One of the benefits of bringing your dog along to a camping site, Stiles quickly realizes, is being able to escape the responsibilities of hooking up the RV and insist that you need to walk the dog after being stuck in the car all day.
Lydia shoots him a dirty look as he attaches the leash to Yoda's collar, but doesn't argue. Danny jumps to his feet and jogs after them, claiming he has to stretch his legs as well. Scott and Allison stay to help set up camp because they are good people.
"You know Lydia is going to get back at us for this, right?" Danny points out as he catches up.
"Whatever," Stiles shrugs, twirling the leather leash around his hand with ease. "I drove the damn thing all the way out here. She sat in the back painting her nails and complained about the bumpy road."
"I'm pretty sure she was complaining about the bumpy ride," Danny states with a huff. "In other words: your driving."
"There's nothing wrong with my driving," Stiles says, offended. He may be used to his Jeep back home, but he's perfectly capable of driving Lydia's RV. "Besides, she could've ridden with Scott and Allison if it bothered her so much."
"Actually she couldn't," Danny reminds him.
Right, Stiles remembers. Because Scott and Allison are what most people would call the perfect couple, but even they have their ups and down. They had broken up twice over the past two years, but they always seem to find their way back to one another. Like magnets. It's pretty fascinating, Stiles admits. And despite it seeming as if things are all good between them this week, they had requested to ride just the two of them in Allison's car.
It had been Lydia's idea, of course, to get the hell out of Beacon Hills right after graduation yesterday. She never said it out loud, but Stiles suspects she'd use any excuse to get away from Jackson. Apparently she thinks spending a week in a campground in New Mexico with limited hygiene and massive amounts of bugs will help her getting over the break-up. Stiles isn't going to call her out on it. He may never have had a relationship like theirs – or any other kind for that matter – but even he can tell she needs this.
Stiles has gone camping with his dad a few times in the past, but as he and Danny go to explore the site, he finds that it's far bigger than any he's ever been to. It's crowded, too; people everywhere with campers and tents lined up as far as the eye can see. Almost every lot they pass is occupied. Someone brought a big audio system and is blasting R&B music which can be heard over nearly the entire area.
If Stiles' dad had been there he would find the guilty party and charge them for disturbing the peace.
Not far from the big grass fields where people set up their camps is a lake with a white sand beach. There's a cabin down by the water with a worn-out 'RESTAURANT' sign above the door, but Stiles doubts they'll ever eat there. Places like that are usually expensive as hell. The tables on the porch surrounding it look appealing, however, with a volleyball net set up nearby that's already being put to good use.
Stiles lets Yoda have more leeway with the leash when they reach the less crowded outskirts of the grounds. The dog's tongue is hanging out of its mouth, panting excitedly at the heat of his surroundings. He pulls hard enough for Stiles to stumble on the other end of the leash.
"You could probably let him run for a while," Danny suggests, throwing glances over his shoulder. "There's barely anyone he can bother here anyway."
"At least there are no campers for him to pee on," Stiles agrees, because that is a relevant worry. He crouches down to scratch the husky behind the ears before clicking off the leash. "Go ahead, big guy."
Yoda happily trots off to the grass on the side of the path, stopping at a stand of undisturbed trees. Stiles straightens up with a sigh, digging his hands into the pockets of his shorts and smiling at the obvious euphoria in his dog's expression. He'd considered leaving him at home, because he was worried that the long drive would be too much for the dog to cope with. Leaving him alone with his dad for a week would probably have been an even worse idea though, so in the end he'd brought him along.
They keep on walking; Stiles and Danny on the path and Yoda keeping a decent distance to their left. Stiles almost feels like letting his own tongue hang out of his mouth because the sun is so hot, much hotter than back home. He grabs the hem of his shirt and flaps it in an attempt to cool himself down. Danny doesn't look as bothered by the heat, but that's only because he's wearing a tank top and swim trunks compared to Stiles' jeans and t-shirt. Besides, he's from Hawaii. Stiles is convinced it's in his genes to withstand these kind of temperatures.
They're just about to turn around and head back to their campsite when Yoda's head shoots up high in the air, perking his ears, and in the next instant is running straight for the hedgerow outlining one of the camp fields.
"Fuck," Stiles groans before setting off after him. "Yoda! Come here!"
His father is constantly reminding him that the dog needs more training and discipline so he'll stop ignoring commands and running off, and Stiles can practically hear him sighing heavily while muttering 'I told you so'.
Despite having done both lacrosse and cross-country in high school, Stiles still doesn't stand a chance at catching up with the sprinting dog. Stiles can see his wavy tail disappear in the bushes and moans at the thought of all the trouble he could cause on the other side. Maybe someone brought a cat or opened a container of food. Damn dogs and their instincts.
Stiles holds his arms up in front of him while running through the hedge, but still gets slapped in the face by twigs. He swears under his breath and prays for Yoda not to be too far away on the other side.
He's sitting wagging his tail only a few feet from where Stiles comes to an abrupt stop. Four heavily packed motorcycles are parked to his right, taking up a whole lot on their own. On the campsite next to them, which Stiles just stumbled onto, is a large blue tent.
A man is crouching in front of the tent with both hands busy scratching Yoda's neck. He's dressed all in black; tight pants and a leather jacket. It matches the colour of his hair and the five o'clock shadow that really shouldn't be as attractive as it is. The guy looks up when Stiles appears, which has Stiles nearly falling over when coming to a sudden stop. The sun reflects like a mirror on his sunglasses, but the all-teeth smile he gives Stiles is even more blinding.
"You named your dog Yoda?"
"Uh," Stiles says dumbly, managing to chuckle and scratch the back of his neck. "Yeah."
The man nods, closing his mouth but keeps the smile as he turns his attention back to the dog.
"I shouldn't have let him loose," Stiles starts to apologize, more out of habit than anything else, because the guy doesn't look half as furious as most people Yoda has troubled in the past. "I'm sorry."
The guy huffs. "Don't worry about it," he says simply. "I don't mind." He gives Yoda a final clap on the back before straightening up, and Stiles does his best not to stare all over the body covered in leather right in front of him. He looks at Stiles again, and Stiles wishes he could see past those dark sunglasses. "Husky, right?"
"Yeah," Stiles says, fidgeting with the leash in his hands. "Well, for the most part anyway. There's probably something else in there too because he's way too lovesick to be pure husky."
He claps his hands on his thighs as the guy huffs again, which is a sound that really shouldn't make Stiles' stomach twist the way it does. He manages to catch Yoda's attention who walks back to his rightful owner and dutifully lets him put the leash back on. Stiles lets out a breath of relief. This could've ended a lot worse.
When Stiles lifts his head up again, the man is looking directly at him. At least he thinks so; it's difficult to tell due to the dark shades covering his eyes. Stiles immediately wishes he'd at least changed into another shirt than the one he's been sweating in the whole drive there. His face is probably flushed from both the heat and the running, and he doesn't even want to think about what his hair looks like. Not that it matters. Even on a good day he would never compare to the man standing in front of him.
Stiles swallows, rearranging the leash in his hand, and is just about to turn back around and leave the poor guy alone when he speaks; a weak smile still tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"Stiles," he responds in a heartbeat.
The guy – Derek – does something incredible with one of his eyebrow, arching it in disbelief. "Really?"
"Well, no," Stiles admits. "But my real name is better left unsaid."
Derek snorts. "If you say so."
"Perhaps he's a fugitive," says a voice from inside the tent, and then another guy appears. He's got blond curly hair and a sharp jaw, looking both smaller and younger than Derek, but turns out to be several inches taller once he comes to stand next to him. Even he's wearing leather, and Stiles suspects he just met another owner to one of those bikes.
"I'm not," Stiles assures with a scoff. "My dad's a sheriff back home."
"Which is where?" Derek asks as the other guy smirks.
"Beacon Hills, California."
Danny comes bursting in through the bushes then and nearly collides with Stiles who throws an arm out to steady him. "Oh," he says breathlessly, looking between all three of them and then down at Yoda currently sitting at Stiles' feet. "I see you found the wolf."
"And two more," Derek says with a sly smile that makes Stiles' heart skip a beat. He claps the tall guy on the back. "This is Isaac. I'm Derek," he adds, nodding to Danny.
"Right," Danny says, glancing at Stiles with a wondering expression before introducing himself in return. Stiles can't blame him. It's not like it's one of his specialties to run into hot guys and start a conversation.
"California, huh?" Derek says then, cocking an eyebrow when he turns his head in Stiles' direction.
"Yeah. We just graduated. Figured sleeping with bugs for a week would be the best way to celebrate."
Isaac laughs and Derek sneers. Stiles feels his stomach flip at the sight of Derek's perfectly aligned teeth. His canines are pointier than the rest. Just like an animal's.
"We're heading there, actually."
"Road trip?" Stiles asks, even though it's obvious.
Derek lifts both eyebrows and gestures toward the bikes, which is answer enough. "Started in New York and have been following Route 66 from Chicago. Los Angeles is our finish line."
"Wow," Danny whistles appreciatively. "How long have you guys been out?"
"A little over a week," Derek answers.
"That's pretty long, isn't it?" Stiles remarks. "And not be there yet, I mean. I think I've heard Route 66 takes less than a week to drive all the way."
Derek's lips twitch. "We're not in a hurry."
"Obviously," Stiles agrees. "Since you're here, I mean. It would've saved you a lot of time staying at the motels along the road."
"We like detours," Derek shrugs simply.
"And how long will you stay here then?" Danny wonders, clearly picking up on the fact that these guys don't seem to mind chatting.
"Not long," Isaac sigh, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"A week," Derek declares.
Isaac gives his friend a strange look at that, one that either goes unnoticed or ignored by Derek.
"Right. A week," he agrees absently.
Stiles doesn't have time to dwell on it before two more guys come walking around the tent to join them, wearing the same face as well as jackets.
"Am I seeing double?" Danny asks, blinking.
The two new guys laugh as they move to stand on Derek's left. It's almost hilarious how they merge into a perfect line in front of them. Stiles half expect a camera to flash somewhere because this could easily be a supermodel photo shoot for a commercial aiming to sell leather jackets.
Stiles would buy one.
"It's called twins," one of them offers, winking at Danny who chuckles and awkwardly rearranges his footing. "Where are the others?" The same one asks when turning to Derek.
"How am I supposed to know?" Derek shrugs.
"Boyd and Erica ran off as soon as we got here," Isaac says, the corner of his lips twitching as he raises an eyebrow suggestively. "You really want to know what they're up to?"
The twin pulls a face and waves with his hands in the air, as if trying to shoo off the picture Isaac put in his head. Stiles wants to ask, but catches himself. He knows this is none of his business, and as curious as he is about the biker gang that apparently only consists of people too good-looking for their own good, they could probably manage without a nosy teenager. Or two.
"Well," he says, earning everyone's attention again. "We better go. Our friends might wonder where we wandered off to." The group mumbles in understanding, and Stiles nods to Derek with what he hopes to be a thankful smile. "Thanks for catching my dog."
"No problem," Derek says, voice low. "I guess I'll see you around."
As they turn to walk away, Stiles can't decide whether he hopes to run into them more than once this week, or never again.
"Why don't you just go ask for his number?"
"No one does that anymore, Scott. You just stalk people on Facebook."
"So find him on Facebook."
Stiles sighs dramatically. "I don't want to stalk him on Facebook," he complains, and he realizes he sounds like a whining child but he can't bother to care. He's quiet for a moment before mumbling thoughtfully: "He's probably got like a thousand stalkers on Facebook."
It's stupid that he hasn't been able to get this Derek guy out of his head for the last hour. It's stupid, because he hasn't even seen his damn face properly and yet he can't help picturing what his eyes might look like. It's stupid how he's been obvious enough about his inner crisis for his friends to figure out exactly what's going on.
Scott and the girls had already made themselves at home by the time Stiles and Danny got back, and now they're having a barbecue; gathered around the small table under the awning. Lydia had insisted on dragging a coal grill along and right now Stiles almost feels like kissing her for being so persistent about it. Still; he's barely eaten half of his chicken, and keeps absently throwing small pieces to Yoda, who's on lockdown by the door of their RV, sitting as close to him as the leash would allow.
"He's probably a jerk," Scott offers like a good best friend and Stiles smiles thankfully.
"Except he didn't act like a jerk," Danny butts in. "He liked your dog."
"Not helping," Stiles mutters. His sour mood returns full force.
"He's just a guy," Lydia says pointedly, picking at her chicken. "You'll get over him."
Stiles wonders who she's talking to; him or herself.
He does forget about Derek eventually, when they start arguing about who sleeps where. The first thing they all agree on is putting Danny on the couch, because he's been known to snore and no one wants him in the bedroom. (Stiles totally makes an inappropriate joke about that.)
It lasts for almost half an hour.
They all turn their heads at the sound of heavy metal thunder and noisy engines approaching, and suddenly, there he is. Except he isn't alone; all four bikes come rumbling on a line heading for the exit of the campground.
Derek's in the lead, still wearing sunglasses despite the sun about to set behind the mountains. He isn't wearing a helmet, the smooth wind ruffling his hair even while driving at a slow pace. Behind him sits a woman with long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. She looks around the same age as Derek, and her arms are comfortably wrapped around his waist as she rests her chin on his shoulder.
Stiles' heart sinks like a stone.
He should've known a guy like that had a girlfriend. It should've been obvious. And why does he care?
On the second bike nearest to Derek is the tall blond guy – Isaac – with his hair dancing in the wind. The third bike currently holds two unfamiliar people; a broad shouldered black man and a beautiful blonde. The last bikes are the two twins, and Stiles sees Danny shift on his feet in the corner of his eye as they roll by.
For a moment Stiles hopes they've changed their plans and decided to leave tonight already, but the saddlebags have been removed; probably left behind at their campsite along with their helmets. They are most likely only out and about for a joy ride while the sun sets.
That thought sounds about as appealing to Stiles as eating curly fries. And Stiles loves his curly fries.
Once the biker gang is out of sight, the sound of their loud engines fading off into the distance, Stiles turns to find all the others looking at each other in some weird kind of silence. He can practically read the awe in their eyes and it makes his stomach twist. He can tell they are all gonna stop claiming he was exaggerating when telling them how unfairly attractive the gang leader is from now on. How attractive the whole gang is, actually.
"Well, Stiles," Lydia says eventually, breaking the silence and walking over to put a hand on his shoulder. "Not gonna lie. That may take a while to get over."
He's had stupid crushes in the past, of course, and no matter how impossible it feels to ever get over them, to convince himself that they are just pretty faces, he had gotten over them eventually. He'd gotten over Lydia, for Christ's sake. The number of years it took doesn't matter.
He will get over Derek, too. But it will definitely take more than a few days.
This whole week just got ruined.