It’s four am and the diner is quiet. Derek finishes wiping down a table; life as usual, he’s alone, he’s at work, everything goes on as it does. He refills coffee for the two tired-looking truckers sitting at the counter and goes back to refilling the salt shakers.
The last time Cora was home, she’d asked if he and Laura ever considered selling the place. “Doesn’t do much business,” she said, trying to be gentle. Say it was okay to let go. But she’d only been a baby when the accident happened that took their parents; she didn’t have memories growing up here the way Derek and Laura did, playing hide-and-seek under the counters, watching their dad bake pies and their mom fill coffee, listening to travelers talk about their lives on the road.
Hale’s is fifty miles from the nearest town in either direction, a blink-and-miss-it diner still stuck in the ‘50s, right off the Pacific Coast Highway. The little town of Beacon Hills is an hour away, so almost all the patrons are travellers, people looking for respite from the road, on their way up to the redwoods or heading down to San Francisco and Los Angeles. There’s a little wall of autographs from famous people who’ve dined here; cowboys and starlets and authors and people Derek’s parents took a shine to. The diner is a historic landmark, not to mention it’s always been home to Derek.
So Laura manages the day shift and Derek does the night. It works out well; he doesn’t have to interact with people much. He and Laura were homeschooled until high school, and Derek had found Beacon Hills High School overwhelming with its crowds.
The radio starts a new song; it’s one of Derek’s favorites. He doesn’t remember the name of the artist, but it makes Derek feel alive. The song lyrics aren’t particularly sensual, but the man’s voice is— Derek shudders, feeling his blood run hot under his skin, and he imagines the warm touch of someone pulling him close, embracing him, kissing him—
“Can I take this coffee to go?”
“Oh. Sure,” Derek says, pouring the trucker’s coffee into a plastic cup.
They leave him a decent tip and are off, the bell jingling as they go.
Derek sighs, watching the moonlight dance across the ocean in the distance. He listens to the rustling of the trees, and occasionally a car will drive past the diner, lights blaring.
He turns off the radio and hums the song to himself as he sweeps up.
There’s longing here, of a love long lost, and Derek is lost to the song, to the memories it drags up.
Nothing but the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the white hot sun burning just beyond Derek’s closed eyes. He can feel the warm body next to him stir awake, and then fingers carding through his hair.
“Derek… hey. You awake?”
“Nope,” Derek says, and he can already picture it: Stiles leaning over him, his hair still wet, eyes bright with laughter.