Scott pulled open the door to the pub, a noisy chime announcing his arrival. It was mostly empty spare for a couple in one of the booths, the bartender, and two men sitting at the bar. He approached one of them.
Scott took the beer sitting in front of the guy and set it out of his reach. "Stop this, Stiles."
Stiles just scoffed at his best friend and told the bartender to get him another drink. The man hesitated, glancing at Scott who shook his head with a harsh look. "You don't control my life. Leave me alone." His words were almost, the results of the few beers in him. "They got married, not much I can do about it now."
Seeing his best friend in this state broke Scott's heart. Stiles was too young to be experiencing this, losing someone he was so close to. "You can stop doing this," Scott said and took the new beer Stiles received away, stealing a sip in the process.
Stiles shot him a dirty glare and reached for the drink but Scott pulled it back. "No," he said harshly. "They're already married, Scott! It's too late for me to do anything."
Scott sighed and took a seat. "I know how you felt. Maybe if you sit down and talk to h-"
"For the last time!" Stiles interrupted. "Not everyone gets a happy ending, can't you understand that? I already had to deal with sitting through the ceremony." He looked down at Scott's navy blue suit and white tie. "You should go back. Allison is there and she's probably wondering where you ran off."
"I'll deal with her later. Please come for the reception," said Scott. "I'm worried about you man. Ever since the engagement you've been drowning in alcohol. I don't want you to end up like..."
Stiles quickly turned to Scott, his face twisting into something menacing. "Like my father?"
"Stiles, that's not what I-"
"Save it!" Stiles exclaimed. "I know it's what you were going to say. I'm not him Scott, I thought you'd know that." His last words came out broken.
Scott frowned and reached for Stiles but the boy flinched away. "I do! I'm so sorry," he said.
"Just go." Stiles didn't turn to look at him. His gaze was directed towards his hands on the counter. "Leave me alone."
Scott stood up and looked at his friend sadly. The boy was torn apart. He thought he'd found someone special only for them to find somebody else. Scott couldn't begin to imagine what Stiles was going through. He didn't say anything else, just laid a twenty on the counter for Stiles' drinks. Then he left the pub, that annoying sound marking his exit, leaving physical pain in Stiles' chest.
Stiles grabbed the beer Scott had pulled away and took another sip. The alcohol was almost like water to him now. He was so used to the familiar liquid traveling down his throat. It made Stiles wonder, was he turning into his father? The man turned to any form of liquor to pretend his problems didn't exist. That was what Stiles was doing that second, wasn't it? He let out a frustrated groan and put his forehead on the counter.
"I know how it feels."
Stiles' head shot up towards the man sitting three seats to the left of him. The stranger was nursing his own alcohol. His eyes were on the television above the bar but they momentarily glimpsed at Stiles.
The man offered him a small smile. "Your pain," he clarified. "The kind of pain where you thought someone loved you, someone wanted to be with you, only to turn their back and pretend you two never had anything."
The boy didn't say anything, just cast his sad glance back to the cold beer in his hands with a defeated sigh.
"What's their name?"
Stiles ran a hand over his tired face. "Lydia, Lydia Martin. Soon to be Whittemore."
"Okay." A moment of silence, then, "I'm Derek."
"Yeah, I heard," said Derek. Stiles turned his head back to him and gave him a closed-mouth smile.
"What was their name? I mean, yours...your, um-"
"Kate." Derek shrugged. "She was alluring. It was as if the less I knew about her, the more attracted I was. You know, the whole mystery thing. But she was just a huntress scouting for easy prey. She found it in a young, confused boy who wanted a distraction from his family. Long story short, I fell for her, she made it feel real, then she took all the information she got from me and ran."
"Oh," said Stiles.
"I'm sorry," Derek chuckled a bit. "You didn't need me to lay that all on you."
Stiles sat up straighter and put a hand up. "No, no, it's fine. I know spilling how you feel can be the biggest relief. So lay it all on me." He threw a hand up to his face when he realized how that came out. "Oh God, I'm sorry."
Derek's chuckle got louder and he threw his beer back for another swig. The bartender approached the two at that moment, awkwardly cutting in. "I'm sorry but we'll be closing in five minutes."
Stiles shared a look with Derek who furrowed his eyebrows at the man. "At 1 in the afternoon?"
The bartender looked apologetic and accepted the two guys' payment. Stiles just handed him Scott's money. "Tonight since it is the day before Fourth of July, we have this place rented out starting at 2:30 and I have to get it ready, I'm terribly sorry."
Derek just shrugged and stood up after receiving his credit card back. He shrugged on a black leather jacket and stuffed his wallet into the back pocket of dark blue jeans, a strange outfit for July. Though he really had no place to judge with his black skinny jeans and blue t-shirt. He hadn't bothered to even try on the dusty tuxedo hanging in the back of his closet. "Oh well. Stiles, walk out with me?" Stiles nodded and thanked the bartender then stood up as well.
Stiles followed Derek out of the pub. "I don't want to have to go home where I know someone will be waiting to drag my ass to the ceremony," Stiles said mostly to himself.
"Want to walk with me then?" Derek suggested. "I have nothing to do the rest of the day." Stiles was intrigued by the guys confidence to hang out with strangers but also slightly hesitant due to the fact they'd just met.
"Uh, sure," he agreed. The started walking down the main drag of downtown Beacon County. A group of teens all in shorts and tank tops strolled by them, just laughing at each other and sharing stories. It made Stiles nostalgic. "Enjoy your youth, it only gets worse," he mumbled under his breath. But he could've sworn he heard a slight laugh leave Derek's mouth.
They walked in a comfortable silence, just enjoying the summer air. For once Stiles' head was starting to clear. Instead of Lydia on his mind, he was taking in his surroundings. He was also analyzing the man walking next to him.
Derek was right, mystery was an attractive quality. But also completely frustrating.
Stiles had never had to think about sexuality before. Ever since he was young it's been Lydia, everything was about her. So he'd just identify as a straight man since she was all that caught his eye. But even a straight man can't deny Derek was an exceptionally good-looking man. His dark hair and stubble stood out beautifully against his skin. And the sunlight reflected in his green eyes that were a very unique shade. But most straight guys wouldn't pay close attention to the way Derek's mouth formed his words and how his he'd talk animatedly with his hands. They wouldn't point out his laugh lines in their head and how he would tilt his head back when he laughed wholeheartedly, eyes slightly squinting.
But the man was still a stranger in Stiles' book. He wasn't one for one night stands or 'experimenting' also.
"Stiles?" He was snapped out of his thoughts by Derek's smooth voice calling his name. Stiles blamed his sudden interest in all things Derek on the not-so-small amount of alcohol still pumping through his body. "Want some ice cream?" He was pointing to an ice cream truck parked on the side of the street near a playground. Kids, parents, and few teens lined up in front of it with eager faces. Stiles nodded excitedly, he was a little kid when it came to the ice cream truck.
They ran to the truck together while laughing, ignoring the strange looks pedestrians flashed them. Stiles was already having more fun than he'd had in a long time.
After buying their treats the pair walked over to one of the benches in the park and sat down. Stiles chased the melting drops of his King Cone with his tongue. Derek bit into a Choco Taco with a satisfying moan. "It's been way too long since I've had one of these." Stiles nodded in agreement.
They didn't talk due to their mouths being occupied with ice cream and just people watched. No one paid them any attention as they walked by on the path in front of the bench. It was peaceful. That is, until a loud "Stiles!" came out of nowhere.
It was Allison, running up to Stiles and Derek while still wearing her knee-length pastel pink bridesmaid dress. "I've been looking everywhere for you! Lydia is worried sick and we need to get back before the reception. The bar Scott said you were at was closed and-wait, Derek Hale?"
Stiles gave Allison a confused look and turned to Derek. The man looked confused as well but soon a look of realization crossed his face. "Allison Argent." It was more a statement than a question. "Wow, it's been a really long time."
Stiles didn't miss the heavy tension between the two and watched their interaction, still utterly lost. "Yeah...it has," said Allison awkwardly and she tucked a loose brown strand of hair behind her ear. "Um, how are you?"
Derek opened his mouth to answer but Stiles beat him to it. "You guys know each other?"
"Well, you see..." Derek trailed off, eyes refusing to meet Stiles'.
"Derek dated my aunt."
Stiles' jaw dropped. He knew Allison had an aunt named Kate who died when they were in high school...from an alpha attack. But before that the woman was conniving and sneaky. Stiles had always been wary around her. It made sense now. "Kate Argent...that was your Kate." He looked at Derek who slowly nodded. "She was a...you're a werewolf aren't you?!" Derek looked alarmed for a second but Allison quickly explained how Stiles knew and how his best friend had been turned into one.
"Wait, how do you two know each other?" Allison gestured between the men and raised an eyebrow at their close proximity on the big park bench. Stiles hadn't even noticed it.
"We just met," he said.
Derek abruptly stood up, ice cream falling to the ground. He didn't even spare a look at it. "It was really nice to meet you Stiles but I need to get going."
"Now?" Stiles stood up with a worried look. "But I thought you said you had nothing the rest of the day?"
Derek still didn't meet his eyes and hesitated before answering. "Well, I just remembered I do have something to do. Now if you excuse me-"
"Derek stop," Allison's voice made the man stop in his trace and slowly turn around. "Please, I miss you. Kate is in the past, we all deeply regret and despise her mistakes. We've never treated your kind like that again."
"It's true," Stiles barged in. "Chris and Allison help us. They've changed."
Derek sighed and walked back to the friends. "I appreciate that Allison, and I miss you too. But it still will take time. Just talking to you now is reopening old wounds."
Allison glanced down at her phone. "The reception's starting in a half hour, shit."
"Go," Derek said and he also directed it towards Stiles. "Go, you need to be there. Both of you. Trust me, don't run away from your problems." Stiles nervously looked between them.
"What about you though?" Stiles said and stepped closer to Derek. They'd only just met but he didn't want to leave the guy.
Derek put a comforting hand on Stiles' shoulder. "It sounds like you and Lydia were close, you should be there for her." Allison nodded and started to gesture for Stiles to hurry up.
"We were," said Stiles. "But I haven't spoken to Lydia in a year. At least, I haven't had a long conversation with her. Not since she got engaged. She lives in L.A. but wanted to have her wedding back home. We were close, but certainly not anymore. Trust me, I'd rather be spending this day getting to know you."
"Stiles?" Allison said worriedly. Stiles turned to her apologetically and gave the girl a hug.
"I'm sorry Al, but you know how Lydia and I are. And you know how I feel towards her," he said. "Apologize to her and Jackson for me, but I can't right now. Like Derek said, it'd only reopen old wounds."
Allison looked hurt and sad but she was running late. She gave them both one more hug and ran back to her car. Stiles felt bad, but Scott and Allison were the only two he was close to anymore. Their pack had split up after college and dispersed to live their own lives. Stiles may have been still in love with Lydia, but he was finally realizing he needed to leave his feelings in the past.
And maybe Derek was the first step in that.
"You're really going to stay?" Derek asked. Stiles gave him a bright smile and nodded.
"I'll maybe drop by her place later, but I don't think even Lydia expects me to be there." They started walking again, ice cream forgot on the ground. "You're a mystery, Derek."
Derek paused and gave Stiles an unreadable look. But Stiles just gave him a smile and kept walking. "One I'd definitely like to figure out."
Derek ran to catch up with Stiles and he seemed to be pondering something. "Come over to my place tonight?" Derek rushed out which took Stiles by surprise. But he nodded eagerly. "How about just pizza and tv? I'll let you figure me out only if I can do the same with you."
His words made Stiles' stomach do weird things, things he'd felt with Lydia a while ago. "You have a deal."