No one had faith this would work out for Stiles.
Not his friends, or his co-workers, or his dad.
Everyone told him it was dumb to switch homes with some girl all the way across the country in a last ditch effort to find the meaning to life. They told him he was stupid to use all his vacation time on this one trip, without conserving it for literally anything else. They told him he would be homesick, and that he’d be bored, and that he would get robbed because he was letting a stranger he had Skyped with once live in his house for three weeks, what the hell, Stilinski.
And, okay. He is concerned about how much PTO he was using, and he is pretty homesick -- considering this is only the second time he's spent Hanukkah away from his dad -- and yes, he has been thinking about the money he stashed between the mattress since he forgot to move it before he left, but…
But he’s having a good goddamn time.
Almost too good.
He’s almost worried that he’ll want to stay in this sleepy, snowy town and never go back to California ever again. He’s almost worried he’s a little in love, and he’s almost having a crisis over it.
It’s Lydia’s fault, actually. She didn’t warn him she lived next to the most perfect human being east of the Mississippi. She didn’t say her neighbor was the embodiment of all things good in the world; including and not limited to sunshine, puppies, and radiant joy.
She didn’t warn him about Scott McCall.
One year younger than Stiles, a divorced dad of twins, and proficient player of all things acoustic guitar. The town’s only veterinarian with a soft spot for any creature, big or small or especially smelly.
Stiles had met Scott the third day of his stay. After he had managed to get settled, and find a grocery store, and spent most of the day how so many people in town already knew who he was. Scott was herding his kids and two wiley puppies out to the older SUV sitting in their driveway.
It was all very Hallmark: Scott’s legs getting tangled up in the leashes while two little girls with almond eyes and dark hair tried to start a snowball fight. The girl’s had coordinated coats and everything -- one blue, and one green -- with matching ribbons in their hair. The puppies pranced around playfully while Scott laughed, trying to get the door to the vehicle open.
Then Scott slipped and fell, and let go of one of the dog’s leads. The dog slid down the icy driveway, and the girl in the green coat shrieked in despair. Stiles saved the day by running over, scooping up the puppy, and smoothly offering Scott his hand.
That was the terrible beginning.
Apparently, Scott already knew everything about Stiles from Lydia, and he was really glad to meet Stiles. The girls were Kai and Mae, the puppies were unnamed so no one got attached, and Scott was beautiful.
When Stiles lamented about Scott’s beauty to his dad, there was no sympathy to be found.
“I told you not to go,” his dad said gruffly, when Stiles called him that evening. “And now you can’t come back.”
“Because you like Lydia better than me, I know,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. Even then, he could peek out the kitchen window and watch Scott build a snowman with the girls in the dying light of the sun. There was another dog scampering in the yard with them, a bigger one this time, and a goat.
The only explanation Stiles had for the goat was that Scott being a vet apparently meant he ran something like a zoo in his house.
“You have to stay until after the New Year, sorry kiddo,” his dad said, not sounding sorry at all.
It wasn’t a hardship, he really wanted to stay, but each day was a reminder of everything Stiles couldn’t have. Scott was pretty much everything he could ever want in a man, and Scott lived here while Stiles lived all the way across the country.
And Scott was so insistent on being neighborly. He invited Stiles over to decorate the tree with the three of them, and offered to show Stiles around to all the best restaurants in the area, and invited Stiles to open mic night to listen to him be a proficient player of all things acoustic guitar.
It’s almost too much when Scott knocks on his door with a tin of homemade cookies and a sheepish grin, like Stiles is going to be upset he’s there after dark with home baked goods clearly made with love.
“Sorry about the mess,” Scott says, when Stiles eagerly pops the top and peers inside. It is a mess. Too much frosting, too many sprinkles, and cookies breaking apart, but it’s a mess that Stiles knows Scott made with the girls and that makes everything better.
“They look amazing,” Stiles says honestly. He plucks one out and bites into it with an exaggerated moan, eyes rolling. He grins, pretending not to notice how pink Scott's cheeks have gone.
"They are," Scott agrees with a fond smile.
“I didn’t get you anything,” Stiles says, wishing he had thought of it. He had asked what Scott was doing for Christmas, made all the appropriate small talk, but he hadn’t thought about a gift -- or a card, or even a cheap fruitcake from the grocery store. “Not very neighborly.”
“You can make it up to me,” Scott says quickly. “If you want.”
“How would I do that?” Stiles asks, grabbing another bit of cookie. This one might have been shaped like a gingerbread man at some point, but it’s lumpy and weird. More bog monster than esteemed christmas icon. It tasted delicious, either way.
"I will take an I.O.U." Scott shrugs. "Or a kiss."
Stiles half-chokes on the cookie man's leg, thumping himself in the chest to get rid of the urge to hack it all up. Scott frowns, concerned.
"I'm fine, I just --" Stiles shakes his head and clears his throat, blinking at Scott. "A kiss?"
"If you want.”
“What about like --” Stiles gestures vaguely, sending crumbs everywhere. A couple of sprinkles shake loose, dropping onto the table; Scott watches in amusement as Stiles swipes at them. “What about like, me leaving? Soon?”
“What about it?” Scott asks, grabbing Stiles’ wrist gently. He takes the cookie from Stiles and pops it into his mouth, eyes full of amusement.
“I’m leaving,” Stiles says emphatically.
One more week and no more Scott. No more Scott, or the girls, or the dogs. No more neighborly waves across the yard, or bumping into each other at the coffee shop, or having lunch that turns into drinks that turns into dinner -- that turns into Scott being thankful Kira has the kids because Stiles keeps him out late just talking.
“We don’t have to,” Scott says seriously, gaze on the cookie tin between them on the table. “But I’d rather kiss you. You’re leaving either way. I’d rather kiss you.”
“That’s a good point,” Stiles admits. There are plenty of reasons not to kiss Scott, but if he’s being honest with himself, he’s been head over heels since the first day he saw Scott.
There’s plenty of reasons not to kiss Scott, but he kisses Scott anyway.
Maybe the meaning to life is just living it.