Kira knows that there’s no such thing as the perfect summer.
California is hot. They may be further north in California instead of down where the beaches are permanently packed, and it may not be a wet heat, but it doesn’t change the fact that Kira has to layer on the sunscreen and guzzle water when she goes jogging with Allison.
New York had cooler summers, though not by much by the time July got into full swing. And on top of the humidity from the water, there was the stickiness from too many bodies in the city itself, the heat and the smell that got trapped on the crowded sidewalks and the jam-packed subway cars. Kira remembers the way summers always felt simultaneously restless and lethargic there, and how she ended up spending time hanging around her dad’s office at NYU because she didn’t have much better to do.
Still, the heat aside, Kira thinks that if a perfect summer existed, it’d be this one.
The pack races through their exams and gets through graduation. Kira’s dad is embarrassing in the sweetest possible way through all of it, bringing out his nice camera and making Kira and all of her friends take a zillion and a half pictures. Kira knows she’ll be glad for it later on, even though standing in the California heat in her giant black graduation gown isn’t the most fun. Stiles crows with victory when he takes the Beacon Hills parking sticker off his Jeep almost immediately after the ceremony ends; Kira’s dad tries to snap a picture of that, too, though he is too late to capture peeling the sticker off. Instead, he gets Scott kissing Stiles as Scott takes away the lighter Stiles is holding suspiciously close to the sticker.
Kira goes through all of the pictures, and her dad prints out some of the group ones for her to distribute to everyone else. That one with Scott and Stiles doesn’t get printed, but it does get saved on Kira’s computer.
Once school is over, summer actually starts to settle in. It’s a relatively supernatural disaster-free summer, and for the first time in a long time, Kira gets to experience the kind of summer she thought was made up for teen movies. Scott is working at the clinic, but Deaton doesn’t seem to mind when Kira swings by a little bit early before Scott’s shifts are over to help soothe kittens and pet dogs. Allison’s family goes on some sort of annual camping trip that eats up the first few weeks, but then Allison’s back for sleepovers and sharing Twizzlers and helping Kira learn the art of shopping with Lydia without getting overwhelmed. For her truly nerdy days, Kira holes up in Stiles’ living room all day to binge watch all the terrible CW superhero shows that they got behind on when everything was busy and stressful.
Kira has never had a summer like that. Kira has never been to a high school pool party in her life, but Lydia holds three. Kira learns how fun it is to put the net up and play Malia in pool volleyball, and she learns the importance of having more than one swimsuit to survive a California summer. Kira learns about putting a cover-up and flip-flops on and driving to 7-11 for slushies. Kira learns that she is the least rebellious person ever as she watches Allison casually scale down the side of her house in a mini-skirt to go to a concert in the park downtown that Kira just asked her mom to go to. Scott starts giggling next to Kira in the car, and when Allison arrives at the ground, triumphant, she and Scott share a fond Look that tells Kira that this is one of those parts of their history that Kira wasn’t there for.
Malia gives Kira a similar Look when Scott offers to share his blanket with her and when Kira enthusiastically accepts, because Malia is the worst best friend. Kira plops down next to Scott, and without saying a word, Stiles curls in around Kira on her other side. Kira’s actually probably just lucky Malia doesn’t say anything out loud, because Stiles is big and warm and settles his arm so it’s brushing up against the small of her back, and Scott jokingly offers his shoulder for Kira to rest on when she starts yawning around midnight. Kira risks Malia’s teasing, but she takes Scott up on it anyway.
It’s a good summer. Kira likes being in California and likes having friends. She likes not having to worry about the end of the world or the destruction of their town. She likes spending her allowance on Twizzlers or movie tickets or old pop punk CDs that Stiles eyes every time he drags her and Scott to the one well-stocked record store in town. Tuition will be free at NYU from her dad, and she already has an in with the librarian at the main library, so she lets herself have those little things, the loud grin on Stiles’ face when he starts the CD up, and the quieter smile on Scott’s as he tells her about the two of them listening to that music back when they were thirteen-year-olds who thought they were punk.
Kira lets herself have the softness in Scott’s face and the little thrill in her stomach as they sprawl out on Scott’s bed together. She lets herself have that moment after, in her bed that night, when she mulls over the fact that if the circumstances were any different, if Stiles hadn’t kissed Scott and if they hadn’t talked about things and if they didn’t start dating, then maybe, in that moment, Kira might have been brave. Maybe Kira would have leaned in to close that tiny little bit of space between her face and Scott’s.
There are a lot of moments like that, and not just with Scott. Kira has more moments in Stiles’ space (that don’t end in flailing limbs and hysterical laughter as brand new bruises began to form) this summer than the last two years put together, and Kira savors them. They argue about movie Superman versus Supergirl Superman a lot. Kira winds up with popcorn in her hair more than once. They agree that Ezra Miller is the perfect Flash, but that Grant Gustin is also cute. Scott dips in sometimes and grins and shakes his head, trying to agree with both of them when things get heated.
It really, actually is the perfect summer.
The thing about even the most perfect summers, though, is that they have to end.
“You need to start packing, Kira,” her mother warns when July starts to fade into August. Book lists have been appearing at Kira’s spot on the dinner table that Kira knows are her dad’s doing. Liam and Mason start practicing lacrosse again in earnest, gearing up for the start of the new school year. Kira can feel the dynamics starting to shift in their group, too, as it starts to sink in that she and Allison and Lydia will be going their own way, soon, and that Malia and Scott and Stiles are the only ones staying in California. Stiles starts getting more and more irritable as the summer drags on, and whenever anyone mentions college, his face goes dark.
It all comes to a head when Mr. Tate mentions a going away party that Kira is 100% certain was not Malia’s idea. But it comes together two weeks before Kira has to leave to move back to New York, and so Kira agrees to go. Derek’s out of town, Kira having already said her goodbyes to him, and the nights are starting to get cooler again, even as the days stay persistently hot, so they decide to make it a bonfire. Kira drags out the leather jacket Derek gave her and has Lydia throwing clothes at her, which Kira knows better at this point than to argue with.
She still doesn’t know how she winds up sitting on a log between Scott and Stiles next to the fire pit, Scott teasing Stiles for spreading his legs too wide and squishing Kira. It’s comfortable, though, and easy, and it hits Kira how much this has been a part of her life for the last few years.
Naturally, Scott and his nose pick up on it.
“Hey,” he says quietly. He reaches out to her and wraps up her hand in his, softly squeezing in a way that is familiar, by now. “Are you okay?”
“Just going to miss this,” she says honestly. Malia is sharing a flask with Allison. Lydia’s eyeing it distastefully, though Kira knows that’s only because them drinking from the flask means they aren’t drinking Lydia’s punch. A very bored Hayden is about 20 minutes away from coaxing Liam into playing soccer with her. Stiles has not stopped fiddling with apps on his phone, in spite of the fact that Kira knows from the occasional glances he’s sending in their direction that he’s eavesdropping. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you, too,” Scott says earnestly. His eyes are intent on her face, and Kira still, after years of knowing him, doesn’t honestly know how anyone can stand the full force of Scott McCall’s attention and concern. “This isn’t forever, though. And we still have a couple weeks.”
“Not enough time,” Stiles grouses from next to her. He’s mostly been behaving tonight, up until this point, even though the whole premise of this party was to say goodbye in a formal, party kind of way. Kira knew deep down that his displeasure with all of it might rear its ugly head tonight, though, because not everything went according to Stiles’ plan. They’re splitting up. He and Scott are sharing an apartment, but Malia’s staying in Beacon Hills, and the rest of them are moving even further away.
“I’m sorry,” Kira says. That gets Stiles’ attention, him finally glancing up from his phone. “I’m going to miss you guys a lot.”
“It’s not-,” Scott and Stiles both start, and they both pause, meeting each others’ eyes across Kira’s body. Kira has that feeling that she’s realized is just part of being friends with Scott and Stiles both, the feeling where she wonders if she’s missing something, if they’re communicating even though neither of them is saying a word.
“It’s not something you need to apologize for,” Scott says, going first. “We want you to go where you’ll be happy.”
“It’s not-” Stiles repeats, but he cuts off again, unprompted and frustrated.
“It’s not just that you’re leaving that’s bothering him,” Scott says for him, softly. He squeezes her hand, again, like he just cleared up something big in the most delicate kind of way. It doesn’t clear things up for Kira at all, but she reaches out her other hand to Stiles, offering to hold it the way Scott is doing for her.
He takes it. Kira sometimes forgets how big Stiles’ hands are, even in comparison to Scott’s.
“There are a lot of things that should be easy to say but aren’t,” Stiles says, staring at the fire. The palms of his hands are a little bit sweaty. “I just wish I had the guts to say some of them sooner.”
“We still have a couple of weeks,” Kira says, echoing Scott. “It’s sometimes hard. To get things out. I totally get that, like, 100%. But if you’re going to do that, there’s kinda not a better time to do it.”
Stiles is silent for a very, very long moment.
“I just had these plans, you know?” he says, finally. “The kind of plans that are easy to put together. Some plans take a lot of details and shit, a lot of sitting down and thinking things through, and those. Those are the plans that go better in a group, or with Scott, or with someone who can help so there’s like. A big picture and the details. Those are like. Breaking into bank vault level plans, right?”
“Right,” Kira says, and she barely gets the word out of her mouth before Stiles starts talking again, pushing the words out of his mouth like he’s afraid that if he doesn’t, they won’t come out later.
“Right. But some plans don’t need that, because you figure it’s just gonna happen. It doesn’t take that much work to put together a dream of all of us going to the same place and staying friends past high school. And sometimes things don’t work out how you planned, like with me and Malia. Sometimes things don’t work out how you planned in a good way, like with me and Scott. But none of that was going to change the plan. Me and Malia are still really close, and now it makes even more sense for me and Scott to share an apartment. All that stuff worked out. But sometimes there are parts to the plan that you thought would just change on their own, and you realize too late that it doesn’t work that way. Not everyone is Scott, so, like. Sometimes you have to actually change things yourself. And you realize that maybe you waited too long to change them, and now it’s too late, because the plan doesn’t exist anymore. Sometimes you realize you fucked up, and now you have no plan.”
Kira lets his words settle for a second, trying to parse through them. She wonders for a second if he’s partly talking about things with Lydia, but she is pretty sure that’s not the case, because she’s pretty sure that that chapter in his life is over. She wonders whether he’s just mad that they’re all splitting up and doesn’t know what to do with it. She knows, with it being Stiles, that there’s really no such thing as him not having a plan - even if it’s hairbrained and off the cuff and completely illogical to anyone else, he usually has something there.
“You still know you’re going to do four years at UC Davis, right?” Kira asks. “You know you’re going to live in the apartment with Scott and come home to visit your dad over breaks. You know you’re going to change your major five times before settling on something you like, and that you’ll probably take way more psych classes than you need to before you figure it out. That sounds like a plan to me.”
“That isn’t the kind of plan he was talking about,” Scott says gently. He looks at Stiles for a second too long, and Kira can see the moment when Scott decides he has more to say, if Stiles isn’t going to jump in. “The Big Plan, the revised version, involved you sharing a bed with us.”
Kira’s cheeks feel warm in a way she knows isn’t from the bonfire or from Lydia’s punch. Stiles’ cheeks are just as warm, though it shows up on his face as bright red patches that Kira wants to reach out and touch. She’s pretty sure that that’s as straightforward as she’s ever heard Scott get about something like this.
And she can see, now, where Stiles is coming from on this. Kira is not going to live with Scott and Stiles in their college dorm. She isn’t going to come home at the end of the day and wait for the other two to come home and join her in sprawling in their shared bed that was hell to fit into the small apartment bedroom. She isn’t going to kiss them good morning, or… do any of the other things associated with sharing a bed with two sexually active boys who she is sexually attracted to.
“Maybe we can have a little revised plan?” she offers. “Not a Big Plan. Or your Big Plan. But we could start with something small. I hear it’s supposed to be hot and sunny tomorrow. We could go get ice cream? Just the three of us?”
She can’t promise the Big Plan, because that ship has sailed. She can’t promise much when she’s going across the country in a couple of weeks. She can promise the Skype calls she already planned, and she can promise the trips back to Beacon Hills her mother promised when they decided not to sell the house. She’s going to go to NYU and, hopefully, make friends there and have fun and build a life.
She can also promise ice cream tomorrow. She can promise to admit she has feelings for the both of them over ice cream cones. And she can promise that she wants to work out what that means for the three of them when she’s just on the verge of leaving.
“I like ice cream, and I’d like to go with you,” is Scott’s contribution, along with a soothing squeeze of his hand that makes Kira certain that it isn’t just Stiles that was on board with sharing a bed with Kira.
Stiles looks like the bitterness has all drained out.
“It’s always hot and sunny in California in the summer,” he says, and there’s lightness in his voice. “We could make a whole five-year plan out of just that. Going out for ice cream when it’s hot and sunny out.”
“I think that’s a five-year plan I could get behind,” Kira says.
Scott agrees, which Kira thinks probably makes it official.
Kira doesn’t let go of their hands for the rest of the night. And the next day, when they’re done eating their ice cream cones, Kira finds herself holding their hands again, despite the fact that Stiles’ hands are stickier than even hers are.
In two weeks, Kira heads back to New York, and Scott and Stiles head off to UC Davis before too long. It may have been a mistake deciding to charge into this when in two weeks, Kira will be across the country from them, knowing they’re sharing an apartment and knowing that she’ll only be missing them.
But as far as five-year plans go, Kira thinks that this is a good starting place, and she’s excited to build on it as the year goes along.