Stiles looks at the bar and questions his choices in life again. How did he always end up at the door of dingy-looking bars in foul-smelling alleys, looking for stray wolves? Seriously, one of these days he's applying for a nice and quiet little desk-job, preferably of the nine-to-five variant.
Alas, those were dreams for another day, because one little magical accident while trying out a new spell, and here he is, dislocated, in Atlanta of all places. And he's not even sure this Atlanta is the actual Atlanta, because half of it seemed overrun by a jungle, and the rest looked like it didn't survive multiple earthquakes. And maybe a stampede.
If it was only him, he'd just reverse the spell and hope he'd end up back at home, but thanks to his neverending case of extremely bad luck, he'd managed to magic Derek with him, and the bastard had changed and run the moment they hit the jungle, leaving Stiles to his own devices. 2 days later, Stiles had managed to stay alive (which he was insanely proud of), he'd managed to find a motel he could afford (even if only for one more day), but he'd failed at finding his least favorite werewolf (well, of the ones still alive that is).
Luckily he'd heard the motel-owner talking about the Pack, so he asked politely where he might find members of said Pack - if in dire straits, ask the locals for help he figures - and here he is, about to enter a bar with a paw insignia above the door, looking for a stray wolf, who he's so leaving behind the next time something happens, seriously.
Inside, the bar isn't quite as dingy as on the outside. The lighting isn't that bad, the outside smells stayed outside, and the mood seems peaceful. Stiles is honestly surprised to find that this is probably the nicest place he's been to so far in this town. He sits down at the bar, and absent-mindedly orders a beer while looking around trying to figure out who looks approachable enough to ask about Derek. Or scratch that, who looks least like they might kill him on sight. His calculations of how low his odds of survival are are disrupted by the beer that's placed in front of him, but mostly by the knife that's suddenly slammed into the counter, precisely between his fingers. He swallows and tries not to fidget while looking up. The girl behind the bar is about his age, and she looks innocent, blonde and small, if not for the scariest smile he's ever seen.
"Your magic is weird," she says, and how on earth is Stiles supposed to react to that?
"I'm not looking for trouble," he tries, but the girl's smile just grows scarier.
"I'm pretty sure you're already in trouble," she says.
"I'm looking for a friend, well, not really a friend, really more like a pest I feel responsible for since he can't seem to take care of himself. He's tall, dark, forever looks like there's something smelly stuck under his nose. He's probably shirtless, he has trouble with keeping his shirt on, and when you try and talk to him he mostly grunts or growls. Maybe you've seen him? Or if not, maybe you've seen a wolf running around you haven't seen before? He's not really good at dealing with strangers, or strange locations, or anything remotely strange really, so I'm pretty sure his fight or flight response kicked in, and now we're lost because my magic did something unexpected again and we're stuck here, and what on earth happened here? I mean last time I checked, Atlanta didn't look like this, and just I really want to get home, but Derek just had to run off, and now I'm stuck here looking for him, and really what's up with the running away, honestly, leave the defenseless human stuck in the jungle, come on, that's just..."
"You're rambling", the girl interrupts him.
"Yeah, I do that when I get nervous," he says.
"Just take a drink, and start from the beginning. You're looking for a wolf called Derek? Because I know a wolf with that name. Maybe it's the one you're looking for?" she says, and she pulls her knife from the counter and starts picking her nails with it. Her nails are painted black, and for some reason that puts Stiles at ease. It's such a human thing to do, and for a second he wonders when his life became so weird he started looking for details to confirm people were actually human. Stiles takes a long drink. The girl still looks scary as hell, but at least she hasn't killed him yet, and she seems willing enough to help, so he starts again.
"So I tried a new spell, I didn't want to, spells can be dangerous, but Derek insisted, he always does, and something ovbiously wents wrong, it always does, and I think we got relocated, only I'm not even sure we're in the same universe anymore, and Derek just ran away, his fight or flight response seriously needs some work, and I think I know how to get us back, but I need to find him first, and someone told me this was a place where werewolves came, so I thought to come ask if anyone has seen him here." Stiles empties his drink, and the girl gives him a refill without prompting.
"Tell me more about this Derek", she says. "I can't help looking for him if I don't know who I'm looking for, so it's best if you tell me everything." And Stiles doesn't really want to, but he does so anyway.
"You see, I got stuck with Derek a couple of years ago, when my best friend got turned into a werewolf..."
"My Derek lost his family too," Julie says. "They went loup, but he didn't. And then Curran looked after him. But I'm sure that Derek would have found a way to survive even without Curran or Kate. He's great at looking after himself, and other people. He always wants to look after me, it's so annoying. I can look after myself, you know." Julie seems distracted for a bit, waving around her knife, and Stiles wonders when this conversation turned into them spilling secrets of other people. Well, it's the first time Julie said something personal, mostly it was him spilling the dirt on Derek. He's pretty sure she put something in his drink that made him this talkative, but then he never had much inhibitions when it came to talking, so maybe he just really needed to vent to someone. He's been lost and all alone in a strange city for days after all.
"I think Derek still blames himself for the fire, and he doesn't trust anyone, not even himself, and then he always fights when he needs to run, and runs when he needs to fight, or simply stand his ground and assess the situation. He's not really good at decision-making basically. And I look after Scott, he's my best friend, and Derek just kind of stuck around, we tried to get rid of him, we really did, so somehow I ended up having to look after him, and now here I am, looking for a stray wolf. Again." Stiles is waving around his hands too much, but the drinks and whatever she put into them went to his head, and seriously, what is his life, you'd be a little overdramatic for less.
"And I don't care how good he looks shirtless, this is just not worth it you know. I mean, if Scott can look after himself, Derek should be able to do so as well, seriously."
Stiles wants to say more, but suddenly every hair on the back of his neck rises, and he's pretty sure he's about to die.
"Julie, who's your friend?" Someone behind him says, and the voice is low and raspy and made out of gravel thrown into a blender, and if ever something could sound like doom personified, it's this voice. Stiles freezes, one hand still up in the air.
"This is Stiles, he's looking for his friend who got lost in Unicorn Lane. Stiles, this is my Derek." Julie positively purrs, and for the first time she doesn't look scary and hard edges all over, but almost soft. If you can call waving a knife around in greeting soft.
He slowly turns around, and swallows when he sees Julie's Derek. He mostly stopped being afraid of his own Derek years ago, but this Derek manages to put the fear of god into him. He's not overly tall, but his face is scarred in a weird way, as if every bone in his face was smashed one day and wasn't put together right. And the look in his eyes practically screams danger. Stiles swallows.
"Your Derek is scarier than mine, you won that bet," Stiles says, and when Terrifying Dereks eyebrow goes up he just wants to kill himself to get his obvious demise over with already. Instead he hands over his last twenty. Julie laughs.
"Told you so", she says. She pours three glasses of water. "Relax Derek, he's harmless, if not entirely in control of his own magic. He's going to tell you everything about his friend, and then we're going to find him, because he's been on his own for 2 days, and I don't think he can manage another day in Unicorn Lane and not go loup."
"And why precisely are we going to do this? They're not Pack, and if he wants our help he could hire Cutting Edge Investigations," Gruesome Derek says, and Stiles shoves down his desire to try and plead for help, because he's pretty sure his questionable charms wouldn't work on this Derek. They never did work on his own Derek either.
"Come on Derek. You know why I'm stuck serving at this bar. 'You need to learn how to have human interactions Julie. Get a job, make some friends who aren't Pack, and learn how life works outside of the Keep'. As if I don't know that. But I got this job," Julie points at the bar. "I made this friend," she points at Stiles, and Stiles wants to disappear into the ground when that makes Scary Derek look at him again. "And now I'm going to help my friend, because that's what friends do." Julie slams her knife into the counter again for emphasis. Creepy Derek doesn't look convinced.
"Seriously Derek, I slipped him some Lunaria, he has nothing to hide. I'm going to help him, and since you're not going to let me do that alone, you might as well get all the info."
He knew she put something in his drink, but when Frightening Derek nods slowly in agreement, he finds he doesn't really mind. This looks like someone capable of actually helping him out.
"Tell him everything Stiles, but the short version. Need-to-know only, Derek's not really interested in how good your friend looks without a shirt. Although maybe we can do a contest when we find yours, I'm betting mine is hotter."
Stiles bravely ignores the last part, and starts telling Scary Derek everything he knows that could help finding Lost Derek.
When he gets home, he's never doing anything magic again.