The thing about mates is not every wolf has one.
It’s not something to be ashamed of; it’s just a fact. Same way the sky is blue and Californian winters are warm. It doesn’t even mean a wolf has to spend their life alone. Derek’s parents weren’t mates, but they still have a wonderful marriage.
Derek clings to this fact.
He clings because he doesn’t want to lose hope. Having, let alone finding, a mate is a long shot, but finding love? Finding love should be easy, right?
Derek’s 28 and he has never had a successful relationship.
He knows he’s still young, but with every breakup, every rejection, every one-night-stand spent losing himself in meaningless sex just to keep the loneliness at bay, it gets harder and harder to believe there’s someone out there for him.
Mates and love aside, Derek just doesn’t want to be alone anymore.
And maybe that’s what finally does it, maybe that’s why he finally caves and lets his sister set him up on a blind date. He’s sick and tired of coming home to an empty apartment with nothing more than a good book for company.
Because Laura is a cliché addict the date is set up for Valentine’s Day. As if Derek didn’t hate the holiday enough, now he has to suffer through a date with a stranger on it. Thanks, Laura.
Derek tells himself he doesn’t care and it isn’t a big deal. If he has no expectations going in then he won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t work out.
He dresses casually in dark slacks and a red button down and makes sure he gets to the restaurant on time. It’s a small family owned place that Laura knows Derek loves, so if nothing else the food will be good.
When he arrives his date isn’t there yet, and Derek decides to wait for him by the door rather than at their table. His date’s name is Jim. Laura knows him from work and says that he and Derek have a lot in common. Derek’s not sure if he likes the idea of having a lot in common with an IRS agent, but he shrugs it off.
Jim arrives five minutes late with a smile and a passing comment about traffic. He’s tall and blond, looks like he hits the gym at least twice a week, and is dressed in dark jeans and a light blue sweater that brings out his eyes.
The date is pleasant. They don’t have as much in common as Laura claimed, but they have enough that there aren’t too many lulls in the conversation. There’s no spark either – not that Derek thought there would be – but all in all he still has a nice time.
After dessert, Jim pays – “You can get it next time,” he says when Derek offers – and they part ways with the promise to call one another soon.
Derek’s almost home, wondering how much gloating he’s going to have to put up with from Laura since the date went decently, when a deer suddenly darts out in front of his car.
Derek slams on his brakes and tries to swerve out of the way, but it’s not enough. For one terrifying second he’s sure he’s going to hit it, but then the deer miraculously leaps out of the way.
Derek doesn’t know how he does it, he’s shaking so bad, but he manages to get the car off to the side of the road. There he proceeds to lean his head against the steering wheel and just breathe. Fuck, that was way too close, he thinks. Just because he can live through a car accident doesn’t mean he wants to experience one.
Derek doesn’t know how long he sits there processing the whole thing, but it must be a while because the next thing he knows there’s someone tapping at his window.
“Hey, you okay?” the officer asks, when Derek looks up.
Derek nods and rolls down the window. “Yeah, I’m fine. Deer just jumped out in front of me and…”
Derek trails off, unexpectedly distracted by the guy’s scent. It can’t be.
“Scared the living daylights out of you?” the officer grins.
God, he’s got a gorgeous smile. And his eyes. Derek swallows. “Uh, yeah. Luckily it got out of the way before I hit it.”
“You’re right there. Can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to come out this way because of deer related car accidents. Whether or not they hit the deer it can still be ugly. Well, I’m glad you’re all right. Have a nice night, sir.”
The officer turns to head back to his cruiser and Derek panics.
The officer looks back.
“Umm… I’m Derek,” he says, holding his hand out.
The officer arches an eyebrow, but takes his hand. “Deputy Stilinski. Although I’m off duty right now, so I suppose you can call me Stiles.”
“Stiles,” Derek says, testing out the feel of his mate’s name. “That’s… different.” Who names their kid Stiles?
Stiles smirks. “Trust me, it’s better than the mouthful of syllables on my birth certificate. You going to let go of my hand anytime soon?”
“Oh. Sorry,” Derek says, withdrawing his hand and flushing in embarrassment. What the fuck is wrong with him? Ugh, Laura would laugh herself sick.
“Hey, I don’t mind a little hand holding,” Stiles says. “I’d just rather do it over milkshakes and curly fries than on the side of the road. What do you think?”
Derek looks up in surprise. “Umm. I think that sounds great.”
“Diner on eighth? You can follow me there if you don’t know the way.”
“Perfect,” Stiles grins.
Derek grins back, then watches in the side mirror as Stiles straight-up saunters back to his cruiser.