isaac so that Jackson wouldn’t have to choose. But, Stiles is supposed to want to be snuggled up to Jackson, isn’t he?
Stiles wiggles away from his friends, hushing them with a quiet excuse that he’s got to pee to keep them from getting worried. He goes to the bathroom, splashes some water on his face, and stares at himself in the mirror. Tells himself that he’s okay, really. Heads back to the living room.
Only he’s not okay. He’s miserable. He toes on his shoes, grabs his keys and stealth maneuvers himself out into the hall. He needs to be alone. He needs a drink. He needs to talk himself into breaking up with Jackson.
Pep talk himself into ripping off the band-aid of badness.