It was just after 4 in the afternoon and Stiles had finally left work for the day.
Tomorrow was his first day off in almost a week and a half due to covering shifts for a flu ridden Greenberg. Stiles had been looking forward to spending the next two days lying on the couch and finally catching up on the shows on his DVR and squeezing in several much needed naps.
He had big plans.
On his way, home he had stopped by the grocery store to stock up for Greatest Day Off In The History of Days Off, and was pulled out of his deliberation between Cheetos or Doritos, when he thought he heard someone shout his name from across the store.
He looked up casually and glanced around, but didn’t see anybody he recognized.
Oooookay. He had just turned back to the shelf when he heard it again, but closer this time.
His head snapped up again and he turned around again scanning the aisle more intently. He still didn’t see anyone he recognized. However, he did see a woman approaching him purposefully with a giant smile and a determined, mischievous glint in her eyes.
She locked eyes and waved at him, and he had a split second to think Who the hell is that? before the woman pulled him into a firm embrace, hugging him fiercely.
“It is you! I didn’t think it was for sure, you had your glasses on this time, but I still couldn’t believe it!” She rambled excitedly, hugging him firmer. She pulled back and looked at him, emphatic grin on her face.
“We had a connecting flight at SFO, but then it ended up getting canceled because of mechanical problems, so we thought we’d swing by and surprise you guys!”
Okay….what? Did I miss something here?
“Uh,” Stiles chuckled nervously. “Well…consider me surprised.” His voice sounded strange, even to his own ears. He didn’t think he’d met her before, but she sure as hell seemed to know him.
Before he had time to ask where exactly it was that he knew her from, another woman rounded the corner of the aisle. When her eyes landed onto the first woman, who was still touching Stiles, she was momentarily confused. But then when her eyes landed on Stiles, Stiles could see the recognition settle onto her face and her face broke out into a smile as well.
“Oh my- Laura, you can’t just pounce on him.” She laughed, approaching the two. “He’s going to think we’re insane!”
Well, she’s not wrong.
She had long, dark hair which was elegantly swept back. She walked up to Stiles and extended her hand with a warm, friendly smile.
“You must be Stiles.” She had a strong resemblance to the first woman, but looked older. Mother and daughter, maybe? Stiles shuffled his shopping basket into his left hand and he took her extended hand, shaking it firmly.
“The one and only.” he chuckled awkwardly.
Since working for the Beacon County Sheriff's Department, Stiles was used to getting waved at by people he didn’t recognize, especially while in uniform. His dad had been the sheriff in Beacon Hills for nearly 30 years and a well-known face in the community. Stiles had made his own mark on the community earlier in the year when he made his debut in the local paper for his involvement in closing a huge case.
He got his face in the paper and everything.
It’s not like Stiles was a local celebrity or anything, but. Yeah. He tended to get noticed from time to time. But not anything like this.
“I’m Talia Hale. Derek’s mother.” She grinned happily.
That didn’t help.
“Oh?” He nodded in what he hoped was an earnest and pleasant and not at all confused manner.
Talia Hale. Derek. Derek Hale? Not ringing a bell.
She stood back and wound her arm around the other girl. “This is Laura.” Laura smiled proudly while Stiles just waved limply.
It was obvious that these people knew who he was, but it wasn’t until a few seconds of awkward silence had settled over the group that Stiles noticed their expectant smiles that he realized that he was supposed to know who they were as well.
“Of course!” Oh my god oh my god oh my god. “It’s great to see you guys!” He smiled largely, hoping it was convincing enough.
“Talia and Laura.” He repeated, shaking his head as if the realization had finally dawned on him. “Laura and Talia.” His hand flailed awkwardly. “The Hales!”
He could feel the pinpricks of sweat developing on the back of his neck.
He wracked his brain, trying to scan through all the faces of people that he knew from growing up or interacted with though work, hoping that he’d remember who the hell these people were before things got even more weird.
Beacon Hills High School had a lot of substitute teachers all the time; did she ever teach one of my classes?
“So your flight got cancelled, huh? Man, what a bummer.” He cringed internally at how lame that sounded.
“Yeah” Laura chimed in, rolling her eyes. “Our plane was having a lot of technical issues and got grounded indefinitely. They weren’t able to get anything out to New York until early tomorrow morning. So,” She spread her arms dramatically, “Here we are!”
“Indeed you are. Here.” Stiles chuckled weakly, “You two. Laura and Talia.” Stop. Talking. Stiles! “This is just so…I can hardly believe it. What a surprise!” Stiles offered weakly.
A neighbor maybe? No, someone who worked in town? Family of an old lacrosse teammate? Shit, shit, shit!
Oblivious to Stiles’ inner turmoil, Talia stood there with a pleasant smile on her face watching Laura and Stiles chat. Laura didn’t seem to mind that Stiles was a little lacking— okay, a lot lacking— on the conversational end, and she continued right on through.
“Sorry that we’re so intense right now” She laughed. “It’s just that, like, Derek is so private all the time we never thought we’d get to meet you!” She grinned, biting her lip excitedly. “He’s never introduced us to one of his boyfriends before!”
At that, Stiles’ brain came to a grinding halt.
“What?” He swallowed hard.
It seemed hot all of the sudden. Was it hot in here? It was definitely hot in here.
Laura rolled her eyes and smirked deviously. “Yeah, he says that he doesn’t want us to scare them off.” Laura furrowed her brows, made her face look grumpier and crossed her arms over her chest, in an assumingly ‘Derek-like’ fashion.
“Well…” Stiles chuckled uneasily. “You know Derek!” he said a little too loudly. He swallowed again and pulled at his collar. “Always so secretive.”
Stiles would definitely have remembered if he had picked up a boyfriend recently. He hadn’t been in a relationship in years.
Hell, he hadn’t even gotten any action in months. Except for this one time that he and Danny went to The Jungle and Stiles hooked up with a random guy. But making out with someone in a back alley at 3 a.m. after too many Sea Breezes next to a dumpster and a cooling puddle of someone else’s vomit, before going home to jerk off is not exactly how romantic entanglements begin.
But that was beside the point.
Stiles knew for sure that he was boyfriendless at the moment.
Talia, who had been weirdly silent since she first introduced herself, seemed to be studying Stiles. Her eyes scanned his face, looking for something and suddenly Stiles felt very self-conscious. Stiles wasn’t sure if this was an ‘I’m making sure this guy is good enough for my son’ look, or an ‘I know this guy is not good enough to date my son’.
I knew I should have changed before I left work.
Talia tilted her head to the side and smiled. Oh god, what if she doesn’t approve of me? What if she thinks I’m not good enough for Derek? Whoever the hell he is.
Finally she spoke.
“Laura, don’t overload the man,” Her voice was playful and she winked at Stiles.
Laura sighed and looked back at her mother, “I’m not overloading!” She looked back over at Stiles, her expression sheepish and a faint blush on her cheeks, “Am I?”
“No! You’re not!” he rushed to say. He put on his most assuring smile. “You’re not overloading at all. It’s great to finally meet you guys.” He said in played-up excitement, looking at the two of them. “If I knew you were coming I would have planned something.”
Understatement of the year.
“Well...” Laura’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “We were going to make dinner at Derek’s to surprise him.” She looked back at her mom and grinned before looking back at Stiles. “You can help!”
Stiles felt the heat creep up to his face and he felt like he was going to drop his basket in the middle of the aisle.
“Oh no—” He sputtered helplessly. “I don’t-”
“C’mon! It’ll be fun!” Laura insisted, grinning and not giving Stiles a chance to wiggle his way out of it.
Behind her, Talia laughed at the interaction between the two of them. “He’ll never see it coming,” she grinned.
“No, he wouldn’t see it coming at all.” Stiles could feel his heart beating faster and his breath picking up. Please don’t have a panic attack right now! “Sure that sounds great!” He conceded finally.
This was getting out of hand. Stiles needed to have a serious conversation with his brain to mouth filter.
“Let me grab something I know he’d like to eat, and I’ll, uh, I’ll meet you at the front?”
“Sounds good, Stiles!” Talia said gathering Laura. “We’ll see you in a bit.”
Stiles smiled and waited to watch them walk down the aisle and around the corner.
When they were finally out of sight, he spun around dramatically, nearly taking out a row of shelved quinoa with the corner of his shopping basket.
“Oh my god!” he whisper-shouted, running a flustered hand through his already messy hair.
“What the hell!”
He didn’t know what to do.
He could either go back and tell Laura and Talia that he wasn’t who they thought he was. But that would look really weird, seeing as how he made so much of an effort to recognize them.
And there’s no way they had recognized the wrong person, they knew his name and everything. Who else looks like this and goes by Stiles? They obviously didn’t mistake Stiles for someone else. No, they were convinced he was a friend of Derek’s.
A boyfriend of Derek’s.
If he told them that he wasn’t Derek’s Boyfriend, he doesn’t know what kind of damage that would do to Derek?
Why would someone he doesn’t know even pretend that he was his boyfriend? How did Derek know Stiles was gay? How did Derek even know who Stiles was?
And who the hell is Derek anyway?!
Maybe Derek had never dated anyone before and his family was worried that he wouldn’t find anyone, so he made up an imaginary boyfriend to ease his suffering, and now by it being revealed to his family he would have to live with the embarrassment of his family knowing how pathetic he was that he’d fake a relationship and have to suffer relentless teasing, or worse, pity, and have to abandon his family forever leaving him to wander the country in shame and ridicule.
Or. Maybe Derek was a secret agent who worked with some shadowy government-esque organization, like SHIELD and this whole thing was a part of a sting operation and Stiles was being followed. Maybe Laura and Talia were sent to bring Stiles into the home office and brief him because they needed his law enforcement prowess and his top of his class at the academy evasive driving skills to solve a crime of international mystery and intrigue.
Or. Maybe they were agents, but they were actually Hydra. And the thing they were surveilling was Stiles. What if he was some sort of target and they had just marked him to be taken out by snipers!!!
“Oh my god.” He whisper-shouted out loud. “I’m being followed by Hydra.”
Stiles looked over his shoulders checking to make sure he didn’t see any suspicious patrons who could double as assassins.
Jesus Christ, Stiles, seriously? Get ahold of yourself. Stiles took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“You’re not being followed by Hydra,” he told himself. “You’re hungry, tired and reacting badly to a very strange situation. Get it together.”
He was in desperate need of that day off tomorrow. Surely he could pull it together for a few more hours until this all blows over. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? If this all fell apart over dinner, he could just kindly excuse himself and leave Derek to handle the fallout.
“Okay,” he said aloud to the boxed organic grains that sat on the shelves. “I can handle this. I am deputy with the Beacon County Sheriff's Department. I can handle high pressure situations and I’m good at thinking on my feet. I can do this!”
The grains didn’t look convinced.
Stiles turned and scurried to the end of the aisle. Ducking down behind the endcap of canned asparagus spears, he peered around to make sure the Hales were far enough away that they were out of earshot.
Laura was standing at the magazine rack, aimlessly flipping through a magazine and Talia was sitting on a bench, her brows furrowed, reading something on her phone. They were distracted enough for Stiles to put together some sort of plan.
Stiles pulled back around the aisle and reached his hand into his uniform pocket, digging around for his phone. He pulled it out and frantically dialed the station.
His foot tapped a fast-paced rhythm while he waited for someone to pick up. “C’mon, c’mon…” he muttered.
Finally, someone picked up on the other end.
“Beacon County Sheriff's Department, this is Deputy Mahealani speaking.”
Stiles voice came out with a whoosh of air. “Oh thank god!”
“I need your help!” he squawked.
“Are you alright?” Danny’s voice was simultaneously amused and not amused. He was really
good at that. Like, scary good.
Stiles peered around the aisle again, to make sure Laura and Talia were sufficiently distracted. “I’m in trouble.” He moved back into the aisle.
“Do you need backup?” All warmth immediately slipped out of his tone, and he was suddenly stern and all business. “Where are you?”
“No!” He said urgently.
The last thing he needed was a fleet of BCSD cars rushing up to the grocery store, sirens blazing, and calling further attention to the fact that Stiles has a tendency to get himself into wildly ridiculous situations.
He ran a hand through his hair again,“I mean... Kind of? I, uh, I need some advice.”
“Advice?” And now Danny’s voice was back to just Not Amused.
“Yeah.” Stiles took a deep breath. “So, hypothetically, say you met your boyfriend’s mother and sister for the first time ever. Completely by accident. In the grocery store. And they convinced you to help them make a dinner to surprise aforementioned boyfriend when he got home after work. What would you do?” Stiles thought if he spoke fast enough, Danny wouldn’t notice the weirdness of the question.
Danny was silent for a moment and then replied, “Okay, well, if I just met my boyfriend’s family for the first time and they wanted me to help them with a surprise dinner, then I would say yes. It would probably be a good opportunity to get to know them and let them know what a great boyfriend you are.”
“But, Stiles,” Danny paused, and then, “You don’t have a boyfriend.”
“That’s not the point.” He said flustered. “And I said ‘hypothetically.’”
He could practically hear Danny rolling his eyes. “Stiles, what are you doing?”
Okay, so Stiles was going to go through with this.
This was not how he planned on spending his evening. But he couldn’t let Derek down, because of reasons.
If Derek needed him, he was there.
(Whoever the hell Derek Hale even is.)
“Alright. Thanks man.” He said into the phone.
“Sure… uh, anything else I can help you with?” This is why Danny was Stiles’ favorite.
“Yeah, actually. Can you, uh, can you not bring this call up to my dad?”
Instead of answering, Danny just started laughing. (Stiles would have taken offence to that, however this was far from the first time he’d gotten himself tangled up in some sort of strange situation and asked someone to keep it away from the sheriff.)
He didn’t know what kind of situation this Derek was in, but his family seemed like perfectly lovely people and Stiles did not want to let them down.
He wanted to be the best damn boyfriend he could be and show them that Derek was in good hands.
Derek deserved it.