Stiles would like to remind everyone that he is not crazy and he does not see hallucinations. The fact that no one else can see ghosts is really not his fault and the rest of the world could be a bit more understanding. Not everyone won the genetic lottery and got shapeshifting as their superpower; some people got to be mediums. Well, very few people got to be mediums. Few enough that Stiles did look crazy, carrying on a conversation in an otherwise-empty bookstore aisle while he killed time waiting for Scott to finish flirting with the dark-haired barista next door and bring him his coffee.
It was early enough in the day that Stiles wished he were still asleep, but late enough that he had allowed Scott to drag him out of their apartment in his quest for wooing Barista Girl. Stiles had been zoning out in the poetry aisle because Scott hadn’t actually wanted Stiles there in the coffeeshop to witness his awkward flirting, which Stiles was guaranteed to mock later. The sudden appearance of a ghost had startled him into hitting his shoulder on one of the bookshelves. He glanced around, glad for the emptiness of the store. He scrubbed his face, not sure he really wanted to do this; assisting with passings always drained Stiles for at least half a day.
“Ma'am, it is super early and it’s Sunday and I don’t have any of my gear,” he started, apologetically.
"Oh sweetie," the apparition of the old lady tittered happily. Stiles was pretty sure she would have patted his head had she been able. "I can cross on my own. I just have one thing left to do."
She smiled, pretty deviously for a ghost that looked like she was pushing ninety when she died, and Stiles was still trying to process her sudden appearance when she started pulling books off the shelves and dropping them on the tile. Loudly. Stiles flinched in surprise and then reached out like he could grab her wrist and she cackled.
"Lady, come on, don't do this." Stiles begged, looking around and hoping no one would come to investigate. He tried to catch the books, but she was a spry old ghost and darted down the aisle, still tossing books. Stiles groaned and started re-shelving, trying not to bend his torso much as his fractured rib twinged and he stifled a pained gasp.
The ghosts that Stiles saw were mostly good-natured; they just usually needed someone to listen to their stories before he helped them moved on. Why would this one start throwing things? Stiles knew it took a lot of concentration and emotion for a ghost to affect the physical world; he usually only came in contact with actual poltergeists when he consulted for the sheriff's department for his dad- ghosts who were angry or wanted revenge.
He was muttering unflattering things about the old lady when someone cleared their throat from behind him. Startled, Stiles shot up and gasped in pain as his rib protested. He wrapped his arm around his side and wished Scott was there to do the werewolf pain-drain thing.
The most gorgeous man Stiles had ever seen was staring at him in confusion, with concern not far behind. He had spiky dark hair and thick-rimmed glasses; Stiles was pretty sure his heart was going to beat out of his chest. The man was wearing the dark blue deputy’s uniform of the city police department, but Stiles didn't recognize him. Stiles gulped and took a shallow breath and smiled.
"Hi, uh sorry for being in your way. I'm just trying to clean up-" he waved at the piles of books that littered down the aisle. The ghost had paused and was watching the two of them.
Hot Deputy raised a judgey eyebrow.
“I’m, uh. There's a ghost." Stiles tried, with no real hope the man would believe him.
To his surprise, the man straightened and his eyes darted around the empty aisle looking for signs of the poltergeist.
"It's not a 14-52," Stiles tried to reassure him by using the dispatch code for malevolent spirit. "She's just, I dunno, dropping books? Making a mess? She says she can pass on her own and she hasn't tried to hurt me, like by throwing the books at me, or anything."
The man nodded and relaxed slightly. "Do ghosts usually throw things at you?" His tone was amused and the side of his mouth quirked slightly.
Stiles' smile was more of a grimace. "Uh, sometimes. Usually not, but I help my dad sometimes and those are usually more like poltergeists. Though I was not expecting anything like her. They usually have a purpose? I mean, I don't get why she's dropping books."
The deputy looked confused as well and the ghost just cackled and dropped two more books.
"So, uh. You come here often?" Stiles blurted out and immediately wished he could pull the words back. He didn't even know if the man liked other guys, and Stiles wasn't usually so forward.
Hot Deputy's cheeks tinged pink and he shrugged. "I come here on my breaks when my partner is getting coffee." Stiles noticed for the first time the man was holding a few books.
"Harry Potter?" Stiles blurted out, bewildered. "Dude, those books are so awesome."
"It's my grandmother's favorite," the man ducked his head shyly. Stiles suppressed the urge to smile adoringly.
"She has pretty great taste, dude."
"Why yes, I do," the ghost inserted cheekily. Stiles' head whipped around.
"What?" He gaped. Hot Deputy raised an eyebrow and his eyes darted between Stiles and the empty space he seemed to be talking to.
"Tell him my name is Mabel." The ghost lady spoke up. Stiles frowned at her slightly.
"Do you know him?" The ghost nodded. "Oh." Stiles turned back to see Hot Deputy was watching him closely.
"She, uh. She says she knows you?" Stiles suddenly couldn't read the man's face. "Her, uh. She says her name is Mabel. About this tall," Stiles moved his hand level to his shoulder. "Blue-grey hair, though that could be the ether, um-" Stiles tried to think of a nice way of describing 'old lady'.
The man cleared his throat, still looking at Stiles. "Mabel was my grandmother's name."
Ah. Stiles shifted on his feet awkwardly. This was the worst part, breaking the news to family members. He looked desperately at the ghost; she just beamed at him.
"I'm, uh, sorry for your loss. She seems like a nice lady."
Hot Deputy relaxed into a small smile and gave a slight nod. "She died about a year ago but she comes around the house and leaves cryptic messages on the grocery list. She actually left me a message to get this book today," he shifted the pile and held out the Harry Potter book. I'm glad she did."
Stiles beamed as the man's cheeks turned darker pink. "Me too!" He blurted out.
"Derek!" Jordan Parrish appeared suddenly, coffees in hand. Stiles jumped, but Hot Deputy just turned. "Here you go," he handed Hot Deputy one of them. "Oh hey, Stiles! Good to see you. How's the broken rib?" Jordan had worked with Stiles’ dad in the sheriff's department before moving to the city and was dating one of Stiles’ friends.
Stiles fidgeted slightly. "Hey Jordan. Uh, it's ok. Scott's been doing the pain drain thing." He wiggled his fingers.
Jordan laughed. "It's pretty good to have a werewolf around, huh?"
Stiles is pretty sure his eyes turned to hearts. "The best." The old lady made a pleased humming noise but otherwise just seemed to be content to watch them talk. Stiles didn’t much care, as long as she wasn’t throwing things.
Understanding and something like disappointment flashed across Derek's face. Jordan motioned to Stiles with his coffee. "Stiles here was on the Deucalion case and had to magickly blast him on to the next world." Jordan wiggled his eyebrows.
Stiles rolled his eyes. "It wasn't that exciting, plus he threw like half the crumbled wall at me before I trapped him." He motioned to his torso.
Jordan scoffed loudly and nudged Stiles' shoulder. "Stiles magic-blasted him into a trap and rescued like five deputies and the druid we first called in to subdue Deucalion." Hot Deputy- Derek- raised his eyebrows, impressed.
Stiles rolled his eyes again. There were a lot of other people who helped out on that case, Stiles just did the showy magic bits. "Whatever."
"Stiles!" Scott's shriek pulled their attention to the front of the store. Scott waved his hands in the air and Stiles could see him jittering from across the space. "STILES SHE SAID YES!" Werewolf speed meant Scott was right in front of him and Stiles barely got his hand up in time to forestall any bear hugs. A huge grin broke out across Stiles' face as the words started to make sense.
"Kira's gonna go out with you?" Scott's eyes were hearts and he nodded emphatically. Stiles high-fived him. "That only took three weeks of mooning after her, dude. Awesome."
"She's so amazing, Stiles. We're gonna go to dinner tonight, is that ok?" Scott's eyebrows drew together in concern.
Sunday night was their standing Call of Duty and pizza bros night in, but Stiles wasn't bothered to have it canceled every once in awhile. Since high school Scott had gotten worlds better at not abandoning Stiles for a girlfriend.
"Of course, dude. No worries."
Scott hugged him impulsively and let go when Stiles made a pained noise.
"Dude, where's my coffee?" Stiles looked at Scott's empty hands. Stiles laughed at Scott's face. "Let me guess, you forgot?" He nodded sheepishly.
"I'll go get it now!" Scott darted off before Stiles could open his mouth.
Jordan laughed and gently patted Stiles on the shoulder. "We gotta get back, but I'll see you at your dad's for the barbecue on Saturday?"
Stiles nodded. The radio on Jordan's uniform crackled and dispatch sent them notice of a barking dog disturbance call.
"Have fun." Stiles waved as the two men walked away. He tried to tell himself that he wasn’t disappointed, maybe he’d see Derek later and would find the courage to ask him out.
"Dammit, Derek," Stiles heard the ghost mutter and he turned his shocked face to the little old lady.
"Wait, Stiles!" He looked up to see Derek jogging back, his face determined. "Do you want to get dinner tonight?"
He gaped for half a second. "Yes! Yes, dinner. Great. Tonight."
Derek smiled sweetly and Stiles definitely felt his heart stutter. He had the most adorable bunny teeth. "Awesome. Seven o'clock? Rosa's Diner?" Stiles nodded, still in shock. "Cool, see you then."
Then Stiles was alone in the bookstore again, staring at piles of discarded books. He started reshelving a few and couldn't help the huge grin that spread across his face.
Stiles looked over to Mabel to see the ghost wink at him before she disappeared. “Mischief managed.”