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(500) Days of Allison

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Author’s Note: The following is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Especially you Lydia Martin.

Bitch.

 

(488)

This is nice, just sitting here with Allison, after all the shit they’ve been through.

It’s a sunny day, and they’re surrounded by happy couples and families and their pets and it’s just…well.  There’s a reason this is one of Scott’s favorite places in the city.  He starts when Allison’s hand settles over his own, and she flashes him a bright smile, the one that makes her dimples deepen and her brown eyes shine.

He’s sitting on his favorite bench in Beacon Park, and Allison has a ring on her left hand and the air is filled with the sounds of barking and laughter.

Everything’s going to be okay.

 

(1)

 

Scott McCall has spent most of his life waiting to meet the perfect person.  Stiles always says that you can’t waste all your time waiting on something that may never happen.  Probably won’t happen, Scott, his internal Stiles sighs.  Because this is real life and people aren’t perfect and relationships take a lot of hard work.  Derek you’re going to spill that all over—Scott, I’ll call you back.  Even in his head Stiles is one half of a painfully perfect couple.  Which is so totally unfair, but Stiles is his forever best friend so Scott is happy that Stiles is happy.  Most of the time. 

He is glad they aren’t roommates anymore, because there are things you don’t need to know about your best friend—

Anyway.

Scott has spent most of his life thinking he needs to meet The One or he’ll never be complete.  This belief largely stemmed from overexposure to too much Brit Pop (Stiles can shut up about One Direction because he’s the one who introduced Scott to them in high school anyway.  As a joke, Scott!) and repeated viewings of every movie costarring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (and maybe The Notebook, because Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are both hot like burning).

The girl, Allison Argent, formerly of San Francisco, has never shared Scott’s belief in The One.  Since her parents split up Allison has loved two things.  The first was her bow.  The second was the way wielding it made her feel powerful.

Scott meets Allison on January 8th.  He knows almost at once that she’s who he’s spent his life searching for.

This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know up front: this is not a love story.

This is a story about love.

 

(290)

 

When Derek and Stiles buzz him into the building, Danny already has a pretty good mental picture of what he’s going to find.

“It’s Kali Heller all over again,” Derek warns before he's even finished opening the door.  He's still wearing his scrubs (the ones with ducks on them that Stiles bought as a joke, but Derek wears anyway), and the circles beneath his eyes are an angry, bruised-looking purple.  If he scowled any harder he would actually have a unibrow.  It's sort of impressive how much anger can be expressed by those eyebrows.

“It’s worse,” Stiles hisses, visibly relaxing when Derek’s hand settles at the nape of his neck.  “Danny, it is.  He’s…”  Stiles shakes his head and sighs.  He points towards the kitchen.  "It's bad."  The sound of breaking dishes makes all three of them flinch.

Danny hurries to the kitchen while Derek and Stiles flee to the living room.  Cowards.

“Melissa is going to be so pissed if you break that mug, Scott,” Danny shakes his head, leaning against the doorframe.

Scott immediately freezes, brown eyes wide, then looks at the mug in his hand.  It was a graduation present.  His mother had three of them specially made when Danny, Stiles, and Scott survived four years at Berkeley.  One side is emblazoned with the school’s seal, 'Let There Be Light' in bold capitals.  The other side bears a message in Melissa Mahealani's handwriting.  ‘Every Day You Make Me Proud But Today You Get a Mug.’

Scott’s face just crumples.  Danny takes the mug away, carefully replacing it on its peg over the stove.

“Sofa,” Danny shoves Scott out of the kitchen.

Three minutes later Danny is sitting on the couch with Derek and Stiles.  Scott is sitting in his armchair holding a pint glass printed with a picture of Batman and the words 'wanna come to my bat cave?' that Danny has filled with straight vodka.  It'd be funny if it wasn't so terrible.

“Drink that,” Danny orders, waiting while Scott complies, coughing and wiping at watering eyes.  “Start from the beginning.”  He sees Stiles flinch out of the corner of his eye, and wonders why nobody called to mention his stepbrother was losing his shit over this girl.  Amateurs.  “Tell us what happened.”

“I just…I thought everything was going really well, Danny.  And then tonight we were at the diner, getting pancakes, and—

“I think we should stop seeing each other.”

Scott chokes on his coffee, taking Allison’s proffered napkin to wipe up the mess.

“Did she say why?” Danny frowns, watching Scott scrub a hand across his face.

“Jesus, Scott, do you really think this is normal?”

“Normal?”  Scott blinks.  “I’m happy, Allison.  I’m really happy.  Aren’t you?”

“All we do is argue.”

“Oh, come on, that’s not true.”

“We’ve been like Katniss and Peeta for months now.”

Scott stares into his coffee, wondering if this conversation would make any more sense if he had a straight-up IV drip of caffeine.

“Peeta tries to strangle Katniss with his bare hands.  I’m not perfect, but I hardly think I’m—”

“No, Scott, no you’re.  I’m Peeta, okay?  I am the one who is hurting you.”

“You’re saying I’m Katniss.  That's just... I mean, if anyone in this booth is Katniss, Allison—”

The waitress places two stacks of pancakes on the table.  Allison smiles brightly, thanking her, before dousing the plate in syrup.  “Eat your pancakes, Scott.  Seriously, they’re amazing.”

“I know they’re amazing.  I’m the one who brought you here first.  Allison—”

“Scott, don’t.  Just.  You have to know,” Allison’s smile is smaller, but he’s still drawn to the white flash of teeth, the sweetness of her dimpled cheeks, “you’re still my best friend.”

Everyone winces.

“Scott, you’ve been through bad breakups before,” Derek manages, looking deeply uncomfortable.  It's like he’s not sure how his life choices have led to consoling Scott McCall on a ratty, secondhand couch.  When it comes to anyone other than Stiles, Hale is still incredibly emotionally constipated.  Danny is grudgingly impressed by how whipped Derek is, but the day he asks Stilinski for relationship advice will be the day he signs up for Match.com.

“You’re the best guy I know,” Stiles reaches over the coffee table (ie an ancient trunk that used to belong to Scott's dad, because Scott still lives like a college student and doesn't have real furniture) and pats Scott on the knee.  “You’ll get through this.”

“Plenty of fish in the sea, little brother,” Danny nods, taking in Scott’s red rimmed eyes and trembling hands.  “You’ll get over her.”

“I don’t wanna get over her!” Scott snaps, looking up from his vodka.  He downs the last of the glass.  “I wanna get her back.”

 

(1)

 

“So I’m thinking the next series we can do an entire issue with the main heroes and villains under the influence of a substance, or maybe hit by some kind of weapon, I haven't quite worked that bit out yet, but anyway, it reverses their biological gender!” Stiles says, waving at the storyboards Scott spent the last week sketching.

“Well, Mr. Stilinski--” Deaton is saved from immediately responding by Allison’s arrival with a stack of memos.  “Everyone, I’d like you to meet my new executive assistant, Allison Argent.”

Allison smiles, and Scott almost knocks over the French press when he turns away from the side table.  He recovers by pretending to organize the collection of mugs.  Deaton and Stiles continue discussing the feasibility of a genderbent issue, but Scott’s busy memorizing the way Allison’s slender hands brush the curls away from her face.

There are only two kinds of people in the world.  There are women, and there are men.

Well, that isn't entirely accurate.  But our story focuses on Allison Marie Argent who is, for all intents and purposes, just another girl.  But as most boys have discovered at one point or another, there are some girls who turn the world a bit wonky on its axis.

She was of slightly above average height, slightly below average weight, and her feet were slightly above average size.

And yet, she was anything but average.

The summer Allison spent in a small Florida town training for the Junior World Archery championships, she got a job working at the firing range.  For three months, the range’s business tripled, a phenomenon never to be repeated.  Allison’s quote in the senior yearbook was taken from Apple Horse’s Devil’s Land ‘I dialed your phone with my left hand, the words you spoke were of the devil’s land // I held my ground and I kept my head.’  Subsequent sales in San Francisco for the Boise-based band are still studied by industry analysts.

For a boy living in a city with countless offices, thousands of buildings, and millions of people, it was a violent shock to the system for Scott to see Allison walk into a room and so suddenly fall under her spell.  It could only be explained by one thing.

Fate.

 

(3)

 

“So apparently Boyd tried to introduce himself and she was a megabitch,” Stiles says, leaning on the wall of Scott’s cubicle, chomping away at a Honeycrisp apple.

“I swear Derek only buys those because he knows it annoys me when you eat them.  How is it possible for food to be that loud?” Scott scowls at Stiles, who takes another bite before flashing a shit-eating grin.

“That is something he’d do.”

“Oh, God, you have mushy face.  Stop it, stop thinking about your sweet, slightly-demented boyfriend.  Now, who was Boyd talking to?”

Stiles swallows and jerks a thumb over his shoulder.  Scott turns to see Allison at her desk, nodding and talking with Deaton.

“New girl.”

“Allison.”

“That one.  Boyd tried to introduce himself in the copy room, and apparently she was really snippy and uppity.”

“Maybe she was just having a bad day.”

“What, we don’t have her preferred brand of toner?  How can anyone be rude to Boyd?  I mean, other than Erica.  But they’re engaged.  She gets to do whatever she wants.”

“I’m pretty sure Erica did whatever she wanted before they were engaged.”

Stiles pauses.  “Point.”

“Yeah.  Well, it’s too bad if she really is uptight.  We could use somebody new at karaoke night.”

Stiles is looking at Scott with narrowed eyes.  “You’re not fooling me at all you know.  You are so clearly into her.”

“I haven’t even talked to her!”

“Puppy love.  It's all over your adorable little face."

"Shut up, Stiles."

"You want to draw her, and kiss her, and love her."

"You're a terrible person.  The actual worst, Stiles."

"Maybe she can be your muse," Stiles ducks the pen Scott throws at his head.  "This will all end in tears," Stiles laughs, chucking his apple core at Scott.

“That’s disgusting, you asshole!”

 

(4)

 

Scott is wearing his ridiculous sound-canceling headphones today.  (They’re not ridiculous. They totally are, Scott.  The fact that they provide excellent sound quality is only half of the reason why I gave them to you.  Mostly I wanted to see you channeling Marvin the Martian.)  But whatever, he’s actually early for once, so he’s gonna work the ugly headphones while jamming out to his favorite post-workout mix.  The elevator doors are about to close when a pale hand snakes out at the last minute.

Allison steps into the elevator, flashes him a small smile, and smooths her floral-print skirt as the doors close.  It takes a moment for Scott to realize she’s talking to him.  He yanks at one side of his headphones.

“Sorry, I couldn’t hear you.  What was that?”

“Is that One for the Team?”

Scott stares at her for a long moment, before Allison raises her eyebrows and points at his headphones.  “The band, One for the Team?  I love them.  You have great taste in music.”

Scott’s pretty sure his mouth is hanging open, but Allison just grins and sings along with the next line.  “Yeah, you, you’re breaking the hearts of honest men, honest men.”

She has a nice voice.  It’s soft and sweet and a little husky.  When the elevator doors slide open, she gives him a little wave and disappears in a whirl of dark curls and vanilla perfume.

“Holy shit.”  Scott doesn’t get it together before the doors close and he has to ride up an extra two floors.

It’s a good thing he was early today.

 

(8)

 

Today is Boyd and Erica’s office engagement party.  They’ve already had an informal dinner at the diner with a bunch of their college and high school friends.  Plus Boyd’s parents are hosting a big family thing at some point that Scott’s still hoping to talk his way out of.  He kind of stupidly adores Boyd’s family.  And he loves the few members of Erica's who bother showing up to this kind of thing.  Her Great-Aunt Sofia taught him how to zambra at Erica's twenty-fifth birthday party after everyone did a few too many shots of Siembra Azul.  So he loves those get-togethers, but being the perpetually single friend means he’s constantly being set up.  He doesn’t want to deal with it right now.

But that's not the point.  The point is, Boyd and Erica are having another engagement party, so he has an excuse to talk to Allison.

Scott spots her across the room, standing alone and looking at a wall of half-finished panels and character mock-ups.  He snags two glasses from a passing waiter and makes his way through the crowd without managing to spill anything.

“Hey,” Scott smiles, offering her the second glass.

“Hey, Elevator Guy,” Allison turns from the art wall and accepts the champagne.

“My friends call me Scott.  Scott McCall.”

“Well, Scott, Scott McCall, I’m Allison Argent.  Nice to formally meet you.”

“So, you just moved here?”

“Yeah, just moved into my new place last Saturday.  Had to take a second trip to get all my stuff from my dad’s place in San Francisco.”

“So, what brings you to LA?”

“Boredom, mostly.  I had to quit my old job and wanted a change of pace.  Deaton's an old family friend and he knew I was looking for a new job, so."  She shrugs and takes another sip of champagne.  "So, comics, huh?”

“Comics,” Scott nods, spotting a few of his own sketches on the wall.

“Did you always want to work for Wolfsbane Press?”

“Don’t even want to work here now.”

Allison’s brown eyes go wide in surprise.  “Well, then you should do something else.”

“That was the plan, but, you know.  Life.  Studio art was my minor, because I’ve always been good at drawing and I like it and everything.  But I was actually studying biology.”

“What’d you want to do?”

“Veterinary medicine.  But vet school’s insanely hard to get into, and I didn’t get into my top choices.  I needed a job, here was as good as anything else.  I mean, at least I get to work with my best friend.”

Allison follows his line of sight to where Stiles is holding court with the guys from IT.  His reading glasses are pushed up into his hair (and he must've forgotten to schedule his haircut, because it's getting ridiculously long again) and he's dressed in an inkstained red hoodie and bright green cords.  Judging by the hand gestures, he's in the middle of the story about that time when he and Derek first started dating and ran into Laura at the petting zoo.  It's actually a pretty hilarious one.

“He seems…colorful.”

“That is possibly the most tactfully anyone has ever put it,” Scott laughs.  He notices Allison’s glass is empty. “Want me to get you another?”

“No, I should probably get back to work.  But it was nice talking to you, Scott.”

“Yeah, you…you, too, Allison.”

 

(154)

 

“Dude, I think it’s official,” Scott says, sitting across from Derek and Stiles.  They’re being grossly domestic, sharing a plate of pancakes and bacon, occasionally swapping Stiles’ Darjeeling with sugar for Derek’s coffee (which mainly consists of cream).

“What’s official?” Derek asks around a mouthful of bacon.

“I’m in love with Allison.”

Stiles and Derek share a look that Scott is totally going to ignore, because people who are blissfully happy after almost a decade do not get to pass judgment on new relationships.  That’s totally a rule written down somewhere.  Especially when said couple spends most of their free time having 'married sex' (gross, what's wrong with you--never call it that, Scott) and eating at the kitschy diner owned by Derek's uncle.  Their life is basically a romantic comedy.

“No, seriously.  I love her dimples.  I love her curly brown hair.  I love the way she wears leather boots with girly dresses.  I love the callouses she has from archery.  I love the way she taps her fingers when she’s talking.  I love the way she sounds when she laughs.  I love the way I hear ‘One for the Team’ songs when she walks into a room.  Seriously, guys.  I’m in love.”

“That’s awesome, Scott,” Derek says, sincerely, while Stiles frowns into his tea.  Stiles sputters when Derek elbows him in the side.

“The awesomest, buddy,” Stiles says, voice hoarse as he mops up the spill with the bottom of Derek’s scrub shirt. 

"You are so lucky I don't have to go back in after this," Derek frowns at Stiles.

"This is so not good," Stiles mutters.  He absently rubs his thumb over Derek's knuckles while Scott heads to the counter to settle the check with Peter.

 

(11)

 

Scott’s sitting in the bleachers at one of Danny’s intramural basketball games, ready to regale his stepbrother with tales of the perfect new girl at Wolfsbane Press.

“And Danny, she agrees that their newer albums are better, and we both love The Hunger Games.”

“Lots of people like The Hunger Games, Scott,” Danny says, clapping when one of his teammates makes their free-throw.  “That’s why they were bestsellers.  And a wildly successful movie franchise.  Not to mention the graphic novels and various promotional tie-ins.”

“Whatever, killjoy, I’m just saying she’s totally different than I thought.  Allison is nice and sweet, and I think we’re, like, really compatible.”

Danny stands, waving at Jackson who’s motioning impatiently for Danny to get back to the court.

“Listen, Scotty, I’m happy if you’re happy.”

“Which is why we’re bros!”

“We’re bros because your mom married my dad, dipshit."  It probably says something about their relationship that 'dipshit' comes out sounding like a term of endearment.  "Whatever, not the point.  I just want you to be careful okay?  Just because somebody likes the same things as you, it doesn’t make her your soul mate, or anything.”

“I know, Danny.”

“I just hate seeing you—for the love of--I am COMING Jackson!  I gotta go.  You wanna carpool for Sunday dinner?”

“Yep.  Text me later and remind me to pick up apple pie from Peter's.  It's your dad's birthday next week.”

"I already co-signed your name on the envelope with his Dodgers tickets."

"You're the best."

“Love you, too, little brother.”

 

(22)

 

“Well, it’s definitely off,” Scott says, collapsing onto the worn leather bench of their usual booth.

“Was it ever actually on?” Derek asks.  He doesn't bother looking up from the dogeared copy of the Journal of Pediatrics he’s maiming with a green highlighter.

“No, but it could’ve been in a world here good things happen to me, Derek.”

“Well, we don’t live in that world, Scott.”  Stiles helps himself to a sip of Derek’s milky coffee.  He sets it back down with a clatter, making a horrified face.  “Oh, wow, that got cold.  How long have you been waiting for us?”

“Not that long,” Derek shrugs, kissing Stiles on the cheek.  “So, wait,” he looks over at Scott, who’s building a pyramid out of creamer packets, “why is it definitely off?”

Scott’s standing next to Allison in the elevator.  She’s humming and looks really great in a ruffly pink dress and a floaty gray sweater thing.

“How was your weekend?”

“It was good.”

“I mean, can you believe that?”

Stiles and Derek are both staring him with raised brows.  It’s a thing they do.  Scott’s pretty sure they’ve worked out a method of communication that only requires eyebrow movement, and someday he’ll learn to translate, but for now—

“I think I missed something,” Stiles says.

“She said her weekend was ‘good.'  That’s basically code for her having crazy monkey sex with some tool she met at the gym.”

“You are seriously unhinged,” Derek says, flatly.  He digs a yellow highlighter out of his bag and goes back to his journal.

“Whatever, it’s just pretty clear she’s not interested, okay?  I don’t need this crap.  I’m totally fine.  Like, people don’t realize this, but loneliness is seriously underrated.  You may not remember, because you’ve been a couple so long you’ve almost merged into one amorphous being, but it’s true.”

“I’m not sure if I should find that insulting,” Stiles knocks over Scott’s creamer pyramid with Derek's green highlighter.

“You should,” Derek hunches over further, now taking a red pen to the helpless pages.

“You could just ask her out,” Stiles says, completely unhelpfully.  Then he blows a straw wrapper at Scott’s face.

“Don’t be stupid.”

 

(27)

 

“This Friday: Erica and Boyd’s engagement party.”

“No.  I already came up with an awesome excuse for Greta.  Danny’s going to have an ill-timed injury, because a work accident would mean he got shot or kidnapped by terrorists or something really serious, whereas—”

“No, this isn't the family thing.  This is an office thing.”

“They already had an office thing.”

“No, this is the outside-of-work-but-with-people-from-the-office engagement party at the Cyclone.”

“Dude, they’re not gonna let you back in there.  Last time Derek got into a fight with the guy who runs the sound for karaoke.  And you and Erica were drinking Irish Car Bombs, so I don't know if you remember this, but after that you stole a broom and a tap and threatened to set off the fire sprinklers.”

Stiles waves a dismissive hand.  "The point is, I took back that broom, Derek didn't actually hit anyone, and no sprinklers went off.  Anyway, you're not listening to me Scott.  It's an office thing.  The entire office is going."  He widens his eyes meaninfully.  When that fails to get a reaction, he points at Allison's desk. 

“Oh!  Oh.  Yeah, I’m totally in.  But I’m not buying them another present.  Seriously, three is plenty.”

 

(28)

 

When Scott walks into Cyclone Territory, the place is already packed.  Stiles and Erica are up front, leaning heavily against each other and singing an off-key rendition of Alexi Murdoch’s ‘Towards the Sun.’

Boyd’s lingering near the bar, smiling into his Black and Tan.  While Scott waits for his Blue Moon, they watch Stiles and Erica.  Stiles squawks indignantly when Erica ruffles his hair and shoves him unceremoniously out of the spotlight.  Erica finishes the song alone and nearly face plants off the stage while Stiles laughs from his seat on the floor.

“Time to go rescue my girl,” Boyd shakes his head.  “Would you watch that?” he points to his beer.  Scott nods, taking a sip of his own before spotting Allison.

“Hey, I thought you weren’t coming tonight,” Allison says, clinking their glasses together.

“You were asking if I’d be here?”

“Scotty!” Stiles flails and stays upright by grabbing one of Scott's arms and leaning heavily against the bar.  “You’re here!  Allison, look, Scott’s here!”

Allison excuses herself when the monitor-guy, who is glaring pretty darkly at Stiles (yep, same one who fought with Derek last time), calls her name.  She makes her way up to the stage and fairly soberly sings her way through an Ellie Goulding song.

“Dude, she was totally asking if you were coming, and then Erica and then somehow there were shots,” Stiles is babbling, brown eyes a little glassy as Scott shoves him into a chair.

“You look at me, it’s like you hit me with lightning,” Allison sings from the stage.

“Don’t blame the shots on Erica, Stiles,” Scott rolls his eyes.  “Stay here while I get you some water, asshole.”

When Scott finally returns from fighting his way through the crowd, three of the girls from marketing are on stage singing a weepy version of 'I Could Live with Dying Tonight.'  And because Scott can't have nice things, Stiles is already deep in drunken conversation with a grinning Allison.

“Sorry, I would’ve grabbed you something—”

“I’m good,” Allison raises a bottle of cider.

“So, you’re not a lesbian and you don’t have a boyfriend,” Stiles says.

Stiles, oh my God,” Scott drops his forehead to the table.  Which is probably really unsanitary, but his best friend is being a drunken dick, which sometimes happens when Derek gets stuck at work.

“No, it’s okay,” Allison laughs.  “I like being independent.  I think that we’re young and living in an amazing city with lots of interesting people.  Relationships are messy and I’m not really comfortable being anyone’s anything.  I like not being someone’s girlfriend.”

Stiles blinks at her.  “Oh.  Oh, I get it, she’s the dude!”

Allison laughs while Scott groans against the--yep, it’s sticky, wow, that’s disgusting--tabletop.

“I’m not the dude.  I just don’t believe in love.”

Stiles looks like Allison just shot him with her compound bow.

“It’s love, not Santa Clause,” Scott says after a few beats of silence, because apparently Allison just became the first person in the history of ever to render Stiles literally speechless.

“There’s no such thing as love,” Allison shakes her head, taking a sip of her cider.  “It’s just a fantasy, perpetuated by the media and fueled by people who are unhappy being alone.”

“You’re wrong.”  Stiles looks faintly green.

“What am I missing, then?”

Stiles' eyes clear and his expression turns a bit fierce.  “You know it when you feel it.”

“I guess we can agree to disagree,” Allison replies, voice even and expression carefully blank.  It's a look that weirdly reminds Scott of Derek.

“So!  I think I’ll sing next—that sound like a good idea?” Scott practically does a tuck and roll to escape the table.

When he finishes belting his way through ‘Take on the World’ (and seriously, King of the Beach is definitely Wavves’ best album) Stiles is back at the bar doing tequila shots with Erica.  Boyd has slipped into Stiles’ abandoned seat and is discussing the relatives merits of discus versus shotput with Allison.

“Thanks for not watching my beer, jackass,” Boyd says without heat.  He's stolen Scott’s in retaliation.

“I had to get water for Stiles.  By the way, your fiancé is a wacko with a hollow leg.”

"You're an idiot, but you have good taste in friends.  Allison and I were talking 2016.  Apparently we were staying in the same building in the Olympic village in Rio."

“It's a small world," Allison stands, shaking her empty bottle.  "Next round’s on me, Boyd.  Scott, wanna help me carry?”

And that’s how Scott winds up back at the crowded bar, trying to hum the Rugrats theme song to Allison.  It passes the time while Finstock, the owner, berates the bartender trainee ('dammit, Greenberg, my grandmother could do better than that and she's dead'') for his inability to properly pour Boyd’s Black and Tan.

“Never mind, guys," Boyd is shouldering his way through the three-deep throng at the bar.  The trainee sags in relief and dumps the foamy mess down the sink.  "Scott, you should get Stiles in a cab.   He’s going to be a terror tomorrow if he doesn’t go home soon.”  Boyd is practically carrying Stiles as they make their way outside.  Scott takes Stiles by the arm and waves as Boyd manhandles Erica into the passenger seat of their black Camaro.

“So, Allison, Scott totally thinks you’re amazing,” Stiles says, leaning heavily on the side of the taxi.  The drunken traitor.

Allison giggles, helping Stiles into the backseat while Scott texts Derek and gives the driver the address of their building.

“You have a nice night, Mr. Stilinski,” Allison grins, shutting the door and waving at the red glow of the taillights.

“Sorry about him.  He gets drunk and horribly nosy sometimes when Derek can’t come out with us.”

 "Is that true?"

“Oh, yeah, they’re ridiculously codependent.  It’d be gross if they weren’t so perfect for each other—”

“No, I mean, is it true you think I’m amazing?”

“Stiles exaggerates when he’s drunk.”

“So you think I’m mediocre?” Allison grins.

“No, I—I like you.”

“As a friend?”

“Yeah, of course.  As a friend.”

“Good.  I’d like it if we could be friends.  Is that okay?”

“Definitely.  Yes.  We should totally be friends.”

“Totally,” Allison nods, adjusting the strap of her leather satchel.  Scott thinks it’s pretty awesome she carries a messenger bag instead of a purse.  Is that something he can compliment her on?  Or is that weird?  He'll ask Danny later.

“Yeah.”

“Anyway, I’m that way,” Allison jerks a thumb over her shoulder.

“Goodnight.”

“Night.”

 

(31)

 

Scott’s making copies of a new design for the Alpha Pack’s lair.  Stiles finally got approval for his genderbent issue, so Scott’s been trying to come up with a fresh look for the baddies’ hide-out.  He’s firmly ignoring Stiles’ request for the stone walls to be decorated in ‘a shitton of pink and maybe rainbows, dude—like a Care Bear and a My Little Pony had a fiesta in the Fraggle Rock cave.’

Allison walks into the copy room and sets a stack of invoices on the vacant copier.  She hits start and then turns to look at him.

“Hey, so I wanted to say that was fun the other—”

And Scott honestly has no idea what he was going to say, because all of a sudden Allison’s kissing him.  She tastes like black coffee and mint lip balm.  Her hair smells like vanilla and she’s warm and pressed against him and this is actually happening, he’s, like, eighty-seven percent sure.  Allison’s copier shudders to a stop and she pulls away.  She tucks a stray curl behind her ear, retrieves her copies, and exits without a word.

--

Scott is still texting a reply when Stiles lets himself into Scott's apartment.

“I thought you said you’d written her off." 

Scott gave Stiles and Derek a key to his place for emergencies, since they live one floor up.  They were chosen because that is a lot closer than his mom (who lives north of Sacramento) or Danny (who lives in Hancock Park, which might as well be on the moon).  And Scott loves them, but they don't seem to understand that an emergency key is not an all-access pass to his home. 

Derek rarely abuses the power of the key with the exception of 'sports-related emergencies.'  Then Derek bogarts the flatscreen Scott still hasn’t bought an entertainment center for (milk crates work fine, seriously, and he mostly uses the tv for playing video games so it’s not like he needs adult furniture).  Stiles lets himself in whenever he feels like it, which is an average of three times a day, and amuses himself by organizing (which is code for moving all of Scott’s shit to places Scott will never think to look for it) and judging all of Scott’s life choices. 

Stiles is currently frowning at the contents of Scott’s fridge.  And yes, there’s a distinct lack of anything remotely resembling a vegetable unless you count the mold on his cheese, but it’s not like Scott's a passable cook anyway.  The main reason Stiles gets away with his blatant key-abuse is his prowess in the kitchen.  Bro can make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches so delicious you'll actually cry (that only happened once.  The crying, not the sandwiches.  Stiles actually makes those a lot).

“So what, did she give you a blowjob in the copy room or something?”

“Oh my God, Stiles—”

“No, seriously, level with me, here.  You were basically stalking the girl.  And Derek’s been working back-to-backs and I’m living vicariously through your hypothetical sex life.  It’s been three whole days, Scott.  I’m basically a eunuch at this point.  Was there at least hand job?”

“There were no blowjes or hand jobs, you crazy person!  Also, I think you may need to join one of those support groups for sex addicts, because three days isn’t that long, Stiles—”

The sound of boots scuffing against the wood floor causes Scott and Stiles to turn, wide-eyed, towards Allison.

“Hey, Stiles.”

“Heyyy, Allison.  I just realized that I have…um…a thing on the stove.  Food!  A food thing.  On the stove.  That needs to no longer be there.  Like I no longer need to be here.  So I’m just gonna let myself out.  Good seeing you.”

“If you heard any of that—”

“Any of what?”

“Nothing.  You want to grab some dinner?”

“Sure, I’m stalking, I mean starving.”

 

(282)

 

Scott’s trying to think what Stiles would do.  It’s not usually his go-to method for dating, because, well, Stiles.  He may actually have negative game, but the guy makes people laugh.  Scott fiddles with the faucets, frowning in as exaggerated a fashion as he can manage.  Not everyone has a face made of plasticine and sunshine, so he has to make do.

“Honey, there’s something wrong with the sink!”

Allison looks at him for a long moment before turning away.

 

(34)

 

“So you’re looking for things for your place?”

“Yeah, I somehow lost the box that had my trivets and potholders.”

“Right.  Follow me to the magical land of a thousand stoves,” Scott grins, taking her by the hand and leading her through the store.

“You know, I really love what we’ve done with the place,” Allison grins, flopping onto a couch next to Scott.  “Oh, look, dear, Vampire Diaries is on!”  She pushes a few buttons on the cardboard remote before frowning at the television.  “The TV isn’t working.”

“Don’t worry about it.  It’s time to eat anyway,” Scott grins, heading into a kitchen that’s all shiny chrome and glass.  “I’m famished.  And thirsty.  May I have some water, dear?”

“I’m sorry, the sink’s broken!”

“Well, that’s why…” Scott leads the way into the next room, a kitchen filled with dark wood and gray appliances, “we bought a house with two kitchens!”

“Brilliant planning,” Allison giggles.

After they’ve spent far too long picking out potholders, they wind up back at Allison’s apartment, lazily making out in her room.

“This is fun.  Today was nice.  And you.  You’re really sweet,” Scott can feel Allison grinning against the side of his jaw.  “I just, you know I’m not looking for anything serious, right?”

“I know,” Scott nods.  He plants a kiss on the tip of her nose.

“Just, that’s okay with you right?  Because sometimes people freak out about the casual thing.”

“No, it’s fine.  Casual is nice, low pressure.”

“Good,” Allison sighs, running a hand over his shoulder.  She slides it down to rest over his heart.

“Gimme a minute?  I’ll be right back.”

Scott stares at himself in the mirror of Allison’s bathroom.

“You can do casual, McCall,” Scott says, firmly, running a hand through his hair.  “This’ll be—it’ll be so awesome she doesn’t want to keep it casual.”

When he walks back out of the bathroom, Allison’s clothes are scattered across the floor.

“Totally casual,” Scott says, and wow, his voice hasn’t cracked like that since middle school.

 

(303)

 

Scott glares at his sketchpad, then at the desk outside of Deaton’s office.  The desk's occupant is a pretty redhead in a snug blue sweater.  She is decidedly not Allison

“You get her back yet, or what?” Stiles asks, leaning over the side of Scott’s cubicle.  Today’s apple is a poisonous looking green.  Scott’s just grateful it’s not as loud as the damn Honeycrisps.

“Working on it,” he says, making a conscious effort to stop grinding his teeth.  Danny says it makes him look like a crazy cave man, which, not a look he’s going for.

Stiles watches Scott sketch out a version of genderbent Ethan who looks suspiciously like—

“Maybe you should write a book.”  The precisely sharpened point of Scott’s pencil snaps, leaving an angry gray streak across the page.  He looks up at Stiles.  Stiles who is staring at his apple and resolutely not making eye contact.  “Henry Miller said the best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature.”

“That guy had a lot more sex than me.”

Scott perks up when his computer ‘dings’ and alerts him to a new e-mail.  “It’s from Allison!”

Hey, Scott—

It was really great to hear from you.  Glad you’re finally ready to start being friends again.  Can’t do anything this weekend.  Maybe next?  Let me know.

--Allison

“Never mind,” he mumbles, grabbing a fresh pencil and crumpling the drawing of EthanAllison.

 

(45)

 

When Stiles walks out of the copy room, Allison is still humming the Rugrats theme.

“Dude,” Stiles says, not seeing the Bluetooth headset Scott’s wearing in his left ear, “that girl is losing it.”

 

(87)

 

“Be serious,” Scott laughs, following Allison through the store towards the Brit Pop section.

“I’m not joking!” Allison insists.

“Danger Days is nobody’s favorite My Chemical Romance album!”

“Untrue.  Na Na Na is my favorite MCR song.”

“That’s like saying Ringo Starr’s your favorite Beatle.”

“Ringo is my favorite Beatle!”

“He isn’t anybody’s favorite.”

“That’s exactly why he’s mine!”

“Oh my God, you’re actually a crazy person.”

“Oh, hey, they have an adult section—”

Later, when he's soaking wet and laughing, half-wrapped in the shower curtain, Scott can’t remember what they were arguing about in the first place.

 

(95)

 

They’re sitting on Scott’s favorite bench in Beacon Park.  It’s a little cloudy, but still warm, and the dog run is packed.

“So, why’s this your favorite spot?”

“I mean, it’s kind of hard to explain,” Scott looks around, unable to keep the goofy grin off of his face.

“Try.”

“It’s just—you know I was studying to be a vet.”  Allison nods.  “This is one of the only places in the city where dogs can be off the leash.  They get to just…be, you know?  They get to run around and play like they would if they lived in the country.  And I just love that all sorts of people come here.  Like, families with young kids, and young professionals with their first pets, and older couples dog sitting and babysitting and—it’s just nice.  That they all come here to share the one thing they have in common.”  Scott shrugs, unable to articulate exactly why this little patch of green in the middle of a concrete jungle just feels like home.

Allison nods, but there’s a small, unhappy v between her eyebrows.  “I think I get it, Scott.”

 

(109)

 

“It’s a bit of disaster,” Allison apologizes, unlocking the door.

There are still a few unpacked boxes pushed against the floorboards of the hallway, but the rest of the apartment looks lived in.  The furniture is a jumble of mismatched and overstuffed leather armchairs and an ancient floral print couch that looks sinfully comfortable.  Her bookcases are full of thick tomes on archery and marksmanship, interspersed with what look suspiciously like paranormal romance novels.  The photos littering the walls are mostly of Allison and people who look similar enough that they’re probably relatives.  Most of the pictures look like they were taken at Allison’s competitions and practices.  He knows she had some sort of career-ending shoulder injury, but he never thought about how much she must miss it.  The contents of the apartment feels like an homage to a sport she can no longer participate in.

For Scott McCall, this is the night everything changes.  The wall of distance she so often hides behind is slowly coming down.  For here was Scott, in her world: a place so few would see with their own eyes.  And here was Allison, wanting him there.  Him, and no one else.

They’re half-dozing on Allison’s bed, a homemade quilt tucked around their shoulders.  She tells him about her dreams, about growing up as the youngest member of a renowned archery legacy.  About being the first American woman to medal as an individual since the games in Montreal.  About the car accident that would permanently remove her from competition.

As he listened, Scott began to realize that these weren’t stories routinely told.  He found himself wondering if anyone else had made it this far.  If Allison had let anyone else

“I’ve never told anybody that before.”

--

Scott calls Derek on the walk back from Allison’s apartment.

After 'hmm'ing and grunting at all the appropriate places in Scott's story, Derek asks, “So you had some kind of deep, spiritual connection?”

And Scott sometimes thinks it’s impossible to tell when Derek is being serious.  He is the king of deadpan.  Stiles actually made him a crown once when Derek was studying for his boards.  Anyway, the guy is hard to read.  He’s sort of got the face and general demeanor of a serial killer, or at least a creepy stalker, but he’s literally a healer of children.  Derek’s also the love of Scott’s best friend’s life, so he possesses a passable sense of humor.  The point is, Scott’s not sure if Derek is making fun of him right now.

“Are you making fun of me right now?”  Scott goes with the direct approach.

“Yes.  But mostly I’m wondering if you’re her boyfriend.”

“It’s not that simple,” Scott says.  And no, he’s definitely not whining.

“Yes it is,” Stiles sing-songs, sounding slightly echo-y and muffled.

“Am I on speaker?” Scott asks.

“You are now.  And Stiles is right.  It is that simple,” Derek says.

“You sound gay right now.”

“I think the fact that he was just having sex with a dude is what makes him sound gay,” Stiles replies.

“We talked about your overuse of the word ‘dude,’ Stiles,” Derek says.

“Yeah, but then I quite skillfully distracted you, so you never really laid down ground rules about usage.”

“I can lay some down now if you want, you little—”

“I hate both of you.  You’ve been a couple since, like, the dawn of time.  I don’t think you’re authorities on modern relationships.”

“We pown at relationships buddy.  Speaking of powning, I gotta go because Derbear is making that face, you know the one.”

And Scott grimaces, because ick.  Yes.  He knows the one.  He's so very, very happy they aren’t roommates anymore.

 

(118)

 

“But what should I do?” Scott asks, spinning the globe in the corner of Danny’s office.  He stops it when Danny sends him the Glare of Death (patent pending—or he might have the patent.  Danny’s been known to hack the patent office’s site when he’s bored.  Scott’s just glad Stiles isn’t bitching about Danny screwing around with Tumblr’s servers anymore).

“Ask her.”

“That’s—no.  That’s a horrible idea.  Why rock the boat?  When you label something it’s totally the kiss of death.  It’s like saying ‘I love you’ way too soon.”

Danny actually stops typing and pushes his chair away from his desk.  Scott can’t meet his eyes, so instead he stares down at the globe.  And seriously, how old is this thing?  ‘Cause Scott is 99% sure that the USSR isn’t a thing anymore.  Also, why does Danny even have a globe?

“Why do you even have this?”

“It was a graduation present from Tutu.  I don't think she really understands what I do.”

“Dude, the only thing I know about what you do is that it involves the government and computers.”

“And that’s all you need to know," Danny smiles, smoothing a hand down the gray silk of his tie.  "Also, you’re not getting away with a topic change, because it’s the middle of my work day.”

“It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday.”

“Like I said, you don’t need to know what I do.  I get where you’re coming from Scott, I do.  You’re my brother and I love you, which is why I’m letting you cut into my workday even though this case with all the offshore accounts is making me so frustrated I’m actually thinking about throwing the globe out the window.”

“It’s from Tutu!”

“So you understand the level of frustration, here!  Also, these windows don't actually open, it's a security thing.  Not the poitn.  love you, but I am too busy to deal with your girl drama right now.  You want to ask her.  That’s obvious.  But you’re afraid of getting an answer you don’t want.”

“That’s not true.”

Danny uses Glare of Death.  It’s super effective.

“Okay, so maybe it’s true.”

“Well, suck it up, before she ends up with Lars.”

“Who the hell is Lars?”

“Just some guy she met at the gym with Chris Hemsworth’s arms and Chris Evans’s face.”

“You’re not allowed to marathon movies with Boyd and Erica anymore.”

“I wouldn’t have to if you weren’t always busy mooning over Allison.”

“No more Marvel movies, Danny.  You’ll start thinking you're Coulson and that will not end well for anybody.”

“Get out of my office.”

“But, Danny—”

“Scott, this is the easy bit,” Danny stands and hauls Scott to the door, drawing him into a quick hug before shoving him into the hallway.  “Seriously, I’m going to have them revoke your building access if you interrupt me for shit like this.  Don’t be a pussy."  He starts to shut the door, then adds, "Also, I’m totally Fury.  I'd look badass with an eye patch.”

He slams the door in Scott’s face.

--

On the drive to New Beverly, Allison notices the tension in Scott’s shoulders.

“Hey, you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“You sure, Scott?”

“I have to ask you something,” he says in a rush, eyes fixed firmly on the road, knuckles white as his fingers flex against the steering wheel.  “What are we doing?”

“I thought we were going to a movie?”

“I mean us.  What are we doing?”

“I dunno.  Does it matter?”

“I…I don’t know.”

“Because I’m happy.  Are you not happy?”

“I’m happy.”

“Well, good.  Then who cares?” Allison smiles, reaching over to turn on the stereo.  It’s the mix Scott made her, and he smiles when she starts humming along to ‘Right this Second.’  He’s always loved Deadmau5.

 

(259)

 

“God, I just don’t get the underwear as outerwear thing,” Scott shakes his head, looking at a group of scantily clad women at the other end of the bar.

“Some people like it,” Allison swirls her glass, watching the ice cubes crash into the cut crystal.

“Well, I like how you dress.”

“Really?  I was thinking about buying one of those lace-up bustier things—”

“No.”  Allison raises one eyebrow.  “Oh.  You were…right.  Funny,” he adds, weakly.

“Hey, beautiful.”

Scott looks up in surprise at the guy who’s sidling up to Allison.  He’s in an expensively tailored suit and his teeth are perfectly straight and blindingly white.  He’s…well, he’s way closer to Allison’s league than Scott is.

“I’ve never seen you here before.”

“Your eyes aren’t too sharp, then,” Allison smiles, cheeks dimpling.

“Lemme buy you a drink.”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“Why not?  Are you with this guy?” the man looks skeptically at Scott, eyeing his blue Wolfsbane Press hoodie and the wilting collar of his white button-down.

“Hey, I’m Scott,” Scott smiles.

“And I’m Matt.  Seriously, sweetheart, this guy?”

“There’s no need to be rude.  I’m flattered, but I’m not interested.  So why don’t you go over there,” Allison points towards the group of women Scott was frowning at earlier.  “And you can leave us alone.”

“I can’t believe this tool’s your boyfriend,” Matt rolls his eyes.

“I didn’t say he was,” Allison replies.  “But that doesn’t make you less of a jackass.”

“What did you call me,” Matt steps too close and the next thing Scott knows, Allison’s dragging him out of the bar and Scott’s hand feels like it was familiarizing itself with a brick wall.

“What the hell is the matter with you?”

“The matter with me?”

“You were so uncool back there, Scott!”

“I just got my ass kicked for you!”

“I don’t need you to save me!  That wasn’t for anyone’s benefit but yours.  I’m not—look, I’m going home.  I’m not dealing with this right now.”

“Allison, you’re not leaving till you tell me what’s going on.”

“Scott, you shouldn’t react like this.  We’re not a couple, we’re just—”

“No, Allison, we are not just friends.  I am so sick of you acting like that’s all this is.”

“I like you, but I don’t want relationship.  I told you that in the beginning and you said it was fine."

“Well, you’re not the only one who has a say in this.  And I say we’re a couple!”

“Go home, Scott.”  Allison’s voice is cold when she slams the door of her Mazda.

 --

Scott spends an hour staring at his phone, debating whether or not he should call Allison.  The voice in his head that sounds like Stiles is telling him that’s a terrible idea.  The one that sounds like Danny is telling him to man up.  The one that sounds like Derek is telling him to just go to sleep; nobody makes good decisions after midnight.

It’s just past two in the morning when he wakes up to a soft knock on his door.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Allison says, voice soft.  She’s wearing pajamas beneath her raincoat, and her brown hair is damp and curling in wavy tendrils around her face

“Done what?”

“Gotten mad at you.  I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m…look, we don’t have to put the couple label on this, but I need some kind of consistency.”

“I get it Scott,” Allison smiles, pushing her way into the apartment, her hands curling into the hair at the nape of his neck.

“I just don’t want to wake up and worry that you’re going feel differently about me.”

“I can’t give you that,” she shakes her head.  “Nobody can.”  She pulls him in, kissing him softly, but it still stings the cut on his lip.  “Sorry, sorry, I—does that hurt?”

“It’s okay.  Don’t worry about it.”

 --

The rain has ceased its meager tattoo against the windows and their legs are twining together beneath Scott’s down comforter.

“Why would you want to hear about that?”

“Why not?”

“Because the people I’ve dated before aren’t important?”

“Oh come on, Allison,” he grins, stroking the pad of his thumb across her cheekbone.

So she tells him about her high school boyfriend.  They met at her second Junior Worlds.  Then there was the bass player her freshman year of college.  After that Allison spent a semester training with Pablo, an expert marksman from Seville.  And those were the only ones that really lasted.

“Why didn’t they work out?”

"What do you mean?"

"What happened that made you end things?"

“You know.  What always happens.”

“What?”

Allison smiles softly and shakes her head.  “Life.”

 

(191)

 

They’re in the Valley for an art show at Laura’s gallery.  Stiles and Derek are off in their own world, sharing a glass of champagne and chatting with a group of attractive, dark-haired people who are probably Hales.  Peter's in charge of catering, so at least the food is awesome.

Scott and Allison make a slow loop around the room, munching on fried mac and cheese balls while they look at the black and white photographs on display.

“It’s very, uh…stark?” Allison says, looking from Scott to the photograph of a glass of water on a white table.

“You wanna go to the movies?”

“God, yes.”

 

(314)

 

Scott’s sitting in their usual spot at the Arclight, glaring up at the screen.  The kid sitting behind him kicks the back of his seat the entire hour and forty-five minutes of the movie.

It’s been that kind of week.

 

(321)

 

“Mr. McCall?”

Scott looks up from his drawing of Alpha Girl stabbing Allison through the heart.

Deaton’s assistant doesn’t blink when Scott slams the sketchpad shut.  “Director Deaton would like to see you in his office at your earliest convenience.”

--

“Scott, please, have a seat.”

Scott all but collapses into the offered armchair.

“Has something happened to you recently?”  Scott looks down at his hands.  “I don’t mean to pry, but does this have anything to do with Allison leaving?”

“Who?” Scott tries, and spectacularly fails, to keep his voice from cracking.

“Listen, Scott, I’m asking because lately your work performance has been a little off.”  Deaton pushes a copy of one of Scott’s latest sketches across the desk.  Instead of the bespectacled Dr. Krayon, the villain has been replaced by a brunette archer who’s brutally beheaded in the second panel.

“Am I being fired?”

“No, of course not, Scott, but…I need you to more strictly follow Stilinski’s story lines.  Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, sir.”

“Excellent.  Now, off to work with you.”

“Thanks, Director.”

“Thank you, Mr. McCall.”

 

(167)

 

“Scott, these are freaking epic!” Stiles says, flailing and nearly knocking over the side of Scott’s cubicle.

“Just drawing what you asked, bro.”

“No, but these designs are perfect.  I never would’ve pictured girl!Ethan with a bow, but it’s flawless.  Like an evil, alternate universe Katniss or something.  Keep it up, man!”

Scott’s eyes land on Allison.  She’s chatting with Erica by the water cooler, and his breath catches in his throat when she throws her head back and laughs.

Yeah.  He can probably keep drawing girl!Ethan.

 

(322)

 

Scott hates Allison.  He hates the stupid dents in her cheeks when she smiles.  He hates her rat’s nest of hair.  He hates how she wears boots with everything.  He hates how rough her hands are.  He hates how she never stops tapping her fingers.  He hates her horse’s neigh of a laugh.  And he hates how every time he listens to this mix he can no longer enjoy anything written by One for the Team because--

“I freaking hate this song!” he screams.

The bus lurches to a stop, and the driver glares at Scott like he just kicked a puppy.  Which is horrible.  Scott loves animals.  He’d never do that.

“Son, you’re gonna have to get off the bus.”

 

(345)

 

“I don’t normally do blind dates.”  Jack Hale seems really nice and he's cute and he has a great smile, but it’s weird.  Scott’s practically lived at the diner for years and Jack is Peter’s son and he looks too much like people Scott cannot, for the sake of his own sanity, think of in a sexual way.  “But Stiles and Derek both speak so highly of you—”

“Listen, Jack, I really don’t mean to be rude, but I just.  I want to let you know up front that this isn’t going to go anywhere.”

“Oh.  Oh, God, you’re straight, aren’t you?  See, this is why I don’t do set-ups,” Jack says, shoulders slumping.  "People assume things and--"

“No!  No, I swear, there was no assuming.  It’s been a while, but I date dudes.  The thing is, I just ended things with this girl.”

Somehow they end up at the diner.  Scott thinks this is a pretty clear indicator that tonight isn't a date, since Jack's dad is eying them from behind the counter.  Well, he's chatting up Mrs. Moskowitz who runs the deli down the block, but he's definitely keeping an eye on their booth.  

It turns out Jack is an incredibly empathetic listener.  Scott thinks that's sort of shocking in someone who was raised by Sassmaster Extraordinaire Peter Hale.

“So, not to harsh the buzz you’re getting from a good rant, here,” Jack interrupts Scott halfway through his explanation of why Allison is possibly an evil cyborg from the future.  More Cyberman than Skynet minion.  “But I just want to clarify.”

“Sure,” Scott dumps another packet of sugar into his coffee.

“So this girl never cheated on you or took advantage of you in any way?”  Scott shakes his head.  “And right up front she told you she didn’t want a boyfriend.”

“Yeah.”

“I just…I’m sort of not seeing what she did wrong.”

“I…do you want another cup of coffee?”

 

(402)

 

“Hey, where you guys sitting?” Scott asks, trying not to bump anyone’s head with the bag holding his suit.

“Uh…we’re not?”

“Seriously, Stiles?  You’re flaking on Boyd and Erica’s engagement party?”

“It’s their fourth!  I went to all the others.  And anyway, I called last night and told Erica I was sick.  Obviously Derek has to stay home and nurse me back to health.”

“Derek finally has the weekend off, doesn’t he?”

“Yep.”

“That means you’re going to be having sex all weekend and I’m going to be put at the singles table and berated by Greta.  Who is not my Tutu or my Abuela and therefore should have no right to demand grandbabies.”

“I think it’s really great you’re on a first name basis with Boyd’s grandmother, Scott, I really do.  Now you have fun.  Derek please tell me that is chocol—”

Scott hangs up before he hears something he can’t unhear.  He will never stop being grateful that Stiles is no longer his roommate.  Never.

Of course, that’s when he literally runs into Allison.

“Scott!  Hey.  Are you headed to the engagement party?”

“I—yeah.  You too?”  Allison nods.  “I forgot you knew them.”

“I mean, I worked with them for almost a year,” Allison smiles.  “Erica’s the best.  I was…I was just heading to the dining car to grab some coffee if you wanted to join me.”  Her eyes flick down to the heavy book in Scott’s arms.  “But that uh…’Color Atlas of Veterinary Anatomy’ looks like it might be pretty engrossing.”

“It…yeah, it is.  But I’d like…I’d like to grab coffee.  If you want.”

And the rest of the day passes like a dream.  They fall into their old jokes, and Scott ribs her about her ridiculous love of Ringo, and they do really disgusting shots of Galliano with Boyd’s grandmother and Erica's great-aunt.  Allison looks amazing in her satiny pink dress, and they dance and laugh and it’s like they’re right back to the start.  They don’t kiss, but she nods off on his shoulder on the train ride back to LA and Scott thinks that maybe they could try again.

 

(Interlude)

 

“I guess we just got lucky,” Stiles grins, fingers twining with Derek’s.  “We met in elementary school and just…”

“Clicked,” Derek offers, pressing a kiss to Stiles’ knuckles.  “We were good friends for a long time.”

“But Derek was all noble and worried about the age difference.  And possibly my virtue,” Stiles snorts.

“Shut up, like you had any.  Plus I wasn't going to sneak around with the underage son of the sheriff.  I'm not that stupid.  Anyway, we never dated until the summer before Stiles started college--”

“And you were starting your second year of med school.”

“Scheduling was a nightmare.”

“But we made it work.”

“And we’re still making it work.”

“Yeah."  Stiles grins and rests his head on Derek's shoulder.  "Yeah, we are.”

--

“Love?” Danny laughs.  “Shit, man, I don’t know.  As long as he’s cute and he’s willing.”  His smile falters a little.  “Well, with my schedule, I’m a little flexible on the ‘cute’ these days.”

--

“Twenty-three years next month,” Deaton nods.  “She’s a beacon of hope in a dark place.  Yes, that’s from one of our comics.  No, I didn’t write it.  Doesn’t make it less true.”

--

“The guy of my dreams?” Derek shakes his head.  “I mean, he’d be a little shorter than me.  Stiles just refused to stop growing," he laughs.  "Longer hair.  He’d probably be a little more into sports, I guess.  But, honestly?  Stiles is better than the guy of my dreams.  He’s real.”

 

(408)

 

Scott was sure that this time everything was going to be perfect.  For once, reality would line up with expectations and he and Allison would finally be—

Is that an engagement ring?

 

(440)

                                                                                                                                                       

Scott’s palm slams against his alarm clock.  He rolls over and doesn’t get out of bed until the sun’s already going down.

 

(441 ½)

 

Scott leaves the apartment once, in his bathrobe and gym sneakers.  Mr. Chen at the corner store very judgmentally rings up his vodka, orange juice, and Reese’s.

 

(442)

 

Scott is an hour and a half late to work.

“Where the hell have you been?” Stiles hisses, looming over the side of Scott’s cubicle.  His brown eyes are wide and worried and his hair’s standing on end like he’s been running his hands through it all morning.  “I’ve been calling you every five minutes.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Stiles takes in Scott’s bedraggled appearance and sighs.  “Right.  Let’s go.”

“Where?”

“It’s Thursday, Scott.  We have staff overview starting two minutes ago.”

“So, Mr. McCall, anything to contribute?”

“Nope.”

Stiles looks at him with pleading eyes.

“Yeah, this is…dude, Stiles, I’m sorry.  But Boyd would be a way better collaborator.”

Erica makes a pleased noise from the far end of the table, but Stiles is staring at Scott like he’s just sprouted a new limb.  Or changed genders, because that’s apparently a thing Stiles finds fascinating now.

“Scott—”

“I’m sorry, Director Deaton.  But I have no idea what the hell I’m doing here.”  He snags his backpack and heads towards the door of the conference room.  “Oh.  Uh, if that wasn’t clear: I quit.”

 

(450)

 

Danny’s league plays in the park when the weather is warm.  Scott is sitting in the shade of an oak tree, his worn copy of the Merck Manual open on the grass and a notebook in his lap.

“You’re studying again?” Danny sounds pleased, collapsing onto the remaining patch of shady grass.

“More like doodling.”

“You doing okay, little brother?”

“Yeah, yeah.  I’m great.  Good.”  Danny glances at Scott’s notebook.  Beneath a few scrawled notes on epidemiology is a sketch of vampire Allison sucking the life out of a cartoonish Scott.

“Scott,” Danny sighs, sitting upright with a groan.  “Listen, I know you think that she was The One.  But I don’t.  I think that right now all you’re remembering is the good stuff.  Just…next time you look back, I really think you should look again.”

Scott shaking his head at a jewel case.  “It pains me we live in a world where nobody’s heard of Lost in Kosko.”

“I’ve never heard of them.”

“Yeah, you—they were on that mix I made you.  The first track was one of theirs.”

“Oh.”

“’Cause you deserve to be happy, Scott.”

“Listen, I think I’m just gonna call it a day.”

“You don’t wanna grab dinner or something?”

“I’m just…I’m feeling pretty wiped.”

“Oh, come on, I have a great idea.  Pancakes!”

“And it never really seemed like Allison made you happy.”

 

(456-476)

 

Scott’s doing it.  He’s sent out his applications.  He’s set up interviews and he’s going to go anywhere that'll take him.  Last time he was so stuck on the idea of not going too far from home and only accepting the dream positions and--and he’s not letting any excuses stop him this time.

So he studies, and he gets his good suit dry-cleaned, and he teleconferences, and he drives for interviews at the few schools close enough to visit in person.

And he very studiously pretends he doesn’t know what’s happening in a little chapel on the far side of town.

 

(488)

 

Scott’s sitting on his favorite bench in Beacon Park, still wearing the suit from his last interview.

“Hey, Scott.”

He turns to see Allison sitting just up the hill, a wide smile on her face.  He forgot how much he loved her dimples.

“Thought I might see you here.  I’ve always loved this place since you first brought me,” she stands, walking down the path in those same brown leather boots.

“I guess I should say congratulations.”

“Only if you mean it,” Allison grins.

“Oh, well, in that case,” Scott grins back.

Allison’s smile falters for a moment, but then Scott moves his bag and she sits and…well.

“I like your suit, Scott.  You’re looking sharp.”

“You, too.  I quit the office.”

Allison looks genuinely shocked.  “I didn’t know.  That’s great.  That’s…wow, I hadn’t heard that.”

“And you—you’re Mrs. Whittemore.”

“Yeah, it’s totally nuts, right?”

“You should’ve told me.”

“I—I was going to tell you at my party.”

“You should’ve said something at Boyd’s.”

“Jackson hadn’t asked me yet.”

“But you were already dating.”

“Yes.”

“So why did you dance with me, Allison?”

She looks down at the diamond on her finger, then back up at Scott.  “Because I wanted to.”

“And you—you just do whatever you want, don’t you?”  And suddenly everything Danny had ever said made sense.  Because Allison had been honest from the beginning, and what she could give him hadn’t been what he needed to be happy.  “You couldn’t stand being anybody’s girlfriend and now you’re someone’s wife.  I don’t think I’ll ever get that.”

“It just happened.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously, I just…I just woke up one day and I was sure.”

“Sure of what?”

“That it was the real deal.  He was it for me.  I was never sure of that with you.”

And it feels like he’s been sucker punched in the gut and he has to look away.  He watches a family with two young boys and a Labrador puppy until his heart slows enough to stop thundering in his ears.

“You know what sucks?  Realizing everything you believe in is bullshit.  Soul mates, destiny, true love, all that childhood nonsense—you were right the whole time Allison and—what are you smiling at?  What?”

“I just…I was just sitting in a coffee shop, eating a muffin and reading a book about the development of the crossbow.  And a guy comes up to me and asks about it and now he’s my husband.”

“So?”

“So what if I’d gone to Peter's instead?  Or if I’d gotten a muffin ten minutes later?  It was meant to be, and I just kept thinking the whole time ‘oh my God, Scott was right.’”

“You did not.”

“I did,” Allison laughs, folding her hand over his, her ring catching the afternoon light.  “I sweare I did, Scott.  You were right.  It just wasn’t me you were right about.”  They sit in silence, watching the father scoop up his sons while the mother reattaches the puppy’s leash.  “I should get going, but I’m really happy to see you're good.”  She pats his hand again, and starts to walk away.

“Allison.”  She turns, a half smile on her face.  “I…I really do hope you’re happy.”

She nods, turns, and walks away without another word.

 

(500)

 

Scott’s in for a final interview with the Davis admissions board.

Most days of the year are entirely unremarkable.  They begin and they end with no lasting memories made in-between.  Most days have no impact.  May 23rd was a Wednesday.

There’s only one other person in the waiting room when Scott arrives.  He’s long-limbed and kind of painfully good-looking, the angular planes of his face softened by gentle waves of blond hair.  Judging by the recently-outgrown look of his gray suit, Scott's guessing he's fresh out of undergrad.

“Final interview?” Scott asks, sitting down on the opposite couch.

“Sorry?” the other man looks up from his notebook, a small smile on his face.

“Are you in for your final interview?”

“Oh.  Yeah.  You too?’

“My competition,” Scott nods.

“It would appear.”

“So…a little awkward.”

“Only a little,” the blond laughs, shutting his notebook.  “My friend Nathalie says that most people who interview with the full board get an offer, so it’s probable we’re both getting in.”

“Oh.  Well, I hope we both get in, then.”

“Me, too.  I—I swear this isn’t a line, but have I seen you before?”

Scott stares at him for a long moment.  He’s pretty sure he’d remember that face.  Barring that, he’d definitely remember those hands.  “I don’t think so.”

“Do you ever go to Beacon Park?”

“Yeah, it’s one of my favorite spots in LA.”

“Mine, too!  It's got a great dog run.  I think I’ve seen you there.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you.”

“Guess you weren’t looking,” the blond man smiles.  He has really nice dimples.

If Scott had learned anything, it’s that you can’t ascribe great cosmic significance to a single event.  Coincidence.  (Even Sheriff Stilinski would agree--isolated events are never more than coincidence.)  Scott had finally learned there are no miracles.  There is no such thing as fate.

“Mr. McCall, we’re ready for you.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks, you too.”

Nothing is meant to be.

“Sorry, can I—I just left—”

At least, he’s pretty sure.

The man looks up from his notebook and raises one eyebrow.  “You again.”

“Me again.  Hey, I was just wondering if after this you…do you want to grab a coffee or something?”

“I’m sorry.” And there’s a sinking feeling in Scott’s stomach, because duh, of course the hot straight guy doesn't want to get coffee. “I’m supposed to meet someone after this.”

“Of course.  Right.  Well.  I should probably,” Scott starts back down the hall.

“Sure!”  Scott turns around so fast his dress shoes lose their grip on the linoleum and he nearly face plants.  “I mean, why not?”

“Really?"

"Yeah."

"So, I'll just wait for you after?"

"We'll figure it out."

"Cool."  Scott nods, fighting the goofy grin he's positive is on his face.  Ah, screw it.  Maybe Tall Blond and Gorgeous likes goofy grins.  "I'm Scott, by the way."

"Nice to meet you, Scott.  I'm Isaac."

 

(1)