Stiles ran to the bus. It was the last greyhound going back to Beacon Hills and he needed to be on it. Lydia was going to kill him if he missed her engagement party.
He got there just as the door was about to close.
‘Hey, wait up!’ he yelled, hoping to get the driver’s attention.
It must have worked because the door opened again. The man didn’t look happy, but that didn’t stop Stile from thanking him profusely.
‘Just get in your seat,’ the guy grumbled.
Stiles said ‘thank you’ one more time and then moved further into the bus. He wasn’t surprised to find it packed. It was the last bus going from LA to Northern California and spring break had started today.
By the looks of it, most of the passengers were students, going home either to beg extra money off their parents or to sleep for a week.
There was only one seat left. And when he looked at the guy next to, it he could kind of understand why. The man was gorgeous, but there was also a frown on his face that made him look like a serial criminal. Stiles figured it was the eyebrows.
He plopped down in his seat, startling his neighbour.
Wow, okay, so gorgeous wasn’t the right word. Beautiful was far more accurate. The man had black hair that looked incredibly soft. His beard was neatly kept and his eyebrows looked like they’d been tamed as well. Plus, now that the frown was gone, Stiles could see that the look on the man’s face was actually really soft. He was starting to get little crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes.
Stiles couldn’t guess whether it was from squinting or laughing, but he did know it was really cute.
And yeah, the face looked like it had been cut from marble, but he kept going back to the eyes. They looked lively and kind. And what colour was that? The only description that came close was ‘galaxy’.
The man started to frown again, making Stiles realize he’d been staring.
‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘You just look really different when you’re not frowning.’
The man raised his eyebrows, making Stiles realize that what he’d just said was wildly inappropriate.
‘Sorry, again. My brain to mouth filter doesn’t function properly. I’ll shut up.’
He started routing around in his bag for a book.
He looked up. The man had a small smile on his lips. It somehow managed to light up the entire bus.
‘That’s your name?’
‘A nickname. Trust me, you don’t want to know my real one. There are three people on the planet able to pronounce it and I’m not one of them.’
That made Derek laugh. Stiles silently vowed to make him do that as many times as possible before the ride was over.
‘Well, it’s nice to meet you, Stiles.’
In the five years that Derek had lived in LA, he’d taken the greyhound back to his hometown many times. None of those times had been as nice as this one.
Stiles was great company. They shared a lot of the same interests. And where their interests differed the other man still listened eagerly to what Derek had to say.
A lot of people had told him that it wasn’t easy to hold a conversation with him. It was true that he didn’t really feel comfortable with anyone but his family and his friends. Yet, he’d instantly felt at ease with Stiles.
The man could talk a mile a minute. And did so with his entire body, waving his hands around and twisting in his seat while recounting a tale about his best friend, Scott. But Stiles could also really listen. He stayed quiet as Derek told him about his work and his friends in the city. All that energy was focussed on Derek, and all the man did was smile and nod at his stories.
It helped that Stiles was nice to look at as well. He had pale skin, dotted with moles. His eyes were brown, but flashed like molten gold whenever they passed a streetlight. His hair was a mess. And Derek suspected it was less artful than simply not being bothered to style it.
When they arrived in Beacon Hills, Derek had finally gathered his courage to ask him for his number. However, he was interrupted by a car horn.
A slim, brown haired woman was standing next to an SUV, waving at Stiles.
‘That’s Allison,’ the man said. ‘I should go.’
Stiles lingered for a few more seconds, like he wanted to say something. But he didn’t. He walked towards the woman and hugged her tight.
Derek sighed. Of course, Stiles wasn’t single. He turned around, looking for his sister, Cora.
‘Well, hello, big bro. Don’t you look miserable on this fine evening,’ she greeted him.
‘There was cute guy on the bus, but he’s got a girlfriend.’
‘Sorry to hear that,’ she said, clapping him on the shoulder. ‘But I have good news. Lydia knows someone who she thinks is perfect for you. He’s coming to the party tomorrow. So you can forget all about cute bus-guy.’
Derek doubted it, but he hugged and thanked her, none the less.
For the following twenty-four hours, he couldn’t get Stiles out of his head. Images of his open mouthed laugh and his sparkling eyes kept popping up.
‘Stop moping. You’re date’s almost here,’ Lydia admonished him, when she caught him frowning. ‘And I don’t want to see any sad faces during my party.’
He really liked the woman. Lydia was sharp and bossy, but also very passionate and loyal. At first he’d thought she and Cora would kill each other within a month, but the two fit together perfectly. He didn’t think anyone else would’ve been able to handle his sister. Or get her to agree to marry them.
The sound of a familiar voice made his head snap up, just when Stiles walked into the room. There were two other people with him. One was Allison. The other, who looked like puppy with a crooked jaw, he presumed to be Scott. Allison and Scott were walking hand in hand. So that meant –
‘Derek? Hey, what are you doing here?’
‘Cora’s my sister,’ Derek answered, a little dazed.
Stiles let out a laugh. ‘We discussed a lot of things on that bus, but somehow the reason we were going back home never came up. That’s kind of weird.’
‘Yeah, kind of.’
Derek had no idea what to say. He wanted to say a lot of things, but he didn’t know where to started. And there was also the fact that his blind-date was about to walk through the door
‘Hey, you’re here,’ Lydia saved him. She hugged Stiles. ‘I’m really glad you could make it.’
‘It was a close thing. I almost missed the bus.’
‘I’m pretty sure the driver hit the brakes a little too hard a couple times to punish you,’ Derek added.
‘Oh my god,’ Cora said a little gleefully, from next to her fiancée. ‘You’re cute bus-guy.’
‘What?’ Stiles turned his questioning gaze towards Derek.
‘Derek’s been pining over you since yesterday. He thought you had a girlfriend,’ Lydia added.
Derek took everything nice he’d ever thought or said about either woman back.
‘Really? Well, I’m happy to tell you that I am very single. But I should mention that there’s this guy I really like. I met him on the bus. But tragedy struck when we had to part ways, before numbers could be exchanged.’
Derek could feel a smile stretching across his face. It probably looked a lot like the one on Stiles’.
‘Oh god, I can already tell that you two are going to be disgustingly cute together,’ his sister groaned. ‘Please, go be adorable somewhere else. Like your room or something.’
He felt his blood rising to his cheeks when Stiles winked at him and said, ‘I can work with that.’
‘I told you they’d be perfect for each other,’ her heard Lydia say.
He really hoped she was right, he thought, linking his fingers with Stiles’.