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I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)

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Beacon Hills was a misnomer. It's actually a valley surrounded by the coastal mountain range of the Californian North coast. It's pretty secluded. Miles away from civilization. If you aren't an avid outdoors person, it's the most boring place on Earth.

Stiles loves it.

Winter brings snowboarding. Summer heralds mountain biking. The seasons that fall in-between are slow enough that he doesn't feel too bored by actually doing his job. Though being a forest ranger is pretty slow in a town as small as Beacon Hills.

Like every town, there are problems. Usually the show-stoppers in Beacon Hills are whether Mrs. Argent will clean out blue ribbon wise at the harvest festival or if Scott's going to man up and make an honest woman out of Allison.

Though recently, it's gotten dire, what with the news of Dr. Deaton actually retiring and moving down South to live with his daughter in San Diego.

"We need a doctor," sighs Stiles' dad over Sunday supper.

"I thought we were getting one from Seattle," says Stiles, stealthy taking the fries off his dad's plate.

"No," grumbles his dad. "Hey, leave me some."

"Nuhuh - doctor's orders," grins Stiles cheekily, stuffing them all in his mouth before his dad nabbed them. "I thought it was a sure thing."

"Stiles, chew before talking," his dad chides him. "And no, apparently Beacon Hills is exile for competent doctors."

"So we need a doctor?" Stiles frowns.

Doc Deaton was leaving by the end of the month. The closest hospital was three hours away. And hunting season was about to kick off, which always was a sure fire time for someone to try to shoot their eye out in the woods.

"That doc in Seattle was our last sure bet," says his dad in defeat. "It's not like applications are pouring in."

"Don't worry, dad. I'm on it," promises Stiles. His dad has enough on his plate being sheriff.

"Just leave the doc out of it," says the sheriff. "Your attempt to woo him to stay with pie didn't end well."

"How was I supposed to know that it would attract wolves?" he says guilelessly. "They only like it when I make pecan and the doc has a nut allergy."

His dad shoots him a blank look. "You left them out on his porch."

"How else was I going to get the room to spell out "don't leave us"?"

---

Stiles decides to get the best people on the job. His first stop is the school house.

"Mention the slopes for boarding," he says over Lydia's shoulder.

"Am I writing this job placement, or you?" glares Lydia from her computer. She elbows him in the stomach. "Let me do this, or you'll need more than an orange vest out in the woods to protect you from being shot."

"I can't believe I ever liked you," he pouts, rubbing his ribs. Lydia has really boney elbows.

"I'm irresistible," says Lydia dryly as she continues to type. "Even to closeted gays."

"Hey, I'm not closeted!" he sputters.

"I was talking about Jackson," she sighs.

"Aren't you dating him?" he asks squinting at her.

"Oh honey, he's still a Whittemore."

"I'll never understand women," he sighs.

"Then it's a good thing you like men."

"Amen to that," he agrees. "Did you mention the hiking trails?"

"Get out of my classroom before I staple you."

---

He mopes out in the rangers' station waiting to hear back from Lydia for a bit before he decides to go annoy Scott.

"Stiles," greets Scott, he head ducks out from the exam room. "Got another patient for me?"

"Nah, did a sweep before I clocked out," he says jumping over the counter in lobby of the animal clinic.

"Just finishing off with Mr. Harris' dog," shouts Stiles back before leading a Labrador out on a leash.

Stiles immediately gets down on one knee. "Aw, who's a brave girl? Putting up with mean Dr. McCall."

He rubs underneath the dog's stomach and she wags her tail merrily.

"Ha, ha," glares Scott.

"Have you considered treating people?" muses Stiles.

"Is this about the doctor problem? Because I told you, that one time I stitched you up was a fluke," Scott declares vehemently.

"Okay, sheesh. Ixnay on talking about that," glares Stiles.

"Yeah, like I want the town to know why you needed stitches in your ass," laughs Scott.

Stiles groans. So sue him, he's klutzy. And he wasn't about to go to Doc Deaton, especially when the cause was bedroom related. Who knew handcuffs were that sharp?

"You, my friend, are a terrible person."

"At least it doesn't keep me up at night," Scott grins with a waggle of his eyebrows.

---

Lydia proudly announces at their next standing coffee date, after she's ironed out the school's field trip to the nature center, that she's got them a doctor.

Well, another hopeful.

Possibly.

"I'm an elementary school teacher, Stiles," she sighs over her vanilla latte. "Not a professional head hunter."

Stiles snorts. "You couldn't seal the deal?"

She merely quirks her left eyebrow. "I can't work miracles. But he's coming for a visit. Which is better than most of the responses I got. If he can be convinced to sign a contract, we've got a doctor."

"That's what happened with the last, and look where that got us," groans Stiles looking out the window where he can see the moving truck loading Dr. Deaton's piano. He's leaving next week. "He took one look at the town and hightailed it out back to Washington."

"Well just don't bake him pie," says Lydia patting his right hand.

"Everyone loves pie," grouses Stiles. The other doctor took one look at Stiles' homemade pie and sniffed in disgust. It was his mother's prize winning recipe for Pete's sake.

"Clearly not doctors from Seattle," snorts Lydia.

"Heathens."

---

So in true Beacon Hills' fashion. He calls a town hall meeting. Well he gets Danny to. He wouldn't what to go over the mayor's head.

"Well, that settles the business for the autumn harvest festival and the elementary nature hike in the coming month," says Danny over the dine of the town assembly. He opens a new powerpoint. A head shot of a scruffy hazel eyed man in a white lab coat appears on the overhead projector.

"Now next week, Dr. Derek Hale, from Los Angeles, is coming for one month. He's a graduate from Johns Hopkins University and currently an attending surgeon at Cedars-Sinai. We need him to want to make Beacon Hills his new home. We have one month to convince him the best place to live in the world is Beacon Hills. We all have to do our part."

"You didn't say he was hot," whispers Stiles hotly into Lydia's ear from where they were sitting in the back on the hall. She pushes him away from her in disgust.

"Because I actually want him to stay," says Lydia, dryly. She looks right at Stiles.

"I'm not that bad," mumbles Stiles, slouching in his seat.

"Please, if you could you would have followed me home."

"That was high school," he mutters.

"Mmmhmmm."

"And we need him to love it here," Danny continues. "So I open the floor to suggestions."

"I heard he likes baseball," says Allison, raising her hand timidly. Half the town was googling the good doctor on their smartphones as she spoke. "We could start a league."

"Baseball?" murmurs most of the room.

"It's kinda of like lacrosse," she shrugs.

In Beacon Hills, the only sport worth playing is lacrosse. They had fierce rivalries between the North and South side of town.

"Coach Finstock, are you up for setting up a league?" asks Danny from the podium. Everyone turns to look at the high school coach sitting at the far right of the room.

"Fine, but it's a stupid sport. No contact, what kind of game is that?" snorts Coach Finstock. The town hall murmurs in agreement.

"Alright, so I expect everyone to familiarize themselves with the game," Danny nods. "Thank you Allison."

Allison beams a dimpled smile up at Danny.

"Showoff," mutters Lydia darkly.

"Aren't you friends with Allison?" asks Stiles. Everyone loves Allison. Even old Mr. Henderson who still hasn't forgiven Stiles for tee-peeing his house when he was in high school.

"You can hate your friends," says Lydia, fluttering her eyelashes at him. "I'm friends with you, aren't I?"

"Heart of gold, Lydia," says Stiles.

"Darn right," she smiles.

"And we need a volunteer to lodge Dr. Hale," says Danny. "The Red Inn is still under construction from water damage."

"He can stay at my family's cabin," Lydia offers, as she holds down Stiles' arm by twisting it.

"Alright, Lydia, that's great," Danny smiles.

"What the fuck Lydia?" Stiles hisses, rubbing feeling back into his arm.

"We want the doctor to stay, any long term exposure to you would be counterproductive."

"And your cabin? It's the fugliest house ever," says Stiles.

"If you mean, a fine example of modern decor and architecture, then yes, the perfect place to woo a city doctor," she replies archly.

Stiles just rolls his eyes.

"If you keep doing that they'll roll out of your head," she says using her teacher's voice.

"Yes, Jackson," Danny points to another raised hand.

"Oh, look, your boyfriend made it," Stiles says.

"Yeah, this plan is doomed to fail," Jackson says blithely, ignoring the shouts of protest from the crowd.

"Now, I think-" Danny starts off.

"No, there's one crucial thing," says Jackson, cutting off his friend. "Without it, the plan will fail."

"This aught to be good," whispers Stiles.

The town assembly quiets, waiting for Jackson to finish.

"We have to hide Stiles."

Stiles leaps from his chair. "What?" he squawks, arms flailing. Lydia is almost falling out of her chair laughing.

Danny's face is pulled into a pensive frown. "No, you are right."

"You've got to be kidding me!" Stiles shoots disbelieving looks at the room. Across the room, Scott is biting his fist to hold in the laughter.

"It would be a disaster," Lydia chimes in from the floor between giggles.

"He'd never stay if he knew Stiles lived here," says another person from across the room.

A murmur of agreement seems to wash over the hall much to his disbelief. Danny looks sympathetic but his lip is quirking in a smile.

"Hey! C'mon guys!" he pleads. "I can't believe this, you're listening to Jackson. Jackson."

"He does make a valid point," someone murmurs.

"Sorry, Stiles," Danny frowns. "But we need him to want to live here."

"And meeting a competent charming forest ranger, wouldn't?" he asks, trying to catch the eye of anyone in the room. This never would have happened if his dad was here. But he's on-call.

"You're usually at the rangers' station anyway," says Danny. "It will just be for a month."

"Oh my God!" Stiles groans. "You guys officially suck. See if I rescue you when you get lost in the woods. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Greenberg."

He grabs his jacket and storms out of the town hall, ignoring the protests from the crowd.

Stiles shouldn't be surprised. Beacon Hills is the same town that held a town meeting for a contingency plan to divide up the town if Scott and Allison ever broke up. He deeply considers moving. Except the slopes are amazing in the winter. Plus, who else would take care of his dad.

And save the backstabbing turncoat townsfolk from wolves.

Oh, yeah. Him.

Chapter Text

Stiles loves his job. He gets to keep his own hours and gets paid to be outside. It's a sweet life. The rangers' station is two miles from the nature center and nestled into the mountain. It has an on-call bunk and an orientation center for campers and hikers alike. Complete with a look out wrap around terrace that boasts the best view of the valley below. It's going to be his home for the next month, well as soon as he can pack up the essentials.

His dad corners him as he's packing up his kitchen. He already packed most of his clothes. All that's really left is his shaving kit upstairs.

"Let me at least talk to the city council, son," says the sheriff. "They'll see that this isn't fair."

"After I worked so tirelessly to get them a doctor," sighs Stiles looking at his near empty fridge. "Nah, don't stress yourself Pop. It's only for a month, it'll give me time to renovate mom's old family cabin. Just water my plants, yeah? And don't forget to walk Padfoot."

His German Sheppard perks her ears at her name from the spot on the kitchen floor where she's gnawing on her favourite bone.

"Right girl? You be good for Grandpa?" he coos, kneeling to give her a good belly rub. Padfoot rolls over at the attention, her tail wagging as her tongue lolls out of her jaw.

"Are you sure son?" his dad asks with a worried frown.

"I will be, what with all that fresh air I'll be getting, sure to improve my mood," sighs Stiles.

"I can still-"

"No. We need a doctor. I'll come over after dark for suppers and you can meet me at the station," says Stiles, his voice hard with conviction. He holds his dad's gaze before Padfoot decides to break the moment by licking his face.

"You're mother would have been proud," sighs his father with a fond smile. "You're too good for this town."

"That's what I've been saying for years."

Padfoot barks in agreement.

---

Stiles spends his last night in town helping the rest of his old lacrosse team assemble a baseball diamond. Lydia's standing front and center barking orders with a clipboard. Laying down the sod beside Scott, he lets out a groan as his back protests.

"You ever get the feeling we're in a movie?"

"I really hope it's not The Notebook," says Scott with a huff as he stamps down a loose piece of grass. Jackson snorts with laughter where he's painting the chalk lines.

"I was thinking more of Field of Dreams, you know if you build it, they will come?" he grins.

"Stiles!" yells Lydia from the pitcher's mound. "What did I say about slacking?"

"That's terrible for my moral character?" he snarks, lifting another bag of dirt.

"We need this to be done tonight," she announces, waving her clipboard in emphasis.

"She's even got Danny under her thumb," says Scott in a hushed whisper. Danny and Chris Argent are setting up the scoreboard.

"Why do you think the children in this town are so well behaved?" grins Stiles.

"Because she's a wonderfully kind teacher," answers Jackson, dusting off his hands.

"Man, you are so whipped," laughs Stiles.

"So says the man who's going to be living in the woods for the next month," smirks Jackson.

Stiles glares up at Jackson before his eyes spark with realization.

"You're jealous," he cackles.

"Of you? Dream on Stilinski."

"No! You want more Lydia time. I get it, man," sighs Stiles, leveraging himself up from the ground. "But you didn't have to exile me to the woods."

He pulls Jackson by the shoulders into a half hug. "You could have said something. I would have thought you'd be happy that someone else was watching Ryan Gosling with her."

He waggles his eyebrows.

"Idiot," growls Jackson pushing him away.

"Don't hate the player," he grins, dodging Jackson.

"Jackson!" yells Lydia and Jackson turns around at the shrill voice of his girlfriend.

"Sorry, babe!" he calls back with a forced smile.

Stiles just laughs. "Dude."

"How else am I going to propose if you're always around," sighs Jackson, rubbing his forehead in frustration. He pulls out a ring box from his khakis.

"No way!" shouts Scott, who had given up on working and was just eavesdropping on the ground.

"And she thought you were gay," Stiles murmurs under his breath.

"What?" glares Jackson, his body shielding the ring in his hand from the pitcher's mound.

"Nothing," whistles Stiles looking at the ring. "Hey, Scott. You know what this means. Allison's gonna want one too."

The drained look on his best friend's face is priceless.

---

The day the doctor arrives has the whole town in a flurry, well as much as they were for the send off of Doc Deaton. The doc finally admitted how much he enjoyed Stiles' pies and asked for the recipe for the peach cobbler. Stiles steadfastly refused, family recipe and all that. Even if it could have been a bargaining chip for getting him to stay. His mother would have never forgiven him.

But he's up at the station now, with a bird's eye view of the town.

"Oh god, they made a banner," he snorts before tossing the binoculars away as he hears the high school marching band start up.

"One month," he murmurs to himself. "If they screw this up, they can't blame me."

---

It's totally by accident that he meets Derek Hale. Though it looks like the good doctor is relieved to see him. He's doing his regular patrol, his jeep parked up on the ridge around the treeline. His first impulse is to turn tail and run. He's not supposed to talk to Dr. Hale. Or offer him any baked good, no matter how delicious. He thinks Mrs. Argent is just jealous that he won't reveal the secret behind his mother's pecan pie recipe. But it's too late when the doctor spots him, it's dead easy, what with him wearing an orange hunting jacket over his park ranger uniform.

"Hello!" he greets with a small quirk of his lips pulling off his ear buds. "You'd think it wouldn't be hard to get lost in a hick town like this," Derek Hale smiles and it's every bit swoon worthy as Lydia described over the phone last night. He sorely hopes Jackson was in the room when they were talking. Derek raises his hands in a defeatist's shrug.

Stiles stops short and bypasses the fine specimen before him in a loose black t-shirt and running shorts and replays his greeting. No man, not even the much needed doctor, has the right to insult his town. His beautiful kooky town.

"Then you'd have to be pretty stupid," says Stiles with a steely glare. Despite his town exiling him to the wilderness, he loves Beacon Hills. This doctor can go back to LA if that's his attitude.

The smile drops from Derek's face. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to insult-"

"Can I help you?" Stiles asks, cutting him off. He can be professional.

"Yeah," the doctor says awkwardly. "I need to get back to my cabin, must have taken the wrong trail for my run."

"You're on Wolf's Creek trail, you need to take a right at the next fork to loop back to Raven's Run which lines up to the Martin's cabin."

Stiles pats himself on the back for being a competent ranger and not leaving the city boy to the mercy of the wolves. It wouldn't look good for the town. And be terrible for tourism.

"Thanks," says Derek. "I didn't catch your name."

"I didn't give it," says Stiles. He crosses his arms to cover his ID badge. His hand coming up to cover his last name on his shoulder and tries in a not so casual way to rip at the careful stitching from his flat jacket to remove the badge.

He decides it's better to turn away because he doesn't want it to trickle back that he's spoken to the doctor. No matter how unavoidable it was.

"I'm Derek Hale." Derek fidgets with his ear buds, assessing Stiles with a curious stare.

"I know," says Stiles, nodding his head back at Derek and giving a small wave. "Enjoy your run, doc. Mind the wolves."

He walks back to his jeep, successfully ripping the only piece of identification from his shoulder, and guns the engine.

That was close.

He leans his forehead against the steering wheel. He nearly bangs his head on the steering wheel when the passenger side door opens.

"What the f-"

Derek Hale jumps into his jeep without a how-do-you-do.

"I'm really bad with directions," says Derek in guise of greeting.

"Seriously?" Stiles says in disbelief. The universe must be testing him. "Great, just great. Now you're in my car."

He crumples the ripped fabric between his hand and the wheel.

"Is it true about the wolves?"

Stiles snorts. "You don't have a nut allergy do you?"

Derek shoots him an odd look Stiles can't place. Curiosity, he supposes.

Chapter Text

Stiles spends an awkward morning expecting the whole town to show up with pitchforks and torches at his door after meeting the infamous Dr. Hale, who despite being attractive to warrant checking out his ass under the veil of Stiles' aviator sunglasses, is a stuck up city boy. No matter how well he fills out gym shorts.

Stiles had to bite his cheek to hold back his sarcasm and annoyance during the short drive back to the Martin's cabin. Dr. Hale seemed oddly curious about him but Stiles was lucky enough to channel some of his dad's air of mystery before showing Derek Hale his taillights and getting out of dodge fast.

It's not until late in the afternoon the next day that Lydia shows up in Jackson's Porsche in a flurry of gravel that has Stiles wincing at the ruined paint job. Jackson really must be in love with her to part with his baby like that. Or terrified. Stiles supposes it's a bit of both.

"Lydia!" he greets warily looking down at her from the porch, arms braced on the railing. "What do I owe the pleasure? Miss me already?"

Lydia wrinkles her nose in disgust. "Keep dreaming. Your dad thought you'd go stir crazy without the Internet up here."

"I have Internet," he defends.

"You have dial up," she says. "Hardly counts." She flounces up the rickety stairs towards him. "And I knew you'd be curious about the new doctor."

Stiles coughs awkwardly. Lydia eyes him shrewdly. She's known him since preschool and has the awful habit of squirreling out information from everyone. It's one of the reasons she's an amazing teacher. He just hopes his ears aren't turning red.

"You seem twitchy," she drawls out. "You aren't getting cabin fever already?"

"Cabin fever!" he splutters before latching onto the idea of it. "Yeah, you know me. The fever of the woodsman."

"Hmmmm," she frowns before elbowing past him. "Don't worry. I have something that will cheer you up." She gestures towards the lodge. "Coming?"

---

It's only after she forces Stiles to dig up the old cassette player used for identifying bird calls that Lydia reveals her surprise.

"You bugged his house?" he says incredulously, his eyes darting from her to the tape in her hand in muted horror.

"We bugged my house," she replies, completely unconcerned. "Got one of the deputies to do the wiring."

"That's illegal," he says, trying to rub out the headache forming behind his eyes.

"Oh it's only the living room. He has some privacy," she says flippantly. "Don't be such a girl."

Stiles prays his dad never finds out despite how well Lydia would do in prison. She'd been at the top before the first lights out.

"You are an affront to my manly spirit daily, Lydia." He feels like he's watching a train wreck unfold. "Does this make me an accessory?"

He feels a panic attack blooming. He needs a stiff drink.

"Hush now," she snaps. "Do you want to know what he said?" She pops in the tape. "I didn't have time to listen to it yesterday but-"

"Can't I wait for a town assembly or am I blacklisted from those too?"

Lydia wrinkles her nose sympathetically.

"You kinda are," she sighs. "They aren't the same without you, no one else ever brings snacks."

Stiles sighs before tossing her a bag of GORP from the kitchenette and sitting beside her on the threadbare couch.

"Mrs. Meyers usually has cinnamon hearts and old Halloween candy in her purse," he says.

"I'm not even going to ask," Lydia declares before hitting PLAY.

There's a moment of static before a dial tone. "You wire tapped his phone," groans Stiles into his hands. Lydia just flicks a raisin at his head.

"I wire tapped my phone."

"Oh, 'cause that's normal behaviour. I thought me being gone was supposed to tone down the crazy," he grumbles. "I don't see how this is less intrusive than pie. Pie doesn't get you arrested."

"Quiet," Lydia scolds in her best teacher voice.

"Laura?" rumbles the familiar timber of Derek Hale over the line. Stiles can't deny a part of him is a bit interested.

"Hey Derek," a warm lighthearted voice comes through the line. "Ready to be airlifted out of there?"

"He has a girlfriend?" asks Stiles. "You know, long distance never works."

"Sister," says Lydia, between a mouth of trail mix. "And we're missing the conversation."

She shushes him and pulls out a worn copy book and an obscene amount of colored pens from her purse to take notes, Stiles assumes.

"It's small but not that small," Derek continues almost thoughtfully. "They apparently play baseball here."

Stiles just snorts but gets an elbow in his kidney for it.

"Well if they have baseball then you're all set," Laura laughs on the line. "How's the house?"

"What's another word for awful?" Derek says.

"You're exaggerating," says Laura.

"Or brain damaged," scowls Lydia. Stiles is already on the floor clutching his side in laughter. "Shut up Stiles! My house is gorgeous."

"It's worse that Uncle Peter's beach house," Derek adds which gets a snort of laughter from Laura. "It's fugly-"

Lydia ejects the tape with enough force to make the tape deck's plastic crackle.

"Hey, it was just getting good," whines Stiles from the floor. Seeing Lydia meltdown is better than TV.

"Shut it."

---

Stiles braves a trip into town when his faithful coffee machine sputters and dies the next morning. It's a sure sign of the apocalypse. Aviators, scarf and hoodie make him look more like a fugitive rapper than anything else when he slips into the early morning crowd at Rosita's for coffee.

Tessa, one of his mother's oldest friends, is manning the cash so she doesn't raise an eyebrow at him, just fills up his travel mug and rings him up.

"Nice outfit, Genim," she remarks dryly.

"I should have grown a beard," he grumbles, pulling off his sunglasses.

"And cover up those dimples?" She pinches his left cheek fondly. "Get back up to the lodge, I hear the new doc is an early bird and Miss Delilah loves to gossip."

She gestures to the old busybody sitting in the far booth.

"How does she know how to work a smartphone but needs help at the ATM?"

"Never underestimate the power of gossip. I hear she's got a Twitter account. Not bad for a ninety-two year old," says Tessa, passing him a freshly made blueberry muffin. "Now get. And tell your father he's on decaf till his next check up."

"You're a saint, Tessa. If I were twenty years older-"

"I'd have better luck setting you up with my nephew in Colorado. Breakfast's on the house."

---

Stiles means to head back to the rangers' station but he figures he's already in town so he checks in on Padfoot, who practically mauls him at the door, and gets his mail. On his walk back to his car, which he parked in the only shady part of town, four blocks out of his way from Rosita's and seven from his house, he gets distracted by the farce playing out on the newly minted baseball field.

He spots Lydia at the top of the bleachers with a "We Love Jackson" poster that has been liberally attacked with glitter. Stiles uses his athletic prowess to scale up the low standing bleachers and nearly startles her from her vice-like grip of the poster board.

"Oh my God, are you incognito?" she hisses.

"Shut it," he gripes, settling beside her on the bleachers.

"You look like the Unabomber."

"I needed coffee. The machine in the station broke," he explains. "And I couldn't miss this - what is this? It's definitely not baseball."

The ragtag group on the field looks even more confused than the players actually on base. Though it doesn't stop the crowd from cheering.

"I can't be seen talking to you. You're as conspicuous as they come, is this a Harry Potter scarf?" Lydia asks, tugging at his scarf. "Ravenclaw, really?"

"Let go," he says, pushing back her hands. "You're ruining my mystique. Oh my God, Scott can't even play Wii Sports. What is he doing out there?"

"Impressing Allison," says Lydia. "Though she can actually play. Supposedly."

"Oh God, who gave Jackson a weapon?" says Stiles when Jackson steps up to the plate.

"Be nice. Your jealously is showing," says Lydia before lifting her poster above her head. "GO JACKSON!"

Stiles just covers his ears. His arm is tugged to the side by a small, sticky hand.

"Mr. Stiles you aren't supposed to be here," declares a worried voice belonging to seven year-old Kevin Rogers, one of his youngest scout troupe members.

"I'm in disguise, like Batman," Stiles says, deepening his voice.

"But I know it's you," says Kevin, his brow wrinkled in worry.

"That's because he doesn't have a very good disguise," grins Lydia and little Kevin nods his head in agreement.

"You'll keep my identity a secret though, right Kevin?" Stiles asks. "One scout to another."

Kevin's little head bobs enthusiastically. "I swear, Mr. Stiles." He even gives him a salute.

"Good, there's a badge for that," declares Stiles and Kevin scampers back down the bleachers to get a better look at the action on the field. Or lack there of.

"There is not," says Lydia when Kevin is out of earshot.

"No but I'll make one, I have nothing but time to hone my sewing skills," grumbles Stiles, leaning back on the bleachers' rail.

"The wilderness has made you bitter," declares Lydia. "I like it."

The game descends into anarchy when both teams make an attempt to go for the ball. The apparent goal is to have Derek come upon this charming game and be awed by the athletic prowess of half the high school lacrosse team and the girls' field hockey team out there with at least half the alumni trying to play baseball. Emphasis on try.

"Did you even have a practice?" asks Stiles.

"Yes," replies Lydia. "Last night. It was hilarious. Scott fell over first base."

"Please tell me you have pictures," Stiles begs. "This is more than mildly horrifying."

"You know baseball?"

"I'm a long-suffering Mets fan. My mom loved the game," he says looking at the sky. Lydia drops her left hand from her poster to rub his shoulder sympathetically.

"Stiles," she starts. "Oh crap - hide!"

Lydia pushes him off the bleachers. Derek Hale can be seen in the distance walking towards the field.

"What the fuck, Lydia!" Stiles yelps. "My tailbone!"

"Run Mr. Stiles!" shouts Kevin from the fence.

Stiles limps towards his jeep. Though not before both Allison and Scott collide in right field. His camera phone gets it all.

Chapter Text

"So how's your downward spiral into a life of crime?" greets Stiles when Lydia emerges from her own car this time. A fine specimen of German engineering. Lydia's a big fan of safety.

"Much less organized than I hoped," replies Lydia, grabbing her shoulder bag. "But at least it's been keeping me from realizing the lack of good television."

Stiles snorts. "Did Jackson hide The Notebook again? You know he usually tosses it into Silver Lake. Old man Bower catches more DVDs than fish some days."

"He does what?" Lydia looks furious.

"I may have said too much," Stiles says and briefly sends a silent prayer to Jackson's manhood. Though he should be fine, considering how long he's been dating Lydia.

"Urgh, never mind. That will have to wait," huffs Lydia, letting out a calming breath. "I need to go over the school trip with you."

Stiles frowns. "I thought that was going to be put on hold, what with the whole shunning thing." He gestures to his body with both hands.

Lydia waves her left hand airily. "As if I would waste all that work," she says. "And a lot of parents are looking forward to getting a weekend of free babysitting."

"Ah, like always, sexy times trumps all," smirks Stiles knowingly.

"Ew, don't be a pig," says Lydia. "It will also be a great way to see if Jackson can handle kids."

Stiles eyeballs Lydia, she looks twitchy. "Did something happen?"

"No," she glares. "I just, we have been dating since high school - and he's been acting weird lately -"

"Lydia, I thought you stopped playing mind games with Jackson after he turned down a full ride at Tulane to go to Berkley with you."

Lydia frets with the strap of her bag with a huff. "He's just been so squirrelly. At first I thought he was cheating but now -"

It's off-putting to see Lydia act vulnerable. Stiles sighs. Jackson is a dick but somehow is best friends with the nicest person in town so he guesses he should at least help him. Though if he doesn't propose soon, Stiles may have to get his shotgun.

"Jackson's not breaking up with you," declares Stiles. "This isn't sophomore year, though - you are too smart for him."

Lydia glares at him before punching him in the shoulder. "Watch it, that's the man I love."

"No account for taste," grins Stiles.

"Let's see who manages to put up with you," snarks Lydia. Stiles let's it slide because Lydia's eyes have regained their mischievous light. "He'd have to sustain extensive brain damage-"

"Hey now!" Some things require retaliation and with that he's thrown her over his shoulder, ignoring her shrieking laughter. "Let's not drag your dating technique into it."

"Put me down, Stilinski!" gasps Lydia from her upside down position. "I'm a lady, dammit!"

"Take it back," Stiles says as he begins his trek towards Silver Lake.

"Never!" hollers Lydia but Stiles merely let's his grip slip and Lydia shrieks as she tumbles towards the ground but Stiles tightens his hold.

"You should really lay off those Girl Guide cookies," says Stiles conversationally as he makes his way down the dock. "Almost lost you there."

"Don't you dare!" yells Lydia.

"Now, now, you were saying something about my manly charm and future boyfriend?" he asks as he leans back on his heels causing the ends of Lydia's red hair to brush against the still water of the lake.

"I take it back, blackmail would need to be involved," glares Lydia.

"Huh," Stiles says, letting his grip waver.

"Stop! The water is cold!" flails Lydia. "Fine, you're charming. And cute in an indie romance way. And I will break the legs of whoever breaks your heart."

"Really?"

"I'll get Jackson to," she amends, twisting her head to catch his eye.

"Apology accepted." He swings her back up and grounds her on the dock. "Now, you were saying about the school trip?"

"It'll have to wait," says Lydia with saccharine sweetness.

"Why?" he squints at her. "You drove up-"

"For after your swim," she smiles and shoves him backwards into the lake. His yell causes the migration of half the lake's wildlife.

He surfaces sputtering out a curse. "Touché."

---

Lydia is nice enough to have hot chocolate waiting for him when he exits the shower in his worn Henley and jeans.

"You weren't kidding about the coffee machine. What happened?" she says as she watches him add an ungodly amount of marshmallows and whip cream to his cup. The machine in question is in shambles on the counter.

"It burnt me," he replies, blowing over his cup before he took a gulp. "It had to die."

"You're not allowed near my kitchen again," she says taking a dainty sip from her cup of tea.

"And you're not allowed to push me into the lake again," glares Stiles over his cup of hot chocolate.

"Well for this year anyway," replies Lydia.

"Agreed," Stiles nods. "But we're still on for throwing Scott in for his birthday."

"Of course, it's tradition after all."

"I think he's catching on," says Stiles.

Lydia just grins.

"Speaking of, how did the baseball go?"

Lydia grimaces. "It ended when Jackson hit a home run."

"That's not how baseball works," drawls Stiles.

"It is when you only have one ball and a limited knowledge of the sport," says Lydia with a huff. "And it worked out, Dr. Hale showed up just as Jackson hit it and Coach Finstock felt that was a good way to prevent anymore injuries. Scott already knocked himself out catching a fly ball."

Stiles cackles. He sputters into his cup, at least half goes up his nose. When he finally catches his breath, most of his hot chocolate in on the table. "Please tell me you have pictures."

He already facebooked Allison and Scott's collision.

"Better," Lydia grins. "Video."

Stiles figures he'll hold off throwing her into the lake. For now.

---

 

It's one of those mornings where Stiles really wishes he was in his own bed with Padfoot snuffling at the foot of the bed. The rangers' station isn't really heated mainly because of shitty insulation. So he starts the day off freezing and his body is in desperate need of coffee. He settles for a mug of tea from the growing collection that Lydia started for him when he was upgraded from love lorn stalker to gay best friend in the effort for him to stop mainlining coffee. It didn't work, considering the amount of tea in the rangers' station.

He's halfway out the door when he realizes there's someone waiting at the information center. Well, the bulletin board outside it. The information center is only open on weekends, during community events and all summer when the city hall gets more interns than they can deal with. Otherwise it's locked up.

So it's unusual to find someone out here for the hell of it. Stiles is ready to call a warm hello until he recognizes the man scrutinizing the events' board.

Derek Hale.

Stiles idly wonders if he can get back into the station without being spotted.

"Hey," waves the good doctor. Stiles groans internally. And possible externally. He wasn't really paying attention because Derek's holding coffee in both of his hands. Rosita's coffee.

"Is that what I think it is?" he asks, his brain going on autopilot. He somehow made his way down the station's stairs towards Derek, overlooking the fact that Derek is even there looking fresh from a run with his ear buds hanging around his neck, though he's wearing track pants instead of distracting shorts.

Derek smirks in a devastating way but Stiles' eyes are eying the coffee. Derek hands one over without comment. Stiles can ignore a lot for coffee, even douchy city doctors. Stiles is already blissfully enjoying the cup when Derek speaks again.

"A little bird told me you didn't have a working coffee machine."

Stiles takes a moment to process that. The caffeine already hitting his system and his brain catching up to that. Someone knows.

"What?" He looks at the cup of coffee in his hand in utter betrayal.

Derek flushes. Stiles thinks the city boy should really used to the mountain air and wear a warmer jacket. His face looks red.

"I mean, I overheard from the nurse's-" Derek begins awkwardly.

"You didn't mention me right?" Stiles asks cutting him off. His voice a little hoarse. "At Rosita's?"

The last thing he needs is Miss Delilah tweeting about him.

"No," replies Derek, his mouth frowning in confusion. Stiles eyes it appreciatively. It is a nice mouth. But so not the point right now.

"Good," he sighs and takes another sip. "Been living off tree sap and gooseberries."

Derek looks horrified, his eyebrows arched speculatively.

"I'm kidding, instant coffee and tea." He shudders at that.

Derek laughs. Stiles tramps down on a grin that wants to burst out. The doctor has a nice laugh.

"I ordered two Ranger Specials," Derek says, lifting his paper cup in a toast which fall's flat when Stiles doesn't return it.

"Best coffee in the world," Stiles groans appreciatively into his cup. Ranger Special is Tessa's idea of a joke. It has the perfect ratio of sugar/whip cream/coffee Stiles has ever tasted.

"Clearly you need to get out more," says Derek without the mocking undertone which snaps Stiles out from his coffee bliss.

"Nuhuh, ambrosia, this is," he gulps it and misses Derek's fond smile.

Rosita's coffee is pure bliss. He's surprised that Derek ordered it. No one else orders the Ranger Special. Scott's compared it to a sugar coma. This is bad. His stomach grumbles in protest. Stiles hopes he's not developing an ulcer because of this.

"I need to get to work," declares Stiles suddenly. He jerks away from Derek, where they'd been leaning against the bulletin board in a companionable silence, holding his empty cup.

He had coffee with Derek Hale. For fifteen minutes. Derek watched him make pornographic noises over coffee for fifteen freaking minutes. That can't be good.

"Oh," Derek frowns. His coffee actually looks untouched. "Here, for the road."

The other cup is forced into his empty hand, his fingers brushing with Derek's warm ones as Derek grabs the empty one.

"I didn't have any," Derek says when Stiles shoots him a bewildered look. "Too much sugar for my sweet tooth."

Stiles looks at the cup and his brain is still too asleep to figure out why Derek bought two cups of coffee he wouldn't drink in the first place. But he figures he may as well enjoy the free coffee before half the town comes after him. "Thanks, I guess."

"Don't mention it," replies Derek. He looks flustered. Stiles can't imagine why.

"See you around," Stiles says turning towards his jeep. And if he can plan it right, that will be never.

"You can count on it," Derek calls back as Stiles is getting into the driver's seat. "I'm still waiting for that name."

Stiles snorts. "It'll take more than coffee," he calls out and guns the engine making sure to power lock the doors. One can't be too careful.

Derek merely salutes him with the empty cup leaving Stiles with an awkward feeling in his gut.

---

It's around midday when Stiles is up at the old observatory and spots one of the wolves that has become unofficial Beacon Hills' mascot. By the looks of the colouring, it's Grumpy, the ol' mayor's pet who was re-released into the wild after several angry letters from PETA. Sadly, Grumpy didn't take to the pack life and usually gets his supper from Danny who still puts food out for the wolf.

"Hey there boy," he greets the wolf who is gnawing on something with glee. "What do you got there?"

The wolf looks up and trots over with his treat. A baseball. The only one for miles.

"Well, shit."