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Of All The Bowling Joints in the World

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Beacon Hills was a small town in the greater Beacon County, and its inhabitants were used to making the most of what they had. So they only had like one movie theatre? The midnight releases were a lot less exclusive, big whoop. And their abandoned mall was eventually replaced with a cooler, though slightly smaller one - plus, that abandoned one (when not hosting rapid supernatural creatures) made a hot spot for less than legal activities (not that Stiles ever had personal experience with those).

Beacon Bowling, the sole bowling alley in the town, was celebrated as everyone's very first hang out spot. A sit-down restaurant, Hale of a Plate, shared residence with the bowling alley, and people would go to Beacon Bowling just to sit, gossip, and have some classic diner food.

Stiles was all too familiar with the alley-restaurant duo: his mother had gone to Hale of a Plate enough to secure not only her own seat, but a bond with the family who owned the restaurant, the Hales who lived in the middle of the woods.

Their family was almost intimidatingly large, ranging from the eldest girl, Laura, to the fraternal twins, who were five years old. And sprinkled in between were Derek, Julia, Cora, and Franklin. The immediate family also hosted Talia's, the matriarch, brother Peter and his family. It was essentially unheard of to spot one Hale without two more following in suite.

They were also the resident werewolf pack in Beacon Hills. Talia was widely respected as Alpha, from Beacon Hills and beyond, and her power impacted even the humans in their town. Stiles would never forget when his mom and dad first told him about werewolves and how there were good ones and bad ones - and the Hales? They were definitely the good ones. The Hales were all pretty efficient at acting relatively human - but every full moon, Stiles could hear their howls from his bedroom window, and felt comforted by them.

Stiles himself became pretty familiar with the Hale clan, his mother often dragging him with her when she wanted to have some coffee and good conversation with Talia or another regular at the restaurant. Talia usually sneaked Stiles pastries left from their morning rush, much to Claudia's chagrin. Stiles could pretty much recite the following argument about Claudia pushing to pay for the food and Talia refusing her money word for word.

When Stiles' mother passed, the Hales always made sure to leave fresh Forget-Me-Nots, Claudia's favorite flower, on her usual table every day. Stiles could never really bring it in him to sit at the table, but he always made sure to thank whichever Hale he saw for the gesture.

Stiles found himself hanging around the restaurant even after his mother's passing, and his presence was so familiar that Talia eventually offered him a job as a server. Stiles gratefully took it, his first job in high school, and when he wasn't at school, home, or his best friend Scott's place, he was working at the restaurant.

It was late afternoon one Friday when Scott crashed through the entrance, the bell ringing hysterically to alert Stiles of a new customer. His face immediately dropped his usual welcome smile to frown at Scott's doubled-over body.

"Dude, what's the rush?" he asked, returning to his side work; Laura was a terror if he skipped out on doing the inane chores, especially as close to the full moon like it was tonight.

"Oh my god, Stiles!" Scott heaved, scrambling for his inhaler to take a solid puff. "Allison, she - dude, she agreed to go out with me!"

"Scott, that's great!" Stiles cried, slapping Scott on the back. Allison Argent had moved to Beacon Hills at the tail end of the summer. Her family's arrival had caused some panic, considering they hailed from one of the most well respected (and feared) clan of hunters in the country. It had taken a good couple months of negotiations and walking on eggshells for the Argents and Hales to eventually settle on a peace treaty. Stiles was privy to the constant struggle between the two families because Laura, the future Alpha of the Hales, would whine to Stiles about yet another meeting with the Argents while he worked and she stuffed her face with fresh pastries Cora made.

And of course Scott would quickly find himself enamored with their daughter, who Stiles honestly thought was a catch anyway. Scott's application to join the pack was still being considered by the Hales (though the way Talia and Laura talked about it, his acceptance was already a done deal) and Stiles worried being a werewolf might create drama in Scott and Allison's budding romance. But Scott had been freaking out about asking her out for weeks now, and Stiles was just glad to be done with the slew of questions and freaking declarations of love about Allison.

"So what's the plan?" Stiles asked, wringing out the rag he was using to wipe the counter in the sink. "Gonna woo her at Make Out Point? Treat her to a fancy dinner at Arby's?"

"I - okay, here's the thing." And the red flag shot up. Nothing good came from Scott saying 'here's the thing.' 'Here's the thing' was the reason Stiles' face was on the wanted wall of the Chuck E. Cheese the next town over. 'Here's the thing' was the reason Stiles had a small scar on his chin from a water balloon. 'Here's the thing' was exactly why Stiles had trust issues.

"Think very carefully about your next words," Stiles said slowly, already preparing his resounding 'no.'

"Okay, so you know how Lydia was on the outs with Jackson again?"

"Of course I know about that, she's only the love of my life!" And she was. Sweet Lydia Martin; with her waves of luxurious strawberry blonde hair, her intimidating intelligence, and cruel looks that deemed all beneath her. She was an absolute terror of a freshman, and she reigned the halls - and Stiles' heart - with ease.

"Well, it turns out to get back at Jackson, she asked Derek out tonight." Stiles stopped sweeping, fumbling to catch the broom he almost dropped in his shock. He did not hear that from the grapevine; as far as he knew, Derek didn't even know Lydia!

Out of all the Hales, Stiles felt the most uncomfortable around Derek. Maybe it was because Derek, despite only being a senior in high school, looked old and hot enough to strut on the catwalk like a pro. It could also be because Stiles had been harboring a ridiculous crush on him since forever. There was also the possibility that it was because Derek, unlike the rest of his family, kept to himself aggressively. Even at school, where he was the captain of the variety lacrosse team and a yearly participant in the History Bowl, he didn't really stray from his exclusive group of friends, juniors Isaac Lahey and Erica Reyes and senior Vernon Boyd.

So it was totally left field that Derek would ever associate with Lydia, especially romantically. At least, that's what Stiles hoped. "What does that have to do with me?" Stiles said, breaking the silence that had stretched out between him and Scott.

Scott gave him an odd look but replied, "Well, Lydia kind of invited herself and Derek to go bowling with me and Allison."

"Bowling?" Stiles snorted. "Dude, you suck at bowling. Like it's not even embarrassing anymore, it's just sad."

"I know!" Scott whined, his face crest-fallen. "But you try and deny Lydia of anything." And Scott had a fair point there.

"So Lydia and Derek are going bowling with you on your first date with Allison," Stiles said. "Sounds like a disaster, I'm in."

"Awesome!" Scott cried. He paused, a look inching across his face that made Stiles nervous.

"What?" he asked, forgoing his chores to give Scott his full attention.

"There's, ah, there's just one catch," Scott said slowly. "You see, Jackson came crawling back to Lydia, like, today, so that kind of leaves Derek without a date, so...."

Stiles understood instantly where Scott was going with this, and he wasn't sure if he would even let Scott live to see his date tonight. "So you're literally throwing me to the wolves?" he screeched, throwing his abandoned rag at his idiot best friend.

Scott recoiled as the rag landed wetly on the stool next to him (and there was the reason Stiles wasn't on any sports teams at school). "Dude, it's not like it's with a complete stranger, you're super close to the Hales!"

"Yeah, but not Derek," Stiles said. "He's barely said more than five words to me since I've known him!"

"Come on, dude," Scott said beseechingly, looking ready to collapse on his knees and beg. "You know I wouldn't ask you to do this if it wasn't important."

Stiles huffed at Scott's pleading eyes, then snarled, closing his eyes as he opened his mouth to say words he would probably regret for the rest of his life: "Alright, I'll do it."

Well, it wasn't to say that Stiles never dreamt of going out with Derek Hale. And despite the unsavory circumstances, at the very least, it was comforting to know that the other Hales could sniff out his body.

--

"Stiles!" Dropping the shirt he had been examining, Stiles jumped around to see his father staring at him with his usual look of wariness, like he was afraid to ask about his son's behavior - which Stiles could totally understand.

"What's up?" Stiles asking, feigning a casual tone and missing by a mile.

"You were making quite a lot of noise," the Sheriff continued, entering Stiles' room slowly. It probably had less do to with the fact that his dad was watching for booby traps and more to do with the fact that every square inch of his floor was covered with discarded clothes.

"Would you believe me if I said I was organizing?" Stiles asked weakly.

"Not at all," his dad replied easily. "So what's the problem here?"

Stiles groaned, collapsing on his clothes covered bed. "The problem," Stiles sighed, "is that I've been roped into my first date as a placeholder."

"First date, huh?" the Sheriff said, sitting next to Stiles. "Who's the lucky girl?"

Stiles frowned, muttering sullenly, "Derek Hale." He wasn't surprised by the loaded silence that followed; if Stiles had told his past self a not-date with Derek would be happening in his future, he would probably still be living in the bunker he would have created.

"Well," Stiles' dad said, his easy tone forced. "That's, ah. I was not expecting to hear that one for a while."

Stiles shot his dad a look. "A while?" he echoed. "What, the guy part, or the Derek part? Because of one those makes no logical sense, and the other has been a long time coming."

His dad gave him a cryptic look that had Stiles squirming. "Okay, son," was all he said.

"But the fact of the matter is," Stiles said, desperate to get the conversation back on track, "I have no idea how to dress for someone who's basically a supermodel."

"Just dress like yourself," the Sheriff said wisely. "Only better."

Stiles groaned, dropping his head into his hands. "You are the worst specimen on the planet."

"Hey, at least I'm not your mother," the Sheriff said, patting Stiles' back. "She had no fashion sense whatsoever." There was a heavy moment as they both remembered the loss of a mother and the love of a man's life. The hand on Stiles' back moved to his shoulder, a comforting weight.

"She still caught your eye, though," Stiles said when he was sure his voice was strong enough.

"And she kept it, too," the Sheriff replied, his own voice gruff. He cleared his throat, shaking Stiles' shoulder as he said, "Come on, let's pretty you up."

It didn't take long for Stiles and his dad to agree on a simple outfit of one of his button up plaids and khakis, mostly so they wouldn't have to admit to putting in hours of effort for one outfit. Stiles felt pretty normal, which was kind of a let down. He figured putting on the clothes for his first date would make him feel like Cinderella gearing up for the ball. Stiles shook his head, decidedly appalled that thought even penetrated his mind.

Stiles checked the time on his phone - twenty till eight. Scott said they were all meeting at Beacon Bowling at eight thirty, but Stiles figured he could just get there early and bother whoever was working at the restaurant.

"See ya, dad!" Stiles called once he hit the ground floor, swiping his keys off the rack.

"Don't forget about your curfew!" his dad called from the living room.

"You got it!" Stiles said.

Before Stiles could leave, his dad added, "Drive safe! And wrap it before you tap it!"

Stiles banged his head against the door. His dad was a menace to society. "Thanks for the PSA, dad!" he said. The cold air outside was a nice relief to his burning face.

If anything, at least his dad had faith that he could bag Derek Hale, even if it was just at the expense of humiliating his son to kingdom come.

--

The restaurant was pretty deserted, which was rare on a Friday night. Stiles greeted the spare customers present before circling around the counter to go to the office.

Deaton, one if the managers of the restaurant as well as Emissary to the Hale pack, looked up at Stiles' knock. "What can I do for you, Stiles?" he offered, his bland smile somehow resembling something sincere. Deaton was not always Stiles' favorite fan - and vice versa. Deaton had Cora's demon side when it came to getting his side work done, but without any of her fond malice. Okay, so Stiles could admit that he was the poster child for nepotism and maybe a little coddling, and all Deaton was guilty of was being an actual boss, but it's not like Stiles would have it any other way.

"Nothing, I was just expecting to see one of the Hales here," Stiles said, not bothering to enter the office in case Deaton tried to rope him into filling the oil - a disaster that Stiles was sure Deaton didn't want to be responsible for.

"They're all out doing their pack bonding activities before the full moon arrives," Deaton said, his tone implying that he was already losing interest in Stiles. Which was fine, since the feeling was totally mutual.

"Thanks for your help," Stiles said. "I'll just get out of your hair - whoops." Deaton's mildly dangerous glare may have encouraged Stiles to book it out of the room, but he couldn't stop the wicked smile from spreading across his face.

Stiles realized he still had a good twenty minutes before he was supposed to meet up with his group, so he decided to tackle the arcade. As far as he knew, Franklin was still kicking his ass at Pac-Man, which was just unacceptable. Especially considering the fact that Franklin was human, so Stiles couldn't even blame his losses on unfair werewolf powers.

It felt like seconds had passed when Stiles' heard someone pointedly clearing their throat from behind me. Having only been accustomed to the sounds of the arcade game, Stiles jumped at this new sound, jostling the toggles violently and sending Pac-Man into a humiliating death.

Stiles, assuming Scott was behind him, whipped around and started to whine, "You are such a lo-"

The rest of the words died in the back of his throat and producing only a strangled gargle when he saw Derek smirking at him, arms crossed in a surprisingly innocent manner. "You sure know how to charm them," he said mildly.

"Please don't let that be the first real thing I've ever said to you," Stiles blurted, horror making his heart race. It seemed fitting that Derek would kill Stiles before their date even began. If he had a fighting chance, Stiles' best argument would be to convince Derek to just use him as a bowling ball. The sacrifice would be worth it, he was sure.

Derek frowned, his muscles bulging in his leather jacket from the way he had them crossed against his broad chest. Seriously, Derek was too unbelievable for words. Maybe he wouldn't mind if Stiles cashed their fake date in for bragging rights? "No, I'm pretty sure your first words to me were 'do your eyebrows have super powers?'"

In retrospect, Stiles could understand his younger self's audacity: though Derek was arguably just as terrifying to Stiles years ago when they met, Stiles' lack of a filter meant that he naturally wouldn't mind questioning Derek's insanely expressive eyebrows.

Stiles took a second to consider that statement, fighting to not appear embarrassed over the fact that Derek remembered that. "It still remains to be true," he replied easily, "so it could be worse."

"I'm not sure if this is you wooing me or trying to cover your ass," Derek said, his voice more amused than not.

"We Stilinskis are world class multi-taskers," Stiles said primly.

"Right," Derek drawled.

There was a stretch of silence that Stiles struggled to fill - with words, not with the hopeless examination of the beautiful specimen before him. Stiles didn't understand how more people in the world didn't want to take the bite when, if they survived, they would immediately become beautiful. Of course, there were the slight downfalls of wolfing out of control when your emotions got the best of you and having scary superhuman strength and constantly being on the brink of surrendering completely to the wolf. But when you looked that good, surely it couldn't be that bad.

"So, how's life?" Stiles asked eventually, cringing immediately after the words left his mouth.

Derek's incredulous look echoed Stiles' sentiments exactly. "It's not like you don't know my entire family or anything."

"Yeah, but I don't know anything about you," Stiles said. A strange expression crossed Derek's face, and Stiles wondered why that statement made him feel a little sad.

"Do you want to?" Derek asked after they stared each other down.

Before Stiles could even begin to formulate a response, he heard a familiar voice say, "Forget about bowling. The entertainment is all right here." Stiles cringed, turning to see Lydia smirking like she was witnessing someone's pathetic demise - which, funnily enough, suited the situation perfectly.

"Look who finally decided to show up!" Stiles said loudly, fighting to clear the air of whatever weirdness had sunken in between himself and Derek. When he peeked out of the corner of his eye to get a look at Derek, Stiles noticed that Derek was giving him a strange look, like he was on the brink of being amused and frustrated at the same time.

"Don't act like you didn't show up an hour early like some kind of blushing virgin - oh, wait." Stiles totally forgot that Jackson was coming, and seeing his disgusting sneer and his arm thrown around Lydia's shoulder made him want to chuck some bowling balls at some well placed body parts.

"Jackson, lay off," Derek sighed as if this was all child's play, rolling his eyes. Jackson, in all his hero-worship glory, immediately snapped his mouth shut, frowning slightly but pointedly acquiescing.

Lydia sighed, clearly bored with the display, and tugged Jackson in the opposite direction to where Stiles could see Scott and Allison were setting up their game on the keypad.

After quick seconds of heavy deliberation, Stiles turned to Derek, avoiding his gaze as he said, "Thanks, but that wasn't necessary."

"What?" Derek asked, looking genuinely confused.

"I'm not an idiot," Stiles sighed. "You don't have to carry the torch for your pack and defend my honor or anything."

"Defend your honor?" Derek echoed, eyebrows furrowing into a deep v-shape.

"You don't have to pretend you care!" Stiles finally snapped.

"Stiles, you're acting ridiculous," Derek said, crossing his arms with an exasperated air.

"Why? Just like I know nothing about you, you know nothing about me," Stiles said, hating how the words burned coming out of his mouth. It's not like Derek's presence was hard to ignore, no matter the lack of direct contact Stiles had with him. At school, people would swoon when Derek stalked past in the hallway, or Stiles would catch a glimpse of him in the library studying an intimidating text book or being bugged by his equally attractive friends. And especially at the restaurant, where Cora was always groaning about the lame history videos Derek watched into the night keeping her up and Laura would whisper to Stiles that Cora's baking was nothing compared to Derek's cooking and -

Yeah, okay, Stiles knew things about Derek that intrigued him, and he was maybe a little put off by the fact that he never had the balls - or Derek never had the interest - to seek out his company.

"Who said that I was never interested in learning more about you?" And that definitely threw Stiles off. Derek's face was carefully blank, but Stiles could see how tense his shoulders were.

"Okay," Stiles said, drawing out the word. "That's - not what I was expecting." And dammit, Stiles was a little in love with Derek's responding smug look.

Stiles wanted to say more, but when he saw Scott in the distance staring in their direction, all he could get out was, "I'm just gonna - " and power walked over to their table.

"Should I be expecting wedding invites in the mail?" Lydia asked breezily, looking far too classy in a pair of beat up bowling shoes.

"Not unless you've thought better about your most recent partners," Stiles said, trying to work up a smarmy grin but falling somewhere around an uncomfortable grimace. Jackson snorted, but said nothing, obviously still bound to Derek's command (which, a total plus on Derek's part).

"Dude, what was going on with you and Derek?" Scott said, pulling Stiles aside. "You guys were standing over there for like, ever."

"I don't know?" Stiles squeaked, tugging at his hair. "One minute we were like faux-flirting and the other minute it was real?"

"Dude!" Scott said, punching Stiles on the shoulder (and Stiles had to make a note to himself to make sure that stopped once Scott was a werewolf). "You're totally in!"

"But how?" Stiles hissed. "And I didn't even really know I wanted to be in! Not really!"

"But think about it," Scott said, pulling Stiles in with an arm over his shoulder, "if you play your cards right, I won't be the only one getting lucky tonight!"

"Oh my god," Stiles laughed, shoving Scott off him. "Get over yourself, lover boy."

Derek was standing on the outskirts of the table, not looking at all comfortable as Lydia and Jackson bickered in that easy way long suffering couples can (a fact that maybe messed with Stiles' ten year plan to win Lydia's heart, as this kind of behavior was similar to Stiles' dad and mom, and their relationship was the strongest Stiles had ever seen). When Stiles reached the table, Derek met his gaze evenly, and Stiles refused to flinch despite his heavy flight instincts.

"Are you guys ready to play?" Allison asked, smiling as Scott sat next to her, scooting his chair as close to her as possible.

"You might want to rephrase that to ready to lose," Stiles said, sprawling into one of the uncomfortable plastic seats. He gestured to the empty chair next to him and Derek stiffly took his place.

"Dude, you had better bring your A-game," Stiles hissed, mindful of how close his body was to Derek's. "I came here to support my bro and kick some ass, exactly in that order."

"So I'm just the means to an end," Derek said, his lips turned up in a slight smile.

"Such a pretty way to call yourself my ultimate secret weapon," Stiles replied, grinning.

"I suppose there are worst masters in the world," Derek replied, playing along. And Stiles could totally see himself craving the smile Derek had on his face.

"Well, well, well," a terrifying familiar voice said behind them. "What have we here?"

"Laura, what are you doing here?" Derek asked, back to the rigid, stone-faced act.

"Oh no," Laura laughed, "the better question would be why you ditched us, you - oh." Laura finally saw Stiles hunkered down behind Derek (he had no shame and would freely admit it) and abruptly cut herself off.

She grinned widely, reaching a hand out to ruffle her brother's hair affectionately, something Derek did not enjoy, from his flashing eyes and the way he snapped his teeth together. "I get it," she said sagely. "I'll be seeing you, Stiles." She added with a sharp grin before waltzing away. Stiles watched her go, finally catching sight of the rest of the Hale clan seated before another lane. He waved a weak hand at the enthusiastic group, all shouting their greetings across the building.

"Why?" Stiles cried when he whirled around to face Derek, who had slumped down in his seat. "How did you not notice your entire family was camped out here?"

"Stiles, this is all very dramatic, but some of us are trying to enjoy a date," Jackson sighed. "Will you please bowl already?"

Stiles glared at Jackson, then glared at the still silent Derek, but got up at Scott's silent urging. He knocked most of the pins down, a small victory, but the real challenge was glowering at the table like it had personally affronted him.

"Will they hate me?" he asked, drumming his fingers on the table.

"For what, being seen with me?" Derek drawled.

"Well, I don't know!" Stiles said, flinging his arms around. "Do you guys have rules about this or something?"

"Stiles," Derek sighed, turning to face him full-on, "you're basically family. And like you said, we've never really hung out before. Everyone's cool with it." Stiles couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief; the last thing he wanted was to be on bad terms with the people he considered his second family.

"Now that that's settled," Scott said, banging his hand on the table, "can we please get back to the actual game?"

The game itself wasn't all that bad: Stiles booed Jackson when he missed his last pin and didn't die thanks to Derek's terrifying glare; Allison helped Scott's game out with some up close and personal coaching (that Stiles appropriately gave Scott a low five under the table for); and Derek naturally destroyed everyone - but Stiles made sure that he took over the bragging rights for Derek. But Stiles easily would have passed up the bragging rights just to see Derek's proud, cute smile whenever he got a strike. Plus, seeing Jackson's grumpy pout was absolutely priceless.

It was when they were checking their shoes at the front that Stiles finally found himself alone with Lydia. His heart still fluttered when he took in her pouty pink lips and the curves she didn't bother hiding in her ensemble - but after seeing her do an amazingly embarrassing victory dance when she beat Jackson, Stiles found himself reconsidering who Lydia Martin really was.

"I'm kind of offended that you didn't hit on me once," she said nonchalantly, flipping her hair over her shoulder.

"Ask and you shall receive," Stiles said, posing against the counter in a way he know he saw Jackson standing against the lockers at school.

"Please," Lydia scoffed. "Your boyfriend might rip my throat out with his teeth."

"W-woah there now," Stiles chuckled, stumbling against the counter in his haste to compose himself. "Let's not sign me off completely!"

"Oh, that ship has sailed," Lydia replied. "But you've still got a chance with McEyebrows, and it would be a damn shame to let that go."

Good god, Lydia Martin was giving Stiles relationship advice. And it wasn't even about their potentially torrid relationship.

"I - thanks, I guess?" Stiles said, not completely sure what his face was doing.

Lydia gave him a look like she pitied his entire life and pat his cheek before spinning around and returning to their table.

"Are you having trouble trying to figure out how to return your shoes?" Stiles jumped at Derek's sudden appearance behind him.

"Your entire family is out for my heart failure," Stiles gasped.

"How romantic," Derek said dryly. Stiles couldn't help but chuckle, taking a second to just think about his life: he somehow ended up on a date with Derek Hale and got romantic advice from Lydia Martin and was probably going to be Scott's Best Man in a couple weeks.

"So, like, if you don't completely lose your shit during the full moon and forget that tonight happened, would it be cool to do this again? Without, y'know, my love-sick friends and your family watching?" Stiles struggled to keep an even tone, though he wasn't sure he succeeded.

But all that didn't matter when Derek grinned, shifting closer to nudge his shoulder against Stiles'. "I'd really like that."

And if Stiles heard familiar cheers from the other side of the bowling alley, it never occurred to him to pretend they existed at all.