The loft was deathly silent as Stiles slowly inched away from Derek, dropping his arms to his sides from where they’d been wrapped tightly around Derek’s shoulders. The Mets had just won the World Series―their third World Series win and Stiles got to see it!―and Stiles had forgotten himself in his excitement and, jumping to his feet and impulsively hugging Derek who’d been returning from the kitchen.
Staring at the ground feeling like a child who had just been chastised, despite the fact that Derek hadn’t said a single word, Stiles repeated, “Sorry.”
He backed away, tensing for the moment Derek would throw him out of the loft, shakily taking his seat on the couch beside Isaac, refusing to raise his eyes from the floor. Onscreen the Citi Field stadium was still in an uproar celebrating New York’s victory.
From the corner of his eye Stiles saw Derek move to sit in his armchair, cracking open his can of soda. He quickly turned his head, focusing his eyes on Isaac’s shoes as the betas began debating what movie to watch now that the game was over.
His head snapped up in shock, his entire body tensing as his heart rate skyrocketed in nervous apprehension. He stared wide-eyed at Scott who’d called his name, acknowledging, “Hmm?”
“What movie do you wanna watch?” Scott asked, elaborating, “Your team just won, after all.”
“Oh, uh, I don’t care,” Stiles replied, shrugging lamely and dropping his gaze to stare a hole in his jeans that was suddenly intensely fascinating.
They decided on watching Benchwarmers to stick with the baseball theme, foregoing any more serious movie in favor of a few laughs.
Stiles spent the whole movie staring at his knees and absentmindedly eating orange and blue M&Ms but when he remembered that Derek had special ordered them for the big game he felt nauseous and immediately stopped. He got a call from his dad halfway through the movie, excusing himself from the couch and standing by the wall of windows to take the call.
His dad had congratulated him on the Mets’ win and asked if he was alright when his response was notably subdued. He said he’d tell him about it later and wished him a good night on the rest of his shift.
He contemplated hiding in the bathroom until the movie was over and the pack left but ultimately decided against it, well aware it’d only call more attention to himself. And that was the last thing he needed right now.
Stiles managed to wait out the rest of the movie feeling more guilty than he had when he was six and had a tantrum and didn’t talk to his dad for three days, remembering how much he had hurt his dad. Just like he’d hurt Derek by doing what people had been doing for years, violating his personal space and touching himself consent. It made his blood boil.
The moment the credits began to roll he rose to his feet and grabbed his hoodie, quickly slipping it on over his Mets t-shirt. He was following the rest of the pack to the door when Derek called his name.
Stiles didn’t think he’d ever been as nervous.
He turned and walked back toward Derek who was standing in the middle of the loft, keeping his eyes on the floor. Derek began, “Stiles―”
“Look, Derek, I know. I’m sorry. I never should’ve done that. I just wasn’t thinking and I know that’s no excuse either but I really am sorry,” Stiles blurted, effectively cutting him off. “I’m just gonna go, okay?”
He was turning to leave, to go wallow in guilt somewhere else, when Derek gently grabbed his arm and spun him around. Stiles looked up at him, confused.
“Stiles, I’m not upset,” Derek said, huffing a small incredulous laugh. Stiles blinked at him in disbelief. Derek reiterated, “I’m not, I swear. I don’t know why you think I am.”
“Because you don’t like hugs!” Stiles cried, flailing his arm around aimlessly.
“Stiles, I like hugs just fine. You surprised me is all,” Derek explained, smiling reassuringly. “Why did you think I don’t like hugs?”
“Because you’re you! Y'know Derek Hale: dark, broody alpha werewolf, willing and able to rip my throat out. With his teeth!” Stiles exclaimed, still gesticulating wildly.
Derek chuckled, “That was years ago. I was dying, I think I deserve some credit for my restraint in not actually doing it.”
Stiles deflated. “Well, yeah. So you’re really not upset? Like, at all?”
“No, Stiles, I’m not,” Derek assured. He was quick to add, “I’m actually a big fan of hugs, believe it or not.”
“No way,” Stiles teased, finally cracking a smile and poking Derek in the ribs. Derek grinned and nodded, opening his arms slightly in blatant invitation. Stiles froze. “Wait, really?”
Derek just nodded again, raising his eyebrows. Stiles gratefully fell into Derek’s arms, resting his cheek on Derek’s shoulder and sighing heavily as Derek wrapped his arms around him.
Derek laid his cheek against Stiles’ hair, rocking them softly. Stiles fist his hands in the back of Derek’s gray Henley, clinging to him tightly. Derek moved his head the slightest bit to kiss to top of Stiles’ head.
Being a fan of the team that loses the World Series feels like attending a great month long party and then going straight to a funeral.
The Mets had a great season that came up short. I’m disappointed with the outcome but that doesn’t take anything away from the amazing and improbable that the run that the Mets were on from July 31st through October.
The Mets postseason run gave me a chance to do something I’ve always dreamed of, seeing them play a World Series game in person. On October 31, I flew to NY and then went straight from the airport to Citi Field.
I entered the stadium in time to have a the place as close to myself as I’ll ever have.
I was there to take in the place and the fact that I was realizing something I had been dreaming about for 30 years. I was also there to find a small bit of closure. If you know me, you know that I regret never getting to see a game at Citi Field with my father before he passed away. In fact, he never got there at all because he passed away shortly after the Mets concluded their first season in the place.
I flew to New York with nothing but my phone, a ticket to the game and a prayer card that I’ve kept around my house for the last six years.
My plan was to get close enough to drop the card onto the field before the game but I wasn’t able to make it close enough. Since I only had a standing room ticket and I needed to focus on finding the best viewing location before the game began. After finding a spot I revised my plan to leave the card on a seat after the game ended.
The game started and it was great. Seeing the Mets in the World Series was as much fun as I hoped it would be. The fact that the Mets lost the game (and the series one game later) doesn’t even matter. Sometimes the outcome is secondary to the journey.
Thanks to some people inexplicably leaving early I was able to get a seat for the last inning. After the game ended I pulled the card out of my pocket but I just couldn’t leave it behind to be swept up and thrown away.
After the game I met some friends and family at The Neptune Diner in Astoria.
After 3 hours of late night breakfast, cake and 10 cups of coffee it was time for me to get back to the airport so I could get back to LA. From the platform of the N Train I looked out at the Triborough RFK Bridge. I hadn’t realized I was so close to a bridge my father had worked on years earlier. My jittery hands took a picture of piece of my father’s life before the train pulled away. I still had the prayer card in my pocket and no regrets about the Mets.
The 2015 baseball season is only 5 months away. Let’s Go Mets.