It's not like Stiles wanted to be famous.
It's not like he left Beacon Hills with the explicit goal of becoming a fucking actor.
It just… it just happened.
A lot of stuff 'just happens' to Stiles, actually. His life is like that. Has been like that, for as long as can he remember. Just a string of just-happenings that pull Stiles along whether he likes it or not.
Scott just happened to get turned into a werewolf their sophomore year of high school; Beacon Hills just happened to be the center of everything freaky and supernatural; Stiles just happened to spend the last two years of his high school career acutely aware of his own mortality. So, just like all that crap, Stiles just happened to stumble into acting.
(Okay, well, not so much stumble. First, it had been the drama class at UCLA he'd taken for some grad requirement. Then, it had been one of his college room-mates guilting him into being part of a Youtube video. That turned into work as an extra for rent money. Which, somehow, halfway through junior year, turned into actual roles. Like, in TV shows. Popular TV shows. And then, well, it had really just escalated from there.)
The weird thing is that, unlike dealing with the supernatural, unlike dealing with anything, and anyone, really, related to Beacon Hills, Stiles is good at this. Acting, that is. Like, Oscar for best supporting actor good.
Yeah, Stiles has an Oscar. That just happened too. It's on the mantle back at his house, next to his-
-iles? Stiles." Miranda—his agent—is talking. Something about rest and relaxation and learning when to take a break. Or she was, now she's just looking at him with that expression that reminds him of when Miss McCall used to catch Scott and him hashing out survival strategies at their kitchen table late at night. "Are you listening?"
"Kind of," Stiles says, leaning back into the chair she sat him down in thirty minutes ago, scrunching his nose up as the movement disturbs the leather cushions. Stiles has… an interesting relationship with leather. He hates it. He loves it. Sometimes, if he's had one too many drinks, he wants to hump it…
Yeah, that last one is probably a little weird, but Stiles tries not to dwell on weird crap anymore. He hasn't had to deal with weird crap (read: supernatural crap) since… wow, since freshmen year of college, right? Yeah, seems about—
"I swear, Stiles, if you—"
"I'm listening, Miranda. You want me to take a break? I'm taking a break. Three months, no movies. No guest appearances. No interviews. Nothing. Zip. Nada."
"… you've spent the last week, Stiles, collecting dust in your house. Kelly called me and asked if you were on drugs."
"Kelly came over?" Stiles likes to think of his personal assistant—yeah, it seems fucking ridiculous, when he thinks about it, that Stiles has a personal assistant—as a mix between a chipmunk and a perpetually terrified dachshund. She's human… at least, he thinks. It's just, well, she's high strung. And petite. And she these adorably large eyes that don't seem to match her small face.
"Yes, she came over." Miranda sighs, stands from where she's been leaning against her desk. "I'm saying this as your friend, Stiles. You need a break from all of this. Hollywood. The spotlight. My god, Stiles, you've just won an Oscar. A fucking Oscar, kid. Actors twice your age haven't won any Oscars! And you just did! You don't need to be reading scripts right now. You haven't taken a vacation in years—"
"Disappearing from the Red Hood set in Hong Kong for an entire day is not a vacation, Stiles."
Oh, right. Two years ago, Stiles just happened to be Jason Todd in the Red Hood movie. It had been awesome.
… okay, exhausting. But still, awesome.
And, yes, he realizes that, considering his constant lamentations as a teenager about his perpetual role as Robin, actually becoming Robin (and a badass Robin, or, well former Robin) is kind of ironic. Wait, is it ironic? Stiles is pretty sure it's ironic.
"… I keep telling you, I got lost." Stiles is only half-lying. "And I have gone on vacations, Miranda. I went to Las Vegas for my birthday last year. And down to Disneyland last wee—"
"I'm talking about the spotlight, here, Stiles," she sighs. "This isn't what I should be doing, you know. I should be giving you scripts and making you work—"
"Uh, yeah, you should."
"—but I like you, Stiles. And I'm worried about you." She holds up a hand when he opens his mouth to interrupt. "And yes, I give you this speech every year. But I mean it this time, Stiles. I want you out of Hollywood. I want you to go on a real vacation, hon. I want you to remember how the others live. You look… you look worn out, Stiles. And don't tell me it's because you're tired…"
"I love it when you call me hon, Miranda."
"Stiles," she growls at him, and he sighs.
"Fine, fine. Three months, no vegging out in my house. But I want a new script when I get back." He clears his throat when she glares at him. "Please."
"Three months, and you go back to your hometown."
Now that… that makes Stiles freeze. Because he's managed to avoid Beacon Hills since freshmen year of college, and he kind of wants to keep it that way. It's not like he can tell Miranda, though, that going back there is pretty much like walking into a death trap. Or, well, that's a hyperbole. But… come on. It's Beacon Hills. All he remembers about Beacon Hills is death and destruction and blood. Okay that's a hyperbole too, but still…
Stiles forgets where he's going with this. All he knows is that he already feels guilty about avoiding the place for so long, and if he goes back, that guilt is going to intensify.
"How about I go to Oahu?" Stiles offers, after a bit. Three years ago, he went there for an indie rom-com. Past the exhaustion and the long waits on set and avoiding his clingy co-star, he remembers clear skies and nice beaches and good food. That's what people do on vacations, right? Go to the beach? Do relaxing things? Not face horrible life-events and people they would rather avoid?
"Joss sent me a new script," Miranda says, eyeing her nails. They're painted blood red. He's always felt that Miranda would make a good vampire. She likes red, like, a lot. Stiles is pretty sure that's one of the prerequisites of becoming a vampire. "He was wondering if, after your break, you'd look at it. I could tell him it's not your type of—"
"Are you threatening me?" Stiles asks, not surprised in the least.
"Yes." Miranda eyes him, all gleaming, dangerous smiles and barely contained glee, and Stiles is suddenly reminded of when Lydia used to give him that same exact look (Stiles is aware that it's a bit unhealthy to compare everyone he knows to people he hasn't seen in years, but, then again, high school was kind of eventful). "Is it working?"
"No," Stiles says. "But, how about we get that break down to a month and a half, and I'll send you pictures to prove I'm actually going home?"
"I've already called your father." Miranda shrugs. On second thought, it's entirely normal to compare Miranda to Lydia. She's a fucking shark. A glorious, terrifying, awesomely amazing, shark, and he respects the fuck out of her. "He's expecting you in two days. And you're staying for three months." She clears her throat. "Please?"
"Are you just trying to get me out of town so you can go shopping for new actors?" Stiles asks. "Are you dropping me or something?"
"Stiles." Miranda rubs at her temples. "It's not—"
"Or is this because Joan had to stop those photos of me getting published? The ones where I'm kissing that guy?" Joan is Miranda's boss. She's an entirely different sort of terrifying. Especially when she's angry. Not that she was angry about Stiles kissing a guy—his bisexuality has been old news since even before Red Hood—just that he was shirtless and half drunk at the time.
"That was four months ago, Stiles. She's over it." Miranda sighs. "This is us telling our star talent to take a break before he uses up all his energy and ends up on Celebrity Apprentice."
Hah, energy. Man, it's time like these that Stiles wants to tell Miranda—wants to tell everyone that keeps saying he's over-exerting himself—what his teenage years were like. How he used to go days without sleeping. How he used to overdose on Adderall just so he could keep up with the others. How he used to run miles and miles chasing and running away from the fucking monster of the week. How he had learned how fragile humans really are, when compared to werewolves, at least. And kanimas. And all the other crap.
He's always wondered if that—if hating himself for being so fragile (and, god, he feels like a pretentious ass for even thinking like that)—is what made him embrace the whole acting thing. If, like, some deep, dark, philosophical part of him wanted to pretend, just for the amount of time he was on screen, that he was someone else. Someone stronger. Normal. Sane. If he still wants that.
Of course, Stiles isn't normal. Even after all this time away from them. From it. He's not normal. Never has been. Never will be. People like that about him, actually. They like his 'energy' and his impulsiveness and his flailing arms and how he overcompensates his facial expressions so they pay attention to that instead of what he's actually saying…
And, there we go, back into the spiral of self-flagellation and bad memories.
"I thought Celebrity Apprentice was cancelled. Like, years ago," Stiles says. "At the very least, I would be on Dancing with the Stars."
"Stiles." Miranda grabs one of the massage balls from her desk, starts squeezing it. Stiles rubs his hand over his mouth to hide his grin.
"Three months," he says. "Three months… getting in touch with my roots—"
"—confronting whatever problem you've been running from—"
"God, you're a manipulative bastard, Miranda." Stiles shakes his head. "Fine. Three months back in Beacon Hills. Then I'm back, and you… you… don't do this again."
"I'll let you go to Maui for your next vacation, how about that?" Miranda raises her eyebrows at him.
"Antarctica. I want to see some goddamned penguins."
"…you saw penguins when you did Falling Backwards. You, literally, Stiles, fell backwards on them."
Falling Backwards was his second official 'Hollywood' movie. He had been the comedic relief to Ryan Gosling's (who is a cool and chill dude, and also awesome) romantic hero, and had gotten an MTV Movie Award for it. And, yes, there had been penguins. Asshole penguins, but Stiles is pretty sure that was because they were bred in captivity and had sticks up their asses from having to deal with micro-managing humans twenty four hours a day.
"That was CGI. The penguins weren't actually used for that stunt," Stiles points out. "And plus, those weren't real penguins, like, wild penguins. There's a differ—"
"Oh, god, shut up, Stiles." Miranda does exaggerated disgust like no other. It's so well done that Stiles is defenseless against it. He can only sigh and lean back in his chair, scrunching his nose up at the smell of leather.
He has no idea why Miranda has leather chairs. They don't match the rest of her office décor.
"So, is this it? You called me in to tell me to get the fuck out of town?" Stiles wonders after a bit.
"Yes, and since I won, you can leave now..." She looks at him. "I'm assuming you're driving?"
Stiles doesn't like airplanes. He actually developed a slight fear of heights senior year of high school, after a flock of harpies thought it would be fun to throw him around a couple of thousand feet up in the air.
… yeah, so, Stiles doesn't like heights. Nothing that prevents him from flying when he needs to, but enough that, if he doesn't have to, he prefers to stay on the ground.
"Yeah, I'll take the Ferrari." What? If Stiles has to go home and get sucked back into the portal to hell that is Beacon Hills, he's going to go back in style.
"Of course you will, it's not like you have a perfectly nice Priu—"
"I haven't been back to Beacon Hills since freshmen year of college, Miranda," Stiles interrupts, standing and stretching his arms over his head. "I'm not going back in a Prius, god. Plus, I never get to use the Ferarri."
"Goodbye, Stiles." Miranda goes back to sit at her desk.
"Yeah." Stiles makes sure his wallet and keys are in his pocket, waves a goodbye on his way out the door. "See ya."
Hah. Unlikely. If some supernatural assface doesn't kill him, someone will. Like Derek. Or Lydia. Or Boyd. Or Erica. Maybe even Danny, although Stiles is pretty sure he's still in Boston.
… okay, not avoiding them as much as not seeing them in person. They e-mail. And text.
Scott won't, mostly because he hasn't been avoiding him. Actually, he came up last year to help Stiles pick out the Ferrari. It's a bright red F12 Berlinetta, and Stiles almost had a seizure when he saw the price, but then Scott had given him one of those looks, and he, well, he bought it.
"Your breakout role was in Frost, where you played the son to Brad Pitt's character, Jonah. How was it," --Samantha Briggs is tiny, kind of annoying when the cameras aren't on, and has a tick in her left eye. As interviewers go, she's not that bad,-- "coming into the business with such high standards? And in a movie that included not only Brad Pitt, but Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, and Sir Patrick Stewart?"
"Uh, well." Stiles always gets this question. He's taken to answering it different every time. Keeps it fresh. "It was kind of overwhelming, to be honest. Half the time I was hiding behind props just to avoid embarrassing myself in front of anyone. Everyone was really great, though, I mean, when I wasn't starstruck."
"Well, now you're a star as well, right?" Oh god, is she flirting? Please don't be flirting. Stiles never handles flirting well.
"Err, no." Stiles laughs—it's the nervous laugh he reserves for awkward interviews. "I'm horrible, really. I don't even know how I got this far."
Okay, so, Stiles is a popular dude nowadays. Which, even now, after about three years as a guaranteed celebrity, is a fucking weird turn of events. And Stiles knows weird. He's grown up with weird, so when he calls something weird… it's weird.
Stiles is a popular guy. He's in magazines, he's on TV, he's getting stalked by paparazzi (or, well, the paparazzi attempt to stalk him, but, most of the time, seeing as how Stiles got ridiculously good at running away from people during high school, they never catch him), he's attending awards shows, and, of course, shooting movies. People says he's intriguing. They say he's adorable. They say he's a good actor. Hell, there's even fan art and fan fiction of him on the internet. And it's, like, graphic. In a sexual nature. Okay, sometimes it's violent. But mostly it's just porn.
(Stiles will never admit to this, but some of it is actually fucking hot, okay?)
He's an actor—popularity comes with the profession. But, well, he's never been able to get used to it. Not just the popularity and the inability to go anywhere without being stared at or openly approached (or mobbed, that's happened once or twice), although that's a large part of it. He's not used to any of it.
Actually, Stiles is pretty sure he's the worst celebrity that's ever been… celebrified. Celebrated? Whatever, he's the worst. The only part of being an actor that Stiles really loves—like, love loves—is the acting.
Acting is… it makes sense to Stiles, for some odd reason. It's like he knows that this is what he should be doing—like he knows that, sure, he might not save the world with it, might not kill all the creatures that come at you in the night, but he's doing something that he enjoys. That he loves. That he's actually fucking really awesome at.
Has Stiles mentioned that he has an Oscar? Because he has an Oscar.
And, god, had he worked for it.
Even now it's kind of like he's still… detached from the whole being-a-celebrity thing. Not the acting part. The rest of it.
But, since being in Complicated, since pouring his heart and soul and blood into the role of Sam, the role of a drug addict with nothing to gain and everything to lose, since winning an Oscar, since reading review after review after review calling him amazing, and him an artist, and him talented, he's starting to, slightly, feel like—well, Stiles doesn't know what that makes him feel. But it's good, whatever it is.
"… I can hear you thinking over the line, dude." Scott, who, uh, he's on the phone with—he kind of forgot in lieu of thinking deep thoughts—says. "Anyway, like I was saying, I'm pretty sure we have a mate bond, Stiles, because I knew you were going to call me seconds before my phone rang."
"Werewolves don't have mates, Scott." Stiles is in his car, about five hours from Beacon Hills. He's already been honked at twice and undergone a ridiculous amount of open-mouthed staring, and he's only been on the road for an hour. "Remember? I asked Der—sourpuss end of junior year and he threw that book at my head?"
"It's sad that you can't even say Derek any more, Stiles," Scott says. "He's not pissed at you. Actually—"
"Nope, if we have this conversation now I'll probably just turn around and charter a plan to Alaska, dude. You know I can do that now? I could even buy my own—"
"Fuck off, you could not buy a plane." There's a pause. "Could you…?"
"Dude," Stiles says. "Yes, I could. I'm rich, remember? My accountant might get pissed off, but I could--"
"I don't think I'm ever going to get over you being famous. And rich," Scott says. Stiles hears shuffling, then a whimper, then a sharp bark. He sighs.
"Are you at the clinic right now? I thought you said you were done for the day. I don't think the animals appreciate you talking to me while you're sticking your finger up their—"
"You're disgusting." Scott, ever the professional vet, sniffs at him over the line. "I'm just checking out some stitches, then I'm going over to hang out at your dad's and wait until you show up so I can punch you."
"I won't be home for five hours, Scott. I think dad'll kill you before then?" Stiles changes lanes to bypass a clunker of a truck.
"Nah, he won't. Remember? We're bros now that I'm the consulting doctor whenever mysterious shit happens." Scott snorts. "Did I tell you last month I had to help a shapeshifter give birth? It was horrible. She kept changing into an elephant, for some reason. I almost got crushed."
"This isn't helping, Scott." Stiles is already starting to feel the pressure in his chest; the sweat collecting at the back of his neck. God, he thought, for a second, that maybe it wouldn't be so bad, getting reminded of all the crap he's headed for. But nope, still as reactive as ever.
"… nothing bad has happened in years, Stiles," Scott says, his voice quieter now. It's the one he uses when he's trying to calm someone down—the one he uses on stray dogs and feral cats and the occasional rogue supernatural that just needs some help. "It's been nice, Stiles. I keep telling you, Beacon Hills has changed. Derek has changed. We've all changed, dude. We're, like, adults. All mature and shit."
Stiles snorts. "Remember when I was in Eyes of—"
"I hated that movie. Hated it. Stop bringing it up," Scott grumbles, and Stiles has to grin. He hates it only because it scared the shit out of him. Stiles, if he says so himself, plays an excellent serial killer.
"I'm just saying, Adam said something like that right before I strung him up and—"
"Stiles," Scott whines. "No. I got nightmares."
"Says the werewolf."
"We've established that werewolves are awesome. Creepy serial killers are not," Scott says. "Anyway, have you told anyone else you're coming back?"
"What do you think, Scott?" Stiles taps his fingers against the steering wheel, changes gears to speed up as he approaches a straight away.
"I think—"Scott stops, pauses for a bit. "Holy fuck, dude, are you coming back in the Ferrari!?"
"No," Stiles lies. He's gotten good at lying. Acting is pretty much lying, after all. Lying to yourself, that is. Which is really useful around people who can fucking hear when you lie. "Why?"
"You—I swear—" Scott growls. "I hate that I can't tell if you're lying, you know that?"
"I know," Stiles says.
"… so do you want me to tell them?" Scott doesn't need to clarify who they are. Stiles grinds his teeth and pushes down on the gas pedal, changes gears, and gets a nice little surge of adrenaline as the car purrs.
As much as he loves this car, he's actually kind of looking forward to seeing the jeep again. Dad told him he still had it—it's in the garage, next to the monstrosity of a truck Stiles had sent his dad the second he had deposited his first big check—and that jeep… that jeep was a pretty big part of his life until college.
"Not yet? How about give me a day to get settled in?"
"I can't believe you're coming back, man!" Scott says, and Stiles takes the slight change of subject as agreement. "I get to show you the clinic, and Allison wants you to come over for dinner—oh, right, I told Allison, and she promised not to tell anyone—and I can show you off in town and… I swear, Stiles, it fuckin' sounds like you're in the Ferarri."
"I'm not, Scott," Stiles says, because he can do stuff like this now. "Maybe the connection is off?"
"You're a horrible person."
"Meh, doesn't keep me up anymore."
"I've gotta say, man, I got nightmares after I watched Eyes of Red." Aiden Lockwood is wearing a bowtie. It… well, actually it works on him. Stiles is pretty sure, though, that his teeth are fake. Real teeth can't be that white. Even whitened ones.
"Me too, dude, me too." Stiles likes the casual interviews the best.
"I mean, how did you do it? Even the physical stuff was nuts."
"Do… the acting?" Stiles shrugs. "I have no idea. It just worked, though."
It seems like that wasn't the answer Aiden was looking for, because his smile falters. "You didn't do any sort of preparation? Any inspiration?"
Hah, inspiration. Yeah, how about a couple years worth of werewolves and harpies and witches. "I watched a lot of serial killer movies," he says.
"I knew it," Scott greets, five hours and thirty minutes later, as Stiles climbs out of the driver's seat. "I knew you were driving the Ferrari."
"No you didn't." Stiles glances around, waves at the half dozen neighbors that are watching him from their front doors, and walks up to give his dad a hug. "Lookin' good, dad. Sorry I was late—construction on the bridge, so I had to come in through town."
"And now everyone knows you're here." The sheriff sighs, crushing him in one of his usual hugs. "They're not going to leave you alone."
"Course not." Stiles scratches his nose, turns around to see that Scott has abandoned them, and is sitting in the Ferrari's driver's seat, looking at the console with a wide smile. "It's uh, good to be back, dad."
Stiles doesn't know if he's lying or not. So far, his arrival in Beacon Hills hasn't been marked by anything overtly horrible. No supernatural attacks as soon as he passed the 'Welcome to Beacon Hills!' sign. No angry werewolves demanding to know why he's been avoiding them for years. Nothing remotely… supernatural. Well, except Scott. But Scott has become, like, the least supernatural werewolf ever, so he doesn't count.
Of course, this could all be a ploy and Stiles could walk into his old room and into a trap. Or a spell. Or something.
"Good to have you back, son." The sheriff lets go. "Are your bags in the trunk?"
"Nah, passenger seat."
It takes twenty minutes to get Scott out from behind the wheel, and by then, the sun has set, and all Stiles wants to do is eat, take a shower, and then sleep for a billion hours.
What actually happens, however, is that Stiles is given a twenty minute tour of the house he grew up in, by both his dad and Scott, who are now, apparently, best buds. Almost nothing is different—well, dad's patched up a few areas, and all the appliances were replaced last year, but nothing to grant an entire tour. He is fed some horrible casserole monstrosity that tastes amazing but would have his personal trainer (oh, shut up, a lot of his roles have been physical, and Miranda threatened him with bodily harm if he hadn't agreed to one) throwing a hissy fit. He is then given a two hour low-down on the latest Beacon Hills gossip, both natural and supernatural.
Half of it, he doesn't pay attention to, the other half he catalogs in his head as reasons not to make coming back to Beacon Hills a regular occurrence.
For instance, Linda Greenberg disowned her son for a week last month when he ran over their cat with the lawn mower. The cat didn't die, although now it has three legs. The owner of the new coffee shop in town is a fae—he apparently makes a mean Chai latte. Boyd is planning on proposing to Erica next month, and keeps dragging Scott out to shop for rings. There's a family of brownies living on the edge of the Hale territory, and they're, according to the Sheriff 'actually really friendly and kind of adorable.' Derek is still dad's 'best deputy' (yeah, even after five years trying to get used to the idea of Derek as the law, Stiles can't), and Isaac is now the guidance counselor at Beacon Hills High.
Okay, it's not like Stiles has completely divorced himself from Beacon Hills. Sure, the last time Stiles saw any of the wolf pack was at Scott and Allison's wedding three years ago, and he'd been kind of catatonic because shooting for Falling Backwards had literally just ended, so he hadn't slept in two days to get to the wedding on time. But, well, Scott keeps him up on what's happening, so he already knows some of the stuff they're talking about.
Man, now he feels guilty again. Or, well, more guilty. He has friends back in LA, but, well—
"Stiles, are you falling asleep?"
"Wha huh buh?" Stiles says, because he is falling asleep. He doesn't even know who asked the question.
"Right, he's done. I'll take him up, Sheriff," Scott says.
His room is the same as he left it. Of course it is, because every time his dad comes up to LA to see him, he asks Stiles when he's coming back.
Damn it, guilty conscience, shut up for like five fucking seconds.
"So a lot of people say you're adorable off screen, and terrifying on screen." Sindy with an S keeps bumping his ankle with her shoe. She reminds him of the gremlin Scott had killed senior year. She also has a weird habit of just saying non-questions and looking at him expectantly. "No matter what kind of role you're in."
"Uh, they do?" Stiles scratches the back of his head, grimacing as he messes up his hair and the stylist behind the camera glares at him. He misses his buzz cut.
"Well, my friends called me Bambi back in high school," Stiles says, gestures at his eyes. "I was kind of skeletal, back then, so my eyes like, popped out of my face."
"I've seen your high school class photos," Sindy says. He glances at Kelly, who is literally face-palming. "You were adorable."
"Yeah. Okay." Stiles blinks at her. "Anyway, I guess I just tend to choose roles that have a bit of terror in them. Those are always the fun ones."
"Oh god." Stiles hears Kelly moan.
Stiles wakes up when someone punches him in the gut. Then, somehow, his head still cocooned in a mess of blankets, he flounders off the bed and hits his elbow, hard, on the wooden floor.
"I swear, if you didn't need your face to make all that fucking money, I would break your nose."
"Oh, hey, Erica," he greets, sitting up—gingerly—and uncovering his head. She's standing over him, dressed for work (because it's morning, he's pretty sure it's morning) in a pencil skirt and top that make her look like a dominatrix, for some reason, her lips pulled back in a snarl and her eyes glowing yellow. Man, she must make the scariest teacher. "Nice haircut."
"Five years, and you don't even tell us you're back in town, dickhead?" she asks. "I had to smell it on Scott!?"
"You're…" She turns around, walks a couple of steps towards his desk—enough for him to notice the lethal looking heels she's got on—then back again. "You're ridiculous, Stiles."
"I know." Stiles nods. "I like to avoid things. I'm really good at avoiding things. Ignoring thi—"
"Not seeing your friends in five years?!" Erica seethes.
"We saw each other at Scott's wedding! That's three years! And I've been—"
"You were asleep halfway through the ceremony."
"Not the same." Erica crouches in front of him, her snarl turning into angry pursed lips. "I missed you. We all missed you. It's not the same seeing you on screen, and it's not like we could ever go see you in LA…
"… you could," Stiles says, and wonders why he actually means that. Sometimes he really doesn't understand himself. Wasn't he just talking about avoidance? Now he wants them to see him? What? Stiles, come on man, learn some consistency, here. "You could come see me."
"It's not a hellmouth anymore." Erica reaches out, ruffles his hair, and he has to smile. "The Hale territory has gone respectable, you know. You're safe here."
"You just punched me in the gut, Erica. What's your defin—"
"You can handle it, you're way cooler than Batman."
"I know, right?" Stiles gets up. "So are you glad I'm back? Oh, and have you told anyone else…?
"Yes, everyone knows." She cackles—cackles—when Stiles whimpers. "And yes, I'm glad—we're all glad—you're back."
"… do you want an autograph or something?" Stiles looks at her suspiciously. "I've never felt this…valued by you before." He pauses. "Is this because I have an academy award? Is that it? Are you leaving Boyd in the dust and running away with me to—"
"Get up, we're going out to coffee," she interrupts.
"What? But… no." Stiles is an adult. He doesn't have to go to coffee at… ugh, it's six in the morning. "It's six in the morning, Erica."
"And I'm on an involuntary vacation. I shouldn't be up this—okay okay I'm coming, shit." He dodges the hand that's trying to grab at his hair and hurries over to get a pair of jeans and a t-shirt from his bag.
"I'll be downstairs. You have ten minutes or you're walking."
"Or I could just not show up," Stiles grumbles under his breath, stomping towards the bathroom.
It's interesting, really, how quickly he got back into the groove of being old-Stiles. Back in LA, he's actually an adult. With adult responsibilities. But here, he already knows he's going to feel like a kid again.
Or, well, there's no 'knowing' about it; he already feels like a kid again. Already. And he's only seen Scott and Erica.
Granted, Erica is… a handful. But, fuck, what's going to happen when he sees Derek?
He flinches at that thought, because seeing Derek again is not going to be like seeing Erica. Or anyone else. It's going to be awkward and he's pretty sure there's a slight chance of him getting a boner.
Because, and he's never told anyone—anyone—this, but Derek fucking Hale was the reason he found out he was bi. Hell, Derek fucking Hale is probably the reason a lot of people found out they were bi. The man…the man is like…yeah, okay, this is going to sound horrible and, sure, he's objectifying the dude, but the man is like sex on a fucking stick.
There. He said it—thought it.
Of course, Derek makes up for being hit with the attractive stick by being an asshole in most scenarios. Scott has been telling him the guy has changed—become almost approachable—but Stiles suspects that's just Scott making up for being mean to him in high school.
He washes his face and gets dressed, and he's downstairs in ten minutes. Dad is leaning against the kitchen counter, drinking his coffee, and the familiarity of it all kind of hits Stiles hard. This is what he's been missing. All his fault, he knows. But having dad stay at his house in LA has never felt so…comfortable. Normal (well, Stiles normal). Right.
"Morning," Stiles says.
"Erica brushed past me." The sheriff nods towards the front door. "I couldn't stop her."
"Yeah, yeah." Stiles fidgets a bit, grimaces. "You want… you want to have lunch today? At the diner, or, if you're uncomfortable—"
"—the guys have been wanting to see you. Pick me up at noon, and be prepared for mobs."
"Sounds cool, dad." Stiles hugs him, then walks out the door to see Erica leaning up against her car.
"We're taking a drive in that," --Erica motions at the closed garage door-- "before you get back to LA."
"Nope," Stiles says cheerfully. He gets in the car, buckling his seatbelt just as she opens the door to the driver's side.
"You look good, by the way," Erica says, pulling out. Miss Goldstein across the way is peeking out at them from behind her rose bushes. He waves, and she ducks down to scratch at the dirt.
"…yeah, that just doesn't sound right coming from you, Erica."
"I'm being nice," Erica seethes.
"Again, doesn't sound right." Stiles grins at her when she snarls. "So, when did you guys find out--?"
"This morning, when I walked into Scott's and he smelled like you, dipshit." Erica eyes him. Derek hung up when I told him. He's probably going to kill you."
"He's an officer of the law. He can't kill me."
"He can punch you."
"We'll be in public."
"We'll go somewhere private just so—"
"I'll pay you. I have money now. Loads of it."
Erica snorts and starts laughing, and it's a beautiful sight. "I missed you, Stiles."
Stiles doesn't know whether he hates or loves the red carpet. Or, wait. The Red Carpet. Capitalized. He's terrified of it, he knows that much. Knows that he's just a second away from saying something horrendously awkward that will be on the internet within the hour. He respects it. He may or may not spend half his time on it going slack-jawed whenever someone decidedly more famous and definitely prettier comes within ten feet of him. But he doesn't know if he loves it or hates it.
"You're nominated for an academy award tonight. You think you're gonna get it?" Sandra has her microphone shoved in his face. There are camera flashes going off all around him. He's pretty sure the makeup Miranda forced on him is melting. His suit is fucking tight and uncomfortable, and all he wants to do is disappear into a dark corner and maybe hiss at one or two people.
"Hell no." He smiles, scratches his chin. "Are you kidding? Just being nominated is like a fu—like some alternate reality." He should know about alternate realities; he was the one that got Isaac back after he was pulled into one. "The other nominees are way better than me."
"I don't know, Stiles." Sandra purses her lips at him. "A lot of people were very impressed with your performance. Do you have any plans for a follow up movie?"
"My agent told me no more scripts for a while." Stiles laughs, even though he wants another fucking script, for fuck's sake. "Says I work too hard."
"Well, no argument there. Ten big movies in, what, four years? Before that, numerous work in independent films and television. " Sandra looks down at her little notepad, back up at him with a beaming smile. "I think I was just as surprised as everyone else when you weren't nominated for Eyes of Red."
The crowd around them screams, and Stiles looks up to see Emma Stone walking towards him. Well, not towards him, but towards his general direction. Oh god, sometimes Stiles thinks he's in a bad reality TV show. Especially when gorgeous people—
"Oh, right, sorry. Got distracted." Stiles gives her his best self-deprecating smile.
When they get to the coffee shop—and Stiles confirms with Erica that it's the new one… the one that's run by the fae—he's managed to temporarily fool himself into forgetting about the impending reunion, and is actually having a fun time annoying Erica.
See? Sixteen year old Stiles. Full swing.
It's only when she parks the car, and then comes around to bodily pull him out of the passenger side seat, that he gives in to the terror again. He doesn't show it, though—that would be weak. Plus, Stiles is an actor. If he can get through hanging upside down off a skyscraper for six hours for stunt work, he can handle one little itty bitty reu—
He sees them when Erica pushes him in through the front door of the coffee shop, and has to think somber, serious thoughts to stop the meep that is threatening to work it's way out of his mouth. Boyd is there, looking silently amused, like always. Lydia is there, glaring at him in righteous indignation. Isaac is there, and is, strangely enough, beaming. Allison is there, waving at him. Scott is there, too, mouthing an apology at him. And Derek is there, in all his gruff, manly glory, just staring at him. Oh god, he's in uniform. Call a fucking ambulance, because Stiles is about to have a -
"You stink like terror," Erica says from next to him, pushing until he's seated across from Derek, and in-between Scott and Isaac at a surprisingly large table. He looks around for a bit, smiling, maybe a little too wide, at everyone.
"Morning, guys. Kind of early, huh?"
"I really want to decimate you right now, Stilinski," Lydia greets, her head cocked. "But seeing as how you're public property—"
Derek actually snarls at that; Stiles has forgotten how powerful the sound is.
"—did you guys see last month's Vogue?" Allison looks at him, then around. "He was in it. Lookin' good, Stiles."
"… you didn't tell me he was in Vogue," Erica says from next to Boyd. Stiles leans back in his chair, staring back at Derek as he stares back at him.
"Missed you." Isaac leans in to nudge at him, and he turns with a grin. "We're going to hang out while you're back, right?"
"I'll let you drive my car," Stiles offers, and he hears Erica and Scott gasp.
"You wouldn't let me—" Scott whines.
"You're not Isaac." Stiles gestures at Isaac. "I mean, look at him. Those curls. Those eyes. The pouty set of those Grecian lips—"
"How long are you back?" Derek interrupts, voice low, guttural like he has something stuck in his throat. Ugh. If the phrase gird your loins was ever applicable to a situation in Stiles life, it's here and now. Or, really, any situation where Derek's involved.
"Three months or so," Stiles says, going for casual. "Forced vacation, and all."
"Forced?" Derek asks. Stiles looks around to see that the others are looking between him and Derek with way too much amusement. Like they were expecting this. Hoping for it.
"Miranda, err, that's my agent, says I work too much." He shrugs. "Thus, forced vacation."
"… It's better now. Here," Derek says after a bit, looking down at his coffee, and Stiles groans.
"A—all right, then, I need some caffeine before we do this." Stiles gets up. He does not run to the counter, even though he kind of wants to. He would've, probably, back in high school, or even college. But he's an adult now, and adults—especially adults in a crowded coffee shop, where about ten people have already started giving him the oh-crap-is-that-who-I-think-it-is look—are calm and collected. Or, well, they try to be.
There are three people in front of him at the counter, so he stands, and waits, and definitely does not try to catch glimpses of the group out of the corner of his eye. He doesn't need to see, really, to know that they're all staring at him, muttering amongst themselves. Probably discussing ways to kill him.
"Excuse me, are you… are you Stiles Stilinski?" A squeaky voice says from behind him, and he turns to see a gaggle of high school girls gawking up at him.
"Uh, yeah," he says, and grins when their eyes go wide.
"Can we get a picture?" One of them asks. He really doesn't get why people do this, but it's not like he hates it. Okay, a small part of him really loves being, like, liked so much that complete strangers want pictures with him. Okay, not a small part, a rather large part.
He scratches at the back of his head, because as much as he loves the idea, the execution is still kind of awkward. "Yeah, sure."
It takes ten minutes, because they all want individual pictures, and then a group picture, and then they start telling him that they saw his interview in Vogue and that they didn't know the scars that run from his shoulder to his sternum are actually real and does he really not have a girlfriend (or boyfriend, one of them point out) at the moment, because if so they volunteer.
It's awkward, getting a drink with them behind him, but he's used to awkward by now, and manages to stay cool.
In this case, cool as in not running away. Far away. Although, considering what the conversation he's going to have after he gets his coffee…well, yeah, running away sounds good. The barista asks for a picture too, which he has to lean across the counter for, and then he orders a black tea, which means there is no wait time whatsoever.
By the time he gets back to the others, he's exhausted, but in a good way. If that makes sense.
"I can't believe you're a celebrity," Lydia says. "I should've at least had se—"
"Lydia!" Scott makes a face.
"Can we get to the part where we tell Stiles he's been an ass?" Boyd says, looking at his watch. God, the dude is hot in a suit. Why are they all so much hotter than him? It's things like this that make him wonder why the hell he's the one, out of all of them, that somehow became an actor. A celebrity. He's not horrible looking—people call him cute and adorable and magnetic (whatever that means)—but he's not handsome. Like, classically handsome. Derek is handsome. Scott is handsome. Isaac is handsome. Boyd is handsome. Stiles is relatively good looking, and he can lie convincingly enough that people like what he does on screen. "because I have an eight o clock appointment and the guy is not a morning person."
"Then why did he make the appointment in the morning? Stiles asks before he can stop himself, takes an innocent sip of his tea when Boyd just glares.
"You're an ass," Allison says, with a lot of enthusiasm. Derek grunts in agreement; the rest nod, except Boyd, who's still glaring. "For not coming back to Beacon Hills. For not talking to us—"
"We text, guys. And e-mail! And we're all facebook friends! I know Isaac follows me on twitter. He keeps retweeting my crap!" Stiles doesn't know why he's defending himself, it's just going to make it worse.
"—not talking to us enough," Allison finishes, and Stiles slumps down in his seat.
"Yeah, okay," he says. "I'm an ass."
"Damn right you are," Scott says, and even Stiles gives him a look.
"You're not involved, McCall," Boyd says. "You helped him pick out that monstrosity of a car he's always in."
"That," Scott beats Stiles to the chase, "is a Ferarri F12 Berlinetta, and you will give it the respect it deserves, Vernon."
"You went there? Really?" Boyd purses his lips. "Mature, Scott."
"You know you missed us." Isaac grins at him again. "Only because we make great entertainment."
Stiles sighs, looks down at his tea. "I missed you."
"Then, why didn't you ever just—" Derek looks angry. Not werewolf crazy red eyes angry. Just… normal angry. "You just…left."
There's a very long, very pregnant pause.
"On that note, Boyd and I have to go." Erica is the first one to speak, pulling Boyd up with her. "Stiles, you can walk home, right? Or get a ride from someone?"
"Oh, we've gotta leave too." Allison gets up, eyes Scott until he follows suit.
"But I wanna watch," Isaac says. Or whines. Even as Lydia grabs him and starts pulling him away. It's amazing, actually, that it only takes them a couple of seconds to clear out. Leaving him with Derek. Alone.
Yeah, they were probably planning this.
"Did you ever think, when you started out in the business, that you'd get this successful this quick? Your story isn't a normal one, Stiles." Katy is quick and witty and Stiles is actually kind of in love with her already.
"Honestly? Hell no." Stiles leans back in his chair. "The first time I was in front of a camera I almost threw up—"
"That was in, err, Hellbent?"
"No, Youtube." Stiles grins. "My room mate guilted me into acting."
"Well, obviously you've gotten past it."
"Not really." Stiles taps his foot against his chair, points at the camera trained on both of them. "I'm terrified of that thing. It's terrifying."
What he doesn't say is that he got used to terrifying things early in life, so getting over his fear of cameras was kind of easy.
"Oh, come on." Katy eyes him. "You're up for an academy award and the majority of the movies you've been in have gotten rave reviews. You're a natural, Stiles."
"…oh, keep going." Stiles flails his hands so she's distracted from the way his cheeks are turning red. "This is great for my ego."
"No, but really, Stiles…"
"Really?" He shrugs. "I think most of it has to do with my manager. And maybe just dumb luck. A lot of dumb luck, actually. Like, crazy amounts of dumb luck."