This is an AU in which Scott is not a werewolf and neither boy knows Derek. Also Laura is still alive. Because.
I don't know what to say about this one other than I was in Edinburgh and some Free Huggers were running about and I thought 'what if...'
This is unbeta'd and basically written as an exercise in cheering myself up. I'm not entirely sure it isn't far too ridiculous for public consumption to be honest.
Nothing is mine.
Stiles is still staring, open-mouthed, and he knows what they're seeing must be startling because Scott isn't even trying to stop him, just squinting at the drama himself. They weren't the only ones staring - the little scene playing out before them had garnered quite a crowd.
"Dude," Stiles whispers, elbowing Scott for emphasis, "Are the Free Hug people really fighting?"
Scott nods although fighting seems too tame a description for the terrifying, tense stand-off they're witnessing.
Two of the Free Hug people, decked out in orange trousers and orange t-shirts with FREE HUGS emblazoned across the front and back, are nose to nose. They look eerily similar so Stiles assumes they must be related. The girl, shorter and slimmer than the guy, is somehow more intimidating and that boggles Stiles mind because the guy? Holy shit, the guy is like an underground biker gang wet dream.
"Yeah, you know you said that out loud right?" Scott murmurs from the corner of his mouth, eyes still fixed firmly ahead. Stiles shrugs although he knows Scott isn't looking.
"…you're doing this."
The girl's tone is so final that Stiles has the urge to hug someone, like uncontrollable. His feet move forward and everything.
"Should we be hugging?" Scott asks in a voice that sounds horrified by what it's saying and Stiles is relieved he isn't the only one reacting to…whatever that was.
The Man-Mountain sets his jaw, arms folded tight across his chest, and Stiles is sure he's gonna refuse and they're going to see this girl beat down a man three times her size, when he tilts his head. Man-Mountain's eyes are on him and yep, he is striding angrily in Stiles direction. Scott honest-to-god whines at his shoulder.
"Free hug." Man-Mountain says, staring at Stiles like he wants him to disappear under the power of his eyebrows alone.
"Dude, was that even a question?" Stiles stammers, clawing desperately for time to…do something!
The guy snorts like he's a moron, grabs his belt and Stiles is in the air, feet dangling, pressed against a solid chest wrapped in orange material. And Stiles really means wrapped. Man-Mountain's arms are tight, one around his waist and the other diagonal across his back, securing him in place with zero wiggle-room.
"I kind of thought people were meant to approach you," Stiles mumbles as best he can into Man-Mountain's shoulder but receives no reply except a brief tightening of arms that has his ribs creaking.
"Oh my God, seriously?!"
Stiles plummets to the ground and bounces once, teeth rattling, before settling on his ass at Man-Mountain's feet. He looks up, betrayed.
"Not cool, man."
Man-Mountain actually looks remorseful. If remorseful looks the same as uncomfortable and pissed. The girl he'd been fighting with earlier, in complete contrast, looks positively gleeful.
Scott reaches down to help Stiles up but before Stiles can grasp Scott's offered hand, Man-Mountain makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a growl. Not a word of a lie, an actual growl. Scott cringes back but Stiles? Well Stiles kicks out, clacking Man-Mountain right on the shin. Man-Mountain groans deep in his chest and bares his teeth at Stiles. Bares. His. Teeth.
"Oh hell no!" Stiles scrambles up and pokes a finger into Man-Mountain's chest, possibly sustaining a fracture because concrete much? "You are the worst Free Hugger ever! I think you need to go back to hug-school dude. I'd offer but you're kind of intimidating and horrible and I really don't want to."
Man-Mountain looks sort of upset but the Free Hug girl? She legit doubles up laughing. And keeps laughing. And laughing. At one point Scott uses his mad vet skillz to make sure she hasn't sustained a freaky concussion dealing with Man-Mountain's iron will.
"Okay we're done," Stiles says, dragging Scott away by his elbow.
"Don't want a parting hug?" the girl calls, wiping tears from her eyes, actual tears, and opening her arms. Man-Mountain is glaring at her like she's shit in his breakfast and Stiles has enough crazy to deal with without taking on any more.
"I am off hugs for the foreseeable future," he calls back and drags Scott along faster as the girl cracks up again and yeah, that was definitely a growl.
Stiles is in the cereal aisle contemplating whether his dad's heart would be able to withstand cocoa-puffs or if he was just going to have to resign himself to a future of Weetabix, when a shadow blocks out the light. Man-Mountain is staring down at him, frowning in a way that suggests he really wished he was anywhere but where he was.
"Oh, it's you," Stiles says, voice flat. To his horror, Man-Mountain reaches for him.
"No thank you," Stiles squeaks, scrambling backwards and almost ending up ass-first in an old ladies cart. "No free hugs today!"
Man-Mountain frowns harder, looking like he might actually argue the point and how is this Stiles life exactly? Force-hugged in the cereal aisle? Where anyone can see? And tell his dad? Not happening.
"You're not even wearing your official hugging uniform!" Stiles points out the only thing that pops into his brain, "That's gotta be against free hug policy."
Man-Mountain actually stops. Stops. Like what Stiles has just spouted is reasonable. Then he's nodding and backing away and Stiles is too relieved to be freaked out. He'll freak out later. Over a nice bowl of Weetabix.
"Uh, dude?" Scott whispers, except his whisper is a deafening thing that has Stiles jerking away. "Isn't that the Free Hug guy?"
Stiles looks up and sure enough Man-Mountain is standing in the parking lot, next to Stiles jeep, wearing his orange Free Hug t-shirt and looking aggressively non-huggable.
"Shit!" Stiles swears, glancing around panicked. "Has he seen me? Please tell me he hasn't seen me. I need to get out of this parking lot. Can I get a lift?"
Scott glances at his bike which, yeah, Stiles is never fitting on, and then back at Man-Mountain.
"I think he knows you're here," Scott says and he sounds petrified. Stiles looks over to where Man-Mountain is making his jeep look like a Mini and sees why because Man-Mountain looks pissed, eyebrows all pulled down and mouth all snarly. And yep, he is staring straight at Stiles. Great.
"I hate you," Stiles hisses at Scott, who looks bemused, before stomping over to his jeep, stopping toe-to-toe with Man-Mountain who, shit, is waaay taller than Stiles remembers.
"Don't you dare," he snaps, slapping Man-Mountain's grabby hands away. "This is not normal behaviour. Not for Free Huggers. Not for anyone. You will go away and stop trying to force your hugs on me right now."
Man-Mountain just glares at him, unmoving. Just as his hands twitch in the general vicinity of Stiles person, Erica appears from nowhere, hurtling towards them like the world's sexiest meteorite.
Stiles isn't entirely sure what happened with Erica, one minute she was this kinda wallflower chick and the next she was violently hot, but he's putting it down to puberty being kind. Very kind.
"I'll take a free hug," she purrs, only hug sounds like something that makes Stiles ears flush brick red and Man-Mountain is doing something complicated with his face and Erica…well, Erica has just veered sharply to the right and some freshman kid is looking delighted at an armful of vixen and her ample bosom. Stiles has no idea what just happened.
"What just happened?"
"We're doing this," Man-Mountain growls in answer and tugs Stiles in, lifting and wrapping him up in one motion until all Stiles can feel is body heat that is no his own and soft breath against the muscle of his neck.
The parking lot empty is slow going this particular evening, which yeah has a lot to do with kids stopping to gawk and Stiles dangling in Man-Mountain's arms, but it's still long after the last car has peeled out, no doubt to go gossip about Stiles, before Man-Mountain lets him down.
"Well this has been weird and creepy dude," Stiles says, trying to unwrinkle his thoroughly wrinkled shirt, "Let's never, ever do it again."
"Derek." Man-Mountain replies.
"Uh, what exactly did I ask?" Stiles says, baffled for once.
"Don't call me dude," Man-Mountain says, jaw weirdly clenched, "Derek." And walks away.
"That wasn't a complete sentence!" Stiles calls after him because what is he supposed to do with that?
"No." Stiles says, holding up a hand, "Absolutely not."
Derek, looking even less happy than all the previous times they'd met, keeps wading towards him with a grim look on his face and determination in his eyes. Stiles tries to skid out of reach but water is hard to manoeuver through, especially when you don't want to risk turning your back on someone to properly utilise your swimming skills.
"Is he okay?" Stiles hears Allison's worried voice from the poolside and he turns his head to catch her eye and hopefully convey that no, he is not alright thank you very much and a little bit of lifeguard saving would go down quite handy right now if it wasn't too much trouble, but is distracted by the way Lydia is glaring at him.
Stiles had spent every weekend and summer at this pool since turning fifteen in the hope that Lydia Martin, hot girl extraordinaire and youngest lifeguard ever, would realise her dormant love for Stiles. Instead he was getting a frighteningly focused Derek forcing his body through water towards him like the laws of physics didn't apply, and Lydia Martin glaring jealous daggers at him instead of over him.
As Derek reaches him, of course Free Hug girl appears and of course she is absolutely dying of laughter. Dying.
"Is that…" Allison has the good grace to trail off but oh no, not Free Hug girl.
"Waterproof mascara!" she screeches, now on her knees and yes Derek has FREE HUGS scrawled across his naked chest and Stiles is viciously hoping Scott will come through as a bro and kick her into the pool but he's Scott so he just stands looking alternately confused and wistful (at Allison, not Stiles thankfully - Stiles can only deal with one ball-withering problem at a time).
"Hi!" Free Hug girl calls between laughing bouts and Stiles glowers in response, "I'm Laura! I'm looking forward to getting to know you better!"
"Couldn't wear the uniform in the pool," Derek grunts, finally reaching Stiles and hauling him in by his neck, his neck!, and pressing them together thigh to chest, which short-circuits Stiles brain enough that it can't explode over the verbal bomb Laura just threw at him.
"This is taking it a bit far dude," Stiles complains from where his spine is being forced to bow to accommodate Derek's very firm squeeze.
"Don't call me dude."
"No more hugs in public places," Stiles snaps from the top of the library stairs. Derek is standing at the bottom, familiar orange shirt straining across his chest, and yes this explains why no one could find a librarian and Stiles had just had to fight through a gaggle of book-and-ink smelling women in the lobby to reach the exit.
"What." Derek replies, shifting towards Stiles with all the terrifying intent of a slow-moving iceberg.
"I. Said. No." Stiles repeats, smacking Derek on the forehead with the hardback copy of Anna Karenina he had just effectively stolen. He's blaming Derek for his foray into crime.
"Why." Derek look of confusion seems genuine, brows all twisty and eyes all crinkly. If Stiles didn't know better, he would swear Derek was edging pout territory.
"Okay first? Learn to ask a question," Stiles starts because man that was annoying, "and secondly, because someone is going to tell my dad, the sheriff, that his son keeps getting hugged within an inch of his life, in public, by some delinquent looking dude and then he is going to ask me questions. Questions, Derek. That I have no answer for. And then he is going to get mad because I have been allowing myself to be hugged by a dude I don't know. In public. Oh my god, I've been getting hugged by some dude I don't even know!"
Derek's face has sort of been collapsing inward at Stiles rant and by the end he looks more confused than Scott that time they talked about Schrodinger's Cat in Chemistry. The teacher had sent him to the nurse in the end.
"Derek Hale," he throws out in a voice that suggests this must be the answer to all of Stiles half-panicked ranting, and hauls Stiles bodily down the rest of the stairs.
"I said no more public hugging," Stiles reprimands faintly but Derek just grabs his arm and steers him towards the parking lot.
"Just walking you to your car, no hugs involved."
And there are no hugs except…except Derek seems kinda handsy, fingers grazing Stiles neck, across his shoulders, down his back. At one point Stiles is pretty sure Derek touches his ass but when he snaps his head up to yell at him, hands are on his shoulders and Derek's face is so blank that it must have been a figment of his scarred imagination.
"Fucking fuck a duck!" Stiles yelps, flinching violently when he closes his bedroom door and finds Derek, the creepiest Free Hug dude to ever hug, just loitering behind it like it's some public right of way. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"You said not in public." Derek replies like Stiles is the one being unreasonable and yeah, it seems like the Free Hug guy has broken into Stiles bedroom to hug him. And honestly? Stiles doesn't know how to process that other than to be flattered because before now Stiles hadn't known anyone who would break a nail to hug him never mind break into an actual house where people lived. Where the sheriff lived.
"No." Stiles says in his firmest voice, and Derek freezes halfway across the carpet, arms already partly extended. "This is not happening. I do not want any more damn hugs."
Derek looks torn between listening to what Stiles is saying and just going for it anyway. Stiles can see the way his brain is sort of grinding between the two options and breaks out his sternest stern face.
"You need to smell like me," Derek grits out and wait, what now?
"That is not even a thing that makes sense." Stiles dead-pans. "The words you are saying have no meaning. Do you understand this?"
Derek glowers, then sort of half steps forward and away then, whilst Stiles poor brain is trying to process that one, beelines for Stiles drawer and is partway through trying on all of his shirts before Stiles can stop him.
"How is this normal?!" Stiles yells, trying to tug a shirt of out Derek's hand to prevent him doing whatever the hell he thinks he is doing, but Derek merely glares balefully at him and body blocks him. Stiles cannot get his arms far enough around Derek to stop him stretching out all of Stiles awesome shirts with his Yeti shoulders and Derek doesn't stop until Stiles drawer is empty. Derek is a dick.
And then Stiles is seeing Derek's dick because he has dropped trou and reaching for Stiles underwear drawer. Stiles trips from the room with his eyes shut and hides in the kitchen until Derek is done.
"You know that guy is following you, yes?" Allison asks, craning over her shoulder at where Stiles knows Derek will be dogging their steps, a respectful twenty feet away.
"Yeah," he sighs because what else can he say? Yes Allison, I am aware that I have the world's least subtle stalker on my trail, staring after me like the saddest puppy in the shop window, and I am totally cool with all of this.
For two weeks Stiles has been catching glimpses of that orange Free Hug t shirt everywhere he's gone. And by glimpse, he means an eyeful because Derek? Not the least bit shy in letting everyone know that Stiles is the big bad bogeyman denying him even one little hug. The woman in the video store won't even serve him anymore, just looks at Derek lurking behind the romantic comedies with a pitying expression then tuts at Stiles and pretends she can't see him. He doesn't even dare brave the library.
"So what you gonna do about it?" Scott's tone is neutral but Stiles catches his eye cutting back from Derek's pathetic face and sighs dramatically.
"You too, Scott?" he demands, betrayed, but Scott just shrugs helplessly.
"He looks like you kicked over his sand castle," he whispers, sounding stricken on Derek's behalf, and Allison squeezes his shoulder like she's proud of him. Stiles hates his friends.
He twirls on his feet and marches over to Derek, who doesn't even have the decency to pretend he wasn't following them. Worst. Stalker. Ever.
Stiles opens his arms and Derek grabs him up fast like he's afraid Stiles might change his mind and kick him in the balls instead. Not fast enough though, because Stiles still catches that smug expression the free-hugging idiot's face slides into.
"Hey!" he admonishes but gets only a nose nuzzled into his neck in response. He can feel Allison and Scott's heart-eyes from twenty feet away the dirty betrayers. "Don't get comfortable."
"Laura wants to know when you're coming for dinner."
Thank you for reading.